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 four steps:
1. Character Concept
Read the Player FAQ and its advice on this subject, then talk with the GM about what sort of character you’re interested in playing.
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 Discord either way.
Copy everything from this link and paste it under the “Biography” field of your character’s page.
“Change Character Image”: Upload a picture of your character here.
If you have the Photoshop/GIMP know-how, you can earn some XP by desaturating it and adding a black border that makes the picture 110% its original size. If you add a border, make sure the picture’s dimensions are evenly matched (e.g., 400×400 px). Also make the picture a close-up of your character’s face: just below the top of their head, and just above the the top of a necktie’s knot. Here’s a sample.
If you don’t have the Photoshop/GIMP know-how (or inclination), upload the picture as-is and the GM will make those visual tweaks instead.
3. Fill Out Your Mortal Character Sheet
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 a list and in-depth description of the various types of traits. Players familiar with previous World of Darkness or Chronicles of Darkness experience will be familiar with these.
You list your character’s traits on their character sheet, which is stored over the B&B Discord server rather than Obsidian Portal. The GM will walk you through how to fill it out, using this page as a reference.
Attributes: Distribute 14 dots between any combination of Attributes, up to a maximum of four each. All characters start with one free dot in every Attribute.
Skills: Distribute 22 dots between any combination of Skills, up to a maximum of four each. 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 ten dots between any combination of Edges off this list. If you want to save some of your dots for vampire-related Backgrounds and Merits, you don’t have to spend them immediately.
Corruption: Corruption measures how much darkness has corrupted your PC’s soul. It’s 2 for starting characters. Corruption is 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 you spend Willpower to boost a dice roll, it’s cheaper if your PC is also acting on their Virtue or Vice. This is also explained in more detail later.
4. Add the Vampire Template
After your PC is Embraced during their prelude, you’ll fill out these portions of their character sheet.
Vampire Rules: Read the Vampire Character Rules to learn how game mechanics work for vampires.
Attributes: Distribute one more dot to any of your Attributes, up to a maximum of five.
Edges: Since PCs in this game do not belong to a coterie, gain two free dots of Status (Coterie) with a coterie of NPCs. Two dots is enough to be an established, moderately respected member in a coterie of mostly neonates, or a less respected member in a coterie of mostly older vampires. You can spend your own XP or Background dots if you want to have higher Status than this. Look over the characters on The Factions and let the GMs know which ones most interest you. Some may be better fits for a coterie than others. If you’d prefer your PC not to belong to a coterie, they don’t have to, but the two dots aren’t usable on anything else.
Touchstone: Choose up to several mortals 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). See the Touchstones page for more information about what Touchstones are and what mechanical effects they have.
Blood Potency: Your Blood Potency measures your character’s raw, innate supernatural power. It’s explained in more detail here. 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). See this page for more information about Disciplines.
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 (e.g., “my sire’s lover was a Lasombra antitribu and taught me something of his clan’s art").
Predator Type: Your Predator Type is your preferred means of obtaining blood, whether it’s picking people up in nightclubs, feeding from them in their sleep, or jumping them in dark alleyways. Choose a Predator Type from this page. 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 earlier PCs feed via seduction.
1. Describe in-character what your PC attempts to do. E.g., “Caroline digs into the corporation’s dirty laundry,” “Celia tries to sweet-talk her latest conquest into bed,” and so on.
2. The GM tells you what combinations of Attributes and Skills can accomplish what you’re trying to do, then assigns a Difficulty Class (DC) according to how hard it is.
|Simple (pick up someone at a bar)||2|
|Moderate (walk a tightrope)||3|
|Tricky (locate the source of a whisper)||4|
|Hard (convince a cop that really isn’t your cocaine)||5|
|Very Hard (calm a hostile and bloodthirsty mob)||6|
|Almost Impossible (track a trained commando through the jungle on a moonless night after days of rainfall)||7|
When your character directly competes against an NPC (e.g., tells a lie to a suspicious person, or tries to shoot someone in a firefight) the DC is equal to (1/2 NPC’s relevant Attribute dots + relevant Skill dots, rounding down) + 1.
