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Read First General System House rules

#11
Cost reduction.

Let's look at it frankly and tell it how it is. Alternative XP. But then let's look back at the things you can buy with XP and consider that sometimes you need more XP or that some things can cost less.

We will be looking at 3 ways that one can earn an XP reduction and BY HOW MUCH. This will be on a case by case basis, some things practically justify themselves, others do not.

But first a clarification on WHAT you can use such reductions on:

Backgrounds
-some backgrounds are just not worth their investment in xp or even if they are you can use them so rarely that it's a disappointment. Some things will not warrant reductions outside specific cases, while others might as well be worth half their cost

Lore
-No, not Demon Lores, Lore on the supernatural entities of the world, our own personalized knowledge that makes sure a vampire does not start the game knowing everything about how to hunt mages effectively until they invest in the skill. It sees rare use, but still sees use, so it can garner such reductions

Merits
-Case by case, some merits might be worth such reductions, or simply be available in exchange for taking on flaws. Often, merits are worth the investment

Humanity
-The cost is right, but for those who want to raise it, the cost is unfair. Solid journals on showing them becoming more human, acts that show it improving can bring scene rewards.

Others
-While abilities, attributes, and some of the most powerful and rightly so expensive things are off the list, others might be given such reductions. Remember the golden rule, don't ask for them unless you are sure that you are showing proper roleplay of the path it should be on

Now onto the HOW:

Journals
-solid journaling (one at least every 3 days) should in itself grant a 1 XP reduction per continued application of oneself to this task. This is up to the player to ask and for an ST to judge and should not occur more than 5 times a month. Note that such journal entries should show more dedication than "gimme xp" and should be an endeavor the player pursues without expecting this reduction to happen. Because if you do, it won't happen
-continued documenting of a process to aquire a certain aspect can in itself also count as a similar discount to get that item. this should stretch to at least 3 posts on it and should need only light justification, such as contacts, influence, lower ratings of resources. Also, this discount applies to the previous rule, should not go more than 5 a month.

Scene justification
-A player may initiate any action within a scene to prompt such a reduction, such as making a pact, chatting a new person to join their fight, meeting influential people... such an action may again be judged by an ST and considered if it deserves reduction in a purchase for it, such a reduction should be for 1, 2 or in very rare cases... 3.
-an ST may give out such hints that an action done counts as an effective reduction on an item or give out items to give reductions (books on the subject that are fairly well written, equipment that can get you to something faster, contacts lists), or in some cases give out an entire trait rating at level 1 should they consider it relevant. Such additions should be properly marked as a fully reimbursed purchase

Flaws
-A player may perform actions that will land them with solid mechanical flaws as per the books, and may prompt to have them be added to their sheet. A flaw is double its rating in XP as a reduction and needs to last as many months as its rating to be removed, this does not apply to STARTING flaws, and any removal of a flaw may either be done through straight XP expediture to cover its reduction or through scenes to fully reimburse it. Such scenes will not give out XP, but grant the removal, or partial removal... in the case of bigger flaws... of that flaw. And as always any application or removal of the flaw has to make sense
-An ST may prompt a player to add a flaw, but such a decision is fully up to the player if they desire so, as well as prompt that a scene may have removed their flaw. Obviously such events would be significant and rarely be unexpected. Remember... you may roleplay a flaw... but once it is on your sheet, an ST can grab you by that flaw... the bigger, the badder.

A character may aquire up to 15 XP in reductions a month. This is to represent that your path cannot be further lightened by the events around you and any further inclusion in it threatens to have you swept in the chaos and take the easy path of NPC as the world shapes you.

Special notice - Mentor:

- A mentor is universal to each type of character and represents a person with enough vested interest in your growth to teach you. This might be a way to justify reductions through journals, but a mentor is far more useful to another degree.

- A mentor can reduce the time needed to upgrade a trait by 10%*their rating, up to half (rounded up), as long as their applied skills in that domain make sense. An old timey vampire might have his opinion to give in etiquette, streetwise, maybe academics and definitly occult, but not computers or technology. A verbena could teach herbalism, survival, athletics, but once again stumped by tech. Such reductions will almost always occur for your main race abilities, such as spheres, disciplines, gifts, arts and lores. Such a time reduction should be asked for and judged by the one approving the purchase, and this furthers the importance of properly detailing a mentor and having one without punishing for its absence.

