Blood drips onto paper with a sound like a snare drum rat - tat - tat it goes. I'm using those drops they way I used to use my heartbeat, as a way to count out a few seconds when I'm trying to be calm. But my heart doesn't beat anymore, so I need to find something else to use.
Right now, it's the sound of my blood dripping from my girlfriend's mouth onto the newspaper on the floor, she 's supposed to be swallowing it, drinking it and letting it turn her into a vampire so we can be together, but nothing's happening. I don't know why.
I did it the way Riki told me you have to do it. I took all of her, blood first, then I cut my wrist open and let everything drizzle into her mouth the way she used to drizzle chocolate syrup onto her ice cream. Then I sat down and I waited for her to open her eyes again.
That was an hour ago. It 's not supposed to take that long. The blood keeps dripping out of her mouth and I keep putting more in, and it' s hot working. The sun' s coming up. And it' s not working. And the blood keeps on spilling on the floor. Honey, you've got to drink. Please drink, honey. Don't be dead. Please, don't be dead.
While Vampire's focus is on roleplaying and character interaction, dramatic scenes often involve some element of die rolling. As Chapter Five shows, the basic Storyteller rules are designed to streamline this process as much as possible, allowing you to pay attention to the story. To assist you and the Storyteller further, this chapter covers more specific dice mechanics, including general dramatic systems, combat, injury and recovery.
Wereiterate that the following systems are suggestions for how we think situations can be best handled. If, in your chronicles, you come up with a way you like better, by all means use it. Also - particularly when dealing with social actions like seductions and speeches - the dice should never get in the way of roleplaying. If a player has his character make a particularly inspired (or painful) speech, deliver a particularly smooth (or cheesy) opening line, or come up with a brilliant (or laughable) alibi, feel free to let the character succeed (or fail) automatically, regardless of what the dice and Traits say.
The only things limiting your actions are your imagination and your character's skill. During a game session, characters - both player and Storyteller personalities - may attempt numerous diverse and complicated activities. The Storyteller is responsible for keeping all of this action organized while determining success or failure for all characters.
Dramatic systems simplify the Storyteller's job by supplying rules for a number of common activities. Generally, a character attempting to accomplish a task adds together an Attribute and Ability. If a task falls within a character's specialty (p. 117), that character may be able to roll extra dice if the player scores one or more "10s" on his roll.
Storytellers should, and will undoubtedly have to, invent their own dramatic systems for new situations. The list of systems below is in no way exhaustive, but provides a solid foundation on which to base events. Bear in mind that for rolls involving Talents and Skills, characters lacking a specific Ability may default to the Attribute on which the Ability is based (albeit at +1 difficulty for Skill-based actions).
Most of these systems involve taking one or more actions (p. 190) over one or more turns. A number of these systems may be tried again if the first attempt is unsuccessful. Subsequent efforts may suffer a difficulty penalty, at the Storyteller's discretion (see "Trying It Again," p. 193).
Automatic feats require the character to take an action, but don't involve a die roll under most circumstances. The following are common automatic feats; Storytellers may decide that other feats are automatic, at their discretion.
Blood Use (Healing, Augmenting Attributes, etc.): Vampire characters may spend blood to heal themselves. To do so, the character must concentrate and do nothing else for one full turn. A character may attempt to heal while performing other actions, but this requires success on a Stamina + Survival reflexive roll (difficulty 8). Failing this roll means the vampire loses all expended blood points with no effect, while a botch causes the vampire to lose both an additional blood point and an additional health level. Spending blood to raise Physical Attributes or power Disciplines may be done automatically, without the need for concentration. A character may spend an amount of vitae equal to her per-tum rating, as dictated by her generation (p. 139).
Getting to Feet: Characters may rise from the ground in one turn without making a roll. If a character wishes to get to her feet while doing something else in the same turn, she must take a multiple action (see "Multiple Actions," p. 192) with a Dexterity + Athletics roll (difficulty 4) to rise successfully.
Movement: Characters may choose to walk, jog or run. If walking, a character moves at seven yards per turn. If jogging, a character moves at (12 + Dexterity) yards per turn. If all-out running, a character moves at (20 + [3 x Dexterity]) yards per turn. Characters may move up to half maximum running speed, then subsequently attack or perform another action; see p. 209 for particulars. Characters may also wish to move while taking another action. This is possible, but each yard moved subtracts one from the other action's dice pool. Note that injured characters (p. 216) cannot move at maximum speed.
Readying Weapon: This can involving drawing a weapon or reloading a gun with a prepared clip. In most cases, no roll is required, so long as the character takes no other action that turn. If the character wishes to ready a weapon while doing something else in the same turn, the player must reduce his dice pool (see "Multiple Actions," p. 192) and roll Dexterity + Melee or Firearms (difficulty 4) for the readying attempt.
Starting Car: This takes an action, but requires no roll.
Yielding: The character allows the character with the next-highest initiative (p. 207) to act. She may still act at the end of the turn. If all characters (player and Storyteller) yield during a turn, no one does anything that turn.
These systems cover actions involving the three Physical Attributes (Strength, Dexterity and Stamina). These feats typically require a die roll.
Climbing [Dexterity + Athletics]: When your character climbs an inclined surface (rocky slope, side of building), roll Dexterity + Athletics. Climbing is typically an extended roll. For an average climb with available handholds and nominal complications, your character moves 10 feet for every success. The Storyteller adjusts this distance based on the climb's difficulty (easier: 15 feet per success; more difficult: five feet per success). The number of handholds, smoothness of the surface and, to a lesser extent, weather can all affect rate of travel. A short, difficult climb may have the same difficulty as a long, easy climb. The extended action lasts until you've accumulated enough successes to reach the desired height. Botching a climbing roll can be bad; your character may only slip or get stuck, or she may fall.
If the character activates the Protean power of Feral Claws or constructs bone spurs with the Vicissitude power of Bonecraft, all climbing difficulties are reduced by two.
Driving [Dexterity/Wits + Drive]: A Drive roll isn't needed to steer a vehicle under normal circumstances - assuming your character has at least one dot in the Drive Skill. Bad weather, the vehicle's speed, obstacles and complex maneuvers can challenge even the most competent drivers. Specific difficulties based on these circumstances are up to the Storyteller, but should increase as the conditions become more hazardous.
For example, driving in heavy rain is +1 difficulty, but going fast while also trying to lose pursuers increases the difficulty to +3. Similarly, maneuvering in heavy traffic is +1, but adding a breakneck pace while avoiding pursuit bumps the difficulty to +3. A failed roll indicates trouble, requiring an additional roll to avoid crashing or losing control. Characters in control of a vehicle, and who have no dots in the appropriate Ability, need a roll for almost every change in course or procedure. On a botch, the vehicle may spin out of control or worse.
Because different cars handle differently - some are designed for speed and handling while others are designed for safety - a chart is provided to help calculate the difficulty for any maneuver. Generally, for every 10 miles over the safe driving speed of a vehicle, the difficulty of any maneuver is increased by one. Exceedingly challenging stunts and bad road conditions should also increase the difficulty accordingly. The maximum number of dice a driver can have in her dice pool when driving is equal to the maneuver rating of the vehicle. Simply put, even the best driver will have more trouble with a dump truck than she will with a Ferrari.
Encumbrance [Strength]: The temptation to carry loads of equipment to satisfy every situation can be overwhelming. The Storyteller should make life difficult for players whose characters pack arsenals everywhere they go. A character can carry/tote 25 pounds per point of Strength without penalty. The Potence Discipline adds to the character's effective Strength.
Should a character exceed this total, every action involving physical skills incurs an automatic +1 difficulty due to the added weight. Also, every 25 pounds over the allocation halves the character's base movement. A character bearing a total weight of double her Strength allocation can't move. This system is a guideline, and should not call for an inventory check every time your character picks up a pen.
Hunting [Perception]: It is the nature of the vampire that she must hunt. For each hour the vampire spends searching for human prey, allow the player to make a Perception roll against a difficulty based on the area in which the vampire hunts.
Success on this roll indicates that the vampire has found and subdued prey, in a manner appropriate for the vampire and the area (perhaps she has seduced a vessel, crept into a house of sleepers, or simply ambushed and assaulted a victim). She may now ingest one die's worth of blood points. Failure indicates that the hour is spent looking fruitlessly, while a botch indicates a complication (perhaps the character accidentally kills a vessel, picks up a disease, enters the domain of a rival Kindred or suffers assault from a street gang). If a botch does occur, go into roleplaying mode and let the character try to work her way out of trouble.
If the character catches prey, but currently has fewer blood points in her body than [7 minus Self-Control], a frenzy check (p. 228) is necessary to see if she can control her hunger. If the player fails this roll, the character continues to gorge on the vessel until she is completely sated (at full blood pool), the victim dies from blood loss, or she somehow manages to regain control of herself. If a tragedy occurs, the vampire might well lose Humanity.
The Fame Background reduces difficulties of hunting rolls by one per dot (to a minimum of 3), while the Herd Background adds one die per dot in the Background (so long as one's herd could conceivably be in the area). However, Storytellers may increase hunting difficulties for particularly inhuman vampires (Nosferatu, some Gangrel, vampires with Humanity scores of 4 or below), as such monsters find it difficult to blend in with a crowd.
Intrusion [Dexterity/Perception + Security]: Intrusion covers breaking and entering, evading security devices, picking locks, cracking safes - and preventing others from doing the same. When bypassing active security, your roll must succeed on the first attempt; failure activates any alarms present (opening manual locks may be attempted multiple times, though). Intrusion rolls can range from 5 [standard lock] to 10 [Fort Knox], depending on a security system's complexity (the Storyteller decides the actual difficulty). Certain tasks might require a minimum level of Security Skill for the character to have any chance of succeeding (e.g., Security 1 might let you pick a simple lock, but not crack a safe). Also, most intrusion tasks require lockpicks or other appropriate tools. On a botch, the character's clumsy break-in attempt goes horribly awry.
Setting up security measures is a standard action, but multiple successes achieved in the effort increase the system's quality (essentially adding to its difficulty to be breached).
Jumping [Strength or Strength + Athletics for a running jump]: Typically, jump rolls are made versus a difficulty of3. Each success on a jump roll launches your character two feet vertically or four feet horizontally. To jump successfully, a character must clear more distance than the distance between her and her destination. On a failure, the character fails to clear the required distance, but the player may make a Dexterity + Athletics roll (typically versus difficulty 6) to allow the character to grab onto a ledge or other safety as she falls. On a botch, your character may trip over her own feet, leap right into a wall or fall to her doom.
If the player makes a Perception + Athletics roll (difficulty 6, three successes required) before attempting a jump, he may gauge exactly how many successes are needed to make the leap
Lifting/Breaking [Strength]: The chart below provides the minimum Strength needed to deadlift or break various weights without a die roll. Characters of lower Strength may roll to affect heavier weights than their Strength scores allow for. The roll is made not with Strength, but with Willpower, and is difficulty 9. Each success advances the character by one level on the chart. The Potence Discipline also adds its dots to the character's effective Strength.
Characters can work together to lift an object. This is simply a teamwork roll with the individual players rolling separately and combining any resulting successes.
Lifting is all or nothing - if you fail the roll, nothing happens. At the Storyteller's discretion, your character's effective Strength may be raised if all she wants to do is drag something a short distance instead of pick it up. On a botch, your character may strain something or drop the object on her own foot.
Opening/Closing [Strength]: Opening a door with brute force calls for a Strength roll (difficulty 6 to 8, depending on the material of the door). A standard interior door requires only one success to bash open or slam shut. A reinforced door generally takes five successes. A vault door might take 10 or more successes. These successes may be handled as an extended action. While teamwork is possible (and recommended), a door can still be forced open through a single individual's repeated hammering. Obviously, a door not held in some way can be opened without resorting to force. A botch causes a health level of normal damage to your character's shoulder.
Certain doors (metal vault doors and the like) may require a Strength minimum even to make an attempt. The Potence Discipline adds automatic successes to the roll.
Pursuit [Dexterity + Athletics/Drive]: Vampires must often pursue their terrified prey, and sometimes they themselves must flee. Generally, pursuit can be resolved automatically by using the formulas for calculating movement (p. 200); if one party is clearly faster than another is, the faster party catches or avoids the slower party eventually. However, if two characters are of equal or nearly equal speed, or if one character is slower but might lose the faster character or make it to safety before she catches him, use the system below.
Basic pursuit is an extended action. The target starts with a number of free extra successes based on his distance from the pursuer. This breaks down as follows: on foot, one for every two yards ahead of pursuers; in vehicles, one for every 10 yards ahead of pursuers. For chases involving vampires and mortals, remember that mortals tire, but the undead do not.
The target and pursuers make the appropriate roll (depending on the type of pursuit) each turn, adding new successes to any successes rolled in previous turns. When the pursuer accumulates more total successes than the target has, she catches up and may take further actions to stop the chase. As the target accumulates successes, he gains distance from his pursuers and may use that lead to lose his opponents. Each success that the quarry accumulates beyond the pursuer's total acts as a +1 difficulty to any Perception roll a pursuer has to make to remain on the target's tail. The Storyteller may call for the pursuer to make a Perception roll at any time (although not more than once each turn). If the pursuer fails this roll, her target is considered to have slipped away (into the crowd, into a side street). On a botch, the pursuer loses her quarry immediately. If the quarry botches, he stumbles or ends up at a dead end.
Shadowing [Dexterity + Stealth/Drive]: Shadowing someone requires that your character keep tabs on the target without necessarily catching her - and while not being noticed by her! The target's player can roll Perception + Alertness whenever she has a chance to spot her tail (the Storyteller decides when such an opportunity arises); the pursuer's player opposes this with a Dexterity + Stealth roll (or Dexterity + Drive, if the shadower is in a vehicle). The difficulty for both rolls is typically 6, but can be modified up or down by conditions (heavy crowds, empty streets, etc.). The target must score at least one more success than her shadow does to spot the tail; if so, she may act accordingly.
Shadowers who have trained together can combine their separate rolls into one success total.
Sneaking [Dexterity + Stealth]: Rather than fight through every situation, your character can use stealth and cunning. A sneaking character uses Dexterity + Stealth as a resisted action against Perception + Alertness rolls from anyone able to detect her passing. The difficulty of both rolls is typically 6. Unless observers score more successes than the sneaking character does, she passes undetected. Noise, unsecured gear, lack of cover or large groups of observers can increase Stealth difficulty. Security devices, scanners or superior vantage points may add dice to Perception + Alertness rolls. On a botch, the character stumbles into one of the people she's avoiding, accidentally walks into the open, or performs some other obvious act.
Note that vampires using the Obfuscate Discipline (p. 166) may not have to make rolls at all.
Swimming [Stamina + Athletics]: Assuming your character can swim at all (being able to do so requires one dot of Athletics), long-distance or long-duration swimming requires successful swimming rolls versus a difficulty determined by water conditions. After all, although vampires can't drown, they are corpses and thus have little buoyancy. The first roll is necessary only after the first hour of sustained activity; only one success is needed. If a roll fails, the character loses ground - perhaps pulled out other way by a current. If a roll botches, she starts to sink, or perhaps stumbles upon a less-than-finicky shark.
Vampires caught in shallow water during the day will take damage from sunlight (assume that a submerged vampire has protection equivalent to being under cloud cover).
Throwing [Dexterity + Athletics]: Objects (grenades, knives) with a mass of three pounds or less can be thrown a distance of Strength x 5 in yards. For every additional two pounds of mass that an object has, this distance decreases by five yards (particularly heavy objects don't go very far). As long as the object's mass doesn't reduce throwing distance to zero, your character can pick up and throw it. If an object can be lifted, but its mass reduces throwing distance to zero, the object can be hurled aside at best - about one yard's distance. Obviously, if an object can't be lifted, it can't be thrown at all (refer instead to "Lifting/Breaking," p. 202).
