Dramatic Systems Edit
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 an Ability. If a task falls within a character’s specialty, that character gains two successes in place instead of one for each “10” the player achieves 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 over one or more turns. A number of these systems may be tried again if the first attempt is unsuccessful. Subsequent efforts may suffer “Mortals thought they were fighting their own wars, but it is for us that they spilt their blood.”
Automatic Feats Edit
Automatic feats require the character to take an action, but don’t involve a dice pool 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-turn rating, as dictated by her Generation (p. 270).
• Getting to Your 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 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/ meters per turn. If jogging, a character moves at (12 + Dexterity) yards/meters per turn. If all-out running, a character moves at (20 + [3 x Dexterity]) yards/meters per turn.
Characters may move at up to half maximum running speed, then subsequently attack or perform another action. Characters may also wish to move while taking another action. This is possible, but each yard or meter moved subtracts one from the other action’s dice pool.
Note that injured characters cannot move at maximum speed.
• Readying a Weapon: This can involve 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 and roll Dexterity + Melee or Firearms (difficulty 4) for the readying attempt.
• Starting a Car: This takes an action, but requires no roll.
• Yielding: The character allows the character with the next-highest initiative (p. 271) 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.
Physical Feats Edit
These systems cover actions involving the three Physical Attributes (Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina). These feats typically require a roll. Remember that Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence add dice to Physical Attributes when making many of these rolls.
• 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 (three meters) for every success. The Storyteller adjusts this distance based on the climb’s difficulty (easier: 15 feet/five meters per success; more difficult: five feet/two meters per success).
The number of handholds, smoothness of the surface, and environmental factors 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, constructs bone spurs with the Vicissitude power of Bonecraft, or uses a similar power to assist them, 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. That said, 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 doing so at 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 Drive Skill, 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 — the following chart helps calculate the difficulty for any maneuver. Generally, for every 10 miles or 15 kilometers per hour 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.
Safe Speed (mph/kph)
Max Speed (mph/kph)
|Formula One Racer||140/225||240/385||10|
• Carrying Capacity [Strength]: A character can carry 25 lbs/10 kg per point of Strength without penalty.
Should a character exceed this total, every action involving physical skills incurs an automatic +1 difficulty due to the added weight. Also, every 25 lbs/10 kg over the limit halves the character’s base movement (see “Movement,” p. 258). A character bearing a total weight of double her Strength allocation can’t move.
This system is a guideline, intended to reflect being laden by bulk and weight, so the Storyteller should not call for an inventory accounting every time your character picks up a pen.
• Hunting [Various]: It is the nature of the vampire to hunt. For each hour the vampire spends searching for human prey, allow the player to make a roll against a difficulty based on the area in which the vampire hunts. The Attribute and Ability combination used should correspond to the method by which the player describes the character’s hunting technique. For example, Appearance + Subterfuge might represent a lusty tryst at a nightclub that ends in one of the lovers slaking her thirst, Stamina + Athletics would suggest a harrowing chase across a swath of city parkland, and Wits + Streetwise might be interpreted as a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.
|Slum neighborhood/The Rack||4|
|Downtown business district||6|
|Heavily patrolled area||8|
Success on this roll indicates that the vampire has found and subdued prey, in a manner appropriate to her methods and the area. She may now ingest as many blood points as she wishes to take from the victim (or, if the Storyteller prefers, a single 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 vampire, or suffers assault from a street gang). If a botch does occur, the Storyteller should quickly set up the scene and let the character try to work her way out of trouble. Storytellers and players should both be creative in proposing and describing the hunt to make it dramatic and exciting. After all, finding prey isn’t necessarily the hard part — it’s holding on to one’s Humanity or preserving the Masquerade when the Beast hungers.
If the character catches prey, but currently has fewer blood points in her body than [7 minus Self-Control or Instincts], the character is considered to be hungry and a frenzy check is necessary — Self-Control to see if the character frenzies, or Instincts to see if the character can control her frenzy while feeding. 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.
The Fame and Domain Backgrounds reduce 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 ratings of 4 or below, or who are on Paths of Enlightenment), as such monsters find it difficult to blend in with a crowd.
• Intrusion [Dexterity/Perception + Larceny]: Intrusion covers breaking and entering, evading simple 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, and failure activates any alarms present (opening manual locks may be attempted multiple times, though).
