Original SA post
There was a time, not so long ago, when D&D 3.5 was king. A time when d20 adaptations of every conceivable genre and title abounded. A time where the new World of Darkness was gaining attention once more. A time where one man dared to bring the two together in a single game. And that man's name was
, and that game was
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
So it starts out in typical World of Darkness fashion, with a short bit of fiction. This stars a teenage boy named Victor.
Yes, his name was Victor. His last name had been consumed by the darkness along with most of his other memories, but he did not mind.
Except it shortly becomes clear that this is not, in fact, a boy named Victor, but rather something named Victor that is possessing the boy's body. The dead soul has been brought back to hunt special targets.
Victor thinks about how awesome he is with his powers and so much better than the "mewling cattle" that are normal people, and how much he loves blood. He meets up with Renata, a woman like him who is possessing a man's body, as the two of them are going on a hunt. They spot a girl out behind a house, and the person Victor is possessing recognizes her and manages to tell the girl to run.
The boy (whose name is Ryan) struggles with Victor mentally, and manages to merge himself with Victor. The merged Ryan/Victor must now flee, to avoid getting arrested by the cops, and the story ends.
So now Monte Cook begins talking about how he first saw Vampire: The Masquerade at GenCon and how awesome he thought it was, and how when he got the offer to do a d20 version of it he jumped at the chance. Of course, being Monte Cook, he had a few ideas about what the World of Darkness was really about.
So I said yes. I immediately began brainstorming ideas. At ﬁ rst, I thought about taking World of Darkness into the future, with faster-than-light ships and other planets. Then I thought about the distant past or taking the World of Darkness concepts and applying them to a quasi-medieval fantasy world that wasnt Earth at all. Eventually, however, I settled upon a genre that I adore but have never had the opportunity to work with much: post-apocalypse. Vampires and werewolves in the ruins of society. I loved it.
Because when I think of World of Darkness, it's all about Mad Max vs. the vampire menace. Now that may seem cool, but just wait - it's a Monte Cook idea, so it really isn't.
There's the standard intro to roleplaying/d20 bits, followed by another short bit of fiction (this one's about a guy hired to kill a werewolf by a demon in disguise!)
The werewolf made a pained ah. His head dropped to the side, and his eyes caught on something. Despite himself, Baxter glanced away, following the creatures gaze. On the wall near them, human faces pressed out of the wall near them, brick, as if people were trapped within and had shoved their screaming faces against the inside of the wall as it cooled. A spider the size of his head, abdomen bulbous and purple, crawled up the wall, inserted a clear proboscis into one of the faces eyes, and its legs knelt. Pink fluid rose up the proboscis.
Monte Cook here confuses "scary" for "gross". This will not be the last time he does so, by a long shot.
Chapter 1: A World in Darkness
A World in Darkness
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
Chapter 1: A World in Darkness
Everything was fine. Well, we didn’t realize that then. We thought everything was fucked up. But in retrospect, we had it really good. Then, the world ended.
Or rather, it was supposed to end. We couldn’t even do that right, as it turns out. Now everything’s a nightmare.
And most people don’t even know about it. They know something happened. But they don’t know the truth.
One year ago, eldritch entities ripped straight from Lovecraft, called the Icoonu or the Unbidden, tried to eat reality. This is called the Intrusion. Luckily, key individuals around the world (called the Awakened) unknowingly had the spiritual power to fend them mostly - mostly, that is. The middle part of America kind of got, well, gone. It is now a place of seething unreality with strange shit leaking out, where the Iconnu have a foothold.
However, that's not all that happened. The Intrusion sent out a Nightmare Wave around the world changed things, with bigger changes happening the close you are to the Intrusion Point. In addition to terrible dreams, weird shit now happens all over.
The Intrusion - Zones
Imagine: People in one small town suddenly gain the taste — the
— for human flesh. A broken, unplugged jukebox in a condemned diner plays songs that give clues to events that haven’t yet happened. Cockroaches in an old warehouse communicate and think with a single mind, and combine themselves
physically into one monstrous creature. I shit you not. I’ve seen all that firsthand. And worse.
There are three basic zones, at decreasing distances from the Intrusion - The Haunted Lands, the Annihilation Zone, and the Conflagration, with increasing levels of weird as you get close.
The Haunted Lands start at about 500 miles from the Intrustion point up to 250 miles, covering cities like Kansas City, Denver, and Chicago. The Nightmare Wave hit these areas hard, but for the most part they are still recognizable. You get really strange weather and strange animals sometimes, but people still live there and can have (mostly) normal lives.
The Annihilation Zone begins 250 miles from the Intrusion Point up to 150 miles, and included Minneapolis. Pretty much everything in this area was destroyed or at least heavily damaged here. Some people still live here, but the land (and the people) are pretty messed up.
The Nightmare Wave effect is strong in the Annihilation Zone, changing people and animals in disturbing ways, warping matter and altering the rules of physics on a regular basis. A woman’s legs grow to 10 feet in length. A pack of stray dogs sprout sticky, compound eyes across their bodies. A man is abruptly flung into the air, then plummets, screaming, to splatter like a cantaloupe on the ravaged remains of the sidewalk.
The Conflagration is everything within 150 miles of the Intrusion Point. For all intents and purposes, this place is just gone. Matter and energy don't really exist here, at least not as we know it. The Conflagration covers most of North and South Dakota.
The Nightmare Wave
When the Iconnu tried to enter our universe and were stopped, they send out the Nightmare Wave, which luckily lost strength as it spread. The Nightmare Wave
things, and unfortunately it's not done doing so, as new changes occur often.
Nightmare Wave effects and changes are sometimes permanent, sometimes transitory. Every so often, new nightmares manifest — new nightmares that are not products of the original Nightmare Wave, which in itself is frightening. Is some drizzle of the Nightmare Wave seeping out of the Intrusion, like a punctured infection that spews pus, then dies down to a slow trickle of blood? I shudder to think of anything new coming through that maelstrom.
And it's not just physical changes, either. Mental changes can occur, too, like a Christian turning into a Satanist or a kitten becoming a hyper-intelligent murderer.
Some of the experienced effects of the Nightmare Wave are:
• A cute puppy brings terrible calamity to anyone around it — but always remains cute and adorable.
• A tree transforms into crystal, which shatters. Any one holding a piece of that crystal is periodically thrust into a mental world where he gains his deepest desire — as the crystal slowly leeches away his life force.
• An accountant gains the ability to summon the spirit of his long-dead baby brother to spy on others, steal from others and even murder those who cross him.
• A delivery truck gains sentience and a desire to crush and destroy.
• The air becomes a hallucinogen that gives all who breathe it horrific visions of their future deaths.
• One room of a house is sometimes a room of a completely different house.
Of course, most people don't know about the Iconnu or what the intrusion was. All they know is that most of the Central U.S. is gone or just
, and there are all sorts of rumors and speculation as to the cause. The U.S. military evacuated the Annihiliation Zone and have supposedly cordoned off the Conflagration Zone, and have re-instituted the draft to be able to control the area. The U.N. and other countries have offered to assist, but the U.S. has refused. The Intrusion Defense Agency (IDA) has been formed to contain threats and protect humanity from whatever has happened. However, as far as the average person knows, nothing supernatural has occurred. They may have heard tales of weird things happening and of werewolves and vampires, but nothing has been proven.
Next Time: Vampires - They're really more like ghosts!
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
“I am, indeed, two people.
How many people are you?”
—Marlena Yevan, vampire
As previously mentioned, vampires are ghosts. Well, vampires are half ghosts, really. After the Intrusion failed to consume the world, the Iconnu sent spirits of three different kinds through to scout out and to help destroy the earth. The first type of spirit was actually ghosts. Each ghost possessed a human, and now they are vampires. Vampire ghosts.
Let's meet the example vampire, shall we?