The Storyteller may reduce throwing distances for particularly unwieldy objects or increase them for aerodynamic ones. Throwing an object with any degree of accuracy requires a Dexterity + Athletics roll versus difficulty 6 (to half maximum range) or 7 (half maximum to maximum range). This difficulty can be adjusted for wind conditions and other variables at the Storyteller's whim. On a botch, your character may drop the object or strike a companion with it.
These systems cover tasks involving the three Mental Attributes (Perception, Intelligence and Wits), as well as tasks using the Virtues, Humanity and Willpower. Mental tests can provide you with information about things your character knows but you, the player, don't. Still, you should depend on your creativity when solving problems - not on die rolling.
Awakening [Perception, Humanity]: Vampires are nocturnal creatures and find it difficult to awaken during the day. A vampire disturbed in his haven while the sun is in the sky may roll Perception (+ Auspex rating, if the vampire has it) versus difficulty 8 to notice the disturbance. Upon stirring, the vampire must make a Humanity roll (difficulty 8). Each success allows the vampire to act for one turn. Five successes mean the vampire is completely awake for the entire scene. Failure indicates the vampire slips back into slumber, but may make the Perception roll to reawaken if circumstances allow. A botch means the vampire falls into deep sleep and will not awaken until sundown.
While active during the day, the vampire may have no more dice in any dice pool than his Humanity rating.
Creation [variable]: Some vampires were artists, musicians, writers or other creative types in life; others spend centuries trying to rekindle the spark of passion that undeath has taken from them. Certainly, the society of the Damned has gazed upon many wondrous (and horrific) works of art never seen by human eyes.
When trying to create something, a variety of rolls can be used, depending on just what it is the character wishes to create. Perception (to come up with a subject worthy of expression) + Expression or Crafts (to capture the feeling in an artistic medium) is a common roll. In all cases, the player must decide the general parameters of what she wants her character to create (a haiku about roses, a portrait of the prince, an epigram for the christening of a new Elysium site). The difficulty is variable, depending on the nature of the creation (it's easier to write a limerick than a villanelle). The number of successes governs the quality of the creation: With one success, the character creates a mediocre, uninspired but not terrible work, while with five successes the character creates a literary or artistic masterpiece. Some works (novels, large sculptures) might require extended success rolls. On a botch, the character creates the greatest work ever known to Kindred or kine (of course, everyone else who sees it immediately realizes what crap it actually is).
At the Storyteller's discretion, a vampire who creates a particularly inspired masterwork might be eligible for a rise in Humanity, via experience points.
Hacking [Intelligence/Wits + Computer]: Most business and political transactions involve the use of computers, which can give neonates a surprising advantage in the Jyhad. A would-be hacker's player rolls Intelligence or Wits + Computer versus a variable difficulty (6 for standard systems, up to 10 for military mainframes and the like). Successes indicate the number of dice (up to the normal dice pool) that can be rolled to interact with the system once it's been breached.
Actively blocking a hacker is a resisted action; the adversary with the most successes wins. On a botch, the character may trip a flag or even reveal her identity to the system she's trying to breach.
Investigation [Perception + Investigation]: Any search for clues, evidence or hidden contraband involves Investigation. The Storyteller may add to the difficulty of investigations involving obscure clues or particularly well-concealed objects. One success reveals basic details, while multiple successes provide detailed information and may even allow deductions based on physical evidence. On a botch, obvious clues are missed or even destroyed accidentally.
Repair [Dexterity/Perception + Crafts]: Depending on the precise specialty, the Crafts Skill allows for repairs of everything from pottery to automobile engines. Before repairing a device that's on the fritz, your character must identify its problems (accomplished as a standard research roll; see below). The Storyteller then sets the difficulty of the repair roll, if any. This difficulty depends on the problems' severity, whether the proper tools or any replacement parts are on hand, and if adverse conditions exist. An inspired research roll may offset these factors somewhat. A simple tire change is difficulty 4, while rebuilding an entire engine might be difficulty 9. Basic repairs take at least a few turns to complete. More complex repairs are extended actions that last 10 minutes for each success needed. On a botch, your character may simply waste time and a new part, or may make the problem worse.
Research [Intelligence + Academics/Occult/Science]: Research is performed when searching computer databases for historical facts, when looking for obscure references in ancient documents, or when trying to learn the true name of a Methuselah. In all cases, the number of successes achieved determines the amount of information discovered; one success gives you at least basic information, while extra successes provide more details. The Storyteller may assign a high difficulty for particularly obscure data. On a botch, your character may not find anything at all or may uncover completely erroneous information.
Tracking [Perception + Survival]: Unlike shadowing, tracking requires you to follow physical evidence to find a target. Discovering footprints, broken twigs, blood trails or other physical signs leads the tracker right to the subject. Following such a trail is a standard action; multiple successes provide extra information (subject's rate of speed, estimated weight, number of people followed). The quarry can cover her tracks through a successful Wits + Survival roll. Each success on this roll adds one to the difficulty of tracking her. Abnormal weather, poor tracking conditions (city streets, Elysium) and a shortage of time also adds to cracking difficulty. On a botch, your character not only loses the trail, but also destroys the physical signs of passage.
These systems cover tasks involving the three Social Attributes (Appearance, Manipulation and Charisma). Roleplaying usually supersedes any Social skill roll, for better or worse. Storytellers may ignore the Social systems when a player exhibits particularly good, or excruciatingly bad, roleplaying.
Carousing [Charisma + Empathy]: You influence others (particularly potential vessels) to relax and have fun. This might include showing a potential ally a good time, loosening an informant's tongue or making instant drinking partners who come to your aid when a brawl starts. The difficulty is typically 6 (most people can be persuaded to loosen up, regardless of intellect or will), though it might be higher in the case of large (or surly) groups. Certain Natures (Bon Vivant, Curmudgeon) can also influence the roll's difficulty. On a botch, your character comes off as an obnoxious boor, or people begin to question why your character hasn't touched her own food and drink....
Credibility [Manipulation/Perception + Subterfuge]: The Subterfuge Talent is used with Manipulation when perpetrating a scam or with Perception when trying to detect one (a scam can range from impersonating the authorities to using forged papers). All parties involved, whether detecting the lie or perpetrating it, make an appropriate roll (typically difficulty 7). The seam's "marks" must roll higher than the perpetrator to detect any deception. False credentials and other convincing props may add to the difficulty of uncovering the dupe, while teamwork may help reveal the scam. Hacking and/or intrusion rolls may be called for to pull off an inspired scam successfully. If your character perpetrates the scam and you botch, the entire plan falls apart.
Fast-Talk [Manipulation + Subterfuge]: When there's no time for subtlety, baffle them with nonsense. The target can be overwhelmed with a rapid succession of almost-believable half-truths. Hopefully, the subject believes anything she hears just to get away from the babble - or becomes so annoyed that she ignores your character completely. This is a resisted action - your character's Manipulation + Subterfuge against the target's Willpower. The difficulty of both rolls is typically 6, and whoever scores more successes wins. On a tie, more babbling is needed. On a botch, your character goes too far, angering the target and rambling without effect.
Interrogation [Manipulation + Empathy/Intimidation]: Anyone can ask questions. With the Interrogation Ability, you ask questions and have leverage. Interrogating someone peacefully (Manipulation + Empathy) involves asking strategic questions designed to reveal specific facts. This method is a resisted action between your character's Manipulation + Empathy and the subject's Willpower. Both actions are typically made against a difficulty of 6. Rolls are made at key points during questioning, probably every few minutes or at the end of an interrogation session.
Violent interrogation (Manipulation + Intimidation) involves torturing the victim's mind and/or body until she reveals what she knows. This is a resisted action between your character's Manipulation + Intimidation and the target's Stamina + 3 or Willpower (whichever is higher). Rolls are made every minute or turn, depending on the type of torture used. The subject loses a health level for every turn of physical torture, or one temporary Willpower point per turn of mental torture. The combined effect of physical and mental torture has devastating results. A botched roll can destroy the subject's body or mind.
Two or more interrogators can work together, combining successes; this works even if one interrogator is using Empathy while another is using Intimidation (the classic "good cop/bad cop" ploy).
Whatever the interrogation method used, if you roll more successes in the resisted action, the target divulges additional information for each extra success rolled. If your extra successes exceed the victim's permanent Willpower score, she folds completely and reveals everything she knows. The extent and relevancy of shared information are up to the Storyteller (details are often skewed to reflect what the subject knows or by what she thinks her interrogator wants to hear).
Intimidation [Strength/Manipulation + Intimidation]: Intimidation has two effects. Intimidation's passive effect doesn't involve a roll; it simply gives your character plenty of space - whether on a bus or in a bar. The higher your Intimidation rating the wider the berth that others give him.
Intimidation's active application works through subtlety or outright threat. Subtlety is based on a perceived threat (losing one's job, going on report, pain and agony later in life). Roll Manipulation + Intimidation in a resisted action against the subject's Willpower (difficulty 6 for both rolls); the target must get more successes or be effectively cowed.
The blatant form of intimidation involves direct physical threat. In this case, you may roll Strength + Intimidation in a resisted roll (difficulty 6) against either the subject's Willpower or her Strength + Intimidation (whichever is higher). On a botch, your character looks patently ridiculous and doesn't impress anyone in attendance for the rest of the scene.
Oration [Charisma + Leadership]: From a general's rousing speeches to a politician's slick double-talk, the capacity to sway the masses emotionally creates and destroys empires. When your character speaks to an audience, from a small board meeting to a large crowd, roll Charisma + Leadership. Difficulty is typically 6; the Storyteller may increase the difficulty for a huge, cynical, dispassionate or openly hostile audience. Oration is hit or miss - your character either succeeds or fails. On a botch, your character may damage her reputation or even be assaulted by the audience. If the character has time to prepare a speech beforehand, the Storyteller may roll the character's Intelligence + Expression (difficulty 7). Success on this roll reduces the subsequent Charisma + Leadership difficulty by one. Failure has no effect, while a botch actually increases the Charisma + Leadership difficulty (the character inserts a gaffe into the speech).
Performance [Charisma + Performance]: Vampires are certainly egotistical creatures, and some among their number are actors, poets, musicians or other sorts of entertainers. When a character performs live before an audience, roll Charisma + Performance (difficulty 7). As with oration, the audience's mood can increase the difficulty, as can the performance's complexity. One success indicates an enjoyable, if uninspired, effort, while additional successes make the performance a truly memorable event to even the most surly crowd. On a botch, your character forgets lines, hits the wrong chord or otherwise flubs.
Seduction [variable]: Vampires are master seducers, for their very sustenance often depends on coaxing potential prey into an intimate liaison. The particular situation and style of the seduction determine which Ability is used.
Seduction is an involved process involving several different rolls and Abilities:
First roll (approach/opening remarks): The player rolls Appearance + Subterfuge versus a difficulty of the subject's Wits + 3. Each success above the initial one adds one die to the vampire's dice pool for the second roll. A failure means the subject expresses his disinterest; a botch means the subject might grow disgusted or angry.
Second roll (witty repartee): The player rolls Wits + Subterfuge versus a difficulty of the subject's Intelligence + 3. Again, each success above the initial one adds one die to the dice pool for the final roll. If the roll fails, the subject breaks off the contact, but might prove receptive at a later date (after all, the first impression was good).
Third roll (suggestive/intimate conversation): The player rolls Charisma + Empathy versus a difficulty of the subject's Perception + 3. If the third roll succeeds, the subject is enamoured with the character and agrees to depart with her to a private spot. What happens next is best handled with roleplaying, but can certainly involve the drinking of blood, as well as other complications.
On a botch, the vampire likely ends up with a drink in her face.
Combat in Vampire attempts to capture the drama of violent conflict without downplaying its grim reality. Every effort has been made to create a system true to the dynamics, limitations and viciousness of real combat while still leaving room for the unique (and often spectacular) elements that vampires bring to it.
The Storyteller should be flexible when arbitrating combat situations; no rules can fully reflect the variety of situations encountered in warfare. If these systems slow the game or cause bickering, don't use them. Combat systems are meant to add depth to the game, not create conflict between the players and the Storyteller.
Describing the Scene
Before each turn, the Storyteller should describe the scene from each character's perspective. Sometimes this will be a wrap-up of the last turn, making what occurred clear to all players. This constant description is essential to avoid confusion.
This is the Storyteller's chance to organize and arrange events so that all goes smoothly when the players interact with the environment she has created. The Storyteller should make her descriptions as interesting as possible, leaving open all sorts of possibilities for characters' actions.
Types of Combat
There are two types of combat, each involving the same basic system with minor differences:
Close Combat: This covers unarmed combat (Dexterity + Brawl) and melee (Dexterity + Melee). Unarmed combat can involve a down-and-dirty Pier Six brawl or an honorable test of skill. Opponents must be within touching distance (one meter) to engage in unarmed combat. Melee involves hand-held weapons, from broken bottles to swords. Opponents must be within one or two meters of each other to engage in melee.
Ranged Combat: Armed combat using projectile weapons - pistols, rifles, shotguns, etc. Opponents must normally be within sight (and weapon range) of each other to engage in a firefight.
In combat, many things happen at virtually the same time. Since this can make things a bit sticky in a game, combat is divided into a series of three-second turns. Each combat turn has three stages - Initiative, Attack and Resolution - to make it easier to keep track of things.
Stage One: Initiative
This stage organizes the turn and is when you declare your character's action. Various actions are possible - anything from leaping behind a wall to shouting a warning. You must declare what your character does, in as much detail as the Storyteller requires.
Everyone, player and Storyteller character alike, rolls one die and adds it to their initiative rating [Dexterity + Wits]; the character with the highest result acts first, with the remaining characters acting in decreasing order of result. If two characters get the same total, the one with the higher initiative rating goes first. If initiative ratings are also the same, the two characters act simultaneously. Wound penalties subtract directly from a character's initiative rating.
Although you declare your character's action now, including stating that your character delays her action to see what someone else does, you wait until the attack stage to implement that action. At this time, you must also state if any multiple actions will be performed, if Disciplines will be activated, and/or if Willpower points will be spent. Characters declare in reverse order of initiative, thus giving faster characters the opportunity to react to slower characters' actions.
All of your character's actions are staged at her rank in the order of initiative. There are three exceptions to this rule. The first is if your character delays her action, in which case her maneuvers happen when she finally takes action. Your character may act at any time after her designated order in the initiative, even to interrupt another, slower character's action. If two characters both delay their actions, and both finally act at the same time, the one with the higher initiative score for the turn acts first.
The second breach of the initiative order occurs in the case of a defensive action (see "Aborting Actions," and "Defensive Maneuvers," on the next page), which your character may perform at any time as long as she has an action left.
Finally, all multiple actions (including actions gained through activating the Discipline of Celerity) occur at the end of the turn. If two or more characters take multiple actions, the actions occur in order of initiative rating. An exception is made for defensive multiple actions, such as multiple dodges, which happen when they need to happen in order to avert attack.
Stage Two: Attack
Attacks are the meat of the combat turn. An action's success or failure and potential impact on the target are determined at this stage. You use a certain Attribute/Ability combination depending on the type of combat in which your character is engaged:
Close Combat: Use Dexterity + Brawl (unarmed) or Dexterity + Melee (armed).
Ranged Combat: Use Dexterity + Firearms (guns) or Dexterity + Athletics (thrown weapons).
Remember, if your character doesn't have points in the necessary Ability, simply default to the Attribute on which it's based (in most cases, Dexterity).
In ranged combat, your weapon may modify your dice pool or difficulty (due to rate of fire, a targeting scope, etc.); check the weapon's statistics for details.
