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[V5] Reworking Messy Crits

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  • #16
    I like the Messy Criticals, and Bestial Failures I think never ocurred (maybe once or twice in 3 years of playing V5). But I agree that it needs some work. I mean, letting Compulsions get in is awesome and practical, but it is sometimes someething that won't see the light of day, like being in the end of a scene, where there won't be any tests later on (or none of which it will come into play, cuz V5 isn't roll-heavy, which is good, but makes Compulsion a less punitive option, sometimes by a ton).

    Cuz you know, sometimes who cares for Masquerade when you're away from any humans and there ain't much in the way of leaving obvious marks that would later raise Masquerade-breaching eyebrows? And well, nobody likes to lose Background, ever, and games where there is frequent timeskip is kind useless to temporarily take a dot away, because there will be very little reason to not let it be recuperated in downtime. Stains are cool, only that are sometimes heavy-handed in some situations (and maybe wouldn't be if the book was a little more descriptive on it, except just giving the bare basics of it), and like, without a good context there is little way to make a Stain reasonable.

    I really think some way of temporary (like "till the next test or end of session") flaws would function well (which lost of Background and Compulsion kinda do already). Maybe some of these could go to a reserve of 'you f'd-up', like into creating an enemy, ruining the trust of your friends or lackeys, or some such. I don't know, I just wanted more options, cuz I enjoy what we have already, and don't need any dramatic change, but there have been plenty of situations when I couldn't see a clear option for the situation.


    Strange... When coincidence seems too convenient, I prefer to call it fate.

    -Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain d=

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Newb95 View Post


      The problem I see with the system is that, with a pool of 11 like in the Jim example, you are most likely going to surpass your composure anyway and that is with a vamp that doesn't have high base skills, another character with higher base stats is going to fly into a rage every time he tries to blood surge, that sounds silly and would ironically push players away from blood surge even more, I think that a better way to do it would be to treat the extra dices from the surge as hunger dices on top of the rest of the hunger and then only count the successes scored on those dices for the purpose of entering frenzy or not, like in the example you made Jim would roll his 11 dices 4 normal dices and 6 hunger ones (4 hunger+2 dices from blood surge) shall the the result on the 6 hunger dices surpass his composure+resolve (it should be both to account for crits on hunger dices) then he enters a frenzy or he takes aggravated willpower damage to resist it.
      Ah, I can see where we're getting our wires crossed. In my example above, you only gain a Compulsion if you roll more successes than your Composure; you don't Frenzy. Frenzy wasn't the core focus in that house rule, but I then asked what I could do about the risk of Frenzy and that's what you were responding to, whereas I thought you were still talking about gaining a Compulsion only.

      So, I absolutely could see a second threshold for Frenzy: if you roll more successes than Composure + Resolve, then you Frenzy. But if you only roll more successes than your Composure, you only gain a Compulsion. Then there are two thresholds.

      It would need playtesting. But I think more ways to enter Frenzy would be welcome.

      Originally posted by Banu_Saulot View Post
      I like the Messy Criticals, and Bestial Failures I think never ocurred (maybe once or twice in 3 years of playing V5). But I agree that it needs some work. I mean, letting Compulsions get in is awesome and practical, but it is sometimes someething that won't see the light of day, like being in the end of a scene, where there won't be any tests later on (or none of which it will come into play, cuz V5 isn't roll-heavy, which is good, but makes Compulsion a less punitive option, sometimes by a ton).

      Cuz you know, sometimes who cares for Masquerade when you're away from any humans and there ain't much in the way of leaving obvious marks that would later raise Masquerade-breaching eyebrows? And well, nobody likes to lose Background, ever, and games where there is frequent timeskip is kind useless to temporarily take a dot away, because there will be very little reason to not let it be recuperated in downtime. Stains are cool, only that are sometimes heavy-handed in some situations (and maybe wouldn't be if the book was a little more descriptive on it, except just giving the bare basics of it), and like, without a good context there is little way to make a Stain reasonable.

      I really think some way of temporary (like "till the next test or end of session") flaws would function well (which lost of Background and Compulsion kinda do already). Maybe some of these could go to a reserve of 'you f'd-up', like into creating an enemy, ruining the trust of your friends or lackeys, or some such. I don't know, I just wanted more options, cuz I enjoy what we have already, and don't need any dramatic change, but there have been plenty of situations when I couldn't see a clear option for the situation.
      Yeah, I like the V20 and VTR2e rules that say 'this effect remains until it causes you to botch (or until you accept an auto-botch)'. I think that's in the Gangrel clan flaw? That could be interesting.

