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  • Potential House Rules creating an imbalance?

    I'm going to be starting a new game as a ST and am contemplating a few house rules to steer the meta away from Obfuscate + Potence + Agg = Auto Win.

    The biggest change is to Fortitude, which will act as levels of auto soak for all physical damage (effectively negating automatic successes from Potence on a 1:1 basis). Any primarily magic damage would be rolled for still. Thus, you would roll Fortitude to soak Cauldron of Blood, but Fortitude would auto soak levels of damage from a knife enchanted with Burning Blade.

    The second change would be to operate by DA Vampire rules for Celerity, that is 1bp/extra action.

    The third piece is how to handle Generation. It's been my experience that buying 8th Gen out the gate has been a standard that far too many players use. Five Freebies for 3bp/turn is, on its face, a no brainer. To move away from this, I like the idea of VtR's Blood Potency, but have found in VtR games that xp costs for it require too much investment before it's viable.

    To that end, I'm looking at treating a vamp's effective "Generation" to be equal to their lowest In Clan Discipline. Thus, a Lasombra with Dominate 2, Obtenebration 3, and Potence 5 would have a "Generation" equal to 11th.

    This does create a wall at 8th gen, since you can't buy the 6th level in Disciplines until 7th gen. To get around this, a vamp at 8th gen would need to Diablerize a vamp of 8th gen or better in order to get to 7th gen, at which point they would need to buy their 6th dots in their In Clan Disciplines before gaining any benefit from repeating with a same or greater gen vamp.

    Regarding Caitiff/Thin Bloods, they are created when a vamp of less than 11th gen (lowest in clan discipline < 2) sires a human. Since they have no in clan disciplines, they are effectively locked at 13th gen, cannot sire, etc. If they Diablerize a full blooded vamp, they can then choose 3 in clan disciplines, granting them the ability to gain power, and effectively creating a new Bloodline.

    I believe there's some amount of "wave of the hand" ability to make that canon in my game, since it explains why the vamps aren't all 40th gen based on the timeline, explains how the new Bloodlines/Clans were created (Tremere, Giovanni, Samedi, etc) and explains why Elders aren't visible in the Jyhad and manipulate from the shadows (they understand what's at stake).

    Any thoughts? Anything I might have missed, or overlooked?

  • #2
    I suppose this is for V20 or Revised?
    Anyway, here's my 2 cents:
    -Fortitude: your change seems fine honestly, fortitude has always been less impressive than the other pysichal disciplines, you could even go for fortitude allowing to soak aggravated with the full stamina pool (excluding fire and sun damage as banes for Vamps).
    -Celerity: no matter what, this will be a problem. Celerity has always been too powerful and what's worse it slows down the game because suddenly a PC (or NPC) has a gazzilion things to do. On top of that it also makes the game rocket tag hard (who goes first with high celerity, aggravated damage and potence has a good chance to kill anyone else turn 1). The DA:V rule is not going to change anything much (your PCs will feed more during combat scenes), try getting rid of extra actions entirely if you can and have Celerity add automatic successes to ranged attacks (or dodge if you want to counter potence). Characters will be less killy but the game will flow better (obviously you'll need to get rid of most sources of extra actions if you implement this change).
    -Generation: I do this, I set the generation ALL PCs start with before the game starts and then I tell the players they cannot spend points on the generation background but what they get they get for free. This helps balance the game while giving the players a boon (let's say they all get 3 points of generation for free, that's not bad and it helps making blatant powergaming a bit more difficult).

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    • #3
      If you drop the Celerity extra action why not just make all 3 physical disciplines extra dice in their respective stat, spend a blood for auto successes. Celerity is for sure quite broken. Speed kills. In MTG Time Walk is one of the original restricted cards for it's power nine brokenness getting just one extra turn for cheap. In early MMO's like Everquest druids slowed opponents and sped themselves up allowing them to "kite" mobs with no danger.

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      • #4
        I am a huge fan of "buffing" Fortitude. I've done something similar in my house rules -- allowing Fortitude to not only increase Soak, but also to simply cancel out non-aggravated damage 1:1. (I should note that my homebrew rules are such a departure and fundamental reorganization of the game mechanics, though, that this doesn't necessarily mean what it sounds like.) Still, there is a reason that the Ventrue are on top.

