• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[nWoD] God Machine in Seattle/ What are the Exarchs

ChaosTheory

Registered User
Validated User
Hey everyone, as you can see by my posts, long time lurker.

I've been recently tasked by my gaming group, who play more board games, to run a campaign set in the World of Darkness. I decided that I was going to set everything in Seattle (where we live) and I started doing some research. After borrowing the new Demon book from a friend, I see that Seattle is the default city for a Demon setting (also, the reasons they give for that are hilariously true. Poor Bertha).

Now, I really liked DtD and I think the cosmology it brings to the table is a logical progression of the Mage cosmology in a lot of ways. The Mage cosmos is effectively gnostic, with the Creator off doing... something (if it exists), while the Exarchs sub-in for the Demiurge. DtD instead says that the Demiurge is this complex spirit-machine-thing.

I decided to meet halfway and say that the God Machine is the primary tool or means that the Exarchs use to keep the status quo from changing in the Fallen World. It's basically a really complex spiritual computer running several different functions as well as it can and a pretty sweet AI. It's callous towards life because the Exarchs never chose to program it to be empathetic, not that they care.

The Seers of the Throne are vaguely aware that there is some sooper seekret project that works behind the scenes, enforcing The Lie onto Sleepers, but they are totally on a need to know basis here and 99.99% never need to know (and will get taken out by angels if they get too nosy). I think this will be used to good effect if the PCs ever manage to learn about the God Machine or maybe part of its plans- learning their enemies the Seers are really also being manipulated (albeit willingly) by an even more nefarious source is plot gold to me.

Is that a legit basis for a campaign? That sounds good in my head, but have I missed something obvious that makes that explanation not work well?


The other question I had is if anyone has ever tried to run anything with the DtD version of Seattle? The Demon book is great, but the setting at the end didn't do much for me. Pocket realities and separated time fluctuations were a bit much. I could see it if you were running an Inception or Twilight Zone style game (which are both cromulent Demon ideas) but that's not what I'm going for. Suggestions on how to build your own WoD city?

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

insomniac

Registered User
Validated User
That sounds like a reasonable interpretation of the Exarch/God-Machine relationship to me. The 'canon' has always been reluctant to explicitly map out how or if other gamelines' cosmologies work with the Mage setup, down to leaving things like "are Mage Arcadia and Changeling Arcadia the same place" as open questions.
 

St.Just

Lacking all conviction
Validated User
I'm not entirely sure how well Demons and Mages interact on a mechanical level (different editions, and IIRC Mages' tended to, appropriately enough, be able to magic away any conceivable problem not caused by other mages or similar with a bit of preparation). But thematically and as far as setting coherence goes, the God Machine as the engine and/or physical manifestation certainly works.
 

leetsepeak

Registered User
Validated User
That sounds like a reasonable interpretation of the Exarch/God-Machine relationship to me. The 'canon' has always been reluctant to explicitly map out how or if other gamelines' cosmologies work with the Mage setup, down to leaving things like "are Mage Arcadia and Changeling Arcadia the same place" as open questions.
It's not really a matter of reluctance. They don't explain and the writers responsible for any bits leading people along in thinking they intend to link them have previously shared regrets over doing so.

To the OP, there isn't intended to be a connection between the Exarchs and the God-Machine, though they both occupy similar positions because both Demon and Mage offer takes on Gnosticism. You can totally make the connection internally that the Exarchs like the God-Machine, but you don't need to suggest that one is necessarily the creation of another. They coincidentally benefit from similar behaviors.

Something worth keeping in mind is that there isn't often a time where one ever gets a top-down view of the world in-setting, and the mystery of the game lines helps to highlight that the World of Darkness is a mysterious place. To have these two different great forces at play doesn't need to be an explicit alliance between them, it could simply be a matter of convenience. The Infrastructure in the neighborhood makes the people sluggish and compliant; the local Seer noticed this and decided he quite enjoys the result, or they indirectly feed into the orders he receives from his higher ups in his Ministry anyway. Not only does this approach avoid you having to figure out the nitty gritty of how everything works (you rarely do in the World of Darkness) it also offers an additional level of intrigue: When there's conflict between the two forces you would've otherwise unified. It happens within the God-Machine and among the Seers, people have different agendas, they're given conflicting directives. One minute the Seers are your enemy, then the next the Pentacle is begging for an alliance to put down that Archangel that they've all unwittingly helped bring into being. Can make for some cool plots.

Finally, something to consider about the themes of these forces: The God-Machine explores cosmic horror through a very peculiar vein: that of the technological, impersonal systems that surround us in our lives. The God-Machine isn't malicious. It's apathetic. It doesn't feel. It's an aggregate of systems at work pursuing an unknown agenda. You know how people complain that bureaucracy is evil, and that they sometimes don't even know why they have to do the things they have to do anymore? Or how these systems we've made to improve our lives can suddenly make them so horrible? The God-Machine is a unification of those ideas with the occult and the weird.