Most attacks are made versus difficulty 6. This can be adjusted for situational modifiers (long range, cramped quarters), but the default attack roll is versus 6. If you get no successes, the character fails her attack and inflicts no damage. If you botch not only does the attack fail, but something nasty happens: The weapon jams or explodes, the blade breaks, an ally is hit.
Stage Three: Resolution
During this stage, you determine the damage inflicted by your character's attack, and the Storyteller describes what occurs in the turn. Resolution is a mixture of game and story; it's more interesting for players to hear "Your claws rip through his bowels; he screams in pain, dropping his gun as he clutches his bloody abdomen" than simply "Uh, he loses four health levels." Attacks and damage are merely ways of describing what happens in the story, and it's important to maintain the narrative of combat even as you make the die roll.
Normally, additional successes gained on a Trait roll simply mean that you do exceptionally well. In combat, each success above the first you get on an attack roll equals an additional die you add automatically to your damage dice pool! This creates fatal and cinematic combat.
All attacks have specific damage ratings, indicating the number of dice that you roll for the attack's damage (called the damage dice pool). Some damage dice pools are based on the attacker's Strength, while others are based on the weapon used. Damage dice rolls are made versus difficulty 6. Each success on the damage roll inflicts one health level of damage on the target. However, the damage applied may be one of three types:
Bashing: Bashing damage comprises punches and other blunt trauma that are less likely to kill a victim (especially a vampire) instantly. All characters use their full Stamina ratings to resist bashing effects, and the damage heals fairly quickly. Bashing damage is applied to the Health boxes on your character sheet with a "/."
Lethal: Attacks meant to cause immediate and fatal injury to the target. Mortals may not use Stamina to resist lethal effects, and the damage takes quite a while to heal. Vampires may resist lethal damage with their Stamina. Like bashing damage, lethal damage is applied to the Health boxes on your vampire's character sheet with a "/."
Aggravated: Certain types of attacks are deadly even to the undead. Fire, sunlight, and the teeth and claws of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings are considered aggravated damage. Aggravated damage cannot be soaked except with Fortitude, and it takes quite a while to heal. Aggravated damage is applied to the Health boxes on your character sheet with an "X."
Damage dice pools can never be reduced to lower than one die; any attack that strikes its target has at least a small chance of inflicting damage, at least before a soak roll is made. Moreover, damage effect rolls cannot botch; a botched roll simply means the attack glances harmlessly off the target. Specifics on applying damage effects are described on pp. 216-218.
Combat Summary Chart
Stage One: Initiative
- Roll initiative. Everyone declares their actions. The character with the highest initiative performs her action first. Actions can be delayed to any time later in the order of initiative.
- Declare any multiple actions, reducing dice pools accordingly. Declare Discipline activation and Willpower expenditure.
Stage Two: Attack
- For unarmed close-combat attacks, roll Dexterity + Brawl.
- For armed close-combat attacks, roll Dexterity + Melee.
- For ranged combat, roll Dexterity + Firearms (guns) or Dexterity + Athletics (thrown weapons).
- A character can abort to a defensive action (block, dodge, parry) at any time before her action is performed, as long as you make a successful Willpower roll (or a Willpower point is spent).
Stage Three: Resolution
- Determine total damage effect (weapon type or maneuver), adding any extra dice gained from successes on the attack roll.
- Targets may attempt to soak damage, if possible.
Characters can resist a certain degree of physical punishment; this is called soaking damage. Your character's soak dice pool is equal to her Stamina. A normal human can soak only against bashing damage (this reflects the body's natural resilience to such attacks). A vampire (or other supernatural being) is tougher, and can thus use soak dice against lethal damage. Aggravated damage may be soaked only with the Discipline of Fortitude. Against bashing or lethal damage, Fortitude adds to the defender's soak rating (so a character with Stamina 3 and Fortitude 2 has five soak dice against bashing and lethal damage, two soak dice against aggravated damage).
After an attack hits and inflicts damage, the defender may make a soak roll to resist. This is considered a reflexive; characters need not take an action or split a dice pool to soak. Unless otherwise stated, soak rolls are made versus difficulty 6. Each soak success subtracts one die from the total damage inflicted. As with damage rolls, soak rolls may not botch, only fail.
Example: Liselle the Gangrel has Stamina 3 and Fortitude I. She is attacked with a knife, and the attacker scores three levels of lethal damage. Liselle may soak this attack with four dice (Stamina 3 + Fortitude 1). She rolls 1,9,9,7. The "1" cancels out one of the successes, leaving Liselle with two. She thus ignores two of the three health levels inflicted by the knife, taking only one level of damage.
Had Liselle been merely human, she would not have been able to soak the (lethal) knife wound at all, and would have taken the full three health levels.
Simply put, armor adds to your character's soak. The armor's rating combines with your base soak for purposes of reducing damage. Light armor offers a small amount of protection, but doesn't greatly hinder mobility. Heavy armor provides a lot of protection, but can restrict flexibility.
Armor protects against bashing, lethal and aggravated damage from teeth and claws; it does not protect against fire or sunlight. Armor is not indestructible. If the damage rolled in a single attack equals twice the armor's rating, the armor is destroyed.
Armor types, their ratings and other specifics are described on p.214.
These maneuvers give you a variety of choices in combat.
Roleplaying combat is more entertaining if you can visualize your character's moves instead of simply rolling dice. Most of these maneuvers take one action to execute.
Aborting Actions: You can abandon your character's declared action in favor of a defensive action as long as your character hasn't acted in the turn. Actions that can be aborted to include block, dodge and parry. A successful Willpower roll versus difficulty 6 (or the expenditure of a Willpower point) is required for a character to abort an action and perform a defensive one instead. When spending Willpower for an abort maneuver, a character may declare the Willpower expenditure at the time of the abort. A Willpower roll to abort is considered a reflexive, not an action. (See "Defensive Maneuvers," below, for descriptions of block, dodge and parry.)
Ambush: Ambushes involve surprising a target to get in a decisive first strike. The attacker rolls Dexterity + Stealth in a resisted action against the target's Perception + Alertness. If the attacker scores more successes, she can stage one free attack on the target and adds any extra successes from the resisted roll to her attack dice pool. On a tie, the attacker still attacks first, although the target may perform a defensive maneuver. If the defender gets more successes, he spots the ambush, and both parties roll initiative normally. Targets already involved in combat cannot be ambushed.
Blind Fighting/Fire: Staging attacks while blind (or in pitch darkness) usually incurs a + 2 difficulty, and ranged attacks cannot be accurately made at all. The powers of Heightened Senses (p. 149) and Eyes of the Beast (p. 173) partly or fully negate this penalty.
Flank and Rear Attacks: Characters attacking targets from the flank gain an additional attack die. Characters attacking from the rear gain two additional attack dice.
Movement: A character may move half of her running distance (see "Movement," p. 200) and still take an action in a turn. Other maneuvers such as leaping or tumbling may be considered separate actions, depending on their complexity.
Multiple Actions: If you declare multiple actions, subtract dice from the first dice pool equal to the total number of actions taken. Each subsequent action loses an additional die (cumulative). If a character performs only defensive actions in a turn, use the appropriate block, dodge or parry system.
The Discipline of Celerity allows vampires to take multiple actions without this penalty. See the Discipline description for particulars.
Targeting: Aiming for a specific location incurs an added difficulty, but can bypass armor or cover, or can result in an increased damage effect. The Storyteller should consider special results beyond a simple increase in damage, depending on the attack and the target.
It's a given that your character tries to avoid being hit in combat - that's why everyone makes attack rolls. Sometimes, though, all your character wants to do is avoid attacks. You may announce a defensive action at any time before your character's opponent makes an attack roll, as long as your character has an action left to perform. You can declare a defensive action on your character's turn in the initiative, or can even abort to a defensive maneuver. You must make a successful Willpower roll (or may simply spend one point of Willpower) to abort. If the Willpower roll fails, your character must carry out the action that you declared originally.
Maneuvers are typically performed versus difficulty 6. Maneuvers with specific combat effects may modify your attack roll, difficulty or damage dice pool.
Traits: The Trait combination used for the action taken. If your character doesn't have a rating in the needed Ability, default to its base Attribute.
Accuracy: The dice added to the roll to hit an opponent. A "+3" adds three dice to the dice pool for that attack.
Difficulty: Any additions or subtractions to an attack's difficulty (which is most often 6). A "+2" means the difficulty of an attack, if initially 6, is increased to 8.
Damage: The damage dice pool used.
There are three types of defensive actions: block, dodge and parry. Your character can defend against virtually any kind of attack with these three maneuvers. However, your character may not be able to avoid every single attack that's directed at her. She can't dodge when there's no room to maneuver, and she can't block or parry if she doesn't know an attack is coming.
Each defensive maneuver uses the same basic system: The defensive action is a resisted roll against the opponent's attack roll. Unless the attacker gets more total successes, he misses. If the attacker gets more successes, those that he achieves in excess of the defender's successes, if any, are used to hit (the attacker doesn't necessarily use all the successes he rolled). So if the defender has fewer successes than the attacker does, the defender's maneuver can still reduce the effectiveness of the attack, even if the maneuver can't counteract it completely.
Block: A Dexterity + Brawl maneuver using your character's own body to deflect a hand-to-hand bashing attack. Lethal and aggravated attacks cannot be blocked unless the defender has Fortitude or is wearing armor.
Dodge: A Dexterity + Dodge maneuver useful for avoiding attacks of all types. Your character bobs and weaves to avoid Melee or Brawl attacks (if there's no room to maneuver, she must block or parry instead). In firefights, your character moves at least one yard and ends up behind cover (if there's no room to maneuver and/or no cover available, she can drop to the ground). If your character remains under cover or prone thereafter, cover rules apply against further Firearms attacks (see "Cover," p. 212).
Parry: A Dexterity + Melee maneuver using a weapon to block a Brawl or Melee attack. If a character makes a Brawl attack and the defender parries with a weapon that normally causes lethal damage, the attacker can actually be hurt by a successful parry. If the defender rolls more successes than the attacker does in the resisted action, the defender rolls the weapon's base damage plus the parry's extra successes as a damage dice pool against the attacker.
Block, dodge and parry can be performed as part of a multiple action in your character's turn (punching then blocking, shooting then dodging, parrying then striking). Using a multiple action to act and defend is advantageous because your character can still accomplish something in a turn besides avoiding attacks.
Example: Liselle wants to claw a ghoul, then dodge two attacks - a multiple action. This is considered three separate actions using her Dexterity (3) + Brawl (2) for the claw slash, and her Dexterity (3) + Dodge (3) two separate times for dodging. The claw slash is reduced by three dice (giving her two dice in her dice pool) because Liselle performs three actions. The first dodge is reduced by four dice (for another dice pool of two), per the multiple-action rules. The final dodge is reduced by five dice (leaving one die).
Rather than make defensive maneuvers a part of a multiple action, you may declare that your character spends an entire turn defending. The normal multiple-action rules are not used in this case. Instead, you have a full dice pool for the first defensive action, but lose one die, cumulatively, for each subsequent defense action made in the same turn. It is difficult to avoid several incoming attacks.
Remember that any actions, including defensive ones, versus multiple attackers still suffer difficulty penalties (see "Multiple Opponents," p. 211).
Example: Liselle spends a whole turn dodging. With a Dexterity of 3 and a Dodge of 3, she can dodge up to six attacks. Liselle's player rolls six dice against the first attack, five dice against the second, four dice against the third, three dice against the fourth, two dice against the fifth and a single die against the sixth attack. Liselle can't do anything else that turn but dodge.
Close Combat Maneuvers
This is simply a listing of the common maneuvers used in close combat; feel free to develop your own moves (with the Storyteller's approval). All hand-to-hand attacks inflict bashing damage unless stated otherwise. The damage inflicted by melee attacks depends on the weapon type (see the Melee Weapons Chart, p. 214). It is typically lethal, though clubs and other blunt instruments inflict bashing damage.
Difficulty and damage for these maneuvers may be modified at the Storyteller's discretion, depending on the combat style the character uses. As always, drama and excitement take precedence over rules systems.
Bite: This maneuver is available only to vampires (or other supernatural creatures with sharp teeth, such as werewolves). A bite maneuver is a "combat" bite, intended to cause damage rather than drain blood. Bite damage is aggravated. To use a bite attack, the vampire must first perform a successful clinch, hold or tackle maneuver (see below). On the turn following the successful attack, the player may declare the bite attempt and make a roll using the modifiers below.
Alternatively, a player can declare her vampire's bite to be a "Kiss" attack. A Kiss is resolved in the same way as a normal bite, but inflicts no health levels of damage. Upon connecting with a Kiss, the vampire may begin to drain the victim's blood at the normal rate, and the victim is typically helpless to resist (see p. 139 for specifics). Following the Kiss, a vampire may, if she chooses, lick the puncture wound of the Kiss closed, thereby removing any evidence that she has fed.
Claw: This attack is available only to vampires with the Protean power of Feral Claws or who construct bone spurs with the Vicissitude power of Bonecraft. A few other supernatural creatures, such as werewolves, also have claws. A claw attack inflicts aggravated damage (if Feral Claws) or lethal damage (if a Vicissitude-constructed weapon).
Clinch: On a successful attack roll, the attacker goes into a clinch with the target. In the first turn, the attacker may roll Strength damage. In each subsequent turn, combatants act on their orders in the initiative. A combatant can inflict Strength damage automatically or attempt to escape the clinch. No other actions are allowed until one combatant breaks free. To escape a clinch, make a resisted Strength + Brawl roll against the opponent. If the escaping character has more successes, she breaks free; if not, the characters continue to grapple in the next turn.
Disarm: To strike an opponent's weapon, the attacker must make an attack roll at +1 difficulty (typically 7). If successful, the attacker rolls damage normally. If successes rolled exceed the opponent's Strength score, the opponent takes no damage but is disarmed. A botch usually means the attacker drops her own weapon or is struck by her target's weapon.
Hold: This attack inflicts no damage, as the intent is to immobilize rather than injure the subject. On a successful roll, the attacker holds the target until the subject's next action. At that time, both combatants roll resisted Strength + Brawl actions; the subject remains immobilized (able to take no other action) until she rolls more successes than the attacker does.
Kick: Kicks range from simple front kicks to aerial spins. The base attack is at +1 difficulty and inflicts the attacker's Strength +1 in damage. These ratings may be modified further at the Storyteller's discretion, increasing in damage and/or difficulty as the maneuver increases in complexity.
Multiple Opponents: A character who battles multiple opponents in close combat suffers attack and defense difficulties of +1, cumulative, for each opponent after the first (to a maximum of +4).
Strike: The attacker lashes out with a fist. The base attack is a standard action and inflicts the character's Strength in damage. The Storyteller may adjust the difficulty and/or damage depending on the type of punch: hook, jab, haymaker, karate strike.
Sweep: The attacker uses her own legs to knock the legs out from under her opponent. The target takes Strength damage and must roll Dexterity + Athletics (difficulty 8) or suffer a knockdown (see "Maneuver Complications," p. 213).
The attacker can also use a staff, chain, or similar implement to perform a sweep. The effect is the same, although the target takes damage per the weapon type.
Tackle: The attacker rushes her opponent, tackling him to the ground. The attack roll is at +1 difficulty, and the maneuver inflicts Strength +1 damage. Additionally, both combatants must roll Dexterity + Athletics (difficulty 7) or suffer a knockdown (see "Maneuver Complications," p. 213). Even if the target's Athletics roll succeeds, he is unbalanced, suffering +1 difficulty to his actions for the next turn.
