V20 Dark Ages: Value-Added Content (Oh yeah, and Cappadocians)

As we develop V20 Dark Ages, I get a lot of this question. “Can we see the stuff you guys talk about between drafts, the notes you cut, and all that?” Usually, we don’t include these notes because they’re silly, they become redundant, or they make us look like slightly less than consummate professionals.

My philosophy is, what the fuck ever.

I like this kind of stuff. I think it gives a deeper insight into the development of the game. And as game players, we’re all kind of game designers. At our table, we design the specifics, we tweak, we twist, we mess with our games. This kind of insight can help guide that, and I think that’s peachy keen. I think it also helps to remind readers that we’re people, too. While we can be super serious at times, that’d drive us batty if we kept it up constantly. One of my favorite examples comes from World of Darkness: Armory Reloaded. If you look closely, you can see a few of Chuck Wendig’s development notes that snuck into the main text.

So I’m going to share some of our development notes, shared between two of our writers in the Cappadocian esoterica.I find these notes particularly great, because yes, they’re a little silly, but they’re also showing the degree of attention our writers are paying to giving this the right tone, feel, and linguistic gravity. I’ve compiled it with the first draft of the Cappadocian clan, for a bit of context. 

I also kept her art notes, which kind of tickle me, but show the kinds of stuff I tend to get on the first pass from my writers. These will get expounded upon and polished before we send it over to Mike in art direction. Speaking of Mike and art, did you see his post featuring the fucking amazing Demon: The Descent art from Cathy Wilkins? I hope we can get her on V20 Dark Ages.

(The esoterica is going to be an additional “setting” chapter that’s full of all sorts of clan-driven weirdness, like minor Paths, Noddist lore, new interpretations of old lore, alternate mythology, and other neat stuff you can’t wait to see.)





Cappadocian Clan Content

Anyway, you probably came for the Cappadocian content. Here it is! Now, normal caveats apply. It’s a first draft. It’s not even been through my normal development process. So keep that in mind. While we love suggestions and thoughts, anything requiring massive rewrites is pretty unlikely to happen because of scheduling. If you want to link to this, live link to the Google Doc, because we may fuss with it.

And Where We’re At

As a basic status update, I’m redlining a lot of documents right now. I’m also getting in a few drafts here and there that relied on other drafts for completion. Some of the writers are working on their second passes. I have a sneaking suspicion this book will require a third text pass, just because so much of the text is reliant on other parts to fall into place properly. The job of a developer is mostly about continuity and congruence. That’s particularly challenging on core content.

11 thoughts on “V20 Dark Ages: Value-Added Content (Oh yeah, and Cappadocians)”

  1. Hm. The Reason Why sidebar’s missing some important words, making it a bit incoherent.

    There looks to be something missing around the word ‘even’ in “Why are they even when they seem to foresee the threats that the Giovani pose?”

    Then there’s this one, going into Lamia’s reasons, missing something around the word ‘herself’. “She tires of the Lamia herself might enjoy taking revenge”

  2. Not to be a bastard here, and I do want you guys to follow wherever your muse takes you, but I always pictured the Lamia as being the guardians of the Cappadocians for one purpose only: to ensure that Cappadocius could devour God so that Lilith could gain her revenge on God in that way.

    They simply could not forsee the breadth of the Giovanni treachery, perhaps due to someone clouding their vision. God perhaps? How’s that for supreme irony?

  3. Not to be a bastard here, and I do want you guys to follow wherever your muse takes you, but I always pictured the Lamia as being the guardians of the Cappadocians for one purpose only: to ensure that Cappadocius could devour God so that Lilith could gain her revenge on God in that way.

    They simply could not forsee the breadth of the Giovanni treachery, perhaps due to someone clouding their vision. God perhaps? How’s that for supreme irony, given their doings in the modern nights?

  4. What is a “Laura” that Ahmad is supposed to be for St. Saba?

    And though, as you say, there can’t really be any changes now, I’ve always wanted to know just how the “diablerie of God” was supposed to actually work, and what made the Cappadocians think it was even possible.

  5. Diablerie of God?

    Brushing aside that I’m behind enough on my Cappadocian lore that I’ve missed this, it isn’t even hinted at in the document. They’re just shadowy scholars obsessed with death for some reason. There need to be more hints about why the clan seeks this knowledge, and why it meets, to what end. These can be phrased as rumours and the like to avoid the truth being blindingly obvious.

    The Nosferatu’s link to the Nictucu was hinted at beautifully, couldn’t something similar be done to give the Cappadocians some depth and a purpose?

  6. This project is looking amazing Dave. I really do hope you can get Ms. Wilkins to do your artwork as well, big fan of hers. Question: Will the clan symbols maintain the gorgeous medieval crests we have seen before??

  7. I am probably not going to get this– I’m a nWoD guy these days– but the existence of a chapter of esoterica & weirdness is exactly my bag. I think 1/3rd of every book should be optional & weird, personally; the kind of optional & weird that if I decide not to use it I can still reskin or repurpose elsewhere.

