Or maybe Urban Dark Fantasy-ic comments?
I’m referring here to the absolute explosion with the number of folks joining in on the conversation in last week’s MMN Comments section. It’s been a fantastic and ongoing conversation about what sort of new Urban Dark Fantasy/Horror game Onyx Path should make someday.
I emphasize again: someday!
But it really has been super to chat about what elements we think are compelling, what has worked for WoD and CofD and other horror games – and into the broader media for horror and dark fantasy. Even discussions of the differences between dark fantasy and horror! (For now, I’m going to compress it all down to just horror to save having to write both out every time, here).
One topic that kept coming up is how open the supernatural should be in this new game. Is there a Masquerade, a Delirium, agents dressed in black suits that make folks forget, a general “meh” from mortals who then just ascribe the latest horror sighting to marketing or “fake news”? Or should this be a world where the supernatural creatures are known to exist? Maybe as far as the most open of settings, like the most public version of the gods and mythological creatures in Scion 2e‘s The World setting?
Which is actually a great place for any Scion fans who would like to enter the Comments conversation this week: how has The World worked for you? From the book, or have you used the “dials” to make things more secret? Or have you used The World as your setting at all? I know some players kept to the secretive setting in Scion 1e, so it’d be cool to hear some real world examples of how these two kinds of setting have worked out.
A least, I’m hoping we can continue to continue the conversations we’ve been having in this week’s Comments right down there below this blog – but that’s all up to you folks. If you want to continue, I’ll be right there joining you!
I guess, the takeaway is that a whole lot of folks in our community really like horror and have thought a fair bit about it! Which makes sense since Onyx Path started out building out the 20th Anniversary Editions for WoD and then shepherding CofD through a name change and through a super rebirth with the Second Editions. Horror has been our thing, and clearly a lot of you are really into that!
Thank you all for reminding us of that with your insightful comments!
Even Greater Horror: the Monday Meeting!
Last week, we finished up the Trinity Continuum Player’s Guide crowdfunding campaign on BackerKit, and all in all it was a terrific turn out for a cool supplement that enables us to get it into stores with a nice traditional printing. Thanks to all who backed the project – without your support and backing, we couldn’t add another book to the TC roster in your friendly local game stores!
Next up, the enigmatically named They Came From…? is coming in May if our plans, and Kickstarter, all come together! Fear not, true believers, there will be an actual title on the cover when you see the mock-up, although this KS is a bit…unusual…so the book title and the title of the Kickstarter campaign may actually be different!
Just a brief heads-up to let folks know not to worry if there’s a brief Forum/website disruption over this coming weekend. We’re still tweaking our set-up and Ian plans on making the next change during the wee hours so the fewest number of people even notice. As always with website stuff, fingers crossed and we’ll all be taking deep breaths.
All this week is the GAMA Trade Show – and IPR and Studio2 have sections of their booths set up as “home bases” for Onyx Path reps. If you are a store owner, know a store owner, or want to remind a store owner, who is going, we’d love to say hi and talk about getting our books into your store!
In fact, here are some pictures of their respective areas:
You’ll note that the Storypath Ultra Brochure is tucked in there surreptitiously among the books!
On this Friday we have this month’s Onyx Path Friday Night Game Night at StartPlaying Games, and this month it is the The Came From! series that we’re highlighting, although any game can be played if somebody sets it up to run.
Towards that, our own Travis Legge will be on our Twitch channel tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 5pm EDT with Devon from StartPlaying to show how to set up a game on the Startplaying Game Night Setup show.
Also on Friday, maybe before you start playing at StartPlaying, you can listen to Danielle and Dixie interview Devon all about StartPlaying on this week’s Onyx Pathcast! That Devon gets around!
A reminder that our Short Media Contest is ending at the end of this month, and we’re looking for any sort of short vids – instructional, useful, silly, whatever – about our projects. It’s a $150 gift certificate/coupon prize, so if you have something to say, we’d love to see it! Not just for TikTok!
Finally, a plea from a non-profit organization I’m proud to support, and I hope you will be as well: the Bodhana Group. Bodhana continues with its mission to spread the use of TTRPGs as therapeutic tools and are looking for people willing to help them by donating funds during York PA’s GiveLocalYork fundraising over May 4th to 5th! If you want to help, go the page at the link below. Fundraising starts during the event and they also have some special events in partnership with some local game store partners over those days if you’re in the York, PA area.
No worries if it’s not something on your radar right now, they’re in it for the duration and appreciate any help at any time, from spreading the word to attending their con in the Fall, to helping with this fundraiser!
I’m hoping to show up at one of the stores myself, if I can get away from my desk. But what can I do? I’m making great games with a great crew so we can deliver to you:
MANY WORLDS, ONE PATH!
