Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
“Action is the foundational key to all success.”
“Suit the action to the word, and the word to the action.”
“There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.”
The Decanter rules’ system for attempted actions is fairly simple: you roll your dice pool against a DC set by the GM, and:
• a botch means you fail and something extra goes wrong
• a setback means you fail or succeed with a cost
• a success means you succeed
• an exceptional success means you succeed and something extra goes right
The GM can model pretty much any attempted action by PCs under this format.
This page, then, exists to outline botch/setback/success/ex. success outcomes for a variety of commonly attempted actions that have come up over play, and to give players a sense of what they can typically expect.
Combat is the dirty business of hurting people—breaking bones, pulling triggers, and generally trying to fuck up your opposition before they do the same to you.
Dice Pool: Varies by attack used.
• Physical Attacks: (Strength, Dexterity, or Stamina) + (Brawl, Firearms, or Melee). Remember that Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence add to Physical Attributes.
• Occult Attacks: (power’s dice pool)
DC: (1/2 opponent’s physical or occult attack dice pool) + 1.
Botch: Your opponent defeats and subdues you, and can give you the Injured Condition at any penalty up to -6. You’re at their mercy.
Setback: You fail to defeat your opponent, who can give you the Injured Condition up to -5. However, you can roll to escape the fight (see “Escaping” below). Alternatively, you might defeat your opponent, but cause unwanted collateral damage, lose an ally, kill an opponent you’d meant to take alive, take a Debt to someone for their help, get into a second fight, or achieve some other victory with a price.
Success: You defeat your opponent and can give them the Injured Condition at any penalty up to -6. They’re at your mercy. Some opponents may take an additional roll to stop from escaping.
You also take the Injured Condition at a penalty equal to (combat’s DC, maximum -5). If your opponent has a Supernatural Tolerance score of 1 or more, you also increase your Hunger by an amount equal to the combat’s DC. Alternatively, the GM might let you take a Condition.
For every success that exceeds the DC, reduce your penalty from Injured and your Hunger increase by 1.
Exceptional Successes: Extra successes are usually their own reward, as they reduce your penalty from Injured, but the GM can have other beneficial things happen instead.
Many additional factors can influence how a combat plays out.
Other Combat Factors
Bonses & Penalties
• Allies: Allies can grant characters a bonus on their combat roll up to +5, per the normal rules for Aid Another.
• Ambushes: If you ambush an opponent who doesn’t see you coming, take Advantage on your combat roll. If an opponent ambushes you, take Disadvantage. Some ambushes may require dice rolls to stage.
• Banes: Knowledge of an applicable bane grants Advantage on combat rolls against an opponent.
• Environmental Features: Environmental features, such as fighting under heavy darkness or underwater can grant Advantage or Disadvantage on combat rolls. Particularly extreme environmental features may grant Major Advantage or Disadvantage.
You can always try to cut your losses and run instead of standing and fighting. The usual dice pool to outrun an opponent or catch a fleeing opponent is (Dexterity or Stamina) + Athletics, but this can vary by circumstance and environment. The DC varies by opponent. On a success, you escape your opponent or prevent your opponent from escaping. Some supernatural powers can make escaping easier or even waive the need for a roll if one side has no way of countering them.
If the GM wants a longer combat, they can call for three dice rolls instead of one: Strength + (combat Skill), Dexterity + (combat Skill), and Stamina + (combat Skill). Add up all of your rolled successes. The DC changes to 1/2 opponent’s (Strength + Dexterity + Stamina + triple their combat Skill) + 3. Calling for three different Attribute rolls is meant to reflect the fact that a character with Strength 4/Dexterity 4/Stamina 4 is more likely to triumph over one with Strength 1/Dexterity 5/Stamina 1 (and to address the recurrent player criticism that “well-rounded” characters fared more poorly in combats than hyper-specialized ones).
Characters can mix and match occult attacks with physical ones: for example, if their Strength + Melee and Stamina + Melee pools are both 10, their Intelligence + Wits + Blood Sorcery pool is 7, and their Dexterity + Melee pool is 5, they could roll their highest three of those four pools. It can pay to master diverse avenues of attack.
The GM will typically call for extended combats against foes with equal, near-equal, or superior combat traits. Significantly weaker foes, or particularly brief fights, can be abstracted to a single roll. Wait for the GM to describe the results of each dice roll before making additional ones.
