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Read First General System House rules

#21
The Child Flaw, and the Aging Flaw

Let me begin by posting this disclaimer: This is something the STs have been debating for weeks behind closed doors, and we've been agonizing over it with multiple arguments that have at times gotten heated. After painstakingly hashing this out, we've reached a final ruling on this issue:

The Child Flaw is banned.

We know. This is World of Darkness. The Child Flaw has plenty of legitimate uses for the sake of interesting storytelling and plot potential. But there are certain players (and STs) in this game who just cannot bare the sight of children being hurt or abused in any way for reasons stemming from personal trauma, and we have decided to accommodate these players.

That said, we have reached a compromise. While the Child Flaw is banned, the Aging Flaw (M20: Book of Secrets, p. 40, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 pts) is not. This flaw runs the gamut from young teenagers (12-17 years old) all the way up to elderly seniors (age 75+). Note that the Child Flaw specifically states that it applies to characters aged 10 and under, while Aging can apply to teenagers, so if you absolutely must play an adolescent, we will still allow it. Yes, even for vampires, Mummies, Wraiths, and Demons.

For younger characters (including characters who only look young), in addition to physical issues such as height (see: the Short Flaw, (M20: Book of Secrets, p. 41), expect to get weird looks every time you're out late at night or during school hours during the weekdays, and forget getting into bars or nightclubs without having to show ID. In the state of Florida, minors are allowed into some businesses that serve or sell alcohol, so long as they are accompanied by an adult, preferably a parent or legal guardian. Florida also has notoriously strict truancy laws, so if it looks like you're skipping school and a cop notices, be prepared to be asked a few questions.

For older characters, with age comes certain health problems, and sometimes supernatural help just won't be enough. If you were embraced by a vampire in your seventies, the tabula rasa will only bend so far, and you may need a few extra points of blood to accommodate for arthritis or osteoporosis. If you're a Mage, there comes a point where using the Life Sphere or the Time Sphere to keep up with the young whippersnappers doing parkour along the rooftops just breaks the willing suspension of disbelief, and Paradox will hit you for it. And so on, and so forth. Use your common sense. Yes, a lot of elderly people are perfectly healthy and can kick ass with the best of them. A 60 year old man in peak physical condition probably can. Somebody in their eighties is pushing it.

This ruling is final. We have been debating this for a long time and this is the deal we've reached that can make as many people happy as possible. Please do not ask us to take this issue up again.
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#22
Merits that Grant Connections to Other Splats

We've been asked about this before, and it's really about time we make an official ruling on this. There are merits that exist that grant a character deep ties to other supernatural communities, one they would not initially have without that merit. For example, someone who is a Kinfolk can in theory Awaken as a Mage, or someone who was Imbued could be Fae-Blooded without knowing. How do we handle these types of characters? Do they 'count' as being in two splats at once? The answer: Yes, and no.

Your character only counts towards the 'population' of their primary splat.

For example: If you are a Mage that took the Shapechanger Kin merit (4 pts, M20: Book of Secrets, p. 74), you are still considered a Mage, and not a part of the Werewolf splat as far as population goes. However, you must still coordinate with the Werewolf ST(s), because depending on the Tribe you are Kinfolk to, they will not take kindly to one of their own becoming a Willworker and potentially turning their back on their blood. Even if you picked one of the more open-minded Tribes, you must still coordinate with the Werewolf ST(s), because even if you aren't considered a part of the splat as far as the game's population count is concerned, you are still deeply connected to it, and a part of the splat in all but name.

All of these merits are very much double-edged swords, granting both benefits and drawbacks. Coordinating with the STs of two different splats can be fun, but be prepared to be pulled in two different directions in-game... which may mean eventually your character alienates one side or the other, whether intentionally or not.

