New Moon Rising: An Actual Play

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We’ve put it off and put it off, but we’re finally doing something in the Actual Play space. This Friday, April 26th, we will be releasing our very first episode of New Moon Rising, recorded here in Indy. Unfortunately, due to geographic limitations, Bob was unable to participate. However, he will be involved in other AP endeavors in the future so don’t you worry!

Anyways, let’s get down to what the game is…

New Moon Rising is an Anarch game that takes place in the Chicagoland area around Gary, the Chicago suburbs, and Madison, Wisconsin. This game takes place in ‘current’ day Chicago, as in, 2019. 

Genre-specific Chronicle Information:

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  • Clan Brujah has seceded from the Camarilla after the Convention of Prague in 2012 and are now considered an Anathema to the sect. Like the Gangrel before them, not all Brujah have left the Camarilla. Indeed, A faction of Brujah remain in the Camarilla, and they still have representation in Chicago on the Primogen council. 

  • The Anarch Movement has exploded in the last 5 years. With the rise of the Unbound and the Red Question, the Anarch Movement began to spread like wildfire across cyberspace. A major side-effect of this activity was the NSA cracking Schrecknet in 2004. The Nosferatu rapidly decommissioned this network and transitioned to Schrecknet 2.0, opening the virtual structure to those of sufficient status, prestige or notoriety. Schrecknet 2.0 works as described in V20 Anarchs Unbound. 

  • The fall of the original Schrecknet led to a massive cache of Masquerade-breaching data falling into the hands of the NSA. In turn, this revelation spawned a covert, multi-national organization dedicated to the eradication of "Negative Bodies" called Project: Firstlight. Firstlight poses as a multi-jurisdictional anti-terror taskforce with members comprised of various autonomous cells without central leadership. A small cadre of key figures inside the US, British and allied International governments (including the Vatican) work to keep this conspiracy from reaching the public, as well as keeping the conspiracy properly funded.

  • The Camarilla has suffered serious setbacks due to what they've called, "the Second Inquisition."  The Inner Council's spies have claimed that this Inquisition is the result of Kindred internet activity and have declared electronic activity profane, an a violation of the First Tradition. In doing so, they've placed blame for this Inquisition squarely upon the shoulders of the Anarch movement. In retaliation, many Anarch leaders have declared open war with the Camarilla, calling for global revolt, as many cities of both the Camarilla and the Sabbat fall to the covert actions of Project: Firstlight. What was once a sub-sect of the Camarilla has now been declared abomination in this new Anarch Revolt.

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  • Little is known about the current state of affairs within the Sabbat. Rumors range from the complete fall of the sect, to the feared "Black Hand" faction purging the bulk of the sect, to a mass exodus to the Middle East. Most Anarchs still avoid rumored Sabbat territories out of habit, but those that claim to have passed through Sabbat territory tell similarly ominous tales. Interestingly enough, many younger, so-called “Loyalist” members of the Sabbat have defected to the Anarch Movement in the recent years. Many younger packs, weary of the bloodlust of the Sabbat and make mention of a bloody civil-war. These Sabbat refugees have brought some strange new rituals and rites to the Anarch Movement. 

  • As a result of shrinking territories, open rebellion and increased danger from external forces, the Camarilla has become increasingly conservative and sectarian. As if in syzygy with its main enemy, the Sabbat, many Camarilla members have turned to old religious ideals and ancestor worship. A number of vampiric religious orders have begun to emerge, spreading out to the Anarch movement with the emergence of "The Ministry" ( known locally as the Ministry of the New Moon) - A large faction of Setites who have a very different perspective on Set, and religion as a whole, in the context of the modern nights. 

  • In October of 2018, Clan Ventrue staged a massive takeover of Chicago. For many years, the Primogen council had controlled the city with an iron grip. Former Prince Maxwell was able to claim domain, but his reign was considered ineffectual by most elders in the city. The Prince fell victim to the Second Inquisition, or so the Venture claim, and Praxis was seized by Kevin Jackson. With Justicar Lucinde standing in solidarity with clan Ventrue, Prince Jackson declared the blood hunt on Brujah Primogen Tyler. She has remained in her veritable fortress, O'Hare airport, exerting her influence and fighting against Ventrue dominance in Chicago. She recruits others to her aid, unable to fight the singularly focused clan Ventrue on her own. 