My name is Sylvia White. I am 200 years old. Once, I was much younger, and during much of that short life, I pretended to be a prostitute. When I took men to my room, I murdered them with a garrote and took their finery. I wasn’t one of those strumpets you’d see on the side of the road with too much rouge and plump legs who would take any man off the street — I was made for much finer company, because much finer company carried around more pounds. On November 16, 1854, an
enraged widow found me in my room and shot me to death with a laughably small pistol.
Ol' Sylvia here possessed a jewelry store clerk named Rebecca Gallaway. In most cases the ghost completely takes over the body, and the original owner is kicked
outs. Sometimes the two souls merge, like in Sylvia's case, with one soul being dominant. Sylvia is mostly in control, but she gets some traits, emotions, and ideas of Rebecca's. Rarely, the original soul retains full control, and so go from being a normal person to having super undead powers. In any case, whoever is in charge can use the memories and knowledge of the other soul.
The souls sent back were not nice people. They're pretty much all depraved, immoral, sadistic people, and quite often murderers and rapists. Sounds like a fun
character concept! The people who were possessed were done so pretty much at random, so they range from good to as bad as the person possessing them. A vampire looks mostly normal (except for Nosferatu), though some vampires change from looking like a pale version of the person they possessed, to a sort of merged
appearance of the original soul and the new one.
Vampires were sent by the Iconnu to discover information and infiltrate society. They call this the Covenant, and feel it as a near-unresistable urge to do so. Other than that, they are free to do whatever they want. The Covenant forces most vampires to cooperate and form various hierarchies. There are five "clans", which despite the name have no real connection to each other, other than that they have similar mindsets and powers.
The first clan is the Daeva. Sylvia, the example vampire, is a Daeva. Daeva are pleasure-seekers and hedonists, and people are naturally attracted to them. Gangrel are savage and brutal - the possessing soul is usually a sadist or mass murderer. Gangrel vampires are almost always ones in which the original soul is in full control of the body. Mekhet are all about secrets and shadows, and are the best spies. Nosferatu are hideous and transformed, and were the true monsters before they died.
Invading Nosferatu souls are true monsters: the child-rapists who hide in closets, the cannibals who serve flesh to their friends, the torturers who
play psychological games with their victims by slaying all those close to him.
The last group is the Venture, souls who were interested in power. They're slick and regal, and have mental powers.
The Broken are the vampires who are able to ignore the pull of the Iconnu, and do what they want. Some Broken vampires work for the IDA. However, even Broken
vampires are monsters who must feed on humans to survive.
Next time: Werewolves - actually alien ghosts!
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
As previously mentioned, the Iconnu sent three types of spirits through to investigate and infiltrate. The second type of these are werewolves. Alien ghost werewolves.
See, a werewolf is formed when an alien spirit of rage from another dimension merges with a human. The werewolf spirit is more primal than vampire ghosts - it's not so much a unique person as a bottomless well of rage and destruction.
Because our spirits come from a place so different, I find it difficult to understand much about this weak little world of yours. Unlike most other werewolves, though, I’ve actually tried. It hasn’t been a particularly good time, though. You know concepts like peace, tranquility, reason and love? I don’t. Those things — they baffle werewolves. You might say that werewolves are simple creatures. We understand certain emotions and urges — your words for them are things like rage. Savagery. Destruction. Ahhhh — those I understand.
Unlike vampires, the werewolf's alien spirit is always in control - no timeshared body or the host retaining control here. Still, some of the host's traits and feelings leak through, and they have the hosts memories. The alien spirit finds this human emotion of "love" confusing and distantly, at best. Werewolves tend to form packs of 3-6 individuals.
Werewolves have three forms. The first is their human form. The second is a wolf-like form. They get better senses, are able to bite people, and so on. While wolf-like, it is clearly not an actual wolf to anything other than the briefest examination. The final form is a hybrid man-wolf, and in this form the rage spirit is in full control. Werewolves in this form are basically semi-guided missiles of claws and teeth.
Werewolves all dress like bikers because that is how badass they are.
About a year ago, little Marvin had the great fortune to become a werewolf. His friends and family noticed that he stopped wearing shirts most of the time. When he did wear something, it was a well-worn black leather jacket (and no one knew where he got it) and torn jeans. His diet consisted of only meat. When he got a tattoo of a screaming demonic face on his chest, his wife began to ask a lot of questions, not the least of which had to do with the blood she found on the back porch. Eventually, he left.
Like vampires, werewolves feel compelled to do things by the Iconnu. However, while the vampire mission is fairly subtle and intricate (infiltrate the humans, kill the Awakened, gather information), the werewolf mission is pretty simple - hunt and kill. The werewolves are here to cause fear and chaos, and they are pretty good at it. Some werewolves can channel this to targets of their choice, but most don't really bother and go after whoever is convenient or annoying them at the moment. Those who do so are called the Calm, and some of them oppose the Iconnu and work against them.
Werewolves don't really have the intricate hierarchy that vampires do. They have a pack of around 3-6 people with a single alpha leading it, and that's as organized as they get.
Werewolves have auspices, which are sort of like vampire clans. Werewolf auspices are related to which phase of the moon the rage spirit is associated with back in their home dimension.
That reality is a dark world; it’s night all the time. The moon is huge — maybe three times the size of your moon, and it’s pretty much the only light we have. And the moon doesn’t change its phase as time goes on. Instead, the moon changes as you go on. Walk across our reality, and the moon gradually changes: a new moon at the edge of our world, then crescent, half, gibbous, the center of our reality has a bright full moon, and then if you keep going it steps back down to a new moon at the other end.
Irraka are associated with the new moon. These are the stealthiest and most adept at deceit. They spend more time in their human form than other werewolves.
Ithaeur are associated with the crescent moon. These guys are scouts - they can detect places where the Intrusion has weakened reality and mess with it.
Elodoth are associated with the half moon. They are the wisest and most controlled of werewolves, and are most likely to become Calm.
Cahalith are associated with the gibbous moon. They are knowledge seekers, and their howl is more supernatural than that of other werewolves.
Rahu are associated with the full moon. These guys are the strongest and least controlled of werewolves.
Next Time: Demons - Vagina Centipedes and Pandas!
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
So the Iconnu sent three types of spirits to go scout and fuck up humans, and demons are the third type. Unlike vampires and werewolves, demons are creatures of pure malevolent spirit - they don't possess people at all. Instead, they turn nonliving matter like wood (yes, apparently wood counts as nonliving), plastic, or earth into a body.
Demons can make themselves look like anyone, since their bodies aren't actual things of flesh and blood. However, they do have a base true form, and they can only change to other forms for a period of time before reverting. The true forms are all really dumb and sound like the sort of a thing a disturbed thirteen year old boy draws in the margins of his notebook.
Sample demonic true forms (as described by human witnesses and rare surveillance footage) are “aborted dragon fetus,” “burning skeleton covered in spiders,” “vagina centipede,” “fanged octopus thing,” “pus blob with bleeding eyes all over” and “flayed skin filled with maggots.”
Ooh, scary. These forms are also used as names amongst mortals to identify them (“The roses didn’t bother it at all; it can’t be Aborted Dragon Fetus.”)
Ah yes, the roses. You see, demons either have a bane or a craving. A bane means something that it cannot stand.
Some demons cannot stand the touch of salt, or rum or silver. Some cannot cross water, or bear the light of the full moon or see their reflections in mirrors. Some grow nauseous at the sound of the word “yellow,” or weaken at hearing “molecule” or collapse in pain when someone shouts “Belgium.”
The rarer the bane, the bigger the penalty that happens when their bane does show up. Alternatively, the demon could have a craving, again ranging from common stuff to rare. The rarer it is, the less of it a demon needs to consume each day.
Sample common substances: Alcohol, ham, horse urine, puppies, antifreeze.
Sample uncommon substances: Expensive wine, human blood, pedigree bulldogs, 19th-century books, gold, cocaine.
Sample rare substances: Virgin’s blood, uranium, Vitae (vampire blood), pandas.