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 2-5 is a failure. Every result of 6-9 is a success. 10s count as two successes and 1s actually subtract successes. The more successes you roll, the better.
4. The GM describes the results of your roll.
As an aside, NPCs never roll dice: only PCs do. Dice rolls are also only used for consequential and dramatic actions. PCs are assumed to automatically succeed at easy tasks like “seduce someone already in the mood” or “intimidate a weak-willed person.”
Botch: If you roll no successes, your character’s attempt fails spectacularly and leaves them 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 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 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 three more successes than the 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
PC vs. PC: If two PCs roll dice against each other and get the same result, the PC with the higher dice pool wins. If the PCs have the same dice pool, the players re-roll their pools until the result is no longer a tie.
Downgraded Rolls: If you want to, you can download a GM-prompted dice roll by one step (success to setback, setback to botch, etc.) and gain 1 Willpower point. You can do this multiple times for multiple Willpower points.
Aiding Another: When another character helps a PC, roll their dice pool (NPCs Take Half as normal). Add their successes as bonus dice to your dice pool, up to a typical maximum of +5. Aiding characters typically must decide to Aid Another before the aided character rolls.
Dice Qualities: Contextual factors can make a character’s action 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 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 an action 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. The GM will often spice up extended rolls by calling for different dice pools at various points, or requiring rolls for things besides meeting the required total successes. “Roll spamming” is usually boring.
Take Half: 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-half your dice pool (round down odd numbers).
If you have Advantage or Disadvantage when you Take Half, you roll normally once, and get a number of successes equal to one-half your dice pool for your other “roll.”
Willpower: Characters can spend Willpower to add extra successes to their roll result. See Willpower, below, for more information.
Willpower is a spendable resource usable on a number of immediate benefits detailed below. The GM awards Willpower to players on an ad hoc basis for a variety of things: accomplishing goals, overcoming challenges, discovering secrets, writing particularly inspired posts, and taking actions that are especially bold, decisive, smart, or true to your PC’s character even when suboptimal.
Willpower has a cap of 10 and any earned over this amount is lost. Use it or lose it.
Ask for Hint
You can ask the GM for feedback or advice about a situation your PC is in, or if there are any important clues or details you’ve missed. The GM will only reference facts your PC already knows or could reasonably deduce: you can’t use Ask for Hint to discover secrets you haven’t discovered in-character.
As players can attest, the GM is happy to give feedback on player ideas, but won’t come up with ideas for them or tell them what to do now. Players who use Hints to ask, “How can I defeat my rival?” or _are pretty likely to get a reply of, “Pitch me an idea and I’ll give you feedback.” Players who ask, “What are the pros and cons of my plan to attack their business holdings?” are much more likely to get a substantive answer.
Cost: 1 Willpower or 2 XP per Discord message of GM advice. If the GM feels he could give no useful advice, you get the Willpower back.
You can declare a new detail about the game world, such as “This house is haunted by a ghost murdered by my pursuers,” “I set my phone earlier to record this incriminating conversation,” “I know a guy who can get rid of this hot car,” etc. Declarations can be very powerful, as they let you declare helpful facts into being, leverage Backgrounds you don’t have, or retroactively take actions that didn’t occur to you earlier.
Declarations that require a dice roll (e.g., “I stole his phone when he wasn’t looking”) take one as normal. Actions that take multiple dice rolls take multiple Declarations or may work better as a flashback, particularly if it’s unclear how many dice rolls they might take.
Your PC has to be aware of Declarations they make. The GM will veto Declarations that are implausible, boring, or contradictory. You also can’t directly declare an NPC’s current or future behavior.
Cost: 1-5 Willpower or or 2-10 XP depending on the Declaration’s scope.
