I published a thing!
You can click the cover image, or this link. If you play Vampire: the Masquerade, 1st Edition through V20, this is a fantastic resource, and you can pay what you want.
I published a thing!
You can click the cover image, or this link. If you play Vampire: the Masquerade, 1st Edition through V20, this is a fantastic resource, and you can pay what you want.
I just downloaded and read the V5 preview that White Wolf made available today. It’s 27 pages, and contains sections from the final, published book (though I hope they gave it one more read-through, as I found one typo without looking very carefully).
These are interesting snippets of information intended to set the scene – notes from vampires and from those who are researching vampires. The Masquerade simply can’t be maintained in 2018, but the question is, who knows about vampires, and what do they know? This introduces the new terms they’re using for vampires among those who study them – blackbodies, or blankbodies, drawn from the Pre-Alpha scenario and referring to how vampires show up in IR scans.
This is really more like “themes”, concepts the guide you in understanding the World of Darkness and creating a chronicle together. One theme has always been that vampires are not the good guys, and White Wolf hits this theme here as well. You are playing a predator who feeds on human beings. Maybe you cling to humanity and maybe you don’t, but you are not a Good Person.
Basically a few examples of imagery, and the repeated reminder that you can’t dress like a vampire in public. Sort of the “This ain’t the 90s Goth scene” section.
We get write-ups of the Brujah and the Toreador, and both are very much in line with the past of those clans. I like that they list more than one nickname for each clan, and I like the artwork of sample Brujah looks in that section. Well, I like that it’s there, and I like the concept of multiple views. Unfortunately, the four female examples are all models with hooker shoes, and the four male examples are all models wearing fashionably ripped street clothes. I would have much preferred a variety of body types here, as well as some indication that one can be a vampire and not necessarily be fashion-forward. They’re also all posed as if they are at a fashion show instead of caught in the action, so the art fails the test of “Show me what my character can do in the game.” Unless V5 is about standing around and looking cool.
We don’t get the same images for the Toreador, ironically, since that’s the only clan I could imagine composed mostly of people who stand around posing in over-priced distressed clothing. But, again, in both cases, these are recognizably Brujah and Toreador as far as the text goes. Clan flaws are now Banes.
Speaking of which, the Toreador’s Bane got a lot worse in this version. Not only do they lose themselves in beauty, but when surrounded by ugliness (according to their particular aesthetic), Toreador lose dice from all uses of Disciplines equal to the Bane score. So…ouch. Also, flavorful. Why do they surround themselves with beauty? In part, because they have to. Overall, though, this feels like giving them two Banes instead of one (albeit weaksauce) flaw.
Characters begin play with between one and three Convictions, which are up to the player at character creation; things like “Thou shalt not kill.” These are the moral lines that the character has set for themselves (surely to be stressed and pressed upon by the Storyteller). We read that incurring Stains in pursuit of your Conviction might mitigate Stains, which is confusing and, since this is a sample, unexplained. Violating a Conviction might also, at the ST’s discretion, incur a Stain.
I’d have to see the full text but we might have Capitalization Creep here.
Chronicle Tenets are kind of like themes combined with lines and veils from other systems. You are setting the genre conventions, key ideas, and also limits of your chronicle together, and I like the way this is handled. This is the kind of conversation that games increasingly call for, and it looks like these will have mechanical weight, as violating Tenets can apparently be a source of Stains. Basically, you’re postmodern vampires and you are creating a shared morality together that will be in effect over the course of your chronicle.
Touchstones sound similar to what is used in Chronicles of Darkness and Vampire the Masquerade 2nd Edition. They are specific things in the world that keep you grounded in your humanity (or threaten your humanity when they are threatened).
Ambitions are just what they sound like – the general things that drive your character from night to night, beyond the hunger for blood. Desires are specific, and must be connected to something that’s come up in the relationship map for your chronicle already (i.e. must be connected to an existing NPC or key aspect of the setting for the chronicle). I like this – knowing what a character’s Touchstones, Ambitions and Desires are is pretty much all an ST needs to know where to push a character from night to night, and are all of course “flags” that let the player say “This is what I want to see in this chronicle.”
