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.
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.
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.
Fate Core Vampire uses the standard five Aspects for Fate Core. The high concept for a Fate Core Vampire character must include their Clan or Bloodline, and at every step this hack of Fate assumes the backstory and color of Vampire the Masquerade. Next is the trouble Aspect, which could be one of the Flaws from Masquerade, or is otherwise related to the character’s Clan. In character creation for this playtest game, I asked the Brujah’s player, for example, what makes her angriest. I asked the Gangrel what his character’s primal mark was. And so on.
Third is the mortal Aspect, something connected to the character’s life before they were Embraced. This is another good source for compels, and also for use to represent any competency that the character might have had in her mortal life. The fourth and fifth slots can be left blank, or filled with any other kind of Aspect the player wants.
Neonate characters begin with a maximum Skill of +4 in their Skill pyramid and they also start with 3 physical and 3 mental stress boxes, as their undead bodies and minds can endure more punishment than morals can.
Neonate characters begin with 5 refresh and with three levels of Clan Disciplines. This already means they are more formidable than their Vampire the Masquerade counterparts, as we’ll see, because in this hack there are only four levels of each Discipline, and the fourth level is reserved for elders only. So three levels in this system is intended to be about equivalent to five dots of Disciplines in VtM. Each extra level of any Discipline, in-clan or out of clan, costs 2 refresh – it is basically an expensive Extra. So at most a Neonate might start play with 5 levels of Disciplines and 1 refresh, and 3 of those Discipline levels will be in Clan Disciplines. The exception to this is is for Caitiff or Pander, who can take their first 3 levels in any Disciplines as long as the ST agrees.
As usual, players can also spend their characters’ refresh on Stunts and Extras, which I’ll cover in the next post of this series.
Mortal characters have +3 as their maximum Skill, and two Stunts or Extras. If they are a Ghoul, then they also have Basic Potence and an additional physical stress box, for a total of 3.
Elder characters, such as Primogen or Bishops, have a maximum Skill level of +5 in their pyramid, 6 levels of Disciplines and 3 refresh.
Ancient characters, like Princes, Archbishops, and other powerful elders, have a maximum Skill of +6, 9 levels of Disciplines, and 1 refresh.
Next Up: Stunts and Extras in Fate Core Vampire
I’ve been running an online Vampire the Masquerade game using my Fate Core hack for a few months now, and I think it is working really well. My idea was to playtest the hack and then put the rules up on this blog for anyone to use. If I’m someday blessed with more free time it might even become a document all to itself, instead of my notes and a half dozen blog posts. But we’ll see. I’m adding a blog category, Fate Core Vampire, for anyone who wants to see just posts related to this hack.
For any hack, I like to have in mind, and state right at the top of the page I’m using for notes, what my goals are in succinct form. In this case, I wanted to run Vampire the Masquerade online for my friends. I’ve used the standard OWoD rules for this more than once, and while it can be fun, it is also clunky and slows down dramatically during conflicts, right when you’d prefer tension to be high. So I decided to try to use Fate Core, knowing that there will be some wiggle room between the core themes of Fate Core as a system and Vampire the Masquerade’s World of Darkness as a setting. I knew, going in, that this would probably lean a bit toward Superheroes With Fangs, but given the limitations of online gaming and what I knew of my friends, this was likely to be OK.
First, there would need to be a system for hunger and hunting that would place these things things at the center of the game. I toyed with the idea of another stress track, specific to hunger, or maybe to one’s Humanity or Path score, but instead just left the two standard stress tracks.
Next, I would have to model all of the various Vampire Disciplines as well as the various Backgrounds, almost certainly as Stunts and Extras of course, and for this I took some cues from Venture City, the cyberpunk supers setting for Fate Core, and how that game handled super-powers.
Other things I had in mind that I needed to decide how to model if possible: mind control from things like Dominate, aggravated damage, Humanity and Path development (including decay), and the three kinds of frenzy.
Once I sketch out my first thoughts, the first thing I often do for a Fate Core hack is to create a custom Skill list. Since the Skills are the main way the players interact with the game, a custom Skill list goes a long way toward the end of setting design and laying out some themes for the game you want to run. Here is the custom Skill list I came up with for Vampire, as well as, in parentheses, the Fate Core Skills these replace, or the Vampire abilities that they replace:
Athletics, Charisma (Provoke, Rapport), Contacts, Drive, Empathy, Expression (some Craft), Fight, Investigate, Knowledge, Manipulation (Deceive, Provoke), Notice, Occult, Physique, Resources, Shoot, Stealth, Streetwise, Survival (Animal Ken), Tech (some Craft), Will (20 total)
I brought over Charisma and Manipulation from the social abilities of Vampire. Lore got split into Knowledge, to cover most mundane knowledges, and Occult, to cover the supernatural. I also added Streetwise, key to the World of Darkness, as well as Survival to cover Animal Ken as well. Craft got split into Expression and Tech. And there you have it.
