"It's not over, and it's not that easy."
Lise sat in the gutter, trying to shove her windpipe back into her throat. Janelle squatted on the hood of the '14 Cadillac next to her, claws still out and dripping. There was blood on her jacket, too, but it didn't show against the black. She smiled a long, thin smile down at Lise, the sort of smile a cat makes when it sees a broken-backed mouse still trying to get away.
"You're done, Lise," she said. "But not right away. You get to last the night." Lise made a noise deep in the wreck of her throat. It might have been "Go to hell." Janelle ignored her mumble, ignored the sound of sirens off in the distance. "But tomorrow night, I'm going to find you again, and I'm going to do the exact same thing to you. And I'm going to keep doing it every night until I get bored, or until the bishop tells me it's time. But try to leave the city, I'll find out and I'll kill you. Try to get help, and I'll find out and I'll kill you. Your chance - now or later."
Lise spat blood and tried to stand. Idly, Janelle slapped her back down into the gutter, then stretched and slid down off the car's hood. "Tomorrow. Sundown. It's a date," she purred, and walked unhurriedly away from the light.
The only reason to have rules in a game, especially a storytelling game like Vampire, is to more or less level the playing field. The Storyteller can adjudicate most things in her Vampire game, deciding on her own whether or not the characters accomplish the actions they attempt. But truly unbiased rulings need some sort of standard or precedent, just so everybody knows that everyone's getting the same treatment.
Vampire uses only a few basic rules to get things done, but these rules can have countless permutations in the context of the game. This chapter covers the very basics, such as rolling dice; more specific, detail-oriented rules can be found throughout the book. Don't worry about mastering all the permutations at once - learn these basic rules first, and then everything else will come naturally.
Over the course of the game, time is presumed to pass as it would in the normal world - Tuesday follows Monday, month after month, and so on. However, there's no need to roleplay out every second ticking away. There's a huge difference between the speeds at which "game" time and real time pass. Over a four-hour game session, a week, month or even year might pass in the setting of the game - or the entire session might be spent detailing the events of an action-packed half-hour. You can play out a combat turn by turn, taking it in three-second increments, or you can let months pass away in a few minutes of real time. (The passage of time without players taking any real actions is called "downtime"; learning to use this little trick can help the pacing of your game immensely.)
To help maintain a sense of the passage of time without resorting to tedious charts and the like, Vampire uses six basic units to describe game time:
- Turn - The amount of time you need to take a fairly simple action; this can range anywhere from three seconds to three minutes, depending on the pace of the current scene.
- Scene - Like the basic division of plays and movies, a scene is a compact period of action and interaction that takes place in a single location. This could be the storming of a Tremere chantry, or a moonlit conversation on a park bench. There are exactly as many turns in a scene as the scene requires - there might not even be any turns if the scene consists of nothing but dialogue and character interaction.
- Chapter - An independent part of a story, virtually always played out in one game session. It consists of a number of scenes interconnected by downtime (see below); essentially, like a chapter in a novel or an act in a play.
- Story - A full tale, complete with introduction, rising action and climax. Some stories can take several chapters to complete; others can be finished in one.
- Chronicle - A series of stories connected by the characters themselves and their ongoing narrative, possibly even by a common theme or overarching plot.
- Downtime - Time that is "glossed over" with description rather than played out turn by turn or scene by scene. If the Storyteller says, "You wait in the foyer for four hours before the prince's ghoul summons you," rather than actually letting the characters play out their wait, the Storyteller is considered to be invoking downtime. Downtime allows trivial or tedious passages of time to be played through quickly.
Over the course of a game, your character will do many things. Some of these tasks are considered actions, while others aren't. Speeches and conversations aren't considered actions as such - but just about everything else, from throwing a punch at your sire to trying to decipher a code, is probably an action. One action typically takes one turn (see above) of game time to complete.
It's easy enough to attempt an action - just tell the Storyteller what your character's trying to do and how she plans to go about it. And most actions - crossing the street or loading a pistol, for instance - are easy enough to be considered automatically successful. However, if you're trying to cross a four-lane highway full of speeding trucks, or trying to reload while you're hanging from a fire escape by one hand, there's a chance you might fail. So when there's reasonable doubt whether an action will succeed or not, you may have to roll dice to determine the results.
