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2 Nov

Babis' Vampire the Masquerade: Heritage Campaign! (Episode 2)

Posted By: Babis Giannios In: blog news 0 Comment 274 Hit

It was the year 1337 and Hamilcar the Bloody’s fury was immense. Thirty years of constant humiliation, overpowering and outmanoeuvring in every stage and battlefield. Back then he’d placed his trust in Ecaterina the Wise’s advice and character. And what he tasted were the bitter ashes of defeat in his mouth.

But now it was the mortal’s turn to taste the same, from the rotten food in their plate to the decaying crops on their fields. Their livestock were dying and the major threat of the Plague reared its ugly head. In the city of London though, many elders began succumbing to an unfathomable sickness, due to the consumption of the sickly mortals. Despair and desolation lingered in the air as the Methuselah Mithras emerged from the shadows, eager to put an end to this all...

With their eyes set on the troubled city of London, the Methuselahs made their first move.
On the year 1337, King Philip of France issued a call to arms, as trouble brewed on both sides of the English Channel. The House of Plantagenet burned from an internal crisis...


That’s when Hamilcar made his first move by choosing the young Talley –an aspiring English warrior with various connections and an immense fortune. He was the scion of the Lasombra, the progeny of shadows themselves. And Hamilcar chose right, as Talley’s childer jumped right into the hot-headed conflict. The Kindred society fractured as the mortal armies clashed and moved across two countries. On this time, an exemplary Lasombra, a Simonist Priest of Lincolnshire joined the English armies, and with his ghoulish retainers he crushed the French forces, one after the other. Blood soaked the Earth and Hamilcar was appeased, yet the priest wanted more. Talley ordered the man to contain his wrath, yet the priest went against him. He was an antitribu and Hamilcar respected that. That’s why, in a cold November night, the Methuselah came in as a scarlet wind and abducted the young vampire. He had more to learn...

Four years later, on 1341, the famous artist Andrea Pisano vanished from his work on the Florence Cathedral. The Italian Lasombra moved within the church and merchant circles and soon discovered that a Toreador had managed to embrace the artist. From Talley’s bloodline, it was the Wallachian Duchess who negotiated with the Toreador and forced the man’s release. Soon, her influence had spread quite far, ensuring the well-being of the people of Florence, involuntarily putting the city under Hamilcar’s influence.

 

Three years later, as the Byzantine rule begun to crumble in Anatolia, a prominent nation rose to power. The Ottomans stepped into the spotlight, aided by the Followers of Set. As his influence across Middle East spread far and wide, Belisarius manipulated Anna Comnena, the Prince of Nikea to spur into action. Pulling favours for the notorious Egyptian Executioner, she ordered her childe to aid him in dealing with the Settites with blade and poison. Justice was swift and Anna’s sly plan worked in Belisarius’ favour. The Ottoman sultan was free from the corrupting nature of the Settites but owed their well-being to the Ventrue. Anna was pleased and rewarded the executioner with the ultimate gift of Dominate.

It was on the year 1348, when Genovese galleys brought the deathly Plague to Sicily. People were swiftly falling victims to it, and the land was in dire danger. That’s when Zelios first visited the island, his travel sponsored by Grandmaster Solomon of the Hospitalers. Atra-Hasis influenced the Nosferatu into dealing with the crisis who were aided and sponsored by Abu the Powerful, the Malkavian Mammeluk Vizier. Soon they found a Tremere outcast who was behind the spread, yet he asked of solace as he was hunted down by his peers. Abu took on his offer and was tutored in blood magic, raising the potency of his blood. The crisis had been averted, and the Nosferatu had managed to contain it all. Yet their part in that was never uncovered. That’s what Atra-Hasis wanted, as various plague carriers became Nosferatu ghouls and informants of the Akkadian Methuselah’s network.

Two years later, Ibn Battuta, a mortal from the ports of Morocco was revealed to have travelled the entire world. And once more, Zelios’ bloodline tracked him soon enough into one of the Mediterranean cities. The north African Ventrue, sought to gain knowledge and wanted to embrace the man to their Clan. The Nosferatu suggested that the famous vizier Abu conversed with them. The scales were tipping towards the Nosferatu-backed Malkavian’s favour. That’s when the Methuselah, Julia Anastasia emerged from the shadows intervening in their plans. She safeguarded the interest of Clan Ventrue, thus indebting herself to the Nosferatu for the next decades to come...

