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Starting Willpower, Starting Gnosis, Starting Rage

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  • #16
    I wouldn't make them distinct at all, instead I think something else should differentiate the Breeds, like I did in another thread about the subject. Same for Willpower, just give everyone the same starting amount, there's no reason for Tribe to affect that.

    And preferably there should be a counterbalancing benefit for low-Rage auspices. As much as Rage is its own drawback, there's still a clear unbalance in giving more of a XP-worth resource to some characters just 'cause, and tasking the ST with RP drawbacks is all around bad design.


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    • #17
      IMO The Curse needs an explicit mechanical aspect, instead of being largely narrative.

      i.e.

      For every point your Rage exceeds a character's Willpower, increase the difficulty of non-Intimidating social checks against them by 1. Garou, Fera, Kinfolk and most Spirits are not effected by The Curse.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
        Same for Willpower, just give everyone the same starting amount, there's no reason for Tribe to affect that.
        Well, I disagree. Sure, the tribe doesn't have a mystical "more strong willed" component. But, the character creation works under the assumption that the character is a cliath, who therefore had some education in the ways of her tribe and passed the Rite of Passage into this particular tribe. So, the assumption is, that this education is somewhat different between the tribes, but not that different between the various septs of the same tribe. So, we can deduce that the tribes with higher starting willpower are, in the eyes of the game designers, on average more likely to trigger a willpower increase in their Cubs' education. Not withstanding individual experiences, but that's what freebies are for....

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        • #19
          Originally posted by heinrich View Post
          Well, I disagree. Sure, the tribe doesn't have a mystical "more strong willed" component. But, the character creation works under the assumption that the character is a cliath, who therefore had some education in the ways of her tribe and passed the Rite of Passage into this particular tribe. So, the assumption is, that this education is somewhat different between the tribes, but not that different between the various septs of the same tribe. So, we can deduce that the tribes with higher starting willpower are, in the eyes of the game designers, on average more likely to trigger a willpower increase in their Cubs' education. Not withstanding individual experiences, but that's what freebies are for....
          We have irreconcilable differences in assumptions here, so I want to explain my point just to be clear.

          1 - I don't think education should have enough of a predictable impact to justify a dot of WP by default instead of by buying with Freebies;

          2 - I don't think the education of cubs is sufficiently thorough across the board for this to make sense, either, except maybe for Metis. Both Homids and Lupus spend their formation years among their kinfolk and mundane humans/wolves;

          3 - From a design perspective I see no reason or benefit in this scheme at all. It brings nothing to the table except make some tribes worth 1 extra Freebie. Unless their Gift pools or something else can demonstrably work as a trade-off, this is just a bad legacy design.

          You don't have to agree and I don't think the difference is big enough to be a huge problem, but I simply can't see a point in this rule.


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          • #20
            Well, in regards to
            1. Why not. We assume that other characteristics, like the Get of Fenris dislike of superficial Contacts in favour or true allies is part of their culture and passed on through education, in the broadest sense. Especially for Stargazers, who started with 5 WP once upon a time, it made sense - in my imagination - for their ultimate goal was balancing themselves, but for most they started their personal journey with discipline, so WP boost made sense. One could formidably argue about why a certain tribe would be granted WP 4 instead of 3, and I might not always see it, but I can entertain the idea, that this is part of their upbringing, leading to... point 2

            2. True, but the kinfolk (if human) might be kenning, in any case they might have a lifestyle akin to their garou cousins, who share more or less their culture. Besides that, even if the bonus point is solely by virtue of their education between First Change and Rite of Passage, that is also fine. There aren't any suitable information bits on how long it would take to raise WP by one dot. For all I know, the first game session produces the 3XP needed for the raise and that might be less then an in-game day. So, where the cub spend the majority of the formative years doesn't really need to have that big an impact on the 3XP / 2 Freebies difference.

