Category Archives: Vampire

Journal of the Emerald Specter 65: Playing the “Unique” Characters

I was three or four paragraphs into expounding on a topic I’ve already covered when I decided that I didn’t want to rehash the same information… and realized I didn’t have much more to say than I’ve already said. So, why don’t I just go over that little bit and move on to the topic of this particular column.

When thinking about Discovery versus the Orville, the Orville is the one worth watching. If I want dreary, un-Star Trek like Star Trek, I’ll go watch something other than Star Trek. CBS has not only missed the mark, they’ve actively started driving away long term Star Trek fans, of which I am one. I just don’t care about what Discovery has to say anymore.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest again, let’s move to a little RPG topic I decided to come out and talk about… 

Wherever there is a roleplaying game, you can be sure that someone playing in that game wants to play something either completely off the wall or something that has been specifically stated they can’t play it…

In short, if you’re told in a Star Trek game you can’t play a Borg, one of the players will inevitably say they want to play a Borg.

I’ll be honest, I’ve wanted to play some unique characters, too, but I listen to the barriers erected by the person running the game and tried to work within that specific set of parameters. Basically, I’d try to come up with something interesting based on what was available and what kind of mood I was in.

There was a time, though, I actually got into an argument with someone over this very subject. Since the argument was involving Vampire the Masquerade, I’m going to go into depth on that.

I was coming into a group that the game master (GM, storyteller in VtM) had specifically limited the available playable Vampire clans to the Camarilla (meaning Brujah, Gangrel, Ventrue, Toreador, Malkavian, Nosferatu, and Tremere at the time), with no exceptions. So one of the other players, whom I’ll call Steve, wanted to play an Assamite… they are the stereotypical assassins of VtM.

While you’re looking at the list of Camarilla clans, you’ll notice that Assamite is not one of them. The GM didn’t want an Assamite in the game, so the request was understandably denied. Steve fought and fought, basically throwing an adult version of a hissy fit.

I was originally going to play a Brujah gang banger… then Steve and I got into an argument.

What I asked Steve, point blank, was why he couldn’t play an assassin from one of the available clans? His response related directly to the stereotypes of each of the clans (Brujah being gang members and bikers, Gangrel being woodland folk, Venture being uppity socialites, Toreador being airheaded artsy types, Malkavians being “ha ha” crazy, Noserfatu being sewer dwellers, and Tremere being conspiracy magician types). If you wanted to play a Ventrue, by Steve’s understanding, you HAD to play an uppity socialite.

I challenged Steve that you could be anything from any clan, meaning that the stereotype was a broad generality and Steve was not seeing that they could be anything but their most base generic surface features. Steve complained and I replied that I could be something that, in his mind, wasn’t possible.

May I also say that the GM found this argument very entertaining, mainly because Steve was being an inflexible ass and someone else was standing up to him.

Steve challenged me to do exactly what I said I could do… so I chucked out my Brujah gang banger, totally in the stereotype of the clan, and decided instead to play a Toreador assassin.

Yes, a Toreador assassin.

The Toreador, as a stereotype, are into art and music. They make paintings, sculptures, clothing, and all kinds of things that make them the generic airheads Steve thought they were because that’s how he saw “artsy types.” I want to go on record that I do not see artsy people like that, but in order to drive home my points, I’m using the Toreador stereotype in a somewhat derogatory way.

Silas Bancroft was born in the early 60s, grew up and was embraced into the clan in the middle of the “free feeling and loopy” 70s, finally to be trained as the personal assassin of the Prince of Memphis (Tennessee). The game was being played in the early 2000s and that made my Toreador a whopping 40 or so years old.

Steve was beside himself. How could anyone become a quality assassin in such a short period of time? That was along side the fact that if he wasn’t admiring the latest Jackson Pollock painting he couldn’t possibly function.

Well, Steve pointed out that the clan flaw of the Toreador was to be “unable to turn away from a thing of beauty.” That meant I had to play Silas as someone who couldn’t pass a bus stop advertisement because it was a pretty picture. How could an assassin be effective stopping to smell all the roses along the way?

The GM and I both understood that the weakness meant that Silas had his own beautiful thing he couldn’t turn away from… and I decided that Silas really loved the sight of the true dead. The reason he’d been trained as an assassin in the first place is his desire to see things die, in a most permanent fashion.

