By - JasinNat
I mean, I think you’ve laid down a few points that sustain themselves. These kindred have conviction and have been loyal to their ideals. I’d throw a ‘religion’ in there to sustain why they haven’t converted into full-on monsters, but in my opinion you are overthinking it.
This methuselah is connecting to humans perhaps. Perhaps after years of dealing with all the immortality shit, he turns on humans to vicariously live the little things in life.
This elder saw enslavement and people fighting for their right to exist, that alone can fuel decades if not centuries of conviction on freedom.
Another thing is that as much as the SPCs can be interesting, they are just as good as the moments they provide for your PCs. How will this proposal generate good character development? What kinds of things might they put in front of the players that make them think?
For the elder, maybe he genuinely believes in the anarch cause. Jeremy MacNeil was from the 1600s and he was key to the Anarch Free State's existence. Maybe he thinks he can get greater power than if he stayed with the camarilla. Hell, maybe this is all some power play hes pulling, and he'll sell out his anarch comrades by the end in order to get a fancy camarilla title
I will say he isn't purely benevolent. The Anarchs idolize him but, he admits he likes power and is jealous of the Prince's power. He claims he fought for America for freedom in his human days but, in truth he just hated the Brits. He was known for killing people who were loyal to the Brits.
In unlife he has plans to butcher all the Camarilla. He doesn't want any Camarilla in his town. He will absolutely purge them. That said he is a true companion to his underlings and to the Anarch movement. He just isn't doing this for purely benevolent reasons. Kinda human response, eh?
The Camarilla have a reputation for being brutal. The prince rules with an iron fist and anyone who dares challenge him is put to death. But, they keep the city clean and safe for Kine and Kindred and are very exclusive for the Embrace. Potential embraces are heavily vetted for years before being allowed an Embrace. The Anarchs let any moron embrace (likely because they kill each other just as fast. Very few Anarchs last long) and are a disorganized mess and the Barons often fight each other. The moment they take the city all hell will break loose. They will break the masquerade and cause suffering for the Kine.
Sorry, TL:DR, but in general, the entire Anarch movement is around long enough that someone who was a fledgeling when it started would be an elder now.
Or take characters like Tylor wo was an Anarch of the first night, or her sire Robin Leeland, who predated the Anarchs but who’s movement was the philosophical predecessor to it and who is about 1000 years around.
Long Story Short, an Anarch Elder is no problem at all and even an Anarch supporting Methusalah is hardly the strangest thing that ever happened and of he or she just does it to hurt a rival or former lover or what ever mitigates a methusalah.
1. The Players are unknowingly doing the Methuselah's bidding or gently being guided to following the Ancient's Plans.
2. The Methuselah is seeking to understand this era and needs guides.
3. It needs to build up a force / army for it's grand plan.
4. Homebrew I use says that for true Immortality and God Hood you must have a certain amount of followers & worshippers.
>My question: is how the hell can I make this work?
as you mentioned, you can by ST fiat if you want. there may be a good reason for that. sometimes you may want to [hang a lantern on it](https://writersanontaunton.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/writers-glossary-hang-a-lantern-on-it/amp/). players probably shouldn't be knowledgeable on all the intricacies of the hidden web of motivations that govern your setting.
>why would an Elder be an Anarch and have high humanity.
maybe he isn't, maybe he doesn't. maybe you can use whatever the reason may be to reflect something about the story.
>Why would a Methuselah have high humanity and or even remotely care about us?
maybe he isn't one. maybe he doesn't. maybe he sees a younger version of himself in the players.
>Infact why would he be working at a bar?
maybe to see things, maybe to feel things.
>Any advice on making an effective fun story without it going grimdark?
lean into another genre to compensate. if you want to make it more about spies and espionage, that's perfectly acceptable. not sure why, but your description gave me noir vibes. very casablanca to have resistance and tyrants operating along side each other with a sympathetic bar owner as center piece.
Take it like this:
The Modern Anarch Movement, separate from the Sabbat, has existed since before the United States were founded
I find it highly unlikely that all the original Anarchs have been destroyed. If there are camerilla elders who've survived for multiple millennia, a few young kindred can survive less than half of one
That being said, it's mostly sympathy. The Anarch movement is mainly for the removal of the feudal system of royal lineage. If you hate that the prince can be a hypocrite above reproach, you can be an Anarch. Age be damned.
