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Subject: WIP: Vampire: the Masquerade board game rss

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Emanuel Montero
Spain
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Hi,

I'm designing a Vampire: the Masquerade game for my girlfriend and our friends. We've been playing the RPG for ages and I just want to create a simple game for 2+ players in sessions of 30 minutes to 2 hours (shorter than a typical RPG session, with less players involved).

I have previously toyed with the idea of a Vampire: the Masquerade card game (nothing to do with the official VTES CCG). My card game showed to be a total failure after the first playtest.
Now I'm trying to re-design the game from the ground up, taking the few elements that worked in my first prototype (basically the vampire creation method based in hidden and public cards).

Also, I've been playing with a simple variation of parcheesi with a D&D theme, where each player controls a barbarian, a wizard, a thief and an elf (something like parcheesi meets HeroQuest). I think it wouls be great to merge both ideas: the vampire card game with the HeroQuest parcheesi variation. Here's where I am:

RULES:

Game contents:
Sect, clan, discipline, merits and flaws, backgrounds, wound cards.
Blood counters.
Vampire miniatures, enemy miniatures.
A book of chronicles.
A modular game board.
Safe cells pieces.
Location cards.
Regular 2D6 dice for movement.
Custom 2D6 dice for combat.

Character Creation:
Each player plays the role of a neonate vampire, so you have to create one vampire character for each player:
Shuffle the clan deck and take 1 clan card (hidden) for each player. Each clan card forces you to take 1 specific merit and flaw card. Shuffle the merits and flaws deck and take a second card. Shuffle the backgrounds deck and take 2 hidden cards. Shuffle the discipline deck and take 3 discipline cards. Take a miniature for your vampire, and the maximum amount of blood counters that indicates your clan card (modified by some background cards such as Generation). Now you have created your vampire: keep in mind that you have 3 hidden cards (1 clan card and 2 background cards), and 5 public cards (2 merits and flaws and 3 disciplines).

Storytelling:
Each chronicle of Vampire: the Masquerade determines which sects fight in the game, so the first step after choosing a chronicle is to determine who plays with/against who. You can choose which sect you want to belong or you can shuffle as many cards as the story indicates to draw a random sect for each player. In the example chronicle "Atlanta by night", the two sects in conflict are the Camarilla and the Sabbat. Take (number of players/2) Camarilla sect card and (number of players/2) Sabbat sect card and shuffle the resulting sect deck, drawing a random card for each player. Once every player has a vampire and a sect, each sect (as a team) throws a dice to determine who plays first. In each game turn, all players in one sect move their vampires, while the other sect players move the enemies. In other words, each sect (team) acts as the Game Master/Narrator for the other sect. In the example chronicle, in one turn all Camarilla players fight the Sabbat enemies controlled by the Sabbat players. And in the next turn, all Sabbat players fight the Camarilla enemies controlled by the Camarilla players (alternating one Camarilla turn and one Sabbat turn). During each turn players also alternate roles, meaning that during the Camarilla turn one Camarilla player moves and then the Sabbat team moves one enemy, then another Camarilla player moves and the Sabbat team moves another enemy, until all Camarilla players have performed their actions. Then, the turn passes to the Sabbat.

Each chronicle has different objectives and victory conditions that players must meet to win the game. These goals vary depending on the sect, usually being completely opposite. For example, in "Atlanta by night" both sects can find the Sabbat spy who is going to kill the Prince of Atlanta. The Camarilla players must kill the spy and all the Sabbat players while the Prince of Atlanta is still alive. On the other hand, the Sabbat players must simply kill the Prince of Atlanta.

Each chronicle offers a different number of locations to play in. In "Atlanta by night", the available locations are the Elyseum, a nightclub, an art gallery and the opera (4 different places where the Prince of Atlanta, and therefore the Sabbat spy, can be found). Each location has a location card that indicates the result of your research in the location. The location deck is built following the instructions of the chronicle. In the example, the location deck contains 1 card of Prince (which represents the players finding the Prince of Atlanta), 1 card of ally (which represents the players finding the Sabbat spy), 1 contact card (representing simple contacts), 1 card of resources (representing useful material, weapons, etc), and 0 cards of Enemy and Nothing (which are not necessary because there are only 4 locations). Note that both sects can find any given location card, making the story very dynamic.

Game board creation:
Let's assume that the Camarilla players choose the nightlcub location. Since the Sabbat players have to create the nightclub for the Camarilla players, the Sabbat team reads the book of chronicles and determines the general layout of the nightclub: 2 wide roads, 1 corridor entrance, 1 big circle room interior and 3 small square rooms (2 bathrooms and the nightclub office), and any number of door pieces. The game board is formed of modular rooms and corridors made of square cells, like in HeroQuest. The chronicle also determines that the location card of the nightblub can be found in the nightclub office. The Sabbat team forms a nightclub with the game board modules, trying to leave the office as far as it can be from the location entrances (the 2 wide roads).