Vampires who get into fights can risk frenzy. Roll Resolve + Composure (DC = combat’s DC) to resist. Vampires without any combat training (dots in Brawl or Melee) take Disadvantage. Fights where the vampire is calm and significantly outclasses their opposition, or fights threats the vampire knows aren’t “real” (e.g., practice sparring matches), may not risk frenzy.
Frenzy can actually be advantageous in fights, since the vampire takes Advantage on combat rolls and never takes penalties from the Injured Condition. However, a frenzying vampire always kills defeated foes (Kindred foes are usually torpored), never retreats, can turn on allies, and has no concern for the Masquerade.
Mind over Matter
Not every fight comes down to who’s physically stronger. Characters able to effectively get inside their opponents’ heads may be able to substitute Mental or Social traits for Physical ones, depending on the fight’s environment and what sort of leverage the character has. “Winning” such a fight may not even involve physically defeating an opponent, but eroding their will and convincing them to give up the fight.
When PCs face multiple opponents, the GM can simply increase the fight’s DC by a variable amount depending on the numbers and relative deadliness of the opponents. PCs who foolishly confront large numbers of supernaturally potent foes by themselves, vice mere mortals (e.g., a PC who wants to solo a pack of werewolves, or the sheriff and all three hounds at once), will face outlandishly high DCs that start at 8 and can climb far higher: singlehandedly defeating entire werewolf packs is a strenuous feat even for methuselahs. (Escaping large numbers of opponents, however, is usually a much lower DC feat than defeating them.)
Large-scale fights involving mass numbers of combatants on both sides are generally abstracted, with PCs only “rolling against” a smaller number of named adversaries at a more reasonable DC. If the PC fares well, their allies can be assumed to enjoy similar success.
Weapons & Armor
Bringing a knife to a gun fight can be a fatal mistake. If you’re carrying a superior grade of weaponry to your opponent, take Advantage on your combat roll (or Disadvantage if your opponent is better-armed than you). If you’re wearing a superior grade of armor, take Advantage on your combat roll (or Disadvantage if your opponent is better-armored than you). Weapons and armor come in several broad categories, from worst to best:
• Unarmed melee attacks
• One-handed melee weapons (knives, brass knuckles, etc.)
• Two-handed melee weapons (swords, axes, etc.)
• One-handed firearms
• Two-handed firearms
• Automatic firearms
• Light armor (archaic leather armor, modern biker leathers). Advantage does not apply vs. firearms.
• Heavy archaic armor (e.g., full plate). Advantage does not apply vs. firearms. Take Disadvantage on many non-Firearms • • Dexterity rolls.
• Heavy modern armor (e.g., riot gear). Take Disadvantage on many non-Firearms Dexterity rolls.
Remember that multiple instances of Advantage stack. For example, a police officer wearing full riot gear and carrying a firearm takes Major Advantage on rolls against an unarmed protester. On the other hand, an unarmored protester with a gun against an unarmed officer in riot gear cancel each others’ Advantage out.
Vampires, thanks to their Dead Flesh ability, always take Advantage on rolls to resist harm from unarmed attacks and firearms. Vampires with Potence also don’t ever take Disadvantage for being unarmed.
If you think an NPC is lying to you (or making selective omissions, or otherwise being less than fully honest), you can roll to see through their bullshit.
The GM may sometimes prompt players to make this roll (usually in disguise, so as not to give away that an NPC is lying), but will not always do so: it’s up to players to decide when their characters are suspicious of an NPC’s truthfulness. This mirrors how PCs are not required to roll Subterfuge for every single falsehood they tell, either.
Dice Pool: Wits + Empathy or Subterfuge.
DC: (1/2 subject’s Composure or Manipulation + Subterfuge) + 1.
Botch: As setback, and you gain a Bestial Compulsion.
Setback: The GM will tell you that you sense no deception. If you still believe the subject is being dishonest, you’re free to play your PC accordingly.
Success: The GM will tell you that you sense no deception (if the subject is being honest) or that you do (if they’re not). For every extra success, you can ask the GM a question about how the subject is trying to deceive you.
Exceptional Success: More successes are their own reward and let you ask more questions.
Dice Pool: Dexterity + Stealth. Stamina can apply instead if the character is lying in wait rather than sneaking up.
DC: (1/2 highest target’s Wits + Composure) + 1 or varies by situation.
Botch: You get caught without seeing or hearing anything valuable.
Setback: You see or hear one valuable detail for every rolled success, but you get caught too.
Success: You see or hear one valuable detail for every success that meets or exceeds the DC. You don’t get caught.
Exceptional Success: More successes are their own reward and let you see or hear more details.
