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Author Topic: Keys in World of Darkness  (Read 11692 times)
lericson
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Posts: 4


« on: March 05, 2007, 07:51:58 AM »

I have adopted the Keys from The Shadow of Yesterday (TSOY) for my White Wolf World of Darkness (WoD]) campaign.  I thought I'd share how I adopted the rules and solicit any comments or suggestions.

The campaign is about mortals investigating and fighting the supernatural.  I felt that the current Virtues & Vices system just wasn't tangible and meaty enough.  Many of them were too esoteric for role-players to get their heads around or manifest in their game play.  I came learn about Keys and TSOY from listening to the Sons of Kryos podcast (http://www.sonsofkryos.com/), wherein they talked about adopting Keys in some of their other campaigns and the overall positive discussions of the game mechanics.

I did have to change the rewards of the Keys to allow the character to recover spent Willpower points at the lower stages and bonus XP at the highest. WoD system is not designed to have characters earning lots of XP points for a given game session, and so used as written, the Keys would provide too much XP, IMO. Basically, I decided to do a straightforward translation as follows:
In TSOY +1 XP = Recover 1 spent Willpower in WoD
In TSOY +2 XP = Recover All spent Willpower in WoD
In TSOY +3 XP = +1 Bonus XP in WoD
In TSOY +5 XP = +2 Bonus XP in WoD

I offered the basic Keys from TSOY (http://files.crngames.com/cc/tsoy/book1--rulebook.html#id5) and some of the homebrewed Keys found on the wiki (http://random.average-bear.com/TSOY/Keys) to my players during character creation.  We've only played one session so far, but I think it is working well.

Comments?  Suggestions?
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Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2007, 08:05:07 AM »

Have you tried making WoD specific Keys yet?  If so, what are they?  I think this is a kick-ass idea.
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lericson
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Posts: 4


« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2007, 08:49:49 AM »

Have you tried making WoD specific Keys yet?  If so, what are they?  I think this is a kick-ass idea.

I haven't yet.  The nice part adopting the Keys is that most seemed to slide over fairly easily.  Since my campaign is about mortals and not Vampires or Werewolves, all of the keys governing normal human beahvior work just fine.  I don't plan on creating WoD specific ones unless my players suggest one since this is the first use of Keys in WoD for me.  In a Vampire: the Requiem game I could see some "race" or "covenant" specific Keys being developed.

BTW, Thanks for the encouragement.  I'll keep the forum informed as their use evolves.

Lars
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2007, 07:33:51 AM »

I adopted Keys in my old Exalted campaign. The XP rewards from Keys I kept intact there, and instead I've been assuming that 10 XP equals one freebie point that can be spent as in character creation. Players were gathering roughly 2-3 freebie points per session, on the average. It had an added benefit of making character development currency the same as the currency used in character creation. I'm not sure which edition of WoD you're using, though.

There was one problem in that Exalted campaign of mine, though - Keys didn't go well with Nature. Your idea of basing Willpower awards on hitting Keys sounds good. However, I'd suggest leaving the XP awards as they are in TSoY (having accumulated XP change into freebies as above if it's old WoD, or changing XP costs in the game to get a desired pace of development if it's new WoD) and awarding Willpower along with XP. One Willpower per XP gained could work. One Willpower for hitting 1/2 XP trigger and all Willpower for hitting 3/5 XP could work better, if you prefer slower Willpower replenishment.

Another way to solve this problem would be to base Willpower awards on something completely different, e.g. various forms of socializing or the like. Notice how to some extent Willpower is the equivalent of Pools from TSoY, and how the Pools are refreshed there.
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Warren
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2007, 04:34:46 AM »

I am doing this with my current (old) World of Darkness Vampire Game. Rather than the old Nature & Demeanour, I've let my players take a set of Keys instead. I have made some appropriate Keys (Key of the Bloodbound, Key of the Anarch and so on). I originally had it that 5XP = 1 Storyteller experience point, but with two or three Keys each, they only seem to be getting 5-6XP per three-hour session, so I have now dropped it to a 1:1 ratio.

