Ohlmann wrote: All your solutions fail pretty easily to surprise. It's why having the initiative is so important :
Again, only sort of. Defensive maneuvers don't rely on initiative.
So either you win the initiative and can blow a point of Celerity and have actions a-plenty, or you can lose the initiative, have an action still to come, and declare a defensive maneuver (including a full round of defence, if you want). This is horrifically cumbersome, because you're having to roll 13 dice each time (or knocking one off if you go for the non-Celeritous full round defence).
What you'd actually need is surprise, not merely initiative, such as with an Ambush. And that's typically relatively difficult to get against vampires with significant levels of Auspex (such as Francois Villon has). Heightened Senses can make many perception-based rolls very easy indeed, which is typically involved in an Ambush roll. Losing on an Ambush roll drops you back to normal initiative. Then once in combat, Francois can't be ambushed ("Targets already in combat cannot be ambushed.", WW2300, p.209), so you can't try it twice. If Francois is alert to something going on and is trying to spot an Obfuscate user, that's a resisted roll of Perception + Subterfuge (Francois) vs Manipulation + Subterfuge (you). Francois has twelve dice for that, which is really quite a lot. Your typical new-ish vampire can't have very high skills in these areas, because they don't have the points to spend during character creation or XP from a few stories, and if they did they don't have a low enough generation to blow the normal limit of 5 on traits. And since Manipulation isn't a physical trait, you can't blow blood on it to boost it temporarily. (In combat, a "fully stocked Francois Villon" can boost his Stamina to 9, making non-aggravated soak rolls fun.) Note that if Francois is himself hiding, you'd need 4 levels of Auspex - possible on a newborn Toreador, say, but unlikely - and to beat Francois's Manipulation+Subterfuge on a resisted roll, which with 16 dice for him isn't so easy.
So it is still not trivial for the V:tM equivalent of a V:TES 2 cap to down the V:tM equivalent of a V:TES 11 cap, assuming said 11 cap has spent their time acquiring traits, skills and disciplines that let them live.
Ohlmann wrote: yes, Francois Villon can use Presence or Dominate or Chimestry or whatever to deal with an assassin.
Except the thing that you said happens in the table-top is a newborn Gangrel downing Sutekh, not a dedicated assassin.
Ohlmann wrote: He can also just kill him. Majesty is typically not very useful in the tabletop game compared to the card game because of that.
Ah, here's another problem. It's not "just" killing him. V:tM isn't just a combat game. In V:TES, I toast your vampire with enough agg damage and nothing happens. Na-da, nothing. If I diablerize your vampire, there might be a successful Blood Hunt, but if that's likely based on table votes, I don't do it. (The relatively few sources of votes usable from your hand in Blood Hunt referendums makes this usually easy to tell.) Or I just decide that I don't care about Lynn Thompson and throw her to the wolves.
In the RPG, there are consequences:
1) Characters aren't expendable in the same way as they are in V:TES. In V:TES, it is not a problem if 75 minutes into a game, Stephen Milliner dies. I take a calculated risk, maybe I pull it off, maybe you get the better of me. 45 minutes later, the game is over, and everything is put back the way it was before. In V:tM, as a player character, I might be Stephen Milliner. I may grow attached to my character. I may enjoy playing him. In a particularly brutal setting, I might very often choose not to attack Francois Villon because if if I lose, the downside is my character is dead, forever.
2) A great many characters have Humanity, or a similar path. (Some of the paths are strongly ethical, even if it's differently ethical.) Toasting people indiscriminately when you don't have to isn't good for your Humanity. A great many characters, PC and NPC, do not want to degenerate into soulless killing machines. A weak character who kills as the only way of surviving will probably be okay. A strong character who kills when they can incapacitate or imprison may find themselves in a significantly more troublesome moral quandary. The degeneration of vampires in this way is almost completely missing from V:TES - a few cards represent it, but none of them in the way that it permeates V:tM, and similar "taboo" behaviour permeates other settings (e.g. Paradox in Mage, or doing more or less anything even remotely emotional in Wraith).
3) There are social consequences, which are typically missing in V:TES. Being a known diablerist can have a significant negative effect on your standing in the Camarilla. Assassinating a Prince like Francois might well involve a lot of retribution, from the local powerbase and further afield. Not something your average 2 cap is necessarily in a good place to withstand.
Ohlmann wrote: Typically, all defensive maneuver require someone to actually see the hit coming. Attackers typically won't be able to use obfuscate - but they can use anything else and be careful. One need auspex 9 to consistently be impossible to surprise,
The situation I posited was a 2 cap Gangrel downing Sutekh. You don't need Auspex 9 to spot a 2 cap Gangrel, or a 2 cap pretty much anything. I'm not talking about a reasonably experienced Assamite assassin, Camarilla archon, Sabbat templar or whatever being able to take on another vampire, but a newborn vampire downing Sutekh. Trivial in V:TES, very much not trivial in the RPG.