Explicitly recreated so as not to mess with the action economy, Celerity has variant powers for each level (and it isn’t clear if you choose both or have to pick one or the other). The powers also don’t build on each other like previous versions of Celerity, but rather give the character a specific ability or move they can use, often by making a Rouse roll. So you can dodge bullets, rush around the battlefield in a blur, and run across ledges without having to roll to keep your balance. Feels like Celerity to me, and I like it.
These are the most interesting thing in this whole preview, an idea that I love. There has always been a tremendous amount of metaplot layered over Vampire, since 2nd Edition at least. It has been something I have seen integrated into chronicles, and the problem has always been that those “in the know” nod sagely when something comes up that they read in a splatbook while the rest of the players are just in the dark, wondering why everyone thinks this weird name is so important. And I say this as a ST who has included metaplot things in my chronicles to make the in-the-know players nod sagely.
Loresheets give actual connectivity between the mechanics and the backstory of the game in interesting ways. The three examples given are a loresheet for Theo Bell, a loresheet for Helena, and a loresheet for the Week of Nightmares. Each bit of lore is treated like a background, rated from one dot to five dots, with more dots giving you deeper connections to the backstory. For example, one dot of lore in the Week of Nightmares means you tell the story of that harrowing time in a way that vampires find fascinating. You are sometimes invited to retell it in Elysium, and get 3 extra dice to your performance roll. Five dots in Week of Nightmares means you have a vial of the Ravnos Antediluvian’s blood. What you do with the blood is up to you, and the effect it has is up to the ST. That’s…awesome.
V5 feels like it is trying a bit too hard to be fashionable, but then previous editions all felt like they were trying too hard to be Goth, which is just a subset of fashionable. I did feel like the artwork was more fashion and less horror, which was too bad, despite some of it being beautiful (and full-color).
There might be too many things to keep track of, though I’d have to see all of these mechanics in play of course. But Disciplines, Banes, Humanity, Stains, Convictions, Chronicle Tenets, Touchstones, Ambitions, Desires, Disciplines….and that’s just a taste of capitalized words from this 27-page preview. These are all cool ideas, but they make this already a significantly more complicated game than D&D 5E, for example, and it might just be too much for some players to want to keep track of. Again, though, how this all works in play remains to be seen.
And to be clear, I like this version of Vampire. I like the direction they’ve taken. I think this is an improvement on previous editions of the game in many ways – the way morality is seemingly handled, the way Celerity was reworked, and especially the Loresheets to name a few things I really like. I just need to find some players who want to play Vampire.
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This is, obviously, a catch-all for things I haven’t covered yet but which come up in game. As always, I’m trying to strike a balance between Fate Core mechanics and Vampire the Masquerade themes and “feel” for lack of a better word.
At the end of each session, PCs can either add or change an Aspect or swap the position of two adjacent Skills on their pyramid. PCs cannot change a high concept Aspect without GM approval.
When an Issue is resolved in the story, that marks a minor Milestone. At each minor Milestone, every PC gains a bonus Skill at +1. If they already have the maximum number of Skills at +1, they can move one Skill from +1 to +2, and on upward as appropriate. After 5 minor Milestones, this will result in a Skill being raised from +4 to +5.
To be blood bound to someone is to lose a part of one’s self and be subsumed by one’s domitor. If you are blood bound, erase one of your Aspects (besides your high concept or clan flaw Aspect) and replace it with “Bound to X” with your domitor’s name. This Aspect counts as a consequence that your domitor can tag at will without spending a Fate point, but otherwise functions as any other Aspect – mostly for compels of course.
If you ever break the blood bond, you can replace it with a new Aspect.
Because vampires are vampires, they can normally defend against bullets with either Athletics or Physique.
Aggravated damage is a possible moderate or severe physical consequence. Vampires cannot use Physique to defend against damage from Protean claws, fangs, fire and sunlight. Fire and sunlight deal double damage to vampires, causing as much mental stress as physical stress.
In order to bite in close combat, a vampire must first grapple her prey with Physique. She then bites with Fight, and her fangs do +1 damage
A vampire can always choose to frenzy rather than take a mental consequence – a brief frenzy in place of a minor consequence up to a severe frenzy to avoid a severe consequence. While frenzying, the GM can compel the character without offering a Fate point, but the player still has to spend a Fate point to resist the compel. There are still the three types of frenzy – fear, hunger and rage – which will color the kinds of compels the GM can offer.