The only catch with an elder baron is that they really gotta earn their seat. They're gonna need a lot of favors, they're gonna need to be really charismatic, and they'll have to be useful to keep around. Don't want your subjects to start calling foul
It makes more sense for the Methuselah to be high on a path that’s like humanity than to be high on humanity.
I toyed with doing something similar with Adana di Sforza, with the excuse being that her convictions are about freedom to prove yourself, more than feeling kinship with humans. Like, killing a human isn’t wrong because they’re equals: killing a human is wrong, generally, because it deprives them of the small chance to become something more.
That notion that there are *greater* things than humanity is common among elders, but few of them have the willpower to follow through and commit to the notion that humans are, as a general rule, best respected for what they might become than what they are.
That's how he feels. Before he reached Golconda he was a brutal monster close to wassail. He understands mortals but, not as equals more as the wise ruler listening to his subjects. He believes to obtain Golconda you have to break free from the limitations of Humanity and become something more. After all if God exists he certainly isn't humane.
So, he coddles humanity but, is harsh with kindred. The only way for Kindred to evolve is through great struggles. He is dismayed at how weak most kindred are. They choose to be monsters instead of something more. It's boring to him.
A methuselah with a high humanity rating…it’s possible, but…eh?
You mean “high for a meth” right?
Considering he has high humanity above 6. yes. He can pass as a human, he enjoys talking to mortals. His passion is hearing tales of mortals. he finds mortal lives to be short but, beautiful. Kindred are not beautiful to him. He loves teaching history and art. He thrives in mortal affairs but, is distant to kindred. What is it Golconda? Yeah, he obtained Golconda.
I thought it was too cliche for the ancient Methuselah to be manipulating everyone and be an inhuman monster. What if he really wasn't and was outside the Jyhad? What if he regained his humanity? That said the Camarilla are wise to be fearful of him. Considering in the dark ages he had a very nasty reputation. the old prince knows him on a personal basis as well.
But, yes, he isn't played by anyone. Nor will he be directly involved. Just an interesting landmark.
If anyone has high humanity at that age it’s be a Brujah or a toreador. Pretty sure Francois Villon and Iontius both have high humanity with impressive power and age to their names
For me, main theme of vtm "a beast I am, lest the beast I become" and whole humanity downward spiral is quite contradictory for high humanity methuselah or elder from a lore point of view (I wouldn't mind such character in my story however, as a player I wouldn't pay much attention for humanity ratings of SPCs). Generally I don't even have a good answer why methuselah after millenium or so of being active is not in complete vassail unless he's on a path or some crazy golconda seeker, but to the point.
Elder anarch isn't a problem. He may have personal issues with local cam. He can be power hungry cam wanna-be who considers anarch movement structure to be easier to climb-up than camarilla. Hell, he might even be a long time anarch sympathizer, who joined anarchs while still being neonate. He might be a ideologically inclined towards anarchs as a freedom advocate. Or he may be just 300 years old kindred that had enough of being treated as a mere neonate by his equals just because they hold some position of power.
When it comes to high humanity methuselah, well, I just wouldn't do that, for reasons mentioned above. I would instead put him on decent enough humanity but I would also give him a reason to actually care for something and act accordingly in some humane way.
For a true Methuselah their only peers are other Methuselahs. Kindred as likely to kill them then engage with them. An even somewhat humanistic elder is likely to be a rare thing and have few/no friends of their own age.
To them a young kindred would be little different than a mortal and they've seen far too many kindred die to buy into any of them lasting as long as them.
If you're already bringing yourself down to interact and befriend mortals it's not so much to do the same with young kindred, at least with them you can be honest about what you are.
Staying out of the Jyhad might also be enough to... Stay out of the Jyhad. If you need to get them involved in politics just have someone fuck with the bar. It might be enough to get them to lazily kill whoever's in charge, secure the territory and then immediately start transitioning power to whoever's convenient so they can return to status quo.
I didn't say he found mortals equal. He doesn't. But, he doesn't care about Kindred either. He's trying to ascend to a different form. He genuinely believes in the idea of an immortal ruler ruling all of humanity and kindred. He finds Kindred to be dull and nothing more then savage animals too stupid to cooperate.