Weapon Length: It is difficult to get in range with a punch or knife if someone else is wielding a sword or staff. A character being fended off with a longer weapon must close in one yard, then strike, losing a die from her attack roll in the process.
Weapon Strike: A slashing blow, thrust or jab, depending on the weapon used. See the Melee Weapons Chart, p. 214, for particulars.
Ranged Combat Maneuvers
Many physical conflicts involve ranged weapons. The following maneuvers allow for a number of useful actions during a firefight, but don't feel limited by this list. If the need arises, try developing a new maneuver (at the Storyteller's discretion). Refer to the Ranged Weapons Chart, p. 214, for specific information.
Aiming: The attacker adds one die to her attack dice pool on a single shot for each turn spent aiming. The maximum number of dice that can be added in this way equals the character's Perception, and a character must have Firearms 1 or better to use this maneuver. A scope adds two more dice to the attacker's pool in the first turn of aiming (in addition to those added for Perception). The attacker may do nothing but aim during this time. Additionally, it isn't possible to aim at a target that is moving faster than a walk.
Automatic Fire: The weapon unloads its entire ammunition clip in one attack against a single target. The attacker makes a single roll, adding 10 dice to her accuracy. However, the attack roll is at a +2 difficulty due to the weapon's recoil. Extra successes add to the damage dice pool, which is still treated as equivalent to one bullet. An attacker using automatic fire may not target a specific area of the body.
Example: Kincaid unloads a full AK'47 clip at the advancing elder. His player rolls Dexterity (4) + Firearms (3) + 10 (for the maneuver). The roll is made versus difficulty 8 (6 for short range +2 for recoil). He scores a total of six successes, and the elder doesn't dodge. Kincaid's player now rolls 12 dice of damage - 7 (the base damage for an assault rifle) + 5 (for the successes). The clip is completely emptied.
This attack is permissible only if the weapon's clip is at least half-full to begin with.
Cover: Cover increases an attacker's difficulty to hit a target (and often the target's ability to fire back). Difficulty penalties for hitting a target under various types of cover are listed below. A character who fires back from behind cover is also at something of a disadvantage to hit, as he exposes himself and ducks back under protection. Firearms attacks made by a defender who is under cover are at one lower difficulty than listed below. (If a listed difficulty is +1, then the defender suffers no penalty to make attacks from under that cover.) If your character hides behind a wall, attackers' Firearms rolls have a +2 difficulty. Your character's attacks staged from behind that wall are at +1 difficulty.
Note that difficulties for combatants who are both under cover are cumulative. If one combatant is prone and one is behind a wall, attacks staged by the prone character are at +2 difficulty, while attacks staged by the character behind the wall are also at +2 difficulty.
Multiple Shots: An attacker may take more than one shot in a turn by declaring a multiple action (the first shot's dice pool is reduced by the total number of shots fired, and each subsequent shot is reduced by an additional die, cumulative). The attacker can fire a number of shots up to the weapon's full rate of fire. Ability: Dexterity + Firearms Difficulty: Normal Accuracy: Special Damage: Weapon type
Range: The Ranged Weapons Chart lists each weapon's short range; attacks made at that range are versus difficulty 6. Twice that listing is the weapon's maximum range. Attacks made up to maximum range are versus difficulty 8. Attacks made at targets within two meters are considered point blank. Point-blank shots are made versus difficulty 4.
Reloading: Reloading takes one full turn and requires the character's concentration. Like any other maneuver, reloading can be performed as part of a multiple action.
Strafing: Instead of aiming at one target, full-automatic weapons can be fired across an area. Strafing adds 10 dice to accuracy on a standard attack roll, and empties the clip. A maximum of three yards can be covered with this maneuver.
The attacker divides any successes gained on the attack roll evenly among all targets in the covered area (successes assigned to hit an individual are added to that target's damage dice pool, as well). If only one target is within range or the area of effect, only half the successes affect him. The attacker then assigns any leftover successes as she desires. If fewer successes are rolled than there are targets, only one may be assigned per target until they are all allocated. Dodge rolls against strafing are at +1 difficulty. Ability: Dexterity + Firearms Difficulty: +2 Accuracy: +10 Damage: Special
Three-Round Burst: The attacker gains two additional dice on a single attack roll, and expends three shots from the weapon's clip. Only certain weapons may perform this maneuver; see the Ranged Weapons Chart for particulars. Attacks are made at +1 difficulty due to recoil. As with full-auto fire, the damage dice pool is based on one bullet from the weapon in question.
Two Weapons: Firing two weapons gives the attacker a distinct advantage, but has its share of complications. Doing so is considered performing a multiple action, complete with reduced dice pools for total shots taken and for any recoil. Additionally, the attacker suffers +1 difficulty for her off-hand (unless she's ambidextrous). The attacker can fire a number of shots up to each weapon's rate of fire.
The following are common combat complications. The Storyteller should add any others as the situation warrants.
Blinded: Add two dice to attack rolls made against a blinded target. Furthermore, blind characters are at +2 difficulty on all actions.
Dazed: If, in a single attack, the attacker rolls a number of damage successes greater than the target's Stamina (for mortals) or Stamina + 2 (for vampires and other supernatural beings), the victim is dazed. The target must spend her next available turn shaking off the attack's effects. Only damage successes that penetrate the defender's soak attempt count toward this total.
Immobilization: Add two dice to attack rolls made on an immobilized (i.e., held by someone or something) but still struggling target. Attacks hit automatically if the target is completely immobilized (tied up, staked or otherwise paralyzed).
Knockdown: Quite simply, the victim falls down. After suffering a knockdown, the subject makes a Dexterity + Athletics roll. If successful, she may get back on her feet immediately, but her initiative is reduced by two in the next turn. On a failed roll, the subject spends her next action climbing to her feet, if she chooses to rise. On a botch, she lands particularly hard or at a severe angle, taking an automatic health level of normal damage.
Maneuvers like tackle and sweep are intended to knock an opponent down. However, an especially powerful attack of any kind may send the target to the ground. Such instances are best left to the Storyteller's discretion, and should occur only when appropriately cinematic or suitable to the story.
Stake Through Heart: A vampire can indeed be incapacitated by the classic wooden stake of legend. However, the legends err on one point: A Kindred impaled through the heart with a wooden stake is not destroyed, but merely paralyzed until the stake is removed.
To stake a vampire, an attacker must target the heart (difficulty 9). If the attack succeeds and inflicts at least three health levels of damage, the target is immobilized. An immobilized victim is conscious (and may use the Auspex Discipline), but may not move or spend blood points.
Armor adds its rating to the character's soak dice pool against bashing damage, lethal damage, and aggravated damage from fangs and claws. It does not protect against fire or sunlight. However, armor also subtracts a number of dice from dice pools related to bodily coordination and agility (most Dexterity-based dice pools). This is reflected in the penalty listing. Attackers may make targeting rolls to hit unprotected portions of a defender and thus ignore the armor (Storyteller assigns difficulty penalty - typically +1 or +2).
+ Denotes a blunt object. Blunt objects inflict bashing damage unless targeted at the head (see "Targeting," p. 209). If so, they inflict lethal damage.
* May paralyze a vampire if driven through the heart. The attacker must target the heart (difficulty 9) and score three damage successes.
Damage: Indicates the damage dice pool. Versus mortals, firearms are considered lethal damage. Versus vampires, firearms are considered bashing damage unless the head is targeted (see "Targeting," p. 209), in which case the damage is considered lethal.
Range: This is the practical shot range in yards. Weapons may be fired at twice this distance, but the attacks are considered long range (difficulty 8).
Rate: The maximum number of bullets or three-round bursts the gun can fire in a single turn. This rate does not apply to full-auto or spray attacks.
Clip: The number of shells a gun can hold. The +1 indicates a bullet can be held in the chamber, ready to fire.
Concealment: P = Can he carried in the pocket; J = Can be hidden in a jacket; T = Can be hidden in a trenchcoat; N = Cannot be concealed on the person at all.
*Indicates the weapon is capable of three-round bursts, full-auto and sprays.
**The crossbow is included for characters who wish to try staking an opponent. Crossbows require five turns to reload. Unless the crossbow is aimed at the head or heart, it inflicts bashing damage on Kindred. It inflicts lethal damage versus mortals.
As mentioned in Chapter Three, your character has a Health Trait comprising seven health levels. Although vampires are immortal and do not die naturally, sufficient injury can incapacitate them, drive them into lengthy periods of dormancy, or even kill them once more (this time for good).
The Health chart on the character sheet helps you track your character's current physical condition. It also lists the penalty imposed on your dice pool for each level of injury that your character sustains. As your character suffers more injuries, her health declines until she becomes incapacitated - or dead.
Every character has seven health levels, ranging from Bruised to Incapacitated. Characters can also be in full health (with no health levels checked off), in torpor, or dead. When an attacker scores a success on a damage roll, your character takes one health level of damage. This is marked on your character sheet in the appropriate box, although the mark you make depends on the type of damage inflicted (see "Applying Damage," below).
The number to the left of the lowest marked box indicates your current dice penalty. As your character gets more and more battered, it's increasingly difficult for him to perform even the simplest of tasks. The dice penalty is subtracted from your dice pool for every action (not reflexives such as soak) until the wound heals.
The penalty also indicates impaired movement. For convenience, we reprint the Health chart from Chapter Three.
Incapacitated: The stage immediately before torpor, incapacitation differs from unconsciousness in that your character collapses from the combined effects of physical trauma and pain. She falls to the ground and may do nothing except spend blood points to heal damage. Further damage suffered by an incapacitated vampire sends her into torpor or, if the damage is aggravated, inflicts Final Death on her.
Torpor: Torpor is the deathlike sleep common to the undead, particularly among ancient vampires. Torpor may be entered voluntarily (certain undead, weary of the current age, enter torpor in hopes if reawakening in a more hospitable time) or involuntarily (through wounds or loss of blood). Once in torpor, a character remains dormant for a period of time depending on her Humanity rating.
As mentioned, characters with zero blood points in their blood pools begin to lose health levels each time the rules call for them to spend blood. When a vampire falls below Incapacitated in this fashion, she enters torpor. There she will remain until someone feeds her at least a blood point. If this happens, she may rise, regardless of Humanity rating. This sort of revivification works only for vampires who enter torpor from blood loss.
Vampires who enter torpor due to wounds must rest for a period depending on their Humanity rating:
Following this period of rest, the player may spend a blood point and make an Awakening roll (p. 204) for her character to rise. If the vampire has no blood in her body, she may not rise until she is fed; if the player fails the Awakening roll, she may spend another blood point and make an Awakening roll the following night. If the vampire rises successfully, she is considered Crippled and should either spend blood or hunt immediately.
A character may enter torpor voluntarily. This state resembles the character's normal daily rest, but is a deeper form of slumber and should not be entered into lightly. A vampire in voluntary torpor may rise after half the mandatory time period for involuntary torpor, but must make an Awakening roll to do so. A torpid vampire may ignore the nightly need for blood; she is effectively in hibernation.
Mortals have no torpor rating; if reduced below Incapacitated, they simply die.
Final Death: If a vampire is at the Incapacitated health level or in torpor and takes one more level of aggravated damage, he dies permanently and finally. A player's character who meets Final Death is out of the game; the player must create a new character if she wishes to continue play.
An incapacitated or torpid vampire may also be sent to Final Death through massive amounts of bashing or lethal trauma (decapitated, trapped under a 10-ton rock, fed into a wood chipper, caught at ground zero of an explosion, crushed by deep-sea pressure, etc.). Typically, this damage must be enough to destroy or dismember the corpse beyond repair.
There are three damage types in Vampire. Bashing damage includes all forms of temporary injury - from punches, clubs, and other blunt trauma. Vampires, and only vampires, consider firearms attacks to be bashing damage as well - unless the bullets are aimed at the head (difficulty 8), in which case they are considered lethal. Vampires can suffer bashing damage, but consider it more of an annoyance than anything else. Lethal damage covers permanent, killing wounds. Humans die easily from lethal injury, and even the undead can be traumatized by massive amounts of lethal damage. Finally, aggravated damage includes those forces even other vampires fear - fire, sunlight, and the teeth and claws of their own kind.
Optional Rule: Extras
To make large fights cinematic and easy to manage, assign "extra" Storyteller characters only four health levels [Hurt -1, Maimed -3, Incapacitated and Dead]. Extras are nameless (usually mortal or ghoul) thugs whom characters run into from time to time, not key Storyteller characters. They're diversions who are usually controlled by the more important enemies whom your characters are really after. These extras are a plot device, and shouldn't interfere with the main story. After taking a few lumps, extras retreat, surrender or fall over so the real action can get underway.
All types of injuries are cumulative, and the combined injury determines your character's current health level. Specifics on each type of damage are provided below.
Bashing and lethal damage differ in their effects, but, for vampires, both types of damage are considered normal. Normal damage is recorded as a slash ("/") in the appropriate Health chart box. Aggravated damage is marked with an "X" for each level inflicted. Aggravated damage always gets marked above normal (whether bashing or lethal). So if you mark a level of normal damage in the Bruised box, and take one aggravated health level later on, "move down" the bashing level to the Hurt box by marking that box with a "/." The aggravated level is then noted by simply drawing another slash through the Bruised box, turning it into "X." Normal levels taken after aggravated levels are simply drawn in on the next open box. Normal damage isn't as severe as aggravated, so it's always marked last and healed first.
Example: Veronica Abbey-Roth, trapped in a witch' hunter s sanctum, has already taken a level of bashing (normal) damage from an Inquisitor's punch (Veronica's Health chart is noted with "I" in the Bruised box). Another witch 'hunter blasts Veronica with a propane torch, scoring three aggravated health levels. Veronica's chart is marked with "X" in the Bruised, Hurt and Injured health levels, and "I" in the Wounded box (essentially moving the punch's damage down the chart). The combined damage puts Veronica at -2 dice to all her action dice pools. On the verge of frenzy, Veronica beats her way through the Inquisitors and stumbles out of the ancient cathedral.
Bashing damage covers all forms of injury that aren't likely to kill instantly and that fade relatively quickly. Most forms of hand-to-hand combat - punches, clinches, kicks, tackles and the like - inflict bashing damage. Bashing damage generally impairs less than lethal damage does, and heals faster.
Vampires are relatively unaffected by bashing damage - a punch to the gut has little effect on the undead. However, massive concussive trauma can send a vampire into torpor.
Mortals may soak bashing damage with their Stamina, while vampires may also soak bashing damage with their Stamina (+ Fortitude, if they have that Discipline). However, any bashing damage applied to a vampire after the soak roll is halved (round fractions down) - the Kindred's corpselike bodies simply don't bruise and break like the kine's.
Example: Veronica has been cornered by her enemy, the Sabbat vampire Kincaid( it's just not Veronica's lucky night!). Kincaid takes a swing at Veronica. He strikes her, and his player calculates damage. Kincaid has a Strength 4 and two levels, of Potence. His damage roll is a very good 8, 6,7,9, plus two automatic successes for Potence - a full six health levels of damage. Veronica tries to soak (versus the standard difficulty of 6), using her Stamina of 2. Her player rolls a 3 and 8 - one success. Kincaid inflicts five health levels of bashing damage - but, because Veronica is undead, she halves the final result and rounds down. She suffers only two health levels of damage.
Veronica, in desperation, swings back, and manages to hit the Sabbat. She has a Strength of I, so only one die is rolled. Luckily, it comes up 9, inflicting one health level of damage, and Kincaid fails his soak roll (Stamina 4 and Fortitude I allow him to roll five dice, which come up 4,5, 1,9, and 3). However, because the damage is bashing, the one health level of damage is halved and rounded down to zero! Veronica flails frantically at Kincaid, who laughs at her pathetic efforts to hurt him.