Note that this does not apply to characters who are primarily a Ghoul, Kinfolk, etc. This applies to, but is not limited to, the following types of characters who took the corresponding merit, or otherwise gained deep ties to a splat through in-game actions:
  • Kinfolk: If having taken the Shapechanger Kin merit (4 pts, M20: Book of Secrets, p. 74). You must decide with the ST(s) of both your primary splat and the Werewolf ST(s) which tribe you are Kinfolk to. Choose wisely; certain Tribes are less accepting of potential outsider influence than others...
  • Ghouls: If your character is primarily a ghoul, you can ignore this. If, however, you were ghouled during the course of the game or took the Ghoul merit (5 pts, M20: Book of Secrets, p. 75), you must coordinate with both the ST(s) of both your splat, and the Vampire ST(s). Note that becoming a ghoul, while having a few obvious benefits, also has very major drawbacks: A Mage, for example, choosing to hang around Nightfolk and becoming a junkie hooked on their blood will lose their Avatars eventually, and will become a pariah in the eyes of their Tradition and their Chantry (God help you if you're a Technocrat). The good news is that someday, you might become a candidate for the embrace.
  • Kinain: If you took the Fae Blood merit (4 pts, M20: Book of Secrets, p. 74), you, again, must coordinate with both your splat's ST(s) and the Changeling ST(s). This means you might want to watch your Banality score.
  • Thralls: See Fallen Mechanics. If you form a Pact with a Fallen Player Character (which must be done in-game and not at character creation), you automatically gain the Bound flaw (5 points, M20: Book of Secrets, p.92), and from that point on, must coordinate with both your splat's ST(s), and the STs for Demon. If you made a deal with some other type of entity (Wyrm Banes, Apophis, etc.), talk to the relevant splat ST.
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#23
Backgrounds Above 5

Note: The following applies only to 'common' Backgrounds, or Backgrounds found in all splats, such as Resources, Allies, Contacts, Influence, etc. It does not apply to splat-specific Backgrounds such as Avatar, Generation, Legacy, Khaibit, etc. For these backgrounds, see your splat's House Rules/Mechanics threads, or talk to your ST.

Normally, you cannot have a Background above 5 dots without pooling your Backgrounds with another character. But certain Backgrounds just don't make sense with this limitation. Why can't you know more than five people who can give you important information? Why can't you have more than five friends? Why can't you increase your net worth enough to be a billionaire (Resources 6) instead of a multimillionaire (Resources 5) if your character has the skill in Finance to make just a few more smart investments?

As such, we are instituting a new House Rule for these Backgrounds: Instead of a hard cap at 5 for individual characters, we are instead introducing a 'soft cap' system. Here's how it works:
  • Once you hit the fifth dot of an applicable Background, you are at the soft cap. This means that you cannot raise this Background again by journaling.
  • Instead, you must receive the justification from a Scene Reward. These Scene Rewards should require a lot of time and effort, because your character is about to become an exemplar of a particular Background. They'll either be extremely well-connected to the point where almost nothing happens in this city anymore without them knowing (or possibly even approving), or they'll be in the top 1% of the top 1%, or what have you.
  • Eventually, these backgrounds are going to become prohibitively expensive EXP-wise even with the justification. Even if it's given out for free as a scene reward (in which case your ST is extremely generous no matter how well you did), getting a Background above 5 is hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's something that should take weeks if not months, working toward this goal. But as always, it will be worth it.
  • The hard cap for all of these Backgrounds is at 10. Even if you can somehow get to this point, you cannot increase your Backgrounds above 10, not even with pooled Backgrounds. But at that point, you won't even need to, because there will be little you won't be able to get with it.

