Player FAQ

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Metagame Questions

What do I need to do to create a PC?

What times do we play, and what do we play over?

What is the party dynamic like?

What clans and covenants are allowed?

What’s your philosophy on PC deaths?

Can I invite a friend?

You use Requiem rules with Masquerade’s setting?

Do I need to buy Requiem’s 2e rulebook?

What Requiem rules do I need to read?

Can I read more about Masquerade?

Any other advice for playing in the game?

Gameplay Questions



First, familiarize yourself with the game’s setting. Go to the wiki’s Main Page and do some reading.

Second, put together a character sheet for your PC. Follow the instructions on the Character Creation. You can do that by yourself or together with me; I’m happy to walk players through the PC creation process, whether they are newbies unfamiliar with the rules or old hands who like getting feedback on their choices from the GM.

What times do we play and what do we play over?


We play over Google Hangouts at… well, I’ll explain how it works.

Every PC has their own Hangout over Google. I post messages in each. The players reply whenever is convenient. I reply whenever is convenient. When a player and I happen to be online at the same time, this blossoms into a spontaneous mini-session that can last anywhere from several minutes to several hours. Otherwise, we play message tag back and forth throughout the week.

You may be apprehensive about not playing at fixed times, but I have found that it works out surprisingly well. The group doesn’t have to worry about scheduling 5-hour blocks out of their lives and play when we’re all able, but the steady stream of replies (and ability to follow other frequently updating chat rooms) keeps players hooked. The fact that players are talking in a live chat room and frequently checking the “site” (due to the game being hosted over their email provider) keeps players more invested than play-by-post. When we aren’t gaming (and when we are), it’s pretty common for the group just to talk about random stuff in the OOC room, which seems to foster a greater sense of community than play-by-post does. The one downside is that for players who don’t use gmail, their new account becomes another site to periodically check. C’est la vie.


At this point, PCs belong to the same mortal community, but they do not necessarily belong to a cohesive party or ‘coterie’. Depending on player interests, choices, and availabilities, PCs may operate independently of one another and spend the majority of their time pursuing their own goals and interests. Sometimes they may cross paths with other PCs: occasionally as allies, other times as adversaries. PvP is allowed but not compelled. It’s up to each PC how they interact with their fellows. If the players/PCs choose to work together, I will accommodate such. If not, I will likewise facilitate independence and/or competition. As PCs delve into the area’s mysteries and both face and potentially become abhumanity, PC interactions may continue to develop such that players might become a true coterie, rivals, nemeses, or some other alternative or amalgamation.

In short, PCs will all be connected by the small, strange community that they share –but their choices will ultimately determine whether their relationships are defined by cooperation, conflict, or some combination.

Beyond my preference for organic, player-driven role-playing, I have another reason for this approach: players drop out. I prefer to GM for tightly-knit, long-term gaming groups, but player attrition is an all-too frequent, if still regrettable, part of online games. Player attrition and absences are easier to accommodate when the PCs’ plot threads aren’t closely tied together, as I can let one player go without greater impacting things for the others.


All PCs begin as mortal humans, though over the course of the game, they will have opportunities to become more (or less, depending on one’s perspective). Players are encouraged to convey their preferences to me. Note, however, that this is just a preference rather than a pronouncement. Ultimately, the clan and covenant of any Kindred PC will be determined by player choices –and the reactions of potential sires.

For example, you might decide to play the beautiful if conceited daughter of a foreign investor in the local saw mill. Such a character may well attract a Toreador sire, but it could also just as likely attract a Nosferatu one. As the game focuses on psychological, ontological, and epistemological exploration and horror, the latter Embrace may be more appropriate to the development of both the character and the campaign. Naturally, I will seek to honor player goals –but I will ultimately view them as guidelines rather than meta-game straight-jackets. This is not to say that I will be capricious or arbitrary; instead, I will encourage and listen to OOC-shared preferences but pay the most attention to how PCs act and react to the community and characters around them.

