Campaign of the Month: January 2020
Witiko Falls: Disillusion
“We aren’t meant to have these powers. They destroy the human in us.”
—Michael Curry, The Witching Hour
Merits serve as traits that enhance a character in ways that Skills and Attributes cannot. They give them little tricks, tips, and abilities that aren’t covered by the basics. Merits help tie a character to the world around her, and to the path players ideally envision for them. A character can be the world’s greatest hacker, but she exists in a vacuum without any dots of Fame or Contacts or Allies.
Customizing Merits: Social Merits are very open-ended and can be adapted to portray a variety of concepts. A Retainer can be a bodyguard, but could also be a loyal pet, an occult thrall, or a slavish ghoul. Merits denoted with a • are variations of their parent Merit and are included to show how players can customize the system. Players are encouraged to create further variant Merits of their own using the example ones as guidelines.
Social Merits: Many Social Merits presuppose relationships with other characters. For every dot rating that a PC has in a Merit like Allies, Herd, or Staff, players should detail one NPC associated with the Merit. For example, a character with Business (Restaurant) 3 could detail the operations manager, the head chef, and a waitress. (Players are free to detail more characters than this amount. One per Merit dot is simply the baseline.) Players may pick existing characters from the The Living or design their own if no existing ones are appropriate. See the Earning More XP section of the player FAQ for more information on designing NPCs and the XP awards for doing so.Designer’s Note: This page is a work in progress, and clicking some of the below links won’t take you anywhere because the relevant Merit hasn’t been posted yet. If you’d like to see an unposted Merit’s full description, let me know and I’ll post it. I’m likewise more than happy to convert old Backgrounds and Merits from the Classic World of Darkness to CofD/NWoD rules if there are any particular ones players want to take.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Allies - Friends and confederates. • Supernatural Companion - An Ally who is a supernatural creature. Alternate Identity - A false identity, complete with documentation. Contacts - Information sources the character possesses. • Database - Commercial or civil databases you have free access to. Mentor - A patron who advises and supports the character. • Dismebodied Mentor Mentor • A Mentor who exists inside your head. • Guardian Angel - A strange presence that keeps your character safe from harm. • Guide - A ghost, spirit, or other ephemeral entity that aids and assists your character. • Patron - A mysterious benefactor who pulls various strings for your character. Protégé - A less experienced individual mentored by your character. Resources - Wealth, belongings, and income. Retainer - A follower, guard, or servant. • Animal Companion - A smart, independent animal that obeys your character. Safe Place - A secure location you control and own. Status - The character’s standing and respect in an organization. • Business Resources • You own your own business. • Certification - Permits for regulated activities. • Cult - A fringe religion that worships your character. • Fame - How well-known the character is. • Mystery Cult Initiation - Membership in a mystery cult. • Reputation Hunter How feared the character is by vampires and respected by other hunters. • Roots - Deep ties to a local community. • Status (Hunter Compact or Conspiracy) Hunter The character’s standing and respect in a hunter compact or conspiracy. Support Network Allies, Mentor, Retainer, or another similar Merit Your friends can help you through breaking points.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Blasé Composure •••• Resistance to supernatural powers that manipulate emotion. Common Sense - Your character has a significant amount of practical, everyday wisdom. Dual Archetype - You have more than one Nature or Demeanor. Hypnosis Medicine • or Occult • The ability to hypnotize people. Iron Will Resolve •••• Resistance to supernatural powers of mind control. Library - Access to a collection of useful books. Lucid Dreamer Resolve ••• You realize when you are dreaming and can exert power over dreams. Multilingual - Additional languages spoken. Psychic Awareness - You can sense the use of psychic talents. Psychic Resistance - Your mind is exceptionally difficult to read. Time Sense - An innate sense of time. Vice-Ridden - You regain Willpower from an addition Vice. Virtuous - You regain Willpower from an addition Virtue.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description CIPA - You don’t feel pain. Giant - You are extremely large. Producer - Your body produces additional Vitae for vampires who feed on you.
“We aren’t meant to have these powers. They destroy the human in us.”
—Michael Curry, The Witching HourChronicles of Darkness bans vampires and other creatures with supernatural templates from taking Supernatural Merits. This always seemed like a shame to me, as Supernatural Merits are cool and their use becomes inherently limited in games where the PCs are vampires. At the same time, I agree with the designers’ rationale behind their ban: you don’t want vampires (or werewolves, changelings, etc.) running around with lots of genre-inappropriate powers to the exclusion of their inherent ones (Disciplines). Mortals should also have more surprises up their sleeves than any of the supernatural races. (Diversity and adaptability are supposed to be some of humanity’s greatest strengths, after all.)
To accommodate both of these goals, vampires and other supernatural characters may take Supernatural Merits on a case-by-case basis. To provide some general guidelines, Supernatural Merits are also divided into the following categories:
Subtle Merits are generally low-key and don’t have obvious physical manifestations, such as Prophetic Dreams or Omen Sensitivity. A few of these Merits may be so subtle that the character has no idea she even possesses them (Destiny, Arcane). More commonly, these Merits may cause unusual coincidences around the character (Thief of Fate), grant her uncanny insights (Touch of Death), or provide fleeting glimpses of the supernatural (Unseen Sense). A mortal starting character with these Merits probably has a hunch that she can do things most people can’t, but she is ignorant of the larger supernatural world… at least for now.
Characters with supernatural templates can usually take these Merits. Their effects are subtle enough not to overshadow Disciplines, Gifts, Spheres, and similar supernatural powers. Storytellers should strive, however, to avoid redundancy. No vampire should be allowed to take Clear-Sighted when they already have a power to see the unseen with (Auspex). Lesser supernaturals have more lassitude in this area: a mortal with Clear-Sighted who is later turned into a ghoul could retain their gift, but might find it twisted by their new condition.
Blatant Merits let characters do obviously impossible things, like talk to dogs (Communicate with Animals), heal wounds with a touch (Laying on Hands) or converse with ghosts (Medium). Blatant Supernatural Merits might not have any obvious manifestations (Bless Amulet), and a few may not even do anything supernatural (Esoteric Armory), but simply require the character to have seen past the Veil.
Blatant Supernatural Merits are intended for mortals, and supernatural characters should generally only have them if it makes sense for a particular character concept. Most vampires should not have City-Walker, but a houngan in service to Papa Legba might be blessed with a unique power unavailable to other Kindred. As before, the Storyteller should strive to avoid redundancy: no vampire should have Communicate with Animals when they can simply take Animalism.
Psychic Merits can be subtle or blatant. Characters with major supernatural templates can never possess Psychic Merits. Among lesser supernaturals, Psychic Merits are common among stigmatics. Ghoul psychics exist, but their vitae addiction often twists or stunts these mental powers. (Storytellers can mandate they take a related Persistent Condition to reflect this). Fae-touched and kinfolk generally do not manifest Psychic Merits.
Sorcery Merits are usually blatant. Characters with major supernatural templates can never possess Sorcery Merits. Among lesser supernaturals, ghoul sorcerers are more common than ghoul psychics. They are particularly likely to be found among mystically-focused clans and covenants such as the Tremere or Circle of the Crone. Ghoul sorcerers often find that their vitae dependence warps their magical powers in unusual ways (and should take a related Persistent Condition to reflect this). Fae-touched also sometimes learn the ways of faerie magic. Kinfolk have no inborn prohibition on their ability to learn sorcery, but doing so may be met with anything from suspicion to violence by their Garou relatives. Stigmatics generally manifest Psychic Merits instead of Sorcery Merits.
Mortal characters who acquire a major supernatural template (getting Embraced, Awakening, undergoing the First Change, etc.) immediately lose any Psychic Merits, Sorcery Merits, and probably all blatant Supernatural Merits (Storyteller’s discretion) they possess. Experience costs are refunded per the Sanctity of Merits rule. At the Storyteller’s discretion, some or all of these refunded Experiences may be used to pay for analogous supernatural powers. A powerful psychic who is Embraced by a Gangrel, for example, might develop several dots in Auspex despite it being a non-clan Discipline. On the other hand, the psychic might also simply lose their gifts forever.
Supernatural Merits and Clashes of Wills: Sometimes, two supernatural powers clearly oppose one another. A character with Psychic Invisibility might try to sneak past a vampire with Auspex, or a character with Animal Possession might try to take over the body of an animal already controlled through a wraith’s Puppetry. This uses all the normal rules for a Clash of Wills, except the mortal character rolls their dots in the relevant Merit for their dice pool. (And yes, this means that characters with major supernatural templates—vampires, mages, and werewolves, etc.—are likely to win contests against ordinary mortals.)
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Anti-Psi No Psychic Merits You can inhibit the powers of psychics. Arcane No Fame dots You are easily forgotten and overlooked. Automatic Writing - You can enter a trance to write prophecies. Clear-Sighted - You can see through illusions. Dead Zone - Your exposure to death makes it difficult for ghosts to notice you. Demesne Lucid Dreamer or oneiromancer A personal dream realm you rule over. Destiny - A great fate in store for you. Dual Identity Alternate Identity • People naturally overlook connections between your character’s real identity and their Alternate Identity. Hypnotic Voice - Your voice can hypnotize others into trance states. Mind of a Madman Empathy ••• You can get inside the heads of criminals. Natural Shallowing - The Gauntlet thins in your presence. Nine Lives - Nine chances to evade death. Omen Sensitivity - The ability to read signs and portents. Past Lives - Memories from a previous existence. Phantom Limb Missing a limb or organ You have a ghostly reflection of your missing limb or organ. Poisonous Blood Non-vampire Your blood is toxic to vampires. Prophetic Dreams - Dreams that reveal the future. Relic - Ownership of a mystical object or relic. Thief of Fate - You can steal others’ good luck. Touch of Death - You can glean information from corpses. Unbondable Non-Tremere; Willpower (3 + Merit dots) or Morality (5 + Merit dots) You are resistant or even immune to being blood bound. Unseen Sense - You have a sixth sense for the supernatural. Blatant Merits
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Assertive Implement - You have a weapon with a mind of its own. Bless Amulet Occult ••• You can make amulets that protect against possession. Camera Obscura Unseen Sense (Ghost) or (Spirit) You can hurt ephemeral entities by capturing them on camera. City-Walker Streetwise •• You can instantly travel from one part of a city to another. Woods-Walker Survival •• You can instantly travel from one part of a forest to another. Clairvoyance - You can project your senses to another location. Communicate With Animals - You can talk to animals. Consecrate Weapon Resolve •••, Occult •••• You can bless weapons to harm ephemeral entities. Dark Passenger - You have a second mouth that whispers secrets to you. Difficult Ride - You can try to expel ghosts and spirits after being possessed. Easy Ride - You can remain aware while possessed by a ghost or spirit. • Hollow Soul Easy Ride You can be possessed by ghosts and spirits without the Possession Numen. Endowments Status (Hunter Compact/Conspiracy) • Advanced weaponry and supernatural advantages granted by a hunter conspiracy. Esoteric Armory - You have obscure weapons for every occasion. Medium - The ability to see and interact with ghosts. • Invoke Spirit Medium ••• You are symbotically linked to a ghost or spirit. • Normalcy Medium ••••• You can shut off your sixth sense. Fist of God - Your bare hands inflict grievous wounds upon the unholy. Gatekeeper - You can open Avernian Gates to the Underworld. Laying on Hands - You can heal wounds with a touch. Legendary Attribute - You have superhuman potential in a single Attribute. Protected - Your vampiric lover or domitor can sense when you are in danger. Supernatural Resistance Hunter or mortal with at least one Supernatural Merit; Willpower equal to (4 + Supernatural Resistance dots) You are resistant to supernatural powers. True Faith Willpower equal to (4 + True Faith dots) Your religious faith lets you repel the supernatural and perform minor miracles. • Ecumenist True Faith • You can pool the True Faith of others and use the holy symbols of all religions. Psychic Merits
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Animal Empathy - You have a natural rapport with animals. • Animal Possession Animal Ken ••• You can take over the bodies of animals. • Animal Rapport - You have an innate mental bond with a single animal. Apportation - You can teleport objects through space. • Sojourner Aportation ••• You can teleport objects vast distances. Astral Projection - You can free your consciousness from your physical body. • Dream Travel Astral Projection Your astral form can interact with sleepers in their dreams. Aura Reading - You can perceive psychic auras. Believers - Followers who assist the use of psychic powers. Biokinesis - You can psychically alter your biological material. • Biomimicry - You can grow animalistic features when threatened. • Doppelganger - You can assume other peoples’ physical forms. Clairvoyance - You can project your senses to another location. Danger Sense Wits ••• You have a veritable sixth sense for danger. Dowsing - You can detect hidden objects. Incite Ecosystem Animal Ken ••• You can drive animals to attack people. Mental Blast - You can hurt others with the force of your mind. Mind Breaker - You can drive others insane. Mind Control - You can mentally enslave others. Numbing Touch - You can slow nerves with a touch. Plant Empathy - You can speed the growth of plants. Postcognition - You can see into the past. Precognition - You can see into the future. Psychic Empathy - You can manipulate a subject’s mood. Psychic Healing - You can heal wounds at an accelerated rate. Psychic Illusions - You can make people see things that aren’t there. Psychic Invisibility - You can render yourself unnoticeable by others. Psychic Onslaught Telekinesis • or Psychokinesis • You can unleash bomb-like blasts of psychic power. Psychic Vampirism - You can steal life energy from others. Psychokinesis - You can manipulate the elements. • Pyrokinetic Resistance - You cannot be harmed by the element you manipulate. Psychometry - You can read impressions left on physical objects. Technopathy - You can read the “minds” of electronic devices. Telekinesis - You can manipulate the physical world with your mind. • Psychic Poltergeist - You can hurl objects with particular ease. Telepathic Communication - You can mentally communicate with others. Telepathic Rapport - You can establish a permanent telepathic connection with another person. Telepathy - You can read minds. Sorcery Merits
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Alchemy (External) - You can transmute substances. Alchemy (Internal) - You can temporarily boost Attributes. Blast - You can hurl blasts of destructive energy. Communion - You can divine answers from a higher power. Countermagic - You can detect and counter magic. Curse Effigy - You can hurt people through voodoo dolls or other indirect means. Divination - You can read the future. Enchantment - You can instill emotions in subjects. Evil Eye - You can paralyze with a glance. Evocation - You can summon and command ephemeral entities. Familiar - A helpful creature or spirit. Geomancy Crafts • You can harmonize an area’s flow of energy. Healing - You can accelerate the healing of mortals. Invocation - You can summon a spirit to possess you. Longevity - You can temporarily delay aging. Luck Magic - You can bless individuals with good fortune.
• Curse of Ill Fortune - You can curse others with bad luck.
• Favorable Fortune - You can make someone the target of lucky events. Node - A place of power that produces magical energy. Permanent Magic - You have made a magical effect permanent. Sanctioned Witch Status (Society of Leopold) • You are permitted to practice sorcery by the Society of Leopold. Scrying - You can view an area remotely. Second Sight - You can see and hear ghosts. • Soul Jar - You can steal a subject’s soul, rendering them catatonic. See Auras - You can divine others’ moods and secrets. Visionary Trances - You can see or project your mind into the Shadow.
• Dream Travel - You can enter a subject’s dreams.
• Psychic Projection - You can project your mind into Twilight. Warding - You can create a magic barrier to hedge out ephemeral entities. Weather Control - You can alter the weather.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Alternate Identity - A false identity, complete with documentation. • Double Life Domitor • Your domitor helps you maintain ties to your mortal life. Mentor - A patron who advises and supports the character. • Domitor - You serve a Kindred who provides you with regular vitae. • Mentor (Ghoul) - An elder ghoul who advises and supports the character. Status - The character’s standing and respect in an organization. • Empowered to Speak Domitor • Your domitor lets you represent him to other Kindred. • Status (Ghouls) Domitor • The character’s social standing among other ghouls. • Status (Domitor’s Staff) - The character’s authority over her domitor’s mortal holdings and other ghouls. • Status (Revenant Family) Revenant The character’s standing within an extended family of revenants.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Beast Whispers - You can talk down frenzying vampires. Clan Bane Immunity - You do not suffer your domitor’s clan bane. Powerful Vitae Blood Potency 6+ domitor You feed from a Kindred with exceptionally potent blood. Predatory Aura - You can pretend to be a vampire. Predatory Instinct - You can spot vampires on sight. Source Sympathy - You experience blood sympathy towards your domitor. Taste of the Wild - You can turn animals into ghouls. Vitae Hound - You are a connoisseur of Vitae. Watch Dog - You can use your domitor’s Auspex during the day.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Allies - Friends and confederates. • Debtor - Another Kindred who owes your character a blood boon or life boon. • Lawman’s Friend - The Sheriff and Hounds have taken a liking to you. • Old Pal - An Embraced friend from your mortal days. • Paramour - A Kindred lover and confidante. • Pawn - Another Kindred who does your character’s bidding, wittingly or otherwise. • Primogen Friendship - The city’s Primogen value your advice. • Thrall - A Kindred your character has subjected to the blood bond. Alternate Identity - A false identity, complete with documentation. • Broken Bond - Another Kindred thinks you are blood bound to him. • Covenant Infiltrator - You have infiltrated a rival covenant or sect. • Personal Masquerade - You have passed yourself off as a member of another clan. Contacts - Mortal information sources the character possesses. • Cacophony Savvy - How in-touch the character is with the Cacophony. • Mole - An informer in a rival clan or covenant. Domain - Feeding grounds acknowledged by Kindred society. • Elysium Domain • Your domain includes an Elysium. Herd - Vessels to which the character has free and safe access. Mentor - An elder vampire who advises and supports the character. • Sugar Mommy/Daddy - A romantic relationship with an elder Kindred. Protégé - A childe or other younger Kindred mentored by your character. Safe Place - A secure location you control and own. • Outside Haven Tremere You have permission to make your haven outside the clan chantry. Status (Kindred) - The character’s standing and respect in undead society. • Descendants - An extended family of childer, grandchilder, and distant descendants who look to the character for leadership. • Elder Status - Your character’s Kindred Status is overlooked by younger vampires, but recognized by other elders. • Kindred Friendship - The character’s closeness to a clan, covenant, or sect other than her own. • Lineage - An extended bloodline of siblings, cousins, and other Kindred relatives your character holds standing among. • Setite Initiate Non-Setite You have been inducted into the Followers of Set. • Staff - A staff of ghoul and mortal servants who follow your orders. • Status (Camarilla) - The character’s standing and respect in the Camarilla. • Status (Clan) - The character’s standing and respect among her clan. • Status (Coterie) - The character’s standing and respect in a coterie. • Status (Covenant) - The character’s standing and respect in her covenant. • Status (Kindred Society) - The character’s standing and respect in some other Kindred-exclusive fraternity, order, cult, or secret society. • Vassals - Kindred who owe your character corvée as their feudal overlord. • Title - An office of formal authority within the Camarilla. Touchstone - Additional mortals who help maintain Humanity.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Calm Heart - Your character frenzies less easily than most. Face the Flames - Your character can temper their reaction to fire better than most Kindred. Fury’s Focus Brujah Your character has greater control over her frenzies. Moments of Lucidity Malkavian You can temporarily overcome your clan’s insanity. Night Doctor Surgery Anarch, Medicine •• Your character has been trained as an Anarch Night Doctor.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Bloat - Your character can store more Vitae than most Kindred. Broad Taste Ventrue Your character can feed from an additional type of vessel. Corpse-Feeder - Your character gains greater sustenance from vitae taken from dead bodies. Cannibal - Your character gains sustenance from human flesh. Blush of Health Non-Nosferatu Your character easily blends in among mortals. Eat Food - The ability to eat mortal food. Foul Blood - Your character’s blood tastes revolting. Light Sleeper Wits ••• Your character easily awakens during the day. Lizard Limbs - Your character can detach their limbs. Misplaced Heart - Your heart is not located where it should be, making you very difficult to stake. Monstrous Maw - Your character’s fangs do more damage. Prehensile Wings - You are capable of crude flight. Rugged Bad Looks Nosferatu You can pass for an extremely ugly human. Stitcher You can cheaply reattach lost limbs. Thick-Skinned - Your character is difficult to drain blood from. True Worm - You can remain awake during the day, so long as you remain underground. Unmarred Face Nosferatu Your character’s face is less deformed than other Nosferatu.
Merit Name Prerequisites Description Adaptive Disciplines - You can redistribute your Discipline dots after feeding from the right vessels. Antitoxin Blood - Immunity to poisons that affect Kindred. Benevolent Blood - Your blood does not drive ghouls mad. Malkavian only. Close Sympathy - You are particularly close to Kindred wih whom you share blood ties. Closer Than Blood Paramour • You have a mental link to your Paramour. Consanguineous Resistance Sangiovanni Immunity to blood bonds from mortal relatives. Deceptive Aura - The ability to pass as mortal to other vampires. Diluted Curse Assamite warrior The Tremere curse doesn’t affect you as fully. Discipline Prodigy - One of your clan Disciplines costs less Vitae to use. Embraced without the Cup Tremere Your character is not blood bound to the Tremere Pyramid. Favored Visage Obfuscate •••• You are especially adept at assuming certain appearances with Obfuscate. Ghost Eater - You can feed from ghosts. Gifts of the Beast - Hidden powers possessed by your character’s Beast. Hidden Diablerie - Your character is difficult to detect as a diablerist. Indomitable Soul - Diablerizing you curses your murderer. Infectious Bond - Kindred who drink vitae from your thralls become blood bound to you. Inoffensive to Animals Animal Ken • Animals do nut shun your presence. Intoxicating Vitae - Your vitae develops faster blood bonds. Lesser Mark of the Beast Gangrel Your character can mitigate their Beast Marks. Living Masquerade Alternate Identity ••• Your character blends in seemlessly among the kine. Lunatic Insight Malkavian A Malkavian’s inexplicable oracular insights. Malkavian Time Malkavian A Malkavian’s connection to the clan Madness Network. Sanctifying Kiss - Your kiss imparts blood bonds and vitae addiction. Scent of the Other Salubri You can close your third eye. Sympathetic Bond Cannot have Unbondable Anyone who blood bonds your character becomes blood bonded too. Unhospitable Tzimisce You suffer less harm from intruding within private dwellings.
Alternate Identity (• to •••)
Effect: Your character has established an alternate identity. The number of dots in this Merit determines the amount of scrutiny it can withstand. It also reflects time the character has spent honing the persona, and provides a variable bonus on Subterfuge rolls to defend the identity.
This Merit can be purchased multiple times. Each time represents an additional identity.
Merit Dots Description • The identity is supported with some paperwork and identification. It’s good enough to go shopping and get around in most daily situations, but trained scrutiny from a police officer or bureaucrat risks identifying it as a fake. +1 die bonus. •• The identity is supported with thorough paperwork and identification. It passes most forms of professional inspection, but cannot stand up to a sustained investigation—a police officer who has pulled the character over will not automatically pick up anything unusual if he runs the character’s license plates or calls up her name in a database, but should the character be arrested and the police begin a formal investigation, her identity will quickly unravel. +2 die bonus. ••• The identity is essentially as real as any identity can be. It has been deeply entrenched in relevant databases, with subtle flourishes and details to make it seem real even to trained professionals. It would take a truly dedicated, competent and time-consuming search to uncover any hint that the character isn’t exactly whom she claims to be, at least as far as her documentation is concerned. +3 die bonus.Drawback: Mortal characters face no drawback to possessing this Merit. Kindred characters face several.
Merit Dots Description •• Being in the system is that you’re in the system. You will occasionally have to deal with the crap ordinary mortals deal with. Jury duty, identity theft, junk mail, telemarketers, spam promising harder longer erections, and the occasional lawsuit. ••• Being this plugged in means that the humans around you will call upon you for the myriad little things humans rely on each other for. They’ll ask you to help them move, give them lifts to the airport, borrow some money. They’ll try and set you up on dates with their recently divorced sisters. Maintaining this level of connection to mortal society is a lot of work.Designer’s Note: Kindred without this Merit either still use their mortal identity (a danger to the Masquerade) or exist in the shadows and margins of mortal society. They do not carry around driver’s licenses or library cards, sign contracts or leases, have bank accounts in their names, etc. They exist off the grid, relying on ghouls and mortal dupes and proxies to maintain their anonymous existences.
Allies (• to ••••• +)
Effect: Allies are people who support and help your character. They might be personal friends, business associates, allies of convenience, or people who owe your character favors. Whatever the reason, your character can call on them for aid and assistance. The number of dots in this Merit determines how much power and influence the Allies have over a single sphere of mortal society.
Merit Dots Description • One Ally of only minor influence (Status •). •• Two Allies, one of whom is moderately influential (Status ••). ••• Three Allies, one of whom is notably influential (Status •••). •••• Four Allies, one of whom is highly influential (Status ••••). ••••• Five Allies, one of whom is vastly influential (Status •••••).Purchased Allies are cumulative. For example, a character with Allies 3 has a Status 3 Ally, a Status 2 Ally, and a Status 1 Ally. Characters are also assumed to know a wider range of minor friends and associates, particularly at the higher dot ratings.
Characters can also purchase this Merit multiple times. Each instance of this Merit represents one type of ally. Common categories include Academia, Bureaucracy, Church, Finance, Health, High Society, Industry, Legal, Media, Occult, Police, Politics, Street, Transportation, and Underworld. See this page for an in-depth look at the available types of Allies and a list of NPCs that may be purchased at each rating.
Allies and the Supernatural: Allies are ordinary mortals and are ignorant of the supernatural. Allies from the Occult sphere may be more enlightened, but even this knowledge is distorted by half-truths and misconceptions, and the Ally will be ignorant if the character is a vampire, mage, werewolf, or other supernatural being.
An Ally can be made aware of the supernatural and/or accepting of the character’s true nature (though not necessarily approving of it) for the cost of an extra Status dot that does not cost increase the Ally’s actual Status. To better keep the chronicle grounded among mundane mortals, players should resist the temptation to make every Ally aware of the supernatural, and the GM is likely to veto too many Allies being cognizant of the World of Darkness’ true nature. Characters also cannot make Allies aware of the supernatural unless they themselves are.
Subservient Allies: Allies are friends (or at least friendly), not servants. They help the character out of an expectation of mutual aid and assistance. However, the archetype of the vampiric Prince who casually dictates orders to the mayor or chief of police is well-established. For the cost of an extra Status dot that does not increase the Ally’s actual Status, the character can have the Ally under their thumb in some way. This could be due to blackmail, a hostage, a large debt, extended use of supernatural powers such as Dominate or the blood bond, or simple emotional manipulation. Either way, the Ally functions more as a pawn or servant than a friend, and doesn’t expect their favors to be directly repaid. Still, the character’s hold over them isn’t absolute, and the Ally may rebel if sufficiently mistreated.
Vampire Characters: Vampires are manipulators of mortal society par excellence. They pay only one extra Status dot, rather than two, to make an Ally both subservient and aware of the supernatural. The character can choose to make the Ally a ghoul, as well as whether or not to make the Ally aware of the larger Kindred world: many vampires keep their pawns intentionally ignorant so as to limit their potential exposure to rivals (and chances of successfully rebelling).
Customizing Allies: Players are not bound to take the exact combination of Allies alloted by this Merit. As an alternative, they may add up the Status dots of all their Allies and distribute those Status dots between any combination of Allies from the same category (Academia, Police, etc.) that still adds up to the same total. No single Ally may have more Status dots than the character’s dots in this Merit.
Merit Dots Allies Dots • 1 •• 3 ••• 6 •••• 10 ••••• 15Example: Eddie buys Allies (Underworld) 4, giving him 10 Allies dots to play with. He decides to spend four dots on a Mafia underboss who holds Status 4, four dots on a consigliere who holds Status 4, and two dots on a made man who holds Status 2. His total “purchases” still come out to ten dots.
Supernatural Companion (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: The character must have faced direct proof that the supernatural is real. For this reason, it is most common among hunters and characters who are already supernatural creatures, such as vampires or ghouls.
Effect: You have an ally who is a supernatural creature, such as a vampire, mage, or werewolf. This doesn’t mean that you’re privy to their secrets, only that you have somehow met and befriended them. In times of need, you may call upon your Companion for assistance. Although you can determine the basic nature of the Companion, the Storyteller will create the character, and won’t reveal its full capabilities to you. The more powerful the friend, the higher the cost of the Merit.
Merit Dots Description • A neonate vampire, Rank 1 werewolf, Initiate mage, or other equivalent being. •• An experienced neonate or young ancilla vampire, Rank 2 werewolf, Apprentice mage, or other equivalent being. ••• An established ancilla vampire, Rank 3 werewolf, Disciple mage, or other equivalent being. •••• A moderately influential elder vampire, Rank 4 werewolf, Adept mage, or other equivalent being. ••••• A highly influential elder vampire, Rank 5 werewolf, Master mage, or other equivalent being. ••••• • A Methuselah or extraordinarily influential elder vampire, Rank 6 werewolf, Archmage, or other equivalent being.Other supernatural beings eligible for this Merit include wraiths, changelings, demons, Wan Kuei (eastern vampires), Sin-Eaters, Prometheans, and mummies.
Drawback: Your Companion also has the right to call upon you (after all, you are friends). Additionally, if you are a supernatural creature yourself, your peers and superiors (if any) may be suspicious if they realize you are associating outside your own kind. Arranging communication or meetings may be difficult.
Contacts (• to •••••)
Effect: Contacts provide your character with information in a particular area of awareness. Each dot in this Merit represents one sphere, organization, or social circle in which your character has a web of connections and from which he may draw information. For example, a character with three dots of Contacts might have Bloggers, Drug Dealers, and Vampire Hunters for connections. Contacts includes at least one named individual from each sphere whom you define, and also comprises an array of further people from whom your character can draw information with a phone call, email, face-to-face query, or even by séance or mystic communion in some strange instances. Contacts is strictly information-gathering. Contacts do not perform physical services for your character or rush to his aid. Those actions are the purview of other Merits such as Allies and Retainer.
Dice Pool: Manipulation + (any Social Skill besides Intimidation), depending on the method the character uses. The base DC varies depending on how obscure or well-hidden the information is, and how relevant it is to the Contact. Asking a police officer to look up someone’s arrest record is easy, but a university professor is unlikely to have access to that information.
Dramatic Failure: Something goes wrong. The contact might reveal the character’s interest in the information to hostile parties, provide misleading information (causing the Misinformed Condition—perhaps deliberately, perhaps because of an honest mistake), or even be killed by enemies for what he knows.
Failure: The contact doesn’t provide the information your character needs. He might not be able to find out, or he might simply be too busy right now. Regardless of why, he provides no useful help.
Success: The contact provide some information that’s helpful to your character. For every success rolled, you can ask one question or request one piece of information from the Storyteller, which they answer through the contact. Success doesn’t guarantee exactly the information for which your character looks. Contacts aren’t all-knowing, and the Storyteller is perfectly justified in saying that a particular contact simply doesn’t know something.
Exceptional Success: The contact is able to provide a wealth of information to your character, providing answers to questions that aren’t even asked.
Possible Bonuses: Larger than usual bribe (-1 DC), very large bribe (-2 DC), monumental bribe (-3 DC), an outstanding favor (-1 to -3 DC).
Possible Penalties: Lack of bribe (1 to 1 to 1 to +3 DC).
Pushing and Burning Contacts: Sometimes a character sometimes needs more information than her contacts will provide willingly. In dire straits, she may choose to put pressure on her network rather than nurture it. If she uses coercion to gain information, the player may roll (Presence or Manipulation) + Intimidation in place of the usual Contacts roll, but a failure permanently reduces the character’s Contacts trait by the appropriate dot as part of the network decides the relationship isn’t worth it any more. For example, if Erik Blattner (who has Contacts 4) leans too hard on his Organized Crime Contacts and rolls three successes when the DC of the information is 4, his Contacts Merit will drop to 3, and Organized Crime will no longer be among them (though the Experience dot is refunded per Sanctity of Merits). A character may also go even further, deliberately endangering or directly threatening contacts. If she decides to burn a contact in this manner, she reduces the DC of the information by 3. However, she automatically loses one dot of Contacts after making the roll.In Play: Contacts: One WoD sourcebook had this advice on cop characters and the Contacts Merit. It’s applicable to many non-police too.
In game terms, the Contacts Merit represents an officer’s network of informants and snitches. This Merit is arguably one of the most important ones available for a detective or an experienced patrol officer. Traffic cops, administrators and those on other specialized assignments such as the bomb squad are least likely to develop networks, as their jobs keep them from hitting the streets and talking to the locals on a nightly basis.
Remember that Contacts is a Merit that requires cultivation and upkeep. Characters who intend to sit in the comfort of their own officers and crack cases with a few hours of phone calls probably won’t be very effective for long. Storytellers should remember that Contacts exist to provide information, not to lift and carry for a lazy investigator or substitute for half-assed police work.
Rather than generating answers, such Contacts should generate possible leads an investigator can follow up to find answers. Any detective who declares a case solved and makes an arrest without doing a significant amount of his own legwork will be torn to shreds when a competent defense attorney puts him on the stand and shows the jury the detective’s complete lack of evidentiary credibility.GM’s Commentary: This Merit has gone through a lot of revisions and questions from players. Some matters to clear up:
Who are Contacts? An array of people your character knows and can wheedle information from. As Allies, they’d clock in at low to mid dot levels. Don’t get hung up over how influential they are, because their influence is less relevant than the information they have access to. Multiple 2-dot secretaries are probably going to have a better idea of how things are run at a company on a day-to-day basis than the 5-dot CEO. On the other hand, if your character wants to find out some hyper-specific piece of information that only the CEO knows, buy him as an Ally. (Although with a high enough Contacts roll, a lucky secretary might well be able to find out.)