  • Revolution has utterly disrupted clan Tremere. In 2008, the Tremere chantry in Vienna was raided and destroyed by various agents of the Second Inquisition. Now, clan Tremere has split into three factions - House Schrekt is comprised of those remaining loyal to the Camarilla (note: House Schrekt is considered an insult. Camarilla loyalists claim to be THE parent clan), rumors swirl about the resurgent House Goratrix, and many of those in the Anarch Movement refer to themselves as House Carna. However, there is virtually no true central leadership of clan Tremere. The pyramid of old has crumbled and there are literally dozens of smaller factions and houses littering the remnants of clan Tremere.
    Many of the Tremere have become mercenaries, selling their services for protection from rivals, or offering what little power they have to the highest bidder. Those Tremere that remain in the Camarilla have taken a front-line position against the Anarch and Sabbat in hopes of proving their remaining usefulness, as well as hoping to recover any possible lost assets to the Anarchs. This has caused two recent concerns for the Camarilla and the parent Tremere clan. First, Thaumaturgy has become much more available in non-traditional circles. As there is much less potential for reprisal from those outside of the Tremere clan using Thaumaturgy, Anarch Tremere have been much more willing to teach and exchange their secrets with others. Second, a massive black market for former Tremere secrets has emerged. With the Tremere on the ropes within the Camarilla, many Tremere have begun to deal with outsider clans, sects, and even worse now that the standard process for advancement no longer exists. To the Camarilla Tremere's credit, elders of the clan work nightly to reign in the clan and recover from this chaos. Until that point, those that belong to House Carna or any of the smaller splinter anarch houses fight for freedom from blood oppression and bring strange and powerful rituals to the cause. 


So that’s BASICALLY the important stuff our players will need to know going in. As with any game, I’ve tailored some of the printed story to fit our needs as a game. As such, you may notice that not everything is strictly canonical. That’s ok.

also, I’ve decided to use this opportunity to play-test a background I’ve adapted for V20 called Pedigree. Pedigrees are based on and influenced by Loresheets from V5. In fact, that’s what I call them throughout the game. If they work well in our Chronicle, they may be made available to the public via Storyteller’s Vault in the future. I do not go over the specifics during the game sessions, so more info can be found below.

This individual sessions will be broken into about three episodes, each between 60 to 90 minutes. Since recording gameplay has never been our forte, these Actual Plays are also intended to be a bit exploratory. In other words, we’d love to hear your feedback, criticisms or anything else you’d like to offer.

Thank you all for your indulgence and I hope you find the show entertaining. The episode will be available Friday, April 26th in place of our normal review. we will return to our normal review schedule the following week with Libellus Sanguinis 1: Masters of the State!

Alternate Background: Pedigree
Every character that’s created for the World of Darkness should populate a special, unique place within the world. Often, it can be a daunting task finding ties to the deeply complex, rich and intricate world of Vampire: the Masquerade. With Pedigrees, you have the built-in ability to add key plot points to your character, reap the benefits (and drawbacks) of storyline inclusion and make your character a more dramatic and important factor in kindred and Cainite politics in the World of Darkness while using V20 rules for your chronicle. 

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Pedigrees are a special type of Background that connects your character straight into the rich metaplot(s) of Vampire: the Masquerade. Each player may choose to select a Pedigree and allocate dots in it just as they would with any other Background. Pedigrees are not a requirement, and they are meant to be used with other character advantages. Beware, however, that these Advantages are often very different in nature and may not be appropriate for all chronicles. The Storyteller always has the final word on which Pedigrees are available for player characters and what levels are acceptable. Remember to add any supporting characters mentioned in or created by your Pedigrees background to your coterie maps, character backgrounds and any other tools you use during character creation. These Pedigrees are meant to add dimension to your character and chronicles, not as another dot of power to add to your arsenal of powers. 

Pedigrees should be chosen at character creation. As such, there is no experience cost to purchase them after the fact. However, storytellers should feel free to award additional points in Pedigrees, or even new ones as they see fit, based on their chronicle needs and the roleplay of the characters. Pedigreesare not necessary as markers of your chronicle progression but could be an interesting bonus in addition to experience points. Feel free to play around with them as they work for your chronicle. 

Pedigrees do not typically provide for pooling as some other backgrounds might. Pedigrees are meant to be a dynamic system for making individual characters more unique. Due to this, there are no rules for pooling provided here. Feel free to make your own systems if you feel it’s appropriate for your chronicle. 

Below is an example Pedigree that has not been used during gameplay. It is inspired by and adapted from the Vampire: the Masquerade 5th edition Loresheet. Reproduced text is not meant to challenge any existing copyrights owned by White Wolf Publishing or their parent company and is for entertainment purposes only!


Pedigree: Bahari

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Vampire adherents of the Path of Lilith, otherwise known as the Lilin, Lilitu, or Bahari (singular: Ba'ham), revere the progenitor vampire as primal femininity. They believe Lilith is the first, usurped vampire, the mother who births the vitae, and that all Kindred are her children. Stagnant, patriarchal vampire society perpetuates the lie of Caine as progenitor. The Bahari are a heretical cult; hunted by the Sabbat and shunned by the Camarilla. In the modern nights, they’ve found themselves incidentally aligned with the Anarch movement. After all, the Ba’ham believes, the old ways are Caine’s ways. 

The Bahari seek enlightenment through pain and conflict, turning this masochistic urge into the strength to endure and overcome. As Lilith rebelled against God’s commands and fought against her curse, her followers defeat the weaknesses and curses upon them to become something else. Some Bahari lead other Kindred to enlightenment, others become perfected predators. Bahari deprecate compassion in favor of fleshly pleasure, transient love, and strict parenthood over lesser Kindred. 

As a Bahari, you fulfill the role of torturer, student, teacher, or lover to other Kindred. All evidence you have seen points to Lilith as the first, usurped vampire. 

Note: Characters using this background must follow the Path of Lilith. As such, those that forsake the Path of Lilith lose all benefits of the background. 