If you think that Steve lost his mind, you would be correct. He couldn’t tolerate this “complete lack of respect for the rules” and decided he didn’t want to play anymore. Steve then left.

Before I move on, I ended up playing that Toreador assassin until his untimely demise (which came when I botched an assassination attempt and was killed by the bodyguards of the target).

The whole point of this scenario was to show anyone that you can play something “unique” without having to bend the rules to achieve that goal. Steve really wanted to be the unique Assamite in a game that Assamites weren’t allowed in more than he actually wanted to play an assassin.

I’ve played in and run email SIMs that took place in the Star Trek universe. In those games, despite being expressly prohibited from playing “connected Borg,” you’ll get at least one player asking to be a Borg who is still connected to the Collective… why?

Someone reading this is probably one of those people and that person is probably saying they do it because they “want to shake things up.” Why? In a galaxy without Jedi, you want to be the one guy who still uses the Force as a Jedi? You need to absolutely be the one Borg who isn’t disconnected? The thing that makes you complete as a human being means you need to be the only person who is allowed to play a human Cylon when you weren’t allowed to play them?

Take the game that you are going to play in, look at the limitations, and figure out what you want to actually accomplish in the game and then work with what you are allowed to work with from that starting point.

Lately, I’ve been listening to a few actual play podcasts in recent days and I am overjoyed to hear things that I haven’t ever personally experienced: players creating characters within their limitations AND the players not being antagonistic towards the GM.

Yeah, the GM isn’t the enemy! A story is being told, it isn’t a competition!

I’m interested in telling stories with friends in a game where we’re all bound and playing within the same limitations. If I want to play something I can’t play, I will find a way to get as close to that WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS as I can… because I am not a beautiful and unique snowflake like Steve was in my example. He’s a delicate little flower that needed to have his way or he was taking his ball and going home… and he did.

Do what you can with what you have and let’s all start playing better games, shall we?

The Specter Show 039: The Downward Spiral

What do you do when you haven’t done what you’d said you’d do? DJ talks about bullet journaling restart (3rd attempt), solo RPGs (because some research was done and there will be a great many things that can possibly get done), and making everything work in unison… technically, this is all about bullet journaling and content creation from that bullet journaling!

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Dirk Manning

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

Hashtags: #TheSpecterShow #bulletjournal #bujo #BuJoRPG #BuJoRPG2 #soloRPG

The Greatest Show 140: The Greatest Boot

The trio of DJ, Tricia, and special guest Dan from Fear the Boot, the crew talks about RPGs (and a little bit more)… to include volunteering, being an objective reviewer, and the tale of the Drug Tree! There’s so much more!

Hosts: DJ Allen, Tricia Allen, and Dan from Fear the Boot!

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter

www.FearTheBoot.com, AP.FearTheBoot.com, www.MorningSkye.com, and www.BloodMoonGoblins.com

Here’s the SHOW!

The Specter Show 037: Eraser

An unexpected server issue held this release up, it is corrected now.

Speaking of server issues, DJ discusses the server getting fried on October 1, talking about doing things that should be done rather than talked about, bullet journaling without the RPG, BuJoRPG 2, and a few other things. He even gets off on a tangent and literally gets lost.

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

Hashtags: #TheGreatestShow #Podcasting #TheSpecterShow #chess @TheoRossi #BuJoRPG #BuJoRPG2 #bulletjournal #bujoideas #bujoinspiration #bujogaming #bujoimprovement #bujofun #bujodesign #selfimprovement #PROChessLeague #PROChessLeaguePodcast #SpecteroftheGalaxy #ESPL #chess #health #nutrition #bodybuilding @MadebyTricia #madebytricia

The Greatest Show 138: You Look Tired, Thank You

With Metal Jesus’s new girlfriend joining us, DJ leads the team (including Kevin Couick, Metal Jesus, Melanie, and the lovely Tricia) in a discussion about Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) topics, the “Big 2” in comics (Marvel and DC Comics), the World of Darkness documentary, Storyteller’s Vault, Star Wars (RPG, the Last Jedi) and more!

