Yes, I’m still on a V:tM kick. This week: an alternate system for managing “Humanity.” It, like the influence system, is heavily inspired by the Mind’s Eye Theater rules.
For this hack, I’ve collapsed the Virtues into the Attributes to create something more similar to the nWoD power/finesse/resistance breakdown. That is:
- Physical attributes remain the same, though Stamina gets involved in degeneration as seen below.
- Social attributes compress Manipulation and Appearance into “Poise,” the social finesse stat. Charisma remains and becomes the power stat. The Self-Control virtue becomes “Composure” and represents social combat resistance as well as ability to hold out against anger.
- Mental attributes drop Wits (its effects are spread between the other attributes). Intelligence is the power stat and Perception is the finesse stat. The Courage virtue becomes the mental resistance stat.
I’ve also simplified the Attack>Dodge>Damage>Soak mechanic universally such that Dodge is pre-subtracted from attack dice before rolling and Soak is pre-subtracted from damage dice before rolling. This should work about about the same statistically and speed up the oWoD combat round a bit.
If you prefer to use the rest of V:tM as written, you can sub in the Virtues for defensive uses below and slightly change the combat order to allow for rolling defenses rather than pre-subtracting them.
A character’s humanity is measured in control over the Beast. As you commit monstrous acts, your Beast grows stronger and your Humanity fades… eventually it becomes easier to relent before the urgings of the Beast than to risk Frenzy and total loss of control. Each character begins with a single Beast Trait in one of three categories; the number of traits in a category is a bonus to the Beast’s attempts to drive the character to Frenzy in those situations. The more Beast Traits you have, the later you wake up after sunset (generally a quarter of an hour for each trait).
- Rage: Invoked when hurt or otherwise provoked; resisted with Composure
- Hunger: Invoked when spurred by hunger or greed; resisted with Stamina
- Fear: Invoked when afraid or faced with fire or sunlight: resisted with Courage
Gaining Beast Traits
Beast Traits represent the strength of the beast within a Cainite. Even the most noble and ethical heart means little against a failure to reign in the Beast, while a near sociopath can still lead a blameless unlife if her violent urgings are kept in check. Thus, there is no real concept of a morality or hierarchy of sins, merely actions that cause the Beast to grow and gain more power over its host. You can be as moral or immoral as you like, as long as you maintain a leash on your inner monster.
The easiest way to gain Beast Traits is killing. While there is no hierarchy of sins, there is one of murder:
- True accidental deaths, killing in self defense (no quarter offered or given), killing an antagonistic supernatural
- Careless deaths (could have been prevented with some foresight but it was an accident), killing out of expediency (dangerous, untrustworthy, but inactive opponent)
- Killing a non-innocent during a Frenzy, killing a violent opponent (who was only threatening injury, not death), killing out of a sense of justice (the target wasn’t deadly but was mounting up small horrors over the long term)
- Killing an innocent during a Frenzy, killing a non-innocent in the heat of the moment out of anger, hunger, or fear
- Killing an innocent in the heat of the moment, premeditated murder on a non-innocent
- Premeditated murder of an innocent, cruel/unusual/torturous death, mass murder or serial killing
When your character kills, determine whether the motivation is out of rage, hunger, or fear (if it’s not obvious, as in a frenzy, the player chooses what makes the most sense). Find the type of kill on the chart and reduce the number by the number of current Beast Traits you have in that category (even the Beast gets jaded after a while). If the number is 0, you don’t gain an additional Beast Trait this time (though repeatedly performing the action may bump it up). If it is 1 or more, you gain another Beast Trait in that category.
While the Beast is less interested in actions that don’t involve death, a history of cruelty or otherwise unnecessary harm short of killing someone may eventually catch its attention. In these cases, the player will be warned after such an action that the Beast is waking and her character can feel that it will grow if the actions continue to be repeated.
Rather than making a simple check to avoid Frenzy, it is a drawn out series of attacks against the character’s mental fortitude (represented by an additional mental damage track). It does not generally take place in rounds, but the Beast attacks when provoked, slowly wearing down the character.
The Beast attacks whenever the character faces a trigger event:
- Rage: The character is provoked or threatened and Fight reflexes would kick in
- Hunger: The character spends down to one or zero blood or is faced with an obvious chance to feed when low on blood
- Fear: The character is faced with fire, sunlight, or something else that would trigger Flight reflexes
Characters can take an action to respond to attacks by the Beast. If a trigger comes in combat rounds, defending against the Beast uses an action similarly to Dodging (either the whole round’s action, or splitting dice pools between acting and defending).
When the Beast attacks, the sequence is as follows:
- The Beast declares a dice pool based on the significance of the trigger.
- A very minor stressor might only be 1 die, while a major event might be 4.
- The character’s Beast Traits for that stressor are added to the total.
- The character can decide to relent and do what the Beast wants (attack, feed, or flee). If this is chosen, the Beast deals no damage because it got what it wanted.
- The character decides whether to use an action to defend. If she does:
- Subtract Perception from the attacker’s dice pool. Willpower can be spent to reduce it further.
- If there are no dice left, the attack simply misses.
- If the attacker still has dice, roll them against difficulty 6. If there are any successes, the attack hit.
- Add the successes on the attack to the appropriate Beast Trait.
- The defender Soaks, subtracting Composure (Rage), Stamina (Hunger), or Courage (Fear).
- Roll the remaining dice against difficulty 6. The successes are the damage taken by the target.
As with physical damage, most characters have seven boxes of Frenzy Levels. Most damage is normal, but a mental wound might be counted as “Aggravated” if the Beast is somehow being stressed by an external supernatural force. As with physical damage, the wounds carry penalties (to mental actions related to thinking clearly and social actions to act like a human with other mortals).
When a character is “killed” mentally, she enters Frenzy and takes actions related to the last trigger (attacking until the provocation is destroyed, feeding until sated, or fleeing and fighting anything in the way). At that point, all mental damage is healed as the beast is quiescent (but the player probably has a new Beast Trait). If not “killed,” the mental damage heals slowly (similar to the mortal healing rate). On rising for the evening, a player can choose to heal one normal mental health level instead of receiving a point of Willpower (Aggravated damage can only be healed with time).