Demons are immune to any harmful effects of their craving.
Demons are the rarest type of spirit, and consider themselves the living embodiments of the nightmare wave. They often take on the appearance or name of mythological demons as it amuses them. Their job is to destroy or deceive humans, and the vast majority of demons do so gladly. Rogue demons that don't serve the Iconnu are rare, and even those aren't particularly interested in helping humanity as much as "leaving humanity alive so I can mess with it more".
Demons don't have hierarchies, but they do interact. They often work together on schemes and machinations. Still, they are fiercely independent, and don't usually stick together for long periods of time.
There are two types of demons. The first type are tempters, who seek to corrupt and seduce humans (and especially Awakened). They are masters of lies and deceit. The other variety of demon are scourges, who are more at home with brutal violence. They still lie and deceive, but they enjoy the killing as much as the lying bits.
Next Time: Mages - Linear Fighters, Exponential Wizards
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
Magic is real - at least it is now. Before the Intrusion, magic was just empty ritual, wishful thinking, and con artistry. However, when the Nightmare Wave fractured reality, things changed, and now those rituals aren't so empty.
While it's only been a year since magic entered the world, mages learned to control power quickly. For the most, the rituals they practiced were the same as always - only know they worked, and had major effects.
Mages usually belong to some cultural tradition of magic. A majority — though not an overwhelming one — of mages today were “mages” before the Intrusion, using fallible rituals or anything else in which they believed to, they thought, cast spells. Since the Intrusion, most mages focus even more intently on whatever tradition they revered beforehand. Native American medicine men might dress in full ceremonial garb instead of jeans and T-shirts. Followers of the Celtic druid tradition might wear brown robes instead of business suits and carry mistletoe instead of laptops. Astrologers might consult charts and wear clothes depicting the stars.
Some mages worship the Iconnu as gods. The largest group of these call themselves the Strangers, and refer to the Iconnu as the ungods or Ancient Ones.
For a long time, the Strangers were a cult that sought to overthrow and cleanse the world, creating a new and superior world after the ash had cooled. The Unbidden’s agenda is apparently similar to that of the Strangers, and thus the Strangers see the Unbidden as beings come to fulfill the Strangers’ dream.
They are headed by the Secret Masters, who are rumored to not even be human.
Others fight against them and the creatures they have sent to infiltrate humanity. The Bastion is a secretive order formed to opposed the Strangers, and their leaders are the Arcanum, each of whom are associated with a card from a Tarot deck.
Mages tend to group up in cabals, covens, or other similar groups. In addition to these groups, each mage follows a Path. Some groups are composed of mages who all follow the same Path, but most are mixed.
There are five Paths. Enchanters are the subtlest spellcasters, altering chance and increasing intuition. They are associated with faerie folk. Warlocks are all about destruction and chaos, and some think their power comes from demons. Necromancers are all about ghosts and shades and life forces. Theurgists are the flashy preachers of the mage world, and their power is associated with angelic forces. Shamans are into primal magic, transformations, and beast totems.
Mages are, bar-none, the most broken thing in MCWoD, and are the path through which Vampires can be broken as well. I'll cover this more later, but rest assured that caster supremacy is alive and well in MCWoD.
Next time: The Awakened - More Human than human
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
Whereas vampires, werewolves, demons, and mages all have sweet powers, Awakened are just people. Super-competent and lucky, perhaps, but at they end of the day they are mostly just normal dudes.
The Awakened (aka the Willful Ones) are by far the most common - there are millions of them. The Awakened are what kept the Iconnu from shattering and consuming reality - not on purpose, but that's what happened.
Awakened are normal humans physically, but they are different spiritually with stronger wills than most. Most Awakened don't even know that there is something special about them, and even other Awakened have difficulty recognizing each other as different.
In addition to being born Awakened (though nothing seems different until around age 20 or so), normal humans can become Awakened, usually through an encounter with the supernatural. The Awakened make up the majority of supernaturals in the Intrusion Defense Agency (IDA), though plenty of normal humans are in it as well, and are the chief defense against the Iconnu. If all (or even a majority) of the Awakened died, so would our reality.
There's not really a lot to say about the Awakened, and they're the chumps of the supernatural world as I'll talk about next time.
: Character Creation and Classes
Character Classes 1
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
Alright, we've seen the setting and got an idea for what kind of characters you can play as, so now we see how we make those characters. For all the shit that MCWoD does wrong, this is the one thing it does a pretty decent job at.
You start with the same basic ability scores as d20 games always have. No opportunity for point buy or a set array here, the only way listed is 4d6 drop lowest. Arrange these as you want, then pick your class: awakened, demon, mage, vampire, or werewolf.
The next thing you do is a choose a focus from one of four options: Might, Intellect, Spirit, Stealth. A focus does two things - it gives you a +2 bonus to an ability score (strength, intelligence (though this doesn't grant bonus skill points), wisdom, and dexterity respectively), and it determines your class skills, which are generally pretty obvious what goes where and are pretty equally divided. You can change your focus each level, so you can change your class skills at each level.
In addition to a focus, you choose two themes. Themes are a pre-packaged set of three or four skills that are thematically related. Athletics has climb, jump, and swim; Perception has listen, search, sense motive, and spot; Technology has computer use, drive, pilot, and repair. You get three skill points in each of your theme skills (it doesn't matter if a skill is in your focus or not, they always count as full skill points for this).
Now, for the best thing that MCWoD does. First level in MCWoD isn't the same as first level in other d20 games. It is, in fact, fourth level. You have 4 hit dice, start with two feats, have the appropriate BAB and saves, get +1 to a stat, etc. You only get one levels worth of skills, though (themes take care of the rest). It skips the Little Rascals stage of d20 development and jumps straight to the part where it gets fun.
That said, they've also added an intermediate save type between good saves and bad saves. Good saves start at +4 and go up every two levels, intermediate saves start at +1 and go up every two levels (starting halfway through the progressions, so at level 2 it increases), and bad saves start at +1 and go up every three levels (starting 1/3 of the way through the progression).
There's also a defense bonus, which adds to AC (armor is DR based). There are three progressions: low goes from +1 to +7, medium goes from +2 to +11, high goes from +3 to +17.
Awakened are basically especially competent humans, and the baseline for characters. They get d8 HP (so 4d8 + 4 x Con at first level), 8 + int skills, average BAB, good will, average fort and reflex, and average defense. They get a +2 to bonus to a stat at first level (giving extra skill points if they pick intelligence), an extra focus, and four starting ranks in theme skills rather than three.
As far as class features, it's pretty bland. Each level has exactly one class feature, mostly a bunch of bonus feats and skill focuses. Level 3 gives Stalwart Dedication, letting them make a DC 15 concentration check as a standard action to gain a +1 morale bonus to attacks, saves, and checks for 1 minute. Level 5 gives them Defender's Mindset, making fighting defensively a little better. Level 8 allows them to sense Nightmare Wave-effected sites and objects when they are nearby with a search check, level 13 gives them skill mastery (i.e. always take 10) in a few skills, and level 19 gives them Force of Will - once per day, they can add +20 to a d20 roll, declared before they roll. In addition, awakened get a humanity point at each level (see the end of the post for further info on humanity points).
Awakened have no special weaknesses since they are normal people.
Mages get d6 HP, poor BAB, poor fort saves, average reflex saves, good will saves, poor defense bonus, and 4+int skill points per level. They also get +2 bonus to either of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma, depending if they are the normal type of mage, or are "intuition" or "personality" mages instead. As I'll discuss in further detail when I get to the magic system, magic skill based - specifically, the spellcraft skill. In a rare example of good design, intuition mages use Wisdom for everything they would normally use Intelligence for when determining magical ability, and personality mages use charisma.
Mages have two class features, components and gnosis. Components are the building blocks of spells. You start with 60, plus your intelligence (or whatever stat you use) times your level. You also gain 15 components per level. The other thing mages get are gnosis(es? gnosi?), which either make certain types of spells easier to cast or give them minor special abilities. You get a new gnosis at level 1, 2, 4,6, etc.
