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Bagheera

⚜WhiteWolf Freelancer
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About Bagheera

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  • Birthday 10/10/1972

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  1. Farewell my fellow mages

    Aw, bummer. I always liked having you around, though that may be because we didn't argue much. Still, I can't argue with your reasoning; the circular nature of debate does get tiring eventually, no matter the venue. Good luck with whatever comes next!
  2. <shrug> Slippery slope. Not at all. I am unwilling to suspend disbelief when confronted by hairbrained premises. Well, you'll note that I haven't been telling you to like it. Not really. Wounds do work that way, at least when they're big enough. No way the Wounds produced by the deaths of millions don't qualify (to say nothing of the other heinous crimes associated with the Holocaust and other, similar events). This is...a complete non sequitur to me. Seriously, you're conflating at least two different premises here, and they aren't connected in any way whatsoever. I can't even figure out what you're trying to argue here. The nWoD is based on real world beliefs, yes, but it's a work of fiction. If we assume it's true, all the things these people "know" are invalid since they're based on completely different assumptions (i.e., real world myths, legends, and superstitions, as opposed to a work of fiction). What you're saying here just doesn't make any sense.
  3. I don't think that applies to places like Rwanda or Cambodia. At all. The fact that people are still struggling to survive doesn't mean they've moved on and healed from the sins of the past. It just means they haven't all died yet. 'Course, when it comes to Africa people might not even notice a Wound, given how messed up everything is. But in Southeast Asia, Europe, or South America I think they would, and outsiders might certainly notice. Yes, but by adding the supernatural element you taint his accomplishments. Supernatural agency just plain tramples on mortal agency, even if the two aren't directly connected. It's an association thing. Quite possible. And given how well that show did, I can't say that's an awful thing. Well, yes. Angel isn't a Riceian vampire, but he's a pretty solid character in his own right. Yes, but none of them come close to matching the power of an extra feat and skill point per level. Anyone who's built a high level character knows that humans have many more options available to them. They aren't necessarily the best choice for any given build, but they can do everything equally well, and they can throw more feats and skill points at a concept in any event. Case in point: let's say we give a half-orc barbarian average intelligence. With a -2 Int modifier that barbarian now gets one little skill point per level. Ouchy. Now, let's say we build the same character as a human. He gets 3 skill points per level (an extra for being human, plus the extra point from higher Int) and an extra feat (so he has Power Attack and Cleave instead of just Power Attack). So, he has more skills (= more character options) and an extra feat (= more power for the character). The half-orc, by contrast, has +2 Strength. Oh, and Darkvision, which is almost never used. He's not coming out ahead. Heheh. Note I said "most." Perhaps. But it is a matter of choice -- we can say battered women or overworked peons are fools for not fighting to change their circumstances, but there are a number of recognized reasons why they don't. I agree that very few people would want to be subjugated, but plenty might simply lack the drive (or perhaps simply the hope) needed to fight against their oppressors. Of course, having these qualities might about to having a "strong soul" to begin with.
  4. Thing is, most atrocities in the world don't get a chance to heal. They just get forgotten as the survivors move on with their lives. But in an animistic setting, it shouldn't work like that. The Wounds should remain, preying upon the survivors until they actively try to fix things. The issue isn't "could this heal on its own" so much as "geez, wouldn't someone notice?" And they would. Probably best for all concerned if we leave the armchair psychology at home. Anyway, that said, it's not just about accountability -- it's also about accomplishment. When you say da Vinci was a mage, you rob him of his accomplishments. You say "well, he could only do what he did because he had cosmic enlightenment working for him." That's BS. Da Vinci did what he did because he was fucking brillaint, period. But the problem here is that we have two options in a "supers in the shadows" setting -- either supers eclipse da Vinci (meaning the world should reflect that in some capacity) or they don't, which limits them in some pretty irksome ways. Either supers have the capacity to be worse than Hitler, in which case his evil is trivialized, or they don't, and we're left wondering why we should worry about them when we already managed to defeat true evil in the world. It's a no win situation. It is very handy. Doesn't mean it will necessarily make for good storytelling, but as worldbuilding goes it's pretty solid. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
  5. It's not the same, though (well, it kinda is with mages, but as I said that's no surprise given Mage's humanocentric roots). Vampires actually get to keep their soul, for instance, and the strength of said soul is what determines whether or not they have free will. In Vampire, you don't get that choice -- you're just fucked, and your only real choice is in how to make the best of it. Yes, and the ones who fight against the Inconnu are the ones who decide not to put up with that. That's a pretty powerful image when you think about it. Not mechanically it isn't. When you have more feats and skills than everyone else you tend to rock the house. Each of the other races has a potentially crippling liability to it: elves are frail, dwarves are slow, halflings are small, and half-orcs have a net negative to their ability scores. That leaves half-elves, which are like humans without all the cool flexibility. Humans rock in D&D. Yeah, that was Ascension. In Awakening you replace them with Watchtowers and Oracles and such. Kinda. But they're hampered by the fact that, y'know, most of their soul is gone. He decides whether or not to fight. That is very definitely a choice.