Coming Next: They Came From…?
Onyx Path Media!
Danielle and Dixie interview Devon at StartPlaying!
As always, this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/
Onyx Path Media now has its own blog on Tuesdays! We’ll continue posting our highlight of the week here, but Tuesday will be the day to visit if you want to catch up on actual plays, interviews, deep dives, and other assorted Onyx Path media!
Please check out our attached media schedule for the videos on our Twitch channel this week! In particular, keep those eyes open for our Storypath Showcase, where we give an excellent profile of our various Storypath games and how to play them!
MEDIA HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK:
A new series has begun on the subject of the Scion roleplaying game! This show, run by the talented Asterinomous, is all about Scion stories, starting with those of the seductive succubi. Watch the video and take some inspiration!: https://youtu.be/jT040lyr-YM Give them a subscribe and a like, and leave comments on their videos!
The Onyx Path News discusses recent and upcoming releases! You can find it on our YouTube channel (click the bell to be informed when we go live!) but if you missed the last episode, here it is: https://youtube.com/live/d1w3-US4pTg
They Came From Beneath the Sea! on Roll20 VTT!
Here are some more shots from the They Came From Beneath the Sea! Compendium!
And there’s also the Scion Jumpstart, all ready for Roll20 VTT fun!
More news and links when we have them!
The Scion: Origin and Scion Hero Compendiums are now available on Roll20!
Scion is just the start! They Came From Beneath the Sea! and other
Onyx Path RPGs are in development for Roll20 virtual tabletop!
The first of our official Scion sheets designed for Foundry VTT are
Direct Link: https://foundryvtt.co
Looking for more virtual tabletop resources? We have a selection of
Tokens, Encounters, and more available now at DriveThruRPG!
Get ’em here: https://bit.ly/3SnrNJ7
Our Sales Partners!
We’re working with Studio2 to provide our traditionally printed books out into your local game stores. Game stores can order via their usual distributors, and can also contact Studio2 directly. And individuals can check out our projects via the links below!
Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books, dice, and screens? Try this link! http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Onyx-Path-Publishing/
As always, you can find Onyx Path’s titles in PDF and PoD versions at DriveThruRPG.com!
Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
You can now read our fiction from the comfort and convenience of your Kindle (from Amazon) and Nook (from Barnes & Noble).
Check out Melody Through the Mirrorshade Lens and Facets of Truth , as well as Trinity Continuum: Terat and The Hollow Courts on Kindle in the Kindle store!
On Sale This Week!
What could be more appropriate of a Tasty Bit for They Came From Beyond the Grave! than Don’t Open the Gates? Includes a graveyard map usable for online gaming as well as tabletop! PDF on sale this Weds on DTRPG!
As we are slowly returning to attending conventions in person after the current COVID-19 outbreak, keep an eye out here for more physical and virtual conventions we’re going to be involved with!
Once again…the creature RISES! Here comes the Onyx Path Virtual Convention (June 16th – 18th)!! More news to come!!!
We’ll be at the IPR booth at the GAMA Trade Show THIS WEEK: April, 24th to 28th, so let your friendly local game store know that they can talk to us there! And if you ARE a retailer, we’d love to chat with you right there!
Game Night With Onyx Path Publishing at Start.Playing is this coming Friday the 28th! Come play some They Came From! in celebration of the upcoming They Came From…? KS! (But any of our game lines are welcome all day long!)
Please spread the word about GMing games as much as
possible. Details on how list a game are at the bottom of the page in
And now, the new project status updates!
Our full list of projects will be available monthly on our blog! Check out March’s full list report here:
DEVELOPMENT STATUS FROM EDDY
Here are the projects that moved to the next stage of production:
TC: Aether – Aether Player’s Guide
- Eddy: Our first non-stretch-goal supplement for Trinity Continuum: Aether is hitting its invasion schedule exactly! Our intrepid developer is looking forward to using their heat rat to blast away any stilted prose.
They Came From the Cyclops’s Cave! – They Came from Witchford Academy!
- Matthew: Michele delves deep into the magickckal trough of Witchford Academy, redlining the fine work of his wizarding writers. AVAKA-BALENSIAGA!
They Came From! – They Came From…?
- Matthew: We creep quietly into editing, knowing the current content of this book… But some of it for some reason remains a mystery! Maybe we’ll find out what else appears within it very soon…
ART DIRECTION FROM MIKE CHANEY!
In Art Direction
- Ex3 Eight Directions – Sketch and color feedback sent to artists. Moving along…
- TCF Cyclops Cave/Classified – Luis is done with his KS stuff, so I’m moving him onto these.