He's done with the politics. He's not trying to be human. he understands them but, he's not human and doesn't like pretending to be one. He wants to one day rule over them as a benevolent ruler.
I suppose in that case he might view running a city like a running a farm, with younger Kindred under his thrall like sheepdogs.
They're all animals and he's the only one who could reasonably be expected to be in charge.
He might finally take over when he realises he doesn't have to endure his lesser Kindred as disloyal vassals but can simply break them into conditioned and domesticated helpers that he doesn't need to treat anywhere as equals. Could he conceivably dominate/thrall a significant portion of the city's kindred to being his sheepdogs kept in a kennel to herd the kine and the rest to be killed/driven out? (All for the sake of the city of course)
I suspect you're using the Methuselah wrong. The friendly guy that lived for three thousand years and it's still super chill and helpful doesn't really kick any of the game themes, it looks more like an Highlander episode than a gothic game of horror and dehumanization.
I mean, let's take a look to other Methuselah in the lore: Mithras is (or was, depending on your canon) a beast that drinks and kill vampires just to feed, manipulates everyone to the point of wiping clear their whole personality and destroys whoever calls himself prince in the UK; Helena is a scheming asshole that pretends to be a neonate only for the kick of playing with other kindreds' emotions and lays super low while she pushes everyone in the direction she wants; Ur-Shulgi destroyed his own clan and drained hundreds of elders only to break the Tremere curse and establish the religion he wanted in Alamut; Kemintiri assumes every identity she wants, kills whoever she wants and toys with the Camarilla in the meantime...
Your methuselah should have some incredibly unsettling trait, not to mention that at this point he should only be able to sustain himself through vampire blood, or at very least by killing people on a regular basis. And he should feel the pull of the Beckoning eroding his sanity the longer he refuses to go.
>doesn't really kick any of the game themes, it looks more like an Highlander episode than a gothic game of horror and dehumanization
I get that but, it gets old being grimdark everyone is evil. I'm not saying he's a saint. Dude has done some seriously fucked up shit in his past and has never atoned for it. He doesn't want to be human or vampire. Golconda is about surpassing that. Very few will ever achieve it. He is one of the lucky few who ever won.
I say he doesn't care about Kindred because he knows they're all going to die soon or attempt to betray him. He isn't close to our players because he already knows what our fates are. We, the players, will not know we're just pawns but, he knows and isn't going to say shit. He doesn't care.
I feel like people want VTM to be grimdark everyone is an asshole and your actions dont matter. It get's super old playing games knowing you'll never achieve anything and either become a beast or just end up dead. I'm sick of playing games where there can only be darkness. Can't have vampires befriends or find some happiness. Gotta make them baby eatting monsters being manipulated by even bigger monsters.
> It get's super old playing games knowing you'll never achieve anything and either become a beast or just end up dead. I'm sick of playing games where there can only be darkness. Can't have vampires befriends or find some happiness.
Hmmm. Apologies for the guru-like line, but I wouldn't call regular, real life "only darkness", and yet it is a place where you can achieve something and have friends despite all the suffering, a scale that makes you insignificant and the fact you'll die within one hundred years. The main difference with Vampire here is that you can not die of old age or sickness, so violent death is of course more common as a story end.
I wouldn't even call the genre "grimdark"; it's just regular horror, in its romantic aspect - Interview with the Vampire, Dracula, Frankenstein, Picture of Dorian Grey. Vampirism is the classic deal with the devil, and as horror characters a vampire is the emblem of how living forever doesn't turn out as you expected (in the end, it's supposed to be a curse). But is it wrong or "dark" to say that humans, for all their weakness and place in the food chain, still have something worthwhile that not even all-powerful immortals can earn? That vampires are always going to miss something in their souls and lives?
I'm not, of course, telling you how to think and you're right in saying that certain themes may get stale after a while; it's also right to say that Golconda is supposed to exist as a path to salvation. But a Humanity 8 methuselah that just slouches around feels a bit mismatched with the game, even without going in-depth and discuss how by the game rules he can keep such a value by acting like that.
playing thier game, using the communities and the PC's, using them as pawns in their game.
so both would play nice to set the board.