Notes/Clarifications:

-Flaws should not only make sense how you are getting them, but also make sense how are they helping you get the things you have in exchange. A horror hunger for iron might make one get a higher job where they can afford such expeditures but it won't make them more charismatic... it might make them more durable, though.

-Backgrounds can justify other backgrounds, resources can justify fame, fame can justify influence, influence might justify contacts, but reductions in these should be done through the abovementioned methods. As such, backgrounds can be seen to have the snowball effect, but their mere presence will only count as justification

-We will need a log of such reductions from now on, to ensure that one does not increase their power too much through this alternative way. However, note that a reduction is more valuable to the ST than to the player as you are effectively controlling their growth

-Core book reductions (Grimoire, affinity sphere) do not count for this purpose. They are separate and fully motivated by their previous purchase of the item in question. This purpose refers to ST-awarded xp reductions.

-Journaling refers to separate journal entries to show that the character is affected by the world. One big journal entry detailing several days of nothing related to the story their character has passed through while being an interesting part of their lore will not count for this purpose, as it shows neither dedication or attachment. Proper journaling might as well tell the story when you put them all together.
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#12
Optional Rule: The Well-Skilled Craftsman

Mages excel at many different fields of endeavor and focus their Arts through quite a few of them. As a result, rather
than present a ton of related but separate Abilities, the Well-Skilled Craftsman option allows your character to master
a wide range of similar skills.

This optional rule lets you purchase specific specialties that reflect certain skill sets within a related Ability. Rather than
buying the Ability several times over, you simply define a single specialty as your primary concentration within that Ability.
Even if you have only one dot in your Ability, choose a specialty to reflect your character’s preferred field. Then, when
you reach four dots, you can buy additional specialties for just four experience points per specialty. This way, a skillful
practitioner can quickly expand his expertise.

For example, let’s say that Spider Chase has Crafts, with a specialty in Leatherwork. When she reaches Crafts 4, she
can purchase additional Crafts specialties (we’ll say Tailoring and Vehicle Repair) for only four experience points per
specialty, or eight points total for those two. Of course, the character has to learn those skills in the course of the story –
she can’t just wake up knowing how to repair cars! But assuming that Spider has the chance to broaden her repertoire,
she can become a Well-Skilled Craftsman by building upon the principles she already understands.

This option also applies to the Art and Athletics Talents; the Crafts, Firearms, Martial Arts, and Melee Skills; and the Academics,
Esoterica, Lore, Politics, and Science Knowledge Abilities, because each one represents a related field of very different
skills. Hobby Talent and Professional and Expert Abilities (see p.277) expand this option too - see those entries
for details.

We will be implementing this use for play to those that desire it, remember... specialties just lets you count 10's as 2 successes when the action is related to them. The above list can be extended to further abilities on request. All purchases should follow justification, as learning a new specialty should be a very involved process and it would require at least several journal entries or scenes.

Also, to purchase a specialty you need to ALREADY HAVE ONE, and since most do not get a specialty until 4, but abilities such as academics, crafts, performance, art, science, esoterica... get one either at 1 or 2 dots, such abilities are the focus of this rule, as they more represent your field of study
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#13
Martial Arts

Purchasing additional Maneuvers:
Each dot in a martial art teaches a character 2 maneuvers from the M20 list.  Upon reaching 5 dots you know a total of 10 maneuvers.

Each additional maneuver learned costs more xp than the last.  Starting at 2xp, increasing to 3, 4 and so on.

Martial Arts and Weapons:
Each martial art has a set of weapons with which there are weapon forms for that art.  For example, Silat has weapon forms for the Karambit knife, single or double, and for silat sticks.

When you learn a martial art you choose one weapon for which you have training.  You may wield this weapon using dex + martial arts instead of dex + melee.  If a situation raises that prevents you from moving through that weapon's forms, such as a grapple, confined space, ect, the ST may deny your use of martial arts, and may instead force you to roll dex + melee as normal.
I herd cats... cats in the form of ones and zeros.