Mages have no special weaknesses since other than cosmic world altering power they are normal people. Mages are also incredibly broken, right from level 1. And not just in the "Hey I can cast sleep and charm person" way that they are in D&D 3.5. A level 1 mage can cast all but the most powerful of the pre-built spells without a problem, and can build spells that make those look like cantrips, just by performing a few incredibly obvious tricks. Two mages in a party means they can cast an infinite number of spells (this can be done with one mage, as long as you are willing to limit yourself to spells of moderate power). This will all be explained in the magic section.
Humanity points are gained when a character (of any class) does something particularly self-sacrificing, noble, or heroic, and awakened also get one for free each level. The typical use of a humanity point is to add +20 to a d20 roll, before you determine success or failure. If you use it on an attack roll, and the attack would have hit normally, you can choose to either do double damage or a called shot.
• A strike to a foe’s eyes that blinds her for 1d10+4 rounds.
• A strike to a foe’s head or other vitals that stuns her for 1d3 rounds.
• A strike to a foe’s limb that renders it useless for 1d6 rounds.
You can also spend a humanity point to: take an extra turn, gain +1d20 on a save or defense against a single attack (which also gives you the effects of evasion), overcome one of your special weaknesses (vampires can survive in the sun for 1 minute by using it, for example), or to cheat death. By spending a humanity point when you would normally die, you instead survive with a "great and debilitating injury" - a hideous scar, lose an eye, lose a hand, etc. You can also use them to break the rules - the example given is having a disarm not only make someone drop their weapon but have it fling into the hands of an ally.
Next time: Demons!
Character Classes 2
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
Character Classes Continued
Here’s the best part. My absolute favorite — the very tastiest part. I get to use your own moronic, childish foibles against you, you pathetic little mewling infants. It’s so delightfully easy. The right word here, the right look (using the right face) there, and you’ll all do whatever I want you to, dancing like marionettes on strings. Man, woman, old, young — it doesn’t matter. You’ll all kill yourselves, sometimes quite literally, to please me because I know how to deceive you. I am deception on two legs. Except no, these aren’t my actual legs. Let’s just say my actual form is not something you would like. Frankly, I am quite certain that it is not something you could even cope with.
(Hint: It's a vagina centipede!)
There are two types of demons, temptors and scourges. Temptors get d8 hit dice and 6 + int skill points, wihle scourges get d10 and 4 + int skill points. All demons get average BAB, average defense bonus, average fort and reflex, and good will. Demons get +2 to two stats of their choice, in addition to the regular stat bonus.
Demons have a number of core features. First, they have a horrific form, which is their true form. Anyone seeing their true form has to make a will save (DC 10 + hit dice + charisma modifier) or become shaken (or frightened and flee for 1d6 rounds if they roll a natural 1). Repeated exposure lessens the shock - you get a +1 bonus on the save each time you've seen it in the past, so at least the other PC's eventually only fail it on a natural1.
For the times they don't want to frighten everyone, they have shapeshifting. They can take on the appearance of any humanoid of medium or small size, gaining a +10 disguise check if they want to appear like someone in particular. It's only a cosmetic thing, they don't gain any special abilities. They can only stay disguised for an hour, at which point they have to rest for an hour (or as long as they were in their disguised form) before they can change again. This sounds incredibly annoying to play as, since the demon has to constantly be ducking in places to hide for an hour before rejoining the party. The demon can change flip between disguises as much as he wants to (so he could go from old man to little girl to teenager without turning back into their true form), but once they go back to their true form they have to wait out the time.
Demons are resitant to damage. A normal critical hit in MCWoD deals the die roll in constition damage, and any bonuses as regular damage (so 1d6+7 as a critical would mean 1d6 con damage and 7 hp damage). A demon who gets hit by a critical hit just takes the normal damage and is stunned for one round. Demons don't bleed out, don't need to brerath or eat, and are immune to normal poison and disease. They have 60 foot darkvision.
Demons also have weaknesses, as mentioned before. A demon has either a craving or bane. A demon with a craving has to satisfy it every day, taking a -1 to attacks, saves, and checks for each day they skip it. A demon with a bane takes a 10 minute penalty on attacks, saves, and checks - a common bane gives -1, uncommon -3, and rare -6. A bane penalty is specifically allowed to stack with itself, though a creature can only use a bane to harm a demon once per minute. No mention is made of multiple people using it, so the greatest threat to a demon is presumably a bunch of people shouting "BELGIUM", each shout giving -6 to the demon.
Demons get demon abilities at 1st, 5th, 10th, 15, and 20th level. Scourges get physical stat boosts, longer duration on a few combat powers, and fast healing at level 20. Tempters get charisma and constitution stat bonuses, and improvements to some mind control style powers.
Demon powers are called cants, and they get to pick them at 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 18th. The cants are powered by the use of Anima (though some are free). Anima is a special alien kind of energy. A demon can store 10 + con modifer Anima, start with the maximum amount at first level, and can spend one Anima per round. There are a few uses of Anima, besides powering cants. A demon can spend one point of Anima to heal 10 HP, two points of ability damage, or two points to heal one point of ability drain. This can be done while unconscious. A demon can spend one Anima to overcome a craving for a day, or ignore one exposure to a bane.
There are only three ways listed to recover anima (there are more in cants). A demon can hover over a fresh corpse (dead less than 10 minutes) and spend 10 minutes psychically probing it for Anima. At the end of this time, they roll a d20 and ONLY on a 20 do they regain a single point of Anima. A demon also regains one Anima per day if they indulge their craving, making it really pointless to have a bane because you can't regain any Anima from it. There's really no point in not having a common craving like alcohol or ham or something easy to get and chowing down on it every day. So right away we see that although there are a number of options, one is clearly and incredibly superior. This is not the first time you will see this in MCWoD.
Some cants have stat or level requirements. Being a scourge or a temptor also has special results that increase the power of a cant. All cants cost 1 anima unless otherwise stated, and last 1 minute unless otherwise stated. Most of the buff type ones are free actions, while any active abilities are usually standard.
Battle Claws: No prerequisites, grow 1d8 damage claws on your hands that also give a climb bonus. Scourges get to daze people on critical hits unless they make a fort save. Pretty meh, but there's not a lot of choices at low levels.
Breach Barrier: Requires 13 int and level 6. Let's you phase through walls (1 anima per 5 feet passed through). Lasts 1 round, and you're invulnerable to physical attacks while doing so.
Breach Space: Requires 13 int and level 8. Allows you to teleport, with a Will save that starts at DC 20 for a place you can actually see and goes up to 30 for something you've seen a picture of. Failure means you don't go anywhere, while a natural 1 means you arrive at a random location "1d10 x d% of the distance that you were to travel" away.
Confess: Requires 13 cha and level 4. Points us to a vampire Discipline (even though vampire disciplines come after this). Because I'm petty, I'm not going to explain it here. Tempters give a -4 penalty to the save, and the target gets a -5 penalty if they are under the effect of Insinuate or Torturous Memory cant.
Conjure Demon Minion: Requires level 4. Summon a minor minion with the demonoic template. You can take this 4 times, increasing the power of the minion (and the cost of the cant) each time.
Corrupting Lash: Requires level 6. Make a melee touch attack, deal 2d6 damage per point of Anima spent, with a fort save for half. Don't know why you would ever take this as it is terrible.
Corrupting Matrix: Requires level 6. Anyone within 5 feet takes 1d6 points of damage from your demonic matrix, and anyone within 5' who hits you takes another 1d6. Scourges get 2d6 damage instead.
Demonic Will: No prereqs, gain +10 maximum Anima, can spend two Anima per turn, and your time in another shape decreases by 5 minutres. You can take this five times.
Extend Disguise: Requires level 4. Stay in another shape for another 10 minutes.