And, as Filip suggests, I have made Willpower refreshment work in the same way as Pool refreshment in TSoY. The players record if a Willpower point was spent on a Physical, Mental or Social action (depending on the attributes used and/or fictional context) and when they carry out a Pool refreshment scene they get to recover all the Willpower spent in the appropriate domain. (One character played hide & seek with his kid sister for a couple of hours and got back all of his Social Willpower expenditure, for example).

I'll put a link to my intro/houserules PDF  when I get it uploaded onto the web somewhere, if anybody is interested.
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Thenomain
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Posts: 42


« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2007, 08:55:40 AM »

How about keys for Paths?  (Most notably, Key of Humanity.)  You need the actual stat for other WoD tweakery, but it could represent someone who's trying desperately to hold on to their humanity.
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lericson
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Posts: 4


« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2007, 09:23:32 AM »

Thanks for the suggestions for tweaking the Keys in WoD.  BTW, I'm using nWoD so converting the XPs to Freebie Points is more complicated.  I plan on playing one more session with the house rules as written and then re-examining Keys with my players.  I have a feeling that leaving the XP awards as written in TSOY as Filip Luszczyk suggested and tweaking the XP Advancement table combined with adopting a Willpower refresh as Warren suggested will be a cleaner way to handle things.  I'm running the second session this Sunday, so I'll give some feedback early next week.
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lericson
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2007, 04:47:38 PM »

We just finished our second nWoD game session using Keys.  I ended up changing the Keys back to the way they are written and just changing the cost to raise Attributes and Abilities.  I just doubled the cost listed in the nWoD rulebook, increased the amount given out for various aspects of the session, and used the Keys as written in TSOY.

Overall, I think it went very well.  The players all seemed to enjoy this new version of Keys rather that the rules described at the beginning of this thread.  The smaller XP awards provided little gold stars in play to reinforce and reward roleplaying.  Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone.
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xjermx
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2007, 06:53:11 AM »

This is totally fantastic, and I'd been thinking about trying to do this in my new World of Darkness Werewolf game.

We play every other week, and so I'd already considered upping the experience awards a little, just so that they wouldnt be advancing at such a snails pace.  I think I'll see if my players are interested in doing it this way.   I'm leaning toward using normal TSOY experience rewards, and leaving the WoD experience costs the same.  I'm hoping this should give me a descent middle ground - somewhat rapid advancement, but (I hope) not uber fast.  I dont expect my players to pick up more than 10 - 15 XP per session per player.  We'll see.  Thanks!
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Warren
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2007, 03:53:51 AM »

I've put the PDF of my current Vampire games houserules up here.
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Simon C
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Posts: 495


« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2007, 10:15:05 PM »

Here are some Keys I wrote for our Vampire game:

Some Keys for Vampire:

Key of the Monster:
1 XP: Frighten someone.
2 XP: Hurt someone.
5 XP: Harm someone who cares about you.
Buyoff: Fall in love.

Key of the Guardian Angel:
1 XP: Every scene you spend with a chosen human.
2 XP: Save your chosen human from danger.
5 XP: Significantly help your chosen human, at considerable cost to yourself.
Buyoff: Reveal to your chosen human that you're a vampire.

Key of the Blood Doll:
1 XP: Every time a chosen vampire feeds from you.
3 XP: Every time the chosen vampire feeds from you and leaves you weakened.
Buyoff: Refuse to be fed on by your chosen Vampire.

Key of the Beast:
1 XP: Every time you frenzy.
3 XP: Every time you frenzy and harm a friend.
Buyoff: Frenzy and kill a friend.

Key of Control:
1 XP: Every scene in which you resist frenzy.
3 XP: Every scene you resist frenzy against considerable odds.
Buyoff: Voluntarily frenzy.

Key of Repentance:
1 XP: Every time you protect a human from harm.
2 XP: Every time you suffer to prevent harm to a human.
5 XP: Prevent harm to a human even though it nearly kills you.
Buyoff: Feed on a human when it's not absolutely necessary.

Key of the Puppet-Master:
1 XP: Every time someone does your bidding.
2 XP: Every time someone does your bidding, without knowing it.
5 XP: Every time someone very powerful does your bidding, without knowing it.
Buyoff: Reveal your plans to those who would stop you.

