Demon: The Descent Post-Apoc Game -- Issues and Concerns


  • Politics

    As you know, I had thought to put together a post-apocalyptic game for Changeling and Geist, GMC-style. Due to the fact that neither game is GMC-compliant, the adaptation process went slow, and then petered out due to my lack of effort.

    I have, however, picked up Demon: The Descent, which, if you did not know, is GMC-compliant. Having done a cursory read through, I think that a post-apocalyptic WoD 2.0 game with Mortal, Mortal+, and Demons to start with is something I would like to invest my time into.

    That said, this is an open request for questions and concerns, generally along the following topics:

    1. What difficulties do you see with Demons on a MU? I see the game starting with the three races above, and then expanding into Werewolf, and then Geist.

    2. The game should have a strong meta-narrative behind it, but I also think there is plenty of room for PrPs. Plus, there will probably be a "resource gathering and conservation" political mini-game running in the back, but it should overly complicate game-existence.

    3. Yes, there will be alt limits.

    4. I will be implementing a "capped potential" system of advancement, as mentioned in another thread. Essentially, advancement is capped at X XP: you can start fully advanced or partially-advanced, but advancement in game will result in discounts on stats.


  • Reader

    @Coin is having issues implementing Demon due to Covers. He will hopefully come look at this post soon and comment thereon!

    ES


  • Pitcrew

    Demon is difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is Covers. We've been working on some things and have come up with some tentative solutions we'll be trying, which I'll share in a bit. I just wanted to say I read it and will be commenting after lunch.

    Because food.


  • Pitcrew

    Giving a single angry player the ability to commit suicide in a way that kills a shitload of other people (Going Loud, or whatever it's called) seems...let's call it problematic.


  • Coder

    It might be a bit grim, but I honestly think that sounds pretty awesome. Particularly if it were a Demon only game.


  • Politics

    @Coin said:

    Demon is difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is Covers.

    I am also going to eat. However, I don't see this being a huge issue, from a non-code vantage.

    Also, regarding going loud: simply remove it if it will be problematic.



  • My only super-serious concern is how /very/ staff intensive it will be. That would be less of an issue if Demon's basically the dominant Sphere on a place, but my read-over of it suggests that staff needs to be ready and willing to work hard to keep things moving, to keep up the sense of peril/threat, you really can't just tell the players that the antagonists are lurking 'out there' and being a danger - they have to /be/ threatened.


  • Politics

    @Corruption said:

    My only super-serious concern is how /very/ staff intensive it will be. That would be less of an issue if Demon's basically the dominant Sphere on a place, but my read-over of it suggests that staff needs to be ready and willing to work hard to keep things moving, to keep up the sense of peril/threat, you really can't just tell the players that the antagonists are lurking 'out there' and being a danger - they have to /be/ threatened.

    I didn't mention this before: zombies (kind of).

    There is an external force. There will always be one. The game will be action-driven, being a survival game.

    But that doesn't mean that there has to be tons of PrPs and staff-run slaughter scenes. As I mentioned, there will be a political/resource-management element. The game will have a Revolution / The Walking Dead / The Last of Us feel to it, and will probably be set in a small settlement that hasn't been "fully tamed" from its surrounds.

    The game will require some code innovations to handle Demon, and the XP system. I anticipate, however, that many daily functions will be taken care of via code, leaving larger issues, such as resource discovery and management, to staff.

    The game's still in development. But I'm not worried about staff-load at this point.


