Rebuilding Vampire: Humanity

In thinking of what would I do to re-arrange Vampire’s mechanics to reflect the type of game I believe is intended (as opposed to presented), it always has been obvious that Humanity is the one central stat around which everything else must orbit. After all, the game is about the loss of this essential trait and the descent into the unbridled bestiality of the vampire (which, of course, presupposes that you want to stave this loss off as much as possible; otherwise you’d be an NPC).

So we have our main trait, Humanity. I’ll keep this on a 1-10 scale because it provides for a good amount of gradation in the middle, with 10 being fully Human, and 1 being inhuman (inhumane?). This stat determines how Human you are, serves as the fuel for your vampire powers, and determines how many dice you roll to avoid losing/regaining Humanity. When Humanity reaches 1, you have lost all connection to what it means to be a human, and your character is removed from the game.

I am thinking also of there being a parallel trait called Beast (Vampirality? Vampireness? Vampirosity?) that goes from 10-1, with 1 being a very basic vampire, and 10 being the epitome of vampire-dom. This stat determines how powerful a vampire you are, how many dice you roll to do vampire-y stuff and is in direct opposition to Humanity, to the point that we could say that this stat’s goal is to eat away your Humanity. When Beast reaches 10, you are of too alien a mind and fully a beast, and your character is removed from the game.

There are two issues I am faced with at this point:

  1. Are these two separate stats or two ends of a spectrum?
  2. At what points do normal humans begin?

These are related. If I say normal humans start at 10 Humanity, I’m saying all humans are paragons of the species and this isn’t the case. Some people, normal people, will have lower Humanity scores, and some will be right at the bottom of that scale without being vampires. I’m thinking normal humans start at 7 – not too high but not middle of the road either. This leaves a score that can be improved in play and cannibalized in character generation to create a more powerful vampire than the basic kind.

I see the act of having become one as having taken away part of your Humanity, so becoming a vampire takes away 1 Humanity and turns it into 1 Beast, where all vampires start off.

Now, if Beast becomes an opposing force to Humanity, do I make it that it increases only when Humanity decreases? Or can a vampire continue to increase in powers (which I am clearly equating with giving in to the Beast that turns it into an inhuman monster) while retaining a sense of its Humanity, or is it strictly a gain one-lose the other situation?

My gut feeling is that Humanity and Beast are inversely related: when Humanity goes down, Beast goes up and viceversa. In this paradigm a vampire is only as human as her restraint from being a more powerful vampire.

humanity-beast

Humanity/Beast Stat

This model says the following about the game: “You will only remain human if you forego your new nature as a vampire.”

The other conceit that will be built into the game via in-play mechanics is: “You cannot forego your nature as a vampire.”

I think this is a good basic pillar upon which to construct the rest, but I could use some feedback.  Up to now, what do you think?

45 thoughts on “Rebuilding Vampire: Humanity

  1. The either/or stat looks good. Mechanically speaking, it reminds me both of Trollbabe’s number, and the Sanity/lack thereof of Cthulhu.

    What is the choice you’re presenting here for the player? The temptation to give in to the beast is obvious: Your guy becomes a stronger, more powerful vampire. But there must be an equally tempting reason for trying to remain human or become more so.

  2. The one thing about the scale is that a PC can never lose all your Humanity and therefor never give in completely to the Beast (and become an NPC). But given the fact that a vampire can by definition never be completely human. So I’m thinking Humanity should range from 0-9 and the Beast from 1-10. The point where they converge should total 10.

    Next comes the question of what it means to be human. I don’t think the Humanity trait can apply to ‘normal’ humans. On one side the acts that can cause the loss of Humanity implies a certain morality. I don’t feel that it is about morality, because what about a vampire using it’s powers in defense of the innocent.

    I’m thinking it’s about doing vampire-like things. Killing to feed is definitely a cause for rolling for Humanity loss. So is relishing in celerity or blood magic. There is a lot to think about. I hope my particular point of view is helpful in some way.

