"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

IDEAS FOR A PROGENY "SLARP" (Second Life Action Role Play)

I mentioned yesterday I might be teaming up Lachiel and his team to help initiate a "live action role-play" in Second Life a little bit more structured than the free form one we have been playing.  This is my first shot at the rules, based on White Wolf's "Mind's Eye Theatre" game.  This is far from the final version--Lachiel and his committee will need to review them and may reject or radically change them--but I thought I would share the process with all of you.  So for gamers and Progeny fans, enjoy! 


Creating your Character

1. Step One: Archetype
No matter what kind of character you are playing, Vampire, Human, or other, start with your Archetype.  This is your general character concept, the kind of person you are.

Sample Archetypes
• Architect—You seek to create something of lasting value, a legacy.
• Bravo—You are something of a bully; you like to be feared.
• Caregiver—You seek to nurture others.
• Child—You never really grew up, and you want someone to take care of you.
• Conformist—A follower at heart, you find it easy to adapt, adjust and comply.
  • Conniver—There's always an easier way, one that usually involves someone else doing your work.
• Daredevil—You love taking risks and will seize any opportunity to do so.
• Dark Pioneer—You can't change the traditions of the past, but you'll do everything you can to create the traditions of the future.
• Dark Poet—You want to share the beauty of darkness with the rest of the world.
• Deviant—You're just not like everyone else.
  • Director—You're accustomed to taking charge of a situation.
• Drunk Uncle—When things are going well, you're everyone's best friend. When things are going poorly, you're their worst nightmare.
• Fanatic—You have a cause and it gives your life meaning.
• Gallant—You are as flamboyant as you are amoral.
  • Hedonist—Life is meaningless, so enjoy it as long as it lasts.
• Interrogator—It's not the answers that matter, it's the pleasure you get asking the questions.
• Jester—Always the clown, you can't take life, or death, seriously.
• Judge—You seek justice and reconciliation.
• Loner—You are forever alone, even in a crowd.
• Martyr—You need to be needed, and enjoy being morally superior.
  • Rebel—No need for a cause; you rebel out of habit and passion.
• Recruiter—It makes sense to build your side up before trying to tear theirs down.
  • Shamanist—You see your killer's role as part of the supernatural order.
• Sorority Sister—You do whatever the in-crowd does, and do it better.
• Stalker—The chase is all; the capture and feeding almost anticlimactic.
• Survivor—You struggle to survive, no matter what the odds.
• Torturer—Pain isn't a profession for you, it's a calling.
• Traditionalist—You prefer the orthodox and conservative ways.
• Visionary—Wisdom is your quest, insight your key.

2. Step Two: Traits
Traits are the heart of the Progeny: SLARP system.  They are arranged into three categories; Physical, Social, and Mental. 

Beginning characters must first prioritise which category is most important to the character.  Are you primarily cerebral, with high social skills and weaker physical traits?  Or are you a charismatic charmer, with good physical attributes and less smarts?  However your choose, your Primary Category starts with 7 Traits, your Secondary starts with 5, and your Tertiary gets only 3.

Primary: 7 Traits
Secondary: 5 Traits
Tertiary: 3 Traits.

The Traits are as follows (you may notice a great deal of overlap, which is intentional, see “Playing the Game” below);

Physical Traits

Athletic: You have conditioned your body to respond well in full-body movements, especially in competitive events.
Uses: Sports, duels, running, acrobatics, grappling.

Brawny: Bulky muscular strength.
Uses: Punching, kicking or grappling in combat when your goal is to inflict damage. Power lifting. All feats of strength.

Brutal: You are capable of taking nearly any action in order to survive.
Uses: Fighting an obviously superior enemy.

Dexterous: General adroitness and skill involving the use of one's hands.
Uses: Weapon-oriented combat (Melee or Firearms). Pickpocketing. Punching.

Enduring: A persistent sturdiness against physical opposition.
Uses: When your survival is at stake, this is a good Trait to risk as a second, or successive, bid.
Energetic: A powerful force of spirit. A strong internal drive propels you and, in physical situations, you can draw on a deep reservoir of enthusiasm and zeal.
Uses: Combat.  Speed.

Ferocious: Possession of brutal intensity and extreme physical determination.
Uses: Any time that you intend to do serious harm.

Graceful: Control and balance in the motion and use of the entire body.
Uses: Combat defense. Whenever you might lose your balance (stepping on a banana peel, fighting on four-inch-thick rafters).

Lithe: Characterized by flexibility and suppleness.
Uses: Acrobatics, gymnastics, dodging, dancing.