You can retroactively declare that an NPC owes your PC a Debt. The GM may veto implausible Debts without a flashback (see below).
Cost: 1 Willpower or 2 XP per debtor’s highest Status, plus an additional 1 Willpower or 2 XP per previous Debt you’ve purchased from them in the same story arc.
If your PC shares multiple types of Status with the debtor, the Debt costs 1 Willpower or 2 XP per debtor’s lowest shared Status.
You can play out a scene-long flashback at a time and place of your choosing, or extend an ongoing flashback into another scene. Events during a flashback cannot contradict established facts in the present, but can establish new facts helpful to your PC in the present. For example, if you’re harassed by a rival in Elysium, you could initiate a flashback where you attempt to dig up dirt on them.
Cost: 1 Willpower or 2 XP. Flashbacks offered by the GM are free, as are flashback you only want to use to flesh out your PC’s history.
You can declare you know a secret about an NPC or group of NPCs. 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 plausible and narratively interesting. Secrets worth more than a single Debt take an Initiated Flashback to retroactively discover.
Cost: 1 Willpower or 2 XP per NPC’s highest Status, plus an additional 1 Willpower or XP per previous Debt you’ve purchased from them in the same story arc.
If your PC shares multiple types of Status with the NPC, the Debt costs 1 Willpower or XP per debtor’s lowest shared Status.
Your PC pushes themselves beyond their limits. Add an extra success to any dice roll you’ve just made. You can spend as much Willpower as you like until the GM reveals your roll result.
Cost: 1 Willpower per extra success, plus pick one of the following per extra success. Some costs may be inappropriate for some rolls.
• You incur +1 Stain
• You take Injured -1 (mortals and ghouls only)
• You take +1 Hunger or Craving (vampires and ghouls only)
• You pay 2 XP
• You incur a Condition that costs equal Willpower to resist.
If an action is in line with your PC’s Virtue, you can choose to only pay a Willpower or XP cost. If an action is line with your Vice, you can choose to only pay a Stain or XP cost. You still can’t add more successes than your remaining Willpower.
Characters don’t remain static, but learn and grow (and sometimes decline) over the course of time. After every chapter’s worth of play, a PC’s traits may go up.
Additionally, Blood & Bourbon has an optional XP system which allows players to purchase higher traits for their PCs as a reward for posting content on the campaign wiki.
Full article: Character Advancement.
The Attempting Actions and Roll Results mechanics can model almost any actions a character might attempt: the below list is a reference for players to know how common actions are usually adjudicated.
Full article: Common Actions.
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 2 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 1: These are actively principled vampires. They either have a firm moral code or are just naturally decent, wholesomeone people the Embrace didn’t manage to ruin. They aren’t saints—they’re not necessarily going to sacrifice themselves to save a stranger’s life. They are, however, better people than your average guy off the street. They try to use their powers responsibly and in some cases for active good. They go out of their way not to kill, and when they do, they will feel horrible about it and try to make things right (e.g., setting up a trust fund for a victim’s children). Most vampires at this level of morality are neonates, but you’ll occasionally find an elder who’s managed to remain true to a moral code against all odds. There’s probably a 50% chance that an elder at this morality rating is pursuing Golconda—they know the war for their soul favors the Beast. All it takes is one lapse of control to set back centuries of upright behavior.
• Corruption 2: These are your average John or Jane off the street who just happen to drink blood. They’re probably not trying to make the world a better place (except for their loved ones), but they don’t want to make it a worse one either—they just want to get by. They feel bad when they kill, but if they’re old enough, or were Embraced under less than perfect circumstances, chances are they’ve left behind at least one body. They may or may not try to make up for it. Probably depends who the victim was—it’s one thing to kill a family member when you can see the hole that’ll leave in people’s lives, and another to kill a stranger. Still, they actively try to avoid killing, out of principle as well as utility. Most of the time. They might do it if circumstances get really ugly—and they always do, don’t they? The downward spiral begins here.