            3. Well, the dot in WP brings bonuses in dice probabilities and other game mechanics. Children of Gaia, for example, are more opposed to frenzies then most other tribes. Right after scoring too many successes on a Rage roll, one WP spend avoids the whole affair. Having this extra WP makes it easier for the player to operate as appropriate for the character within the boundaries of the game mechanics.
            Generally, I find it very frustrating, if a given splat is supposed to fill a certain roll or characteristic in the game, and can't, because the game mechanics prohibit it. So, I can totally see, why some character get a boost to WP to help them fulfil their rolls.

            Several years ago, there was an approach to start with 2 or 3 in WP, Gnosis and Rage each, and modify each of those by Breed, Tribe and Auspice. Can't remember if it was more balanced.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
              IMO The Curse needs an explicit mechanical aspect, instead of being largely narrative.

              i.e.

              For every point your Rage exceeds a character's Willpower, increase the difficulty of non-Intimidating social checks against them by 1. Garou, Fera, Kinfolk and most Spirits are not effected by The Curse.
              Um... we already have The Beast Within drawback to Rage that has this basic effect (though it's the your own character's WP, so if you have Rage > WP on your sheet, you can't keep your Rage bottled up to just the narrative issues of the Curse, but it also has direct mechanical impacts). And temporary Rage exceeding permanent Rage counts for this. A normally Rage 3/Willpower 3 character that gains 1 temporary Rage starts to suffer social penalties.

              Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
              1 - I don't think education should have enough of a predictable impact to justify a dot of WP by default instead of by buying with Freebies;
              I would alternatively argue that higher Willpower Cubs are draw to/capable of enduring the stresses of initiation into Tribes in a fashion the statistically skews the average WP of Cliaths higher.

              The four Tribes that start with higher WP are the Bone Gnawers, Children of Gaia, Star Gazers, and Younger Brother.

              The Bone Gnawers stress mental and physical endurance, emotional resilience, and need to be able to put up with a lot of crap being thrown at them without losing it.

              The Children of Gaia, while coming at if from a very different angle, are similar in mindset to the Gnawers here. Their philosophy requires them to be able to "turn the other cheek" when called for, and have the dedication to their cause to not let Rage sway their zeal towards violence when violence isn't the answer.

              The Star Gazers practice an extreme form of ascetic/monastic discipline to shackle and control their Rage so it doesn't control them. Again, it's only appealing to those who already have slightly higher than average self control.

              Younger Brother, is also a Tribe the focuses on being able to persist and endure great stress and hardship in their home area's extremely harsh environments.

              There is a thematic case to be made for some Tribes drawing in higher Willpower Cubs (three of these four are also very open to Cubs born to parents of other Tribes that demonstrate they would be a good fit for these philosophies).

              This approach is good enough for both VtM (the minimum WP rating requirement to join a Path is explained as needing that much mental fortitude to make it through the process and dedicate to an inhuman mindset), and Mage, where the default base WP is rather high by WoD standards due to the mindset necessary for mages to do magic based in Willworking at a competent enough level to be released from their apprenticeships.

              I think these examples from other games do also imply that education can play a role here as well. Vampires being tutored into a Path that don't already have enough Willpower will be toughened up by their mentors before undergoing the steps needed to convert to the Path fully. Initiates of the Arts, which is an old book, but covers playing fresher than core assumptions mages, as them start at 3 instead of 5, meaning mages generally undergo experiences in their education that increase Willpower.

              You can disagree of course, but at a certain point you're fighting how the books treat Willpower as a trait, not just the design oddity of some Tribes getting 3 and some getting 4 with no readily apparent mechanical rational for a mechanical difference.

              2 - I don't think the education of cubs is sufficiently thorough across the board for this to make sense, either, except maybe for Metis. Both Homids and Lupus spend their formation years among their kinfolk and mundane humans/wolves;
              This is something that I would argue against a lot. Default PCs are Cliaths, not Cubs. They have has significant training with their parents, a Den Parent, or some other mentor figure in order to have transitioned from a pre-change, to a Cub, to a Cliath successfully. That's a process that takes time, and is presumed to usually happen in the very formative years of the equivalent of being a teenager. That is, Garou tend to change fairly young by their breed standards, at the equivalent of ~12 for a homid, and then spend a few years learning to Garou enough to become Cliaths during a part of their lives with a lot of major developmental milestones in moving from adolescence to adulthood.