Switch gears to the Exarchs. The Exarchs (as clarified in the 2nd edition, you can read about them in some of the devblogs, like briefly in here) Where the God-Machine is just a thing greater than people that's using us as a resource with no harsh feelings, the Exarchs, if they can even be defined as people (in the 2nd edition and in some of the 1st edition books like Seers of the Throne, they're discussed as living symbols more often than once living people) are acting deliberately to oppress people through their Ministries. IF the God-Machine oppresses people, it's merely because it's convenient or required for an occult matrix. The God-Machine can help humanity (divert a world-destroying asteroid) as often as it can hurt it (start a war that millions die in), the Exarchs are all about making us as miserable and complacent as possible, to magnify the strength of their symbols (they're all forms of tyranny).

The God-Machine is an amoral force. A cosmic one. That's what makes it horrifying. It is the uncaring world we live in that crushes us not out of some malicious, personal glee, but out of simple necessity. The Exarchs are the malicious force that whispers into the dreams of their chosen prophets to agitate our normal tendencies towards cruelty, selfishness and the subservience to those ideals that they desire. In that way, their servants are a much more personal threat.

The God-Machine is the alien and the weird, and that's a good way to use it in a chronicle. The Seers and the Exarchs and the things that serve them? They're evils in a way that's intimately familiar to us as humans. Seers often reflect the ugly truths of alot of us, that we're willing to give up things we value like our privacy or our friends for the sake of luxury and comfort. Some Seers are cruel bastards who want to have it all, while others fear being on the losing side. How do you defeat things like War and Surveillance? Groupthink and hateful ideologies? How can you possibly defeat what seem to be the fundamental ills of society?

They're both really cool antagonists to play with. The Seattle book discusses the Mage community in addition to Demons (The primary focus of the book) so you have some material to work with. I'm just offering these as food for thought in how you might deploy these forces in a game. My personal suggestion, to have the Seers discovering the Machine and attempting to exploit it or explore it to the detriment of everyone would probably be where I'd go with my Mage campaign. Considering Seattle's primary Mystery seems to be the Time Splinters, I'd look into the plothooks that are described in the Seattle book (maybe the Machine is trying to open Infrastructure to the God-Machine future using the other Splinters as a part of the Occult Matrix, and the Seers also want to exploit having access to whatever strange things might be waiting on the other side?) because they provide a wealth of ideas that work for Mages in addition to Demons.

My girlfriend has ran a game so far in Seattle. We played the How an Angel Dies SAS and did some stuff beyond it, and it was a ton of fun. The Time Splinters are actually pretty cool, though you can also just use them as a means to an end. I've tried to create my own city whole-cloth in the past and it was horrible and very challenging. I've also used real life cities and crafted my intended supernatural community from that, and that's actually been pretty fun. The key is to figure out what makes your city different or distinctive for whatever supernatural group you're using.

for both Demons and Mages, it's a matter of what the city's High Weirdness is. For Demons, how is the God-Machine dealing with this High Weirdness? for Mages, it's who is interested in investigating this Mystery, and what affects has it had on the Orders there?

for Vampire, it's usually a question of what the structure of the Domain is. Who is in charge? What are the Covenants like? Is anyone messing with Kindred here? etc.

Each of the gamelines usually has some big thing like that which defines each setting. It can help make your setting distinctive and fun.
 

ChaosTheory

Registered User
Validated User
To the OP, there isn't intended to be a connection between the Exarchs and the God-Machine, though they both occupy similar positions because both Demon and Mage offer takes on Gnosticism. You can totally make the connection internally that the Exarchs like the God-Machine, but you don't need to suggest that one is necessarily the creation of another. They coincidentally benefit from similar behaviors.

Something worth keeping in mind is that there isn't often a time where one ever gets a top-down view of the world in-setting, and the mystery of the game lines helps to highlight that the World of Darkness is a mysterious place. To have these two different great forces at play doesn't need to be an explicit alliance between them, it could simply be a matter of convenience. The Infrastructure in the neighborhood makes the people sluggish and compliant; the local Seer noticed this and decided he quite enjoys the result, or they indirectly feed into the orders he receives from his higher ups in his Ministry anyway. Not only does this approach avoid you having to figure out the nitty gritty of how everything works (you rarely do in the World of Darkness) it also offers an additional level of intrigue: When there's conflict between the two forces you would've otherwise unified. It happens within the God-Machine and among the Seers, people have different agendas, they're given conflicting directives. One minute the Seers are your enemy, then the next the Pentacle is begging for an alliance to put down that Archangel that they've all unwittingly helped bring into being. Can make for some cool plots.
First of all, thank you for spending so much time responding to me, your post was really helpful and I very much appreciate it. I guess, like you said, it doesn't really matter if I say that the Exarchs and the God Machine are aligned, because that will never mean anything to my players. I was intending to have the two groups conflict anyways, so why make more work for myself when I don't need to?

