Stefan Hill wrote:
Oddly enough, I think that's pretty much the same process they used when designing it.
Thank you very much for doing this!
That was some great advice Matthew! Because I can't sleep, I'm going to add a few things I usually do for a game. It's mostly rudimentary type stuff, but typing is better then lying in bed staring at the ceiling.
I tend to do most (but no means all) of my WoD stuff as sandbox games.
I usually pick a city and populate it with some kindred. Unless I'm using one of the By Night books I focus on the main power players, the ones that want to be the power players, and those stuck at the bottom.
I then do a quick relationship chart for them. (Pretty much all of the By Night books use these, and I've found them quite helpful. In case you're not familiar with them it's just a simple flowchart that says things like: Vampire A fears Vampire B. Vampire B took Vampire C's place in the Primogen, and Vampire C knows Vampire A's dirty secret). Of course not every vampire in the city feels strongly enough about every other vampire in the city to warrant this. Just stick to the ones that you think would play well off each other.
Once I get a good idea of the climate of the city, I come up with at least one big event to use as a backdrop for the game (For example, A Justicar has come to the city for a "vacation" after a particular difficult hunt. Is he really there to rest, or is it just part of a bigger plot? Either way, his presence throws the entire politics of the city into chaos as half the kindred try to curry his favor, and the other half avoid him like the plague. Meanwhile everyone is trying to bury their secrets deep) I don't always introduce this from the start, and sometimes I never use it at all if the players are having fun and keeping me busy with their character's actions. They're just good to have to shake things up if you feel like it or to use as an unexpected monkey wrench. (and they're just tons of fun to think up)
You'll probably want to put social, political, and combat types of characters/events into the city, so you can plan for what the players want once they're are done creating their characters. (That being said, if you have specific type of game in mind, but sure to let the players know before they start making characters)
Once I get all of that lined up, I get my players together and make characters. It's nice to have all of these ducks lined up in a row before character creation, because then you're prepared to say to someone who wants to play a Nos, "Sure, but just to warn you because they lack a Primogen member, they've gone on "strike". They're not dealing any information, regardless of payment. So they're not very well liked right now. Even more the usual."
Really focus these questions on Backgrounds and Merits & Flaws (if you use them) because this is where a lot of your story seeds are going to come from. The character has a Contact that's a lawyer in the DA's office. How did they meet? What deals have they already done for each other? How can you use the Contact in a story, what use does she have for the character?
Finally after character creation is done, have a list of Twenty Questions. The rule books lists a bunch of these, but you don't need to ask all of those ones. Tailor a few of them to your chronicle. If you're feeling really ambitious and can think fast on the fly, you can replace a few of your original questions with new ones based off the info you just got. Pretty much the one question I recommend always asking is "What is your character's goals?" It's a simple and blatant way to get an upfront answer as to what each player wants out of your game.
The players are choose to answer you questions the way they did, picked their Backgrounds, Merits and Flaws for a reason. Once you find out those reasons and learn the story behind each choice, and you start to find the threads the players are giving you to weave into the stuff you've already set up. You find the place where their police contact fits into your Prince's hold on the Commissioner. Where your missing Harpy intersects with their Infamous Sire. You find out if they want a gritty street level drama, a cinematic ride with bullets and fangs, or a dark slide from man into beast.
And that's where you start to find your story.
*sigh* Yes, because everyone has to play the same way or they're doing it wrong. I will never get that mindset.Now, to be honest, I prefer limiting magic items, but my players really enjoy getting them. So, I bend more to suit their desires, and you know what? It hasn't spoiled anything for us. But yeah, whatever. I'm a dissenting opinion so I'm probably wrong.