  3. I suggest something like Madness in Don’t Rest Your Head, a sliding scale that gives you power but can cost you in the end. That way it is tempting to use but scary when it bites you. In fact, I think a DRYH hack of Vampire would work well

    Discipline = Humanity
    Exhaustion = Vampiric powers (with the risk of the Masquerade if you hit 6 similar to Exhaustion risking sleep crash)
    Madness = Beast (fantastic powers but the risk of losing Humanity AND succumbing to the beast and losing yourself.
    .-= Rich Rogers´s last blog… How I learned to loathe Savage Worlds =-.

  4. @Tim Jensen
    There’s the obvious remain-a-PC motivation but that’s just lame if it’s the only one. That said, there is a conceit built into the idea that you *want* to remain as human as possible; otherwise you would’ve given in to the Beast right from the start and there’d be no issue. There are other parts to the concept I’m building up that will address why remain human (a quick example, each PC will have two “stats” called Joy and Sorrow which work like Aspects and are where the GM will dig into the wounds, and the way to shake off the effects of these scenes is via Humanity rolls, so the more you have, the better).

    But yeah, that’s part of what I have to keep thinking about and find the proper way to convey.

  5. Perhaps we should play sometime. When we played Vampire, Humanity was a throwaway stat. All of the games we played took on more supers-style gaming and I remember them as some of the best RPG moments we’ve had.

    I’m not sure I want to be a vampire who has to worry about becoming too vampiric. The whole point is to be vampire and for me, the idea was “even with these awesome powers there are still bigger predators out there.” Those predators came in all forms, the rules of the Masquerade, the Prince, other Princes, the Sabbat, etc.

    Not complaining, just pontificating.
    .-= Chris Perrin´s last blog… #MeatlessMonday Vegetable Stir Fry =-.

  6. @JJ
    The idea is that yes, you can completely give in to the Beast by allowing Humanity to reach 1. I need to find a better way to express this graphically. By rolling it into a single row of dots, by definition, the decrease of Humanity (left side of the scale) is an increase for the Beast (right side of the scale). This is a dynamic stat, I should have added; there will be moments when it changes permanently, but it will ebb and flow during gameplay as the character takes actions and makes dice rolls.

    What it means to be human is one of the hard issues I need to define, because that then defines what Humanity is measuring. I am not opposed to there being an implication of morality in the actions that fall into the definition of Humanity. A vampire acting to protect an innocent mortal by using his vampiric powers is performing a good act, but that doesn’t take away the fact that it fueled those powers by draining blood of another human being, an act that it still has to wrestle with. With vampires, the end cannot justify the means – otherwise they’d be giving in to the Beast (interestingly, I can see a vampire that’s completely given-in to the Beast performing a similar act, though the intent and the consequences may/will be very different when compared to those of a vamp with some Humanity).

    What makes a character have to roll Humanity to stave off loss when performing vampiric feats is something that I see as being *very* subjective and up to a GM. I certainly plan to include examples and suggestions, but I’d rather leave it to the GM to judge each situation independently (as in your example of the vamp protecting an innocent). I also think it is entirely possible for one action to have the potential to both take away and replenish Humanity, but that’s something to ponder further later on.

  7. @Rich Rogers
    I’d rather avoid hacking another system to arrive at this (that said, Sorcerer also would work fine and dandy), but looking at DRYH for expression of the concept is a-ok. That sense of “use it but know it will bite you in the ass” (no pun intended) is what I want. This goes back to what I replied to Tim Jensen, that one of the conceits of this game (and DRYH) is that you want to remain in play; succumbing to Madness in DRYH or the Beast in Vampire means you are removed from play, even if the character’s story continues in some way, shape or form. I just have to find the way to express it properly.