What do Contacts want in return for their services? Contacts are people with their own wants and desires. To have a working relationship with a Contact, you need to offer them something of equivalent value. Generally, this is information (gleaned from other sources or in-game activities), money (Resources), or favors (granted through any number of Skills or Merits). If you own a Business that’s a bar, for example, you might set up your mobster Contact with several rounds of free drinks to get him talkative, facilitating the Manipulation + Socialize roll to pump him for info. Don’t, however, try to trade on benefits your PC doesn’t have. If they have dots in Medicine, but no Status or Allies in the medical community, they’ll have a hard time trading related gossip about it.
Can named Contacts also be Allies? Yes. They’ll still want something in return for their time, but as Allies, they’ll provide services beyond information. You’re essentially buying both Merits and consolidating them into the same NPC.
Can followers controlled through Retainer, Staff, Status and the like also be Contacts? Yes—to a point. The follower themselves can be a named Contact, but the larger network of non-named Contacts won’t be. For example, if you have Contacts (Homeless), and a Retainer who’s a homeless man, you can consult with him for information. But he’s only one face in the network and won’t know everything. If you want the entire network of homeless people to be directly subservient to you, that would take something like Status (Homeless), Cult, etc.
How important are non-named Contacts? Highly, and also not initially. The GM will have players further flesh out Contacts with additional names and faces (or introduce their own NPCs) the more the Merit is used. If you have Contacts (Police) and want to know about something in the 7th District when your named Contact Bob the beat cop is assigned to the 8th District, for example, that will be a good time for the GM to introduce another cop you know.
What if only one named Contact makes conceptual sense for my PC? Reconsider buying Contacts. It assumes you know a variety of people.
What if I want to blackmail or threaten my Contacts to get info from them? That uses the Intimidation rules under “Pushing and Burning Contacts”.
How are vampire Contacts handled? They’re bought from specific groups like clans, covenants, or other large social circles (Anarchs, Toreador, Kindred residents of the Garden District, the Krewe of Janus, etc.). Kindred Contacts are also very unlikely to trade Kindred-relevant information in exchange for anything besides hard favors or other Kindred-relevant information. Secrets are a much scarcer and harder-won commodity among the Camarilla than mortal society.
How are ghoul Contacts handled? They are their own manifold potential spheres of Contacts (there are at least three times as many ghouls as vampires). Given the extent to which vampires keep their slaves in the dark, ghoul Contacts have less detailed knowledge of political goings-on, but will know more about other ghouls. They have their own pros and cons relative to vampires.
Database (• to •••••)
The right information can mean the difference between life and death in the World of Darkness. Though many supernatural entities have learned over time to hide their activities behind layers of deception, they are still subject to the invasive touch of the Information Age. Everyone from direct-mailing companies to government organizations maintains extensive electronic databases that track everything from financial transactions to dog food preferences. A careful researcher with the right connections can put together a detailed profile of an individual’s assets, interests and activities in a matter of hours—from the relative safety of a home computer.
This Merit allows a character to access one or more commercial or civil databases. Whenever she does, roll double the Merit’s dot rating as a dice pool. Every success rolled allows the player to ask the GM one question or receive general information about a single individual (who could conceivably be tracked by the database). The exact nature of the database(s) that a character can access is at the Storyteller’s discretion, and must be in keeping with the character’s concept. An ex-cop might still have access to the city’s crime records and DMV database. A bank teller might be able to reach local, national or even international financial resources using the boss’ password.
The difference between using databases and human Contacts is that a human contact can tell a character what a subject does, but not necessarily why. Conversely, a database profile provides clues to an individual’s activities over a broad spectrum, but little in the way of specific actions. A ghoul’s financial records might show that a large sum of money was deposited into his bank account recently. Then a tip from a local contact reveals that the ghoul has been seen in the company of a local gang member and black marketeer. The two sources of information let the character form a more complete picture.
Merit Dots Description • You have access to a local database that provides basic personal information (a city phone company that provides unlisted phone numbers and a cross-referenced list of numbers and addresses, for example). •• You can enter local government databases such as city police, vehicle registration and property records. ••• You have connections to databases that contain sensitive personal data, such as credit histories, bank statements and social security information. •••• With time, you can call upon nationwide resources such as the FBI’s powerful criminal database (which tracks criminal activity and known sightings of suspects), or giant databases like LEXUS-NEXUS (which can provide social security numbers, bank records, financial transactions and medical histories on a nationwide basis). Gaining results from these sources can take from four to 48 hours, at the Storyteller’s discretion. ••••• You can enter a variety of state and federal data bases, which provide everything from ATM transactions to sealed military records. Access to worldwide law enforcement or financial databases such as INTERPOL or Lloyd’s of London are possible. Results from these databases can take one to five working days, but provide a wealth of detailed information.
Mentor (• to ••••• +)
Effect: This Merit gives your character a friend and teacher who provides her with advice and guidance. He acts on your character’s behalf, often in the background and sometimes without your character’s knowledge. While Mentors can be highly competent, they almost always want something in return for their services. The dot rating determines the Mentor’s capabilities, and to what extent he’ll aid your character.
Merit Dots Description • A Mentor with one or more specialized Skills and a small amount of experience in your character’s field of interest. •• A Mentor with a wide range of capability and experience in your character’s field of interest. ••• A Mentor possessing a broad range of Skills, years of experience and significant influence in your character’s field of interest. •••• A Mentor who not only possesses a broad range of Skills and decades (or in some cases, centuries) of experience, he is also a preeminent figure with major influence in your character’s field of interest. ••••• A Mentor with towering influence and power in your character’s field of interest. A five-dot patron watches over your character and influences her life in ways both obvious and subtle, and likely has an agenda in which your character is pivotal.As a general rule, a Mentor has dots in a type of Status equal to (dots in this Merit + 1).
Drawback: When establishing a Mentor, determine what the Mentor wants from your character. This should be personally important to him and it should reflect on the dot rating chosen. A one-dot Mentor might be incapable of dealing with modern society and want to live vicariously through your character. This might mean coming to him and telling stories of her exploits. A five-dot Mentor would want something astronomical, such as an oath to procure an ancient, cursed artifact that may or may not exist, in order to prevent a prophesied death.
Disembodied Mentor (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Mentor •
Effect: The voices in your head may tell you things, but by God, they’re useful things. You have a personal guide and advisor (your Mentor) who exists largely in your own skull. He may have been a Malkavian who uploaded himself into the Madness Network, or perhaps he’s an imaginary construct tapping hidden recesses of your own subconscious. Either way, it’s exceedingly hard for your enemies to cut you off from your mentor’s counsel, and it’s usually pretty easy to call on his advice when you need it.
This Merit costs a number of points equal to the Mentor’s own dot rating.
Drawback: Your Mentor can also find you whenever he chooses, and can be a real distraction when you’re trying to do something he finds irrelevant. You’re not freed from the obligations of your relationship, either; you find yourself running errands for your Mentor just as often as any other pupil would, if not more so.
Guardian Angel (• to ••••• +)
Effect: A strange presence watches over your character, keeping her safe from harm—or so it seems. She gets into and out of serious trouble without any real harm. When a bad situation could go either way, it always tips just right. Your character may just be lucky. You have two options for the Guardian Angel Merit:
You might decide to have the Storyteller specify what exactly the presence is that protects your character, give it traits and fully defined capabilities, and control it during the game. The creature might be an ephemeral entity such as a ghost or spirit, a corporeal supernatural creature like a vampire, werewolf or mage, or something stranger still. Making the Guardian Angel into a character this way means that what it can and can’t do is very well defined, but it also means that the Angel can die. The Angel should still be invisible much of the time, only appearing and helping the character indirectly. The Storyteller should keep the Angel’s nature secret during character creation, though you might find out what it is over the course of play. The number of Merit dots determines how potent the Angel is.
Merit Dots Description • A neonate vampire, Rank 1 werewolf or ephemeral entity, Initiate mage, or other equivalent being. •• An experienced neonate or young angilla vampire, Rank 2 werewolf or ephemeral entity, Apprentice mage, or other equivalent being. ••• An established ancilla vampire, Rank 3 werewolf or ephemeral entity, Disciple mage, or other equivalent being. •••• A moderately influential elder vampire, Rank 4 werewolf or ephemeral entity, Adept mage, or other equivalent being. ••••• A highly influential elder vampire, Rank 5 werewolf or ephemeral entity, Master mage, or other equivalent being. ••••• • A Methuselah or extraordinarily influential elder vampire, Rank 6 werewolf or ephemeral entity, Archmage, or other equivalent being.The second option is that the character just seems to get all the breaks. The “Guardian Angel” here is metaphorical, rather than being an actual, sentient creature. Each chapter, you can reroll a number of failed dice rolls equal to your dots in this Merit.GM Commentary: What’s the Difference Between Guardian Angel and Patron? It’s actually pretty simple. A Guardian Angel seeks to keep you safe from harm, and might do something like scare off a mugger or deliver a warning when you’re in danger. A Patron works to advance your broader interests (or rather, your ability to further their own interests), and might do something like snag you a promotion at work or deliver cryptic clues to a mystery you’re trying to solve.
Guide (• to •••••)
Effect: Due to fate, destiny, or whim, a mysterious spiritual entity has chosen to aid your character. Such guides rarely appear in the open, instead preferring to push their agenda via dreams, signs, and portents. One might appear as a ghost in a mirror. Another might reveal itself in an ages-old portrait of a long-dead family member, who offers advice or shudder-inducing environmental effects, such as a room forever shrouded in conscious shadow.
Generally, such entities are very interested in the welfare (or at least foibles) of your character but possess hidden motives to encourage certain types of behavior in their companions. Crafty, knowledgeable in magical concerns, and possessed of inhuman senses, these beings have much to offer their patrons. Guides are always ephemeral entities: ghosts, spirits, angels, demons, loa, or other less classifiable anomalies.
Nothing is free, of course, and this relationship is likely a two-way street. Guides may expect special treatment, including food, shelter, companionship, and/or even mysterious supernatural necessities. Perhaps even blood….
Merit Dots Description • Weak Guide: An entity with limited occult knowledge that can only affect the world with great difficulty. It is not always reliably available and may occasionally provide incorrect information. The entity has a Rank of 1. •• Minor Guide: This entity knows a good deal about the occult and at least one major supernatural race, but it finds affecting the material world difficult and thus will only do it when it suits its goals. Your guide will help you, but is fairly limited in what it can do, especially in regards to being able to manipulate physical objects. The entity has a Rank of 2. ••• Apt Guide: A guide of this strength may well be a recognized entity in the spirit world. It will aid you with knowledge and training, and when appropriate, it may fight on your behalf, potentially wielding minor supernatural powers for you. The entity has a Rank of 3. •••• Strong Guide: Your guide is quite powerful, potentially a significant personage in the realms of spirits or the dead. This entity has major experience with the occult, and it is aware of the ins and outs of Kindred society. It is willing to assist you with major supernatural powers every so often. The entity has a Rank of 4. ••••• Puissant Guide: The entity commands tremendous supernatural power—just short of that possessed by a deific being, and is greatly respected (or feared) within the realms of spirits or the dead. Its occult knowledge is commensurately vast, and it may well know more about the Kindred than they themselves do. Your guide may assist you if it feels appropriate, but it may well demand favors or obeisance in return. The entity has a Rank of 5.
Patron (• to •••••)
In the chessboard politics of the World of Darkness, certain players conceal their faces from the pawns. One of those players has dedicated him- or herself to your character’s welfare, at least for the moment. Chances are, she has no idea who this patron is, what they want, or what the final bill for services rendered will be; even if she thinks she knows who’s behind that goodwill, the truth remains uncertain. This person is no Mentor or Ally but a secretive benefactor whose true goals remain hidden—at least for the moment—from your character’s understanding.
Game-wise, Patron reflects a powerful party who’s watching out for your character’s interests. Only the Storyteller knows what this party’s plans are and what their interest in the character might be. At the beginning of the chronicle, at least, this benefactor exerts force in mysterious ways: Orders get reversed, contracts issued or terminated, gifts delivered, hints dropped, and strings pulled. Supernatural powers will not reveal the reason for these indulgences—the patron’s far too clever to get caught that easily. There’s clearly some alliance or common ground involved, but the nature of that connection remains elusive. Especially in paranoid labyrinths like the Camarilla, this mysterious generosity can be very disconcerting. Someday, you know, the patron will call in his markers.
Merit Dots Description • A shadowy someone pulling occasional, minor strings. They either have minimal interest in you, fear tipping their hand, or are more smart than powerful. •• A moderately helpful benefactor who chooses to remain concealed. ••• An influential being who provides useful aid for mysterious reasons. •••• A very powerful party who appears to favor you and offers substantial aid. ••••• An immensely powerful figure (Methuselah, Archmage, Incarna, or other entity of comparable might) who seems dedicated to your well-being… at least for now.GM Commentary: What’s the Difference Between Guardian Angel and Patron? It’s actually pretty simple. A Guardian Angel seeks to keep you safe from harm, and might do something like scare off a mugger or deliver a warning when you’re in danger. A Patron works to advance your broader interests (or rather, your ability to further their own interests), and might do something like snag you a promotion at work or deliver cryptic clues to a mystery you’re trying to solve.
Protégé (• to ••••)
Effect: Your character serves as a mentor to a less experienced individual in her field. This Protégé is loyal, supports your character in her endeavors, and comes to her for guidance and advice. Although he sometimes asks favors of your character, she is the dominant figure in the relationship. The dot rating determines the Protégé’s relative competence and potential in his field. Protégé Merit dots can increase over time as the Protégé learns from your character and realizes his potential.
Merit Dots Description • Little Potential: The Protégé is more help than hindrance, but has minimal aptitude at his field. He is unlikely to ever amount to anything—or at least, not without further mentorship. •• Some Potential: The Protégé has moderate aptitude at his field. He probably won’t become famous for it, but he won’t amount to nothing. ••• Meaningful Potential: The Protégé is gifted at his field. He’s likely to accomplish things of some note. •••• Significant Potential: The Protégé is highly gifted at his field and bound for great things. ••••• Incredible Potential: The Protégé is extraordinarily gifted at his field. He could go down as a legend someday.Characters should generally have dots in a Skill or Status Merit at least equal to the Protégé’s Merit dots if they wish to provide “suitable” mentorship to the Protégé. However, it is not unheard of for Protégés to follow mentors they eventually outstrip.
Drawback: Protégés require time and committment to mentor. They also have motivations like anybody else, and they may refuse certain advice or fail to grasp the consequences of certain actions.
Resources (• to ••••• +)
This Merit measures your character’s material resources, both possessions and wealth. All characters are assumed to have a job or a source of income (trust fund, parents) that is sufficient to cover their basic needs: food, shelter and transportation. Dots in this Merit grant disposable income and valuable goods whose disposition your character controls. These assets may be actual cash, but as this Merit increases, they’re more likely to be investments, property, or earning capital of some sort—land, industrial assets, stocks and bonds, commercial inventories, criminal infrastructure, contraband, even taxes or tithes. The number of dots indicates your character’s general level of wealth.
Vampire Characters: Remember that vampires don’t need to arrange for any food except blood and their actual needs (as opposed to wants) for shelter are very easily accommodated. Resources for vampires go mostly to pay for luxuries and the associated expenses of developing and maintaining Allies, Status, and other Social Merits.
Merit Dots Description X Working Poor: Your character lives below the poverty line. She has enough income to provide for basic amenities such as food and shelter, but little else. She might be a near-destitute but self-sufficient adult, or a college student working a part-time job (and possibly still dependent on her parents). • Lower Middle Class: Your character can maintain a typical residence in the style of the working class with stability, even if spending sprees come seldom. •• Middle Class: Your character can display yourself as a member in good standing of the middle class, with the occasional gift and indulgence seemly for a person of higher station. A fraction of her resources are available in cash, readily portable property (like jewelry or furniture), and other valuables (such as a car or modest home). ••• Upper Middle Class: Your character is a prominent and established member of her community, with land and an owned dwelling, and possesses a reputation that lets her draw on credit at very generous terms. She likely has more tied up in equity and property than she does in ready cash. Her net worth is anywhere from one to several million dollars. •••• Rich: Your character rarely touches cash, as most of her assets exist in tangible forms that are themselves more valuable and stable than paper money. She holds more wealth than many of her local peers (if they can be called such a thing) and lives in considerable comfort. Her net worth is in the tens of millions of dollars. ••••• Filthy Rich: Your character is the model to which others strive to achieve, at least in the popular mind. Television shows, magazine spreads, and gossip websites speculate about her clothing, the appointments of her numerous homes, and the luxury of her modes of transportation. Your character has vast and widely distributed assets, perhaps tied to the fates of nations, each with large staffs and connections to every level of society through a region. Corporations and governments sometimes come to her to buy into stocks or bond programs. Her net worth is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. •••••
Global Elite: Net worth around a billion dollars. Resources at this dot rating and up furthers a character’s sociopolitical influence more than it actually improves their standard of living. ••••• •• Global Elite: Net worth around several billion dollars. ••••• ••• Global Elite: Net worth in the lower tens of billions of dollars. ••••• •••• Global Elite: Net worth in the middle tens of billions of dollars. ••••• ••••• Global Elite: Net worth around the upper tens of billions of dollars—and even higher. Income disparity is even more pronounced in the World of Darkness than the real world, but still only a bare handful of individuals (most of them supernatural) command such a staggering degree of wealth.
Every item has an Availability rating. Each game session, your character can procure a number of items with a combined Availability equal to her Resources level without issue (for example, a character with Resources 2 could procure two Availability 1 items). An item one Availability level above her Resources reduces her effective Resources by one dot for the rest of the story or a full month (whichever is shorter), since she has to rapidly liquidate funds. She can procure items two Availability levels below her Resources without limit (within reason). For example, a character with Resources 4 can procure as many Availability 2 disposable cellphones as she needs.
What Resources Represents
Compared to the Classic World of Darkness’ wealth system, where characters receive monthly cash allowances determined by their Resources rating, the New World of Darkness’/Chronicles of Darkness’ wealth system is considerably more abstracted and not meant to model specific amounts of money. An Availability 2 cell phone does not cost the same as a month’s rent in an Availability 2 apartment. Rather, both represent what is typical for someone with the kind of lifestyle afforded by Resources 2.
Below are some examples of what goods and services are available at what Resources levels. I’ve frequently had players not see any significant differences between Resources 4 and Resources 5, so this will hopefully make clear in what ways the lifestyles afforded by each are distinct.Air Travel
Resources Dots Description X Doesn’t fly • Doesn’t fly •• Coach ••• Business class •••• First class, private propeller plane ••••• Private jet (rented) ••••• •+ Private jet (owned)Cars
Resources Dots Description X No car • Secondhand economy vehicle •• New economy class vehicle, secondhand mid-range vehicle ••• New mid-range vehicle, secondhand luxury vehicle, 1-2 other cars •••• New luxury vehicle, small collection of cars ••••• Mid-sized collection of luxury vehicles ••••• •+ Large collection of luxury vehiclesFood
Resources Dots Description X Ramen, fast food, frozen crap, tight budget at the supermarket • Modest budget at the supermarket, inexpensive chain or casual dining restaurants •• Decent budget at the supermarket, occasional nice restaurant meal ••• Shops at overpriced supermarkets, regularly eats out at decent restaurants •••• Private cook, nightly 4-star restaurant meals ••••• Several private cooks, nightly 5-star restaurant meals ••••• •+ Staff of private cooks, nightly 5-star restaurant mealsHousing
Resources Dots Description X Rat-hole apartment or small apartment with roommate • Small apartment •• Large apartment or mortgaged house ••• Swank condo or non-mortgaged house •••• Luxury condo or mid-sized mansion, one or two lesser properties ••••• Penthouse condo or sprawling mansion, additional lesser properties ••••• •+ Several (or more) penthouses, mansions, and equally luxurious properties
Further Quantifying Resources
Sometimes attaching specific monetary amounts to Resources is useful. Some players have portrayed financially struggling characters for whom Resources 0 would be too little, but Resources 1 would be too much. Some characters have been so destitute or debt-ridden that tracking every last dollar helps underscore what a terrible situation they’re in. Other players might simply wish to better quantify how much money their PC has access to (the boundaries between Resources 4 and 5 have been especially blurry), play up the process of becoming wealthy by buying that wealth incrementally, or simply have access to a larger amount of wealth when buying another full Resources dot isn’t appropriate.
Characters may thus buy “fractions” of Resources. Each 0.2 fraction costs one Beat. Buying Resources 4.4, for example, costs four Experiences and two Beats. Amounts given below are in USD 2017.
Resources Dots Yearly Income Monthly Income Destitute Condition $0 $0 0 $5,000 $400 0.2 $10,000 $800 0.4 $15,000 $1,200 0.6 $20,000 $1,600 0.8 $25,000 $2,000 1.0 $30,000 $2,500 1.2 $34,000 $2,800 1.4 $38,000 $3,200 1.6 $42,000 $3,500 1.8 $46,000 $3,800. 2.0 $50,000 $4,000 2.2 $60,000 $5,000 2.4 $70,000 $6,000 2.6 $80,000 $7,000 2.8 $90,000 $8,000 3.0 $100,000 $9,000 3.2 $150,000 $13,000 3.4 $200,000 $17,000 3.6 $250,000 $21,000 3.8 $300,000 $25,000 4.0 Net worth $10 million $50,000 4.2 Net worth $20 million $100,000 4.4 Net worth $40 million $200,000 4.6 Net worth $60 million $400,000 4.8 Net worth $80 million $600,000 5.0 Net worth $100 million $800,000 5.2 Net worth $200 million $1 million 5.4 Net worth $400 million $2 million 5.6 Net worth $600 million $4 million 5.8 Net worth $800 million $6 million 6.0 Net worth $1 billion $8 million 6.2 Net worth $1.2 billion $9.6 million 6.4 Net worth $1.4 billion $11.2 million 6.6 Net worth $1.6 billion $12.8 million 6.8 Net worth $1.8 billion $14.4 million 7.0 Net worth $2 billion $16 million 7.2 Net worth $3.6 billion $19.2 million 7.4 Net worth $5.2 billion $22.4 million 7.6 Net worth $6.8 billion $25.6 million 7.8 Net worth $8.4 billion $28.8 million 8.0 Net worth $10 billion $32 million
Retainer (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character has an assistant, sycophant, servant, or follower on whom she can rely. Establish who this companion is and how he was acquired. It may be as simple as a regular supply of vitae. He might owe your character his life. However it happened, your character has a hold on him. The dot rating determines how competent the Retainer is.
A Retainer is more reliable than a Mentor and more loyal than Allies. On the other hand, a Retainer is a lone person, less capable and influential than the broader Merits.
Retainer Dots Attribute Dots Skill Dots Specialties • 9 12 1 •• 11 16 2 ••• 13 22 3 •••• 16 28 4 ••••• 20 34 5
GM Commentary: There are not very many restrictions on what kind of statistics players can assign to their Retainers. Left unchecked, players can swiftly buy a bunch of Dexterity 5/Weaponry (Swords) 5/Celerity 2-4 badasses (or Manipulation 5/Subterfuge 5 social badasses), which is undesirable to me as a GM. Most of the Kindred NPCs actually don’t have the maximum possible traits for their generations, and I don’t want to start an arms race. PCs have incentive to moderate their own traits (Social Merits are way cheaper than Attributes/Skills, for one thing), but there’s little similar incentive for Retainers.
Yet as I’ve said, there are few hard restrictions on what stats Retainers (especially 5-dot Retainers) can have. I’ve come up with formulas in the past, but the more comprehensive they were, the bigger a headache they were to implement for me and players who just wanted to build useful Retainers.
So for that reason, Retainer will involve a lot more GM input and give-and-take than other Social Merits do. My end goal is to have Retainers who are well-rounded characters with abilities that both make sense for their backgrounds, and backgrounds that fit into the gameworld. A good example is a character with Manipulation 5/Subterfuge 5 but Presence 1 and few other Social Skills. Why are they so great at lying but so terrible at other social feats? I’d probably mandate that they have 4s and 3s in other synergistic Skills, like Empathy or Persuasion, and that they increase their Presence too. There was also another player who wanted to give his Retainer a dot in Firearms, which I vetted, because the Retainer was a college liberal who didn’t like guns and had other ways to defend herself.
Conversely, I may be fine relaxing some of these restrictions if I feel it makes sense for a Retainer’s background. There’s one PC whose Retainer who has a Discipline that her domitor doesn’t know. Her background is that she used to serve another domitor—but it’s also complex than that, or I suspect I’d see further “my ghoul who knows X Discipline once had another domitor” backgrounds pitched. The Retainer’s past meaningfully ties into her relationship with her PC domitor, actually ties quite a bit into his past, and significantly impacts how the two characters see and relate to one another. The player didn’t come up with her background simply to get access to a Discipline he didn’t have (and I’d have been able to tell if he did).
In short, treat Retainers as real characters when designing them, bearing in mind that most people aren’t hyper-specialized in single fields and are unlikely to have a skillset that perfectly complements someone else’s needs.Attributes: Retainers have a number of Attribute dots as indicated on the above table. Like player characters, Retainers start with one free dot in all Attributes.
The third dot in any Attribute costs two dots for a one-dot Retainer to purchase, and one dot for higher-dot Retainers to purchase.
The fourth dot in any Attribute is unavailable to one-dot and two-dot Retainers, costs two dots for a three-dot Retainer to purchase, and costs one dot for four- and five-dot Retainers to purchase.
The fifth dot in any Attribute is unavailable to one-dot, two-dot, and three-dot Retainers, costs two dots for a four-dot Retainer to purchase, and costs one dot for five-dot Retainers to purchase.
Skills: Retainers have a number of Skill dots as indicated on the above table. They may not have more dots in any single Skill than their Retainer dots.
With GM permission, players may invest more dots than this maximum if the Skill is a “flavor” one with few practical applications. A one-dot Retainer who has three dots in Crafts (Baskets) or Expression (Poetry) will likely be fine. A Retainer with above-their-maximum dots in Brawl, Firearms, or Weaponry will always be denied. Ditto for Social and Mental Skills that frequently come up like Empathy or Politics.
The fourth dot in any Skill costs two dots to purchase for a four-dot Retainer and one dot to purchase for a five-dot Retainer.
The fifth dot in any Skill costs two dots to purchase for a five-dot Retainer.
All Retainers must invest a minimum number of Skill dots into every Skill category equal to their Retainer dots.
Specialties: Retainers have a number of Specialties equal to their Retainer dots. Every Specialty above one dot in the same Skill costs a cumulative one additional dot. (For example, a Retainer can buy the Knives Specialty in Weaponry for one dot. Buying the Swords Specialty costs two dots, and buying the Stakes Specialty costs three dots.)
Merits: Retainers may only have Merits if the player purchases them with their PC’s own Experiences. As this Onyx Path post explains:Black Fox: Retainers are supposed to be personal servants of the vampire a la Renfield or Mr. Straker. If they have resources or influence that the vampire directly controls, then the PC needs to buy the appropriate Merits to represent that. (That said influence or resources legally belongs to the retainer in the mortal world is simply flavor text). If they can’t directly control it (the person could deny the vampire the use of those resources or influences), then they are effectively Allies—not Retainers.A handful exceptions exist to this rule:
• At the player’s discretion, they may “gift” any number of dots in a Social Merit their PC possesses to a Retainer. Status dots may be gifted up to (PC’s Status dots – 1). For example, a PC with three dots in Status (Mafia) could have their Retainer be their right-hand man, and choose to grant them two dots of Status (Mafia).
• If the PC also has the Allies Merit, the player may choose to make their Allies their Retainers. A Retainer’s Allies rating can never exceed their Retainer rating. For example, a 3-dot Retainer could be a 3-dot Ally, but a 1-dot Retainer could not be a 3-dot Ally. Having a Retainer as an Ally grants the Retainer a number of free Status dots equal to their Allies rating.
Integrity: Retainers have Integrity scores of 7.
Retainers to Vampire Characters
Retainers to vampire characters are ghouls and enjoy several benefits.
Merits: Ghoul Retainers receive several Merits for free.
• All ghoul Retainers receive the Domitor Merit. Dots in Domitor Power are equal to the vampire character’s Kindred Status. Dots in Domitor Favor can up to the vampire’s dots in Resources (the vampire’s player may choose to grant them fewer dots, or no dots at all). Dots in Domitor Trust are equal to whatever rating the player feels appropriate (Domitor Trust cuts both ways, however, and makes it easier for ghoul Retainers to influence their masters too.)
• Retainers who have been ghouls to vampire characters for a decent length of time have dots in Status (Ghouls) equal to (Domitor Power + Domitor Favor + Domitor Trust / 3, rounded down). At the Designer’s discretion, some ghoul Retainers may have lower dots in Status (Ghouls), as appropriate to their backgrounds. Mortal Retainers who are turned into ghouls over the course of play have zero dots in Status (Ghouls) until they earn the respect of their peers.
• Other Merits that rely exclusively on the domitor’s goodwill, such as Double Life or Empowered to Speak, can also be granted to ghoul Retainers.
Integrity: Ghoul Retainers have Integrity scores of 6. Mortal Retainers who are turned into ghouls over the course of play decrease their Integrity scores during the next downtime skip.
Disciplines: Ghoul Retainers receive one Discipline dot per Retainer dot.
Retainers may not have more dots in a single Discipline than their domitor’s Blood Potency, and may not have dots in any Discipline that their domitor does not also possess. At the Designer’s discretion, these restrictions may be waived for Retainers who used to be ghouls to another vampire before the player character. The GM is also more likely to make an exception for Retainers whose backgrounds are meaningfully tied to the game’s larger setting. Annabelle is a good example there: not only does her past as Maria Pascual’s ghoul significantly shape her current character (she is far more like a Toreador than a Gangrel in her personality), but she and Rocco both used to be Pascual’s ghouls, making it a meaningful part of the PC’s background too (it’s further emphasized by how Rocco likewise has some rather Toreador-like mannerisms and ties to the Rose Clan). A less thought-out example background that wouldn’t get the same exception as Annabelle would be a simple, “This Retainer used to belong to Elder X but they sold him to me for a boon.”
Retainers who are independent ghouls cannot have more dots than a single Discipline than (3 or their Retainer dots, whichever is less). Independent ghoul Retainers may have dots in up to two non-physical Disciplines. At the Designer’s discretion, these restrictions may also be waived when appropriate to the Retainer’s background (and subject to the same “should meaningfully play into the Retainer’s ties to the larger setting” requirement as described above).
Mortal Retainers who are turned into ghouls over the course of play are subject to the usual wait times for developing Disciplines. See the Playing a Ghoul section of the house rules page for further information on Discipline learning times.
Conditions: Ghoul Retainers have the Blood Bound (Third Stage) Condition.
Retainers to Ghoul Characters: Retainers to ghoul characters are mortals. By spending an additional Experience, players of ghoul characters can have a mortal Retainer also be a ghoul. This grants the Retainer all the benefits of being a Retainer to a vampire character, as described above. The Retainer shares the same domitor as the ghoul character. Ghoul characters may not have independent ghouls as Retainers unless they are independent ghouls themselves.
Tweaking Retainers: Players may swap trait dots for Retainers at the following rates:
• Attributes for Skills: One-for-two
• Attributes for Disciplines: Two-for-one
• Skills for Attributes: Two-for-one
• Skills for Skill Specialties: One-for-two
• Skills for Disciplines: Four-for-one
• Disciplines for Attributes: One-for-two
• Disciplines for Skills: One-for-four
Retainers may not increase their total dots in a category of traits to more than double the baseline, nor decrease it to less than half. _Example: A four-dot Retainer to a vampire character receives 4 dots in Disciplines. They may not have more than 8 Discipline dots or fewer than 2 Discipline dots.Designer’s Note: If you choose to customize your Retainer, please make note on their sheet of what traits were swapped for what. For example:
-2 Attributes, +1 Disciplines
-1 Skills, +2 Specialties
-2 Disciplines, +8 SkillsImproving Retainers: Retainers can grow and improve just like any other character can. Players may spend Experience to upgrade existing Retainers to higher dot ratings over the course of play.
Improving Five-Dot Retainers: There are no six-dot Retainers. However, players may spend Experiences on a Retainer 5’s individual traits to further improve such a servant’s capabilities. All traits except for Merits cost half the usual number of Experiences (rounded up) to improve. Example: A player has a five-dot Retainer with Firearms 2. She can spend one Experience to increase the Retainer’s Firearms to 3.
Animal Companion (• to ••••)
Effect: Animal Companion reflects a single beast who loyally follows your character. This companion is smart, useful and independent. A rat in a cage or a dog in the yard isn’t a Merit—she’s a pet. The dots in this Merit reflect the animal’s power, intellect and often size. Some example Animal Companions are as follows:
Merit Dots Description • Rat, ferret, songbird, other tiny animal. •• Cat, dog, pony, raven, crow, or medium-sized animal or larger bird. ••• Large dog, horse, or small to medium exotic animal, such a chimpanzee, wolf, or lynx. •••• Elephant, jaguar, bear, crocodile, or other large exotic animal.Statistics for animals may be found here.
Unless the Animal Companion is driven off by poor treatment or otherwise killed, she remains a loyal element in the character’s life. She will do whatever she can to assist him, and regard him with the ultimate affection. The details, naturally, depend on her species—a devoted cat or loyal snake won’t show devotion the way a dog might.
Kindred Animal Companions: Animal Companions to Kindred characters are ghouls and have dots in any combination of physical Disciplines equal to the Animal Companion dots.
Improving Animal Companions: Characters may spend an extra Experience to grant an Animal Companion three extra Attribute dots, six extra Skill dots, and (if the animal is a ghoul) one extra Discipline dot. These are subject to somewhat stricter limits than human Retainers:
• Attribute increases should be thematic to the animal. Another dot in Dexterity is fine for a cat, but not for an elephant.
• An animal’s Physical Attributes cannot be increased by more than 1 dot above their baselines, but can be increased to superhuman (6+) levels. Animals are not bound by human limits but are also less able to improve themselves.