Hosts: DJ “Emerald Specter” Allen, Tricia Allen, “Metal Jesus” Kevin Lama, Melanie the “Metal Magdalen,” and Kevin Couick

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @LPOKMNJ @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter

The Greatest Show 138: You Look Tired, Thank You

With Metal Jesus’s new girlfriend joining us, DJ leads the team (including Kevin Couick, Metal Jesus, Melanie, and the lovely Tricia) in a discussion about Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) topics, the “Big 2” in comics (Marvel and DC Comics), the World of Darkness documentary, Storyteller’s Vault, Star Wars (RPG, the Last Jedi) and more!

Hosts: DJ “Emerald Specter” Allen, Tricia Allen, “Metal Jesus” Kevin Lama, Melanie the “Metal Magdalen,” and Kevin Couick

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @LPOKMNJ @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter

Here’s the show!

The Greatest Show 137: It’s Like Schrodinger’s Cat

Rose City Comic Con 2017 talk (day two), Jodie Whitaker as the 13th Doctor, some Netflix Defenders talk, VR, Wraith the Oblivion, Destiny 2, Storyteller’s Vault, and a little bit about extinction events!

Hosts: DJ “Emerald Specter” Allen, Tricia Allen, Bob, and Kevin Couick

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @KainNSW @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter

Here’s the show!

The Greatest Show 137: Live Show

Defenders, Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, sumo, Mr. Olympia 2017, Fire Pro Wrestling World, Destiny 2, the Storyteller’s Vault, and Rose City Comic Con day 2 photos!

YouTube and the Chat!

The Specter Show 030: March of the Pigs

Foot in a boot from injury? Check. Caught up on all the things that need to be talked about? Check. DJ runs you through some BuJoRPG 2 talk, being injured at work, writing progress, comic books, Specter of the Galaxy, and even more than I’ve already listed. Won’t you join us?

Host: DJ Allen
Intro Music: The Idea of You by Nine Inch Nails (from Not the Actual Events)
Outtro Music: The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails
Intro Lead in: Theo Rossi

Contact:
Email: EmeraldSpecter.com@Gmail.com
Twitter: @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @EmeraldSpecter

Support Emerald Specter at Patreon!

Thanks for checking this out, you can find more at EmeraldSpecter.com!

Hashtags: #TheGreatestShow #Podcasting #TheSpecterShow #chess @TheoRossi #BuJoRPG #BuJoRPG2 #bulletjournal #NoMansSky #writing #PROChessLeague #SerialFiction #Comicbooks

Journal of the Emerald Specter 53: Vampires, BuJoRPG 2, and Stuff

I’ve started trying out a few little tricks in my current WordPress template to see if I can make things look decent before just wiping this version aside and going with the next version that I’ve been tinkering with in the background. That’s not even the surface that I scratched with what I’ll talk about today, so let’s set things up a little.

Two days ago (as I write this, three days ago for you reading this) I fell off a step while working and sprained my left foot (not the ankle, the foot… the outside of my left foot) and I’m stuck wearing a boot for a few days. This has made me unable to work, so I’ve got a little time on my hands for a few things… first, I’m writing this column so that I can get this week taken care of and I can get to the other thing that needs to happen today: podcasting. Second, I have been making copious notes for BuJoRPG 2 and I am going to start tinkering with the formatting of the “look” so that I can formulate a beta version to release. Yes, I bolded that so it was an obvious statement for those looking for that information… and I’ll talk about that more lower in this column.

Now, on to the meat of this thing… 

You are reading that correctly. The banner says “Vampire.” I hadn’t originally intended to include a banner that said anything near that but I’ve stumbled across a few things that I hadn’t realized were quite as fleshed out as they actually were, so I stumbled in gladly.

In 1994, I started playing Vampire: The Masquerade with a group of players that I played with almost non-stop for 3 years. We did expand through the other game lines (Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, and Wraith: The Oblivion) but Vampire was definitely the anchor to the whole group.

When I left the Navy, things sort of went a little downhill.

I’m a big fan of Vampire: The Requiem but Masquerade will always hold a special place in my heart. The reason I said that things sort of went downhill is because Masquerade didn’t really update anymore… until this year.

I follow White Wolf and Onyx Path on Facebook. The other day, I saw a link talking about something called the Storyteller’s Vault and I was ecstatic. I started looking for more information and that’s what I’m about to talk about now.