  8. The intro section really felt flat. To me, the intro is meant to provide a basic understanding of the clan while grabbing the reader and getting them excited. In other words you want the reader to walk away having a basic grasp of who the clan is and want to play them.

    The initial statement of “…death is a mystery to be revered, studied and ultimately solved” provides a beautifully summarization of the ideological purpose of the clan. However I think V:DA adding that the clan “…are shunned even by their brethren for their macabre interests” makes this purpose feel exciting and taboo. DA:V ratcheted this up even further by stating that other clans see them “…as secretive and morbid” going on to hint that this is because “…they delve into mysteries that lesser Cainites and kine couldn’t begin to fathom.” Much like the fabulous Nosferatu intro, these additions add intensity, hint at storytelling depth and just make the clan seem seductive.

    This lack of excitement also occurred in the description of the clan’s stereotypical role in vamperic society. V:DA stated that they “…often fill the role of advisors to princes…[as] [t]hey are respected for their insight and wisdom, and largely trusted due to their lack of interest in earthly power.” DA:V added depth by stating that the “…politically active act as advisors to princes, viziers to mortal kings and even tutors to royal families, while the scholarly more typically haunt monasteries or plunder graveyards for the ‘subjects’ of their inquiries beyond the veil of morality.”

    The description of origins of the clan felt uninspired. The opening statement that “[t]he clans origins are shrouded in mystery” gives the reader absolutely nothing. The author has to actually create the mystery not just state it. V:DA lays the groundwork by giving the reader a few origin hints with “Cappadocious himself was an iconoclastic priest in life, and continued his search for the secrets of life, death and what lay beyond after his Becoming” and that “[h]is childer have continued his research…” DA:V took this much farther hinting that the clan “…is suspected of originating in the depths of Anatolia or Aremnia; several clan legends mention desert sands, subterranean cities and rolling plains” and adds that “[t]he progenitor of the clan, known only as Cappadocious…gives his childer great berth, merely asking that they uphold the quest for answers to the undead state.” DA:V also drops a bombshell with the statement that “[s]cholars believe that many Cappadocians either spend their nights in the cold arms of torpor or have immigrated into the Saracen East, as Cainite history implies that they were once far more common than they are tonight.” The hint of a clan on decline adds real tension. DA:V also keeps going by adding “…they are disorganized and far-flung” but describes a clan that “…congregate at certain time in temples, libraries and universities” to “…consult with one another on what they have learned, trading secrets and blasphemies, sainted truths and gossips…” DA:V and DA:V have added all kinds of possible plot hooks, locations of interest, and generally draws the reader into shadowy places. These additions actually create mysteries rather than just saying the clan is mysterious.

    Finally, the over generalization of the intro has created a major issue regarding the clan’s discipline and, in turn, completely fails to touch on the most interesting event for the clan in the medieval era. The problem is the statement that “[o]ne of the unique and well-guarded powers of the Cappadocians is the discipline of Necromancy.” This generalization is simply not correct. As DA:V nicely sums it up, the clans’ “…studies and obsessions manifest most potently in their twisted Discipline of Mortis” while DA:V adds that “…that the practice of Mortis and related studies requires patient research and a plentiful supply of dead flesh.” Mortis is the discipline of the Cappadocians, not necromancy. This is a dangerous over generalization because it undermines the importance and addition of the Giovanni. V:DA states that “[t]he clan has recently Embraced a small cabal of necromancers in order to further their studies” and this cabal is “…currently developing a Discipline of their own, although it is far from polished.” Further plot hooks are implied by adding that “[i]t is the hope of the Cappadocians that this shared knowledge will help break down the final barriers, revealing the truths they have sought for millennia.” DA:V actually back tracks only hints in passing that the clan includes “…a Venetian merchant family rumored to be skilled in the arts of nigrimancy.” Their are very distinct lines between the Cappadocians and the newly embraced Giovanni. These fundamental differences in disciplines creates distinctive differences and plot ideas. The fact that Clanbook limited the Giovanni to only three dots in necromancy helped to reinforce that the Giovanni Discipline is still in development and that Mortis was the dominate and established Discipline in the Dark Ages’ setting. Further it helps to reinforce that the Giovanni itself is in development and just a bloodline of the Cappadocian clan.

    I would hasten to add that I am not trying to say that the intros from V:DA and DA:V should simply be reprinted word for word. I think I am trying to point out that this rough draft has the right fundamental ideas but has been drained of its soul. The V:DA intro was very short but managed to inject some brief hints of very dark waters beneath. DA:V really started to give us a sense of how dark and deep the waters went. This intro lacks both the darkness and the depth this clan deserves in the 20th edition. Part of what makes dark ages differ from modern nights is that the fact that Baali, Salubri and the Cappadocians are alive (though perhaps not well). Thus I feel that all three deserve a little extra love.


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