Theatre of Shadows MUSH - OWoD MUSH Seeks Developers/Staff

  • I have posted this before, and gotten distracted by RL stuff going on, but I'm back to work on the project. Rather than bump the old (derailed) topic, I figured I'd post a new one.

    What is Theatre of Shadows MUSH?

    Theatre of Shadows MUSH is an in-development Old World of Darkness MUSH set in the modern nights, with two planned venues: Vampire the Masquerade and Mortals. Set in an original port city in northern California, the MUSH plans to give equal attention to both the Mortal and Vampire Venues, starting with the Vampire Venue while we build up the specifics for the Mortal Venue (or starting with both if Mortals is finalized/finished when we're ready to open). Within all the venues, we plan to draw inspiration from a number of sources, primarily the themes and stylings of Vampire the Masquerade, but also such media as The Vampire Chronicles, Dark Shadows, American Gothic, Fringe, Forever Knight, Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel and others. We will be endeavoring to create a world that focuses on two primary elements: gothic horror and supernatural intrigue, though these won't be the only stories to be told, not by far.

    Our goal with this MUSH is to give prospective players the capability to not only affect and have plots that have a local focus in the city, through staff-run plots and PrPs, but also have interaction with and effect on the larger World of Darkness. There is also a great deal of long-term consideration for the metaplot of Vampire the Masquerade, and how we might tweak that to 1) allow it to play out in terms of the MUSH, and 2) tweak it so that the input and actions of the players affect the greater outcome This also might mean that at some point down the road, a full 'Gehenna to closing' event happens (but that's farther off the plate than anything right now). Same goes for the Mortals Venue.

    Vampire Venue Plans

    The current plan for the Vampire Venue is to focus on Cam/Anarch/Independent in a modern timeline, using elements of Revised, V20 and By Night Studios' default timeline. Of particular note:

    • Gehenna has not happened (and likely not started beyond a couple of corner case events)
    • The Assamite Schism happened and the Schismatic Assamites are recognized as a Pillar Clan of the Camarilla, with Tegyrius as their Justicar, having Primogen in most cities.
    • The Gangrel split on leaving, now recognized as a Lesser Clan of the Camarilla (and in some cases, trying to regain their Pillar status), their representation on city courts with Primogen stripped long ago. About a third of the Gangrel stayed with the Camarilla, the rest leaving at Xaviar's behest.
    • The Week of Nightmares has not happened.
    • The Sabbat War has cooled down in many areas, though the most hotly-contested territory still is (NYC, for example).
    • The Giovanni and Followers of Set have the beginnings of a clandestine alliance in the face of an expanded Camarilla, the Loyalist Assamites under ur-Shulgi's pogrom and Sabbat attacks on the holdings of both Independent Clans throughout the world. This has not yet broken The Promise, though may do so in the future.

    For those interested, I am sorry, but Sabbat will be limited to NPCs only. I feel that having Sabbat and Cam/Anarch/Independent in the same city is just asking for the game to suffer. C/A/I also gives us a good political base to play with, with a heavily Camarilla city, with some Anarchs moving this way after successful control of areas (like the majority of nearby Los Angeles), and Independents playing wildcard to everyone.

    For those interested in unique concepts and unusual Clans or Bloodlines in play, the LARP system has what is called Rarity; it's essentially boiled down to 'all of your cool stuff comes from Merits, and Rarity is one of those things'. So someone could easily play a Camarilla Acknowledged Lasombra Antitribu, but it would cost them some of their 'cool factor' to do so. This is one of the things that I feel the system will do in a positive way for the MUSH. We alter a few of the costs slightly from the book, but otherwise are using them (which leaves only very few things actually banned).

    Mortals Venue Plans

    Changed from the original draft, the Mortals Venue will be focusing on an experimental conglomeration of the three major OWoD hunter groups dealing with a shared set of apocalyptic omens and the investigation into such, as well as the oddities of Queens Point and its founding family. This gives us focus without having to divide mortals up into crime/law/etc. which can sometimes dilute focus; and of course, people can play independent mortals interacting with everything as well. Within mortals there is also the option for playable Psychics and Hedge Wizards (handled in the same manner that NPCs of those types are handled, by using Disciplines for those powers' mechanics).


    Right now things are set up with an online character generation with self-serve stat setting and XP spending, with a policy of pre-approval allowances for RP. Characters are either apped as a baseline character (30 XP plus an XP Floor), or as Features (higher base XP plus the XP Floor, but Feature players are beholden to work with staff to make the game a better place). The current starting plan is for an NPC Court of Kindred and NPC leadership of the Round Table to be in place, until the playerbase can support PCs in those slots. Likely Features will be able to app into those pre-existing NPCs, but I haven't decided on that yet.

    System and Codebase

    We will be using a houseruled version of the new By Night Studios Mind's Eye Theatre: Vampire the Masquerade LARP ruleset, with houserules taken from a 2+ year ongoing LARP (primarily for balance rules), or created in order to balance certain things (such as not-a-weakness Weaknesses) or facilitate the Mortals Venue. This system has been chosen because of the similarities between LARP and MUSH in my opinion, and the systems in it that I feel would do well on a MUSH (Rarity, the new Status mechanics, the LARP-style challenge system).