- TCF ? (KS) – We are just waiting for the final cover, the wild west pcs (2), and the splat finals.
- SCION Once and Future – I think just awaiting finals for the cover and some interior pcs.
- TC Assassins VTT Adventure – Getting there. Maria should have an update for me.
- MtAw Tome of the Pentacle – Symbols are in. I’ve already started working on it.
- Ex3 Crucible of Legends
- W20 Howls of the Apocalypse – Fonts issue fixed.
- HTV Tending the Flame
- W20 Apocalyptic Record – One lingering piece of art needs Paradox approval…
- Exalted Essence
- TC: Adventure! – PoD proofs on the way. Trad printing files prepping.
- M20 Victorian Age – Shipping to KS backers.
- M20 Victorian Age Screen – Shipping to KS backers.
- Scion Dragon Screen – Shipping to KS backers.
- Scion Dragon – Shipping to KS backers.
- Scion Masks of the Mythos – Shipping to KS backers.
- Scion Masks of the Mythos Screen – Shipping to KS backers.
- Storypath Ultra Brochure – At GAMA.
- They Came From! Tasty Bit Compilation – PoD proof ordered.
- Ex3 Surface Truths – PoD proof on the way.
- SL Vigil Watch Kelder Mtns – PoD proof ordered.
- TC Stampede of Justice (Adventure JS) – Inputting the errata and prepping PoD.
- Tasty Bit: Don’t Open the Gates! A graveyard map for They Came From Beyond the Grave! PDF on sale this Weds on DTRPG!
Today’s Reason to Celebrate!
Today in 1183 BC: Traditional reckoning of the Fall of Troy marking the end of the legendary Trojan War. Having spent last month steeped in Bronze and Early Iron Age readings for Trinity Continuum: Aegis, this popped out at me, so I’m sharing it with you. Depending on your point of view, maybe not a cause of celebration, but certainly an obscure date of note.
71 responses to “Horrific Comments! [Monday Meeting Notes]”
I personally prefer a Masquerade both in scions’ mythical fantasy and in urban fantasy. Because my favorite urban fantasy and mythical fantasy series have the Masquerade trope.
The masquerade makes me feel at home.
And Nicolas is in first, again! It’s a bit scary that the masquerade feels like home, but who am I to judge? 😉
Seriously, this is a factor in these kinds of discussions, because I’m thinking that another way to say it is that a secret world sort of setting feels familiar, and that might even extend to the familiar being something that makes sense to us. Which is a lot to pull out of your statement, I know, but that is actually part of what I and our team here do; we look at both statements our community makes, and what underlying thinking might have prompted the statement.
I love the open nature of the World in Scion, since it makes a lot more sense, since after all, for many, many cultures both today and yesterday, magic and the supernatural is perceived as just as real as anything else.
Additionally, it’s just more fun, things are just more fun and engaging when there’s snake people and moth girls and dragons just walking around the city streets, living their own lives. It also just vastly fits the mythic tone that Scion tries to go for, much harder to have a grand mythic and divine tone when the mythic is hiding itself and you can’t do mythic things, like grabbing rivers with your bare hands or fighting armies of demons, out of fear of being caught on camera. Also the image of monster people wearing modern fashion is just a cool image, so being able to have that just out in the open just helps make the setting more fun.
For a more Dark urban Fantasy/Horror, I believe a lack of a masquerade would also be a good avenue to explore, there can be lots of engagement from exploring the repercussions of the supernatural being known in such a setting. Such as the relationship and he darker side of humanity, such as institutional evils using the supernatural, like corporations exploiting the occult to further make profits, and the like.
Glad that the openness of The World works for you! Personally, I think that having fun at the table and when you think of the setting, is pretty darn important.
Unrelated disclaimer: There’s fun like “that’s cool” and then there is also fun in dealing with difficult subject matter, and what’s fun for one person at one time in their life might change depending on circumstances. So, please folks, let’s not argue or try and “correct” other posters’ personal opinions here – if we can avoid that, we’re giving everybody a chance to chime in.
I’m a big Scion fan, admittedly never got into any Game of Darkness but tbh if you think about it, a Masquerade setting has a lot of the same problems that I see brought up about open magic settings. It’s just that due to cultural inertia, most players don’t ask questions about Masquerades.
Like, the vampires in Vampire don’t have a history book from our world. Their very presence in a world should make things just as different, whether or not they pretend to exist.
Now, I think there’s a difference between a “All these things exist but they don’t advertise it”. Like, people may know that vampires are real and carry garlic with them as a precaution, but they may not realize how many vampires live in their hometown.