      Personally, we were at the end of the scene, I'd have the Compulsion roll over. One idea I'd had was that if you complete your Compulsion by the end of the scene, it resolves as usual; if you don't, you can either roll it over to the next scene or take a point of Willpower damage to end it.


      Writer, publisher, performer
      Mostly he/his, sometimes she/her IRL https://adam-lowe.com

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      • #18
        Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post

        Ah, I can see where we're getting our wires crossed. In my example above, you only gain a Compulsion if you roll more successes than your Composure; you don't Frenzy. Frenzy wasn't the core focus in that house rule, but I then asked what I could do about the risk of Frenzy and that's what you were responding to, whereas I thought you were still talking about gaining a Compulsion only.

        So, I absolutely could see a second threshold for Frenzy: if you roll more successes than Composure + Resolve, then you Frenzy. But if you only roll more successes than your Composure, you only gain a Compulsion. Then there are two thresholds.

        It would need playtesting. But I think more ways to enter Frenzy would be welcome.



        Yeah, I like the V20 and VTR2e rules that say 'this effect remains until it causes you to botch (or until you accept an auto-botch)'. I think that's in the Gangrel clan flaw? That could be interesting.

        Personally, we were at the end of the scene, I'd have the Compulsion roll over. One idea I'd had was that if you complete your Compulsion by the end of the scene, it resolves as usual; if you don't, you can either roll it over to the next scene or take a point of Willpower damage to end it.

        You are right, I thought that the frenzy and compulsion happened at the same time, my bad, still I think that the compulsion should still account for Composure+Resolve, both frenzy and compulsion should be rare for a vamp who can control himself and as I already wrote, having a particularly skilled vamp getting a compulsion or even a frenzy for literally being too good at something sounds silly to me.

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        • #19
          Well that's the whole point: changing it from just doing well on any old roll to rolling really high on a roll where you let the Beast out temporarily but are willing to take that risk. It's based on the model for Unleashing in Changeling 20, where you can go wild with your Arts at the risk of losing control. In my experience, people did use that option when they were in a tight spot, because the results were worth it.


          Writer, publisher, performer
          Mostly he/his, sometimes she/her IRL https://adam-lowe.com

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          • #20
            If that is your idea than go for it, I personally barely use the blood surge with the current system and I would use it even less with your rules, it just ain't worth the trouble in my experience, especially when you are practically guaranteed to get a compulsion or go into a frenzy once you are skilled enough.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Banu_Saulot View Post
              I like the Messy Criticals, and Bestial Failures I think never ocurred (maybe once or twice in 3 years of playing V5).
              You know if you ever get a 1 on the hunger dice and fail the roll in any way, that it is considered a bestial failure? This means if the difficulty is 3 and you only get 2 successes, it's a bestial failure. Not only that, but you must not play a lot, cause they've happened multiple times in multiple games.


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              • #22
                Bestial failures happened with frustrating frequency in my games, even at hunger 1, the concept is interesting in theory but really starts to get old a the table.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Vilenecromancer View Post

                  You know if you ever get a 1 on the hunger dice and fail the roll in any way, that it is considered a bestial failure? This means if the difficulty is 3 and you only get 2 successes, it's a bestial failure. Not only that, but you must not play a lot, cause they've happened multiple times in multiple games.
                  Yeah I know, I got the page about it in my cheat sheet.
                  And nah I'd advocate we play a lot. We've played every week for almost 3 years now, I'm as a Storyteller of V5 with a very competent group of players. Difficulty is usually 3 or 4 for things other than observation/analysis checks, or a contested role.
                  So no, it just didn't happened as much. Maybe because the players really liked to blood surge, use willpower and were a bit reserved with doing things their characters weren't good at (and now they are pretty powerful, so plenty of dice and lots of Blood Potency bonus). So we get a ton of Messy Criticals, not so much Bestial Failures.

                  So yeah, guess we would need more data on this if this was the point of discussion.
                  But i'm here mostly to brainstorm messy crit ideas.


                  Strange... When coincidence seems too convenient, I prefer to call it fate.

                  -Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain d=

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                  • #24
                    How difficult are rolls in your games? I have been playing in multiple games and Bestial Failures have barely ever happened.

                    In my experience, a lot of problems with V5's dice system boil down to not using Automatic Wins for things that you should.