  • Pitcrew

    • Cover Experience is a bitch. But you have to have it because if you make them use their normal Experience on Covers they'll rapidly hemorrhage Experience. (As an aside, I suggest finding a way to do other types of "Integrity" experience, if you're using a fixed amount of experience system, Gany.)
    • Instead of having to track Demon-by-Demon how much a Demon goes about reinforcing each one of their individual Covers (which in tabletop would translate into Cover Beats), we'll implement Cover Aspirations that Demons can fulfill while in the respective Cover and that grant Cover Beats and Cover Experience.
    • Speaking of Covers, it's a good idea to establish a questionnaire of sorts to figure out what acts are grossly out of character for each Demon's individual Covers, since every Cover is different and Compromise is subjective and situational.
    • Pacts grant Cover Beats, which means you need a way of tracking that; plus remember every Pact is actually a physical piece of documentation, so each Pact needs to be accounted for.
    • Pacts give the non-Demon free stuff. I suggest a cap on how much, since there's no limit to how many Pacts a Demon can have (and shouldn't be, since each Pact grants something that they're going to spend).
    • Soul Pacts should probably not be allowed between a Demon and another PC. The first time two players who did this have a falling out, the amount of drama has the potential to be the hugest of headaches, since Demons can claim Soul Pacts whenever they want and it essentially would give the Demon's player the other person's character as a Cover.
    • Gadgets are not like Fetishes: they don't cost Merit dots. You can either give them a Merit cost, or find a way to regulate their being distributed out into the mortal population, otherwise you might eventually end up with a MU filled with mortals with powerful Gadgets. Maybe you don't care, though!
    • The Cipher is a highly personal thing for each Demon; you'll need a really strong grasp of each PC Demon in your game so that you can provide a good Cipher (which in itself is a lot of work). Assuming you care about providing that intrinsic part of the experience of this game. (A questionnaire might be good for this, too, I suppose.)
    • Speaking of: Interlocks are essentially unique, custom-made powers, and each character gets 3, which are each made of combining two Embeds, which the Storyteller/Staff technically has to pick, so there's that to consider.
    • Continuing on that train of thought: decide if you do want to give them a free dot of Primum with each Key unlocked of their Cipher (as per the book), that makes for a very quick rise along the ranks of power.

    @Bristled-Thistle said:

    Giving a single angry player the ability to commit suicide in a way that kills a shitload of other people (Going Loud, or whatever it's called) seems...let's call it problematic.

    • This is a non-concern. First of all: it's not suicide so much as outing yourself to Angels. While it is extremely dangerous, you can survive Going Loud. The reason I say it's a non-issue is that we've had MUs for years and years with Mages who can telenuke people secretly without anyone being able to do nothin' about it, and do it often if they feel like... honestly, everyone gets up-in-arms about Going Loud, but the sacrifices are pretty steep--you lose whatever Cover you're in, after all, and then are Hunted by Hunter-Angels who are prety fucking terrifying. Assuming you're hands-on staff. Like Gany said, you can get rid of it, or you can also do what I plan to do: scrutinize it if it happens and if the person used it to be a dick, they get the boot.

    @Corruption said:

    My only super-serious concern is how /very/ staff intensive it will be. That would be less of an issue if Demon's basically the dominant Sphere on a place, but my read-over of it suggests that staff needs to be ready and willing to work hard to keep things moving, to keep up the sense of peril/threat, you really can't just tell the players that the antagonists are lurking 'out there' and being a danger - they have to /be/ threatened.

    • It's my impression that not only are all the 2nd Edition games much more staff-intensive than their predecessors, but that this is sort of the thing that we need, frankly. But yes, if you're not willing to keep an eye on Cover loss and running Angels and Stigmatics that go after people who get Burned or whatever, then Demon is definitely not a game you want to run. It is highly staff intensive... that's sort of part of the appeal, to me, frankly. It's a lot of work, but so what? It should be, IMO.

    All of the above are the reasons why we'll probably start with a small Demon sphere with a cap, so we can test it out and see how it works out.

    It'll be fun, he said, before going insane.


  • Politics

    @Coin said:

    • Cover Experience is a bitch. But you have to have it because if you make them use their normal Experience on Covers they'll rapidly hemorrhage Experience.

    You can eliminate Cover Experience by having a matching, point-by-point fixed experience allotment for all covers, including the Demon's initial one. All Covers share the Demon's Attributes, Skills, Embeds, Exploits, etc. The only things that change are the Cover ratings and Merits, with the exception of Physical / Intrinsic Merits. So, here's my "hack" (ha, ha!) to the problem:

    1. Eliminate the exception; Physical / Intrinsic Merits do not carry over between Covers.

    2. If a player devotes X XP on Merits, then each Cover past the initial will also have X XP devoted to Merits, which can be allotted as each Cover demands.

    3. A player must devote X XP to each Cover's rating; however, if a Cover's rating falls, then the player recaptures the XP lost. He can then choose to advance the lost Cover rating (over time), or devote the XP elsewhere.

    Under this system, players with multiple Covers will be at a disadvantage over those with fewer, but that disadvantage is only equal to the amount of XP devoted to those Covers' ratings. Further, since everyone in my system would essentially be at the same level, this is the advantage of Mortals and Mortals+ over Demons.