Blood bond being a thing, I'd be distrustful of any vampire bartender, especially one with blood as potent as a Methuselah's would be. That said, old age grows tiresome, and the tales across the bar may be the one shred of fascination with life the Methuselah has latched onto just to keep pushing through the slog. Subtle manipulations of various parties, possibly nudged by the occasional drop of potent blood...quite the recipe for a behind the scenes power player, especially if he's playing the proverbial Switzerland in tumultuous Anarch lands.
The Anarch leadership may benefit from the Methuselah's stabilizing influence, rely on him directly for advise, use him to broker deals with outside contacts, or even be blackmailed/bloodbonded by him directly.
Yes, everyone is absolutely right to not trust him. I mean in his past he was notorious for being a monster. People refuse to believe this monster is suddenly above the jyhad and humane. I wouldn't believe it. Kindred don't change from being a monster to humane. If anything they get worse. Specially since this Elder in particular embraced the carnage he caused. He enjoyed every second of it. Sitting down and playing both sides was his MO in the old days. So nobody believes he's reached Golconda.
It doesn't matter as I'll leave that up to the players to decide. But, he isn't part of the Jyhad or part of the game. Just a background character that sometimes can be used as a plot device to move the plot forward. That said I won't have the players fight him. This isn't DnD and fighting him is like pissing in the wind.
If he has a previous reputation for monstrosity, it does get tricky to justify how he's managed not to wassail after so long, but I think possible. I'd suggest a very strict set of convictions that have managed to keep him in a certain understand of humanity over all these years. One suggestion? A very firm code of honor of who is legitimate prey and who is not. Something like only soldiers in uniform, maybe adapted to include gangsters in colors, essentially people who have ID'd themselvess as accepting the risk of death.
One question I gotta ask is why haven't the anarchs taken over with this high level anarch around I have to assume he either wants the young to prove his ideas and justify his ideas because some big powerhouse didn't do it or he's to distracted with other ideas or projects if he comes from Roman times there's a good chance he was into the ideas of humors which have recently been revitalized with the thin bloods alchemy being reliant on it
>One question I gotta ask is why haven't the anarchs taken over with this high level anarch
I didn't say the Meth was an Anarch. And he isn't part of the Jyhad he's beyond being a mere Vampire. He's reached Golconda. His story is over.
As for the Anarch Elder. He's a tough SOB but, he's 1 kindred and the Prince is even older and stronger; his sheriff is powerful and he has many powerful primogen. And the Anarchs have no plan. They're divided into Barons that aren't allied and rarely see eye to eye.
> Roman times there's a good chance he was into the ideas of humors
In Roman times our Meth was a slave who was embraced. He thought it would make him free but, it just made him enslaved again. he diablierized his sire and went on a rampage. He spent centuries causing suffering and chaos. Sometime during the dark ages he befriended a salubri elder healer who had obtained Golconda.
His death caused my Meth to go into topor for centuries. After he awoke he desperately began looking for a way to reach Golconda. And he did. Now he's won the game. He's free. He's neither human nor vampire. He's something enlightened. Now, he spends his nights pursing knowledge and arts.
Reading from your responses it seems you have:
* An Elder Baron who is really only in it for the power but keeps up a facade of charisma and geniality for those under his command
* A tyrannical Camarilla Prince
* A Methuselah Autarkis (unaligned) who has reached Golconda and has a fondness for the Kine
Based on your preference of not making the setting too dark and broody, while still having valid-ish reasons for why the Kindred and Cainites (because lets be honest, a Methuselah is not going to use the word Kindred to describe themselves) behave the way they do, here are my suggestions!
>Why would an Elder be an Anarch and have high humanity?
From your description I don't think he necessarily would have a high humanity. I'd peg him at 5 *maybe* 6. Keep in mind, in V5 humanity doesn't mean how good of a person you are, it is how connected to your human side you are. If his believe is that humans and vampires shouldn't interact, than that automatically makes the vampire other. It creates a distance between the Kindred and the Kine that the Beast will exploit.
That said, there are a number of reasons as to why an Elder would be an Anarch:
* **They can't hack it in the Camarilla.** For all the perks the Camarilla offers Elders, to get anywhere and be respected it is expected you play the Camarilla politics game. High stakes, cut throat, and you can't trust anyone. Not everyone can play that game, and there are far more losers than winners in it. A single wrong move can have everything come tumbling down.
