US Requiem Chronicle FAQ

If you have a question you would like to see answered, please send it to your RST, who will forward it to the ANST Requiem staff.

FAQs

I’ve seen a number of changes – what exactly are you doing?

All of the changes we’ve made have been a response to player requests. For example, Crucibles help explain in-character why the kindred world remains static for decades, then changes very suddenly during key periods, which helps explain why things change so much in our Chronicle.Cadence is designed to set rules – not to pick winners and losers, but to set the rule of the game. You, the players, said that you want to see PC death as a rare and important event, not a first choice. Cadence helps with that, creating ways to change character’s behavior other than PC death. It rewards those who play PVP socially, at least at first, rather than physically (except after social pressures have failed utterly). That also means we each have a responsibility, as players, to change our character’s behavior if pressured socially. If a player says “Nuh-uh! Strip Status all you want, make me owe Boons, Blood Bond my PC- whatever- I’m going to do what I want!” then that player is not only forcing others to take IC physical action, they are also hurting the game for others. Every time a player does this, other players learn that the only penalties that matter are health boxes. Any player who will not change their PC’s behavior in response to anything other than combat is forcing the game as a whole to be more about combat, against the wishes of a majority of their fellow players – that means they are deliberately making the game less fun for others. We designed Cadence to be a valuable goal, so there is a reason to play socially, whether in PVE or PVP.

The limited Chronicle and the themes are meant to help unify the game. We’ve all come to know that one of the best things about the Mind’s Eye Society is how the games relate to each other, and how local events can have global effects. The themes give every local ST something to help link their game to all the other games in the nation.

The bottom line is that every change here is in response to something you, the players, have asked of the Storytellers.

 

Why are we doing what we’re doing? What problems is this meant to solve?

The 2013 Chronicle will incorporate aspects of the game that have been overshadowed or neglected to this point. To change the game, the ST’s have created IC and OOC mechanisms to promote behavior within certain guidelines, and make behavior outside those guidelines difficult (but not impossible). Rebellion has a price, and this structure ensures that price will be paid in three ways:1.  First, a small number of changes to the rules;

2.  Second, the introduction of a foundation structure for the U.S.; and

3.  Third, the introduction of a means for groups led by and formed from PC’s to become powerful within the structure.

 

Why did the ST’s build it this way? (Conspiracy Norms)

Certain behaviors are simply bad for the game. For example, a character who ignores all social enforcement of behavior will inevitably wind up in physical confrontation. That may be fine; the player may want that. But it is not acceptable to force others to play a game style desired by a minority of players. Social systems, such as boons, dispute resolution, and more must be respected to play a social game. This structure promotes those social systems and makes ignoring them more difficult.This system is meant to:

Create the rules for making Conspiracies. PC’s will determine specifics, and the PC groups that are in charge can change all but the most basic rules. This structure sets the system within which groups come to power. Think of this as akin to a system of elections – a small set of rules that allows those involved to choose their leaders. Those leaders will, in turn, define the other rules in all but the most basic ways.

Establish three categories of improper action. The most unacceptable will meet with resistance from the rules themselves. The societally unacceptable will be met with resistance from the foundation structure. The subjectively unacceptable (in the eyes of leading PC’s) will be subject to whatever IC actions the leaders can themselves bring to bear.

By setting these rules in place, PCs will be free to act against each other without any group being supported by the ST staff beyond getting set up properly. The ST staff will act as “training wheels” to ensure that new groups are not prevented from forming, but once a new group has reached critical mass, the ST support will fade away to the same degree of attention that any other Conspiracy receives.

 

What are Conspiracies, and why are we using them?