    • Instead of having to track Demon-by-Demon how much a Demon goes about reinforcing each one of their individual Covers (which in tabletop would translate into Cover Beats), we'll implement Cover Aspirations that Demons can fulfill while in the respective Cover and that grant Cover Beats and Cover Experience.

    See above.

    • Speaking of Covers, it's a good idea to establish a questionnaire of sorts to figure out what acts are grossly out of character for each Demon's individual Covers, since every Cover is different and Compromise is subjective and situational.

    Agreed. This can be done via +notes.

    • Pacts grant Cover Beats, which means you need a way of tracking that; plus remember every Pact is actually a physical piece of documentation, so each Pact needs to be accounted for.

    Pacts are mirrors of Changeling Pledges, and can handled that way.

    • Pacts give the non-Demon free stuff. I suggest a cap on how much, since there's no limit to how many Pacts a Demon can have (and shouldn't be, since each Pact grants something that they're going to spend).

    Pacts may be limited to a Demon's Primum rating. Like Changelings, I think Primum + 3 is a reasonable limitation.

    • Soul Pacts should probably not be allowed between a Demon and another PC. The first time two players who did this have a falling out, the amount of drama has the potential to be the hugest of headaches, since Demons can claim Soul Pacts whenever they want and it essentially would give the Demon's player the other person's character as a Cover.

    Agreed. Or, simply, not have Soul Pacts.

    • Gadgets are not like Fetishes: they don't cost Merit dots. You can either give them a Merit cost, or find a way to regulate their being distributed out into the mortal population, otherwise you might eventually end up with a MU filled with mortals with powerful Gadgets. Maybe you don't care, though!

    Merit cost. Done.

    • The Cipher is a highly personal thing for each Demon; you'll need a really strong grasp of each PC Demon in your game so that you can provide a good Cipher (which in itself is a lot of work). Assuming you care about providing that intrinsic part of the experience of this game. (A questionnaire might be good for this, too, I suppose.)

    Ciphers shall be handled publicly, probably on a Wiki. In a game structured as this one, there's little need for +sheet secrecy.

    • Speaking of: Interlocks are essentially unique, custom-made powers, and each character gets 3, which are each made of combining two Embeds, which the Storyteller/Staff technically has to pick, so there's that to consider.

    Staff work and discretion here.

    • Continuing on that train of thought: decide if you do want to give them a free dot of Primum with each Key unlocked of their Cipher, that makes for a very quick rise along the ranks of power.

    And a stupid one. I'd eliminate this entirely.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ganymede
    Some of these things change the way the game is played and designed at some fundamental cores, IMO.

    Cover Experience doesn't apply to Merits and other such things, just Cover Ratings.

    Oversimplifying Pacts as simple mirrors to Changeling Pledges is inaccurate, IMO. Pacts are an intrinsic part of Demon; it's part of their nature. Your changes make Pacts pretty much useless on the Demon's side because they don't give Cover Experience, which is their entire point. This is also why handling them exactly the same way as Changeling Pledges is contrary to what I would do. Especially since they are not Changeling pledges; it's not the same thing. Is it similar? Sure. But it's not the same. If you make it the same, it's Pledges, not Pacts.

    Ciphers are not about keeping it secret from other people; that's not what I meant. A Cipher is the apotheosis of the Demon's initial character development post Fall, it is their first real stop on their way to Hell. It's not about "keeping it secret"; rather it's about the player and Demon discovering it, which is why the rules state it's the Storyteller that comes up with it (same as the Interlocks).

    Essentially, with the things touched upon above, I think you remove some very unique things from Demon. I wouldn't, personally, and won't. But tastes is tastes.



  • I had a hard time wrapping my head around "Changelings with zombies" when you brought it up on WORA, but it was doable and you had some pretty strong justification for it.

    I flat-out can't see Demon: The Descent, which is tag-lined as a "techgnostic thriller" and revolves around using the mass of humanity to hide from/war against the God-Machine in a post-apoc zombie setting. You just sacrifice so much of what makes Descent...Descent.

    Demon: The Fallen, though? Actually kind of kick-ass.


  • Pitcrew

    @Wizz
    I wasn't going to say it, but yes. I feel like Demon: The Descent in a post-apocalyptic setting kind of eliminates a lot of the thematic elements that drive the game itself.

    Fallen would be really awesome, though.