  6. Because they're not special. Even the Awakened are just ordinary humans with strong souls (and note that these guys aren't doing the work alone; they're focal points for all of humanity). But werewolves, vampires, and mages are people who have a choice, and whether or not they're awesome depends on the choice they make. That makes all the difference. Yes, but they ultimately have the option, and that's what counts. They have that element of choice (the demons don't, but they aren't very interesting). But they aren't. Humans are the best race in D&D, because they get extra feats and skills. That's huge, and no (balanced) race matches them overall. As for the WoD...well, werewolves were never human to begin with. Vampires have most of their souls destroyed when they're Embraced. Mages have avatars. This is the difference -- they all are what they are because of something outside of themselves. The difference in MCWoD is that there's a level playing field. Any human can get invaded by a werewolf spirit, and every one has a chance to resist and bend that spirit to their will. Most won't, but they have the opportunity. Same with vampires. And mages...well, anyone can learn magic. Some might be better at it than others, and I'll bet that that extra soul in vampires and werewolves mucks around with it, but in principle every human being has some glimmer of magical potential. The Mage games touch on this to a limited extent, but that's not surprising since they've always been the most humanist of the WoD lines. MCWoD just opens this up to all of the splats (well, except for demons, but I'm not championing them).
  7. But again, are you willing to stipulate that for ever major event in history? Like hell you don't. If Da Vinci was a woman no one would have taken her seriously, given the status of women in the world at the time. Hell, Lise Meitner only gets a fraction of the credit she's due, and she was active during the 20th century! If a simple gender change can have such an impact on history, the change that would come from Da Vinci being a mage...holy hannah. Those flying machines of his would actually fly! He would have kickstarted the industrial age a by a couple of centuries at least. Exactly. And that's the problem -- by getting rid of Pius VI you've stolen everything that he contributed to the world (for good or ill) and given it to someone else. You don't see a problem with that, particularly when it's applied to humans and human history on a large scale? For a more outlandish example, consider, say, Stargate. I bloody well like the fact that we managed to build the pyramids on our own, thanks. I also like the fact that we managed to come up with our own gods independent of alien influence. But in the Stargate universe we're not good enough for that! No, all of our great works, alone with every deity ever worshipped ever is a product of alien influence. The WoD isn't as bad, naturally, but it's the same syndrome. It's "ho ho ho, you puny humans! You don't get to be great! You're just weak pathetic animals who can't do anything without prompting from some alien or supernatural agency!" Bleh. But Monte isn't going that route. He's saying "Hey, you know what? Humans rock. Humans are capable of great things. Humans fought off an incursion into reality by alien gods without even knowing about it!" That's plain awesome. And you know why werewolves and vampires become playable characters in this setting? Because a human being gets a demon in his soul and says "no, fuck you asshole! I'm not playing ball, and I'm not gonna help you fuck up the world! I'm gonna send you back to the hell you came from, and I'm gonna use your stinking demon soul to do it!" Frankly, at this point I couldn't give two shits about the particulars of the setting. The mere fact that Monte has us standing on our own two feet, fighting our own battles and making our own decisions is enough to sell me on the book. The nWoD is an animistic setting. That means that what happens in the spirit world is reflected in the physical world, and vice versa. Wounds are holes in the spirit world, and they suck the life (figuratively speaking, mind) out of everything in the physical world. People in the vicinity of a Wound become more violent, suicidal, and generally unpleasant as time goes by, and these symptoms get worse as the Wound gets bigger. With a concentration camp influenced Wound the madness and despair associated with it would be so intense that people wouldn't even be able to function there. You can handwave this by assuming mages and werewolves (powerful ones) are working behind the scenes to fix things, but that gets really contrived in a hurry. The world should simply be different -- people should be aware of the existence of the supernatural, of the fact that the world really is animistic. The particulars about vampires and werewolves and such might be secret, that's plausible, but the world should still be a very different place.