When you frenzy, clear all physical stress. During the frenzy, you also have armor 1 and your melee attacks deal 1 additional damage.
During your frenzy, if you drink blood this can still let you ‘treat’ a hunger-related consequence.
When a character is ‘taken out’ with mental stress, she frenzies against her will. Obviously, this frenzy will always be a severe one. This is why “riding the wave” can be preferable to some vampires, especially if they are less concerned with doing horrible things.
After a session in which you frenzied, you might want to change an Aspect to reflect what happened, or reduce your Empathy or Will and raise another Skill in its place.
As described previously, my current system for hunting calls on the players to make two Skill rolls in order to be successful. If they succeed with a cost or concession, it is often related to breaking the Masquerade or possibly encountering danger or a rival. Often, the first Skill roll has to do with finding their prey (Empathy, Notice, Streetwise) and the second has to do with how they get them to do what they want (Charisma, Fight, Manipulation, Resources, etc.)
Each night they wake up “Hungry” and must hunt against an obstacle of +2 to treat that minor consequence. If they are already Hungry and wake up the next night, the hunger becomes a moderate consequence, and they must hunt against an obstacle of +4. If their hunger becomes severe, the obstacle becomes a +6, and they are almost certain to kill someone, because if you kill someone and drain all of their blood, that is one surefire way to clear all hunger consequences.
Any given Elysium will have at least a couple of Aspects. One of them is based on who the Keeper is, and the other is based on the location itself.
Every Sabbat pack has a reputation Aspect that applies to other Sabbat as well as any non-Sabbat who have the misfortune to have heard of them.
It’s hard to get the attention of powerful elders and influential Kindred, especially without the help of a Harpy or other socially connected vampire. Vampires are secretive and understandably paranoid. Some sample Contacts difficulties:
The enmity clause: if you fail in a Contacts roll, you might end up finding just the right kind of person, but unfortunately, this particular person doesn’t like you
Vampires are assumed to always be slowly regenerating dead tissue and healing injuries. Blood is often required to ‘treat’ physical consequences, however, and can also help with hunger-related mental consequences of course. (Hunting to treat a minor consequence is against a obstacle of +2; to treat a moderate consequence is against a +4, severe is +6, etc.) We’ll use a somewhat simplified version of the recovery rules in Fate Core.
Function like necromantic and thaumaturgic rituals. Sabbat pack priests should probably spend one Refresh to get an Extra representing their knowledge of the basic Ritae.
In a recent game, I let a player spend blood by making their character more hungry (minor consequence upgraded to moderate) in exchange for having a +2 on Athletics, Fight or Physique rolls for the scene (player chooses one).
Like, torpor, staking is an option for “taken out” in a conflict between vampires, as long as one of them has a stake handy. If the player hasn’t mentioned carrying the stake, then she can spend a Fate point to declare that she remembered to bring one. Either she can use the stake to deal physical stress until her victim is taken out, or she can beat the vampire into submission and then stake her to take her out. As a weapon a stake is awkward, and so grants no damage bonus.
Torpor is one option for “taken out” in a conflict between vampires, and therefore might happen more often than normal. A vampire who is fed vampire blood awakens from torpor relatively quickly – and is also now one step blood bound to whomever woke them. Otherwise, the higher the vampire’s Will the sooner they will come out.
And that’s it for now. I’m really enjoying my online Fate Core Vampire game, and using the rules I’ve posted, you can run your own. As always, comments welcome.
As promised, these two get their own post, because there’s a lot to go through here. Also, fair warning – none of my current players have used either Necromancy or Thaumaturgy, so I only have a NPC-eye-view thus far. In the case of Necromancy, I combined some of the paths, as I found the ones listed in V20 had a lot of overlap, and for Thaumaturgy I didn’t list all of the paths because with all of the various splatbooks there are just so many. I also have not gotten around to fleshing out all of these various paths, so I’ll just list the ones I have worked on.
Vampires with any levels in The Ash Path can use Notice to detect wraiths and other death-related spirits.