  • Perhaps Descent could work Post-Apocalypse and with zombies if your Apocalypse is not Full Scale All Life Must Die or even Civilization has collapsed completely level

    Ex: The Television Series Dark Angel and Revolution both had a Technological Apocalypse where a breakdown in High Technology put the world for the most part into a tech-recession dark age. This resulted in huge die-offs due to things like lack of medical attention and such, and of course resource fighting, but would still leave enough humanity to hide behind among the new City and Nation States that rise out of the Ashes of the Information Age world.

    Ex: The Steve Jackson Games Car Wars setting is a Dystopic future where wars and some viruses that wiped out Wheat and Rice and the like + Gas shortages followed by a pretty serious but not always lethal plague put the world into a very different state with the United States being a collection of smaller countries and people settling their road rage with pop up turrets and lots of led. The GURPS coverage for that world is easily converted into another setting and has all the fluff -- and could provide a perfectly viable backdrop for a game with Demons and Changelings and Sineaters -- and when the zombies come, the mortal population is pretty much going to respond with the uberviolence they are more than capable of dishing out. Which is kind of awesome.

    And of course... the fall of civilization could be a thing that is played through in the game, perhaps the Zombies are just a tool of the God Machine to flush out the Rogue Agents who chose Mankind over obedience. Rogues hide among humans, solution, drive humans into clusters with Dead Humans and have Dead Humans attack the cover of the Rogues until the Rogues reveal themselves. After all, the GM can always make more humans later if it needs to....

    As to the mechanics, I can't speak to any of that, I have not immersed myself in that book enough to have an opinion, but, I'd probably side with Coin on matters of not changing it so much that the intended experience of the design can't be met. I would be disappointed if I signed up to play Demon: The Descent and ended up playing something perhaps just as cool, but very different than what I expected.

    YMMV


  • Politics

    @Wizz said:

    I flat-out can't see Demon: The Descent, which is tag-lined as a "techgnostic thriller" and revolves around using the mass of humanity to hide from/war against the God-Machine in a post-apoc zombie setting. You just sacrifice so much of what makes Descent...Descent.

    From what I read of D:tD, the "techgnostic thriller" part is over-hyped. Essentially, demons are broken pieces of the code of existence. Their "fall" is "falling away from the Plan." It doesn't mean that the collapse of civilization or technology means that demons have won, or have escaped the God-Machine. To the contrary, the annihilation of civilization by a virus (ha, ha!) may be precisely part of the God-Machine's programming. As an analogy, consider the activation of the Reapers in the Mass Effect trilogy.

    The setting will be, as mentioned, like Revolution, Fallout, or The Last of Us: civilization as we know it has been wiped out, but there are still humans, there's still some organization, and there's still technology. Unlike The Last of Us, I envision a cure available for the infected, although that cure must be applied soon after infection.

    I will go back over the Cover section, and see if I can't find another "hack" (ha, ha!) that could be employed to simplify the transition to a MU.



  • I love mysteries and spies, and unsurprisingly have come to love Demon as a result. Consequently, players’ cyphers are one of the things I’m currently fretting over the most with Coin. Between Keys, Interlocks and Cyphers, demon chargen is going to be very labor intensive for staff and a far cry from checking some math and setting a few notes. But at the same time, I really don’t want to dumb down these things in the interests of conservation of staff labor to the point that they lose their impact for players. Discovering your keys is a dangerous process for a demon, so there’s a risk/reward element too.

    It’s probably too much to hope that every demon who uncovers their cypher will have a revelatory experience that will make them go ‘oooh!!!’ that becomes a huge turning point for their character, but that’s sort of the spirit of cyphers.

    I think we’re leaning towards letting the players help with the process by answering a series of questions that will help staff determine keys and interlocks and also their cypher, which despite being the non-mechanical element of this, is in some ways the hardest. That, ideally, splits the task between player and staff while still preserving some of the mystery for the player.



  • @Ganymede said:

    From what I read of D:tD, the "techgnostic thriller" part is over-hyped.

    I'd pretty strongly disagree with you there, but as usual these are toolbox games and that means practically any element of them can be played up or played down as you'd like, and it's to taste, though again I'd stress that if you push that particular bit too far out of the way the setting breaks.

    Essentially, demons are broken pieces of the code of existence. Their "fall" is "falling away from the Plan."