Finally, something to consider about the themes of these forces: The God-Machine explores cosmic horror through a very peculiar vein: that of the technological, impersonal systems that surround us in our lives. The God-Machine isn't malicious. It's apathetic. It doesn't feel. It's an aggregate of systems at work pursuing an unknown agenda. You know how people complain that bureaucracy is evil, and that they sometimes don't even know why they have to do the things they have to do anymore? Or how these systems we've made to improve our lives can suddenly make them so horrible? The God-Machine is a unification of those ideas with the occult and the weird.

Switch gears to the Exarchs. The Exarchs (as clarified in the 2nd edition, you can read about them in some of the devblogs, like briefly in here) Where the God-Machine is just a thing greater than people that's using us as a resource with no harsh feelings, the Exarchs, if they can even be defined as people (in the 2nd edition and in some of the 1st edition books like Seers of the Throne, they're discussed as living symbols more often than once living people) are acting deliberately to oppress people through their Ministries. IF the God-Machine oppresses people, it's merely because it's convenient or required for an occult matrix. The God-Machine can help humanity (divert a world-destroying asteroid) as often as it can hurt it (start a war that millions die in), the Exarchs are all about making us as miserable and complacent as possible, to magnify the strength of their symbols (they're all forms of tyranny).
Oh, I haven't read any of the 2nd Edition material except for the Demon core book. I'll follow that link and find out more, the only Mage books I own right now are the core book, the Legacy books and the Supernal Tarot. I can buy anything you want to recommend on DriveThruRPG though. I'll take a look at Seers of the Throne. Is the 2nd Edition really much of a departure from the first edition setting? I was under the impression they were just cleaning up rules and adding reference to the newer splats.

They're both really cool antagonists to play with. The Seattle book discusses the Mage community in addition to Demons (The primary focus of the book) so you have some material to work with. I'm just offering these as food for thought in how you might deploy these forces in a game. My personal suggestion, to have the Seers discovering the Machine and attempting to exploit it or explore it to the detriment of everyone would probably be where I'd go with my Mage campaign. Considering Seattle's primary Mystery seems to be the Time Splinters, I'd look into the plothooks that are described in the Seattle book (maybe the Machine is trying to open Infrastructure to the God-Machine future using the other Splinters as a part of the Occult Matrix, and the Seers also want to exploit having access to whatever strange things might be waiting on the other side?) because they provide a wealth of ideas that work for Mages in addition to Demons.
I'm not really fond of the time splinter stuff, but I'll look through the Demon book again for ideas. I REALLY like the idea of the Seers recently becoming aware of the God Machine and looking into ways of exploiting synergy with it (just something they would say). I guess I'm not sure what that would mean on a practical level though, that the Seers would be trying to exploit the existence of Infrastructure or Occult Matrices.

I guess that could mean that individual Seers could have arrangements with the agents of the God Machine, using their tools to further Matrices in the area. Then if they get too bothersome, they could kill them off in some other project where they benefit from the execution anyways? Or a cabal of Seers could have found some bit of Infrastructure that they gain some benefit from, a certain kind of resonance that harmonizes with their paradigm to help them enforce their will on the Lie easier in the area, so the PCs have to take out the Infrastructure or sever their connection to it to get the Seers back under control.

I've tried to create my own city whole-cloth in the past and it was horrible and very challenging. I've also used real life cities and crafted my intended supernatural community from that, and that's actually been pretty fun. The key is to figure out what makes your city different or distinctive for whatever supernatural group you're using.
My initial thoughts were to focus on the Mage/Geist/Changeling lines more than most, though I want the God Machine to be part of the setting, and a player has expressed interest in introducing elements of Demon to the story. I was planning on it being a huge crossover city, but I wasn't going to add any Mummy or Promethean elements personally (because I don't own those books and don't really care to).

I was thinking that the Vampires in the city are split mostly into two groups. The first are the high-end business people in skyscrapers who make decisions that affect millions of peoples' livelihoods with no regard to their happiness. I want to focus on modern corporate society being purposefully soulless, and the Vampires are the ones managing the pawns, the kine. The second group are the lazy, idle immortals who slum it in the nightlife district and sleep in shitty basement apartments for low rent and carry out a bohemian unlife. The sleezier ones deal in black market goods, usually drugs, but mostly they're on the up and up.

I don't really know what to do with werewolves. I really liked the Forsaken but I always have a hard time trying to fit them into a setting. As far as Geist content goes, my thoughts were to say that the recent excavations made for the underground light rail system we're trying (and failing) to install have upset some macguffin which has caused a disruption in the local shadow, wearing it thinner in most places and causing an uptick in local ghostly activity.

Changelings have started to claim territory out in West Seattle because the most likely place for a Changeling to come back from the Hedge is at Alki Beach, right next to the silly mini Statue of Liberty. You end up about waist deep in the Sound, just a couple feet from shore. There isn't really a gathering place yet, but new Changelings usually get the low down as it's fairly easy to spot people coming in from the Hedge if you know what to look for. There isn't a guard or a constant look out there yet, but if the Changelings get organized they might be able to stake out that spot and learn something.