Here are examples of Backgrounds to which this applies. They include, but are not limited to:
  • Allies: There's no reason why you should only be allowed to have five friends. Keeping those friends, on the other hand...
  • Contacts: See above.
  • Resources: There's a world of difference between Resources 5 and Resources 6, just like how there's a big difference between Resources 4 and Resources 5. Resources 5 means you're in the top 1%. You're a multimillionaire. Unless you massively screw up somehow, you'll be living comfortably throughout your entire life, and financial ruin is a near-impossibility for you. At Resources 6, you're a billionaire. Your grandchildren will never have to work a day in their lives. Obviously, billionaires exist IRL, but self-made billionaires had to work long and hard to get where they are, and many also needed a stroke of good luck for when to make that fateful once-in-a-lifetime investment or take that life-changing job offer. Increasing your Resources to that point should reflect this difficulty. But once you do, the world is your oyster.
  • Backup: It's an open secret that certain wealthy people can afford to arm and train their own private army, which they do because... why not, apparently. Of course, that's a massive money sink, so you'll need the Resources dots to do this, first.
  • Spies: See above.
  • Influence: At Influence 5 in both Politics and Finance, you can have dinner with the President one night, and cause a company to tank by calling their stock worthless the next. I can't even begin to guess what you can do with 6, so naturally, this should be one of the hardest, if not the hardest Backgrounds to raise above 5.
  • Status/Rank: At Status/Rank 5, you're a hero to your respective faction (the Camarilla, the Garou Nation, the Technocracy, etc.). There is little you won't be able to do (or get away with...) just by stating your name. At Status/Rank 6, you're a candidate to join the inner circle, and at 7, you're in the inner circle. Obviously, once you reach this point... why are you even in Starke, Florida, again? If you ever get this high, you should be at the point where you're ready to retire your character. At least, until we roll out the Main Stage... hint, hint.

The Fame Background: See below.
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#24
Status Background




Status reflects your degree of notoriety among the supernatural community. It is connected to your Contacts Background but completely independent from your levels of Fame or Influence that reflect the way the Mortal World sees you.
It should not be mistaken with “Rank” that reflects your position in a mortal organization (usually the police or the army) and the amount of people that report to you.
The Status background cannot be purchased with XP, it is awarded by STs based on scene rewards or RP actions only.

Please note: While the Veil background does not normally affect the Status background, having a negative Veil rating might compromise your chances to gain a higher Status (from 3 an on) despite otherwise positive interactions with the community.

○ New Kid : You’re new in town, and you don’t have much connection to the area or references to vouch for you yet.

• Member of the Community: You’re not yet a ‘pillar’ of the community, but you have been here for at least a month, participated in some major social events or fights or even officially joined your splat's primary faction (e.g. Chantry membership).

•• Well-Known Member: You are starting to get significant contacts among the supernatural communities (see background dots), and you’re starting to have a little bit of influence on the decisions that are made in your community. Alternatively, your help was decisive for one major event or fight.

••• Senior/Confirmed Member: You were chosen as the representative of your supernatural community on several occasions. You may be a proxy to a Throne or a Seat at the Starke Council.

•••• Leader: You’re a Throne or a leader of your community in Starke/Jacksonville. Other leaders recognize you as such and afford you the proper respect.

••••• Pillar of the Community: Your name has travelled far beyond the limits of your official area of influence. Whether the supernatural community respects or fears you, they can hardly make a major decision without you being involved.

•••••• Legend. Whether you’re actually immortal or not, the books and the collective memories of the supernatural communities - plural - will keep your name alive. Maybe a special breakthrough, fighting or artistic technique or famous quotes are associated to you as well.

(NB: Status from 0-4 are handled by splat STs. Status 4+ require approval from other splat STs. Also since this is a 'reward', you can discuss a Status increase with your splat ST but not post a request for one directly if it wasn't previously discussed.)
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#25
Multiple Actions


Sometimes,  you’ll  want  your  character  to  perform multiple  actions  in  a  single  turn.  For  example,  if  your character  is  attempting  to  listen  in  on  a  conversation at a salon while simultaneously going unnoticed by the patrons, that could be two actions. If you wish to take multiple actions in a turn, you must decide before taking your first action. The first action is taken at full pool and regular difficulty. Each additional action receives a cumulative +1 difficulty, and -1 dice. You cannot take an action as part of a multiple action if the difficulty would be increased to 10 or higher. Additionally, only one action per turn may be an attack action. And everyone gets one free defensive action per turn just like you did with the old rules.

Example:
Johan faces two royal guards in his escape from the castle. He wishes to push through them and crash through the door, but he also wants to avoid their spears. In essence, he’s taking three actions. 
First, he wants to avoid their spears. So he rolls his Dexterity + Athletics, no penalties yet. Second, he wants to slam through the guards. That’s a Strength + Brawl action, taken at -1 dice, +1 difficulty. Lastly, his effort to smash the door will be a Strength + Stamina feat of strength, taken at -2 dice, +2 difficulty. 