But none of these Methuselahs’ actions mattered at all, for in the Courts of Love, Aimeric de Cabaret’s Toreador spread Heinrich’s dominion in both French and Castillian courts. In the forest of Gevaudan, Heinrich appeared under the guise of a white stag, under the bright moon. Many illustrious Toreador poets, knights and minstrels praised the mysterious stags healing properties, offering false salves and concoctions to the hapless populace. Many were cured from their self-isolation, others got embraced by the Toreador and the rest perished in the mysterious forest. That’s when the people gave the mysterious stag the sobriquet “Plague Keeper”. Thus, from the Toreador’s involvement, the crisis was averted. Elated from manipulating the foolish, Heinrich travelled to London. The Methuselah who had sided with the French nation, challenged Mithras in his own domain. Mithras lost and his rage couldn’t be contained. That’s when he destroyed the London chantry of the Tremere, putting it to flames, eradicating them all. Yet Heinrich’s scribes and lorekeepers carried the chantry records back to the safety of France. With another Methuselah beaten, Heinrich amassed wealth, influence and power, soon succumbing to the sinful avarice of the magnate!

The Methuselahs game carried on, for it was way too early for one to emerge victorious. Time moved on and the next decades brought more problems to the fore....and this time in Netherlands...

 

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26 Oct

Babis' Vampire the Masquerade: Heritage Campaign! (Episode 1)

Posted By: Babis Giannios In: blog news 0 Comment 135 Hit

Welcome to a brand new series of blog posts in which I’ll narrate my play groups game matches of my recent “Vampire the Masquerade: Heritage”. The game has been designed by me and it has been developed and published by the amazing team of “Nice Game Publishing” along with the collaboration of “White Wolf”

PLEASE BE WARNED THAT YOU’RE ABOUT TO READ MASSIVE SPOILERS.

CARRY ON READING AT YOUR OWN VOLITION AND RESPONSIBILITY.

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It has been told that hate and the lust for vengeance both transcend time and space, never ceasing to exist. Time can never heal a divide between broken hearts, especially when they have stopped beating since time immemorial. Such is the story that I will narrate to you today, the bitter enmity and the eternal struggle of four Methuselah vampires...children of the dark.

The story begins with Atra-Hasis -the Wise, a shady figure that emerged on the 18th century BC. A vampire that had endured the fall of the Akkadian Empire, had traversed the vast lands of Mesopotamia and the Levant, and the one who had foretold the doom of many notable individuals of his age. An ancient being of the dark Father’s line who lived and died detached from its humanity but with the Discipline of Auspex –the gift of acute supernatural senses. The dark Akkadian however shared both his domain and unlife with another being like him. A kin that hailed from the Phoenicians.

His name was Hamlicar the Bloody, a violent shadow of a man that revelled in death, mayhem and violence. While his rootsand origins still remain unknown, the dark Hamilcar is notorious for his brutality and thirst for warfare. Fighting against the enemies of the Phoenicians, he travelled the Mediterranean and fell in love with the city of Carthage. There he resided and fought off hordes of Romans, one after the other dealing death by his dark gift of Potence, the discipline of superhuman strength.

However, the Roman hordes did not act alone, but followed the command of Belisarius. And while many would suggest that this was the Byzantine general that brought a victory after the other, the true Belisarius would revel in the anonymity that his mortal compatriot would grant him. A vampire rumoured to be older than Romylus and Remus, a true Ceasar behind the mortal ones, Belisarius Maximianus Augustus was a dark ruler by heart. Having lived in the shadows, he had invested in building a strong circle in which the Kindred would move unobstructed over the known world and with his dark discipline of Dominate, he would ensure that each and every one would follow his commands.

