Oh the puns! Don’t let Shannon see this…
It’s been awhile since I even thought about Undying, and much, much longer since I’ve actually done something with it. The entirety of my game design thought has been focused on one thing – the Regiment. While John was busy editing and laying out version 2 of the Regiment alpha, and I couldn’t screw with the game, I was hit with a new concept for Undying, my Vampire – AW hack. So I re-wrote the game.
I am far enough along to play test it; but, it’s not ready for sharing yet, sorry. I’m taking a couple of play test sets with me to GenCon along with the Regiment. Once I get some experience playing the game and some feedback from the players, I’ll revise it, add some thoughts on how to run it, and then I’ll post it here, for any of you who are interested.
Vampire says how you’re supposed to play, and the thing it describes is super cool; but, you may find that the system doesn’t really point you toward those key things that your character is really supposed to be about – I mean beyond just the Vampire porn part – that’s a given. I’m talking about the struggle within of man vs. monster and the quest for power. The folks I play Vampire with get how to play it, in our own fashion, and we have our own homebrewed mods to the rules to get what we want out of the game. Not everyone gets what they want out of the game. I had a (drunken) debate with Anna Krieder and Jared Sorensen on the subject at GenCon two years ago. I found myself ranting about that conversation at Dan Lofton over happy hour drinks at the Suites (see a pattern developing?) and that’s when he proposed the core mechanic of the game: Humanity and Will – one represents the man, one represents the monster, and the two of them are paired opposites – as one goes up, the other goes down. That was the genesis of Undying. I added Status as a stat to capture the rise and fall of your standing among the Predator Community.
That’s it. That’s the game. You make moves and the mechanical consequences of those moves manipulate your stats. Blood and Debt (owed to other Predators) are the only economies. No XP. No buying moves. No weapons, gear, or fiddly bits. No harm, no health: just life, death, and pain. The whole game is about keeping the Beast in check while you try to claw your way up to the next rung of the social ladder.
Well, that’s not it, it. You have moves that encourage you do cool vampire shit and that’s the cause of and solution to all of unlife’s problems.
It’s like you read my mind. I went to bed last night thinking about Dungeon World (which I’m currently reading) and Vampire the Requiem (which I’m currently running) and wondering if anybody had made a Vampire/AW hack. Dang.
I didn’t even notice that there’s no harm/health. Well played!
Violence in your game was pretty low, in general. Though, you made the fight roll at the end and got a disfigurement. The other group had a knock-down, drag-out, boss fight. It was great and it confirmed (well, with one data point) my design choice to eliminate health and harm mechanics from the game.
In Undying, there is no “harm;” but, the consequence of violence comes in three forms:
1) Superficial harm results in a blood cost – that’s why the Fight move makes you spend blood.
2) Serious harm – that is, serious to a vampire – results in a disfigurement: a fictional device where the player describes how their character’s mind, body, or soul are maimed. The other characters use your disfigurement as leverage to gain the upper hand on you until you can overcome it… if you can overcome it.
3) Death – when you make the Fight move, death is always on the table. If you miss your roll, you’re gone.
The whole idea is stop the endless fight scenes between supernaturals. This happens in Vampire, D&D, and other games where the granularity of the combat mechanic is too fine in comparison to the friend and/or foe’s survivability. I once played a Werewolf game where we spent three hours resolving about ten seconds of a fight scene. I don’t have patience for that any more.
My proposed solution: in Undying, when you make the Fight move, you are deciding the outcome of the fight, not some intermediate point during the fight. The fight ends and you are either living or dead, them too, and if you’re both still alive, you are both badly wounded and slink off into the night to lick your wounds. However it worked out, this fight is now over. The score may not have been settled; but, the fighting is decided, for now.
Yep, I totally get it. Makes perfect sense; so much so that it didn’t register as a lack. I love the focus on the internal man/monster struggle (humanity/will) and vampiric society (status/debt).