Alternatively, a vampire at this morality rating might be a “realistic” principled elder—one who tries to follow a moral code, but who’s committed some serious misdeeds, likely as a result of continued significant participation in Kindred society. Their soul shines brighter than most elders, but is still less than squeaky-clean. This is the most moral that most princes can aspire to (and which most princes fall short of). The very nature of the job entails no-win situations that require moral compromise. These vampires are perhaps 30% of the population, the bulk of whom are neonates.
• Corruption 3: These vampires are worse people than your average guy off the street. Lying, cheating, extortion, and assorted criminal acts are everynight occurrences to these vampires. They’re not actively malevolent, but they’re not shy they’re looking out for #1 first and foremost. They’d prefer not to kill, but if push comes to shove, you probably won’t have to shove them that hard. Principle may still matter, but it takes a backseat to practicality. Corpses are Masquerade breaches. Chances are they’ll feel a pang of conscience over killing an innocent victim, but they’re not likely to pursue active atonement. It’s a rough world. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay out of their way, because they definitely won’t balk at killing if you’ve crossed them first. This is the first morality level where vampires start to actively engage in twisted shit like ghouling loved ones they can’t bear to let go. They probably still have reservations about it, but who knows how much longer that will last? Eternity is a long time.
These vampires are perhaps 30% of the population—neonates who’ve “grown up,” many ancillae, and elders who are “decent enough. For an elder.” This is the most decent prince most Camarilla cities are realistically likely to wind up with. Overthrow them and there’s decent odds their replacement will be worse.
• Corruption 4: A step beyond just killing when they have to, these vampires will kill whenever it suits them and are largely blase to death. Another body doesn’t mean all that much. They are a lot worse than your average guy off the street, most of whom will react with horror to their misdeeds and call them monsters. They can get off to all sorts of sadistic acts for shits and giggles, or they might just be utterly ruthless and practical-minded, seeing lives as little more than numbers. While they might still adhere to a moral code, it’s probably one grounded in distinctly inhuman values—e.g., the Tzimisce who’ll flay a ghoul’s skin for disobedience, but who wouldn’t dream of betraying a guest in their domain. These vampires may still have Touchstones/morality pets who they may be kind and decent towards, but it’s utterly at odds with the rest of their behavior—after all, Hitler was a vegetarian. It is tragically easy for them to ruin these Touchstones’ lives, even unintentionally. Still, such morality pets offer a glimmer of hope that the person they used to be isn’t completely gone. Just mostly gone. Woe to anyone who pisses them off enough. They probably won’t just kill you, they’ll make you suffer first.
These vampires are perhaps 25% of the population. Most elders and jaded ancillae fall into this category. A few neonates who’ve been through some seriously twisted shit might wind up here. It is pretty typical to have a prince at this morality level. The bright side is you can definitely do better by overthrowing them.
• Corruption 5: There are monsters and then there are monsters. These guys give even their fellow Damned a bad name. Diablerie, pedophilia, torture, mass murder—it’s all fair game, and probably lots of fun, too. The Camarilla observes more than one type of Masquerade, and these vampires are more monstrous than it is socially acceptable to openly be—they remind their fellow Damned just what they really are underneath the facade of humanity. They disgruntle the Corruption 4s, disturb the Corruption 3s, and horrify the Corruption 2s. The smarter ones learn to hide the full extent of their crimes, because they know the Camarilla cares more about politeness than morality. Don’t rock the boat and you can get away more than murder. The dumber ones who don’t grasp this tend to burn out fairly soon, whether at the hands of vampire hunters or fellow Kindred tired of the messes they keep leaving. These vampires may have Touchstones, but if they do, there’s decent odds they’re just as cruel to them as any other victim. God help anyone who crosses one of these vampires and loses. Final death may seem a mercy.