    The codebase will be done in PennMUSH (as that's what I'm most comfortable and familiar with), with familiar bells and whistles (though probably not as many as other places). And between the Quickstart, Alpha and Beta Documents, most everything you need is online.

    MUSH Development Status

    Right now, we're still a bit away from opening; I'd love to have an Alpha Viewing in the next couple of months though. The grid is done (except for the sewers/Warrens for the Nosferatu and contingent commands to get into them), the majority of newsfiles are done (there are always tweaks, but the majority of what is needed is there), the majority of code is in (major things left: softcode building, virtual room ownership commands, NPC database commands, one last step of chargen). Overall, if I can bear down on it (I will still be working a fair bit on LARP stuff as well but it won't be as much of a distraction now that my staff has increased on the LARP) I feel like I can have the rest of the code done in a few weeks.

    What I Need

    I am still looking for individuals who are interested in the following:

    • Idea Sounding Board: I'd love to have a few individuals who are interested in OWoD, both from a canon standpoint and an original setting standpoint to work on finalizing the ideas (and to tell me if they suck or are full of holes). These people don't even have to take staff roles afterwards (though if you wanted to, I'd be cool with that)
    • Vampire Staff: People with a desire to do something different on a MUSH and help push a focused venue. Vampire staff duties would include additional development of the core NPCs, development of other NPCs and antagonists, and working with the overarching ideas for the Vampire Venue metaplot. Vampire staff would also (duh) handle vampire approvals for all three available sects; ultimately if things grow to need it, splitting off into Cam/Anarch and everyone doing Indy will become the norm, but starting out everyone will be wearing a number of hats.
    • Mortal Staff: People with a desire to actually assist in building the rest of the Mortal Venue. Particularly, I need some people who are good at organization development; I have the baseline and setup in place, but I need assistance expanding and finalizing it. From there, Mortal Staff would work to further develop the current stable of NPCs, other NPCs and antagonists, and working to expand the core Mortal Venue metaplot and work with that for other plotlines.
    • General Staff: If you think you are a fit for staff and like OWoD but don't necessarily fit into the above, but have ideas for this type of game (plots, NPCs, building, teaching me AnomalyJobs), let me know. I can always go over idea with you, though general staff would probably be doing things like data entry and gofer work until we open.

    My Staff Experience

    I have staffed on a whole lot of MU*s in the past, and run two successful ones (as well as worked closely with headstaff as a head charstaffer or codestaff on other successful games). I also have 20 years of tabletop play, GM and ST experience, and 10 years of LARP ST experience, including running plots on a regional and national scale in a shared-continuity LARP organization.

    Not that any of this means anything to a lot of you, but I felt like I should throw that out there as well. I have a lot of hope and ideas for this project, and want to see it through to the end. But in all honesty and reality, I can't do it alone (well, okay, I CAN but I would prefer not to have to do so; that way lies burnout).

    In Closing

    I still feel there is room for this game, particularly with the majority of games for OWoD out there being multi-sphere and lots of OTT-styled sandboxes; with the focus and push, I think we can give the WoD MUSH community something unique and fun to play.

    Right now I am still pushing this primarily on my own, which is why development has been ongoing for quite a long time. I would love to get some interested individuals to help with the last stages of the project so that we can get things rolling. If you're interested, PM me here or email theatremush at gmail dot com with your interest and we can take it from there.

    Or if you want to post questions for the general audience, feel free to throw them up here. I'm more than happy to try and answer them (even if that answer may be 'I haven't decided yet' or 'I'm not sure yet').

  • Creator

    Call me intruiged. Mostly because a focused oWoD game of Vampires & Mortals is what this world needs (There are only a few games that do 'single' sphere and so far the one I know of that's doing well, is nWoD good to see someone is doing oWoD.

  • Sounds promising!

  • @Rainbow-Unicorn

    Thanks. I have put a lot of theory and thought into this and I hope that I can get it running (even if it's just me myself and I for the moment).

    I am probably going to regret this, but... aw, hell. Why not.

    I have our wiki up. It doesn't have a link to the live game at the moment, but I figured you could tool around the game's (incomplete) wiki.

    I'd love to hear your opinions and thoughts; not everything is completed, but there's a lot of info there currently.

  • I know absolutely eff-all about oWoD, but good luck getting things up and running!

  • From the "Alts" section.

    • Characters may be aware of one another. They may have heard of, or seen in passing, each other.

    This is not bad.

    • Alts may be in the same scene, though they may not significantly interact with each other. In essence, each alt treats the other alt as a 'background NPC' in terms of interaction.

    This is bad.

    • If for some reason a direct alt interaction should be needed, please consult staff to discuss this.

    This can only go very bad.

  • @spasticgoat
    I don't forsee the options 2 and 3 coming up much, if at all, with the low alt count that is currently planned for the game.

