Ravenloft Meets Modern World
1. Powergaming. ‘Tis not cool. It’s awesome when you ride around on dinosaurs, but don’t exploit rules loopholes.
2. Book of Erotic Fantasy is banned from this game for obvious reasons. Everything else is fair game.
3. You can only play humans for obvious reasons. This game is taking place in the Modern day on Planet Earth. The most important event in London at the moment is the unofficial 9-day Twilight fan convention, which coincides with the premiere of the first Twilight movie. I am asking that all of you have some reason to be attending said convention, whether it be as a reporter, as a fan, as a drunken local looking to spoil the books, whatever. Just have a reason for being there.
4. You start with no gold, or any Ravenloft-accessible money of any kind. Sorry, but the WTO doesn’t have exchange rates for Ravenloft currency. However, you can start with whatever modern outfits you like (provided they don’t include gems or other things that could be exchanged for large amounts of gold). As you are starting in London, however, the gun control policy would mean none of you would have weapons. I may make exceptions for convincing backstories, but you will only be allowed one clip of ammo even if you do have a weapon.
5. You are starting in a “no-magic” setting (namely, the Modern Day), and as such, creating character classes will be tricky. As such, I’m taking a leaf out of my evil campaign’s book: roll up four versions of your characters, each with a different character class, and tell me what they are. I will decide at random which class you will all turn out to be, and in such a way as to make sure there is party balance. If you write me a detailed backstory for your character, that will assist me in choosing which class to make you. I want this to be as random for you as players as it is for your characters when they discover “ZOMG I HAS POWARRZZZ!” Yes, non-core classes are permissible, so long as their powers are non-specific enough that they could spontaneously manifest in people.
6. Real-world languages and common Ravenloft languages line up as follows:
Darkonese = Church Latin Balok = Megleno-Romanian High Mordentish = Old French Low Mordentish = Old English Falkovnian = Old High German Pharazian = Aramaic
7. You are free to play ANY ALIGNMENT YOU WISH. Yes, this includes Chaotic Evil. However, I will be very strict about two things: playing your alignment, and powers checks. Here’s a quick primer on how I interpret each of the alignments in the modern context, so that you can be appraised of how I’m likely to rule as a DM:
Lawful Good – This alignment arguably only exists among hardcore geeks who still think in medieval terms. It’s almost obsolete among modern people. However, there are two ways to play Lawful Good in my opinion. The first is to play them as Platonic Guardians, who follow the law and will dutifully keep society running, even at the cost of punishing a few harmless deviations. People must both have the right motivations and follow the rules. That is just the way things are. Any step away from either Law or Good is a compromise with evil and thus a step towards it, and that is unacceptable. The other way is to play Lawful Good as the type of person who always tattled on their classmates to the teacher in grade school because they thought their classmates would feel guilty otherwise. Someone genuinely clueless about the human capacity for evil. Evil people must just be confused. This type is most prevalent among strict constructionist judges, philanthropists, people who donate money to the IRS and as already mentioned, hardcore geeks.
Neutral Good – If people are hurt, you help them. No other option. It’s just what you do, and you feel terrible otherwise. Moreover, what’s most important is that people stop hurting, even if you break a few rules to get them to stop hurting. That doesn’t mean you break all the rules, and you try and compromise with the rulemakers, but if they’re too rigid, pain takes precedence over the law. There is no reason why anyone should have to be in pain other than human stupidity, arrogance and hubris. This type is very conscious of the capacity for evil and is thus twice as ruthless in supporting any way to defeat evil, even if it goes against some legal code, or restricts freedom. This alignment exists among public interest attorneys, environmental activists, Huckabee supporters and idealistic college professors, among others.
Chaotic Good – People are hurt because other people try to control them. Any attempt to control, or to subjugate, is simultaneously an attempt to harm. Therefore, lawful people are just as dangerous as evil people, if not more so. Chaotic Evil people are just a little too obsessed with destroying things, and not enough with rebuilding them. But in a society where no one tries to control anyone else, they’ll see the error of their ways. They’re just reacting against those controlling tyrants, after all. If people get hurt unjustly, then the people who hurt them can be socially ostracized, but only after the revolution. This type is most prevalent among anarchists, socially conscious artists and English professors.
Lawful Neutral – If you don’t conform, there’s something wrong with you and you need to be very sharply told to get back to your duty. If laws and rules are changed, then you need to obey those as well. If a Lawful Neutral person gets into the position of making laws, they will probably use other laws as guides. Everything must be structured. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and if someone does things the wrong way and doesn’t repent, then they will end up getting hurt in the end. Probably not by you, but by someone, because the rules are always right. Why? Because they’re the rules. Don’t talk to me about their consequences or whether they make sense. How could you be so arrogant as to assume you have the right to tell the rules whether they make sense? What makes you so smart? The rules are the rules! You’re just supposed to listen. This alignment is most prevalent among bureaucrats, conservative activists and housewives.
Neutral – Morals? Laws? What are those? There’s probably some optimal state of existence somewhere, but you’re too interested in practicality to find it. Besides, you trust your own moral intuition enough to know that you don’t need some set of moral precepts breathing down your neck. You’re not a nihilist or anything. You just don’t see the point in coming up with some grand, perfect moral system, or with rejecting morals. I mean, come on, it’s all in your own head anyway. Think positive. This alignment is most prevalent among apathetic college students, people who frequent Sports bars and the average voter.
