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  • Uses of Appearance

    I apologize, but Appearance is just boring. No uses at all. I have never used it.

    That being said and announcing my ignorance to the world, educate me. I'm developing a Ventrue in a campaign. What is Appearance good for? Can you give examples?

    Show me what I've tragically never understood about the awesomeness of Appearance.

  • #2
    Nothing. It's a useless attribute for idiots and morons and doofuses. #Nosferatu4Life


    Shameless Technocratic shill.

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    • #3
      If a Storyteller has people react realistically to you, then Appearance is one of the most useful attributes. In real life, it may well be most desired by the average person, perhaps even more than Intelligence.

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      • #4
        I'd love to say otherwise but... you're right. Appearance is a completely wasted trait.

        It has a few uses (first impressions with people that judge based on looks, seduction, a handful of Discipline powers), but it is sorely underutilized by the system

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        • #5
          Building on Sergeant Brother's response....

          Any stat will get used as much as the ST wants to use it.

          However....

          It's just a fact that lot -- probably the majority -- of RPGers take it as an article of *moral* faith in their day to day lives that appearance is superficial and unimportant, and that people who focus on appearance are morally problematic, or at least silly. (In my experience Vampire players suffer from this a little less, but not exceptionally less, than, say, D&D players.)

          This position is -- let us say -- "aspirational"; maybe even reflects some shadow of a better moral world, but it's really not the way the world actually works. For a humorous take on why appearance matters, see: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-li.../2751966?snl=1

          Unfortunately, the attitude it translates into Appearance not being that important in how the game gets played/run. As a result, when a character, say, wants to pick someone up in a bar or convince them to come away with them into a car, such people will instinctively say, "Roll Charisma + Subterfuge" or "Charisma + Seduction." Or maybe just "Role Play it". If this is what happens in your games, or if you find yourself thinking Appearance isn't important as a stat, then one of two things is *probably* the case: either (1) you tend to not think that appearance is important in real life, or (2) your storyteller tends to think that it's not important in real life.

          Here's a couple of ideas for why Appearance might be seen as more important than you appear to think it is:

          * Seduction comes immediately to mind. Picking someone up in a bar or at a party, or getting someone to come with you into your car is probably an Appearance Roll rather than Charisma or Manipulation.

          * An oft-overlooked combination is Appearance+Leadership for just "Alpha Dogging" your way through a situation by taking command and telling people what to do.

          * Appearance is a GREAT stat for competitive social crap: who is going to grab the debutante's attention and spirit her away? Who are the Police going to arrest when they break up the fight?

          * Appearance is a PRIMARY stat for one of the hunting methods in my game. I break Hunting up into "Prey", "Don Juan," "Animal," and "Herd" rolls. Appearance is critical for Don Juan -- which is safer than Prey, but takes longer.

          * Appearance obviously fuels certain Presence powers. Under most canon rules, I think it fuels Presence 3 (Entrancement). There's no reason whatsoever not to have it also fuel Presence 2 (Dread Gaze) or 5 (Majesty) any other Presence power that you or your ST might create. Why make Charisma the uber-stat here? Just change it. In fact, Presence 5 works BETTER with Appearance, I think.

          * You can also use the following rules:

          --> "Appearance is often used by Storytellers to roughly judge how others usually react to you when you first meet. Thus, it can affect all other Social rolls you make with that person (in some cases your rating determine the maximum number of successes form a Social Action that can actually be applied, making it impossible for an ugly person to achieve anything other than minimal success.) (VtM 1 Ed.)

          --> "In situations in which first impressions are paramount, or that involve people who view Appearance as very important, a character may have no more dice in a Social dice pool than her Appearance score." (VtM Rev.)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Legendre View Post
            However....

            It's just a fact that lot -- probably the majority -- of RPGers take it as an article of *moral* faith in their day to day lives that appearance is superficial and unimportant, and that people who focus on appearance are morally problematic, or at least silly. (In my experience Vampire players suffer from this a little less, but not exceptionally less, than, say, D&D players.)
            ...And unsurprisingly, rpgers and geeks/nerds in general tend to not being the most attractive people out there... So, sour grapes and wishfull thinking, while claiming the moral high ground?

            Exemptions, of course, do exist.

            Cynicism aside, I always thought that Vampire was very bold, in its day (and, in fact, even today) unapologetically putting appearance (and manipulation) among the attributes and not just some nebolous "charisma". However, I'd agree, the game woefully underutilizes it, it should be much more useful. Though I also agree, it could be much more useful with some consideration and with the existing rules.

            I hope V5 will find ways to utilize it better.



            If nothing worked, then let's think!

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            • #7
              Part of the issue with that the WoD systems ignoring putting in a decent detailed social conflict system. The ST can always let you roll Appearance + [Ability] for something, but all the existing dedicated systems favor Charisma and Manipulation outright.

