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Confused about the mechanics of the "Staredown" gift (Homid Level 2 in W20)

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  • Confused about the mechanics of the "Staredown" gift (Homid Level 2 in W20)

    There is a level 2 Homid gift in the W20 core book called "Staredown" that my tabletop group is having trouble understanding. The description in the book says the target of the gift will flee, but may spend willpower to resist the effect of the gift for one turn. It also says that Garou and other shapeshifters with Rage do not flee, but may not attack while the gift is in use.

    Here's the problem we're chewing on: when you use Staredown on a hostile or frenzying Garou, it looks like the target can burn a willpower point to attack you on their next turn and, as a fellow player says, "one easily spent willpower point later and you've essentially done nothing." Given that mortals are already instinctively afraid of werewolves, the gift seems relatively useless for a level 2 gift, unless spending willpower only allows the target to resist fleeing, but not to enable attacking.

    Which interpretation is correct: does spending willpower negate the all of the gift's effects, or does spending willpower only resist fleeing but not enable attacking?

    Another question we have is whether the user has to stop whatever else they're doing for as many turns as the Staredown succeeds, to maintain it, or if the effect lasts even if the user changes the focus of her attention. For example, consider two hostile Garou, Alice and Bob: if Alice uses Staredown on Bob, and rolls 3 successes, does Alice have to keep staring at Bob for 3 turns to maintain the effect, or can she do something else for her next couple of turns without breaking the effect on Bob? If the latter, what could prematurely break the effect on Bob?

  • #2
    How I read it:

    When used on a being with Rage, they can't attack you for turns equal to successes roll or the scene at 5+ successes without spending a WP for that turn.

    As for the usefulness of it.... it's not the best Rank 2 Gift ever, but the Gifts are horribly inconsistent in general. It's very useful for clearing out stray mortals to avoid Veil breaches. Yes, there's already the Curse, but the Curse doesn't guarantee a specific result like running away immediately, and most humans only have 2-4 WP (if they really want to spend it) so it's better than normal for chasing folks off. It's just not actually much better than using Persuasion and being nice about suggesting they leave.

    Being able to put a WP tax on things with Rage attacking is actually useful on it's own. Regaining WP in combat is hard, and WP is a pretty valuable combat resource.

    So, for me Staredown is an OK Rank 2 Gift, because it's really two Rank 1 Gifts smooshed together.

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    • #3
      Staredown works exactly as it says. You can negate it's effects on you by spending Willpower points. That said, I was under the impression that frenzied garou are immune to mind control effects (other than calming the frenzy) and are far too out of control to spend willpower on anything.

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      • #4
        Frenzied Garou can spend WP (though there's plenty of things they can't do), otherwise the option of spend WP for the player to select a target instead of the nearest ST picked valid target wouldn't work.

        They're also not explicitly immune to mind influencing powers as a blanket thing.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the feedback. I think Heavy Arms's first reply implies an answer to my second question, but if anyone would like to address it specifically, for clarity's sake, please do. Here is it below for easy reading.

          Originally posted by Wilson View Post
          Another question we have is whether the user has to stop whatever else they're doing for as many turns as the Staredown succeeds, to maintain it, or if the effect lasts even if the user changes the focus of her attention. For example, consider two hostile Garou, Alice and Bob: if Alice uses Staredown on Bob, and rolls 3 successes, does Alice have to keep staring at Bob for 3 turns to maintain the effect, or can she do something else for her next couple of turns without breaking the effect on Bob? If the latter, what could prematurely break the effect on Bob?

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          • #6
            Alice is only stuck doing something on the first turn. Nothing in the Gift says anything about maintaining it (which would, again, cause absurd results with the rest of the text of it), so she's free to do what she wants for the next two turns.

            Nothing can prematurely break the effect on Bob outside of the application of other powers/Merits that would explicitly counter such effects.

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            • #7
              In Revised edition you had to stay focused on the target, in W20 it seems that is not the case, since as written you can use it on more than targets, given you use the gift on one target each time (turn). It won't be used on Garou in frenzy coz frenzied garou cannot feel fear , except from fox frenzy, though its not exactly fear, more like overwhelming survival instincts.
              The willpower negates the gift for one turn, after that turn it takes over the victim again.
              Staredown + Gift of Skunk = good way to punish naughty cubs .

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Story Letter View Post
                In Revised edition you had to stay focused on the target, in W20 it seems that is not the case, since as written you can use it on more than targets, given you use the gift on one target each time (turn). It won't be used on Garou in frenzy coz frenzied garou cannot feel fear , except from fox frenzy, though its not exactly fear, more like overwhelming survival instincts. The willpower negates the gift for one turn, after that turn it takes over the victim again.
                Staredown + Gift of Skunk = good way to punish naughty cubs .
                So if you use it on Garou in fox frenzy, assuming you can get their attention, it would stop them in their tracks and keep them from continuing to flee?

                On the "gift of skunk," it's funny you say that, because the same character who has "Staredown" also has the "Odious Aroma" Bone-Gnawer gift, and she's a Ragabash. I'll be sure to make the suggestion to her player.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wilson View Post
                  So if you use it on Garou in fox frenzy, assuming you can get their attention, it would stop them in their tracks and keep them from continuing to flee?
                  I don't think it would. They don't have to flee from the gift, but it doesn't mean they aren't still fleeing due to their fox frenzy.

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                  • #10
                    Well, I think the ST should decide what serves the mood. In general the Gift is used to exercise dominance over the person you use the gift against. If the person is in a fox frenzy, fleeing, and you score a meaningful number of successes, I would rule the victim has to submit for a reasonable number of turns. That said, if fear from the gift user is the fox frenzy trigger, the fox frenzy then would continue. If something else triggered the fox frenzy, the victim gains it usually Willpower rolls to check if the frenzy ends, before the gift does.

                    However, if the Rage roll that lead to the fox frenzy scored exceptional many successes, then the gift might not be enough to halt the flight. Other gifts for that very purpose exist.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wilson View Post

                      So if you use it on Garou in fox frenzy, assuming you can get their attention, it would stop them in their tracks and keep them from continuing to flee?


                      No, but if the frenzy ends and the gift is still active the garou will freeze.


                      Originally posted by Wilson View Post
                      On the "gift of skunk," it's funny you say that, because the same character who has "Staredown" also has the "Odious Aroma" Bone-Gnawer gift, and she's a Ragabash. I'll be sure to make the suggestion to her player.

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                      • #12
                        The gift kinda sucks; if someone wanted to use it to prevent a fox-frenzied packmate from running off, I would likely let them (with enough successes). Might as well give Staredown a bit of utility.

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                        • #13
                          Eh, I don't really see the problem with the gift. It costs nothing except for an action, it's extremely easy to succeed with and it has no stated range - for one action, you can send the gunman on top of a building packing or at least severely tax their Willpower. Human average Willpower is 3 and people tend to not run around with full pools, so chances are they'll be able to resist for one or at most two turns before they flee.

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