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Are routine frenzy rolls a thing in your games?

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  • Are routine frenzy rolls a thing in your games?

    I find that frenzy rolls are quite rare in most games, even if, going by RAW, they should be fairly routine. The reason being that in most situations where they should pop up, frenzying would often be suicidal. If you are on a plane, and turbulence makes the flight attendant pour hot coffee on your face, frenzying means the plane likely crashes, or else lands with an army ready to greet you. Most ST's won't call for a frenzy roll in that situation simply to avoid that game-ending result from one roll. Okay that's rare.

    Here's something more common: your pack fails an easy mission, and the Archbishop utterly humiliates you at a gathering of all the local packs afterwards. Frenzying in response to that humiliation is suicide, so most ST's are simply going to ignore that this calls for a frenzy roll, because (s)he doesn't want the game to end right there because of one unlucky roll.

    Consequently, I've found that most ST's simply ignore the frenzy mechanic almost entirely, perhaps saving it for a special situation where the consequences for frenzying advance his/her plotline rather than breaking it.

    Is that my experience only, or is it a common experience?

  • #2
    Huh. I've never heard of avoiding rolling for frenzy like that.

    In my experience ST's are more likely to call for self control at the slightest provocation than ignore the chance to make a PC roll.

    Fortunately my current ST's are fair about it. It's a big part of the game, and shoiuldn't be ignored.


    Prone to being a Classic Curmudgeon, goshdarned whippersnappers...

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    • #3
      I find frequent Frenzy rolls incredibly disruptive to the game and everyone's enjoyment of it. When they happen, the price of failure rarely means anything good for the game. Instead, the consequences hijack the game and take it away from the the ST's plot and what the PCs want to do. So while they used to happen frequently when I first played, I think many STs adjusted it so that they only ask for frenzy rolls when it's both appropriate and won't derail the chronicle.

      I find it is something that should be driven by story considerations, rather than as a game mechanic driving it.

      If players do things that would call for the roll at a time when it's bad, as ST I am more likely to "punish" the player by making them spend a point of Willpower to control themselves than go to a frenzy roll. I'm sure some players would not like it, but my personal gaming group is fine with it.

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      • #4
        Well, they're not irregular. Though most situations are stable enough to merit mere flavouring instead (Head snapping in the direction of the kitchen, fangs extended, before the pc has consciously registered they just heard an unexpected intruder in their haven, but no frenzy yet. eg.) Personally, I love the suspense on the (rare) occassions I'm playing. Most recent example involved narrowly avoiding repainting a kitchen with the inside of a kid's head by a thread, and the struggle between "must remove threat" and "I don't want to fucking murder a child" as I tried to pull away was great fun.

        Of course while frenzy rolls are common, actual frenzies are less so. When I'm in charge anyway. I maybe don't have frenzies RAW. If a perceived threat shows submission or removes itself, the beast tends to chill out to a managable degree. So it doesn't always end in death and total bloodshed it's just... not nice, tidy or subtle.
        Difficulty is based on the situation and the character's personality and other factors rather than the chart given. Humiliation is a big deal for some vampires, less so for others. As a general rule of thumb, the situation is not that stressful and the difficulty is low more than 50% of the time... Then there are the extreme stress moments where you're caught of guard and not prepared to catch the beast in time...

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        • #5
          2-3 Frenzy rolls per session, I would estimate. Sometimes more. Rarely less. There are a LOT more triggers for frenzy in my games, as every vampire develops particularized Beast Traits that mandate frenzy checks in response to certain non-universal triggers (e.g., some vampires will frenzy if someone tries to leave them alone in a room).

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          • #6
            Insults and humiliation are subjective. If I know i've screwed up, a proportionate bollocking won't be too aggravating. A disproprortionatly strong verbal tirade that makes things sound worse? That's infuriating. Similarly, lip from someone who often mouths off isn't so impactful as a quiet and respected person's rant. IMO, the provocatuer should roll to see how infuriating their verbal attack is, and the roll to resist frenzy can be based on that.

            But, as I run it, people avoid being too dramatic in elysiums, and the person who provokes frenzy loses rep almost as fast as the one who frenzies. Vampires, at least established ones, like things civil and stable. Making enemies for fun because unlife's long and boring happens, but it's usually within the confines of a few rules to make it more interesting (IE get a worthy rival or work through your childer if you want to target someone beneath you)


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            • #7
              Frenzy is one of those things where it can be game defining, or it can a mechanic that sits on a shelf and gathers dust. It really depends on the game style and the characters involved. I had one game where a Brujah PC managed to fail a frenzy roll about 30 seconds into being introduced to the group, while I have had an entire story be completed with none of the PCs ever needing to make a Frenzy roll.