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#14
In the case that you ever have to roll for an ability that you do not have (e.g. you have to roll Manipulation + Subterfuge, but don't have Subterfuge), the following penalties apply:
  • For a Talent, the roll is made with -1 die.
  • For a Skill, the roll is made with +1 difficulty.
  • For a Knowledge, the roll cannot be made at all.
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#15
Willpower at 6 and Above
Upon this level of Willpower, your character is becoming damn-near unbreakable. So much so that it requires not just a high level of justification, but likely even a change in the way the character is played. As such, we've decided to officially institute House Rules for Willpower at advanced levels (specifically, WP 6+).

Justification
  • When taking WP at these levels in Character Creation, you must justify it in your background. What did they do or experience to harden their mind that much? Where did their strong will come from? Not including this in your background is grounds for having it rejected by your ST. The ST is the final arbiter on whether or not the justification provided will suffice.
  • When requesting a high level of WP via purchase with EXP, you can receive your WP one of two ways: Via a 'test' scene in which you can earn the WP, similar to Seeking scenes for Mages or Balance scenes for Mummies, or you can include a scene your character participated in that was particularly trying, stressful, or difficult for them, and demonstrate how they overcame this stressful situation without breaking. Your ST reserves the right to ask the ST who ran this scene whether or not they agree with your assessment when you make the request.

Playing a Character with High Willpower
Your character has been around the block a few times to have WP this high. As such, we will expect a few things from the way you play them, just like we would expect you to play out your character's Demeanor, Nature, and any Merits, Flaws, or Derangements they may have:
  • Your character generally reacts well under pressure. At levels 6-7, they can still become frustrated with certain things, but very rarely will they ever freak out or give up.
  • At levels 8-9, their level of willpower is downright inspirational. They almost never lose their cool, and can approach nearly anything with a clear head, and nothing short of the death of a loved one will crack their stone-faced veneer.
  • At Willpower 10, they're basically a machine. Nothing, and I mean nothing gets under their skin. Even the most powerful psychic abilities have extreme difficulty penetrating their iron-clad will. The death of a loved one, at worst, will only make them even more determined to carry out their goals, in their loved one's honor. Distress is a foreign concept to them. Frustration is unheard of, and at most serves only to make them even more driven to conquer whatever obstacle is in their way. They'd have to be completely mangled to the point of being physically incapable of continuing to even consider giving up, and even then, it's only temporary.
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#16
The Enemy Flaw and You

So, I've been seeing a bit of confusion here, and admittedly, we as STs haven't been clear about this, either: "What's the difference between Enemy at 4 and 5 dots, and the Immortal Enemy flaw from Mage: Book of Secrets?" For all you masochists out there, I'll try to clear this up.

First and foremost, the Immortal Enemy flaw is banned in this game. If you've somehow managed to piss off an Antediluvian (Immortal Enemy 8), a Wyrm Totem (7 or 8), or an Ascended Archmage (6 or higher), well... one, you might as well just kill that character off in your first scene because they won't last a month, and two, that's virtually unplayable for the STs in this kind of a setting.

As for the Enemy flaw, it's all about the severity/power level of your enemy. That is not to say that it's based SOLELY on whether or not they can kill your character. It also depends upon their level of influence, the resources they have access to, who their friends are, and how capable they are of leveraging all of those assets against you.

So, for the sake of clarity, here is a list of examples of different 'tiers' of enemies, that include, but are by no means limited to, the types of enemies you could take, and how many points of a flaw they'd be worth. Some of these will be written in red. These are examples of enemies where not only will NPCs be coming after you, but it's also possible for you to have player characters coming after you (yes, that means PVP). These will generally only happen as a part of a plotline, or if you've made a deliberate (bad) choice as a character, or botched a roll in a particularly horrific way. If you WANT this to happen and took this at character creation, you forfeit the right to the protection of the 'No Stomping' rule.