Not everything that your character actually does counts as an action. For instance, spending a blood point to increase an Attribute is considered to take less than a second of game time - no dice are rolled, and your character can do this while doing something else. Such a "free action" is called a reflexive - in essence, a feat that doesn't require taking an action to accomplish.
Reflexives include such activities as spending blood points to increase Attributes, soaking damage, making a Virtue check, or activating Celerity to take extra actions. They aren't considered actions in any real way - you don't have to subtract from your dice pool to soak damage while you're firing a gun, for example. Of course, you still have to be conscious to perform many reflexives, but they don't get in the way of anything else you want to do in a turn.
Although the Storyteller is within perfect rights to declare whether a given action succeeds or fails (usually for dramatic purposes), in many cases chance enters into the equation. Therefore, Vampire uses a simple, portable form of "chance in a pocket" - dice. To be specific, Vampire uses 10-sided dice; you can find these in any game store or even many bookstores. The Storyteller may need quite a few; players need plenty as well, but can share among themselves. Ten dice are all that a beginning character will need at a given time.
You roll dice whenever the outcome of an action is in doubt or the Storyteller thinks there's a chance your character might fail. Your character's strengths and weaknesses affect the number of dice you roll, and thus directly affect your chances of success.
Although your character's personality is limited only by your imagination, his capabilities are defined by his Traits - all of his innate and learned aptitudes and abilities. Each Trait is described by a rating of 1 to 5; a 1 in a Trait is barely competent, while a 5 is the pinnacle of human achievement. Most people's Traits range from 1 to 3; a 4 in a Trait indicates an exceptional person, while a 5 is nearly incomparable - among humans, at any rate. Think of this as similar to the "star" rating system of movies and restaurants - a 1 is barely passable while a 5 is superb. It's also possible to have a zero in a Trait - this usually represents a skill that the character never learned, but some exceptions (such as the hideous Nosferatu's lack of an Appearance Trait) do occur.
Whenever you roll dice, you roll one die for every dot in the appropriate Trait; for instance, if your character is trying to find something and he has three dots in Perception, you would roll three dice. However, you almost never simply roll the number of dice you have in an Attribute; raw potential is modified by skill, after all. The most common rolls in the game involve adding the dice gained from an Attribute (p. 115) to the dice gained from an Ability (p. 119).
For instance, if Veronica were trying to find a specific file in a cluttered clerk's office, the Storyteller might have her player Lynn roll Perception + Finance - an Attribute plus an Ability. In this case, Lynn would take two dice for Veronica's Perception of 2, plus as many dice as she had in Finance; Veronica has Finance 4, so Lynn gets four more dice from that. Veronica has a total of six dice tcr attempt her task. These dice are called the dice pool - in other words, the total number of dice you roll in a single turn. Most often, you'll calculate a dice pool for only one action at a time, although you can modify it to be able to perform multiple tasks in a turn (for more information, see the "Multiple Actions" sidebar).
Of course, you might not need to add an Ability to an Attribute for some rolls; for instance, there's no skill that will help Veronica heft a small safe. In such cases, Lynn would use only the dice from the Attribute - in this case, Strength.
There is absolutely no situation in which more than two Traits can add to a dice pool. What's more, if your dice pool involves a Trait whose maximum rating is 10 (such as Humanity or Willpower), you can't add any other Traits to your dice pool. It's effectively impossible for a normal human being to have more than 10 dice in a dice pool.
Elder vampires, on the other hand...
There's no point in rolling dice unless you know what results you're looking for. Whenever you try to perform an action, the Storyteller will decide on an appropriate difficulty number and tell you her decision. A difficulty is always a number between 2 and 10. Each time you score that number or higher on one of your dice, you're considered to have gained a success. For example, if an action's difficulty is a 6 and you roll a 3, 3, 8, 7 and 10, then you've scored three successes. The more you get, the better you do. You need only one success to perform most actions successfully, but that's considered a marginal success. If you score three or more, you succeed completely.
Naturally, the lower the difficulty, the easier it is to score successes, and vice versa. Six is the default difficulty, indicating actions neither exceptionally tricky nor exceptionally easy to accomplish. If the Storyteller or rulebook ever calk for you to make a roll, but doesn't give you a specific difficulty number, assume the task is difficulty 6.