• Animals with Intelligence scores of 1 may not increase Intelligence.
• Skills should also be thematic to the animal. Dogs and crocodiles can learn Brawl, but not Crafts. Animals will typically be able to learn a variety of Physical Skills, a handful of Social Skills, and virtually never any Mental Skills.
Drawback: Unlike the normal Retainer Merit, an Animal Companion is just that: An animal. She won’t have free access to Man’s world, and remains limited by manual dexterity, mental perspective and social rules. Lassie may be a great dog, but she still can’t drive to the bank and cash a check. Powerful animals are often exotic, too, and they stand out on a city street. Most places have laws against horses in public, and almost all human societies regulate private “ownership” of tigers, bears and so forth. The beast may spook other animals, and will probably follow her instincts if prey happens to be nearby. Loyal as she might be, this friend retains her bestial habits and needs; she might trash an office, eat a garden or throw feces at the cops if that’s what seems natural. A smart, powerful animal remains a high-maintenance friend.
Safe Place (• to ••••• +)
Effect: A Safe Place is a secure location controlled and owned by your character. This place is a headquarters in which your character can rest, train, and plan his next attacks. A character’s Safe Place could be as simple as a storage shed that the character rents out and uses as a weapons locker, as grand as a senator’s mansion, or as complex as a military base. In game terms, dots spent on the Safe Place Merit are distributed among five categories: Cache, Luxury, Secrecy, Security, and Size. Thus, the storage shed might have no dots of Size or Security, but several of Secrecy. The mansion has five dots in Size and Luxury, but none in Secrecy. The military base probably has five in Cache, Size, and Security, but fewer dots in Luxury and Secrecy.
Finding and invading a Safe Place uses the rules on the Dramatic Systems page. Characters have automatic dots in Safe Place’s five categories (with the exception of Cache) as determined by their other Skills and Merits: spending Merit dots on Safe Place can supplement these.
_Example: A character has Resources 2 and Subterfuge 4, giving him Safe Place (Luxury) 2 and Safe Place (Secrecy) 4. He can spend a further Merit dot to bring it to Safe Place (Secrecy) 5, and two further Merit dots to bring it to Safe Place (Luxury) 4.
Cache: A lot of space can be good for a very large group of characters, or for a group that chooses to live in its Safe Place, but it can also make the inhabitants paranoid. After all, if there are 10 rooms in the place, who knows what’s in the other nine at any given time? Characters find that having some weapons at their fingertips lessens this paranoia somewhat (or it might make it worse, because what if enemies find the stash?). Other characters may not want weapons, but to simply keep a reserve of equipment in store for a rainy day.
Each dot allocated to Safe Place Cache translates into one automatic success on Declarations and Setups made within the Safe Place.
Luxury: Luxury is a measure of the quality of appointments inside the base. The level of Luxury ranges from spare to opulent, and is determined by the character’s dots in Resources and potentially some types of Status (bar any further Merit dots they spent on Safe Place). Every dot gives a +1 bonus on Social rolls to impress, entertain, and win over other characters within the Safe Place.
Dots Description x No amentities beyond basic essentials. • You bought your furniture at a thrift store or other low-cost vendor. •• Your base has been decorated and outfitted modestly. You have the basics expected of modern First World lifestyles (where appropriate). ••• Your base is one of relative comfort, with a host of amenities. •••• Your base offers a luxurious respite from the outside world, and it is unique in both design and appearance. ••••• Your base exhibits a degree of ostentation that only the extremely wealthy or celebrities usually enjoy.Secrecy: One of the biggest advantages a character’s Safe Place can enjoy is anonymity. If her enemies don’t know where to find her, they have a harder time killing her. Dots in Secrecy indicate how far removed from the characters the Safe Place is, from a legal (and paper trail) standpoint. These dots determines how many successes an investigating character must accumulate to track down the Safe Place. See the Dramatic Systems page for further information.
A Safe Place’s starting dots in Secrecy are equal to the highest of the character’s Domain dots, Subterfuge dots, Alternate Identity dots +1, Investigation dots -1, Streetwise dots -1, or Survival dots -1. Characters who make no special efforts to conceal the Safe Place’s location or their ties to it (ie, if it’s listed as their official address) treat their Secrecy dots as zero.
Dots *Description x The character rented or bought the place using his real name, credit card or bank account. • The character went through an intermediary, but cosigned a loan at some point. •• Some effort toward concealment; an assumed name or paying in cash. ••• Considerable difficulty in tracing the property—the character might just be squatting. •••• The character never goes back to the place if he doesn’t have to, never gets there by the same route, and his real name never appears on any of the documentation. ••••• The property has a real owner who lives there full time, is aware of his rights and, if necessary, can show cops around the place while casually denying that he’s ever seen the character before.The descriptions of the different dot ratings above are just examples; it’s up to the player to decide what the Safe Place’s Secrecy represents.
Security: Sooner or later over the course of a chronicle, a Safe Place is likely to be compromised or attacked. Characters know it, even if they don’t want to admit it. Dots in Security determines how well-defended the Safe Place is, how many successes an intruder needs to accumulate to break inside, and how large a dice pool contests their rolls to do so. See the Dramatic Systems page for further information.
A Safe Place’s starting dots in Security are equal to the highest of the character’s Resources dots -1, Blood Sorcery dots, and some types of Business, Retainer, Staff, or Status, where applicable and at varying potential penalties.
Dots Description x No security measures beyond standard (cheap) locks on the doors. • Home-made security measures like a booby trap at the windows and door. •• The doors have deadbolts, and the windows have strong bars, or you may have a dog that barks to warn you when someone comes too close to the base. Your base is relatively secure from ordinary threats. ••• The base is secure, relying on a modern set of locks, physical protection such as a trained guard dog and bars over the windows, electronic security measures such as alarm systems, and standard electronic monitoring such as security cameras. •••• The base is on par with restricted governmental buildings or prisons, with reinforced walls, armed guards on staff, and perhaps even several panic rooms or hidden chambers. You have invested a considerable about of time and effort to keep people out of your base. ••••• The base is a fortress and nigh-impossible to break into. It has defenses that would be expected from maximum security prisons, military bases, or intelligence agency headquarters. Sectionalized access throttles, eye and voice recognition software, and patrols of well-armed, well-trained guards are but a sample of the security measures designed to keep intruders out.The descriptions of the different dot ratings above are just examples; it’s up to the player to decide what the Safe Place’s Security represents. Instead of modern technology, it could be protected by a remote location, a geographical boundary like a waterfall or mountain pass, or even occult protections, like being visible only by moonlight.
Size: Size is perhaps the simplest defining characteristic, governing the amount of raw space the Safe Place encompasses. If an intruder is trying to find something hidden in the Safe Place (whether an item, a sleeping vampire during the day, or another hiding character), she must accumulate successes on an extended (Wits or Intelligence) + Investigation roll equal to (5 x Size dots). The character also adds the Safe Place’s Size dots to dice rolls where the location’s size is a relevant factor.
A Safe Place’s starting dots in Size are equal to the highest of the character’s Resources dots and some types of Business or Status, where applicable.
Dots Description x Barely any space; only a pair of characters can fit inside comfortably. • A studio apartment or underground chamber; one to two rooms. •• A large apartment or small family home; three to four rooms. ••• A warehouse, church or large home; five to eight rooms, or large enclosure. •••• A mansion, very large home, or network of subway tunnels; equivalent to nine to 15 rooms or chambers. ••••• A sprawling estate, interconnected tunnel network; countless rooms or chambers.Occult Protections: A Safe Place can have more esoteric defenses than simple Security. The below protections are a sample of the ones players and GMs might design:
• Arcane (• to •••••): The Safe Place is mystically unknowable and protected by the Arcane Merit. All characters inside the Safe Place also benefit from Arcane for so long as they remain within its boundaries. Characters who already have Arcane add the Safe Place’s Arcane dots to theirs, but cannot have more than five dots.
• True Faith: (•••) The Safe Place is a site of intense religious faith. For every three dots invested, the Safe Place is protected by one dot of True Faith. Vampires and ghouls may not purchase this protection.
Special: The Safe Place Merit may be shared among characters in a group of characters. The group of characters may have built the place from the ground up, or a single character might have found or purchased it and improved as he met the other characters.
To share this Merit, two or more characters pool their dots and use the highest of their Skills and Merits for greater capability. A shared rating in the Safe Place Merit cannot rise higher than five dots in any of the five aspects of the trait. That is, characters cannot pool more than five points to be devoted to, say, Safe Place Size. If they wish to devote extra points to the Merit, they must allocate those dots to a different aspect of the Merit, such as Security or Secrecy.
Shared dots can be lost. If a character dies or leaves the group of characters (perhaps due to a falling-out over methods), the dots that he contributed are subtracted from the Safe Place. The Storyteller decides what reduced dots mean in the story when a character leaves a shared Safe Place, but the decision should make sense. Dots representing Size, for instance, should probably disappear last, if at all, and if they do, it might mean that a portion of the Safe Place has become unusable rather than vanishing outright. A character might take equipment with him when he leaves, thus reducing dots in Safe Place Cache, or a death might draw attention to the place, reducing Safe Place Secrecy. (The remaining characters can also simply spend their own Experiences to have the Safe Place’s dots stay where they are.)
A character need not devote all of her Safe Place dots to the shared Merit, of course. A character might maintain a separate Safe Place of her own outside the communal one represented by the shared trait. Any leftover dots that a character has (or is unwilling to share) signify what she has to draw upon as an individual, separate from the group of characters. For example, three characters share a Safe Place and expend a group total of five dots. One character chooses to use two other dots on a private Safe Place for herself. Those remaining two dots represent a Safe Place entirely separate from what she and her comrades have established together.
Status (• to ••••• +)
Effect: Your character holds a position of authority within a group or organization. The dot rating determines how influential a position she holds.
Merit Dots Description X No Authority: The character either has ties to the organization or has applied to join without yet being formally accepted. • Insignificant Authority: One of many organization members at the bottom of the totem pole. No authority over other Status-holding members. •• Minor Authority: A respected member of the organization with some authority (or simple seniority) over lower-ranking members. ••• Moderate Authority: A mid-level leader in the organization with significant authority over lower-ranking members. •••• Considerable Authority: A high-ranking leader in the organization who regularly interacts with its top-most leadership. ••••• Vast Authority: The leader and/or founder of the entire organization, or the head of a particularly large organization’s regional division.Status provides a number of advantages.
First, your character can apply her Status to any Social roll with those over whom she has authority or sway.
Second, she has access to group facilities, resources, and funding. Dependent on the group, this could be limited by red tape and requisitioning processes. It’s also dependent on the resources the particular group has available.
Third, she can draw on those resources to accomplish a stated objective, which the Storyteller assigns a rating between one and five to. Roll double the character’s Status dots as a dice pool, with a penalty equal to the objective rating. On a success, the organization accomplishes the objective with minimal fuss. If the objective’s rating exceeds the character’s Status, or if the objective is outside the organization’s purview or ability to easily accomplish, it must be played out in real time or as an extended action.
Sample Status Merits: While Status can apply in a nigh infinite number of organizations, a list of some common Status Merits can be found here with suggested dot ratings to give a jumping off point. These examples are still abstractions; a character may be a dot level lower or higher and still hold the suggested positions. For example, a police detective may have two, three, or four dots of Status (Police): the dot rating just shows her relative influence and respect within the precinct.
Drawback: Status can accomplish more than a lone Retainer and offers more control than Allies. However, your character has responsibilities and is accountable to superiors. She will be expected to fulfill regular duties and must justify her use of the organization’s resources. If she is unable to, Status may be lost. The dots will not be accessible until the character re-establishes her standing.
Customized Status Merits
Business (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Resources dots equal to (Business dots – 1)
Effect: Your character owns her own business. This can be anything from a solitary hot dog stand to an internationally renowned investment firm. The business gives your character access to facilities, employees, equipment, and other resources, depending on the type of business owned. The number of Merit dots determines how large, prosperous, and/or presitigous the business is. Your character also adds her Business dots as a bonus on Social rolls against its employees and other individuals over whom she has authority or sway.
Merit Dots Description • Tiny or one-star business. Up to six employees, and it may have none at all. •• Small or two-star business. Up to 250 employees. ••• Medium or three-star business. Up to 500 employees. •••• Large or four-star business. Up to 1,000 employees. ••••• Huge or five-star business. The business can have more than 1,000 employees, although not all types of businesses will require so many.Business and Certification: Characters are assumed to have all the necessary permits to legally operate their business. If the business would cost more when purchased with the Certification Merit, however, use Certification’s cost instead. For example, operating a private investigator’s agency in Louisiana costs three dots when purchased with Certification, even though the agency itself may only employ a handful of investigators (a one-dot Business).
Certification (• to •••)
Effect: In an age when you need permits for every damn thing imaginable, the right certifications can save you a world of aggravation. With this Merit, your character has official papers that allow her to pursue some regulated activity: hunting, driving, operating heavy machinery, practicing medicine, owning certain weapons, and so on. Generally, such activities involve risk, demand special training, affect society at large, or a combination of the three. Simple certifications, like a fishing permit, are easy to obtain, whereas really hazardous or complex activities demand higher levels of certification.
Unless your character has managed to obtain a permit without the proper training, you’ll generally need one dot in a related Skill per dot of Certification; a private investigator’s license, for example, would demand two dots in Investigation. Assuming that your character has the appropriate skills (or has paid the appropriate bribes), you can get certifications for alternate identities (see the Alternate Identity Merit) to reflect a character with the right papers under various names.
Official certifications carry a degree of visibility. Certifications can be checked by the authorities, and although a heavy-weapons permit might let you own some serious hardware, it also assures that you’ll be one of the first people the cops look for when someone commits a crime with such weaponry.
Merit Dots Description X The usual stuff—driver’s license, government or student ID card, or trivially obtained permits such a library card or fishing license. • Basic firearms permit, hunting license, business license, daycare permit, foster care license, lifeguard certification, PADI certification, homeschooling certification, apprentice private investigator registration, motorcycle license, etc. •• Concealed weapons permit, bail bond recovery agent, HAZMAT disposal license, church-ordained clergy, teaching certificate, bodywork license, CPA, private investigator’s license, private pilot’s permit, trucker’s license, etc. ••• Class C weapons permit, board-certified medical or legal professional, professional aircraft pilot’s license, government intelligence operative, etc.Going without Certification: Characters can pursue regulated activities without dots in Certification. Doing so is simply illegal, and characters may face fines, arrest, confiscation of property, and other potential penalties (depending on the nature of the certification) if they are caught. For vampires, this can endanger the Masquerade.
Arcane and Certification: Arcane is a useful Merit for characters who can’t or don’t wish to possess proper Certification for something. Characters with dots in Arcane can generally get away without possessing an equal number of dots in Certification. A character with Arcane 4, for example, will be overlooked for not possessing a class C weapons permit (3-dot Certification) and a motorcycle license (1-dot Certification).
Status and Certification: Characters do not need to take Certification if they already possess a related type of Status. A priest who has Status (Catholic Church) 2 is already a licensed minister. A schoolteacher who has Status (Local High School) 2 already has a teaching certificate. This Merit is primarily intended for licenses not connected to larger groups and institutions, such as a concealed carry permit or motorcycle license.
Vampires and Certification: Kindred characters whose mortal identities are legally dead must purchase a number of dots in Alternate Identity equal to the dots of whatever Certification they hold. (For example, a character who wants a firearms permit must take Alternate Identity 1. A character who wants an aircraft pilot’s license must take Alternate Identity 3.) Does paying effectively double the Experience cost sound like a hefty price just to legally own a firearm or operate a hot dog stand? It is. Most Kindred are legal non-persons who rely on theft, extortion, and supernatural powers to get the things they want. Part out of that is out of personal convenience (it’s easier to take something than to earn it—and the Kindred do take, every night of their unlives), but also simply to protect the Masquerade. Paper trails invite mortal scrutiny. A vampire who wants a gun in a hurry is more likely to murder a gangbanger than they are to actually pay for one at a store. They might also go to the store, but Dominate the owner into simply handing the firearm over. Or buy it off the black market. If they’re particularly humane, they might have an under-the-table arrangement with a mortal or ghoul who buys the gun for them. But they can’t just legally buy the gun when they lack a legal identity. Most Kindred are ghosts who flit through the shadows and peripheries of mortal society, staying well off the radar.
Does that mean Certification is a worthless Merit for vampires? It depends on the character concept. Neonates who aren’t (yet) legally dead may possess Certification, as may older Kindred who are particularly involved in mortal society and have an established an Alternate Identity. A vampire who masquerades as a priest or private investigator will find it less burdensome to simply have the proper certification than to put out fires every time someone discovers that they’re violating the law. (Remember how in Breaking Bad, Saul tells Jesse how he should pay taxes on his illegal meth-money? Sampe principle.) Kindred who are less involved in mortal society, however, are likely to simply go without certification and remain the ghosts they are.Player Commentary: This Merit is basically only appropriate if you insist on having a specific legal certification with absolutely no oversight or connection to anyone else. In every other case, 9 out of 10 times, Business or Status are vastly superior in every way to spending dots on something that only may help keep you out of legal trouble. It’s even less applicable for most Kindred that are not only as noted above likely to run into trouble maintaining such permits (many of which are only issued during working / daylight hours), but likely have much easier means of eluding police interference for relatively trivial licensing violations (e.g. getting caught with a gun) via clever applications of Obfuscate, Lost Visage, Dominate, or Majesty. This isn’t to say the merit is useless, but it should be considered very skeptically by players, and in many cases may function better as a spot purchase with a Declaration, as needed, for most things. You’re paying the same price for the legal ability to do things as you would for the legal ability to do things, along with influence, employees, and the resources of an organization via the Business or Status Merit. Even in the case of high-level certifications such as a JD or Medical License, a character is likely better off buying their own practice or a place in another practice. You are greatly overpaying for what you get with it.GM Commentary: As a counterpoint to the above, my own take is that the Merit has its own pros and cons relative to Business and Status. Specifically, it burdens the character with fewer responsibilities at the cost of fewer resources they can draw upon. So far in B&B and its sister campaign Witiko Falls, two PCs have had an interest in picking up Certification. The one in B&B was/is a private investigator who wanted to operate independently (ie, not be affiliated with a sponsor agency), didn’t want to run his own agency, and didn’t want to leave “operating as an unlicensed private investigator” as avenue of attack for his enemies, or for that matter, a reason for prospective clients to take their business elsewhere. Aside from his example, there are also a few occupations/activities covered by Certification that don’t fall under Business and Status.
Most of the time players will take one of those two Merits instead. Personally, if I were playing a lawyer PC, I’d probably rather take Status (Law Firm) than Certification (Juris Doctorate). Belonging to an organization is usually more appealing to me than being a lone wolf. Then again, I might also play a non-practicing lawyer with Status in another organization who no longer has time to work at a law firm, but take Certification (Juris Doctorate) because I think it could come in handy someday.
In short, concepts that work for Certification are generally more niche than the ones that work for Business and Status. But for players who want the added options opened up by Certification, it’s there for them to take.
Cult (• to •••••)
Effect: You have created a new religion around yourself. The cult believes in you and will do your bidding, allowing you to draw on them for assistance, goods, services or money. The cult’s members, in turn, look to you to explain their life, offer guidance, and ensure salvation. The number of dots in the Merit determines how loyal and competent the cultists are. Your character has a +1 bonus on Social rolls against the cultists for every dot in this Merit.
Merit Dots Description • You have a handful of cultists who are probably losers, misfits, and dropouts with little to lose. They see your character as a messiah and will commit misdemeanor-worthy offenses in her name. They are weak-willed, however, and will break under pressure from even ordinary people if they believe their actions will carry real consequences. •• The cultists are moderate number of ordinary, well-adjusted people. They will carry out your character’s bidding up to the point of anything that would get them in significant trouble with the law. Though loyal, they can be made to sell out your character to a higher authority, either mundane (the FBI) or supernatural. ••• The cultists are noteworthy in some way—smarter, richer, or more dangerous than the average person. The cult is willing to perform felonious actions such as assault, kidnapping, or grand larcey, but still balks in the face of murder. The cult will not inform on your character if questioned by most mundane authorities, but constant illegal activity with no plan for avoiding capture eventually breaks a cultist, which leads back to your character. •••• The cultists are highly exceptional people—authority figures, intelligentsia, well-respected pillars of their communities, and other individuals who do not fit the typical profile for a fringe cultist. The cult will undertake any action short of suicide on your character’s behalf: murder, mass arson, and terrorism are all fine. If captured, the cult will not break in the face of questioning from any mundane source. ••••• Some of the cultists are lesser supernatural creatures (ghouls, hedge mages, psychics, etc.) or possess Supernatural Merits. Your character can call upon these cultists to use their gifts on her behalf. The cultists are true fanatics, implacable in their faith, and will gladly commit suicide on your character’s name if they believe it will allow them to die as “martyrs for the faith.”
Fame (• to •••)
Effect: Your character enjoys widespread recognition in today’s media-saturated society, perhaps as an performer, writer, athlete, or other sort of public personality. Fame confers a number of privileges, such as getting the best seats, being invited to events he’d otherwise miss, getting appointments with the elite, authorities being less likely to interfere with him (unless they want to make an example…), deference from fans, and getting general star treatment. Your character’s enemies also can’t just make him disappear without causing an undue stir. The greatest weapon fame has to offer, however, is the ability to sway public opinion—as modern media constantly proves. Fame isn’t always tied to entertainment: A heinous criminal in a high-profile trial probably has a certain amount of fame, as do a prominent politician and a scientist who has made a popularized discovery. You might even be famous due to a pure stroke of luck (though how long that fame might last is another matter).
Every dot in Fame adds a +1 dice bonus to Social rolls against anyone who is a fan or admirer of your character’s, or who would otherwise be impressed by his celebrity. If someone could conceivably feel either way about your character’s fame, the GM can roll his Fame dots as a dice pool to determine this randomly. On a success, the Fame bonus applies.
Merit Dots Description 0 Your face is as known as anyone else’s. You might hold high Status within certain groups or circles, but you are an obscure figure to the public at large. Perhaps that’s how you prefer it. • You’re known to a select subculture—local club-goers, industry bloggers, or the Park Avenue set, for instance. Perhaps you were more famous once, but those days are long behind you now. •• Random people start to recognize your face. You are a minor or local celebrity, and known by all the right people in your community. Examples: a small-time criminal, a city councilman, a local news anchor. ••• Someone of note, you’re recognized by large portions of the population at large. Examples: The mayor of a large city, senators, governors, an entertainer with hundreds of thousands YouTube hits. •••• A figure of national prominence, you’re recognized by large portions of the general populace. Examples: Many Hollywood actors, leaders of Congress, Supreme Court justices. ••••• You are an internationally famous media icon and household word. People may even name their children after you. Example: The president of the United States, the queen of England, the most famous Hollywood blockbuster stars.Mage: The Ascension: Fame is particularly useful to mages because ordinary people may believe things of a celebrity that they would not accept from a normal person. (“Sure, that kung-fu superstar can kick a hole through a brick wall—didn’t you see her last movie? And hey, if that guy looked at me that way, I’d pass out too!”) Fame can let a clever mage get away with some feats of vulgar magick as merely coincidental.
Vampire: The Masquerade: As Fame provides a bonus on Social rolls, its bonus applies to Social-based hunting methods. Vampiric celebrities find feeding all the easier when their prey comes to them.
Drawback: The more famous your character is, the more easily he is recognized by the public. Every dot in Fame adds a +1 bonus on rolls to identify, research, or track down your character. It’s difficult for him to go places without being recognized, and the media watches him carefully. In the age of cell phone cameras, YouTube, and CCTV, a famous person has a hard time getting away with activities they would prefer to keep circumspect. Loyal fans may also simply approach him for autographs, pictures, and long conversations at inconvenient times. (Storytellers who wish a system for this can roll the character’s Fame dots as a dice pool whenever he ventures out in public. A success means he must deal with one or more fans.) Fame is fleeting, too, especially in this age of disposable celebrities. In story terms, your character will have to keep doing notable things in order to be remembered. And while he may have legions of devoted fans, just as notable are the stalkers, haters, critics, and thieves he must also sometimes deal with.
Alternate Identity can mitigate some of these drawbacks, including the bonus on rolls to find your character (or at least his alias).
Mystery Cult Initiation (• to •••••)
Cults are far more common than the people of the World of Darkness would like to admit. Mystery cult is the catch-all term for a phenomenon ranging from secret societies couched in fraternity houses and scholarly cabals studying the magic of classical symbolism to mystical suicide cults to the God-Machine.
Mystery Cult Initiation reflects membership in one of these esoteric groups. The dot rating dictates standing. One dot is an initiate, two a respected member, three a priest or organizer, four a decision-making leader, five is a high priest or founder. If you wish your character to begin play in a cult, work with your Storyteller to develop the details.
Designing a Mystery Cult requires three things, at bare minimum. First is a Purpose. This is the defining reason the cult exists. Usually, it’s tied in with the cult’s history and recent background. Second is a Relic. This is an item that grounds members’ faith. For example, a piece of the God-Machine, an ancient text bound in human flesh, or the mummified flesh of a saint. The last is a Doctrine. Every cult is defined by its rules and traditions. In addition to standing, a Mystery Cult Initiation Merit offers benefits at each level of influence. Develop these as well. The following are guidelines; use them to craft your own cults:
Merit Dots Description • A Skill Specialty or one-dot Merit pertaining to the lessons taught to initiates. •• A one-dot Merit. ••• A Skill dot or a two-dot Merit (often a supernatural Merit). •••• A three-dot Merit, often supernatural in origin. ••••• A three-dot Merit or a major advantage not reflected in game traits.Sample Cult: The Chosen of Mammon: Mammon believes in the almighty dollar, and its inherent power. Followers of Mammon are expected to obtain material wealth and power at any cost. Fortunately, their networks help initiates quickly claim promotions and transfers into more prominent areas of influence.
Cultists: Hedge fund manager, mailboy on a mission, outsourcer, personal assistant to the stars, talent scout, third generation CEO
Merit Dots Description • All initiates learn to cut through red tape to fulfill their later duties. They gain a Politics Specialty in Bureaucracy. •• Full members must learn to speak, read, and write in Aramaic. They gain the Language Merit (Aramaic) free of charge. ••• As a cultist delves into the mysteries of Mammon, she gains access to greater cult resources. Spend two dots between Contacts, Allies, Resources, or Retainers reflecting this relationship. •••• The self-centered and power-obsessed priests of Mammon gain the Thief of Fate (•••) Merit. For this reason, priests are prohibited from touching other cultists. ••••• The high priestess of Mammon benefits from the tithes of her already wealthy followers. She gains three dots of Resources. Additionally, she may make a Resources ••••• purchase once per month without limitation, by drawing from the cult’s coffers.Sample Cult: Sisters of the Machine Gun, Brothers of the Bomb: The Brothers and Sisters band together with their rudimentary understanding of something they call “the God-Machine” in order to prevent its ascendancy to whatever mysterious power it strives for. They’ve repurposed artifacts and reverse-engineered their power into more technological weapons to fight back the darkness. The Brothers and Sisters tend toward universities and other places of learning, where a bit of esoteric knowledge can bleed through the mundane and open eyes to the truths of the universe.
Cultists: God-Machine survivor, librarian-turned-networker, militant defender (Sister Machine Gun), second-generation mentor, tech expert (Brother Bomb)
Merit Dots Description • New recruits, while not yet trusted, receive training to better spot the influence of the God-Machine. They gain an Occult Specialty in The God-Machine. •• Small cells of the Brothers and Sisters network through a handful of active initiates. For this reason, all initiates gain Contacts • (Brothers and Sisters) free of charge. ••• Respected initiates that have proven they’re likely to survive more than a few years are taught the secrets of repurposing holy artifacts into weapons. By destroying such an artifact, they can give one weapon the ability to hurt spirits and ghosts. •••• At higher ranks within the organization, members are assigned wards and students. Take three dots in Retainers, allocated as the player sees fit (that is, one three-dot Retainer, three one-dot Retainers, etc.). ••••• The highest-ranking Brothers and Sisters were mostly first contact survivors. They’ve seen more of the God-Machine’s influence than most anyone still standing. They gain an enhanced version of the Unseen Sense Merit relating directly to the God-Machine.
Reputation represents a hunter’s “Status” in Kindred society, or just how much vampires fear the hunter and consider her a danger. Reputation also represents how well-known the hunter is outside of her compact or conspiracy. Each dot in Reputation gives a +1 bonus on Intimidation rolls against vampires and all Social rolls against other hunters.
Merit Dots Description 0 Unknown: No vampires or other hunters have heard of you. You may have high Status in your compact or conspiracy, but you are an unknown figure outside of that organization. • Obscure: Some vampires may have heard of you. They may be wary of you or cocky enough to try something. Your name may ring a bell with other hunters. +1 die bonus. •• Known: Your name is known to most Kindred, though they may simply consider you lucky to have come so far against them. Hunters know of your work and respect it. +2 die bonus. ••• Well-Known: Most vampires will go to lengths to avoid you if they know you are in town. They may risk great hunger to avoid giving you any evidence to track them. You may get requests from other hunters who wish to work with you. +3 die bonus. •••• Famous: You are on your local Prince’s list (and possibly many other Princes’) as an enemy of the Kindred. All Kindred are to report any sightings of you to the Sheriff. They fear to move against you and may not even risk their ghouls. Other hunters defer to you for your great experience. +4 die bonus. ••••• Legendary: Kindred shut down business when you come into town. Any vampire who gives you the slightest clue as to their activities may become the subject of a blood hunt. Princes want to give you the widest of berths in the hope that you will move on to other cities or simply die of old age. You are a legend among other hunters, who are desperate for you to train them in their missions. +5 die bonus.Designer’s Note: Reputation’s Intimidation bonus also applies against other supernatural beings, who have just as much cause to fear hunters as vampires do. The Merit is simply written from a more vampire-centric angle for Blood & Bourbon.Drawback: Any rolls by hunters or vampires to find or identify the character enjoy a +1 bonus per dot of the Merit. If the character has Alternate Identity, she can mitigate this drawback.
Roots (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character has especially deep ties to her local community. Neighbors see her as a sort of benefactor and protector. They may simply think of her as someone to whom they can tell their problems, or they may expect reliable help from her. They look out for your character in return, as long as she stays there for them. This grants your character a bonus equal to her Roots dots on Social rolls with the people your character protects. Your character cannot, however, expose them to the realities of the supernatural without them assuming her to be insane. This Merit could be combined with Allies and/or Contacts to create a truly “connected” character.
Alone, this Merit represents broad ties to a community (and a corresponding obligation), not specific useful people in the right place at the right time. Neighbors might come running if your character is attacked on the comer. A store owner might hide your character in his back room while police go door to door in search of her. The little old lady down the hall might make your preoccupied character some soup in thanks for fixing her dripping faucet last week.
Merit Dots Description • You watch over a small group, such as a single family or group of friends. •• You protect a specific community, such as the residents of a housing complex or the students at a high school. ••• You are the patron of a small neighborhood, no more than a few blocks square. •••• You are the patron of a large neighborhood of several dozen blocks, or of a small social or ethnic group. ••••• You watch over a significant ethnic or social group in your city.
Staff (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Resources or Status dots equal to Staff dots
Effect: Your character has official command over a staff of employees, henchmen, or hirelings. These people are professionally trained and capable of taking on a host of roles. An aristocratic household, for example, might employ a number of maids, valets and cooks, while a social predator might have publicists, investigators and lawyers on the payroll. Other possible Staff could be security guards, chauffeurs, gardeners, designers, research assistants, animators, cheap thugs, or whatever else makes sense. Your character has a +1 bonus on Social rolls against her staff for every dot in this Merit.
The number of dots in this Merit also reflects the relative size and complexity of the force at your character’s disposal. A one-dot Staff is only a handful of employees, while five dots is enough manpower to handle virtually any local enterprise. You can assign a category to each dot of Staff, reflecting the separate tasks that can be delegated at any given time. For example, if your character has Staff 3, you could assign the dots to lawyers, domestic servants and security guards. Your character could then assign tasks such as filing a lawsuit, evesdropping on guests, and guard detail to her own employees without requiring special effort beyond a simple dispensation of orders.
Your character can also draw on her Staff to accomplish complex stated objectives, which the Storyteller assigns a rating between one and five to. Roll double the character’s Staff dots as a dice pool, with a penalty equal to the objective rating. On a success, the Staff accomplishes the objective with minimal fuss. If the objective’s rating exceeds the character’s Staff dots, or if the objective is outside the Staff’s purview or ability to easily accomplish, it must be played out in real time or as an extended action.
Ghoul Characters and Staff: Ghouls can substitute their Domitor Favor dots in place of Resources or Status as the prerequisite for this Merit. In such a situation, the Kindred is the true master of the mortal staff, but the ghoul character is his butler or housekeeper in an Edwardian manor-house-style division of labor. And while the ghoul might be the one giving the orders and maintaining the staff’s affairs, the master’s wishes are the rule of the night.
Resources and Staff: Rich characters can have employees without requiring the Staff Merit; Staff simply adds a mechanical advantage for those groups.
Status and Staff: Many Status Merits grant a character authority over employees and other subordinates. Subordinates commanded through Status are loyal first and foremost to the organization your character belongs to. The Staff Merit can make such subordinates personally loyal to your character, but it is not necessary to have subordinates at all.
Support Network (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Allies, Mentor, Retainer, or another similar Merit.
Effect: Your character has friends, family, teammates, or any other person or people who provide emotional support in the face of terrifying circumstances. This Merit must be tied to another Social Merit such as Allies, Mentor, or Retainer, but can be tied to any Merit representing a person or group that the Storyteller deems fitting. Alternatively, any character with the Empath Merit can be the anchor point for this Merit.
