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Humanity rolls. Am I too harsh to my players?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
    Both of these clans have something in common: they regularly deal with humans. It can be difficult to conduct business while on an inhumane path.
    Lasombra and Tzimisce are mostly on some kind of Path or just at Humanity 2; the Beast is really annoying at that point but if you never diablerize you'll have no further issues. Also, the Blooding does not leave you much humanity to begin with. The Path of Typhoon should be pretty common for the Setites though, it's the very base of their whole clan belief.

    The Giovanni are the most Camarilla-like of the independent clans and they mostly follow Humanity; they might not have an high value but homicides should not be common in a Mafia setting. Yes, they happen, but there are other means to keep the order and you won't be murdering humans too much anyway (that's what ghouls are for after all... vampires are not expendable goons in the Giovanni).
    Last edited by Maris Streck; 11-30-2017, 03:36 AM.

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    • #32
      Most non-Canarilla affilliated Vampires are on a Path/Road as are a fairly large number of Camarilla Elders (even more so when you apply DA as a precursor to VTM). Masquerade in its own vacuum though will see typically older Vampires with waning Humanity scores as through time that Humanity will erode through inevitable interactions as part of their unlives. This is another reason why Elders become reclusive manipulators, all Vampires end up with a power lust because who wants to risk immortality for whatever darkness dragged your soul back into your corpse? And who wants to risk an immortal prison of flesh as the Beast rides your soul and corpse into a blood soaked oblivion?

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      • #33
        1. I probably wouldn't have it be a roll if they expected the cultists to try and kill them if they were found. Otherwise, would seem fine to call for it.
        2. Seems fine. I would say who attacked first is important, but the frenzy causing killing makes that less important anyway.
        3. Seems fine. Manslaughter is a thing, good intentions or not. And that's a very generous bonus.

        Personally, I don't call for rolls for self-defense killing. But it isn't in the rules and is ultimately ST discretion if you would or would give a bonus.

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        • #34
          Personally I wouldn't give a bonus in any of these circumstances. I am very strict on path and sins against their ethics. More so in case of paths other than humanity. But even with humanity the reasoning and justification comes after the conscience check. That is what the check is for IMHO


          So, this Zen Master walks up to a hot dog stand and says: "Make me one with everything!"

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Nonsense View Post
            That is what the check is for IMHO
            In my opinion the check isn't the end of everything.

            I currently have a huma 8 character and there are a few occasions where he did comit sins against Humanity, mostly because he couldn't do otherwise or didn't know how to (he was designed by the GM as a very focused fighter who wasn't good at anything else). But the thing is, once he got to Humanity 8, he started to actively want to change, to learn skills that would allow him to solve the plots without hitting people or waiting for the Ventrue to solve things. As he was blackmailed into becoming an Archon, he didn't really have the choice the refuse the missions either.

            Honestly, I would have been pissed if my character ended up loosing humanity on a failed check. You don't loose Humanity for a 10 seconds fail when your character spent the last 10 years doing everything to be the nicest human in town, when you ditched ALL your XP into making him humanity-friendly and raising his virtues as much as possible.

            I would, however, accept a degeneration that is interesting for the character growth. My character is a prisonner of the Sabbat right now (because his high humanity got in the way of the mission, actually) and the question as to whether he would remain at Humanity 8 was raised because, you know, that's actually not a random check about random stuff. Right now he is still Huma 8 through sheer luck on 6 successive rolls but developped a disorder instead, and can no more drink human blood after he was dominated into drinking human vessels until they died.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by jamiemalk View Post
              We're not talking about legal litigation though, the act of unintentional killing is manslaughter. There are a slew of different types to cover different ways that you can commit it.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manslaughter

              The Beast doesn't care about liability, only the act that results in the death, if you don't feel guilty about it your Humanity is going down.
              3) The Gangrel after the fight wants to tend to one of the surviving (barely, incapacitated by lethal damage) gangers and stabilize him, so he rolled a Medicine check... and botched it spectacularly. I ruled that he did something wrong and that actually caused the patient to die in his hands. He felt really shitty about that, so I said it fulfilled the "Accidental Violations" clause of Humanity 6 (which he had), so he had to make a check too, but I gave him a +4 bonus because his intentions were good. Gangrel failed the check though and was a bit miffed afterwards. (especially since at 1) he had botched his roll as well and actually lost Humanity and Conscience)
              Except manslaughter isn't as simple as unintentional killing. You're right, there are a slew of categories, and all but one of them fail to even come close to applying here. And that one is a serious long-shot, which likely would not apply, but miiiiight given the exact details of the events.