As in parcheesi, some cells of the game board are safe, meaning that you can't be attacked in them with firearms (in terms of story, they can represent a locker, a desk, or anywhere where you can find cover). Each location in the chronicle has a different number of safe cell pieces that the narrator team can place on the game board (with a simple rule: there can be no safe cells adjacent to another safe cell). Safe cells can be used by both players and enemies. So they function as a dynamic cover system for both teams: in the example, the Sabbat players will create safe cells in strategic positions where their enemies can fire safely from cover, forcing the Camarilla players to backstab the enemies with melee or using disciplines and spend blood.

Combat
There's many forms of combat in the game. Simple combat is determined throwing 2D6 combat dice:
1-2 = Dodge
3-4 = Brawl
5 = Melee
6 = Firearms
If you want to attack an adjacent enemy, you can use Brawl, Melee and Firearms (provided you have a resources weapon card). To avoid the attack, the victim can use Dodge, Brawl and Melee. Attacks from behind gain an additional combat die.
If you want to attack a distant enemy you can only use Firearms. The victim can only use Dodge and safe cells.
As an example, my vampire is adjacent to an enemy and I throw 2D6 obtaining 1 and 6. Since I have no firearm card, I can't shoot the enemy. The enemy tries to attack me and rolls 2D6 obtaining 3 and 6. The enemy team can choose if they prefer to hit me or to shoot me. They choose to shoot me. I roll 2D6 obtaining 1 and 3. Phew, the dodge allows me to avoid the bullet.
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David Witzany
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White Wolf Entertainment AB has created a few games already to go with their Vampire RPG. Vampire: The Eternal Struggle is a collectible card game, and Vampire: Dark Influences is a game where you create a different play area each game and the players try to gain control of the vampires on the table. The game most like what you've been working on is Vampire: Prince of the City--different locations to move to, each clan's Disciplines affecting that player's strategy, and so on. There are definitely differences between your game and theirs, though, especially in the Storytelling phase.
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Emanuel Montero
Spain
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Thanks for the White Wolf background. Indeed, I should have played these games before starting my own Vampire: the Masquerade game

My first impression is that the official vampire games put the players in control of a "strange" role (which you rarely play in the vampire RPG): in VTES you play as a Methuselah, in VPOTC you play as an entire clan, and in VDI you play as a kindred trying to become a Prince. Maybe it's just my impression, but I haven't played many vampire stories with such characters or goals. I usually play with neonate vampires, trying to survive and accomplish small quests (of course, these quests may end up being a chronicle about becoming a Prince).

My intention is to create something closer to that RPG experience. Maybe an introduction to Vampire: the Masquerade, for beginners who can't cope with the complexity of the vampire RPG system. Or maybe a quick game for RPG players with no time to play a real RPG session. Just like HeroQuest approaches the D&D universe, I try to approach the Vampire universe.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Why is it for some odd reason I see Agricola adapted to Vampire... zombie

Start out small and work on expanding your lair, ghouls, and the "herd" as it were while trying to out perform your opponents.
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Emanuel Montero
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You're right! This is a very good mix. I haven't played Agricola, but it looks like a perfect fit. How about some event cards to gain blood, havens, allies, contacts and herd (that can be transformed into ghouls)? I'll work it out
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Agricola: Vampyre Edition...

Using the game as a frame then one could have some of the animals or resorces instead covering contacts, blood reserve, etc. As for events. Not sure what all Agricola has for events aside from occasional specialized workers. Been a long time since played it.
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James Hutchings
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emontero84 wrote:
Combat
There's many forms of combat in the game. Simple combat is determined throwing 2D6 combat dice:
1-2 = Dodge
3-4 = Brawl
5 = Melee
6 = Firearms


I've never played the RPG, but in VtES at least, Disciplines have a huge effect on what vampires do in combat. So a clan with Celerity would be much more likely to be able to dodge, for example. Maybe you could have different dice for different clans?
 
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Emanuel Montero
Spain
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Yes, you're right. Disciplines are very important. I haven't talked about disciplines but I'm working in a special deck of discipline cards that allow you to use your blood to achieve very powerful actions. Each clan can only use some disciplines, so you have to figth with your clan disciplines the other players.

Also, I'm reworking ghouls and contacts (mercenary, spy, bodyguard, etc) to make them more versatile. Maybe you can use them to:
a) protect your haven
b) attack other players
c) attack the ghouls/contacts of other players

Arg! there's so much to do...
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Julio César
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Pq' no abrís un tema igual en LABSK? Me parece que mucha más gente podría ayudarte. Saludos!

PD: tu concepto de juego me parece muy bueno, pero como ves difícil de implementar. En mi experiencia es mejor empoezar de a poco -con algo chico, ejemplo dos clanes rivales- que tratar de hacer todo junto
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Emanuel Montero
Spain
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No conocía esa comunidad, pero voy a registrarme ahora mismo! Gracias por el comentario. Voy a seguir tu consejo y abordar el juego en pequeños sub-sistemas
 
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