              As long as you are fed, blood doesn't trigger the roll. If you avoid social situations for large sections of the game, then running into insults or catty remarks aren't really a thing. So, all that is left is having one's life in danger, but that doesn't really apply if you are the one in control of the combat. So really unless you got ambushed or the prepared combat went wrong, once again Frenzy isn't that much of a thing.

              If your coterie is the type who doesn't spend much time around elysium, they have secure havens with live in herds, and they fight in ways that avoid fairness as a general rule, then a Frenzy will be more of a plot point than anything else. On the other hand, if you are doing a game where you are role playing a human who has just been turned and has no idea what the rules are..... ones mortal family getting splattered across the home over a random remark is a very real possibility.

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              • #8
                It ranges from all the time to never...

                It changes from session to session it seems.


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                • #9
                  Vampires need to be functional In my games vampires only frenzy if they are doing something bad or are in a bad position
                  • Losing a fight
                  • Unexpected agresion
                  • Social Humillation
                  • Low on blood
                  • Fire
                  • Sunlight
                  • Another bane
                  How much blood do you have in your system helps determine how irascible/prone to frenzy a vampire. Well fed vampires are unlikely to frenzy and over the years many learn to avoid things that would trigger their beast.


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                  • #10
                    I don't avoid frenzy rolls per se, but I make an effort to keep them confined to suitable scenes. WP expenditure is usually a suitable exchange to drive home the idea that Frenzy was imminent. I also consider that most vampires with at least 5 years of undeath have simple strategies to avoid messy frenzies. I also agree that in most situations vampires will be as harsh or more on someone provoking problematic frenzies than on the frenzied character (after the fact, that is).

                    Finally, there is such a thing as a safe frenzy and "support". If it is another Kindred driving the other to frenzy, specially, then a frenzy isn't just a possible outcome, it is expected. The Archbishop humiliating your character knows you're likely to frenzy and is fully prepared to direct your loss of control, and most other vampires watching are equally aware of what may happen. Your frenzy isn't then likely to cause as much harm and will probably be just laughed off as weakness of mind. From a storytelling perspective, it is safe to frenzy in such a scene.

                    Whenever there are vampires around, they should have in mind some safety plans to deal with others' frenzies, specially older Neonates and Ancilla. It doesn't have to be a complicated plan, but everyone knows everyone can go into a frenzy at some point. Incompetence at handling another's frenzy in a problematic situation, specially if it threatens the Masquerade/draws enemy attention, is another thing that is actually worse than being the one that frenzies.


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                    • #11
                      Frenzy like all mechanics is there to add flavour to the story. If players engage in behaviour that risks a frenzy they run that risk, however, that's tempered against what a frenzy could do to the plot.

                      I.e. if the player decided to get into an argument with their nemesis and then lost a punch-up that certainly warrants a frenzy that could add some fun drama. Contrasted to the Brujah getting mocked a little bit in Elysium at the start of the chronicle, there if they frenzy it's not going to make a better story it will only make it worse.

                      It's why I rather like compulsions, they help depict the drawbacks of the vampiric nature without needing the absolute escalation of frenzy.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Karos View Post
                        Contrasted to the Brujah getting mocked a little bit in Elysium at the start of the chronicle, there if they frenzy it's not going to make a better story it will only make it worse.
                        As I said above, I don't think so. In Elysium everyone should be prepared to deal with eventual frenzies as everyone can frenzy. Anyone mocking a Brujah either knows what they're doing or are plain stupid, and the Brujah will probably be contained without issue anyway.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Karos View Post
                          Frenzy like all mechanics is there to add flavour to the story. If players engage in behaviour that risks a frenzy they run that risk, however, that's tempered against what a frenzy could do to the plot.

                          I.e. if the player decided to get into an argument with their nemesis and then lost a punch-up that certainly warrants a frenzy that could add some fun drama. Contrasted to the Brujah getting mocked a little bit in Elysium at the start of the chronicle, there if they frenzy it's not going to make a better story it will only make it worse.

                          It's why I rather like compulsions, they help depict the drawbacks of the vampiric nature without needing the absolute escalation of frenzy.
                          Yes, I think it has to be based on the needs of the story, and I do like Compulsions as an alternative.

                          I have considered making people roll their blood pool as dice to stop feeding (you roll whatever your blood pool was at when you started, not when you want to finish). That way, there is a more of a risk to overfeeding.

                          In theory, there should also really be Frenzy checks when you're losing in combat (or perhaps even when combat starts), but I'd hesitate to add too many rolls to combat in V20.

                          I think more players should be tempted to go into Frenzy voluntarily for combat. That would be particularly thematic. There are loads of TV shows and books where fighting vamps put their game face on and go savage.


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