The Storyteller is the final authority on how difficult attempted actions are - if the task seems impossible, he'll make the difficulty appropriately high, while if the task seems routinely easy, the difficulty will be low (if the Storyteller decides you even have to roll at all). Particularly easy or difficult tasks might even demand difficulty numbers of 2 or 10; however, these should be extremely rare. A difficulty 2 task is so easy that's it's not really worth the trouble of a die roll, while a difficulty 10 action is almost impossible - you have an equal chance of botching (see below) as you do of succeeding, no matter how many dice you're rolling.
And, in case it needs to be said, a result of a 10 is always a success, no matter the difficulty number.
Occasionally, a player will want her character to perform more than one action in a turn - for example, firing a gun at two different targets, or climbing a ledge while kicking at pursuers below. In such situations, the player can attempt actions normally, though all actions suffer a penalty.
The player declares the total number of actions he wishes his character to attempt. He then subtracts a number of dice from his first dice pool equal to the total number of actions. Additional actions lose an extra die from their pools, cumulative; if a dice pool is reduced to zero or below in this manner, the action may not be attempted.
Example: Justin wishes his character, Hall the Nosferatu, to throw a punch while simultaneously dodging two incoming blows. Hall has Dexterity 3, Brawl 4 and Dodge 3. Justin calculates the dice pool for the punch (Dexterity 3 + Brawl 4 = 7 dice pool), then subtracts three dice from it (because of the three actions total), for a final dice pool of 4. The first dodge has abase dice pool of 6 (Dexterity 3 + Dodge 3), minus four (three for the number of actions, plus one for being the second multiple action), for a final dice pool of 2. The final dodge has a dice pool of 1 (6, minus three for the number of actions, minus an additional two for being the third action attempted). Hall had better be pretty lucky.
Vampires with the Discipline of Celerity (p. 153) may take multiple actions without subtracting dice from their dice pools. These extra actions may not themselves be divided into multiple actions.
If you score no successes on a die roll, your character fails his attempted action. He misses his punch. His pitch is a ball instead of a strike. His attempt to persuade the prince falls flat. Failure, while usually disappointing, is not so catastrophic as a botch (below).
Example: Feodor, a Nosferatu, is attempting to spy on some suspicious-looking activities in one of the galleries of the sewers, and is perching precariously on an overhead pipe to do so. Justin the Storyteller tells Feodor's player, John, to roll his Dexterity + Stealth (difficulty 7). John rolls and gets 2, 5, 6, 6, 4, 3 - no successes. Justin rules that as Feodor attempts to shift position on the pipe, his foot slides on something slimy, and he loses his balance. The thugs below don't see Feodor, but he is definitely in trouble...
The following charts should give you a good idea of how to combine difficulties and degrees of success. Italics indicate the average.
Degrees of Success
Bad luck can ruin anything. One more basic rule about rolling dice is the "rule of one," or (spoken in a despairing tone) "botching." Whenever one of the dice comes up as a "1," it cancels out a success. Completely. Take the die showing "1" and one of the dice showing a successful number and set them aside. In this manner, an otherwise successful action may be reduced to failure.
Occasionally, truly bad fortune strikes. If a die roll garners no successes whatsoever, and one or more "1s" show up, a botch occurs. In other word, if none of your dice comes up a success, and there are dice showing "1s" (no matter how many), the roll is a botch. If you score at least one success, even if that success is canceled out and additional "1s" remain, it's just a simple failure.
A botch is much worse than a normal failure - it's outright misfortune. For instance, rolling a botch when trying to gun down a hunter might result in your gun jamming. Botching a Computer roll when hacking into a system will probably alert the authorities, while botching a Stealth roll is the proverbial "stepping on a dry twig." The Storyteller decides exactly what goes wrong; a botch might produce a minor inconvenience or a truly unfortunate mishap.
Of course, some Storytellers may find that botches are cropping up a little too frequently in their chronicles (the laws of probability often warp around dice, as any veteran roleplayer can attest). In that case, it's the Storyteller's privilege to give everyone, player and Storyteller character alike, one botch "free" - in other words, the first botched roll of the session doesn't count. This rule tends to make unlife a little easier on the players - but then again, there's less chance of their enemies suffering a run of bad luck either...
Example: Alexandra, a Tremere played by Merida, is desperately firing a gun through the windows of the chantry, whichare being shot out by a marauding Sabbat pack. Merida rolls Alex's Dexterity + Firearms (difficulty 8), and gets 9, 1, 1, 8, 1. The "1s" more than cancel out the successes, but because she rolled successes to begin with, the action simply fails.