Most of the Requiem books, other than Danse Macabre, don’t describe Covenants as being expansive, far-reaching, national groups. The DM T3O’s would be a nightmare for our game, because they pit one Covenant writ large against the others in goals so mutually exclusive that they can only be resolved through open conflict (inasmuch as anything among kindred is “open”). That would basically mean building a Chronicle around something like “Okay, these two Covenants are winning, and the rest are trying to hold on and battle back as heroic members of the Rebellion. The Prima Invicta have recently funded a new DOD project called the Death Star…” Those T3O’s deny player choice about concepts, and we didn’t want to do that. So, lacking good Covenant-based T3O’s, and having seen Covenants try to form national structures this Chronicle and not doing so well, we opened the door to outside-the-box thinking.If not Covenants, then what? Well, Covenants are about a lifestyle or philosophy, and so are very broad. WW does this intentionally, to give players options. Conspiracies are far more specific. A Covenant is more about how one operates night to night, while Conspiracies are about what one does in one area, regarding one focused thing that is of interest to multiple Clans and multiple Covenants. Envision what an Invictus or Acolyte is like, as a kindred. Easy enough to picture. Now, what does the average Invictus or Acolyte do on a nightly basis? There are a billion answers. Compare that to a Conspiracy. Ask what they are like, and you’ll get a billion answers, but ask what they do, and you know that part. They complement Covenants in a way similar to the effects of a Clan on a Covenant.

As far as what Conspiracies offer that Covenants don’t, there are a number of answers, but to try to keep this from being any longer than it already is, I’ll focus on three areas:

a) Play the game you want with who you want: Conspiracies help promote friendships based on a common goal, across Clan and Covenant lines. We all have friends who want to play various concepts. If my best friend wants to play a staunch traditional Invictus, and I want to play a freewheeling Carthian, how can we find a common ground to play together? Conspiracies offer such a means. We decide to have a common interest in a goal, and both participate in that Conspiracy. We may oppose each other’s methods strenuously, but we agree on the goal, and that lets us play with our friends. Playing with people we like is one of the surest, most effective ways to make the game fun – far more powerful than any canonical item.

b) Meet and play with new people who like the same things you do. If you enjoy chasing historical plot, for example, then you can do that with or without a Conspiracy. But when you start to talk about it IC, many people’s eyes will glaze over and they look about frantically for another conversation. It’s simply not their preference, and we respect that. Conspiracies let you choose your “thing” and have a list, a place, meetings at conventions and so on, with like-minded people. That way, when you launch into a description of your latest historical research, you do it with others who are eager to hear it and excited about what you’re doing, rather than those trying to escape the conversation. That makes the game more fun, because you can share enthusiasm and support and encourage others with similar interests.

A related bonus is that Conspiracies help “flag” your play style. If you’re playing a member of the Baochuang, others (both players and ST’s) know that you like chasing ley line plots, and that indicates that you’re mainly PvE. Someone in Nachtreich is much more PvP, especially social PvP. So, if you’re a player who’s interested in social PvP, and want to interact with others of like mind, then you might seek a member of the Nachtreich for a “dueling Harpy reports” kind of game that you’ll both enjoy, rather than using your razor-edged tongue on a Baochuang researcher whose player won’t enjoy it, and won’t fight back socially in a way that you’ll enjoy.

c) ST’s can seed you the plot you want better. If there’s a plot that deals with history, then the Ala Vaticinium can get first crack at that, and ley lines plots can go to the Baochuang, and so on. We can’t do that with Covenants, because not all LS, Acolytes, Invictus, or OD want to research history, for example. Covenants are too broad.

That is not to say that you *must* be in a Conspiracy to get plot, or that ST’s will withhold plot from non-Conspiracies; that is not the case at all. ST’s want to hand out plot. They just have to know where to offer it. Conspiracies allow an ST to know where the players and PC’s are who want that kind of plot- whatever “that kind of plot” is.

One of the key elements in Requiem is “Where are your loyalties? Who can you trust?” For this last Chronicle (the one that is about to end), the default has been “Covenant over all else.” Clan unity has been weak in most cases, and city unity has been even weaker. Conspiracies offer another challenger – and we hope that Clans and cities will also get more support from the players this time. We’d love to see a much more even split between those who are “Covenant-first” and those who are Clan-first, Conspiracy-first, and city-first. That creates good conflict, and great story.

 

Are we sidelining Covenants?