Chaotic Neutral – Ha ha ha, you’re trying to control me. That’s FUNNY. What rules? Can I poke ‘em? Are they cute? I wonder what’s for dinner. Did I lock my car? Who cares? I’M A FREE SPIRIT, YAY! Oh, don’t be a prude. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I know I know. I’m shallow. So fucking what? All that deep thought just makes you come up with rules, and no one likes morals, and morals are just like rules. They’re boring and they stop you from having fun. What’s so bad about having fun? It’s not like I’m gonna KILL anyone. The rules people kill people. I’m just out to have a good time. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I can’t help it if I piss a few people off. This alignment is most prevalent among metal bands, rappers, stand-up comics and strippers who are really good at hustling.
Lawful Evil – Shut up, you little insect, and get back to work. Don’t fucking raise your voice to me. What, did you think that because I can yell all day at you, you can yell back? I’M THE BOSS, MAGGOT, AND IF YOU DON’T OBEY I WILL PERSONALLY TEAR YOUR FUCKING THROAT OUT. Awww….you don’t like the rules. Do I care? No. I don’t. You’re pointless. We’re all pointless. The only difference is the system says I have the power and you don’t, so I’m going to keep the system in place. What’s that? The system will collapse because it doesn’t make sense? No, it won’t. It won’t because I say it won’t, and I’m the boss. Awww…that’s not a good argument, you say? Well, here’s a good argument: you’re fired. No one questions me. You conform to my rules or I kick you until you beg for mercy. Anyone who can’t conform just isn’t trying hard enough. But I’ll MAKE them try, if I have to whip them all day. This alignment is most prevalent among corporate executives, corrupt politicians and drill sergeants.
Neutral Evil (to a Lawful person) – Yes, the laws are completely important and I can’t believe those silly little creatures don’t see why it’s important. Why, the only way we can have a functional system is with people in charge and people at the bottom. I know that, you know that. The smart people know that. It’s just the idiotic little whelps at the bottom who think it needs changing. What? No, of course you’re not oppressive! Would I lie to you? What’s that? I’m upstanding? Oh no, it’s just my job. I’m just a humble—well alright, if you insist, I’ll take that promotion. You can’t imagine how it honors me…incidentally, since I just got promoted, do you mind if I shift the regulations around for my subordinates a bit? Oh, and I caught one of them stealing from the company account. Little bastard actually hacked my computer and used it to do that! Yes, I know, isn’t it terrible? Anyway, he didn’t do it for the money. He did it to try and get me fired. Keep an eye out for when he reports me to you.
Neutral Evil (to a Chaotic person) – Fuck the law! I can’t believe those silly little ignoramuses blindly climbing through the system don’t see how deluded they are! Why, the only way we can have a just world is with no one in charge. I know that, you know that. The smart people know that. It’s just the idiots and the oppressive bastards at the top who don’t want to see change. What? No, of course you’re justified in being angry! Would I lie to you? What’s that? I’m socially conscious? Oh no, it’s just me being myself. I’m just a humble—well, alright, if you insist, I’ll get arrested with you at the next demonstration. You can’t imagine how much I’d enjoy that…incidentally, since I’m so socially conscious, maybe I should be the one to try and negotiate with the stupid controlling people. Maybe I can win them over. You know how persuasive I can be! Oh, by the way, one of the kids at the botom got a little excited and started calling me an appeaser. Thought I wasn’t rebellious enough. I hope you don’t mind…I kind of roughed him up a bit. But you know I wouldn’t do that to anyone that didn’t deserve it! Don’t believe his sob story when he finds you!
Neutral Evil (to themselves) – Too. Fucking. Easy. This alignment is most prevalent among lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, journalists and gold diggers.
Chaotic Evil – Shhh. Shhh. Shhh. The only reason I’m doing this to you is because you’re making it so enjoyable. If you’d stop screaming so loudly, I wouldn’t feel compelled. I can’t control myself, you see. And I don’t see the point, honestly. Why would I want to control something that makes me so happy? What, because I’m afraid of getting caught? What are they gonna do, stick me in a jail cell with some idiot who’ll scream just as loudly as you will when I’m done with him? That sounds like fun! Of course, breaking out will be a pain, but it’ll be worth it just to twist a couple of the guards’ necks. I love that “cracking” sound they make, don’t you? Well, that kind of ruins the whole idea of getting caught…so what else? Hmmm…empathy? Compassion? Hahahahahahahaha! Oh, that’s a good one! You know, I think human beings have a really fucked up language sometimes. We’ve got so many words for weakness, and only a few for strength. Yeah, that’s what compassion and empathy are. Weakness. And I’m not weak. Look at me. I’m happy as a clam! And no one can hurt me, so why should I play by their rules? They have to play by mine. And the funniest part is….I don’t have any! So they’re constantly trying to do something that’s impossible to do! That’s the greatest joke ever, don’t you think? I’ll assume that shriek was a shriek of laughter. You are fun to play with! This alignment is most prevalent among psychopaths, criminals and /b/-tards.
8. Have fun. Heaven knows I will.