Sunday, April 4, 2010

Power Gamer: Vampire Games

Vampire the Masquerade from a Real Power Gamer

For those that do not know, there is a set of games that deal strictly with all the horror mythology. One of the games is called Vampire: The Masquerade. In the game you role-play a vampire. Your enemies are humans, werewolves, mages, fairies, ghosts, oh and other vampires. In the game your powers are called disciplines. The vampire characters are divided up into families of vampires, sort of like the mafia, called clans. Because a vampire is made by infusing a human with blood, that new vampire takes on the genetic imprint from the blood of the vampire that made him. Voila! You have your clans.

In researching something on the net, I ran across some message boards. On one such message board it was discussing the disciplines. On poster was utterly disgusted by another poster that had more than 3 disciplines. Then it dawned on me. A majority of people who call themselves gamers, are in fact card carrying, care bears. They're the type who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a shot gun. Upon further reflection I remember back to my vampire games and... they were all under-powered.

What's wrong with under-powered games? It is the same reason Hollywood puts out predictable tripe, complete lack of imagination.

Follow me for a second here. Let's say you had a sword fighting game. How much imagination does it take to understand the mechanics of stab, swing, parry. Not much eh? Everyone could understand that in about 2 seconds. But, what if you had to understand:
  • basic riposte: which means you parry intentionally, to launch a counter attack
  • riposte to disarm: which means you parry, jar the persons arm, then launch a disarm
  • riposte to stun: which means you feint, jar, parry, then pommel the weapon to stun the person's arm
Clearly those are far more advanced than a stab. But this is the type of game people settle on playing, or presenting to their players.

Power Gamer's Games

If everyone understands the rules and mechanics of a game, there should be no reason why they can't understand advanced disciplines and multiple disciplines.

In the vampire the masquerade world, the oldest vampires knew nearly all the disciplines. The clans don't even start until you get to the 6th vampires down the line. That means that everyone before them could care less what disciplines they had, because they had access to them all.

So in a power game, you simply could have players gain access to disciplines outside of their normal clan disciplines. So instead of just the 3 disciplines, you spice it up by learning more.

People often mistake depth for power. More often than not, the most powerful person in a game is the one with control over many facets of powers. Think James Bond. He was like a boy scout, always prepared, always had an ace up his sleeve. He didn't have to be the best sharp shooter in the scene, he simply had to outsmart, outwit and overcompensate with props than anyone else.

If you have ever played an open ended game that allowed you the opportunity to learn different things, the more things you learned the mower powerful you became.

Let's take Dungeons & Dragons. A Thief / Magic-user / Paladin / Bard, would stomp a Magic-User any day. Think about it, half the magic that would be cast at the multi-class character, would be ignored.

So what would a real power gamer vampire character look like? Easy, some character with about 50 different disciplines in about 10 different areas. Think about it, a vampire can learn 2 beginner disciplines in a week. Some disciplines resist other disciplines, simply by having the same discipline. So even if you were a fledgling vampire, your survival rate would skyrocket if you had the beginning disciplines of 10 different discipline trees.

Think about this, while other players are putting efforts to influence the mortal human world, you would concentrate on your disciplines. Let's say they wanted to take you out, so they send their humans to find your hide out during the day to kill you. This is a very scary thought for most players. There really is no defense against it, except having your own human gofers protect you right? No. Because you have been concentrating on disciplines, you created an illusion that the building you're housed in is burned up and fallen to the ground. The humans would utterly believe that there is no point even going through the wreckage. And, because they are just humans, there is no way for them to disbelieve the powerful vampiric illusion.

For every human action, there is always a vampiric discipline that trumps it. Let's say you have them chasing you in a car. You can:
  • disappear
  • make them forget you
  • make them wreck their own car
  • make them flee in terror
  • make them kill each other
  • outrun the car
So the weapon of choice for a power gamer is disciplines. If you're not hording the disciplines, you're doing it wrong.

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