The fourth one was a conundrum, for no one had seen him but they would only know him by his deeds. He was “Heinrich”, a name that all his enemies would murmur but a vampire that no one would actually live to lay eyes upon. Rumoured to have hailed from the ancient Celts, this dark being was revered as Cernunnos and would often lead rites of the occult, spreading the practices of magic and dark worship. A cruel being with the dark gift of Protean, that would alter its shape, form and substance practicing forbidden and dark rituals under a blood red moon.

Our story begins at 1306, when these four Methuselahs begin to weave their own plots in their arduous quest for power and domination. They glanced at the world and each found a Clan that suited their needs...

Atra-Hasis favoured the oracle known as Theophana of the Malkavians. He would guide her and her bloodline into achieving what he wanted.
Hamilcar counselled the Brujah through Ecaterina the Wise. Her worldly idealism would act as a fantastic centrepiece for his plans of violence.
Belissarius nominated Hardestadt of the Ventrue, vowing to give him the assets he needed to ensure another decade of dominance over the known world.
And Heinrich appeared in front of Karl Schrekt of the Tremere, feeding him with forbidden knowledge while searching for any of the world’s secrets yet hidden.

 But in the known world, there were four dangerous vampires that would act as fantastic pawns for each and every Methuselah...

The Brujah Byzantine Alchemist with his potent elixirs, who could taint a vampire’s blood in such a way that whomever drank from it would just burn and wither into torpor.
The Malkavian Lombard Widow, who was so manipulative that could easily defame anyone and for any reason. Her scheming mind was dangerously equal to that of any Methuselah.
The Ventrue Egyptian Executioner, who could wipe any unknown individual from the face of the Earth.
The Tremere Maltese Artist, who ventured the entire world and whose statues, poems and paintings would bring glory and fame to even a lowly peasant.

In the year 1306, sailing had advanced considerably, and among vampires, both the Ecaterina’s and Schreckt’s bloodlines took advantage of that completely. The Tremere easily overpowered the Brujah though, as the Maltese artist, emerging from Heinrich’s haven, assisted the vampire peasant leader to establish a strong network of contacts among ports and villages. This ensured that Heinrich would smuggle exotic goods and gain invaluable contacts to the Levant, therefore increasing his wealth and influence.

One year later, on 1307, Jacques de Molay got burned at the stake by a royal conspiracy. Through the web of shadows that Theophana’s childer weaved, and the widow’s plots that spread rumours from Lombardy to France, a small coterie of Malkavians secured access to the Templar vaults. Someone had cleared them already and the Malkavians captured a few Templar stragglers. A prominent kindred among them prompted the coterie to set them free. None would dare to question him the Mammeluk vizier, for he ranked among Atra-Hasis’ chosen ones. This merciful act was applauded by the Akkadian Methuselah, and for that the vizier was granted the ultimate gift of premonition and a secluded haven away from all eyes.

On 1308, Dante Alighieri’s work raised an eyebrow among the elitist circles of nobles, clearly displaying a magnificent insight. That however was noticed by Hardestadt whose childer and grandchilder held a grasp into almost every court. The Italian artist was abducted and his insight was used to ...hunt true evil. As a Ventrue, Dante was invited to Belisarius’ dark palace to compose his dark work and assist the Methuselah’s work into eradicating his foes. He had the knowledge and the fortitude to wait longer than others could.

Two years later, Hardestadt beckoned his childer to protect the Venetian merchant Marco Polo to his journey to the East. They were quick to do so and in turn established a fine connection between the Ventrue and the kindred of the East. Belisarius was extremely pleased as his plans were followed to the letter. For he acted quickly, as his celerity commanded, giving him access to various Eastern treasures.

However, on 1315, the Great Famine appeared as crops rotted in the fields. The Kindred were immune yet the kine would suffer greatly. That’s when Heinrich scoured the land and sent a message to Schrekt: “Only the worthy should be given nourishment...” That cruel message was handed to one of Schrekt’s progeny who happened to be a hero of the people among lands far and wide. The one who established a network of trading 9 years ago, would now introduce law and meritocratic regulations. The Tremere had briefly encountered the problem and Heinrich grinned among the shadows...