        As for generation, I completely endorse Haquim's approach. (I assign my PCs sires and they live with whatever comes from that.) But I think that using the lowest clan discipline is a REALLY nice way to gauge things. I'm also a huge fan of incentives for people to spread points around.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Hades View Post
          I'm going to be starting a new game as a ST and am contemplating a few house rules to steer the meta away from Obfuscate + Potence + Agg = Auto Win.

          The biggest change is to Fortitude, which will act as levels of auto soak for all physical damage (effectively negating automatic successes from Potence on a 1:1 basis). Any primarily magic damage would be rolled for still. Thus, you would roll Fortitude to soak Cauldron of Blood, but Fortitude would auto soak levels of damage from a knife enchanted with Burning Blade.
          For my two cents this is less of a mechanics issue and more of a Storytelling issue. Obfuscate+Potence+Agg only matters in close combat. Many STs fall into the trap of combat having to be Close Quarters Battle, rather than having a variety of combat types in their games. As an ST you could encourage the Players to try non-standard combat approaches.

          For instance proper long range sniping gains no benefit from potence and given the ranges involved gains little benefit for Obfuscate. If you are using ambushes, then use a mine field of IEDs rather than running in claws/blades out.

          In one game I ran a while back the primary OP "combat" skills were Auspex, Path of Technomancy, and Path of Conjuration. The players had IRL knowledge of chemistry and engineering so that really broke things.

          Alternatively rather than having the PCs fighting, they could use "summoner" builds. A Nosferatu with mutated ghoul animals following them around, a Necromancer with minion ghosts or zombies, A Green Path Tremere out in the forrest using the plants, A path of Technomancy tremere using military drones, or if you want a little body horror you can go with a Tzimisce with modified animal ghouls nesting in their own body that come out to fight.

          If you make it clear to the players up front that you want to run an experimental game where the standard meta doesn't apply, they should be happy to give it a whirl. Though I should warn you that if their alternative builds do work, you have to let them work rather than instantly countering them. So if a PC is a sniper, every NPC doesn't live underground or has steel shutters on their windows. Because if CQB is so meta right now, then technically no vampire would meet another, they would just hide in their fortified mansion with a small herd and would only communicate via telephone or zoom call.

          Also rewards PCs who cover their tracks, if no one knows how you killed your enemy, then they can't counter it.


          Originally posted by Hades View Post
          The third piece is how to handle Generation. It's been my experience that buying 8th Gen out the gate has been a standard that far too many players use. Five Freebies for 3bp/turn is, on its face, a no brainer. To move away from this, I like the idea of VtR's Blood Potency, but have found in VtR games that xp costs for it require too much investment before it's viable.

          To that end, I'm looking at treating a vamp's effective "Generation" to be equal to their lowest In Clan Discipline. Thus, a Lasombra with Dominate 2, Obtenebration 3, and Potence 5 would have a "Generation" equal to 11th.

          This does create a wall at 8th gen, since you can't buy the 6th level in Disciplines until 7th gen. To get around this, a vamp at 8th gen would need to Diablerize a vamp of 8th gen or better in order to get to 7th gen, at which point they would need to buy their 6th dots in their In Clan Disciplines before gaining any benefit from repeating with a same or greater gen vamp.
          An easier way to deal with this is just to tell the PCs that you want to run the game without excessive power gaming, thus purchasing the Generation background is not allowed. That way the mechanics remain intact, you don't have to balance home brew, and the players can easily look up the normal rules when you are busy.

          RPG rules are a lot like cooking, how you use your ingredients matters as much as what ingredients you have.

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          • #6
            I've thought pretty long and hard about these issues, especially Fortitude.

            The simplest/Least -this gets pretty broke- way of making Fortitude 'right' is to use 1e/2e soaking rules (which aren't so clear). That is, sources of aggravated damage like claws/burning blade can be soaked with stamina, they just heal like aggravated. Only fire/sunlight/faith is fortitude only. I grant Fortitude some minor additional benefits like it auto-soaks eletricity and Fortitude dice can be used to prevent the vampire from being pushed over.

            Obfuscate works on willfull ignorance. There's a monster under the bed? I don't want to see it. It's coming at me with a knife? I'm not going to ignore that. Obfuscate alone shouldn't allow suprise rounds. Stealth? Sure. But not the "invisible" features of obfuscate (M1kF sneak attacks are fair game)

            Players getting Generation 8 (or 9) shouldn't be without consequences. unless someone has a really powerful mentor to go with it, elders and ancillae with weaker generation should scheme against them. Even if the player has a really powerful mentor, there should be a certain amount of jealousy and resentment owing to generation. I recommend that no background should be higher than 3 at character creation: it prevents powergaming shenanigans right out of the gate and it gives players something to earn.
            Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 01-09-2022, 06:11 AM.