If your character falls to Incapacitated due to bashing (or lethal) damage, then takes another level of bashing (or lethal) damage, she enters torpor. If your character falls to Incapacitated due to bashing damage but then takes a level of aggravated damage, she meets Final Death.
Lethal damage is just that - lethal, at least to mortals. Even vampires take a sword-wielder seriously - a vampire who is hacked to bits or decapitated will die the Final Death, though not as readily as a mortal. Knives, bullets, swords and the like all cause lethal wounds. At the Storyteller's option, blunt attacks aimed at a vital body part (difficulty 8 or 9 to target) can cause lethal damage, particularly versus mortals.
Lethal damage is intended to cause immediate and grievous injury. For the kine, lethal injuries take a long time to heal and usually require medical attention for any hope of recovery. For well-fed vampires, knife wounds, shotgun blasts and the like are simply.. .annoying.
Mortal characters may not soak lethal damage at all - all such damage is applied directly to their health levels. Kindred characters may soak lethal damage normally with Stamina (+ Fortitude, if they have it). Lethal damage that penetrates the soak roll is applied normally to their health levels. However, lethal damage is considered normal for the purpose of healing, so vampires may easily nullify lethal damage by spending blood points.
When your character's Health boxes fill to Incapacitated, and she takes a further level of lethal damage, she enters torpor (p. 216). If your character is reduced to Incapacitated via lethal damage, and she takes a further level of aggravated damage, she meets Final Death.
Certain attacks are anathema to the undead. Fire and the rays of the sun inflict terrible wounds on the undead, as can the teeth and claws of other vampires (as well as the attacks of werewolves or other supernatural creatures).
As mentioned, each level of aggravated damage should be marked with an "X" on the Health chart. Aggravated damage may not be soaked except with the Discipline of Fortitude. Moreover, aggravated damage is far more difficult to heal. A level of aggravated damage may be healed only with a full day of rest and the expenditure of five blood points (though a vampire may, at the end of the full day's rest, cure additional aggravated health levels by spending an additional five blood points and one Willpower point per extra aggravated health level to be healed). Worst of all, a vampire who loses his last health level due to aggravated damage meets Final Death - his eternal life ends at last, and he goes to whatever reward awaits him beyond the grave.
Mortals may ignore sunlight, but obviously take damage from fire, fangs, and claws. If a mortal is susceptible to a type of aggravated damage (fire, for example), that damage is treated as lethal.
Mortals Healing Times
Though the power of their Blood enables vampires to heal most wounds instantly, mortal "licksticks" are not so fortunate. The following systems allow Storytellers to simulate the effects of damage on vampires' mortal foes, friends... and prey.
Like vampires, mortals have seven health levels and suffer dice; pool penalties for wounds. Unlike vampires, mortals can heal their wounds only through time, rest and medical care. Moreover, mortals have no "torpor" state; any amount of damage below the Incapacitated level kills them. Mortals can soak bashing damage, but cannot soak lethal or aggravated damage (though obviously mortals take no damage from sunlight).
Each level of damage to a mortal (whether bashing or lethal) must be healed individually. Thus, if a mortal takes enough bashing damage to reduce him to Incapacitated, he spends a full 12 hours in a delirious state before healing to Crippled. Healing that level takes six hours, and so on.
Healing Bashing Damage
Bashing damage up to the Wounded level can be cared for without medical skill; these wounds heal on their own, without treatment. Bashing damage beyond Wounded may have deeper consequences. A mortal's vision: or hearing may be altered due to a concussion, she may suffer excruciating pain from internal bruising or experience some other extreme discomfort. These effects can be negated if the mortal receives adequate medical attention.
Once bashing levels reach Incapacitated, mortals fall unconscious, but do not sink below Incapacitated... yet. However, any further bashing wounds are X'd over previous bashing ones, making them lethal. At that point, recovery is handled as lethal damage. In this way, a mortal can be slowly beaten to death.
Healing Lethal Damage
Lethal damage of any sort can be deadly - that's why it's called lethal. Lethal wounds-that go unattended may continue to bleed until the mortal passes out and dies from blood loss. Other dangers can also 'arise from infection, cellular damage or broken limbs.
Any lethal damage past Hurt requires medical treatment to prevent further harm. Untreated lethal wounds worsen by one level of lethal damage per day. When a mortal sustains lethal damage down to Incapacitated, he's one health level away from death. If he takes one more wound (whether bashing or lethal), he dies.
If the individual is at Maimed or higher, he may recover with rest over the times listed below. However, if the mortal is Crippled or Incapacitated, no recovery is possible unless he receives medical attention. Indeed, at Incapacitated the individual is comatose at worse and delirious at best, and could still die.
The World of Darkness is a hostile place. The dangers inherent to such an uncivilized environment are many, and they inflict the same kinds of harm that combat does. As well, a vampire's greatest enemy lies within, in the form of the Beast. Whether a vampire suffers the fiery grip of frenzy or the slow descent into monstrousness, the Beast is ever willing to batten on the Damned.
The following systems present a variety of ways that characters can suffer injury, whether physical, mental, or emotional. As well, this section presents a couple of rare and precious ways whereby the Damned can hope to rise above their state.
One of the most wondrous and terrible properties of Kindred vitae is its ability to enslave nearly any being who drinks of it three times. Each sip of a particular Kindred's blood gives the Kindred in question a greater emotional hold over the drinker. If a being drinks three times, on three separate nights, from the same Kindred, she falls victim to a state known as the blood bond. A vampire who holds a blood bond over another being is said to be that victim's regnant, while the being subordinate to the bond is called the thrall.
Put simply, blood bond is one of the most potent emotional sensations known. A blood bound victim is absolutely devoted to her regnant and will do nearly anything for him. Even the most potent uses of Dominate cannot overcome the thrall's feelings for her regnant; only true love stands a chance against the bond, and even that is not a sure thing.
The blood bond is most commonly used to ensnare mortals and ghouls, but Kindred can bind each other as well. Such is the blood bond's power that a mighty elder can be bound to a lowly neonate; in this respect, the blood of a 13th-generation fledgling is (presumably) as strong as that of Caine himself. As such, the blood bond forms an essential strategy in the Jyhad; some Ancients are said to hold dozens of influential Kindred in secret thralldom.
First drink: The drinker begins to experience intermittent but strong feelings about the vampire. She may dream of him, or find herself "coincidentally" frequenting places where he might show up. There is no mechanical effect at this stage, but it should be roleplayed. All childer have this level of bond toward their sires, for the Embrace itself forces one drink upon the childer; they may love their "parents," hate them, or both, but are rarely indifferent toward them.
Second drink: The drinker's feelings grow strong enough to influence her behavior. Though she is by no means enslaved to the vampire, he is definitely an important figure in her life. She may act as she pleases, but might have to make a Willpower roll to take actions directly harmful to the vampire. The vampire's influence is such that he can persuade or command her with little effort (Social rolls against the thrall are at -1 difficulty).
Third drink: Full-scale blood bond. At this level, the drinker is more or less completely bound to the vampire. He is the most important person in her life; lovers, relatives and even children become tertiary to her all-consuming passion.
At this level, a regnant may use the Dominate Discipline on a thrall, even without the benefit of eye contact. Merely hearing the regnant's voice is enough. Additionally, should the thrall try to resist the Dominate for some reason, the difficulty of such resistance is increased by two. Naturally, a higher-generation vampire still cannot use Dominate on a lower-generation thrall.
The blood bond is true love, albeit a twisted and perverse version of it. Ultimately, we can't reduce the vagaries of love down to a simple "yes/no" system. Some thralls (particularly people with Conformist or other dependent Natures or with Willpower 5 or less) will commit any act, including suicide or murder, for their beloved; other characters have certain core principles that they will not violate.
A full blood bond, once formed, is nearly inviolate. Once bound, a thrall is under the sway of her regnant and her regnant only. She cannot be bound again by another vampire unless the first blood bond wears away "naturally." A vampire can experience lesser (one- and two-drink) bonds toward several individuals; indeed, many Kindred enjoy such bonds, as they create artificial passion in their dead hearts. Upon the formation of a full blood bond, though, all lesser sensations are wiped away. Vampire lovers occasionally enter into mutual blood bonds with each other; this is the closest thing the undead can feel to true love. Even this sensation can turn to disgust or hate over the centuries, though, and in any event few Kindred are trusting enough to initiate it. A blood bond is a mighty force, but it is at its most potent when perpetually reinforced with further drinks. Feeding a thrall often reinforces the bond, while depriving a thrall of vitae may cause the bond to grow tepid over time. As well, like any other relationship, treatment and courtesy play a part in the dynamics of the bond. A thrall who is treated well and fed often will likely fall even more deeply in love, while a thrall who is degraded and humiliated may find resentment and anger eating away at the bond.
It is possible, though difficult, for a vampire to temporarily resist a blood bond. Doing so requires the player to make a Willpower roll (difficulty is typically 8, though this can be modified depending on the regnant's treatment and the thrall's Nature) and accumulate a number of successes equal to the number of times the thrall has partaken of the regnant's blood. The thrall must then spend a Willpower point. Upon doing so, the bond is negated for a variable amount of time: from one scene (if the thrall merely wishes to plot against the regnant, deliver confidential information to an enemy, etc.) to one turn (if the thrall wishes to attack the regnant physically). The thrall can continue to expend Willpower to extend the duration of "freedom," but once she ceases doing so, the blood bond resumes at full force.
A blood bond can be broken, though this requires the thrall to not only avoid the regnant entirely for an extended period of time, but also spend great amounts of Willpower to overcome the "addiction." As a general rule, a thrall who neither sees nor feeds from her regnant for a period of (12 - Willpower) months finds her bond reduced by one level (so, a fully bound thrall with a Willpower of 5 has her blood bond reduced to the equivalent of two drinks if she goes seven straight months without any contact with the regnant). If the bond is reduced to zero in this fashion (a feat typically accompanied by the expenditure of a great deal of Willpower on the thrall's part, as she resists the gnawing urge to seek out her sire), it is nullified entirely.
Another, though somewhat less certain, way to be rid of the bond is to kill the regnant. Such a choice is extremely perilous on many levels, and makes no guarantees that everything will go smoothly. Those who have been released by such means claim the bond shatters like spun glass upon the moment of the regnant's Final Death. The thrall's Nature may play a large part in whether the control is completely ended, though, and such aftermath is best left in the hands of the Storyteller.
Let's face it: Despite all efforts to the contrary, a vampire is going to succumb to moral failure sooner or later in his unlife. Willfully or otherwise (ethics are particularly hard to maintain in frenzy), a vampire occasionally commits atrocity and risks losing his Humanity to the Beast. If the character feels remorse for his actions, he knows that his Humanity is still intact. If he commits a wrongful act and callously disregards it, however, his Humanity is obviously waning.
One of the most important themes of Vampire: The Masquerade is the Kindred's struggle to retain their souls and avoid the clutches of the Beast. Thus, it is extremely important to use morality and Humanity in a consistent, dramatic manner. If the Storyteller allows the players to (sometimes literally) get away with murder, the story will suffer, as one of the tragedies of vampiric existence vanishes. If the Storyteller is too strict with Humanity rules, though, all the characters will be ravening, blood-gorged maniacs by the end of the first session. Keeping a handle on Humanity is a hard thing to do, but the Degeneration system is designed to help that.
The system is simple: Whenever a character takes an action that the Storyteller decides is morally questionable, the character may suffer degeneration - a permanent loss of Humanity. If degeneration is a possibility, the player whose character commits the act should make a Conscience roll for that character. The difficulty is 8 - reprehensible acts are hard to justify - though the Storyteller may modify this. Willpower may not be spent for an automatic success on this roll - all the ego in the world won't protect a character from guilt.
If the player makes the roll with even one success, the character loses no Humanity - he feels enough remorse or somehow manages to justify his transgression. If he fails the roll, the character loses a point of Humanity. If the player botches, the character loses a point of both Humanity and Conscience, and also gains a derangement, decided upon by the Storyteller (who should make it appropriate). Obviously, morality is not something a Kindred can afford to take lightly. Remember that a vampire whose Humanity drops to zero is no longer suitable to be a player's character. (To be perfectly honest, Kindred with low Humanity scores aren't particularly appropriate either, but can be enjoyably tragic figures in comparison to their nobler counterparts.)
On the Brink
A Storyteller should always warn a player before she takes an action that may cause degeneration. Players should understand the consequences of their characters' actions, and should have the opportunity to enjoy making the decision. Likewise, a player whose character is in frenzy should be told when the character is about to do something heinous - and can only watch in impotent horror as the character casts her morals to the winds at the Beast's command. (Remember, though, that a player may spend a point of Willpower in order to stave off the pangs of frenzy for a turn.) Players should not be allowed to think they can get away with anything. Make it obvious that a roll may become necessary if vicious characters persist in committing self-centered deeds. Likewise, don't bait and switch. If you warn them that a roll is imminent, go through with it, or you risk ruining the mechanic's usefulness.
Using Hierarchies of Sin
Degeneration checks may seem arbitrary or ill defined. To some degree, they are, but this is intentional. Moreover, degeneration checks are not random so much as they are subjective. A Storyteller has carte blanche to monitor character morality in her chronicle. This is a huge responsibility for the Storyteller, but one that ultimately makes for a great deal of tragedy and horror, as the characters gradually descend into a state of utter monstrosity though they desperately rail against it. Storytellers, beware - players should never feel that you are screwing them out of Humanity or, consequently, their characters. Use degeneration checks consistently but sparingly, lest the tragedy erode to an incessant series of failed die rolls. Because this mechanic is so heavily entrenched in the Storyteller's line of duty, her own morality is often reflected in how she applies the rule. This is encouraged, as it illustrates literally what Vampire may do only in allegory.
To lend a sense of order to degeneration checks, consult the Hierarchy of Sin here. (Note: Other Paths use Hierarchies of Sin as well, though their ideas of "sin" are different. See the Appendix for other Paths and their ethical codes. Whenever a character commits a dubious act, see how that action relates to the hierarchy. If the action is at or below the level of the character's Humanity score, a roll is warranted - as a character falls further down the Humanity scale, she becomes increasingly callous, and minor peccadilloes cease to bother her. The use of the term violation in the hierarchy is deliberately vague, to aid the Storyteller. A violation may be anything questionable, and is presented to avoid inclining the scale toward any single transgression. Violation may be killing, callous injury, rape (what do you think taking blood by force is?) or any other villainy the Storyteller considers wrong.
It seems hard to slide to the lowest echelons of the scale, but consider the prominence of the Beast as Humanity falters. Sooner or later, the character will be committing depravity outside her own volition. The Storyteller is free to decree that characters of low Humanity (4 or less) occasionally act according to various urges and impulses that must be resisted with Conscience rolls or Willpower expenditure. This is the critical crux of Vampire: The Masquerade - how closely can the character skirt the Beast before it drags her into damnation?
Derangements are behaviors that are created when the mind is forced to confront intolerable or conflicting feelings, such as overwhelming terror or profound guilt. When the mind is faced with impressions or emotions that it cannot reconcile, it attempts to ease the inner conflict by stimulating behavior such as megalomania, bulimia or hysteria to provide an outlet for the tension and stress that the conflict generates.
Vampires or mortals receive derangements under conditions of intense terror, guilt or anxiety. If a player botches a Virtue or Willpower roll (for example, when confronted with Rotschreck), the Storyteller may decide that the experience causes a derangement in the character. Other examples of derangement-inducing events include killing a loved one while in a frenzy, being buried alive, or seeing hundreds of years of careful scheming dashed in an instant of bad luck. Generally, any experience that causes intense and unpleasant emotion or thoroughly violates a character's beliefs or ethics is severe enough to cause a derangement. The Storyteller alone determines which derangement a character receives, choosing (or creating) one appropriate to the character's personality and the circumstances of the event that caused the disorder.