  8. @Chris Perrin
    The conceit is, if you are playing a game where you want to be a vamp and develop more and more cool powers, just play Champions or M&M (which of course we all did, playing the goth superheroes, and which I addressed more in depth here and here). The idea here to bring Humanity, and all the associated issues that this stat brings, to the forefront. Vampire, The Masquerade or The Requiem, I believe are founded on the idea that the player characters *want* to stave off the loss of Humanity, all metaplot aside. So the goal here is to mechanize all this without the need for the metaplot to be the one thing that keeps you in check.

  9. @Daniel M. Perez
    Ok, so there is an ebb and flow and sometimes there is a permanant loss, kinda like the way leathal and non-leathal damage was tracked with a X or / respectively. I can dig that. So your current rating is the highest clear bubble. If you recover some Humanity then it can erase some of the / marks but never an X.

    That being said, I was looking again at the scale. You were saying that you give into the Beast at 1. What are you picturing? When I think of giving into the Beast I envision a 0 Humanity, not 1; there is no shred of self control left. This could be temporary madness that could be recovered. A 0 Humanity could mean the Storyteller has control of your character until 1 point of Humanity is restored.

    Also since they _are_ a vampire they can _never_ be human again, hense why I was saying that it could never be a 10 Humanity. For effect you could have the top of the scale be Humanity 10, Beast 0 but the bubble is crossed out to reinforce that you are no longer completely human.

    Personally, I would start players off at the top of the scale (9 or 10 depending on how you proceed) and take the slow ride down. Why take away some of the fun of letting them start down the slippery slope?
    .-= JJ´s last blog… Elric Explored – Part 4: Twilight Civilizations =-.

  10. @JJ
    I’d rather avoid using a 0 value because it breaks the decimal pattern, but I’ve no problem saying that a 1 Humanity character is still (barely) playable until it loses that last one dot (and at that point, that character would be rolling Humanity for almost any act, so it wouldn’t be long before it succumbed).

    Starting Humanity point is something I’m still struggling with and that I have a feeling will be set only after playtesting. Though I said 7, I also see the value of starting at 9 (you lose 1 for becoming a vampire) and then letting the player decide how much Humanity it wants to spend to power-up his character before start of play. That would lead to an arbitrary start-of-play cap to make sure a player doesn’t twink a character way beyond others in the group.

    And yes, there is inherent tragedy built into the stat that reflects that in the game. As I said, you WILL lose your Humanity, it’s just a matter of how much of what you love you will destroy before it happens. I want ways to slow that process, thus why sometimes it will be possible to regain Humanity, but in general, the tendency is very much towards a downward spiral.

  11. How does Humanity relate to Frenzies? This, in my mind, was one of the scarier aspects to V:tM. Requiring rolls to resist frenzy was never popular with the players, and I now regret not using them more. If you need a high humanity to consistently resist losing control of your character (inevitably causing all sorts of trouble for you afterward) it would certainly encourage the player to try to hold onto it.

  12. @Tim Jensen
    Yep, that’s one of the things I alluded to but had not named. When I say above that characters will need to roll Humanity to stave off its loss, one of the biggest rolls they’ll have to make is whenever they enter a Frenzy. Which can actually happen with frightening regularity. The Beast is almost an NPC (if I understand the game correctly from what I’ve read/heard, think of the Demon in Sorcerer) that is, in essence, working against you. So (practically) every use of a vampiric power beyond the very basic “you’re faster/stronger,” can be a cause for the Beast to assert itself over your own control, thus bringing a Frenzy, and a possible loss of Humanity (let alone the consequences of what the vampire may have done in such a state).

  13. I’ve just become a vampire. I can only retain my humanity and avoid destroying everything I love if I forego my bestial nature. But I cannot ultimately forego my bestial nature, thus I WILL end up losing my humanity and destroying everything I love.

    Hmmm.

    … waits until sunrise … walks outside … poof!

    Done. Game over. I win.

  14. @Mick Bradley
    1. You’re being facetious.
    2. This isn’t a boardgame, you don’t “win;” you know this very well. The point of playing this isn’t the end result, it’s the journey.
    3. You’re saying that you’d go against your natural instinct to survive, something that is common to both Human and Beast. You’d have to roll for that, in which case, if you get the roll, then you’d have a dramatic element to the story, not just an arbitrary decision.
    4. What you describe is very much a possible scenario, you are absolutely right. It just never moves beyond character creation, so you really wouldn’t be playing, now would you.