That said, there is one caveat for players wanting their initially mortal PCs to become Kindred: you may assume all clans and covenants are potential options –so long as they belong to the Camarilla. The prohibition against Sabbat-aligned PCs may change, but for now, playing a Sabbat-aligned Kindred is off limits.

Follow-up question: Vampires aren’t my thing, can I play something else?

Potentially. Mages, wraiths, hunters, and werewolves are potential options. Prometheans may also become options down the line.

What’s your philosophy on PC deaths?


Succinctly, I don’t fudge rolls, either for or against PCs, and I don’t shield them from the consequences of their actions. No character in the game is too big to fall, and victory is meaningless without the possibility of defeat.

I do make efforts to ensure that what PCs would know, their players also know. Sometimes that takes the form of Mental-based rolls, or even telling players outright in particularly obvious cases (i.e., if you’re playing a character with Occult 5, your PC would know that ghosts aren’t usually harmed by mundane bullets or brass knuckles). Nevertheless, I simply relay facts and never tell players what they should or shouldn’t do. Not only does that rob them of agency, it’s boring for me as a GM. Watching players take the game in unexpected new directions is half the fun.

Can I invite a friend?


This has come up several times. Gaming with your friends is awesome, and I am happy to welcome more players aboard! There are a couple things to go over first.

Depending on the game’s current state, there might not be room for more players. So as to avoid getting your friends’ hopes up, ask me whether there’s any open slots before you tell your buds about this awesome game you’ve found. If the answer is no, we won’t disappoint them. I’ll also want to chat with your friend(s) myself and get a feel for what their play-style is like before saying yes.


We still use Masquerade’s thirteen clans rather than Requiem’s five. The Camarilla is still at war with the Sabbat, the Antediluvians still play their Jyhad with younger Kindred as their puppets, Caine is still widely believed to be the progenitor of all vampires, Mithras was still the Prince of London until WWII, Patricia of Bollingbroke still shot Hardestadt with a pistol at the Convention of Thorns, etc. If you are a long-time Masquerade fan, everything you know still holds true.

The setting is metaplot-neutral. All of the developments that happened during Revised edition (Ravnos being killed off in the Week of Nightmares, the Assamite schism, Sabbat East Coast offensive, Cathayans invading California, etc.) haven’t happened.

In addition, we’ve pilfered a number of setting elements from Requiem. The covenants exist as sub-factions within the Camarilla (rather like the Tremere already do) just to name the most prominent one.


Let me know if you don’t have it. I know a guy.


Because you will begin with PCs who are both mortal and largely or wholly ignorant of Kindred, you technically only need to read the rules that describe Attributes, Skills, Merits, Advantages, and general gameplay mechanics. These are found in Requiem’s 2e rulebook, but also in the Chronicles of Darkness rulebook (whose flavor is also excellent and potentially helpful). In the Requiem book, these rules are located on the following pages:

Pages 163-170 cover the game’s dice rolling system and universal basics.
Pages 79-83 cover how to create a PC.
Pages 175-182 explain the combat system.

However, since it is presumed that most if not all of the PCs will be ghouled or Embraced, I still recommend that you read over the following:

Pages 84-109 cover the specific rules for playing vampire characters.
Pages 31-44 tell you what the covenants are all about (flavor, no mechanics).

Everything else is either flavor (some of which contradicts the game’s setting; this is a Masquerade game with Requiem rules) or rules only circumstantially relevant to players. Disciplines are the most notable example of that latter category; obviously, you should read the rules for the ones you aspire to master.

Beyond the previously mentioned parts of Requiem’s rulebook, you should read pages 11-46 of Masquerade’s rulebook (which I can make available via pdf if you don’t have), as well as the write-ups for the game’s seven Camarilla clans (Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavian, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere, Ventrue). Everything you need to understand the basics of vampires in the Classic World of Darkness is outlined there.