Tremens: Vampires with any levels in The Bone Path can roll Will to cause a corpse to make a single, creepy movement.
A character with any levels in Thaumaturgy has access to Thaumaturgical rituals. For each level of Thaumaturgy, she receives a ritual of the same level. Further rituals can be bought with refresh.
Any Lure of the Flames failure inflicts mental stress equal to the degree of failure. Anyone with a level of Lure o the Flames can light small flames at will, but it still requires a Will roll.
I haven’t done as much work on these rituals, because many of them have effects that are easy to leave undefined in terms of mechanics.
Bind the Accusing Tongue: Will vs. thaumaturge’s Will in order to say something negative about him for a scene when activated.
Blood Rush: after the ritual is complete, count one minor beast consequence as treated. OR enables an Occult roll to treat beast consequences: +2 for minor, +4 for moderate, and +6 for severe.
Blood Walk: a limited version of Taste of blood which reveals a vampire’s lineage, back one generation for each degree of success on the Occult roll.
Communicate with Kindred Sire: it’s an occult phone call, basically, but a lot of Tremere elders don’t have phones.
Deflection of Wooden Doom: the next stake to pierce you still does damage, but it does not paralyze you. Must keep a piece of wood in your mouth at all times.
Devil’s Touch: curse a mortal by placing something discretely on their person
Eyes of the Night Hawk: allows you to approximately replicate the basic effects of Protean.
Illuminate the Trail of Prey: after the ritual is concluded, can use Occult in place of Investigation to follow someone’s trail for a scene.
Machine Blitz: roll Occult to attack a machine, causing stress and malfunction.
Principal Focus of Vitae Infusion: take mental stress now to infuse vitae into an object. You can reduce it back to constituent vitae later on in order to clear mental stress boxes or treat a hunger-related consequence on a one for one basis.
Recure of the Homeland: Will roll and use of dirt from homeland to mark one physical consequence as treated
Ward Versus Ghouls: Ghoul’s Will versus your Occult in an opposed roll to cross the warded area. If the Ghoul fails but forces herself to cross anyway, she takes physical stress equal to your roll to activate the ritual.
Bone of Lies: roll Occult instead of Empathy versus the victim’s Manipulation to cause a bone to darken if the victim lies.
Incorporeal Passage: allows a Thaumaturge to slip from one zone to an adjacent zone, even if through a barrier
Mirror of Second Sight: once the mirror is prepared, for one scene you can look at reflections in it and roll Notice to determine whether they are supernatural and what sort of supernatural they are.
Pavis of Foul Presence: the first time that a use of Presence during a given night would inflict stress on you, that stress rebounds back on the attacker.
Sanguine Assistant: basically, roll Occult instead of Contacts to create a creepy blood-fueled assistant for a night.
Shaft of Belated Quiescence: after an attack with a stake, a piece breaks off and beings worming its way to your victim’s heart. The stake makes a secondary attack, using your Occult rating, and then again for a second time if anyone tries to remove the splinter.
Ward Versus Lupines: as Ward Versus Ghouls.
I also haven’t completed work on advanced rituals, especially since none of the players in my Fate Core Vampire game are even Thaumaturges 🙂
OK, there we go. Next up, Mechanics.
Of course the majority of the work I had to do for this Fate Core hack of Vampire the Masquerade was to adapt the vampiric Disciplines to Fate rules. Many thanks to Venture City, the setting book that presents Fate Core rules for cyberpunk superheroes, and which I had in mind as I did this work. In brief, each level of each Discipline is an Extra that costs 2 refresh. My goal, therefore, was to make each level of each Discipline better than an Extra or Stunt the character might take, keeping in mind the principles of Fate Core Extra and Stunt design.
A character with any levels in Animalism is no more offensive to animals than a human would be.
A character with Auspex receives a bonus to perceive Obfuscated characters equal to +1 per level of Auspex.
A character with Celerity who success with style in combat can use that boost for an additional action.
You can use Chimerstry to create small, incidental illusions at will, but only as color.
Characters with Dementation can count on being able to “fail forward” on mental or social rolls with the consequence of temporarily worsening derangements.