By spending a point of Willpower, you may prolong a breaking point. During the same chapter, your character must have a meaningful interaction with her Support Network, or the breaking point dramatically fails. If she interacts with her Support Network, add her dots in this Merit to the roll to resist the breaking point, and the roll achieves exceptional success on three successes instead of five.
Blasé (••••• +)
Prerequisite: Composure ••••
Effect: Your character is a cold fish and not easily impressed. Supernatural powers that manipulate her emotions have little bearing on her behavior, and she can stand up to Kindred Majesty, a witch’s charms, or a ghost’s powers of fright. Any time a supernatural creature uses a power on you that calls for a contested Composure-based roll, all of your Composure dice are considered to turn up automatic successes. If you would roll additional dice from another trait, roll those dice normally and add any successes to the automatic ones from your Composure. If the power’s roll is resisted, instead subtract a penalty equal to your Composure from the monster’s dice pool.
Note that that this Merit does not affect supernatural powers that target Resolve, such as a vampire’s Dominate, nor does it affect mental influence and manipulation from a non-supernatural origin. A vampire with a remarkable Manipulation + Persuasion score is just as likely to convince your character to do something using mundane tricks.
Special: This Merit costs one additional Experience for every dot a character possesses in a Supernatural Tolerance trait. It is primarily intended for mortals.
Common Sense (• to •••••)
You are blessed with sound judgment and natural prudence. Given a moment to think, you can generally suss out the proper course of action—or at least a sensible one.
Effect: For every dot invested in this Merit, you can ask the Storyteller to do one of the following things per game session:
• Tell you if your character is about to do something dangerous, risky, or stupid, and give a single reason why.
• Name a single important detail you’ve missed or clue you’ve overlooked.
• Tell you whether a proposed plan is a good, bad, or neutral idea, and give a single reason why.
• Give a single piece of feedback (no more than one Hangouts message) over an idea, read on a situation, or similar topic.
You can ask for additional reasons, details, feedback, and similar hints during the same game session by spending Willpower points on a one-for-one basis or additional Common Sense uses. These hints do not need to be asked for at once. This is an especially useful Merit for beginning players to take.Designer’s Note: Common Sense is not omniscience and only clarifies information that a character already knows. For example, if a player wants their character to bribe a sleazy-seeming police officer who’s secretly a person of great integrity, Common Sense will not reveal that it’s a bad idea. The cop’s hidden depths have be discovered in-game, possibly through Wits + Empathy rolls after talking with them, Manipulation + Socialize rolls to chum with their buddies and get them talking, Intelligence + Politics or Streetwise rolls to know about the cop’s previous activities on the force, etc. Common Sense won’t ever substitute for those rolls and impart previously unrevealed information—but it can help players to best utilize the information they already possess.
Dual Archetype (••)
Effect: Your character has two Natures or Demeanors and may regain Willpower from each. If your character regains Willpower from a Virtue and Vice or Mask and Dirge, she gains a Nature or Demeanor.
Prerequisite: Medicine • or Occult •
Effect: Many vampires (and other supernatural creatures) have the ability to control minds through supernatural means; however, those who do not still have the urge to control. Some, especially members of religious cults, learn how to create trance states in people. If Nitokris’ cultists lie so still while she eviscerates them, it’s partly because of the brainwashing, but partly because of the hypnosis.
Many hypnotists use equipment such as pendulums, pocket watches, simple machines which project revolving spiral patterns and the like. A subject placed in a trance becomes easily manipulated and likely to respond posi- tively to questioning or suggestion.
Hypnotizing a Subject
Dice Pool: Manipulation + (Occult or Medicine) + equipment vs. subject’s Wits + Resolve (if target resists)
Action: Extended. The hypnotist requires a number of successes equal to twice the target’s Willpower. Each roll represents one minute of work. If the hypnotist succeeds, the target falls into a trance and becomes malleable to suggestion.
Dramatic Failure: The hypnotist fails even to calm the subject down, or makes a basic error in the process. The subject cannot be hypnotized again for a number of days equal to his Wits or Resolve.
Failure: The hypnotist fails to induce trance in the time allowed, or gains no successes towards hypnotizing the subject.
Success: The hypnotist makes progress, or gathers enough successes to place the subject in a trance.
As long as the trance persists, any rolls the hypnotist’s player makes to influence the subject (eg. to induce the subject to impart information or to implant a post-hypnotic suggestion which will make the subject behave in a certain way after the trance has ended) gain a bonus equal to the hypnotist’s dots in Manipulation.
Exceptional Success: The hypnotist immediately hypnotizes the subject and places him in a trance.
Equipment: Pendulum or pocketwatch on chain (1); audiovisual stimulation (1 to 3); white and featureless room (1).
Possible Penalties: Unfamiliar with subject (-2); language barrier (-3); distractions nearby (-2).
Iron Will (••••• +)
Prerequisite: Resolve ••••
Effect: Your character possesses an unyielding sense of self. Supernatural powers that directly subvert her will have little bearing on her behavior, and she can stand up to Kindred Dominate, a mage’s mind control, or a ghost’s powers of possession. Any time a supernatural creature uses a power on you that calls for a contested Resolve-based roll, all of your Resolve dice are considered to turn up automatic successes. If you would roll additional dice from another trait, roll those dice normally and add any successes to the automatic ones from your Resolve. If the power’s roll is resisted, instead subtract a penalty equal to your Resolve from the monster’s dice pool.
Note that that this Merit does not affect supernatural powers that target Composure, such as a vampire’s Majesty, nor does it affect mental influence and manipulation from a non-supernatural origin. A vampire with a remarkable Manipulation + Persuasion score is just as likely to convince your character to do something using mundane tricks.
Special: This Merit costs one additional Experience for every dot in a character possesses in a Supernatural Tolerance trait. It is primarily intended for mortals.
Library (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character has access to a plethora of information about a given topic. When purchasing this Merit, choose a Mental Skill. The Library covers that purview. On any extended roll involving the Skill in question, add the dots in this Merit. This Merit can be purchased multiple times, to reflect different Skills. Additionally, its benefits can be shared by various characters, with permission.
Note that characters can have access to the benefits of Library through Status in a relevant academic or occult-related organization. This Merit represents a collection of books the character personally owns and has sole access to, rather than ones which belong to an organization.
Lucid Dreamer (••)
Prerequisite: Resolve ••• or higher
Effect: The Lucid Dreamer Merit is common among both ordinary people and psychics. It represents the capacity to realize that one is dreaming and that such dreams cannot truly cause harm. Your character is rarely troubled by any but the most terrifying of mundane nightmares, although she remains vulnerable to supernaturally or psychically induced ones.
She also has the ability to control her own dreams, subtly shaping them according to her wishes. She can perform all the automatic feats available to lucid dreamers, and even has the ability to use the Analyze Dream and Alter Dream dream riding techniques. She can only perform these in her own dreams, and cannot use any other dream riding techniques.
See this page for further information on the rules for lucid dreaming.
Multilingual (0.2 to ••••)
Your character is fluent in more than one language. The number of dots in this Merit determines how many languages she can speak.
Merit Dots Description 1-6 Beats Your character can speak and read one additional language per Beat invested. •, 3 Beats Your character can speak and read six additional languages. •• Your character can speak and read seven additional languages. ••, 2 Beats Your character can speak and read eight additional languages. ••, 4 Beats Your character can speak and read nine additional languages. •••, 1 Beat Your character can speak and read 10 additional languages. •••, 3 Beats Your character can speak and read 11 additional languages. •••• Your character is a hyperpolygot assumed to be fluent in almost any language that comes up during the chronicle. Take a Beat if any language comes up that the GM finds it unreasonable for you to be fluent in (ie, an extinct Native American language like Eyak for a character with a background in Indo-European languages).Designer’s Note: Most people can learn up to five or six languages. People with special intellectual and educational advantages (Academics 1+, Intelligence 3+) can generally learn up to 11. Hyperpolygots who speak 12+ languages are much rarer and have neurologically distinct brains from the rest of us. I’m not bothering to set any hard perquisites for how many languages PCs can learn at what trait ratings, but food for thought when picking languages for your PC. Most people who know lots of languages will have Intelligence/Academics dot levels to match.
Psychic Awareness (•••)
Effect: You have an intuitive awareness of psychic activity. Even if you yourself display no other talent, you can determine if any psychic phenomena have recently been operating within a 10-foot radius; this includes the vampiric Discipline of Auspex. How much you determine about what is or was in use depends upon the number of successes rolled on a Wits + Occult roll. A single success simply informs you that some talent has been used nearby, while additional successes allow you to ask one question of the GM or receive one piece of pertinent information per success.
Time Sense (•)
Effect: You have an innate sense of time and are able to estimate the passage of time accurately without using a watch or other mechanical device. You can accomplish this whether you are concentrating or not. You can estimate the time of day within a minute or two, and the passage of time with the same accuracy.
Effect: Your character has two Vices and may regain Willpower from each. If your character regains Willpower from a Nature and Demeanor or Mask and Dirge, she gains a Vice.
Effect: Your character has two Virtues and may regain Willpower from each. If your character regains Willpower from a Nature and Demeanor or Mask and Dirge, she gains a Virtue.
You suffer from the genetic disorder CIPA. You cannot feel pain and never suffer roll penalties of any kind from physical discomfort. Among other benefits, physical torture doesn’t faze you, you can ignore extreme weather conditions, and you don’t ever suffer wound penalties.
Drawback: You might not be able to feel pain, but you can still get hurt. Worse, it’s hard for you tell. The Storyteller keeps track of your Health and how much damage you’ve suffered in secret. You can make Perception rolls to notice whenever you take damage (if it isn’t obvious), or Medicine rolls to “check yourself” and ascertain how hurt you are in general terms.
You may suffer a medical condition that means you produce a higher blood volume, or suffer from a thickening of the blood caused by too many red blood cells. Or your condition may be completely mystical and never show up under a microscope. However it manifests, you produce extra Vitae when a Kindred drinks from you.
Effect: For every point of lethal damage caused by feeding, Kindred gain two Vitae from your character.
Supernatural Merits (Subtle)
Arcane (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: no Fame Merit dots
Effect: Some people (and more often, supernatural creatures) have a strange ability to slip from notice, which manifests as an aura of forgetfulness. People trying to remember the character experience a sensation of jamais-vu. The ability may be deliberately developed, or the character could simply be too ordinary to pay attention to. Arcane doesn’t help in combat situations—the character can’t literally vanish. However, someone searching for them may well fail, as birth records get lost, papers get mysteriously misfiled, and witnesses can never seem to remember the character or give a reliable description. This has several benefits:
First, other characters take a -1 penalty per Arcane dot on rolls to remember, research, or actively locate the character through mundane means. As a general rule, anyone with lower (Intelligence + Composure + Supernatural Tolerance) dots than double the character’s Arcane dots is unable recall clear memories of them.
Second, the character is resistant to divinatory supernatural powers (such as Auspex or Divination-based Blood Sorcery rituals). She converts one dice per Arcane dot into automatic successes on any contested rolls to resist such powers. If the roll is not contested, the would-be diviner takes a penalty on her dice pool equal to the character’s Arcane dots.
The character may choose to “turn off” Arcane if she so wishes, thereby enabling others to find her, as is sometimes beneficial.
Drawback: Arcane offers diminished protection against individuals who are connected to the character through Social Merits (Allies, Mentor, Retainer, etc.). Where such individuals are concerned, the character’s Arcane dots are only equal to (Arcane dots – relevant Social Merit dots). For example, a character with Arcane 4, Allies (Police) 3, and Status (Camarilla) 2 effectively has Arcane 1 against the police and Arcane 2 against the Camarilla. Additionally, if the character ever somehow gets dots in the Fame Merit, she loses her dots in Arcane.
Automatic Writing (••)
Your character can enter a trance of sorts, in which she’s temporarily overtaken by a spirit or ghost, and compelled to write mysterious things.
Effect: Your character must meditate for at least one minute. Spend a point of Willpower and roll Wits + Composure to enter the trance. For every success, your character writes a single statement or clue about something occurring in the area or relating to a pertinent issue. The Storyteller provides these clues, and they may at first seem completely nonsensical. Characters may attempt to interpret the clues with Wits + Investigation or research efforts.
Drawback: If the roll fails, or the character does not employ a personal item of a local spirit in the meditation, she’s haunted afterward. The next three rolls she fails are considered botches as the spirit intervenes in complicating and sometimes dangerous ways.
Clear-Sighted (• to •••••)
Supernatural deception doesn’t work on you. You see through the lies.
Effect: Your character is not easily fooled by illusions. When faced with a supernatural power that would deceive her senses, you can roll double your dots in this Merit on a Clash of Wills, predatory aura roll, or similar contest not to be affected by the power, and you can make such a contest if you would not normally be able to. If your normal dice pool against the power would be higher, use that pool instead.
Mortal characters with this Merit roll automatic successes equal to their Merit dots against supernatural beings. They roll normally against other mortals with Supernatural Merits.
Drawback: Seeing the truth in a way no other person does may lead to breaking points, particularly for mortals.
Demesne (• to •••••)
Prerequisites: Lucid Dreamer or oneiromancer (any innate power that grants the ability to enter dreams)
Effect: A dreamer’s mind is her castle. There, she can get away from it all to a world of her own making. Classical and Renaissance treatises refer to memory palaces, wherein a person builds a structure in her mind as an aid to meditation, study, reflection, and, of course, memory. Shaped from the builder’s consciousness, these constructs have no physical form, yet they offer a type of refuge. With this Merit, you have such a place.
Cosmologically, a Demesne exists in the Dreaming (also known as the Maya, the Hedge, the Dream Zone, and a host of other sobriquets) as a semi-permanent Dream Realm inspired by your dreaming mind. This Realm might be something you created intentionally, or it might exist in a place conjured by your subconscious imagination. Either way, it follows cues from your consciousness and features elements of personal significance for you. Your mind might build a temple that no one can defile, a field of flowers in honor of your beloved, a gallery of pictures that immortalize people or places you wish to remember, if you can dream it, you can create it, though you might not actually control your creation once the Demesne exists.
This Demesne might not be a pleasant place. Nightmares, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or other dark neuroses can spawn a Demesne too. Maybe you want to craft a nightmare realm, either a testing-ground, a purgatory, or a reflection of your love for horror films. Pleasant or otherwise, the Demesne could be small, impressive, or vast. You yourself might not know just how expansive it can be. Our minds, after all, are full of surprises.
There’s nothing physical about a Demesne. You don’t go there physically, and you cannot take anything physical from that Realm. Instead, a traveler sends his astral form into that Demesne, leaving his body behind. That said, you don’t need powers like a vampire’s Twilight Projection or a mage’s Mind Sphere to enter your personal Demesne—the Merit Trait takes care of the travel arrangements. A character who can travel astrally, though, may wander out of the Demesne and reach other Dream or Astral Realms from there. Characters with the right supernatural abilities could even physically travel to the Hedge, where the Demesne and all other dream-realms take solid form.
The number of dots in this Merit reflects the degree of control you have over this place once it’s established. At low ratings, you can visit the Realm but not command it, while at higher levels you determine almost every detail of your Realm. Figure out your Demesne’s appearance and nature, probably in collaboration with your Storyteller, who’s bound to add a few elements of her own.
Merit Dots Description x No special control over your dreams. • Occasional visitor to the Demesne. You have a name for it and recognize a few significant features. •• A regular visitor, you’ve traveled extensively through the Demesne. You haven’t seen all of it, but could easily lead a tour. ••• You are a permanent resident of the Demesne, at least in your dreams, and know the place quite well. •••• You are a lord or lady of the dream world, commanding great respect if not obedience from your Demesne’s inhabitants. ••••• You reign as king or queen of your Demesne, with almost absolute knowledge and control of your islet in the Dreaming.
Demesnes use all the rules for Lucid Dreaming. Add your Demesne dots to all dice rolls made within the Demesne (including those listed below), to draw upon the Demesne’s power from outside of it, and to your Bastion rating to keep intruders out. Beyond that, Demesne alters the following rules:
• Entering Dreams: Characters automatically enter their Demesne when they fall asleep. They can also enter their Demesne with a successful meditation roll. Some oneiromancers attempt to retreat into their minds when enduring torture or other unpleasant challenges, although this imposes a variable penalty on the meditation roll. Once he’s arrived, the character’s consciousness is free to wander around the Demesne. Although physical or mental distress can disrupt the Realm, it’s still a familiar—if not always welcoming—space.
• Appearance: Characters look however they want to look in their Demesne. Attempting to mimic a specific individual’s form takes a (Manipulation or Composure) + Subterfuge roll at a variable penalty (depending on how significant the differences in appearance are), contested by any observers’ Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge).
• Mind over Matter: Characters add their Demesne dots to their Defense.
• Oneiromachy: The following changes are made to oneiromachy in Demesnes.
• Amnion: A character’s Amnion rating is equal to their Demesne dots or their normal rating, whichever is better.
• Environmental Attacks: Enemies who use environmental attacks in the Demesne take a penalty equal to the character’s Demesne dots.
• Learn About the Dreamer: Oneiromancers can plumb the recesses of their Demesne to access hidden or repressed memories, allowing them to use this technique in their own minds and even if they are not changelings. The dice pool is (Wits or Intelligence) + Investigation or Intelligence + Composure, and may take a bonus or penalty based on the obscurity of the information. The name of the oneiromancer’s last girlfriend is easy to find, but the name of the kid who sat next to the oneiromancer in third grade would be significantly harder to recall. The oneiromancer must also suspect a memory is missing in the first place to go looking for it. Thus, while an oneiromancer could search their Demesne for the name of their third grade classmate, they could not look for a memory they had been Dominated into forgetting (unless they had reason to suspect their memory of a specific event had been tampered with).
• Psychotherapy: Because a Demesne reflects its creator’s mental state, oneiromancers can confront internal issues within the dream realm’s boundaries, allowing them to use this technique in their own minds and even if they are not changelings. The dice pool is Wits + Resolve + Supernatural Tolerance, and the oneiromancer spends Willpower instead of Glamour (if they are not a changeling). Changelings and mages can use this power to technique to puzzle out subconscious conflicts and resolve Conditions reflective of their inherent madness such as Delusional or Quiet. For changelings, this takes a number of successes equal to (five times changeling’s Wyrd). For mages, this takes 15 successes at mild Quiet, 20 successes at moderate Quiet, and 25 successes at severe Quiet. If a changeling or mage character falls into catatonic madness, they retreat into their Demesne; there, they’re still trapped in the mindscape, but at least it’s familiar territory. A few successful rolls could lead them back out again.
Destiny (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Mortal or requisite supernatural race (see below).
Effect: You’re a Chosen One, destined to play a vital role in the cosmic drama. Prophecies hint at your coming greatness; statistical analysis points toward your significance. Most importantly, you know you’re fated to be special. When things seem bleak, you can call upon this knowledge to get you through. Your Destiny lets you make an additional number of Declarations per game session equal to your Merit dots. You may also substitute double your dots in Destiny for Declaration dice pools—strange coincidences often happen around you, and things just seem to work out in your favor.
At some point, however, you will finally face your final destiny. On that day, the Storyteller will declare you must face the crisis on your own. At that point, you’re out of special rolls. Whatever fate has in store for you, it’s up to you to fulfill that destiny. If you happen to survive that encounter and achieve something memorable, this Merit goes away (though the Experiences are refunded per Sanctity of Merits). If you fail, you must forever live with that knowledge.
Merit Dots Description X No destiny. That isn’t to say you won’t do anything important, merely that your fate is not preordained. • A minor destiny. •• A moderately important destiny. ••• A significant destiny. •••• A great destiny of far-reaching consequence. ••••• A legendary destiny of profound consequence.Supernatural Races and Destiny: Some supernatural creatures are beyond Fate’s reach while others are thoroughly ensared by it. Supernatural races not listed here may or may not be able to take Destiny at the Storyteller’s discretion.
Supernatural Race May Take Destiny Reason Changelings Yes Fate is a major architect in the land of Faerie. All changelings are touched by Fate to some degree—and some a great deal more so than others. • Fae-Touched Yes Fate also guides the steps of the Lost’s most loyal companions. Many are not reunited with their changeling friends and kin by chance. Demons No The Unchained have broken free of the God-Machine’s control to forge their own destinies. No higher power determines their fates. • Stigmatics Yes Not all Stigmatics see what they see by accident. The God-Machine’s plans run infinitely deep. Mages Yes Mages are still fundamentally mortals, and fate and prophecy feature prominently in many mystic traditions. Prometheans No Prometheans are cobbled-together aberrations with no place in the natural order. Their only destiny, if they have such, is to achieve the New Dawn (though they may be eligible to purchase Destiny after they become mortal). Sin-Eaters Yes All of the Bound have received a second chance at life. Some receive that chance for a special reason. Vampires No The Kindred are dead. Their only destiny is the damnation and inherited sin their sire’s blood forced upon them. • Ghouls No No mortal is predestined to serve as a vampire’s thrall. A ghoul’s enslavement diverts their fate from its proper course. Wan Kuei Yes The Kindred of the East are as damned as their western cousins. Their dharmas, however, drive them to find a place in the Great Cycle and pursue a higher path. Werewolves Yes The Garou are Gaia’s chosen warriors and favored by the spirits. Great forces have great plans for them. • Kinfolk Yes The Garou’s mortal kin may enjoy a diminished link to Gaia, but they are still closer to her than ordinary mortals. Wraiths No Any destiny a wraith had ended with their mortal life. Their only remaining purpose is to pass on.Designer’s Note: Yes, Beast and Mummy are missing. I’ve read fairly little of the latter, and the former is the only World of Darkness gameline I don’t like.
Mind of a Madman (••)
Prerequisite: Empathy •••
Effect: Your character gets deep into the skin of problems. If she’s investigating a crime or other phenomenon, she can put herself in the mind of the culprit. This often helps with the case. However, it takes her to a dark place internally.
Once she’s made the choice to sink into the culprit’s mindset (which usually involves intense meditation or perusal of the culprit’s crimes), she gains 8-again on all Analepsis and Presage rolls to investigate, pursue, and stop the culprit. Furthermore, she can make an Analepsis or Presage without spending Willpower once per day (real-time), rather than once per week, so long as it relates to investigating and apprehending the culprit.
Drawback: Once per night, while your character sleeps, she dreams about the culprit’s crimes and theoretical future crimes. This is intensely traumatic and it drives her further on the hunt. If she spends the day without pursuing the culprit, make a roll to resist degeneration as if she’d committed the crime herself. She can resist the dreams and the degeneration rolls by avoiding sleep, but she’s subject to normal deprivation effect. Until the culprit’s captured, any of her own rolls to resist degeneration from things she’s done suffer a -1 penalty.
Natural Shallowing (•••••)
Effect: A rare few souls draw the spirit worlds to them like moths to flame, calling out silently through the Gauntlet. Your character is one such, and the Gauntlet is always one step lower in his immediate vicinity (which, in some of the last remaining places of power, can reduce the Gauntlet rating to zero). Further, by expending a point of Willpower, your character may cause the Gauntlet to reduce by an additional one step, though she cannot reduce its rating below 1 except under special circumstances. Note that multiple characters with this power cannot “stack” its effects. Dreamspeakers and other shamans often see those who possess this Merit as being especially blessed by the spirits and are inclined to be friendly to them (1 bonus to Social rolls).
Omen Sensitivity (•••)
Effect: Your character sees signs and patterns in everything. From the way the leaves fall to the spray of antifreeze when her radiator pops, to the ratios of circumference on the shell she picked up on the sidewalk: everything has meaning. With some consideration, she can interpret these meanings. This would be far better if she could turn it off. Everything is important. Everything could mean the end of the world, the deaths of her friends, or other tragedies. If she misses an omen, it might be the wrong one.
Once per game session, you can make a Wits + Occult roll for your character to interpret an omen in her surroundings. For every success, ask the Storyteller a yes/no question about your character’s life, her surroundings, a task at hand, or the world at large. The Storyteller must answer these questions truthfully.
Drawback: Her ability becomes an obsession. Each time she reads a portent, she gains a Condition such as Spooked.Designer’s Note: There are numerous divinatory Merits available to PCs. A potential player told me he was unsure what their pros/cons are relative to one another, so here they are in a nutshell:
• Prophetic Dreams costs two dots. You can only use it during a specific time of day and the Storyteller chooses what subjects are foreshadowed, but you can ask whatever questions you want.
• Omen Sensitivity is three dots. It’s usable whenever you want, but limited to yes/no answers, and imposes a Condition.
• Lunatic Insight is three dots. It’s usable whenever you want, and can ask whatever questions you want, but every question costs Willpower. It’s also exclusive to Malkavians.
Past Lives (• to •••••)
Effect: Reincarnation remains a subject of debate, even among those aware of the supernatural. Some base their entire approach to reality upon that idea, yet other supernatural factions deny the concept of recycled souls, or sometimes the very idea of a soul. Still, there appears to be something there, a familiar essence that certain people can call upon in times of need.
With this Merit, you can meditate on a past life (or, at the Storyteller’s discretion, experience a sudden burst of insight) in order to get help in a current situation. Maybe the glare of an imposing adversary reminds you of that time you faced down that KGB operative, or that strange book reminds you of the alchemical scroll you studied in Byzantium. If the Past Lives Merit kicks in, your memories help you with the present dilemma.
Game-wise, your character can invoke this Merit to gain a bonus on a single dice roll. Roll double your Past Lives Merit dots as a dice pool.
Dramatic Failure: You remember something distracting, traumatic, or simply incorrect. Whatever it is, it blows any chance of success in the here-and-now. Take the Misinformed Condition, face a breaking point, or take your Past Lives dots as a penalty to your next roll. For characters who do not believe in reincarnation, such a development can be especially disconcerting.
Failure: You check in with your well of past memories and come up empty.
Success: Your past memories hold a useful experience, allowing you to add your successes as bonus dice to your next roll during the current scene. Your next roll to invoke Past Lives takes a cumulative -2 penalty, which fades at the start of the next game session.
Exceptional Success: Your past memories contain an abundance of useful experiences. You may add your successes as bonus dice to your next roll, and your next roll to invoke Past Lives takes no penalty.
Past Lives does not ensure success, but it can lend a bit of extra expertise. Players are encouraged to note down details of their character’s past life when they access this Merit successfully. Such memories will probably come in handy again someday.
Merit Dots Description X No past lives to speak of. • Faint traces of some previous incarnation. •• Frequent cases of deja vu. ••• Definite memories of other lives. •••• Clear recall of previous experiences and other lives. ••••• Which life is this one again?
Phantom Limb (•, ••, or •••)
Prerequisite: This Merit must be tied to a permanent Tilt related to the loss of a limb or organ (see below). You may take a relevant Tilt when purchasing this Merit, or you may purchase this Merit when your character acquires a permanent Tilt in play.
Effect: One of your character’s limbs or sense organs left behind a ghostly reflection of itself when it was lost, and you can tap into its ephemeral nature. Choose one of the following:
• Ghost Eye (•): Requires One Eye. Your character can spend a Willpower point to see wraiths and other entities across the Shroud for a scene. She loses loses the One Eye Tilt when she is in the Underworld.
• Ghost Eyes (•): Requires Blind. Your character can always see wraiths and other entities across the Shroud as though she were sighted, and loses the Blinded Tilt when she is in the Underworld.
• Ghost Ears (•): Requires Deaf. Your character can hear wraiths and other entities across the Shroud as though she were not deaf, and loses the Deaf Tilt when she is in the Underworld.
• Ghost Foot/Leg (••): Requires Leg Wrack. Your character can enter the Underworld by kicking open Avernian Gates: Picking the Lock becomes an Instant Strength + Stamina + Phantom Limb roll with no time requirement. Her phantom foot or leg can interact with wraiths and other entities across the Shroud as though they were physically solid (although your character still cannot perceive them on her own). When she is in the Underworld, she loses the Leg Wrack Tilt and manifests a ghostly-looking but solid limb.
• Phantom Hand/Arm (•••): Requires Arm Wrack. Your character can use her phantom arm or hand touch and manipulate things across the Shroud as though they were physically solid (although she still cannot perceive them on her own). When your character is in the Underworld, she loses the Arm Wrack Tilt and manifests a ghostly-looking but solid limb.
• Any (•••): Requires any of the above Tilts. Your character’s Phantom Limb directs her toward sources of ghostly Pathos, Angst, and Plasm (the supernatural “fuel” trait of wraiths, spectres, and Sin-Eaters, respectively). Normally it points toward the nearest such source, but extremely large sources of such energy (20 or more points), or an Underworld-related entity with 6 or more dots in its Supernatural Tolerance trait, might draw your arm’s attention from anywhere in the same city.
Special: You can take this Merit multiple times. Each instance represents a different phantom limb. You may not have more than one instance of the same phantom limb.
Poisonous Blood (•••)
Effect: Due to mysterious circumstances, your character’s blood is poisonous to vampires. Should a vampire drink from him, she treats the blood as poison with a Toxicity rating equal to your character’s Stamina dots, and regains no Vitae. Vampires naturally resent mortals known to possess this blessing and may well seek their destruction.
Storytellers are encouraged to have an explanation for this aberration in their chronicles, though the player (and likely character) may not be immediately privy to such knowledge. Some examples include holy protection from a higher power, a rare ritual of protection, or even a genetic abnormality.
Prophetic Dreams (••)
Effect: You have dreams during your sleep. Dreams you remember. Sometimes, they even come true. By spending a Willpower point upon rising, you may have the Storyteller give your character a lucid dream featuring foreshadowing about upcoming events, characters, and situations. With a Wits + (Occult or Supernatural Tolerance) roll, you can ask the Storyteller one question about details within the dream per success rolled.Designer’s Note: There are numerous divinatory Merits available to PCs. A potential player told me he was unsure what their pros/cons are relative to one another, so here they are in a nutshell:
• Prophetic Dreams costs two dots. You can only use it during a specific time of day and the Storyteller chooses what subjects are foreshadowed, but you can ask whatever questions you want.
• Omen Sensitivity is three dots. It’s usable whenever you want, but limited to yes/no answers, and imposes a Condition.
• Lunatic Insight is three dots. It’s usable whenever you want, and can ask whatever questions you want, but every question costs Willpower. It’s also exclusive to Malkavians.
Nine Lives (•••••)
Effect: Fate has granted you the opportunity to come as close to death as anyone can get and still survive. When a roll occurs that would result in your demise, the roll is made again. If the next roll succeeds, then you live—and one of your nine lives is used up. If that subsequent roll fails, then another reroll is made, until either a successful roll occurs or your nine lives are used up. The Storyteller should keep careful count of how many lives the character has remaining.
When all nine lives are used up, the Experience cost for this Merit is refunded per Sanctity of Merits.
Relic (• to •••••)
Effect: The character owns a mystical object or relic. How the character came to own the object is up to the player. The character might have inherited the object, stolen it, purchased it or just found it by sheer luck. Note that this Merit only represents an object that a character begins play with; if your character finds a relic during a story, you don’t need to pay the Experiences for it. Relics have a variable point cost, determined as follows:
Condition Cost in Merit Dots Powers +1 per Power dot Durability +1 per dot Equipment bonus +1 per dot (maximum of +5) Bonded (the item only works for this character) Cost -1 per dot of Cost (see p. 116-117 of World of Darkness: Reliquary) Curses/drawbacks -2 per Curse (see p. 113-116 of World of Darkness: Reliquary)Example: Matt, in creating a new character for Chuck’s chronicle, decides to put some Merit points into a relic. He has visions of a ring that looks plain, but in fact contains a deep and abiding power.
Right off the bat, Matt decides he doesn’t want to deal with anyone stealing the ring and using it on him. The ring is Bonded to his character (1 dot). He decides against raising its Durability, and a ring doesn’t normally confer an equipment bonus anyway, so he doesn’t spend points in those areas. For Powers (see p.87-113 of World of Darkness: Reliquary for a full list of Relic Powers), Matt chooses Hypnotic Suggestion and Reward Temptation—the ring allows the wielder greater benefit from indulging his Vice and great opportunity to do so. These are both two-dot Powers, which raises the total to five; a little more than Matt was hoping to spend. Fortunately, there are ways to lower the cost. Matt decides that the ring is Cursed (see p. 113 of World of Darkness: Reliquary). Yes, using it can grant the character untold amounts of pleasure and mental fortitude, but it saps his physical well-being. The ring has the Leech curse, sapping the character’s Health away every time he uses it.
Matt decides that this Health loss manifests as a wracking cough, sometimes with a bit of blood. This drops the total cost to 3 Merit dots, which both Matt and Chuck feel is fair. All that remains is for Matt to figure out where he got the ring, what it looks like and how he discovered its powers, all details that he will work into his character’s prelude.
Note: The reduction in price for taking Costs is only applicable if these costs are taken in conjunction with the specified cost of the chosen Power(s), not as a replacement for the costs listed. If the relic only works at night, and its Power still costs the specified Willpower to activate, the builder can subtract the appropriate 1-dot Cost value for a Temporal Cost. If the relic only works at night, and the builder takes this limitation in place of its Willpower cost, it does not lower the relic’s overall cost.)Designer’s Note: World of Darkness: Reliquary can be found on the Player Resources page. It was written for 1st edition rules, where the Conditions system and awarding Beats for dramatic setbacks wasn’t a thing. Relic Curses will probably be updated to use the same system if any players show interest in buying Relics.
Thief of Fate (•••)
Effect: Your character is a magnet for fortune and fate. When she’s close to someone, she unintentionally steals their good fortune. If she touches someone, this Merit takes effect unless she spends a point of Willpower to curb the effect for a scene. In the same day, any failures the subject makes are considered dramatic failures. If she’s used this Merit in a given day, she gains four dice any time she spends Willpower to increase a dice pool.
Drawback: Once a victim of this Merit suffers a dramatic failure, he hears your character’s name in the back of his mind. This may inspire scrutiny.
Touch of Death (•••)
Effect: You have a keen insight into death. When in contact with a dead body, you can spend a Willpower point to make a Wits + Composure roll.
