Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
decanter: a vessel, usually an ornamental glass bottle, for holding and serving blood, bourbon, or the like.
“The only way he could truly stick out in New Orleans was if he were walking down the street on fire. A businessman in suit and tie would stick out more than the characters Jackson passed on those old streets.”
—Hunter Murphy, Imogene in New Orleans
Creating a PC for the game involves three steps:
1. Come up with a Character Concept
Read the Player FAQ and talk with the GM.
2. Make a Character Page
Scroll your cursor over the “+ New” menu at the top of the page and click “Character Page”. Fill out the following fields.
Character Name: You can probably figure out what to put here.
Quick Description: Write a brief summary of your character concept. Some examples might be, “Hot-tempered rebel without a cause,” “Trouble-prone gambler & philandering cheat,” “Sinner with a smile,” “Relentless Mafia hitman,” “Vision-plagued surrealist painter,” etc. Keep it short and sweet.
Description: Copy everything from this link and paste it under the “Description” field of your character’s page.
Biography: This section is optional but worth extra XP if filled out. We’ll hash out the details over Hangouts either way.
Copy everything from this link and paste it under the “Biography” field of your character’s page.
“Add Player Secret" Since PvP is allowed in the game, we keep PC stats secret between the player and GM. (If you want to share details of your character’s stats in conversation with the other players, that’s okay, they simply won’t have on-demand access to your entire sheet.) Click the “Add Player Secret” button, copy everything from this link and paste it into the new “secret” field. Don’t paste it in the biography section, or everyone will be able to read it.
“Change Character Image”: Upload a picture of your character here. If you have the Photoshop/GIMP know-how, you can earn extra XP by desaturating it (+0.1 XP) and/or add a black border that makes the picture 110% its original size (+0.1 XP). If you add a border, make sure the picture’s dimensions are evenly matched (ie, 400×400 px). The GM will make those visual tweaks if you don’t.
3. Fill Out Your Page
Your character’s traits quantify how good they are at various things. 1 dot is bad, 2 dots is okay, 3 dots is good, 4 dots is great, and 5 dots is incredible. See this page for an in-depth description of the various types of traits. Players familiar with previous World of Darkness or Chronicles of Darkness experience don’t need to review this. They are the same traits as from V5.
Attributes: Distribute 16 dots between any combination of Attributes. All characters start with one free dot in every Attribute. The fourth dot in any Attribute costs two dots to purchase. No single Attribute may have more than four dots at this stage.
Skills: Distribute 23 dots between any combination of Skills. The fourth dot in any Skill costs two dots to purchase. No Skill may have more than four dots at this stage. If you don’t have any dots in a Mental Skill, you take Disadvantage (roll twice and use the worse result) on rolls with it.
Specialties: Specialties let your character roll an extra die for specific applications of that Skill. For example, a character with Academics (History) 3 rolls four dice when dealing with history, a character with Animal Ken (Dogs) 2 rolls three dice when dealing with dogs, etc. You have three Specialties to assign across three separate Skills.
Edges: Distribute 10 dots between any combination of Edges off this list.
Corruption: Corruption measures how much darkness has corrupted your PC’s soul. It’s 2 for starting characters.
Convictions: Every character has Convictions, values that lend them purpose and serve as bulwarks against the Beast. Convictions are all active “do this” statements: e.g., “stand by my family,” “further the interests of Group X,” “always honor my word,” and so on. Convictions make it easier to resist gaining Corruption from actions that further your Conviction, but make it harder to avoid Corruption from actions that go against it.
Pick several Convictions that describe your character’s most important numbers. Three or four is usually a good number, but characters can go over this amount, as Convictions are ultimately self-balancing (they carry cons as well as pros). Just don’t go overboard with a laundry list.
Touchstone: Choose a number of mortals equal to (6 – Corruption; four for starting PCs) who your PC is most emotionally invested in. Family members, friends, romantic partners, and work associates are classic Touchstones, but they can be anyone your PC feels a connection to (positive or negative). Touchstones make lowering Corruption easier: this is also explained in more detail later.
Virtue and Vice: Choose a Virtue and Vice that describe the best and worst parts of your character’s personality in a single word. Example Virtues can include Brave, Generous, Diligent, Loyal, Merciful, etc. Vices can be things like Cowardly, Bullying, Jealous, Vain, Wrathful, etc. Whenever your character acts on their Virtue or Vice, you gain 1 XP. When your character acts on their Virtue or Vice in a major way, you gain 5 XP. XP is used to purchase short- and long-term benefits for your PC.
Blood Potency: Your Blood Potency measures your character’s raw, innate supernatural power. It’s explained in more detail below. Starting Blood Potency is 1 for new PCs.
Disciplines: Disciplines are the supernatural powers vampires are best known for: command over animals (Animalism), preternatural senses (Auspex), blood magic (Blood Sorcery), inhuman speed (Celerity), mind control (Dominate), inhuman toughness (Fortitude), invisibility (Obfuscate), inhuman strength (Potence), preternatural charm (Presence), and shapeshifting (Protean).
Distribute three dots between any combination of Disciplines. At least two dots must be in-clan Disciplines. Blood Sorcery that is not in-clan for your character requires GM permission and a supporting background explanation (“my sire’s lover was a Lasombra antitribu and taught me something of his clan’s art"). In-clan Disciplines for each clan are as follows:
• Banu Haqim: Blood Sorcery (Dur-An-Ki), Celerity, Obfuscate
• Brujah: Celerity, Potence, Presence
• Gangrel: Animalism, Fortitude, Protean
• Hecata: Auspex, Blood Sorcery (Necromancy), Fortitude
• Lasombra: Blood Sorcery (Abyss Mysticism), Dominate, Potence
• Malkavian: Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate
• Nosferatu: Animalism, Obfuscate, Potence
• Ravnos: Animalism, Fortitude, Obfuscate
• Salubri: Auspex, Fortitude, Presence
• Setite: Obfuscate, Presence, Protean
• Toreador: Auspex, Celerity, Presence
• Tremere: Auspex, Blood Sorcery (Thaumaturgy), Dominate
• Tzimisce: Animalism, Auspex, Protean
• Ventrue: Dominate, Fortitue, Presence
Some clans and covenants teach additional forms of Blood Sorcery, and sometimes other Disciplines, to their members. For example, the Lancea et Sanctum are known for the biblical miracles they invoke through Theban Sorcery (a form of Blood Sorcery), while the Ordo Dracul are envied for their Coils of the Dragon, which lessen inherent vampiric weaknesses. Such Disciplines are non-clan Disciplines to all vampires.
Predator: Choose a predator type from the below list. This step is listed out of order with where it on the character sheet, since your predator type impacts earlier items on your sheet. Non-siren predator types are preferred, as we’ve had a lot of PCs feed via seduction.
Available Predator Types
Not even predators remain immune to the need for adaptation. Perhaps because of their narrow ecological niche, predators and their hunting styles adapt together. Your hunting preferences determine how you obtain blood, and your blood shapes what Skills and even Disciplines you develop as a vampire.
This modus predationis is how you usually hunt. Your Predator Type shows your reflex or habit; it doesn’t mandate your behavior in the game. You can hunt in other fashions during a game session, since you may need to cooperate with other Predator Types and take advantage of feeding opportunities that appear during the story.
Alleycat: A combative assault-feeder, you stalk, overpower, and drink from whomever you can, when you can. You may or may not attempt to threaten or Dominate victims into silence or mask the feeding as a robbery. Think about how you arrived at this direct approach to feeding and what makes you comfortable with an unlife of stalking, attacking, feeding, and escaping. You could have been homeless, an SAS soldier, a cartel hitman, or a big game hunter.
• Add a specialty: Intimidation (Stickups) or Brawl (Grappling)
• Gain one dot of Celerity or Potence
• Gain one dot of permanent Corruption
• Gain three dots of Relationship_ Backgrounds with Street or Underworld NPCs.
Bagger: You steal, buy, or otherwise procure cold blood rather than hunt, relying on the black market or your skills as a burglar or ambulance chaser. Perhaps you still work the night shift at the hospital. Ventrue may not pick this Predator type.
• Add a specialty: Larceny (Lockpicking) or Streetwise (Black Market)
• Gain one dot of Blood Sorcery or Obfuscate
• Gain the Feeding Merit: Iron Gullet (••)
• Gain the Enemy Flaw: Either someone believes you owe them, or there’s another reason you keep off the streets.
Blood Leech: You drink from other vampires,either by hunting, coercion or by taking blood as payment—perhaps the only truly moral way of feeding you can think of. Unfortunately, this practice is usually forbidden in Kindred society. It is either risky as all fuck or requires a position of enviable power.
• Add a specialty: Brawl (Kindred) or Stealth (against Kindred)
• Gain one dot of Celerity or Protean
• Gain one dot of permanent Corruption
• Increase Blood Potency by one
• Gain the Dark Secret Flaw: Diablerist, or the Despised Flaw.
• Gain the Feeding Flaw: Prey Exclusion (mortals)
Cleaver: You feed covertly from your (or someone’s) mortal family and friends with whom you still maintain ties. The most extreme cleavers adopt children, marry a human, and try to maintain a family life for as long as they can. Cleavers often go to great lengths to keep the truth of their condition from their family, but some also maintain unwholesome relationships with their own kin. The Camarilla forbids taking a human family in this fashion, and it frowns on cleavers as Masquerade breaches waiting to happen. “Wiser” Kindred may kill your family “for your own good” if they find out your secret and profess to care what happens to you.
• Add a specialty: Persuasion (Gaslighting) or Subterfuge (Cover-ups)
• Gain one dot of Dominate or Animalism
• Gain the Dark Secret Flaw: Cleaver
• Gain the Herd Background (••)
Consensualist: You never feed against your victim’s free will. You masquerade as a representative of a charity blood drive, as a blood-drinking kink-lord in the “real vampire community,” or by actually telling your victims what you are and getting their permission to feed. The Camarilla call that last method a Masquerade breach, but many Anarch philosophers consider it an acceptable risk. You could have been anything in life, but a sex worker, a political organizer, or a lawyer could all be wary of feeding without consent.
• Add a specialty: Medicine (Phlebotomy) or Persuasion (Victims)
• Gain one dot of Auspex or Fortitude
• Lose one dot of permanent Corruption
• Gain the Dark Secret Flaw: Masquerade Breacher
• Gain the Feeding Flaw: Prey Exclusion (non-consenting)
Farmer: You only feed from animals. Your hunger constantly gnaws at you, but you have not killed a single human being so far (except perhaps that one time), and you intend to keep it that way. You could have been anyone in life, but your choice speaks to someone obsessed by morality. Perhaps you were an activist, priest, aid-worker, or vegan in life, but the choice never to risk a human life is one anyone could arrive at and struggle to maintain. Ventrue may not pick this Predator type. You cannot pick this Predator type if your Blood Potency is 3 or higher without Animalism’s Animal Succulence Devotion.
• Add a specialty: Animal Ken (Specific Animal) or Survival (Hunting)
• Gain one dot of Animalism or Protean
• Lose one dot of permanent Corruption
• Gain the Feeding Flaw: Vegan
Osiris: You are a celebrity among mortals or else you run a cult, a church, or something similar. You feed from your fans or worshippers, who treat you as a deity. You always have access to easy blood, but followers breed problems with the authorities, organized religion, and indeed the Camarilla. In life, you might have been a DJ, a writer, a cultist, a preacher, or a LARP organizer.
• Add a specialty: Occult (specific tradition) or Expression (specific entertainment field)
• Gain one dot of Blood Sorcery or Presence
• Spend three dots between the Fame, Herd, and Status Backgrounds
• Gain the Enemies Flaw
• Gain an additional bane
Sandman: You rely on your stealth or Disciplines to feed from sleeping victims. If they never wake during the feeding, they won’t know you exist. Perhaps you were very anti-social in life; you don’t feel cut out for the intense interpersonal nightlife or physical violence of more extroverted hunters.
• Add a specialty: Medicine (Anesthetics) or Stealth (Break-in)
• Gain one dot of Auspex or Obfuscate
• Gain one dot of Resources
Scene Queen: You rely on your familiarity with a certain subculture and a well-crafted pose, feeding on an exclusive subculture that believes you to be one of them. Your victims look up to you for your status in the scene (or perhaps just overlook you), and the ones who understand what you are get disbelieved. You may belong to the street or be literal upper class, abusing the weak with false hope and promises of taking them to the next level. In life, you almost certainly belonged to a subculture similar to the one you stalk now.
• Add a specialty: Insight (specific subculture), Socialize (specific scene), or Streetwise (specific subculture)
• Gain one dot of Auspex or Dominate
• Gain two dots in the Fame or Status Backgrounds
• Gain either the Status Flaw: Disliked (outside your subculture) or the Feeding Flaw: Prey Exclusion (a different subculture from yours)
Siren: You feed almost exclusively during or while feigning sex, and you rely on your Disciplines, seduction skills, or the unquenchable appetites of others to conceal your carnivorous nature. You have mastered the art of the one-night stand or move through the sex club scene like a dark star. You think of yourself as a sexy beast, but in your darkest moments, you fear that you’re at best a problematic lover, at worst a habitual rapist. A former lover who escaped destruction might be your Touchstone or your stalker. Maybe in life you were a pick-up artist, movie producer, author, a glorious slutty kinkster—or a virgin who intends to make up for lost time post-mortem.
• Add a specialty: Socialize (Seduction) or Subterfuge (Seduction)
• Gain one dot of Dominate or Presence
• Gain two dots in the Herd or Relationships Backgrounds from past flings
• Gain the Enemy Flaw: A spurned lover or jealous partner
1. Describe in-character what your PC attempts to do. “Caroline digs into the corporation’s dirty laundry.” “Emmett tries to sweet-talk his latest would-be conquest into bed.” Etc. This is known as a Move.
2. The GM tells you what combinations of Attributes and Skills can accomplish the Move, then assigns a Difficulty Class (DC) according to how hard it is. DCs range from 2 (moderate) to 5 (nearly impossible). A rare few truly superhuman Moves can have DCs of 6 or higher.
Dice rolls are only used for consequential and dramatic Moves. PCs are assumed to automatically succeed at easy tasks like “seduce someone already in the mood” or “intimidate a weak-willed person.”
3. Roll a number of 10-sided dice equal to your total dots in the assigned Attribute + Skill. This is known as your dice pool. Every result of 1-7 is a failure. Every result of 8-10 is a success. The more successes you roll, the better.
4. The GM describes the results of your roll.
Botch: If you roll no successes, the Move fails spectacularly and leaves your character worse off than before they attempted it. For example…
• You research a topic (Int + Academics) and come away with misinformation
• You try to shoot someone (Dex + Firearms) and hit an innocent bystander
• You try to seduce someone (Charisma + Socialize) and get a drink in your face
Setback: If you roll at least one success, but fewer successes than the Move’s DC, your character runs into a roadblock. They don’t necessarily fail to achieve their objective, but something goes wrong along the way. For example…
• You research a topic (Int + Academics) and find something useful, but an enemy tries to abscond with your findings
• You try to shoot someone (Dex + Firearms) and hit them, but explode a nearby gas line too
• You try to shoot someone (Dex + Firearms) and miss (an example of a “normal” failure)
• You try to seduce someone (Charisma + Socialize) who turns out to be a Boggs, and wants you to join in the family’s cannibalistic depravities
Success: If you roll as many successes as the Move’s DC, your character achieves their objective. For example…
• You research a topic (Int + Academics) and find something useful
• You try to shoot someone (Dex + Firearms) and hit them
• You try to seduce someone (Charisma + Socialize) and get them to come back to your place
Extra Successes: If you roll more successes than the Move’s DC, your character achieves even more than they originally set out to do. For example…
• You research a topic (Int + Academics) and find even more information than you were looking for
• You try to shoot someone (Dex + Firearms) and take out the second gunman too
• You try to seduce someone (Charisma + Socialize) and make a long-term ally out of your fling
For every success you roll beyond the DC, something else goes your character’s way. The GM decides what form these extra benefits take, although players are free to voice their preferences for benefits they’d particularly like. Some rolls may only carry extra benefits up to a point.