Nimble: Light and skillful; able to make agile movements.
Uses: Dodging, jumping, rolling, acrobatics. Hand-to-hand combat.

Quick: Speedy, with fast reaction time.
Uses: Defending against a surprise attack. Running, dodging, attacking.

Resilient: Characterized by strength of health; able to recover quickly from bodily harm.
Uses: Resisting adverse environments. Defending against damage in an attack.

Robust: Resistant to physical harm and damage.
Uses: Defending against damage in an attack. Endurance related actions that could take place over a period of time.

Rugged: Hardy, rough and brutally healthy. Able to shrug off wounds and pain to continue struggling.
Uses: When resisting damage, any challenge that you enter while injured.

Stalwart: Physically strong and uncompromising against opposition.
Uses: Resisting damage, or when standing your ground against overwhelming odds or a superior foe.

Steady: More than simply physically dependable: controlled, unfaltering and balanced. You have firm mastery over your efforts.
Uses: Weapon attacks. Fighting in exotic locations. Piloting oil tankers.
Tenacious: Physically determined through force of will. You often prolong physical confrontations, even when it might not be wise to do so.
Uses: Second or subsequent Physical Challenge.

Tireless: You have a runner's stamina—you are less taxed by physical efforts than ordinary people.
Uses: Any endurance related challenge, second or subsequent Physical Challenge with the same foe or foes.

Tough: A harsh, aggressive attitude and a reluctance e ver to submit.
Uses: Whenever you're wounded or winded.

Vigorous: A combination of energy, power, intensity and resistance to harm.
Uses: Combat and athletic challenges when you're on the defensive.

Wiry: Tight, streamlined, muscular strength.
Uses: Punching, kicking or grappling in combat. Acrobatic movements. Endurance lifting.   

Social Traits

Alluring: An attractive and appealing presence that inspires desire in others.
Uses: Seduction. Convincing others.

Beguiling: The skill of deception and illusion. You can twist the perceptions of others and lead them to belie ve what suits you.
Uses: Tricking others. Lying under duress.

Charismatic: The talent of inspiration and motivation, the sign of a strong leader.
Uses: In a situation involving leadership or the achievement of leadership. Awe contests.

Charming: Your speech and actions make you appear attractive and appealing to others.
Uses: Convincing. Persuading. Entrancement Challenges.

Commanding: Impressive delivery of orders and suggestions. This implies skill in the control and direction of others.
Uses: When you are seen as a leader. Presence.

Compassionate: Deep feelings of care or pity for others.
Uses: Defending the weak or downtrodden. Defeating major obstacles while pursuing an altruistic end.

Dignified: Something about your posture and body carriage appears honorable and aesthetically pleasing. You carry yourself well.
Uses: Presence Challenges. Defending against Social Disciplines.

Diplomatic: Tactful, careful and thoughtful in speech and deed. Few are displeased with what you say or do.
Uses: Very important in intrigue. Leadership situations.

Elegant: Refined tastefulness. Even though you don't need money to be elegant, you exude an air of richness and high society.
Uses: High society. Might be important in some clans for advancement. Defending against Social Disciplines.

Eloquent: The ability to speak in an interesting and convincing manner.
Uses: Convincing others. Swaying emotions. Public speaking.

Empathetic: Able to identify and under stand the emotions and moods of people with whom you come in contact.
Uses: Gauging the feelings of others.

Expressive: Able to articulate thoughts in interesting, significant, meaningful ways.
Uses: Producing art, acting, per forming. Any social situation in which you want someone to understand your meaning.

Friendly: Able to fit in with everyone you meet. Even after a short conversation, most find it dif ficult to dislike you.
Uses: Entrancement Challenges. Convincing others.

Genial: Cordial, kindly, warm and pleasant. You are pleasing to be around.
Uses: Mingling at parties. Starting an Entrancement Challenge. Generally used in a second or later Social Challenge with someone.

Gorgeous: Beautiful or handsome. You were born with a face and body that is good looking to most people you meet.
Uses: Modeling, posing. Entrancement Challenges.

Ingratiating: Able to gain the favor of people who know you.
Uses: Dealing with elders in a social situation. Entrancement Challenges. Defending against Social Disciplines.

Intimidating: A frightening or awesome presence that causes others to feel timid. This Trait is particularly useful when attempting to cow opponents.
Uses: Inspiring common fear. Ordering others.

Magnetic: People feel drawn to you; those around you are interested in your speech and actions.
Uses: Presence Challenges. Seduction.