White Wolf Publishing is releasing the Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition, or V5, and they’re doing all kinds of awesome stuff with that. The Storyteller’s Vault is part of that effort… I’ve watched the V5 Presentation and the WoD Keynote on YouTube and I’m excited for what might be coming down the road.

I’m keeping an eye out on Vampire: The Requiem (over at Onyx Path Publishing), but this column is definitely about V5.

White Wolf is updating V5 for the modern day. There is also a distinct “Requiem-ification” of some of the aspects of the new Vampire that I am definitely a bigger fan of… allowing me to tell a story I was preparing for Requiem IN Masquerade, and releasing that story as a supplement on Storyteller’s Vault.

Yeah, this just got all kinds of awesome.

I’ll let you watch the presentations and read the updates, but what I’m interested in is getting away from just telling my isolated stories that don’t affect anything else (like has traditionally been the situation) and getting a larger world scope going on… if that means I’m the only one doing that, too, then maybe that’s how it has to be done. White Wolf is allowing the players to run the metaplot, though, and that gives me some hope.

I’m going to start investigating running a game via messages (iPhone, Facebook, etc), post (Facebook Group, forums, etc), email (yes, people do still like to play things via email), and maybe even include a little bit of YouTube (the video element seems to have worked well for the Vampire the Masquerade YouTube Experiment (also called New Sarum, New Sarum 2, and New Sarum 3).

There is a story I want to tell and I’m willing to let anyone help me tell it. More on this as time passes, I do want to wait for the V5 to be released first before firmly establishing a start date.

I’ve made some folks real happy by stating I’ll be releasing BuJoRPG 2 as a beta to help playtest it. I didn’t realize that would be such a popular idea, but I guess I should have… the response to BuJoRPG has been astounding and I’m looking to expand my user base with BuJoRPG 2.

So, what’s in BuJoRPG 2?

One thing that I got a lot of feedback on is wanting stats, or more accurately, Attributes. I hadn’t included them in the original BuJoRPG release because I wasn’t really aiming at the “adventurer on missions” type thing with BuJoRPG 1, so finding a reason to have them was something I needed to work on in order to get BuJoRPG 2 (henceforth referred to as B2) going.

There are four Attributes that will do some modifying of things in your B2, they’ll relate to the Physical, Social, Emotional, and Mental aspects of your self improvement journey. They have proper names, they have a purpose, and I just need to format things in order to give you more information. Enjoy this nugget, though.

I’ve also revamped the HP system, changing how it works and what it actually does. Remember, the goal is self improvement so I wanted to keep you moving forward as a person in development rather than just creating something to have as another “tracker” in your journal.

Habits will have a function, Items will also be included (formerly Gear in B1, and there will be specific Items for specific benefits), Quests have been reformulated to be a specific mechanic, I’ve got To-Do lists for the major time periods to use (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), and I’m bringing in Chores to this (for the means of accomplishing the combat I was so looking for in B1).

The best part of all this? Well, instead of filling out your “character info” multiple times (i.e. for each day you essentially set up your current status), I’m giving you a layout for a “Character Sheet,” which you can refer back to while you’re just tracking your progress on the daily or weekly spreads.

Character Sheet. Yes, I don’t know why that wasn’t a thing in the first place.

Today, I’ve got to get this column and a podcast out of the way. I have to make me some product for my wife’s business, and I’ll be making scribbled notes about B2 the whole time. When I have things at a satisfactory spot, I’ll release the beta… and the beta will help me get things working way faster (since more people will be helping).

This all leads to something I’ve avoided doing but have to ask at this point: Patreon support. I’m going to be updating all the goals, backer level rewards, and so on… the reason I’m asking is that B2 is something I really want to do and if I can get a little financial help to work on that, it’ll be pushed higher in the priority queue… money talks.

This was shorter than I intended. I don’t know if you want to read a long and bloated explanation of things beyond a few “quick hits,” so I am cutting this column off here. I’ve always got a few things on my plate and though I’m interested in getting all of them done at all times, I have to prioritize.

Oddly enough, all this “working on B2” has left me not journalling for almost 2 straight weeks. Between work, getting B2 mapped out, and trying to get a couple of my other projects moving forward, I’m lacking in journalling.

Time to stop making excuses and start making progress.