How would you hack a VtM lookalike without going anywhere near the storyteller system?

innerdude

Legend
I've mentioned a few times on this board that I've never had an affinity for the White Wolf / Storyteller systems.

Even though I was a teenager in the '90s, for whatever reason the general zeitgeist of Vampire: the Masquerade passed me by.

I've tried looking through some of the more recent Vampire/Mage/Werewolf core books, and they give me the same general impression that turned me off to White Wolf back in the day --- overly pretentious and self-important, with a mediocre/sub-par core system, that's only compelling because the vampire political maneuverings are somewhat interesting.

So I've thought recently --- What if you could lift the vampire political underpinnings out and away from their White Wolf chains and put them into another system, what would that look like?

Consider the following caveats/provisos ---

  • I'm mostly interested in capturing the background/intrigue and dramatic stakes of the setting than I am in the combat system.
  • I already have Savage Worlds and Genesys and like them both, but I'm looking for something else.
  • I'm not interested in some rando GM's pet project Storyteller remake/hack/"personal re-envisioning" of the system.
  • I am not interested in some far out-there, long-tail indie system that a grand total of eight people have ever heard of.
  • I have zero interest in Fate or GURPS.
  • I might be persuaded to consider HERO or BRP, but you'd better sell me on it.
  • I'm very much okay (better than okay) with PbtA/FitD, but I don't want it to just be some reskinned playbooks stacked on top of the AW engine. It needs to be a bit more . . . integrated into a cohesive whole.
  • From glimpses and hints from people discussing it from afar, it seems like Cortex+/Prime might be a decent match, but I have absolutely zero experience with the system. I'm already interested in it based on Tales of Xadia and Firefly. If there is a good Cortex hack, I'm all ears.
  • I already own Night's Black Agents, but am not GUMSHOE is a good fit, nor how one might switch the focus from the investigators/agents to the vampires, or if it's even worth the attempt.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I know a guy who ran VtM with Savage Worlds. GURPS attempted it, but they got hung up on some aspects of the setting (like how the Delirium works in Werewolf) to the point that they missed for the forest for the trees.
 

As someone who ran a ton of VtM back in high school, but doesn't want anything to do with it now, I hear you.

And I think a FitD hack would be a great fit. It would take some real work, but it could be worth it, since the foundations are all there.

-The score/downtime structure is perfect. Characters come together to deal with something, but can then go their separate ways, possibly for long stretches, to deal with their own problems and projects.

-The Vice mechanics are practically tailor-made for feeding, including overindulgence rules and the complications/consequences they can generate.

-Devil's Bargains line up so well, thematically, I'm kind of mad I never thought of this before.

-Racking up Traumas when you become seriously injured is a better way to show a vampire's descent into unrecognizable inhumanity than anything in VtM.

-And the general sense of play loops that are about the serious consequences and costs of your actions, where it's not just about whether you can win a given fight, but what you're willing to do or give up...that's what VtM should have been about. The system just wasn't there to make that happen.


Very tempted to try to whip up a hack myself now! Except I wouldn't want to playtest it, so...nvm.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
As someone who ran a ton of VtM back in high school, but doesn't want anything to do with it now, I hear you.

And I think a FitD hack would be a great fit. It would take some real work, but it could be worth it, since the foundations are all there.

-The score/downtime structure is perfect. Characters come together to deal with something, but can then go their separate ways, possibly for long stretches, to deal with their own problems and projects.

-The Vice mechanics are practically tailor-made for feeding, including overindulgence rules and the complications/consequences they can generate.

-Devil's Bargains line up so well, thematically, I'm kind of mad I never thought of this before.

-Racking up Traumas when you become seriously injured is a better way to show a vampire's descent into unrecognizable inhumanity than anything in VtM.

-And the general sense of play loops that are about the serious consequences and costs of your actions, where it's not just about whether you can win a given fight, but what you're willing to do or give up...that's what VtM should have been about. The system just wasn't there to make that happen.


Very tempted to try to whip up a hack myself now! Except I wouldn't want to playtest it, so...nvm.
This. You might like around for fan made stuff. Hard to put anything out officially/ wide with the IP.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
HERO is my preferred system. And when I’m porting a setting from one system to another, HERO is pretty much my go-to. I’ve used it to run superheroic Space:1889, a multi-edition D&D game (AD&D-3rd, and could have added 4th if it had been around), and started working on a M:tG campaign before abandoning it for lack of player interest.