Well, one could argue that vampires have to think about their population in practical terms to the point where secrecy is safest. Vampires in the “of Darkness” games tend to be MUCH lower in number to the amount of total humans. After all, you don’t really want to approach the same number as your own food source or things get a little ugly. So, it still makes sense that vampires are able to keep hidden. If there are one hundred vampires in a city of one million, my odds of finding out about them are not zero, but still pretty low. And given how many cultures revile blood-sucking demons, I don’t blame them for hiding and trying to hide to the point that they make sure the world largely does not know they are there.
Now there absolutely could be options to explore an unmasked horror world where horror-related monsters are known, but I can’t say it would be my first choice for a default setting of werewolves, vampires, etc.
Scion’s take, on the other hand, fits its style as heroic urban fantasy so the revealed World of gods and monsters that still rarely affects people works perfectly and can still be tweaked as people prefer to boot.
If i Were designing a more general Urban Fantasy game, I’d probably aim for a lot of the supernatural visibility to be like… Mafia stuff.
Like, most people know that organized crime exists to some level. But also most people don’t know any of the details. That’s a good point for me. Most people at least are aware that there are things that go bump in the night, and many people do know “Oh right, vampires, my nana told me about them” but have no idea that there’s a vampire on the city council.
That approach (and example) seems like it would allow enough room to handwave real world logical inconsistencies while allowing mystery. I’ve heard a similar thing about CofD in the past.
As you point out, seems like there are some complicated ramifications to openly walking around as vampires or werewolves. Some fun could be had creating that setting – but I do wonder if it would be fun to play. At a certain point, you’re going to need to handwave some realistic aspects to make it all work – so where does that moment occur and is it written in or is it a grey zone thing the Storyteller has to figure out?
Glad you are, or at least sound, satisfied with how Scion handles things for their sort of stories!
Yes, I think a lot of what we’re talking about is that range of complete barrier from normal, mortal, life, to supernatural and mythological creatures working in our local fast food places, and being meteorologists on national TV, while overtly being who they are. The dials in Scion are a way to allow any table, or really any story at your table, to determine where in that range your groups team hits. Which is great for gaming, maybe less so for a consistent world that is fun to read and think about.
TBH I’m mostly a fan of Scion keeping things “open” since it helps distinguish itself more from previous WW/OP urban fantasy games (A big complaint I had with Scion 1e was “You have all these cool powers but are discouraged from using them so it felt like VTM in a different wrapper at times) and a fair bit more practical for that game line. you *Could* have a bunch of secret demigods in 2008 but in a year where everyone has a pretty decent video camera and instant internet connection in their pockets that’s harder, and gets in the way of the appeal of punching a minotaur thought a billboard and into a Applebee’s parking lot. It also doesn’t make sense for certain cultures.
I guess for me the masquerade thing varies on game intentions itself. A secret society of Mages or Vampires trying run thier schemes under the radar? yeah that makes sense, they even have cultural norms and laws to keep the truth from getting out. But the son of Zeus being told he needs to hide his powers? Yeah that kid if going flaunt that crap just to spite dad.
Given how a lot of modern horror has shifted over to the open and mundane (there’s a lot of landlord horror nowaday) and a lot of the tension felt nowadays is from people out in the open, an urban horror game where the monsters are more in the open would probably be a reasonable direction.
I like the lack of a masquerade in Scion, especially for the purposes of Scion. One line I heard mentioned in 2e’s development cycle is the books don’t present a masquerade because for most of history people have known that some people in their world were directly touched by the divine.
But also, some of my favorite urban fantasy stories have ranged from the characters openly talking about the supernatural in their lives, most eavesdroppers just choosing to disbelieve, or a few full on have it all out in the open. Cast a Deadly Spell comes to mind, but there was also a police procedural style novel series about the Occult Crimes Investigation Unit where full knowledge of all supernatural came into the public in the 40s. With little references to things like recordings of McCarthy interrogations, “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of a coven?” Sometimes, for heavy duty cult rituals they’d call in the Sacred Weapons And Tactics team.
I prefer things to be secretive. I use the dials in Scion to keep things low key and hidden. The main reason why is that I cannot imagine how much the world would be different if the world knew magic existed.
People already have shown that they have issues with “The Other.” So when you factor in things like shapeshifters or else monsters who look human….yeah. Not to mention if the government knew magic existed, then they would be investing in ways to make magic wands to distribute to the troops etc.
No. I think that keeping things secret makes more sense and does not have many changes to the world outside the window.
I honestly prefer the world being open, a lot of people already believe magic is real and it would seem pretty strange to say if people believe in Shiva but he has to keep hidden.
Honestly, this is also coming from a perspective of being tired of masquerades. When people say that the world should be completely different forget about stuff like DC or Marvel comics which the world to an extent is pretty much the same there and people tend to forget with stories you can modify it however you want it to be.