  15. I’m being facetious for a purpose, though, as any decent fool is sworn to be.

    Yes, in the case that most of you are discussing, I would go against my natural instinct to survive because no journey that is a guaranteed spiral into bestiality and destruction is worth taking, and the best outcome to secure the continued viability of my loved ones and my own humanity would be to end it quick with a self-inflicted stake to the heart or an instant sunburn. If you make the game about staving off the beast for as long as possible and doing the least possible destruction to the things you love in the mean time, well, then yeah, I’m dusting myself in Scene 1.

    If you told me I’d need to roll in order to choose to make a decision that is both logically and emotionally the best outcome, I’d walk out on you and go look for a table where I am an actual protagonist.

    Think me an asshat if you wish. I’m actually trying to help in my own backassward way. There WILL be other people who might want to approach the game the way I’m describing. You should think about addressing that in a way that goes beyond “if you do that, you’re not really playing, are you?”

  16. @Mick Bradley
    Please, next time provide context when you’re being facetious. Knowing your proclivity towards the subject, it’s too easy to read it the wrong way. I don’t think you an asshat, but I do think that perhaps there was a better way to present what you wanted to get across?

    On to the meat:
    If I’m sitting down to play DRYH, and I know the easiest way out is to either go for broke or to give in to sleep in the first scene and I do that, then why did I sit down to play that game in the first place? Same here. You enter the game knowing what’s at stake, the conflict and the journey that awaits you; you play because you choose to experience that. I’m not saying that your scenario isn’t viable or possible. I imagine for many humans turned into vampires it would be the way out, if not immediately then as soon as they figure out what’s going on.

    I’d make you roll not because you’d be messing my game, or out of some GM vengeful position. I’d make you roll because you are going against your nature, against the Beast, and as I said above, the Beast is a quasi-NPC that sometimes you need to oppose (I know you’ve at least read Sorcerer and listened to the CP game advocate show on it, so I know you understand the reference when I say to think of the Beast as a Sorcerer Demon in how it is part of you but also independent of you). Trying to kill yourself, especially for a noble cause as what you posit, will tick off the Beast; that’s a contest of wills right there – mechanically, a roll.

    What I’m seeing you address is:
    There has to be an impetus for a vampire to want to engage in this losing tug-o-war with the Beast beyond mere survival instinct. What is that?

    Am I right?

  17. Also, for what its worth, nobody has to agree with me or like my snark, but I wanted to put something into this thread because several of you are the only people who ever participate in MY threads, and it took a while for me to come up with an angle that was more than just “Wow, none of this really grabs me but I’m still behind you 100%”.

  18. @Daniel M. Perez

    We apparently cross-posted.

    Yep, you are right, that’s what I’m trying to address.

    See, your push to make this about more than what Perrin described in his post was actually APPEALING to me. It started to make me think, ‘well, I think I could get into it, if that’s the focus.’ So you actually hooked me. But then as I went on I thought, ‘wait, he’s got the inevitability clause in there. No redemption is possible, only a long slow battle that ends in darkness.’

    I can’t articulate it well, I admit. How is this hopeless downward spiral different from a DRYH scenario or Polaris, or even a VAM situation? I don’t know. I can get behind something that feels hopeless IN the fiction but may or may not be outside the fiction. But this seems hopeless outside the fiction, too.

    So 1. Yeah, this game is not for me. but 2. I think you still want to put in some sort of Golconda-type brass ring. FWIW.

  19. @Mick Bradley
    I totally jumped and bit your head off, and that wasn’t cool. I read the snark, and then read too much into it. I guess since we know each other, familiarity erased the charitable-reading barrier. Sorry about that.