It must be noted that people who are "crazy" are neither funny nor arbitrary in their actions. Insanity is frightening to those who are watching someone rage against unseen presences or hoard rotten meat to feed to the monsters that live next door; even something as harmless-sounding as talking to an invisible rabbit can become disturbing to observers. The insane, however, are only responding to a pattern known to them, stimuli that they perceive in their own minds. To their skewed perceptions, what's happening to them is perfectly normal - to them. Your vampire's derangement is there for a reason, whether he's a Malkavian who resided at Bedlam before his Embrace or a Ventrue who escaped from five months of torture at the hands of an Inquisitor. What stimuli is his insanity inflicting on him, and how is he reacting to what's happening? The player should work with his Storyteller to create a pattern of provocations for his derangement, and then decide how his character reacts to such provocation.
Derangements are a challenge to roleplay, without question, but a little time and care can result in an experience that is dramatic for all involved.
The trauma, guilt or inner conflict that causes this derangement forces the individual to focus nearly all other attention and energy onto a single repetitive behavior or action. Obsession relates to an individual's desire to control her environment - keeping clean, keeping an area quiet and peaceful, or keeping undesirable individuals from an area, for example. A compulsion is an action or set of actions that an individual is driven to perform to soothe her anxieties: for example, placing objects in an exact order, or feeding from a mortal in a precise, ritualistic fashion that is never allowed to vary.
Vampires with an obsessive or compulsive derangement must determine a set of specific actions or behaviors, as described above, and follow them to the exclusion of all else. The effects of obsessive/compulsive behavior can be negated for the course of one scene by spending a temporary Willpower point. The difficulty of any attempt to coerce or Dominate a vampire into ceasing her behavior is raised by one. If a vampire is forcibly prevented from adhering to her derangement, she automatically frenzies.
The trauma that spawns this derangement fractures the victim's personality into one or more additional personas, allowing the victim to deny her trauma or any actions the trauma causes by placing the blame on "someone else." Each personality is created to respond to certain emotional stimuli - an abused person might develop a tough-as-nails survivor personality, create a "protector," or even become a murderer in order to deny the abuse she is suffering. In most cases none of the personalities is aware of the others, and they come and go through the victim's mind in response to specific situations or conditions.
When a vampire suffers this derangement, the Storyteller and the player must agree upon how many and what kind of personalities develop, and the situations that trigger their dominance in the victim. Each personality should be relevant to the trauma that causes it. Not only is each personality distinct, but in the case of Kindred, the different personalities might believe themselves to be from different clans and sires.
Kindred with multiple personalities can manifest different Abilities and even Virtues for each of their personalities, but it is the Storyteller's responsibility to determine the specific details.
Conflicting, unresolveable sets of feelings and impulses can cause a victim to develop schizophrenia, which manifests as a withdrawal from reality, violent changes in behavior, and hallucinations. This is the classical sort of derangement, causing victims to talk to walls, imagine themselves to be the King of Siam, or receive instructions from their pets telling them to murder people.
Roleplaying this derangement requires careful thought, because the player must determine a general set of behaviors relevant to the trauma that caused the derangement. The hallucinations, bizarre behavior and unseen voices stem from a terrible inner conflict that the individual cannot resolve. The player needs to establish a firm idea of what that conflict is and then rationalize what kind of behavior this conflict will cause.
Kindred with this derangement are unpredictable and dangerous. In situations that trigger a vampire's inner conflict, the difficulties of all rolls to resist frenzy increase by three, and the vampire loses three dice from all Willpower rolls.
The victim of paranoia believes that her misery and insecurity stem from external persecution and hostility. Paranoids obsess about their persecution complexes, often creating vast and intricate conspiracy theories to explain who is tormenting them and why. Anyone or anything perceived to be "one of them" is often subjected to violence.
Kindred who suffer from paranoia have difficulty with social interaction; the difficulties of all dice rolls involving interaction are increased by one. They are distrustful and suspicious of everyone, even their own blood bound progeny. The slightest hint of suspicious behavior is enough to provoke a frenzy roll, with the difficulty relative to the degree of the behavior. This paranoia may even extend to complex and rigorous feeding practices, to keep "them" from contaminating the vampire's food supply.
Individuals with this derangement are obsessed with accumulating power and wealth, salving their insecurities by becoming the most potent individuals in their environment. Such individuals are invariably arrogant and supremely sure of their abilities, convinced of their own inherent superiority. The means of achieving their status can take many forms, from devious conspiracies to outright brutality. Any individual of equal or higher status than the victim is perceived to be "competition."
Kindred with this derangement constantly struggle to rise to the height of power and influence, by whatever means necessary. In a megalomaniac's view, there are only two classes of people: those who are weaker, and those who do not deserve the power they have and must be made weaker. This belief extends to everyone around the vampire, including members of her own coterie. This derangement lends an extra die to all of the victim's Willpower rolls, due to her towering sense of superiority.
If a megalomaniacal vampire is presented with the chance to diablerize a more potent Kindred, she will be sorely tempted. A Willpower roll (difficulty 10) is needed for the vampire to avoid taking "what is rightfully hers."
Individuals with bulimia assuage their guilt and insecurity by indulging in activities that comfort them - in this case, consuming food. A bulimic will eat tremendous amounts of food when subjected to stress, then empty her stomach through drastic measures so she can eat still more.
In the case of vampires with this derangement, the need to feed is a means of relieving the fear and anxiety endemic to the World of Darkness. A bulimic vampire may feed four or more times a night - gorging herself, burning the blood in pointless (or not so pointless) activity, then starting the cycle again.
A vampire with bulimia gets hungry much more quickly than other vampires do. When feeding, a bulimic vampire must make a Conscience roll (difficulty 7). If she fails the roll, she feeds until her blood pool is full, whether the vampire needs the extra blood or not. A vampire who is forcibly kept from feeding risks frenzy (make a frenzy roll, difficulty 6). The difficulty increases by one for every 15 minutes that she is prevented from drinking.
A person in the grip of hysteria is unable to control her emotions, suffering severe mood swings and violent fits when subjected to stress or anxiety.
Hysterical Kindred must make frenzy checks whenever subjected to stress or pressure. The difficulties of these rolls are normally 6, increasing to 8 if the stress is sudden or especially severe. Additionally, any action that results in a botch causes the vampire to frenzy automatically.
Manic-depressives suffer from severe mood swings, sometimes resulting from severe trauma or anxiety. Victims may be upbeat and confident one moment, then uncontrollably lethargic and pessimistic the next.
Kindred with this derangement are constantly on a hair trigger, never knowing when the next mood swing will strike. Whenever the vampire fails a task, the Storyteller has the option of secretly making a Willpower roll (difficulty 8) for the character. If the character fails the roll, she lapses into depression. Additionally, the vampire will go into depression whenever one other rolls is botched, or if her blood pool ever drops below 2. The Storyteller should roll a die to determine how many scenes the character remains depressed, keeping the number a secret.
Vampires in a depressive state have their Willpower ratings halved (minimum 1). In addition, the vampire may not access her blood pool to raise Attributes. Upon emerging from the depressive state, the character is energetic, relentlessly upbeat and active (obsessively so) for a number of scenes proportionate to the time spent in depression. When a vampire is in this manic state, the difficulty of all rolls to resist frenzy is raised by one.
Victims suffering from fugue experience "blackouts" and loss of memory. When subjected to stress, the individual begins a specific, rigid set of behaviors to remove the stressful symptoms. This differs from multiple personalities, as the individual in the grip of a fugue has no separate personality, but is on a form of "autopilot" similar to sleepwalking.
Kindred suffering from this derangement require a Willpower roll when subjected to extreme stress or pressure (difficulty 8). If the roll fails, the player must roleplay her character's trancelike state; otherwise, control of the character passes to the Storyteller for a number of scenes equal to the roll of a die. During this period, the Storyteller may have the character act as she sees fit to remove the source of the stress. At the end of the fugue, the character "regains consciousness" with no memory of her actions.
This derangement is unique to the Kindred, a response to vampires' deep-seated guilt regarding the act of feeding on the blood of mortals. Kindred with this derangement believe that they do not merely consume victims' blood, but their souls as well, which are then made a part of the vampire's consciousness. In the hours after feeding, the vampire hears the voice of her victim inside her head and feels a tirade of "memories" from the victim's mind - all created by the vampire's subconscious. In extreme cases, this sense of possession can drive a Kindred to carry out actions on behalf other victims. Obviously, diablerie would be unwise for an animist to perform....
Whenever a vampire with this derangement feeds on a mortal, a Willpower roll is needed (difficulty 6, or 9 if she drains the mortal to the point of death). If the roll succeeds, she is tormented by the "memories" of the person whose soul she has partially consumed, but is still able to function normally. If the roll fails, then the images in her mind are so strong that it is akin to having a second personality inside her, an angry and reproachful personality that seeks to cause harm to the vampire and her associates. The player must roleplay this state; otherwise, control of the character passes to the Storyteller, who runs the character as if the mind other victim is in control. During the moments just before dawn, control automatically reverts to the vampire.
A vampire who is staked or otherwise paralyzed continues to spend blood at the rate of one point per night. If the vampire is further deprived of blood, the decaying process that unlife has held at bay begins again. A vampire with no blood begins consuming all excess moisture within his body, at a rate of one health level per day. As the process continues, the vampire begins to resemble a mummified corpse. At first the vampire appears merely emaciated, but as the body is completely dehydrated, the meat and ligaments, along with the mostly useless organs within the body, begin to wither. By the seventh day, when the character has reached Incapacitated on the Health chart, the character's eyes shrivel within his skull, the tendons and ligaments within the body draw painfully tight, the gums recede from the teeth, and the lips draw back in a death-rictus. At this point, the character enters torpor.
Once in torpor, the character cannot rise unless supplied with enough blood to bring him back to Injured on the Health chart (at least four blood points). A vampire emerging from this state is ravenous to the point of insanity, and will attack whatever source of blood is closest, regardless of any emotional ties.
Leaving a vampire staked until he reaches this near-death state, then reviving him with just enough blood to prolong the agony, is a favorite method of torture for both the Inquisition and the Sabbat. Most vampires undergoing this form of torture suffer permanent mental damage as a result.
There is one thing that elder Kindred dread even more than fire or the light of the sun. This is the sin known as diablerie, or the Amaranth. Among Camarilla society, diablerie is the ultimate crime; those who practice it are subject to the harshest punishments imaginable. It is as loathed and feared as cannibalism is among mortal society. The vampires of the Sabbat, as well as the warriors of Clan Assamite, are said to indulge in diablerie freely, which is yet another reason why the elders hate them so.
Quite simply, diablerie is the act of feeding on a vampire in the way that a vampire feeds on a mortal. In so doing, not only does the murderer consume the victim's blood (and vampire blood is far, far sweeter than even the tastiest mortal's), but the victim's power as well. By stealing the life of a vampire closer to Caine, the vampire can permanently enrich his own vitae. In this manner can even the youngest vampire gain the power of the elders, should he have the strength and daring to wrest it from them.
Elders know the crime as the Amaranth; in olden nights, it is said, an amaranth flower was presented to the victim a week before he was to be hunted. Kindred legend tells many dark tales of murderous childer betraying and cannibalizing their own sires, and it is for this reason more than any other that elder Kindred harbor such distrust for the neonates among them. Indeed, the great Jyhad itself may well have its roots in this eternal and savage struggle for ultimate power.
A vampire seeking to commit diablerie must drain all the blood from his Kindred victim. Following this act, the vampire must continue to suck, for (according to Kindred legend) the very soul is withdrawn from the victim's body and taken into the diablerist's. The effort involved in diablerie is monumental, for the vampiric soul is a greedy thing and clings tenaciously to unlife, hoping to regenerate its body and rise once again.
Once a vampire's body has been drained of all blood, the true struggle begins. The diablerist's player makes an extended Strength roll (difficulty 9). Each success inflicts one automatic health level on the victim (the victim cannot soak, and damage is considered aggravated). When all the victim's health levels have been drained, the victim's essence is taken into the attacker and the emptied body begins decaying immediately.
A vampire committing diablerie is quite vulnerable to attack. Total concentration goes into the struggle to draw forth the essence of the victim, and stopping for even a moment ruins the chance of capturing the spirit. All attacks against a vampire attempting diablerie are made versus a difficulty of 2.
The Rewards of Diablerie
Upon successful completion of diablerie, the diablerist is overwhelmed by euphoria, and a Self-Control roll is necessary (difficulty 10 minus the character's Humanity) to avoid frenzy. The sensation is akin to orgasm, but much more powerful - so powerful, in fact, that certain Kindred are addicted to the sensation. All other Kindred fear these vampires, known as "rogues," for their addiction to the pleasures of Amaranth makes them a threat to everyone. Even vampires too weak to provide additional power are devoured for the simple pleasure of the act.
The true benefit of diablerie becomes evident if the diablerist feeds on the vitae of a vampire of lower generation (e.g., if a ninth-generation vampire commits diablerie on a seventh-generation vampire). The diablerist literally steals the power and potency of the victim's own blood, and thus permanently lowers her own generation by one, bringing her closer to the mythical power of Caine. All benefits of the lowered generation - a larger and more potent blood pool, the ability to Dominate more Kindred and, in some cases, the ability to increase Traits above 5 - are bestowed upon the vampire.
If the victim was of much greater power (five or more generation levels) than the diablerist, the Storyteller may rule that the predator lowers her generation by more than one step. This is particularly likely if the victim was ancient (2000+ years of age). It would not be unreasonable for a 12th-generation neonate who drank the blood of a 3000-year-old member of the Fifth Generation to advance three or even more generation steps. Ultimately, this decision rests in the Storyteller's hands.
Moreover, drinking the vitae of elder vampires can induce a temporary increase in the diablerist's Discipline levels (by one, two or even more dots), as the potent blood augments the predator's own mystic arts. If the elder vampire was several generations removed from the diablerist's own generation, the effects can seem miraculous, even if they are short lived. These increased powers last for a single scene, unless the Storyteller decides otherwise.
To commit diablerie, the diablerist must take blood directly and immediately from the victim; the blood may not be stored and used later. Moreover, only one diablerist may commit the act on a given victim; a pack of neonates cannot swarm around an elder like hungry sharks, no matter how potent the victim's blood. The Tremere and Assamite clans are rumored to have developed mystic means of bypassing one or both of these prohibitions.
The Perils of Diablerie
Committing diablerie seems like the perfect crime to many power-hungry neonates. There is no body left when the deed is done, as most vampires over a decade old quickly rot into unrecognizable mounds of carrion. Without solid evidence, it's difficult for even the most despotic prince to make an outright accusation of murder. But those who commit the atrocity soon leam that diablerists wear the evidence of their crime on their very souls. Vampires with the Auspex Discipline can detect a diablerist by using Aura Perception. The stolen energies of the victim mingle with the energies of the diablerist, leaving thick black marks running across the diablerist's aura. These marks stand out as clearly as motor oil on a crystal-clear pond, covering the sorter colors of the vampire's own aura and betraying the crime beyond question.
Not all vampires know of diablerie or the stains it leaves behind. Many younger Kindred might simply question the odd discoloration on the vampire's aura. Most elder vampires understand what the stains mean, though, and could well call for the diablerist's immediate punishment or use the information as blackmail at a later date.
These marks remain in evidence a number of years equal to the difference between the victim's generation and the diablerist's original generation (minimum one year, even if the victim was higher generation). In example, if a 12th-generation vampire drinks the blood of a ninth-generation vampire (becoming 11th generation in the process), the evidence remains on his aura for three years. Additionally, practitioners of Thaumaturgy can use the Path of Blood to detect the diablerist's sin, even centuries after the crime was committed. For that reason, and for many others, practitioners of the Amaranth fear the Tremere.