We are not sidelining Covenants, but neither are they the only player in the game. We are offering options from which the players can choose. Notice that there have been Crucible periods in which every major group- city, Covenant, Clan, and Conspiracy- have been “in charge” nationally. Note that at least two Covenants have elements that are specifically noted as wanting to be in charge at the national level again. The Covenants are simply not the default. Storytellers will not block player actions if players want to grow Covenants from a regional structure to a national structure; that option is entirely on the table, and will not be decided by the Storytellers, but by the players. If the players want Covenants to go national, then that is perfectly fine. This sets multiple groups in a generally even position at the starting line of the Chronicle. Conspiracies have an edge in terms of being national at start, but have the disadvantage of being a little less familiar to the players, which roughly evens out. Covenants start at regional structure level, but are better known. All characters have a Clan, whereas they might not have a Covenant or a Conspiracy, so Unaligned offer an edge to Clans. Every group has a fair shot at national power, as opposed to the default of Covenants being in charge. The players will decide, through your actions in Chronicle, who runs things for the U.S.

 

Why are we changing the way Status and Repute work?

Status has been one of the most hotly-contested items in this Chronicle, and one of the main reasons why it has been so it because it conflates several things, such a fame and power. A second reason why it’s problematic is that it is a non-supernatural power of unlimited duration that directs a player how to portray their PC; it tells players who their PC must respect or admire, and that makes players unhappy. We have changed those things.**After much discussion, we have decided to remove Repute entirely from the Requiem game. Because Repute was basically a measurement of Fame in Kindred Society, we realized it basically took care of itself – those Kindred who earned a reputation through words or actions became known to other Kindred.  We don’t need an official merit to recognize that.**

Status is a measurement of perceived power, nothing more. It’s not about being a good example, or fame, or anything other than “How powerful is this kindred?” What power means varies by Covenant and Clan, so each has its own Status structure. Your PC may not respect or like someone, but can still recognize that she is very powerful – that’s a demonstration of Status.

By separating the one term covering too many things in this Chronicle into more specific terms for next Chronicle, we hope to reduce the consternation Status has caused this Chronicle. By removing the element of forced respect or admiration, and leaving that entirely in the hands of the player’s choice, we hope to make Status increases and decreases more common and less irksome.

 

When is PC death (aka physical, combat PvP) appropriate?

There are situations that make sense for PC death, but PC death is an end to a character’s story, and if a player has put a great deal of work and creativity into character development, that is an important event. PC death should never happen without serious consideration over time, and no PC should be allowed to kill another without a valid reason. A single insult, or the intended attacker being bored in no way constitute sufficient reason for a PC murder.That said, there are valid reasons for character death, such as diablerie; being exposed as Brood or VII; or even actions that are unacceptable to another PC that could not be corrected through any other means. How much tolerance is expected before other PC’s finally decide to kill the offensive character, though? An evening? A few minutes? A few months?

That decision is best made on a VSS-by-VSS basis. Some games view PC death as an ever-present danger, keeping characters on their toes and exceedingly polite lest they die for a misspoken word. Others allow tolerance, then social corrections (e.g., Boons, Status), then mystical effects (e.g., Blood Bonds, Dominate), and only if all those fail do they undertake PC death. Each VSS should rate this tolerance on a 1-10 scale, with “1″ meaning that a wrong word can kill without further notice, and “10″ meaning that the player of that game will attempt all other corrective measures first before going to PC death. The VST is authorized to support that rating, and to advise visitors that they should be very cautious in the first case, and that PC kills will not be allowed without trying all other corrective measures in the second case.

Most games in the US will likely settle in at about a 6, using a degree of tolerance, but not an infinite amount of patience. Regardless of what level you choose for your game, the players offer their input to the VST, who then revises the VSS according to the shared view and play style of the game created by both the players and the Storytellers. This allows players to both play the type of game they enjoy, and to advise visitors of a game’s style regarding this very important issue.

We’ve devised a “He Had To Die” system to help players and STs determine whether or not a PC has crossed the line and deserves Final Death. **Note: This system is optional – it is here to help players and STs start to think about ways in which they can make better determinations as to whether or not a particular PC death is appropriate or not.**

 

What is this He Had to Die System I keep hearing about?