    I admit that my reading of vampire lore, fiction and games have all yielded the understanding that a vampire’s destiny is inevitable destruction of what they love and of themselves. From Dracula to Lestat to The Masquerade, this is a constant: you are a beast in human clothing that feeds off what you once were and have no escape from what you will become.

    New statement: there is always a way out, and that is an acceptance of your nature and destiny.

    I’d be wary of calling it redemption, because you can’t redeem yourself from who you are, only of what you have done. Achieving redemption for acts committed I think is very much a part of the game that can exist without any specific mechanical push – that’s what retaining, and maybe regaining, Humanity is all about. A beast has no remorse for what it does; if you do, then you still have some Humanity left in you.

    Is a Golconda-like stage a necessity here? Does there *have* to be a way for a vampire to reach a balanced state where she is in control of her beast? VtM thinks so, so at the very least it is something I’d need to consider. My main worry is, would this feel like an obvious add-on or would it be an organic part of the myth explored?

    Let me ask you, how is this tragic inevitability any different than Polaris’? In both concepts you know from the get go what awaits you, but you play to find out the journey that gets you there. Where is what I’m laying out here (incomplete as it is) hopeless outside the fiction?

  20. Did you bite my head off? That totally did not come across. I took this whole thing as our characteristic banter.

    Incidentally, I know how I’m capable of coming off. You – nor anyone else – need to read me charitably if you don’t sense any charity in my words. Call me on it. And for that matter, I wish people would be more blunt and direct with me both in critiquing my rpg ideas and in calling me on it if my approach obscures my intent. I wish more people would say “If you want VAM to do this and this with that as an thematic outcome then if I were playing it I’d vomit all over the table and THEN excuse myself.”

    And if I took offense at that, then I ought to be called out for that, too.

    Anyhoo … this is mostly just me but I think humanity is largely built upon two things, free will/choice and hope. And essentially my angle on this is, to hook a player like me into a theme like this, there would need to be hope, even at the edge of the void. I’m not suggesting you’re not baking hope into your premise – but I do want to slap it down in the open as something you’ll need to always keep in the mix, if only in the slightest. That is my overall intent.

    So to be honest … no there doesn’t need to BE a Golconda. But there needs to be the HOPE of something like that in order to keep a guy like me hooked into play. It can be a false hope, nothing more than a carrot you dangle in front of me to drive me to keep going.

    Hope is sticky, though. Do I want hope for what I was calling “redemption” for my vampire character herself? Not necessarily. I think in game terms, a player would choose a thing that is really important to them – like a BW belief – that says THIS thing, this person, this ideal, this memory, this possibility – THIS is the thing I will fight to my very last undead unbreath to keep alive. No matter what else happens, the destruction of THIS thing is my character’s tipping point. My guy has no drive, no meaning, no remnant of my original selfhood once THIS is gone. And if I as a player know that my character’s THING is inevitably getting destroyed – probably by my own hand – right from the get-go with no recourse … well then my free will choice AND my hope are gone, and no matter what my sheet says, I have no humanity. And you’ve lost me as a player before we even begin.

    As for Polaris or any other Ragnarok-type story scenario … I would be unable to engage in those, either, unless there is an element of some sort of hope that something important to me will somehow survive the apocalypse, even if only as a memory or ideal.

  21. @Mick Bradley
    If you look up a couple of comments, you’ll find I mention something that goes with what you are describing here: each character is to have a Joy and a Sorrow, and these are to be Aspect/Belief-like “stats” that define what you most love and fear, essentially flags telling the GM “poke me here.”

    I need to think on this “hope” thing, because I also think that hope *is* a defining trait of humankind, so there has to be a reflection of it in Humanity.

  22. I’m not sure hope fits into V:tM. When vampires are the antagonist it’s all about survival; the vampire has no redeeming quality – it must be destroyed. If we look at this as an end state the vampire as protagonist is about reaching that end state – the loss of all humanity.

    I do think that there may be a state of equilibrium. That is what V:tM became. There has to be equilibrium for a vampiric society to grow. Equilibrium becomes status quo which leads to the Masquerade.