Even those without special perceptions often sense a "taint" about the diablerist. For one month per generation removed from the victim, a diablerist gives off a "vibe" that leaves more sensitive Kindred unsettled. The Kindred in question may not actually know what the diablerist did, but they'll feel uncomfortable around him just the same. A player whose vampire comes in contact with a diablerist may make a Perception roll (difficulty of 12 minus the sensing vampire's Humanity rating - vampires with high Humanity are more aware of such things) to notice that something about the diablerist just "doesn't feel right." Followers of alternate paths of morality (see the Appendix) generally fail to notice the unusual sensation, as they are no longer attuned to their emotions in the same way. The Storyteller has final say in these matters.
A few rumors speak of diablerists displaying certain mannerisms of their late victims, particularly if the victims were of great psychic fortitude (Willpower 10) and of much stronger blood than their murderers. If this is true, and the soul of a particularly mighty undead can manifest in the body of its killer, the implications are frightening, particularly in light of the Jyhad.
Such is the horror of diablerie that, according to most elders, even a blood hunt is no grounds for its practice. Hunters may drink a victim's blood, even to the last drop, but may not continue the process of diablerie once the victim is drained. Indeed, by decree of the Inner Circle, only a sire is permitted to diablerize her childe, and then only during a blood hunt. In practice, many younger Kindred take the opportunity of a blood hunt's chaos for kinslaying, and princes often look the other way if the criminal was heinous enough.
Lastly, for Camarilla vampires and others who adhere to the way of Humanity, there is the loss of Humanity to consider. Diablerie is worse than murder: The Amaranth literally absorbs the victim's soul, destroying any chance of the victim finding peace in the afterlife. Such a heinous crime strips a minimum of one Humanity from the character's Humanity rating. Additionally, for extremely vicious attacks, the Storyteller might require a Conscience roll (difficulty 8). Failure means the loss of an additional Humanity point, while a botch could well mean the loss of even more.
There are certain advantages to being a walking corpse. One of the biggest is a natural immunity to most diseases. AIDS, cancer, influenza and other illnesses mean little or nothing to the undead.
But immunity to disease doesn't mean the vampires can ignore diseases. Any illness that can be transmitted by the blood is a potential problem for vampires, because they can carry the illness and transmit it from victim to victim. Indeed, several Kindred in Haiti and the US have become active carriers for the HIV virus. By drinking from someone infected with the HIV virus and then feeding on different victims, these vampires have helped to spread an already rampant infection.
In some fiefdoms any vampire found carrying HIV is locked away for the good of the herd. In rare cases such carriers have even been put to Final Death for spreading the disease. Such plague-dogs are frowned upon heavily in the Camarilla, for not only does disease threaten the human populace, but victims of the disease might speak of their affiliation with vampires, putting the Masquerade in grave danger.
Vampires with the Medicine Knowledge are sometimes recruited by the primogen in major cities to regulate the spread of disease through the Kiss. In the past decade, such vampires have been invited to speak before conclaves, alerting elder and neonate alike about noticeable signs of drug abuse and obvious physical symptoms that vampires should try to avoid. Even the vampires of the Sabbat, with their lack of concern for the herd, have begun to consider regulations regarding disease carriers.
An Intelligence + Medicine roll (difficulty 7) will allow characters to detect the presence of HIV, hepatitis or other blood-related diseases. If the roll is failed, the vampire does not notice the symptoms and exposes himself to disease (Stamina roll, difficulty 6, to avoid). A botch indicates the character feeds sloppily and automatically becomes a carrier for the disease.
Kindred legends speak of certain plagues potent enough to affect vampires. Very few vampires have any knowledge of such ailments, and those who do are highly prized. Despite the Kindred's formidable powers, they are ill prepared to handle the occasional illness that can cause them harm.
Vampires are not nearly so affected by simple electricity as are mortals. Nonetheless, electrocution might occasionally prove a danger. The strength of the electrical flow determines the amount of lethal damage a character takes from electrocution. She suffers the damage effect noted below each turn until contact with the source is severed (Strength roll to pull away - difficulty 5 for vampires, 9 for mortals). Vampires may soak this damage normally - but, if a soak roll is botched, the damage is considered aggravated, as the vampire's bloodstream and brain are fried.
Electrical damage is a lethal effect, and armor doesn't protect against it (depending on the subject's defenses, the circumstance and the Storyteller's decision).
If a mortal character is subjected to significant amounts of electrical damage (chat reduce her to Incapacitated), she may suffer permanent damage. This can be physical impairment (reduced Physical Attributes), permanent memory loss, brain damage (reduced Mental Attributes) or disfigurement (reduced Appearance). Specifics are up to the Storyteller.
According to Kindred legend, the Curse of Caine has made all vampires forever outcast in the eyes of God. This might or might not be the case, but it is quite true that symbols or persons of great religious faith can cause discomfort or even harm to the Damned.
Most mortals, even supposedly devout ones, lack the ability to affect the Kindred with faith alone. However, certain mortals, those with the True Faith Trait, can use their devotion as a defense or weapon against vampires. See Chapter Nine for further information.
Even vampires can suffer great damage from falling significant distances. The Storyteller rolls one die of bashing damage for every 10 feet (rounded down) that your character falls before hitting something solid.
Falling damage may be soaked normally. Landing on sharp objects can change the damage from bashing to lethal at the Storyteller's discretion.
If your character plummets 30 meters or more, she reaches terminal velocity. The damage effect reaches a maximum of 10 dice at this point, and it is considered lethal damage. Additionally, any armor your character wears in a terminal-velocity fall functions at only half its rating (rounded down), since it's not designed for this sort of punishment.
Vampires fear fire, for it is one of the few things that can end their immortal existences. Fire damage is aggravated and ignores armor; it may be soaked only with Fortitude. A fire's size determines the levels of aggravated damage a character endures per turn, while its heat determines the difficulty of the Fortitude soak roll. A character suffers the full damage effect for each turn that she's in contact with the flames; she must leave the area and/ or put out any fire on her to stop taking damage. All damage inflicted by fire is automatically successful unless soaked (i.e., a character trapped in a bonfire takes two automatic health levels of damage per turn, not the results of two damage dice per turn).
Note: Electricity in and of itself does not cause aggravated damage to vampires, but the heat generated by lightning or high-voltage electrical current can cause internal burns which are aggravated. Electrical damage may be soaked normally, using a character's Stamina + Fortitude. Damage is considered "normal" damage unless the character botches her soak roll, in which case the injury is considered aggravated as a result of internal burns.
If your character falls to Maimed, she is scarred temporarily by the flames (reduce Appearance by one until her wounds recover to Bruised). If she is reduced to Crippled or Incapacitated by the fire, the burns cover the majority of her body, reducing Appearance by two.
Frenzy and Rotschreck
There is, trapped within the false civility of the Camarilla and the alleged camaraderie of the Sabbat, a hidden truth. Vampires are monsters, possessed of an inner Beast. Though, like humans, they have the capability of overruling their baser instincts, sometimes they fail. When this occurs, the Hunger and the Beast become uncontrollable, and no one is safe from their excesses. Older vampires refer to the ensuing savage fits as "succumbing to the Beast Within." Younger Kindred refer to these outbursts simply as frenzies.
The Nature of the Beast
During a frenzy, a character literally - and usually unwillingly - gives into the darkest instincts of the vampiric nature. The character is consumed with rage or hunger, unable - or unwilling - to consider the effects of any action. Friends, foes, lovers, ethics:
None of these things matter to a vampire in frenzy. If a vampire in frenzy is hungry, he will feed from whoever is closest without regard for the vessel's well-being. If the vampire is angry, he will do everything in his power to destroy the cause of his anger. A vampire struck by fear will commit any atrocity to remove himself from the source of his terror, regardless of the consequences. The character completely surrenders to the basest aspects of his Nature, shunting aside the Demeanor most commonly presented to those around him. He is, in short, the Beast.
Among the Camarilla, succumbing to frenzy is seen as weakness, a humiliating loss of control. Vampires who frenzy often, and especially in public, run the risk of social rejection or worse. Though many among the Camarilla Kindred are monsters through and through, the laws of the Masquerade and simple civility require that the Beast be kept in check; those who cannot do so are not vampires, but animals, and should be put down for the good of all. Among the Sabbat, frenzy is seen as a natural urge, like mortals' needs for food and sex. Sabbat vampires deride the Camarilla's attitude toward frenzy as that of weak-willed fools who cannot accept their true predatory nature. Accordingly, Sabbat typically seek not to prevent frenzy, but to control it and use it to their advantage.
A frenzy can be induced by many things, but great rage or hunger are the most common provocations. It is dangerous to deny or humiliate the undead. For this reason, vampires of the Camarilla commonly veil slights and threats in webs of double-talk and subtlety, that they not suddenly trigger an outburst in Elysium or conclave. Ultimately, the Storyteller can call for a vampire to make a frenzy roll at any time, whenever he feels the character might have cause to lose control.
A vampire in frenzy gains several temporary benefits from the state. Vampires in frenzy completely ignore all dice pool penalties inflicted by injury until the frenzy ends. Once the frenzy is finished, the pain comes back and the crippling effects of the wounds take hold again. All difficulties to Dominate a frenzied character are increased by two, and all difficulties to resist the effects of Dominate are reduced by two. The character never needs Willpower rolls to accomplish a feat, because the rage fueling the vampire's actions is both a catalyst to heightened state of mind and a barrier against unwanted intrusions. Lastly, characters in frenzy are immune to the detrimental effects of Rotschreck.
The rules for handling a frenzy are deliberately vague, and the Storyteller is encouraged to make whatever changes she deems necessary to accommodate her chronicle.
In some cases, Kindred can manage to overcome the urge to frenzy. A vampire on the verge of frenzy must make a Self-Control roll against a variable difficulty. The difficulty is often 6 to 8, but if trying to overcome the urge to commit a blatantly evil act, the vampire's player can roll against a difficulty of (9 minus Conscience) instead. The character must score five successes to completely overcome the desires for violence, but even one success halts the frenzy temporarily. For each success below five, the character can resist the urge to frenzy for one turn. After this duration expires, the character may try again to gain extra successes and thus continue to resist the frenzy. Once five successes are acquired, over a greater or lesser period, the vampire resists the Beast's urges.
Failure means the character goes into an emotional rampage, doing exactly what she wants to do with no worries of later repercussions. Botching the Self-Control roll means the character remains in a frenzy until the Storyteller decides otherwise, and (at the Storyteller's discretion) she may gain a derangement related to the frenzy.
The following list shows common stimuli that can incite a frenzy, and the typical difficulty for a character to resist. Remember, if the frenzy has the potential to cause the vampire to commit an atrocity (killing a child or other innocent, for example), the Storyteller can rule that the difficulty is (9 minus Conscience) instead.
Note: The Storyteller has final say in what can or cannot provoke a frenzy. In some cases the Storyteller might completely ignore what the players feel should send their characters into a rage, and instead have some minor event cause a frenzy. This is commonly done in situations where the Storyteller feels a frenzy can make a point about a character's personality, or enhance the events of a story.
Characters in a frenzy are not themselves - or, more accurately, reveal more of themselves than they normally would. They will do anything to sate their hunger or destroy the source of the frenzy, even attacking other players' characters. Characters in a frenzy generally attack their enemies first, but if no enemies are present, friends are perfectly acceptable fodder for their baser instincts. Even lovers and family can fall victim to vampires in frenzy. The character might feel remorse and hideous guilt later, but while the frenzy occurs, nothing matters save the immediate gratification of the character's desires. This can often lead to subsequent degeneration checks (p. 221). Therefore, repeated frenzies can prove very detrimental to a vampire's Humanity.
Some players might feel hesitant about roleplaying a frenzy, but such is the nature of the vampire. Players should be encouraged to portray the frenzy effectively. If they cannot do so, the Storyteller should feel free to take over control of the character, running it as he deems appropriate until the frenzy ends.
A player whose character is in the midst of frenzy may choose to spend a Willpower point. This enables him to control one action of his character for one turn. In this manner, a vampire may give her victim-to-be a chance to run, or an offending mortal the chance to stammer out an apology. This moment of self-control lasts for only a turn, possibly two; it does not stop the frenzy, merely allows the character to control it slightly. As Storyteller, if a frenzied character takes an action you deem inappropriate, you may allow the action, but rule that the character has just spent a Willpower point to take the action.
The Storyteller decides how long any frenzy lasts, but one scene typically suffices. If a character is knocked unconscious or trapped alone for an extended period, the odds are good she will eventually regain control of herself.
Rotschreck: The Red Fear
Though there are few things that can kill a vampire - and though many among the Damned claim to loathe their immortality - certain sources of injury frighten all vampires. Sunlight and fire can bring about a panicked flight-or-fight mentality. While under the spell of this Rotschreck, a vampire flees in blind panic from the source of her fear, frantically lashing out at anything in her way regardless of any personal attachments or affiliations. Rotschreck is in most ways similar to any other frenzy; just as the Beast sometimes seizes control in times of anger, so too in times of great fear.
Relatively innocuous stimuli, or stimuli directly under the character's control, are unlikely to induce Rotschreck. For example, a character who sees a lit cigarette in a nightclub, or a screened-in fireplace in an ally's home, might grow uneasy, but is unlikely to succumb to the Red Fear. If that same cigarette is pointed threateningly at the vampire, though, or the fireplace suddenly flares up in a draught....
A vampire seeking to avoid Rotschreck requires a Courage roll. As with frenzy, five successes must be accumulated to ignore the Beast completely, though fewer successes enable the vampire to overcome her fear for a greater or lesser period of time. Failure means the vampire flees madly from the danger, making a beeline for safety and tearing apart anything or anyone that gets in her way. Any attempt to restrain a vampire suffering from the Red Fear results in an immediate attack, just as if the character were suffering from a frenzy. One Willpower point may be spent to maintain control for one turn.
A character who is the victim of a botched Courage roll immediately frenzies and remains in a frenzy until the Storyteller decides otherwise.
Golconda and Other Means of Salvation
For most Kindred, to be vampire is to be eternally Damned. Many legends speak of vampirism as the curse not only of Caine, but of the Devil himself. To become vampire means being forever forsaken by God and man, and so an unlife of horror leads, at last, to an afterlife in Hell. Even those vampires who scorn such "superstition" nonetheless see a secular hell of sorts in their Beast, their Hunger and the simple ennui that comes with centuries of existence.
It is not surprising, then, that some Kindred speak of a state of being whereby they may transcend their eternal hunger and rage. Vampires who attain this state, which is called Golconda, are said to have mastered the Beast to such an extent that it no longer controls their actions. While still tied to the need for blood, vampires in Golconda need far less of it than their ravenous kin. Moreover, they are able to quell the urges of the Beast to such an extent that they need never fear losing control to it. They are no longer properly Kindred, but a different, higher species of creature entirely.
As the stories go, Golconda is known only to a few among the undead, and these no longer participate in the Jyhad or the society of their kind. They live in the wild places, as one with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky. Even the werewolves leave the masters of Golconda be, for they are not Damned, but Hallowed. Vampires in Golconda occasionally enter the larger society of undead, seeking disciples whom they can guide along the path to Golconda - but only in secret, for the Jyhad displeases them and they wish nothing to do with it. A few stories say that one of the Antediluvians has found the path to Golconda, and that this being seeks both to bring other Damned into Golconda's grace and to frustrate the schemes of its rivals. In truth, none can - or will - say.
