Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
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.
|Action||Examples||Difficulty Class (DC)|
|Easy||• Climb a knotted rope
• Intimidate a weak-willed person
• Seduce someone already in the mood
|Routine||• Bypass a home alarm system
• Hear someone approaching from a short distance away
• Pick up someone at a bar
|Challenging||• Bypass a business alarm system
• Replace a car’s sound system
• Slowly walk a tightrope
|Formidable||• Break into a branch bank vault
• Escape a pair of handcuffs
• Locate the source of a whisper
|Hard||• Break into a bank headquarters vault
• Convince a cop that really isn’t your cocaine
• Rebuild a wrecked engine block
|Very Hard||• Break into a max security prison
• Calm a hostile and bloodthirsty mob
• Run across a tightrope while under fire
|Almost Impossible||• Find one specific homeless person in Los Angeles in one night
• Sneak into the Pentagon or a supermax prison
• Swim through a raging hurricane
Dice rolls are only used for consequential and dramatic actions. If a PC’s dice pool is more than double the task’s DC, or if failure wouldn’t lead to meaningful story outcomes, the PC automatically succeeds at the task.
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.
NPCs in Decanter never roll dice: only PCs do. When your character directly competes against an NPC (e.g., tells a lie to a suspicious person, or tries to shoot someone in a gunfight) the DC is equal to (1/2 the NPC’s [relevant Attribute + Skill dots], rounding down) + 1. For example, outshooting an NPC with Dexterity 3 and Firearms 3 is DC 4.
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 a rival 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 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
For some rolls, every extra success may confer a minor benefit, while other rolls may confer larger benefits for multiple successes. For example, every success on an Intelligence + Occult roll may let you ask the GM one question, while hunting for vessels as a vampire may procure an extra vessel with every extra three successes (since a complication-free deep feeding slakes 3 Hunger).
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 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 tries g 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 can 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: Re-roll any dice that turned up successes. Only use your successes from your re-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.
Downgraded Rolls: If you want to, you can download a dice roll by one step (success to setback, setback to botch, etc.) and gain 1 Story Point. You can do this multiple times for multiple Story Points. See below for what those do. The GM may not allow all dice rolls.
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.
Story Points: Characters can spend Story Points to add extra successes to their roll result. See Story Points, below, for more information.
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.”
Story Points are a spendable resource usable on a number of benefits detailed below. The GM awards Story Points 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.
Story Points have a cap of 10 and any earned over this amount is lost. Use them or lose them.
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 any Declarations you make as a player: that is, you can’t say “X event happens in the background without my PC’s knowledge” as a Declaration. 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 Story Points or 2-10 XP depending on the Declaration’s scope.
Pitch the GM a plan you’re considering with your PC. The GM will give you advice on what’s good about the plan, what’s bad about the plan, and whether there are any details you’re overlooking. The GM will only reference facts your PC already knows or could reasonably deduce. (Normally, the GM only gives advice to players when it’s not immediately applicable, as he doesn’t want to influence player decision-making.)
Cost: 1 Story Point or 2 XP per Discord message of GM advice. If the GM feels he could give no useful advice, you get the Story Point or XP back.
Get a Clue
Tell the GM a goal you want to achieve with your PC. The GM will give you a clue on how to achieve that goal. A clue may not always make sense in the moment, and will never directly reveal secrets your PC hasn’t discovered, but a clue will always give you some kind of new lead to pursue.
Cost: 1 Story Point or 2 XP per clue given. If the GM feels a clue isn’t applicable, you get the Story Point or XP back.
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 Story Points or 2 XP per debtor’s highest Status, plus an additional 1 Story Point 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 Story Point 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.
At the GM’s discretion, some flashbacks have “life or death” stakes. If a PC dies in these flashbacks, the flashback immediately ends and the PC dies in the present through a story-appropriate means. The GM will inform players when a flashback has life or death stakes.
Cost: 1 Story Point 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 Story Point or 2 XP per NPC’s highest Status, plus an additional 1 Story Point or 2 XP per previous secret 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 Story Point or 2 XP per NPC’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 many Story Points as you like until the GM reveals your roll result.
Cost: 1 Story Point per extra success, plus pick one of the following costs per Story Point. 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 Story Points to resist.
If an action is in line with your PC’s Virtue, you can choose to only pay a Story Point 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 Story Points.
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 have three basic features:
Penalty: Conditions impose some kind of penalty on your character, such as Disadvantage on a type of roll or having to spend Story Points to take (or not take) certain actions. They can also impose a dice penalty on certain rolls, but these are usually harder for players and the GM to remember than Disadvantage.
Story Point: Conditions can pay 1 Story Point when they offer your character a choice between doing the convenient thing and the inconvenient thing, and you choose to do the inconvenient thing. Some Conditions may pay Story Points under other circumstances, and some may not pay Story Points at all.
Resolution: How your character can end the Condition, if applicable. Some Conditions may go away on their own. Conditions are short-term and usually only last a scene or a night. Conditions which last a long time are Flaws.