Note: Extra actions, regardless of how they were gained, still happen at the end of the round and are not subject to the one-attack limitation, nor to the dice pool or difficulty penalties. 
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#26
The Fame Background, the Veil, and You

First and foremost;; fame is not to be confused with Status, which is listed above. Fame is how well-known you are amongst mortals, not necessarily other supernaturals (though there's a good chance they'd know of you, too, for the same reasons).

Fame is very much a double-edged sword in the World of Darkness. On one hand, having a high Fame rating is in and of itself justification for Influence, as the two often go hand-in-hand (though not always;; contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as bad publicity). Local politicians will want photo-ops with you, local businesses will want your endorsements (and might even be willing to pay for it, granting justification for Resources), and people will know who you are and love you for it.

On the other hand, of course, that becomes a problem when upholding the Veil/Masquerade is key to your survival. At Fame 1 and 2, the risk of this is relatively low. But once you reach Fame 3, and average people start recognizing you on the streets... well, would you want to be caught with your fangs in someone's neck or casting spells, and not only did somebody witness it, the witness recognized who you were?

Basically, the higher your Fame rating, the more opportunities for Influence or Politics-heavy plots become available to your character, at the cost of increased scrutiny from mortals, which means an increased risk of breaking the Veil in public places if you aren't careful. Note, also, that fame breeds haters. If someone doesn't like what you're using your fame and fortune for, it could lead to enemies...
  • Fame •••: Local celebrity. While not everyone will recognize these people on the streets, anyone familiar with their line of work and are active in the local community will, unless they are taking measures to disguise themselves.
  • Fame ••••: National celebrity. Anyone who doesn't live under a rock will recognize them or at least know who they are if mentioned in casual conversation. If they are not disguising themselves, they can expect to be swarmed by fans and possibly paparazzi, and thus are at increased risk of breaking the Veil.
  • Fame •••••: International celebrity. They WILL be recognized by EVERYONE, and nothing short of supernatural attempts to disguise themselves will prevent swarms of fans and paparazzi everywhere they go. These people are considered by Veil hard-liners to be active Veil risks because of their fame, and really, if you're at this level, it's time to start thinking about retirement. I mean, what are you doing in Florida instead of, say, New York or Hollywood, anyway? Note that while we won't FORCE you to retire, staying in the game at this level is going to make life very, very difficult for you, Veil-wise.
  • Fame ••••• •+: NPC level. At this point, there are Umbral entities that unironically love your work, and much like Elvis Presley, Leonardo da Vinci, and Homer, people will be talking about and referencing your work decades, centuries, and possibly even millennia after you're gone. No PC may ever have this without immediate retirement.

Note that characters with a high Fame rating are not automatically known to be supernaturals, even by the supernatural community. If you don't actually know the character personally and they are not breaking the Veil, you may not use their Fame rating to know that they're actually a Vampire, Mage, or what have you. This will be considered metagaming. Again, Fame is not Status.
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#27
The Character Save Card

Character death sucks. We get attached to our characters, and STs here understand this and do not like killing PCs for the fun of it. There are times when the dice just seem to hate one (or more!) character in particular, and then a character rolls a botch at exactly the wrong moment. STs will go with the roll, but still wish there could be a way to save that character, as is their prerogative as per Rule n°1. But where to put the limit? If you do it once, you have to do it again, and if you do it for one character, you have to do it for everyone else, even when it doesn't make sense. So what do we do?

Introducing the Character Save Card.

Every single character will only have one of these. If all other options have been exhausted, no further rolls can be made, no allies can save you, etc., the player may declare that they are using that character's Save Card. When the Card is invoked, the STs will intervene with a Deus Ex Machina and save that character from what was otherwise going to be certain death. But before you think that this gives you license to go hog wild, there are a few things to remember:

