Posted by: markfender | August 28, 2013

V:tR – Systems

Oh, what tortured existence is being a vampire. With cool powers.

requiem3Here’s all the rules that specifically govern vampires. Like blood, the beast, and all those familiar themes from previous games. A few of these themes are different, however.

This first section deals with blood. There are rules for falsifying life, healing wounds, blood addiction, and diablerie. Already noted but interesting is the fact that diablerie automatically lowers your Humanity with no roll required. Again, I think it’s pretty cool that the Traditions have actual rules behind them and this is one of them. So, neat.

Also new here is Blood Sympathy, the ability for vampires to recognize their own bloodlines and even sense that blood’s presence from some distance. Not really sure why those rules were added, but there they are. I can only see that leading to some stories, so that’s cool.

Another interesting bit here is that creating ghouls actually requires a Willpower point expenditure (besides the blood). This limits the ghoul armies you can create, which sometimes became an issue in the old game (the only real limit in the old game was the amount of blood you could hold, which sometimes led to vampires and their entourages touring the night). Another interesting twist is that the ghoul has the option of spending the Willpower point, but that tends to lead to willful ghouls. Do you really want that? I did find it somewhat odd that creating a ghoul doesn’t use a template like the new World of Darkness games tend to use with their supernatural critters. Not really sure why.

Next up is the Predator’s Taint, a new concept. Basically, whenever a vampire meets another vampire, they automatically recognize each other and size each other up in an animalistic urge. The weaker vampire feels subservient and the stronger feels like asserting dominance. It’s an interesting system that I’m not sure I like. I do like the fact that it lets you sense other vampires (Kind of a problem in the old game without Auspex), but I feel like the alpha/beta rules sort of hurt political games. I think some interesting stories can come out of someone being cowed by another vampire and then seeking revenge upon them for the rest of eternity, but it does thrust the Beast part into the fore. And the Beast doesn’t make for political shenanigans – it makes for “kill or be killed” situations. It’s too easy for the Predator’s Taint to turn into savage combat, which isn’t all that interesting. I’ve got an entire bookshelf of other games that offer that.

I already mentioned the fact that it costs a Willpower DOT (not point) to make another vampire, but I didn’t really talk about why that’s also a good idea. For one, it backs up that Tradition. For another, it limits childer, which could also be a problem in the old game (Why would you want a ghoul entourage ten-strong when you could have a ten-strong vampire entourage?).

There’s some stuff about damage, fire, sunlight, and drugs but that’s not really new. Just redone for the new rules. There’s also a section on Torpor, which is what happens when vampires bore of unlife or lose all their blood. They fall into really long sleeps (based on their Humanity score), lose lots of their memories, and lose dots of Potency. The problem here is that this also sort of screws political games as the Elders emerge from their centuries-long slumber weaker than the PCs. Potency disappears at a pretty fast rate (1 every 25 years). That’s probably not a problem in most games that don’t last more than 25 years, but it does, in general, mean that Elders are not quite the threat they were in the old game. Which I do think was an important point to making the game a good political game: with creatures vastly more powerful than you, you had no choice but to make deals with them.

Next up, there’s Frenzy, Wassail, and Rotschreck. Or, to use English, anger frenzy, hunger frenzy, and fear frenzy. I don’t know why Frenzy didn’t get a fancy foreign word.

Next is Humanity, which replaces the normal Morality that all mortal World of Darkness characters have. This is the stick system that White Wolf’s been pushing for years about acting like a nice person in order to keep playing your character. The systems have slightly changed, but the gist is the same: do what nice Judeo-Christian Westerners consider moral. We also get some exciting new derangements to give your vampires as they slide down the slippery slope of immorality. Lastly, there’s a bit about Golconda which, while rewritten, covers the same ground as the old game’s section on it – it’s really hard.

Overall, this section was good. It provided a lot more rules guidance than the old game did on how all this stuff worked. Of course, after having published the old game for fifteen or so years, all the weird rules questions had probably come up, so this section had a lot of “at the table” research already done. I’m not enamored with the changes that hamper political games, though. Limits on ghouldom and childer-forming needed to be put in place, but the Taint and Potency-degradation removed some of the “meat” of political gaming. I still think the game works for politics and things like the Covenants make it better so it’s probably a wash overall.

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