Flesh Transparency: No prereqs. Let's you flash your true form at somebody, who must make a will save or flee for 2d6 rounds.
Flight: Requires another power (Manipulate Attraction). 60' flight with good maneuverability.
Great Stature: requires level 4. You grow a size category larger. Scourges get twice the strength bonus.
Husk Minion: Exactly like Conjure Demonic Minion, except it has the zombie rather than demonic template and requires a dead body. If you killed the body with Corrupting lash or Matrix, or it's one of your thralls, it lasts 10 minutes instead of 1.
Imbue Object: Requires level 4 and int 13. It's expensive - costing 5 Anima and lasting 1 day - but can give any of the following bonuses: +4 to one ability score, +10 on checks with one skill, +10 hit points or darkvision. You can hand this off to whoever you want. +10 spellcraft is crazy good for mages, and even with the high cost it is pretty great. This would be the most powerful cant (since it buffs mages), except that the next one exists.
Requires cha 13. Every demon should take Infernal Pact without exception, because it's the only way to gain a reasonable amount of Anima. Basically, you give the person something, and in return you get 1 point of Anima each day while they are alive, and 1 bonus Anima if they die. Someone who does this is called a thrall. The demon can offer anything it has available normally, OR any of the bonuses from Imbue Object. The only downside is that the thrall gets -2 wisdom. OH WAIT, that's not a downside, since if he really wants that wisdom he can take a +4 bonus to wisdom and come out ahead. There is no reason not to have everyone in the party become your thrall (mages especially will love the +10 spellcraft), and you want to offer literally everyone you meet the opportunity to become your thrall, since it only costs 5 anima and a standard action. The only "downside" is that the mortal must be willing to do this - you can't force them or mind control them into agreeing.
Insinuate: No prereqs, and no Anima cost! You make someone's attitude shift one closer to liking you unless they make a will save. You can't use this in combat or when they are in fear of harm, unless you are a tempter in which case yes you can! It lasts 1 minute and can only be using on a specific target once per minute.
Manipulate Attraction: No prereqs. Let's you increase your stickiness (gaining huge bonuses to climb, grapple, etc) or decrease it (bonuses to escape artist, swim, etc). No anima cost and lasts as long as you want it to.
Manipulate Cohesion: Increase or decrease hardness. Only lasts 1 round, and attended objects get a save. Scourges can decrease hardness without having to spend Anima, so they do the best Kool-Aid man impressions.
Manipulate Earth: Requires level 2. Reshape the ground however you want, allowing you to blind (amusingly the save for this one doesn't include HD, so it's just DC 10 + charisma), attack, create difficult terrain, or trip enemies. This doesn't cost any Anima.
Mindbite: Works like Corrupting Lash, only it's 1d6 damage plus a Will save or take 2 points of wisdom damage. You can do this and Corrupting Lash as part of the same attack, Scourges gain 5 HP every time they deal wisdom damage, and it doesn't cost any Anima.
Murderous Recharge: The only other way to gain Anima through cants, and it sucks. You gain one point of Anima when killing a mortal (including werewolves and vampires) IF you kill them with Corrupting Lash or Corrupting Matrix. Scourges can spend an Anima to immediately turn the corpse into a zombie minion, just like the Husk Minion Cant. No action required for this and it doesn't cost any Anima.
Thrallsight: Requires Infernal Pact and level 4. You can use the senses of one of your thralls. You can speak through the thralls mouth by spending one Anima if the thrall doesn't resist or fails a will save. Tempters can speak to their thralls mentally. No Anima cost for this one.
Thrallslave: Requires Infernal Pact and level 6. You posses one of your thralls! You gain the bodies physical ability scores, HP, and natural abilities, and can't use any of the bodies special powers or any of your cants. Allows a will save, and the PC classes get a +4 bonus to the save. You take the same damage to both HP and abilities, and if the body dies you return to your body at -1 HP and unconscious. Costs 1 anima, and lasts until you end it.
Torturous Memory: Requires level 6. You pick an emotion and pull up a memory based on that emotion, if the target fails a will save. You read their mind of this memory, giving you bonuses to social checks against them for 1 hour. In addition, you can take on the appearance of anyone in that memory and, unless they make a will save, the other person will believe you to be that other person, no matter how unlikely it is. Depending on the emotion you picked you can give the penalties, make them afraid, or implant a Suggestion (working like the Suggestion spell). This power actually seems pretty neat and has lots of interesting possibilities.
That's all for demon cants! I'm not really sure why Infernal Pact isn't a inbuilt ability to the class. A demon without it is going to get 1 (rarely 2) per day assuming they fulfill their craving, while a demon with it can easily have three or four extra just from the party members, along with buffing their friends significantly. If you want to do anything demon-y, you pretty much have to have it. Even taking murderous recharge to try to gain Anima instead doesn't help. Corrupting Lash and Matrix cost 1 Anima to use (at least) so you won't be able to do more than break even unless you get lucky with Corrupting Matrix. I can see easily see someone without Infernal Pact pissing away Anima in dribs and drabs until they get stuck at an endless cycle of 1 anima per day. And god forbid you took a bane instead of a craving, since you'll only get a single point of Anima every 20 fights you have.
Next time: Werewolves
Character Classes 3
Original SA post
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
Character classes continued
This is my favorite image in the book for how totally retarded everyone looks.
So, werewolves then. D12 hit dice, full BAB, average defense bonus, good fort, average reflex, poor will, 2+int skills - werewolves are clearly the combat focused class/race.
All werewolves get +2 strength and constitution. They get another +2 bonus to a stat depending on which of the 5 groups they are. See
for a refresher of the different auspices. Rahu get strength, Cahalith intelligence, Elodoth charisma, Ithaeur wisdom, and Irraku dexterity.
As werewolves, they can of course turn into a wolflike form and a hybrid form. It normally takes a full round action to change shape from human to their other forms, though they can make it a free action if they do any of the following: make a DC 15 will save, spend a point of essence, or if the moon's phase matches their auspice.
Beast form is wolfish. They get a strength and con bonus, faster movement, and a bite attack. They also get large improvements to spot and listen, scent, and low light vision (though they cannot see color). While they can't talk, they can still communicate with other werewolves in beast or hybrid form.
Hybrid form is the classic wolfman. It gets larger strength and con bonuses than the beast form, as well as a dexterity bonus. It gets two claws and a bite attack, as well as smaller spot and listen improvements and low-light vision. Most importantly, EVERY ROUND the hybrid form werewolf must either attack or move towards an enemy. If they can't see an enemy, they must attack something (a car, a nearby tree, a dead body, anything). They can still tell friend from foe, so at least there is that. To do anything but move, attack, or use allowed powers (even to exit hybrid form!) they have to make a DC 20 will save. So get used to having to wait around for the werewolf to chill out at every combat, I guess, since will is their worst save. The good thing is that the werewolf can only stay in hybrid form for Constitution bonus + number of Primal Urge rites rounds (this would be a minimum of 3 between the werewolf bonuses and the built-in class stat bonuses, and is probably higher). After that they are forced into their choice of beast or human form.
Werewolves can forge a pack of up to four other creatures (so hopefully you don't have a large party). They refuse to harm their packmates and some of their rites only work on packmates.
Werewolves are immune to normal poison and disease because of their alien soul.
Werewolves get something called Sprint Healing (specifically, Sprint Healing 5/20), which is kind of like Fast Healing. Basically, they can choose to heal up to 5 points per round at the beginning of their turn (which doesn't take an action), up to 20 points per day.
Werewolves are weak to silver. In fact, it works exactly like Vulnerability does in 4E D&D - they take double damage, up to 5 points worth, when attacked with silver. It has to be pure silver, no silver nitrate bullets or electroplating here, and just touching them with silver doesn't hurt them. They can't use Sprint Healing against wounds made from silver.