              This is even more true in pre-W20 books where the games assumed that identifying pre-change Garou was relatively easy, and thus children with the strong potential to change could be separated and being training even younger; as opposed to W20 stating this process is harder (which it is by changing the wording of a common Rank 1 Gift that could handle this before) even though a bunch of W20 stuff as copied directly things from Rev. that presumed telling the difference between pre-change and kin was easier (thus must still be a thing capable of being done somehow even if harder than a Rank 1 Gift).

              3 - From a design perspective I see no reason or benefit in this scheme at all. It brings nothing to the table except make some tribes worth 1 extra Freebie. Unless their Gift pools or something else can demonstrably work as a trade-off, this is just a bad legacy design.

              You don't have to agree and I don't think the difference is big enough to be a huge problem, but I simply can't see a point in this rule.
              I think there's a difference between defending having variations between the Tribes, and defending the specific implementation in the RAW.

              I would find "everyone starts with the same Gnosis and Willpower" rather boring since it removes a lot of things that influence varying mentalities in young Garou. Little things like homids being more likely to not have enough Gnosis to avoid harming their pack in a Frenzy compared to lupus is useful for helping get into how these starting points translate into characterization.

              That's why I did a whole big house rule for an entirely different scheme for assigning Rage/Gnosis/Willpower that removes the freebie disparities, but doesn't have everyone starting at the same levels.
              Last edited by Heavy Arms; 01-21-2022, 08:39 AM.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                IMO The Curse needs an explicit mechanical aspect, instead of being largely narrative.
                2nd Edition had a rule. Roll Rage against your own Willpower. In case of a botch something should happen, that significantly hinders or destroys the character standing among humans. This rule should be applied if a character was maintaining a normal human life.

                There has been much debate about this rule, and that a simple dice roll shouldn't destroy hat a player might have had build for his character's background. In my opinion, the idea is, that the ST makes the roll, when preparing a game session that is focused on a downtime segment, and if the roll botches, the ST will trigger a scene where the player has the chance to salvage the situation.

                Being removed from normal human relationships is an aspect of the game. So, if a player wants the character to still aim at it, it should be a struggle...
                Also, I often point out, that his event initiated by that rule doesn't need to be a frenzy, killing everyone the character loves. Even showing having a temper, like spending WP against an Frenzy result on a rage roll, might be something that will keep everyone at distance, if it happened during a PTA meeting, and will make the situation bad for the character and spouse and kids, if any.

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                • #23
                  The 2e rule is called "Family Tragedy." It's a Willpower vs. Rage roll, and the consequences of failure or botching are directly related to a Garou's attempts to have a normal "human" family (so it really just encourages you to have Kinfolk family for the same emotional bonds without the risks). Failure is permanent alienation from that family unit, and botching is that plus whatever happened triggered the Wyrm's agents to find out about it, so they are now poised to interfere. While the botch does lead into scenes, and enforces some thematic tragedy, the rules are still very derailing on a roll that just happens once and awhile instead of being instigated by anything the character did.

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                  • #24
                    Thanks, Heavy Arms, for the clarification.
                    I think it is a matter of perspective, stating the roll happens "once in awhile" is true, but it is not "instead of being instigated by anything the character did". It is instigated by the character maintaining a normal "human" family, for an extended period of time, despite every Galliard and every Elder spreading the word, it is leading to tragedy.
                    Although, it is not only about a normal human family, it is about living a human life: Having friends, a job, a 401(k) plan, stuff like that: living amongst humans.

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                    • #25
                      The thing is it's like "if your character regularly drives a car, at the start of every story, roll Dex + Drive, if you fail you get into a serious accident that destroys your vehicle and your character suffers a ST chosen complication such as problems getting a new car via insurance, injuries, and so on. On a botch, your character is directly responsible for killing someone in the incident and will face legal consequences."