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            • #7
              My personal answer to Generation was to remove it from the backgrounds entirely and make each generation from 16th through 8th have a series of tradeoffs.

              The biggie in this was reworking all the Clan flaws (at least for the clans I was allowing in the game) to be scalable. The lower the generation, the greater the flaw. Then there were feeding restrictions added. Once your generation is in the single digits, only fresh blood will do. Lastly, the thicker your blood the stronger the Beast rages within, giving you penalties to your virtue tests.

              On the low end, 13th Gens picked up the free ability to not immediately hork up food. 14+ starts taking less damage from sunlight even as its other vampire abilities fade (no ghouls, blood bonds, unreliable siring, etc.).

              So, yeah, take 8th Gen and enjoy your 15 blood points and 3/turn expenditure, but your clan weakness is going to be something like “if you do/don’t do X you lose 3 willpower” (where a 13th Gen would lose 1) and you’re at +2 diff to all virtue tests and can only derive nourishment from fresh blood.

              I’ve generally found that works pretty well and the more typical sweet spot for most players given the tradeoffs is 10-11th Gen (weakness is about the default level, no virtue penalties, 10th gets half nourishment from cold blood while 11th gets full) and 8-9th only gets picked for concept reasons because the extra power has a price beyond freebie points.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Hades View Post
                ...a few house rules to steer the meta away from Obfuscate + Potence + Agg = Auto Win....Any thoughts? Anything I might have missed, or overlooked?
                Its not that big of a problem.

                Any vamp can do Agg damage via Bite, most forget this. Grapple builds are strong 1 v 1 but most combat isnt 1 v 1. Claws can melee Agg vs multiple opponents if dice pools are deep enough and no one is packing big firearms.

                Dex + Firearms + Incendiary rounds will kill more vamps, specially if a char had Resource5. You dont even need to do 7 damage, the Frenzy rolls will bork the combat Action Economy if the user is a decent sniper.

                Presence, Dominate, and other social Disciplines. That Agg damage wont matter if combat doesnt even happen.

                Obfuscate can be thwarted. Auspex. Perception/Witts + Awareness rolls which with appropriate successes will tell the user 'hey something aint right.../Its a trap!'.

                VtM, mechanically for combat, favors those who hit first and hit hard with friends. But even Bashing damage will leave a vamp in torpor waiting for the Sun.

                Generation...has costs. You have more power with Blood Pool and Dominate. BUT, now more Vamps will want your Blood. Players forget that there are many powerful Neonates/Ancilla that may want a boost at the cost of a Neonate that no one cares about. Not to mention contracts on your blood. Vamp X just made a childe hes a puss...hows he gonna protect that childe?

                IMO, Backgrounds are more fuel for story hooks. The Char reaps some benefit, but there is an upkeep.








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                • #9
                  Why not just use the VTR2e damage rules? In other words, assume the listed damage types are for mortals and living beings only (e.g., Protean 2 damage), and vamps downgrade everything one more step from there. So Feral Claws would only deal lethal to vamps and agg to mortals. The only things left to do agg would be sunlight, fire and True Faith. This also means vamps can also stand up against lupines for a while, too.

                  It also means swords and guns alike do bashing damage. Most of it's trivial to vampires and it really puts vamps on the top of the food chain compared to ghouls and revenants.

                  Additionally or alternatively, you could also use the Streamlined Combat Rules from V20DA (it's in the Companion, I think). There, damage and soak are static numbers, not dice pools. So if you have Strength 2, Potence 1, a sword (+2) and rolled 3 extra successes, you'd do a flat 8 damage. The target would just remove their entire soak. So let's say they have Stamina 4 and Fortitude 2. That means only (8-6=2) health levels are applied, and that's halved anyway. It's much faster, and in practice we found it made combat nicely deadly, without making Fortitude too weak.

                  The only issue I can see, which that book doesn't cover, is for fire and sunlight damage. As Fortitude 3 would cancel out most damage from those sources if applied automatically, you'll need to rule that against all 'environmental' sources of damage, you still roll dice to soak. That means fire and sunlight can still do damage when environmental (i.e., from exposure), but when used in direct attacks, such as Dragons Breath rounds from a shotgun, they would still be dealt with via the above method of auto damage/auto soak.

