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How do you run Specialties?

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  • #16
    That's something I do as well, CrackedMan. I also don't allow Attribute specialties that are just synonyms for the Attribute. No "Charming" for Charisma or "Tough" for Stamina or "Mighty" for Strength. No "Detail-Oriented" for Perception, either. Specialities have to be specialized.

    I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!


    • #17
      Eh, my ST takes the opinion that he is the one who determines what a speciality applies to, not the player. So the Brujah in my game has "Tough as Nails" as his Stamina speciality, but it has literally never come up, because the ST told the player that would only apply to doing stuff while fucked up, and he's never been fucked up enough for it to be relevant. It's the same case for the Gangrel's "Reserves of Strength" speciality in Strength. Another example is "Cat-like Reflexes" for Dexterity which half the party has but almost never uses because it's only for avoiding unexpected threats. So we don't have a problem with overly broad Attribute specialities, because any that would be are immediately interpreted in a narrow fashion.

      Though i would argue that "Charming" is already a specific enough Charisma speciality, since it does not apply to other things Charisma can do such as being imperious, awe-inspiring, or intimidating, nor is it useful for rallying men for battle. Hell a Toreador in my game actually has it hasn't really come up, though mostly because he doesn't turn up the charm very often. Same deal for "Detail-Oriented" it would apply when small details matter, but not for big stuff like an assassin stalking you, or when rolling Auspex, Empathy, or Subterfuge.

      However our ST doesn't restrict Ability specialities as heavily, so we do have several broad ones. In particular three of the six coterie members have Melee (Swords) and of course always fight with the swords, while the Gangrel has Brawl (Claws) for similar reasons. Other examples include: Athletics (Dodge), Leadership (Commanding), Subterfuge (Selective Omission), Performance (Oral), Enigmas (Codes), Stealth (Shadows), and probably more. Though honestly i'm in favour of specialities coming up fairly frequently, especially if players have been spending xp on them. As it is in my game nobody has seen the value in spending experience points on a speciality, so every single character only has the free with the fourth dot ones.


      • #18
        The easy way to do specialties as per the specialties in whatever edition you are running. The problem is specialties are one of the few things people want to try to mix and match from different editions. Don't mix editions and it all works out. Specialties used to reduce diff, the reason for this is in older editions a lot of things were higher than diff 6. Take most firearms were diff 7 or 8 to hit. Specialties reduced the diff to make it where that diff 7 dropped to diff 6 aka standard diff in 20th edition. Since unless specifically stated in 20th the standard diff is 6 so the need for diff reduction isn't as vital as it was in other editions.


        • #19
          How my current group(s sorta) run things:

          V20 standard plus the Well Skilled Craftsman optional rule from M20... which basically amounts to you get specialties when V20 says (normally at 4, some Abilities earlier), if any specialties apply, 10s count double, and you can buy additional specialties in certain Abilities (generally the ones that have you start with one anyway) for 4 freebies or 4 XP (which is actually pretty cheap compared to having to buy a second Ability instead).

          How I'd run things if I had complete say on the matter:

          Something closer to Revised DA's separation here. Attributes get Qualities, which double 10s (and you only get one per Attribute, so no need to worry about stacking), and Abilities get specialties (and expertise but effectively the same thing for this thread) which give you a +1 to the roll, and can stack to a max of +3. I have a more thorough thing if someone wants to hear details.

          On Attribute Specialties:

          They're hard to balance properly just based on the names. When one of my players takes one, what I do is ask, "what are things you think this doesn't apply to?" to make it easier to be on the same page one what their intent is with the name they pick.

          Wbsmith :

          Um, for the most part that doesn't really apply. The standard difficulty has been 6 since VtM 2e, and consistently so (that doesn't stop there from being plenty of specific rules with higher difficulties), and specialties have modified 10s (or added dice in a few cases), ever since. The biggest issue with mixing editions (or games) are things like whether 10s explode if you re-roll. Though the 20th editions so far all opting for two successes with a 10 instead or re-rolls has neatly solved that.


          • #20
            Current Dark Ages Vampire game -

            Firstly some house rules that affect how the specialities apply
            10s over-role for PCs and named NPCs. Not extras.
            1s take the over-role away, then if there are no over roles-left, take successes away
            A Botch only occurs if no successes were Successes rolled at all. (Having one or more successes but enough 1s to remove them all, and more is just a failure)

            Specialities are gained for level 4 and 6; attribute and skills. They add a dice to a pool that they apply.
            *Strength Specialities don't affect damage.
            *Stamina Specialities don't affect soak.
            *Combat skill specialities have to be more than just a weapon class; eg "Crippling strikes" "Staking" and "Decapitation" are allowed, but "Sword" and even "Broadsword" are too general.

            You can add a dice from Attribute specialities and a dice from Skills if they overlap. [Not sure how multiple specialities for the same skill/attribute will stack, we've not got anything at 6 yet]


            • #21
              At my table we are committing a grand heresy and have mostly discarded specialties. When your attribute or ability reaches 4 your 10s count as double successes and in a roll where only one of the two is at 4 all dice still gain this benefit. It’s just easier this way not to mention more equal to all players.