Intrusion rolls can range from 5 (standard locks) to 9 (Fort Knox), depending on a security system’s complexity (the Storyteller decides the actual difficulty). Certain tasks might require a minimum level of Larceny Skill for the character to have any chance of succeeding (e.g., Larceny 1 might let you pick a simple lock, but not crack a safe). Bear in mind that 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 the difficulty for it to be breached).
Note, here, that the Larceny Skill comes into question when evading the physical, mechanical aspects of the intrusion effort. Dealing with the technology behind the systems themselves involves the Technology Knowledge. The intrusion example is an example of getting into or out of somewhere, not rewiring alarm systems or confounding surveillance camera feeds.
• Jumping [Strength, or Strength + Athletics for a running jump]: Typically, jump rolls are made versus a difficulty of 3. Each success on a jump roll launches your character two feet/50 cm vertically or three feet/one meter 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 slip on the precipice, 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 following chart provides the minimum Strength needed to deadlift various weights or break objects without a die roll.
Characters of lower Strength may roll to affect heavier weights than their Strength ratings 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.
Characters can work together to lift an object. This is a “teamwork roll” for which the individual players roll separately and combine 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 pull a muscle or drop the object on her own foot.
|1||Crush a beer can||40/20|
|2||Break a wooden chair||100/45|
|3||Break down a wooden door||250/115|
|4||Break a wooden plank||400/180|
|5||Break open a metal fire door||650/295|
|6||Throw a motorcycle||800/360|
|7||Flip over a small car||900/410|
|8||Break a lead pipe||1000/455|
|9||Punch through a cement wall||1200/545|
|10||Rip open a steel drum||1500/680|
|11||Punch through 1”/2.5 cm thick sheet metal||2000/910|
|12||Break a metal lamp post||3000/1360|
|13||Throw a station wagon||4000/1815|
|14||Throw a van||5000/2265|
|15||Throw a truck||6000/2720|
• 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. A botch causes a health level of lethal damage to your character’s shoulder.
Certain doors (metal vault doors and the like) may require a Strength minimum just to make an attempt.
• 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; if one party is clearly faster than another, the faster party catches or evades the slower party eventually. However, dramatic situations may occur if two characters are of equal or nearly equal speeds, or if one character is slower but might lose the faster character or make it to safety before she catches him. In these cases, 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/meters ahead of pursuers; in vehicles, one for every 10 yards/meters 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 must make to remain on the target’s tail. The Storyteller may call for the pursuer to make a Perception roll at any time (though 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 — without being noticed. At the Storyteller’s discretion, or if the target suspects she’s being pursued, 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 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 she does, she may act accordingly.
Shadowers who have trained together can combine their separate rolls into one success total.
• Sneaking [Dexterity + Stealth]: 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 act that compromises her.
Note that vampires using the Obfuscate Discipline 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, and only one success is needed. If a roll fails, the character loses ground — perhaps pulled out of her way by a current.
If a roll botches, she starts to sink, or might even be hit by a heedless motorboat.
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 (Molotov cocktails, knives, beer bottles) with a mass of two pounds/one kilogram or less can be thrown a distance of Strength x 5 yards/meters. For every additional two pounds/one kilogram of weight that an object has, this distance decreases by five yards/meters (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 or meter of distance. Obviously, if an object can’t be lifted, it can’t be thrown at all (refer instead to “Lifting/Breaking”, above).
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 discretion. On a botch, your character may drop the object or strike a companion with it, or she might toss something that wasn’t what she intended to throw, after all….
Mental Feats Edit
These systems cover tasks involving the three Mental Attributes (Perception, Intelligence, and Wits), as well as tasks using the Virtues, Humanity and Paths, 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 dice rolls.
• Awakening [Perception, Humanity/Path]: 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 or Path 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 or Path 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 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 Archbishop’s sermon, etc.
The difficulty is variable, depending on the nature of the creation (it’s easier to write a limerick than a Petrarchan sonnet). 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, vast murals) might require extended success rolls. On a botch, the character creates what she knows is the greatest work ever known to Kindred or kine (while everyone else who sees it immediately realizes what crap it actually is), or perhaps she embarrasses a patron, leaves out a pivotal figure, or goes off on a tangent that neglects her original intent and is thus unsuitable for her original purposes.