You can choose to eavesdrop for even longer than this and to pick up as many additional details as you want: however, each detail requires another eavesdropping roll at a cumulative +1 DC not to get caught.
Some supernatural powers, such as Obfuscate, can waive the need for an eavesdropping roll altogether. The character can pick up as many details as they want unseen if the target can’t perceive them. Clan Nosferatu (the only clan besides the Malkavians to have Obfuscate in-clan) is notorious for using the Discipline to snoop on private conversations between Kindred.
Eavesdropping is a valid Specialty for Stealth. Many Nosferatu have it.
Dice Pool: Varies by method used. For example, Charisma + Socialize might represent a lusty tryst at a nightclub, Stamina + Athletics could suggest a harrowing chase across a swath of city parkland, and Wits + Streetwise might be interpreted as a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Declare what Attribute + Skill combination you’re using when you make a hunting roll. Domain always applies as a bonus, and Fame often can too. Remember bonuses cap at +5.
DC: Varies by circumstance and method used. Some are better than others. See below for some sample DCs.
Time: Roughly one hour.
PCs typically can’t Take Half on hunting rolls.
Botch: Something goes disastrously wrong. You might still get access to a vessel, but dealing with the crisis at hand is probably more pressing.
Setback: Something goes wrong. You get access to a vessel, but there’s a complication to deal with too. Alternatively, you might not find a vessel and be left hungry.
Success: You get access to one or more vessels. You slake 1 Hunger per success that meets or exceeds the DC and finish the scene alone with a vessel you’ve performed a deep feeding on. You can perform a dangerous or fatal feeding on the vessel if you want more blood.
At the GM’s discretion, successes can go towards benefits other than slaking extra Hunger, such as finding a vessel with a dyscrasia.
Exceptional Success: More successes are their own reward and let you slake more Hunger.
Sample Hunting Methods
Early evening is around 6 PM (and only available for vampires to hunt during fall and winter). Mid-evening is around 8 PM. Late evening is 10 PM. Midnight is midnight. Last call is around 2 AM. Dead of night is around 4 AM. Pre-dawn is around 6 AM. Vampires who hunt during pre-dawn most roll to get back to their havens before the sun comes up (DC varies by how distant their haven is). On a setback, they’re burned by the sun and take Injured at a penalty equal to (DC – rolled successes), maximum -5.
Clubbing: This is the classic. The vampire goes to a nightclub and picks someone up under guise of sex.
• Friday, Saturday: DC 2.
• Sunday, Thursday: DC 3.
• Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: DC 4.
• Early evening: +3 DC.
• Mid-evening: +2 DC.
• Later evening: +1 DC.
• Midnight: +0 DC.
• Last call: +0 DC.
• Dead of night: +1 DC.
• Pre-dawn: +2 DC.
Sandmaning: You break into someone’s home and feed from them while they’re asleep. Dice pool is usually Dexterity + Stealth or Larceny.
• Weekday: DC 2.
• Weekend: DC 3. People are more likely to stay up late.
• Early evening: +4 DC.
• Mid-evening: +3 DC.
• Late evening: +2 DC.
• Midnight: +1 DC.
• Last call: +0 DC.
• Dead of night: +1 DC.
• Pre-dawn: +2 DC.
Company: Vampires don’t have to hunt by themselves. They can bring others along too. Many Kindred lovers and coterie-mates enjoy the experience of hunting and sharing a vessel’s together. Ghouls, meanwhile, can act as “wingmen” to assist their domitors’ hunts. Mortals can theoretically serve as “wingmen” too, but this obviously risks the Masquerade.
Hunting with company uses the normal rules for Aid Another. If you go hunting with other vampires, divide any Hunger slaked between all participants.
Debts: A single Debt is worth the procurement of a single vessel, for the vampire to do as they please with. It’s also worth a single use of the vampire’s herd or a single night to freely hunt in their domain.
Poaching: If you hunt in someone else’s domain, roll with a bonus equal to their Domain dots. To avoid getting caught, roll (Dex or Wits + Stealth or Streetwise) at a DC equal to (1 + Hunger slaked).
Proxy Hunting: If you want to hunt for someone else, increase the DC by +2. On a success, you bring them one vessel at full health. Every additional three successes lets you bring them an additional vessel. Many vampires task their ghouls with hunting for them when they can’t be bothered to themselves (or if they’re particularly in need of blood).
Repeated Hunting: If you make multiple hunting rolls in the same night, increase the DC by a cumulative +1 for using the same strategy or dice pool, as well as for hunting at the same locale. Add variety to your hunts.