Dramatic Failure: Your body mirrors the wound and hurts itself in the same manner, causing lethal damage equal to the final blow.
Failure: You suffer an illusory version of the wound that causes bashing damage equal to the final blow.
Success: You intuitively know how the body died and can ask the Storyteller one question per success rolled about the immediate physical causations of the body’s death. You cannot, for example, ask who the body’s killer was, but you could identify the make of the weapon used.
Exceptional Success: As success, and you regain the spent point of Willpower.
This Merit is particularly common among Samedi and Sangiovanni vampires.
Unbondable (••• to •••••)
Prerequisites: Non-Tremere; Willpower (3 + Merit dots) or Morality (5 + Merit dots)
Effect: You might be strong willed, or pure of heart. Conversely, you may be the sort of character who makes people cross the street when you walk by them. Whatever the reason, you are hard to bond. You simply don’t get attached the way other people do.
Merit Dots Description ••• Your character does not develop a blood bond with her first drink of Kindred vitae. Second and subsequent drinks from the same Kindred affect her normally. Thus, it takes four drinks rather than three for her to develop a full blood bond. •••• Your character does not develop a blood bond with her first or second drink of Kindred vitae. The third drink from the same Kindred affects her normally. Thus, it takes five drinks rather than three for her to develop a full blood bond. ••••• Your character is completely immune to the blood bond. No matter how much vitae she drinks, no bond ever develops.This Merit costs an extra Experience at both dot ratings for ghouls, who are assumed to be blood bound already (or else constantly struggling to avoid the bond).
Drawback: You are still vulnerable to a single type of Kindred vitae, such as members of a particular clan or bloodline, diablerists, left-handed women, child vampires, and so on. Not only can you still be bonded by such vitae, but you are especially susceptible to it. With the three-dot version of this Merit, a single drink results in you becoming two steps bound rather than one. With the five-dot version, a single drink forms a full blood bond. Take an extra Beat whenever this Merit causes you to become an additional step bound.
Ghouls with this Merit must also take the Dark Secret (Unbondable) Persistent Condition. Such ghouls are viewed as extraordinarily dangerous by Kindred, most of whom (if they are even aware that unbondable ghouls exist) will consider it prudent to kill them out of hand.Designer’s Note: I originally included this Merit in the game because there are compelling canon examples of characters who have it. Since them, I’ve come to feel that it shuts down more plot hooks than it generates and works better as an option for NPCs. Players who want to take this Merit for their PCs will need to convince me why that’s not the case. They should also have a stronger conceptual justification than “I’ve experienced personal betrayals and don’t get attached easily” (and definitely stronger than “I don’t want to be under blood bonds to anyone”). This below conversation further illustrates some of the reasons we keep the Merit rare.Peter Stewart
unbondable is… a problematic merit
why do you say that? (personally, i think it takes away from one of the scariest aspects of the game, but curious of your reasons)
It takes the bond out both as a positive and a negative aspect of the game
I find the bond itself less terrifying than Dominate, but it’s a big part of how Kindred society works. Especially 1/2 step bonds. You’ve seen how commonly it’s been used as a punishment for instance
I mean, yes, but the bond is also a big part of what gives purpose outside of being a socipath to Kindred lives
especially after a while, when you’re more disconnected from your mortal life
even at 1/2 it gives greater purpose to liferelationships, etc. Look at Caroline and Jocelyn
well, you can’t
but the short version is that it’s not always a negative thing for the character
true, like entering into a relationship with another kindred via mutual bonding
i suppose it still has a place in the game, though – but i like it more as a mortal only merit… because the idea of a ghoul out there that can’t be bonded… scary stuff
See, I think that’s even less interesting. Independent ghouls that break the chains, juggle the bond with many masters, etc is more interesting to me, by far, than “I’m just immune”
Not saying it shouldn’t exist, but I’d rather it be something extremely rare
good point, agreed there.
i suppose it depends on where you’re looking – for example, i find the ‘immune’ ghoul more interesting from the perspective of a kindred – where you’re entering into a far more risky deal with a ghoul.
as opposed to the perspective of a ghoul, where playing the immune ghoul would certainly take away from the risk of scoring hits if you’re just flat-out immune.
why would you ever want to create a ghoul
if you realized they weren’t bonded
you’d probably kill them or cut them loose
or if you ran into an independent ghoul unbondable
honestly it’s a liability merit, IMO
Unseen Sense (••)
Effect: Your character has a “sixth sense” for a type of supernatural creature, chosen when you buy the Merit. For example, you may choose Unseen Sense: Vampires, or Unseen Sense: Ghosts. The sense manifests differently for everyone. A character’s hair stands on end, she becomes physically ill, or perhaps she has a cold chill. Regardless, she knows that something isn’t right when she is in the immediate proximity of the appropriate supernatural being.
Once per game session, the player can accept the Spooked Condition in exchange for which the character can pinpoint where the feeling is coming from. If the target is using a power that specifically cloaks its supernatural nature, however, this does not work (though the Condition remains until resolved as usual).
Supernatural Merits (Blatant)
Assertive Implement (• to ••••)
Effect: Your character has a weapon with a mind of its own. It could be haunted by a vengeful ghost or possessed by a spirit of violence. When she’s using it, the entity inside makes her weapon more effective, so long as its own needs are being fulfilled. Once per scene she can add her dots in Assertive Implement to an attack roll. She can choose to add a +1 bonus to her weapon’s damage for every two dots of Assertive Implement, instead. The weapon is also more resilient than an ordinary tool; it regenerates a point of Structure every night even if it’s been “destroyed.” If, however, the entity itself is removed through exorcism or other means, then the object is destroyed automatically.
Drawback: The weapon is not a servant, it’s a partner. If the Storyteller determines that an action goes against the entity’s whims, he can inflict a reflexive penalty equal to dots in Assertive Implement. Also, if the weapon has an opportunity to fulfill its needs and your character hesitates, then the weapon can attack on its own using your dots in Assertive Implement as its dice pool.
Bless Amulet (•• to •••)
Prerequisites: Occult •••
Effect: Your character can create charms that protect others from ephemeral possession. The ritual requires an object with significance to the ritualist, religious or otherwise. Spend a point of Willpower and roll Resolve + Composure, modified by the ritualist’s Integrity as per an abjuration (see the Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook, p. 140). Each success prevents the amulet’s wearer from having the Claimed or Possessed Condition applied to her for one day. This effect lasts a week with the two-dot version of this Merit, and at three dots the object provides permanent protection to the wearer.
Entities with a higher Rank than your character’s Occult dots can still attempt to possess the amulet’s wearer, but take a penalty to their roll equal to your Occult dots.
Camera Obscura (•••)
Prerequisites: Unseen Sense •• (Ghost) or (Spirit)
Effect: Your character is able to capture ephemeral entities on camera, damaging them in the process. Doesn’t matter whether it’s through the viewfinder of a high-end digital camcorder or a grainy cell phone’s front facing camera, this ability is tied to the soul of the character rather than any particular piece of technology. By spending a point of Willpower, she can focus her camera on any un-Manifested entity she is aware of and perceive it through the device as if it were visible. Every turn spent focusing, roll Wits + Expression – the entity’s Defense; successes inflict bashing damage.
Drawback: Use of this ability immediately causes the Open Condition on the surrounding area for any entity affected for the rest of the scene, allowing them to immediately manifest in the mortal world and exact retribution.
Prerequisite: Streetwise ••
Effect: The character has learned the secrets of city-walking. Choose a single city or urban area. When the character is in that city, they can start walking down a street or sidewalk and concentrate on a different location within the city.
Dice Pool: (Wits or Resolve) + Streetwise
Dramatic Failure: The character takes a wrong turn, emerging in a dangerous location.
Failure: The character cannot city-walk to the desired destination; the image just isn’t coming in clearly. Any further city-walking attempts suffer a cumulative -2 penalty for the next 24 hours.
Success: The character emerges on the same street as the area she pictures.
Exceptional Success: The character emerges on the precise location of the area she pictures, though she cannot emerge inside a building. Alternatively, she can gain a +2 bonus to her next attempt to city-walk.Designer’s Commentary: Players can generally take 1/3 on rolls to city-walk unless they are in the middle of a combat, chase, or some other high-stakes scene where Initiative could be rolled.Designer’s Commentary: Conceptually, City-Walker is distinct from teleporting. The character doesn’t simply pop out of existence and pop back into existence somewhere else: rather, they disappear into crowds, duck down alleys, or round sudden bends… and anyone who’s been following the character simply shakes their heads when they catch up and don’t see them. The character clearly knows the city better than they do.
Mechanically, this means there are circumstances where the character can’t take advantage of City-Walker. To use the Merit, they need to be outside (in their chosen city), and no one can be actively watching them. Disappearing in the middle of a large crowd, down a sudden turn, etc. is okay and an on-theme use of the Merit. Mechanically, the character should make a roll of some kind to distract or evade their pursuers. If they succeed, they can roll to use the power as normal. (A circumstance where they are trying to escape someone, by definition, is too stressful to take 1/3 during.)
Prerequisite: Survival ••
Effect: The character has learned the secrets of woods-walking. Choose a single forest or rural area. When the character is in that forest, they can start walking through the brush or climbing a tree and concentrate on a different location within the forest.
Dice Pool: (Wits or Resolve) + Survival
Dramatic Failure: The character takes a wrong turn, emerging in a dangerous location.
Failure: The character cannot woods-walk to the desired destination; the image just isn’t coming in clearly. Any further woods-walking attempts suffer a cumulative -2 penalty for the next 24 hours.
Success: The character emerges a short distance away from the area they picture.
Exceptional Success: The character emerges on the precise location of the area they picture, but they cannot emerge inside any man-made structures or vehicles. Alternatively, they can gain a +2 bonus to their next attempt to woods-walk.Designer’s Commentary: Players can generally take 1/3 on rolls to woods-walk unless they are in the middle of a combat, chase, or some other high-stakes scene where Initiative could be rolled.Designer’s Commentary: Conceptually, Woods-Walker is distinct from teleporting. The character doesn’t simply pop out of existence and pop back into existence somewhere else: rather, they disappear into shrubbery, scamper up trees, or dive into rivers… and anyone who’s been following the character simply shakes their heads when they catch up and don’t see them. The character clearly knows the woods better than they do.
Mechanically, this means there are circumstances where the character can’t take advantage of Woods-Walker. To use the Merit, they need to be outside any man-made structures or vehicles, and no one can be actively watching them. Disappearing in the middle of thick plant growth, down a sudden drop, etc. is okay and an on-theme use of the Merit. Mechanically, the character should make a roll of some kind to distract or evade their pursuers. If they succeed, they can roll to use the power as normal. (A circumstance where they are trying to escape someone, by definition, is too stressful to take 1/3 during.)
Dark Passenger (••)
Effect: Your character has grown a second mouth on the back of her head, beneath her hair, that whispers secrets to her. Whenever she meets someone new or visits a new place, you may ask three questions to the Storyteller or a character’s player. The mouth answers two of them, but one of its answers is a lie. The mouth also warns her of imminent danger; if she fails the reflexive Wits + Composure roll to detect an ambush she can immediately make a second roll at a –1 penalty.
Drawback: Aside from being unsettling to look at, the mouth is constantly hungry. It needs food every hour or it’ll begin crying loudly, imposing a –3 penalty to any actions that require concentration.
Effect: Your character can project her senses to another location. She sees, hears, smells, and otherwise experiences the other place as if she were there. This ability requires a point of Willpower to activate, successful meditation, and a Wits + Occult roll.
Suggested Modifiers: Has an object important to the place (1), never been there (-3), scrying for a person and not a place (-3), scrying for non-specific location (-4), spent significant time there (2), touching someone with a strong connection to the place (1)
Drawback: When choosing this ability, determine how your character is able to scry. It may be through a crystal ball, through a drug-induced trance, with esoteric computer models, or any other reasonable method. She cannot scry without that tool or methodology.
Communicate With Animals *(••)
Effect: Through your deep and profound understanding of the spirits within all life, you can communicate with any normal animal. This communication is not as detailed or exact as ordinary speech, nor does it necessarily involve you actually speaking. Instead, the animal you are communicating with understands you through a combination of posture, facial expressions, smell, and speech, while you can understand it on an equally primal level.
Even if the animal noticed such things, you cannot use this ability to ask an animal the license plate number of a car, or the cut of someone’s suit. However, most mammals and birds can tell you basic information like how many people passed by, as well as possibly odd details like what these people had eaten recently or if they smelled afraid. To determine the actual degree of communication, roll Presence + Empathy. Every success lets you understand the answer to one question. Since so few people bother to really attempt to communicate with animals, even wild animals that are not normally interested in humans will usually wish to respond to a character with this ability.
Consecrate Weapon (••••)
Prerequisites: Resolve •••, Occult ••••
Effect: Sometimes there just isn’t an opportunity to sit down and research the multi-mouthed horror coming at you. Your character knows rituals that make any weapon temporarily effective against ephemeral entities. Spend a point of Willpower and roll Resolve + Presence – the weapon’s damage rating. This ritual follows the same rules as abjurations (The Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook, p. 140) for bonuses from channeling the higher self and from a strong psyche. For each success your character’s weapon does lethal damage to Manifested ephemeral entities for one turn. It also does lethal damage to entities in Twilight, provided she can detect them.
Esoteric Armory (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character is the go-to guy when one needs a knife carved from the bone of a martyred saint, a hawthorn stake, rock salt shotgun shells, the powdered remains of cremated suicides or any number of other things. No matter how strange the need, you’ve got it covered. After successfully researching an ephemeral entity’s Bane, compare your dots in this Merit to the entity’s Rank. If the merit is equal to or greater than Rank, you’ve got what you need in your Armory. You should decide along with your Storyteller where the Armory is, though; a one-dot Esoteric Armory can fit in a large bag, but a four- or five-dot one will fill a house.
Fist of God (•••••)
Effect: Some call you “Witch-Hammer,” for your naked hands do grievous hurt to the children of the night. All your unarmed damage is considered lethal rather than bashing against creatures with a major supernatural template. Work with the Storyteller to create a goodreason for this rare effect, and how it developed. This Merit is usually found among religiously affiliated hunters.
Effect: The character can open Avernian Gates. All that is required is that she touches the gate, and the player expends a point of Willpower. The gateway to the Underworld remains open for a number of minutes equal to the character’s Willpower. This Merit doesn’t enable the character to detect Avernian Gates; for that, she would need the Unseen Sense Merit, with a focus on ghosts or other death-related phenomena. A character with Medium ••••• can also detect Avernian Gates.
Drawback: If word of the character’s talents gets out, she can expect various supernatural factions to want her enslaved or dead in very short order.
Laying on Hands (•••)
Your character’s faith or force of devotion is a wholesome force that heals the sick and mends injuries. However, she takes some of those injuries upon herself by proxy.
Effect: By spending a Willpower point, touching the sick or wounded, and rolling Presence + Empathy, your character may heal them. Every success heals two points of bashing damage, or one level of lethal damage. Three successes allows for a single point of aggravated damage.
Drawback: For every two points of damage healed (rounded up), your character suffers a single point of the same type of damage. Additionally, your character may heal diseases and other ailments. The Storyteller assigns a target number of successes between one (the common cold) and ten (flesh-eating bacteria). This takes an extended action, and the character suffers a minor version of the illness.
Legendary Attribute (•••)
Effect: Your character has a superhuman Attribute, something in which he has the potential to be greater than human. Although this Attribute isn’t necessarily automatically better, your character could potentially exceed the bounds of human ability. Such a gift is rare and precious, and many people with this capacity never even manage to fulfill their true potential.
In your character’s legendary Attribute, your character has the potential for a rating of six dots. Thus, your character might have the Strength of Hercules or the Intelligence of Occam. This Merit doesn’t confer such a rating automatically; it must still be purchased with Experience as normal.
Characters should typically be prohibited from purchasing this Merit more than once. Characters who obtain six or more dots in a Supernatural Tolerance trait lose this Merit and have the Experience cost refunded, per the Sanctity of Merits rule.
Medium (•, •••, or •••••)
Effect: Your character can see and communicate with ghosts. The number of dots in this Merit determines how potent her sight is.
Merit Dots Description Drawback • Creepy Feelings: Your character cannot actually see ghosts, but he gets a shiver up and down his spine whenever the restless dead are nearby. By succeeding on a Wits + Composure roll, your character gets a weird feeling every time a ghost is in the same general area as he is. The Unseen Sense (Ghosts) Merit can represent a more developed version of this sense without granting the ability to communicate with ghosts. Whenever you sense a ghost, roll Resolve + Composure with a variable penalty depending on how frightening the circumstances are. On a failure, you gain the Shaken or Spooked Condition. ••• Medium: Your character automatically senses when ghosts are nearby. He doesn’t see them, but he can hear the words of the dead any time they’re present. This allows him to mentally communicate with ghosts during séances and clearly understand what they are saying, without the need for ouija boards or Wits + Empathy rolls. See the “Communication and Negotiation” section of Summoning Umbral Entities for further information. Speaking with ghosts can be a blessing, but your character cannot turn the sense off, any more than she can turn off her hearing. Once per game session, usually in a time of extreme stress, the Storyteller may deliver a disturbing message to your character from the other side. You must succeed in a Resolve + Composure roll with a variable penalty (depending on how frightening the circumstances of the message are) or gain the Shaken or Spooked Condition. ••••• Sixth Sense: Your character can see, hear, and converse with ghosts without effort. She does not need to resort to ouija boards, seances, and other mystical (potentially error-prone) means to locate a ghost and establish contact with it—she can simply walk up to spirits and start talking. Ghosts are drawn to your character like moths to a flame. She is never free from their constant pleas, ravings, and entreaties. Some ghosts genuinely seek help, but just as many are mad or simply want to make the living suffer.
Invoke Spirit (•• or ••••)
Prerequisites: Medium •••
Effect: Your character has experienced a trauma that a ghost, spirit, or other ephemeral entity has latched onto, creating a symbiotic relationship with her. Work with the Storyteller to determine the nature of the trauma and the type of spirit it attracted. At two dots, the spirit is Rank 1. At four dots, the spirit is Rank 2. Your character can telepathically call upon her spirit to protect her at any time.
Drawback: Your character has the Urged Condition for the spirit as long as she has this Merit. The spirit will want to push her towards circumstances that repeat the trauma she experienced so that it can feed off the Essence released.
Normalcy (• to ••)
Prerequisites: Medium •••••
Effect: Your character has learned how to shut out the voices and visions of the restless dead through sheer mental effort. By visualizing a wall or other protective shield for herself, she can ward off unwanted ghostly visions.
Merit Dots Description • Your character can spend a Willpower point to roll Resolve + Composure, contested by the highest Power + Finesse of any ghosts in her vicinity. On a success, she loses her Sixth Sense Merit for the remainder of the scene. She can choose to reactivate her sight at any time. •• Once per scene, your character can roll Resolve + Composure to shut off her sight without spending any Willpower. Additionally, she gains a +2 bonus on all Resolve + Composure rolls to do so. ••• Your character can automatically block out any ghost whose Rank is lower than her Resolve. She need not spend any Willpower and can freely reactivate her sight or shut it off again at any time. Finally, her bonus on Resolve + Composure rolls to block out more powerful ghosts increases to +4.Drawback: Ghosts may take offense at your character’s refusal to listen to them and resort to more drastic means to get her attention.
A vampire has tasted your blood and developed a strong connection to you as a result. Further, he has some vested interest seeing to your long-term survival. If you’re in danger, he knows about it, and he may come to you as quickly as possible.
Prerequisite: Non-vampire and Domitor • or Supernatural Companion •
Effect: If your character is in danger, her regnant senses it, and can spend a Willpower point to coincidentally arrive on the scene in time to save you. This Merit is most common among ghouls, but mortals and other supernatural beings who take a vampiric lover (with all the perils that entails) may also possess it.
Supernatural Resistance (• to •••••)
Prerequisites: Hunter or mortal with at least one Supernatural Merit; Willpower equal to (4 + Supernatural Resistance dots)
Effect: Your character’s brush with the supernatural left her with an inborn tolerance for the unknown. This Merit acts as a Supernatural Potency trait for the purpose of resisting supernatural powers. So if a power calls for Blood Potency, Primal Urge, Gnosis, or other traits, use your character’s Supernatural Resistance dots instead. For example, a character with Resolve 4 and Supernatural Resistance 2 rolls six dice to resist a vampire’s Majesty. The benefits of this Merit overlap (do not stack) with the benefits of True Faith.GM’s Note: Supernatural Tolerance a particularly prized Merit among experienced hunters, as it allows them to resist Disciplines, Gifts, Spheres, and other supernatural powers that usually succeed against mortals. The description doesn’t call out this function, but Supernatural Resistance is also useful in the aura-based rolls that provide a check on “end a fight with one roll” aka “save or die” effects like Dominate, Majesty, and Nightmare. A hunter who spends Willpower to resist a vampire’s Majesty 1, for instance, rolls Presence + Supernatural Resistance against the vampire’s Presence + Blood Potency, and thus has even rather than unfavorable odds of resisting (two trait pool vs. two trait pool). If the hunter has higher Supernatural Resistance than the vampire’s Blood Potency, in fact, the vampire has to spend Willpower just to oppose her roll.
True Faith (•••••)
Prerequisite: Willpower equal to (4 + True Faith dots) and Storyteller permission (see the True Faith page on playing characters with True Faith)
Effect: You have a deep-seated faith in and love for God, or whatever name you choose to call the Almighty. This grants you a single dot of True Faith, allowing you to repel the supernatural and perform magical acts akin to miracles. See the True Faith page for further information about the powers of True Faith.
You can take this Merit multiple times during character creation. Each instance buys another dot of True Faith, up to a maximum of five dots. Further True Faith dots may only be purchased over the course of play if the character undergoes a religious experience that reaffirms her faith in the Almighty.
Drawback: True Faith demands a level of piety that is extremely rare in today’s secular era. Dots may be lost if the character fails to uphold her faith’s tenants.
Customizing True Faith
The Holy Spirit “bloweth where it listeth.” You understand this. You see the fractal reflections of your God in other religions, and you remain humble in knowing how little of the divine you can know. Where others must brandish the holy symbols of their tradition when using True Faith, you see the supernal spark at the core of beliefs beyond your own.
Prerequisite: True Faith •
Effect: You can freely use the icons, holy symbols, and holy ground of all religions when confronting the supernatural. Likewise, in your presence, a group of individuals from different religions may pool their True Faith for greater effect: treat each Faithful as having a True Faith rating equal to the combined True Faith dots of every individual present (but never higher than five). Such a communal pool requires only one person with this Merit. You can be the bridge that connects all faiths as brothers and sisters in the long, dark night of the soul.
Animal Possession (•• or ••••)
Prerequisites: Animal Ken •••
Effect: Your character is able to take over the senses of her animal companion. This ability supplants the animal’s mind so your character’s can take over. Her own body goes into a coma-like state and she has no awareness of what it feels or perceives while she is away.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: None
Action: 10 minutes. Your character can reduce this to an instant action with a Resolve + Animal Ken roll.
Duration: Scene. Your character can extend this duration for another scene by spending an additional Willpower point.
Once character is in control of her animal’s body she has its full range of senses at her disposal. If at any point the animal sustains damage, make a reflexive Resolve + Animal Ken roll with a penalty equal to the amount of damage taken. Failure immediately ejects her from the animal’s mind and back into her own.
You may only use this Merit on an animal with which you share the Bonded Condition. With the four-dot version, you can ignore this limitation.
Apportation (••• or •••••)
Effect: Your character can rip objects through space from one fixed point to another. The more familiar she is with an object the greater the distance she can move it. No mundane barrier can prevent this transference. With the three-dot version, only inanimate objects Size 2 or less can be moved. With the five-dot version she can move objects and living creatures up to Size 5, including herself.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Resolve + Occult. Moving an unwilling creature is contested by the target’s Resolve + Composure.
Success: Your character can move an object a number of yards per success. If she wishes to move the same object further, she can spend multiple turns accumulating successes to add to her total.
Suggested Modifiers: Target object is not in your character’s line of sight (–2), Target object is moving or a moving part of a machine (–3), Target object is anchored to its location (–4), Your character interacts with the target object regularly (2), Your character has scanned a living target with Telepathy in the past (+2)
Drawback: The process of apporting an object imparts a great deal of friction on it, leaving it hot to the touch or burned in the process. An item takes one point of Structure damage each time it’s apported and has a –2 penalty to use for the turn after it’s moved. Living creatures take bashing damage equal to the number of yards moved with Apportation.
Astral Projection (•••)
Effect: Astral Projection allows a psychic to completely free his consciousness from his physical form and travel mentally to distant locations while leaving his body behind.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Normally none. The GM may call for a Wits + Composure roll at a variable penalty if the psychic is unduly stressed or distracted.
Action: 10 minutes. The psychic can reduce this to an instant action with a roll as described above.
Duration: Scene. The psychic can extend this duration by another scene by spending an additional Willpower point.
The psychic meditates and then detaches his soul from his body, which remain connected by a silver cord. If the psychic has Clairvoyance, he can instantly travel to any location he is capable of perceiving with a normal Clairvoyance roll; otherwise he walks or runs at normal speed.
Once at a desired location, a psychic can move around freely but is generally intangible and invisible. He can, however, be perceived through any appropriate psychic means. Other astral projectors or other beings existing in Twilight—an ephemeral state in the material world, such as a ghost’s—can perceive him normally and interact with him as if he were solid.
Drawback: The psychic’s astral form can be harmed by other ephemeral entities (and any other powers that affect incorporeal beings). If the psychic takes bashing damage equal to his Health, he must succeed on a Resolve roll every turn or be drawn back into his body. If the psychic takes lethal damage equal to his Health, he is automatically drawn back into his body and suffers a breaking point from the trauma of having his astral form killed. If the psychic takes aggravated damage equal to his Health, he is slain and his body instantly expires from an aneurysm, stroke, heart attack, or similar cause.
Aura Reading (•••)
Effect: Your character has the psychic ability to perceive auras; the ephemeral halos of energy that surround all living things. This allows her to perceive a subject’s emotional state, and potentially any supernatural nature. The colors of an aura show a person’s general disposition, and the ebbs, flows, tone, and other oddities reveal other influences. Note that your character may not know what she’s looking at when seeing something odd in an aura. For example, she may not know that a pale aura means she’s seeing a vampire, unless she’s confirmed other vampiric auras in the past.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + Empathy vs. Composure + Supernatural Tolerance
Action: Instant. Perceiving an aura takes an uninterrupted moment of staring, which could look suspicious even to the unaware.
Success: For every success minus the subject’s successes, ask the subject’s player one of the following questions. Alternatively, take +1 on your next Social roll against the character during the same scene, due to the understanding of their emotional state.
• What’s your character’s most prominent emotion?
• Is your character telling the truth?
• What is your character’s attention most focused on right now?
• Is your character going to attack?
• What emotion is your character trying most to hide?
• Is your character supernatural or otherwise not human?
Determine how your character perceives auras. Maybe she sees different hues as different emotions. Perhaps she hears whispers in the back of her mind, reflecting subtle truths in her subject.
Drawback: Because of your character’s sensitivity to the supernatural, she sometimes appears to know “a little too much.” No more than once per chapter, when first meeting a supernatural creature the Storyteller can roll Wits + Occult for the creature, penalized by your character’s Composure. If successful, they get a strange feeling that your character is aware of their nature. They’re not forced to behave in any particular way, but it could cause complications.
Biokinesis (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character has the ability to psychically alter her biological material.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: None
Action: 1 minute. The character can reduce this to an instant action with a Resolve + Stamina roll.
The character concentrates and can shift her Physical Attributes. She can shift one dot per dot in this Merit. This cannot raise an Attribute higher than five dots.
In addition, the character heals quickly. Halve all healing times.
Biomimicry (• to ••••)
Prerequisites: Biokinesis •
Effect: Your character’s body responds to threats by evolving its own natural defenses. What other animals need countless generations to develop she has in the time it takes to scream—and she will. By spending a point of Willpower and taking a point of lethal damage for each, you may divide the dots in this Merit among the following benefits:
• Natural weapons (such as claws that grow out from underneath the fingernails or a second row of jagged teeth protruding from the gums) that do lethal damage, but treated as 0 lethal weapons.
• Biological toxin (venom sacs in the throat or mucus secreted from the pores) that coats a target with a Dexterity + Athletics roll; target’s Defense applies. If successful, it inflicts a moderate version of the Poisoned Tilt on the victim.
• Armor (tumorous growths covering the skin, thick leathery hide, fused bone plates covering vital organs, etc.) with a rating of 2/1, but a –2 penalty to Initiative.
• Camouflage (skin that can change pigment and texture to match the environment) granting the 8-again quality to all Stealth rolls.
These changes last for a scene, but your character can force them back with a successful Stamina + Resolve roll, penalized by the number of mutations taken. Otherwise, her mutations are visible to the naked eye and obviously inhuman. She can still use mundane means to hide them, like heavy layers of clothes.
Danger Sense (•• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Wits •••
Effect: You have an uncanny instinct for recognizing when you’re in danger. Some psychics describe this power as a limited clairvoyance, a psychic early warning system, or simply “good instincts”. It manifests as raised hackles, tingling sensations, flashes of violence or some other system, but it’s usually consistent for a given psychic—one might have flashes while another has cramps, but they both always have the same sign.
Dice Pool: Wits + Composure whenever you’re in danger, with a variable penalty depending on the remoteness of the danger. The Storyteller should make this roll for player’s characters in secret.
Success: The Storyteller tells you that you have a sense of foreboding. Additional successes allow you ask a single question each concerning the threat’s direction, distance, nature, and other such details. If the source of the danger is an imminent attack, you can act during any surprise round and do not lose your Defense.
For every additional dot invested in this Merit, the character can ask an additional question if their Wits + Composure roll succeeds. For example, a character with Danger Sense •••• who rolled two successes could ask three questions (as the first success only warns of the danger’s existence).
This ability remains up all the time, although supernatural powers that conceal a danger’s existence (such as Psychic Invisibility, a vampire’s Obfuscate, certain uses of a mage’s Time or Mind Sphere, etc.) can fool it with a successful Clash of Wills.
Prerequisites: Biokinesis •, Subterfuge •••
Effect: Your character has the ability to perfectly imitate others. This goes beyond simple disguise; she studies every detail of her subject’s appearance and personality until she can replicate it flawlessly.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Subterfuge
Duration: One scene per success rolled
Success: Any mundane attempts to distinguish your character from her victim automatically fail. A successful contested Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge) roll can reveal that the victim doesn’t seem to be “acting himself”, though.
Suggested Modifiers: Victim and character have similar appearances (+1), victim has 10 or more years difference in age with character (–2), victim presents as a different gender than character (–2), character or victim has unhealed damage (–3), character or victim has missing limbs or visible impairments (–5)
Incite Ecosystem (• to •••••)
Prerequisites: Animal Ken •••
Effect: Your character causes surrounding wildlife to attack her enemies.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Presence + Animal Ken. Larger animals take a penalty to your roll equal to the difference in Size. For example, a bear (Size 7) would require you to roll at a –2 with the five-dot version of Incite Ecosystem.
Success: Your character can direct a number of animals or swarms equal to successes, with Size up to dots in Incite Ecosystem, to treat a target as a threat. Note that animals directed this way do not take commands from your character, they only respond to a target the way they would a threat in their natural habitat.
Mind Control (•••••)
Effect: One of the most insidious manifestations of psychic power, Mind Control permits a telepath to project his mind to overcome a subject’s will and render the subject open to suggestion. Unless the character also has Thought Projection or some similar advantage, he must verbally tell his subject what he wants her to do, effectively making this power a form of paranormal hypnosis. Combined with Thought Projection, the psychic can make anyone a puppet, silently seizing a victim’s will from across a room and making her his slave. If he has both Thought Projection and Clairvoyance, he can command the mind of someone from across a city like a modern-day Svengali.
The psychic must concentrate fully on his subject while conveying his instructions, suffering all the normal penalties for concentration. How long this effort takes depends on the complexity of the instructions, and may last for several turns. Once the command is issued, the psychic does not need to continue concentrating. The telepath’s command must be something that can be completed within the scene or the attempt fails, unless the telepath achieves an exceptional success.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: (Presence or Manipulation) + (Intimidation or Persuasion) vs. Resolve + Supernatural Tolerance
Dramatic Failure: The subject sees through the psychic’s attempt to control his mind; emboldened, he gains the Steadfast Condition.
Failure: The subject proves stronger-willed than the pyschic thought.
Success: The psychic inflicts the Mesmerized Condition on the subject (see page 35 of Vampire: The Requiem’s core rulebook). Characters with major supernatural templates (vampires, mages, werewolves, etc.) can make a reflexive Resolve + Supernatural Tolerance roll contested by the psychic’s initial roll result to break free of the control each turn.
Exceptional Success: As success, and there is no time limit on how long the command can take to be executed.
Modifier Description +1 The psychic has successfully used Mind Control on the subject within the last week. -1 The command forces the subject to act against a loved one or to violate deeply held personal beliefs. -2 The command forces the subject to harm a loved one or to act against a Virtue. -4 The command forces the subject to kill a loved one or perform an action that might cause her to lose Morality. -5 The command is clearly suicidal.
Numbing Touch (• to •••••)
Effect: With Numbing Touch, your character’s psychic gifts allow her to numb a person, rendering them sluggish and incompetent. With intense concentration, she can cause neurons to shut down.
Effect: This Merit has two effects. With the first, your character may numb with a single touch.
Cost: 1 Wilpower
Dice Pool: None. Against an unwilling subject, Intelligence + (Empathy or Medicine) – Stamina.
Duration: See below
Success: Numbing Touch takes effect. An affected character suffers no wound penalties, but suffers a penalty equal to your character’s rolled successes to all dice pools requiring manual dexterity or sensory perception. These penalties fade by one every turn, until they are gone completely.