I generally prefer a “mixed” setting, here the supernatural is mostly, but not completely secret, a bit like in Dresden Files – basically, there is no masquerade and no grand conspiracy, but most supernaturals don’t exactly go out of their way to advertise their existence, and most people either aren’t aware of it at all, or believe in some aspects of the supernatural world but not others and what they believe is often wrong (basically, SOME superstition has a basis in fact). Nobody in the supernatural world is overly concerned if some tabloid or obscure blogger “exposes” them, because who is going to believe them anyways, law enforcement has some idea but largely won’t acknowledge it (you can’t put “the killer was a vampire” in a report now, can you?) etc.
So basically, just like in our real world, regular people have heard the stories, seen the movies, but rarely deal with the reality of supernatural events – or if they do, it’s that “I once saw a ghost” story you share at a party. But nobody is going around summoning demons to take out the trash. That’s enough to establish the difference between our real world and a fictional one, and it doesn’t need things like Delirium or other external plot devices to keep things secret?
I have only run one-shots of Scion but I think I prefer a more hidden world setting for Scion, with a bit of a twist: the World is waking up again and so are the forgotten gods, titans, and everything in between, and they awaken to a changed world with many things lost but with hope for a new future. I have to work out how they were “asleep” but I want to find a way to make it work!
Basically, they were overt back when in history, then fell silent or asleep, and now are waking up to set the stage for the supernatural events in the game setting? Makes sense to me, and adds a nice logic to the whole thing!
Thanks! That was one of the “dials” presented in Mysteries of the World which is a very helpful book for turning the dials for Scion 2E in general. I’ve latched onto it and I am glad the book included those options. And maybe not all gods have to have been asleep. Maybe some were still keeping tabs on their few remaining worshippers. This opens up more interesting questions too, like how does the world react to the shocking reveal of gods and monsters being real after centuries of them not being around?
Yeah, I think there’s sort of a wink-wink about that, with the major gods/pantheons playing by the rules, but individuals bending or maneuvering around due to concern, pride, or even because they’re gods of mischief. Looking right at YOU, Loki!
I much prefer the World to the masquerade trope. Scion is a game about epic myth and building your legend. Epic myths don’t have a masquerade. Building your Legend requires people know about you.
That said, I think most mortals donKt encounter the mythic in their daily lives at all. It exists on the numinous fringes of their world and is the stuff of popular legend, but people without the Legend trait generally go through their lives without personally getting caught up in it (unless they get Fatebound).
In terms of how Scion is framed going forward, I’m all for presenting alternate setting takes. By all means do a book on a setting where the mythic has been dormant but now it’s resurgent and the world is in chaos adapting! I won’t be using a masquerade setting because as I said it doesn’t fit Scion’s themes of legend and epic myth at all, but I have no objection to the topic being explored and support given for people who do want to run the World that way, as long as it doesn’t become the game’s default!
And to be honest, dealing with real life conspiracy theorists makes my patience for setting masquerades way shorter than it was in the 90s.
So, if mortals don’t encounter the mythic in their daily lives, how do you see them interacting with the legend and epic myth that you see as so much of the Scion experience? I mean, is it a requirement that the world at large knows about you in order to grow your legend, or can you be doing the deeds that build your epic legend, and your fellow mythical folks know about it – so is that enough? Do you need to be on TV punching out a hydra to build that legend? As for Scion supplements, we really haven’t discussed any books that focus on alternative dial settings. Just talking about open vs secret worlds right now.
If Storypath Ultra brochure were given at GAMA – will it be published soon as PDF?
Please say yes
As with any release: no announcements until the week of release. Plus, I thought we already answered this a couple of weeks ago-
I like how CofD keeps to the shadows, but also how Scion is out in the open. There is also the idea of a not so distant, but much higher tech future where the supernatural went loud.
Maybe that’s examples of Horror in the shadows, Urban Fantasy in the open. Not sure if that idea is something already in existence that you’re referring to, or an idea you had.
I find I regularly dial down the open-ness in Scion. I guess I’m just too big a fan of the “secret war” trope. Or I’m a lazy worldbuilder who can’t be bothered figuring out all the ramifications of having the supernatural out in the open. Less flippantly, a “masquerade” style setup is another source of tension and conflict, and the more of those in a setting, the better.
Well, as much as I love that we could include the dials in Scion, you have hit on a weak spot of that approach: the more it’s in the open, the more somebody has to figure out what the world is like. You or us, but if it’s a secret “our world but darker”, with 99% of the setting being our real world one, we can concentrate on the areas that are about playing in the world, not building it all from scratch (more or less). I don’t think that’s lazy worldbuilding, I call that staying focused on the important stuff! 🙂
I strongly prefer my horror games lean on the fear of the unknown, so I would want a secret setting where I can create horrible surprises for my players. (I like to run Hunter the Vigil) An open setting could be a fun Urban Fantasy Adventure, but then it’s not as distinct from the other OPP properties.