Dominate enables a character to create an advantage through conditioning. This requires at least one scene of threats and abuse, and the advantage is “Conditioned to X” where X has to be something relatively specific (not just “obey.”)
Any character with Fortitude can use Physique in place of Athletics to defend against physical attacks.
I’m going to mention, but skip, Necromancy and Thaumaturgy here and probably have those in a future post, since there are multiple paths and rituals to consider.
You gain a bonus of +1 per level of Obfuscate to resist being seen by someone with Auspex. In addition, you can attempt to disappear when observed by spending a Fate point and rolling Stealth vs. the highest Notice score of all those observing you. Failure inflicts mental stress.
Shadow Play: a character with Obtenebration can use Occult to create an advantage related to manipulation of shadows.
Physique maps to Strength in VtM pretty well. Check out V20 pg. 261 for example feats of strength.
Awe: +2 to Charisma when you are playing to a crowd.
At any time, you can activate Eyes of the Beast. Your eyes glow red-orange, but you also eliminate any penalties or obstacles due to darkness. Protean also makes it a bit more difficult for a Werewolf to sniff out your Wyrm-taint.
At any time, you can spend a Fate point to add “Silence of Death” as an Aspect to a scene. It also grants you one free invocation.
Tongue of the Asp: at any time, you can extend your forked tongue out of your mouth up to about eighteen inches and use it as a +1 damage weapon or to drink blood, just as you would use your fangs.
Any vampire with Temporis has an perfect internal clock, and can set multiple mental alarms.
You can roll Expression to impose a temporary change in appearance on a restrained or willing victim, or on yourself, for a scene.
Skin of the Chameleon grants a Gargoyle a +2 to Stealth when seeking to avoid being seen.
Next Up: Necromancy and Thaumaturgy in Fate Core Vampire post 4.5
Between Aspects and Skills on one end and Disciplines, which are a special case in Extras on the other end, there are the Stunts and Extras, both the ones you’d expect in a Fate Core game and others that are specific to Vampire the Masquerade.
As mentioned previously, Flaws from Vampire the Masquerade make excellent trouble Aspects. Here is what I think is a particular juicy list: Thin-Blooded, Dulled Bite, Child, Monstrous, Smell of the Grave, Vulnerable to Vampire Banes, Soft-Hearted, Lunacy, Guilt-Wracked, Rival Sires, Hunted Like A Dog, Sleeping With the Enemy, Clan Enmity, Probationary Sect Member, Cursed, Beacon of the Unholy, Mistaken Identity, Recruitment Target, Eerie Presence, Dark Fate. Any of these can be rewritten slightly, or just used as-is if you’re in a pinch.
I didn’t go ahead and create Stunts for every Skill, since the ones in the Fate Core SRD work perfectly well, and there is plenty of flexibility to make up your own. I did adapt some Merits to become Stunts, however. Note that, in contrast to the Disciplines, most of these have not been playtested, and some might reference rules I haven’t talked about yet. But you’ll get the idea.
Blush of Health: spend a Fate point to appear alive for one scene. You get a heartbeat, basic biological functions, can sweat, respond sexually, etc.
Calm Heart: you gain one extra stress box on your Beast stress track.
Eat Food: unlike other vampires, you are able to eat food without much discomfort, though you do have to vomit it back up later on.
Eidetic Memory: spend a Fate point to perfectly recall the details of a specific scene. With the ST’s consent, you can use this ability to add an Aspect that you had previously noticed and are just now recaling.
Elder’s Ear: you have access to an elder – perhaps a Prince, or Primogen, or Bishop – in your city. This person will meet with you if you ask, and may provide information or protection.
Friend of the Underground: you are not a Nosferatu, but you have their respect, or at least their tolerance. You can use the sewers and similar systems to move around the city, as long as you don’t interfere with their plans.
Harmless: your Charisma rolls to convince someone you mean no harm are at a +2.
Healing Touch: you do not need to lick wounds made by your fangs to heal them, but can do so with only a touch.
Herd: Choose when you select this Stunt. You can now hunt socially using Contacts instead of Empathy and Manipulation once per night – if you do it a second time, you have to spend a Fate point.
Humane: you gain an additional mental stress box, but you cannot choose to ignore a consequence by frenzying.
