Tag Archives: Dark Streets & Darker Secrects

New Bay City: Factions

I continue to work on my campaign for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. One thing I want to talk about now is overall world setting and factions.
The biggest difference (IHMO) in this setting is that there aren’t any huge international conspiracies or group. Most of the supernatural factions hold or at least vie for power on a much more local level. But that doesn’t mean that such large organizations don’t exist. But generally the more territory a group tries to cover, the thinner their power is spread. So let’s talk about the big groups first in this post.

1. The Inquisition*: Yes, the Vatican knows about the supernatural and tries to keep things in check. With that being said, The Inquisition may be far reaching internationally, it’s also one of the smallest group. The group is intentionally kept small. It’s easier to maintain secrecy and security that way. While they get some legal leeway thanks to the Church, they don’t get that much. And generally to maintain some plausible deniability, members of the Inquisition are usually “excommunicated” or “defrocked”. The modern Inquisition isn’t a crazed fanatical organization. They are more about protecting the innocents than just hunting monsters because they are monsters. They know they are outnumbered. Inspiration: John Carpenter’s Vampires, Bloody Mallory.

2. The Wardens: Yes, I took the name from the Dresden Files. This is a loose network of civilian monster hunters. They generally work alone or in small teams. There is no real organization or hierarchy. Wardens are up to their own devices as far as financing their own operations. Compared to the Inquisition, the Wardens have a much deeper connection with the Supernatural world having contacts and informants to keep tabs on the happenings in the shadows. Because of this many Wardens also end up acting as diplomats or at least neutral parties between the local factions. If a Warden takes up permanent residence in a large city, they make it their territory acting as sort of sheriff, judge, jury, execution, and as said before diplomat. Inspirations: Grimm, Buffy, Supernatural, Lost Boys (The Frog Brothers).

3. The Network: Law enforcement isn’t totally ignorant of the Supernatural but they really can’t say or do anything officially. That doesn’t keep various law enforcement officials from various jurisdictions from sharing information and offering insight into what might be going on. The few members of the Network probably know the least, they do their best to keep too much mundane crimes with supernatural connections under control. Inspiration: Twin Peaks, True Detective, X-Files

And yes, there some specific local factions in New Bay City but that’s for the next post.

*It’s a fictional world, ok? It doesn’t reflect the real world.

New Bay City: A Partial Appendix V

Just what the hell is Appendix V? Well, us old grognards know Appendix N from the original DMG. Well, Appendix V is sort of like a list of inspirations but in this case the V stands for Video. So sit back and grab a gander at some of the video inspirations for New Bay City. I won’t go into each and every one but try to hit some of the possibly lesser know or at least one’s I like a lot.
I’d say the biggest influence is The Dresden Files. Unfortunately, the short lived series wasn’t that great. The fans did make a decent trailer.

But then fans also made some pretty shorts too.

And there’s the possibility of a reboot and Jim Butcher has confirmed it on reddit.
Of course, you can’t talk about the modern urban fantasy genre without mentioning Buffy. But remember it was movie before it was a TV series. Crap, vampire PeeWee Herman.

Lost Girl was great series at least for the first season. It did go a little down hill after that IHMO.

Hey remember this Marvel Movie? Yeah, Blade. It was a TV Series too.

Let’s head across the pond for a bit. First up, Bloody Mallory. A really low-budget French film.

But if you want something just plain awesome and higher up on the way cool list. There’s Nightwatch. This is a damned good Russian film. And this is one of those few cases where the movie is much better than the trailer.

Everything doesn’t have to be serious. Everybody knows Army of Darkness and Big Trouble in Litte China but how about some Lesbian Vampire Killers. Really.

And I’m not limiting it TV and Movies. There was (or maybe still is) an MMO called Secret World. I’ve never played it but the cinematic trailers rocked.

So there you go. By no means the complete list and may some of it inspire you as well.