Persuasive: Able to propose believable, convincing and correct arguments and requests. Very useful when someone else is undecided on an issue.
Uses: Persuading or convincing others.

Seductive: Able to entice and tempt. You can use your good looks and your body to get what you want from o thers.
Uses: Subterfuge, Entrancement, Summoning and Seduction.

Witty: Cleverly humorous. Jokes and jests come easily to you, and you are perceived as a funny person when you want to be.
Uses: At parties. Entertaining someone. Goading or insulting someone.

Mental Traits

Alert: Mentally prepared for danger and able to react quickly when it occurs.
Uses: Preventing surprise attacks. Defending against Dominate Challenges.

Attentive: You pay attention to everyday occurrences around you. When something extraordinary happens, you are usually ready for it.
Uses: Preventing surprise attacks. Seeing through Obfuscate when you don't expect it. Preventing Dominate.

Calm: Able to withstand an extraordinary level of disturbance without becoming agitated or upset. A wellspring of self-control.
Uses: Resisting frenzy or commands that provoke violence. Whenever a mental attack might upset you. Primarily for defense.

Clever: Quick-witted resourcefulness. You think well on your feet.
Uses: Using a Mental Discipline against another.

Creative: Your ideas are original and imaginative. This implies an ability to produce unusual solutions to your difficulties. You can create artistic pieces. A requirement for any true artist.
Uses: Defending against aura readings. Creating anything.

Cunning: Crafty and sl y, possessing a great deal of ingenuity.
Uses: Tricking others. Command Challenges.

Dedicated: You give yourself over totally to your belief. When one of your causes is at stake, you stop at nothing to succeed.
Uses: Useful in any Mental Challenge when your beliefs are at stake. Defense against mental attack.

Determined: When it comes to mental endeavors, you are fully committed. Nothing can divert your intentions to succeed once you have made up your mind.
Uses: Facedowns. Useful in a normal Mental Challenge.

Discerning: Discriminating, able to pick out details, subtleties and idiosyncrasies. You have clarity of vision.
Uses: Sensory-related challenges.

Disciplined: Your mind is structured and controlled. This rigidity gives you an edge in battles of will.
Uses: Facedowns. Useful in a Mental Discipline contest.

Insightful: The power of looking at a situation and gaining an understanding of it.
Uses: Investigation (but not defense against it). Using Heightened Senses. Seeing through Obfuscate when you expect it.

Intuitive: Knowledge and understanding somehow come to you without conscious reasoning, as if by instinct.
Uses: Reading auras. Seeing through Obfuscate.

Knowledgeable: You know copious and detailed information about a wide variety of topics. This represents "book-learning."
Uses: Forgetful Mind contests. Remembering information your character might know.

Observant: Depth of vision, the power to look at something and notice the important aspects of it.
Uses: Heightened Senses. Picking up on subtitles that others might overlook.

Patient: Tolerant spersevenng and steadfast. You can wait out extended delays with composure.
Uses: Facedowns or other mental battles after another Trait has been bid.

Rational: You believe in logic, reason, sanity and sobriety. Your ability to reduce concepts to a mathematical level helps you analyze the world.
Uses: Defending against emotion oriented mental attacks. Defending against an aura reading. Not used as an initial bid.

Reflective: Meditative self-recollection and deep thought. The Trait of the serious thinker, Reflective enables you to consider all aspects of a conundrum.
Uses: Meditation. Remembering information. Defending against most Mental attacks.

Shrewd: Astute and artful, able to keep your wits about you and accomplish mental feats with efficiency and finesse.
Uses: Defending against a Mental Discipline.

Vigilant: Alertly watchful. You have the disposition of a guard dog; your attention misses little.
Uses: Defending against investigation, Forgetful Mind and Command. Seeing through Obfuscate. More appropriate for mental defense than for attack.

Wily: Sly and full of guile. Because you are wily, you can trick and deceive easily.
Uses: Tricking others. Lying under duress. Confusing mental situations.

Wise: An overall understanding of the workings of the world.
Uses: Giving advice. Dispensing snippets of Zen. Defending against Dominate Challenges.

3. Step Three: Abilities
Abilities are areas of expertise that your character is trained in.  They work with your Traits to help you perform tasks in the game.  Staring characters will select 3 Abilities from this list.

NOTE: Vampire Abilities are treated differently.  See section Seven below.

Animal Ken
The ability to train and work with animals.  

The art of using the body as a weapon in unarmed combat.

Knowledge of manipulating and governing hierarchies and power structures.

Use, repair, and programming of computers and electronic devices.