The Pentacle Mages in the area have been put through the ringer. Recently a betrayal within the Consortium led to half the Adamantine Arrows turning on the Council and leading the Seers right into their inner sanctums. Most of those Arrows didn't make it out alive, but the Pentacle power structure is effectively gone, with no one trusting another Mage not to betray them. There are a few Mysterium and Free Council left, and they are the only hope of getting people to trust each other enough to remake Mage society in Seattle.

Or, those are the ideas I wrote down so far. The session isn't until January. :)
 

DannyK

One Shot Man
Validated User
Yeah, I live in Seattle too and I was really impressed by the Seattle sourcebook. Best I've ever seen for the area.
If you want to use the God Machine without the Demons, you could treat it all as a kind of weird Supernal infrastructure that pokes up in places and is mostly invisible to mortals and empheral... kind of like most Magey stuff is already. Angels are just a special class of spirits devoted to these weird structures, since they pretty much follow Spirit mechanics anyway, and any Demon-type NPCs can be handled as special snowflakes, and not many of them.

The biggest flaws in the Seattle book were, I thought:
1) Sometimes sliding into Mage:the Ascension cliches, i.e. having the God-Machine based so heavily in software companies on the Eastside and using high tech methods. I felt like it got away from the gnostic unknowability of the G-M too much -- a given piece of infrastructure could be pseudoscientific computers and fiberoptic cables, but it could be carved wooden gears and tubs of eels, too. You set things up so predictably, you'll end up with pseudo-oMage games.
2) The splintered timelines were not as cool as they could have been. I kind of liked the 1889 and 1999 junctures and the World's Fair one sounds cool, but they really don't do much with them.
Otherwise, I really liked it and hope to run something with it in the near future.
 

leetsepeak

Registered User
Validated User
First of all, thank you for spending so much time responding to me, your post was really helpful and I very much appreciate it. I guess, like you said, it doesn't really matter if I say that the Exarchs and the God Machine are aligned, because that will never mean anything to my players. I was intending to have the two groups conflict anyways, so why make more work for myself when I don't need to?
My pleasure. I'm glad you've taken a shining to some of the coolest antagonist forces that nWoD has to offer. The Seers and the myriad agents of the Machine offer some really awesome antagonist options.


Oh, I haven't read any of the 2nd Edition material except for the Demon core book. I'll follow that link and find out more, the only Mage books I own right now are the core book, the Legacy books and the Supernal Tarot. I can buy anything you want to recommend on DriveThruRPG though. I'll take a look at Seers of the Throne. Is the 2nd Edition really much of a departure from the first edition setting? I was under the impression they were just cleaning up rules and adding reference to the newer splats.
Okay, so it's sort of complicated. Demon is basically a 2nd edition game, and Vampire is the only other game that's been released with a 2nd edition. Vampire's 2nd edition gets at the core of what's good about the gameline, updates the mechanics and all that jazz. If you plan on running Vampire, then I think it's an excellent buy. If you plan to include Vampires at all in your setting, it's also an excellent buy.

Mage and Werewolf are in the process of releasing their 2nd editions. In the meantime, we've been given Devblogs that allow us to get a sneak peek at some of the fluff and the mechanics. For both Mage and Werewolf, the updated material has been incredible but the issue is this: it's hard to appreciate just how much better it is without having an idea of what the lines were like from before. Since Mage seems to be one of your big focuses, I'd suggest reading Mage's corebook (it's a struggle, it's one of the less well laid out books for the nWoD, you don't really need to read each and every spell, for instance!) to get an idea of what the setting is like baseline. Then I suggest reading the devblogs, which can be found in order on the Onyx Path website here:

http://theonyxpath.com/category/projects/magetheawakening/page/3/

They'll make sense for the most part and you'll get a glimpse of the vastly superior mechanics as well, which thusfar have cleared up a lot of problems with the mechanics of Awakening, while also making the fluff more interesting and coherent. We're almost at the 10 year mark from the release of the corebook, and the line has come a long way.

As for 1e books...

It's tricky, because you have to make sure when reading them that you spot the inconsistencies with the 2nd edition. Some metaphysical concepts have been messed with quite a bit, which messes with the assumptions that say, the Order books make. DaveB, or Dave Brookshaw (He's on these forums, he could even pop into this thread to correct me!) is the current Developer for the line (the guy in charge of everything) and when he begins writing for Mage is when we start seeing it become what it will be in 2nd edition (much better, and it's already awesome!) I believe his first project was Seers of the Throne, which is just a fucking incredible book. So cool. Here's a list of everything after Seers

Seers of the Throne (February 2009)
Summoners (April 2009)
The Abedju Cipher (PDF Only)* July 2009
Night Horrors: The Unbidden (September 2009)
Mage Chronicler's Guide (July 2010)
Mage Noir (November 2010)
Imperial Mysteries (January 2012)
Left-Hand Path (November 2012)

Pretty much all of these should be usable with Second Edition stuff, and a lot of it was written with the new setting focus of 2e gestating in its authors' minds. I think the ones that will be most intriguing for you are Seers of the Throne, Left-Hand Path and Night Horrors: The Unbidden. Seers details the eponymous group, Left-Hand Path is about the Mages that are deemed persona non grata among the Mages of the Pentacle and even the Seers. Night Horrors has a bunch of exceptionally weird antagonists that are the stuff of plots and campaigns all on their own. One of these could even serve as the basis for your version of Seattle's High Weirdness.

