Since the game has not been released yet, we have... the Teaseriffic Page! Below are all the spoilers from the www.worldofdarkness.com page, all in one handy list. Enjoy!
Storytelling System 101 – This week we’re going to take a look at the core game system that underlies all play in the new World of Darkness, namely the Storytelling System. That’s right Storytelling, not Storyteller (which was the name for the system running through most White Wolf games to this point). The new name exists to show that this rules set is an evolution of the systems White Wolf games have used before, but completely overhauled. Dots on the character sheet and 10-sided dice are still there, but Bill Bridges and the rest of the design team have streamlined and simplified areas that were needlessly complex and reworked parts of the system that were “statistically challenged.” The Storytelling System runs better, faster and truer than anything we’ve published, and it still exists to support and enhance stories rather than eclipse them. But let’s get into the details, shall we?
Traits – In terms of game traits, the core of the Storytelling System consists of nine Attributes (three Mental, three Physical, and three Social) and 24 Skills (again divided into Mental, Physical and Social). Each of these traits is rated in dots (•), ranging from 1 to 5, much like the "five-star" system many critics use to rate movies. For example, a character might have a Dexterity Attribute of ••• (3 dots) and a Firearms Skill of •• (2 dots). Attributes and Skills are combined to do almost everything in the game.
Beyond that are advantages and Merits. Advantages are usually derived from other traits and cover such things as Health, Willpower, Speed and Defense. Merits are special edges (such as an unerring sense of direction, or friends in the right places), which either your character is born with or he accumulates in his lifetime. Put it all together, and you have (at least mechanically) a complete character – it’s up to you to bring that character to life.
Dice Rolling – One of the great things about the new Storytelling System is how straightforward dice rolling is. For your character to do something, you roll a number of 10-sided dice. That number – your dice pool – is almost always equal to the relevant Attribute and Skill. When your character shoots a gun, you add his Dexterity ••• to his Firearms •• for a total of five dice – one die per dot. If any die comes up with an 8 or more, you succeed. If not, you fail.
The dice pool can be modified, of course. Special tools and favorable conditions give you extra dice; poor conditions take them away. But 8 remains the magic number to succeed.
Virtues &amp; Vices – Every character in the Storytelling System has a Virtue and a Vice. These traits, chosen from the traditional list of seven deadly sins and corresponding virtues, help you define your character. Is he jealous but hopeful? Wrathful and just? Mechanically, Virtues and Vices are tied to Willpower. Willpower is a pool of points you can spend for bonuses and other purposes – and those points run low awfully quick. Your character regains Willpower when she follows her core instincts (her Virtue or her Vice) to the detriment of her better (or more immediate) interests. Let’s imagine a character named Eva, whose Virtue is Hope.
The activists' anger was palpable as Eva entered the room.
"I know you see me as the enemy – Trent Thorson’s daughter. The truth is, I may own Thorson Lumber, but I don’t control it or I’d shut it down. If my uncle has his way, I’ll never have that chance.
"I know his lawyers and thugs are pressuring you to stop the protest, but you can’t give up. You feel the power of that forest. There's something there, something bigger than any of us, and it needs to be protected.
"All I came here to say is don’t lose hope. I’ll feed you what information I can from the inside to keep you one step ahead of them. If you give up now, there’ll be nothing left to save."
By supporting the activists at her own personal expense and risk, Eva regains any spent Willpower.
Other Sources – Sure, you know to watch this site for all the latest, but did you know that Game Trade Magazine is running a series of articles this summer on the new World of Darkness and Vampire: The Requiem? Last month, Game Trade heard from developers Justin Achilli and Bill Bridges and their objectives for the two new books. Now GTM has kindly allowed us to post a copy of that article. This month, GTM has a preview of the World of Darkness Rulebook itself focusing on the rules for ghosts (included as antagonists). You can get GTM from your local bobby shop.
Merits – Merits are special capabilities or knacks that add individuality to your character. Like Attributes and Skills, they break down into broad categories of Mental, Physical and Social Merits. They are also measured in dots, but they are not always used to determine dice pools. Instead, they represent increasing degrees of quality or quantity concerning their subject. You start play with only a few Merits, so choosing the right ones that best fit your character concept is critical. Let's take a look at just one example of a Mental Merit:
Encyclopedic Knowledge (••••) – Your character is a veritable font of useful (and sometimes useless) information on a wide variety of topics. Chances are he can come up with an anecdote pertaining to any situation based on something he’s read, witnessed or seen on TV. You can make an Intelligence + Wits roll any time your character is confronted with a situation or phenomenon outside his normal realm of experience. If the roll is successful, he may recall a "factoid" that he’s heard at some point, which could shed light on matters at hand.
The Requiem, Post-August – I know, I know, it's hard to look past that August 21 release date, but we're all hard at work on the following releases for Vampire: The Requiem and the rest of the World of Darkness. For example, you can look forward to City of the Damned: New Orleans and A Hunger Like Fire (the first new Vampire novel) this fall. Both books feature stunning cover paintings. Why don’t you take a look for yourselves?
"City of the Damned: New Orleans" cover by rk Post:
"A Hunger Like Fire" cover by Jason Alexander:
Let's Fight! – It's Fight Week here at worldofdarkness.com as we take a look at how combat works in the new Storytelling System. Of course, combat should always be a last resort and the story comes first and… okay, let's fight!
Rolling with (and for) the Punches – When a character attacks an opponent, he does so with a bare fist or a high-powered rifle, you resolve the action with a single die roll. As with almost all other rolls in the game, this dice pool is the sum of an Attribute and a Skill. For throwing a punch, the dice pool is Strength (Attribute) + Brawl (Skill). At its most bare-bones, an attack is resolved by just rolling that dice pool. Every success (a die that comes up 8 or more) inflicts a wound on the opponent. No one is rolling other dice to defend or to “soak” damage or for any other reason. One attack means one roll of the dice.
Where the variation comes in is in modifiers to that dice pool. We mentioned last week how favorable and negative conditions can add or subtract dice, and nowhere is that truer than in combat. You add dice to your pool for anything you have that makes your attack more effective (like a special move or the damage rating of your weapon). You lose dice for anything the opponent does to avoid getting hurt. Most importantly, every character has a Defense trait, which represents his ability to bob and weave or otherwise make himself harder to hit, and this serves as a penalty on any close-combat attack. Armor and defensive actions can also penalize attacks.