Aiding Another: When one PC helps another PC’s Move, roll their dice pool (NPCs Take Third as normal). Add their successes as bonus dice to your dice pool. Aiding characters typically must decide to Aid Another before the aided character rolls.
Corruption: Characters can succumb to the worst parts of their natures to ignore failed dice rolls or boost already successful ones. See Corruption, below, for more information.
Dice Qualities: Certain contextual factors can make a character’s Move more likely to succeed or fail. For example, if your PC is trying to find something in a dark building without a flashlight, their roll might take Disadvantage, as can rolling some Skills without any dots or an appropriate Specialty (e.g., trying to fly a plane without the Piloting Specialty). The GM could simply raise or lower the Move’s DC to reflect that, but applying any of the following qualities to a PC’s roll is usually more fun:
• Major Advantage: Re-roll any dice that turned up failures. Add any successes to your original successes.
• Advantage: Roll twice and use the better result.
• Disadvantage: Roll twice and use the worse result.
• Major Disadvantage: Roll once, then roll your successes as a dice pool. Only use your successes from your second roll.
Dice qualities can stack or cancel one another out. For example, if your character has Major Advantage and then takes Disadvantage, roll at just Advantage.
Extended Contests: Sometimes the GM may want to resolve a Move through more than just a single dice roll. Multiply the DC by anywhere from two to five: your character gets to make that many extra dice rolls, and adds up their total successes to determine if they beat the adjusted DC or not. Extended contests don’t make PCs inherently more likely to succeed or fail, but they do make averages more likely to win out over luck. This can increase the temptation to take Corruption.
Take Third: If your character isn’t particularly rushed, stressed, or distracted, you can forgo rolling dice and declare you get a number of successes equal to one-third your dice pool (round up .66s and round down .33s). NPCs never roll dice: they Take Third on all of their rolls.
Experience Points (XP)
Experience Points (XP) are a resource that players earn for progressing storylines with their PCs. They can spend XP to increase their PCs’ traits, like in most RPGs, as well as on a number of immediate benefits: buying down Corruption, getting hints from the GM, taking helpful retroactive actions, and more.
The GM awards XP to PCs on an ad hoc basis for a variety of things: accomplishing goals, overcoming challenges, establishing or deepening relationships, discovering secrets, facing dramatic setbacks, writing particularly inspired posts, taking actions that are bold, decisive, smart, or true to your PC’s character even when sub-optimal, and anything else that enriches the game’s logs and contributes to a fun and memorable gaming experience.
The GM pays out XP on a per-chapter basis. A chapter is a single posted story log for your PC. Look at the Master Logs Page for some examples: the exact length varies by whatever makes for a good self-contained log. Once players have played out enough scenes with their PC to constitute a chapter, the GM posts it on the wiki. Players re-read the log and post feedback on it: what they enjoyed, what (if anything) the GM could improve, what they would like to see in subsequent chapters, and any other thoughts and impressions they feel like sharing.
Players can post feedback in two ways: off-the-cuff impressions in the OOC Hangout room (fastest) or writing up a feedback post they leave in the comments section of their log (slower, but worth 1 XP per 500 words. Feedback XP isn’t rounded: a 498-word feedback post would be worth 0.996 XP.)
Once feedback is in, the GM pays out a PC’s earned XP from that chapter, as well as XP earned from the PC’s Virtue and Vice.
Site Work: Players can also earn XP by contributing to B&B’s wiki. Every 500 words of content is worth 1 XP, also non-rounded. See the relevant section in the Player FAQ for details.
Players can spend XP in the following ways. They can “sit on” up to 32 XP (the cost of the game’s most expensive trait) at once before any excess XP must be spent. If you’ve told the GM you’re saving XP for a specific future purchase that doesn’t make sense for your PC right now, its XP doesn’t count towards this limit.
• Ask for Hint. You can spend XP to ask the GM for feedback or advice about a situation your PC is in. The GM will only reference facts your PC already knows or could reasonably deduce: you can’t use Ask for Hint to get answers to mysteries you haven’t discovered in-character, or other information that would short-charge a scene’s drama. This costs (6 – Intelligence or Wits) XP. The GM may charge this amount of XP additional times for particularly in-depth answers. If the GM feels there is no useful feedback or advice they could give, you get the XP you’d have spent.
• Hold Debt. You can spend XP to retroactively declare that an NPC owes your PC a Debt. This costs 1 XP per debtor’s highest Status, plus an additional 1 XP per previous Debt you’ve purchased from the debtor in the same story arc. If your PC shares two types of Status with the debtor, the Debt costs 1 XP per debtor’s second-highest Status. If your PC and the debtor share three types of Status, use the debtor’s third-lowest. For example, Bishop Malveaux has Camarilla Status 2, Sanctified Status 4, and Ventrue Status 3. Normal Camarilla PCs pay 4 XP to hold a Debt from him, Ventrue or Sanctified PCs pay 3 XP, and Ventrue Sanctified PCs pay only 2 XP.
PCs must have a plausible explanation for Debts that NPCs owe them. For example, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that a neonate Caitiff would hold a Debt over an elder Ventrue prince. The GM may call for dice rolls over some proposed Debts, or veto particularly implausible ones without a flashback (see below).
• Initiate Flashback. By spending 1 XP, you can initiate a scene-long flashback at a time and place of your choosing, or extend the duration of an ongoing flashback by one further scene. Events during a flashback cannot contradict established facts in the present, but can establish new facts that help your PC achieve their goals. For example, if you’re harassed by a rival in Elysium, you could initiate a flashback where you attempt to poison that rival’s childe against them. If you succeed, the childe would come to your aid in the present.
If you want to play out a flashback to flesh out some part of your PC’s history, that’s free, as are flashbacks offered by the GM. You only spend XP on flashbacks that you initiate to gain a concrete advantage (i.e., getting help from the rival’s childe in Elysium). You can’t initiate a flashback for the sole purpose of buying down Corruption.
• Invoke Background. You can can spend XP to use a Background your PC doesn’t have for a single scene. This costs 1 XP per Background’s dot rating. Keep track of the number of times you’ve invoked a Background. Once you’ve paid an amount of XP equal to the Background’s normal XP cost, it’s yours for keeps: add it to your sheet permanently.
You can only invoke an Edge that makes sense for your character’s background and recent actions. If your PC belongs to the Circle of the Crone, for example, it’s unlikely they’d have a Lancea et Sanctum priest as a Mentor. You can initiate a flashback to establish why a desired Edge makes sense for your character.
• Know Secret: You can spend XP to declare you know a secret about an NPC or group of NPCs. This costs the same amount of XP that Hold Debt does. The secret is worth a single Debt, depending on how you leverage it. The GM might volunteer a secret or leave you to come up with one. The secret has to be narratively interesting, plausible for the NPC, and plausible that your PC could have discovered it.
• Undo Corruption: By spending 1 or 5 XP after taking appropriate in-game actions, you can lower your character’s temporary or permanent Corruption score by 1. See Corruption, below, for more details.
In addition to its immediate benefits, players can spend XP to raise their characters’ traits. Trait increases, unlike immediate benefits, take until the next scene to kick in: you can’t, for example, buy another two dots in Firearms when your PC is in the middle of a gunfight. Characters can mark Corruption (see below) to bypass this requirement.
Trait XP Costs
Raised traits cost the amounts of XP indicated below. XP costs are cumulative. If you have zero dots in a Skill and want to buy two dots, for example, that costs 9 XP.
|One Dot||Two Dots||Three Dots||Four Dots||Five Dots|
|Attribute||Free||10 XP||15 XP||20 XP||25 XP|
|Skill||3 XP||6 XP||9 XP||12 XP||15 XP|
|Edge||2 XP||4 XP||6 XP||8 XP||10 XP|
|In-Clan Discipline||5 XP||10 XP||15 XP||20 XP||25 XP|
|Non-Clan Discipline||6 XP||12 XP||18 XP||24 XP||32 XP|
|Blood Potency||Free||15 XP||20 XP||25 XP||30 XP|
Skill Specialties cost 6 XP. A Skill’s second Specialty costs 9 XP. No Skill may have more than two Specialties.
Sanctity of XP: If something happens to reduce one of your traits, you get back whatever XP you originally spent on it. For example, if your PC falls into a coma and wastes away for months, reducing their once-mighty Strength 4 to Strength 1, you would receive back 45 XP (the cost of raising Strength 1 to Strength 4).
How to Raise Traits
To raise a trait, it must make sense with your character’s recent actions. For example, if your PC has gotten into a lot of fights, that’s good justification for them to increase their Wits, Dexterity, or dots in a combat-oriented Skill like Firearms. The more dots desired in a trait, the more work it takes.
Alternatively, the GM can narratively assume your PC actually had the newly-purchased trait rating all along. For example, if your PC is a learned professor with Intelligence 4/Academics 3, it’s plausible they could’ve had Academics 4 “all along.” That same professor PC could even potentially buy their Firearms score from 0 to 4 by explaining it as “I’ve been shooting at the range every week since I was a kid:” we just never saw that side of the character before. “Retroactive” purchases like these are especially plausible for Edges, which let you introduce new supernatural powers or NPC figures out of your character’s past in whole cloth. TV shows do this sort of thing all the time.
(This is actually the only means by which vampires can normally raise Physical Attributes: their dead bodies are frozen in time and can’t physically develop (or regress). In practice, however, the GM is willing to squint and assume a vampire PC had their newly-purchased Physical Attributes all along.)
Some trait ratings may be impossible to purchase quickly or justify retroactively, such as if a scrawny Strength 1 weakling wants to become a Strength 5 bodybuilder. That character would either require extended downtime or need to find a supernatural (and likely Corruption-inducing) means of more quickly raising the desired Attribute.
The Attempting Actions and Roll Results mechanics can model almost any Move a character might attempt: the below list is a reference for players to know how common Moves are usually adjudicated.
Figure Someone Out:
You can roll to Figure Someone Out whenever you want insight into a subject’s motives and behaviors, including if you think they’re lying to you. The GM may sometimes prompt you to make a Figure Someone Out roll, but you can also roll yourself at any point.
Dice Pool: Wits + Insight. If you suspect the subject is lying to you, you can roll Subterfuge instead.
DC: 2. If the subject is trying to obscure their true intentions, the DC is 1/3 (subject’s Manipulation or Composure + Subterfuge). Contextual factors such as the plausibility of the NPC’s falsely presented intentions and how badly your PC wants to believe them (or not believe them) can drive the DC down or up.
Setback: You can ask two questions about the subject, as per “success” below. The GM will answer one question truthfully and lie about the other.
If the subject is trying to obscure their true intentions, the GM will either refuse to answer any questions (if they’re stonewalling) or provide you with false answers (if they’re actively trying to mislead you). If you rolled more than two successes, the GM will let you ask one question per success rolled so it still seems like you beat the DC.
You don’t have to trust the answers you get from Figure Someone Out. If you still think an NPC is lying, by all means play your character accordingly. They just haven’t been able to externally validate their suspicion.
Success: You can ask one question about the subject’s thoughts, motives, behaviors, or emotional state per success rolled, or request one piece of information about the same topics. Some example questions include, “What are they hoping to get from me?” “What are they most worried about?” “How could I get them to do ___?” “Are they lying to me?” and so on.
These questions must be reasonably possible to deduce from the subject’s tone of voice, body language, and other nonverbal physical cues or inferences based on their known personality and past behaviors. You cannot, for example, use Figure Someone Out to ask “What is the maiden name of the subject’s mother?”, but you might be able to indirectly find out by gauging their reaction to a name you bring up. Likewise, “Does the subject like baseball?” isn’t a valid question if the subject of baseball hasn’t come up around them. In short, Figure Someone Out isn’t mind-reading: that’s what Auspex is for.
If you want to, you can ask more questions about the subject than the number of successes you rolled. The GM will have a 50% chance of providing a false answer to each question (and will roll a die to randomly determine this).
Hit the Streets:
Hit the streets lets you seek out contacts and connections within the city to help you get what you need: goods, services, information, a fix for your vice of choice, whatever. Any time your character grabs their coat and hat to get out and pound the pavement for resources, roll hit the streets .
Dice Pool: Name who you’re going to and roll with an Attribute + Skill appropriate to whatever you’re looking for. You must say who you’re making contact with before you roll; it should be reasonable that they can provide you with whatever you need. You can come up with new NPCs for this purpose, but whenever possible, try to circle back to existing ones who can fit the bill: consolidation of characters and all that.
Setback: Choose 1:
• Whoever you’re going to is juggling their own problems. It doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t help you. In fact, they might be more open to bargaining because they’ve got a ticking time bomb on their hands, some situation that they can’t resolve on their own because they lack the resources or skills needed to get out from under the rock. Your request for help is certainly messier when you drag their business into it, but they have whatever you’re looking to get from them.
• Whatever you need is more costly than anticipated. Your contact is suffering some sort of shortage or scarcity or you don’t know the real value of what you’re requesting. Maybe whatever you’re looking for is more dangerous than you realize or you overlooked something obvious about the costs of the thing in question. Your contact may need you to pay with more than just Debts or money, like immediate favors or valuable secrets. They have it, but it’s going to cost you.
Success: They’re available and have the stuff—though they’ll naturally want something in return.
Notice that you usually have to get out into the city to trigger this Move. It’s not enough to make a few phone calls or post on an internet forum and hope that the goods come directly to you. Supernatural creatures—and the mortals who deal with them on a daily basis—are always skeptical of impersonal communication. Phone calls are too easily monitored by their enemies. Emails are vulnerable to hackers and police. Best to see someone in the flesh. Safer.
Put a Face to a Name:
The city is filled with more people than anyone can possibly know, especially when one includes mortals, but your character is bound to have met—or at least heard of—most of the movers and shakers. This Move lets you establish history or learn someone’s reputation upon seeing them or hearing about them for the first time. The question “What do I know about them?” or “Have I heard of this person?” is going to come up often; this Move lets you answer the question and build on the answer quickly.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Politics, Socialize, or Streetwise (as appropriate).
Botch: They’re hostile and working against your interests: tell the GM why.
Setback: You don’t know them or you owe them a Debt; the GM will tell you which.
Success: You know their reputation; the GM tells you what most people know about them, though they might not know about you. Information isn’t always a two-way street.
Extra Successes: You can ask GM questions about them to find out interesting or useful things. Alternatively, they owe you a Debt for services previously rendered.
You only roll this Move the first time you meet someone new or hear a new name. It’s not something that you can roll later when you sit down to really think about the person that you met earlier. Either the name (or face) hits you and you remember something, or you proceed to build a new relationship with that character. It’s always an option to say, “I don’t know this person” and skip the roll.
The world’s darkness isn’t just about shadows and monsters; it lives in your heart, burrowing its way deeper into your soul each time you take a step toward your darkest self, each time you look for salvation in the worst parts of your soul.