She's not so lucky next turn. The dice come up 1, 3, 4, 3, 7. This time, not only did a "I" occur, but no successes were scored at all, so the action is a botch. The Storyteller rules that Alexandra's gun jams, and as she tries to force it, something crucial breaks, rendering the gun worthless. Alexandra starts to crawl for the back door, hoping that the pack hasn't found it yet...
Let's face it - sometimes rolling dice gets tiresome, particularly when your character could perform a given action in his sleep. And anything that streamlines play and reduces distractions is a good thing. Thus, Vampire employs a simple system for automatic successes, allowing you to skip rolling for tasks that your character would find frankly mundane.
Simply put, if the number of dice in your dice pool is equal to or greater than the task's difficulty, your character automatically succeeds. No dice roll is necessary. Mind you, this does not work for all tasks, and never works in combat or other stressful situations. Furthermore, an automatic success is considered marginal, just as if you'd gotten only one success on the roll; if quality is an issue, you might want to roll dice anyway to try for more successes. But for simple and often-repeated actions, this system works just fine.
There's another way to get an automatic success on a roll: Simply spend a Willpower point (p. 136). You can do this only once per turn, and since you have a limited supply of Willpower you can't do this too often, but it can certainly help when you're under pressure to succeed.
Trying It Again
Failure often produces stress, which often leads to further failure. If a character fails an action, he may usually try it again (after all, failing to pick a lock does not mean the character may never try to pick the lock again). In such cases, though, the Storyteller has the option to increase the difficulty number of the second attempt by one. If the attempt is failed yet again, the difficulty of a third attempt goes up by two, and so on. Eventually, the difficulty will be so high that the character has no chance of succeeding (the lock is simply beyond her ability to pick).
Examples of when to use this rule are: climbing a wall, hacking into a computer system, or interrogating a prisoner. After all, if you couldn't find a handhold, defeat the security program, or get the prisoner to talk the first time, there's a reasonable chance you might not be able to do it at all.
Sometimes the Storyteller shouldn't invoke this rule. For example, failing to shoot somebody with a gun, detect an ambush, or keep on another driver's tail are to be expected in stressful situations. Such failure does not automatically lead to frustration and failed future attempts.
Example: Winters, a diplomat for the Prince of Atlanta, is not having a good night. He's at the table with a Nosferatu envoy in some critical negotiations, and things aren't going well. When Winters wishes to add a little witty Elizabethan repartee to smooth things over with the lady, the Storyteller craftily suggests that Winter's player, Edward, roll Wits + Etiquette (difficulty 6) in addition to roleplaying his banter. Edward does so - and Winters fails to realize that his antiquated compliment insults the Nosferatu (she, however, has no difficulty informing him of the fact). He attempts to make amends, but this time the Storyteller tells Edward the difficulty is 7; Winters is under the gun, and another insult could break negotiations off entirely.
The preceding rules should be enough to get you going, and for chronicles that favor storytelling over dice-rolling, they might be all you ever need. However, they don't necessarily cover all instances - for example, what if you're trying to do something while a Storyteller character is actively trying to stop you? What if your friend tries to help you break a code?
The various ways to complicate matters below are intended to bring extra color to games. You certainly don't have to use them, but they might add more realism and suspense to your game.
The following complications are relatively simple and generic, usable to describe a wide variety of actions. For plenty of situation-specific complications, see Chapter Six.
Sometimes you need more than one success to accomplish a task fully. For example, you might have to spend all night tracking down obscure newspaper articles in a library, or climb a cliff face that's impossible to scale in a turn. If you need only one success to accomplish an action, the action in question is called a simple action. But when you need multiple successes to score even a marginal success, you're undertaking an extended action. Simple actions are the most common in Vampire, but you will have ample opportunity to perform extended actions.
In an extended action, you roll your dice pool over and over on subsequent turns, trying to collect enough successes to succeed. For example, your character is trying to dig a temporary haven in the forest floor, using only his bare hands. The Storyteller tells you that you need 15 successes to hollow out a den that provides sufficient protection from the sun. You'll eventually succeed, but the longer you go, the more chance there is of you botching and collapsing the tunnel. What's more, if you have only so many turns before dawn, the speed with which you finish your task becomes doubly important. The Storyteller in all cases is the final authority on which tasks are extended actions and which aren't.