Many Conditions use a simple format: take a penalty or pay a cost equal to (DC – rolled successes) if you don’t take certain actions. For example, if a Toreador tries to seduce you, and you roll 2 successes against a DC of 4, the Condition might be “+1 Story Point if you give in to their advances, -2 Story Points if you want to resist.” Some further example Conditions are given below:
Your character’s hearing is impaired. For the rest of the scene, you need to make a Perception roll at Disadvantage to overhear many sounds. If your hearing is impaired in both ears, take Major Disadvantage.
Something has badly scared you. Take 1 Story Point if you give in to your fear in a way that inconveniences you—loudly screaming (and alerting the monster), running away (potentially missing your chance to kill it), etc. Spend (DC – rolled successes) Story Points if you want to keep your cool.
Your character has been physically hurt and takes a penalty on all dice rolls.
Penalty: Varies by how hurt they are. Frenzying vampires ignore these penalties.
-1: Minor injuries. The character can probably recover fine on their own.
-2: Moderate injuries. It would be a good idea to see a doctor.
-3: Serious injuries. It would be a really bad idea not to see a doctor.
-4: Severe injuries. It would be insane not to see a doctor. The character will probably only survive with medical attention.
-5: Critical injuries. Even with medical attention, the character’s survival isn’t certain.
-6: Terminal injuries. The character is dead. Vampires enter torpor.
Living characters (mortals, ghouls, many night-folk that are biologically alive) can get worse on their own. Characters who go long enough without receiving first aid may have to make Stamina + Resolve rolls (DC varies) to avoid increasing Injured’s penalties by -1. The GM should call for more frequent rolls at higher DCs for characters at higher levels of Injured. Characters at Injured -5 must roll to avoid falling unconscious after every significant action. Unconscious characters take a Medicine roll to stabilize and eventually die without first aid.
Characters doped up on painkillers take reduced penalties from Injured for most non-physical dice rolls. Painkiller-doped characters in a nonstrenous setting (e.g., a hospital) take no penalties for most non-physical rolls.
Resolution: Vampires easily recover from Injured. They can just use Mending to knit their wounds back together with a Rouse check. A vampire can fall off a skyscraper at terminal velocity and get up in seconds, no worse for the wear—though likely hungrier. Ghouls can use Mending to recover in the same way, but most of them are more cautious about getting hurt. It’s harder for a ghoul to score vampire blood than it is for a vampire to score human blood.
Mortals face harder roads to recovery, but can get better on their own, as can ghouls and other biologically alive night-folk. Exact time frames vary by nature and severity of the injury, as well as the quality of the character’s medical care. Characters can also face long-term complications (Flaws), particularly at higher levels of Injured and/or if they receive poorer medical care. Players should exercise common sense. If you beat someone into Injured -5 with a crowbar (“Even with medical attention, the character’s survival isn’t certain”), they are probably going to be bedridden for a very long time, and you might fuck them up permanently. They will also probably recover sooner in a hospital than their living room couch.
Other night-folk have their own means of recovering from injuries. Most of these are poorly understood by vampires beyond generalities. Werewolves, for example, have incredible healing factors and can regenerate even the most grievous wounds without apparent cost or effort (except from silver).
Your character has been poisoned and it’s burning them up inside. Roll Resolve + Stamina (DC varies by lethality of the poison) every physically strenuous action or narratively significant interval. On a setback, take Injured -1. On a botch, take Injured -2. Medical attention can flush the poison from their system.
Someone has gotten the better of you in a social conflict. This can be anything from closing a business deal to making a persuasive argument. Take 1 Story Point if you give in to the other character’s agenda. Spend (DC – rolled successes) Story Points if you want to resist.
When you’re playing out stories in the World of Darkness, time in the story can speed past or slow to a crawl compared to time in the real world. Weeks or months might pass in the space of a few words, while a tense negotiation plays out in real time—or takes even longer.
In addition to years, nights, and hours, the World of Darkness also uses five units of dramatic time. These build on one another, from shortest to longest.
• Scene: Much like a scene in a play or movie, a scene is the time spent dealing with a single, specific event. The GM usually frames the scene, describes what’s going on, and it’s up to the players to resolve the event or conflict. A scene is over when the player or GM posts three asterisks (* * *) in the relevant PC’s Discord channel. Many supernatural powers have durations tied to scenes.
• Chapter: A chapter is the collection of scenes that make up one posted adventure log. From the moment the first scene opens to the point where the GM posts a new adventure log and asks for feedback, you’re playing out a chapter of your story.
• Story: A story tells an entire tale, following the dramatic arc of a related series of events. It’s compromised of multiple chapters, though exactly how many can be fluid. It has an introduction, rising tension, a number of twists, and a climax that brings things to a conclusion. A story is akin to a season in a TV show or a book in an ongoing book series.
• Chronicle: The big picture; a chronicle is the collection of interlinked stories that involve your characters. They might be linked by a common theme or overarching plotline, or they may only share characters and locations. As your story progresses, the players and GM work together to create an ongoing chronicle.