Inoffensive to Animals: you may or may not have levels of Animalism, but you do not provoke animals the way that other undead do.
Languages: choose up to 3 languages in addition to English and perhaps one other native tongue in which you are fluent. For ancient languages, use Knowledge or Lore.
Light Sleeper: rolls to awaken, or remain awake, while the sun is up are at a +2 for you. (This might be Notice or Will)
Precocious: at the end of a session, you can switch the places of two Skills instead of one.
Unbondable: you cannot be blood bound. This is clearly a big advantage, and could also be quite a problem. Tremere must pay 2 refresh for this Stunt. (Obviously, this would be a problem for a Sabbat member trying to participate in Ritae)
Harpy: you are one of the Harpies of the Camarilla in your city, meaning you get a +2 to roll to contact Kindred and have contact information for many influential vampires in the city.
Influence: in one particular area of influence, you get a +2 to all Contacts rolls. Examples include academics, media, occult and underworld.
Mentor: you have a more experienced member of your Clan, perhaps even an Elder, who has taken it upon herself to teach you the ways of the undead.
Mole: you have a spy planted in an opposing faction who feeds you information.
Retainer: you have the services of a loyal, blood-bound Ghoul. You Ghoul is Good at one thing, Fair at two things, and has one notable weakness that you define, or let the GM define.
Spirit Mentor: same as above, but your mentor happens to be a ghost.
Alternate Identity: you have a well-established alias, and receive a +2 to Manipulation rolls related to maintaining the alias.
Oracular Ability: at risk of your sanity, you can roll Lore once per session to place an Aspect on a scene (or more than once, if you spend Fate points). This Aspect must have to do with fate or foreboding, and may not be used in the way you intend…..An Aspect placed this way provides the usual free first invoke for you.
Scholar of Enemies: you can choose one opposed faction in the WoD, and you gain +2 to Occult rolls pertaining to these enemies. Examples include Garou, Sabbat, Camarilla, Hunters, etc.
Haven: over the years, you have sunk a lot into various havens throughout the city. When upgrading or repairing them, you get +2 to your Resources roll.
Black Market: you can use your Streetwise score in place of Resources when working black market connections.
Magic Resistance: Will rolls made to resist Thaumaturgy, and similar powers, are at a +2.
Armored Vehicle: an enclosed vehicle with armor 4 against firearms and armor 2 against everything else.
Custom Vehicle: something like a drift racer, crotch rocket, haven RV, etc.
Assault Weapon: full-auto AK, M-16, etc. Deals +2 damage, and can be used against everyone in a zone
Ancient Sword: blood-forged, runic, meteoric – deals +2 damage and can be used against spirits
Elite Haven: (cost 2) you have a bunker or a penthouse or a whole fortified corner of the sewer system that is all yours. This haven comes with a basic staff, if appropriate, and two other special features that you determine when you take the Extra or in-game.
Gang/Muscle: your character has access to a group of violent, unruly types who can serve as enforcers. She still has to convince them to do what she wants, and they are not Seal Team 6, but she has about a half dozen tough, armed mortals to back her up when needed. The whole gang has 6 stress boxes and a +2 to Fight.
Ghoul: your character has been granted permission to bind one Ghoul. This NPC has a +3 in one Skill and a +2 in two others, has Basic Potence and is blood bound to your character.
Haven: you have a better haven than your Resources would indicate. When using your Resources to upgrade your haven or decide what features it has, you get a +2 to the roll.
Hunting Grounds: your character has been granted special hunting grounds in the city. Their maintenance is her responsibility, but they make hunting significantly easier. And as far as Camarilla rules go, on her turf she’s in charge. Each night when you first hunt in your own hunting grounds, you can reroll one dice roll.
Nightspot: your character owns and controls a nightspot, like a strip club, bar or nightclub
Shared Haven: (need to come up with rules for multiple PCs spending an Extra on a shared Haven)
Title: You can use Title in place of your Contacts or Charisma when dealing with other vampires. Your Title also brings other benefits and responsibilities as determined by the GM.
Alternately, every Title costs 1 refresh, because higher ranks will also mean more powerful foes and more difficult challenges.
Next Up: Disciplines.
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