The Gifted Expanded

I’m still working on a bunch of stuff for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. I wanted to play around a bit with the Gifted Class to define it a little more precisely for how it would fit into New Bay City. The class pretty much stands as it but where I’m really tweaking it is in the area of Supernatural Heritages. I’m putting them into three broad groups or dare I say sub-classes. The Gifted, The Blooded and The Cursed.
First, instead of rolling the player gets to choose and I’m doing a few little tweaks and changes to their specific boons too. So here’s the list.
The Gifted
Magic-User (Witch, Warlock, Sorcerer, Shaman, Wizard, etc): Same as The Witch in the Core Book. But remember player may be a bit more creative with Familiars.
Psychic: Gain the Minor Psychic ability as I blogged about before.
The Blooded
Nephilim: As Celestial in the Core Book.
Cambion: As Daemon in the Core Book.
Changeling: As Serpent Man from the Core Book.
The Cursed
Vampire: As Vampire in the Core Book.
Lycanthrope: Keen senses. Gain Positive Die to perception tests a number times per session equal to half their level/HD.
The Magic-User and Psychic run as they would straight out of the book. But the others get a few little extra setbacks and tweaks. Of course, all of this is up to the GM’s discretion. First up Powers. It needs to fit with the concept of the character. Change Body doesn’t make sense for Werewolf but Ferocity or Augmented Strength does. Some gifts should be redefined as “Self Only”. Continuing on with the previous of example, sure that Werewolf could have Augmented Strength but they couldn’t “cast” it on another character. So when a Power is redefined as Self Only, the character gains a Positive Die activate it. All other rules to using Powers apply.
Backlash and Corruption: Here’s where I think that it gets interesting. Like the Powers, Backlash and Corruption should fit the character’s theme. Werewolves get more feral, hirsute, affected by the phases of the moon, animals may start to react badly to them, silver may become a problem. And, well, Vampires will there’s a whole laundry list things a creative GM could use. There’s plenty of lore.
That’s bleeding beta of the idea. Sure there will probably be some changes before the dice hit the table.

Averaging is Your Friend

This is something I’ve done in my other old school games successfully. There aren’t any skills so to speak and most folks go with roll something versus an ability score. But in the past I’ve always what I felt was the best mechanic available. One good stat made a character great at a whole family of things. So I’ve gone to averaging.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the games put out by Old Skull Publishing and I’m working on a nice little review of Dark Streets and Darker Secrets, a campaign for it, and some other little goodies. The point of this is that I’m going to be adding that this to my game.
Like I said, instead of making checks against one stat, make a check against the average of two. I’ve thrown these checks into a few broad categories.
Athletics (Strength and Dexterity) or (Physique and Agility: Climbing, Acrobatics, Jumping and all that stuff.
Craft: (Intelligence and Dexterity) or (Agility and Intellect): This is for doing stuff with your hands. Skinning an animal, hot wiring a car, even first Aid.
Wits: (Intelligence and Wisdom) or (Intellect and Will): This isn’t about knowing stuff rote. It’s about understanding information and being able to parse that information.
And, of course< there are more options but use as you will. And you don't even have to add this to character sheets. It's just make check against and list them. My players already know what I mean.
And it works. It makes more than one stat important to preform an action. So min maxing is not your friend. It's easy. And generally works well with the existing system.
Like any rules hack, your mileage may vary. Remember the most important thing isn't the rules your using but the fun you're having.

Minor Psychics

I find a game and then go crazy on it. And such is the case with Dark Streets and Darker Secrets. And as I’ve said before there are a lot of ideas bouncing around inside my head. There’s redoing New Bay City and putting some gentle modifications DS&DS better fit. And in that vein, here’s the first installment. Going through my old New Bay City notes and going through the rule book, I noticed that one of the NPC’s just didn’t quite fit and I also wanted to have this option open for player characters. So the idea of the Minor Psychic took form.

First, the Minor Psychic is not an Archetype but an option that can be added onto any other Archetype except for The Gifted. This isn’t a flash bang type power. Instead the character has visions, can perform Psychometry, minor acts of divination and just get a bad feeling about a person, place, or thing. The GM can use at their discretion to give the PC’s a clue, lead, or even a warning. Heck, it’s even good to use as an adventure hook.
Of course, the players will want to actually use this too. The quick and easy method: Just make a Luck Check. If you want to go with something different, I’ve got an alternate idea. Make a Willpower Test using 2d20. If both dice fail, then no vision/nothing. If one succeeds then there’s some quick and vague visions. If both dice succeed then the character has a much clearer and more accurate vision.
Like I said before, this ability is tacked onto an existing archetype but it ain’t free. When the character’s ability manifested there probably wasn’t anyone around who could explain it to them or guide them. Therefore, the character begins play with 1d6 less Sanity than normal.
There you go and more to come. Unpleasant Dreams!