mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Our Jack. (101 & ½)

Slasher by White Wolf.

The isty-bitsy... where are you at?
Peek-a-boo! See you!

I don't think Geist: The Sin-Eaters really worked. Not from a story perspective & not from a sales prospective either, I'm guessing, since the first book meant to support it was rebranded as just plain "World of Darkness" & nothing further came out. Now-- I like Geist, but I had some serious problems with it. The powers were neat but not well-playtested enough, & not compliant with other games-- that was one thing. The biggest concern I had was...what the heck is a Geist? I mean, vampires-- check. Werewolves, check. Those are two big archetypes. Then White Wolf came out with Promethean: The Created, which was not only their Frankenstein's monster book, but also their mummy book, with an alchemy kicker? Bravo-- I really think that was the high point of the New World of Darkness. Heck, that was the moment when I decided to stop clinging to the d20 system & just start using a modified version of the World of Darkness. Geist didn't do enough to nab the Wraith: the Oblivion die-hard fans, & its mission statement wasn't entirely clear.

I think Slasher is a better book. I bring up Geist because I think the two could have been combined-- should have been combined. A "Geist" is a ghost that has gone beyond being just a mortal soul, that has become a big enough idea, through urban legend & what-not, to being something else, something more. The Sin-Eater is a person who, through a near-death experience, bonds with the geist. Bingo. So the soul could be like "The Old Man with a Hook Hand" or "Bloody Mary" & then you'd be bound to them. In Slasher you cut out the middle-man-- you are the Slasher; or more likely, you are posed as the Slasher's antagonist. Do you see how I think they could have been combined? Slashers are a cultural touchstone. Maybe they aren't quite to the vampire or werewolf level yet, but they are on their way, & they are real. Mixing that mythology up with some of the ideas in Geist might have worked. It is too hard to say, now, but these were my first thoughts when I read Slasher.

The book is pretty great. Again, branded just a World of Darkness book, when really it reads & feels like a Hunter: the Vigil sourcebook. That is fine; using marketing & branding to position your book is part of the game. Besides, there is no reason for people who aren't using Hunter to skip this book. It is full of ideas-- heck, I'm crawling with them. If in the old Oubliette campaign with toughlad, martak, Bernie & Gerd I had decided to use the World of Darkness rules? There would have been a ton of Slashers. The Beekeeper would have been a Mask-- that is such a perfect fit, Kaval Ants might have been an Avenger, the witches would have been Charmers & Geniuses. I've got new ideas for the current campaign, not least of all since Tracey defined her father as a cross between Bluebeard & Shahryar from One Thousand & One Nights. Heck, I've even got ideas on running a Castle Ravenloft classic monsters pastiche campaign with the World of Darkness, where Strahd is a Vampire: the Requiem bloodsucker, the hillsides are thick with gypsies & Werewolf: the Foresaken lycanthropes, where Strahd has a golem of flesh in his laboratory that is a Promethean: The Created Frankenstein, & where Igor is a Freak Slasher. Or! A retelling of the X-Files where instead of Mulder & Scully chasing their tales for season after season, there is an arc-- first season of skeptic Scully & spooky Mulder, second season where Scully changes her tune, & then third season where they join the VASCU-- the Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit, the FBI Hunter: The Vigil cell. Then in the fourth season maybe Mulder joins Task Force: VALKYRIE, becoming one of the Men in Black himself.

See? Rife with ideas. Lets talk nuts & bolts. There are ten types of Slashers here, & really they cover the gamut. If you look at in a different light? There are five types of Slashers, really-- the non-supernatural "Ripper" version, & then the supernatural "Scourge" version. You know, the way Jason Voorhees isn't even the killer in the first Friday the 13th film, but then in the second one is just a scary guy, but by the subsequent films is an unstoppable juggernaut? Yeah, you could have that without any struggle. Or how Hannibal Lecter sits in his cage, messing with Agent Starling's head? Right there. The rules are simple-- only a couple of tweaks set the Slasher apart from humanity. Maybe they are very subtle & mild, like the Avenger not loosing defense against multiple opponents; maybe they are more potent, like the Mask only taking one point of damage from any attack, no matter how nasty it might be. The only downside to the book for me personally is the crunch. I don't care about Hunter: The Vigil style tactics. I don't run my game that way, that rule heavy. No judgments, they just don't appeal to me. There also aren't any Dread Powers, which was a shame. The generic, stripped down power system is what I think all World of Darkness powers should be-- free, loose, adaptable. Still, the story in this book is strong. I think it is curious that it mostly focuses on them as "bad guys," given that...well, characters in Vampire kill far more than any petty serial killer or even the most vicious Slasher. Just funny how morals work; they aren't rational. Hence the superiority of ethics. Anyway.

White Wolf also electronically published the Vampire Translation Guide, which contains the rules for switching back & forth from Vampire: The Masquerade & Vampire: The Requiem. I've wanted this for a long time, & thought that this should have been a part of or sequel to Mirrors. I think that White Wolf has really shot themselves in the foot, here. They seem to be going forward with electronic publishing, & I feel like my concerns are being validated. The plus side of the Vampire Translation Guide is that it is only 99¢. The downside of it is that you get what you pay for. This is mostly just a brute force translation guide-- it boils down to "well, just re-imagine your character entirely." Thanks, I came up with that on my own. There are "conversion" rules for the various disciplines, but again, they are just some math adjusted rules. No mention of balance or a deeper rebuild of something like the very volatile Vicissitude. Part of the reason I like Vampire: The Requiem so much is because the rules make sense-- it is a well balanced game, Disciplines & all. Similarly, there are glaring holes-- no mention of the V:tR Khaibit & their Obtenebration in the discussion of V:tM Lasombra & their Obtenebration? This sort of stuff is what drives me nuts. The Vampire Translation Guide shouldn't be a fifty page download. It should be a glorious three hundred page hardcover in the green marble of Masquerade; it would have brought old fans & new fans out of the woodwork, & could have made tons of Storytellers very happy. Instead, we get what we pay for. I don't think author Matt McFarland did anything wrong, except not doing enough-- which really is on the publisher, not him. This should have been an event, & this should have happened five years ago. It isn't too late-- they could make it happen, tie it in to the release of the MMO.
Tags: books, haiku, rpgs, wod
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