It's a lot of stuff. Read strategically if you have to. Reading this stuff will get you so fired up to run games though!


I'm not really fond of the time splinter stuff, but I'll look through the Demon book again for ideas. I REALLY like the idea of the Seers recently becoming aware of the God Machine and looking into ways of exploiting synergy with it (just something they would say). I guess I'm not sure what that would mean on a practical level though, that the Seers would be trying to exploit the existence of Infrastructure or Occult Matrices.
Seers are looking to exploit anything and everything, so it's a great idea to play with.

I wasn't a fan of the time splinters initially, but they've grown on me, if nothing else than as a means to an end. There's three big plothooks at the back of the book that might be the most useful info for you if you're looking for specific stuff for your campaign, though one of them is sort of (not really) reliant on the time splinter.

  • The Apocalypse Vault (pg. 74)
  • "Galatea" (pg. 78)
  • Deep Freeze (pg. 72)

I feel like the Apocalypse Vault is irresistible in a classic sort of way, but most of its security comes from its obscurity, it's hidden in one of the Time Splinters. If you don't want ANY timey-wimeyness in your game, my suggested modification to this one might be to instead place it in some kind of different dimension which has access points throughout Seattle. Perhaps this weird dimension thing is the High Weirdness that Mages are interested in? One sort of spooky idea could be that it's literally a copy of modern day Seattle, but it's utterly devoid of any kind of living creature or things, and instead hosts some kind of shadowy type of being (potentially a Cryptid type from Demon?) But you have a lot of room to work with there.

The other plots are good hooks and don't really need that much changing. Keep in mind they're all written for Demons, but they shouldn't be too hard to rewrite as Mysteries if need be.

I guess that could mean that individual Seers could have arrangements with the agents of the God Machine, using their tools to further Matrices in the area. Then if they get too bothersome, they could kill them off in some other project where they benefit from the execution anyways? Or a cabal of Seers could have found some bit of Infrastructure that they gain some benefit from, a certain kind of resonance that harmonizes with their paradigm to help them enforce their will on the Lie easier in the area, so the PCs have to take out the Infrastructure or sever their connection to it to get the Seers back under control.
Stressing this is my personal opinion, and there is no "right way" to do this, I think even an alliance with the God-Machine's servants is still a bit much. While the God-Machine is served by lots of human agents, I think a great part of the juiciness of the Machine's hook is how freaking weird it is. I suggest that Seers might be surveilling servants of the Machine, trying to figure out what's going on, but contact with both humans and angels (DEFINITELY ANGELS) will not end well for Seers. So they're holding back. Maybe there's one piece of infrastructure where they managed to murder its human security, and in the process of trying to subvert it, they wind up causing some problem. Maybe they've only recently captured it, and the players are tasked by whomever in order to figure out what the Seers have found. The Seers will probably be one step ahead of the players in trying to understand what they're dealing with, but they probably won't have a great idea either. It's the classic hubristic Mage scenario, they're playing with fire and not even realizing the kinds of consequences it could have.


My initial thoughts were to focus on the Mage/Geist/Changeling lines more than most, though I want the God Machine to be part of the setting, and a player has expressed interest in introducing elements of Demon to the story. I was planning on it being a huge crossover city, but I wasn't going to add any Mummy or Promethean elements personally (because I don't own those books and don't really care to).
Okay so, big important question here: Are we talking Crossover? In terms of your PCs, I mean. Are you all playing Mortals? Hunters? Mages? Different splats? Crossover is when you're having multiple splats as PCs, and I don't recommend it. While nWoD can accomodate it in terms of the rulesets, each gameline has themes and a lot of mechanics underpinning them that can make Crossover really challenging, and that's not even getting into the 2nd edition problem, where most of the gamelines aren't updated.

If you just want to use NPCs or antagonists from multiple gamelines, it's less of a problem, but still will require a fair amount of effort on your part as a GM. When considering what kinds of antagonists to put together, consider what your group is playing, and how they might see those people they deal with. A Demon will have a different perspective from a Vampire on what a Seer means in the context of their respective gamelines. While some people don't care to think about it too much, I think thematic consistency is important, and in that vein, you should think carefully about what supernaturals you want to introduce/encounter in your game.

