Posted by: markfender | July 23, 2013

V:tM 20th – Morality

White Wolf’s gonna tell us how to live.

He's a scary vampire. Rawr!

He’s a scary vampire. Rawr!

This section details all the alternate Paths of morality, instead of Humanity. So, yeah, it’s a chapter dedicated to the Sabbat and the Independents (since the Camarilla, as a whole, follows Humanity). White Wolf has always had various personality mechanics in their games. It’s a shame that so many of them are stick instead of carrot. These are really no exception – if you do a bad thing that violates the tenets of your Path, you have to make a roll. Failure on this roll means you lose a point of the Path, a point of a Virtue, and might even gain a Derangement.

This book places an emphasis on how alien the Paths are to a normal human. Their philosophical outlooks are not what normally people would consider a way to live. This is backed-up in the rules, since there’s a lot of things that Path followers have difficulty with. I’ve already talked about how it’s confusing how they determine their initial Path rating, but they also don’t get the free dot in Virtues. They also can’t spend blood to make themselves look human, as this is based on having a Humanity rating. They also, apparently, can’t reach Golconda, as that seems to require Humanity as well. These rulings are sort of annoying, as they’re delineated in the Humanity section of this chapter, but then the rules in various other chapters involving these things actually specify that you can use Path instead. So, reading one section of the book will tell you one thing, while reading another gives a different impression.

Every Path (including Humanity) has a Hierarchy of Sins. These are rated 1-10. If your Path is lower than the level the sin occurs on, you don’t have to make a roll to potentially lose some points. Otherwise, you’re rolling. Humanity is the first one listed and it includes the things you’d sort of expect: don’t murder, steal, covet they neighbor’s wife, etc.

The Path of Blood is the first Path presented. This is practiced by Assamites and it basically justifies them in hunting all the other vampires and committing diablerie. I’m sure this Path won’t be taken by players eager to kill things and take their stuff. It’s biggest strictures are against betraying the Assamites, so I guess there’s a few checks and balances, but not many.

The Path of Bones is next. It’s practiced by the Giovanni. It’s basic tenets are to study death, which precludes preventing death as well. They’ve also got a “avoiding emotion” thing going on because the dead don’t have feelings or something.

The Path of Caine is a general Sabbat Path. It’s a scholarly Path, based on learning information on Caine and vampires in general. It notably doesn’t have any tenets that would prevent a player from acting like a dick. Stealing, coveting they neighbor’s wife, or murder are all open season. Lock up your daughters.

The Path of Cathari is next and it’s based on the heresy of the same name. So, obviously, it’s my favorite. It also echoes the beliefs of the Lancae Sanctum from Requiem, so there’s that. It’s got a bit of philosophical issues. The second level of sin is “impassioned killing” while the first is “encouraging others to practice restraint.” So, it’s cool if someone else arbitrarily kills, but not you. The rationale actually makes sense (killing a human denies them the opportunity to fall), but just reading the chart has a few hiccups.

The Path of the Feral Heart is about frenzying and stuff. So, that’s a thing.

The Path of Honorable Accord is all about honor, in the medieval sense. Anyone who’s read Game of Thrones knows that honor isn’t necessarily all sweetness and light, so it’s got that going for it. Basically, as long as you’re following orders, anything is cool.

The Path of Lilith is next and it’s all about pushing your feminist agenda. Okay, not really. But it does have a definite “fight against the patriarchal structures” vibe in its sins. And, for some reason, they also love pain. A healthy outlook, in other words.

The Path of Metamorphosis is about pushing the limits of the vampiric form. It’s not specifically only for Tzimsce, but those outside of the Clan would have a few issues with not sinning all the time, as they’re required to constantly change their form. Since the vampiric body tends to reject change, this would make it difficult to follow without some Vicissitude.

The Path of Night is nihilism and makes for another Path for asshole players. Bowing to a superior is a sin (and pretty low-level at that), so expect a lot of posturing.

The Path of Paradox is a Ravnos-specific Path. It’s pretty Hindu in its outlook, despite some odd inclusions (“Embracing a woman” is a sin).

The Path of Power and Inner Voice is my favorite because it’s all about amassing power. So, it’s a natural for political games. Which makes it the best.

The Path of Typhon is specific to the Setites. It deals with their Clan’s usual sthick, corrupting others, but also has some vague “help resurrect Set” stuff in it. I have no idea how a GM is supposed to incorporate that into a game.

So, those are the Paths. I’m not entirely sure they really fit into the game. Originally, they were a thing created so that Sabbat vampires were playable. After all, with the Sabbat’s usual practices, they’d be rolling against Humanity all the time. Eventually, they’d be so full of Derangements, they’d be unplayable. A few of these twisted the basics of Humanity into a moral code to follow that wouldn’t cause a Sabbat game to turn into an all-Malkvian game. But some of them are full of holes and really encourage a bunch of asshole players. Which is fine, if you can handle it. But keeping track of what’s a sin for half a dozen players starts to get a little confusing. Not to mention that several Paths don’t work well together, creating inter-party conflict that might not be desired. So, watch these closely, I guess.

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