Hamilcar’s trust to the Brujah was in vain, for Ecaterina couldn’t establish the powerful circle that the Phoenician asked of her. Hardestadt’s influence, assisted by the Tremere ensured that the Brujah remained powerless. One of her childer was swiftly executed by the executioner childe of the Ventrue, while another got destroyed when it conflicted with the formation of the new Tremere chantry. And one of her grandchilder had been played like a fool up to the point of no return. That’s when, the Brujah Alchemist delivered final death to it, harmoniously saving the day. The Brujah had been hampered, and Hamilcar was fuming with rage as he devised another masterful plan of seething revenge...

Nine years had already passed, and the Knights Hospitaler had already conquered Rhodes, carving out a kingdom of their own. Their Grand Master however was but a figurehead, for no one would suspect that among the influential and famous of the land, everyone would whisper the name “Solomon”. Solomon was none other than Atra-Hasis though, who kept his identity secret, and yet through his obsessed planning he managed to overpower the other Methuselah’s.  The Tzimisce Voivodate and the Sea of Shadows gained power these nine years, and the low Clans would easily force even the most powerful mortal noble to submit. The Malkavians allied with them briefly and thus they were at their prime, total and undisputed leaders among their brethren.

And all that, until 1337...
(to be continued...)

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20 Apr

Designer Blog: Vampire: the Masquerade - Heritage

Posted By: Babis Giannios In: blog news 0 Comment 6995 Hit

Vampire: the Masquerade – Heritage was always meant to be a game about stories.
Detailed stories that would intertwine nicely, forming a web of intrigue that would connect its protagonists –the vampires with each other.
I was already playing the “Vampire: the Masquerade” RPG for almost a decade, as a player but mostly as a storyteller. And a couple of years later, I would delve into the most exciting aspect of gaming, the live action role playing (LARP).

It was a given, that the game based on this magnificent IP had to be story-driven, immersive, engaging, respectful of its title and its fans.

The basic idea was simple and quite direct.
The game’s main players should be the vampires.
According to the theme, those undead beings exist with the humans side by side, feeding off of them and steering their history towards where they please… and always to their advantage.
This would mean that the players should portray influential vampires with the goal of siring more progeny, thus extending their ‘terrible’ bloodline. But anyone familiar enough with the setting would know that “siring a progeny” can be a long-term procedure, because they would have to choose their childer carefully. So it had to be a choice!

And so, the 80-card Mortal deck came into life. Consisting of 80 unique types of people that would populate the world in the medieval times. Each with their own “behavior” and “way of reacting to things”. For it was expected of a Marquis to oppose a peasant revolt whereas an Innkeeper might stick with the rebelling folk and where a Mercenary might even see opportunities on both sides.
I had to keep this in mind, and make sure that a story was told properly.
And so the idea of colors came to life. A color that would mean something, describing the viewpoints, the way of thinking, the status, their philosophy, their tendencies and even their ambitions and destinies. And so, each character got a different combination of color patterns and class types.
Class types – there would be four of them, the militarist, the financial, the shady and the wise. All of them as generic, yet as descriptive as the colors. A priest could be of a shady, if into politics, of a wise if into spiritual growth or of a financial class type if guilty of simony. There would be no defined lines for each person could be different into their own unique way.

The deck was ready! Next were the Battlegrounds! Different stages where all these people and vampires’ stories would mix, where their interests would clash and where their worlds would collide. These needed to be the excuses of them fighting yet they didn’t need to be defined. “Of Clans High and Low” – the battle of the vampire castes across the medieval centuries, “The Beast Within” – the inner conflict happening into the vampire’s rotten heart as its humanity struggles to remain alive, and finally “The War of the Princes” – the stories of how the vampires managed to manipulate the rulers and the kings into countless of wars and crusades. These would be the first three and the next would follow suit “The Masquerade”, “the Inquisition”, “the Anarch Revolts” and much…much more.

