Willpower measures a character’s inner drive and competence at overcoming unfavorable odds. Unlike other Traits, Willpower has both a permanent rating and a temporary pool of points. The rating is rolled or tested, while the pool is spent. When a player spends a point of a character’s Willpower, she should cross off the point from the Willpower pool (the squares), not the Willpower rating (the circles). The rating stays constant — if a character needs to roll Willpower for some reason, she bases the roll on the permanent rating. The pool is used up during the story. A character’s Willpower pool will likely fluctuate a great deal during the course of a story or chronicle. It decreases by one point every time a player uses a Willpower point to enable his character to do something extraordinary, like maintain self-control or gain an automatic success. Eventually, the character will have no Willpower left, and will no longer be able to exert the effort he once could. A character with no Willpower pool is exhausted mentally, physically, and spiritually, and will have great difficulty doing anything, as he can no longer muster the energy to undertake an action or cause. Willpower points can be regained during the course of a story, though players are advised to be frugal with their characters’ Willpower pools. The Willpower Trait is measured on a 1-10 scale rather than a 1-5 scale. At character creation, a character’s Willpower is equal to his Courage Virtue.
••••• • Confident
••••• •• Determined
••••• ••• Controlled
••••• •••• Iron-willed
••••• ••••• Unshakable
Willpower is one of the most active and important Traits in Vampire. Because there are so many ways to expend, regain, and use Willpower, it fluctuates more than any other Trait (besides blood pool) in the game. Willpower is a very versatile Trait, so make sure you understand how to use it.
• A player may spend one of her character’s Willpower points to gain an automatic success on a single action. Only one point of Willpower may be used in a single turn in this manner, but the success is guaranteed and may not be canceled, even by botches. By using Willpower in this way, it is possible to succeed at a given action simply by concentrating. For extended rolls, these extra successes may make the critical difference between accomplishment and failure.
Note: You must declare that you are spending a Willpower point before you make an actual roll for a character’s action; you can’t retroactively cancel a botch by spending a Willpower point at the last minute. Also, the Storyteller may declare that a Willpower point may not be spent on a given action (such as attacking in combat).
• Sometimes, the Storyteller may rule that a character automatically takes some action based on instinct or urge — for example, stepping back from a chasm or leaping away from a patch of sunlight filtering through a window. The Storyteller may allow a player to spend a Willpower point and avoid taking this reactive maneuver.
It should be noted that the impulse may return at the Storyteller’s discretion; a player may need to spend multiple Willpower points over the course of a few turns to stay on task. Sometimes the urge may be overcome by the force of the character’s will; at other times, the character has no choice but to follow his instinct (i.e., the character runs out of Willpower points or no longer wishes to expend them).
• A Willpower point may be spent to prevent a derangement from manifesting, with the Storyteller’s permission. Eventually, if enough Willpower points are spent (as determined by the Storyteller), the derangement may be overcome and eliminated, as enough denial of the derangement remedies the aberration.
Malkavians may never overcome their initial derangement, though Willpower may be spent to deny it for a short period of time.
• By spending a Willpower point, wound penalties can be ignored for one turn. This allows a character to override pain and injury in order to take one last-ditch action. However, an incapacitated or torpored character may not spend Willpower in this manner.
Willpower may be recovered as well as spent. The following situations earn the character back a point or more of Willpower, though a character’s Willpower pool may never exceed her Willpower rating. The only way to increase a character’s Willpower rating is through experience-point expenditure.
Generally, a character’s Willpower pool may be replenished whenever the character fulfills a goal or has an opportunity to restore her self-confidence. Ultimately, specific instances of Willpower restoration are up to the Storyteller. For this reason, Storytellers are advised to be prudent in allowing characters to regain Willpower; it is a powerful and versatile Trait, and permitting players to rely on it too much strips much of the challenge from a story.
• Characters’ Willpower pools replenish fully at the end of a given story (and that’s story, not session). The Storyteller may restrict this by requiring that the characters achieve (or partially achieve) a goal or otherwise boost their self-esteem. For example, if the characters didn’t destroy a powerful and corrupt elder but did manage to obstruct his immediate plans, allow them to replenish their Willpower pools.
• (Storyteller’s Option) Characters regain one Willpower point each night when they first rise. This is easy on the bookkeeping, and allows a steady stream of Willpower replenishment (not to mention the fact that players are already writing on that part of the character sheet when they mark off their nightly blood consumption).
• (Storyteller’s Option) If a character attains some extraordinary goal or fulfills an outstanding objective, the Storyteller may reward her with a point of Willpower. For example, if a character manages to deter a team of vampire-hunters from her sire’s haven, the Storyteller may award a Willpower point to that character.
• (Storyteller’s Option) If a character behaves in a manner that fulfills her Nature Archetype, the Storyteller may reward the character with one to three Willpower points (as stated in the Archetype descriptions).
For example, if a Rebel character rabidly opposes a powerful elder, and that elder is later revealed to be a Sabbat spy, that character may be given a point of Willpower.
Storytellers are encouraged to create their own systems or modify our systems to suit their troupe’s style of play. Indeed, the manner in which a Storyteller allows, or refuses to allow, Willpower replenishment can determine the overall mood of the chronicle.