A whisper in the dark when you aren’t expecting it. A sudden flush of lust and greed in a vulnerable moment. A feeling—all too certain—that you deserve better than this, that the assholes who stomped your face into the ground and laughed must pay. The World of Darkness is a world of haves and have-nots, and everyone is a have-not under some bigger, badder monster who exploits them for all they’re worth. Corruption promises a way to tip the scales. It eats at you when you’re alone, promising power in exchange for hurting those motherfuckers just like they hurt you. It’s there when you desperately need an out, ready to trade you everything you need for just a little piece of your soul. Until one day, you wake up to find there’s nothing left to give it. The darkness already has it all; it’s gobbled you up a piece at a time. And now you’re the monster and the darkness.
Corruption is more than just darkness or evil. It represents your character slipping toward the worst parts of their nature, becoming that which should be feared instead of respected, hated instead of loved. Yet, as your Corruption mounts, your powers only grow…
Corruption is a trait with a rating from one to five like any other trait. All characters begin play with 1 Corruption. Different supernatural races have different names for Corruption: to vampires it’s Beast, to mages it’s Hubris, to changelings it’s Madness, and so on. To mortals and “lesser” supernaturals (ghouls, kinfolk, etc.) it’s simply Corruption.
Corruption comes in two separate forms: temporary and permanent.
Temporary Corruption fluctuates over play. Your character can accept 1 temporary Corruption in return for immediate power. This is known as marking Corruption. Characters can mark Corruption in the following ways:
• Dark Deeds: Dark Deeds are any action that a normal, well-adjusted person knows are wrong. Torturing the prisoner to get information; fleecing someone out of their life savings; throwing a friend under the bus to get ahead; these actions and countless others qualify as Dark Deeds. Beyond the practical utility inherent to such actions (few people get ahead in the World of Darkness without embracing their inner monster), whenever your character commits a Dark Deed, they gain 1 XP.
• Develop Power: By marking Corruption, you can spend XP to Improve a Trait in the middle of a scene. This lets you instantly raise your character’s Attributes or Skills and suddenly manifest new Disciplines or supernatural Merits. If you don’t have enough XP to buy what you want, you can mark additional Corruption to go into XP debt: the next XP you earn automatically goes towards paying for your latest purchase. For every additional purchase you want to make and don’t have enough XP for, mark an additional Corruption.
When your character marks Corruption to Develop Power, describe it happening in-character. Make it dark and grisly. Your character is giving in to their inner monster, and they’re probably doing it during a desperate moment for a badly-needed edge.
• Fuel Power: Certain supernatural powers allow characters to exceed their normal limits or unlock special applications by marking Corruption. See the individual power descriptions for details. When the GM has an NPC do this, you gain 1 XP.
• Reroll Dice: By marking Corruption, you can reroll up to three dice in your dice pool that turned up failures. If you do this again, the second reroll marks two Corruption, the third reroll marks three Corruption, etc. You can do this any number of times before the GM describes the results of your roll IC: after that point, you can’t Reroll Dice.
As with Develop Power, describe your character’s attempted action in dark, nasty, and cruel terms. This is easy for rolls with Physical Attributes or supernatural powers, but even for rolls that concern purely mundane Mental and Social Skills, you can describe your character’s smoldering ambition and drive to succeed at any cost.
Permanent Corruption changes less often than temporary Corruption. It only goes up in a single way: whenever your character reaches 5 temporary Corruption, increase their permanent Corruption by 1, and reset their temporary Corruption to 0. The higher a character’s permanent Corruption, the more monstrous they’ve become in outlook, behavior, and (for night-folk) even physical appearance.
Jadedness: Past a certain point, the soul becomes numb to further atrocity. What’s another life ruined after your hands are already caked solid red? Characters stop marking Corruption for Dark Deeds committed at the following permanent Corruption ratings: sins most people can rationalize (Corruption 2), sins that disturb most people (Corruption 3), sins that horrify most people (Corruption 4), sins most people see as pure evil (Corruption 5), sins that cross a line even for monsters (Corruption 6).
Corruption 1 (Principled): The character is “inured” to sins that most people would scoff at the idea of being sins at all. Souls virtuous enough to consider such actions “necessary but regrettable” are all-too rare in the World of Darkness. Examples:
• Feeding from the willing without otherwise harming them (as ethical a way for vampires to survive short of not feeding)
• Caroline killing Mother Iyazebel in self-defense (an unspeakably vile monster who was also threatening a Kindred risking his unlife to save her)
• Maldonato killing Mother Iyazebel’s servants (willful participants in her atrocities) in the Dungeon to save Caroline
• Lou interrogating Showerz under threat of reporting his assorted sins to the police
Corruption 2 (Common): The character is inured to sins that most people can rationalize as necessary or justify to themselves as “they had it coming.” Virtuous characters might still try to look for a better way. Examples:
• Feeding from the unwilling without otherwise harming them (necessary for vampires to survive)
• Killing in self-defense or another’s defense
• Caroline executing Amanda Turner at her request when the Hussar would have killed her anyway
• Coco killing the thugs Cletus sent to abduct Julia (her motives weren’t wholly altruistic, but she saved an innocent from an ugly fate)
• Emmett getting hit by Josh and ratting him out to Cash Money
• Emmett and Samantha Watts killing one of her rapists after he no longer posed an immediate threat
• Lou (hypothetically, he chose not to) roughing up Desire without harming her to learn what she knew about the Slattern Slashers
• Lou not saving Westley from the Dungeon (leaving an innocent to die, but no seemingly viable way to save him)
• Lou roughing up a bum to obtain the necessary bane to combat the Slattern Slashers
• Lou badly scaring “Chester” without otherwise harming him during an interrogation
• Rocco lying to Isa that he’d murdered her aunt after she publicly embarrassed him
Corruption 3 (Weathered): The character is inured to medial sins that would disturb most people. Examples:
• Creating a ghoul
• Knowingly hurting someone to obtain blood
• Murders committed in frenzy
• Killing someone by accident
• Second degree murder
• Amelie’s murders committed during her “blackouts”
• Amelie potentially killing Big Dawg and Fizzy in response to their repeated harassment and ill treatment
• The various people conspiring to ruin Amelie’s life and future in the aftermath of the LaLaurie House slumber party to save the most complicit girls
• Caroline killing Bishop Malveaux, who’d so often threatened her (diablerizing him being a lower sin)
• Caroline not saving Westley from the Dungeon (leaving her own brother to die, but no seemingly viable way to save him)
• Emmett wanting to win Cecilia’s heart before callously abandoning her
• Emmett conning people out of their money to maintain a comfortable lifestyle
• Bert Villars “not giving a shit” if Emmett killed the person he was accused of and defending him anyway
• Lou accidentally killing Mama Wedo with beanbag rounds that ruptured her cancerous cyst
• Robert O’Connor wanting to murder Rocco in cold blood to get justice for David Hennessy
Corruption 4 (Jaded): The character is inured to serious sins that would horrify most people. Examples:
• Embracing someone to save their life (a “remorse Embrace”)
• Premeditated murder or torture for “practical” reasons
• Committing serious harm against loved ones and children
• Cletus torturing Rocco for information
• Samantha Watts drugging and raping Emmett to spite his girlfriend
• Cash Money raping Josh to “teach him a lesson”
• Caroline murdering Joseph Paxton in cold blood
• Caroline murdering her own mother in self-defense (Corruption 5 if Claire hadn’t been threatening her unlife)
• Caroline knowingly feeding from Trenton Nowak while starving (an action extremely likely to kill him)
• Emil telekinetically crushing half a dozen people with an SUV in preemptive self-defense (a “justified” reason, but the sheer scale of his deed would horrify most people)
• Orson wanting to lobotomize Caroline to stop her indiscretions
• Donovan sending Caroline Jessica White’s severed head for intruding in his domain
• Micheal torturing the teenage runaway Cletus lied was a spy of Matheson’s
• Micheal killing a homeless man’s dog because it annoyed him, depriving the man of perhaps his only friend (while killing a dog is a lesser sin than killing a man, it was a potentially deeply hurtful act motivated by petty malice)
• Rocco killing Paulie at his party for his failure to repay owed debts
Corruption 5 (Vile): The character is inured to terrible sins that most people would see as pure evil. Examples:
• Killing or torturing someone for the pure pleasure of it, or similarly trivial reasons
• Killing or torturing loved ones or children for “practical” reasons
• Embracing a willing childe (still likely condemning many people to die over their Requiem)
• Caroline executing the half-dozen-odd defenseless Cottonmouths in cold blood
• Caroline killing Ericson and condemning her children to grow up without a mother because it was convenient
• Cletus killing a servant for annoying him over a ringing phone
• Cletus killing two illegal immigrants for fun while hunting
• Cletus orchestrating the Soiree Night Slaughter, a dozens-large massacre
• Emmett arranging Samantha Watts’ brutal gang-rape to get back at her
• Cash Money selling Emmett to the Dungeon
Corruption 6 (Monstrous): The character is inured to unspeakable sins that cross a line even for monsters. Among vampires, only wights are inured to such sins.
• Embracing an unwilling childe
• Killing or torturing loved ones or children for the pure pleasure of it, or similarly trivial reasons
• The things that happen in the Dungeon
• Caroline’s half-joked idea that Vidal sabotaged the levees, causing untold suffering to thousands, to strike at the Baron
• Bobbi Jo massacring Jacob’s dozen-odd children for no particular reason
• Bud hideously torturing Emmett’s niece and nephew (both small children) and recording it to make a few extra bucks
• Rocco murdering a man who’d done him lasting kindness (David Hennessy) to join the Mafia
The Point of No Return: If your character would ever gain 6 Corruption (that is, if they gain 5 temporary Corruption while having 5 permanent Corruption), they exist on the brink and get one last chance to stop the darkness from swallowing them whole. Whatever it is, it’s not easy. If they succeed, they take a lasting scar (often a supernatural or mental Flaw), but are able to pull back and buy down their temporary Corruption to 4. If they fail, they wholly succumb to their monstrous nature and become an NPC under the control of the GM. Your character might go mad from the atrocities they’ve committed, transform into a supernatural horror, or simply become a remorseless sociopath who gives zero fucks about anyone else: whatever dark fate is appropriate to their final descent.
Just getting by in the World of Darkness scars everyone, but you can walk away from the sins and wounds of the past. Corruption can go down as well as up… and in some cases, be avoided altogether.
Convictions: When characters would mark Corruption from a Dark Deed committed to further a Conviction (for example, if someone whose Conviction was “stand by my family” murdered someone they considered a potential threat to their family), they can roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies by situation) to resist marking Corruption. If a character goes against a Conviction (for example, if that same character betrayed a family member), they treat the Dark Deed as one Corruption rating worse.
Temporary Corruption: By spending 1 XP, you can buy down your character’s temporary Corruption by 1 (to a minimum of 0). This must be preceded by a meaningful in-game action. Buying down temporary Corruption isn’t too hard: it involves anything that makes the world a little less dark for someone without much cost or effort, or simply refraining from doing the morally worse thing when convenient. Some in-game examples include Caroline apologizing to Angela Greer to make Neil feel better; Cletus soliciting Maldonato’s advice to ease Isabelica’s homesickness; Emil getting Hillary to pay her respects to the Rabinowitzes (if he’d succeeded); Emmett apologizing to Samantha Watts for his complicity in her rape; Jon ending his relationship with Eleanor as gently as he reasonably could; and Lou not killing Caroline and Rene after torporing them (something he seriously contemplated in order to preserve his anonymity).
Permanent Corruption: By spending 5 XP, you can buy down your character’s permanent Corruption by 1 (to a minimum of 1). This must be preceded by a meaningful in-game action. Actions which buy down permanent Corruption must make a bigger difference in someone’s life and/or carry a meaningful cost. Some in-game examples include Caroline taking Natalia under her wing; Emil saving Amelie’s life; Emmett saving Emil’s life; and Lou confessing to Amos his murder of the man’s mother (and receiving his forgiveness in a moment of soul-healing catharsis for them both). Cletus, unsurprisingly, likely won’t ever do anything to buy down his permanent Corruption.
Overhearing your neighbors in the apartment next door beating their crying child; listening to the taped confessions and twisted fantasizing of a serial murderer; beholding the true form of a summoned archdemon as it claws its way up from Hell; as any veteran homicide detective can attest, some deeds make you dirty just for being exposed to them, even if they had nothing to do with you.
Whenever your character is exposed to significant mental trauma, the GM may call for a Resolve + Composure roll (DC varies by situation). On a failure, your character’s mind buckles. They mark Corruption, gain 1 XP, and may also take a Condition. On a success, their psyche is strong enough to internalize how what they’ve seen isn’t their fault. Mark no Corruption and gain no XP.
Conditions represent ways in which the story’s events affect your character. Conditions use a carrot-and-stick approach, rewarding your character for taking certain actions while penalizing them for taking others. Getting injured in a gunfight, driven insane by a Malkavian’s psychic attack, or seduced by an alluring Toreador are all scenarios where your character might take a Condition. You typically only gain a Condition when you’ve gotten a botch or setback on a dice roll. Conditions use the following format:
The Condition’s name, indicating its general effect upon your character.
Disadvantage: The type of dice roll(s) the Condition imposes Disadvantage on. Some Conditions may impose different dice qualities than Disadvantage.
Resolution: How your character can end the Condition. When you do this, gain 1 XP.
Corruption: A second, more convenient way your character can end the Condition, but which marks Corruption. When you do this, gain 1 XP.
XP: List any circumstances here where the Condition pays out XP. One of the most common is whenever its Disadvantage causes you to botch or face a setback (i.e., if your unused higher roll would have met a Move’s DC). Another common circumstance is having your character take tactically subpar but narratively compelling choices. Generally, Conditions you can resolve quickly don’t grant XP, while ones that take a story-long (or longer) effort do.
Example: Emmett wants to seduce Cécilia Devillers. He manipulates a drunken Westley Malveaux into sexually harassing Cécilia’s sister Adeline, then swoops in to save the day. Cécilia is profusely grateful, then charmed after Emmett takes her and her sister out for ice cream and feeds them pretty lies. The two’s conversation starts to get intimate. When Cécilia senses all isn’t right and treats Em with kindness, the GM asks his player to make a Resolve + Composure roll against a DC set by Cécilia’s Manipulation + Socialize. Emmett gets 1S on his roll, which is a setback: Cécilia charms him too. Emmett takes the Guilty Condition.
Disadvantage: Rolls to take advantage of Cécilia
Resolution: Do the right thing towards her
Corruption: Do something to hurt her
Guilty throws an obvious wrinkle in Em’s plans: he’s using the lower of two dice rolls whenever he wants to charm and further string along Cécilia. Since he doesn’t gain XP from the Condition’s Disadvantage, Em’s player has incentive to shed it quickly, which he could do through either of its two listed ways: he could, for example, confess his manipulations to Cécilia and gain 1 XP for that. Alternatively, Em could bury his conscience and embrace the monster, such as by spiking her drink and date-raping her, or locking her sister Yvette in a closet. This is more likely to dovetail with Em’s plans, and also grants XP, but comes at the cost of Corruption. Finally, Em could also simply tough it out and eat the penalty, though the carrot-and-stick nature of the Condition encourages him to take dramatic actions that propel the scene forward.
Example: Lou loses his hand decades ago as part of his backstory. His player voluntarily takes the One-Handed Condition.