    So, Daniel, what is _your_ vampire end state: Beast, equilibrium or are both possibilities?

    You discussion of the Beast as NPC reminded me of two things. First, it has strong similarities to Wraith’s Shadow which was actually was an NPC which was played by the Storyteller. Sadly I no longer have that game, but I think that Sam Chupp could always fill us in.

    Secondly, my I interpretation of vampirism in the Anne Rice novels was an infestation by a demonic spirit. It is the spirit that has all the powers including keeping the host ‘alive’. It could really be a battle of wills. It all depends on how you want it to play out.

  23. @JJ
    To play Devil’s Advocate to myself:
    In VtM, vampires are not the antagonist, but the protagonists. But I don’t know they, as protagonists, are motivated to reach that goal–the loss of all Humanity–it just happens that that goal comes to meet them.

    I can deal with equilibrium, but that’s a tricky bastard. I’m trying to figure out if I want to continue basing this on VtM vampires or in the more general vampire myth. That will decide what my vampiric end goal is.

    I didn’t play Wraith, but I stop to think of how I heard Geist described, and it matches, at least enough for me to get the reference. I don’t know I’d make the Beast a full-on NPC, but certainly a presence that the GM can use to oppose anything the vampire does that doesn’t align with what it wants.

    Regarding Anne Rice, that, to me, is another expression of The Beast.

  24. @Daniel M. Perez
    Just for clarification, what was in my head, but never made it into the post: “When vampires are the antagonists in literature and film…” I agree with you that it vampires are most certainly the protagonists of V:tm. I was not saying that the loss of Humanity should be a vampire’s motivation or goal. I was more curious as to whether or not you considered that end state for the game. As a player and character I would be motivated by the desire to preserve my Humanity as long as possible. It sounds like the end state is still something that you’re struggling with as well.

  25. @JJ
    I’m not sure, admittedly, what is the end-state I’m shooting for. I do believe that the vampire’s story is one of the tragic inevitable downfall, so maybe that *is* the end goal: not whether you will succumb, but if you get to call the terms of when/how/why that happens.

    I don’t think that I was actually hacking VtM, more like building off it. Next time I play VtM I will simply make a stronger use of Humanity. I could try to “fix” that game, but too much would have to change. What I’m doing here is looking at Vampire, and taking pieces from it to assemble a derivate that tackles the same idea but in a leaner, focused way.

  26. I have to be honest, I’ve never understood the way humanity is represented in the Vampire games, at least in terms of theme. You state that “If I say normal humans start at 10 Humanity, I’m saying all humans are paragons of the species and this isn’t the case.” Isn’t it? I think, thematically, we should go with the far darker assumption that every single (non-supernatural) human is “as human as they could be”, so to speak. Even a serial killer, or a child molester, or any number of vile characters our species has to offer are at humanity 10. Who they are is inherently human, they act based on human impulses, for human reasons. Hate. Lust. Fear. And a Vampire, no matter how hard they try, no matter how blameless they were in life, should always be less than humanity 10.

    How do they gain humanity then? Simple – when they take actions for human reasons, not supernatural ones. A vampire who was a racial supremacist in life who violently brutalises and feeds from minorities should gain humanity, because that feeling of hate is human. A vampire who was a child molester in life who feeds from children because he still feels the tingle of sensation he felt when he was alive should gain humanity for that act, because he’s reconnecting with his human side. But a vampire who will feed from any passing body for sustenance, not caring one whit who or what that body is, loses humanity, because he’s doing it for supernatural reasons, not human ones.

    I purposefully chose extreme examples to show just how dark it could get (over the top dark in those examples, at least for Player Characters). I get such a game would be incredibly difficult to play sensibly for most players. However I still think it’s an idea that might have some merit for an advanced group.