Ventrue clan bane: Ventrue can only feed from a subset of vessels. At the GM’s discretion, some areas might raise or lower hunting DCs. For example, a feeding restriction of college students might be +0 DC at an on-campus event, +1 DC in a college neighborhood, +2 DC in “average” neighborhoods, and +3 or higher DC in neighborhoods with particularly low rates of college attendance. In this manner, where a Ventrue makes their domain becomes important rather than window dressing.
Intruding in Domains
Most Kindred require other vampires and ghouls passing through their territory to present themselves (at least if they aren’t trusted allies). They’ll also freely deny permission to Kindred they don’t want in their territory. Licks who expect to be refused, or who simply don’t want their intentions in the area known, know better than to ask. So they sneak in.
Despite the propaganda of regents, this is actually not very hard to do. Although many domain holders send ghouls, vassal Kindred, or other servants to patrol their domains (or do so themselves) on a regular basis, they cannot be everywhere at once, or be on patrol all of the time. Domain holders tend to place their highest security around high-value sites (e.g., Perdido House) or their domain’s borders, and catch what they can the rest of the time.
Getting in and out once is easy. But like shoplifting, the more times you do it and the more careless you get, the more likely you are to get caught.
Typical punishment for intruding in a domain without permission is a Debt, a partial blood bond, or a brutal beating. Some domain holders impose harsher punishments, especially on political enemies.
Dice Pool: Wits + Stealth or Streetwise
DC: Varies by how conspicuous the character’s actions are.
• A quick in and out might be only DC 2.
• Visiting a mortal relative who lives somewhere not under the domain holder’s surveillance and doing nothing besides talking talking might only be DC 2, even if the intruder stays hours.
• On the other hand, actions like stealing something of value, killing large numbers of people, or entering a more closely monitored location are likely to have much higher DCs.
• Infiltrating especially high-security locations (e.g., Perdido House, the Evergreen Plantation) is likely to be its own contest with its own series of rolls.
Note: The GM will usually make this roll for players in secret once they enter the domain, so they cannot be sure how much wiggle room they have to do their business once they’re inside. Players who want to spend Story Point should tell the GM so.
Botch: You get caught as soon as soon as you enter the domain, before you even have a chance to do whatever you came to do. Alternatively, you get caught after you do so, but something else goes wrong. For instance, you might run into a domain’s regent instead of their patrolling lackeys. The GM will decide what.
Setback: You get caught after you do whatever you came to the domain to do.
Success: You get into the domain, have time to do whatever you came to do, and get out without being caught.
Exceptional Success: You don’t get caught and something else goes right. For instance, you might catch some of the domain holder’s servants in a compromising position, or obtain information on when patrols are most active (making future infiltrations easier). The GM will decide what.
Obfuscate: This Discipline is very useful for infiltrating domains undetected. If a character gets a setback on the above roll, then the effects of whatever Obfuscate Devotion they’re using will come into play against whoever catches them. For example, if the character is using Face in the Crowd and doesn’t draw attention to themselves, they probably get overlooked if whoever catches them doesn’t have Auspex (or has Auspex, but the PC rolls well on their Clash of Wills). Higher-level Devotions, such as Cloak of Night, can have even more potent effects. Essentially, Obfuscate can give you a second chance if you get caught.
Whenever you want to see if your PC knows something about a given topic, roll this. A couple recent topics asked about by players (as of this writing) have included:
• “Where does [Kindred X] like to hang out?” (Int + Socialize or Streetwise)
• “Is taking [Action X] likely to get me in trouble with [Kindred Y]?” (Int + Politics)
• “How do thin-bloods in B&B’s setting develop Disciplines?” (Int + Occult)
• “What vampire claims domain over [Area X]?” (Int + Politics or Streetwise)
• “What is the proper title to address [Kindred X] by?” (Int + Socialize)
• “Do vampires have dreams while in torpor?” (Int + Occult)
Dice Pool: Intelligence + (relevant Mental Skill). Socialize can also be used for questions of Kindred etiquette. Streetwise is also usable for a few few topics, as shown in the above examples.
DC: Varies by obscurity of the information, as well as how much prior experience your PC conceivably has with the topic. .
Botch: You remember misinformation: the GM will tell you what. Lose 1 Story Point if you don’t act on this misinformation within the scene. Alternatively, gain a Bestial Compulsion.
Setback: You can ask the GM one question about the topic, but there is a 50% chance your answer will be a lie. The GM will roll a die in secret to determine this. Alternatively, you just don’t remember anything.
