The Virtue Traits define a character’s outlook on unlife — they shape a character’s ethical code and describe his commitment to his chosen morality. Virtues exist to help give a character a sense of being, not to force players to portray their characters in a given way. However, Kindred are passionate creatures, and sometimes an act or situation may force a character to consider exactly how she should react to a given stimulus. Virtues come into play when a character faces an impending frenzy, does something ethically questionable (according to the character’s morality), or confronts something that terrifies or disturbs her. A vampire’s Virtues are determined by his Path, the particular code of ethics he follows. Most Camarilla Kindred maintain their mortal values and follow the Path of Humanity (referred to simply as “Humanity”), but other vampires often subscribe to radically different philosophies. Humanity, Paths, and the alternate Virtues are discussed in Chapter Seven. At character creation, a character’s Humanity is equal to his Conscience + Self-Control Virtues.
Conscience is a Trait that allows characters to evaluate their conduct with relation to what is “right” and “wrong.” A character’s moral judgment with Conscience stems from her attitude and outlook. Conscience is what prevents a vampire from succumbing to the Beast, by defining the Beast’s urges as unacceptable. Conscience factors into the difficulty of many rolls to avoid committing a transgression. Additionally, Conscience determines whether or not a character loses Humanity by committing acts that do not uphold her moral code. A character with a high Conscience rating feels remorse for transgressions, while a character with a lower Conscience may be more callous or ethically lax. Some vampires replace the Conscience Virtue with the Virtue of Conviction; unless your Storyteller tells you it’s OK to do this, assume Conscience is used.
Self-Control defines a character’s discipline and mastery over the Beast. Characters with high Self-Control rarely succumb to emotional urges, and are thus able to restrain their darker sides more readily than characters with low Self-Control. Self-Control comes into play when a character faces her Beast in the form of frenzy. Self-Control allows the character to resist the frenzy. Note: A character may never roll more dice to resist or control a frenzy than she has in her blood pool — it’s hard to deny the Beast when one’s mind clouds with hunger. As with Conscience, Self-Control can be replaced, in this case by the Virtue of Instinct. Again, unless the Storyteller specifically says it’s all right to do so, assume Self-Control is used.
••••• Total self-mastery
All characters have a Courage Trait, regardless of the Path they follow. Courage is the quality that allows characters to stand in the face of fear or daunting adversity. It is bravery, mettle, and stoicism combined. A character with high Courage meets her fears head-on, while a character of lesser Courage may flee in terror. Kindred use the Courage Virtue when faced with circumstances they endemically dread: fire, sunlight, True Faith.
The Conviction Virtue quantifies a character’s ability to maintain a sense of reason when faced with desire, suffering, or need. Conviction represents the reconciliation of the predatory urge with the character’s capacity for atrocity. As opposed to Conscience, which deals with remorse and atonement for Path transgressions, a character with Conviction recognizes his failure and plans to overcome it. Conviction is completely inhuman; the character who has this Trait can no longer pass for human under anything but the most cursory of scrutiny. Creatures who can sense the Beast (vampires, werewolves, etc.) immediately recognize someone with the Conviction Virtue for what he truly is: a monster. Like Conscience, Conviction comes into question when a character must check for degeneration.
••••• Completely self-assured
The Instinct Virtue refers to a character’s ability to control the Beast by familiarity rather than denial. It allows characters to “ride the wave” of frenzy and emotional excess by keeping a close rein on their passion, rather than letting passion control them. As atavistic as Conviction, Instinct is the Virtue of a monster who accepts his nature rather than maintaining a sense of human compassion. Instinct allows the character to harness the Beast’s destructive power; a character with high Instinct is primal and turbulent. A player rolls Instinct when attempting to control a character’s existing frenzy. When a character who possesses the Instinct Virtue faces frenzy, she always enters the frenzy, unless the difficulty to avoid it is less than her Instinct Trait, in which case she may choose whether or not to frenzy. Thereafter, for the duration of the frenzy, the character is wholly under the Beast’s sway, and must be run by the player (or controlled by the Storyteller) in an appropriate fashion. Any time the player wishes the character to consciously take an action (known as “riding the wave”), she must roll Instinct against the difficulty to avoid the frenzy. Frenzies affect the character normally (including ignoring wound penalties, etc.), though she may sometimes exert a bit of control while so enraged.