              Exalted 3e's Social Influence system is both looser about which Attribute your roll (you can pick any of the three based on approach), focusing on each has different effects. Charisma is kinda the weakest as your primary social Attribute in social influence, but has the most synergies in other arenas. Manipulation is the best mix for favoring being subtle over steamrolling people, since it can be the basis of your rolls and it adds to your Guile rating (which defends against Read Intentions actions by opponents). Appearance is the best for just laying down the social-fu, because not only can you roll it as your go-to Attribute, whether you're doubling up or boosting the others, you also gain a dice-bonus against low Resolve characters for two major types of social rolls (Instill rolls which help shape beliefs and attitudes, and Persuade rolls to get people to do things). Since your average Joe in Exalted would have a Resolve of 1-2, an Appearance 5 character can get +3 or +4 dice on major rolls in the system against them.

              Obviously just tossing a social system in doesn't fix things by itself, and they can work very poorly in play. But a well thought out one gives space for Attributes like Appearance to be much more meaningful mechanically (and more carrot than the stick approach of the WoD first impression rules).

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              • #8
                Wits can be trash if the ST doesn't place enough emphasis on it with rolls. Charisma OR Manipulation can be dump stats if an ST isn't sure where one ends and the other starts, meaning players can use either of them to fulfill both needs. Get the idea?

                Jessica, an Appearance 5 PC, gets people flirting with her and giving her an easy time. She's 19, gorgeous, and eventually some rich guy who works in the media is going to offer her a sugar baby setup.

                Judah, an Appearance 4 PC (scars and eyepatches can be sexy) occasionally has attractive PCs flirting with him, but it's all for naught as he lacks the social skills to capetalise on this.

                Appearance 1? People should, honestly, be more likely to treat you like a creep, if they're shallow. This is less of a rolling thing and more down to personality types.

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                • #9
                  "The ST can fix it by making up more rolls," is really just the Rule 0 Fallacy in different words. The books are full of examples of both mundane and supernatural uses of most Attributes. Appearance definitely is left out in the cold.

                  There's also the clearly discouraging things like the first impression cap where a Manipulation 5/Subterfuge 5 character can get knocked down to 2 dice because they're only App 2. Appearances matter, but not to the extent that an average looking person who's a pinnacle of human ability to be convincing sucks compared to a Manipulate 2/Appearance 4/Subterfuge 2 character. This is still the rule in V20.

                  However Appearance should work... the mechanics don't seem to represent that.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                    "The ST can fix it by making up more rolls," is really just the Rule 0 Fallacy in different words. The books are full of examples of both mundane and supernatural uses of most Attributes. Appearance definitely is left out in the cold.

                    There's also the clearly discouraging things like the first impression cap where a Manipulation 5/Subterfuge 5 character can get knocked down to 2 dice because they're only App 2. Appearances matter, but not to the extent that an average looking person who's a pinnacle of human ability to be convincing sucks compared to a Manipulate 2/Appearance 4/Subterfuge 2 character. This is still the rule in V20.

                    However Appearance should work... the mechanics don't seem to represent that.
                    I'm not invoking the Rule 0 Fallacy. I'm saying that the fluff and crunch make it clear that Appearance 5 people come across a certain way, and that should be roleplayed. If an ST doesn't think about Appearance, ever, it's useless. That goes for lots of things. If people act like they're not scared of the 6'7" Gargoyle with arms that beat most people's thighs, and treat him normally in RP, the ST is dropping the ball. Same goes for NPCs simply treating ugly people the same as beautiful people. My Appearance 5 Gangrel was able to get away with being a serial killer because she was a skinny and beautiful woman who looked completely harmless. I mean she did also do quite a bit to avoid suspicion, but MANY times PCs and NPCs were presented with tangential or situational evidence that I might be suspicious, and shrugged it off because she didn't seem the type. Most serial killers are male, and most people assume they'll look dangerous or fit a certain aesthetic. My ST thought about these things. My Appearance 1 Giovanni with some really bad Appearance-related flaws was in a completely different boat. The Harpy, a relatively shallow guy, didn't really have time for her. When she tried to find people to feed on via hookup apps, most people just left when they saw her face. This is all 100% falling within the systems set out by V20, as all you have to do is read the descriptions of what it means to be Appearance 1 and compare them to those for Appearance 5, and then roleplay that out sensibly.

                    It's not a matter of patching the game to make Appearance more important. It's a matter of reading the rules, and the descriptions that come with the different dots, and applying that to the story.
                    Last edited by 11twiggins; 03-21-2018, 07:29 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Social attributes more than anything have a ton of overlap. Going by examples in the book, Intimidation is based on Manipulation of all things. But I know a ton of GMs who allowed you to roll it with Charisma.

                      Appearance is an applicable attribute whenever you are trying to manipulate people not with the content of your speech, but with the delivery. Appearance + Intimidation could be nasty look and scary voice. Appearance + Leadership or Expression could move people due to the beauty of your voice rather than because you said something overly inspiring. Appearance + Subterfuge is an example of seduction, but it could also be distracting people from noticing your lie by keeping them focused on your pretty eyes (or 'eyes').

                      TL;DR: to get use out of Appearance you have to tell ST "I roll Appearance + X to do stuff".