Therefore, maximizing bonuses to your attacks and penalties to your opponents' attacks is the key to winning a fight.
An Example (with an illustration by Durwin Talon): Sandy never should have opened that box her great aunt sent to her. Now something is loose, something with long claws and sharp teeth, something that's chased her into her own kitchen. Sandy grabs a butcher's knife off the counter and turns around to strike back. Sandy's 2 Strength and 1 Weaponry grant her player three dice. Her knife, with a damage of 1, adds one bonus die to that pool. The creature has a Defense total of 2 but no armor. That means two dice are removed from Sandy's player's pool. She is left with two dice, and her roll yields a 6 and a 9. That's one success, so the creature takes one wound.
Ouch, That Hurt! – Unless you're doing something special (like grappling to immobilize or using a special vampiric ability), a fight is going to mean damage to the opponent. (It may also mean damage to your character, of course). So let's take a look at Health and damage, shall we?
Every character has a trait called Health. This trait is tied to the Stamina Attribute, so (quite logically) the tougher your character is, the more damage she can endure. Health is marked on your character sheet and has both dots and points. Your character's dots are filled in on your character sheet, representing her total capacity for enduring damage. Her points represent her current state of health, and they are tracked in the corresponding boxes beneath the dots. Every time your character loses a Health point to damage, mark off the kind of injury inflicted from left to right. You'll begin suffering dice penalties as the number of wounds grows. When dots and filled boxes are equal (she has lost all of her Health points), your character is badly hurt or dying.
Damage comes in three basic types: bashing (from blunt attacks), lethal (from guns and knives) and aggravated (from special supernatural attacks). The harsher the damage type is, the longer it takes to heal and the more life-threatening it is. Bashing damage heals quickly (one point every 15 minutes), and if your characters last Health box is filled with bashing damage, you simply have to make Stamina rolls for the character to remain conscious and active. Lethal damage heals more slowly, and if your Health boxes are filled with lethal damage your character becomes incapacitated and needs immediate medical attention. (Otherwise, existing lethal wounds begin to upgrade to aggravated damage.) If your Health boxes are all full of aggravated damage, your character dies.
Unless your Health track is full of lethal wounds, healing just takes time. Your character can still go about his or her business. Medical attention and supernatural powers can speed healing, however.
Desktop of Darkness – Designer extraordinaire Matt Milberger went ahead and put together a computer wallpaper based on the stunning cover he and Katie Mc Caskill? designed for the World of Darkness Rulebook. It's available in multiple sizes for your downloading pleasure.
Guns &amp; Ammo (Well, Mostly Just Guns) – We’ve looked at the basics of close combat, but the World of Darkness isn’t the Bronze Age. People have much more sophisticated ways to hurt each other – namely, they have firearms.
At its core, a firefight works like close combat: the attacker rolls his dice pool (in this case, Dexterity + Firearms + weapon damage +/- modifiers) and every success inflicts a point of damage upon the target. The key modifiers in play are different, however. Most notably, the target’s Defense trait doesn’t normally apply. (Good luck dodging a bullet, friend!) However, targets can make use of concealment (hiding behind objects to make themselves harder to hit), and attackers suffer penalties for shooting at anything beyond a weapon’s short range. Both parties can also use special moves (such as firing an autofire burst or going prone) to influence the dice pool.
Example: The monster from the box is dead, but Sandy’s troubles continue – someone wants to make sure she doesn’t talk to anyone. She leaves her home to find Tony, her deranged second cousin, waiting for her with a pistol. Tony is waiting across the street (15 yards away), and when Sandy notices him, he opens fire. Tony has 2 Dexterity and 2 Firearms, and his pistol has a damage rating of 1, so his player’s basic dice pool is 5. Sandy’s Defense doesn’t apply, and she isn’t wearing any applicable armor, so no modifiers come into play. Fifteen yards is within the pistol’s short range, so no modifier there either. Tony doesn’t wait for Sandy to get fully out in the open before he fires, however, so the Storyteller rules that she is barely concealed, which imposes a -1 penalty. Further, since Sandy hasn’t acted yet this turn, she chooses to sacrifice her action and go prone, dropping to the ground. This imposes a further -2 penalty. Therefore, Tony’s player rolls (5 - 1 - 2 =) two dice. He gets a 1 and an 8, for one success. Sandy is shot, and she suffers one point of lethal damage.
Fighting with Merit – The basics of combat in the Storytelling System are very simple, but there are plenty of ways to influence the modifiers to an attack roll, leaving plenty of room for strategy. Any combatant can make some special moves (like yesterday’s going prone, or dodging in close combat) but trained fighters can open up all kinds of other options – including ways to modify the actual dice pool they use in combat. A variety of Merits reflects this type of special training, and a combatant with the right ones can have a substantial edge.
Take the Fighting Finesse Merit, for example. Normally an armed close-combat attack’s basic dice pool is Strength + Weaponry + weapon’s damage. Strength is the relevant Attribute because, in general, physical power is most important in delivery telling blows. But your character might prefer to fight in a manner that favors agility over power. If he has Fighting Finesse, then with one specific weapon (a rapier or katana, for example), you may substitute your character’s Dexterity for Strength when making attack rolls. You can purchase the Merit multiple times to gain the same finesse with more weapons, one for each purchase. To buy Fighting Finesse, your character has to have at least Dexterity ••• and Weaponry ••.
Stat me out – You can now take a look at the basic World of Darkness character sheet. If you take a look, you’ll also glimpse the mechanical basics of creating a mortal character. (The character sheet is a PDF requiring Adobe Acrobat 6.0 or greater)
A Stylish Smack Down – Most combat Merits have only a single effect, but not all. Fighting Styles are special Merits that have multiple levels (much like a Skill) and with each new dot you purchase, your character gains a new maneuver. Purchasing a Fighting Style requires that you meet several prerequisites, so only skilled fighters can master them. Let’s take a quick look at some of the maneuvers from the Kung-Fu Fighting Style, visually enhanced with some art by the talented Greg Ruth.