              Voluntary Manslaughter exists where a death occurs without prior intent, usually with the mitigating factor of provocation which would have caused a reasonable person emotional turmoil and triggered the act of killing. ("I just walked into my house after work, and there they were! My wife and my brother in bed!") Another possibility is when the intent was to do serious bodily harm, and it turns into a death. ("But, judge, I only meant to break his nose!') Assisted suicide also lands here, depending on the jurisdiction. There's prior intent, but with mitigating factors. None of these describe the situation here.

              Involuntary manslaughter comes in three basic flavors: Vehicular Manslaughter, Criminally Negligent Manslaughter and Constructive Manslaughter.

              Vehicular manslaughter obviously does not apply.

              Criminally Negligent Manslaughter is usually where someone either acts recklessly or fails to act appropriately when there is a duty to act. This is what would have applied if the pc saw the gang member bleeding out on the floor, chose not to call 911, and said, "Whatever! Don't bother me. I'm busy bidding on a really cool coffin on e-bay. There's only two minutes left on the auction." Then steps over the bleeding man to get near the window to get more bars. This was actually one of two possible outcomes to the situation: choose not to act at all. And, that could, in itself, constitute a form of manslaughter.

              (I am assuming the pc is not a trained md, nurse, or emt, where there would have been issues of professional competence. It's unlikely that case would be pressed anyway, since a hail mary operation on a trauma patient on the floor of an abandoned warehouse is hardly a professional setting, and even the best of practitioners might have had little chance of saving the man.)

              Constructive Manslaughter, otoh, has four basic elements: an unlawful act was committed, which was dangerous (such as driving recklessly), this act is the proximate cause of the death, and the defendant must have mens rea in regards to the original act, meaning they - the defendant - were intentionally committing the illegal act.

              You might argue even trying to help the man was practicing medicine without a license, but the pc didn't walk into that room saying to themselves, "Pass me a white coat from that laundry basket. I'm gonna pretend to be a doctor so I can perform illegal medical procedures. Woo-hoo! Blood-filled fun-times!" Plus, this is exactly the kind of thing Good Samaritan Laws exist for: to protect people who do their best to help, even when they have minimal expertise, but try to make the best of a bad situation.

              This is where the details of the events matter. So, was the defendant in the process of intentionally committing a recklessly dangerous illegal act? Were they legally present in the warehouse? Why were the coterie there? Did the coterie have legal access to this building, such as if it were owned by one of them or they were granted access to it by the legal owner? What was the goal of the necromantic ritual... doing some evil mojo on an enemy is one thing, calling up your dead nonna on her birthday like a good boy should is another. Could this be considered a religious observance? When the gang questioned them, what did this one pc do? Did the pc feel sufficiently threatened as to define the fight itself as self-defense? Even if his Giovanni buddy escalated things, once things got real, was the defendant in peril? And was it impossible for the pc to safely exercise his duty to retreat? Did the defendant himself use excessive force in defending himself? From the sounds of the original post, most of the carnage was committed by the Giovanni and there was intent to do the same on the part of the gang.

              Remember, the coterie were talking with the gangers, when the gang drew their guns. So, the defendant's behavior during the fight matters. Assuming the defendant behaved appropriately during the fight... tried to de-escalate, acted only in self-defense, attempted to retreat where possible, didn't use excessive force... then trespassing as an original act seems unlikely. Remember, the gang weren't defending "their turf"... legally there is no such thing... they presumably were also trespassing in a building owned by some third party.

              I am assuming the pc acted appropriately throughout the events, since the Humanity roll was called for because the Medicine roll botched, not because he gutted a bunch of gang members. If he did act appropriately when entering the warehouse and through the fight, then he was not committing a criminal reckless act, and it does not constitute Constructive Manslaughter up to then.