Use of land, air, or sea vehicles.

Knowledge and manipulation of financial systems, banking systems, investment, etc.

Knowledge and use of guns, rifles, and projectile weapons.

Knowledge and use of investigative techniques, espionage, and forensics.

Knowledge and manipulation of legal and judicial systems.

Skill and knowledge in and of leadership techniqueues and strategies.

Knowledge and mastery of multiple languages and the study of languages.

Knowledge and practice of human medicine and biology, first aid, surgery, etc.

The knowledge and use of all physically powered arms, armour, and weapons.

Knowledge of magic, folklore, and the supernatural.  

Knowledge and skill in one or more of the artistic or performing arts.

Knowledge of repair and maintenance of all machines.

Knowledge and experiences of the sciences; biology, chemistry, physics, etc.

The knowledge and ability to come up with money, resources, and shelter in the city streets. 

Knowledge and manipulation of locks, safes, and security systems.

Knowledge and ability to get by and thrive in the urban jungle. 

The art of deceit, manipulation, conniving, and conning.

The art of finding food, shelter, and direction in the wilderness.

Character Creation So Far, an Example

Name: Amelia Greene
Archetype: Sorority Sister
Primary (Social): Alluring, Charming, Persuasive, Ingratiating, Gorgeous, Magnetic, Seductive 
Secondary (Physical): Athletic, Energetic, Graceful, Lithe, Quick 
Tertiary (Mental): Alert, Cunning, Intuitive
Abilities: Bureaucracy, Performance, Subterfuge

Amelia is a spoiled rich girl at a prominent East Coast Ivy League school.  She got in on charm and Daddy’s money.  She is a devious little snake who uses charm and great looks to manipulate the boys and claw her way to the top of the sorority scene.

4. Part Four: Playing the Game
Playing Progeny: SLARP is easy.  Most of the time it can be done without the presence of a Narrator, though sometimes a N3P (Neutral Third Party) can help make challenges run smoother.

Rather than dice, the basic engine of the game is rock-scissors-paper.  Unfortunately, this is harder to do in Second Life than in the real world, because to work both sides have to throw down simultaneously.  Lag can sometimes make this a problem.  The best way around it I have found is to get a HUD like the totally free and transferable “Huddles” Rock-Scissors-Paper HUD

This HUD allows you to target someone else near you wearing the HUD and play R-S-P with them.  Just push the button and your choices are revealed in Local chat at the same time.

Whenever you try to do something import ant in the game, and it can’t be handled by role-play alone, it’s a Challenge.  There are five steps;

  1. In the presence of another player, decide what Ability and what Trait are suitable for the Challenge.
  2. If the action is not opposed by another character, engage in R-S-P with another player (this player is not actually challenging you, just providing the in-world “difficulty” and witnessing the result.
  3. If you have the correct Ability, you win the Challenge with either a “win” or a “tie.”
  4. If you don’t have the Ability, but you have the Trait, you need a “win” to defeat the Challenge.
  5. If you win, you succeed in the Challenge.  If you lose, you cannot use that Trait again for the rest of the play session.  It is considered “defeated.” 

Example: Amelia wants to plant a bag of pot in the dorm room of a rival, and call the floor monitor to frame her for drug possession.  Amelia’s player finds another avatar to act as the N3P.  They decide Amelia must use her “Subterfuge” Ability and “Cunning” Trait.  They throw down.  Amelia throws a Rock, and so does the N3P.  A tie.  She succeeds though because she has the correct ability.  If she didn’t have “Subterfuge,” and used only the Trait, she would have lost on the tie.  In any case, if she had lost, she wouldn’t be able to use Cunning the rest of the evening.

Opposed Challenges
If two characters are actively engaged against each other, the rules are a little different.

  1. The challenger declares which Ability and/or Trait she will use.  The defender selects an appropriate Ability and/or Trait.
  2. Both sides throw down.  If one side has only an appropriate Trait, and not an Ability, that side loses on a “lose” or a “tie.”  If both sides have appropriate Abilities and Traits, a clear “win” is needed for victory.  NOTE: You automatically lose a Challenge if you don’t have an appropriate Trait.
  3. The losing side is defeated, and suffers the logical consequences.  In addition, the Trait they bid cannot be used the rest of the night, UNLESS…
  4. The defeated side may declare an “Overbid.”  This is a dangerous ploy where he or she bids one or more additional Traits.  The opposite side may refuse, and his win then becomes a “tie.”  Or he may agree, and match the wager or even counter with a higher bid.  This continues until one side backs down or both agree.  If one side backs down they lose only their initial bid.  If a second throw down occurs, this time the losing side loses all the Traits it bid. 