Focused Attack (•): Physical conditioning and accuracy allow your character to deliver blows at vulnerable spots on targets. Penalties to hit specific targets are reduced by one. Even when a specific part of an opponent is not targeted, Armor penalties to your character’s Brawl attacks decrease by one.
Iron Skin (••): Your character has hardened his body to physical blows, allowing him to withstand repeated hits with minimal effect. He has an effective Armor trait of 1 against bashing attacks only.
Defensive Attack (•••): Your character has mastered the ability to avoid attacks and strike back in the same motion. Your character can perform a dodge maneuver and make a single attack against an individual who attempts a Brawl or Weaponry attack against him in the turn. This attack suffers a -1 penalty.
Kung-Fu goes up to five dots, so its practitioners can eventually learn the Whirlwind Strike and Lethal Strike maneuvers too. Any character learning Kung-Fu, though, must have Strength ••, Dexterity ••, Stamina •• and Brawl ••.
Next Week: The Requiem – Tune in next week as we get some blood on our hands and look at some of the facts about existence as a vampire. That’s right kids, it’s Blood Week!
Blood on the Pavement – This week we take a look at the Kindred, the undead creatures at the core of Vampire: The Requiem. Vampires feed on blood and their own blood – their Vitae in their parlance – grants them a variety of benefits (including cheating death in the first place, of course).
How Potent Are You? – The raw power of a Kindred is captured in a trait called Blood Potency. Every vampire begins with a Blood Potency of 1. That potency rises with age and experience as the Kindred learns to tap the raw power in his veins. Higher Blood Potency allows the vampire to use his supernatural power more effectively. In game terms, the character can spend more Vitae per turn and store more Vitae in his body. He can also gain access to new supernatural powers and change the very nature of his blood.
Potent blood has its price, however. A young Kindred can feed off lesser beasts (such as animals) to satisfy his hunger. As Blood Potency rises, animals fail to satisfy, so the vampire has to feed from mortal people. At even higher levels, only the blood of other undead will satisfy. Beyond that, Kindred with high Blood Potency also feel the call of slumber like no others–they eventually fall into long periods of dormancy (called torpor). When they rise, they find that their blood has thinned and they must begin their struggle for ascendancy all over again.
A Few Facts of Undeath – A vampire is nothing without his blood, his Vitae. Vitae forces his body to rise with the sunset and powers his Disciplines and other powers. The vampire’s body – or corpse, to be more accurate – does not function in the same way as mortal’s does. There are no functioning internal organs, no immune system and no healing from wounds – at least not without the expenditure of Vitae. This has a variety of effects, including:
• Reduced Damage: The Kindred anatomy is animated by a supernatural curse, not the functioning of delicate organs, so it takes a lot to inflict serious damage upon them. Firearms inflict bashing damage to Kindred instead of lethal damage. Blades and arrows still inflict lethal damage, however. In addition, a vampire does not risk falling unconscious if all her Health boxes are marked off due to bashing damage. She remains able to act but still suffers a wound penalty.
• Healing: Kindred do not heal like mortals. Instead they must spend Vitae to do so. One point of Vitae heals two points of bashing damage or one point of lethal damage. The vampire can take other action in the same turn as healing bashing or lethal damage.
• Physical Augmentation: Vampires can boost their Physical Attributes (Dexterity, Strength, Stamina) for a moment by spending Vitae. Each point adds two dice to dice pools using one of these Attributes for the current turn (the vampire can take a regular action that same turn at no penalty). Certain Disciplines allow for more efficient use of this ability.
Sympathy for the Devil – Vampires call themselves “Kindred,” but some are closer kin than others. The connection between sire and childe carries supernatural power. Kindred can affect their immediate, linear “family” with their Disciplines more easily than they can affect other vampires. The character receives the blood-tie bonus (+2 dice) to affect her sire, her sire’s sire, her childer and her childer’s childer. This bonus applies with several Disciplines, most notably those that affect the mind.
The same blood ties also manifest as blood sympathy, an instinctual sense that resonates within a lineage. This normally happens spontaneously, when a “relative” feels some strong emotion or sensation such as frenzy, a grave wound or the pleasure of diablerie. On such occasions, the Storyteller can ask a player to roll the character’s Wits + Occult. The number of successes tells how much information the character gains from this flash of sensation.
The Kindred bless and curse this blood sympathy. If a Kindred sends another vampire to Final Death or diablerizes him, his sire, childer or other “relations” might feel it. The chances are small that any of them will know exactly what happened and who did it, but would-be murderers must consider the possibility.
The Predator’s Taint – Save with the use of certain Disciplines, Kindred cannot hide their nature from one another. Mortals might not perceive the predators among them, but Kindred Beasts rise to the merest whiff of a challenge, most especially another Kindred. Normally this reaction feels like nothing more than a simple undercurrent of tension, raised hackles. When Kindred meet for the very first time, though, this tension is so acute that it can cause frenzy. The nature of the frenzy (anger or fear) is determined by the relative Blood Potency of the vampires. Vampires with lower Blood Potency than those they face must resist fear frenzy; vampires with equal or greater Blood Potency must resist anger frenzy. This risk of frenzy can be reduced or eliminated by circumstances that make meeting other Kindred less traumatic, such as when the newcomer makes an immediate offer to help or the meeting occurs in a place where the characters both feel safe.
The Well-Equipped Vampire (Player) – The launch of Vampire: The Requiem and the World of Darkness Rulebook features a full set of play aids and other items for fans of the game. July sees the release of a Vampire: The Requiem T-shirt and other items will release soon after the core book, including dice, character sheets and a sturdy Storyteller’s Screen. The character sheet set features five customized sheets for each clan and covenant in the game. The Storyteller Screen is nothing like the flimsy items of days gone by that you might be familiar with. This is a four-panel screen made of extra heavy stock akin to the cover of a hardcover book. The dice set includes a custom dice bag and ten special 10-sided dice. The dice themselves are red, but the success numerals (8, 9 and 0) are marked in silver.