You can usually take as many turns as you want to finish an extended action (but situations being what they are in Vampire, you won't always have that luxury). If you botch a roll, however, you may have to start over again from scratch. Depending on what you're trying to do, the Storyteller may even rule that you can't start over again at all; you've failed and that's that.
Because extended actions are often quite apropos for describing certain feats, they're used frequently in Chapter Six. FIowever, because of the amount of dice-rolling involved, extended actions should probably be kept out of the more intense sessions of roleplaying.
Example of Extended Action
Veronica Abbey-Roth is trying to work up a large portion of capital for a certain upcoming project others. Even though she has Resources 4, the Storyteller rules that she'd have to liquidate much of her belongings to get the money she wants. So Veronica decides to play fast and dirty with her money, running a number of illegal operations and playing a very intricate game with the stock market to raise the money she needs. The Storyteller decides that for Veronica to reach her goal, Lynn will have to score 18 successes on an extended Wits + Finance roll (difficulty 7 - this is an intrinsically tricky way to earn money). What's more, since this sort of thing takes time, she can make only one roll per night of game time.
Veronica has Wits 3 and Finance 4, so Lynn rolls seven dice each night. She gets three successes on her first roll - things are opening up nicely. On her second roll, she gets two successes, for a total of five. Unfortunately, luck isn't with her on the third roll. She gets 3, 4, 1, 6, 4, 1, 6 - a botch! The Storyteller rules that one of Veronica's brokers has gone sour, and she's actually lost money on the transaction. But the efforts of three nights' work have been neatly condensed into five minutes or so of real time. As the game continues, Veronica is left with a tighter budget for a while, and the choice of trying again (and running the risk of attracting the Justice Department's attention) or abandoning her grandiose plot...
A simple difficulty number might not be enough to represent a struggle between characters. For instance, you may try to batter down a door while a character on the other side tries to hold it closed. In such a case, you'd make a resisted rott - each of you rolls dice against a difficulty often determined by one of your opponent's Traits, and the person who scores the most successes wins.
However, you're considered to score only as many successes as the amount by which you exceed your opponent's successes; in other words, the opponent's successes e liminate your own, just as "1s" do. If you score four successes and your opponent scores three, you're considered to have only one: a marginal success. Therefore it's difficult to achieve an outstanding success on a resisted action. Even if your opponent can't beat you, he can still diminish the effect of your efforts.
Some actions (arm-wrestling contests, debates, car chases) may be both extended and resisted. In such cases, one or the other of the opponents must achieve a certain number of successes to succeed. Each success above the rival's total number in a given turn is added to a running tally. The first to achieve the designated number of successes wins the contest.
Example of Resisted Action
Veronica, prowling for trouble at the latest Camarilla soiree, has determined by night's end to spite her rival, a Ventrue by the name of Giselle. Giselle arrived at the fete with her latest childe in tow: Tony, a talented and delicious young man with a medical license and a much-vaunted pedigree. Veronica decides that there would be nothing more amusing than stealing Giselle's childe away from her for the evening - of course, that'll take some doing, as Giselle will be watching him like a hawk.
Lynn (Veronica's player) and the Storyteller roleplay out much of the initial three-way conversation (as well as the covert knife-edged glances) between Veronica, Giselle and Tony. Finally, the Storyteller has Lynn roll Veronica's Manipulation (3) + Subterfuge (3), resisted by Giselle's Manipulation (3) + Subterfuge (4). Lynn rolls six dice versus a difficulty of 7 (Giselle's Manipulation + Subterfuge); the Storyteller rolls Giselle's seven dice versus difficulty 6 (Veronica's Manipulation + Subterfuge). Lynn manages to score four successes, while Giselle remarkably manages only three. Giselle's successes subtract from Lynn's, leaving Lynn with one success. Tony opts to make the rounds with Veronica, although her marginal success means he casts a few longing glances back Giselle's way...
You don't always have to go it alone. If the situation warrants (usually during an extended action such as researching a family tree or decoding an Aramaic inscription), characters can work together to collect successes. If the Storyteller decides that teamwork is possible for the task in question, two or more characters can make rolls separately and add their successes together. They may never combine their Traits into one dice pool, however.
Teamwork can be effective in many situations - dogpiling on the prince's pet enforcer, shadowing a hunter or doing research in the library, for instance. However, it can actually prove to be a hindrance in certain situations (including social interaction such as fast-talking or seducing a subject), and one person's botch can bollix the whole attempt.