Disadvantage: Rolls requiring two hands. If your character learns to live without their hand (likely with time and/or prosthetics), they only take Disadvantage on rolls for actions they don’t regularly undertake.
Resolution: Acquire a new hand without hurting anyone.
Corruption: Acquire a new hand through darker means.
XP: Face a botch or setback from Disadvantage, or your one hand gives away your identity
Lou has lived without a hand for decades and had plenty of time to adjust to its drawbacks. He doesn’t take Disadvantage on Brawl or Weaponry rolls (he’s a hunter who gets into semi-regular physical altercations), although he would take Disadvantage on Drive rolls (he doesn’t own a car or do much driving). A character like Jaime Lannister, on the other “hand”, would take Disadvantage on Weaponry rolls (and might even take Major Disadvantage for losing his sword hand instead of his off-hand.) Lou also gains XP from the Condition’s Disadvantage: acquiring a new hand isn’t impossible in the World of Darkness, but it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. It’s also likely to require dark deeds that increase Corruption: no power without price. Finally, as a character greatly concerned with hiding his identity, he gains XP whenever someone uses his one hand (a very distinctive personal trait) to identify him.
Everyone in the World of Darkness dances to someone else’s tune. You can persuade people with logic, intimidate them with violence, and even compel them with supernatural powers, but in the end, they’re probably just going along because it’s easier than fighting you.
Unless you’ve got a Debt. Once people owe you, you can ask them for all kinds of things. And when you put the weight of a Debt behind something, it carries all new meaning. If they want to be taken seriously in the city, then they need to pay what they owe. Only someone who can’t be trusted—who isn’t worth saving when the chips are down—goes back on their accounts.
When you do someone a favor, they owe you a Debt. Gaining Debts means going out of your way to do a favor for other characters. Anytime you help someone out without recompense, you get to claim a Debt from them that can be cashed in at a later time. You can claim Debts from both PCs and NPCs, provided you do something useful for them.
A favor has to be acknowledged by the other party or it isn’t a Debt; you can’t do something for someone and claim a Debt if they don’t really care about your efforts. You can work this out in advance—“Yeah, I can totally help you out, but you’re going to owe me”—or you can draw attention to something that happens in the moment—“I just saved your life. I’ll let you know when you can return the favor."
If you do someone a favor because you’re already getting something from them, it doesn’t count. Consider that a wash. No need to keep the books when everybody’s breaking even. That said, one-sided deals—“Rat out your friends, and I’ll give you a ride across town”—don’t count as even exchanges. You can’t avoid a Debt by offering something paltry.
Example: During a lengthy negotiation with the local Sanctified, the Tremere Vincent uses thaumaturgy to distract them long enough to steal a cell phone off one of their ghouls. Later, he brings the cell phone to a Gangrel Invictus named Gary, hoping to push Gary further into his Debt by sharing crucial information.
“The phone’s yours, but you’re going to owe me,” says Vincent as he holds it up.
“Sure,” replies Gary. “Quid pro quo.”
Vincent’s player records the Debt on his PC’s sheet. He can call it in later when it’s useful to him.
Example: Nathaniel and Elaine are Anarchs who’ve teamed up to take down an older Invictus Nosferatu named Weston, working together to kill enough of his ghouls to draw him out of hiding. Nathaniel’s got his own reasons for wanting the Nosferatu ashed, but Elaine isn’t asking too many questions. Weston eventually calls a parlay to negotiate an end to the conflict, but when he tries to double-cross them Nathaniel frenzies and rips the older vampire’s head off.
Nathaniel remarks, “You’d have been ash if I wasn’t here. You owe me.”
Elaine rolls her eyes. "Did we get a chance to find out? He was trying to kill you too—and now we both have to cover this up from the sheriff. You didn’t do me any favors.”
The GM concurs. Nathaniel wasn’t doing Elaine a favor by saving her unlife when his was also on the line.
Cashing in Debts
Cashing in a Debt is easy. Whenever you want something from someone who owes you a Debt, remind them why they owe you and tell them what you want. Anything from the below list is usually legit at all times.
You don’t need to quote the reason for the Debt exactly; alluding to the favor owed is plenty reason enough to trigger the Move. What matters is that both parties recall the Debt and acknowledge it, and that they both know that it’s been spent if the debtor honors the Debt. Of course, debtors can always refuse to honor a Debt with all the cost and consequences that come with going back on their word.
• Get a favor at moderate cost. This is a broad option, encompassing all sorts of favors. You might ask someone to hide something sensitive for you, steal something valuable, or leverage influence in a sphere of mortal society. It’s all dependent on the skills and talents of the character who owes you the Debt. For some characters, killing someone is a favor they can perform at moderate cost. As always, the GM arbitrates any disputes on what’s moderate.
• Back you up. The debtor helps you out in a dangerous situation, usually by showing up with whatever resources they typically rely on for support: i.e., their ghouls, a few members of their coterie, or even a more physically able vampire they’ve called in a Debt from. Don’t expect them to die for you, though. If things get really rough, they’ll bail to save their own skin.
• Drop their Name. Dropping someone’s name means using it as leverage against your opposition, granting a moment’s advantage or hesitation and creating an opening that was previously closed. You might use it to get someone to rethink hurting your character or to gain access to a sensitive location. It’s useful any place you think the debtor’s name might help you get by. Just saying the name of the Kindred who owes you isn’t enough; you’ve got to inform your opposition that who you’re naming owes you and you could call in that favor against them specifically.
Make a Social roll as appropriate to the situation, and roll with Advantage. On a success, the debtor’s name (and your threat) carries weight and gives you an opening or opportunity, but you have to cash in the Debt. (No one wants their name dragged through the mud every time you want something.) With an extra success, you also keep the Debt. On a setback, you erase the Debt and get what you want, but ruffle some feathers in the process. On a botch, you find out too late that you’ve overstepped your bounds, that the name you dropped isn’t going to offer you much assistance. In fact, it might even get you killed.
• Erasing a Debt they hold on someone else. This means that you’re spending a Debt to erase a Debt, effectively clearing the books. You lose a bit of your control over the person who owes you the Debt, but you can get out—or get someone else out—from under their thumb, assuming they don’t hold other Debts over you or the person you’re trying to save.
• Give you a Debt they hold on someone else. Trading boons is common in the Camarilla. Sometimes another vampire is better-suited for a task you have in mind, or maybe you want to snub a debtor by implying their Debt wasn’t valuable enough to keep. You don’t even have to swap Debts with a vampire who owes you a Debt: two creditors are just as free to trade two unrelated Debts they hold from other Kindred. This requires that you know about the Debts in question, first. Many vampires aren’t open about who owes them, so you’ve got to get the information before you start asking Kindred to hand over their Debts to you.
• Make introduction. Getting the debtor to introduce you to an influential member of their clan, covenant, or other faction they hold Status in allows you to bypass the obstacles that elder Kindred usually put up to avoid dealing with riffraff. Your debtor may not like you, but they must give you a friendly introduction and guarantee safe passage to the other vampire. If you screw things up at the meeting, though, that’s on you.
• Provide information. Calling in a Debt is one of the few ways to get the absolute truth from another vampire, as most Kindred would rather postpone repaying a Debt (see below) than deal with the consequences for repaying one in bad faith. Essentially, you can force another vampire to be honest by cashing in Debts. Their answer to whatever question you pose must be full and complete: none of the usual misleading bullshit. The information has to be within the scope of a moderate favor, though. You can’t demand that someone reveal they’re actually a diablerist for a single Debt.
• Social leverage. By spending a Debt, you can gain Advantage on a Social roll against your debtor. You always count as having leverage in a social situation if you’re willing to cash in a Debt. A setback on the roll can sometimes mean that the NPC weasels out of the Debt, returning the Debt to you as if they had successfully refused it.
Refusing to Honor Debts
Just because someone has a Debt over you doesn’t mean you have to honor it… right now. Maybe it’s not a good time or the thing they’re asking for is just out of your reach at the moment. You can’t be all things to all people all the time. And sometimes people ask for “reasonable” things that are going to cost you more than you want to pay.
Refuse to honor a Debt lets you try to slip out of your obligations. It won’t mean you no longer owe the other character—the best you can hope for is delaying the payback for another time—but it might keep you out of the fire until you can sort the situation out. Live to fight another day and all that shit.
When you refuse to honor a debt, make a Social roll (usually Manipulation + Persuasion) against a DC set by your debtor’s traits.
Botch: You can’t avoid the noose. You either honor your Debt or face the consequences. Your debtor gets to pick two different options off the list under “Setback” for you or cancel some to all the Debts you hold over other people. If you won’t honor a Debt, then why should anyone honor their Debts to you? Best be careful.
Setback: You slip the noose, but not for free. Choose one of the below options:
• Interest: You owe your debtor an additional Debt. Basically, you’re getting out of what you owe now by owing more in the future. Interest, we call that.
• Lose Face: You lose face with your debtor’s faction, losing a dot of Status (if you hold any in the same faction) or gaining a dot of Notoriety. Members of the faction start to think less of you because you didn’t pay up when asked. This is a subtle cost, but it means that the faction is a little colder to your advances, a little less likely to go out on a limb for you when it really matters. Best of luck surviving in the city when a large swath of the folks who matter think you’re a fuckoff.
• Mark Corruption: You mark Corruption. Doing this means that you shut out the Debt with the sheer force of your will… at the cost of a bit of your soul. Relationships are what keep us grounded; when you push them away, you might find yourself drifting toward the worst parts of yourself. At some point, you won’t be able to come back toward the light.
Success: You weasel out of the current deal without further consequence, but still owe the Debt.
If you successfully refuse a Debt, the character who tried to cash in a Debt can’t cash another in with you until the situation changes. After all, they already asked for one favor, right? No point in asking again so soon. You’ve already said “no” once.
Creditors within the Camarilla have an additional stick to ensure they get paid what they’re owed: the harpies. These Kindred enforce the rules for what is and is not proper behavior throughout the masked city, and they make it their business to record other vampires’ boons. The harpies don’t know about every Debt in the city, as some Kindred prefer to keep certain obligations private. Informing the harpies of one’s Debts can pay off down the line, though. If a debtor defaults, the harpies almost always back the creditor up. If a fledgling released last night accuses a respected elder of shirking their obligations, the harpies will take the fledgling’s side. They will ensure a Debt is honored when no one else will.
Whenever a vampire refuses to honor a Debt to you, you can try to drag out what they owe by threatening to involve the harpies. Make a (Charisma or Manipulation) + Intimidation roll with Advantage if you really mean it, or Manipulation + Subterfuge roll if you don’t. On a success, the debtor chooses to pay up rather than risk their name being dragged through the mud in Elysium.
If you still go before the harpies, proceedings are heavily weighted towards the creditor. Make a Social Attribute + Social Skill roll with Advantage to make your case, against a DC set by your debtor’s traits. If you told the harpies about the Debt in advance, roll with Major Advantage. You can spend XP to establish that you previously did so (per Take Retroactive Action), but it takes a dice roll if you haven’t informed the harpies about many other Debts. What made this boon different from the others?
On a success, the harpies compel the debtor to pay up now or lose a dot of Camarilla Status. Extra successes can threaten the debtor with loss of further Status, impose additional Debts as “interest” for their weaseling, or even cause them to lose Status upon paying up (though it always has to be less than if they don’t). For obvious reasons, most Kindred would rather settle things “out of court” than publicly involve the harpies.
Pity the fool who lies to the harpies about a nonexistent Debt. They rarely fail to get to the bottom of such matters, and declaring all of the liar’s Debts null and void is usually only the start of their wrath.
Vampires, Mortal, and Debts
Many vampires hold Debts over ordinary mortals. Their powers, connections, and longevity give them no end of ways they can perform incredible favors for mortal associates. Such favors aren’t free, though.
While many vampires have numerous means of imposing their wills upon mortals (especially the Ventrue), these are ultimately less convenient in the long run than a simple exchange of mundane Debts. Mortals who get something out of their relationship with the vampire make more cooperative pawns, and are likely to come back for more favors (many easily fulfilled by the vampire) once they get used to an undead patron helping them out. Most older Kindred cultivate expensive networks of mortal pawns who owe them significant favors if not their entire careers.
Unfortunately for the mortal, this quid pro quo arrangement is usually only good for as long as the vampire thinks they’re getting more out of the relationship. A vampire who decides otherwise suffers far fewer consequences for failing to honor a Debt towards a mortal.
• When a vampire “loses face with their faction”, this only applies to whatever organization or general sphere (Corporate, High Society, Street, etc.) the mortal belongs to. Gaining Notoriety with one of these groups can be inconvenient, especially if the vampire is closely involved with them, but it’s not the same as losing face among one’s own kind.
• If the mortal creditor tries to cancel the vampire’s Debts, it’s only good for Debts owed by other mortals from the same sphere. Kindred society could care less if a vampire breaks their word to mere kine.
• Wen a vampire refuses to honor a Debt, they can decide to simply never pay it back—period. This causes the vampire to gain Notoriety with the mortal’s faction, lose any Debts from its members, and mark Corruption. Kindred society could still care less, but if the vampire doesn’t want to deal with even those consequences, they can simply kill or otherwise permanently silence the mortal. This carries no inherent costs beyond marking two Corruption instead of one. Such selfish behavior obviously isn’t conductive to maintaining one’s humanity.
Ghouls and Debts
Vampires typically don’t owe ghouls Debts or hold Debts from them. A ghoul is their domitor’s property, which makes them a simple proxy or middleman to Debts between vampires. For example, if a ghoul saves a vampire’s unlife from hunters, the vampire will consider the Debt owed towards the ghoul’s domitor. Likewise, if the vampire saved the ghoul’s unlife from those hunters, they would claim a Debt from the ghoul’s domitor.
Some ghouls deal with vampires as persons in their own right. Doing so can be profitable, but also fraught with peril.
• A vampire can choose to never repay their Debt towards a ghoul, as described above for mortals.
• Social rolls by PC ghouls to persuade or strong-arm a vampire into paying up take Disadvantage, and a vampire who blows off their word can only owe an additional Debt (“interest”) with an extra success. Getting a reluctant vampire to cough up what they owe is very hard for ghouls.
• Social rolls by PC vampires to persuade or strong-arm a ghoul into paying up take Advantage. The vampire can’t threaten to involve the harpies (who could care less about a ghoul’s Debts), but honest threats involving the ghoul’s domitor increase this to Major Advantage. It’s very easy for vampires to push around ghouls in their Debt.
• A vampire never loses Status or gains Notoriety for failing to repay a Debt towards a ghoul. Kindred society doesn’t care if they break their word to a mere half-blood, while most ghouls know better than to expect anything approximating respectful treatment from vampires. The main incentive for PC vampires to delay paying back Debts to ghouls instead of going back on them altogether is that it marks less Corruption. If you’re playing a PC ghoul, gain 1 XP whenever an NPC vampire chooses to never repay a Debt.
Given these social dynamics, most ghouls prefer to bargain with vampires for an immediate exchange of services. Vitae is always a popular choice.
Ghouls can hold Debts over other ghouls and treat such obligations seriously. A ghoul who refuses to honor a Debt to another ghoul can lose face among ghoul society. A ghoul who blows off a vampire (assuming they even have the stones) still suffers the normal consequences for failing to honor a Debt—there is a social double standard.
Ghouls can go back on their word towards mortals just as vampires can. Ghoul society holds itself above the kine and is glad to have someone else to look down upon.