Enemy (1):
These guys are weak. You can take these by yourself, but for whatever reason, they're still dangerous enough in other ways to annoy you.
  • A mortal criminal/thug. Not necessarily an entire gang, but it can turn into that.
  • A vampire's ghoul, demon's thrall, or Neteru who really has it out for you for some reason. Sure, you can kill them, but you'll probably piss off something even worse if you do.

Enemy (2):
You can still take these guys by yourself, but you'd better have some EXP to your name before you try. These guys are slightly more dangerous.
  • A recently-Awakened Mage.
  • A freshly-embraced vampire neonate.
  • A low-tier Fae.
  • A criminal gang.
  • A low-tier Sorcerer.

Enemy (3):
This is where you're going to start needing help. These enemies are all at least on par with your character, pose a real threat to their well-being, and in a fight, will be scaled to being as strong as your character is at any moment (if not stronger), or with enough backup to make fighting them a genuine challenge and a real risk of character death. Sure, there's a small chance you might win if you go it alone, but you're not going to walk away in one piece, and it's more likely you'll lose.
  • An organized crime syndicate or terrorist organization.
  • A mage, vampire, Changeling, shapechanger, etc. on your own level.
  • In more severe cases, a Sabbat pack, a squad of Technocratic operatives, a coterie of vampires, or even a pack of Shapechangers who have come to think you're Wyrm-tainted.
  • A particularly dangerous Spectre.

Enemy (4):
Don't even think about trying to take these on alone. You WILL die. These are all boss-tier enemies, the kind that can and will make your life a living hell, and have the friends and resources to make that possible. If you take this flaw, you are basically giving the STs carte blanche to make your character's life miserable, which we will do, gleefully.
  • A vampire elder, with enough underlings to send entire teams after you, such as one of the Primogen.
  • Pentex executive with enough money to send hit squads after you, or maybe even some banes or Fomori.
  • A high-ranking Technocrat who believes you're a genuine threat and has flagged you for termination.
  • The Garou sept Elder, who believes you're an agent of the Wyrm.
  • High-Balance Mummies who believe you're a genuine threat to the Balance.
  • The Camarilla Sheriff, who has conclusive evidence that you've broken the Masquerade.
  • A low-tier Bane Mummy.
  • One of the Earthbound.
  • You're on the local Chantry's Blacklist.
  • The personal attention of the entire Society of Leopold (note that the attention of one of their members would fall under the Hunted flaw).
  • Your name, face, last known address, and list of known associates are all on Hunternet, with a blaring message that you're a major threat to all human life, and with a bounty to match. The Imbued WILL treat you accordingly. (Again, note that the attention of just ONE of them would fall under the Hunted flaw).
  • In particularly severe cases, the Prince, the Sabbat Bishop, or one of the main antagonists of the game.

Enemy (5)
Okay, so you basically want to die. Put simply, these guys are the kinds of enemies you'd usually find at the end of a very, very long plotline, that even a dream team of the highest XP characters in the game would have a very real risk of a total party wipeout. If you take this flaw, be warned that your character is never safe. They will be looking over their shoulders constantly, knowing that the hell they've brought down upon their heads can be anywhere, everywhere, and nowhere at any time. There is a good chance your character will meet an early death if they turn down the wrong corner at the wrong time. If you take this flaw, you forfeit the right to complain if the STs kill your character off; you have chosen this for yourself, and we will not go easy on you. We won't go out of our way to try to make that happen, but don't be surprised if it does.
  • A Vampire Methuselah, complete with the kind of power base that takes thousands of years to build.
  • An Archmage, a Technocrat Archmaster, or Nephandi Aswadim, along with the amount of influence (and allies) that kind of power comes with.
  • The entire Garou Nation believes you're an agent of the Wyrm, and a particularly dangerous one at that. Think of this like their equivalent of being on the Red List.
  • Pentex's corporate board, with all the money and influence that can buy, and the personal assistance of the Wyrm's agents.
  • A top-tier Bane Mummy, Earthbound, Malfean, Maeljin, or one of the Yama Kings.
  • A literal Angel, sufficiently angered enough to dispense with the Imbued and come after you personally, likely against the orders of its superiors.