* **His desired position was already taken by someone else.** The Camarilla has some serious power behind it (though the Beckoning is shaking up those foundations a lot!), and there are Elders whom have had their positions since the Camarilla was founded. No way you will be able to weasel your way into the position of a 700 year old, deeply entrenched Elder without serious work. If you want quick and easy power, you're sad out of luck.
* **He has serious beef with someone else in the Camarilla.** Vampires can be petty as fuck (why outgrow highschool level drama when it spices up the night!). Maybe someone looked at him wrong, maybe someone killed his beloved little human Touchstone and their entire family, and nobody in the Camarilla was willing to do anything about it because no Traditions were broken. Why stick around when a different faction will be happy to have you!
* **He got banished from the Camarilla some time in the past.** Not every mistake or insult ends with final death in the Camarilla. Banishment from the city or the sect also happens. Perhaps the Baron made a teensy tiny mistake in the past (or a pretty fucking major one that he was lucky to live through), and the Camarilla simply doesn't want him back. Extra drama and resentment can be added if the Baron was actually innocent and somebody framed him.
* **He genuinely believes in the Anarch cause.** Based on your descriptions of him, I think this is the least likely. The Baron likes the power and followers that being in his position gives him. He can certainly claim to value the Anarch cause, because vampires and hypocrisy go hand in hand. '"Here with the Anarchs we value personal freedoms and will not oppress you like the Camarilla does!" says the Baron Elder who introduces his very own flavour of oppression'.
>Why would a Methuselah have high humanity?
See my earlier point about Humanity. High humanity in V5 does not necessarily make you a good person as a Kindred. But it does mean you follow a very strict moral code. First and foremost, you should figure out what the Methuselah's Touchstones and Convictions are, and how many he has. Since he has reached Golconda, I would suggest choosing between 3 to 5 Touchstones for him. These are his *lifelines* to humanity, literally. These Kine (or families, or locations. I'd be a little more flexible with Touchstones for Methuselah and Elders than for Neonates. Maybe the city itself is one of his Touchstones!), would be extremely well protected. But they also wouldn't be allowed to change significantly. After all, that could risk damaging the Conviction that the vampire has assigned to them.
>Why would a Methuselah care about us?
If he prefers Kine over Kindred, then the answer is quite simple: He wants something from the player characters. It can help to have a specific goal in mind so you can steer the players, or you can just handwave it as 'Methuselah gonna Methuselah. They work in strange ways'. One idea for you is that he simply wants to throw the Camarilla and later the Anarchs out of the city. After all, it is HIS city. Those foolish little Elders merely think they hold domain. They can keep their little fiefdoms only for so long as the Methuselah allows, and well....their lease is up and the eviction process is starting.
Another option is that he sees something in the players, and he wants to guide them along to the path of Golconda to reduce their own suffering, and the suffering they inflict upon the mortal population.
>he does not play the Jyhad.
Hard disagree. He does play the Jyhad. He may say he doesn't, but he does. On the Methuselah level of the chessboard, the Jyhad is no longer petty politics. It's survival. They're such bigshots in the Kindred world that them merely being awake and active disrupts the plans of other Methuselah. If he does not occasionally move his own pieces on the board or at the very least listen and pay attention to what the other bigshots are doing to protect himself, he'll get eaten.
>In fact why would he be working at a bar?
Your Methuselah is fond of the Kine, specifically their lives, and bars bring all sorts of people and stories to his Domain. No way is he going to let some ghoul or thrall tell him those stories second hand, this requires a personal touch! The city is his ant-farm, and the bar is his viewing lens into their fascinating but tiny little lives. Just look at how they interact with each other without a care in the world as to what goes bump in the night. Isn't it adorable?
Another reason is because a bar is visible domain to the other vampires in the area. It's his, and you better not fuck with it. Hell, since the Methuselah is active in the city it would be an interesting addition that any smart vampire coming into the city pays homage to the Methuselah first, before going to their respective sect and announcing themselves there second. This could seriously rub the Baron and Prince the wrong way because surely they are the real leaders of this city! But what else can they do but accept it. He's a fucking Methuselah after all. It's not like Prince and Baron might set their grievances aside to try and torpor the bastard.