The justified system is in some ways a converse of Cadence. Cadence empowers other means of changing a PC’s behavior without character death. That said, there are times in which a player simply refuses to change his or her character’s behavior. Other options, from Status loss to Merit attacks to Boons to Conditioning to Blood Bonds have been tried, and this player still refuses to change some behavior of his or her character. At that point, character death may be entirely appropriate. How can one tell when character death is appropriate? This system is a first draft at figuring that out. The system is not perfect by any means. It is a first take which we expect to be refined frequently over time to help players on all sides of these sorts of conflicts.For example, for a player whose character is deliberately aggravating, this system allows a means to gauge when they’re likely to need to back down a bit, to let things cool off before launching another series of stinging verbal attacks and speaking truth to power, especially in a venomous manner. On the other hand, players who portray physical characters don’t like being looked at as if they’re jerks, either. Those players also benefit by having a guideline by which they can judge “Nope, I’m not being a jerk. This character has done this and this and that, so they do warrant a killbox.” Finally, storytellers benefit by having a guideline by which they can judge “No, this PC doesn’t deserve a killbox, and so I’m not going to approve you to do one this weekend.” without feeling like a protectionist ST.

**Note: This system is optional – it is here to help players and STs start to think about ways in which they can make better determinations as to whether or not a particular PC death is appropriate or not.**

 

What is Cadence and Why do we need it?

Cadence is a mechanic because there are, sadly, players who will ignore everything that is not a mechanic. We would have loved to have simply been able to include the same concepts in setting and trust all players to still give it attention, but hard experience has shown us that this isn’t the case.

What Cadence does is multifold. First, it makes it clear who is a part of kindred society and who is not. The most hard line Invictus still accepts that Carthians are a part of kindred society. That is not the case with VII, Brood, and others. Throughout history, it has been unacceptable to kill “one of us” without a process (not necessarily jury trial, but some process). Those with Cadence are “one of us.” Those who hunt kindred with Cadence who have gone awry are the Sheriffs. Those who hunt those without Cadence- who are assumed to be unacceptable, rather than assumed to be acceptable- are warriors and soldiers, not law enforcement.

Second, Cadence rewards those who play the social game well. Granted, some of the wording seems Invictus-esque, but that is in no way the intent. Carthians might say “worthy kindred” rather than “kindred of quality”, but the gist is the same. It may also feel “Invictus-y” because Cadence sets a few standards for social norms- and few other Covenants besides the Invictus have set these kinds of standards for social norms in canon. The standards are the core, not the Covenant style. The wording is not the point. The point is that those who are good at politics are good at being kindred; those are inseparable. Those who are poor at politics are simply not accorded the same deference- not because they are good, but because they are good at the Danse Macabre. Mechanics motive player behavior. They can do that by penalizing behavior that is against the themes of the venue, or by rewarding behavior that is supportive of the themes of the venue. Cadence is the latter.

Third, Cadence’s benefits make it possible to play social player-vs-player (PVP) without raising that conflict to the level of Final Death and encourages social Merits. Players have stated that they shy away from buying social Merits because they are so easy to remove, especially relative to things like Disciplines or Devotions, which can only be removed by PC death (or ST action). By making social Merits as hard to remove as Disciplines, we encourage players to buy those Merits. That protection of merits also empowers social PVP because if a player sees items on which they spent XP stripped from they character sheet, thoughts of PC death leap to mind. Loss of a Merit that can be regained without XP produces a less visceral reaction, and thereby encourages players to go after one another in a way that it less likely to result in rampant PC death. PC death has a place in the game, no doubt- but that place is not as a first option, or often even as an early option. Cadence empowers earlier options, options preceding character death.

 

Why does Cadence, which is about kindred society, give benefits dealing with humans?