As an alternate use of this power, your character may focus her gift into a ‘psychic weapon’ that lashes out at the victim’s nervous system.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Intelligence + (Empathy or Medicine) – Stamina
Action: Instant. This can be reduced to a reflexive action if your character employs this use of Numbing Touch as part of an unarmed attack.
Success: In addition to the normal effects of Numbing Touch, the victim loses Willpower points equal to your character’s rolled successes. If she has no Willpower points to lose, additional points become levels of lethal damage.
This power has a range of up to a foot from your character’s hands or face.
Postcognition (• to •••••)
Prerequisites: Precognition for the • version. None for the ••• version.
Effect: Your psychic has the ability to see into the past.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + (Investigation or Occult). If another Skill is particularly applicable to the scene, the psychic may use it instead; Medicine to analyze a blood sample, for example, or Computer to analyze a technological device.
Dramatic Failure: The seer has a wildly false or misleading vision. Since the Storyteller makes the roll on the player’s behalf, allow the player to ask an arbitrary number of questions, say one to three, and invent erroneous or misleading information about the scene observed.
Failure: Failure indicates that the seer fails to produce a vision.
Success: The character has a postcognitive vision. Each success on the roll allows the player to ask one question about the past event viewed. No more than one successful vision about a specific scene may be had every 24 hours.
Exceptional Success: Additional successes are their own reward. The Storyteller may point out significant details about which the player does not think to ask.
Roll Modifiers: The effort suffers a dice penalty based on temporal proximity, and the Storyteller should always roll for the player who uses Postcognition, since the player may be able to deduce when something might have occurred by noting the penalty applied, even if the roll is unsuccessful.
Dice Modifier Proximity 0 Within a day -1 Within a week -2 Within a month -3 Within a year -4 Within 5 years -5 Within 10 years** Each additional 10-year increment intensifi es the dice penalty by –1.
The effort faces additional penalties if the character lacks any sort of sympathetic connection to the scene he wishes to view. If the psychic is present at the location where the past event took place, he suffers no penalty. If he is in the presence of a person who was present at the past event, the player suffers a –2 penalty. If the psychic is in possession of an object that was present at the scene of the past event, he suffers a –4 penalty. At the Storyteller’s discretion, these penalties might be reduced, depending on the situation. For example, if a psychic attempts to view a violent murder by handling the murder weapon, he might suffer only a –2 penalty, while touching the actual murderer could eliminate any penalty.
Example: Detective Halloran, who secretly uses his Postcognition abilities to help him solve crimes, examines a bloody knife used in a brutal homicide. The Storyteller rolls Halloran’s Wits + Occult, applying a –1 penalty (due to the fact that the murder took place more than a day but less than a week ago) and a –2 penalty (for not actually being at the crime scene, but simply holding the murder weapon). The roll yields three successes, and Halloran gets a brief glimpse of the murder itself. His player can ask three questions about the vision. Triggering the vision costs the player one Willpower point.
Psychics with this Merit commonly possess the Precognition Merit, too. If the psychic does have the Precognition Merit, the cost of Postcognition is only one Merit dot. If the psychic acquires the three-dot version of this power, he does not need Precognition as a prerequisite.
Psychic Illusions (•••••)
Effect: This psychic power causes subjects to see something that isn’t there, or to misapprehend some element of his surroundings. The telepath must be able to see the person to be affected, although clairvoyance can substitute for direct observation. Cameras and videotapes are never affected by a psychic illusion. The illusions created can affect any normal senses that the illusionist possesses. The illusionist cannot create an image capable of deceiving psychic powers, so a clairvoyant remotely viewing the scene is not deceived. Likewise, a psychic cannot create an illusion of something he cannot perceive, such as a deaf character creating an illusion that includes an auditory element.
Normally, an illusion is static and cannot interact with beings. If the illusionist wishes his visions to interact with someone who is deceived by them (such as having a “phantom police officer” direct observers away from a crime scene), the player must their Psychic Illusions dice pool as an instant action. If this roll fails, onlookers see through the illusion, even if they had been previously fooled. Such follow-up rolls are only required when the illusion must be made to interact with an observer in a fairly direct manner. So, if the interactive police officer fools an observer, a reroll is required only if the observer actively tries to engage the police officer somehow (whether through communication or an attack), or if the psychic wishes to have the police officer interact in some new and different way, such as writing a ticket.
Regardless of how convincing an illusion is, it is never solid, although it “feels” solid to a deceived observer if the illusionist incorporates tactile sensations into the creation. An illusory chair is not capable of supporting an observer’s weight, no matter how strongly she believes in it. An illusory wall does not prevent someone from passing through it if she leans against it, although both may feel perfectly solid to the casual touch. So, an illusionary item cannot be used as a weapon; any attack with an illusionary weapon fails.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: (Wits or Manipulation) + (Expression, Persuasion, or Subterfuge) vs. Composure + Supernatural Tolerance. If a mob is affected, make one roll for the group using the highest dice pool of its members.
Action: Instant. Also, the character must maintain concentration for the duration of the power, meaning that he must spend an instant each turn and loses his Defense.
Dramatic Failure: The character triggers psychic feedback, making every potential observer in the vicinity instinctively withdraw or distrust her. Also, the illusionist is unable to use this power again for the remainder of the scene.
Failure: The psychic fails to create any illusion at all.
Success: Any affected targets perceive whatever sensory effect the psychic desires.
Exceptional Success: The illusions created are highly realistic. The psychic no longer needs to maintain concentration, although a Manipulation + Persuasion roll must still be made to cause the illusion to move or react in any way.
Roll Modifiers: Every sense affected beyond a single one (-1), every person affected beyond (psychic’s combined Wits + Manipulation) (-1).
Psychic Invisibility (•••••)
Effect: As the name suggests, Psychic Invisibility represents a psychic’s ability to “cloud men’s minds” so that onlookers cannot perceive him. The character is not truly invisible; cameras are not affected by this power and anyone sufficiently perceptive can see through the deception. The psychic cannot disappear from view if he has already been seen, but any witnesses he encounters after the power is activated are typically unable to see him unless he does something to call attention to himself. If the psychic affects any physical object while a potential observer is looking, or he makes any particularly loud sound, the invisibility ends automatically for observers.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + (Stealth or Subterfuge) vs. Resolve + Supernatural Tolerance. If a mob is affected, make one roll for the group using the highest dice pool of its members.
Action: Instant. Also, the character must maintain concentration for the duration of the power, meaning that he must spend an instant each turn and loses his Defense.
Dramatic Failure: The psychic gains the Misinformed Condition. She is convinced that she is invisible and acts accordingly, even though any onlookers are able to see her.
Failure: The psychic fails to hide her appearance.
Success: The psychic activates her psychic invisibility power. If anyone in a group points the character out, all onlookers can see her.
Exceptional Success: The psychic no longer needs to concentrate to maintain invisibility and can take other actions (although any interaction with her environment may end the effect). If she performs no actions, the effect lasts for the remainder of the scene.
Psychic Onslaught (•••••)
Prerequisites: Telekinesis • or Psychokinesis •
Effect: Your character discharges psychic energy from herself with the concussive force of a grenade: smashing windows, crushing bones, and bursting blood vessels. This is not a precise weapon; it radiates out from the psychic annihilating friend and foe alike. By spending a point of Willpower, this triggers a Damage 3, Force 3 explosion with a primary blast area of the psychic’s Resolve in meters or yards. The psychic is at ground zero, but only suffers bashing damage – not lethal. If the damage exceeds a character’s Stamina then it applies the Knocked Down Tilt as well – this does not apply to the psychic.
Drawback: This power is instinctive to your character’s will to survive. The first time in a scene her last Health box becomes filled with bashing or lethal damage, Psychic Onslaught triggers as a reflexive action, without the normal Willpower cost. This occurs even if the damage would render her unconscious or kill her.
Psychokinesis (••• or •••••)
Effect: Your character has a psychic ability to manipulate the forces of the universe. Every type of Psychokinetic is different. For example, your character might have Pyrokinesis, Cryokinesis, or Electrokinesis, the control of fire, cold, or electricity respectively. This is not an exhaustive list. She can intensify, shape, and douse her particular area of ability.
Prerequisite: With the three-dot version, some of the given force must be present for her to manipulate. With the five-dot version, she can manifest it from nothingness.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Resolve + Occult. If you intend to cause harm, the roll takes a penalty equal to the target’s Resolve.
Success: Each success allows a degree of manipulation: choose one of the following options below. If characters should be harmed without a direct attack—if they run through a patch of flame, for example—the three-dot version of the Merit causes one lethal damage and the five-dot version causes two. The Storyteller may rule that larger manifestations cause more, if the situation calls for it.
• Increase or decrease the Size of the manifestation by one.
• Move the manifestation a number of yards equal to your character’s Willpower dots times 2.
• Shape the force into a specific form. This may require an Intelligence + Crafts roll to form into a detailed or intricate shape.
• Attack a victim with the force. Allocate any number of the rolled successes to cause harm. With the three-dot Merit, Psychokinesis is a weapon causing 1L damage. Psychokinesis is considered a 2 Lethal weapon with the five-dot version.
• Use the force creatively. This is up to the situation and the force in question. For example, an Electrokinetic may use her ability to power an electronic device briefly or jump-start a stalled automobile.
• Manifest her force. This only works with the five-dot version. It manifests a Size 1 patch of the force. It may spread or be enlarged with further successes.
Drawback: Whenever your character depletes her last Willpower point, the Storyteller can call on her abilities to manifest spontaneously. Resist this with a Resolve + Composure roll, with a -2 penalty if her chosen force is prominently featured nearby. For example, the penalty applies if a Pyrokinetic is locked in a factory with a hot forge. This tends to happen during wildly inconvenient moments and in ways that tend to cause more trouble than they solve. With these wild manifestations, use of Psychokinesis does not cost Willpower.
Prerequisites: Psychokinesis •
Effect: Your character has become so attuned with to her source of psychokinetic energy that it no longer affects her.
A pyrokinetic could dance in the middle of a bonfire, or an electrokinetic struck by lightning not so much as flinch. Use her dots in Psychokinesis as general armor against any damage taken from her source of energy.
Effect: Psychometry is the psychic ability to read impressions left on physical objects. Your character can feel the emotional resonance left on an item or can perceive important events tied to a location with this ability. The ability automatically hones in on the most emotionally intense moment tied to the item.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + (Investigation or Occult)
Success: For each success, you may ask a single yes/no question of the Storyteller, or one of the following questions. For questions pertaining to specific characters, if your character hasn’t met the persons in question, the Storyteller may simply describe them.
• What’s the strongest emotion here?
• Who remembers this moment the most?
• Am I missing something in this scene?
• Where was this object during the event?
• What breaking point caused the event?
Drawback: Once per chapter, the Storyteller can force a Psychometry vision any time an important place is visited or an important item is touched. This doesn’t require a roll or Willpower point to activate. The Storyteller can give any information pertaining to the event in question. The Storyteller can also impose one Condition relevant to the event.
Suggested Modifiers: Character has read impressions from this item before (-2), important event happened more than one day ago (-1), more than one week ago (-2), more than one month ago (-3), more than one year ago (-5), item was used in a violent crime (2), item is only vaguely tied to the event (-2), spirits pertaining to the event are nearby (3).
Prerequisites: Apportation •••
Effect: Your character’s mastery over her powers of Apportation allows her to reach vastly greater distances. As an extended action, she can move an object or person to any fixed point with a target number equal to the number of miles (or kilometers) transported.
Technopathy (•• or •••)
Effect: Your character has the ability to interface with machines she touches in the way a psychic reads minds. With the three-dot version of this Merit, she can capture information through the electronic signals in the air. Data taken comes in waves of text and visual media in the mind’s eye that is overwhelming to the senses, requiring concentration to filter through.
Requirement: Interfacing requires touching the device, or a moment of complete stillness if taken from the air.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Intelligence + (Computer, Investigation, or Occult)
Success: Each success allows you to examine the information contained on it divided among the following parameters.
• Users who’ve used this device recently.
• Identify a device’s function and any devices networked to it.
• Logs of communications made on the device in the past day.
• Any information containing a specific search term.
• Video or other media stored on the device.
• Originator of data signal.
• Destination of data signal.
• Content of data signal.
The knowledge gained this way stores in the character’s mind like memories, so an Intelligence + Composure roll may be necessary to recall it later.
Suggested Modifiers: Character is familiar with a device’s functions (2), device is old or damaged (–1), information is encrypted (–2), information is corrupted (–4), High wireless communication usage (–1 to –4), Weak signal (–2)
Drawback: This ability causes a tremendous strain on hardware. Every use of Technopathy on the same target after the first causes two points of Structure damage on a success, three points on a failure. Devices reduced to 0 Structure this way short out, and any data on them cannot be recovered. For the wireless version: Any attempt after the first to access a wireless data signal corrupts or interrupts the message; the message is lost and the sender or receiver realizes their communications are compromised.
Telekinesis (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character has a psychic ability to manipulate the physical world with her mind. This means lifting, pushing, and pulling objects. Fine manipulation is beyond the scope of Telekinesis. By spending a Willpower point, she can activate Telekinesis for the scene. Her dots in this Merit determine her mind’s effective Strength for the purpose of lifting and otherwise influencing her environment.
A telekinetic can also use her abilities to cause harm by lashing out at threats.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + Telekinesis – opponent’s Stamina
Success: The attack causes one bashing damage per success, with an effective weapon bonus equal to the telekinetic’s Merit dots. Alternatively, the attack can be used to grapple, with the Merit dots representing the Strength score of the psychic. Any overpowering maneuvers require additional Willpower points.
If a telekinetic runs out of Willpower, she can continue to draw on her powers, but this is dangerous—each use of Telekinesis inflicts a point of lethal damage.
Drawback: Any time your character suffers injury or intense stimuli, the Storyteller may call for a Resolve + Composure roll to resist activating Telekinesis at an inopportune time. If the Storyteller calls for this roll and it fails, the character activates Telekinesis in a quick, impressive display of the power. That use of Telekinesis is free. The player can choose to automatically fail the Resolve + Composure roll and take a Beat.
Psychic Poltergeist (••)
Prerequisites: Telekinesis •
Effect: Your character barrages enemies with objects from her environment. By activating Telekinesis, she can cause nearby Size 0 or 1 objects to converge on an area like a swarm.
The swarm envelops a number of victims equal to her dots in Telekinesis. Each victim within the swarm’s area suffers the persistent Distracted Condition (p. 150) until he or she escapes. Additionally, the Storyteller determines an appropriate amount and type of damage from being within the swarm. For example, a cloud of whirling kitchen knives or burning chunks of furniture would inflict lethal damage, while stuffed animals would inflict bashing, if any. This should be limited to a dice pool equal to the psychic’s Resolve. However, victims taking any action besides Dodging cannot apply their Defense against the swarming objects.
Drawback: This ability requires the telekinetic’s complete concentration. She must spend a point of Willpower every turn and can take no other actions. She can apply Defense to incoming attacks, but taking damage immediately ends Psychic Poltergeist.
Telepathy (••• or •••••)
Effect: Your character can hear surface thoughts and read minds. With the five-dot version of this Merit, she can broadcast simple messages to others’ minds. She hears these thoughts as if they were spoken, which means they can sometimes be distracting. She can only hear thoughts at the range she could hear normal conversation, regardless of any ambient noise (so a telepath could hear the thoughts of someone next to her at a loud concert, even though she couldn’t actually hear the subject talk, but could not hear the thoughts of someone a football field away under quiet conditions).
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + Empathy vs. Composure + Supernatural Tolerance if the subject is unwilling or unknowing.
Success: The subject’s player must tell you the foremost thought on the character’s mind. Every further success minus the subject’s successes allow you to ask the subject’s player additional questions from the following list. The questions can be asked any time within the same scene. With the five-dot version, every success offers a single phrase the subject hears as if your character said it. As before, these phrases can be communicated at any time during the same scene.
• What does your character want right now?
• What does your character fear most right now?
• What is your character hiding?
• What does your character want mine to do?
• What does your character know about [relevant topic at hand]?
• What turns your character on right now?
• What’s something shameful or embarrassing about your character?
Drawback: Sometimes, your character hears things she probably shouldn’t. Once per chapter, the Storyteller can give your character a message of terrible things to come. Perhaps she overhears the mad internal ramblings of a cultist in a crowd. Maybe she hears a plot to hijack a plane. Maybe, just maybe, she hears the incoherent thoughts of the God-Machine. These heard thoughts never just occur. They always happen when your character has something else, something important, something pressing going on. When this happens, the Storyteller gives you a Condition such as Spooked or Shaken.
Communion (•• or ••••)
Effect: The sorcerer is capable of connecting his consciousness to that of another being, generally a figure of godly intellect and incredible power. The experience is usually deeply personal and highly religious—one does not communicate directly with one’s divine inspiration without being changed by the experience.
The two-dot version of this Merit allows a character to reach out to the entity he considers his patron and open the way for the divine presence to communicate directly with him. This contact is one-way; the sorcerer is limited to receiving whatever wisdom his patron desires to send without any ability to communicate in return. Spiritual figures of great power may be omniscient (or nearly so), and thus cognizant of a follower’s wishes. If the ritual succeeds, treat the effect as the Common Sense Merit, but present the “common sense” as emanations from the force with which the sorcerer connects.
The four-dot version allows the performer to open the same pathway with the advantage of sending as well as receiving. Although the patron figure might choose to focus on matters different from what the character asks, revelations generally consist of warnings against particular courses of action, or of suggestions that will aid the goals of the sorcerer. In terms of game mechanics, the wisdom transmitted means the sorcerer may choose to treat an action of your choice as a rote action, provided the character begins that action before the expiration of this ritual’s duration (one scene). If the action is extended, the rote-action rule applies to each roll in the process.
The greatest challenge to a Storyteller here is presenting knowledge gained by Communion in a thematic light. Try to keep in mind the goals that the sorcerer’s benefactor might pursue. More importantly, remember that the patron is a spiritual figure with an intellect far greater than that of humanity, and that the patron’s answers are likely to stretch the understanding of a sorcerer to its limits. The wisdom granted in a single ritual may take years to fully comprehend or for its intended effects to be realized. Perhaps each communion should be recorded so that its full meaning may someday be discovered by future generations. Drawback: Receiving communication from divine power is life-changing. The will of the patron is inscrutable and vast. A patron may be displeased with a follower who ignores the wisdom the patron has shared. Displeasure may be expressed by refusal to answer, repetitive demands or “magnanimous” attempts to reform the sorcerer. An angered patron may cause the Merit to suffer dramatic failure at will.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Composure + Wits. Storytellers may choose to make these rolls to keep players unsure about the success of contact.
Ritual Length: One hour
Duration: One scene
Dramatic Failure: The sorcerer experiences some sort of grand self-delusion that he mistakes for success. He suffers a mild derangement for 2 or a severe one for 4.
Exceptional Success: The communion results in particularly significant information, or is unusually clear. The Storyteller decides what that means in the game.
Suggested Equipment: sorcerer lives a lifestyle pleasing to his patron (+1).
Possible Penalties: Questionable or poor symbol in ritual (-1), caster has ignored patron previously (-1 to -3), ritual enacted for trivial reason (-1 to -3), patron currently displeased with caster (-1 to -5), character has posed one or more questions already today (-5), character has posed one or more questions already this week (-3).
Ritual Details: The performer focuses on a symbol of import to his personal concept of his patron. Through intense prayer or meditation, the performer seeks to open his senses to communication from his divine inspiration. Drugs are sometimes used to divorce one’s senses from the normal world, though some practitioners feel this approach clouds the message rather than clarifying it. Darkness, incense, and other mild ways of altering the senses are useful as well.
Curse Effigy (•••)
Effect: Whether by sticking pins in a wax doll or cutting up photographs in her burn book, your character knows how to create effigies that can hurt her enemies without physically touching them. This process doesn’t require occult training. It can be anything from a tradition passed down through generations of family members to instructions downloaded off the Internet: What matters is her focused hatred toward her enemy.
To create an effigy, spend a point of Willpower and roll Wits + Occult – the victim’s Resolve. The effigy requires something personal from the intended victim (a sample of hair or blood), and takes an entire night to craft. For every success, you may inflict one of the following penalties on the subject as an instant action:
• An appropriate Personal Tilt; Arm Wrack Tilt by stabbing the effigy’s arm, or the Sick Tilt by coating an effigy in a hospital patient’s mucus. This effect lasts for one turn per success used.
• Attacking vital organs with a roll of Intelligence + Medicine – subject’s Stamina + Supernatural Tolerance, doing lethal damage.
• Whisper horrible things to the effigy, distracting the victim and reducing the victim’s next Social action to a chance die.
Once all successes are used the effigy falls apart and any new ones must be created with a fresh sample. If an effigy is destroyed or the victim gains possession of his effigy, then any remaining successes are wasted.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Occult. The Storyteller may wish to roll secretly to keep the accuracy of the divination in question.
Ritual Length: 10 minutes
Effect: The sorcerer performs ritual readings to divine the future. The character declares a target—a person, place, or thing. He can then attempt to divine the future of that subject. The information revealed is typically vague and difficult to comprehend until the predicted situation is imminent. At that point, things suddenly make sense to the sorcerer and courses of action may be remarkably clear.
This Merit grants use of the advanced-actions rule, allowing the player to roll twice and choose the most beneficial result for a single action involving the target. This action must be undertaken within 24 hours of the divination. Such rolls require interaction of some sort with the target, whether that be finding, attacking, persuading, or attempting to understand.
The same target can be divined with this rite only once every 24 hours. Any attempts to read the same person, place, or thing’s future again before 24 hours have passed fails automatically. If the sorcerer means a target ill, then the divination counts as hostile magic for purposes of defensive measures.
The sorcerer must have some connection to the target or the ritual fails. The degree of connection provides potential penalties to the roll. The sorcerer cannot choose himself as the target, because the divination allows him to determine the future only as it relates to his own interaction with a subject.
Dramatic Failure: The sorcerer unwittingly receives a faulty answer, suffering a -2 die penalty to the action attempted.
Exceptional Success: The divination is more clear than normal. The sorcerer gets use of the advanced actions rule for two rolls involving the target that day.
Suggested Equipment: Target willingly participates in the ritual (+1).
Ritual Details: Divination rituals always involve some sort of medium with which the sorcerer may read the future, usually in symbolic form. Tarot decks, rune stones, tea leaves, and I Ching characters are possibilities.
Prerequisite: Crafts •
Effect: The art of geomancy (known as feng shui in the East) is the study of harmonizing the physical environment with the flow of energy. The goal of feng shui is to create the ideal place to live or work. Through a combination of architectural design and mystic mathematics, a geomancer plans a pattern that must be duplicated within the entire structure (in the case of a building) or the layout of a room or series of connected rooms (in the case of interior design). Implementing this design increases the time required and the cost of the work involved, but practitioners consider it well worth the effort.
When designing a geomancy effect, the sorcerer chooses a single Attribute or Skill to be the focus. Once assigned, the Trait cannot be changed without completely redesigning the location. Attribute-based designs are more difficult to create than Skill-based ones (-3 dice penalty for Geomancy attempts to plan around an Attribute). The selected Trait must reflect the building or space’s function. For example, a library might enhance Academics rolls, while a peaceful cottage might aid with Composure rolls. If the sorcerer is successful, she creates a unique design that benefits those who use the location in the manner for which it was created, provided that the design is followed perfectly. The architect or interior designer who follows the geomancer’s design must succeed in a suitable roll (probably Intelligence + Crafts). Of course, the geomancer may be the architect or interior decorator, and such an arrangement is auspicious for the future of the site—an individual automatically succeeds in efforts to follow her own plans.
This Merit calls for an extended ritual roll, as normal, but requires a greater number of successes, dictated by the size of the space to be designed. If the sorcerer creates her geomancy design successfully, and the architect or interior designer successfully integrates the design into the physical location, the flow of energy is modified within the space. Any action that takes place in the space using the designated Attribute or Skill may gain a bonus. Once per scene, the first person to attempt an appropriate action within the space gains the 9 again effect (reroll 9s and 10s) for that single roll. Large spaces have the potential to help more people, one per distinct area of the space. (Note that this effect does not affect a chance die, should a dice pool be reduced to one. Only a result of 10 is a success under those circumstances.)
Once a geomantic design is created and implemented, it remains in effect indefinitely unless something happens to disrupt or change the flow of energy. Natural disasters may change the magical landscape more than they appear to affect it physically, requiring geomantic designs to be realigned. New construction or destruction of buildings or even spaces within a building may require that a sorcerer reassess the location for potential updates. Poorly designed geomantic locations may disrupt those around them, as well. The only limits on the number of designs a geomancer may create are her time, her capability and the ability of others to come up with the resources to put her designs into place.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Crafts
Minumum Successes Required: 5 (small room), 10 (typical home), 15 (typical office), 20 (multi-story building), 25 or more (skyscraper, Disneyland Hong Kong, Love Canal)
Ritual Length: One hour. Actual construction or redesign certainly takes longer—days or weeks depending on the size of the project.
Duration: Indefinite (until disrupted)
Dramatic Failure: The geomantic design is flawed, but the sorcerer doesn’t notice. When the plan is implemented, the Storyteller might have it disrupt nearby geomantic effects or have some disaster strike during construction or redecorating that is clearly the geomancer’s fault.
Exceptional Success: The flow of energy grants the 9 again bonus to the first two related rolls per scene.
Suggested Equipment: Religious holy site or magical nexus (+1 to +3 provided the structure is appropriate)
Possible Penalties: Multiple geomantic spaces within the same physical structure (-1 for each), site is haunted (-1), negative history (-1 for a murder or failed business to -5 for a toxic waste dump or death camp), shoddy materials (-1 to -3), dense urban area (-3), modern industrial area (-2), town or suburb (-1), holy site used inappropriately (-1 to -5).
Ritual Details: Thorough examination of the site is required, often using special compasses or the like. Measurements and calculations of mystic mathematical ratios are also common.
Permanent Magic (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character has made a magical effect from another Thaumaturge Merit she possesses permanent. For every dot in this Merit, the permanent effect can provide a +1 bonus, -1 penalty, or otherwise be tied to an equivalent numerical rating. For example, a character with Permanent Magic (Warding) 5 could make a permanent ward with a Strength rating of 5.
Permanent magical effects do not degrade with time, but can still be altered or destroyed by other means. A ruined magical effect is subject to the Sanctity of Merits rule.GM’s Note: This Merit is obviously super open-ended. I haven’t compared it to any of the other Thaumaturge Merits, and I’m sure there are all sorts crazy combinations possible. Players should clear it with me before they use this on anything other than Warding.
The sorcerer can view a location remotely. She can both see and hear the location normally, allowing her to overhear conversations or read text on a distant computer screen, all as if she were physically present.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Investigation
Ritual Length: 1 minute
Effect: Ritual rolls are modified by the sorcerer’s magical connection to the location. Because the mystic is in a light trance, she can talk softly, write, or type while continuing to view a distant location. She must use a magical connection to perform this ritual and can see the location only from the point of view of the subject to which her magical connection is linked. For example, if a mystic is holding a piece of someone’s hair, she can observe events occurring around that person. If she holds a chip of brick from a wall, she can observe the surroundings from the exact location where the chip was taken. The sorcerer can turn her point of view as if she were turning her head, but she cannot move the location from which she observes without obtaining another magical connection to a different subject and performing this ritual again. If, however, a sorcerer scrys a moving vehicle, a person who is walking, or an object that someone picks up and carries, the sorcerer’s point of view moves accordingly. Because the mystic merely observes a distant location, she is aware of events occurring around her body and her trance ends automatically if she is harmed, shaken roughly, or otherwise disturbed significantly.
Suggested Equipment: Hallucinogenic drugs (1), a large and unusually sphere of clear, transparent quartz (1), a mirror from the location to be scryed (1).
Possible Penalties: The magical connection to the location was obtained more than a month ago (-1), the magical connection to the location was obtained more than one year ago (-4), the target being scryed is located inside a general magical warding (-2).
Ritual Details: There are two common alternatives for performing this ritual—going into a trance using techniques similar to those involved in the Visionary Trances ritual, or staring into a viewing device such as a mirror, a candle flame, a pool of water or ink, a crystal ball, or even a TV screen displaying static. Chants, hallucinogen use, drawings of complex sigils and diagrams, or prayer may accompany these practices. The sorcerer may first perform various preparatory actions such as drawing a magic circle, but the essence of the ritual is either going into a trance or gazing into a mirror or similar object.
Second Sight (•••)
Occult stories speak of “second sight” as the ability to perceive the spiritual realm via sight and sound. By attuning her senses, a sorcerer temporarily gains the ability to see and hear Twilight.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Wits + Occult
Ritual Length: One minute
Duration: One scene
Effect: Second Sight allows a performer to see and hear ghosts, provided they exist within Twilight and lie in normal visual and audible ranges for the caster. Of course, the ability to perceive the immaterial doesn’t guarantee that there is something to see. If a ghost hides behind a desk, the caster must try to spot him with a Perception roll, as normal. Spiritual fog or ephemeral darkness hampers second sight as much as the physical versions of such things hamper mundane sight. Likewise, the mad screams of a tormented ghost can make it hard to hear cries for help from his eternal, ghostly victim.
While using Second Sight, a sorcerer can still see and hear the physical world around her, but with less focus and a great degree of distraction. All rolls for actions affecting the physical world suffer a -2 penalty, including Perception-based rolls. The caster’s Initiative rolls also suffer this penalty. Second Sight does not allow a mystic to perceive spirits in Twilight, only ghosts. The See Spirits Merit is required for that awareness.
Dramatic Failure: The sorcerer fails to gain a clear sense of Twilight, but still loses focus and is distracted by odd perceptions. She suffers the normal penalties for the rest of the scene, but cannot perceive ghosts. Alternatively, the Storyteller may choose to have the sorcerer imagine ghostly phenomena even though they aren’t really there. In any case, she cannot try to use the Merit again during the same scene.
Exceptional Success: The sorcerer succeeds at activating her special senses and does not suffer the normal -2 penalty to actions involving the physical world.
Suggested Equipment: The character can see some physical evidence that something ghostly currently happens (1), a physical link to one of the ghostly entities currently present, such as a photograph of a being while he was still alive (1).
Ritual Details: Rituals for Second Sight are usually very simple. The caster may close her eyes and focus her will, stare at the patterns of tea leaves or swirls of smoke, or mumble a short mantra.
Drawback: Once one has seen beyond the physical realm, it is hard to forget that there are invisible forces at work all the time, and that some of them don’t have humanity’s best interests at heart.
Alternate Identity (• to •••)
Customizing Alternate Identity
Double Life (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Domitor • (Domitor Favor • or Domitor Trust •)
Effect: Some ghouls walk a tightrope between maintaining a tenuous connection to the world of mortals and serving their domitor to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. Not all ghouls are able to handle the effort required, and those who do find their charade exhausting and more complicated than they initially expected. Few ghouls can maintain both positions well, and usually it is the role of the ghoul’s former self that suffers the most. Some fortunate ghouls, however, have their domitor’s help in leading two lives.
You can lead a mortal life (or at least, try to) without this Merit. Having dots in it simply means that your domitor actively assists you in maintaining a double life—which makes doing so far easier. Each dot represents an increasing degree of closeness to your old life that your master helps in maintaining, and grants a +1 bonus to any rolls to maintain the Masquerade where your personal life is concerned.
Used by: The majority of new, Camarilla ghouls tend to have a tenuous tie to their former lives. This Merit ensures that their connection to their former selves, along with their relationships, remains intact. Few Sabbat ghouls use this Merit. Independent ghouls can’t take it because they have no domitor.
Merit Dots Description • Keeping up Appearances: Your master has ordered you to keep in contact with people you once knew, but to keep yourself distanced from them unless you need to ask someone you know for a favor. •• Maintaining Friendships: With your master’s blessing, you remain part of a group of friends who meets every so often for dinner, coffee, or a movie. You might get together once a month to celebrate a birthday, or you might throw a big dinner party for them to show them how great your new “job” is. While you might not ask them for a favor related to your job, you know you can call on them in an emergency situation. ••• Keeping a Lover: You are in love with another person, and your master has allowed you to maintain this relationship in exchange for your service. You would do anything for each other, and your master knows it, too. •••• Staying Close to Your Family: Your master has granted you permission to remain a member of your family, and has helped you devise a cover so your activities are not suspicious. In exchange for your service, you may maintain your connection to your family, but you may not be allowed to live with them. While some domitors might use your family as leverage to get them to do their bidding, others want you to feign a sense of normalcy. ••••• Possessing a Mortal Life: Though you’ve become a ghoul, your master has decreed that you may keep your job, your relationships, and your home. From an observer’s perspective, you may seem smitten with a new love interest or stressed about your new high-powered job.Alternate Identity and Double Life: This Merit pairs well with Alternate Identity. They are different due to the fact that Double Life requires less subterfuge. Your job interferes with your life more than other folks, though doctors, police officers, and other on-call professionals would certainly sympathize with your situation.
Drawback: Complications might arise when other Kindred domitors or ghouls learn of the people involved in your character’s life, because they could use these innocents as pawns or hostages. After all, any personal connections your ghoul has is a potential weakness that can be exploited and used against you or your master.
Mentor (• to ••••• +)
Domitor (• to ••••• +)
Effect: While many ghouls are little more than unquestioning slaves, your character enjoys the benefit of a special relationship with her domitor, which goes beyond the simple master-servant boundary. Your character can rely on her domitor to provide information, extra Vitae, equipment or even to personally intervene on her behalf. Conversations with your character’s domitor might be genuine interpersonal dialogue rather than the simple dispensation of orders, and you might even find him turning to your character for true companionship. This doesn’t suggest that the ghoul is anything remotely like an equal to her domitor, just that she isn’t necessarily made to feel like a lowly, servile nonentity.
