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.