                    Also, you are supposed to spend willpower to reroll results if you don't want to deal with messy criticals or bestial failures.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post
                      How difficult are rolls in your games? I have been playing in multiple games and Bestial Failures have barely ever happened.

                      In my experience, a lot of problems with V5's dice system boil down to not using Automatic Wins for things that you should.

                      Also, you are supposed to spend willpower to reroll results if you don't want to deal with messy criticals or bestial failures.
                      Very difficult actually considering it's the standard of 3. Most new STs don't do the automatic wins very often, and no one I know uses difficulty modifiers at ALL. Thess are the two things this particular edition was built around in order to reduce the risk of failure. The standard difficulty 3 only sees you have around a 50% chance of success with anything less than 6 dice! This means that if you do roll, it's most likely going to literally be a toss-up if you're going to succeed or not. Factor in hunger of anything more than 0, you have a literal game of Russian Roulet.

                      The main reason I quit V5 was because I felt I had to optimize in order to succeed at anything in the game. Messy crits and bestial failures were extremely common because in order to succeed you had to blood surge, which has a 50% chance of increasing hunger. Willpower rarely helped since the willpower pool was so small, and the "better save it for later" mentality screwed us over. When we did spend WP to prevent messy crits, we'd more often than not get bestial failures.

                      Difficulty is high in V5, even a difficulty of 3 is pretty big. This coupled with the fact most players I've known WANT to roll dice, you'll get a TON of messy crits and bestial failures. Like...a literal...ton.
                      Last edited by Vilenecromancer; 03-23-2022, 03:02 PM. Reason: I'm just so tired of failing...so tired...


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                      • #26
                        Where in the book does it say 3 is the standard difficulty, as far as I know it never says any? Not using modifiers or automatic wins is a fault of the STs, not of the system itself.

                        I never felt the need to optimize in V5, a pool of 3-4 often gets by most things, and if needed I can surge or willpower. Or Win at a Cost, another fun mechanic to use.

                        On Messy Crits, they should never be too harsh, it is still a critical win after all. For example, you intimidate the mook but snarl at him, which might not have any consequences on its own, but might get noticed if it happens more times. Using compulsions is great too, especially the non-clan ones.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post
                          Where in the book does it say 3 is the standard difficulty, as far as I know it never says any? Not using modifiers or automatic wins is a fault of the STs, not of the system itself.

                          I never felt the need to optimize in V5, a pool of 3-4 often gets by most things, and if needed I can surge or willpower. Or Win at a Cost, another fun mechanic to use.

                          On Messy Crits, they should never be too harsh, it is still a critical win after all. For example, you intimidate the mook but snarl at him, which might not have any consequences on its own, but might get noticed if it happens more times. Using compulsions is great too, especially the non-clan ones.
                          By RAW failing the roll is a possible option for a messy. Also glade you found groups that worked, I didn't.

                          Edit: Also how the dice probability works is the fault of the system, which is the main issue.
                          Last edited by Vilenecromancer; 03-23-2022, 03:52 PM.


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                          • #28
                            *shouts at self* See what you have started now, Adam!

                            I jest, but I hope we don't start another edition war. It's quiet enough as it is around here without us driving more people off.

                            As I see it, there can sometimes be two competing arguments that get used: 'you just need to play it this really specific way for it to work and then it's perfect' and 'it's a total dumpster fire that never works, ever'.

                            As always, the reality is that things are somewhere in the middle, with that middle being experienced slightly differently based on your perspective. V5 does work better if played a certain way, but not everyone engages with a thing the exact same way, and good mechanics will allow for some leeway.

                            Bestial Failures are pretty rare in my games. But, having read this thread, I realise I have a different understanding of Bestial Failures to others.

                            I have only been counting a Bestial Failure as a roll with no successes and one or more 1s (skulls) on the Hunger Dice. I'm pretty sure that's how they do it on LA by Night, too. But it seems you're all right in saying that rolling not enough successes and any 1s on Hunger Dice is a Bestial Failure. It's there in black and white on p.206.

                            Come to think of it, I think I maybe did read that, decided it was too strict, and then house ruled it. Then assumed the HR was RAW. Notice a trend here with how my brain works? My bad! #neurodiverse

                            If, as p.119 says, a Difficulty 3 is 'Moderate', that does mean dice pools of less than 6 are tricky. And they would lead to many more Bestial Failures than we've currently been having. I'm not sure Take Half is a complete solution to that.