There are a variety of beneficial relationships with domitors. One ghoul might enjoy service to a generous master who isn’t significantly influential, while another is sheltered by her domitor’s status without receiving any special attention from him. The advantages of this Merit are split into three factors—power, favor and trust. Players who choose this Merit must also choose how to allocate these three factors when spending points. For instance, the first dot might go toward Domitor Power with two more going toward Domitor Favor. Each one of these characteristics has a limit of five dots, and the fifth dot costs two dots to purchase. Note that ghoul characters may not share the Domitor Merit. If several players wish to have their ghoul characters serve the same domitor, they should all spend the same amount on Domitor Power. The favor and trust aspects of the Merit reflect personal relationships, however, so they can be different for several characters in service to the same master. They can also change in time as the various characters demonstrate their worth.
Domitor Power: A ghoul with a powerful domitor finds that her dealings with local Kindred and their ghouls are, while not simple, at least a bit easier. Her compatriots (and domitor’s compatriots) know who she serves, and probably won’t be eager to impede her, especially if the news of such interference reaches her domitor’s ears. The number of points invested determines how powerful the domitor is.
Merit Dots Description X Your domitor is a neonate or other bottom feeder. • Your domitor is an experienced neonate or young ancilla. •• Your domitor is an established ancilla or outstandingly accomplished neonate. ••• Your domitor is a moderately influential elder or highly decorated ancilla. •••• Your domitor is a highly influential elder, such as a Prince. ••••• Your domitor is an extraordinarily influential elder, such as a Justicar or Methuselah. ••••• • Your domitor is a member of the Inner Circle, prehistoric Methuselah, or other unimaginably powerful elder.Each dot of Domitor Power confers a +1 die bonus on all Social rolls against Kindred. Note that Domitor Power need not be a simple reflection of title or position. A Primogen domitor might actually earn very little respect from the local Kindred, while an autarkis without ties to the local vampire community might be so old and dangerous as to be feared by all.
Domitor Favor: Domitor Favor reflects the master’s willingness to provide her ghoul access to Vitae, resources and equipment. It doesn’t necessarily reflect an emotional bond between the domitor and ghoul as much as it does a measure of generosity. Each dot of Domitor Favor reflects an additional hit of Vitae (one at a time) that a ghoul may request from her domitor per month without risking his wrath. It can also be used in place of Resources to determine whether a ghoul can afford to secure equipment and services. A ghoul with two dots in Domitor Favor can requisition a shotgun from his domitor, while one with five dots could take one of his domitor’s sports cars from the vast warehouse-like garage.
Merit Dots Description X Your domitor is tight-fisted with their resources (and blood) and not likely to give any gifts without some real convincing. • Your domitor grants you access to Resources 1 equipment/services and 1 additional Vitae per month. •• Your domitor grants you access to Resources 2 equipment/services and 2 additional Vitae per month. ••• Your domitor grants you access to Resources 3 equipment/services and 3 additional Vitae per month. •••• Your domitor grants you access to Resources 4 equipment/services and 4 additional Vitae per month. ••••• Your domitor grants you access to Resources 5 equipment/services and 5 additional Vitae per month. ••••• • Your domitor grants you access to Resources 6 equipment/services and 6 additional Vitae per month.Drawback: What is given can be revoked. Domitor Favor offers more benefits than Resources, but your character’s domitor can also choose to cut her off.
Domitor Trust: Domitor Trust is a measure of the extraordinary quality of the relationship your character enjoys with her domitor. Some ghouls are simply well liked by their domitors and are more likely to be afforded some breathing room with respect to their performance. The Kindred knows that his trusted ghoul will perform whatever job has been set before her, so he’s willing to let some minor early setback slide. An especially trusting domitor might even gift his ghoul with tidbits of forbidden information, which might prove infinitely more valuable than a gun or a car. Each dot of Domitor Trust confers a +1 die bonus on Social rolls except Intimidation (any ghoul whose domitor fears him isn’t long for this world) in dealings between your character and her domitor.
Merit Dots Description Loathsome Regnant Condition Your domitor actively despises and mistreats you. See the Loathsome Regnant Condition for further information. X Your domitor expects you to do your job—and nothing more. They aren’t necessarily cruel towards their ghouls (though they could be), but they fail to see any reason to be friendly. Your domitor would view your loss in purely utilitarian terms. How much will it cost to replace you? • Your domitor sometimes lets you get a word in edgewise. They may allow a longer leash in your day-to-day (or night-to-night) activities, such as by checking in less often. Your domitor might feel a twinge of regret or annoyance if anything happened to you. •• Your domitor is passingly fond of you. They might accommodate the occasional personal request, solicit your genuine opinion on a topic, or trust you to look after yourself in most day-to-day activities. Your domitor would be displeased if anything happened to you. ••• Your domitor treats you like an actual friend or partner. They likely accommodate most reasonable requests, tolerate behavior that would result in the dismissal of another servant (such as freely offering your opinion—to a point), and otherwise show signs of meaningful favor (such as meetings upon request or some other means of readier access than other ghouls). Your domitor would be upset if something happened to you and may seek reprisal if you are harmed, or recovery if you are abducted. •••• Your domitor treats you like a close friend and valued confidant. They genuinely value your opinion and likely seek your input on most major decisions. You are even more likely to have almost unrestricted access to your domitor and to know many of their secrets. Your domitor would make significant sacrifices for your well-being, and those who would hurt you risk incurring your domitor’s wrath. It is rare for Kindred older than neonates to extend this level of trust towards a mere ghoul. ••••• Your domitor’s trust and affection know no bounds. They might even love you. Your domitor grants significant and frequent requests, and may even entertain truly outrageous ones. Not only do you likely possess unfettered access to your domitor, you are intimately familiar with their secrets, fears, and plans. They rarely take significant actions without consulting or informing you. They would make vast sacrifices for your well-being and anyone who touches you, or even simply comes too close, will be on the receiving end of your domitor’s fury. This level of relationship is all but unheard of among Kindred and their ghouls, and is most frequently seen in truly twisted relationships such as when Kindred parents ghoul their mortal children (or vice versa), spouses, or siblings. A domitor that views a ghoul in this way is likely viewed as quite unusual by their peers. It would be scandalous if such a relationship were to exist out in the open.Drawback: Trust cuts both ways. Your domitor gains a +1 die bonus on Social rolls against you per dot in Domitor Trust.
Status (Ghouls) (• to •••••)
Effect: New Orleans’ ghouls have a social pecking order nearly as elaborate as the Kindreds’ own. Respect in this society of the half-damned is determined by four key factors: the power of a ghoul’s domitor, how much their domitor trusts them, the role in which they serve their domitor, and the length of time they have served their domitor.
As with all types of Status, characters add their dots in this Merit to Social rolls against other ghouls.
Merit Dots Description X Ignoble: You have been given the Blood, but that is all. Your fellow ghouls regard you as a disposable pawn or plaything for your domitor, not likely to last very long. You might even be a dangerous rogue the Kindred have marked for death. • Accepted: You are a recognized member of ghoul society. Your name isn’t respected, but other ghouls do remember it, having acknowledged that your domitor is unlikely to immediately dispose of you. •• Known: You have made a minor name for yourself and enjoy a moderate degree of standing, either through service to an especially potent Kindred, a significant degree of trust from your domitor, or simple longevity. Probationary members of the Krewe of Janus are also likely to have this level of Status. ••• Respected: You enjoy a notable degree of esteem, either through long and distinguished service to your domitor, the clear favor of a powerful Kindred, or some combination of both. Most ghouls within the Krewe of Janus have at least this level of Status. •••• Admired: You are greatly respected by your fellow ghouls. You have likely lived well past your alloted mortal lifetime and serve a prominent elder Kindred, such as one of the Primogen. If you are part of the Krewe of Janus, you have made a name for yourself beyond those already-respected ghouls, and are regarded as a particularly valuable member of the Krewe. ••••• Revered: You command nearly as much respect—if not fear—among your fellow ghouls as the Kindred themselves do. If you are part of the Krewe of Janus, you are a leader within the Krewe who coordinates its efforts during the day. If you serve a single Kindred domitor, you likely enjoy the unparalleled trust and confidence of one of the most powerful elders in the city, whom you have faithfully served for centuries. You might even be a ghoul to the Prince himself.
Status (Revenant Family) (• to •••••)
Effect: You hold a leadership role in a revenant family. Being a family elder not only affords you added respect and perks, it may also signal additional responsibilities your revenant is assumed to have. Your Status, however, is often limited to your family. Outsiders may not know or care that you are a family elder, while your immediate family treats you differently than your relatives.
High-Status revenants are trusted individuals who tend to make decisions on behalf of the family. A high-Status revenant might broker a deal with a vampiric clan, ranking members of a sect, or other revenant families. Elders might assign one or more family members to a given task, and may receive gifts, boons, or favors to distribute them as they see fit. Elders might often be directly responsible for, or consulted frequently, on matters pertaining to the education and guidance of younger family members.
The requirements of being a family elder are not standardized. A family elder has the power to address and nurture their charges as they see fit, and often do in accordance with their hopes and dreams for the future of their family. Because of their rank, however, they are often drawn into political matters and deadly rivalries involving other revenant families or clans. While only the family’s matriarch or patriarch may make final decisions, other family elders may offer their opinions for consideration.
Due to the size of most revenant families, each is likely to have multiple family elders which are often tied to a specific location, such as an estate, or based on the number of charges involved in multiple locations. For example, a revenant family might have so many children running about, that it’s impossible to have “a” big sister or brother, so multiple revenants in that role share the burden of responsibility. In most cases, however, the requirements of what a family elder does, and how those actions are carried out, will be specific to the needs of a particular revenant family. After all, what is best for the Bratovich family, is not necessarily the same as what’s best for the Grimaldi clan.
Just as the term “Uncle” is used as a title of respect for friends of a mortal family, the titles in the family elder Background do not necessarily imply a direct blood tie or connection to those in the revenant’s care. Given the fact that many revenant families are close-knit and tend to dissuade outsiders from interfering in their business, however, it is likely that the revenant would be a blood relative of their charges.
As with all types of Status, each dot in this Merit grants a +1 bonus on Social rolls against characters you have authority or sway over (in this case, fellow members of your revenant family).
Merit Dots Description X Little Sister/Brother: You may be a blood relative, but you have no clout over your other family members. • Big Sister/Brother: You keep your younger brothers and sisters in line, and pass along orders from higher-ups. You are the most likely candidate to be sent on errands or missions for the family. •• Aunt/Uncle: You supervise the Brothers and Sisters, and check in with them from time to time. If your family is attacking or defending itself, or is ordered to carry out a mission, you will be asked to lead your charges. ••• Mother/Father: You are an advisor who passes along advice and guidance to younger family members, and help shape your charges’ futures. You are empowered to intervene in matters pertaining to the health and strength of your family, and while you are aware of missions and errands you do not directly intervene unless there are problems. •••• Grandmother/Grandfather: You stick close to the family estate, and you are charged with overseeing the other family elders to report to your Matriarch or Patriarch. While you might leave the grounds, your responsibility is to keep things running smoothly on the family compound. This might include dealing with visitors and intruders, but it also may involve smoothing other small disagreements, managing resources, or currying favor from potential allies. ••••• Matriarch/Patriarch: You are the head of your estate, and the primarily representative of your revenant family. You decide what orders to give, who to give them to, and when they make sense to be carried out. You immerse yourself in politics for the benefit of your revenant family, and are well-versed in knowing the identity of your rivals, allies, and enemies. As the ultimate arbiter, you are also recognized by your family’s clan sponsor as the only spokesperson and legitimate authority.
Powerful Vitae (•••••)
Prerequisite: Elder ghoul; Domitor with Blood Potency 6+
Effect: You have been a ghoul for a long time and have been privileged to feed upon a truly powerful Kindred. His potent vitae courses through your veins, and your blood is as thick as another vampire’s—albeit a younger one’s. This grants you a single dot of Blood Potency, which carries a number of benefits.
• You add your dots in a Discipline to rolls with that Discipline, just like the Kindred do.
• You no longer gain the 10-only quality in Clashes of Wills against vampires.
• When a vampire’s Discipline would be contested by you, you add your Blood Potency dots to the roll.
• You can store up to 10 Vitae in your system, regardless of your Stamina score.
You can take this Merit multiple times, increasing your Blood Potency by an additional dot with each purchase. You can never take this Merit more times than (domitor’s Blood Potency – 5).
Drawback: The blood of most Kindred is too thin to sustain such potent vitae in a ghoul. For every month that you do not feed from a Kindred whose Blood Potency is equal to your own + 5, your Blood Potency decreases by one dot, to a minimum of 0. If your Blood Potency falls to 0, you lose all the benefits of this Merit. Your Blood Potency returns to its normal dot rating at the rate of one dot for every month you feed from a sufficiently potent Kindred.
Predatory Aura (••• to •••••)
Effect: Vampires manage to feign mortality; this Merit allows you to turn the tables on them and pretend to be a vampire, broadcasting the predatory aura through which Kindred recognize their own kind. This Merit can be of great use, but can also cause some very dangerous misunderstandings.
Merit Dots Description ••• Whenever you meet a vampire, you can roll (Manipulation or Composure) + Subterfuge contested by the vampire’s Perception or Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge). On a success, the vampires register you as having a predatory aura and believe you to be fellow Kindred. •••• You automatically pass as Kindred to any vampire without dots in Auspex. Against such Kindred, you may roll (Manipulation or Composure) + Subterfuge contested by their Perception or Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge) to broadcast a predatory aura. ••••• You automatically pass as Kindred to any vampire with 5 or fewer Auspex dots. Kindred with 6 or more Auspex dots can try to see through your ruse with a Perception or Wits + (Empathy or Subterfuge) roll, either at a -5 penalty, contested by your (Manipulation or Composure) + Subterfuge. Furthermore, when vampires lash out with their predatory aura against you, you can respond with the fight option as if you were Kindred yourself. Your charade is nigh-perfect, and any vampire who wishes to prove you are not what you claim must do so through mundane means.
Source Sympathy (•)
Effect: You feel the bonds of blood in a way similar to Kindred. You can take part in blood sympathy with your domitor as if you were your sire’s cousin. It isn’t the intimacy of direct family, but it’s more connection than many ghouls ever know with their masters.
Effect: Your character experiences blood sympathy as if she were thrice removed from her regnant. See Blood Sympathy on page 98 of Vampire The Requiem: 2e for further information.
Taste of the Wild (•••)
The Vitae in your system has given you a closer connection to the beasts of prey that your regnant understands so well. You are a pack animal, in many ways, and have a unique method for grooming your own pack. You may use your precious Vitae stores to create ghoul animals. They behave, after three tastes, as if they are bound to you. Your Vitae cannot affect humans in this way, nor can it be used to bond Kindred to you. It is a unique relationship with animals. (This is an exception to the restriction on ghouls passing along Vitae.)
Prerequisite: Regnant has at least one Animalism dot
Effect: By spending Vitae, your character may create an animal ghoul exactly as a vampire does, and enjoy the benefitsof having a blood-bound servant. You must purchase each ghoul created this way as a Retainer, just as a vampire’s player would.
If your character loses her ghoul nature, so too do her animals. Though your character regains any Merit points spent this way (per Sanctity of Merits), you may find a pack of angry, confused wolves who no longer see your character as master.
Vitae Hound (•)
Effect: You are an aficionado of Vitae, and can sense what you need in much the same way your domitor can sense blood. You may act as your domitor’s prized hunting companion, or even receive a minor city position pursuant to this talent if you play your cards right.
Effect: Your character can use the rules for Kindred Senses. See page 90 of Vampire: The Requiem 2e for further information. For the purposes of searching by smell, she adds one half of her domitor’s Blood Potency, rounded up.
Effect: For those who ramble, living nomadically with their domitors, staying awake and alert during the long day shifts and parting most of the night can take supernatural skills. The mutual need for survival that runs back and forth through Kindred and ghoul allows this gift to manifest.
Prerequisite: Domitor has Auspex
Effect: During the day, your domitor can give up her ability to use her Auspex Discipline. If she does, you may use it as though you had it at whatever level she possesses.
Alternate Identity (• to •••)
Customizing Alternate Identity
Broken Bond (• to ••••• +)
Effect: You were once blood-bound but have secretly slipped the leash, and you are free to act as you will once more. Your regnant has no idea that you are not in fact bound, and continues to treat you as if you were. The number of dots in this Merit determines how powerful the regnant is. The experience of having been bound once is also potential justification to take the Unbondable Merit.
Merit Dots Description • Regnant is a neonate. •• Regnant is an experienced neonate or young ancilla. ••• Regnant is an established ancilla or outstandingly accomplished neonate. •••• Regnant is a moderately influential elder or highly decorated ancilla. ••••• Regnant is a highly influential elder, such as a Prince. ••••• • Regnant is an extraordinarily influential elder, such as a Justicar or Methuselah. ••••• •• Regnant is an unimaginably powerful elder, such as a prehistoric Methuselah or one of the Inner Circle.
Personal Masquerade (•••)
Effect: Thorough charm, manipulation, or just plain luck, you have managed to convince other vampires that you are a member of a clan other than your own. You may purchase Status dots in the clan you are impersonating. If you are Caitiff, any social interactions with vampires ignorant of your true nature ignore your usual penalty for being clanless.
Drawback: Regardless of your original lineage, you must constantly be vigilant of your ruse. Should anyone come to realize you have been playing them for fools, their vengeance will be swift. The higher you climb in Kindred politics, the more likely this becomes. The Clan Bane Condition can actually prove to be a boon in supporting your Masquerade. Others, however, must be that much more careful.
Allies (• to •••••)
Kindred Ally (• to •••••)
Effect: You are on especially close terms (and possibly even friends) with another Kindred who you can call on for aid and assistance. Unlike a Paramour, the relationship is not romantic, and you are likely privy to fewer of one another’s secrets. You might even dislike one another and simply be working together out of necessity. The number of dots in this Merit determine the relative power and position of the Ally in Kindred society.
Merit Dots Description • Ally is a neonate. •• Ally is an experienced neonate or young ancilla. ••• Ally is an established ancilla or outstandingly accomplished neonate. •••• Ally is a moderately influential elder or highly decorated ancilla. ••••• Ally is a highly influential elder, such as a Prince. ••••• • Ally is an extraordinarily influential elder, such as a Justicar. ••••• •• Ally is an unimaginably powerful elder, such as one of the Inner Circle.A character’s dots in this Merit cannot be more than two dots higher than their own “rating” as an Ally. For example, a neonate could have an Ally who is another neonate, an experienced neonate, or an ancilla. Past that point, the relationship is too unequal for both Kindred to consider each other allies: purchase the Mentor Merit instead.
Drawback: Relationships go both ways. Your Ally also expects the right to call upon you for favors.
Lawman’s Friend (••)
Effect: For whatever reason (maybe your winning smile or perhaps just your superb groveling technique), the local Sheriff or Bishop in charge of discipline likes you. He’s inclined to overlook your minor trespasses and let you in on things you’re not supposed to know about. He even gives you warnings about occasional crackdowns and times when the higher-ups aren’t feeling generous. Of course, abusing this connection might well turn a friendly vampire into an enemy—and the change might not be apparent until it’s too late.
Old Pal (••)
Effect: An acquaintance from your breathing days was Embraced around the same time you were. Fortunately, your friendship has endured even death and unlife, and you find a constant source of support and aid in your old friend. She expects the same of you, which isn’t always convenient, but at least you each have someone to hang onto who remembers the good old nights—and days. The Storyteller should play the Old Pal as a very loyal Ally.
Paramour (• to ••••• +)
Effect: You have a long-term relationship with another Kindred. Although you may have had your disagreements over the years, you are generally loyal to each other. You know many of your Paramour’s secrets, and your Paramour knows just as much about you. You have both come to each other’s aid over the years, and you would be aggrieved (or at least wrathful) if anything were to happen to your love. The number of dots in this Merit determine the relative power and position of the Paramour in Kindred society.
Merit Dots Description • Paramour is a neonate. •• Paramour is an experienced neonate or young ancilla. ••• Paramour is an established ancilla or outstandingly accomplished neonate. •••• Paramour is a moderately influential elder or highly decorated ancilla. ••••• Paramour is a highly influential elder, such as a Prince. ••••• • Paramour is an extraordinarily influential elder, such as a Justicar or Methuselah. ••••• •• Paramour is an unimaginably powerful elder, such as a prehistoric Methuselah or one of the Inner Circle.Kindred are predators and deal with each another on a comparative power basis first and foremost. If both partners have equal dot ratings as Paramours, the relationship exists on largely equal footing. If one partner’s Paramour rating is one dot higher than the other partner’s, she’s the “older woman” (or man) in the relationship. If one partner’s Paramour rating is two dots higher than the other partner’s, she’s the dominant figure in the relationship and likely makes all of the major decisions. If one partner’s Paramour rating would be three or more dots higher than the other partner’s, the Paramour Merit is inappropriate: purchase the Mentor (or Sugar Mommy/Daddy) Merit instead.
Drawback: Relationships can be challenging. Relationships between Kindred are even more so. Conflict is likely inevitable at some point.Designer’s Note: This came up in-game with a previous player. “Paramour” is a metagame term used to refer to this Merit, not an in-game term that Kindred themselves use to refer to romantic partners (or at least not any more often than “lover,” “mistress,” “sugar daddy,” etc.).
Primogen Friendship (•••)
Effect: The ruling vampires of the city value you and your opinions. You are called in to consult on decisions, and your recommendations carry great weight. Your position may not be an official one, but it’s powerful nonetheless. This relationship also grants you a +3 bonus to Social rolls against the Primogen and their direct agents, such as Myrmidons.
Thrall (• to ••••• +)
Effect: Your character is the regnant of a thrall: another Kindred she has subjected to a third-stage blood bond. She might have fed him her blood unknowingly or forced him into a position where he had no choice but to drink. However it happened, your character has an extremely potent hold over this Kindred, and is indisputably the most important figure in his unlife.
Characters may only purchase Thralls who are of equal or younger age than theirs.
Merit Dots Description • Thrall is a particularly weak or ineffectual neonate. •• Thrall is a neonate. ••• Thrall is an experienced neonate or young ancilla. •••• Thrall is an established ancilla or outstandingly accomplished neonate. ••••• Thrall is a moderately influential elder or highly decorated ancilla. ••••• • Thrall is a highly influential elder, such as a Prince. ••••• •• Thrall is an extraordinarily influential elder, such as a Justicar.Drawback: The blood bond instills devotion and fixation, but not mindless obedience. A thrall who is mistreated can grow resentful and rebel. He may even go mad as his mind struggles to reconcile the violently conflicting, vitae-induced emotions.
Contacts (• to •••••)
Cacophony Savvy (• to •••)
Effect: You have your finger on the pulse of the Kindred underground. You’re adept with the codes and cants that allow Kindred culture to flourish despite the Masquerade, and can dig through all the personal ads, magazine codes, tracts, and tagging locations to find the latest news. Whenever your character mines the Cacophony for gossip, roll double her Cacophony Savvy Merit dots as a dice pool. Every success allows you to find a single piece of information or ask a single question of the Storyteller. Information obtained through the Cacophony must concern the Kindred in some way. Some examples include:
• A given Kindred’s clan, covenant, favored herd, or city of origin.
• The common aliases or favored feeding grounds of a new Kindred in town.
• Who is on the way up or way out.
• Where the Masquerade is thinnest in the city.
• What mortals are close to uncovering Kindred.
• Where the best feeding is.
Drawback: The Cacophony is not a spectator sport. You can’t just consume; you must create. If your character does not contribute any news and gossip, she falls out of touch and takes a cumulative -2 penalty on her next uses of Cacophony Savvy. This penalty fades when your character becomes an active part of the Cacophony agaian and adds something of value.
Mole (• to •••)
Effect: You have an informer buried in a rival clan, covenant, or sect who funnels you all sorts of information as to what her peers are up to. What you do with the information is up to you, but abusing the knowledge might be a good way to get your informer killed. The other side has spies too.
This Merit functions identically to Contacts, save that the characer can roll triple the dots invested as a dice pool and can only ask questions about the enemy organization’s activities.
Domain (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character has exclusive feeding rights within a section of territory. Her claim is recognized by the Prince, and non-permitted Kindred who enter your character’s domain or feed from its inhabitants will be in violation of the Second Tradition. Dots in this Merit represent the ease of hunting in that domain. Add the dot rating to all hunting rolls, starting Vitae rolls, and any predatory aura conflicts in your character’s territory.
Merit Dots Description X Your character holds no domain outside of her immediate haven. • Small domain: A street or several buildings. •• Middling domain: A city block. ••• Sizable domain: Several city blocks or a neighborhood. •••• Enviable domain: A city district. Characters with this many Domain dots are almost always Regents. ••••• Vast domain: Multiple city districts, or a single extremely choice district. ••••• • The entire city. Bar unusual circumstances, only a Prince may hold this many dots in Domain.Players may reference the geography page to decide where their character claims domain.
Drawback: Territory doesn’t maintain itself. Trespassers must not go uncontested, or your hold on the area falters, and constantly running to your Regent or the Sheriff looks weak.
Effect: Your domain includes some part of the city’s Elysium, and you are very active as its host. Violence and use of Disciplines against other Kindred is forbidden within its boundaries. Kindred may freely gather and socialize in the area, and your status as its host and protector brings you some amount of respect.
Drawback: Maintaining Elysium involves some measure of responsibility. You must keep Kindred attendees entertained and report to the city’s Master of Elysium. Infractions that take place within the Elysium also reflect poorly on you.Designer’s Note: Characters with high enough dots in Domain will probably have Elysium sites somewhere in their territory. This Merit is meant for PCs who make their domain’s headquarters in an Elysium and regularly take advantage of their status as its host.
Herd (• to •••••)
Effect: You have built a group of mortals from whom you can feed without fear. A Herd may take many forms, from circles of kinky clubgoers to actual cults built around you as a god-figure. In addition to providing nourishment, your Herd might come in handy for minor tasks, though they are typically not very controllable, closely connected to you, or particularly skilled (for more effective pawns, purchase Allies or Retainers).
Each game session, you can draw on a number of Vitae equal to this Merit’s dot rating. This requires no roll, only a quick interlude. Taking more than that amount requires normal hunting rolls.
Merit Dots Description X No Herd. You hunt on the streets like any other neonate (or task servants with doing so, if you have them). • Around ~3 vessels. Your herd can provide some extra vitae in a pinch, but you still need to hunt. •• Around ~7 vessels. Your herd is a useful supplement to nightly hunting. ••• Around ~15 vessels. You can probably get by without hunting so long as you make an effort to conserve vitae. •••• Around ~30 vessels. You may not even need to hunt with a herd this large. ••••• Around ~60 vessels. Your herd is so vast that you never hunt and still have an abundance of leftover vitae to leverage for favors.Drawback: Addicts need their fix. Sometimes, they demand attention. If neglected, they’ll withdraw. Your character must have at least minor interactions with her Herd before they’ll give blood freely.
Mentor (• to ••••• +)
Effect: This Merit gives your character a teacher who provides advice and guidance. He acts on your character’s behalf, often in the background and sometimes without your character’s knowledge. This could be by steering other elders clear of her, speaking to the Prince on her behalf, or warning her when she’s walking into situations she doesn’t understand. A character’s Mentor is often her sire, but it could well be any Kindred (or group of Kindred) with an interest in her well-being. The dot rating determines the Mentor’s capabilities, and to what extent he’ll aid your character.
Merit Dots Description X No Mentor. • Mentor is an experienced neonate. •• Mentor is an ancilla or outstandingly accomplished neonate. ••• Mentor is a moderately influential elder or highly decorated ancilla. •••• Mentor is a highly influential elder, such as a Prince. ••••• Mentor is an extraordinarily influential elder, such as a Justicar or Methuselah. ••••• • Mentor is an unimaginably powerful elder, such as a prehistoric Methuselah or one of the Inner Circle.Drawback: Mentors almost always want something in return for their services and will expect your character to repay their aid. When establishing a Mentor, determine what the Mentor wants from your character. This should be personally important to him and it should reflect on the dot rating chosen. A one-dot Mentor might be incapable of dealing with modern society and want to live vicariously through your character. This might mean coming to him and telling stories of her exploits. A five-dot Mentor would want something astronomical, such as an oath to procure an ancient, cursed artifact that may or may not exist, in order to prevent a prophesized death.
Protégé (•• to •••• +)
Effect: Your character serves as a mentor to a less experienced Kindred. This Protégé is loyal, supports your character in her endeavors, and comes to her for guidance and advice. Although he sometimes asks favors of your character, she is the dominant figure in the relationship, as it is right for an elder Kindred to be. A Protégé is usually a character’s childe, grandchilde, or other younger blood relation, but can also be any less experienced Kindred in whom your character has taken an interest. The dot rating determines how experienced the Protégé is.
Characters may only purchase Protégés who are lower dot ratings than they themselves would be.
Merit Dots Description • Protégé is a particularly weak or ineffectual neonate. •• Protégé is a typical neonate. ••• Protégé is an experienced neonate or young ancilla. •••• Protégé is an established ancilla or outstandingly accomplished neonate. ••••• Protégé is a moderately influential elder or highly decorated ancilla. +2 Protégé is under a blood bond to you.A Protégé is more powerful than a Retainer but also more independent. He is not under a blood bond (unless you purchase that separately) and works to advance his own needs and wants before your character’s, although he does want the two to intersect.
Protégé and Thrall: Thralls are assumed to have no deeper connection to a character beyond the blood bond. A Protégé is loyal even without it. “Layering” the blood bond on top of that existing loyalty thus costs extra.
Safe Place (• to ••••• +)
Customized Safe Places
External Haven (••)
Effect: You maintain your own private haven outside the chantry and Tremere control. Most Tremere are expected to rest in the chantry, where the clan can keep an eye on them. However, you have been trusted with a little more privacy. This might be because you have already proved your loyalty, or perhaps because they are testing it.
Status (Kindred) (• to ••••• +)
Effect: Kindred Status measures a character’s respect, social clout, and accumulated boons within the All-Night Society. Three types of Status exist for the Kindred: Camarilla, Clan, and Covenant. Each type carries two primary uses.
First, characters add their Status as a bonus to Social rolls against any other Kindred with at least one dot in the same type of Status.
Second, characters may call on retroactively owed prestation debts. To do so, roll Camarilla Status + Clan Status + Covenant Status. The number of successes determines how substantial the debt is and how influential a Kindred it is owed by. Characters may not roll more successes than their own Status dots + 3.
Successes Boon Owed 1 Trivial boon from a Status 0 Kindred. 2 Minor boon from a Status 0 Kindred or a trivial boon from a Status 1 Kindred. 3 Major boon from a Status 0 Kindred, a minor boon from a Status 1 Kindred, or a trivial boon from a Status 2 Kindred. 4 Major boon from a Status 1 Kindred, a minor boon from a Status 2 Kindred, or a trivial boon from a Status 3 Kindred. 5 Major boon from a Status 2 Kindred, a minor boon from a Status 3 Kindred, or a trivial boon from a Status 4 Kindred. 6 Major boon from a Status 3 Kindred, a minor boon from a Status 4 Kindred, or a trivial boon from a Status 5 Kindred. 7 Major boon from a Status 4 Kindred, a minor boon from a Status 5 Kindred, a trivial boon from a Status 6 Kindred.Blood boons and life boons are very potent debts, and can only be earned over the course of actual play. See this page for more information about types of debts.
Drawback: Characters who hold boons rarely get where they are without owing boons. Every time a character retroactively calls on a prestation debt, roll their same dice pool at a -2 penalty. On a success, the character owes a boon to another Kindred commensurate to the number of successes rolled.
Core Types of Kindred Status
Status (Camarilla) (• to ••••• +)
Effect: Camarilla Status represents a vampire’s reputation, esteem, and vested responsibility and according acknowledgement in the affairs of the local Camarilla. Regardless of clan and covenant, certain individuals rise to the top of the social or feudal strata, exemplary because of their efforts in the name of the domain as a whole. Princes, Regents, Primogen, Harpies and other “officers” of a given domain fit this description. At higher ratings, the vampire’s recognition extends to neighboring cities, until their name is known by Camarilla-affiliated vampires throughout the world.
Status Dots Description Notoriety Condition The character has an actively bad reputation among the Camarilla. See the Notoriety Condition for further information. X Acknowledged: The character is an accepted member of the Camarilla, but no more. He is simply another neonate (or unaccomplished older Kindred) with no meaningful boons or reputation attached to his name. The one benefit to this is that no one covets his station. • Known: The character has made a minor name for herself among her city’s Camarilla. Other Kindred are starting to take notice of her, but she’s still too small-time to make any enemies by dint of reputation alone. She has earned a few minor boons from other Kindred of equal or lesser standing. This level of Status is typical for younger or indolent ancillae and promising, upwardly bound neonates. •• Respected: The character is a member of the Camarilla in good standing. He’s proven himself to be a worthy member of the city in which he resides and possesses a respectable number of boons from other Kindred of similar standing. His fellows may regard him as a threat, but he’s still largely beneath the notice of the city’s biggest players. This level of Status is typical for established ancillae and a few outstandingly accomplished neonates. ••• Influential: The character is a member of the Camarilla in excellent standing and has built up a significant reputation around herself. She holds numerous boons from her peers and maybe even a few from elders above her station. Other Kindred are eager to help her by dint of reputation alone, but she’s also captured the attention of rivals who want to see her fall from grace. This level of Status is typical for younger elders and highly decorated ancillae. •••• Powerful: The character is one of the most respected and influential Kindred in his city. He is recognized as a major player within Elysium and holds many boons, a number of which are owed by potent elders. Even the Prince takes him seriously, and his name has likely spread to a few neighboring cities. With this level of esteem comes dangerous rivals eager to claim the place he’s carved out for himself. This level of Status is typical for established elders and Princes of smaller cities. ••••• Luminary: The character possesses an unmatched reputation throughout the city. She is either a respected Prince or wields equivalent social clout to one, in which case her city’s Prince could well regard her as a dangerous threat to his rule. Everyone’s eyes are on her and they jealously covet what she has. Of course, she’s owed so many boons that dislodging her from her throne won’t be an easy task—many of those boons are likely owed by the very same Kindred who desire her downfall. Her name is almost certainly recognized in neighboring cities, and may even be recognized on a global scale, albeit as a minor one. ••••• • Global Luminary: The character’s name is spoken with great reverence. His influence transcends the city in which he resides: his reputation is known in Elysia throughout the world. If the character is a Prince, he is considered a model ruler and held as an example to other Princes. If the character does not claim praxis over his city, the local Prince likely only rules by his sufferance. Invariably, however, he has made dangerous enemies with influence on a global scale. There’s only so much room at the top. ••••• •• Global Luminary: Respect only carries one so far. The character isn’t merely admired by Kindred across the world; she’s feared too. Other Princes go out of their way to avoid drawing her ire, for she wields influence to rival a Justicar’s. Her dominion over her city (letting another Kindred claim the Princedom would be an obvious farce) is such that even those dreaded representatives of the Inner Circle find it more practical to entreat with her as a peer. The highest eyes of the Camarilla are upon her—a perilous thing. ••••• ••• Global Luminary: The character is a member of the Inner Circle.