These vampires are perhaps 10% of the population. The most common ones are diablerists hiding their crimes. They’re a minority, but they’re regrettably more common than the Corruption 1s.
Characters increase their Corruption by accumulating Stains, which they gain from committing monstrous acts. For every five Stains a character accumulates, their Corruption increases by 1. While Corruption doesn’t go up often, your character’s number of Stains is likely to fluctuate over play. Your character can gain Stains from any of the following ways:
• Willpower: When you spend Willpower for a dice bonus, you can choose to accept a Stain in lieu of paying another cost. If the action was in line with your PC’s Vice, you can choose to accept a Stain without paying any Willpower. See “Willpower,” above, for more information.
When your character accepts Stains to bolster their Willpower, 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. 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.
• 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.
Dark Deeds have a rating from 1 to 5 depending on how vile they are: see “In-Game Corruption Examples,” below, for some examples. When characters commit a Dark Deed, they gain a number of Stains equal to (deed’s rating – character’s Corruption). Dark Deeds are relative and some acts can corrupt characters far more quickly than others.
• Trauma: 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.
Whenever your character is exposed to significant mental trauma, the GM may call for a Resolve + Composure roll (DC varies by situation). On a setback, your character’s mind buckles. They take (DC – rolled successes) Stains 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. Take no Stains.
Corruption changes less often than Stains. It only goes up in a single way: whenever your character accumulates 5 Stains, increase their Corruption by 1, and reset their Stains to 0. The higher a character’s 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 accumulating Stains for Dark Deeds committed at the following 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), and sins that cross a line even for monsters (Corruption 6).
At the GM’s discretion, some Dark Deeds may count as higher or lower-level sins for some PCs than others, based on their histories, temperaments, and moral convictions. For example, a PC who’s fiercely loyal to their family might count killing someone in their family’s defense as a lower-Corruption Dark Deed, but would count betraying a family member as a higher-Corruption Dark Deed.
The Point of No Return: If your character would ever gain 6 Corruption (that is, if they gain 5 Stains while at 5 Corruption), they’re 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 reset their number of Stains to 0. 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. Stains and Corruption can go down as well as up… and in some cases, be avoided altogether.
Stains: By taking meaningful in-game action, you can remove one or more of your character’s Stains (to a minimum of 0). Removing Stains 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). The more significant the action, the more Stains it removes, up to a maximum of five.
Corruption: With a bigger effort, you can reduce your character’s Corruption by 1 (to a minimum of 1). Actions which buy down 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 Celia confessing her infidelity to Roderick when it risked losing the relationship. Cletus, unsurprisingly, likely won’t ever do anything to buy down his Corruption.
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.
Penalty: The mechanical drawback the Condition imposes. This can be Disadvantage on a type of roll, making certain actions cost 1 Willpower to perform, and so on.
Resolution: How your character can end the Condition. When you do this, gain 1 Willpower.
Corruption: A second, more convenient way your character can end the Condition, but which marks Corruption. When you do this, gain 1 Willpower.
Willpower: List any circumstances here where the Condition pays out Willpower. 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 an action’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 Willpower, 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.
Penalty: Disadvantage on 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 Willpower 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 Willpower 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 Willpower, 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.
Penalty: Disadvantage on 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.
Willpower: 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 Melee 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 fJaime Lannister, on the other “hand”, would take Disadvantage on Melee rolls (and might even take Major Disadvantage for losing his sword hand instead of his off-hand.) Lou also gains Willpower 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 Willpower 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.
Full article: Debts.
Index of Sub-Pages
|A conceptual overview of what Attribute and Skill dots really mean.|
|How characters increase their traits through play.|
|Rules for common scenarios that have come up with PCs.|
|Owed favors that can open many doors.|
|Available Backgrounds, Merits, Loresheets, and Flaws.|
|Rules for playing hunter characters.|
|Rules for playing vampire characters.|