I was thinking that the Vampires in the city are split mostly into two groups. The first are the high-end business people in skyscrapers who make decisions that affect millions of peoples' livelihoods with no regard to their happiness. I want to focus on modern corporate society being purposefully soulless, and the Vampires are the ones managing the pawns, the kine. The second group are the lazy, idle immortals who slum it in the nightlife district and sleep in shitty basement apartments for low rent and carry out a bohemian unlife. The sleezier ones deal in black market goods, usually drugs, but mostly they're on the up and up.
I definitely suggest picking up Vampire 2e to get a quick look at the factions, as that'll help with this idea. Maybe the former group you mentioned is a local branch of the Invictus? They could be an emigrant faction from the San Francisco domain that came after they helped make the Cacophony in its modern incarnation in the 1990s, maybe they muscled in and took over after leaving the Mission (Vampire's San Francisco setting) behind. Maybe we can spice up the latter group, the immortal dilettantes: What if they're members of the Circle of the Crone, part of a particularly hedonistic cult within the Covenant? Maybe their views or the emphasis they put on excess or art made them unpopular with other Crones in nearby Domains, prompting them to congregate in Seattle. Since you're a local, you'd know the city better than me: What kinds of subcultures are these Kindred parasitizing? It's an important element of Vampire that they tend to attach themselves to mortal group identities, because they can provide more than just some skin-deep sense of belonging: They can be a source of protection, food, information, a place to hide, et al.

Vampire is one of my favorite gamelines, so I love discussing it!

All that said, the Seattle book also comes with a brief description of how they imagine Kindred society to be in Seattle. It might be worth reading that to mine it for ideas as well.

I don't really know what to do with werewolves. I really liked the Forsaken but I always have a hard time trying to fit them into a setting. As far as Geist content goes, my thoughts were to say that the recent excavations made for the underground light rail system we're trying (and failing) to install have upset some macguffin which has caused a disruption in the local shadow, wearing it thinner in most places and causing an uptick in local ghostly activity.
I hated Forsaken until I started reading the 2e devblogs. I wish I had more advise on how to do it, but honestly, I'd ask in the Werewolf forums on the Onyx Path Boards, they'd know better.

Changelings have started to claim territory out in West Seattle because the most likely place for a Changeling to come back from the Hedge is at Alki Beach, right next to the silly mini Statue of Liberty. You end up about waist deep in the Sound, just a couple feet from shore. There isn't really a gathering place yet, but new Changelings usually get the low down as it's fairly easy to spot people coming in from the Hedge if you know what to look for. There isn't a guard or a constant look out there yet, but if the Changelings get organized they might be able to stake out that spot and learn something.
I don't know much about Changeling, but this sounds pretty cool. Are the Courts a presence in the city? How big is the Freehold?

The Pentacle Mages in the area have been put through the ringer. Recently a betrayal within the Consortium led to half the Adamantine Arrows turning on the Council and leading the Seers right into their inner sanctums. Most of those Arrows didn't make it out alive, but the Pentacle power structure is effectively gone, with no one trusting another Mage not to betray them. There are a few Mysterium and Free Council left, and they are the only hope of getting people to trust each other enough to remake Mage society in Seattle.
This is definitely a weird one. One of the good things that 2e has done for Mage is reminding people that the Pentacle is a single, unified organization in which the Orders co-exist. They may have interdepartmental rivalries and the like, but they're all part of the same company, and unlikely to completely screw one another over so badly. The two big power blocs of the Pentacle are the Diamond Orders (Mysterium, Adamantine Arrows, Silver Ladder and Guardians of the Veil) and the Council of Free Assemblies. 2e and the Order books both put emphasis on the fact that they're organizations and that the way that they squabble is different (usually) from, say, the way Vampire Covenants fight and hate eachother. I think the idea here merits greater discussion of the how and the why, so we can make the setting as cool and interesting for your players as possible.

Or, those are the ideas I wrote down so far. The session isn't until January. :)
Got some time then! Or well, a day or so I guess. :p

I hope all of this helps. I know it's a lot of information to digest, and it can look a little intimidating, too. Setting aside other concerns about stuff like Crossover or having a bunch of supernaturals present, I think the most important advice is to not over-extend yourself. If you're not gonna encounter the Changelings in detail or at all in your game, don't worry about detailing them. You don't need to have every supernatural if you don't want to, etcetera. Try to attack the challenge of developing your setting's identity and individual parts with what's realistic for your schedule and your game. Don't sweat what doesn't make it in until you need to.
 

Errol216

Registered User
Validated User
[For Werewolf]

If you're willing to do cringeworthy cliches, Seattle has a lot of stuff respecting Native Americans that you could work into a Werewolf subtext. It wouldn't be hard to have packs of Hunters of Darkness protecting various holy sites against random incursions of rats and spiders with the occasional Iron Master handling things like getting funding for museums and preservation efforts. Gasworks Park and the preservation of the Seattle Underground could both easily be major victories in their history. If you want some Pure, there's Mars Hill for some Fire-touched action; no reason to have had it shut down in your WoD.

That's neutral enough in the whole business that they could be enemies, allies, or obstacles as the plot demands.

If you want something more nuanced, I'd suggest coming up with some spirit courts and building packs around their problematic aspects instead. I'd look into the waterfront and come up with a court for the docks (the shipping industry in general) and maybe another for Pike Place Market, figure out something particularly wrong about how they're going about things. Belltown might be ripe for some spirit clashes, too, with the street park producing new spirits vying for domination over old spirits.
 

