Friday, January 29, 2010

Conclave Topic - The Obtenebration List

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be using this blog to talk about the Conclave topics for this year, and what information they are going to be presenting to the player base to decide.

This week is the obten list. Like a lot of things in Vampire, and in the game, there's a group of players that only seem to process things in black and white, yes/no, and think that status, prestation, the unlife of a kindred should follow definite rules much like Aegis or Thaum.

The point of the Obten list was that it was supposed to be used as a deterrent for the majority, and more as a tactic to try and punish a kindred, that everyone knew was guilty and a threat but because STs and CMs think this is Perry Mason/Matlock by night, the PC keeps being allowed to get away.

People like to play the game as though loopholes in packets or the 'fluff' that make up most of the books are IC, and therefore even though everyone believes that PC Tim is the worst thing since Hitler, he keeps getting away. STs say 'he hasn't broken any rules', CMs say "bring it to council/the Coord didn't do their job" and players say "how come Tim gets to summon a demon in Elysium in front of the whole court and the Tremere say it's the Brujah's fault and nothing happens?"

So, look at the sheet, does it have Obtenebration? Who cares who they learned it from, who cares why, or how, or who told them too. It's on the sheet. We can talk to STs and weigh if this is a hardened player-killer who likes to flaunt the rules, or if this is a new/lowbie that's played in their local chronicle for years before getting national attention and they got shadowplay for some creepy cool IC reason.

Somewhere along the way, the having Obtenebration has become the crime, and not the intent or the reason for it. People have started to roleplay based on OOC information, that the list is a physical object with shadowy scribes in shadowy rooms indexing and double-checking and cross-checking and keeping meticulous records.

It's not. It's supposed to be vague, arbitrary and case by case.

The Obtenebration list and the relationship with the Lasombra AT are part of the agenda at conclave. My hope for the conclave is not that players see this as a chance to open the store on learning Obtenebration for the sake of winning the arms race.

For game play balance purposes, since OWbN has decided to use the Sixth Maelstrom, that the optional rules for unpredictable shadows are used. There's good IC plot hooks for that, and it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility to suggest that Lasombra Abyss Mystics create and maintain a ritual that causes non Lasombra using Obten to have to use the optional rules and actual Lasombra are exempt.

From today until the conclave, my suggestion to the coords that have 'illegal obten' kindred in their custody hold onto them, depending on other crimes or suspicions of crimes, and at the conclave trot them out allowing them to defend themselves, and if the conclave decides that non-Lasombra are not allowed to have Obten, those kindred are to be killed immediately after the vote. Please don't whine about humanity.

If the list is decided to be ineffective and something else is needed, that will be addressed in the Shadow Coteries agenda item, which I will go into next week.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy New Year.

So, I intend, from this week, to try and make this weekly and keep to that goal.

I'm currently in the middle of the usual midwinter failout, which, mercifully, is all at the coord level and good manners prohibits me from sharing a lot of it here.

That said, observation 1: When I say "I don't know...x," I pretty much don't know it, and I'm asking so I can find out more. Who someone is, what the story is. I noticed that I'm pretty consistent in that speech pattern. As an aspiring poker player, now that I know that tell, I intend to try and stop it.

Observation 2 (tied to 1): When I ask a question that doesn't start with some variation of "I don't know...x", chances are, I already know the answer and want to see how much you are about to lie to me. If I say "Okay, so this thing you want to do, what book is it in?" you can safely fold knowing that I'm sitting on pocket kings and the other two just flopped to you showing of 6-7 off suit.

Observation 3: I've called you, I've shown you my hand. This is not the time for the debate. If I say "I've got 4 kings with an ace high," do not continue to argue with me saying that "but my 6 of clubs, 8 of spades, and the two kings on the table is just as good with the pinnacle rules from 1868 edition of Hoyles." I've stopped caring and definitely stopped reading. (This goes double if you're arguing something as a Coord or CM that directly affects your PC. Chances are I marked the email as read, moved on, and will only go back and read it later if I'm prepping a CM to propose your removal).

Observation 4: Clan Coords that say "I need an archon to clean up the midwest" I'm going to laugh at you. Seriously. I will laugh. Work together. If you don't have a tool in an area, and another coord has 4, talk to her. Work with her. Say "hey, I've heard about this situation, what can I do to help?" And then include the Sect Coord. So the sect coordinator can do his/her job. You're a clan coord. And that's great. Fix your clan, and your clans genre. Ignoring that to clean up the sect means you're doing a disservice to the other sects, a disservice to your clan, a disservice to the players and a disservice to the STs. Also, chances are you're worse at sect genre than the STs and Players you want to "fix." That arrogance and lack of regional political IC/OOC understanding is as responsible for all that is questionable in OWbN as anything Solon did as Shade.