When I first started playing [VTES] in 1994 (when the game was still called Jyhad) there was no worldwide community and no tournaments -– just myself and my role-playing friends and the original set of cards. We played with any number of people around the table — sometimes 8 players!.
We also experimented with the game format in other ways. One of the most interesting rules that we tried concerning players keeping their pool totals hidden. It added a whole additional dimension of bluffing, guesswork and tension to the game. It’s something I’ve come back to a few times since just for fun, and I thought you might like to try it too.
New Game Format: Hidden Pool
Hidden Pool games should be set up and played as standard games of V:TES with the following additional rules:
- Before the game begins, after every player has counted out his or her starting pool openly, he or she should place these pool counters in a cup or bowl which is deep enough to obscure view from the other seated players.
- A player may look at and count the pool counters of his or her own cup at any time, without removing the counters from the cup.
- A player may not look at or count the pool counters in any other player’s cup.
- When a player gains pool he or she should count out the number of tokens to be added openly before placing them in the cup. Any other player may request to add those counters to the cup (without looking inside it).
- When a player spends or burns pool he or she should remove and count the relevant number of counters for all other players to see.
- When a player has no pool left he or she should reveal that his or her cup is empty.
- The library card Parity Shift is played with temporary errata such that the target Methuselah should be selected blindly, and the acting player and the target should then both reveal their pool totals. If the target does not have sufficient pool then the action fails without a referendum.
- The library card Transfer of Power is played with temporary errata such that if the referendum is successful, all Methuselahs should reveal their pool totals to determine who gives pool to the acting player.
- The library card From a Sinking Ship is played with temporary errata such that the target Methuselah should be selected blindly, and the target should then reveal his or her pool total. If the target has too much pool the card is cancelled without effect.
- The crypt card Malabranca is played with temporary errata such that his special action is attempted blind, and if it is successful your prey reveals his or her pool total. If it is less than yours the action fails without effect.
- The cards Foreshadowing Destruction, Personal Involvement and Uriah Winter are banned from this game format.
- If a Methuselah plays any other card which requires his or her own pool to be counted (e.g. Failsafe) he or she should reveal the count of his or her cup to all other players before concealing it again.
- Players may not make a written or electronic record of the pool expenditure of other players, although they may attempt to keep a count in their heads.
Please give it a try and let me know what you think.
This month’s mythic vampire is Baba Yaga, a figure of Russian legend and a feared Nosferatu Methuselah who is rumoured to be the progenitor of all surviving members of her clan. A powerful sorceress and shapechanger, she has been at odds with the mystic Durga Syn for centuries.
In the timeline of the Vampire: The Masquerade RPG Baba Yaga brought down a mystical curtain down across much of eastern Europe and recruited armies of vampires, demons, fomori and zmei (dragons) to rule her territory. In the Final Nights leading up to Gehenna she was hunted down and supposedly destroyed by a Nictuku — an agent sent by Nosferatu himself to eradicate all of his descendents.
Mike Nudd, VEKN Storyline Coordinator