    Ultimately it might be 'Player A's Mortal hosts a party; Player A's Kindred alt goes to party to schmooze other people and may be in the same room, but doesn't interact with Player A's Mortal.'

    Option 3 I'm putting there because it MAY come up, and MAY be valid (very few cases come to mind about validity of alt-interaction, but I want to account for that corner case that staff has to rule on directly).

  • @Bobotron said:

    I don't forsee the options 2 and 3 coming up much, if at all, with the low alt count that is currently planned for the game.

    Ultimately it might be 'Player A's Mortal hosts a party; Player A's Kindred alt goes to party to schmooze other people and may be in the same room, but doesn't interact with Player A's Mortal.'

    Option 3 I'm putting there because it MAY come up, and MAY be valid (very few cases come to mind about validity of alt-interaction, but I want to account for that corner case that staff has to rule on directly).

    The closer you let alts get, the faster you'll see intentional and "legal" blood pool circles and Vaulderie problems. Please, rethink this strategy and make a decision that will be as easy to support with a player base of ten as it would be with fifty.

  • @spasticgoat
    I appreciate your candor and will take it under consideration to review.

    I'm also doing more updates (yay for the boyfriend making dinner since I've been sick and under a blanket all day), so you'll see things being updated as we go (like the kindred timeline which I'm working on right now).

  • @Bobotron The rest of what you've got, it all looks really good. My criticism was from the only place I found a possible fault. You did good.

  • Creator

    As someone who only has a cursoury understanding of OWoD, and less of the Mind eye Theatre, I'd say so far , so good.

    I like the vibe, and the decadence motif ( something that in many ways onlu a few 'vampire only' games get down right.

  • @spasticgoat

    Thanks a lot. I am hoping that the 'decadence and overspending of the rich, and the loss of the affluence of the city' will be something intriguing and unique to play through.

    The Kindred timeline is in on the wiki. I'm working on the Downtime and Influence section right now (where a rule from the LARP version is proving hard to adapt to the MUSH). The system is how they handle 'start of game' feeding.

    In LARP, where you only really have to worry about session blood, you come in at full vitae if you have a dot of Herd or use a Downtime to feed, or have an item that essentially gives you a dot of Herd by drawing people to you. This is further modified by feeding difficulties, which can push the necessary downtimes/herd/combo of stuff up.

    I'm unsure of how to adjust this. I'm leaning towards Herd functioning like TT for Requiem, as blood you can get safely and without effort (and barter), and have the downtime function give you <X> blood you can just pull from, representing you're taking time 'off screen' to go feed regularly.

  • Not big on MET as the rules system, I admit, especially with the beautiful V20, but it's not make or break. :)

  • @Rainbow-Unicorn
    Glad to hear that. I think that's going to be my biggest fear for a while, using a new system.

    The new MET system is extremely tightened up and pared down; things like trait bidding and ad infinitum retests or challenge cancels are gone, as are weird outlier challenge stuff. It has also tightened and up and rebalanced some of the things that were problematic in the old MET, particularly in the Discipline department. And here it even works a little better than TT versions of some Disciplines, like giving Chimerstry actual default mechanical effects rather than having to ST fiat it for doing things with the first couple of levels that aren't just set dressing..

    Plus it's fast when challenges and combat come out. That's my biggest thing in using an OWoD tabletop version, is the speed at which things go. Split actions, an action for each dot of Celerity, and so on. My last TT game of VtM was always bogged down when combat came out, and I feel like the MET system has the depth and options desired and needed, without bogging down.

    Our last 'big' combat in the LARP, even with people having to look up powers that don't get used very often or double-check their memory of the power, was about 15 people at once and it took about an hour. That's including the limited retests in the system, and it was a good fifteen rounds of combat.

  • @Bobotron That does sound nice but I worry a little bit -- and I do wonder if the difference will keep people from joining in.

  • @Rainbow-Unicorn
    It worries me a little bit, but I'm going to go forward with it as is. If it becomes an issue I can cross that hurdle when I come to it.

    I'm going to (at least, I hope it will) make it easy for people, with a range of easy commands (like +test, which is just +test #/pool makeup=target name/#/pool makeup, or a +info command which can grab just the mechanics of a power in brief form).

  • @Bobotron I also wonder for loss of character detail/depth, but a willingness to experiment and change things around if things are working or not working is priceless anyhow. Good luck!

  • @Rainbow-Unicorn
    I'm not sure what you mean by loss of character depth/detail there. Care to enlighten?

  • @Bobotron Well, isn't MET less detailed on the sheet side of things than the typical WOD game? Understand my perspective it an outsider to that system, and I am not super familiar with it.

  • @Rainbow-Unicorn
    Ahh, I see. The only thing you're missing is Attributes; rather than Str/Dex/Stam and stuff you have divisions of Physical/Mental/Social, though the new MET does utilize the individual traits in a different manner (as specializations, or something you're good at over the rest, where you get benefits and bonuses). Otherwise the sheet is identical (if using a pared down skill list.