Losing This Flaw
There are two main ways to gain the justification needed to buy these flaws off. The first is to simply kill your enemy (good luck with that if you took Enemy 4 or 5). Of course, depending on how you do it, doing this could only make things worse: If you kill that ghoul and its domitor finds out it was you, then congratulations, not only did you NOT lose your Enemy flaw, you now have an even worse version of it.

The second is to somehow do this via plotline, such as finding evidence to clear your name if the local Amenti think you've broken the Balance, or delete those files the Technocrats or Pentex have on you. This may only be a temporary solution at best; deleted files could be brought back, or maybe you really DIDN'T break the Litany that time, but later you did, and this time there are witnesses. Of course, if the enemy has sufficient enough reason to hate you and it's completely personal, this won't be an option; you're stuck with their undying rage and hatred until one of both of you are dead.

If you kill your enemy and it's considered a 'perfect kill' (i.e. if you don't manage to bring something even worse after you), you have two weeks to buy the Flaw off. If you don't buy the flaw off, you will receive a new Enemy Flaw, of one degree less than the previous flaw. For example, if you had Enemy (3) and kill your Enemy, and then the two weeks are up, you will instead gain a new enemy, and your Enemy (3) flaw will be replaced with the Enemy (2) flaw. Note that your flaw cannot drop to 0; if you kill an Enemy (1) and don't buy the flaw off, you will gain another Enemy (1) two weeks later. Enemy (1) MUST be bought off with EXP in order to lose it permanently.

Note: If you kill your enemy and want to keep it at the same level as before, you can. Just tell your ST, you masochist.

Other 'Enemy-Like' Flaws

The Hunted Flaw: This is a 'spinoff' of the Enemy flaw that involves a dedicated Hunter coming after your character. They could be one of the Society of Leopold, or even one of the Imbued. You will be able to get rid of this Flaw the same way you'd get rid of Enemy, but be warned: If you aren't careful, killing the Hunter who is after you could very well turn into the Enemy flaw at four dots, with the entire Society coming after you, or winding up on the Hunternet's most wanted list!

The Haunted Flaw: This is if you've angered a Wraith who isn't capable of actually harming you (at least, not directly), but they're still capable of messing with you in other ways. If you've angered one powerful enough to actually, physically hurt you, that's most likely Enemy 3, where I've listed "A particularly powerful Spectre." Note that it doesn't necessarily have to be a Spectre; it could just be a Wraith, but one that really doesn't like you, specifically.

The Demon-Hounded Flaw: No, this doesn't mean you've angered one of the Fallen (Enemy 3, maybe Enemy 4 if it's a particularly powerful and/or influential Fallen, such as one of the Pentarchy or a Tyrant) or one of the Earthbound (Enemy 4 at least). This means you've angered a Bane, a Malfean, or something else that is incapable of harming you directly, but is definitely capable of ruining your life in other ways. If it ever gains a way to come after you directly, such as by possessing somebody or being summoned into this world, then it will become an Enemy flaw.
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#17
NEW INFLUENCE RULES


Influence is a largely important background for anyone attempting to do social based interactions. It's how you influence mortal society and help keep the supernatural world a secret. It makes life easier for those with the power. But Influence being a one-size fits all kind of background degrades from how vastly complex mortal society truly is. Criminals typically don't listen to politicians and politicians typically only listen to their egos. At the end of the day, Influence is a vastly complex and intrigue based background.

In order to properly embody this the Influence background will function differently than other backgrounds, and will work very similarly to Blood Sorcery in Vampire the Masquerade. When you obtain the first dot of influence, you will select a "Main Branch" of influence. This is the branch of influence that you are the most influential with. Where your start will always be where you have the most power in. All other Influence branches are "Secondary Branches" which may not be increased higher than the characters main branch. It is however, cheaper to increase a "Secondary Branch" of Influence however, as once you have influence in one area, it is typically easier to expand outward. To reflect this the EXP Cost of Increasing a Secondary Branch of Influence is only 3 EXP for a new dot an Current Rating * 1 for every dot there after.