Part of why it works is that superheroic RPGs are usually designed to accommodate a broad variety of heroic archetypes. A typical supers setting will have mutants, aliens, horror, super science, magical type heroes and others.

I’d think that the flexibility found in Mutants & Masterminds would likewise make it a good candidate.

The trick with HERO (or M&M) is to decide ahead of time how certain mechanics will work, because each system typically offers a variety of ways to model things. So for stuff that you want to remain consistent across the entire campaign setting- as opposed to potentially different for each PC/NPC- you’d have to put some time in deciding how to model X,Y & Z.

(That’s the stage I was at with modeling mana types and how Slivers worked for my HERO M:tG setting when I stopped.)
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So I've thought recently --- What if you could lift the vampire political underpinnings out and away from their White Wolf chains and put them into another system, what would that look like?

Maybe like Urban Shadows with reworked playbooks for a variety of vampires?

Or maybe like The Dresden Files (Fate-based) game?
 


innerdude

Legend
Maybe like Urban Shadows with reworked playbooks for a variety of vampires?

Or maybe like The Dresden Files (Fate-based) game?

Urban Shadows looks like a beauty. PbtA, and Magpie knows what they're doing with the ruleset (Masks is awesome). Great recommendation.

Dresden is Fate. Per OP, no interest in Fate.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Tangent: I have to say I was a member of a group that playtested GURPS:VtM back in the 1990s. And even though it wasn’t my favorite system, I had a freaking blast. Two interwoven things contributed to this.

First, I went into the play test thinking that it was my job to test the game’s limits. Since I was relatively new to GURPS- especially as compared to the group I was in- I decided to go straightforward with my mechanical choices. I designed a Brujah with maxed out Potence (physical strength & toughness) & Celerity (supernatural speed) who had been turned by a VERY old vampire. IOW, mechanically, this PC was a brutal killing machine.

Second, the character concept was absurdist. In life, he had been a private investigator. When he rose from the grave, he went Malkavian-level insane, His broken mind interpreted his newfound supernatural abilities as comic-book super powers. He was a reimagined version of NEC’s The Tick…Major Mosquito. Gear-wise, he added some body armor, a crossbow with wooden bolts, a muscle car with a big trunk (with some dirt in it) and a BMX bike rack. The bike had cards in the spokes to produce a buzz. And he had surgical steel crime straws that he used to feed in miscreants.

Effectively, he was an anti-vampire vampire of sorts, being manipulated by the group’s Toreador. Nothing like having a mad dog on your team…

My point? I don’t know why you’re eliminating GURPS from the start, but I have to admit that the game IS very capable of delivering a satisfactory V:tM experience.
 

Ulfgeir

Hero
Well, if you go by the original fluff-text, then the game is all about intrigues between the vampires and you being a monster. So in that sense maybe hacking Good Society: A Jane Austen rpg might work, especially since it doesn't have a combat system. That means you would strip away all the various disciplines and the combat system that turned Vampire the Masquerade into fanged superbeings battling each other...
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
. . . overly pretentious and self-important . . .

  • I'm not interested in some rando GM's pet project Storyteller remake/hack/"personal re-envisioning" of the system.
  • I am not interested in some far out-there, long-tail indie system that a grand total of eight people have ever heard of.
  • I have zero interest in Fate or GURPS.
  • I might be persuaded to consider HERO or BRP, but you'd better sell me on it.
  • I'm very much okay (better than okay) with PbtA/FitD, but I don't want it to just be some reskinned playbooks stacked on top of the AW engine. It needs to be a bit more . . . integrated into a cohesive whole.
Yup. I see the problem.

I think the only suggestion I'm allowed to make is...try D&D?
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Tangent: I have to say I was a member of a group that playtested GURPS:VtM back in the 1990s. And even though it wasn’t my favorite system, I had a freaking blast. Two interwoven things contributed to this.

First, I went into the play test thinking that it was my job to test the game’s limits. Since I was relatively new to GURPS- especially as compared to the group I was in- I decided to go straightforward with my mechanical choices. I designed a Brujah with maxed out Potence (physical strength & toughness) & Celerity (supernatural speed) who had been turned by a VERY old vampire. IOW, mechanically, this PC was a brutal killing machine.