ChaosTheory

Registered User
Validated User
I haven't responded to this yet because I'm still going through the designer notes for Mage, and I just happened to run across Damnation City at a used book store I was at today! I'll do some more reading up this weekend.

One thing I've really liked so far in the Dev blog is the explaination of the Fallen World. I must have read the Mage core book 100 times (seriously, I've ran it and played it on and off ever since it came out) and I never understood that the Lie was in any way different from the Fallen World. I was under the impression that the "shadows on the wall" WAS the Lie, and the the Silver Ladder was trying to get all of humanity to exist in the Supernal. Going back and re-reading parts of the core with this new explanation that the Lie is enforced by the Exarchs, but the Fallen World seems to be the "natural" state of things as far as we can tell makes more sense. Also, learning that the Shadow and the Underworld are part of "the fallen world" instead of being attached to it gives me a much better grasp of the cosmology.
 
Last edited:

ChaosTheory

Registered User
Validated User
So more discussion has happened with my group, and we've gelled our idea a bit more. The players are going to be a group of YouTubers who have a channel about investigating the supernatural and the bizarre, especially around the Seattle area. They are each going to have a different area of expertise, from occultism/mysticism, parapsychology and ESP, serial killers (which we've had a lot of around here) and cults, ghosts and urban legends.

Their character creation session will be us playing through a couple scenes from past episodes, to get a feel for the group dynamic. We're just going to use the 1e stuff for rules because it's what we know and have already, and it's an easy sell to my group. They're going to be core book mortals with 20XP to start, and I've asked them to think of a weird occurrence that compels them to search for the hidden things in the dark. Ideally, I'll be able to use that hook to throw them towards things they'll find interesting.

I really like the idea of their characters having an encounter with a creature or effect of the World of Darkness that they all interpret in a different manner, where one thinks the cause is aliens, the other thinks it's ley lines and feng shui, and another thinks it's the restless dead. They'll have to choose to either run or fight it. And then of course the basic Hunter themes of destroy vs cure, cynicism vs idealism come into play when they confront the unknown. The idea is to have some characters die off or split from the group for ideological reasons, but even if they split from the group mostly, they could still be in stories. I like the idea of characters dipping more or less into the various supernatural groups in the area, and becoming a font of knowledge among themselves while not fully trusting each other. They'd basically grow into being the allies that a full Changeling, Sin-Eater or Mage might have. If that evolves into everyone playing a full supernatural splat eventually, that's fine with me.

We're a collaborative group in a lot of ways, so they will have main characters and then a stable of side characters that they can either choose to play as or choose to bring with them (usually as narrative tool or maybe a small bonus to certain actions). Kind of like Ars Magica, to be honest, though I didn't plan that. At first we're going to write in additional people working on the YouTube channel, as well as close friends and family members, then see where it goes.

I feel like the Apocalypse Vault is irresistible in a classic sort of way, but most of its security comes from its obscurity, it's hidden in one of the Time Splinters. If you don't want ANY timey-wimeyness in your game, my suggested modification to this one might be to instead place it in some kind of different dimension which has access points throughout Seattle. Perhaps this weird dimension thing is the High Weirdness that Mages are interested in? One sort of spooky idea could be that it's literally a copy of modern day Seattle, but it's utterly devoid of any kind of living creature or things, and instead hosts some kind of shadowy type of being (potentially a Cryptid type from Demon?) But you have a lot of room to work with there.
I went back and re-read the Demon version of Seattle after having read the new Mage material in the dev blog and it clicked for me a lot better. The time splinters make sense and the plot to get the apocalyptic cryptid into the main timeline was sufficiently bizarre to catch my interest. I wonder, what if a group of mostly clueless mortals found a portal to the 1960s (on indefinite loop) in a nearby work of public art? The antagonist cult instigator doesn't necessarily have to be a demon either, it could be an Acanthus or a Changeling easily or even a possessing ghost. The cult could be a problem on its own for the group, even before the threat of horrible destruction.

Stressing this is my personal opinion, and there is no "right way" to do this, I think even an alliance with the God-Machine's servants is still a bit much. While the God-Machine is served by lots of human agents, I think a great part of the juiciness of the Machine's hook is how freaking weird it is. I suggest that Seers might be surveilling servants of the Machine, trying to figure out what's going on, but contact with both humans and angels (DEFINITELY ANGELS) will not end well for Seers. So they're holding back. Maybe there's one piece of infrastructure where they managed to murder its human security, and in the process of trying to subvert it, they wind up causing some problem. Maybe they've only recently captured it, and the players are tasked by whomever in order to figure out what the Seers have found. The Seers will probably be one step ahead of the players in trying to understand what they're dealing with, but they probably won't have a great idea either. It's the classic hubristic Mage scenario, they're playing with fire and not even realizing the kinds of consequences it could have.
Those are really good points! I like the idea that the Seers have tried to subvert something, only to make things worse. There is a fear that any sort of significant earthquake will take out the Viaduct, and unsafe elevated portion of I-99 that runs over the waterfront at a certain point (and would take the waterfront with it if it fell down). There could be the fear that without the agents of the God Machine managing it, keeping up the bizarre infrastructure, it will cause a lot of trouble for the city. Possibly many lives as well.