Vampires and Other Supernatural Beings
Debts between vampires and other supernatural beings (werewolves, mages, fae, etc.) function normally—vampires regard these creatures as equals, albeit begrudgingly, and a Debt is a Debt to one of them. Recourse to the harpies, however, is not an option.
Vampire Character Rules
The following rules apply to vampire characters.
All vampire characters have the following powers:
Blood Sympathy: Vampires can feel strong sensations and emotions from their relatives, though this awareness is vague and imprecise. When something happens to preempt sympathy from a relative (entering torpor, meeting final death, entering frenzy or a third stage blood bond, feeling an intense emotion), the GM may choose to call for a sympathy roll. This is less a foolproof detection tool and more a dramatic device. A sympathy roll uses Wits + Blood Potency, with a variable modifier depending on the relative’s familial and physical closeness.
• Once Removed: Sires and childer only. Advantage everywhere.
• Twice Removed: Grandsires, grandchildes, broodmates. No bonus or penalty on the same continent. Disadvantage on another continent.
• Thrice Removed: Great-grandsires, great-grandchilder, sire’s broodmates, broodmate’s childer. Disadvantage in the same city. Major Disadvantage in another city. No roll possible on another continent.
• Four Times Removed: Clanmates. Major Disadvantage in the same city. No roll possible outside the same city.
• Non-clanmate: No roll possible.
On a success, you receive a daymare, hallucination, knot in your stomach, or similar psychophysiological clue as to your relative’s current state. You can spend successes on a one-for-one basis to make out a single detail or hear a single, psychically transmitted word.
You can also spend 1 XP to force a sympathetic connection when there isn’t one: some Kindred use blood sympathy in this way to keep track of relatives. You can spend successes on a one-for-one basis to make out a single detail or psychically communicate a single word. You gain 1 XP whenever an NPC Kindred would spend XP to use blood sympathy against you.
Dead Flesh: Rolls to harm vampires with guns and ‘nonlethal’ sources of trauma like fists, stun guns, pepper spray, and extreme temperatures take Disadvantage. Rolls by PC vampires to resist being harmed by those sources of trauma take Advantage. Vampires also don’t need to breathe, never get physically tired, and are immune to many weaknesses and ailments that plague the living.
Kindred Senses: Vampires have excellent night vision and do not take Disadvantage on Perception rolls to see in the dark. They take Disadvantage instead of Major Disadvantage in total darkness. They have Advantage on all mundane rolls involving a creature’s blood (e.g., Survival rolls to track a bleeding target, or Investigation rolls to notice blood around a crime scene). Finally, they can “smell” other vampires and ghouls on sight (the Blood always tells), although some powers can fool this.
By tasting someone’s blood, a vampire can make a Perception roll (Wits + Composure) to discern details such as clan, Blood Potency, blood type, degree of blood sympathy (mortal or vampiric) to another individual whose blood they’ve tasted, the presence of diseases, drugs, and poisons, what they ate recently, and similar details the GM approves. Diablerie is not detectable in this manner. Every success lets the vampire discern one detail. On a setback, they discern two, but one detail is false.
Lost Visage: Vampires do not appear normally in reflective surfaces or visual recording media (photos, videos, etc.) unless they consciously choose to. The lighting comes out too dark, the shot’s angle doesn’t catch the vampire’s face, the image quality is poor, or something else goes wrong. Some individuals can recognize a vampire’s Lost Visage for what it is, however, so this power can be a double-edged sword.
Mending: Being dead, vampires do not heal naturally. Their unliving frames can still knit themselves together, given enough effort. By making 1 Rouse check, a vampire can reduce the penalties from the Injured Condition by 1 (to a minimum of 0). Vampires cannot, however, reduce Injured’s penalties through bed rest and medical attention. Vampires automatically use Mending to heal any injuries they’ve suffered during daysleep. This also restores the vampire’s body to its original appearance at the time of death: hair grows out, blemishes and disfigurements disappear, and so on.
Physical Intensity: By making 1 Rouse check, a vampire can re-roll up to three dice that turned up failures for a Physical dice roll.
Predatory Aura: By hissing and baring their fangs, a vampire can lash out with their Beast and add their Blood Potency to any Charisma- or Resolve-based Social roll. If the target is another vampire who retaliates in kind, factor their Blood Potency into the DC (or equivalent Supernatural Tolerance trait for other night-folk). Vampires traditionally use predatory aura to establish dominance among their kind without bloodshed, though it is considered unacceptable behavior in Elysium. It’s also an effective way to quickly put mortals and ghouls in their place, as they don’t benefit from Blood Potency scores, so long as the vampire is willing to reveal their true nature.
Vitae: A vampire’s blood enslaves whoever imbibes it. Whenever your character drinks directly from a vampire NPC, roll Resolve + Blood Potency (DC = NPC’s Blood Potency + 1).
On a setback, you become one step further bound and gain 1 XP. On a success, you resist the bond for now, but take Disadvantage on your next roll to avoid being bound by the same NPC. On a botch, you suffer both. Extra successes let you avoid Disadvantage or even gain Advantage.
Whenever an NPC drinks from your character, roll triple your Blood Potency (DC = 1/3 NPC’s Resolve + Blood Potency). Outcomes are the same as above, except in reverse (a success makes the NPC one step bound), and you don’t gain XP.
Characters can become up to three steps bound and can’t become more than one further step bound in a single night. Blood also loses its bonding properties after it’s been exposed to the air for more than several seconds. Kindred lovers often take advantage of this fact to practice “safe sex,” although it is less pleasurable than drinking straight from the source.
Disadvantage: Many Social rolls against your domitor at 1st stage. Increase this to Major Disadvantage at 2nd stage. At 3rd stage, you also mark Corruption whenever you roll.
Special: Whenever you attempt to harm or plot against your domitor, mark Corruption.
Resolution: You can roll to downgrade your bond by one step (same dice pool and DC) at the end of a story arc or after an atypical (not simply heinous) act of betrayal or cruelty. Extra successes downgrade the bond by additional steps. Roll with Advantage if you’ve had no contact with your domitor. Roll with Disadvantage if you’ve continued to drink their blood.
XP: Do something to please your domitor you normally wouldn’t.
Player Question: XP for Blood Bond Corruption?
This came up during play. Corruption gained from fighting against the blood bond doesn’t pay out XP. That resets the calculus to zero (gain 1 XP for the Corruption, spend 1 XP to later reverse the Corruption), and the point is for fighting against the blood to effectively cost Willpower like it did under the old system.
Blood Bound NPCs: If an NPC is bound to you, take Advantage on many Social rolls against them, as well as rolls to foil their plots and defeat attempts to harm you. This increases to Major Advantage at 2nd stage. At 3rd stage, they often won’t even try, but you gain 1 XP whenever they do.
Roll to maintain your bond over an NPC (same dice pool and DC) at the end of each story arc or after an atypical act of betrayal or cruelty. Roll with Disadvantage if you’ve had no contact with the NPC and roll with Advantage if they’ve continued to drink your blood. On a setback, the bond decreases by one step. On a botch, it decreases by two steps. For 1 XP, the GM can have the bond decrease by one additional step. Don’t bother rolling against your ghouls at the end of each story if they’ve continued to drink your blood.
Ghouls: Mortals who drink a vampire’s blood become ghouls, as described under their own rules below. If you don’t control your ghouls through an associated Background (such as Retainer), they are too inept, distant, or disobedient to be useful. Blood bonding other vampires over the course of play doesn’t require an associated Background.
Other Vampiric Traits
Blood Potency and Generation: These concepts are likely already familiar to players with previous Masquerade experience. Brand new players will discover what they mean in-game.
Blood Potency is capped by a character’s generation and increases at the following rates. These are approximate rather than exact: a vampire might reach Blood Potency 2 after 37 years or after 78. PCs can purchase Blood Potency one dot higher than the norm for their age if they are also exceptionally in tune with their Beast (Corruption equal to desired Blood Potency dots).
|Generation||Maximum Blood Potency||Years to Reach|
Diablerie: To come.
The Embrace: Creating another vampire is easy: drain a mortal to death, then feed them your blood.
But like all things, there’s more to it.
Embracing a “poorly made” childe takes only a single Rouse check, giving them the merest taste of their sire’s vitae. The unfortunate fledgling starts with Hunger 10 and no Discipline dots, but can develop them given time. (PCs eventually still receive three free dots.) Camarilla society looks down upon childer Embraced so sloppily. Physiologically, they’re identical to other Kindred. The Sabbat is notorious for mass Embracing packs of “shovelhead” childer in this manner. Childer created by accident are also usually considered poorly made childer. Conventional wisdom also holds that poorly made childer are more likely to become Caitiff, although what precisely causes the clanless remains poorly understood.
Embracing a “well made” childe takes more vitae, causing the sire to automatically increase Hunger instead of making a Rouse check. The childe starts with an amount of Hunger equal to (10 – sire’s expended Hunger), making them potentially much less likely to frenzy, and making their Embrace less traumatic. The childe also starts with one Discipline dot per Hunger sacrificed by their sire, up to a maximum of (sire’s Blood Potency). These extra dots still count towards the maximum number of Disciplines that neonate PCs can learn: they just get to learn those Disciplines immediately.
Elder sires can Embrace especially puissant childer. If the sire has a Blood Potency of 6 or higher, the childe starts with an extra Blood Potency dot per Hunger expended, up to a maximum of (sire’s Blood Potency – 4). Poorly made childer start with Blood Potency 1.
Humanity is the measure of how well a vampire can still pass for human: their personal Masquerade. The higher a vampire’s Beast, the lower their humanity.
• Animals: Animals respond to you as if human.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening at twilight.
• Food: You can savor the taste of food and drink, but must regurgitate it by dawn.
• Mortality: You have a healthy, vibrant complexion. You unconsciously keep blood circulating through your body to give yourself a pulse, heartbeat, and warm body temperature. You automatically pass basic medical tests to appear alive.
• Sex: You can engage in sexual activity and even enjoy it.
• Animals: Animals are nervous and skittish around you. Cornered animals grow aggressive. Take Disadvantage on many Animal Ken rolls.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening at nightfall.
• Food: You can hold down food and drink, but it’s tasteless and you must regurgitate it within the scene.
• Mortality: You have a pallid but passably human appearance. Your body temperature is cooler than normal and you have an irregular pulse and heartbeat. Basic medical tests show you are in ill health.
• Sex: You can engage in sexual activity, but it carries no pleasure.
• Animals: Animals are significantly distressed by you and may attack. Take Major Disadvantage on many Animal Ken rolls.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening around half an hour after nightfall.
• Food: You can’t abide the foul taste of food and must immediately regurgitate it.
• Mortality: You start to look sick or disturbed, though mortals try to ignore it. You have no pulse or heartbeat and appear clinically dead to medical tests. Your body is room temperature. Take Disadvantage on many Social rolls to relate to humans.
• Sex: You can no longer engage in sexual activity.
• Animals: Animals either flee from you or attack on sight. Many Animal Ken rolls are impossible.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening around an hour after nightfall.
• Mortality: You look barely more animate than a corpse. Mortals’ polite facades around you start to crack. Take Major Disadvantage on many Social rolls to relate to humans.
• Other humanity facets as Beast 3.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening around 1.5 hours after nightfall.
• Mortality: You look like a walking corpse—or worse. Mortals don’t know exactly what you are, but instinctively sense something is horribly wrong. Most Social rolls to do anything but terrify mortals are impossible. Even other Kindred are unnerved by how close you are to the brink, and many Social rolls against less bestial vampires take Disadvantage.
• Other humanity facets as Beast 4.
Blush of Life: Vampires can pump blood through dead veins to briefly make their bodies look alive again. By making a Rouse check, you can treat one humanity facet as one “step” higher. For example, a Beast 5 vampire could hold down food like a Beast 2 vampire by making three Rouse checks. This lasts for a scene.
Food and sex never carry pleasure for vampires with Beast 2+, no matter how many Rouse checks they make.
Part appetite, part lust, and part addiction, Hunger gives voice to the Blood and claws to the Beast. It calls to vampires constantly, whispering and screaming of needs, urges, and desires. Every vampire awakens to Hunger and must kill to silence it. The Kindred pay for their immortality and their powers in Hunger, and the bill is always coming due.
Vampires have a unique trait, Hunger, with a maximum level of 10. A vampire with a Hunger of 0 is sated and satisfied, whereas a vampire with Hunger 10 is ravenous and can barely think of anything except their next drink.
Starting Hunger: When a PC first enters play, and after any significant time skip, roll a 10-sided die. The vampire has Hunger equal to that amount, minus their Blood Potency and Domain dots. A vampire’s starting Hunger is never lower than their Blood Potency.
Every time a vampire rises each sunset, calls upon certain vampiric powers, or stirs their Blood some other way, they make a Rouse check to see if their Hunger increases.
To make a Rouse check, the player rolls (2 + Blood Potency) dice. On a success, the vampire’s Hunger remains unchanged. Extra successes have no benefit. On a setback, the vampire gains 1 Hunger. On a botch, they gain 2 Hunger. Players can’t mark Corruption to re-roll Rouse checks.
A vampire at Hunger 0 is completely sated and takes Advantage on frenzy rolls from their Beast’s quietude. A vampire at Hunger 6 is hungry and risks frenzy when exposed to blood. A vampire at Hunger 8 is starving and risks frenzy just being around other people. A vampire at Hunger 10 is all but empty of blood and must make a frenzy roll whenever something would increase their Hunger (DC = Blood Potency + 1).
Drinking blood reduces a vampire’s Hunger level by a fixed amount. As a vampire’s blood thickens, so does their resting Hunger level. Vampires cannot reduce their Hunger below their Blood Potency except with vampire blood or killing a human victim.
It takes time to drink blood and care to do it properly. The bite of a vampire can seem downright euphoric to the victim; vampire fangs produce a supernatural intoxicating effect while opening up a blood vessel. Assuming the vampire takes the time to hit a vein or artery correctly and licks the wound closed afterward, the victim may only remember the encounter as a drug trip, an interlude of weird rough sex, or just a delirious fog of drunken intimacy. Even a closed wound and happy hallucination for the victim might still leave behind an air embolism, to say nothing of long-term anemia. Vampires call this phenomenon “the kiss.”
As a general rule, attempting to preserve the victim’s life, health, or blissed-out screen memory (all of which of course also preserve the Masquerade) takes longer than simply ripping open an artery and slurping down the red stuff. On the other hand, a victim who fights back slows things down and endangers the Masquerade. A vampire can drain and kill a helpless or otherwise unresisting human in roughly half a minute.
• Light Feeding: -1 Hunger. The victim suffers no impairment. They recover after a night.
• Deep Feeding: -2 Hunger. The victim looks pale and woozy, granting Advantage on most rolls against them (PC victims take Disadvantage). They recover after a couple nights.
• Dangerous Feeding: Choose the new Hunger you want to have (minimum = Blood Potency). Roll Resolve + Composure (DC = current Hunger – new Hunger). On a success, most rolls against the victim take Major Advantage (PC victims take Major Disadvantage), and they’re too drained to do more than crawl, but aren’t at risk of death. On a setback, the victim passes out and will die without medical attention. On a botch, they die on the spot. Players can’t mark Corruption to reroll this roll. The victim will take some time to recover if they survive.
• Fatal Feeding: Hunger falls to 0. The victim automatically dies.