              Which brings us to the actual moment in question, as far as Humanity rolls go. The defendant is standing in the after-carnage of the fight. Most of the gang are dead. One is is still clinging, barely, to life. And the defendant is faced with a choice: should he attempt to help or not?

              If he does help, it might not work, but one thing he knows is that if he does nothing at all the man on the floor in a pool of blood will die.

              So, the defendant gets on the floor. Tries putting pressure on the wounds. Tries shoving the guy's guts back in. Hell, maybe he even tries to keep the guy calm to minimize blood-loss. Whatever the defendant did was more than what everyone else there did. He at least tried to help. True, he failed miserably at it, when he botched, but what choice did he have?

              If he just walks away, without even calling for help, that could be considered Criminally Negligent Manslaughter.

              The storyteller (and the Giovanni) put him in a position where no matter what the defendant did - help, don't help, call for help, run away before the police come - that man was gonna die.

              The character did not have a choice that wouldn't have led to a Humanity roll.

              Did the other members of the coterie... who just stood there and did nothing to help... make a Humanity roll for their acts of omission?

              So, to answer the original question... yeah, that's harsh.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post


                Voluntary Manslaughter exists where a death occurs without prior intent, usually with the mitigating factor of provocation which would have caused a reasonable person emotional turmoil and triggered the act of killing. ("I just walked into my house after work, and there they were! My wife and my brother in bed!") Another possibility is when the intent was to do serious bodily harm, and it turns into a death. ("But, judge, I only meant to break his nose!') Assisted suicide also lands here, depending on the jurisdiction. There's prior intent, but with mitigating factors. None of these describe the situation here.

                Involuntary manslaughter comes in three basic flavors: Vehicular Manslaughter, Criminally Negligent Manslaughter and Constructive Manslaughter.


                Constructive Manslaughter, otoh, has four basic elements: an unlawful act was committed, which was dangerous (such as driving recklessly), this act is the proximate cause of the death, and the defendant must have mens rea in regards to the original act, meaning they - the defendant - were intentionally committing the illegal act.



                If they didn't plan on killing anyone, but hey, they drew guns so we killed them sounds very much like Voluntary Manslaughter to me.

                Assault with a deadly weapon, obviously dangerous, lead to death, willingly participated in gunfight.

                There's two kinds of manslaughter which the beast would very much like to take advantage of. I've never heard of this Good Samaritan defense before your post, but it really doesn't apply unless the first aider hadn't participated in the fight. If he'd saved him, that's one less sin that was broken or if he hadn't chosen to participate and just gotten out of there no sins at all.

                The Beast loves justification, which is a road to path loss.

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                • #38
                  Legalese doesn't matter on the Hierarchy of Sins. You accidentally killed someone, if that's a violation at your rating then you're rolling. It's Conscience not Conviction (actually the same with the latter only the rationale becomes more important with a pass).

                  It's an artificial mental (and spiritual) construct. In a very 'ten commandments carved in stone' way the Hierarchy of Sins on any Path is what it is, it's principles (no matter how inhumane) adhered to to the highest and strictest order. Look at it like a deal with a devil or a D&D wish spell or a faerie bargain. If Path Rating 6 says "You cannot look at the sky" and you look at the sky you roll. Willingness doesn't matter. Circumstances don't matter (although the ST can modify difficulty). You have violated the tenant that keeps the Beast from overriding your control of your own walking corpse. Or as Sam Vimes says "If you can do t for a god reason you'll do it for a bad one" which is why Justification used to be (and reading other parts of V20 still is) for Conviction and Remorse/Guilt is Conscience. "They drew guns it was killing in self defence!" Kindred don't tend to die to a couple of 9mm rounds to the chest, but you let the roll slide, and soon it becomes "They were hostile, they took the first swing with a bat/pipe/bludgeon of choice" which turns into "First punch" which becomes "They reached for a weapon/ were getting ready to rumble so I put them down" to "they looked like trouble, I know the sort" and soon "they got in the way" with the final rationale typically being "wrong place wrong time" at which point they are actually violating 2 or 3 steps lower and all of a sudden they're making rolls everywhere because expediency has replaced (artificial as it may be) 'morality'. I've actually seen people complain about having to ever roll about killing anyone while on Humanity because 'they were bad guys and working for the antagonists and we didn't have to roll earlier in the story/chronicle where the NPCs were less dangerous'.

