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[Fall of London] Custom starting characters and XP progression questions

I will run Fall of London and since this will be my first run on VtM 5e (I was player so far) I need some quick advises from more experienced people.

My players hate the idea to use the pre-gens even though it has been stated that they come with story and is integrated in the campaign in nice way. It is also challenge and this is campaign, not sandbox game. To no avail, therefore. So custom characters if they don’t pick any of the pre-mades.

  1. Do they start with freshly generated characters as per the rulebook or they have to receive boost to be able to cope with the campaign?
  2. What is the recommended XP progression? It seems to me that the campaign is short in and out of game (also said by several reviewers on YouTube) and I am not sure what the progress should be. 1 XP per session and 1 at end of story (if we consider each chapter story) is not that much if they have to take down the “boss”.

This campaign could easily be completed in two or three sessions. Just depends on how much roleplay happens at the table.

I took the story from the Fall of London, and ran it with custom characters, set in the USA. The players were given the task of locating missing artifacts, and returning them to a collector. Instead of flashbacks or strange dreams, my players learned what they needed to know by talking to elder kindred in the game world. This is a great way of giving players just the right amount of information, and also allows you to tie it into the bigger world they are playing in. We managed to stretch it out over a couple of months, playing every week.

I usually give 3 experience per game session, just to make sure that characters will grow at a reasonable rate. One point for showing up to play, one point for recapping what happened in the last session, and one point for actively being a part of the game. On top of that I will reward extra experience when major plots are discovered, or exceptional roleplay has occured, etc.

Wow, 2-3 sessions seems super short, considering the background information and characters that GM needs to read and prepare. I am sure my group will not be D&D-like waiting passively for the next dice-rolling moment and being reactive.

So it seems more XP is better here, to give the characters possibility to grown and not feel like actors in short story, something like remembering their abilities or getting back in control after the long torpor.

I’ve ran for groups that burned through story as fast as they possibly could, and I’ve ran for groups that would savor every drop of story they could get. It really is just a matter of how much your group engages with the story.

For a group that is learning the lore of the world, it’s great, because you can just feed them little bits of lore at a time. For a group of experienced players, you may find yourself adding things just to make it take longer to complete. Just a part of being the Storyteller really.

What was the incentive for the players to do those biddings? What was the proposal from the “collector” as payment? I am preparing for this campaign and the more I think the more this approach might work better than having some strings attached to players that want freedom and even make coterie.

Warning: this is going to be a long post.

The group consisted of a Ventrue, a Minister, a Gangrel, a Hecata, and a Banu.

The Ventrue was the night time nurse manager at a local hospital, gaining favors from all the kindred community, as well as gaining power in the community.

While at work one night, the Ventrue was visited by the current “Baron” of the area. Keep in mind that this is an Autarkis area, with no solid power structure. Turns out the local Baron is also a Ventrue, and looking to help the player grow his own influence, while gaining another loyal supporter at the same time. The Baron asks the player to arrange a “Gala” event to welcome a respected member of the kindred community to the area. The kindred in question is a respected plastic surgeon, as you can never have too many doctors in an area.

The Gala kind of ended up being like the red wedding in the Game of Thrones books, but allowed all of the players to socialize and gain contacts. A big production was made to assure that the Ventrue player was recognized for all of his hard work, even as the guest of honor was making his speech.

The ministry character was asked to bring party favors to the Gala. So he brought with him a troop of vessels full of an assortment of intoxicants for the kindred to sample/enjoy.

The other players were not given particular roles in the event, instead were there for interaction with all of the SPCs and see what information and contacts could be made. This ended up being a large information dump for all of the characters, as they could not run out of new and interesting kindred to talk to.

After surviving the “Gala”, and cleaning up the mess afterwards, the good doctor came for a visit to the newly introduced Ventrue character. The Gala was a night to be remembered by all that attended. Having just come to the area, the Dr feels like this Ventrue character has just enough influence to accomplish his task, yet not be threat either. It turns out that amongst his many possessions being brought to the area, was a unique collection of historical artifacts, intended to be put on show at the local museum. Through oversite or neglegance, part of his collection never made it on display at the museum. In return, for the promise of increased power and a boon from a powerful kindred, the Ventrue is asked to find these missing artifacts…

The museum allows great leeway in giving as much or as little information as you want on the history of Mithras: The wars he fought in, the lands he controlled, the rise and fall of Carthage, anything you need. Plus it was fun running the museum as a heist scenario for players to test out some of their abilities.

Don’t forget that Ventrue elders would love to tell your players all about Mithras as well. I mean you can’t be a Ventrue and not know who Mithras is. The fact that Mithras should be in Britain helps to keep players in the dark about what is truely going on.

The elder Nosferatu characters in your campaign can also be used to fill in any gaps or expand any topics you need. The information brokers have a value beyond compare.

Ministry characters may or not be affiliated with the church of set in V5. If they are, then the church will tell them all about the false God Mithras and his followers. They may even encourage players to find missing items, just to destroy these false relics. If they are not, then you can ignore the conflict between the two churches.

Banu characters may be of any faith in this edition. My player ended up following the Catholic faith, which has many tie-ins to the history of Mithras as well.

I hope this helps, and good luck.

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I just finished the chronicle and can say that your players will be missing out a lot of the backstory if they choose not to play the pre-gens, it really has been written around them. In my experience once they get into their characters it won’t be a problem as they are very well written. A big part of the story are their flashbacks and their own memories surfacing.

Should they go ahead with their own characters then I’d up the XP award to 3 per session.

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Guys, thank you for the remarks and the great suggestions! I think I will run with those options when the game starts. For now I run small one-shot story based on New Blood and I find it very very helpful to get the pace and feeling if the updated system (as I have been player in few VtM games only).