Some victims suffer worse effects from vampiric feeding than others. A vessel who’s already been lightly fed from, for example, counts as being deeply fed from if the vampire drains them again during the same night. Children, elderly, and people with certain medical conditions may also suffer this effect.
Cold blood and blood from animals decrease their “grade” by one step per vampire’s Blood Potency. Vampires gain the benefits of a light feeding from a deep feeding at Blood Potency 1, a dangerous feeding at Blood Potency 2, and a fatal feeding at Blood Potency 3. Vampires with Blood Potency 4+ gain no sustenance from such paltry fare.
Vampiric feeding is extremely efficient at its job, but even it cannot drain 100% of a victim’s total blood volume. Vampires who extract their victims’ blood through even more efficient means (meat processing equipment, tying them up and butchering them like livestock, Vicissitude, some forms of Blood Sorcery, etc.) can extract up to several feedings worth of blood for later use, depending on the methods used. This behavior is obviously not conductive to maintaining one’s humanity and marks Corruption.
Sometimes, the Beast grows impatient. When the vampire faces danger, hunger, or threat, the Beast goads them to immediate and extreme response, usually meaning a blood-soaked frenzy. Frenzy comes from many sources, but always shares the same response: End the problem by any means necessary.
Dice Pool: Resolve + Composure
DC: Varies by provocation.
Roll Modifiers: Vampire is sated (Hunger 0; Advantage), vampire is hungry (6-7 Hunger; Disadvantage), vampire is starving (8-10 Hunger; Major Disadvantage).
Botch: Your character frenzies, as per Setback, but the frenzy lasts for the entire scene even if the Beast gets what it wants. If the frenzy would already last for a scene, mark an additional Corruption. Alternatively, using Reroll Dice on the frenzy may be impossible.
Setback: Your character succumbs to their Beast. Frenzy lasts for the rest of the scene or until the Beast gets what it wants: killing the source of its rage, draining a vessel until they’re empty, escaping the source of its fear, etc. Physical dice rolls take Advantage (Physical rolls against frenzying NPCs take Disadvantage) and your character is immune to all mundane and supernatural attempts to sway their behavior. Your character also doesn’t take dice penalties from the Injured Condition, although they still enter torpor at Injured -6.
If your character would mark Corruption to Reroll Dice on a frenzy roll, spend the same amount of XP instead. You can’t use the darkness to fight the darkness. Characters can Reroll Dice at any point during a frenzy. For every significant interval of actions you wait (i.e., any action that would take a dice roll), using Reroll Dice lets you re-roll one additional die for free: thus, it is usually easier to break out of frenzy after the Beast has had some time to run its course.
Success: Your character resists the Beast… for now. Your next roll to resist frenzy takes Disadvantage, or increases to Major Disadvantage if you’re already rolling at Disadvantage. You can eliminate this penalty or decrease Major Disadvantage to Disadvantage by indulging the Beast with a Dark Deed that marks Corruption.
Extra Success: Your character resists the Beast without taking Disadvantage on their next frenzy roll. Further successes may grant Advantage or reduce Hunger from the moment of catharsis.
Designer’s Notes: Frenzy Stuff
Frenzy has come up a lot of times and been explored in a lot of depth in our game. The following guidelines either apply to less generally relevant circumstances or are given facts (to players familiar with Masquerade lore) that the GM is clarifying here, and would clutter up space posting above:
• Actions: A frenzying vampire has all the intelligence of a rabid animal and can’t undertake complex actions (i.e., driving cars, shooting guns). They can use a melee weapon already in hand or grabbed up from nearby. They can’t use “intelligent” Disciplines like Dominate or Auspex, but they can lash out with supernatural powers that cause direct physical harm to others (i.e., a blast of thaumaturgic fire). The Beast won’t ever back down or retreat from a fight, and won’t stop mauling an opponent until they’re down for the count. For vampires, this means beating them into torpor. For mortals, who are less hardy, this means either killing or leaving them in critical condition. A frenzying vampire that feeds on a mortal will always drain them to death.
• Dark Deeds: A frenzying vampire will commit all manner of atrocities under their Beast’s influence. Mark Corruption and gain XP for these Dark Deeds as normal. Kindred society considers vampires fully responsible for their actions while frenzying: if you can’t control your inner monster, you need to be put down for the common good.
Accounts on whether a frenzying vampire will commit diablerie are contradictory. Some stories claim they do and some claim they don’t.
• Memories: Vampires don’t remember what they did while under the Beast’s influence. Evidence of their misdeeds usually becomes plain after they come to surrounded by corpses and gore-streaked walls. The GM usually allows players to control their PCs when they frenzy, but may simply describe the PC blacking out and coming to if the consequences of their Beast’s rampage would be less obvious (or make for a better scene).
Riding the Wave: A vampire can also choose to Ride the Wave, intentionally succumbing to frenzy without a dice roll. This marks Corruption but lets the vampire choose how they act on the Beast’s impulse: for example, they could choose what target they attack (if angry) or what vessel they feed from (if hungry), but they couldn’t ignore the Beast’s impulse to attack or feed.
Every night a vampire rises from daysleep, they must make a Rouse check. If the vampire gets a setback or botch that would raise their Hunger above 10, they fall into torpor.
During the day, vampiric blood becomes quiescent, even gelid. Awakening during the day requires the vampire to make a Rouse check and roll (12 – double Beast) dice at a DC depending on the level of crisis. A fire or other life-threatening situation is DC 2; an urgent message or decision is DC 3; an inconvenience to deal with is DC 4 or higher. A vampire automatically awakens if they take the Injured Condition while sleeping, though by then it may be too late—and certainly is if they’ve been staked.
Non-vampire PCs ambushing a sleeping vampire must succeed on a Dexterity + Stealth roll (DC = 6 – vampire’s Beast, DC 2 with Advantage against Beast 5 vampires).
Once awakened from daysleep, a vampire can only act for a single scene. At the end of that period, to remain awake longer, they must roll (12 – double Beast) dice at DC 2; a success permits an additional scene. Extra successes let them stay awake for extra scenes.
If a vampire acts during daylight hours, they take a penalty on all dice rolls equal to their Beast. PCs acting against an NPC vampire during the day take a bonus on rolls equal to the vampire’s Beast.
Successfully decapitating a vampire destroys them instantly. This takes combat rolls as normal unless the vampire is staked, torpid, or otherwise helpless. For this and other reasons, swords and edged weapons remain in vogue among vampires and vampire hunters.
All vampires fear fire. A lit cigarette makes them nervous and agitated: open flames trigger frenzy rolls (DC varies by size, heat, and proximity of the fire) to resist fleeing in terror. All rolls to attack vampires with fire take Advantage. Rolls to fight characters employing fire take Disadvantage. Fire-inflicted wounds are also much harder to heal, costing 1 automatic Hunger instead of 1 Rouse check per use of Mending. If the vampire waits until they enter daysleep, healing fire-inflicted wounds with Mending costs Rouse checks as normal.
Staking a vampire through the heart leaves them conscious but paralyzed and near-helpless. A staked vampire cannot take physical actions (including speech) or make Rouse checks for any purpose except to awaken each evening. By spending 1 XP, the vampire can perform minute movements, such as twitching a finger or opening their eyes. PCs gain 1 XP if an NPC vampire does this to significant effect. Without fresh blood, a staked vampire will inevitably succumb to torpor.
Staking a vampire takes combat rolls as normal, but only a single roll if they’re ambushed. The winning character can declare they stake the vampire at the end. Driving a stake through a human sternum is much harder than Hollywood makes it look and is physically impossible for ordinary mortals. Wood, however, pierces vampiric bone as easily as it does flesh. (Wood is anathema to the Kindred due to photosynthesis: the trees that produce wooden stakes are symbolic reservoirs of sunlight.) A popular tactic among hunters is to stake a sleeping vampire during the day and then decapitate them. For PCs, this takes a roll to see whether the vampire awakens, per Daysleep. On a success, they can stake the sleeping vampire without a roll. On a setback, it takes a Strength + Weaponry to stake the awake and struggling vampire.
Sunlight burns the undead, incinerating their unholy blood and flesh under the eye of heaven. A vampire exposed to direct sunlight takes the Injured Condition (-1) and must roll (11 – Blood Potency) dice after every dice roll or narratively significant interval they spend under the sun. On a setback, Injured’s penalties increase by -1. On a botch, they increase by -2. Extra successes let the vampire spend additional intervals or make additional dice rolls before having to roll against sunlight damage. Sunlight-inflicted damage is costlier to heal in the same way that fire-inflicted damage is.
Weaker sunlight, such as during sunset or on a heavily overcast day, provides Advantage on this roll. Protective clothing (i.e., a heavy coat, gloves, mask, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and boots) also provides Advantage. Wearing no or minimal clothing imposes Disadvantage.
When a vampire takes Injured -6, they enter a state of hibernation known as torpor instead of being at risk of imminent death like humans. A vampire also enters torpor if they enter daysleep while at Hunger 10. Certain other effects can send a vampire into torpor.
A torpid vampire is unaware of their surroundings and can take no actions of any kind. The vampire gains 1 Hunger every day as their system slowly burns through its remaining vitae. Once at Hunger 10, the vampire’s appearance gradually decays into a withered corpse’s.
Torpor lasts for a story arc. Once this period elapses, the vampire can awaken if a potential victim enters their vicinity, but must roll to resist hunger frenzy at DC 4. This increases to DC 5 if the torpid vampire is actually fed blood. Individuals who wish to awaken torpid vampires frequently bring a sacrificial victim to forestall the vampire from turning on them. Once the vampire is no longer hungry (Hunger 5 and below), their corpse-like appearance gradually reverts to normal.
A vampire can awaken from torpor prematurely if fed blood by a vampire with Blood Potency two or more dots higher than theirs.
Vampires can enter torpor out of grief, weariness, ennui, or the simple instinct to slumber in a way daysleep can’t satisfy. This kind of torpor is rare among younger vampires, but most elders succumb at some point, and often more than once over a long enough Requiem. Time and high Blood Potency (especially at 6+ dots) predispose a vampire towards torpor. Some methuselahs are said to spend nearly all of their Requiems patiently slumbering.
“The greater a being’s power, the greater the constraints upon its power.”
Banes are supernatural curses and compulsions that vampires suffer from. These grow more severe as a vampire increases in power: every vampire has a number of banes equal to their Blood Potency dots. A vampire’s clan bane counts as their bane at Blood Potency 1. Whenever your character increases their Blood Potency, take a new bane or increase an existing bane’s severity. The GM may leave this up to you, let you pick from a selection, or pick the bane for you. A vampire’s banes often reflect their personality or actions they’ve committed: for example, a vampire who murders a priest they once cared for (or especially hated) may acquire a bane that makes them repulsed by crosses or displays of religious faith. Characters can gain banes in other, unique circumstances as well. Methods of removing these “extra” banes are shrouded in hearsay and urban legend.
Whenever a bane makes your character fail a dice roll or otherwise inconveniences them, take 1 XP.
The following banes are inherent to each Kindred clan.
Banu Haqim: The Judgeful Curse: The Banu Haqim are drawn to feed from those deserving punishment. This is especially true for vampire blood, the very essence of transgression. Whenever one of the judges tastes the blood of another vampire, they must roll against hunger frenzy (DC = vampire’s Blood Potency) or drain them dry.
Brujah: The Wrathful Curse: The Blood of the Brujah simmers with barely contained rage, exploding at the slightest provocation. The rabble take Disadvantage on frenzy rolls.
Caitiff: Caitiff have no inherent clan bane. However, Kindred society disdains them for their clanless blood. Caitiff are frequent targets of discrimination and have to work twice as hard for half the credit.
Gangrel: The Bestial Curse: Gangrel relate to their Beast much as other Kindred relate to the Gangrel: suspicious partnership. Whenever a Gangrel frenzies, they gain an animalistic feature: a physical trait or behavioral tic that lasts until the next night, lingering like a hangover following debauchery. Each feature imposes Disadvantage on a type of roll or marks Corruption if the Gangrel doesn’t engage in a type of behavior. For example, the GM may decide that a forked tongue or bearlike musk penalizes Manipulation, while batlike ears penalize Resolve (“all those distracting sounds”).
Additionally, frenzy makes Gangrel regresses to a point where speech is hard, clothes are uncomfortable, and arguments are best settled with teeth and claws. For the rest of the scene, the Gangrel takes Disadvantage on Intelligence- and Manipulation-based rolls. They can also only speak in one-word sentences.
Hecata: Lamia’s Curse: The Hecata’s bite is excruciatingly painful. Mortals always resist when fed upon unless subdued and do not experience the effects of the kiss. Additionally, Hecata treat all feedings as one “step” worse for the victim: a light feeding counts as a deep feeding, a deep feeding counts as a dangerous feeding, and a dangerous feeding is always fatal.
Lasombra: The Hollow Curse: Lasombra are halfway drawn into the Abyss, operating on a different wavelength of reality than other vampires. Their reflections and recordings distort, flicker, or become transparent (though this does not conceal their identity with any certainty), live or otherwise. Microphones have the same difficulty with the vampire’s voice as cameras have with their image, and touch technology becomes unresponsive at best. Similarly, modern technology relying on other forms of direct interaction—such as use of a stylus—tends to glitch or simply act unresponsive to keepers, and electronic detection systems easily pick up the tell-tale signs of their passing. It’s as if they exist on a slightly different frequency to other beings, flickering in and out of light.
Lasombra take Disadvantage on many rolls to interact with technology or to avoid hunters (due to their irregular reflections). Many Lasombra have attendants to handle technology for them. They also do not have a Lost Visage in the same manner as other vampires and cannot choose to appear normally in electronic media.
Malkavians: The Moonstruck Curse: Every Malkavian is incurably insane and suffers from a type of madness that imposes Disadvantage on a type of roll and/or marks Corruption if they don’t engage in certain behaviors. Work with the GM to determine how your Malkavian’s particular brand of insanity manifests. The Moon Clan’s “madness” is wholly supernatural and may bear no relation to actual mental illnesses.
Ministry of Set: Aten’s Curse: The Ministers of Set are creatures of darkness. They take Disadvantage on rolls when exposed to bright lights, as well as rolls to withstand sunlight damage.
Nosferatu: The Lonely Curse: No clan wears their curse as openly as the Nosferatu. Every sewer rat appears as a hideously deformed and obviously inhuman monster. Mortals react accordingly: most Social rolls besides Intimidation are impossible. Nosferatu who interact with the kine tend to do so in disguise, or else seek out individuals sufficiently jaded, demented, or (rarely) compassionate enough to be undisturbed by their appearances.
Ravnos: The Dharmic Curse: The Ravnos are bound by fate. Choose a single personality trait, such as kleptomania or defending the weak. Whenever a Ravnos turns down an opportunity to fulfill their svadharma, mark Corruption and take Disadvantage on the next GM-prompted dice roll.
Salubri: The Lamb’s Curse: Salubri are shepherds of the kine and find it difficult to feed from unwilling vessels. Whenever they do so, mark an additional Corruption. Vampiric blood and animal blood are exempt from this restriction. Additionally, Salubri have a third eye in the center of their foreheads. They can retract the eye into their skull to hide it, but it opens wide whenever the Salubri uses any of the Devotions unique to their bloodline.
Toreador: The Rapturous Curse: Toreador are obsessed with beauty. Mark Corruption whenever a degenerate neglects to engage with a stimulus they find beautiful. Pick a general trigger that always affects your Toreador (paintings, live performances, beautiful people, etc.), although other stimuli may also have this effect. Engaging with a stimulus may be harmless, impose Disadvantage on rolls from the distraction, or get the Toreador into inconvenient situations.