                            Automatic success for me is always reserved for low stakes stuff, or where you have time and preparation on your side. Like: 'You have as much time as you want to pick this lock, and your dice pool is double the Difficulty, so I won't make you roll.' But not: 'Don't roll to kill your enemy. Just take half.'

                            If you're routinely not rolling for dangerous, pressurised or suspenseful stuff, then I think the system is failing you -- dice rolls are supposed to support the sense of tension, not avoid it altogether.

                            But from what people are saying, I don't think that's what's happening either. So I think the variance is probably due to chronicle emphases (e.g., lots of RP in Elysium is going to require less rolling than doing a sting or a heist; some games are more chatty and others are more do-y). When talking about VTM, it's common for people to be talking about quite different game experiences because it always has been a kitchen sink setting.

                            My guess is that the Companion said to make Difficulties secret for one main reason: as ST, you can decide after the player rolls whether they succeed or not. That allows for: 'Oh you only rolled two successes? Well... Lucky you, that's exactly what you needed!' Or, more likely: 'You only rolled two? Well, it's Difficulty 3, so how about a success at a cost?' (In either case, you could have actually intended for it to be Difficulty 4 before seeing the result, but adjusted down without fuss.)

                            The easiest fix is to make Difficulty 2 standard, or to just give more dots at chargen. That would require more balancing, though. Maybe just slap on an extra 15xp for everyone, and let them at it.

                            But back to the topic at hand: the confusion with the special die results here also leads me onto another issue I have seen with Messy Crits (and Bestial Failures).

                            In five seasons of LA by Night, even with Jason Carl there, there was often someone who needed the Messy Crit/Bestial Failure rules explaining to them, or help calculating the effects of their dice pool.

                            Part of the issue comes from people calling any 10s on Hunger Dice/the ankh with teeth 'a Messy Critical' and any 1s on Hunger Dice/the skulls 'a Bestial Failure'. There doesn't seem to be a separate name for those individual die faces themselves, so people default to the name of the effect they create, which leads to confusion.

                            So people are like, 'Oh, I rolled a Bestial Failure.' But they only mean they rolled a 1 on the Hunger Dice. They may have otherwise succeeded.

                            Only counting 10s twice if they come in pairs is less simple than just doubling them, and leads to some people getting really confused when they roll three 10s (even though the rules give an example of this). This is partly due to system mastery and not reading the book, I guess, but is perhaps compounded by poor organisation. I think it's a technical editing issue, too.

                            For example, p.205 says: 'In addition, rolling a 0 (10) or 1 on a Hunger die carries additional consequences: messy criticals and bestial failures.' That implies those consequences apply to all rolls with those dice faces, but that's not actually the case. When you turn the page, they add more nuance to that. A technical editor could have made that simpler by changing 'carries additional consequences' to 'may carry additional consequences'.

                            Maybe in future editions they could just clarify all this by using a technical editor to give more consistent wording. So 10s are called Boons on any dice; the skulls are called Banes; and the toothy ankhs are maybe called Red Boons to set them apart.

                            Then you can clearly talk about the right thing for instant comprehension: 'I have a Bane, two Boons and a Red Boon, plus one normal success.' 'Great, that's six successes.' Easy.

                            tl;dr: Part of the issue experienced with these effects arises from different gaming styles requiring a different frequency for dice rolling. You may need to scale Difficulty (or add more dots at chargen) to adapt for that. Clearer terminology would also help avoid confusion at the table.
                            Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 03-26-2022, 04:29 AM. Reason: Wrote Messy Crits when I meant Bestial Failures


                            Writer, publisher, performer
                            Mostly he/his, sometimes she/her IRL https://adam-lowe.com

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
                              *shouts at self* See what you have started now, Adam!

                              I jest, but I hope we don't start another edition war. It's quiet enough as it is around here without us driving more people off.

                              As I see it, there can sometimes be two competing arguments that get used: 'you just need to play it this really specific way for it to work and then it's perfect' and 'it's a total dumpster fire that never works, ever'.

                              As always, the reality is that things are somewhere in the middle, with that middle being experienced slightly differently based on your perspective. V5 does work better if played a certain way, but not everyone engages with a thing the exact same way, and good mechanics will allow for some leeway.

                              Bestial Failures are pretty rare in my games. But, having read this thread, I realise I have a different understanding of Bestial Failures to others.

                              I have only been counting a Bestial Failure as a roll with no successes and one or more 1s (skulls) on the Hunger Dice. I'm pretty sure that's how they do it on LA by Night, too. But it seems you're all right in saying that rolling not enough successes and any 1s on Hunger Dice is a Bestial Failure. It's there in black and white on p.206.

