The Virtue Traits define a character’s outlook on unlife — they shape a character’s ethical code and describe his commitment to his chosen morality. Virtues exist to help give a character a sense of being, not to force players to portray their characters in a given way. However, Kindred are passionate creatures, and sometimes an act or situation may force a character to consider exactly how she should react to a given stimulus. Virtues come into play when a character faces an impending frenzy, does something ethically questionable (according to the character’s morality), or confronts something that terrifies or disturbs her.
A vampire’s Virtues are determined by his Path, the particular code of ethics he follows. Most Camarilla Kindred maintain their mortal values and follow the Path of Humanity (referred to simply as “Humanity”), but other vampires often subscribe to radically different philosophies. Humanity, Paths, and the alternate Virtues are discussed in other sections of this Wiki. At character creation, a character’s Humanity is equal to his Conscience + Self-Control Virtues.
Conscience is a Trait that allows characters to evaluate their conduct with relation to what is “right” and “wrong.” A character’s moral judgment with Conscience stems from her attitude and outlook. Conscience is what prevents a vampire from succumbing to the Beast, by defining the Beast’s urges as unacceptable.
Conscience factors into the difficulty of many rolls to avoid committing a transgression. Additionally, Conscience determines whether or not a character loses Humanity by committing acts that do not uphold her moral code (see “Degeneration,”). A character with a high Conscience rating feels remorse for transgressions, while a character with a lower Conscience may be more callous or ethically lax.
Some vampires replace the Conscience Virtue with the Virtue of Conviction; unless your Storyteller tells you it’s OK to do this, assume Conscience is used.
Self-Control defines a character’s discipline and mastery over the Beast. Characters with high Self-Control rarely succumb to emotional urges, and are thus able to restrain their darker sides more readily than characters with low Self-Control.
Self-Control comes into play when a character faces her Beast in the form of frenzy. Self-Control allows the character to resist the frenzy. Note: A character may never roll more dice to resist or control a frenzy than she has in her blood pool — it’s hard to deny the Beast when one’s mind clouds with hunger. As with Conscience, Self-Control can be replaced, in this case by the Virtue of Instinct. Again, unless the Storyteller specifically says it’s all right to do so, assume Self-Control is used.
All characters have a Courage Trait, regardless of the Path they follow. Courage is the quality that allows characters to stand in the face of fear or daunting adversity. It is bravery, mettle, and stoicism combined. A character with high Courage meets her fears head-on, while a character of lesser Courage may flee in terror.
Kindred use the Courage Virtue when faced with circumstances they endemically dread: fire, sunlight, True Faith. See the section on Rötschreck for mechanical systems dealing with character fear.
Alternate Virtues and Paths of EnlightenmentEdit
Some vampires forgo the petty mortal concerns embodied by the concept of Humanity. These Kindred reason that they are no longer human, so they have no need to apply the sentiments of the living to themselves. Whether or not a Kindred chooses to follow the moral tenets of Humanity, some sort of behavioral system must exist. To accept utter randomness is to invite the Beast to rule, and no vampire wishes to sink into the clutches of mindless depravity. Even those vampires who plumb the depths of immorality have some ethical bulwark they use to anchor themselves against the Beast.
Kindred who voluntarily abandon Humanity follow behavioral codes known as Paths of Enlightenment. While mechanically similar to Humanity, these codes have very little — in fact, sometimes nothing — to do with the mores of mortal culture. Adopting a Path of Enlightenment means giving up everything that matters to a “normal” person (or indeed, many vampires). Only those Cainites who have truly abandoned themselves to the dark majesty of vampirism follow Paths, and rarely do any turn back. Players may choose between a variety of different Paths (at the Storyteller’s discretion). It is important to know a few things before you commit to a Path of Enlightenment, however.
- Paths are exclusive. Few Kindred are initiated into the secrets of the Paths. Most vampires — even those of the independent Clans and the Sabbat — follow the ways of Humanity; they simply tend to degenerate to very low levels over time. Not just anyone can follow a Path; becoming such an inhuman creature requires discipline and spiritual strength, albeit of a distinctly alien sort. A person seeking to join a Path must have the capacity to discard her human nature, as well as the fortitude to survive the process.
- Paths are utterly inhuman. Players wishing their characters to adopt Paths of Enlightenment are in for extremely demanding roleplaying experiences. These are codes of immortal ethics that Kindred have spent hundreds of years, if not millennia, studying. It’s fine and good to have a Lasombra character following the Path of Night, but the player will have to devote an enormous amount of energy toward understanding how that character really thinks.
- Paths shock conventional moralities. Paths use game systems similar to Humanity, but the codes that constitute these ideas emphasize such alien ideals that mortal characters observing an adherent is likely to be put off. Some codes espouse killing, while others cannot be bothered with it. Indeed, some codes are so selfish that even thinking about helping others constitutes a moral failure.
These Paths are here to illustrate how utterly inhuman and removed the Kindred are from humankind, and to give them spiritual protection from the talons of the Beast. Use the Paths when the story or character demands them, not to free the characters from penalties for wanton murder or perversion.