Among the Camarilla, Golconda is seen as a pleasant but ultimately whimsical fable - an allegory for maintaining one's Humanities, but nothing more than that. Some among the Inconnu are said to possess the secrets of Golconda, and to aid actively in its attainment - then again, there are many rumors concerning these recluses. The Sabbat, by contrast, scorn Golconda and its seekers as unworthy of true vampires. Wolves, they say, should not seek to emulate sheep.
Storytellers are free to include Golconda in their chronicles, and players may pursue it if they choose. Attaining Golconda, though, cannot be simulated with charts or experience points. It is as ephemeral, yet as powerful, as love or self-acceptance, and its attainment should be the focus of an entire chronicle. In general, characters learn of Golconda only after spending some time among the undead, for Golconda lore is spread in puzzling riddles and whispered from seeker to seeker. Many vampires never hear of it at all.
Pursuit of Golconda entails not only seeking out cryptic lore, but also seeking the truth in the vampire's own being. It is certain that vampires who wish to attain Golconda must feel - and display - remorse. The greater a vampire's sins, the greater the penance necessary. Vampires wishing to enter Golconda must seek out the families of old victims and make amends, protect those weaker than they, and try to make the World of Darkness a better place. This inevitably entails maintaining one's Humanity and spending Willpower to commit good deeds (and avoid monstrous ones) whenever possible.
As mentioned, attaining Golconda should come only at the end of a long (months, if not years, of real time) and arduous chronicle. During this chronicle, characters must meet certain criteria. They must attain Humanity ratings of 7 or higher and Conscience ratings of 4 or higher, and they must maintain those ratings over lengthy periods. They must seek always to overcome the worst effects of frenzy, fighting the urge and spending Willpower points if necessary to avoid committing atrocities. Moreover, they must, over dozens of stories, consistently display penitent, abstinent and honorable behavior. Power, indiscriminate feeding and the games of the Jyhad are to be avoided by vampires seeking the higher path.
Typically, at about the midpoint of the chronicle, prospective Golconda-seekers travel in search of a mentor reputed to harbor the secrets of Golconda. Having found this mentor, the vampires must prove themselves worthy through the undertaking of quests and answering of riddles. Such tasks often lead the questers through grave perils to both body and soul.
The culmination of the chronicle comes when a worthy vampire undergoes a ritual called the Suspire. Sometimes die vampire is approached by others already in Golconda, who guide the vampire through the test; other times, the mentor conducts the Suspire; still other times, the vampire travels into the wilderness and undergoes the Suspire alone. The precise effects of the ritual are unknown (and in the Storyteller's hands), save that it involves a perilous journey into the world of dreams and, ultimately, into the vampire's own soul. It is extraordinarily difficult, and many vampires fail to survive it with unlives or sanity intact. Still others return from the Suspire whole, but having forever failed to gain Golconda. There are no second chances, and so perhaps the lot of the latter is the most bitter of all.
Should a vampire actually gain this legendary state, the effects are most miraculous. Foremost among them is a total immunity to frenzy or Rotschreck. The vampire will never again commit an evil act at the Beast's urging (though the player can still choose to sin, the dice will never again force a character to do wrong). Though a vampire in Golconda must drink vitae, nevermore need he fear inadvertently taking too much from a victim.
As well, the character does not need to drink blood as often. The character loses only one blood point per week rather than one blood point per night. He must still spend blood normally to power Disciplines, heal wounds, etc.
Furthermore, a vampire in Golconda partly transcends the Curse binding his own Blood to the fount of Caine. In so doing, he may increase any Trait to as high as 10, regardless of generation. His blood pool remains as it was, though.
A vampire in Golconda must maintain rigid standards of physical and mental purity. Should his Humanity rating ever slip below 7, or his Conscience rating ever fall below 4, the vampire loses all benefits of Golconda, including heightened Traits.
Besides the tales of Golconda, certain legends among the Kindred speak of vampires who have thrown off die Curse of Caine and become mortal once more. No vampire seems actually to know any of their kind who has done such a thing; all such tales involve "the lover of my grandsire's ally" or "die childe of a distant prince" or some other indeterminate figure. The catalysts behind such a change can be anything from slaying one's sire to finding true love to sacrificing oneself unselfishly for another (and becoming mortal in the dying). Most Kindred, cynical and jaded as they are, scoff at such tales - then again, acts of true love or unselfish sacrifice in the world of the Damned are rare indeed. Ultimately, the truth of such things is up to die Storyteller.
Poisons and Drugs
As undead, vampires have little fear of conventional poisons. However, they may succumb to poisons or drugs contained within the bloodstream of their victims. Indeed, certain vampires, known as "lushes" or "heads," actively seek out victims under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that they might receive a vicarious buzz.
Obviously, we cannot present the effects of every drug and poison in a work of this size. Following are some examples of what might happen if a vampire drinks the blood of a poisoned or drugged victim. A vampire with low Willpower (4 or less) and/ or an appropriate Nature (Bon Vivant, Child) might risk addiction to a certain substance, but this is unlikely. In general, the effects of most drugs on vampires are far less than their effects on the humans in whose bloodstreams the substances run.
Alcohol: The vampire subtracts one from Dexterity and Intelligence dice pools for every two drinks' worth of alcohol in his victims' blood. This effect fades at the rate of one die per hour, as the alcohol purges itself from the bloodstream.
Marijuana: The vampire experiences slightly altered perception of time, as well as a one-die reduction to Perception dice pools. Difficulties of frenzy rolls are decreased by one, due to the calming effect of the drug. The effects last for about an hour.
Hallucinogens: The vampire lowers all dice pools by one to three (inability to concentrate). He suffers effects similar to the Level Two Dementation power The Haunting. Depending on the precise nature of the "trip," he may gain extra dice in one particular Ability or find his Auspex Discipline raised by a dot or more. The effects last for (8 minus Stamina) hours.
Cocaine/crack/speed: Vampires with the Celerity Discipline gain an extra level of the Discipline for (10 minus Stamina) minutes after drinking. Difficulties to resist frenzy are increased by one.
Heroin/morphine/barbiturates: The vampire subtracts two from Dexterity and all Ability dice pools for (10 minus Stamina) minutes, and experiences a dreamlike state for (12 minus Stamina) hours. Difficulties of frenzy rolls are decreased by one.
Salmonella (food poisoning): The vampire becomes nauseated, unable to consume more blood (roll Stamina, difficulty 6, to overcome), and suffers one health level of bashing damage. The effects last about a day.
Poison: The vampire subtracts one from all dice pools and takes from one to three levels of normal damage per scene or even turn, depending on the intensity of the poison. Few poisons have any real effect on the undead, and most inflict a fixed maximum amount of damage before wearing off. The vampire may purge the blood at his normal expenditure rate, and the effects heal automatically within minutes to hours after purging the blood.
Sunlight, even more than fire, is deadly to vampires. Even diffuse sunlight running through a heavy curtain can cause burns, and direct sunlight sears all but the most powerful vampires. Unless a character has Fortitude, the rays of the sun cause burns, no matter how weak they are. Characters with Fortitude (and only characters with Fortitude) may attempt to soak sun damage, using a soak dice pool equal to the level of the Discipline. The difficulty to soak the damage depends on the intensity of the light, while the amount of damage taken depends on the amount of protection between the vampire's skin and the sunlight.
No part of a vampire is immune to the rays of the sun. Any character looking into direct sunlight is blinded instantly, her retinas burned by the illumination. Fortunately for vampires, the light reflected from the moon is not strong enough to inflict any serious damage, though some suffer the equivalent of mild sunburn if they are exposed to the light of a full moon and aren't wearing any protective gear.
As with fire, sunlight inflicts automatic damage per turn unless soaked.
Vampires, being undead, suffer little from the privations of temperature. However, high (200°F+) temperatures might have the same effects as fire, at the Storyteller's discretion. Vampires suffering from extreme cold might be forced to spend additional blood points or suffer from the effects of frostbite (-1 or more to Dexterity-based dice pools). In general, though, vampires should not suffer greatly from most "normal" temperature fluctuations.
[Justin has gathered Rob, Cynthia, and Allison together for a Vampire story. Justin is the Storyteller. Rob plays Jillian Brand, a Toreador dilettante; Cynthia plays DMZ, a Gangrel gangbanger/would-be anarch; and Allison plays MortyxX, a loathsome Nosferatu ex-coroner. The three have gathered to investigate strange activities in the barrens of the inner city, activities which have led to the disappearance of Jillian's sire Miranda, open warfare among DMZ's gangsta allies, and the firebombing of a Nosferatu tenement-aerie. The three characters, realizing that fate has thrown them together for the nonce, have agreed to meet at a popular Kindred hotspot.
[Rob arrives a few minutes before the other players, so, to pass the time, he and Justin launch into a one-on-one storytelling exercise involving Jillian's interaction with her herd.]
[Cynthia and Allison arrive, so Justin and Rob cut their freestyle roleplay short and begin the game as a whole.]
[Justin sits back, sets the scene at the club, and watches as Rob, Cynthia and Allison guide their characters through a little roleplaying and one-upsmanship.]
[Last session, Allison had MortyxX dig around (by phone) through his network of contacts. Since he has a major contact in the shipping industry, MortyxX is privy to many comings and goings in the city.]
[Because the players state that they wish to avoid notice from the Kindred community as a whole, the Storyteller has Jillian roll Wits + Stealth (difficulty 5) to avoid scrutiny. She rolls three dice for her Wits, plus one for her Stealth rating of 1, and gets one success.]
[While they walk through the adjoining tenements to the Devil's Playground, Allison, realizing that MortyxX is low on blood, asks Justin if she can make a hunting roll. Justin says okay, but decides to raise the difficulty by one - after all, MortyxX's attention is elsewhere. The difficulty is 5 - they're more or less in red-light central - and MortyxX has a Perception rating of 3. He rolls 1, 9, 8 - one success total. Prey is in the area, and Justin decides to act out the hunt.]
[Because MortyxX so greatly overpowers his victim, the Storyteller dispenses with combat rolls and the like, simply allowing MortyxX to kill the girl. MortyxX still retains Humanity, though, and murder is a gross violation of the Hierarchy of Sins. Justin calls for Allison to make a Humanity roll, using MortyxX's Conscience rating (2) versus a difficulty of 8. Allison scores 3 and 9 - one success. MortyxX is gripped with a sense of the pointless-ness of the slaughter, and will probably dream of the girl for days afterward. He does not lose a point of Humanity - this time.
[Figuring the woman might be on drugs or have a disease, Justin decides to secretly roll a die - 1 to 5, she's sick or on something, 6 to 10, she's clean. The roll comes up 8, so MortyxX is no filthier than usual.]
[The coterie decides to sneak around the sides of the building, looking for an entrance or anything else of relevance. MortyxX, not wishing to be invisible to his companies, eschews Obfuscate. Justin calls for the trio to make Dexterity + Stealth rolls versus difficulty 7. Allison rolls MortyxX's Dexterity (3) + Stealth (3) and scores 2, 8, 4, 8, 4, 5 - two successes. Cynthia rolls DMZ's Dexterity (4) and Wits (2) and scores 9, 1, 7, 5, 5, 5 - one success. Rob, though, after totaling Jillian's Dexterity (2) and Stealth (1), rolls 1, 5, 4 - a botch!]
[Justin calls for Rob, Cynthia and Allison to make initiative rolls for their characters. Rob adds Jillian's Dexterity (2) to her Wits (3) and rolls a die, scoring 5, for a total of 10. Allison totals MortyxX's Dexterity (3) and Wits (3), then rolls a very high 9, for an exceptional 15. Cynthia does the same thing for DMZ's Dexterity (4) and Wits (3), then rolls a 7, scoring 14. Justin, rolling for all the ghouls at once, scores a 6 and adds it to the ghouls' Dexterity (3) + Wits (2). The ghouls will go on 11.
[Now actions are declared, in reverse order of initiative. Rob, speaking for Jillian, decides that she will spend a blood point to raise her Stamina to 3 (a reflexive), then use her Presence power of Dread Gaze on the ghoul closest to her. Justin decides that the ghouls will split up, one ghoul for each player's character. Cynthia, for her part, says that DMZ will spend a blood point to extrude his Talons of the Beast - an automatic action - then launch himself at the ghoul closest to him. Finally, Allison declares MortyxX's intent to run back into a nearby alley, at which point he hopes to be able to use his Obfuscate power of Unseen Presence.]
[Now the resolution phase of the turn begins. MortyxX is fastest, and he's simply moving, so Justin allows the action to take place unhindered. Next goes DMZ, who activates his Protean power, moves into combat range - without penalty, since the ghouls are less than half his movement maximum away - and slashes at his opponent. Cynthia takes seven dice for DMZ's Dexterity (4) + Brawl (3) and rolls versus difficulty 6, scoring a 3,1,10, 9, 7, 4 and 6. The "I" cancels out the "10," but that still leaves a respectable three successes. Because the ghoul was not attempting to dodge, Cynthia rolls DMZ's damage pool - 3 (for Strength) + 1 (for a claw) + 2 (for the extra successes over the one needed to hit). Furthermore, because Talons of the Beast inflict aggravated damage, the ghoul cannot hope to soak the damage unless he has the Fortitude Discipline (he doesn't). The dice come up 10,8,8,9,6,6! Six successes - enough to drop the ghoul from Healthy to Crippled in one strike. Though technically the ghoul is still in the fight, Justin decides that such damage more than suffices to dispatch the lowly minion. The ghoul sinks to his feet, dead or soon to be.
[However, Justin does decide that such a quick kill might be enough to provoke a blood-frenzy in the vampire. He tells Cynthia to roll DMZ's Self-Control score (2) versus a difficulty of 5. Cynthia rolls a 2 and 5 - one success, and barely that. DMZ manages to rein in his Beast, but only just.
[The ghoul chasing MortyxX continues his pursuit. Because MortyxX reaches shadow, and Justin thinks it would be dramatic for him to turn the tables on his pursuers, he tells Allison that he'll allow the Obfuscate power's use if she makes a successful Wits + Stealth roll (difficulty 8). Allison takes six dice (for MortyxX's Wits of3+ Stealth of 3) and rolls 2,1,10,9,8,6. The "1" cancels the "10," but Allison still scores two successes. The ghoul chases MortyxX into the alley's mouth and sees no one.
[Meanwhile, the ghoul swings at Jillian, who elects not to dodge (in hopes of making her Dread Gaze all the more intimidating). The ghoul has a Dexterity of 3 and a Brawl of 2, so he rolls five dice versus difficulty 6 to hit. He rolls 5, 1, 9, 6, 5 - because the "1" cancels out the "9," the ghoul scores only one success, not enough to add damage successes to the punch. Still, he's a strong fellow (3) and has a dot of Potence, so he rolls three dice for a punch. His damage roll (versus difficulty 6) comes up 7, 3, 8, and he adds an automatic Potence success - three successes, pretty good. Jillian attempts to soak and fails outright, rolling 4,1,9. However, because Jillian is undead and concussive trauma means relatively little to her, she halves the result to one level. The punch drops her to Bruised, but doesn't cause her to suffer any wound penalties. Rob says that Jillian laughs in the ghoul's face, then hisses menacingly.
[Because Jillian basically shrugged off a strong man's full-on punch, Justin elects to reduce the difficulty of her Dread Gaze roll by one. Rob rolls Jillian's Charisma (3) + Intimidation (2) versus a difficulty of only 4. She scores 3, 10, 10, 9, 6 - easily, easily enough to cow the ghoul. The ghoul shrieks, then drops into a fetal ball, sobbing.
[And so the combat continues, until one side or the other wins. Are the ghouls indeed minions of the Sabbat? Will J ill find her sire, or are they being led into an elaborate trap? Is MortyxX trustworthy at all, or is he stringing them along? Only a continuation of the story will answer any of these questions.]