The Branches of Influences are:

Political: These are your Politicians, your Senators, and even the President.
Financial: These are the businessmen of the World, Fortune 500 companies, Banks, and the Stock Traders.
Religion: These are Priests, Mega Churches, The Vatican, and Church Doctrine.
Justice: These are judges, law enforcement officers, The CIA, the FBI, and Lawyers.
Civics: These are the common people, Hospitals, Schools, Road Construction, and Industry workers.
Criminal: These are your Hit-men, the drug dealers, the crack heads, and the homeless.

Some things that cannot be affected by Influence, because some people simply do not care about other people or the troubles of the mortal world. Most notably certain High Society members, such as trophy wives and artists as well as the Media. In order to influence those people, the Fame Background is required instead. For supernatural entities the background Status may instead be required.


Now, for using your influence. Influence is much like Resources in a sense. In that you can strain what people are willingly to allow you to accomplish, if you try to influence too much too quickly, you may put yourself at risk of losing your influence all together. If you wish to do something quickly and immediately, you may "tie up" one or more of your dots of influence for a short tie, or perhaps even longer depending on the action. These dots typically refresh over time. These dots refresh at the beginning of every month While a dot of Influence is "Tied up" you treat yourself as having 1 lower influence until the dot is refreshed. If a situation demands it, you may use a Dot that is "Tied Up" in this way, but doing so comes at great risk, you may loss the dot entirely. A roll to negate the loss can be made at a difficulty between 7-9 (Determined by the ST at the time). If you lose a dot in your main branch and it is brought lower than any secondary branch, you lose the dots in the secondary branches as well. When the need for this roll occurs, the STs will discuss with each other about what kind of social roll is the most suited as well as the difficulty of said roll Primarily using Influence will be paired with either Manipulation or Charisma depending on how people go about it. Influence actions will be accompanied by a Manipulation/Charisma + Influence roll to determine the effectiveness of the action. On occasion mental attributes may be usable for Influence rolls, such as finding someone with Influence in Criminal or Justice may involve a Perception roll, but typically these are Social rolls. Merits that apply to these rolls are a case by case basis with the ultimate discretion being left to the ST themselves.

Influence (Civics):
•: "Thank you for your donation, sir/ma'am."
••: Someone, somewhere knows you're the reason why they're not going to bed hungry tonight.
•••: You're a man/woman of the people and the local poor know it.
••••: A picture with you is a deeply coveted propaganda piece for public figures.
•••••: "And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to..."

Influence (Politics):
•: Robocallers have you at the top of their list.
••: The local party staffers know your name.
•••: Your Congressman takes your calls.
••••: The governor hopes YOU take HIS calls.
•••••: "The President will see you now."

Influence (Justice):
•: "I'll let you off with a warning this time, but don't let me catch you speeding again."
••: "Me? What? No, I didn't see you run that red light."
•••: "I'm sure this whole 'tax fraud' thing is just one big misunderstanding."
••••: "Your rival is doing what, now? We'll look into it right away."
•••••: The chief doesn't make a move without you okaying it first.

Influence (Criminal):
•: Your local dealer always takes your calls.
••: You can book some 'special' party favors with a few phone calls.
•••: Muggers know to steer clear of you if they know what's good for them.
••••: "My people can take care of your problem for you."
•••••: "It's an honor to meet you, Godfather."

Influence (Finance):
•: Amateur day-traders take your advice.
••: Local stock-brokers know your name.
•••: A pillar of the local economy.
••••: "Sir/Ma'am, Bloomberg is on line one..."
•••••: Stocks rise and fall with one word from you.

Influence (Religion):
•: A regular face at the local congregation.
••: Your pastor/Imam/Rabbi/Priest/etc. has you on speed-dial.
•••: The Bishop of your Diocese knows your name.
••••: People in the Vatican, Mecca, and Jerusalem all know who you are.
•••••: People like you are the reason why the U.S. has a Separation of Church and State... at least, on paper.