That’s a very good point – it’s not just how to the PCs relate to this world but also the players. We talk a lot about interior logic of the world providing the rationale for why it should be open or hidden, but because this is primarily a game setting, we do need to consider how the presentation works for the players, Fear of the unknown is a big thing for a horror game, after all.
“Heat rat” joins “electric fish” as being one of my favorite typos. Also, I hope I don’t fall down today.
If you do fall, may a swarm of heat rats softly see you down!
I think an “open world” for a modern horror setting would fundamentally change the world itself. Society would have evolved to deal with Vampires, Werewolves, and other supernaturals. The movie Daybreakers comes to mind. I’m not against it, I just think it wouldn’t be anything close to “Our world.”
Yep, and I do think that one of the reasons WoD was able to rise to the position it did through all the other games challenging D&D in the 90s was that it existed as our world – mostly. The characters shone against the backdrop of our grey and shadowy world. So many first games too place in players’ hometowns, and why not? What a great way to bring that horror (literally) home. I think much harder to connect to emotionally if it’s a more fantastic version of your town.
I think one of the most often overlooked parts of Urban Fantasy is the urban part. Ubiquitous in urban settings are cars, trucks, and non-vehicular technological items. What if instead of werewolves (lets face it, wolves are not an urban species) your setting used werecars? While only found in the highest-brow media, the city of Thermostadt is great inspiration for this kind of setting.
Also, at this point I prefer an open or quasi-open setting. Trying to justify staying secret for any length of time just gives me a headache.
Only the “highest-brow media”! I hope some of the variants presented this week and last for how a secret set up could work might ease down that headache!
A direction I don’t think I’ve seen an urban fantasy/horror game line take, is the one presented in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, by Charline Harris – that the existence of the supernatural has recently ‘gone public’, but the intricacies of, say, vampire politics and society are largely unknown by mortals.
This gives plenty of room for all kinds of perspectives to be portrayed within the game, from all sides – some mortals will be excited by the revelations and want to find ways to ’embrace’ (pun intended) the new paradigm, while others will be horrified to learn that the monsters of folklore and horror movies are real; similarly, there will be supernatural factions who seek to integrate openly with mortals, while others may yearn for the days they were skulking in the shadows. There may be still other factions who take a more separatist stance – the genie can’t be put back into the bottle, but that’s no reason why monsters and mortals should commingle.
Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone should be bidding for the True Blood RPG licence – the time for doing that would have been ten years ago, at the peak of the show’s popularity. But I do think that Harris’ world building and setting took an approach that hasn’t been seen elsewhere, and could be an interesting perspective to explore.
The idea of making it a recently opened world is totally a legit way of having a bit of the hidden world still influencing things, but the point where you’re needing to justify the secrets has been stepped past. Of course, as mentioned in another comment, that means that somebody has to establish the ramifications – us or the Storyteller/GM – and there will still be a lot of edge-case adjudication. You know how players are. 🙂
While I do not go full on Vought Industries with it, knowledge of Scions is very much a thing in The World in my games. Hero level Scions are treated like celebrities with their triumphs and failures on display in the nightly news.
Leader boards? 😉 Definitely an extrapolation of the basic open set up, and totally appropriate for when the dial is turned to that side of the range of secret to open.
I am on a journey for the last two weeks. My comment on the last MMN was probably too late to be read. But it Shows that I am exploring the hidden World idea once again.
Over the last week I consumed some supernatural TV shows and noticed, how important the transition from “normal” world to “other” world is. It is one of the core experiences for mortal CofD and Hunter. The Embrace of Vampire, the moment of “you are back in Kansas but it doesn’t know you anymore” (it’s a form of reversed or deconstructed form of the process) in CTL have some very magical moments for players. You could play a game about mortals solving a mundane murder plot, but many of us a here to solve a mystery murder plot with dark secrets we aren’t supposed to know, that are dangerous and not part of our usual realm of experiences. We could play a fame of intruige with a political party or a company at the center and how some want it to rise and others to fall, but I want the added mystery and magic.
And at this point I come to the depiction of a norse god in the Dresden Files, who became a CEO and his devine servants are his employees. It’s a fun idea but it takes away the mystery the secret of divinity (well for me at least.)
I haven’t delved deep into Scion yet, only ran the jumpstarter, and I had my troubles to differentiate Scion (2ndE) from a game about Wonder Woman, that would be a super hero game with a divine/mythic backstory. I am missing the element that’s making the experience stand out for me.
