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. 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 Hangouts 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 extra 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). 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. (Buying a Skill from one dot to four dots thus costs.) No single Attribute may have more than four dots at this stage.
Skills: Distribute 30 dots between any combination of Skills. The third dot in any Skill costs two dots to purchase. The fourth dot in any Skill costs three dots to purchase. (Thus, it costs seven dots to raise a Skill from 0 to 4.) 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.
Touchstone: Choose 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). Touchstones make resisting Corruption easier: this is also explained in more detail later. Exactly many Touchstones you have doesn’t make a difference.
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. It’s explained in more detail later.
Blood Potency: Your Blood Potency measures your character’s raw, innate supernatural power. It’s also explained in more detail later. 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
• Caitiff: Pick any three, at least one of which must be a physical Discipline (Celerity, Fortitude, Potence). Blood Sorcery requires GM permission.
• Gangrel: Animalism, Fortitude, Protean
• Hecata: Auspex, Blood Sorcery (Necromancy), Fortitude
• Lasombra: Blood Sorcery (Obtenebration), Dominate, Potence
• Malkavian: Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate
• Nosferatu: Animalism, Obfuscate, Potence
• Ravnos: Animalism, Obfuscate, Presence
• Salubri: Auspex, Fortitude, Presence
• Setite: Obfuscate, Presence, Protean
• Toreador: Auspex, Celerity, Presence
• Tremere: Auspex, Blood Sorcery (Thaumaturgy), Dominate
• Tzimisce: Animalism, Dominate, Protean
• Ventrue: Dominate, Fortitude, 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.
Players with previous VtM experience may notice these Discipline spreads look different . V5 got rid of “snowflake” clan-unique Disciplines by folding their powers into the “common” Disciplines: Serpentis was folded into Protean, Chimerstry into Obfuscate, etc. Our game took this a step further by also folding Oblivion into Blood Sorcery.
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.
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 Corruption
• Gain three dots of Pawns (Street":https://blood-and-bourbon.obsidianportal.com/wiki_pages/street or Underworld) or a two-dot Retainer who assists your hunts
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 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 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 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: Empathy (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 Allies, Herd, or Paramour 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.
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|
Dice rolls are 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.”
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.
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.
Aiding Another: When one PC helps another PC, roll their dice pool (NPCs Take Half as normal). Add their successes as bonus dice to your dice pool, up to a 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 can spice up extended rolls by calling for different dice pools at various points, or requiring rolls for things besides meeting the required total successes, so the contest is more interesting than simple “roll spamming.”
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). NPCs never roll dice: they Take Half on all of their rolls.
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.
Character advancement comes in two forms: Willpower and trait increases. Willpower is a spendable resource usable on a number of immediate benefits, such as calling in retroactively owed favors, knowing secrets, or asking the GM for hints. Trait increases are raises to your PC’s starting Attributes, Skills, Edges, and Disciplines.
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. Willpower is spendable on the following benefits:
• Ask for Hint: You can 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 discover secrets you haven’t discovered in-character. Cost: 1 Willpower per Discord message of GM advice. If the GM feels they could give no useful advice, you get the Willpower back.
• Declaration: 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. Your PC has to be aware of the Declaration, and the GM will veto Declarations that are implausible, boring, or contradictory. You also can’t declare an NPC’s immediate or future specific actions. Cost: 1-5 Willpower depending on the Declaration’s scope.
• Hold Debt: 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 per debtor’s highest Status, plus an additional 1 Willpower 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 per debtor’s lowest shared Status.
• Initiate Flashback: 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. GM-offered flashbacks are free, as are ones simply to flesh out your PC’s history.
• Know Secret: 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. Cost: Same as Hold Debt.
• Roll Bonus: 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: you incur +1 Stain, take Injured -1 (mortals only), take +1 Hunger or Craving (vampires or ghouls only), lose 2 XP, or incur a Condition that costs equal Willpower to resist. Some costs may be inappropriate for some rolls.
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.
B&B does not use an XP system for most character advancement. We used one for a while (five years, in fact) but found that XP awards and related OOC discussions over XP as a subject were fairly time-consuming. Furthermore, players sometimes either didn’t have enough XP to buy Backgrounds they’d earned in-game, or (more frequently) they sat on large hoards of XP being “saved for later” when desired Backgrounds became available.
So, we have gotten rid of the middleman: the GM simply awards increases to PC Attributes, Skills, Edges, and Disciplines on an ad hoc basis.
Attributes & Skills: Increasing these is fairly simple. Simply play your PC in a manner reflective of the higher trait, succeed at challenges involving it, or (Skills and physical Attributes only) spend time learning from another character who’s more experienced than you, and the GM will award additional dots. For example, if your PC cleans up someone’s Masquerade breach, that may be grounds for a Subterfuge increase. As a general rule, it takes less time and effort to earn lower dot ratings than higher dot ratings.