Tremere: The Yielding Curse: The Blood’s chains weigh heaviest of all upon the Tremere. The warlocks take Disadvantage on rolls to resist or overcome blood bonds. Whenever a Tremere would mark Corruption from a blood bond, mark an additional Corruption.
Additionally, Tremere neonates are forced to drink the (transubstantiated) blood of the Council of Seven upon their Embraces, and are under a first stage blood bond towards all clanmates with higher Blood Potency than theirs.
Tzimisce: The Hospitable Curse: Tzimisce are creatures of ancient custom and cannot enter private dwellings uninvited. If a fiend does so, they take Disadvantage on all rolls and take the Injured Condition as if the dwelling’s interior were sunlight.
Ventrue: The Epicurean Curse: Ventrue have rarified palates. Choose a type of vessel for your Ventrue, such as Catholics, police officers, left-handed people, or some other subjective criteria. When feeding from a vessel that doesn’t match their preferences, blue bloods reduce Hunger as if the feeding was one “step” shallower: a deep feeding counts as a light feeding, a light feeding provides no sustenance, etc. Vampiric blood is exempt from this restriction, but animal blood is not. Additionally, Ventrue take Disadvantage on hunting rolls when looking for vessels that match their preferred criteria.
The following banes can be taken by all Kindred. Some banes come in severe varieties: these count as two banes rather than one.
These banes affect a vampire’s behavior towards others.
Beast’s Cowardice: You cannot feed on vessels who put up any fight at all, even to the point of saying “stop.” Every Hunger you slake from such vessels marks Corruption. Severe: You cannot cause harm of any kind to mortals put up any fight at all. Every harmful action you take marks Corruption.
Cholerous Name: Your mortal name enrages your Beast. Whenever you read or hear your full real name, you must make a frenzy roll (DC = your Blood Potency + 1). Severe: You risk frenzy whenever you hear your first or last name. This can be very inconvenient if either name is common.
Name-Bound: You can only use your mortal name or an anagram of that name. Mark Corruption whenever you use or respond to another name. You can still use another name online or through writing. Severe: You can’t use another name in those instances.
Name’s Puissance: Your mortal name carries power over you. You take Disadvantage on all rolls against someone when they call you by your real name. This lasts for a scene. Severe: You cannot use Disciplines on someone who calls you by your name. You also mark Corruption whenever you try to physically harm them.
Oathbound: Whenever you break a sworn oath or promise, mark an additional Corruption. Severe: You mark additional Corruption even for “non-serious” promises, such as saying you’ll meet someone in 10 minutes and showing up after 12.
Plague of Purity: You find the pure of heart to be utterly repulsive. Any touch by a mortal who fits your definition of purity sears your flesh, inflicting the Injured Condition or increasing its penalties by 1 per interval of contact. Actually feeding from such mortals slakes no Hunger and increases Injured’s penalties by an amount equal to the Hunger you’d have slaked. Definitions of purity can include: virgins, children, any mortal with True Faith, a member of a particular religion, any mortal who has never raised a hand in violence, etc. Severe: You cannot use Disciplines upon such mortals.
Repaid Kindness: You can’t ignore a true act of kindness. If someone does you a good turn with no expectation of reward, you cannot physically harm, keep secrets from, or lie to that person for the remainder of the night. If you’d do so, mark Corruption and take Disadvantage on all rolls for the remainder of the night. All questions must be answered completely honestly, and to your highest truth—that is, you cannot conceal fact behind semantics or try to redirect the conversation to avoid answering. The good deed that you enjoy doesn’t have to be unsolicited (that is, you can ask for help), but if even a penny is given in recompense, you can hurt and lie to the doer you see fit. Doing a good deed with the express purpose of taking advantage of this bane negates the effect.
Truthful: You may not lie to mortals without marking Corruption. You can still speak the truth in misleading ways, omit information, or change the subject. You can lie normally to other night-folk. Severe: You cannot lie to other night-folk. Vampires with this bane have to be very creative to get ahead in their kind’s politics.
These banes affect a vampire’s feeding habits.
Beast’s Cowardice: This also counts as a feeding bane.
Blood for Service: You require a taste of your victims’ blood before you can command their mind. Rolls with Dominate and Presence take Disadvantage unless you’ve previously tasted the victim’s blood. Severe: You can’t use Dominate or Presence on someone unless you’ve tasted their blood.
Contagion: Mortals you feed from evince signs of faux vampirism. They become pale, find light uncomfortable, lose appetite for vegetarian food, and shift to a nocturnal sleep cycle. This lasts for one night per Hunger you slake from them. Severe: Such mortals lose their appetite for food and feel a compunction to drink human blood.
Face of Hunger: When you’re hungry, it shows on your face and skin. Your eyes grow red, your skin pulls tight over your visage, and you look every bit the corpse. Take Disadvantage on Social rolls to do anything but scare people when you’re hungry (Hunger 6-7) and Major Disadvantage when you’re starving (Hunger 8-9). At Hunger 10, most Social rolls are impossible.
Fatal Feeding: Choose a type of vessel, such as police officers, red-headed people, members of a family, or some other subjective criteria. Their blood is poison to you. You slake no Hunger from such blood, and take the Injured Condition (or increase its penalties by 1) for every Hunger you would have slaked. Variation: You treat the blood of dead mortals as if it were poisonous.
Fatal Kiss: Mortals you feed from still feel the ecstasy of your kiss, but you can’t lick the wound closed. If someone doesn’t dress and bandage the wound, your vessel risks infection and death.
Grip of the Damned: There is no ecstasy in your Embrace—only terror and pain. Mortals you feed from do not experience the kiss (that is, feelings of ecstasy and glazed-over recollections). They struggle and shriek and resist unless subdued. This can also make you more likely to mark Corruption. Hecata cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version.
Infectious: Normally, the Embrace takes a deliberate effort or unfortunate accident. Those unfortunate accidents becomes easy accidents for you. Any mortal who dies during a scene where you feed on them arises as a larva. Any ghoul who dies with your blood in them also arises as a larva.
Inhuman Maw: Your teeth change. They might become slender and snakelike, or your jaw might unhinge to reveal a lamprey-like mouth. Whenever you actively bite someone, you are clearly identifiable as an inhuman monster. This makes feeding a risk to the Masquerade unless you’re alone with the victim, as the effects of the kiss still glaze their memory. Even when your mouth is concealed, mortal unconsciously feel nervous in your presence. Treat your Beast as one dot higher for purposes of Social penalties against mortals. (Disadvantage at Beast 2, Major Disadvantage at Beast 3, no roll possible at Beast 4-5.)
Mindless Hunger: As your thirst and the Beast’s hold over you increases, the Man dies away. You take Disadvantage on Mental-based rolls when you are hungry (6-7 Hunger), Major Disadvantage when you are starving (8-9 Hunger), and cannot make Mental-based rolls at all at Hunger 10.
Offered Blood: You cannot refuse an offer of blood, even from fellow Kindred or in the middle of a group of mortals. If anyone asks (for whatever reason) if you want blood, mark Corruption and roll to avoid frenzy (DC = your own Blood Potency + 1) if you don’t immediately attempt to imbibe.
Slowed by Bloodlust: The sight of blood makes you dizzied and distracted. Take Disadvantage on rolls whenever bleeding people are present. This penalty goes away for the rest of a scene if you slake 1 or more Hunger.
Uncontrolled Hunger: You must taste any blood you see. Whether the blood is seeping from a diner’s steak in a restaurant or an open sore on a homeless man’s cheek, you cannot leave the area under your own power without just a taste. You don’t have to reach out and dip your finger in, but you must taste the blood before the scene is over. If you don’t, make a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency as your Beast spitefully burns through his blood reserve.
Wanton: You immerse yourself in the mortal world: it feeds and compels you, making you obsessed with your vessels. On your first feeding from a mortal, you’re fine. On second and further drinks, you risk a blood bond as if they were vampires. Kindred with this bane tend toward either remarkable promiscuity, or they cultivate massive harems and herds.
These banes include traditional vampiric weaknesses and compunctions.
Bells: The sound of bells causes you intense pain, damaging you as if it were sunlight. Recordings of bells don’t count. Some vampires manifest this bane in response to hymns instead of bells. Severe: You are harmed by bells after every dice roll or significant action, not just every minute.
Blinding Salt: A handful of flung salt can burn away your eyes to harsh-smelling goo. Dodging or enduring flung salt is a Dexterity + Athletics or Resolve + Stamina roll (DC = 1/3 thrower’s Dexterity + Athletics). On a setback, you take the Blinded Condition until you rise from your next daysleep and suffer Major Disadvantage on sight-dependent rolls.
Can’t Cross Running Water: Contact with running water damages you as if it were sunlight. You must make Resolve + Composure rolls (DC varies) to cross running water, even rainwater running through a gutter. You can ride in cars or other conveyances across water without inconvenience.
Coffinbound: You cannot sleep outside a coffin, mausoleum, sepulcher, or similar object or structure designed for interning corpses. Mark Corruption if you do so.
Counting: You are compelled to count small things in disarray: rice, sticks, coins, etc. Mark Corruption whenever you ignore this compulsion to make a dice roll or take a significant action.
Crossroads: You are confused and disoriented whenever you pass through a crossroads, knowingly or unknowingly. Take Disadvantage on rolls for the rest of the scene. Variation: Make a Rouse check whenever you want to find your way to a destination you cannot walk to in a straight line.
Forced Slumber: Choose a special object or substance such as grave soil, a religious symbol (e.g., a crucifix), a rose, wooden nail, an image of a mortal loved one, etc. Touching or sprinkling you with this object or substance forces you into immediate daysleep. Slipping the object or substance into your pocket or a bag you carry or pick up (e.g., a purse, backpack, messenger bag, etc.) accomplishes this as well. You can try to rise from daysleep as normal. Dodging or enduring an object or substance someone tries to press against you is a Dexterity + Athletics or Resolve + Stamina roll (DC = 1/3 attacker’s Dexterity + Athletics). On a setback, you fall into daysleep.
Grave Soil: You are tied to the place of your death. If you don’t sleep with a handful of earth from this place, every action that requires a Rouse check requires an additional Rouse check. Devotions that are free to use require a Rouse check. If the free Devotion has a permanent effect (such as Potence’s bonus to Strength rolls), making a Rouse check lets you use it for a scene. Otherwise, it doesn’t function. This penalty lasts until you sleep with earth from the place of your death. Variation: You must sleep with earth from your place of birth, the specific graveyard in which you were laid to rest, or some other emotionally significant site. Severe: You can’t use Disciplines or make Rouse checks at all.
Grievous Wounds: You are easily harmed by certain individuals or substances. You take Disadvantage on combat rolls against people who are armed with one of the following:
• Wood (oak, rowan, ash, holly, aspen, hawthorn, blackthorn, juniper, linden, and mistletoe are all common)
• Weapons wielded by virgins, clergy or “the pure of heart” (any person with True Faith)
• Attacks preceded by calling your character by name
Invitation: You cannot enter a private dwelling unless invited. If you do, you take damage as if the dwelling’s interior were sunlight as blood oozes from your pores. Tzimisce cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version. Severe: You take Disadvantage on rolls to withstand damage.
Lethal Bindings: You can be bound and even dismembered by red string, prayer strips, or other seemingly harmless materials. You cannot cross such bindings if they bar your path, and if you attempt it (knowingly or accidentally) the binding remains taut and firm, even if it’s flimsy thread, and slices into your flesh like a scalpel. Take the Injured Condition or increase its penalties by 1. A doorway strung with the offending substance can dismember you in moments if you don’t back off.
Lost in Fog: You become disoriented and cannot find your way in fog, steam or mist. You take Disadvantage on rolls, and whenever you try to leave the area, you must succeed on an Intelligence + Wits roll (DC = your Blood Potency + 1). On a setback, you remain lost. If you find a guide and accept their help, you must follow the guide until you escape the fog.
Lunacy: You lose control of your Beast on nights of the full moon. Take Disadvantage on frenzy rolls. Severe: You take Major Disadvantage on all frenzy rolls. If you’re already taking Disadvantage on a frenzy roll, you automatically succumb to frenzy. Such vampires often command servants to stake or lock them up on nights of the full moon, or else try to avoid leaving their havens.
Must Wear White: White is a mourning color in some cultures, and vampires occasionally develop a compulsion to wear white. If you character do not visibly wear at least one white article of clothing, take Disadvantage on all rolls until you can dress appropriate. If the white article of clothing becomes soiled, this penalty applies until it can be cleaned or replaced. Variation: Black, of course, is the color of mourning many cultures, but strangely, this doesn’t seem to become compulsory as often.
Name-Bound: This is also a folkloric bane.
No Reflection: You have no reflection. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk. Lasombra cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version.
Repulsion: Choose a common substance, such as garlic, salt, roses, or silver. You find this substance abhorrent. Mark Corruption if you want to come closer than several feet of the substance and take Disadvantage on rolls for as long as you do. If someone places the substance in a circle or across a doorway, you cannot cross the substance and may take no action to disrupt it.
These banes share the theme of insanity.
Aura of Madness: Insane people find your presence magnetic and are drawn to you like moths to a flame. This interest is not beneficial: they may stalk the you, attack you, or (and most often) simply cause a scene at inconvenient times. This bane is particularly common among Malkavians.
Maddening Vitae: Other Kindred can drink your blood with only the usual unpleasant side effects (blood bonds). Mortals, however, grow steadily unstable when they drink your blood. Every time they imbibe from you, roll (11 – Blood Potency) dice. On a setback, the ghoul develops a form of insanity that involves obsessing over you. While many ghouls already wind up unhealthily fixated on their regnants, your servants can become something else. They might try to follow you around at all times, extolling your virtues to anyone in the area, and consuming insects and small animals in an attempt to become like you. While your ghouls are just as unlikely to deliberately betray you, they haughtily brag on your behalf to anyone who asks (including hunters). Malkavians who take this bane cause an additional type of insanity in their ghouls.
Madness in the Blood: You absorbs the madness in your victims’ blood, inheriting any insanity-related Conditions that your victim has. These Conditions remain for one scene per Hunger slaked from the victim. If you kill the victim by draining him to death, their Condition becomes persistent.
Madness Sees Evil: People with altered perceptions, such as the insane and people under the influence of mind-altering chemicals, can see you for what you are. They might not understand what they see, but they know for sure that you’re not human and dangerous. That means that clubs and parties, which are normally good places to hunt, become risky places.
These banes make the vampire look more overtly monstrous.
Cold Breeze: A chill wind follows you everywhere you go. It makes for dramatic entrances, but marks you as obviously supernatural to hunters and other night-folk. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency.
Eerie Presence: Mortals have an unconscious awareness of your undead nature, which makes then anxious and ill at ease in your presence. Treat your Beast as one dot higher for purposes of Social penalties against mortals. (Disadvantage at Beast 2, Major Disadvantage at Beast 3, no roll possible at Beast 4-5.)
Harbinger of Death: Your presence is anathema to life. While healthy individuals can survive your touch, sick or weak people aren’t so lucky. You cause pregnant women within several feet to miscarry and might claim dozens of lives when you stroll through an infirmary or nursing home. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency.
Lunar Illumination: You glow slightly in moonlight. This isn’t too noticeable in most city environments, where you are probably surrounded by artificial light, but in a rural locale, or even a suburban area with few streetlights, you have an obvious nimbus of soft, pale light around you. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk.