I am giving Scion a second shot but I am changing my stance to support a more secretive setting. With an emphasis on the moment of transformation or entering the secret world. There are those who profit from the secret world and those who have suffered.
Maybe the secret world is something more literal like the astral plane in Shadowrun. You can use your powers and show your true being there, in an in-between place. You assaulting a guard in werewolf form draws them into the in-between and if they survive it all seems like a feverdream. But once you have entered the secret world you can return more easily. Interest groups develop around this fact and take advantage of that. They handle their connections with the secret world like any other company secret and avoid sharing it to have an edge over competitors. Governments handle the secret world covert too like a secret weapon or intelligence project. Going in the in-between means high risk high reward for there are werewolf and vampires and demons and worse.
Nice points about the transformation, or the entering the secret world and how powerful that can be. It also underlines the difference between most PCs and the regular folks, the mortals, and how you deal with that. Certainly, knowing stuff a lot of people do not is a thing in TTRPGs, especially horror ones, so making that a literal transformative moment puts that trope front and center. Yes, I think the action happening in a parallel reality while regular people miss it was explored a few times in WoD/CofD, and a bit in Scion 1e, too. Don’t worry about taking some weeks off, you can jump back in when you get back…we’ll be here!
Our tortoiseshell Misty passed away this morning at the age of 19. It’s particularly hard for Mom.
So sorry to hear that, hope your Mom is OK.
I’m guessing the new They Came From may be something along the lines of “They Came from the OK Corral!” There might have been a subtle hint dropped in the art direction notes.
Could be a ruse…
I prefer a “Masquerade” for a few different reasons, but the main one is the opportunities for thought exercises. Meaning, I can look at our world, as it is tonight, and say “What if I were Embraced tonight?” And the sheer magnitude of that question can spin off a thousand games.
And a huge chunk of that depends on the need for secrecy and the lack of any infrastructure to support you. Simply finding a place to sleep without being exposed to the sun could be very difficult because the world doesn’t easily accommodate a need that, presumably, no body has. Similarly, the need to drink blood.
A world that accepts the supernatural as a normal part of life would just be too fantastical to hold my interest. It would, by necessity, be vastly different from the real world,. And the “our world, but with a twist” approach to the setting is a huge part of why I love WoD and CoD.
The secrecy also enhances the power fantasy.
Even the lowliest fledgling vampire, new pup, or newly awakened mage, can have moments when they might feel superior, or at least more privileged, than any normal human.
It’s why some people believe certain conspiracies so strongly. They think they know a secret nobody else does, and it makes them feel superior.
Now remove any semblance of doubt and give them powers.
“Sure, you might be the President, but I’m an immortal from a lineage of Kings that dates back to the dawn of the human species. And I’ll still be here when everything you know is dust.” That’s a sentence a day-old Ventrue can say with a straight face. And any member of any clan, tribe or Tradition could say something along the same lines. “We are man and beast, spirit and flesh…” “I have peered behind the curtain, and seen the truth of reality laid bare..”
It’s all about being part of a super special secret club.
Point being, yeah, I think the element of secrecy is critical and would have pretty much no interest in a setting where the existence of supernatural creatures was a commonly accepted truth.
Two very good points: first, that having access to a secret (and scary), hidden world is a thing that makes the PCs special, or at least, un-average, and secondly, that there is no regular, mortal infrastructure for how to exist in this strange new world. Which suggests that both the PC and their player need to learn more about the world, just to exist, which is a nice rationale for why you’re reading the game book! 🙂
Exactly. There is an element of “I want to pretend to be a vampire. But wait, I don’t know how to be a vampire!” So they buy the books to learn and be inspired. And the same goes for STs. So much of the value of the books are in their explanations of how these secret societies work, and how their machinations can spin out story hooks.
Sure, the ST could make it all up in their own. But that’s a hell of a lot of work if they want something with both some depth and logic behind it. And let’s be real, most people don’t have the right combination of motivation, time and creativity to build that sort of thing.
And it’s fun to talk about a shared world with other people. Typically, nobody want to hear about your home brew setting. But my ears might perk up if I hear someone talking about what they did with Lodin in their VtM game. Now I’ve got some context I can relate to.
The idea of being a part of a secret society is just cool. And while the idea of playing in a world where the supernatural is in the open certainly seems novel, I just don’t know if it has any lasting appeal. At least, not for me.