Disciplines: Increasing Disciplines, or buying additional Common Devotions for an in-clan Discipline, can require using the Discipline consistently, feeding on mortals with a matching blood resonance, or learning from a teacher (this last is generally the fastest way to increase a Discipline). As with Attributes and Skills, it takes less effort to learn lower dot ratings than higher dot ratings.
Out-of-clan Disciplines or Uncommon Devotions for in-clan Disciplines can only be learned from a teacher, as detailed on the Disciplines section.
Merits: Merits can be awarded by the GM as ad hoc rewards if they make sense as ones your PC could have “been born with” or “always had.” Other Merits can be earned by fulfilling more esoteric requirements. For example, an NPC Mentor to a PC once volunteered to grant her the Hidden Diablerie Merit if she would, “Bring me a child. The younger, the better—the innocence within an infant’s blood would conceal your crime most totally of all.” I.e., the PC had an opportunity to claim power at a moral price.
Backgrounds: Backgrounds are awarded when a PC makes inroads with the relevant characters and organizations. For example, if a PC impresses an elder in Elysium, the GM may award them as a Mentor. PCs can also declare social relationships to exist retroactively by spending Willpower to Invoke Background. If the scene(s) go well, the GM may award the Background permanently. Invoke Background is particularly useful for older PCs who can be presumed to have already established a large number of social relationships.
Losing Traits: Traits can go down as well as up. For example, if a mortal PC falls into a coma, their once-mighty Strength 4 might waste away to Strength 1 after enough months. Likewise, Allies can grow alienated or Mentors can abandon unworthy proteges. Players who lose a trait they obtained through wiki work (see below) can buy an equivalent-cost one in its place.
The GM typically awards increases to a PC’s traits at the ends of chapters. A chapter is a single posted adventure log. Look at the Master Logs Page for some examples: their 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 and typically pauses posting in that PC’s channel (it’s harder to keep the log’s events fresh in memory while continuing to play out subsequent scenes). Players re-read the log and post feedback on it: elements they enjoyed, elements they might have improved, stuff they would like to see in subsequent chapters, and any other thoughts and impressions they feel like sharing. The GM uses player feedback as a tool to take stock of the game’s direction and adjust course accordingly. I’ve played in another long-running game that solicited regular player feedback and the GM there found it a very valuable tool. Another pleasant effect I’ve noticed from players re-reading their PCs’ logs is that they tend to pick up details they overlook the first time around.
Players can post feedback in two ways: off-the-cuff impressions in the OOC channel (fastest) or writing up a feedback post they leave in the comments section of their log (slower, and worth an extra Willpower point.)
Once feedback is in, the GM awards any trait increases and resumes posting in their room. Not all chapters will see trait increases, and rates are likely to be faster for newer PCs than older ones. PCs are particularly likely to receive trait increases, and larger increases, after accomplishing significant Aspirations.
Players can also raise their traits by contributing content to B&B’s wiki. See the relevant section the Player FAQ for more details, but the short is that every 250 words of content earns players 1 XP, which they can spend on a number of things for their PCs.
Debt: You can buy Debts from NPCs at a cost of 1 XP per Debtor’s highest Status. If the Debtor shares a lower Status with your PC, use that instead. For example, a Gangrel with Clan Status 2 and Camarilla Status 3 costs 2 XP for Gangrel PCs and 3 XP for other PCs. This costs 1.5 times as much XP to do in the middle of an ongoing scene.
Lower Hunger/Craving: Every 2 XP can lower your PC’s Hunger or Craving by 1, to a minimum of their Blood Potency. This costs 1.5 times as much XP to do in the middle of an ongoing scene.
Other Player: Every 2 XP you spend on another player gives them 1 XP to spend on themselves. (This is at a markup to encourage players to only help one another as an irregular tactic, as well as to make players feel in no way obligated to help their fellows when they’re spending XP at a loss.)
Secret: You can buy a secret about an NPC that would be worth a Debt to suppress or dig up. This costs 1 XP per Debtor’s highest Status. If the Debtor shares a lower Status with your PC, use that instead. This costs 1.5 times as much XP to do in the middle of an ongoing scene.
Willpower: Every 1 XP can buy your PC 1 Willpower point. This costs 1.5 times as much XP to do in the middle of an ongoing scene.
Raise Traits: For a variable amount of XP, you can raise your PC’s traits. Costs are cumulative. Raising a one-dot Attribute to three dots, for example, costs 25 XP. Costs for Devotions are an exception and not cumulative, because each one is an independent power. Traits costs 1.2 times as much XP to raise during the middle of an ongoing scene.
|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|
|In-Clan Devotion||2 XP||4 XP||6 XP||8 XP||10 XP|
|Non-Clan Devotion||3 XP||6 XP||9 XP||12 XP||15 XP|
|Blood Potency||Free||15 XP||20 XP||25 XP||30 XP|
Skill Specialties: Specialties cost a flat 6 XP (for a Skill’s first Specialty) and 9 XP (for a Skill’s second Specialty). Skills can’t have more than two more Specialties.