Disclaimer: 

I fully disclose that these rules are subject to change. If they do change all attempts will be made to try and get characters back onto the new rule set with as little damage as possible. I am not the greatest ST in the world and I fully admit that sometimes I can and will make mistakes, but I promise when these changes occur announcements will be made as quickly as possible.
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#18
Banned Merits and Flaws

The following Merits and Flaws are banned in all splats, no exceptions. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive, and individual STs reserve the right to ban any flaw in their splat specifically that is not listed here.
  • Self-Confident/Optimstic: Game-breaker that can potentially give you an unlimited source of Willpower, making rolls trivial and all but eliminating the potential for a botch.
  • Immortal Enemy: An utter nightmare for STs. Someone, somewhere will take the 8 point version, meaning their enemy is on par with a Wyrm Totem or an Antediluvian. No. Just, no.
  • Berserker/Stress Atavism: Ask what happened to get this merit/flaw banned in General Chat. I'll give you a hint: We saw firsthand the potential this flaw can have to result in the deaths of player characters, to break the Masquerade, and the possible answer to the age old question of how to kill a splat. Due to the fact that this merit/flaw can singlehandedly turn a scene into a trainwreck at best and is a tool for deliberate griefing at worst, it's banned.

Changed/Limited Merits and Flaws

The following Merits and Flaws are allowed, but are changed from their original versions:
  • Crack Shot: ONLY applies to sniper rifles, which aren't exactly easy to lug around in battle. This does NOT apply to pistols, and especially not to automatic weapons of any kind.
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#19
'Special' Ammunition And You

We'd actually made this ruling a while back due to people abusing this type of ammo for an 'I win' button against Vampires and Werewolves, but it's been brought to our attention that we should probably post it here to make it official, and for convenience's sake. 'Flare rounds' and 'silver bullets' are, well, a silver bullet against Vampires and Werewolves respectively. They can easily turn the tide of a fight against either character type in the hands of the right type of character.

There's just one major problem: They are (or at least, should be) extremely hard to come by. Incendiary rounds of any kind are banned in all fifty states on the civilian market, and the military keeps these kinds of rounds locked up tight, to the point where the small handful that somehow find their way onto the black market are extremely expensive. Silver bullets, on the other hand, would be considered a novelty item at best, and would neither be mass-produced nor sold in bulk. The reason for this is that silver is an extremely flimsy metal and make for poor weapons, and for obvious reasons, silver bullets are prohibitively expensive to manufacture. Only Pentex has a large stockpile of silver bullets.

So how do you get your hands on these? Simple: You make them yourself.

Incendiary Ammo/Flare Rounds:
  • In order to acquire flare rounds, you must have a minimum of Crafts 3, with two successes equalling one flare round. Botching this roll will cause the round to be faulty, and to explode in your own gun when fired, likely dealing severe Lethal damage to your character, not to mention destroying your weapon.
  • Attempting to buy the rounds on the black market will require a minimum of Resources 4, an in-character justification for how your character has black market contacts, and even then, it will be impossible to buy these rounds in bulk, due to how tightly these types of weapons are regulated.
  • Mages may produce these types of flare rounds with Matter 3/Forces 3, and by infusing 1 quintessence into each bullet produced. to lock the effect. A less costly method would be to create a batch of Charms with the same effect (Charms 3, 9 Quint for twenty bullets). But unless you really need these fire dealing bullets, you're better off just using Prime 2 to make your weapon deal aggravated damage for the duration of the scene.

Silver Rounds:
  • These cannot be purchased in bulk. The only companies that produces them in an amount where this would even be possible, Pentex subsidiaries, do not sell these on the civilian market, and are used almost exclusively by their First Teams. Certain (small) businesses may make them as novelty items, but they're not meant to actually be fired. Botching a roll while using 'novelty' silver rounds will break your firearm.
  • You may attempt to get these rounds from Pentex itself, but make sure you have IC justification for it, such as having a Pentex operative as a background dot... or having enough Resources to ensure some "accidentally fall off the back of a truck." Make sure your character is not hostile with Pentex, or that bullet will be in their skull instead.
  • Mages may produces these with Matter 2. Much simpler than incendiary rounds.
  • Just like with flare rounds, you need a minimum of Crafts 3 to make them, or to make silver-plated weapons. But unlike flare rounds, you also need Resources 3 in order to buy the materials to make ten bullets (possibly less depending upon the caliber of the round you're making). Pure silver is not cheap, and it's a relatively flimsy metal that makes for a poor weapon unless you know exactly what you're doing. For details, see the ST of your splat.
  • It is not possible to buy these weapons on the black market. Again, the consensus opinion among arms dealers is that they're a stupid vanity item, with no real practical military use. Since, y'know, werewolves don't exist.
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#20
The Arcane Background