Characters on Paths of Enlightenment use the same systems for degeneration as characters who still subscribe to Humanity. Each Path has its own Hierarchy of Sin. Some Paths are so far removed from conventional human morality that concepts like Conscience and Self-Control do not apply to them at all. For these codes of ethics, different Virtues apply. Depending upon which Path a character follows, Conscience may be replaced by the Virtue of Conviction, while Self-Control may be replaced by the Virtue of Instinct. No character may have both Conscience and Conviction or Self-Control and Instinct. Which Virtues the character actually possesses depends upon which Path he follows.
Remember, however, that all characters have Courage, regardless of Path.
The Conviction Virtue quantifies a character’s ability to maintain a sense of reason when faced with desire, suffering, or need. Conviction represents the reconciliation of the predatory urge with the character’s capacity for atrocity.
As opposed to Conscience, which deals with remorse and atonement for Path transgressions, a character with Conviction recognizes his failure and plans to overcome it. Conviction is completely inhuman; the character who has this Trait can no longer pass for human under anything but the most cursory of scrutiny. Creatures who can sense the Beast (vampires, werewolves, etc.) immediately recognize someone with the Conviction Virtue for what he truly is: a monster. Like Conscience, Conviction comes into question when a character must check for degeneration.
The Instinct Virtue refers to a character’s ability to control the Beast by familiarity rather than denial. It allows characters to “ride the wave” of frenzy and emotional excess by keeping a close rein on their passion, rather than letting passion control them. As atavistic as Conviction, Instinct is the Virtue of a monster who accepts his nature rather than maintaining a sense of human compassion. Instinct allows the character to harness the Beast’s destructive power; a character with high Instinct is primal and turbulent. A player rolls Instinct when attempting to control a character’s existing frenzy. When a character who possesses the Instinct Virtue faces frenzy, she always enters the frenzy, unless the difficulty to avoid it is less than her Instinct Trait, in which case she may choose whether or not to frenzy. Thereafter, for the duration of the frenzy, the character is wholly under the Beast’s sway, and must be run by the player (or controlled by the Storyteller) in an appropriate fashion. Any time the player wishes the character to consciously take an action (known as “riding the wave”), she must roll Instinct against the difficulty to avoid the frenzy. Frenzies affect the character normally (including ignoring wound penalties, etc.), though she may sometimes exert a bit of control while so enraged.
Paths of MoralityEdit
Path of Humanity -(The is the default Path of Morality)
Path of Blood
Path of the Bones
Path of Caine
Path of Cathari
Path of the Feral Heart
Path of the Honorable Accord
Path of Lilith
Path of Metamorphosis
Path of Night
Path of Paradox
Path of Power and the Inner Voice
Path of Typhon
Despite all efforts to the contrary, a vampire is going to succumb to moral failure sooner or later in his unlife. Willfully or otherwise (ethics are particularly hard to maintain in frenzy), a vampire occasionally commits an atrocity and risks losing to the Beast. If the character feels remorse for his actions, he knows that his morality is still intact. If he commits a wrongful act and callously disregards it, however, his resistance to the Beast is obviously waning.
The system is simple: Whenever a character takes an action that is morally questionable, the character may suffer degeneration — a permanent loss of Humanity. If degeneration is a possibility, the player whose character commits the act should make a Conscience roll for that character. The difficulty is 8 — reprehensible acts are hard to justify — though the Storyteller may modify this. Willpower may not be spent for an automatic success on this roll — all the ego in the world won’t protect a character from guilt.
If the player makes the roll with even one success, the character loses no Humanity — he feels enough
remorse or somehow manages to justify his transgression. If he fails the roll, the character loses a point of
Humanity. If the player botches, the character loses a point of both Humanity and Conscience, and also gains a derangement.
Obviously, morality is not something a Kindred can afford to take lightly. Remember that a vampire whose
Humanity drops to zero becomes unplayable.
Using Hierarchies of SinEdit
Consult the Hierarchy of Sin for Humanity (Other Paths use Hierarchies of Sin as well, though
their ideas of “sin” are different.) Whenever a character commits a dubious act, see how that action relates
to the hierarchy. If the action is at or below the level of the character’s Humanity rating, a roll is warranted — as a character falls further down the Humanity scale, she becomes increasingly callous, and minor peccadilloes cease to bother her. The use of the term “violation” in the hierarchy is deliberately vague, to aid the Storyteller. A violation may be anything questionable, and is presented to avoid inclining the scale toward any single transgression. Violation may be killing, callous injury, rape (what do you think taking blood by force is?), or any other villainy.
A vampire’s morality has a direct impact on her bearing — a feeling the Kindred unconsciously projects. The greater the vampire’s Humanity or Path rating, the stronger this tendency is. For example, vampires on Humanity have a bearing of normalcy; the humane connection that such vampires hold keeps them from seeming strange and terrifying to mortals.
Generally, a vampire’s bearing has little or no direct effect on her nightly activities — it’s only a vague impression. Very high or low morality ratings impose a bonus or penalty to specific rolls associated with the character’s bearing — for Humanity, the bearing modifier affects Social rolls for appearing normal and
winning sympathy. These modifiers can affect rolls used for Disciplines, where relevant. Paths of Enlightenment have their own bearings, which are listed with each Path description.
|Humanity/Path Rating||Bearing Modifyer|
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