Another interesting point that I’ve certainly noticed over the years in the idea that the lore, or canon, or history, or backstory, etc. enables common ground for discussions in the community. To use your own example, I’ve seen folks arguing that “Lodin would never fall for that!” after a new edition of Chicago By Night came out. Lodin, in published material, maybe has only appeared in a couple of pieces of art and a scattering of paragraphs in books, but because of the impression and how folks have fit that into their Chronicles, he has an expected way to behave. And so my Lodin, is different than your Lodin, and that gives us points to discuss (argue about). Which, I am convinced after years in this biz, is one of the primary ways fans enjoy their TTRPG experiences.
The world being open wouldn’t prevent a Ventrue from saying that, though. Or mean that newly sired/First-Changed/Awakened mortals would know so much about being a vampire, werewolf or mage that they wouldn’t need to read a sourcebook. The supernaturals and hunters in the Chronicles of Darkness generally know each other exist, but not a lot of facts about each other; the same would be true for the average mortal in an open setting.
It wouldn’t prevent it, no, the words would be the same. But the effect is very different depending on how open, if at all, the setting is to supernaturals. Totally secret: this is a big reveal that maybe the President has heard whispers about, certainly if they know it’s because that material has been top secret. So, the impact is different than if the words are said in a totally open setting. There, the Ventrue is pretty much making an open threat – that could be seen as having some real power behind it, for sure. In the open world, the Ventrue would have a reputation ala any known organized group, I’d assume. Neither are wrong ways to play it, or anything along that sliding scale between the extremes, but we all have preferences and ways that the question can be resolved that work particularly well for us, personally.
I think if supernaturals exist then trying to avoid people finding out about them unless they really trust those people is just common sense given the likely reaction, but there shouldn’t be a force like Paradox or Delirium where the universe itself is working to make people forget them. That’s too convenient. If there’s nothing stopping mortals from learning about the supernatural, then it’s all the more important for characters to be sensible about it.
I vastly prefer an open World for Scion. As has been stated, it allows a lot more Heroic behaviour out of people and monsters if we don’t need to disguise it. I also think it lends a lot to the setting of Scion if scions need to deal with worshippers, with all that entails.
That said, I think there is room for everything in the spectrum between “open magic” and “complete secrecy” in the modern fantasy/horror genre, and which works best depends greatly on the setting and its goals. I can definitely see another Masquerade-like setting, but honestly, I’m a little tired of them — I like exploring other options at this point.
On the flip-side, do you think the secret world direction allows for and/or enables more Horrific behavior because of having to hide it? Maybe it feels more like you’re getting away with being “bad” if the whole world of human rules and morality is on the other side of a veil?
I think horror by its nature tends to be about secrets, and it’s easier to create a world of ongoing secrets if the supernatural itself is one of them.
That’s certainly been part of the appeal over the years/games.
Do you guys have any plans to do a VTT supplement for Trinity? Storypath is complex enough that I’d much rather have a character sheet (and possibly a Compendium) in roll20 before I try to run it online, and all my gaming is online these days.
Yes. We’re working our way through our games deciding how best to allocate time and money with the very talented folks at Sigil, who are creating the V20 assets for us.
Although we don’t have much on roll20 right now, we do have some VTT material for the Trinity Continuum:
I have played Vampire since about 92 and many WoD/CoD games, so I find Scion 2e’s setting very new, fresh, and interesting. It is taking my group a bit to get used to having things existing more openly, but it is a very fun change of pace I am greatly enjoying.
I guess part of it is tone? For horror or mystery or thriller, it feels like the classic Vampire set up is (usually)better, while something like Scion benefits from the more open existence. I really think it is a 2e improvement from 1e. Obviously, horror or mystery does not always have to be secret, the Southern Vampire Stories did well, but unless I had a specific concept like that I would probably go with secret for that and open for adventure. As V20 discusses of course, 21st century secret can be a tall order. Something like SVS but where they came out due to secrecy becoming untenable could be interesting. Anyway, just one little Goth’s rambling
I agree with a lot of your points, there’s just something about an urban horror setting where people just casually know vampires and werewolves are among them that doesn’t really work for me in the way that Scion does, even if I like more of a masquerade for Scion as well.
That’s OK, this is not a voting thing or something like that. Everybody has a personal take on what works for them and it’d be OK even if nobody agreed 100% with anybody else! 😀
Awesome that you’re really enjoying how Scion 2e handles the openness. That’s something that maybe we could play up in talking about Scion 2e; that it is very different from a WoD or CofD experience, but can still be intense and compelling. Of course, we’d probably wind up insulting a bunch of our long-time fans in the way that even good intended marketing often does. So, maybe not! 😉
searching for any kind of update to the Lunars companion PDF, doesnt seem to be listed anymore. where might we find info on that?
You can see it on the Release Roundup. It’s listed as Many-Faced Strangers: The Lunars Companion.
Very cool comments