  27. @ClearestSounds
    I understand what you’re saying, but there is a difference between humanity (as in being part of humankind) and Humanity (the essence of what makes us human). At least the way that I understand the trait in VtM/VtR, and the way I’m choosing to use it here, it is about the virtues of our species, not about the acts that humans can commit. A child molester, human or vampire, is not living up to the virtues of Humanity, but instead preying on the weak and innocent, thus involved in an act that removes them from their Humanity. So it wouldn’t be enough for a vampire to engage in an act that has a connection to its mortal life (the Joy that I keep referring to and which I’ll need to write about next) in order to regain Humanity, this would have to be an act that taps into one of the defining virtues of our species.

  28. @Daniel M. Perez JJ speaks my name, possesses my sigil and stands in this fine gallery; I have but to answer :)

    Mark Rein*Hagen would probably love for you to think that the Beast in Vampire was the prototypical Shadow in Wraith. Certainly they serve Thematically the same purpose: the self-undoing. However, Shadow is radically different from Beast in that there are play mechanics (System Matters) to back up the Shadow. There are only a few Random Monster Encounter Table style mechanics for the primary Beast activity, which is Frenzy, and the primary Beast trait (or dwindling and limited resource) of Humanity.

    As Daniel rightly intuited, in Vampire the tragedy of “A Beast I Am, Lest A Beast I Become” is dependent upon all willing participation in a play without a script, one in which the dice themselves must fall in the exactly correct patterns or the entirety of the narrative collapses. Fortunately for some, the random factors did align and they had A Beautiful Experience. Unfortunately for others, they got stuck playing Bad D&D with Fangs.

    Wraith has a few more bells and whistles, but how can you appreciate them in a environment where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and damned if you go to Vegas: the ubiquitous darkness and overwhelmingly bleak enterprise that is Wraith’s setting makes such appreciations akin to reading black text on black: possible in the right light, but not entirely long-term viable.

    Still, I think it would be an interesting thing to try: just cut the Shadow rules out of Wraith whole cloth and slap ‘em down on the Vampire character sheet. See what sticks and what falls apart. (The different types of Shadows would also make for a much more interesting character differentiator than say, an arbitrary Clan trait.)

    There are a few lovely telling moments that would be so generated, I predict. Mick smiling at me as he hands me Shadow dice and says, “The Prince is about to destroy you. Would you like help with that?” The ultimate temptation / privation loop. Which is very Vampire, and actually, quite Indie/Forge/Story Game for its time.

    Call your damnable Hunt. I’ll see who I can drag kicking and screaming with me down to Hell.

    Note to self: review Polaris with an eye to re-creating Vampire.
    .-= Sam Chupp´s last blog… Two new Fantasy Audio Books coming! WOOT! =-.

  29. @Sam Chupp
    Sam, thanks tons for dropping by. Always feel free to do so. :-)

    I have neither read nor played Wraith, so I am left to understand the concepts based on reading/hearing about them. That said, I understand what you mean about the bleakness of the setting being a deterrent, as that’s precisely the reason why I stayed away from it. One of the things that always drew me to Vampire, and one of the things I want to build into this emerging game, is that there is bleakness, yes, but it isn’t a total doom scenario, that there is room for something extraordinary to happen.

    From what I have read/heard of Sorcerer (man, I really need to play these games already) it handles the Demon in the same way that you allude to in your last example (and this goes to something Mick Bradley mentioned, either here or in the other thread about Hope/Redemption): the Other is a part of you, but sometimes is so opposed to you, that it takes on a quasi-NPC quality. From your example, it seems Wraith’s Shadow had some dice attached to it. I don’t know I’d attach dice to the Beast in what I’m building, but it certainly is envisioned as having the ability to contradict the actions of a character in such a way that it falls to the GM’s control just as any other opposition would.

    There is some violent beauty in you rolling the dice that could bring you further down on the spiral, though.

    Maybe there are times when you willingly call on the Beast, granting you X extra dice (of a different color). If those come up as successes, but there are less than in your regular pool of dice, they call for an immediate Humanity roll; if there are more successes in the Beast dice than in the regular pool, you instantly lose Humanity. I like that basic structure.