I’ll also advise you not to read the parts of Requiem’s rulebook not specifically mentioned. Despite being superficially similar games (both are about playing vampires in a crapsack world), they are very different in tone, theme, and innumerable minor details. At the same time, they also share lots of similarities and reuse a number of concepts, down to the same names -which they then put their own distinct spins on. If you’re new to Masquerade, you’ll likely end up pretty confused when our game seems to simultaneously use and contradict the setting information mentioned in Requiem. If it helps, think of us as playing a 3.0 D&D setting (which has lots of 3.0 mechanics) using Pathfinder rules, and referencing the books of both.


Absolutely. Masquerade is an incredibly rich game with a 24-year history and dozens of published books. For a brand new player interested in learning more about Masquerade, I’d recommend Lore of the Clans, the V20 Companion, Rites of Blood, and Anarchs Unbound to start you off.

Once again, you do not have to read or know this material before playing in this game -and your player certainly will not initially know this material. But I still recommend it so you can decide if you can ‘embrace’ the setting’s take on vampires. For example, you need to know that vampires are not sparkling, tragically misunderstood beings who will knock up your teenage daughter and then marry off your half-vampire granddaughter to a werewolf. Really.


Treat the NPCs as real people. Characters and their relationships are the heart of my games. By that same token, I play my NPCs as ‘real’ people. They act first and foremost to advance their own interests, they remember how they’ve been treated (for good or ill) by PCs, and they are proactive in pursuing their agendas. Players who can find ways to make NPCs’ goals dovetail with their PCs’ goals will go far with them. PCs who run roughshod over NPCs and treat them as window dressing won’t have so rosy a time. I’m sure this sounds obvious, but it’s surprised a number of my previous players, and it may well surprise future ones.

Gameplay Questions




* Use present tense, not past tense. Example: “Bob opens the door” vs. “Bob opened the door.”

* Use third person. Example: “Bob opens the door” vs. “I open the door.”

* When emoting your character’s thoughts or internally monologuing, use the _ tags instead of quotes. Example: I hate opening doors, Bob thinks.

* When communicating telepathically, use the _ tags preceded by :: in place of quotes. Example: :: I hate opening doors too, :: Jane’s voice sounds in Bob’s mind.

* When your character is communicating via the written word (whether email, texting, or plain old-fashioned letters), use the _ tags instead of quotes. Example: Dear Jane, Bob writes, I really hate opening doors. You have no idea. Sincerely, Bob

* When the GM summarizes an exchange, respond with a summary rather than line-by-line dialogue. Summaries are intended to briskly move the game along, so it defeats the point when the player types their response out word-for-word. (It also makes the tenor of the scene as a whole consistent.) Example:

GM: Jane writes back that she despises opening doors too. Her parents were killed by doors, and hatred has burned hot within her breast for all their kind ever since.

Bob: Encouraged, Bob pens yet another scathing diatribe denouncing doors in all their shapes and forms.


If a player’s PC is killed, their new PC carries over their full XP total.


Players are responsible for keeping track of ongoing bonuses and penalties to their rolls. If I say, “Roll Resolve + Composure – 3,” and a player’s PC has a condition that gives -1 to Resolve + Composure rolls, they’re expected to roll Resolve + Composure – 4 without me reminding them of the math.

One easy way to keep track of ongoing modifiers is to post them in the initiative Hangout, which is already used to track PCs’ Health/Willpower/Vitae.

If a player forgets a bonus or penalty immediately after a dice roll, but someone remembers it before I describe the results in-character, we factor it in. Once the roll’s results have been described, any forgotten modifiers become null and void, for good or ill.

Remember that no bonus or penalty is ever higher than +5 or -5 respectively, and that any caps to your dice pools are just that, a cap. You apply bonuses or penalties first, and the cap second. You do not cap your dice pool and then apply bonuses or penalties.


For the most part, the approach here is pretty fast and loose. Many traits can be purchased instantly, while others require downtime.

Attributes

If increasing the Attribute makes sense with your character’s recent actions (ie, raising Stamina or Wits after getting into repeated fights), or if you already have above average dots in the relevant Attribute, you can instantly spend XP to raise it. I’m not particularly strict here, and am only likely to necessitate a waiting period for purchases that contradict a character’s established history. Wanting to raise a 98-pound weakling’s Strength 1 to a bodybuilder’s Strength 4, for example, will probably only be doable during downtime and following roleplay that indicates the weak character trying to build up their muscle mass.