It took me a while to hit on this idea, but it was always a priority. This being Fate Core, I keep it simple. Each evening when a vampire wakes up, they wake up hungry. It’s the first thing I say to them as the night begins. I want it to be an incessant reality, and even boring and repetitive as they go through night after night. You wake up hungry. You wake up hungry. You wake up hungry.
In this case, “Hungry” is a minor condition that they take immediately upon awakening. The only way to treat this condition is through hunting, and hunting requires two Skill rolls, both against an obstacle of +2. I ask them how they go about hunting, and then we figure out the Skills that work best for that. Using Disciplines makes it take less time, or makes it somewhat more safe, depending on the circumstances (Dominate, for example, is great for hunting, but not a fail-safe).
Hap hunts with money, using Resources to find a prostitute who’s willing to indulge him. I also have him roll Empathy to make sure it’s the kind of prostitute who also won’t talk about what happens. (Or it could be Manipulation to threaten, etc.) Patrick hunts with Dominate, but I still have roll Notice or Empathy to make sure that the person he’s Dominating won’t be missed, isn’t highly willful, etc. Ash hunts with sex, so that’s usually an Empathy roll to find a likely dance partner and Charisma to seal the deal. Ellis tries to hunt from people who deserve it, so that’s Streetwise or maybe Notice and then Fight.
If they succeed, the minor condition is treated and goes away at the end of the hunting scene. If not, it stays, or they succeed with a concession, etc. If they go to bed hungry, they wake up “Hungry” again, but this time, it’s a moderate condition. Their roll to treat it is against an obstacle of +4 now, and it’s a real problem.
Oh, and you can always treat the “Hungry” condition by killing someone and draining all of their blood. Because of course.
Next: Character Creation in Fate Core Vampire
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Recently I hosted Session 0 of my first Mage the Ascension chronicle in…years. Maybe 10 years? Mage is a game that I played a lot in college and with my college group in the couple of years after, but since we’ve all moved away from each other Mage has fallen by the wayside.
There’s something about Mage that fits really well with undergraduates. It’s all about ideas, and focused on the self, and changing one’s beliefs. It was a blast, and when I was talking with gamer friends now it turns out some of them were interested in a Mage game. So here we are again.
I’ve already written out my my opinion that M20, the recently released 20th Anniversary Edition of Mage, is inferior to the Revised edition of Mage released 17 years ago. Basically, it takes twice as many pages to accomplish less clarity, and mashes together multiple sets of sub-rules without putting as much effort as I’d like in streamlining them and making them consistent with each other. In addition, they cut out a rule that I really liked, that was the center of an important house rule I’ve had for Mage: Resonance.
In the Revised version of Mage, Resonance is a way that your magic is expressed to the outside world. It is like a smell, or taste, or color that marks your magic as yours as opposed to anyone else’s. It might be Dynamic, Entropic, or Pattern Resonance, and the Resonance is kind of like a fingerprint. The more Resonance you have, the stronger and more obvious your fingerprint. At a certain point, it’s probably like a calling card that anyone, magical or otherwise, can sense.
In the RAW, the downside of Resonance is that the more you accrue, through things like Paradox backlash, the more obvious your magic becomes, making it easier for enemies to find you. It can also have an effect on places where you use magic a lot. For example, if you have a lot of Entropic Resonance, plants might start dying around you when you use your magic.
Now, Mage the Ascension has always dealt with the theme of hubris, a particularly powerful temptation for Mages. There have also, from the beginning with 1st Edition, been particular Mages known as Marauders, who have fallen into a madness which not only corrupts all of their magic, but even their minds, bodies and surroundings.
In my Mage the Ascension games, a house rule developed which connected this idea of hubris, which didn’t have mechanical teeth so to speak, with Marauders, who were interesting but who seemed somewhat disconnected from the system. Any time a player rolls Arete, she can also roll Resonance along with it. If she does so, her character takes an automatic point of Paradox, and her Resonance is considered to be more powerful and noticeable.
For me, this house rule solved two problems. One was to make hubris, the “quick and easy path” in Jedi terms, truly tempting. Extra dice! The other was to connect this to the fall into Marauder-hood – you draw on this power again and again, accruing more and more Paradox (in addition to what you’d normally accrue), which results in more Resonance, which further twists your magic, which also tempts you with more dice for your effects, etc.
The end result is that arrogant, reckless mages are incredibly powerful, and also on a swift slippery slope towards madness and self-destruction. This simple house rule seemed to connect themes of Mage, to add teeth to some of its core ideas, and gave players an interesting choice to make every time they rolled their few, precious Arete dice.
I recommend it in your own games.
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