  1. You only get ONE. Once you use it, that's it, your character does not get another. That's one per character, not one per character per scene. The STs will be keeping track of these, and if a Card is used during a scene, it will be noted in the Announcements thread.
  2. This is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card. Being saved from death is not the same thing as being saved from consequences. If, for example, your vampire was about to be killed by the Sabbat, using your Card could mean that rather than bring you Final Death, they decide instead you'd be of more use as a blood bound tool. In other cases, it may result in you surviving with the Disfigured flaw, or you gaining the Enemy flaw, or you owing somebody a major debt that they will expect to be paid back later. This is entirely up to ST discretion, and even if your character was saved, it's entirely possible that your character will end up wishing they'd have died instead (this is still WOD), and you will be expected to play this out fully, not try to artificially soften the blow by minimizing the consequences your character has to suffer through by downplaying its effects on them in-character.
  3. There are some situations from which you just cannot be saved. More often than not, these situations are 100% your character's fault. The dice hating you is one thing. Your vampire deciding to break the Masquerade in front of the Sheriff and brag about it in front of the Harpy, or your Werewolf deciding that they should tell that funny story at the Moot about that crazy night they had where they woke up the next morning in bed with a few Black Spiral Dancers, or your Mage thinking that maybe it would be fun to go see what's inside that Caul is another. In short, just like with the No Stomping rule (see the first page), there's a "Too Dumb To Live" clause.
This rule is an attempt at finding a middle ground between wanting to give characters a last-ditch attempt to save themselves, and making the risk of death feel cheap. Though, this should remain exceptional. Announcements are made prior to particularly dangerous scenes during which character death is a real possibility. Please take that into account and avoid sending characters that you know don't have the requested skillset. It's one time only, don't waste it.
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#28
Resources and You!

Ok, so we know resources can be useful for a character, but how much makes sense for your PC starting out? Remember, starting out your character is a low man on the totem pole: cliath, neonate, fresh-from-the-abyss demon etc. There is a merit from the Demon the Fallen book called "Independent Income" -- this is a 1-3 point merit that gives you justification for 1-3 dots of resources that you do not need to work for (For example, your child's father sends you alimony payments, or you get an insurance payout etc.). Taking this merit requires justification of course, talk it over with your ST and see if it fits in your backstory.

As for Resources specifically, these are the guidelines:

1 - Sufficient: You can maintain a typical residence in the style of the working class with stability, even if spending sprees come seldom.

2 - Moderate: You can display yourself as a member in good standing of the middle class, with the occasional gift and indulgence seemly for a person of even higher station. You can maintain a servant or hire specific help as necessary.

3 - You are a prominent and established member of your community, with land and an owned dwelling, and you have a reputation that lets you draw on credit at very generous terms. (This is where most business owner PCs will be, and is the highest most Americans ever get to)

4 - Wealthy. You rarely touch cash, as most of your assets exist in tangible forms that are themselves more valuable and stable than paper money. You hold more wealth than many of your local peers (if they can be called such a thing). (This will require serious justification in your backstory and will likely take a lot of your time. You probably won't reach this level if you have social flaws like a high Rage score etc. as people will not want to work for you. And no, the independent income merit + job doesn't cut it as justification)

5 - Extremely Wealthy. You are the model to which others strive to achieve, at least in the popular mind. Television shows, magazine spreads, and gossip websites speculate about your clothing, the appointments of your numerous homes, and the luxury of your modes of transportation. (Earn in game only through a major personal storyline or something of that nature)

Please note this is subject to change at any time!
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#29
We are instituting a mechanic from WTA: 20 regarding the directions of attacks cross-splat

Note that certain abilities can negate this penalty if it's done to expand your Perception above 5, or there's some sort of extra-sensory perception involved.

Most notably: Attacking from the side gives -1 to the difficulty of the attack, attacking from behind gives -2 difficulty to the attack.
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#30
Floor XP and You

Floor XP is something all characters receive by default at creation. It is a one-time only gift. Here's what makes it special:
  • Floor XP does not count against your monthly cap. If you had 10 floor XP by default and then gained another 20 because you retired a character, you are not capped for the first month of your character's existence.
  • Dots purchased with Floor XP do not have a monthly cooldown/training time. This means that you can buy more than one dot of the same skill/attribute/whatever in the same month, but only if those purchases are made with Floor XP.
  • Floor XP does NOT gain catch-up XP. No, you don't effectively gain 20 XP by default at creation. That's an obvious loop-hole and we're nipping that one in the bud.
  • XP gained by retiring an existing PC (25% of their total XP) counts as Floor XP.
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