Okay so, big important question here: Are we talking Crossover? In terms of your PCs, I mean. Are you all playing Mortals? Hunters? Mages? Different splats? Crossover is when you're having multiple splats as PCs, and I don't recommend it. While nWoD can accomodate it in terms of the rulesets, each gameline has themes and a lot of mechanics underpinning them that can make Crossover really challenging, and that's not even getting into the 2nd edition problem, where most of the gamelines aren't updated.
We're going to start them all as mortals and kind of see what happens. I don't plan on turning the original characters into full template supernaturals, but some of them most definitely will get merits from Second Sight or similar supplements. Becoming a Sleepwalker or finding out they are wolfkin (or whatever they're called), or joining a hunter Conspiracy is not out of the question, that kind of thing. I don't really want them getting into the full templates for a while though, I want to keep them on the edge of the WoD for a while.

If you just want to use NPCs or antagonists from multiple gamelines, it's less of a problem, but still will require a fair amount of effort on your part as a GM. When considering what kinds of antagonists to put together, consider what your group is playing, and how they might see those people they deal with. A Demon will have a different perspective from a Vampire on what a Seer means in the context of their respective gamelines. While some people don't care to think about it too much, I think thematic consistency is important, and in that vein, you should think carefully about what supernaturals you want to introduce/encounter in your game.
This is pretty much what I'm going for, ie, antagonists and scenarios from multiple lines. I don't see the characters hunting werewolves, but they might document a Locus or find an Avernian Gate and come under attack/possession from a ghost/spirit. Or their intrusion and documenting the site could raise the ire of whoever claims the site as their own, as their peers won't let them leave the intrusion unpunished. That might be a bit much for a first story though. I was originally thinking of doing a haunted house, but that is soooooo typical. It'd be like having them meet in a tavern. Maybe the site they find isn't "haunted" but is close to the Hedge? Or they get involved with a cult that is the false front for some Guardian of the Veil mystery?


I definitely suggest picking up Vampire 2e to get a quick look at the factions, as that'll help with this idea. Maybe the former group you mentioned is a local branch of the Invictus? They could be an emigrant faction from the San Francisco domain that came after they helped make the Cacophony in its modern incarnation in the 1990s, maybe they muscled in and took over after leaving the Mission (Vampire's San Francisco setting) behind. Maybe we can spice up the latter group, the immortal dilettantes: What if they're members of the Circle of the Crone, part of a particularly hedonistic cult within the Covenant? Maybe their views or the emphasis they put on excess or art made them unpopular with other Crones in nearby Domains, prompting them to congregate in Seattle. Since you're a local, you'd know the city better than me: What kinds of subcultures are these Kindred parasitizing? It's an important element of Vampire that they tend to attach themselves to mortal group identities, because they can provide more than just some skin-deep sense of belonging: They can be a source of protection, food, information, a place to hide, et al.
That's a good point. The hedonists are either attaching to the local art or music scene, there are a lot of urban hippies as well as hipsters. The local gay/youth district has been getting gentrified, as the increasing amount of Amazon employees who want to live here has raised rents and started to push the artists out. I'll give this more thought as it's getting late here.


I don't know much about Changeling, but this sounds pretty cool. Are the Courts a presence in the city? How big is the Freehold?
Seattle is missing its Spring Court, the court of pleasure, and instead the Winter Court of Sorrow has taken over instead. That's what I have so far anyways. That and the Seattle Underground is going to be expanded and turned into a meeting place for the local Changelings, if you know the way down there. The drill digging a new light rail tunnel under the city is currently having problems and I'm supposing it might have to do with running into some Changeling burrow or ripping through some chamber that was keeping some power enclosed.


This is definitely a weird one. One of the good things that 2e has done for Mage is reminding people that the Pentacle is a single, unified organization in which the Orders co-exist. They may have interdepartmental rivalries and the like, but they're all part of the same company, and unlikely to completely screw one another over so badly. The two big power blocs of the Pentacle are the Diamond Orders (Mysterium, Adamantine Arrows, Silver Ladder and Guardians of the Veil) and the Council of Free Assemblies. 2e and the Order books both put emphasis on the fact that they're organizations and that the way that they squabble is different (usually) from, say, the way Vampire Covenants fight and hate eachother. I think the idea here merits greater discussion of the how and the why, so we can make the setting as cool and interesting for your players as possible.
That's good to remember. I tend to think of them more like Vampire Covenants, but I guess that's not the way they really work, is it?


I hope all of this helps. I know it's a lot of information to digest, and it can look a little intimidating, too.
Your ideas have been very helpful, thank you so much!
 
Top Bottom