Being Traditional – The Prince or potentate of a domain creates his own law in the nighttime world of the Kindred, but three Traditions have been handed down from the nights of Rome. These basic laws – often bent and broken, but never safely ignored – are more than just social taboos, they are codifications of parts of the damned nature of the undead. The Prince and his Sheriff may enforce the law, but the very nature of the Kindred enforces the Traditions. Here is but the first such Tradition:
The First Tradition: Masquerade – "Do not reveal your true nature to those not of the Blood. Doing so forfeits you your claim to the Blood."
A Kindred's reflection (and any photographs or video) appears slightly blurred or grainy. This is not enough to stand out at first glance (viewers often assume there’s a flaw in a lens or dirt on a mirror) but it is enough to make identifying individuals and their features very difficult. Kindred can suppress this effect for a scene if the player spends a point of Willpower.
Art of the Damned – Art director Pauline Benney passed along some additional artwork from Vampire: The Requiem to post. First is another excellent piece by Alex Maleev, featuring a vampire known only as The Unholy. (This piece appears on the T-shirt we mentioned yesterday.) Second is a piece by Jean-Sebastien Rossbach. Enjoy!
MONDAY, JUNE 14
The Damned Among Us – This week we get to meet a few of the Kindred lurking in the World of Darkness. All five of these characters will show up in the upcoming series of Vampire: The Requiem novels and can serve as inspiration for your own games. All illustrations this week are by Brom.
Clan: Ventrue Covenant: Invictus
Persephone (née Linda) Moore is the childe of Prince Maxwell of Chicago. He Embraced her in the heat of passion, and she came into contact with some other vampires before he had a chance to clean up his mistake. Now he tolerates her, but many think he wishes he had killed her to be free from the liability and shame. Some even whisper that she has blackmailed him somehow. Many of Chicago’s other vampires scoff at her for hanging on her sire’s coattails (or for having the temerity to be Embraced as she was). A member of the Invictus, she enjoys the comforts the First Estate gives her, but she is also a young vampire, one for whom feudalism is an unnatural concept. Her rebellious streak manifests in the form of some sympathies among those Kindred who don’t play the game of covenant and servility. She walks a careful line keeping these dealings hidden from the Prince.
TUESDAY, JUNE 15
Trey "Loki" Fischer
Clan: Mekhet Covenant: Circle of the Crone
Trey Fischer had been around vampires all his life — he just didn't know it until it was too late. His father worked at one of the Prince of Chicago’s companies and eventually became a ghoul. Unwilling to cope with what her husband was turning into, Trey’s mother left, taking only his sister. In his late teenage years — by which time he’d adopted the Loki moniker — his girlfriend vanished, and he later saw her among some rough types who turned out to be unbound vampires. Cruelly, one of that gang of vampires turned Loki, too, but such spitefulness didn't endear him to the independent cause. He threw in early with the dominant power structure for revenge. He had his revenge, but he couldn't quite bring himself to destroy his erstwhile girlfriend, and she’s still out there.
Since getting involved with the hierarchy of vampiric power, Loki doesn't see eye to eye with it frequently. He associates with the most holistic of the prevalent covenants, the Circle of the Crone, which allows him to blend personal philosophy with the occult origin of the undead. Nevertheless, he understands that the prevailing power structure is his best bet, especially as he's made a bit of a name for himself leading a successful coterie of enforcers against vampires who would jeopardize the Traditions and risk unlife for all the undead.
WEDNESDAY , JUNE 16
Clan: Daeva Covenant: Lancea Sanctum
As a luminary member of the Lancea Sanctum and an advisor to the Prince of Chicago, Solomon is widely regarded as a fearsome high chamberlain of Chicago’s host. What he lacks in subtlety, he more than makes up for in zeal and willingness to punish heresies, be they real or manufactured. Solomon has a special hatred for Persephone, whom he sees as a personification of the madness and weakness creeping into Prince Maxwell. That his longtime ally would so casually violate the Second Tradition sends Solomon into apoplexies of rage.
Solomon’s body is crisscrossed with scars, both from conflicts and as a result of his mortification of his own flesh. That he keeps these scars from night to night only adds to his mystique among the Damned of Chicago.
THURSDAY, JUNE 17
Kindred hear her name and tremble. The Unholy is the oldest vampire most Kindred in Chicago know (or, more accurately, have heard of). She’s an independent in the truest sense of the word, in that she doesn’t seem to care one whit about who’s Prince in what domain. When she comes through the city, she respects no laws but her own and usually leaves a mess to be cleaned up afterward. She quite simply considers herself to be beyond the rules of any so-called Prince younger than she. What’s more, the Unholy is an unabashed diablerist, and the stories of her hunts for the heart’s blood of Kindred are legion. Just how she has survived so long in clear violation of the Third Tradition without surrendering to the Beast is unknown.
FRIDAY, JUNE 18
Clan: Ventrue Covenant: Invictus
The once and present Prince of Chicago, Maxwell spent a great deal of time in torpor in the aftermath of the fire that scourged the city in 1871. Upon his reawakening, he set about regaining stewardship of his city. It took many years, but he resumed his rightful place as Prince. Since then, he has served as the strong head of a city full of diverse undead and things more dangerous still. He rules through a balance of power, keeping the five major covenants carefully in check under his aegis. Although a member of the Invictus himself, he has built close personal relationships with the Lancea Sanctum (especially in the person of Bishop Solomon Birch, who serves as one of his closest advisors). This alliance has allowed him to check the traditional power of the Carthians, so closely tied to the blue collar heart of the city.
Maxwell’s metaphorical crown does not rest easy. Those Kindred who refuse to play the game of covenants (and the neonates who do so only half heartedly) threaten the balance of forces, and he pursues them with uncommon zeal. But the gravest threat to his rule is the probably the simple passing of years. He has already succumbed to torpor once, and he knows that slumber will call to him again, eventually. Others whisper that he exhibits the creeping madness of elders of his clan, pointing to the foolish Embrace of Persephone Moore as evidence that Maxwell is losing his grip on sanity (and power).
Next Week: But I Don’t Wanna Die! – Next week we step back from the Danse Macabre a bit and take another look at mortals in the World of Darkness, both as protagonists and antagonists.