  8. Well, that sort of walks the middle road (and we tried to do that in Revised), but it still runs into some credibility issues. How long can you keep that up? Someone's gonna break ranks eventually, and that will change history. A lot. Yes, and this works okay -- for Hitler. But what about everyone else? You can only pull this stunt so long before it gets old, and you have to pull it for every major player in the history of the human race. I mean, damn. I think the ideal is to come up with an alternate history of the human race, with supernatural effects factored in. But that's hard. Anyone who's read The Guns of the South or Lion's Blood or any of the other really good alternate history novels out there knows that changing a single key event can might change the history of the world. What happens when that happens all along the timeline? It would be a fascinating project, but it would be huge and it would require the developers to really know their history (which is tough, because historians like that don't become game developers -- they become professors and such). The target audience would also be probably small. But damn, what a project! But here's the problem: because the WoD looks just like the world of today we have no evidence whatsoever that supers did anything in the context of WWII. If you look at what went on in the concentration camps (or hell, in Soviet Russia or Mao's China or Pol Pot's Cambodia or Idi Amin's Uganda or 1990s Rwanda or Milosovic Yugoslavia or any of a number of other horrific sites) you should be seeing Wounds on a colossal scale. These things should flat out change the nature of the world, and yet for some reason things kept on trucking along. We went in there with the Marshall Plan yippie-skippy, Germany's as good as ever, and the modern world looks just like it does in the real world (albeit with a shadow realm on top of it that lets werewolves and mages do their thing). That isn't really credible. I mean, hell, it isn't even a matter of agency -- the physics of the Hisil tell us that the world just shouldn't look the same in the nWoD as it does in reality, but it more-or-less does. That's whacked. But like I said, it's forgivable since the alternative is to re-imagine history from day one. Which would be cool, but also a massive undertaking beyond the scope of an RPG. And if that isn't what happened humanity gets a free pass. He was a vampire, see, so it's not our fault. No thanks.
  9. Yeah, same here. Monte has a track record of paying strong attention to detail, so I'm assuming this will make more sense once we have all the pieces. But I do wonder. Heh. True. It would. Also, people might know about the Inconnu but not about the splats -- that is, they know that an alien invasion occurred, but not that the second wave is here as we speak. The Inconnu's agents want to keep things quiet to avoid exposure, and the PC versions want to keep things quiet to avoid a mass panic and lynch mobs. People will know that something is up, and the gig will fail eventually, but at the moment it's too soon to figure out exactly what's going on. I can see that working long enough for a campaign or two. This is the "it wasn't Hitler's fault" approach. He was either manipulated by supernaturals to do what he did, or he was a supernatural, and thus not a human being subject to accountability. The same applies to any historical figure -- you're stuck with either stealing his thunder or being an apologist for his crimes. The problem isn't that their influence is limited. It's that history with them in it looks exactly the same as history without. That means they're either making us look like clowns or doing nothing whatsoever. Both approaches have problems, as I indicated above.
  10. Yeah, well, this is gonna take some serious tap-dancing on Monte's part, seeing as how he's blown up North America. The notion that people don't know what's going on is...peculiar, to say the least. But, I cut him some slack here since this is all new. People can be forgiven if they don't know what's going on when the phenomenon is less than a year old (IIRC, anyway). Snipped the rest because it's either OT or agree-to-disagree territory.