                      Yes, there is a "your character chose to do this," rationale there. It even reflects that car accidents are fairly common. But it's too abstract and too divorced from player agency.

                      And like I said, the 2e rules just mean that making kinfolk your core family unit, and then live in a kin community is what the Garou should do. It's not like the Kinfolk background is expensive. The game doesn't do much to make it hard to have a small town of hundreds of kinfolk for the Garou to have "normal" lives with.

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                      • #26
                        Starting at Rage 1 for Ragabash and just adding on is kind of weird and very gamist, when you get right down to it. You could easily just have Ragabash to Philodox start with Rage 3 and then move on as normal and not really lose much, I'd imagine. Most of the Rage-determining splats in Fera tend to have this kind of baseline as of W20, it seems, though I could just be misremembering while firing from the hip.

                        Lupus would probably have been better served with a carrot rather than a stick, with special and unique ways of using PU instead of restricted abilities. This, too, probably holds even stronger with W20, since wolf-born gained sudden lightning leaps of comprehension to learn a human language; you can just expand it.

                        Edit: The Curse might well be unnecessary, between all of the other problems that having Rage and being Garou poses. The Beast Within covers freaking people out, Losing the Wolf is a potential massive blow to a character in a war drama about combat shapeshifters, and unlike vampires, werewolves suffer scars from their battles, grow old, and eventually die.
                        Last edited by Saur Ops Specialist; 01-21-2022, 10:03 PM.

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                        • #27
                          Heavy Arms you are right. It is like that. But how else would you handle it. I mean, you could leave it totally to the ST when and the Curse strikes, but is that really better?

                          I think, there is a lot of rules for turn-based RPG (aka combat/action) and scene-based RPG (mostly everything else) but next to nothing on Downtime Play. I imagine, games which span a log time, like Transylvania Chronicles or something like that might have systems for that, but I never read or played them.
                          Pathfinder 1st Edition had rules for that, bringing somewhat into focus, that PCs could venture into a dungeon at 1st level and return a week later at 7th level within the game mechanics, but that it doesn't make sense within the game world.

                          Like I mentioned, there aren't really time spans given for stat improvement, but there is a short paragraph about Downtime play. I see the "Family Tragedy" Rule as a tool for the ST on how to handle Downtime events.Meaning, when to trigger a scene, due to things that happen in the Downtime.

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                          • #28
                            That's sort of the core of it though. It's a "downtime action" in a system without a downtime system. That's why it's so disliked. In the downtime between stories your character may or may not shit their pants which you can only avoid by not wearing pants (if you want to engage with the themes of alienation from human society, you need to give reasons for Garou to interact with it, aka wear pants). Without a downtime system where players can do things that will impact the risks of Rage on their character's lives and make Family Tragedy feel an organic part of their story, the rule causes negative experiences.

                            Vampire has done rules for extended periods of time between sessions/scenes (esp. in the Dark Ages books) but those are meant for way more than "it's a month later," sorts of things.

                            And in the end, whether or not the point of the rule is to be a tool for the ST, it's still a rule lots of players hate. If the players don't want to be subject to random "do the dice screw you over" rolls between stories, they're not going to care if the ST wanted some scene prompts for stuff to do in the transition between stories that isn't just the ST throwing stuff at players.

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                            • #29
                              If the ST rolls while preparing for a game session, the players never need to know

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                              • #30
                                IME, players don't want to find out that their PC got pissed off because their kid spilled hot soup in their lap, and then their PC punched their own child, got kicked out of their home, and is dealing with the government taking custody away from them. It doesn't matter if it's rolled or the ST just decides to make it happen. Players interact with the game through their characters. That's their input for the game world. Whatever the tool used, if it involves the ST taking that control away to force decisions on the player, it tends to go down very poorly.

                                There's a reason even things like Frenzy have moved away from "the ST takes your character for a ride," to, "you role-play the Frenzy, but the ST can veto actions if they feel out of line."

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