    Yes and no. Demons manipulate the code of existence. They're rogue operators in a system, rather than intrinsically part of that system. Again, without that backdrop, there's not a lot that they actually do.

    It doesn't mean that the collapse of civilization or technology means that demons have won, or have escaped the God-Machine. To the contrary, the annihilation of civilization by a virus (ha, ha!) may be precisely part of the God-Machine's programming. As an analogy, consider the activation of the Reapers in the Mass Effect trilogy.

    As an aside, an alternative that I actually think would be kind of neat (if even more gutted than what you're suggesting) is that the demons did win, and this is what happened without the God-Machine's occult matrices holding society's oppressive-but-necessary framework together.

    The last vestiges of humanity huddle in clusters around the only remaining (and slowly, slowly degrading) Infrastructures, as the last occult matrices are the only things keeping the zombies at bay, and demons are the reluctant caretakers and engineers keeping those wheels turning.

    Cover would be irrelevant, now that demons have no real reason to hide, but Pacts could be somehow repurposed to use pieces of people's lives to generate Aether or power Infrastructure, so the mortal survivors are constantly giving bits of themselves up just to stay alive and empower their defenders.

    The setting will be, as mentioned, like Revolution, Fallout, or The Last of Us: civilization as we know it has been wiped out, but there are still humans, there's still some organization, and there's still technology. Unlike The Last of Us, I envision a cure available for the infected, although that cure must be applied soon after infection.

    I just feel like the God-Machine is so much less of a threat if it can't track down its own rogue agents in much smaller pockets of isolated humanity. There's an element of Descent that is so hypercharged from the norm for WoD, and that's "supernatural population control;" human civilization has to be a certain size in order to support supernatural predators like vampires, and there's only so much room for territories for werewolves, etc. Demons don't prey on humans in the normal sense of the word and don't worry about territory, but they have to be that much more careful to be sure they surround themselves with humanity because almost every supernatural thing they do risks Cover. It almost seems silly that with so much paranoia and espionage baked into the setting that in the small remaining populations, a large group of demons wouldn't stand out like a signal flare. Fewer Covers, more potential for witnesses, fewer places to "go to ground," etc.


  • Pitcrew

    Humor me for a moment: could someone describe Demon: The Descent to me in layman's terms? I may look through the PDF for more details, but I'm curious as to the basics... and I won't really have any frame of reference, as I never played Possessed.



  • @darksabrz: Don't worry, Possessed wouldn't have given you a very useful frame of reference anyway, in my opinion, haha!

    Descent expands on the setting provided in God-Machine Chronicles; the world is being manipulated, if not outright run, by an entity known as the God-Machine. It's basically everywhere and and in everything, but not omnipotent or omniscient; it primarily acts through human agents, called Stigmatics, and Angels-- beings designed with a specific purpose in mind, such as "deliver this hand-written note to the manager of the Piggly-Wiggly on December 14th, 2015" or "marry this woman and then kill her before her thirty-second birthday." The Angels don't know why they are to do the things they're supposed to do, they just know that it's part of the God-Machine's plan and sometimes part of an "occult matrix"-- small or large-scale events that combine to create a supernatural effect. They take human disguises in order to carry these missions out, but very rarely something goes wrong (they fail the mission or simply refuse to do it) and "fall," disconnecting themselves from the God-Machine and becoming Demons.

    Demons are hunted constantly by the God-Machine, so they adapt human disguises to blend in and hide by literally taking on other people's lives, in part or in whole. Most Demons carry on their existence with the ultimate goal of reaching Hell-- absolute freedom to exist away from the God-Machine, though what this means is not objectively defined. Some want to reintegrate themselves with the God-Machine, others want to destroy it entirely, and others still just want temporal power. Shenanigans ensue.

    Demon powers have a very sci-fi feel-- their true forms are usually mechanical, and it's implied they manipulate the universe through quantum mechanics.



  • @Ganymede: Do you still have the devdoc that I wrote for you for when it was Mortals/Lost? If not, I can pop you the googledoc and anything else. I haven't worked on it (I've been neck-deep in RL, and only was pointed here a day or two ago).

    On the note of using Demon for the post-apoc, I haven't read it, but it could work. It could also lend itself well to plots where, say, the GM is using the zombie virus as Infrastructure that got out of control, and after that occasionally has Angels that have to destroy that Infrastructure (IE: eliminate zombos) in addition to hunting the Demons.