  11. It's a bad thing because it undermines the notion that supers can comfortably exist in a setting much like our own. They can't comfortably do that, so the notion that they can maintain a masquerade/veil/whatever is difficult to swallow. This is why Monte's vision is appealing -- the supers are out in the open, and there's a good solid reason why they haven't had an impact on society: they haven't been here! No I'm not. No cop can work only at night, never doing any work during the day. Yes, there are examples of such in the setting, but they're laughable. Ask a cop sometime about how his superiors would feel if he never, ever came in to work before sunset and always, without fail, had to be home before sunrise. What happens when he catches a homicide during the day? When he has to testify in court? What about staff meetings? Paperwork? Cops work pretty long hours, and a vampire can only function for less than half the day. No way you can be a cop within those time constraints. Werewolves have it even worse. They just can't reliably keep their cool, and that's a huge problem for a cop. Mages might work okay, I'll grant you. But they're about it. And you don't see a problem with that? Just how stupid do you think we are, anyway? If you want to talk about the masses, sure, pretty dumb. But if you talk about people who are paying attention -- and there are a lot of them -- the very notion is laughable. Put aside the fact that the government is acting all looney toons and the CIA is embarassing itself on a regular basis. You have any idea what the FBI is capable of when they put their minds to it? Or the NSA? Or the various scientific communities on university campuses? Or, hell, even big business? There are a lot of smart people in the world, and they notice stuff that doesn't fit. This is especially true in the modern age, what with instantaneous communication and the internet and all. The notion of the various supers keeping that quiet is ludicrous. But we overlook that, because it makes for a fun game. And that's fine. I only bring it up here because, well, it's a problem, and mere coincidence in MCWoD doesn't even come close to matching it (particularly since I can think of a few very good reasons why the Inconnu's agents might look like the monsters of human legend). Understand, I'm not telling you you have to like the setting. I'm just suggesting you wait until you have all the pieces before you damn it out of hand. Class level is just an indicator of power level. It sounds to me a lot more like what we see in Mutants and Masterminds rather than anything we see in D&D. That, IMO, is a fair criticism. The big leap, at least for me, is the physical manifestation of the Inconnu in North America. I don't care for that, personally. I rather like the idea of them trying to invade our world and failing outright, and then sending in the supers to do the job covertly when they couldn't manage it via direct frontal assault. But, I don't have all the pieces yet. I'm willing to wait and see what happens before I pass judgment.
  12. Doesn't matter. From a design viewpoint it's problematic, since you say "well, humans suck, but the splats are afraid of them" and/or "hey, it wasn't Hitler's fault. Demons/vampires/mages/whatever made him do it." Whether or not you can do something with the idea in the setting is irrelevant; the fact is it's just plain problematic game design. Again, not relevant. You can have a personal history in any setting. MCWoD? Check. D&D settings? Check. WoD, new or old? Check. Everyone has a story, and the choice of setting has no impact on that whatsoever. But if the supers can't change their circumstances -- and they can't if they're stuck in the shadows -- their existence is even bleaker than you realize. Humans can pull a Bill Gates on occasion, or become movie stars, or professional athletes, or whatever. Happens every single day. Doesn't happen to everyone, but it happens enough to keep the dream alive, and that's enough for most of us. But it can't happen to supernaturals. None of it. Think about it. You can't be a movie star, even if you have the looks and personality to make it. You can't be an athlete. You can't be a cop (because of activity cycle or temper issues or worse). You can't go into politics. You can't hold a day job. We're not talking one in a million here; we're talking about the life professionals -- you know, the middle classers among us -- take for granted. If you think about that and work through the implications, you come to the inevitable conclusion that WoD supers are well and truly screwed. And that sucks. Yeah, some folks might get off on it, but the rest of us want to feel like our characters can actually accomplish something long-term if they work at it. That is explicitly disallowed in the nWoD. Good thing I never claimed otherwise, then. But again, that's no worse than the WoD default, new or old. It's contrived that supers can exist in society and have no impact on it, and it's contrived that a society can be run by supers and still look just like ours. Neither of these options is better than "supers show up, and look just like our monsters of legend". Hell, we don't even know that they do look like our monsters of legend; for all we know these just might be labels stuck on things plucked from our nightmares by beings who might know these sorts of things. But even if they do just "happen" to look like the monsters we grew up with the contrivance involved is no worse than "monsters exist, but the world looks the same as always." Why play nWoD when you can play old? Hell, why bother playing any WoD when you can just play Ravenloft? The answer is simple: it's a different setting. For people who aren't keen on Lovecraft, or are looking for something different, here we go. Not really. At least, not in any meaningful sense of the term. You may not like that approach, but that doesn't mean it isn't effective or significant in practice. Unpalatable to you != trivial. Yes, and? What of it? If that's not your bag it's not, but I don't see how that's any less valid than the alternative.
