Swallow Darkness: The Lasombra

Open Development, Vampire: The Masquerade


Welcome to the start of open development for Lore of the Clans! First up, we have Clan Lasombra, written by Andrew Peregrine. The link to the Google Doc containing his material is here:

Edit: Link removed now that open development is closed. Thank you!

Andrew’s only a few hundred words over, which is fine — that’s more or less on target. However, it means if I want him to add something, I’ll have to cut something else. I have some ideas on how that will go, but I’m curious to see if your comments reinforce my instincts, or point in a different direction.

Edit: Doing some math, I realized that if I want to get them all wrapped up before Gen Con, I need to keep these open for a limited time. So I’ll close comments on each Clan a week after I put it up, which means I’ll be closing comments on the Lasombra some time on Friday, July 25th. I’ll put a big note on the document when I close it so it’s clear.

A few things to keep in mind (and I’ll be repeating these points a lot):

Please touch: I like to play with the open development process as new tools come available. Recently Google Drive rolled out a “Suggesting” mode, so with Lore of the Clans I’m opening the document up to public redlining. This means that you can make changes directly in the document itself. However, you’ll notice that there’s a little box in the upper right that looks like this:

2014-07-18 13_29_57-06 Lasombra - Open Development.doc - Google Docs


Please leave it there. If you’re not “suggesting,” I won’t be able to see what you’re editing (and I have a separate document that I’m making all the final comments and edits on, so they won’t be transcribed if I can’t see them). If it ends up being a problem, I’ll revert access to just commenting.

EDIT UPDATE: It looks like someone or something keeps switching it back to “editing,” so I’ve changed the document so that you can only comment. Sorry about that.

Keep calm and carry on: This is a preliminary draft. Things will likely change at least somewhat between this draft and the final book. If you see something weird or that you don’t agree with, don’t freak out and tell the Internet OMG VAMPIRE IS RUINT. Just comment on the concerning area, and I’ll look into it. Certainly don’t give the writer shit for it.

Substance over style: Last time I did a lot of style editing (capitalization, commas, grammar, etc.) in the open development draft. That was ultimately a waste of everyone’s time, especially mine. This time, I’m focusing purely on the content, not punctuation or grammar. That’s a later draft. Don’t worry too much about marking up the manuscript for those concerns, unless something makes the material confusing to understand.

Cards close to my chest: Because I don’t want to bias the discussion, I’m keeping my thoughts on how I want to redline this chapter to myself. I’ll certainly answer questions and help steer conversation away from unproductive avenues, but in general I want to see what you think, not tell you what I think.


  19 comments for “Swallow Darkness: The Lasombra

  1. Quinn Y
    July 18, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Is Lore of the Clans going to be a Kickstarter?

    • July 18, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      I don’t know. That’s a call for Rich to make.

  2. Kyle H
    July 19, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Hmm. I know you gave the call to say not to freak out and such, but I still feel this write up is a lot weaker than most any prior review of the Lasombra by far. The tone seems to waver and can’t fine a real way to distinguish the clan in any focused way, and could use a true direction. Not easy, because on paper they just seem to come off as the “other Venture” at first. I get that, but this hand-wringing spy villain motif that keeps cropping up is pretty strange for the Lasombra. The influences of the author on the piece shouldn’t be that painfully transparent. It’s a piece with some ideas worth looking at, overall, but it could be tighter.

    The bigger problem, for me, is that there is 19 powers included! Clearly there is not room to write a huge history. There isn’t room for a lot of fiction. There isn’t space for tons of crunchy mechanics. But, the history seemed somewhat short, and the mechanics wayyyyyy longer than I expected. Some merits and flaws, a few disciplines, and maybe an alternate rule or two would be nice, but 19 disciplines and a litany of merits and flaws seemed to be exhausting the author. Indeed some just seemed like they were hastily thought up and not tested or given an editorial eye at all. Are these going to be cut down? That is one place that I could see cutting some word count to afford it to another area in the writeup. Maybe some of the old “view without/within”?

    Personally, the thing I missed the most was geography. What marks American Lasombra as different from Russian? European? How do the Lasombra stack up in Australia?

    • Mu
      July 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

      I agree that the discipline space is too much.

      I suppose that others players enjoy reading lists and lists of powers (it makes me bored), but it is a pity that some sections have to be smaller due to those powers sections.

      After all, powers contribute few to the stories, and this is why I find the history and setting sections much more chrunchy.

      I think it is very late to propose something like that, but something wonderful of the Dark Ages High and Low Clans books, was some sections about roleplaying a member of the clan. It helped a lot to read how give motivations to Malkavians or Ravnos characters, to mention some of the difficult ones.

  3. Kyle H
    July 19, 2014 at 1:02 am

    19 powers and a litany of merits and flaws seems a bit much. Is this going to be cut down? If each clan has this much in their segments, this single book will add more powers than years of releases (or even whole editions) did in the past. I would rather like to mix in some alternate rules more than just new powers. Variants of existing features (skills, weaknesses, etc) that express what makes Lasombra unique, even within the clan itself. If nothing else, can some quality control be applied? A lot of the powers seemed to use inappropriate combos, or seemed a little too “wacky” for Lasombra. The recurring hand-wringing spy villain theme is off putting. This area could surely afford some editing to allow more word count to be given somewhere else.