                              Come to think of it, I think I maybe did read that, decided it was too strict, and then house ruled it. Then assumed the HR was RAW. Notice a trend here with how my brain works? My bad! #neurodiverse

                              If, as p.119 says, a Difficulty 3 is 'Moderate', that does mean dice pools of less than 6 are tricky. And they would lead to many more Messy Crits than we've currently been having. I'm not sure Take Half is a complete solution to that.

                              Automatic success for me is always reserved for low stakes stuff, or where you have time and preparation on your side. Like: 'You have as much time as you want to pick this lock, and your dice pool is double the Difficulty, so I won't make you roll.' But not: 'Don't roll to kill your enemy. Just take half.'

                              If you're routinely not rolling for dangerous, pressurised or suspenseful stuff, then I think the system is failing you -- dice rolls are supposed to support the sense of tension, not avoid it altogether.

                              But from what people are saying, I don't think that's what's happening either. So I think the variance is probably due to chronicle emphases (e.g., lots of RP in Elysium is going to require less rolling than doing a sting or a heist; some games are more chatty and others are more do-y). When talking about VTM, it's common for people to be talking about quite different game experiences because it always has been a kitchen sink setting.

                              My guess is that the Companion said to make Difficulties secret for one main reason: as ST, you can decide after the player rolls whether they succeed or not. That allows for: 'Oh you only rolled two successes? Well... Lucky you, that's exactly what you needed!' Or, more likely: 'You only rolled two? Well, it's Difficulty 3, so how about a success at a cost?' (In either case, you could have actually intended for it to be Difficulty 4 before seeing the result, but adjusted down without fuss.)

                              The easiest fix is to make Difficulty 2 standard, or to just give more dots at chargen. That would require more balancing, though. Maybe just slap on an extra 15xp for everyone, and let them at it.

                              But back to the topic at hand: the confusion with the special die results here also leads me onto another issue I have seen with Messy Crits (and Bestial Failures).

                              In five seasons of LA by Night, even with Jason Carl there, there was often someone who needed the Messy Crit/Bestial Failure rules explaining to them, or help calculating the effects of their dice pool.

                              Part of the issue comes from people calling any 10s on Hunger Dice/the ankh with teeth 'a Messy Critical' and any 1s on Hunger Dice/the skulls 'a Bestial Failure'. There doesn't seem to be a separate name for those individual die faces themselves, so people default to the name of the effect they create, which leads to confusion.

                              So people are like, 'Oh, I rolled a Bestial Failure.' But they only mean they rolled a 1 on the Hunger Dice. They may have otherwise succeeded.

                              Only counting 10s twice if they come in pairs is less simple than just doubling them, and leads to some people getting really confused when they roll three 10s (even though the rules give an example of this). This is partly due to system mastery and not reading the book, I guess, but is perhaps compounded by poor organisation. I think it's a technical editing issue, too.

                              For example, p.205 says: 'In addition, rolling a 0 (10) or 1 on a Hunger die carries additional consequences: messy criticals and bestial failures.' That implies those consequences apply to all rolls with those dice faces, but that's not actually the case. When you turn the page, they add more nuance to that. A technical editor could have made that simpler by changing 'carries additional consequences' to 'may carry additional consequences'.

                              Maybe in future editions they could just clarify all this by using a technical editor to give more consistent wording. So 10s are called Boons on any dice; the skulls are called Banes; and the toothy ankhs are maybe called Red Boons to set them apart.

                              Then you can clearly talk about the right thing for instant comprehension: 'I have a Bane, two Boons and a Red Boon, plus one normal success.' 'Great, that's six successes.' Easy.

                              tl;dr: Part of the issue experienced with these effects arises from different gaming styles requiring a different frequency for dice rolling. You may need to scale Difficulty (or add more dots at chargen) to adapt for that. Clearer terminology would also help avoid confusion at the table.

                              Regarding LA by night, I think Jason Carl said that he homebrewed stuff for the sake of drama, I didn't watch it but from what I read online, a lot of stuff doesn't match the rules.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Newb95 View Post
                                Bestial failures happened with frustrating frequency in my games, even at hunger 1, the concept is interesting in theory but really starts to get old a the table.

                                Yeah, we lost like 3 PCs during playtesting due to BF/MC dice bullshit and the cascade effect that occurs......apparently the solution is to essentially play diceless but thats the opposite of what we want out of a game.

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