                      EDIT: Appearance is also described as the first impressions stat, so it could be argued that any roll is justified as Appearance + X on the first meeting, because people place unjustified weight on your looks and maner.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kammerer View Post
                        Social attributes more than anything have a ton of overlap. Going by examples in the book, Intimidation is based on Manipulation of all things. But I know a ton of GMs who allowed you to roll it with Charisma.

                        Appearance is an applicable attribute whenever you are trying to manipulate people not with the content of your speech, but with the delivery. Appearance + Intimidation could be nasty look and scary voice. Appearance + Leadership or Expression could move people due to the beauty of your voice rather than because you said something overly inspiring. Appearance + Subterfuge is an example of seduction, but it could also be distracting people from noticing your lie by keeping them focused on your pretty eyes (or 'eyes').

                        TL;DR: to get use out of Appearance you have to tell ST "I roll Appearance + X to do stuff".

                        EDIT: Appearance is also described as the first impressions stat, so it could be argued that any roll is justified as Appearance + X on the first meeting, because people place unjustified weight on your looks and maner.
                        But I think someone with Appearance 0-5 will often be on the same boat when it comes to terrifying someone. I'm more scared of ugly bald guys in their 40s, really hard looking guys, than I am of pretty people. And Appearance is unambiguously linked to physical attractiveness, as well as how you carry that off.

                        And Charisma vs. Manipulation can be sorted by just carefully reading what V20 means by those two Attributes. A really matey veiled kind of intimidation, peer pressure, the kind that people laugh off? Charisma can work for that. But with other kinds of Intimidation Manipulation would work. They can do the same job, yes, but they leave very different impressions. In this example, do people go away feeling like shit because someone pressured them into doing something they didn't want to, or do they go away petrified of the absolute psycho who threatened them? And both of those could be good or bad results. It's about how you roleplay it. And someone with high Cha/Man should approach problems the way someone would if they had those tools. And if you've got both, you've just got more options. And then you have to remember supernatural powers are very clear on which you can use, and both of these get used quite a lot.
                        Last edited by 11twiggins; 03-21-2018, 07:28 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Honestly I think you could easily reduce the number of stats to 6 in WoD.

                          You could combine Stamina with Strength, Appearance with Charisma and Wits with Intelligence, that wouldn't change much and imo even improve the balance in some areas.

                          One could imo even consider to roll all he social stats into one, since when you have Charisma and when you have to roll Manipulation seems anyway kind of random.
                          Last edited by Aahz; 03-21-2018, 08:10 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Aahz View Post
                            Honestly I think you could easily reduce the number of stats to 6 in WoD.

                            You could combine Stamina with Strength, Appearance with Charisma and Wits with Intelligence, that wouldn't change much and imo even improve the balance in some areas.

                            One could imo even consider to roll all he social stats into one, since when you have Charisma and when you have to roll Manipulation seems anyway kind of random.
                            I hope that I don't annoy anyone when I say that I really, really dislike this idea.

                            I get out of breath from a brief jog, but I'm stronger than any of my friends. I also could NOT take a punch. I have a low tolerance for pain, and I bruise easy.

                            So am I at 4 or 1 in your Strength+Stamina combo?

                            I'm a medical student at a great university. I feel that merits Intelligence 4. I also forget appointments frequently and I take ages to respond when something happens suddenly. Wits 1 seems fair. Am I at 4 or 2 in your combined Intelligence+Wits stat?

                            9 attributes obviously leaves ambiguity, which is filled in by our abilities. 6 attributes, or 3? Most people are misrepresented, and the system no longer feels like it's emulating a real person with strengths and weaknesses. That's part of the reason I'm skeptical of V5.

                            My attributes, for reference:

                            Strength 4, Dexterity 2, Stamina 1. Charisma 2, Manipulation 3, Appearance 3. Intelligence 4, Wits 1, Perception 3.

                            I feel like I've not really lost any important part of myself there. I feel like by putting down some dots in Abilities I could ably reproduce everything I can and can't do, or at least a decent approximation. Combine any of them? Starts to become more uniform and there's less variation and interesting combinations.

                            Now obviously 9 attributes leaves stuff out! I'm pretty quick-witted when it comes to conversation, and I can be quite cutting. That is part of the package with wits. I feel like Wits 1 is the best representation as Initiative is the main thing there, but in an ideal world Wits would be two different Attributes. But I feel like 9 Attributes is a good place to draw the line.
                            Last edited by 11twiggins; 03-21-2018, 08:25 AM.

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                            • #15
                              You could to some degree use Merits and Flaws for stuff like that. Or in case of Wits it might actually be better to split what it does between Int and Perception (it might for example make more sense to have Perception as part of the Initiative than Intelligence).

                              But at the moment, Appearence and Wits not really used for much at all and Dex is imo way more usefull than Str or Sta.

                              Btw. Stamina isn't really connected to feeling pain, it just prevents you from getting hurt.
                              Last edited by Aahz; 03-21-2018, 12:23 PM.

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