Make Mine Mortal! – It's Mortals Week here at wordofdarkness.com. We're going to take a look at some more of the mortal content in the World of Darkness Rulebook, and how it can (if you want) mesh with the supernatural elements of Vampire: The Requiem.
Do You See What I See? – In a world full of predators it's critical to be aware of your environment. You may have noted, however, that there's no Awareness Skill (or other trait) on the character sheet. The Investigation Skill covers situations when a character is actively searching for something, but what happens when she might or might not notice a creature hiding in the shadows or a faint sound? Easy, the Storyteller calls for a Wits + Composure roll. This works just like a standard Attribute + Skill roll, except that in this case the dice pool is made up of two Attributes. Typically, the Storyteller will call for the roll and provide a modifier based on how difficult it is to perceive whatever triggered the roll (hearing a faint whisper in a crowded room might be at -3 or even -4).
Storytellers can play with the way perception checks work depending on the situation. One way is the old standard of rolling the dice herself behind a screen and just telling the players what their characters perceive. There's also the option of Skill-based perception. If a character has a Skill relevant to the situation, they may be more likely to notice something out of the ordinary. In this case, the roll is Wits + the relevant Skill. This could be Wits + Survival to realize that a predatory animal lurks nearby in the woods. Or it might be Wits + Academics to notice that the books on a shelf aren't arranged alphabetically, but by date of publication. As a general rule of thumb, the highest of Composure or the Skill is rolled along with Wits. Of course, there are times when Skills dots simply don't matter, and Wits + Composure always applies. For example, if a gun lies in the corner of a room, having the Firearms Skill doesn't help spot it.
TUESDAY, JUNE 22
Seeing Is Believing – In the World of Darkness, no one is absolutely safe from the supernatural, but most people go through their lives blissfully unaware of the monsters that lurk in the shadows. Some get pulled whole-hog into the supernatural when they become the victims of vampires and other monstrosities, or even worse, get turned into one of them. There are those, however, who exist somewhere in between those two extremes – mortals who know (or at least feel) that something is out there, but haven't yet been fully exposed to the horrors that await them. Some of these people develop a sense for when a particular supernatural creature or phenomenon is nearby, an ability represented mechanically by the following Merit:
Unseen Sense (•••):Your character has a "sixth sense" when it comes to the supernatural. Perhaps his hair stands on end, goose bumps race along his arms, or a shiver runs up his spine. Regardless of the manner, his body reacts to the presence of unseen forces. He can't see or hear anything, and in fact he might not know at first what causes this reaction. It might be a response to a specific type of supernatural phenomenon such as ghosts or vampires, or it might be a general sense that something isn't right. Over time and with a little trial and error, he might be able to qualify what his body tries to tell him.
The specific type of supernatural phenomenon to which your character is sensitive must be determined when this Merit is purchased. It can be something as vague as a creepy feeling when in the presence of ghosts, or something as specific as a sudden chill when a vampire is nearby. The Storyteller has final say on the exact nature and trigger of your character's sixth sense, and can keep its nature secret if desired, leaving you to figure it out during play.
Only mortal, mundane characters can possess this Merit. The pivotal moment of becoming or being changed into a being with supernatural capabilities eliminates it.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23
It’s Not What You Know – Storytelling games are all about social interplay. We’ve paid a lot of attention to combat mechanics and other physical parts of play, but ultimately a character needs to rely on his social acumen to thrive in a harsh setting like the World of Darkness. Kindred have their own social networks, of course, but mortals are hardly without connections. In the Storytelling System, Social Attributes and Skills represent a character’s social capabilities (how charming he is, for example), but actual social bonds show up as Merits. Social Merits include Contacts, Mentor, Status and so on, but one of the most useful is Allies.
Allies are people who are willing to help your character from time to time. They may be associates, friends of convenience or people who owe your character a favor. Each acquisition of this Merit is dedicated to one type of ally, whether in an organization, society or circle. Examples include the police, City Hall, criminals, unions, banks, university faculty and hospital staff. In order to have alliances in more than one venue, you need to purchase this Merit multiple times, each trait with its own dots. Thus, your character might have Allies (Police) ••, Allies (Criminals) ••• and Allies (City Hall) •, each acquired separately at character creation or during play.
This Merit generally represents a social network your character can call upon rather than a specific individual. Unless you specifically want it to mean you have a specific underboss as a friend, Allies (Underworld) ••• represents how well you get along with gangsters in general and how easily you can call on a gangland connection for help.
Each dot that your character has indicates how deep his influence runs in that group. One dot might mean he can ask for minor favors, such as being spared a parking ticket if alliance is among police, or being allowed to see an article before it goes to press if alliance is among reporters. Three dots garner considerable favors, such as a building permit “going missing” at City Hall, or a strike resolution being wrapped up early among union leaders. Five dots allow for dangerous and even overtly criminal favors, such as a stock being sabotaged on Wall Street or the answers to an exam being shared by a university professor. The Storyteller has final say over what is an acceptable request and what is not. If there’s any doubt, the Storyteller could call for a Manipulation + Persuasion roll, with a bonus equal to your character’s Allies dots. Penalties might also apply based on the importance or danger of the request.
THURSDAY, JUNE 24
Populating the World of Darkness – The Storytelling System uses two basic formats for Storyteller characters, one for combatants and one for non-combatants. Combatants get the full treatment, with all their traits provided. Most characters who show up in a Storytelling game don’t need such full treatment, however. If the players’ characters run across a vagrant spouting strange mutterings about hidden monsters, his exact Speed or dots in Survival are not terribly important. Thus, the non-combatant write-up provides some details for characterization and a few relevant dice pools, allowing the Storyteller to fill in the rest as best suits her game. A generic template for a homeless person appears like so:
Quote: “Man, you wouldn’t believe some of the shit I’ve seen out here at night. Let me have one of those smokes and I’ll tell you about it.”
Background: The homeless can be found in almost every large city or town around the world, wandering the streets and back alleys in search of a meal, a fix or a warm place to sleep. Many times their disheveled appearance hides a sharp mind and the capabilities of a practiced confidence man or thief, or a proud, good-hearted individual who’s simply fallen on hard times.