Thanks. I did some modification's. The Meth is not sympathetic to the Anarchs and is a purely neutral party. The Meth exists as a way out for my PCs who wish to exit the Jyhad. He's proof you can but, Golconda is not easy and the price of failing is certain death. And he will not help. Golconda is for the few who are truly worthy. A majority of kindred are unworthy and damned forever. One of the requirements is you accept the nature of your curse. You can never be human but, you can be something more. He's not immune to the sun but, he doesn't die instantly. he has dreams, he can feel, he doesn't reanimate he actually sleeps but, he still has to feed off human or vampire. But, he prefers Kindred as he has no sympathy for them.
That said he is more like a stern watcher then a human. He listens to people but, never acts. He offers wisdom but, never advice. He is true neutral. And when the Ghenna begins he will be saved. he has been redeemed but, like i said some parts of the curse are a permanent reminder and he can always fall from grace.
But, my Anarch Elder. Genuinely believes he's just and fighting a noble war. He genuinely cares for his comrades but, at the same time he has a lust for power and he will never be satisfied. In shaking up the status quo of Miami he's condemning a lot of Kindred and Kine alike to death for no real reason. Deep down he knows this war is BS and he's jealous of the power.
If he wins he'd skip down since he hates ruling. All of our sacrifices'd be for naught. I want my PCs to challenge that to call him out on his BS. Besides, he's doomed regardless: the beckoning is wearing him down.
As for the Prince sure he's a tyrant but, he's keeping the city in order and keeps everyone safe from the SI and Sabbat. It's also implied he's suffering from the beckoning and trying to resist it and that the former Prince isn't in topor but, has been beckoned to the middle east.
So, yeah, a grey/grey morality. Everyone has reasons. To the Camarilla the Anarchs of Miami are a violent dangerous group trying to ruin everything because they aren't getting a seat at the table.
To the Anarchs the Camarilla are a dangerous group of elitists who rule with an iron fist and kill anyone who doesn't dare bend the knee.
To the Methuselah this is a stupid game. Both sides are blatantly wrong but, he already knows the winner. He knows what truly is going on. He's sent his so many times it's just so boring to him. A waste of immortality. You've given enteral life and you squander it on petty power plays. Instead of surpassing your limits, becoming something more you're a slave to your beast. Sad.
>Another reason is because a bar is visible domain to the other vampires in the area. It's his, and you better not fuck with it. Hell, since the Methuselah is active in the city it would be an interesting addition that any smart vampire coming into the city pays homage to the Methuselah first
And, they actually do. The Baron's did. They bend the knee. But, the Meth doesn't care. Just tells them to keep their fighting out of his domain and do not touch a mortal in his domain. And leave him the fuck alone.
The old Prince knows him personally (they were rivals but, my Meth doesn't even remember him or care) and was plotting his downfall. But, likely went insane trying to figure out how he managed to obtain Golconda. The Camarilla players say the prince is in topor, beckoned and or got nom'd by the Methuselah.
Nobody believes he's reached Golconda. Nobody. It's unheard of. He was a monster in the dark ages and before. Only genuine saints reach Golconda. How did he manage it? It drives you insane if you think too hard. Part of the fun is he's an eldrith abomination to every kindred in the city. He's neither human nor vampire he exists outside the Jyhad. he just is. He can feel things like love, sorrow, hate, human emotions and he dreams. Downside: he can't walk in the sun for long, he is always starved and therefore weakened. If anyone realized he was weakened they'd surely make a move.
Imagine a Kindred walking into this bar and seeing this absolutely ancient kindred working the bar and actually interacting with mortals. It would shatter your mind.
In my experience, methuselahs are generally in the shadows. They would prefer to be felt than seen. From your set up, it sounds like you want your methuselah to be plot armour that protects your anarchs, I would not advise this. By doing this, you've collapsed down an axis that could generate plot into a static stalemate.
Also, it is difficult for a methuselah to avoid the Jyhad, if you don't go to it, it almost always come to you, so you probably lose because you didn't choose the ground. Does the plot you want to run even need a methuselah. They are often there in the background, but if the methuselah has no bearing on your plot, why worry about their motivations.
I suggest you have a watch of this video to help with your plot.