The game’s premise would be simple for each player.
Choose and sire a progeny and have it influence the world, based on its colors, type and abilities. This illusory freedom of choice, where a player would embrace the Viking Jarl seeking to promote the kings of the north, at the cost of succumbing to their Bestial nature, or the Shieldmaiden who’s more virtuous and still a supporter of the north, but yet more sympathetic to the common folk and the Low Clans.
Players need to have a difficult time picking one over the other as their plans would clash all into the form of one single choice. And as time would progress things would become even harder…

But then again, in the world of Vampire: the Masquerade, in the World of Darkness, fear, hardship and despair are common and quite painful…

Next time: Let’s talk about change – what makes this game a “Legacy” board game

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29 Aug

From prototype to publication - Heritage - Vampire: the Masquerade

Posted By: Dimitris Markopoulos In: blog news 0 Comment 1516 Hit

A couple of weeks ago, White Wolf and Nice Game Publishing announced the oncoming release of Heritage – a Vampire the Masquerade legacy game.

Finally, after 4 years of searching, editing and pitching to various publishers, my prototype “Families and Bloodlines” finds its own way entering the big and much beloved family of the World of Darkness universe.

I remember it first began as a family management simulation, easy to play and relatively easy to master. The summer of 2014 was filled by nights of playtesting and tuning. More challenges, more events, more stickers and abilities!

I already knew that I wanted it to be a legacy game, cause I’m a big fan of those unique games that give permanence a meaning. I wanted my game to have a lasting effect to its players. And it did so, thus iconic characters in our playtest sprung up like Selana – the Mysterious Lady, Kavlantis – the Flirty General and Mirka Mamutaka – the Vile Harridan.

The game was all about building long lasting families according to their unique traditions and to the events that transpired during the period that the game was taking place. Thus in the midst of a rebellion, various schismatic nobles would make their appearance leaving their mark in my prototype’s history.

And then came the Korean Board Game Designing Competition and the subsequent 4th place! And then the proposal. The talks, the suggestions and then the final signing!

And now here it is, reskinned and ready! The former rebellious noble families have turned into a secretive bloodline of vampires, eager to delve into much darker and more ominous paths to their arduous quest for everlasting immortality!

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3 Aug

The rules of magic

Posted By: Babis Giannios In: blog news 0 Comment 1450 Hit

Balancing things in life have never been easy.
Doing household chores, working and taking care of oneself every day is not an easy thing.
Just imagine when you add wizards, magic and mythical kingdoms into the mix…

It can get far more serious…

“Archons of Magic” narrates the story of potent spellcasting individuals that harness the world’s arcane energies to do their bidding. These individuals called “Mages” have sought a way to reach their own ends and have thus pledged themselves to the service of the world’s mythical realms.
At the last post we saw what this is all about.
Players choose a Mage and take their appropriate spell cards. After that they choose a Realm and take its appropriate cards mixing them together with the Mage’s ones, resulting in a single 14 card deck.

But how is the game played? What do these decks do? And how can one enjoy “Archons of Magic”?

Being true to its deck-building nature, “Archons of Magic” relies not only on crafty deck composition but on strategic play of the cards as well. As cards don't have any cost at all, timing and planning plays an important role in the game.
Beginning with a player, a challenge is made versus their opponent.
Challenges can be different, from diplomatic to more combat oriented ones.
The player targeted by the challenge is given the opportunity to react and either fend off their opponent’s attack or not.
If not, then various things happen regarding the nature of the challenge.

Will you manage to:
Sabotage your opponent’s armies?
Kidnap their precious allies?
Convince a lord to declare war on another?
Cast a curse on your opponent?
or even
Summon Nature’s spirits to your aid?

Each victory is crucial as each plot that a player passes through gives them more leverage and power against their opponent.

Thus, players play challenges, protecting themselves against those of their opponents in a relaxing and easy way as turns pass one after the other until a player has no cards in hand.
At that point, the Mages amass their own armies consisting of arcane servitors and city pawns in one final combat!

After the smoke has set and the armies have withdrawn, the Mages meet up…
And the most powerful is the victor!

The winner takes the spoils and all players carry on by telling the story in a grand campaign mode. A thing I’ll be covering later on in the blog.

A single match of "Archons of Magic" takes about 15-25 minutes and engages players to play more matches with a different deck composition.

The game's rulebook will soon be online and you can easily check all the mechanical details that were ommited in the post.
We'll soon be heading to the game's beta, so as I said before, send me a message if you're interested and I'll be more than happy to have you in our team!

See you next week!

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