Second, the character concept was absurdist. In life, he had been a private investigator. When he rose from the grave, he went Malkavian-level insane, His broken mind interpreted his newfound supernatural abilities as comic-book super powers. He was a reimagined version of NEC’s The Tick…Major Mosquito. Gear-wise, he added some body armor, a crossbow with wooden bolts, a muscle car with a big trunk (with some dirt in it) and a BMX bike rack. The bike had cards in the spokes to produce a buzz. And he had surgical steel crime straws that he used to feed in miscreants.

Effectively, he was an anti-vampire vampire of sorts, being manipulated by the group’s Toreador. Nothing like having a mad dog on your team…

My point? I don’t know why you’re eliminating GURPS from the start, but I have to admit that the game IS very capable of delivering a satisfactory V:tM experience.
Perhaps it's the Mandela effect, but I remember there being a lot of controversy surrounding these books- White Wolf thought this would be a major coup for the game, and yet the books took 2 years to come out, and when White Wolf complained about it, they were told some very nasty things about their game by the Steve Jackson staff.

When I looked at GURPS VtM, I remember seeing a very high point cost for vampires to be Immune to the Delirium caused by Werewolves which I thought was a bit silly.

However, since I admit I haven't played the game, and have only my general problems with GURPS to call on (all the important rules are in sidebars! points are not points!) I may be being unfair to the product as I was a White Wolf fangboy who had also felt burned by GURPS when it came out, and I didn't wake up from that particular Delirium for a few years.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Well, if you go by the original fluff-text, then the game is all about intrigues between the vampires and you being a monster. So in that sense maybe hacking Good Society: A Jane Austen rpg might work, especially since it doesn't have a combat system. That means you would strip away all the various disciplines and the combat system that turned Vampire the Masquerade into fanged superbeings battling each other...
That’s some out of the coffin thinking, right there!
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Perhaps it's the Mandela effect, but I remember there being a lot of controversy surrounding these books- White Wolf thought this would be a major coup for the game, and yet the books took 2 years to come out, and when White Wolf complained about it, they were told some very nasty things about their game by the Steve Jackson staff.

When I looked at GURPS VtM, I remember seeing a very high point cost for vampires to be Immune to the Delirium caused by Werewolves which I thought was a bit silly.

However, since I admit I haven't played the game, and have only my general problems with GURPS to call on (all the important rules are in sidebars! points are not points!) I may be being unfair to the product as I was a White Wolf fangboy who had also felt burned by GURPS when it came out, and I didn't wake up from that particular Delirium for a few years.
Well, like I said, I’m not a GURPS dude, so my perspective was a bit different from those who regularly played the game.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Yes, there is GURPS Vampire, Mage, and Werewolf.

I have used GURPS sourcebooks for years...without playing GURPS. I think if you can find these (and there may be ways to find them) then it will give you exactly what you are looking for in terms of moving a lot of the ideas into another framework.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Yes, there is GURPS Vampire, Mage, and Werewolf.

I have used GURPS sourcebooks for years...without playing GURPS. I think if you can find these (and there may be ways to find them) then it will give you exactly what you are looking for in terms of moving a lot of the ideas into another framework.
I use a couple GURPS sourcebooks as general RPG resources myself.
 


Voadam

Legend
I think it is fairly easy to hack into most settings and systems.

Mostly it is world background with clans and intergenerational conflict and focusing on politics and relationships and the reality of being turned into a monster, that translates into any system fairly easily.

The mechanical specifics of VtM vampires are decently easy to come up with matches.

They can get 10 blood points, expanded by generation.

Blood can be spent on boosting physical stats, healing, 1/day existence cost, and vampire powers. It can also be used to empower and bond living minions, bind other vampires who drink it, and to create new vampires.

Vampires get burned by sunlight; have a tougher time healing fire, sunlight, and supernatural damage; and can be affected by true faith. There can be mechanical importance about rage, fear, hunger, and how much of a moral human they still are.

Clans give a common clan supernatural weakness and some easier access to some clan preferred vampire powers.

Vampire powers give progressive stronger specific track abilities in different themed tracks. Mental control, supernatural physical strength, supernatural stealth, etc.

Generation can expand some vampire limits and options.

You just have to come up with specific mechanics for the specific vampire powers, how PCs get them, and generation.

I have used some VtM concepts to varying degrees in AD&D 2e, 3e d20, and 5e games.
 

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