Werewolves get Essence and Rites, which work exactly like Anima and Cants for demons. They get rites at 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th. They can store 10+con modifier Essence, start with the maximum amount, and can only spend one per round. They can use it to heal just like demons can (1 essence for 10 HP or 2 points of ability damage, or 2 points for one point of ability drain). A werewolf gains one Essence the first time they see the moon at night, or two Essence if it matches their phase. Eating a freshly killed human's heart (awakened, mages, and ghouls count as humans) also give them one Essence. Some Nightmare Sites associated with the moon or dimension rips can also give them Essence depending on the DM. So, at least, they have a few in-built options that can give them a reasonable rate of Essence return (though the hearts might get spread pretty thin if you have a whole group of werewolves).
They work the same as demon cants, basically. Some rites have stat or level requirements. Being a specific auspice can have special results that increase the power of a rite. All rites cost 1 essence unless otherwise stated, and last 1 minute unless otherwise stated. Most of the buff type ones are free actions, while any active abilities are usually standard.
Alien Fury: Rahu only, level 12. Gain +8 to defense and to attack rolls. Only lasts 1 round
Alien Speed: Level 4. Doubles your movement rate and a large bonus against ranged attacks.
Anybeast: Lets you not look like different animals rather than not looking like a wolf. Hooray! Lasts 10 minutes at least but still costs an essence.
Attunement: Rahu only, level 2. Get a +2 bonus on attack rolls vs one opponent (an additional +2 for each Primal Urge rite you have). The enemy gets a will save to resist, which doesn't really make sense other than FIGHTERS CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.
Aura of Truce: Elodoth only , level 6. Pick some people you see (who knows how many, because it sure doesn't say!) They have to make a will save (and the DC goes up every 2 points for every peson who willing agrees with the effect). If they fail, they can't attack, use powers to harm another or damage property. You can't use this to stop fights that have already started. It's a free action and lasts 10 minutes, and is HILARIOUSLY broken in lots of ways. Want to escape? Just have you and five of buddies agree not to fight the enemies, and now they have to make saves with a +10 DC! SPELLCASTER SUPREMACY
Between the Weave: Ithaeur only, level 8. Make a DC 20 Will save (remember that werewolves have poor will saves!) and you can enter the Gauntlet in Nightmare Wave spots. The Gauntlet is like a trippy and confusing version of reality. You are invisible and invulnerable while in the Gauntlet and can move around normally, but physical objects still block you like normal. You can stay up to 1 round per point of wisdom bonus, and can't take any actions in the turn in which you come back.
Bind or Sunder: Requires Fuel Rage rite, is Elodth only and level 10. You can extend the amount of time a werewolf can stay in a hybrid form 1 round per point of wisdom bonus you have. Alternatively, you can suppress shapechanges (whether werewolves, demon, mage, vampire, or anything else) and force them to return to their normal bodies unless they make a Will Save. Also Fuel Rage is also level 10, so you can't actually take this power until level 12.
Blending: Level 2. Lets you hide in plain sight, as long as you don't move and you aren't under observation. Doesn't cost any essence, so at least there is that.
Break the Defiant: level 6. You growl at a target and they make a will save. If they succeed, they lose 4 wisdom, if they fail they lose 8. If they roll a natural 1 they automatically fail the next Will save from a rite you use on them. You can only use this on someone once per day.
Bystander: Irraka only, level 8. You fade into a crowd, as long as you don't do anything weird - you can walk through a Wall Street brokerage wearing a blood-splattered T-shirt and sweatpants and nobody will bat an eye. People using supernatural means of awareness or actively looking for you get a Will save to resist, and if they roll a 1 they forget you were ever there at all. Lasts up to 10 minutes.
Call of Glory: Cahalith only, level 12. You howl, and werewolf packmates (including yourself) heal 8d6 and non-werewolf packmates heal 4d6. You can't heal someone over the phone. A free action.
Clarity: Rahu only. If you're suprised or flat-footed, now you aren't! If you use it before combat (and get into a fight before it's one minute duration is up) you get +8 initiative.
Command Fire: Level 6. Why can werewolves control fire?
You totally can, though! If there's an open flame around you can attack with it for 1d6+cha mod damage. You can also make it spread faster or slower by making a DC 0 will save, +5 for each additional square you want the fire to enter or stay out of.
Crashing the Gates: Requires Between the Weave, Ithaeur level 10. It's Between the Weave, but you can bring other people with you. Costs 1 essence per person.
Crushing Blow: Deal +4 damage with unarmed and melee, gain the benefits of improved unarmed strike.
Death Grip: Rahu level 6. You don't provoke for starting grapples with your bite, and get +8 to grapple checks with it.
Double Back: Level 12. You automatically detect any mundane attempts to hide, cover, or alter anything near you. You automatically find places where people tried to hide evidence, conceal tracks, revel disguises, and detect anyone hiding. You don't automatically break supernatural concealment of stuff, but you get a +4 bonus to do so.
Feet of Mist: Always on and free, and it's harder to track you by scent. You can spend a point of essence to make it REALLY hard to track you by scent for an hour.
Fog of War: Level 16. Howl, and everyone who hears it must take -10 to attacks, saves, and checks unless they make a will save. You can pick people to be immune to it, and you have to spend a standard action each round to maintain it.
Friend of the Dark: Get darkvision for free while in beast or hybrid form. If you spend a point of Essence, the range doubles for an hour.
Fuel Rage: Elodoth Level 10. You can extend the duration of your hybrid form, 1 extra round per point of wisdom bonus.
Ghost Step: Irraka level 12. You become mistlike, becoming immune to physical attacks and gaining a fly speed. You can only stay in this form for charisma modifier rounds, and each round after that gives -4 on attacks, saves, and checks, lasting until 1 minute after you return to normal.
Hone Rage: Sacrifice a round from hybrid form to gain +4 to strength or dexterity.
Intrusion Cloak: Ithaeur level 6. You look like a starry night sky! Gain a bonus to hide checks and a 20% miss chance from ranged attacks.
Invoke the Winds Wrath: Level 8. Create a whirlwind, why not, that sounds like a werewolfy thing. People who the whirlwind touches make a reflex save (DC 16, that never improves) or take 2d6 damage, and make a second reflex save or get sucked in. Lasts two rounds, but you can add 1 round by spending a point of essence each time.
Iron-Rending: Level 6. Treat the hardness of something as 8 less than normal. Lots of power recycling going on here, I guess.
is my favorite picture in the book. I honestly don't know what to say about this.
Killing Frost: Level 10. Sure, just let werewolves become the Avatar, who cares. Suck the thermal energy out of the air, doing 3d6 points of cold damage to everything around you and forcing balance checks.
Lament of the River: Level 12, must be of the Southern or Northern Water Tribe. Cause waves, or a flood if you concentrate for 60 minutes minus your result on a will save. 1 essence for the wave, 3 essence for the flood.
Leach Rage: Level 6. When in hybrid form, force an enemy to make a will save. If they fail, they get one less round in hybrid form and you get one more. If they roll a 1, it's two rounds.
Legendary Arm: Level 10. Throw heavy shit.
Loose Tongue: Talk with someone for 5 rounds, then they make a DC will save to resist (you can do this for multiple targets, but each additional person adds a -2 penalty do the DC). If they fail, you get +8 on diplomacy, gather information, and sense motive on them. If they roll a 1, he gets -4 penalty on will saves against your rites. Doesn't cost any essence.
Mask of Rage: Flash your alien ghost self, humans make a will save and get frightened to a degree based on how badly they failed. For every two humans present, they get a +1 bonus (to a max of +5). The more you scare someone, the less they remember about what scared them. It doesn't work on PC classes.
Mechanical Failure: Werewolves hate computers I guess. Though it's not just technical shit - you can literally cause guns to fail to fire. If the object is attended, they make a will save, otherwise it just happens. This is a free action to use, and lasts a minute, so I guess a group of werewolves can just walk through a battlefield running up to people and glaring at their guns.