Monstrous Hands: Your hands look obviously unnatural. They might be skeletal, rotting, unnaturally long and thin, or covered in warts or deformities. They’re tipped with claw-like nails, unnatural bone growths, or simply outright claws. They look like the hands of a demon-corpse and break the Masquerade if seen. Invest in gloves.
No Breath: Your respiratory system does not function, not even to the extent require to draw in a breath. You cannot speak above a strangled whisper, and even then only a few words at a time. You take Disadvantage on Social rolls where you speak and stand out to hunters. By making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency, you can negate this penalty and speak normally for a scene, forcing blood into the lungs and throat to reactivate them.
No Reflection: This also counts as a monstrous bane.
Permanent Fangs: Your fangs do not naturally retract. When you smile or open your mouth, your vampiric nature is plain to see. You can hide your fangs for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency.
Rain’s Refusal: Rain, the bringer of life, refuses to touch you and simply falls around you. Even if you walk out in a monsoon, you come back completely dry. Water you’re immersed in (showers, river, swimming pools, etc.) doesn’t avoid you, but becomes brown and stagnant within seconds of contact. This stands out to vampire hunters.
Rat King/Queen: You’re always surrounded by rats, flies, cockroaches, or other vermin. This causes discomfort and disgust in most mortals and makes Social rolls not related to Intimidation impossible. You can send the vermin away for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency.
Rotting: You flesh starts rotting every night at sundown, and heals over the course of the day as you sleep. This rot isn’t harmful, but looks and smells repulsive, and seems to afflict the extremities first. The nose and lips rot off, the flesh around the fingertips blackens, and the feet develop blisters that ooze foul-smelling, clotted blood. Making a Rouse check holds this off for a scene. Otherwise, the rot progresses every scene, causing you to treat your Beast as if it were 1 higher for purposes of interactions with mortals. Once you’d reach Beast 6, you’re indistinguishable from a decayed, long-dead corpse.
Sanguine Breath: Your breath always smells of dried blood, rot, and death. This imposes Disadvantage on non-Intimidation Social rolls against anyone who is close enough to you to smell your breath. It also stands out to hunters and other night-folk. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency.
Satanic Eyes: Your eyes look unnatural in dark areas or when you near frenzy. They might turn yellow and slitted like a cat’s or serpent’s, or they might glow a hellish red. Some Lasombra’s eyes turn solid black. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk. Severe: Your eyes always look that way. Invest in contacts or sunglasses.
Shadow’s Shame: Shadows, reflections and even televised images turn away from you. You might make the effort to remain visible on a security camera or in a photo, but people around you seem to turn their faces away. If you stand in front of a mirror, other people’s reflections avert their eyes. If you feed on someone “in view” of a reflection, the reflection screams, automatically alerting anyone in the area. This stands out to hunters and endangers the Masquerade in its own right.
Shadowless: You cast no shadow, no matter how bright the light. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency.
Touch of Frost: Your skin is freezing cold. You leave icy fingerprints on glass, even after brief contact, and touching someone is a dead giveaway as to your true nature. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency. Severe: If you stay in an area for a few minutes or longer, frost accumulates on windows, plants, and other conductive surfaces. Temperatures drop and mortal breath becomes visible. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk.
Voice of the Devil: Your voice is deeply unsettling: a bestial growl, a corpse-dry whisper, a sibilant hiss (particularly common among Setites), etc. However it sounds, you take Disadvantage on non-Intimidation Social rolls against most mortals when you speak aloud. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency. Severe: You take Major Disadvantage.
Withering Presence: You exude an aura of death. It doesn’t harm most human beings, but small plants wither, insects fall dead, and food spoils. This stands out to hunters. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency.
These banes alter a vampire’s physiology.
Bondless Vitae: Your vitae is incapable of establishing blood bonds. No matter how much of your blood people drink, they don’t feel anything. Beyond depriving you of a useful tool against other Kindred, this bane can also make your ghouls’ loyalties quite chancy. Any vitae addict who finds out you have this bane would love nothing more than to keep you staked in a basement.
Death of Day’s Sleep: It is very hard for you to remain awake during the day. Make a Rouse check after every dice roll or significant action you take during the day. You also take Disadvantage on rolls to resist daysleep or awaken during the day.
Debt of Blood: You make a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency + 1 whenever you awaken from daysleep instead of just one.
Faded Visage: Your reflection appears as an indistinct blur in mirrors, photographs and other forms of media. This still obscures your identity, but is less subtle than the normal Lost Visage and stands out to hunters. You can appear normally in mirrors and photographs for one scene by making a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency. Lasombra cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version.
Harmed by Moonlight: Moonlight blisters your skin in a manner similar to the sun. You take the Injured Condition or increase its penalties by 1 after every scene you spend exposed to direct moonlight. Severe: You take damage from moonlight as if it were sunlight.
Infertile Vitae: Your Embrace doesn’t always work. You have a 50% chance of killing any mortal you try to turn into a vampire. Players with no interest in Embracing a childe should not take this bane. Severe: You are incapable of Embracing. No matter how much blood you feed your would-be childe, all it leaves you with is an inconvenient corpse.
Interference: When you get near a device that uses radio waves (older televisions, radios, cellphones), the device loses reception. Television screens turn into “snow,” while cell phones drop calls and radios crackle and warble. This bane gives a hunter an excellent way to track your character—just watch for the stream of people cursing into their cellphones or wondering why they’ve lost a wireless Internet connection.
Light Sensitive: Bright lights hurt your eyes, imposing Disadvantage on rolls for as long as you remain exposed. Ministers of Set cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version. Severe: You take Major Disadvantage.
Occluded Voice: Phones, recordings, and other electronic transmissions refuse to properly carry or record your voice and garble over with static. People with harmful intentions can still make out enough to identify you and the gist of your words, making this bane useless at avoiding surveillance.
Stake Bait: Being staked sends you into torpor rather than paralyzing you. Severe: Being staked instantly destroys you.
Ultraviolet Vulnerability: You are sensitive not only to natural sunlight, but to intense ultraviolet radiation such as sunlamps. Treat strong UV light as sunlight.
These banes share a religious theme.
Beacon of the Unholy: You radiate palpable evil. Whenever a hunter or individual with True Faith encounters you, they instinctively know something is horribly wrong and react accordingly. Variation: Followers of a certain religion or individuals who meet another criteria (children, the insane, virgins, etc.) can detect your wrongness instead.
Can’t Enter Churches: Entering churches damages you as if the interior were sunlight. If the church is also a site of True Faith, take Disadvantage on rolls to withstand damage.
Day of Rest: Christian tradition holds Sunday as a day of rest, while Jewish custom keeps the Sabbath holy. You’re still affected by daysleep during the night of whatever “day of rest” you hold significant.
Holy Day: You holds one day of the week holy. Your undead powers are greatly weakened on this day. You take Disadvantage on rolls with Disciplines and mark Corruption whenever you would use a Discipline.
Mortal Before God: Your undead powers fail you on consecrated ground. Mark Corruption whenever you use Disciplines or make Rouse checks. “Holy ground,” for purposes of this bane, might include any church or worship site, the sites sacred to a particular religion, or a site prepared with special herbs, symbols or rituals. Discipline rolls also take Disadvantage. Severe: You can’t use Disciplines or make Rouse checks at all.
Weakened by Symbols: You’re weakened by the presence of holy symbols. Mark Corruption whenever you would deface a symbol or attack someone brandishing a symbol. If you’re touched by a symbol, you take the Injured Condition (or increase its penalties by 1) per interval of contact. You might be vulnerable to all symbols, the symbols from a particular religion or subset of religions (all Christian symbols, all Abrahamic religious symbols, etc.), or only the religion that you practiced in life.
Vulnerable to Faith: You’re even more susceptible to devout faith than other vampires. Your undead powers fail you. Mark Corruption whenever you use a Discipline against a person or object with True Faith, or when you use Disciplines in a site with True Faith. Such rolls also take Disadvantage. Severe: You can’t use Disciplines at all.
These banes fall into none of the other categories.
Additional Clan Bane: You have another clan’s bane. You might have diablerized or frequently shared blood with a vampire from the clan, been a former ghoul to one of the clan’s members, or be a Caitiff with some idea as to your sire’s identity. Some vampires also spontaneously manifest another clan’s bane with no clear rhyme or reason.
Deadly Birthrights: Your mortal relatives and descendants make deadly vampire hunters. You take Disadvantage on rolls to use Disciplines on them, to physically harm them, and to resist being physically harmed by them. Relatives who’ve been Embraced or ghouled don’t enjoy this benefit. Severe: Ghouled and Embraced relatives still enjoy this benefit.
Fascinated by Dust: You can’t help but stare at clouds of dust. This might arise when you disturbs a room’s dust or if a knowledgeable foe blows a handful of dust in your face (requiring a Dexterity + Athletics or Resolve + Stamina roll to resist, DC = 1/3 attacker’s Dexterity + Athletics). In either case, you must mark Corruption to make a dice roll or take any significant action besides standing in dumb transfixion. If you’re attacked, this effect ends. Severe: This effect doesn’t end if you’re attacked.
Haunting: You stand out to ghosts. Whenever you encounter one of the restless dead, they may take an unhealthy interest in you. Ghosts respond differently to vampires based on their lingering passions. A vengeful ghost might follow you hoping to do harm, while a protective ghost might want to make sure you don’t kill anyone.
Revenge from Ashes: Cremated human remains burn and sear your flesh. You take the Injured Condition (or increase its penalties by 1) for every interval of contact. Coating you in ashes (requiring a Strength or Dexterity + Brawl roll, variable DC) probably dooms you to the worst minute of your unlife as your flesh drops away and your bones sizzle and crack. If you can manage to get to water and wash the ashes away, you might survive. If the ashes belong to a mortal you killed, take Disadvantage on any rolls to avoid harm.
Severe Clan Bane: You have an especially crippling version of your clan’s bane. You take Major Disadvantage instead of Disadvantage on penalized rolls, or mark two Corruption instead of one Corruption. Banu Haqim take Disadvantage on prompted frenzy rolls. Hecata and Ventrue treat feedings as two “steps” worse for their victims. Nosferatu cannot take this bane.
Sun’s Terrifying Visage: You fear the image of the sun as much as the sun itself. Whenever you see a picture of the sun, you must roll to avoid frenzy. The DC varies by how realistic the picture is. A child’s crayon drawing of the sun might be only DC 2 while a video of the sun at high noon would be DC 5.
Tangling Briars: You become weak as a child when faced with thickets, briars or brambles. Strength-based rolls for the rest of the scene take Major Disadvantage if more than one of your limbs touches such plants.
Webs: Spiderwebs cause you great problems. Once you touch a web, you stop dead in your tracks. You can eventually untangle yourself, but breaking free quickly takes a Strength + Stamina roll (DC = your Blood Potency + 1).
Full article: Disciplines.
Blood Potency: Ghouls have Blood Potency scores of 0. They roll two dice for Rouse checks and have Disadvantage on rolls to use Disciplines against vampires. PC vampires have Advantage on rolls to withstand a ghoul’s Disciplines.
Disciplines: Ghouls can only learn physical Disciplines (Celerity, Fortitude, Potence) and whatever Disciplines their domitors know. A ghoul cannot know more dots in any Discipline than their domitor’s Blood Potency (up to maximum of 5). Ghouls to previous domitors with higher Blood Potency than their current domitor retain any Disciplines known. For this reason, “hand-me-down” ghouls from elder vampires can be quite valued.
Ghoul PCs begin play with two Discipline dots. An Embraced ghoul gains an extra Discipline dot upon becoming a vampire. A mortal who is ghouled over the course of play immediately manifests one Discipline dot and takes time to learn any more.
Immortality: While on the blood, a ghoul ceases to age. They are also immune to many diseases, maladies, and detrimental biological processes that would grow worse over time.
Mending: By making 1 Rouse check, a ghoul can reduce the penalties from the Injured Condition by 1 (to a minimum of 0). Unlike vampires, ghouls can still reduce Injured’s penalties through bed rest and medical attention.
Physical Intensity: By making 1 Rouse check, a ghoul can re-roll up to three dice that turned up failures for a Physical dice roll.
Blood Bond: Drinking regular vampire blood means most ghouls are blood bound to their domitors. Independent ghouls can avoid being fully bound to a single vampire, but living as an independent can be a hard and dangerous existence. An Embraced ghoul retains any full or partial blood bonds. For this reason, ghouls tend to be regarded as nonviable childer—most princes view sires with blood bound progeny as a needless risk. Like anything though, it still happens.
Tells: Ghouls suffer lesser versions of vampiric banes known as tells.
Full rules still to come.
Just like every vampire is a predator, every ghoul is a junkie. It’s almost impossible to be a ghoul without also being an addict—can someone be a regular heroin user without being a heroin addict? Ghouls can glorify in their addiction or they can hate themselves for it, but at the end of the day, that’s what they are.
Instead of Hunger, ghouls have Craving. Whenever a ghoul fails a Rouse check, their Craving increases by 1. A ghoul with Craving 0 is clear-headed and sober. A ghoul at Craving 3 is “jonesing” and takes Disadvantage on rolls unrelated to obtaining their next hit of vitae. A ghoul at Craving 4 takes Major Disadvantage. A ghoul at Craving 5 has burned through their vitae and loses all of their powers as a ghoul (including Disciplines) until they score their next fix. While at Craving 5, a ghoul’s true age catches up with them. An elder ghoul (one who has outlived their mortal lifespan) takes the Injured Condition (-1) every scene as their body ages years in hours. An elder ghoul who reaches Injured -6 dies from withdrawal.
Getting a Fix: Getting a fix isn’t always easy for ghouls, but is simple: they have to drink a vampire’s blood. 1 Hunger’s worth of vitae slakes 1 Craving for a ghoul. Whenever a ghoul has a chance to score a hit and doesn’t try to, mark Corruption. Whenever a ghoul scores a hit, gain 1 XP. (This is meant to encourage players of ghoul PCs to feed their addiction as often as possible, even when the actions involved might also mark Corruption.)
Overdosing: Ghouls can who drink enough vampire blood can fall to Craving −1 and below. For every “negative” point of Craving a ghoul has, they take a +1 bonus on Rouse checks. The tradeoff is they can OD. When a ghoul overdoses, roll Resolve + Stamina (DC = 1 plus every Craving level below 0). On a botch, the ghoul falls to Injured −6 and dies without immediate medical attention. On a setback, the ghoul has enough time to take a single action (such as making a brief phone call) before falling to Injured −6. Take Disadvantage if the ghoul was at Craving 3 and Major Disadvantage if they were at Craving 4-5 before ODing. Overdoses among ghouls are uncommon, as most domitors are tight-fisted with their vitae, but it’s known to happen among pampered enough ghouls—or rogue ghouls who capture a vampire and can’t restrain themselves from draining the helpless lick completely.
There is one dubious benefit to ODing: a ghoul who dies from an overdose has a chance to arise as a vampire. The more potent the vampire’s vitae, the more likely this is. When a ghoul dies from overdosing, roll a number of dice equal to the vampire’s Blood Potency, with an additional bonus equal to (5 – ghoul’s current Craving) against DC 3. On a success, the ghoul experiences a postmortem Embrace and arises as a vampire. Some ghouls are known to commit suicide via overdose in hopes of becoming Kindred, but it’s a hell of a gamble.