Cadence represents skill manipulating other kindred, who are themselves masters of manipulation. Kindred with a high Cadence can therefore handle humans effortlessly. They think many interactions ahead, akin to a chess master, and so can guide humans to take actions as they see fit. Cadnce 4, for example, isn’t a single NPC following someone; it’s more of an analysis than that. The kindred with Cadence 4 hears a variety of disparate rumors, gets a few phone calls, and pieces together what some of the target character’s underlings are doing. Even Cadence 4 kindred aren’t so skilled that they can do this to other kindred, but figuring out what mortals are up to is child’s play for someone used to unraveling the intricate schemes of the Danse Macabre. The even more skilled (Cadence 5) can control their minions so effectively that even the skillful Cadence 4 character cannot decipher their actions. In each case, the key is that kindred actions are smarter and harder to foresee than mortal actions, so a character that can do the former can do the latter easily.

 

How does Cadence 2 interact with kindred who are not physically present, such as through Dominate 5 or Animalism 4?

Kindred who are not physically present cannot be “read” by Cadence 2. This leads to natural distrust of kindred who visit a gathering without being physically present, since they can claim to be anyone and detection is more challenging. Brood and VII have been known to use such tactics to gather informtaion on local kindred, for example, so allegations of spying are comon in such situations.

 

Can non-Kindred have Cadence?

No. Cadence is limited to Kindred only. Non-Kindred (such as ghouls) are not considered Cadence zero; they are simply not on the Cadence scale.

 

Why are we tying memory to Humanity?

Memory is a key issue in a more modern game. One of the significant differences between Requiem and Masquerade, for example, is the modern nature of Requiem. Kindred are younger, and history is something one reads about in diaries and journals, rather than recalling in perfect clarity from centuries or millennia ago. By limiting memory, we refocus the game on recent years.

So, we’re limiting memory. Why do so with Humanity? Once again rewarding the behavior we’d like to see. Kindred struggle to retain Humanity, as a theme of the game itself. Discarding Humanity like an outdated fashion has become all too common in the current Chronicle. Canon notes that kindred settle out at a 4-6 Humanity typically, but there are a very high number of 1-3 Humanity kindred in the current game, in part because that is where the mechanics are optimal. By changing the point of optimal Humanity mechanically, we hope to encourage characters in the 4-6 Humanity area, in accordance with canon. By doing so, we not only support canon for the sake of canon, but we also make our game more inviting to new players, and retain the struggle to preserve Humanity as a theme. Much like Cadence, this is a mechanic to reward a specific play style- a more social version of PVP, rather than the default that PVP involves combat. Conceptually within game, memory is a very human construct; beasts do not have the same kind of long term memory that humans have. Therefore, as a kindred becomes more bestial, their memory become more like that of a beast, and retention of things from long ago is challenging. As an added benefit to social PVP, this drives the creation of torpor journals, and the theft, forgery, or ransom of those journals becomes a new element in the game. If memory is a more rare commodity, then those Bloodlines that work with it are valuable, those books that retain it are valuable, and there are more items within game over which PC’s can quarrel and compete- without necessarily equating competition and PVP to combat.

 

How much will the memory limit cut back on backgrounds?

That’s where ST flexibility is crucial. What is defined as a single “memory” is up to the local ST for precisely this reason. A PC can have a year of war as a memory, but the details on it will be vague and spotty- but he can recognize that he had a couple of boon companions in the trenches with him throughout. That can be one memory, so long as it’s like a “training montage” from a kung fu flick- undetailed. If there’s a specific day that the player wants to have a lot of details about, like a historical event in which they participated, then that should be its own memory.

Also key to remember is that the vast majority of facts and events don’t have to be retained; they can be read anew from a diary or journal. No one needs to recall how physics works- just re-learn that by ST approval and keep the dots on your sheet. The key things to remember for a PC are the emotional events, the things that have to be experienced rather than learned, felt rather than understood. Use records for factual data and memories for the rare things that have a deep, emotional resonance to the character.

That’s a big bonus to the ST’s, because it guides players to really think about what matters to their characters emotionally. The memories that players choose for their PC’s to keep are the ones that are at the heart of the character. Who really matters to a PC? What events are turning points, not just because of learning, but because of a visceral experience? Those are readily apparent, because they are the things the player decides can’t just be in a diary, but have to be remembered.

That forces some tough choices, no doubt. Some memories have to be chosen over others. But that is also a clarifying moment, refining down to the essence of what a character is really all about.”