Mighty Bound: +10 jump, woopty-doo. No essence cost
Nightfall: Level 4. You're now an EMP device. You break all electrical devices in a 40 square foot area, or larger if you spend more essence.
Pack Awareness: Cahalith only. Make a DC 15 search check, and you know roughly where all your packmates are in relation to you, what they are generally doing, and if they are wounded, unconscious, or dead. Doesn't cost anything, but it only works out to a mile (each Primal Urge rite you have adds another mile).
Partial Change: You can change bits of yourself however you want, one partial change per round. So you can grow claws as a human or get humans hands to pick a lock in beast form or whatever. No essence cost for this.
Playing Possum: Level 6. You look like a corpse unles they make a heal check of a certain DC. You can keep it going for up to 24 hours.
Primal Urge: Maximum essence increases by 10, the number of Essence you can spend in one round increases by 1, and you can remain in hybrid form for 1 more round. You get -3 penalty on Diplomacy, Gather Information, and Sense motive aginst humans. You can take this up to 5 times.
Rallying Cry: Cahalith level 6. You and your allies get +2 morale bonus on attacks, saves, and checks, and a 25% chance to retain any humanity points spent. Can't do this over the phone.
Rage Armor: Rahu level 10. Get +8 defense.
Read Intrustion: Requires Two World Eyes rite, Ithaeur. You can make search checks like knowledge checks to learn stuff about Nightmare Wave sites or creatures.
Rekindle Rage: Level 10. You can go to hybrid form without waiting 10 minutes from shifting out of it. It lasts 2 rounds less.
Rending the Gauntlet: Requires Between the Weave, Crashing the Gates, level 12. You can go to the gauntlet wherever you want, instead of only at Nightmare sites, and bring people with you as well.
Resist Pain: Cahalith level 2. Ignore dazed, exhausted, fatigued, staggered, and stunned.
Running Shadow: Spend an essence, you ignore penalties to move silently from noisy surfaces and speed.
Sand in the Eyes: Level 2 - Make people forget stuff about you from the last 10 mintues if they fail a will save. Doesn't cost anything, it's a free action, and there's no downside to failing it, so do it to everyone all the time! Become CAPTAIN INCOGNITO! If you attack them, the effect ends.
Savage Might: level 12. Gain +10 strength for an essence, and it stacks with itself as long as you spend the essence in the same round.
Savage Rending: Level 2. Your claws deal +4 damage
Scent Beneath the surface: Elodoth
After observing a target for one round, you gain a keen insight into the meaning of her words, body language and even the secret leanings of her heart. Unless she has supernatural means conceal these facts, you immediately know if she is lying outright, lying by omission, speaking the truth in a misleading way or is being deliberately evasive. You can also determine the target’s overall emotional state no matter how she tries to conceal or disguise it.
That guy is totally not the moon!
Sense Weakness: Irraka. You learn a weakness, such as a powerful vice, a mental disorder, or a physical flaw unless the target makes a will save. If they roll a 1, you get two weaknesses. You can only use it once per day on a particular target, and each time you use it you learn a new weakness (if any). It's free and there's no downside to using it, so do it to everyone.
Silver Jaws: level 6. Your teeth and claws become silver. In human form, you look like you painted your nails and have a grill.
Skin-stealing: Level 10. Let's you grow a fleshy skin over your own, emulating the scent and appearance of someone you have tasted. Costs an extra essence it the other guy was a werewolf.
Slip Away: Irraka - automatically succeed on any escape artist or grapple check to escape. Doesn't work against supernatural stuff or enclosed spaces, so no oozing out of jail cells.
Snarl of Command: The target makes a will save or reveals the simple truth about whatever you are discussing. If they roll a 1, they reveal the complete and total truth about it (as far as they know). You can only use this on a target once per day.
Speak with beasts: Does what it says on the tin. Free, unless you need to talk with more than 10 animals at one time.
Two-World Eyes: Ithaeur. You can make search checks to tell if something is effected by a nightmare wave, and a vague sense of what's wrong with it. Doesn't cost anything.
Unspoken Communication: Cahalith level 10. You and your packmates get telepathy if you spend an essence.
Vanish: Level 12. You become invisible. This costs 2 essence, and somehow has both duration of 1 minute and 1 round.
Ward: You piss on stuff. For real. Humans and natural predators who come nearby have to make a will save or flee. Supernatural creatures that can smell it notice it but can pass without a roll, and supernaturals who can't smell it (like awakened) don't notice it at all. You can also PISS ON SOMEONE to mark them as under your protection.
Warning growl: You growl at somebody, they make a will save, failure means you get a dodge bonus against them.
That's the werewolf powers! The main thing I'd says is that, other than the Rahu powers, they don't feel very werewolfy. It's all dimension and energy control, along with a good dose of mind control. I never played Werewolf, either nWod or oWod, so maybe that's how they were there, but somehow I doubt it. Notice that Monte Cook fucking loves critical failure effects. Also the no-cost mind control powers seem kind of strange.
Werewolves at least have a reasonable method for getting a few Essence back per day. You'll always get at least one point automatically, and you'll get 2 points a decent amount of the time. And, as long as you can take a minute or two to eat the hearts of your enemies, you can get a few more. Still, an all-werewolf party is going to have trouble keeping their Essence up unless you take frequent trips to farm human hearts.
Next time: Vampires get all the good stuff
Character Classes 4
Original SA post
I'M BACK WITH MORE OF
MONTE COOK'S WORLD OF DARKNESS
“Come to me. You know you must. You know you long to share in what I
—Stephan Willow, vampire
Character classes continued: Vampires
If you remember from way back in March, MCWoD vampires are people being possessed by murderous ghosts (
see here for a reminder
). They are also by far the most powerful of the non-human classes, due to how Vitae and Disciplines work. The actual character class for vampires is pretty average - d8 HP, 4+int skill points, all good saves. They get Disciplines (vampire powers), with 1 at first level and then gain one more at every even level.
They get a crappy 1d4 damage bite attack (you get strength and a half for damage at least). Vampires have Predator's Taint, which makes me giggle because I am immature, which lets them gauge relative power level between themselves and another vampire. They don't take Constitution damage from critical hits like normal people (it just stuns them), and they don't bleed out. Vampires have low-light vision.
Vampires get clan-specific bonuses and penalties. Daeva get +2 Charisma, –2 penalty on Will saves (no clue why this isn't -2 Wisdom), Gangrel get +2 Constitution, –2 Intelligence, Mekhet get +2 Dexterity, –2 Charisma, Nosferatu get +2 Strength, –2 Charisma, and Ventrue get +2 Intelligence, –2 Wisdom.
Vampires, of course, also have weaknesses. They have deathsleep, which kicks in at dawn and which they have to spend a point of Vitae to wake up when the sun sets. They're vulnerable to sunlight, taking 4 points of Constitution damage each round while fully exposed. As undead, they don't heal naturally.
Vitae, or: Why other classes get the shaft
The basics of Vitae is the same as Essence for Werewolves and Anima for Demons - you can store 10 + con mod and you can only spend 1 point per round (unless you get the Blood Potency discipline which increased both of them).
Blood Addiction: Anyone drinking a vampire's blood has to make a Will save. Each time you fail, you take a -4 penalty to future saves against blood addiction. Once you hit -20, you are addicted and thirst for blood (both the vampire's in particular and blood in general).
Vampires use Vitae to:
Establish Vinculum: aka Blood Bond. You feed someone your blood three times, they get a bond to you which gives you bonuses on social skills against them and they take penalties to saves against your stuff. Only humans (not mages) and Awakened can become thralls, but Awakened need to drink twice as much.
Activate Disciplines: Do vampire shit!
Augment Physical Abilities: Pick a physical stat, get +4 to it for one minute. Pretty crappy use of a Vitae, usually.
Counterfeit Life: Spend a point to let you eat food or look living - Nosferatu don't become normal looking, you just look like a living monster instead of a dead one.