This is the most important rule of all, and the only real rule worth following: There are no rules. This game should be whatever you want it to be, whether that's a nearly diceless chronicle of in-character socialization or a long-mnning tactical campaign with each player controlling a small coterie of vampires. If the rules in this book interfere with your enjoyment of the game, change them. The world is far too big - it can't be reflected accurately in any set of inflexible rules. Think of this book as a collection of guidelines, suggested but not mandatory ways of capturing the World of Darkness in the format of a game. You're the arbiter of what works best in your game, and you're free to use, alter, abuse or ignore these rules at your leisure.
Try It Out
Well, that's it. Those are the basic rules - everything else is just clarification or expansion, the icing on the cake. If you understand these rules, you should be able to play the game with no problem. If you don't yet understand them, reread the section. Better yet, try a couple of rolls yourself.
Let's say that Veronica has finally gotten cause to use that snub-nosed revolver in her handbag - a carjacker is threatening Marcus, her chauffeur. The difficulty for hitting someone at short range is6 (see Chapter Six for more details on combat). Take three dice for Veronica's Dexterity Attribute of 3, and one for her Firearms Skill of 1. You have four dice in your dice pool - fair, but not great. Now go ahead and roll. Count up your successes, but don't forget to take away a success for every "1" you roll. Did you make it? Did you botch? The more successes you get, the more accurately placed the bullet (and the better the odds that the carjacker won't be merely grazed and start returning fire).
Now try an extended and resisted action - we'll say a debate. (It might not sound that interesting at first, but consider that a debate held before the primogen council has some very high stakes....) This will be an indefinite series of rolls, each one perhaps using a different Trait and requiring different difficulties. You need to accumulate five more successes than your opponent to prove your point and sway the council. A botch eliminates all of your accumulated successes (you've made yourself look like a fool somehow).
- First roll: Each player rolls Charisma + Expression, difficulty of the opponent's Wits + 3 (those opening remarks are very important).
- Second and third rolls: As the debate heats up, each player rolls Intelligence + Expression, difficulty of the opponent's Intelligence + Expression.
- Fourth roll (and any subsequent rolls): Each player rolls Manipulation + Expression (difficulty of the opponent's Wits + Expression) to put the final spin on his argument.
This rules system is designed with flexibility in mind, and as a result, there are about 270 combinations of Attributes and Abilities. This daunting number is just the beginning, too - you can certainly devise more Talents, Skills or Knowledges if you think there's need. In this manner, you have a huge variety of rolls to simulate actions-whatever you think is most appropriate. The following examples of rolls are meant to give you some idea of the possibilities that might come up in a game.
- You want to conduct yourself flawlessly at the governor's formal dinner (and you can't actually eat anything). Roll Dexterity + Etiquette (difficulty 8).
- You're miles from your haven, and the sun will be up soon. Roll Wits + Survival (difficulty 7) to find shelter for the day.
- You try to distract the bodyguard with your left hand while surreptitiously slipping your knife back into your belt with your right. Roll Dexterity + Subterfuge (difficulty of the bodyguard's Perception + Alertness).
- You lock gazes with the gang leader, trying to cow him into submission before his gang - of course, he wants to do the same to you. Make a Charisma + Intimidation roll, resisted by his Charisma + Intimidation.
- The ritual requires three days of nonstop chanting. Can you stay awake even through the daylight hours to finish it? Roll Stamina + Occult (difficulty 9).
- You need to board up the door to your haven in record speed - and it needs to be durable, too. Roll Wits + Crafts (difficulty 7).
- You've got access to the chantry library for exactly one night - you'd better find the name you want quickly, but there are a lot of books here. Roll Wits + Occult (difficulty 8) every hour; you need to achieve 15 successes.
- It's not the message of the song, it's how good you look singing it. Roll Appearance + Performance (difficulty 6) to have your choice of groupies.
- How long can you remain motionless in the bushes while the guards chat about the game? Roll Stamina + Stealth (difficulty 7). Each success allows you to hold still for one hour.
- It would be foolish to threaten your rival openly while in the confines of Elysium. Roll Manipulation + Intimidation (difficulty 8) to properly veil your threat without leaving her in doubt as to your intentions.
- Suddenly, a man pushes a crate out of the van you've been chasing - roll Wits + Drive (difficulty 6) to swerve out of the way in time.
- Can you distract the guard dogs while you slip in? Roll Manipulation + Animal Ken (difficulty 8).
