Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vampire Play Report: The Hounds of Chicago

A few weeks ago, I started a Vampire: the Requiem chronicle, with the promise that I would make a few blog posts so that everyone would have something to reference, and also so I could write about my game and fulfill my narcisistic tendencies by putting my adventures up on the webs. So, very late, here it is.

Chicago Hounds is a little different from most games of Vampire I've played. Instead of dealing with vague plots where the Prince orders you to go do something because he's older than you and you are a neonate and everyone is out to get you, I decided to give my game a little structure, as well as grant my players a little power.

I love Vampire, but for a game where you get to play a badass, sexy, blood-drinking hellion of the night, it's rare that I ever felt like it. Sure, some of my characters have been over the top, but I always felt that the way I was approaching the game was a little different from the rest of the people at the table. So instead of making all the characters bow and quiver in fear when they come across the Great and Terrible Prince of the Vampires, and instead of making the characters all the whipping-boys of some older, and therefore more powerful, vampire, I'd give them a little power themselves.

This change of theme, I think, is helped by the fact that I'm using Requiem, not Masquerade. Requiem has, compared to Masquerade, a much looser, more toolkit approach. Not only is there no real metaplot at play in the books, but the approach the games takes allows a GM to tinker with the assumptions of the game.

Having decided I wanted my players to have a little more power in the game, I needed to give them something to do. Instead of just littering a city map with NPC's and little plot points, I wanted to give my players some solid direction.

Thanks to the Requiem Chronicler's Guide, I got some ideas.

Using the procedural-style chronicle idea, I went back to an idea I'd had a while ago, where the characters were the cops of the city, and thus got to be Miami Vice with fangs.

I made my players the Hounds of the city. Under the direction of the Sheriff, they'd go out and quiet masquerade breaches, bring the Prince's justice to those who would defy it, and flash their badges and be really important. So they would have bosses, but a grumpy, brooding boss giving you the order to hunt down a neonate who broke the Masquerade on a crowded subway car and drive a stake through his unbeating traitor's heart is a lot more palatable than being told that should you not deliver a package or inspect a mysterious warehouse, you would be put to the final death for daring to mock your elders by not doing as they say.

Both are cool and evocative, but constantly having the proverbial sword of Damocles hang over my head when I'm trying to pretend to be an awesome cool vampire with awesome cool vampire powers harshes my vibes.

Anyway, I decided to set my game in Chicago, using the setting book by the same name. I did this because Chicago is a great city for police stories. It's Chicago. Half the cop and detective shows and books out there take place in the Second City. Also, the book has a wealth of information about, and maps of, the city, which is pretty handy. It's all in one place, instead of all over the internets. Plus, the Chicago book has plenty of cool NPC's in it. I don't want the NPC's to be the ones doing all the fun, dramatic, operatic vampire stuff and threatening the PC's. I want them to be window dressing. The PC's story comes first, and if an NPC can help move that story along, awesome.

There are a ton of NPC's in the book, though, so I decided to make Chicago mine a little more by deciding who gets to stay and who gets cut. I want to make NPC's that are tailored to the needs of my PC's more than making the PC's try and fit in with the NPC's.

Oh, and most of the mages and werewolves got excised, because I'm not running those games, and also I think a cabal of sorcerers based around baseball imagery is kind of silly.

Most of the vampire higher-ups remained. Prince Maxwell, Persephony Moore, Scratch, and Birch remained, along with others. Birch is a great villain, and I want to get the PC's involved in his feud with the Invictus. I'm a little worried that that would make the story more about Birch vs. Maxwell than it needs to be, but I think I can make it work. Besides, my boyfriend hates Birch, so getting personal involvement from him won't be a problem, and I think one of the other characters, a Carthian, would love a chance to bring down a tyranical religious psychopath.

Also I think it's hilarious that Moore ruined Birch's eugenics project by giving the family he was designing AIDS.

That's how you get revenge.

I'll get into the characters themselves and their adventures later.

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