    Specifically, I miss the “view within/without” sections of the splatbooks and the “world tour” bit that explains where the clan is and is not, and what differences they have in each geographical area. Neither has to be exhaustive, just touching on areas of importance to the clan. I mean, American and European Lasombra are surely different enough. Why isn’t there a mention of that in a guide to them? What are they like in Australia? How do they feel about other supernaturals, or clans?

  4. Mort
    July 19, 2014 at 1:05 am

    All of that was really good, and I felt captured the mindset of at least one of the afflictions of LaSombra (I don’t think it spoke to much in the mind frame of the kings and Queens of shadows). I did keep an open mind, and try not to nay say even though I felt like I suggested to add more then anything else so in that case my bad. But thank you for letting me take part!

  5. Nathan Henderson
    July 19, 2014 at 4:15 am

    I always can’t help but wonder what they called themselves pre-Spanish…

    Were they always just “the Shadows” in whatever language was spoken until the Iberian wing of the Clan rose to such dominance that the Spanish became the standard?

    This question was a pressing issue when I tried to do a VtM Roman Empire era game.

    • PrimalFlame
      July 19, 2014 at 11:47 pm

      Apparently, Lasombra comes from “Lau-Som-Bheu.” Of course, this is a false etymology, but it’s good enough if you want to justify (in-game) why they’re called “the shadows” in Spanish. Check Clanbook Lasombra (rev.), p. 18.

      • July 22, 2014 at 5:42 pm

        The shadow = La sombra
        The shadows = Las sombras

        I don’t think you need a false etymology if you need to explain why the Antediluvian was know as “the shadow”.

    • Mu
      July 22, 2014 at 8:06 am

      I always imagined “The Shadow” to be an sobriquet for the Lasombra Antediluvian that was passed to their children. I imagine that in Dark Ages a lot of cultural and idiomatic variation existed, i. e., “La Ombra” in italian. or L’Ombre in french [1].

      The Lasombra reached the New World through Spain, and the Sabbat made its headquarters in Mexico, so the Spanish name became the more common name for the clan.

      [1] I can’t think that each clan would have a single name in all places in the Middle Ages. The names for the clans in Dark Ages are, I think, a necessary simplification.

      [2] The Lazi Onri Bara and Lau-Som-Bheu etimologies are proposed in clanbook Lasombra revised, but it seems ridiculous to me trying to look for an invented etymology when the real one is so obvious (and the clan always had an Spanish theme).

    • Alan_Alexander
      July 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Ages ago, when I ran a Roman-era VtM game, I called them the Umbrati.

    • Mu
      July 30, 2014 at 4:12 am

      Yesterday I came with another theory.

      In arab, the clan is called Qabilat al-Khayal, the Clan of the Shadows.

      Maybe the clan was known the same originally in Spanish. The Clan of the Shadows would be El Clan de Las Sombras. A Lasombra would be named a member of the Clan of the Shadows, miembro del Clan de Las Sombras. With time, it could shortened to member of Las Sombras, until it became common to say simply Lasombra (removing the final “s” when in singular).

      In languages other than Spanish, would normally be called variations of Clan of the Shadows.

  6. IgnyteZero
    July 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Have only skimmed it, but from what I can tell this looks exactly like the kind of content I was looking forward to. A great treatment to one of my favorite clans. I especially like the Patricide-part as that would add even more mystery to the fate of their Antediluvian.

    And a good thing the gender issue was adressed too, in a shady excellent way.

  7. Cardul
    July 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Very interesting new take on them..Less about the nobility, and more about them being Pirate Kings puts them in a very new light..

  8. Alan_Alexander
    July 22, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    “Andrew’s only a few hundred words over, which is fine — that’s more or less on target. However, it means if I want him to add something, I’ll have to cut something else.” Geez, I hope you don’t blow a gasket when you read my chapters. If wordcount is that tight, we may have to take a wrecking ball to both of them. 🙂

    • July 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      It’s all about scale. I know most people reading this are very excited and want ALL THE WORDS ADDED. I’m just trying to frame expectations accordingly. 🙂

      • July 22, 2014 at 5:45 pm

        If some discarded material is really good, and has entity in itself, it would be awesome if you put available in the OP web. It would be a good visit attractor.

        • Viktor
          August 17, 2014 at 2:08 pm

          Yes, this would great! Especially for a book as large as Lore of the Clans is expected to be, there has to be some cut material. Presenting that material here on the OP site would be an excellent draw.

          I imagine that many books have too many excellent ideas. While it would be good to allow them all, space restrictions do not allow such.

          • August 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

            Actually, thus far writers have generally been under, or the cuts have been lots of small ones instead of complete sections that could be shared.

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