Description: Dirty, tangled hair, cracked lips, raw complexion. Most homeless people are thin and in poor health, and wear layers of dirty and ragged clothing. They often carry their possessions in a trash bag or threadbare duffel bag.
Storytelling Hints: Homeless people are often beggars, looking for some money to feed their addictions or just their bellies. These individuals can be eager to perform a simple job in return for a handout, like posing as a lookout or sharing information about the local area. In some cases, however, these people are experienced con artists who try to swindle as much as they can out of the gullible or overly compassionate.
Abilities: Awareness (dice pool 4): Many homeless people have learned to be acutely aware of their environment and are quick to take advantage of whatever opportunities fate tosses their way; Streetwise (dice pool 5): Homeless people develop an intimate knowledge of who and what goes on in their territory, mostly as a matter of survival. With the right incentive they can be persuaded to share what they’ve observed with others.
Into the Ruins – Here’s some more artwork from the World of Darkness Rulebook, this time from Sam Araya.
FRIDAY, JUNE 25
Monster Hunter – We looked at a non-combatant template yesterday, so today we turn to a combatant, namely the monster hunter. This is a template for a type of person, one who has been exposed to the supernatural and decided to fight back. Monster hunters are not generally part of an organized society, but lone individuals with their backs to the wall.
Quote: “They’re out there, hiding among us, preying on the innocent and defenseless. I’m going to make them pay for what they’ve done.”
Background: Some hunters have lost loved ones to the terrors that plague the modern world, be they ghosts, vampires or werewolves. Others may be victims themselves who survived only by luck or the cruelty of their tormentors. But rather than shrink from the horror of what they’ve experienced, these individuals devote themselves to finding and destroying creatures. Monster hunters generally operate alone. Many don’t want to put people at risk, while others are too consumed with paranoia to trust anyone. They often lead secret lives, working by day and stalking the streets by night.
Description: Monster hunters come in all shapes and sizes. Some, unhinged by their experiences, are dirty and disheveled. Others appear perfectly respectable until they pull a stake and a mallet from a briefcase. Like the creatures they hunt, these people work hard to blend in with the crowd.
Storytelling Hints: Most monster hunters are mentally disturbed to one extent or another by what they’ve experienced. They are frequently paranoid and suspicious of even close friends, whom they constantly fear might become “one of them.” Some take to their mission with a sense of holy zeal, likening themselves to modern-day crusaders, while others consider monsters with the same dispassionate regard that a big-game hunter brings to his prey .
Attributes: Intelligence 2, Wits 4, Resolve 5, Strength 3, Dexterity 4, Stamina 3, Presence 2, Manipulation 3, Composure 4
Skills: Academics 2, Athletics 2, Brawl 3, Computer 1, Drive 1, Firearms 3, Intimidation 2, Investigation 2, Medicine 2, Occult (choose a specific monster) 4, Science 1, Stealth 3, Streetwise 2, Subterfuge 2, Survival 2, Weaponry 4
Merits: Danger Sense, Fast Reflexes 2, Iron Stamina 2
Willpower: 9; Morality: 7; Virtue: Justice; Vice: Wrath; Initiative: 8 (10 with Fast Reflexes); Defense: 4; Speed: 12; Health: 8
Weapons/Attacks: Machete (damage 2L; size 2; dice pool 9); Stake (damage 1L, size 1, dice pool 4, must target heart); Colt .45 (damage: 3L; range 30/60/120; ammo: 7+1; dice pool 10)
Armor: Reinforced/thick clothing (rating: 1/0)
MONDAY, JUNE 28
What Clan Are You? – In Vampire: The Requiem, Kindred blood runs in five large clans. Every Kindred (with a few, possibly apocryphal, exceptions) is Embraced into one of these clans. This heritage defines some of the nature of their damnation. This week we take a look at each of the five.
Emotional and sensual, the Daeva cultivate both desire among their prey and physical perfection among themselves. Sexual predators and sensual hedonists alike populate the ranks of the clan. Succubus sires look for some combination of charm, culture, seductiveness, desire to achieve, passion and physical beauty. Many Daeva Embrace mortals to whom they have become attached, but this attachment almost invariably proves false, a mixture of lust and simple hunger. Few relationships are as euphoric as those between a Daeva and a newly Embraced childe, and few grow cold as swiftly.
Disciplines: Daeva are masters of Majesty, the vampiric Discipline of lust and want. Their blood also favors the inhuman grace and power of the Disciplines of Celerity and Vigor.
Weakness: The Daeva’s cursed blood enslaves them to darker passions. Any time a Daeva has an opportunity to indulge her Vice but does not do so, she loses two points of Willpower.
TUESDAY, JUNE 29
Primal and savage, the Gangrel hunt in the untamed places and show no mercy. Gangrel can come from nearly any former life, but all Savages possess a strong survival instinct. Gangrel loathe personal weakness and admire those whose greatest strengths are those of the self – self-awareness, self-confidence and self-reliance.
Disciplines: Masters of the vampiric Discipline of Protean, Gangrel let their bestial nature affect their very shape, becoming wolves, bats or the very mist on the night air. Their blood also grants them an aptitude with their bestial brethren (in the form of the Discipline of Animalism), and the supernatural toughness of Resilience.
Weakness: The Gangrel's blood curses them with a potent bestial instinct that sometimes makes it difficult for them to think clearly. Gangrel suffer a loss of the 10-again rule with regard to dice pools based on Intelligence and Wits Attributes.
Ghost in the Game System – Have you seen the July issue of Game Trade Magazine yet? It has a nice little article on one of the covenants of Vampire: The Requiem. In the meantime, GTM has again allowed us to post a copy of last month's article on ghosts in the World of Darkness Rulebook. Spooky!
WEDNESDAY JUNE 30
Secretive and wise, the Mekhet are masters of all things hidden. They hunt from the shadows, preying secretly on victims and unlocking secrets that no one should know. The only common thread linking Mekhet is an affinity for the night itself or some metaphorical darkness, such as a pained soul or a thirst for knowledge. Mekhet are tutored intensely by their sires so that they understand the nature of the clan and its duties. Some prefer to let their progeny discover the Kindred world on their own, but not even these sires stray so far that they can’t watch a protégé’s progress.