Example: Amelia is and her beau have run into the beautiful new History lecturer at a bar and he is all over her.  Amelia wants to show the woman who is boss and scare her off.  She uses her “Subterfuge” again and bids her “Gorgeous” Trait to keep her man’s attention on her.  Amused, the new professor counters with “Subterfuge” and bids “Alluring.”

They throw down, and Amelia wins with a Rock to the professor’s Scissors.  “Not so fast,” says the professor’ player.  She demands a re-throw, with Subterfuge and three additional Traits “Persuasive,” “Witty,” and “Seductive” (she can’t rebid “Alluring” because she lost the first round).  Amelia scoffs—no old hag is going to outbid her—and counters with  “Alluring,” “Charming,” “Persuasive,” “Gorgeous,” “Magnetic,” and “Seductive.”  Six Traits to the older bitch’s three.  Ha!  

Then smiling, the professor counters again with “Charming,” “Persuasive,” “Gorgeous,” “Magnetic,” “Seductive,” “Persuasive,” “Witty,” and “Elegant.”  There is no way Amelia can beat this.  She backs out and loses the Challenge, along with the initial Trait she bid (“Gorgeous”).  If she had been able to match the professor’s bid and lost, she would have lost all her traits.

The “Why” of Overbidding
Overbidding exists for two reasons.  One, it allows the character to initially conceal how many Traits he or she actually has.  Second, it makes older, experienced characters far more powerful than younger ones.  This is why Fledgling vampires, for example, are wise not to Challenge their Elders…

5. Part Five: Consequences
Congratulations, you have lost.  What happens now?

You are defeated and you lose the use of that(those) Trait(s) for the rest of the session.  If it was physical combat, you may be injured.  If it was social or mental, you may be humiliated or fatigued.

If your Traits are reduced to zero in a category, the winner gets to declare your fate.  For example, if your physical traits are zeroed after combat, the victor may decide to capture you, leave you unconscious, or even kill you (but for this a Narrator must first approve).

6. Improvement
When you create a human character, write the date on the character notecard.  Every fifty days of play you may add a new Trait or Ability.  Progeny vampires who enter play, get to start with additional Traits and Abilities right away.  Simply look at the character’s Age and give an additional Trait or Ability for every fifty days.

Example: Justinian is a thousand days old.  He gets 20 additional Traits and/or Abilities.  Don’t screw with Elders!

7. Vampire Abilities
Progeny characters start with 3 additional Abilities, chosen from the list below. These are the vampiric powers of myth and legend.  Option: Narrators may restrict the choices a character can make based on his Bloodline and/or Clan.  In addition, new Abilities may be added specific to a certain Clan.

Vampire Abilities work a little differently than other Abilities.  First, they can be resisted with only a Trait and NOT automatically win on a tie.  Second, each comes in five “levels,” and those levels count as “Traits” for Challenges and bidding purposes. 

Example:  Justinian attempts to use Dominate (One) against a younger Outcast vampire.  The younger vampire resists with his Trait “Disciplined.”  Justinian needs to throw a “win” to defeat the younger vampire.  If it is a “tie,” the power doesn’t work but Justinian doesn’t lose his level of Dominate.  If it is a “loss,” Justinian loses that level and can’t use Dominate again that session…

…but wait.  Let’s say the younger vamp loses and decides to overbid, wagering “Determined,” “Attentive” and “Alert” to resist.  Justinian then reveals he actually has four levels of Dominate and bids them.  This counts as a bid of four Traits.  The younger vampire is forced to back down.   Note that Justinian could also keep his strength to himself and bid Dominate (One) plus three other Traits (like “Persuasive,” “Magnetic,” and “Intimidating”) instead.

Starting characters may take level one in three Abilities, two levels in one and one level in another, or all three levels in one Ability. 

Animalism: The power to summon, communicate with, and control animals and beasts.

Auspex: Heightened senses, the ability to see the unseen and communicate telepathically.

Celerity: The ability to move with blinding speed and grace.

Dominate: The ability to command and control the minds of others.

Fortitude: Superhuman strength and endurance.

Obfuscate: The ability to move unrecognized, unseen, and unnoticed.

Potence: Superhuman strength and physical power.

Presence: The ability to enchant, enthral, and enrapture others.

Protean: The ability to shape shift, growing animals features, changing into an animal or mist, or meld with the earth.

Thaumaturgy: Blood magic, the ability to cast sorcerous rituals and spells.  

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