Status (Clan) (• to ••••• +)
Effect: Clan Status is concerned with lineage and the Blood. At the outset of a chronicle, a Kindred’s standing often reflects the prestige her sire has gained and passed along, such as with regard to the Ventrue. Many assume that childer who were Embraced by powerful and influential members of the clan have already shown some special quality or excellence, otherwise they would not have been chosen by so great a sire. This kind of recognition is short lived, however. A neonate might enjoy prestige by association under the purview of her sire, but such a favored childe is expected to make a name for herself.
Vampires who truly embody the ideals of their clan and who establish themselves in positions of power and influence (often as Primogen) gain the respect of others in their clan, being perceived as models for success. While the Toreador tell tales of particularly vicious Harpies of distant cities, the Gangrel speak of brooding hulks who confidently brave the Lupine-infested wilds alone. Those who diverge from the expected behavior of the clan in remarkable ways gain renown (or notoriety), as well, perhaps founding bloodlines that become known to vampire society as a whole.
Clan Status is not so rigidly defined as Covenant Status. While some clans (notably, the Ventrue and Tremere) have formal internal hierarchies, the notion of esteem is usually more generalized.
Merit Dots Description Notoriety Condition The character has an actively bad reputation among her clan. See the Notoriety Condition for further information. X Acknowledged: The character is an acknowledged member of her clan but has yet to earn a meaningful name for herself. • Known: The character is a known member of his clan. He’s still wet behind the ears, but he’s got potential and has so far shown that he may not be a waste of the Blood. He is accepted but is too green to have much influence in clan matters. He might also be an older Kindred who has demonstrated a lack of interest in furthering his reputation among his clan. •• Credible: The character is a member of her clan in good standing and receives begrudging recognition from her clanmates. She might have made such contributions as bringing her clan a juicy secret, providing needed assistance to a clanmate, bringing down an enemy to the clan, and so on. Her clanmates listen when she has something to say. ••• Esteemed: The character is a member of his clan in excellent standing. He is respected by his clanmates and is entrusted with meaningful secrets and tasks to further the clan’s interests. Younger clanmates see him as an example and look to him for guidance, but this increased respect also brings rivals who covet his position and plot against him. •••• Admired: The character is a leading member of her clan. She embodies her clan’s ideals and is given respect and a wide berth by all her clanmates. She leads conversations during clan gatherings and is always one of the first Kindred to speak. She is even trusted enough to represent her clan to elders of other clans. Many rivals covet her station and plot against her, but that envy is tempered with a healthy caution. ••••• Revered: The character is a paragon of her clan. She has come to the aid of her clanmates on countless occasions and is considered a perfect exemplar of her clan’s ideals. She speaks first and last during conversations and sets agendas during clan meetings, many of which are likely called at her behest. Those of her clanmates who don’t fear her plot incessantly against her, but they are extremely cautious to make any moves until certain they can come out ahead. ••••• • + Global Reverence: Clan Status of six or more dots measures how well-known the character is on a global scale.
Status (Covenant) (• to ••••• +)
Effect: Covenant Status represents rank, achievement and responsibility within a covenant. It is less concerned with clan ideals and more with covenant actions, philosophies and accomplishments. The various covenants are not bound by any supernatural means or governed by clan lineage. They find a commonality of goals and ideologies, instead. It is not enough to be powerful or exemplary of clan ideals; a covenant is concerned with what its members have done to benefit its cause and combat its rivals.
Those Kindred who enjoy the greatest covenant-based esteem are often the core members of their factions in a given city, those around whom others rally. These Kindred instigate or mediate conflict with other covenants, generally looking to further certain idealistic goals and establish themselves or other members in positions of influence in the local hierarchy. A Nosferatu in command of a massive spy network might have status within his clan, but the lowliest of his spies might risk her unlife to gather a specific piece of information that helps oust the Invictus Prince, subsequently enjoying far more status with, say, the Circle of the Crone than her master.
Like Clan Status, Covenant Status is not so specifically tied to certain titles. It is more a notion of an individual’s accomplishments. A Lancea et Sanctum Priest, for example, has a greater title than, say, a noted ethicist of the covenant, but that ethicist might have written numerous treatises on the state of undeath and the soul, according her more esteem among her peers than the Priest who rides solely on the weight of her title.
Merit Dots Description Notoriety Condition The character has an actively bad reputation among. See the Notoriety Condition for further information. X Nobody: The character may be a member of the covenant, but she hasn’t done anything to distinguish herself. This level of Status is typical for less accomplished neonates and older Kindred who only hold purely nominal membership in the covenant. • Known: The character has distinguished herself and holds a few minor responsibilities. She has little authority, but no one envies her for it. This level of Status is typical for neonates or elder Kindred who haven’t bothered to greatly involve themselves in their covenant’s affairs. •• Respected: The character has proven himself to be a useful member of the covenant. He has received some further measure of trust from his superiors and been entrusted with carrying out moderately important tasks. He likely doesn’t wield any formal authority over lower-Status members of the covenant, but they recognize his higher place in the pecking order. He is starting to be regarded as a threat by his peers and immediate superiors. ••• Influential: The character is part of the covenant’s mid-level leadership, or “middle management.” She is charged with carrying out the will of the covenant’s leadership and has notable autonomy in fulfilling her duties. She likely wields some degree of formal authority over Kindred of lower Status. The Kindred below her actively want her position, while her peers recognize her as a competitor and threat to their own advancement. •••• Powerful: The character is part of the inner circle that runs the covenant. He has great sway over its policies within the city, which he likely decides together with his (few) peers and the covenant’s recognized leader. Together, they arbitrate intra-covenant disputes and provide direction and guidance to lower-ranking members. The character has almost certainly found ways to use this level of authority to his personal benefit, but that same authority brings commensurately many rivals. Even the covenant’s leader is probably watching her. ••••• Luminary: The character is the covenant’s recognized leader within her city. If the covenant is less hierarchal, she may be recognized as first among equals. She sets the covenant’s agendas and has the first and last word on any subject concerning its activities. Her every word probably isn’t law, but no inferior wants to be seen openly challenging her. Not yet, at least. Everyone below her covets her position, and it’s only a matter of time until one of her subordinates makes a move. ••••• • + Global Luminary: Covenant Status of six or more dots measures how well-known the character is on a global scale.
Customized Kindred Status
Kindred Friendship (• to •••)
Prerequisite: Not a member of the relevant Kindred faction
Effect: This Merit reflects how liked and respected your character is by a clan, covenant, coterie, or sect other than her own. Perhaps she’s a religious Invictus member who shows regular support for the Lancea et Sanctum, or perhaps she’s a Malkavian painter whose artwork has made a splash among the local Toreador. The number of dots in this Merit grants a variable bonus on Social rolls from members of the Kindred faction in question.
Merit Dots Description X Neutral: The faction likes the character as much as any outsider. • Liked: The faction has taken a particular shine to the character or perhaps simply finds them amusing. They prefer the character’s company over that of other Kindred and are more readily inclined to do them favors. At this level of friendship, the character does not need to have done anything significant to earn it. +1 die bonus. •• Respected: The faction respects the character and values their association with her. She’s come to their aid before and they won’t soon forget it. They don’t trust her as much as they do their own, but she’s considered a solid friend and ally, one deserving of commensurate respect. +2 die bonus. ••• Cherished: The faction holds a profound and abiding respect for the character. She’s come to their aid on countless occasions and proved her friendship beyond all doubt. The faction is willing to perform significant favors on the character’s behalf, and though these favors aren’t free, they’re much more than the faction would normally offer outsiders. If the character lacks a sire, one of the faction’s elders may offer to adopt her as an honorary childe. +3 die bonus.Another benefit of Kindred Friendship is the ability to attend functions otherwise exclusive to members of the faction in question. A character with Kindred Friendship (Brujah), for example, could show up for Rants, while a character with Kindred Friendship (Circle of the Crone) could attend the covenant’s religious rites.
This Merit may be purchased multiple times, representing a character’s relationship with a different Kindred faction each time. If the character ever joins the Kindred faction in question (impossible for clans, but not covenants and sects), she sheds this Merit and adopts the same number of Status dots, becoming greater than a newly initiated Kindred might otherwise.
Drawback: A character who associates too freely with clans, covenants, or sects outside her own is viewed suspiciously by her fellows. (After all, why’s she so cozy with outsiders?) For every dot by which her Kindred Friendship dots exceed her Status dots in the same category of faction, she takes a -1 penalty on Social rolls against that faction’s other members. For example, an Invictus Ventrue with Kindred Friendship (Toreador) 2, Status (Invictus) 1, and Status (Ventrue) 1 would take -1 on Social rolls against other Ventrue, but no penalty on Social rolls against other Invictus members. All of the independent clans count as sects, and all of the independent clans except the Ravnos count as covenants for this purpose.
Setite Initiate (•••••)
Effect: You were Embraced into a clan other than the Followers of Set. However, you have accepted the Setite religion, undergone the vetting process and rites, and have been formally inducted into the cult. You have access to Serpentis and Setite Sorcery (though you pay out-of-clan costs to learn them). You may even study one of their Paths of Enlightenment. You can also purchase dots in Status (Followers of Set), and any dots you have in Clan Friendship (Setites) are immediately converted into Status dots.
It is important to note that “Setites” from other clans or bloodlines are not treated as second-class citizens. You are no longer a dupe they can string along. Once you are in, you are a sibling of faith, which is a much more important distinction than blood. An outsider accepting the Dark God is a joyous event, even to the most conservative elder. There are even rumors of non-Kindred supernatural beings joining the cult.
Status (Coterie) (• to •••••)
Effect: You belong to a coterie of mutually allied Kindred. The history of the coterie might extend a hundred years before you were born, but so long as you hold membership, you enjoy the support of its members and the use of any shared resources it holds. You also add your dots in this Merit to Social rolls against the coterie’s members and any other Kindred over whom the coterie holds authority or sway.
The minimum and maximum number of dots that can be invested in this Merit varies by coterie. A small-time Anarch gang would cost one dot to be a rookie, two dots to be an established member, and three dots to be the leader. A very large and/or powerful coterie, such as the Krewe of Janus, could cost several dots to belong to and five dots to be the leader of.Designer’s Note: Characters may automatically belong to coteries as a result of other Merits they possess. A character with Title (Hound), for example, is part of the “lawman’s coterie” that consists of the Sheriff and his Hounds.
Title (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Varies by title
Effect:Your character holds a formal title or office within the Camarilla. This title carries duties and responsibilities, but also grants your character influence and authority over her fellow Kindred. The dot rating determines how important the title is.
Merit Dots Description X No title. • Consul, Eschatologist, Headhunter, Herald (to a Regent), Hand Sinister, Hound, Myrmidon, Scourge, Scribe, Sentinel, Steward, Warden •• Chancellor, Harpy, Herald (to a Prince), Keeper of Elysium, Praefator, Whip ••• Primogen, Regent, Seneschal, Sheriff ••••• Prince Global Titles
Merit Dots Description X No title. •• Servire ••• Alastor •••• Archon ••••• Dux Bellorum, Praetor, Red Alastor ••••• • Justicar ••••• •• Warlord ••••• ••• Inner CircleStatus and Title: Title is not the same as Status. Title confers authority, while Status confers respect. A character with high dots in Title but low dots in Status is seen as unworthy of her position.
Touchstone (• to •••••)
Effect: Your character has additional Touchstones. Each dot in the Touchstone Merit allows for another Touchstone and grants a cumulative +1 bonus on detachment rolls. For more on Touchstones, see p. 87 in the Vampire: The Requiem rulebook.
Calm Heart (• to •••••)
Effect: Through either rigorous mental discipline or simply a naturally calm disposition, you are better able to resist the Beast’s urgings than most. For every dot purchased in this Merit, you gain a +1 bonus on frenzy rolls after you have spent Willpower to stave off frenzy.
Drawback: When the Beast comes due, it comes due. If you still frenzy after spending Willpower, you do so for an additional number of turns equal to your dots in this Merit.
Fury’s Focus (•••)
Prerequisite: Brujah; Path of Entelechy followers
Effect: Brujah who have devoted themselves to mastering their frenzies through the Path of Entelechy sometimes find tangible benefits resulting from their efforts. A Brujah with this Merit may spend Willpower to delay the onset of frenzy like other Kindred can. Her dice pools to resist frenzying are still capped by her Humanity.
Night Doctor Surgery (•••)
Prerequisite: Anarch, Medicine ••
Effect: Anarchs have adapted a bit of real-world surgery and a little body horror into a series of morbid reconstruction techniques to help injured Kindred heal. Night Doctor Surgery helps bones reset, and speeds the knitting of flesh. With an hour of treatment, roll Intelligence + Medicine. Each success converts one point of lethal damage to bashing damage. Alternatively, three successes can convert one point of aggravated damage to lethal damage. Failure means the wounds remain; a dramatic failure upgrades three points of bashing to lethal, or two lethal to aggravated. With Storyteller discretion, this Merit and Willpower expenditure may be used over time to make changes to facial appearance.
Drawback: Knowledge of Night Doctor Surgery affords a great responsibility. If your identity is known, the Movement will call on your services frequently. For this reason, most Night Doctors use pseudonyms (usually a letter, like Doctor H), performing their services while masked. Performing Night Doctor Surgery on yourself incurs a -5 penalty to the dice roll, and any failures are treated as dramatic failures. You may only make one attempt to treat a given injury.
Bloat (• to •••••)
Effect: You can store more blood than your Blood Potency should allow. Every point invested in this Merit increases the maximum amount of Vitae you can store by one, although it does not increase the rate at which you can process or expend Vitae. When you exceed your normal limits, your skin blushes red as though burned, or visibly bulges, giving you a grotesque visage (take a -2 penalty to all Social rolls except Intimidation while in this state). Other vampires (and beings with heightened senses) can smell the blood trying to squeeze past your pores with a successful Perception roll. This can incite frenzy in hungry vampires.
Blush of Health (••)
Effect: You look more hale and healthy in appearance than other vampires, allowing you to blend with human society much more easily. You still retain the color of a living mortal, and your skin feels only slightly cool tot he touch. You are considered to have Blush of Life constantly active and do not take penalties to Social rolls against mortals for having low Humanity. You must, however, still spend Vitae to ingest food.
Effect: Most vampires can’t eat food, and even those who can force it down, don’t gain sustenance from it. Like them, you still can’t stomach the crap most mortals eat. Human meat, on the other hand, brings you great joy. It can be baked, fried, or even raw, and you can tuck right in, and even gain sustenance. Even other vampires look askance at Kindred who devour their prey, though the Dunsirn applaud your respect for tradition.
Effect: In addition to the Vitae every human can provide, you can cannibalize a mortal and gain even more. An average human can provide up to seven helpings of meat (Stamina dots + 2). Each helping provides you with one Vitae and inflicts one point of aggravated damage on the unfortunate victim.
Drawback: Cannibalism is a breaking point at Humanity 1. Banes may be taken against it as normal.
Eat Food (•)
Effect: You have the capacity to eat food without immediately disgorging it. While you cannot derive any nourishment (much less taste) from eating regular foods, this ability is useful for passing as mortal. Of course, you can’t digest what you eat, and you must force yourself to heave it back up within (1 hour per Stamina dot).
Foul Blood (•••)
Effect: Your flesh and blood tastes bilious or outright putrescent. Anyone who bites or feeds from you must make a Resolve + Stamina roll with a -1 penalty per point of damage inflicted or Vitae consumed. Those who fail gain the Stunned Tilt. Any fool who actually attempts to drink you dry (such as in preparation for diablerie) must make an extended Resolve + Stamina roll requiring successes equal to (double your Blood Potency) + 5 to follow through with doing so. On a failure, the feeding vampire gains the Stunned Tilt and loses all Vitae as he spends the rest of the scene vomiting his entire blood pool in a fountain of tainted gore. This Merit is particularly common among Gangrel, Nosferatu, and Tzimisce.
Light Sleeper (••)
Prerequisite: Wits •••
Effect: You can awaken instantly at any sign of trouble or danger, and do so without any sleepiness or hesitation. You automatically succeed on Stamina + Resolve rolls to awaken during the day, and treat your Humanity as 10 for purposes of determining how long you may remain awake.
Lizard Limbs (•)
Effect: Like a lizard, you are able to actually shed parts of your body. By spending one Vitae and a little effort, you can detach a hand or foot, or even an arm or leg. This might be to escape bonds or a grapple. Unfortunately, you will have to spend Vitae and wait at least a night to regrow your body parts (two for a hand or foot, and five for a limb). You also suffer a -3 pool penalty to actions that would require the use of more limbs. This Merit is particularly common among Gangrel, Nosferatu, and Tzimisce.
Misplaced Heart (•••)
Effect: Your heart has actually moved within your body, though no more than two feet from its original position near the middle of your chest. It is impossible for attackers to stake you unless they target the right location (which should be your most tightly guarded secret), which otherwise uses all the normal rules for staking.
Monstrous Maw (• to •••)
Effect: You have either oversized tusks for fangs, or a huge mouth full of sharp teeth. Whatever form it takes, your mouth is that of a monster. When attacking with a bite you do one additional point of lethal damage per dot invested in this Merit. This Merit is particularly common among Gangrel, Nosferatu, and Tzimisce.
Rugged Bad Looks (•••••)
Prerequisite: Nosferatu; cannot have Unmarred Face.
Effect: You’re hideous, but you can pass for a really (really, really) ugly human. While you might have a hunchback, warts everywhere, and a foul stench that never dissipates, you can actually walk among mortals without automatically breaking the Masquerade. You “only” take a -5 penalty on (instead of automatically failing) all Social rolls except Intimidation against mortals who can see your true form. A rare few might even be open-hearted enough to look past your appearance, but don’t count on it.
By the way, this Merit and Unmarred Face are as “attractive” as a Nosferatu ever gets. You don’t look any less hideous than your clanmates do: your particular brand of ugliness just isn’t obviously unnatural.
Drawback: You’re still incredibly noticeable. Mortals have a +5 bonus on all rolls to remember, locate, or identify you when you openly walk among them. This Merit won’t help hunters find your haven in the sewers, for example, but if police are searching a crowd for someone fitting your description, they’ll have a hell of an easy job.
Note, additionally, that mortals enjoy this bonus against any Nosferatu who shows their true form. Most Nosferatu simply aren’t likely to.
Effect: You have an armor rating equal to your Stamina against vampire fangs, making it difficult for other Kindred to drink from you. This overlaps (does not stack) with the armor granted by Resilience. This Merit is particularly common among Gangrel, Nosferatu, and Tzimisce.
Unmarred Face (• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Nosferatu; cannot have Rugged Bad Looks.
Effect: Even if your body is a leprous husk of pustules or a monstrous chimera of fused animals, your face is eerily pristine. So long as your face is the only part of you that is visible, you only take a (5 – minus dots in this Merit) penalty on Social rolls against mortals. One dot in this Merit indicates you are horribly ugly but still passably human, while five dots confers a completely pristine and unblemished face. You might even look truly beautiful with high enough Presence dots.
By the way, this Merit and Rugged Bad Looks are as “attractive” as a Nosferatu ever gets. As soon as any other part of your body becomes visible, expect people to scream in revulsion as normal.
Drawback: You suffer worsened deformities in other parts of your body, and must take one Physical Persistent Condition for every dot invested in this Merit. You also gain the undying scorn of your clanmates, and take a penalty on Social rolls against other Nosferatu equal to your Unmarred Face dots.
Antitoxin Blood (•)
Effect: Although vampires are typically immune to mortal drugs and poisons, there are supernatural venoms that can affect Kindred physiology. A character with this Merit is immune to all forms of drugs and poisons, including the venoms and toxins of supernatural creatures or those created by supernatural powers. Against poisons that originate from a source with a trait rating of 6 or more, the character instead has a +5 bonus on any rolls to resist such a venom’s effects.
Benevolent Blood (•)
Effect: Your blood still carries the Curse of Malkav, but its effects have been lessened just a little bit. Any ghouls you create suffer none of the usual deranging side effects of drinking Malkavian blood—they can be loaded to the gills with your blood and not come one step nearer to gaining a Mental Persistent Condition (they might still be driven insane by life with you, though, depending on how demanding your reality is). Of course, any childer you Embrace will still be affected by your clan bane as usual—although your vitae is easily diluted by mortal blood, the pure stuff carries the Curse as one would expect.
Closer Than Blood (• to ••••)
Prerequisite: Paramour •
Effect: You have a mystic affinity with your Kindred lover not brought about through the blood bond other artificed means. You would lay down your unlives for each other, and you feel empty without the other nearby. You can actually sense each other’s emotions across a distance, and at higher dot ratings, even feel the other’s physical pain or peril. In effect, this grants you blood sympathy with your Paramour, even if you come from completely different clans—your connection goes deeper than blood.
Toreador are particularly likely to have this Merit.
Merit Dots Description • You treat your Paramour as one step closer for purposes of blood sympathy, up to a maximum of once removed. •• You treat your Paramour as two steps closer for purposes of blood sympathy, up to a maximum of once removed. ••• You treat your Paramour as three steps closer for purposes of blood sympathy, up to a maximum of once removed. •••• You treat your Paramour as four steps closer for purposes of blood sympathy, up to a maximum of once removed.
Effect: Your character cannot be blood bound by anyone who shares his mortal bloodline. That is, if you were born into the Sangiovanni family, you cannot be bound by anyone else who was born a Sangiovanni, though you can still be bound by, say, a Pisanob of the Sangiovanni clan, or by Kindred of any other clan. Similarly, a Dunsirn with Consanguineous Resistance could not be bound by others who were born into the mortal Dunsirn family, but could be bound by a Milliner of the Sangiovanni clan.
Drawback: The Sangiovanni are extremely suspicious of anyone known to manifest this quirk. Although this blood-borne aberration hasn’t been documented, a few savvy Sangiovanni have a rough idea of what it is and does. It’s generally associated with being a rebellious young smartass who needs to be put down. This is not as unfair as it sounds; by the time a bond resistance is really obvious, it’s likely because a punishment isn’t working. A character who is discovered to have this trait probably earns her sire’s hostility at the very least.
Deceptive Aura (••)
Effect: Your character can turn her predatory aura inwards as a reflexive action. When she does, other vampires do not instinctively recognize her as their own kind (although they can still find out she is Kindred by other means).
Discipline Prodigy (•••• or •••••)
Effect: Choose a single Discipline. Using that Discipline comes to you extremely naturally, and you reduce the Vitae cost to use its powers by 1 Vitae. If this would reduce a power’s cost to 0 Vitae, you can use it for free once per scene. Additional uses in the same scene cost 1 Vitae. You also ignore the cap on standard (1-5 dot) Disciplines imposed by Blood Potency. You still must have a Blood Potency score of 6 or higher to purchase elder (6+ dot) Disciplines.
For four dots, the chosen Discipline must be an in-clan Discipline. For five dots, the chosen Discipline can also be a non-clan physical Discipline (Celerity, Resilience, or Vigor). Non-physical Disciplines still cannot be purchased with this Merit unless they are in-clan for the character.
Effect: For some reason you did not drink the blood of your elders and undergo the Transubstantiation of the Seven when you were inducted into Clan Tremere. More dangerously, it may have had no effect on you. As a result, you are not under a first-stage blood bond to all Tremere with higher Blood Potency (though you still retain your inherent clan bane of being vulnerable to blood bonds). Should it be discovered, it will usually be corrected, but one might almost believe there was some purpose to this lapse, as the Tremere don’t make mistakes. Perhaps the clan has a special task in mind for you, one where you might be forced to act against the clan to maintain a cover.Designer’s Note: There should be very strong conceptual justification for Tremere characters to possess Merit. Almost every Tremere undergoes the Transubstantiation, and few sires are willing to risk the Council of Seven’s wrath for inducting potential rogues into the clan.
Ghost Eater (•••)
Prerequisite: The character must have braved the Underworld and learned how to feed from wraiths there.
Effect: The character can draw sustenance from ghosts even outside of the Underworld. While she doesn’t retain the ability simply to walk up to a wraith and feed from it, she can claim Vitae from wraiths under certain circumstances. The character can touch a wraith’s Fetter (also known as an Anchor) and steal Pathos from the wraith, one point per turn, just as if the vampire was feeding on blood. Onlookers see the vampire’s eyes glow a faint blue color, and the Fetter shudders slightly under her touch.
Wraiths can sense when their Fetters are being violated thus, and are free to defend them as they see fit. This makes ghost-eating a risky form of feeding. Also, this Merit doesn’t help a vampire find a wraith’s Fetter (though nothing stops her from touching everything in a given haunted area trying to find it). But since ghosts regain Pathos by remaining near their Fetters, a vampire with this Merit that discovers a Fetter or brings one to her haven has a potentially unlimited supply of Vitae, and no mortals have to die.
Drawback: Of course, everything comes with a price. A vampire that feeds exclusively on Pathos gradually loses the ability to feed on anything else. If the Kindred consumes Pathos for a number of months equal to her Humanity, and feeds on blood less than once a week on average, she loses the ability to take nourishment from blood. She can only gain Vitae from Pathos. Vampires to whom this happens usually either amass a collection of Fetters, or flee to the Underworld for good.
Gifts of the Beast (• to •••••+)
Effect: Your Beast has a terrible awareness and power all its own that emerges when its wrath or fear overtakes you. You may select additional Attributes, Skills or Discipline that manifest only during frenzy as approved by the Storyteller. The total Experience cost for these powers is halved and rounded down, to a minimum of one Experience. Such powers must be instinctive or physical in nature. In the case of Disciplines, only physical Disciplines are permitted (Celerity, Resilience, or Vigor). Your character still cannot raise abilities above the limits imposed by her Blood Potency.
Example: The Toreador Justinius is normally quiet and reserved. When his slumbering Beast awakens, however, its speed and killing prowess possess him. He gains an additional dot of Celerity and three dots of Brawl. The total cost of the Merit is four Experiences (3 Experiences for Celerity • plus 6 Experiences for Brawl ••• comes out to 9 Experiences. Halving the Experience cost and rounding down then comes out to 4 Experience.
Hidden Diablerie (•••)
Effect: The tell-tale black streaks of diablerie do not manifest in your character’s aura. Uses of Auspex 2 to see if she has committed diablerie always come up negative. All other powers to detect her as a diablerist take a -5 penalty.
Indomitable Soul (••••)
Effect: In the horrific event of your diablerie, the Kindred who commits the act gains none of the benefits of diablerie (lowered generation, Disciplines, Blood Potency, etc.) and suffers all of the drawbacks (tainted aura, loss of Humanity, vitae and diablerie addiction, etc.). Obviously, this won’t do you much good, but it is an excellent way to give one final “Screw you!” to your murderer. And your allies can always avenge you….
Prerequisite: Animal Ken •
Effect: Animals usually hate and fear the undead. Most vampires need the supernatural force of Animalism to overpower this instinctive revulsion. In your case, however, animals still respond to you as if you were mortal. This Merit does not mean that they automatically like you, only that they do not automatically dislike you. Dogs do not snarl and bark when you walk by; cats do not hiss, spit and run away; parakeets, in their efforts to escape your unholy presence, do not batter themselves against their cages. The chief benefit of this Merit is that you can interact with people who have pets.
Intoxicating Vitae (•••••)
Your blood isn’t necessarily stronger than other Kindreds’, but there’s something about it that’s incredibly alluring. Once other vampires taste you, they can’t get enough.
Effect: You can blood bond someone with only two drinks of your blood. Any Tremere unfortunate enough to drink from you is blood bound with only a single drink. Rolls to resist vitae addiction from your vitae also take double your Blood Potency dots as a penalty.
Drawback: Any character who develops the Addicted Condition from your vitae becomes specifically addicted to your vitae, not all Kindred vitae.
Lesser Mark of the Beast (••••)
Effect: Common to the Gangrel known as the Knights of Avalon, you are able to control how your Beast manifests more than others do. Whenever you fail a Humanity to avoid gaining the Beast Mark Condition, roll Humanity a second time. On a success, you manage to channel your humanity to avoid gaining an animalistic feature. However, your Beast is further from you, imposing a -2 penalty on all Animalism and Protean rolls for the rest of the evening.
Living Masquerade (•••••)
Prerequisite: Alternate Identity •••
Effect: Your character is surrounded with a glamour of sorts, an aura of the ordinary and the expected which occults even the most egregious demonstration of her inhuman nature. Her nocturnal lifestyle never raises any questions, and people don’t wonder why she never eats or seems to get any older. Even when these things are pointed out by people outside the penumbra of your character’s Masquerade, those caught within it just shake their heads and dismiss it unless the evidence is both overwhelming and presented with conviction. At the worst, they may suffer a psychotic break and end up institutionalized for awhile as the two incompatible realities smash together in their brains.
Hunters and other individuals who are not regular associates of your character are immune to this power, but take -5 on all rolls to identify her as a vampire.
Lunatic Insight (•••)
Effect: Your character’s Malkavian blood lends her bizarre, seemingly inexplicable insights into the world around her. During any scene, she may spent a number of points of Willpower up to her Blood Potency. For each point spent, ask the Storyteller a single question about your character’s life, her surroundings, a task at hand, or the world at large. The Storyteller must either answer truthfully, grant you a single automatic success on a Declaration, or let you take the Willpower point back to avoid answering the question.Designer’s Note: There are numerous divinatory Merits available to PCs. A potential player told me he was unsure what their pros/cons are relative to one another, so here they are in a nutshell:
• Prophetic Dreams costs two dots. You can only use it during a specific time of day and the Storyteller chooses what subjects are foreshadowed, but you can ask whatever questions you want.
• Omen Sensitivity is three dots. It’s usable whenever you want, but limited to yes/no answers, and imposes a Condition.
• Lunatic Insight is three dots. It’s usable whenever you want, and can ask whatever questions you want, but every question costs Willpower. It’s also exclusive to Malkavians.
Malkavian Time (• to •••)
Effect: This Merit represents a Malkavian’s particular connection to her clan’s shared subconscious. It allows the Malkavian to “plug into” the floodwaters of the Madness Network and filter out messages, impulses, shared visions and knowledge of upcoming clan gatherings.
Merit Dots Description • The Malkavian treats her relatives as one step closer for all purposes related to blood sympathy. When she initiates sympathy, she gains a +1 bonus to the roll and can contact every relative within one mile, rather than one relative per success rolled. When she would roll to detect sympathy, she does so one scene before the event to prompt the sympathy roll actually occurs. •• The Malkavian treats her relatives as two steps closer for all purposes related to blood sympathy. When she initiates sympathy, she gains a +3 bonus to the roll and can contact every relative within the same city. When she would roll to detect sympathy, she does so around a night before the event to prompt the sympathy roll actually occurs. ••• The Malkavian is a beacon within the Madness Network and treats her relatives as three steps closer for all purposes related to blood sympathy. When she initiates sympathy, she gains a +5 bonus on the roll and can contact every relative within the approximate tri-state area. When she would roll to detect sympathy, she does so around a week before the event to prompt the sympathy roll actually occurs.Further information on blood sympathy can be found on pages 98-99 within the Vampire: The Requiem 2nd edition rulebook.
Special: Premonitions shown by blood sympathy only show potential futures. They do not account for the ways that individuals with foresight might choose to act on this advance knowledge; thus, the future may yet be changed. Addiionally, GMs cannot be expected to predict the fate of every Malkavian NPC a night in advance, much less a week. When the GM is unable to provide the player with warning that far in advance, she may instead opt to grant the player a free Declaration use.
Scent of the Other (•••• or •••••)
Effect: “You don’t seem like a soul-sucker…” For whatever reason, your third eye shuts tightly when you choose to hide it. With the five-dot version of this Merit, your blood also doesn’t give away your clan when sampled through A Taste for Blood or other non-magical means. You might be regarded as a Caitiff, or as a member of another clan. In any case, Tremere or other Salubri hunters are thrown off your trail, unless you do something to reveal yourself again.
Sympathetic Bond (•••••)
Prerequisite: Cannot have the Unbondable Merit
Effect: For whatever reason, you unconsciously cause a peculiar supernatural form of feedback through the links of the blood bond. Although you’re not immune to being blood bound, if you do become bound to someone, your regnant also becomes blood bound to you to an equal extent. Even if they were already blood bound to another, they now have the unenviable position of being thrall to two vampires at once. This can obviously lead to some unplanned and quite twisted codependent relationships.
Your regnant may still spend Willpower to attempt to resist developing a blood bond towards you.