Clan Disciplines: Mekhet master Auspex, the Discipline of preternatural perception, gaining insights that make them particularly dangerous to Kindred. While they reveal others secrets, the Mekhet keep their own, and they have an affinity for Obfuscate, the Discipline of concealment. Finally, they move with the blinding speed of Celerity, as quick as they are deadly.
Weakness: As creatures of darkness, the Mekhet suffer certain banes of vampiric existence more acutely than their fellow Kindred do. Whenever Mekhet suffer damage from sunlight or fire, they take an additional point of aggravated damage from that source.
FRIDAY JULY 2
Regal, commanding and aristocratic, the Ventrue are the harsh lords of the Danse Macabre. The Ventrue most often come from the closest the modern world comes to feudal nobility: the ranks of professionals, the cream of high society, the scions of old money or political dynasties. As new professions and new forms of power arise, the Ventrue bring them into the clan. Through whatever means necessary, the Ventrue rise to the top of the undead heap.
Clan Disciplines: The Ventrue master Dominate, the Discipline of mental subjugation. Their strength is not diminished on beasts, as they exert themselves with the power of Animalism over lesser creatures. And as Lords must be fit enough to resist challengers, their undead bodies are gifted with Resilience.
Weakness: Power corrupts, and among the Ventrue, even the thirst for power can corrode an ambitious Kindred's moral bearings. Over time, a Ventrue's mind becomes fragile. Therefore, Ventrue characters are more prone to gaining derangements when they suffer a loss of Humanity.
Next Week: Powers of the Dead – Next week we take a look at some of the dread Disciplines the Kindred wield.
MONDAY, JULY 5
A Matter of Discipline – This week we’re giving you a sampling of the supernatural powers of the undead, their Disciplines. Vampire: The Requiem describes 10 Disciplines known to (if not by) most Kindred, and several specialized Disciplines that are significantly rarer. This week we take a look at the Disciplines associated most closely with the five clans.
Majesty – The forte of Clan Daeva, Majesty grants the Succubi sway over the emotions of mortals and other Kindred. Majesty is an extension of the vampire’s own charisma and can turn the heads (and hearts) of whole crowds. It is not a direct mind-control Discipline – that is the venue of Dominate – meaning that those subject to it still retain their free will, personality and creativity – arguably making them more useful than a Dominated thrall. A victim of Dominate might also realize what’s been done with them, while a victim of Majesty is usually none the wiser.
Revelation (Majesty ••) – The allure and reassurance of a Kindred with this power is enough to make others forego caution and reveal their innermost feelings and secrets. A few complimentary or compassionate words or a heartfelt look from a vampire can break down a person’s prudence and fear, inspiring a desire to share deep feelings or dark secrets in an upwelling of affection or release.
Enthralling – Take a look at this Kindred lured into the aura of her elder. Illustration by Mattias Snygg.
TUESDAY, JULY 6
Protean – Through communion with the Beast, the Gangrel have developed a much closer association with the wild. This is exemplified in their mastery of Protean, the Discipline of shapechanging and nature-based power. Protean is easily the most impressive Discipline to see in use, as its wielders can change their shape, meld with the earth to hide from the sun (or other Kindred), and perform a variety of other exotic alternations to themselves. However, the changes first begin within the self, and the first level of Protean is one of the most useful.
Aspect of the Predator (Protean •) – The most basic ability of this Discipline allows a vampire to project a supernatural mien of savage predatory ferocity. This allows a vampire to forego the normal relationships of Blood Potency upon meeting unknown Kindred for the first time. When the Beast’s fight-or-flight response triggers upon such a meeting (due to the Predator’s Taint) the Gangrel with this Discipline always reacts as if she had an equal Blood Potency to all others. Her Beast will never drive her to flee such a meeting.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 7
Auspex – The Mehket power of extra-sensory perception, Auspex allows the Shadows to learn secrets other Kindred might kill for. The Discipline of gleaning information, Auspex grants not only sharper senses, but it can pierce even supernatural disguises and illusions, and allow a wielder to commune with spirits. Auspex provides incredible information, but also incredible risk – those who are known to practice it quickly become targets for those who wish their secrets left uncovered.
Twilight Projection (Auspex •••••) – A master of Auspex can project her senses into a unique out-of-body experience which sometimes allows her to commune with spirits of the dead, as well as being able to invisibly observe whatever she pleases. Such a form, called a "ghost body," is immune to fatigue and physical harm, and it can fly at great speeds. Ghost bodies can even go underground at will – anywhere within and below the limit of the lunar sphere. However, other Auspex users can see even a user of this Discipline if they're perceptive enough.
Written in Blood – The fine folks in production have made available a character sheet (with some nice sanguine coloring) for Vampire: The Requiem. [2.7 meg PDF download requires Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 or higher]
THURSDAY, JULY 8
Nightmare – The very presence of the Nosferatu is disquieting, but with the Discipline of Nightmare, the Haunts wield fear as if it were a physical weapon. Some Kindred use Nightmare as little more than a way to revel in their damned state, but others use it to tactically maneuver others, scaring away enemies and striking fear into allies for their own protection. The Discipline itself is as blunt or precise as its users – ranging in effect from causing simple terror to reducing targets to madness.
Dread (Nightmare ••) – While an outward, physical manifestation can strike fear in onlookers, it is an overt, blunt means by which to prey upon the weak. More insidious and subtle is a general sense of unease, rising panic and paranoia that a vampire can engender with this power. Gloom, disquiet and uncertainty creep into the hearts of people around the vampire. Those affected by the power become markedly less effective as they give in to paranoia and mistrust.
Speaking of Dread – Here's another illustration by Sam Araya from the World of Darkness Rulebook that wins the "creep out" award around the office.
Thursday also saw the release of the Vampire: The Requiem demo.
FRIDAY, JULY 9
Dominate – The strength of the Ventrue, Dominate allows the Lords to overwhelm the minds of others with their own force of will, influencing actions and even thoughts. Stories of decades erased from memory and willful rivals reduced to simpering servants with a glance are legion in Kindred courts. Dominate is especially useful on mortals, who have little resistance to mental subjugation, but can be effective on Kindred as well. Even elders can fall to the power of a skilled neonate with this Discipline. Dominate nevertheless requires capturing a victim’s gaze, and therefore can only be used on one subject at a time.