                  As always Gold and Silver rules apply, but I'd seriously suggest rereading the morality chapters and the bits that talk about theme. If you can check out the players guide to VTM and read the essays in there too. There are supposed to be tough moral choices there that while a human may not think about and react on instinct a Vampire is going to have to consider (if they have time to do so) carefully. Bearing well in mind that the default vampiric instinct (not to be confused with Instinct although they are related) is the Beast, which can be summed up as Flee from Fire and Daylight, Feast on Human Blood, and that is the goal of it in totalis. Nothing more, nothing less.

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                  • #39
                    Except that the actual choice the character faced wasn't "kill the gang member while trying to save him, or not kill the gang member while trying to save him", it was "try to save him, with a chance of either failure or success" or "don't try to save him and let him definitely die". How is standing back and watching him die more humane than trying to help him?

                    The members of the coterie who stood there, staring blankly at a dying man and did nothing to help weren't required to roll Humanity, at least as far as the original description describes. The character who tried to do the right thing, however, was made to roll Humanity.

                    Sometimes, in tabletop rpgs, it's easy to ignore the characters who just kind of hang back and do nothing. Traditionally, all the way back to the days of dungeons crawls, it was bad form to have something bad happen to a character who didn't actively bring that bad luck onto himself. But in this instance inactivity was the more heinous offense than taking action.

                    The pc playing medic did the right thing (or maybe, arguably, the least bad thing) and thereby brought the spotlight onto himself, and got punished for it.

                    Picture this scenario. You're crossing the street and get (god forbid!) hit by a bus. You're laying there in the street, bleeding out. There are several witnesses, some of whom have minimal first aid training, but no actual doctors, nurses or emts present. No one can get cell service to call 911. You are probably going to die in minutes if no one does anything. Should the bystanders with minimal training just take a shot at stabilizing you, making a hail mary pass hoping they might keep you alive long enough for real help to arrive? Or just hang back and hope they don't get in trouble for messing up?

                    The law doesn't protect people who jump in to help because of an abstract legalism, but because it is the morally right thing to do. And, because every single one of us would want the bystander to try to help, if we were the person bleeding in the street.

                    The pc/player did the right thing, both for trying to help the gang member and for advancing the narrative arc, and got punished for it.

                    That is harsh.

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                    • #40
                      Ok, I'll try and come at this from a slightly different angle. The Gangrel finds a gun but despite having little experience with firearms decides to pick it up and mess around with it. He botches and accidentally fire it and kills someone. Does he have to make a check? Because these are basically the same, the Gangrel fcuked up and someone died. Motivations don't matter one jot. If killing someone saves 1000 innocent lives, you still have to make the roll. Circumstances may alter the difficulty or give a bonus, but the path sin was still broken.

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                      • #41
                        It's all ended up being an interesting debate on how the hierarchy of sins should be employed; should general morals influence the roll or is it all to the letter of actions?

                        The only thing I really disagree with is @Kalendeer talking about
                        Honestly, I would have been pissed if my character ended up loosing humanity on a failed check
                        since that is literally the base system. The beast does take that 10 seconds to claw into your soul since it's been patiently waiting for 10 years of perfectly humane action.

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                        • #42
                          The Hierarchy of Sins are what they are and to stand and watch something and do nothing is looking like a Humanity 8 violation, but getting involved and and them dying as a result of your involvement is a Humanity 6 violation. Yes the player did the right thing (a Humanity 8 thing) but they put that very Humanity on the line by doing so. There are paths/Roads out there that actually dictate things like aiding another or absence of actions.

                          Edit: Yep, there's not much immediately in V20 but DAV20 has at least 3 Roads (or Paths within Roads) that have violations at Ratings 5-8 for not helping a dying person (or sins that covers that act or failure to act anyway).
                          Last edited by Moirdryd; 12-01-2017, 09:51 PM.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Illithid View Post
                            It's all ended up being an interesting debate on how the hierarchy of sins should be employed; should general morals influence the roll or is it all to the letter of actions?