This has been brought up again, and it's time to finally put this issue to bed, about what can or can't defend against this, and how it can or can't affect your character. First and foremost, we are taking Arcane as a background, as written in Mage 20. Yes, we're aware that it also exists as a merit for Vampires in Black Hand: Guide to the Tal'Mahe'Ra. Non-Mages who want this will take the Background and not the Merit (it's not like it makes a difference in Freebie point cost). Yes, we're allowing non-Mages to take it, at ST discretion. For whatever reason it's more common among Mages than other types of supernaturals, so in other splats, it should be rare.

First and foremost: Arcane is not a Mental effect. Even Mages don't fully understand how it works, only that it's something much more metaphysical in nature, affecting the strands of reality itself. What is known is that Mind Shield does not protect against it. No other form of mental protection will work against it, either. Not the innate Mind Control Immunity of Demons, not Conviction for Hunters, nothing. Nobody understands why this is, but for whatever reason, at the higher levels of Arcane, the memories just will not take root.

But this comes at a cost: Anyone with the higher levels of Arcane are a ghost in the wind. Nobody remembers their faces or their name. Even records of them disappear. They live a very lonely existence, devoid of interpersonal relationships or even evidence that they ever existed. In a place like the World of Darkness, that could very well be a fate worse than death. Keep in mind, Arcane doesn't have an 'off' button. And no, the Mind Sphere can't turn it off, either, just like it can't be used to protect against its effects.

Starting at Arcane 4, people will have extreme difficulty remembering you. Paper records of you start to disappear. You vanish from photographs. It's as if you don't exist. This means that you cannot take the Enemy flaw, Wanted by Law Enforcement flaw, Hunted flaw, or anything similar (at character creation; you can still earn these flaws through in-game actions, even if your enemy will have trouble actually finding you). But that also means that the following Backgrounds are forever beyond your grasp:
  • Contacts: Nobody is going to give sensitive information to a random stranger. And as far as these people you know, that's exactly what you are.
  • Allies: Who? I don't know them. They're not a friend of mine.
  • Mentor: Unless this mentor is the most generous person in the world and will teach anyone with a pulse (in which case they're not long for this world), you're not their student.
  • Retainer/Followers/Bystanders/Any equivalent in other splats: For the same reason as the above. You can't be loyal to someone you don't remember.
  • Certification: No paper records means no certification.
  • Rank/Status/Eminence/etc.: I'm supposed to report to who, now?
  • Influence: You can't fear or respect somebody you can't even remember.
  • Fame: Seriously?
  • Chantry: You can't join a group if they can't remember that you're a member. This applies to Chantries as much as it does to Sects, Septs, Courts, etc.

The following Backgrounds will require extra justification:
  • Resources: You can't have a bank account without paper records of some kind. The only way you can keep a large amount of money is by storing cash somewhere, which is risky for many different reasons. You also can't own property that requires records to be kept, such as a home, a gun, or a car. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't just squat on property or keep a car or firearm illegally...
  • Backup/Spies/any equivalent: Technically, these guys don't have to know their employer to work for them... at least, on a temporary basis. You could always go for a 'shadow broker' route, in which case even they don't know who's paying them in cash, so long as the cash is green. What you won't be able to do is employ them on a permanent (or at least, official) basis.

Note that this will also apply to certain Merits, too, particularly any Merit that relates to another character, whether it be PC or NPC. STs are asked to use common sense when making that judgment call.

TL;DR: Yes, Arcane works on everybody and there are no known defenses against it. But is it really worth it? You're objectively harming yourself in the long run by taking this background. Think very carefully before taking it at high levels.
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