    Or maybe that threat is always there. So your dice pool is made up of 10 dice (the total sum of Humanity/Beast) divided into two color-coded groups corresponding to each side of the scale. Some rolls would call for only Humanity dice, others only for Beast dice, and then others you’d have the chance to combine based on how much risk you’re willing to take.

    Yeah, that *really* calls my attention.

  30. @Daniel M. Perez
    A thought came to me reading your last comment. What if Humanity becomes a cap on maximum number of diced rolled and the only way to exceed it is to tap the Beast? You know I like the idea of Humanity + Beast = 10. :)

    I like the approach you proposed that the number of successes on the Humanity and Beast dice having an effect on when Humanity is lost/challenged. What if you take it one step further? What if the target number needed for the Beast dice is less then that needed for Humanity? Humanity target =8 but Beast target = 7. There is a strong desire then to use them for the numeric advantage but the potential cost in lost Humanity has to be weighed. This would give it more of a DRYH Madness dice feel.

    I’m not sure where I am on some rolls being only Humanity and some being only Beast. I guess I would like to see more where you were going with Joy and Sorrow first…hint, hint, hint ;)
    .-= JJ´s last blog… Elric Explored – Part 5: Magic =-.

  31. I like the idea of being able to roll both Humanity and Beast for nearly anything. If one isn’t enough, the player could choose to ‘escalate’ and bring in the other trait’s dice. Thematically, the risk you run for overusing the Beast should be severe and/or permanent, while the potential reward for using only Humanity should be fleeting.

  32. @JJ
    Instinctively, I’m not entirely sold on variable target numbers for each aspect; I get what you’re saying, though, and I think there’s some way to get to that end result. I very much like the idea of Beast dice having something that makes very attractive to use, even (especially) with the risk they carry.

    @Tim Jensen
    You got it, Tim. Now I just gotta figure out how to express it mechanically.

    Joy and Sorrow, by the way, should be up sometime later this week (depending on how much study I have to do).

  33. Two things:

    1- I came across this post while searching the Twitter hashtag #vampire, tackling the very same topic but for a different medium. I found it interesting.
    http://www.loveromancepassion.com/vampires-and-the-search-for-humanity/

    2- I think I have reached a definition of what Humanity is in regards to this game.

    Humanity is an expression of the Virtues that define us as rational beings separate from animals.

    I’m still deciding what these virtues are. I could go with the classical ones but these are too tied (very specific to) Christianity and I’d like to strike something more universal. I could use Aristotle’s but he has some that I don’t know necessarily apply. Yet I’m not too keen on creating my own list of virtues. We’ll see. But that’s the basic idea, which I’ll later expound upon.

  34. I am pretty sure you’re dealing with this already … but as a point to ponder anyway, sparked by your new expression of humanity …

    What would you say are some of the ways that a vampire’s human/beast conflict differs from a werewolf’s human/beast conflict, in the sense of making them distinct journeys with distinct thematic explorations?

  35. @Mick Bradley
    Let me cop out here a little by saying that I honestly don’t know because I never played Werewolf nor am I conversant in that game’s central issue (not the eco-warrior part, but the more visceral beast part) nor in the werewolf myth.

    The vampire is a creature that was human and then lost it, becoming a creature that goes against every law of nature, a creature that, in order to live, must destroy that from whence it came.

    I don’t know what is the journey of the werewolf, but I know that perhaps you should talk to Stuart Robertson, because he was also a huge Werewolf fan that felt the same sense of “there could be more” that I had with Vampire and has led me to do this.

    How do you see the journey of the werewolf?

  36. @Daniel M. Perez
    I don’t think you need to define what the virtues are up front. Playing the game will do that.

    The virtues of humanity might be shaped by culture and experience, and be different for every vampire. For example, a vampire born in 12th century France might equate humanity with traditional Christian values, but one born in mid-twentieth century China most likely wouldn’t.

    Why not let each player decide what his/her own character believes humanity to be, and just task the GM with challenging those beliefs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>