Devotions: You first Devotion in any Discipline level comes free as part of the Discipline. Your second Devotion costs the XP values above. Every additional Devotion at the same level costs a cumulative +1 XP. (This is to encourage players to make their selection strategically and to impose a soft rather than hard cap on how many they can have.) Devotions a PC learns in-game don’t count towards this XP increase.
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.
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: (relevant Mental or Social Attribute) + (power’s dot rating) + Blood Potency
DC: 1/2 opponent’s physical or occult attack dice pool.
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 the 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.
Extra Successes: Reduce the Injured Condition’s penalty and your Hunger increase by 1 per extra success.
Your character has been physically hurt in a fight.
Penalty: -1 to -5 dice penalty to most actions that varies by how hurt you are. If an NPC has this Condition, take this penalty as a bonus against them. Frenzying vampires ignore these penalties.
Mortals reduced to Injured -5 must roll Resolve + Stamina after strenuous actions (DC varies) to avoid passing out. Passed-out mortals die if they don’t get first aid within the scene. Characters reduced to Injured -6 die if they’re mortals or enter torpor if they’re vampires.
Resolution: Mortals can lower Injured’s penalties with time, bed rest, and medical care (exact time frame varies). Hospitalized characters can ignore Injured’s penalties if they’re on painkillers and don’t take overly strenuous actions.
Vampires can simply use Mending to instantly shed Injured’s penalties, but can’t recuperate with time and bed rest.
Many additional factors can influence how a combat plays out.
• 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.
• Escaping: 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.
• Extended Combat: 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). 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).
If you’re making occult attacks, you can use two different applicable Mental or Social Attributes, and a single Physical one. Occult characters with some degree of physical aptitude are more likely to win a fight than ones who lack any.
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 + Blood Sorcery + Blood Potency 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.
• Frenzying: Vampires who get into fights risk frenzy. Roll Resolve + Composure (DC = combat’s DC) to resist. 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, 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.
• Multiple Opponents: 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 and Armor: Bringing a gun to a knife 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.)
Non-automatic firearms (e.g., handguns, rifles)
Automatic firearms (e.g., assault rifles)
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 non-automatic firearms, and don’t take Disadvantage against automatic weapons. Vampires with Potence also don’t ever take Disadvantage for being unarmed.
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 + Empathy. 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 1/2 (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 to you, by all means play your character accordingly. They just haven’t been able to confirm their suspicion through a dice roll.
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 Hit the Streets. 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 action 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 action 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, you can declare a fact or some general details about a past interaction you’ve had with one another. You can also have them owe you Debt for services previously rendered. This costs a variable number of successes depending on their Status.
You only roll 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 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.
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.
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.
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 a Stain 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.
GM’s Warning: Major spoilers follow below for the adventure logs! Many of the examples below are taken from plot-significant actions committed by PCs.
Corruption 1 Examples
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 Examples
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 Examples
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 murdering 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 Examples
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 in the world (while killing a dog is a lesser sin than killing a man, it was a deeply hurtful act motivated solely by petty malice)
• Rocco killing Paulie at his party for his failure to repay owed debts
Corruption 5 Examples
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 Examples
The character is inured to unspeakable sins that cross a line even for monsters. Among vampires, only wights are inured to such sins. Examples:
• 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
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.
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. 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.
The Harpies & Debts
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 Willpower 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.
Mortals 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 expansive 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 Willpower 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.
Vampire Character Rules
Full article: Vampire Character Rules.
Hunter Character Rules
Hunters use identical rules to ordinary mortals with one exception.
Awareness: Awareness is the Supernatural Tolerance trait used by hunters and makes them resistant to the powers used by vampires and other night-folk. When a vampire PC rolls Intelligence + Dominate, for example, a hunter PC resists with Resolve + Awareness. Hunters have pulled their heads out of the sand and are fundamentally harder to suborn than ordinary mortals. Hunter PCs also add their Awareness to the amount of Willpower they can store—the Vigil drives them to feats they’d have never previously been capable of. Otherwise, however, Awareness offers no other protection against the supernatural. Hunters are all-too fragile in direct confrontations against the terrors that prey on humankind.
A hunter’s Awareness is determined by how much exposure they’ve had to the supernatural. A hunter with Awareness 1 has survived first contact and is still green. A hunter with Awareness 2 has survived enough encounters to learn the ropes. A hunter with Awareness 3 has survived enough encounters to be fairly seasoned. A hunter with Awareness 4 is a grizzled veteran. A hunter with Awareness 5 is a near-legend.
Ghoul hunters do not have an Awareness score. They’ve traded use of the Kindred’s powers for susceptibility to those same powers.