World of Darkness: Tenebris Raptis

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 Degeneration and Bearing

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Avy
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PostSubject: Degeneration and Bearing   Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:09 am

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 an atrocity and risks losing to the Beast. If the character feels remorse for his actions, he knows that his morality is still intact. If he commits a wrongful act and callously disregards it, however, his resistance to the Beast is obviously waning.

One of the most important themes of Vampire is the Kindred's struggle to retain their souls and avoid the clutches of the Beast. Thus, it is extremely important to use morality 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 the morality rules, though, all the characters will be ravening, blood-gorged maniacs by the end of the first session. Keeping a handle on morality is a hard thing to do, but the degeneration system is designed to help that. (Since most vampires are on Humanity, from this point forward we'll talk exclusively in those terms.)

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. Obviously, morality is not something a Kindred can afford to take lightly. Remember that a vampire whose Humanity drops to zero becomes a character controlled by the Storyteller.

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. (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.

To lend a sense of order to degeneration checks, consult the Hierarchy of Sin for Humanity. (Other Paths use Hierarchies of Sin as well, though their ideas of "sin" are different.) 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 rating, 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.

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 crux of Vampire -- how closely can the character walk with the Beast before it drags her into damnation?

Bearing

A vampire's morality has a direct impact on her bearing -- a feeling the Kindred unconsciously projects. The greater the vampire's Humanity or Path rating, the stronger this tendency is. For example, vampires on Humanity have a bearing of normalcy; the humane connection that such vampires hold keeps them from seeming strange and terrifying to mortals.

Generally, a vampire's bearing has little or no direct effect on her nightly activities -- it's only a vague impression. Very high or low morality ratings impose a bonus or penalty to specific rolls associated with the character's bearing -- for Humanity, the bearing modifier affects Social rolls for appearing normal and winning sympathy. These modifiers can affect rolls used for Disciplines, where relevant. Paths of Enlightenment have their own bearings, which are listed with each Path description.
Humanity / Path Rating Bearing Modifier
10 / -2 difficulty
9 - 8 /-1 difficulty
7 - 4 /no modifier
3 - 2 /+1 difficulty
1 /+2 difficulty


Last edited by Avy on Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Degeneration and Bearing   Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:31 pm

How are certain clans viewed in regards to this rule - for example Baali or Cappadocian? Especially the Balli are at what would be considered by many to be definately below a 4 at pretty much all times, but fine it justified according to their views.
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PostSubject: Re: Degeneration and Bearing   Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:54 pm

There are different paths. Humanity is just one. See psychology in character creation.
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