                  It makes fire and sunlight reasonably scary, and stops Protean 2/bite+grapple/lupines from being the insta-kill options.

                  Alternatively, the idea of making regular agg soakable with Stamina but banes only soakable with Fortitude still makes those sources deadly if they land enough damage, but you get a more reliable soak against them.


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                  • #10
                    adambeyoncelowe

                    Every time I hear about VTR I'm tempted to learn a new rules system.

                    I made protean 2 do lethal damage a long, long time ago, and only fire and sunlight do aggravated.

                    I'm not sure about the extra dice doing automatic damage. Pump dex to 5, 3 celerity, 5 brawl, if you rolled 10 successes for 10 extra auto damage "poof" dead. Seems like keeping rolled hit success as damage, they should be rolled as well. it's hard to get 2 crazy rolls in a row.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Vamps Like Us View Post
                      adambeyoncelowe

                      Every time I hear about VTR I'm tempted to learn a new rules system.

                      I made protean 2 do lethal damage a long, long time ago, and only fire and sunlight do aggravated.

                      I'm not sure about the extra dice doing automatic damage. Pump dex to 5, 3 celerity, 5 brawl, if you rolled 10 successes for 10 extra auto damage "poof" dead. Seems like keeping rolled hit success as damage, they should be rolled as well. it's hard to get 2 crazy rolls in a row.
                      Remember that, if using VTR2e damage rules, nearly all damage is halved for vamps anyway (everything except teeth, claws and a few Discipline powers, basically). It's not as lethal as at first it seems.

                      If you're worried about insta-death or insta-torpor, there are dials that can be used to make things easier, such as allowing a PC to ablate all the health levels from a single attack by taking a Crippling Injury (see Exalted 3e or V5).

                      My house rule for that was that you gain a relevant Flaw with a cost equal to the HLs ablated. So you could trade a single level of aggravated damage for the Hard of Hearing Flaw, as it's worth one point; or two for Disfigured, a two-point Flaw. Such injuries are permanent for mortals but you can use the rules for regeneration of lost limbs in the VRev STHB as a guide (or heal each point as if it were one level of aggravated damage).

                      Another alternative is to use the V5 rule that only a health track full of aggravated damage leads to torpor, while a health track full of lethal leads to being crippled and a health track full of bashing is just an inconvenience. Again, this would reduce lethality with minimal fiddling.

                      The other thing you can do, and which we have done from time to time as an experiment, is make all attack rolls opposed with an Onslaught penalty for defending subsequent attacks (i.e., -2 dice for every attack after the first which you defend against in the same round). In that situation, there aren't usually many extra successes to carry over because the defence usually negates the big rolls.

                      From experience, I think it's preferable to have an ST and a player roll off at the same time than, say, have the ST roll two dice pools in a row while the player sits around, twiddling their thumbs while they see if they're dead or not. It also means PCs with Celerity can use their passive bonus on each of these defences and are therefore less likely to spam extra actions, which would replace the dice bonus. (Optional house rule: instead of extra actions, Celerity lets you turn one defence into a clash attack for 1BP. If you win the opposed test, instead of successfully avoiding the damage, you do damage to your attacker, as if you'd attacked them.)

                      Opposed tests will make combat less lethal, but it does make sense (it should be harder to hit someone with a higher dice pool than you). You can scale it up or down as you need to after a couple of encounters. E.g., if opposed rolls lead to a lot of zero success attacks, you can add something like Warhammer's Advantage, where whoever wins the opposed roll or does damage gains +1 Advantage; whoever loses an opposed roll or takes damage loses all their Advantage.

                      So, 1 Advantage = +1 die on all combat rolls and you can spend 1 Advantage to boost your initiative by +1, or spend 2 Advantage for minor dramatic editing ('I grab the candelabra I've only just noticed on that table, and use it to beat the Sheriff over the head.') An alternative would be to port in stunts from Exalted (pick your favourite edition), as those extra boosts on a roll can help PCs or a major NPC turn the tide. I would also rule that ties in opposed rolls go to the higher raw dice pool, so you nearly always have a winner unless one party fails or botches.

                      I realise this may seem like a lot of HRs, but since we're tinkering anyway, you might as well think ahead and avoid unexpected rules interactions. V20 is relatively easy to mod, but even little tweaks can make a difference when HLs are relatively low.
                      Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 01-14-2022, 04:27 AM.


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