- Did she just threaten you? Roll Perception + Intimidation (difficulty 5) to figure out what that Lick meant by that comment.
- You try to get his attention by driving your knife through his hand and into the oak bar. Roll Strength + Melee (difficulty 6).
- You try to pull alongside the fleeing Mercedes so your friends can leap aboard. Make an extended Dexterity + Drive roll, resisted by the Mercedes driver's Wits + Drive. If you accumulate five total successes more than his total successes, you're in position. If he accumulates a total of five more successes than you get, he escapes.
- The new gang in town's been awfully good at picking out Kindred-run operations to take over. Roll Charisma + Streetwise (difficulty 8) to see what people know about them. The more successes you get, the more information you receive, but the legwork will take an entire night regardless.
- What sort of alarm system does this place have? Roll Perception + Security (difficulty 6).
- Whose story will the prince believe - yours or your enemy's? Roll Manipulation + Expression, resisted by your rival's Manipulation + Expression.
- You try convincing the clerk of the court that you're an IRS auditor and that you need to see the court records. Roll Manipulation + Finance (difficulty 8).
- Can you read the German translation of The Book of Nod without losing something in the transition? Roll Intelligence + Linguistics (difficulty 8).
- You have to keep running if you're going to outdistance your pursuers. Make an extended Stamina + Athletics roll (difficulty 7); if you collect 15 successes, you've outlasted them.
- You need to convince the judge to release you before the sun rises. Roll Charisma + Law (difficulty 8) to make a plea eloquent enough.
Here we define a number of terms used in the rules that first-time players and new Storytellers might not be familiar with.
- Ability: These are Traits that describe what a character knows and has learned, rather than her physical and psychological make-up. Abilities are Traits such as Intimidation, Firearms and Occult.
- Action: An action is the performance of a deed, which is a consciously willed physical, social or mental activity. When players announce that their characters are doing something, they are taking an action.
- Advantage: This is a catchall category that describes the mystical Disciplines and Backgrounds of a character.
- Attribute: These are Traits that describe what a character inherently is. Attributes are such things as Strength, Charisma and Intelligence.
- Botch: 1) A naturally rolled " 1,"which cancels out a success die. 2) A disastrous failure, indicated by rolling one or more "1s" and no successes on the 10-sided dice rolled for an action.
- Character: Each player creates a character, an individual he roleplays over the course of the chronicle. Though "character" could imply any individual, we use it here to describe the players' characters.
- Dice Pool: This describes the dice you have in your hand after adding together your different Traits. It is the number of dice you can roll for that action.
- Difficulty: This is a number from 2 to 10 measuring the difficulty of an action a character takes. The player needs to roll that number or higher on at least one of the dice in his dice pool.
- Downtime: The time spent between scenes, where no roleplaying is done and turns are not used. Actions might be made, and the Storyteller might give some descriptions, but generally time passes quickly.
- Extended Action: An action that requires a certain number of successes, accumulated over several turns, for the character to actually succeed.
- Health: This is a measure of the degree to which a character is wounded or injured.
- Points: The temporary score of a Trait such as Willpower and blood pool - the squares, not the circles.
- Rating: A number describing the permanent value of a Trait - most often a number from 1 to 5, though sometimes a number from 1 to 10.
- Reflexive: A situation in which dice might be rolled, but that does not count as an action for the purpose of calculating dice pools. Examples of reflexives are soak rolls and Willpower rolls to resist mind control.
- Resisted Action: An action that two different characters take against each other. Both compare their number of successes, and the character with the most wins.
- Scene: A single episode of the story; a time and place in which actions and events take place moment by moment. A scene is often a dramatic high point of the story.
- Score: The temporary value of a Trait or combination of Traits used in a single roll.
- Simple Action: An action that requires the player to get only one success to succeed, though more successes indicate a better job or result.
- Storyteller: The person who creates and guides the story by assuming the roles of all characters not taken by the players and determining all events beyond the control of the players.
- System: A specific set of complications used in a certain situation; rules to help guide the rolling of dice to create dramatic action.
- Trait: Any Attribute, Ability, Advantage or other character index that can be described as a number (in terms of dots).
- Troupe: The group of players, including the Storyteller, who play Vampire: The Masquerade, usually on a regular basis.
- Willpower: A measure of a character's self-confidence and internal control. Willpower works differently from most Traits - it is often spent rather than rolled.