  13. Better that than what we normally see in the o/nWoD, honestly. History in the traditional settings has one of two possible implications: First, human beings are completely ineffectual creatures, and all of human history is the result of vampires, werewolves, mages, and the like pulling the strings from the shadows. This undermines humanity's achievements, since a vampire or something probably did everything important. But it also absolves us of responsibility for our more heinous acts, since a vampire or something was probably responsible for those, too. Second, humans are responsible for all of human history, which makes supernaturals ineffectual to the point of being superfluous. Why bother playing a vampire or whatever if you know full well that nothing he does will ever matter? It can't matter, because under this model human history and achievement are based on humanity and not the supernaturals lurking in the shadows. It doesn't matter which viewpoint you endorse. Either way, you're stuck tapdancing around a load of suck. As a general rule WW can be forgiven for this, since extrapolating the whole of human history with supernatural influence added in is a daunting task at best. But this is the way things are, like it or not. Now, consider the MCWoD version; human history is ours because we're the only ones here, so there's nothing to rationalize. When supernaturals show up, the world changes -- dramatically -- as a result. That's pretty cool. Granted, the fact that these monsters resemble beasts of legend is a bit contrived, but there are lots of ways to explain this. Perhaps the Inconnu tapped into our greatest fears and made them manifest. Or, perhaps human hosts subconsciously shape the spirits inhabiting them into something they can understand since the alien is completely beyond their comprehension. Or, maybe they've been here before and been driven off. There's room to maneuver there if Monte is clever about it. How is CoC not a world of darkness? Honestly, I don't get this objection. "Dude, it's like Lovecraft!" "Whoa, someone's emulating the epitome of modern horror in a modern horror game? Shocking!" Since you can't mix and match them, not so much. I suspect the various splats will be templates, and that overall power level will be handled something like it is in M&M. Whether or not that will work is an open question, but it doesn't look like the splats will be trivialized at all. I'm actually with Krowe on his assessment of D&D (and cheers to him, as that's one of the best critiques of the system I've ever seen), but it applies less to other iterations of D20. CoC, for instance, isn't about high advanture at all. There's no reason the system can't be used for introspective storytelling if it's tweaked accordingly in a few places. And frankly, I'm seeing a lot of potential for that here; anyone who plays a vampire or a werewolf is, by definition, playing someone with a nasty inner conflict to deal with. You can do some really nifty story arcs with that long before you ever fight any agents of the Inconnu.
  14. Phil Brucato's Changing Breeds Book

    Well, artwork is not your fault. There have been many times where I looked at the artwork accompanying a piece I wrote and went "wtf?" (Weaver Ascendant comes to mind). So, I see an airplane shark and I go "Not Ron's best work." And then I go read about F.E.A.R.!
  15. Phil Brucato's Changing Breeds Book

    It remains my favorite of the breedbooks, if that's any comfort. I have never understood this perspective. How are weresharks any more ridiculous than werewolves, or werecats? Indeed, how would the latter not be silly if you're running a game set on the coasts, or somewhere in Australia or Polynesia? Seems to me weresharks (or perhaps wereorcas) would be the only way to go in such a setting. And if you haven't thought about running such a setting...why the hell not? Expand your horizons!
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