                            The only thing I really disagree with is @Kalendeer talking about since that is literally the base system. The beast does take that 10 seconds to claw into your soul since it's been patiently waiting for 10 years of perfectly humane action.
                            I disagree. We had a game yesterday night and one of the character did lose a point of Humanity for those 10 seconds, but it was the player's choice and he was warned by the GM.

                            My point of view on the matter is how the player reacts to the "10 seconds fail". The last time my character had a 10 seconds fails, he immediatly tried to fix it to great and long lasting cost to himself, felt terrible, and that showed for the rest of the game. Every 10 seconds fail is a terrible work of attonement for him and not shrugged off, his XP expenditure usually going to fixing whatever led him to that fail. I'd rather let the player decide what the consequences are if he is ready to bear the burden of his automatic conscience success (I would also like to add that the character as a rating of 4 on his virtue, so it's not like no XP got dipped into that either).

                            On the other hand, one character lost humanity tonight because he watched another character, a Toreador antitribu on the path of Power and the Inner voice, torture an NPC, and instead of having the normal reaction of stopping him at some point, decided to stick with him "because it was necessary". We had a talk with the player and he agreed that automatic degeneration was in order.

                            One "10 seconds fails" of my character was somewhat comparable. After a fight between the Sabbat, his ventrue friend, himself and a tremere elder, two prisonners got splitted between them to be interrogated. The stakes were high because a sabbat full scale attack was planned, and at this point the character was hardcore on believing that every sabbat were dangerous monsters since he'd never ever met one before. The prisonner was staked, bloodbonded by my character, then dominated by the Ventrue, and though none of them used physical violence, it still qualified as torture for them. My character, however, was at Humanity 8, and even if he believed that they had to know what was going on, he was very distressed by the whole thing, to the point that in the next days, he refused to hand his prisonner to the Tremere, traded all the boons won for succeeding the mission for a ritual to break the blood bonds, got hugely endebted to the Tremere so he could keep the shovelhead, pretended the guy was actually his own Childe, gave him basic vampiric training and then, just let him go. So now there's an ex-sabbat shovelhead that hates him running around, he's burnt his one chance at embracing his own lover, won nothing on the big mission that could have awarded him the title of ancilla, and must run errands for the Tremere to cover for his shovehead.

                            My ST and I would consider what happened as a "temporary Humanity loss". Basically, in our games, if a character is forced by circumstances to do something wrong, but engage in extreme behavior to atone afterward, Humanity doesn't drop.

                            On the other hand, my ST and I use this rule even when the rolls are successfull. The same character was captured by the Sabbat and forced to kill humans while feeding in frenzy, but rolled amazing successes 8 times in a row despite the increasing difficulty. We still rulled that what happened caused temporary Humanity loss and gave the character a derangment "prey exclusion: all humans", because we ruled that the experience was so traumatic that despite the rolls, something had to be paid to keep his high Humanity.

                            So there are ways to use the Humanity System without following the dices blindly. When we have to roll, we usually talk about what we would like best for the story, look at what the dices say, but more as a way to find ideas as to how it happened. A failed roll usually means that the character doesn't feel bad during the scene, but he may still "wake up" in the hours or days that follow and try to fix it or do something to restore the temporary humanity loss. As long as there is a cost we allow this, because we feel it makes for a better game for our group.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by jamiemalk View Post
                              Ok, I'll try and come at this from a slightly different angle. The Gangrel finds a gun but despite having little experience with firearms decides to pick it up and mess around with it. He botches and accidentally fire it and kills someone. Does he have to make a check? Because these are basically the same, the Gangrel fcuked up and someone died. Motivations don't matter one jot
                              There is a huge difference in intent between wanting to save a life and carelessly shooting a gun and killing someone by accident. If you say they are equal according to the rule you beating the spirit of the law with the letter of the law.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Meldok View Post

                                There is a huge difference in intent between wanting to save a life and carelessly shooting a gun and killing someone by accident. If you say they are equal according to the rule you beating the spirit of the law with the letter of the law.
                                If someone dies as a result of something you did to them, the only circumstances that matter are if it was accidental (6/4), intentional (3), casual (2) or heinous (1). That tells you the path sin level. That's why i used that comparison, because as far as your beast is concerned, they are the same. As i said, i might give some mitigation in terms of difficulty or extra dice for the roleplaying of guilt before the botch, but a roll is definitely happening.

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