Skills

These are a bit stricter, but still largely depend on the Skill to be increased.

If your character is using the Skill regularly, has high dots in it, or both, you can spend the XP instantly. Contrariwise, if your character hasn’t been using the Skill regularly, but none of her actions in-game have actually established that she has low dots, you can instantly spend the XP and simply declare that your character knew the Skill all along, recently picked it up through training during off hours, etc. This happens all the time in various forms of media.

If purchasing dots in the Skill would contradict a previously established fact about your character (ie, buying Brawl 3 after having the stuffing kicked out him in a fight), downtime training will be in order. Mental Skills are particularly stringent in this regard. If your character has 0 Academics and you want to buy them up to Academics 4 (the equivalent of jumping from a high school education to a PhD), that’ll take an extended period of downtime. (Unless, of course, she never revealed how learned she was until now.)

Generally, the more dots purchased, and the more divorced from the character’s established history, the more likely there’ll need to be downtime training.

Merits

As with Skills, characters can instantly spend XP on Merits by retroactively declaring they’ve had them all along. For example, if you buy Allies (Witiko Falls High School) 2, you might introduce Dillon Sweeney, last year’s runner-up for Satyr as your character’s friend. You were always friends, he just never got any screen time until now. TV shows do this sort of thing all the time.

Some Merits may be impossible to justify as part of a character’s hitherto unrevealed history. In that case, I’ll work them into the story within the next session or two. A rare few Merits may take longer and only be possible to purchase during downtime.

Morality

Morality increases must always be accompanied by significant in-game interactions with mortals that indicate sincere desire on the character’s part to become closer to humanity. Examples might include making restitution to a still-living victim, looking after a deceased victim’s surviving family, taking confession (and doing penance) with a priest, etc. Even spending all night with a mortal filling out coloring books and talking about mundane things could qualify, so long as the act is done out of genuine desire to connect with a human being on a humane, prosocial level.

In all cases, a PC’s efforts to raise their Morality should further their relationships with mortal characters. The PC should walk away from the interaction knowing the mortal’s name and have a concrete reason for how the interaction impacted the mortal’s life. Raising Morality is handled much more strictly than raising one’s other stats.

How Instantly Can Players Instantly Spend XP?

Anytime other than during the middle of a scene where the XP expenditure would be relevant over Hangouts. (e.g., no choosing to increase your Stamina just when you’ve been reduced to 1 Health in a firefight). Players should decide how they want to spend their XP between sessions. If we’re playing over Hangouts, changes to PC stats take effect at the start of the next scene or the end of the current one.

One exception exists to this: characters may use an Analepsis or Presage to spend accumulated XP on something, even during the middle of the scene. In this case, the Merit/Skill/Whatever purchased becomes the focus of the flashback or foreshadowing.

How Much XP Can I Save?

XP is meant to be spent, not saved for rainy days. Players may retain up to 5 unspent Experiences at any given time. The GM may make exceptions for players who are saving their XP to be spent at an auspicious time.


Players track when their character regains Willpower. How does this work? Every time a player feels their PC has fulfilled their Virtue’s/Vice’s criteria for regaining Willpower, they should bring it to my attention. For example: “Hey, GM, does punching out that guy for calling me a jerk me fulfill my Vice of Wrathful?”

I’ll probably say yes most of the time. Be reasonable, and don’t ask for trivial things that take no substantive effort on your PCs’ part or carry no real consequences. (e.g., punching out your sister’s boyfriend grants Willpower if your Vice is Wrathful, because there’ll probably be consequences. Punching out the biggest enforcer in the mob grants Willpower, because it’ll probably take some real effort on your PCs’ part to win that fight. Swearing after you stub your toe, not so much.)

Player FAQ

Witiko Falls: Disillusion Parasomniac Calder_R