Key of the Lurker:
1 XP: Every scene in which you learn a secret.
2 XP: Every scene in which you learn a secret, without anyone knowing.
5 XP: Learn a secret with significant ramifications for powerful people.
Buyoff: Reveal a secret without getting anything in return.

Key of the Architect:
1 XP: Every scene in which you work on a long-term project.
3 XP: Every time you make a significant step towards completing your project.
Buyoff: Complete the project, or abandon it.

Key of the Anachronism:
1 XP: Use technology from your own time in favor of a superior modern equivalent.
3 XP: Spend considerable resources to do something in the manner appropriate to your own time.
Buyoff: Use a modern equivalent when something from your own time will do the job.


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Mikael
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Posts: 206


« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2007, 11:58:57 AM »

Hey Simon

The buyoff for the Key of the Beast seems in direct violation of the understanding I had of Keys. Could you explain the idea behind that a little? Might just be the fact that I am not a WoDist, but even then an explanation would help.

Thanks.
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Simon C
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Posts: 495


« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2007, 09:41:36 PM »

I was kind of riffing off the "Key of the Uncontrollable Madman" or somesuch, from the wiki, which has "kill a friend" as the buyoff.  The idea is that the experience reward makes it a tempting thing to do, but then there's the opportunity to buy off the Key, so your character is shocked by what's happened and changes drastically.  So, your character is this uncontrolled beast, who frenzies early and often, wreaking havoc and harming friends, but then at some point the character kills someone they care about, and realizes what they've become.  This is kind of contrary to the "continuing devolution" of humanity in WoD, and the buyoff is different from most Keys, but it seems to work.

I guess that I like making Keys that are little stories in themselves, or opportunities for cool scenes.  Like the "Key of the Guardian Angel" makes a little story about a vampire who watches over someone, and cares for them, until the inevitable moment at which they must reveal their nature.  Or the "Key of the Puppet Master", which makes for a neat scene where the villain reveals their plan just before its final execution.

I'm no expert at Keys though, so if you've got experiences that run counter to this, I'd love to hear it.
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Hans
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Posts: 576


« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2007, 01:11:42 PM »

So, your character is this uncontrolled beast, who frenzies early and often, wreaking havoc and harming friends, but then at some point the character kills someone they care about, and realizes what they've become. 

Simon, I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with the buyoff with the Key of the Beast, as long as you recognize that the buyoff does not require the change of heart you mention above. The cool thing about keys is they never restrict behaviour, they only specify certain behaviours that can, if the player chooses, cause XP generation and in some cases the removal of the key forever.  I am never forced to take XP from a key behaviour (although in general I can't see a reason not to), and I'm never forced to buyoff, even if I do the behaviour that would allow me to buyoff.  I could kill friends all day long and still keep the key and be satisfied with the constant stream of 3 point awards for harm (until I run out of friends, one assumes).  I could also buy it off by killing a friend, and then say "hmmm, this just proves I really have no humanity left" and replace it with something like Key of Power, Key of the Self, or Key of the Monster (from your list).

If you want to make your intent clearer, and strongly urge at least the semblance of the change of heart, you might change the buyoff to "Kill a friend, then vow to forsake the Beast" or something along those lines.  That makes the buyoff of this key a good moment to buy Key of Control (from your list) or Key of the Vow (from the book) or even Key of the Pacifist.
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Simon C
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Posts: 495


« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2007, 11:00:28 PM »

That's a good point, Hans.  I guess I considered that the "never take this Key again" part of the buyoff price would represent, to some extent, forsaking the beast.  Also, I kind of like your "this proves I have no humanity" take on buying off the key, and replacing it with something equally inhuman.  But I can see how requiring forswearing the Beast is a good requirement.  I think it's important that the player chooses which instance of killing a friend is the one that will cause the buyoff.  It means they can wait until they, as a player, feel that the moment is sufficiently emotionally charged to warrant the buyoff.

I really love how Keys can do humanity better than the humanity system in Vampire ever did.
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