As I started this hack, the goal was not just to chop V5 up (which is fun to do with games on its own) but to change V5 so that we could more easily play online. Fewer dice rolls is an important element here. I like changing system so that players roll all the dice, so I did that to V5 as well.
Stamina, Composure, Resolve
Stamina, Composure and Resolve are resistance-based Attributes brought over from Vampire the Requiem, with Composure replacing Appearance (good call) and Resolve replacing Perception (which folds back into Intelligence and Wits). If the players are rolling all of the dice, however, there’s less need for all three of these, and with an eye toward simplifying, I got rid of them.
I decided that if a character needed to be touch and resilient to resist something, they could just roll Health, and if they needed to resist something socially or mentally, they could just roll Willpower. In that way, the lost Attributes are a bit redundant in the first place. So we have Strength, Dexterity, Charisma, Manipulation, Wits and Intelligence.
To start, I decided that Health would be Strength +3, and then Willpower would be 10 – Health, so that for a starting character before they spend any experience points, their Health + Willpower would equal 10. I’m glad that I have one PC in my current chronicle with a Health of 8 and a Willpower of 2, I think that will be fun.
The way that dice-rolls work for Disciplines in V5 doesn’t make much sense. Sometimes you roll Attribute + Ability, sometimes you roll Attribute + Attribute, and sometimes you roll Attribute + Discipline. This would be fine if there was a consistent way of determining which is which, apart from just memorizing the rules for every Discipline. Reading through the Disciplines, I realized that I would have to change the rolls for many of them in order to make them consistent. I decided to hearken back to Vampire of yore and just make Discipline rolls Attribute + Ability. (Reading through V5’s core Discipline rules, I honestly got the impression of it being a ‘first try’ type system, similar to what Vampire 1st Edition had, and I wish they had taken more from past editions).
And yes, I get the profound irony of rewriting all of the Disciplines for V5 in the supposed spirit of simplifying the system and making my job as Storyteller easier. But doing this kind of thing is clearly a hobby I enjoy. It also helped me avoid thinking about the ongoing attempted coup in the United States, which was a big bonus.
One benefit of players rolling all the dice, NPCs become much simpler to run. What they represent, mechanically, is a small list of difficulties, and then the special abilities that their Disciplines grant them. What I’ve done in the past is to just give NPCs a dice total for Physical, Social and Mental tasks, with a note on what they’d be good at. Turning these in to difficulties wasn’t difficult – just cut them in half. Round them up because NPCs won’t get to roll their own dice (or spend Willpower, etc.) and should pose a problem on average. Currently, my plan is to improvise what the players roll to resist abilities based on what the NPC is doing – I’m fine taking a “rulings over rules” OSR-esque approach, and I like the idea that vampire abilities aren’t perfectly predictable anyway. And I’m limited, because I still just have NPCs as a set of difficulties in the first place.
Speaking of Dice
Coin-toss dice mechanics are a pet peeve of mine, whether they show up in HEX or Mouse Guard (a favorite game) or anywhere else. If I can effectively replace your dice mechanic with flipping coins, the mechanic is a failure in my view. It’s like having a car that is no better than walking. The mechanic in V5 is just one of those coin-tossing mechanics, with the slight variation that 10s are special, if you roll two of them (one 10 is one success and two 10s are four successes which is…weird).
So I also changed the dice mechanic to be a set difficult of 7, with 10s counting as two successes. This will give a very similar success rate, but is more interesting. With Rouse checks being the Beast’s attempts to assert themselves, I left those as a difficulty 7 roll as well, which has the interesting consequence of Hunger increasing 40% of the time instead of 50% of the time. I want to see how that plays out over sessions, but I thought it would be a slight encouragement for the players to use their abilities more often.
The main downside, if any, is that we can’t use the cool-looking dice sets that they have out for V5. But dammit, if I’m going to hack a system, there’s no way I’m leaving a coin-toss dice mechanic intact.