Success: You can ask the GM one question about the topic for every success that meets or exceeds the DC. You can ask more questions than this, but there is a 50% chance your answer to each one will be a lie. The GM may choose to preemptively spend player successes on particularly relevant pieces of information about the topic.
Exceptional Success: More successes are their own reward and let you ask more questions.
Obtaining More Information: Know Information is a purely “off the top of your PC’s head” roll. If you want more information than the results of your dice roll, your PC is free to hit a library or database to research a topic in more depth, as well as to consult NPCs who may know more about a topic.
“The thing about the spa/salon industry (idk how much you guys have been) is that people treat their providers like a therapist. They say all sorts of crazy things to us because they either trust us, they’re relaxed, or they think they’ll never see us again, etc. ‘Salon gossip’ was a major part of my pitch, which we haven’t seen in game yet since she’s really only worked on her mom.”
“For example, I think I already shared this, but there was an incident where the first thing a client said to me was, ‘My mom used to beat me,’ and she went on about how her mom hated her and starved her and she was still bulimic, etc. And I had said literally nothing to her at this point, I was about 5 minutes into the massage.”
“There have been times people told me they were cheating on their spouses, doing shady shit at work, people have taken ‘business calls’ that were basically drug deals in front of me, I learned a shitton about some guy’s job as a bookie and who owed him money, people talk to me about their views on politics, some guy told me that he doesn’t think his daughter is a ‘real woman’ because she’s adopting rather than giving birth.”
“And this is all during a service that’s supposed to be quiet. When the salon I work at was set up differently, pre-Covid, I heard all sorts of juicy stuff from the people who were getting lashes done in the room next to mine. You’re laying there for an hour with your eyes closed with a girl you see every two weeks—you just unload. It’s crazy what people say. Seriously crazy.”
—Celia Flores’ player
These rules are unlikely to be relevant to any PC besides Celia, but they’re up just for her.
Prerequisite: The character needs to be a trained masseur with Medicine 1+ and the Massage Specialty in either Empathy or Medicine.
Dice Pool: (Dexterity or Manipulation) + (Empathy or Medicine)
DC: (1/2 target’s Resolve + Composure) + 1 or varies by how reticent they are about a topic. DCs for vampires and ghouls who know their masseur is a vampire are likely to be higher, given the distrust inherent to the undead.
Success: For every success that meets or exceeds the DC, the character opens up about themselves in a significant way: spilling a piece of juicy gossip, talking about a past trauma, etc.
As with all dice rolls, the GM will only call for rolls especially significant or secret info. It’s probably a matter of course that average mortals on the massage table will open up about themselves, given the social dynamic Celia’s player describes. We don’t need to bother rolling dice for that. Indeed, it’s pretty unlikely we’ll use these rules too many times at all, at least by themselves. They are mainly here to provide the “skeleton” which several of Celia’s massage-focused Devotions further enhance.
Roll this when you want insight into an NPC’s thoughts, motives, and general behavior.
Dice Pool: Wits + Empathy.
DC: 2. If the subject is actively trying to conceal their feelings, the DC is (1/2 subject’s Composure + Subterfuge) + 1. Certain topics can raise or lower the DC.
Botch: You misread the subject and come away with a false belief: the GM will tell you what. Lose 1 Story Point if you don’t act on this belief within the scene. Alternatively, gain a Bestial Compulsion.
Setback: You can ask the GM one question about the subject, but there is a 50% chance your answer will be a lie. The GM will roll a die in secret to determine this. Alternatively, you just can’t get a read on them.
Success: You can ask the GM one question about the topic for every success that meets or exceeds the DC. You can ask more questions than this, but there is a 50% chance your answer to each one will be a lie.
Answers must be reasonably possible to infer from nonverbal cues or prior knowledge of the subject’s personality: questions like “what is their mother’s maiden name” are the province of Auspex.
The GM may choose to preemptively spend player successes on particularly relevant pieces of information about the subject.
Exceptional Success: More successes are their own reward and let you ask more questions.
This is a scenario that’s unlikely to come up in-game again, but the GM is posting the rules we used anyway for kicks. True to its name, it’s for PCs solving riddles other characters pose to them.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Wits
Botch: You must choose to wrongly answer the riddle or lose a Story Point.
Setback: The GM provides no hints about the riddle.
Success: For every success rolled, the GM provides one hint or confirms that one answer the player is considering is wrong. Example hints might be, “The answer is a living thing,” or “You’ve encountered the answer under X circumstance.” Hints will never directly give away the riddle’s answer, merely help guide the player down the right track.