Mesmerize (Dominate ••) – The source of many legends of the vampire’s hypnotic gaze, Mesmerize allows the Kindred to implant a false thought or suggestion into the subject’s subconscious mind. This power requires not only eye contact, but intense concentration and precise wording. The Kindred may activate the imposed thought or command immediately – “Walk over there and open the door” – or he may establish a stimulus that activates the suggestion on a later date – “When you see a man in a blue suit with a red rose in his lapel, you will spill your drink on him.”
You Are Mine – Another piece from the World of Darkness Rulebook, this time by Joshua Gabriel Timbrook.
Next Week: Hangin’ with my Peeps – Next week, we’ll take a look at the major social, political and religious groupings of the Kindred: the covenants.
MONDAY, JULY 12
Like-Minded Fiends – This week we take a look at the five major covenants of Vampire: The Requiem. If a vampire's clan is akin to her family, her covenant is the social circle within which she operates. In some cases, covenant is a political allegiance; in others, it's a religious or philosophical one. These covenants all coexist in most Kindred cities, vying for preeminence just as their members struggle for status and recognition within the covenant. Along with the choice of clan, the choice of covenant (or not to join a covenant at all) defines the basic position of a Kindred character.
The Carthian Movement
The Carthian Movement is the most modern of the vampiric covenants, seeking to uproot tradition and create a more egalitarian system for vampiric rule. Carthians are full of ideas, fiery and passionate about their beliefs for Kindred self-rule. Few of them think about why the current status quo has lasted for as long as it has. Instead, they are eager to challenge it, fervent to accomplish something positive in the dark world of the Kindred. The Carthian Movement mostly comprises neonates and they tend to be wary of the elders of their kind. The older a vampire becomes, the more stagnant and callous he becomes to the world around it. The Movement has still had success in some areas, however, and has grown support by being patient and playing the political games that it must. Passion and unity are the weapons of the Carthian Movement.
Benefit: As a shared network of idealists, the Carthians find it much easier to advance their position in mortal society. As a result, it is much cheaper for players of Carthian characters to purchase the Allies, Contacts, Haven, and Herd Merits with experience points.
Just Near Carfax Abbey – If you still need more World of Darkness goodness, you might check out the British Wo D Website set up by our good friends at Esdevium Games. Esdevium is our top British distributor and they’ve grouped together a goodly amount of information on Vampire: The Requiem and the new Wo D complete with a letter U in “colour” and a Y in “tyre.” You’ll also notice they have some exclusive information on your favorite heretical vampiric fanatics and mine, the Lancea Sanctum. Check back there for more Sanctified goodness (or righteousness, at least) every Friday.
TUESDAY, JULY 13
The Circle of the Crone
The Circle is a secretive and mystic group of Kindred, holding its own belief about vampiric nature and even its own Discipline. The so-called Acolytes believe that vampires make up a natural part of the world and can learn, grow, and find enlightenment instead of wallowing in the guilt-ridden angst of other groups, which focus on penance. Therefore, members of the Circle of the Crone often find themselves dismissed as political outcasts and heretics of vampiric existence, especially by the more religious Kindred. The Circle believes that creation is power. Vampires must face their static condition and overcome it by creating and cultivating whatever they can. Acolytes also cherish testing themselves, believing that only by overcoming their physical, mental and spiritual limitations can they become something more than creatures of the night. This belief can also lead to persecution, as their strange rituals of testing can seem barbaric and even unholy to some Kindred.
Benefit: Members of the Circle of the Crone may learn Cruác. This Discipline is a form of blood sorcery based on pagan rituals and observances.
Page Count Rises on World of Darkness Rulebook $19.99 Price Point Remains for First Printing Read the Press Release
WEDNESDAY, JULY 14
The Invictus is the landed aristocracy of the Damned. An elitist organization at its core, the Invictus teaches that power is everything and those who gain power deserve it most: those with the greatest skill, the greatest ambition, and overall, the greatest claim to leadership. The Invictus appeals far more to elder Kindred than to neonates, and the covenant believes that age and experience are worth far more than anything youth might offer. The so-called First Estate claims to have created most of the common titles and ranks in the modern nights, especially the title of Prince. The Invictus clearly thinks in terms of aristocracy, and like any aristocracy, it suffers in disorder. Therefore, the Invictus strives to maintain order among the Damned and seeks to uphold the laws of the Kindred to the fullest extent. The most frightening aspect of the Invictus is that the covenant might be right: If they don’t hold the power of the Kindred, then who will? Perhaps the long history of Invictus tyranny exists because it’s the only way to rule the Damned.
Benefit: Members of the Invictus benefit from their league of friends and the resources of the group as a whole. This allows players of Invictus characters to purchase the Herd, Mentor, Resources and Retainer Merits for substantially fewer experience points than players of other Kindred do.
The Lancea Sanctum
The Lancea Sanctum is the religious and moral backbone of the Kindred, as well as the covenant of self-appointed priests and inquisitors of the Damned. Universally respected and feared, the covenant constantly seeks to oversee the religious existence of all Kindred, if not to rule them outright. Believing themselves to be the chosen of God, Kindred of the Lancea Sanctum follows The Testament of Longinus, a collection of writings made by the centurion who pierced Christ’s side and was turned into a vampire. The Sanctified believe that his divine transformation gave purpose to the existence of the Damned and a new purpose for the undead.
The Lancea Sanctum seeks to convert those that it can, and uses conversion as an alternative to conflict, not wanting to cut down a potential brother or sister. The Sanctified also accomplish this by offering spiritual guidance wherever possible, offering themselves as priests and advisors to all of the Damned, and a Bishop or Archbishop often closely follows an Invictus Prince.
Benefit: Members of the Lancea Sanctum have access to a special Discipline, Theban Sorcery. Theban Sorcery is a type of blood magic capable of leveling curses of seemingly Biblical origin.
Page Count Rises on World of Darkness Rulebook $19.99 Price Point Remains for First Printing