              • #22
                In my chronicles, I handle Specialties this way:

                * 10's always reroll, even if you have no specialties.

                * If one of your specialties applies (for example, you have an Attribute specialty applicable to the task), you can reroll 9's.

                * If you have two specialties that apply (say, Attribute and Ability specialties both make sense), then you can reroll 8's.

                * You can reroll these dice even if the difficulty is higher than the reroll number. You just don't count the initial result of the die as a success. For example, if your Diff is 9 and you can reroll 8's, then an 8 on any die can be rerolled to try for a 9 or 10 (even though it doesn't count as a success).

                * 1s still cancel successes, but you still get to reroll the die even if its success got canceled. So if you rolled 4, 8, 10 and 1, the 10 gets canceled first but you can still reroll it to see if it gives you a success.
                Last edited by RebelWithoutAClan; 01-09-2018, 12:56 PM.


                • #23
                  Double successes for 10's when the specialty would apply; if a "1" is rolled, it subtracts only one of the successes (rather than eliminating the entire 10, and therefore both successes). That's it. It's dramatically more advantageous to the player, and (I think) does a better job of producing a narrative in which people with a specialties noticeably shine when appropriate, but without being so OP that a phenomenal success is a foregone conclusion.


                  • #24
                    My preference is to allow 10's to be rerolled with Specialties, and I allow both Attributres and Abilities.

                    However, I have a house rule that adds a "minor botch". This happens when there are more "1s" than successes, but at least one success was rolled, and causes a minor bad result to happen in addition to the failure, the gun jams for one Turn, the charact trips and falls, instead of fleeing, the litterally run (charge) at you like you Commanded, etc...

                    A "minor botch" will not in itself cause damage to anyone, where a "true" Botch can, (that same gun backfires, you twist your ankle on a hard landing for 2 Bashing, or the target is immune to your Dominate the rest of the encounter).


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Beckett View Post
                      However, I have a house rule that adds a "minor botch". This happens when there are more "1s" than successes, but at least one success was rolled, and causes a minor bad result to happen in addition to the failure, the gun jams for one Turn, the charact trips and falls, instead of fleeing, the litterally run (charge) at you like you Commanded, etc...
                      The V5 system has "Success with a cost" that sounds very similar to your house rule. I really like it.


                      • #26
                        It's getting away from specialties as a topic, but compared to the V5 playtest? The Storypath preview method of "mixed successes" is something I find much more interesting. Mostly because instead of just making it random, it's something the ST controls more to ensure it fits the scene.

                        The Storypath system does the difficulty in how many successes you need to roll, but the ST can add Complications with linked success values. If you roll enough to beat the base difficulty, but not enough left over successes to buy away the Complication, you have to deal with it.

                        So shooting into a crowd doesn't get a higher base difficulty than normal, but it has a Complication based on the density of the crowd. The bigger the crowd the harder it is to hit your target without collateral damage.

                        This means you don't have to be sitting there trying to come up with "minor botches" on a roll where there isn't really much room for a mixed success, and there's a lot more you can do with presenting interesting choices to the player (in the above example, a player could always just not care about collateral damage to maximize their attack roll, so there's a moral decision even if they roll well enough to not hit a bystander).


                        • #27
                          I've always said double your 10s with a specialty and they don't stack.

                          I'm playing this time, though, and our ST lets us double 10s by default (balances out the awful 1s) and reduces the difficulty by 1 for a specialty (this would presumably stack, although it's not come up yet).


                          • #28
                            So one time some idiot in my game wrote his stamina speciality as "soaking". It was indicative of his later inability to be a good character, he became an amputee very quickly through no malice on my part. But in relation to that, I have a problem with some specs being very broad, and some never show up. Some of the given examples in the books are very vague.

                            I don't do 1's or 10s for damage or soaking. It really cleans up the BS moments of no damage/nothing protects, and keeps players from putting something dumb in as a speciality.
                            I double 10s, but I'd rather do something else, like extra dice, -1 difficulty, one free success, negate a 1, or anything else. such things would scale well when you go post 6
                            Crafts upsets me as an ability, as do similar things. Whilst in some abilities I have no problem with letting people thousands of specs.

                            I want to codify balanced/good specialities for a lot of things, but that'd be very tedious. I have no problem with people picking a class of weapons for melee/firearms, nor move/scenario preferences that they'd always use.
                            I have considered changing specialities from something you might get at 4th dot to something at 3rd, but I've not done so. I think there's too much emphasis in getting the 4th dot for everthing, often avoiding the fifth because it's not cost effective. Now, having a 5th dot might be cause for someone to seek you as a teacher, but I think something more can be done. I also want to do something about having both an attribute and ability spec overlap and not getting any bonuses for it.
                            Last edited by PewPew; 01-20-2018, 11:11 PM.

                            Be correct.