Create Ghouls: aka Blood Bond++. Give even more Vitae, and your buddy gets a Discipline (either Celerity, Resilience, or Vigor). They can also spend Vitae to boost attributes or heal just like a vampire, as long as the vampire keeps feeding them Vitae.
Detect Blood Tie: You can detect other vampire's clan/recognize a specific vampire by tasting their Vitae and making a search check.
Heal Wounds: Spend a Vitae, recover 10 HP, or 2 points of ability drain or damage.
Wake Up: As mentioned before, you gotta spend 1 point of Vitae to wake up from deathsleep.
Regaining Vitae: Drink some blood! On an unwilling target, grapple them and then make an opposed grapple check to drink - if you succeed, they also have to make a Will save or stop resisting, unless you are in combat in which case they don't have to. You get one Vitae per round. A medium humanoid creature has enough blood for one Vitae per two points of Constitution, and each point of Vitae drank causes 2 points of Constitution damage. Medium or larger animals only have 1 point of Vitae per 4 constitution, though each Vitae drained still does 2 constitution damage. Apparently cows can survive complete blood loss, who knew! Small creatures have half as much Vitae as medium, Tiny creatures 1/4 as much. 8 pints of stored blood is one vitae, and a dead body can give 1 Vitae for up to 24 hours. Mage blood gives you sweet hallucinations for a full day. Werewolves have 1 Vitae per 1 point of Constition, but causes the vampire to rage in combat or when annoyed, which is all the Barbarian rage penalties with none of the benefits. Awakened blood is only half as effective as regular human blood, and you can't feed on demons because they don't actually have blood. Vampires can't feed on plant, I'm not sure why this is mentioned. Did someone try to make a sap-eating vampire?
So the reasons Vampires are the uber-supernatural (besides mages who are broken as shit of course) is that they get way more Vitae than demons get Anima or werewolves get Essence. Assuming a demon gets the Pact power, they'll have maybe 4 or 5 Anima per day (and many of their powers cost multiple Anima). A werewolf is going to have 1 or 2 automatic points, and can eat hearts for 1 point per heart. Meanwhile a vampire can suck down an average of 5 Vitae per person. There's no limit to how many blood bonds you can have, so bond like half a dozen people or so and you're set with like 3 points per day, with another 3-4 per enemy you drain. And, of course, all bets are off if you have a mage in the party. Casting a spell to recover 2 points of Constitution Drain is super easy, and right away you have a perpetual blood/Anima machine by getting a dog or cow or whatever to snack on. For bonus shits and giggles you can make it a ghoul, so now you have a guard animal AND blood dispenser in one package.
This is the other reason Vampires are better than werewolves/demons. There are no powers that cost more than 1 Vitae, and many of them are totally free. I'm just going to hit the highlights on these. Disciplines are split into several groups, with each clan having an Affinity for 3 groups that gives them a bonus.
Awe: Get +5 on social skills against anyone who fails a Will save (with a penalty for using this on larger groups) for 1 minute. Only, it's a free action and doesn't cost any Vitae, so just spam this fucker over and over until it works. Daeva force a -4 penalty on the save.
Body of Spirit: Requires level 10, Aspect of the Predator (powers up your taint and kinda sucks), and Claws of the Wild (which gives you claws, obviously). On the other hand, it lets you turn into mist and become immune to physical damage. You can still use powers that don't require a physical body! Doesn't cost any Vitae!
Actual decent looking art? How did this manage to slip in this book?
Celerity: Get +30 movement, +4 Dodge bonus to defense and +4 to reflex saves. You can take this up to 5 times, and each time you take it it increases the increment (so +60'/+8/+8 for twice, +90'/+12/+12 for thrice, etc). Daeva and Mekhet get +6 instead of +4, so they max out at +30 instead of +20. Only costs 1 vitae and a free (or immediate) action to activate, so go ahead, move hilariously fast and be impossible to hit!
Cloak of Night: Turn invisible against anyone who fails a Will save! It ends if you do something to obviously break it. It works against minds, not actual visual effects, but somehow it works on people watching an active video camera (though not reviewing a saved tape of it), so I guess vampire magic travels down wires. Once again, it doesn't cost any Vitae and is a free action, because Vampires get all the good shit.
Command: Give a 1 word command, if the target fails a will save they follow the command (though always in their own best interest in some kind of wish-twisting way). You have to make eye contact, so of course there are some dumb gaze rules involving a 50% chance for your target to purposefully avoid eye contact but they have a 20% miss chance. Once again, no Vitae cost, but at least it's a standard action so it's not as spammable.
Dread: A 10' + 10' per point of charisma modifier radius aura that forces anyone in the aura to make a will save or become frightened and flee for 2d6 rounds, if they succeed they are only shaken. Costs a vitae at least but it's a free action.
Feral Whispers: You're Doctor Doolittle! Stare at and talk to an animal, it can tell you shit (they don't get intelligent or anything, so don't bother talking to worms or whatever). No Vitae cost.
Forgetful Mind: Requires Command and Mesmerize (which is just Suggestion). Let's you just make up whatever memories you want and implant them, unless they fail a will save. You have to stare into their eyes the whole time and describe the memory. Of course it doesn't cost any Vitae, because vampire's power points actually fueling the use of their powers would be just too wacky.
Haven of Soil: You can merge your body into dirt. You don't just sink into it, you actually distribute your essence into it and your body just kinda goes away. Taking this multiple times let's you merge into other things like water or metal or wood. You can't use this to travel through stuff, though. Of course THIS power costs a Vitae, because it sucks and that's apparently how they decided what should cost Vitae.
Mask of Tranquility: Allows you to cover your Taint (snicker) and hides you from aura sight. Doesn't cost anything, is always on.
Monstrous Countenance: You so ugly people have to make will saves or become frightened for 1+cha mod rounds. It's a free action that doesn't cost Vitae so FUCK YOU DREAD YOU SUCK. Alternatively, since fear levels stack, take both and make people panicked.
Now that's more like it, MCWoD.
Possession: Requires Command and level 12, and lets you take over someone's body for as long as you want, basically like
. Costs 1 vitae. You only have to make eye contact, so go to a presidential rally and become the president! You can walk in the daylight while possessing someone even. You can use it on animal too, so grab an elephant and go on a rampage!
Revelation: Talk about something, and then use this power. Whoever you're talking to has to make a Will save or start blurting out secrets about whatever you were talking about. There's a -5 penalty to the check if they're under the affect of you're awe ability, so make sure to spam that first. They'll keep talking until he makes the save, which they can attempt every round.
Shatter the Mind: Do you like being a complete asshole? Then this is the power for you! Glare at someone and give them bulimia, or depression! If they roll a 1 on a save, you can go for Multiple Personality Disorder or Anxiety!
Sovereignty: I'll let the book speak for itself on this one.
Passive: People feel a zealous fear of or devotion to you; this effect is always active (though you can deactivate or reactivate it as a free action). They may speak freely around you as long as they don’t defy or criticize you, and their demeanor is obviously affected by your Sovereignty.
No save for that one, and no cost for the passive effect. The active effect costs 1 Vitae for an hour of "you have to make a Will save to attack me, and if you fail you take -4 stacking penalty on future saves". It breaks if you attack someone, thought.
Vigor: Get +4 strength and +5 jump checks. Take it up to 5 times and get stacking bonuses just like Celerity, so if you take it 5 times you can spend 1 Vitae to get +20 strength and +25 jump. Daeva or Nosferatu get +6 per instead, so +30 strength. Congrats, you can bite through concrete walls!
Devotions are special disciplines that you can take if you have certain prerequisite disciplines. Not sure why these are separated, really. There's only five and they are really shitty so I'm not gonna say anything more about them.
Iron Facade lets you pretend you didn't just get stabbed. Really, that's what all it does.
The thing about vampires is that they get a ton of Vitae and all their good powers don't cost any Vitae. They would be the best class, except Mages are broke as hell.
Next time: Mages, or: Why the fuck would you play anything else?