At the Storyteller’s discretion, a vampire who creates a particularly inspired masterwork might be eligible for a rise in Humanity or certain Paths, via experience points.
Likewise, a creative epiphany may be suitable for working through and curing a derangement.
• Computer Use [Intelligence/Wits + Computer]: Most business and political transactions involve the use of computers, which can give neonates a surprising advantage in the Jyhad. In times when almost everyone carries some sort of computer, the edge truly belongs to those who can collect information as it is needed, as well as quickly disseminating it. Haughty elders may sneer at fledglings hunched over their smartphones instead of dispensing bon mots at Elysium, but if those fledglings are using social media to coordinate an ambush on one of those hated elders once court comes to a close, it’s undeniable that a little computer savvy can even the odds that formerly favored the elders greatly.
Generally, Computer rolls are those that collect, display, or transfer information. Creating physical results (like remotely turning off a security system or activating a restricted elevator) is usually the purview of the Technology Knowledge. Of course, a single end result can sometimes be achieved by multiple methods.
Using computers typically falls under two distinct types of behavior.
The first type is comparatively benign or personal use. Tasks such as performing research, writing software, building a website, or participating in social networks can involve Computer in their dice pools if using the computer is the primary component of the action. For example, performing search-engine research on a topic might invoke an Intelligence + Computers roll to yield facts, while a botch would turn up completely misleading information. In most cases, these won’t see much stressful dice-pool action unless performed in bizarre circumstances or with devices the user isn’t familiar with. Additionally, what constitutes a computer can vary wildly, from a netbook in a cafe to a smartphone on the go to a traditional desktop machine.
Storytellers, life in a modern world inherently involves a certain quantity of computer use, so ask if it’s really necessary to have a player roll to check his email unless there are interesting dramatic outcomes of failure. Note, too, that in some cases, even though the character is using a computer, the Computer Knowledge might not be the relevant Ability. For example, a player trying to join an online community of vampire hunters is probably using Wits + Subterfuge or Charisma + Expression, even though she’s at a keyboard.
The second type of behavior is generally referred to as “hacking.” In game terms, hacking is subverting computer security to obtain information that someone has made secure in order to control that information. Even more broadly, hacking can also describe turning a device or computer program against or beyond its original intent. Often, the result of this latter type of hacking is also to gain information, but in some cases, the hacker seeks to create a specific result. He might display a message on a screen that wouldn’t normally receive it or create a nonexistent mortgage on the Ventrue Primogen’s haven and marking it as in foreclosure. Resolve these situations in the same way as information-driven hacking, for the sake of simplicity.
A would-be hacker’s player rolls Intelligence or Wits + Computer versus a variable difficulty (6 for standard systems, up to 9 for complicated situations like corporate server clusters, old government 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 opponent with the most successes wins. On a botch, the character may alert security to her presence or even reveal her identity to the system she’s trying to breach.
Remember, too, that hacking is almost always an extended action. Storytellers, set the number of successes for extended actions via hacking high — it’s all too tempting for players to use this as the “do anything I want because, you know, computers” Ability. It should take far more than a single success to evict a Kindred from her haven or to delete one’s own birth records, for example.
• 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 (though not computers). Before repairing a device that’s on the fritz, your character must identify its problems (accomplished as a standard research roll; see below). Then, if repair is required, the Storyteller sets the difficulty of the repair roll. This difficulty depends on the problem’s 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 add to tracking difficulty. On a botch, your character not only loses the trail, but destroys the quarry’s signs of passage.
Social Feats Edit
These systems cover tasks involving the three Social Attributes (Charisma, Manipulation, and Appearance).
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 buddies 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 telling it, make an appropriate roll (typically difficulty 7). The scam’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. On a 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 interrogation, 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 rating, she folds completely and reveals everything she knows. The extent and relevance 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, being arrested, 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 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 surliest 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 equal to the subject’s Wits + 3. Each success beyond the first 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 equal to the subject’s Intelligence + 3. Again, each success beyond 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 enamored with the character and agrees to accompany her to a private spot. What happens next is best handled with roleplaying.
On a botch, the vampire likely ends up with a drink in her face.