•           Dangerous Reputation: Bahari intimidate vampires not of their order. Vampire who know of the Bahari legends and reputation of Ba'ham are uncomfortable in your presence. Once per game session, you may add two dice to Intimidation pools in tests against kindred, assuming they know of your allegiance and Path. 

••         Ritual Scarification: You know pain leads to enlightenment. Specifically, the Lilitu preach that bringing one’s physical shell to the extremes of sensation grants greater insight. Once per game session, you may scar yourself with one point of lethal damage to recover a point of willpower. For every hour your Ba’ham spends in contemplative meditation, scarring yourself and causing yourself intense pain, your character regains one point of willpower. Extreme acts of scarification (causing aggravated damage) refresh all lost willpower. Ritual time is the same for aggravated damage. 

•••        Hierophant: The Bahari maintain a loose network of vampires who trade lore and mystical knowledge, even dealing with wizards, ghosts, and other keepers of ancient secrets. Once per game session, your Hierophant may call upon this obscure knowledge and add two dice to any roll dealing with mystical knowledge. 

••••      The Seeds of the Garden: As Lilith did before you, you maintain a great garden in the form of devout followers. This cult, like all gardens, requires work and maintenance to bear fruit, but the bounty of your harvest can be sweet indeed. Once per story, you can call upon your cult to do a number of actions, equivalent to the more common backgrounds, at a high level. For example, you could call upon your cult to act as your eyes and ears around the city, acting as a Contacts of five. Alternatively, you could use your cult to feed your coterie, borrow resources from them and call upon them to exert their influence in their daily lives for you. However, your cult requires great attention from their Hierophant or they will wither and die. For every point in a background you call upon (for up to a maximum of five per story), you must perform an equivalent religious ritual. Work with your storyteller to determine the details of your cult, including the gritty details of your teachings, torture and love. Remember though, to get you must give. 

•••••     Revelations of the Dark Mother: Lilith’s worshipers maintain that she was the first living being cursed by God, before Adam, Eve, or Caine. The Bahari strive to emulate Lilith’s lesser curse, and in so doing find their Cainite weaknesses lessened. Because of this, highly enlightened Ba’Ham radiate danger and suffer a +2 difficulty on all social rolls with mortals and humane kindred that aren’t intimidation based. However, your faith in Lilith is so devout, pain actually empowers you. Instead of having a dice penalty when you take damage, you now have an equivalent dice bonus until incapacitated. For an example, when your Ba’ham is Crippled, she gets a bonus of five dice to all pools (except soak) instead of the standard 5 dice penalty. She is truly enlightened. However, incapacitation is simply that, and confers no bonus. Many deeply devout Hierophants will spend untold nights starving themselves and flagellating themselves to find new doorways to enlightenment. Who can conceive of Lilith’s greatest revelations? 


NHL 2016 - Giving it a Sporting Try

By ArtBrom [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By ArtBrom [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A tiny bit of background about me: I love video games but I don’t enjoy sports. I don’t follow them at all and I couldn’t name you five athletes that play organized sports. I know that baseball has home runs, football has touchdowns, and hockey has goals. That’s about the width and breadth of my knowledge. Consistent with my lack of interest in sports, a lack of interest in sports games has always been a natural side-effect. My distaste for sports has been mostly passive, but at times, it’s been actively aggressive – especially during football season.

This review, however, isn’t about that. This review is more about how my anti-sports walls were recently crumbled, if ever so slightly. I have a decently sized community of friends I game with, and the majority of them are sports fans. The one game most of them agree upon playing, typically without fail, is hockey. After years of hearing them play and talk and grouse about it in the Xbox Live party, my intolerance finally crumbled this week.

I started playing EA’s NHL 2016, and I had no expectations when I fired it up. I have no previous experience with EA sports games, and the last sports game I played was Ice Hockey for the NES back in 1989. Needless to say, I came into the game like a babe in the woods. I can say, as a matter of fact, there’s a lot to this game. There’s a decent learning curve to understand the nuances of the title, but I found I could pick it up and tap a few buttons to play with varying degrees of effectiveness.

NHL 2016 has a number of game-play modes for fans to choose from. As I am woefully unfamiliar with previous iterations of the game, I couldn’t tell you what’s new and what’s a holdover from last year. While the game can be incredibly complex (and you’ll have to learn those complexities to be GOOD at the game), even someone with no experience can jump online and skate with their friends with very little practice. I learned very quickly that hockey doesn’t allow players to skate full-speed into opponents and level them to the ice like a Mack Truck. Food for thought!

After playing NHL 2016 for about 12 hours, there hasn’t been a revelation for me to become a sports fan. I’m not going to run out and buy a Black Hawks jersey and watch the games on TV. It’d take a lot more than a video game to drive me to that. However, I will keep playing NHL 2016. The game-play is exciting and addictive. There’s a great deal to learn about the game and a ton of modes to try out. It’s a social game that I can play and learn strategies with my friends. If asked, at this point, I’d suggest to others who don’t follow sports to give a try. You might be surprised like I was.

Final score for NHL 2016: 3.5 out of 5.