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How do Beats work between game lines?

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  • How do Beats work between game lines?

    I looked at Promethean, Demon, and Mage and they all have different sections, wording, and restrictions on getting Beats. What I'm wondering isn't so much how to deal with separate rule sets (I generally just find a solution within the conflicting rules that works with everyone in my group and move on) but if there is actually something to the differing rules themselves. Is it stealth errata as new books come out? Are different game lines supposed to get beats differently, even in the same game?

    I assume that different developers/writers just had slightly different ways they wanted to write it, either through oversight or intentionally. I just usually play a lot of cross-splat games and was wondering if there was any official, or even semi-official reasoning or answer to the differences.

  • #2
    Perhaps you could give us some examples of differing rules? I can't remember reading different rules in different books, but that's probably me being unobservant.


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    • #3
      Some splats have access to a special type of beats and experiences, earned under special circumstances, like mages' arcane experiences and Prometheans' vitriol. Some splats have extra situations under which they earn normal beats, like how the onset of Torment gives Prometheans a beat.

      But as for the core criteria for earning beats – resolving Conditions, satisfying Aspirations, suffering grievous lethal damage, pushing to dramatic failure and so on – the wording occasionally varies and goes into more or less detail, but I'm not aware that these are intended to separate the games. Like, when Mage and Demon stop to specify that you only get a beat for resolving a Condition once per scene, and the Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook doesn't, I don't believe that's a statement that ordinary humans can learn more quickly from short bursts of complicated adversity than sorcerers or fallen angels. It's just some books providing more specific guidelines.

      The one exception that occurs to me is beats for experiencing breaking points, which I'd take on a case-by-case basis for different Integrity traits. Vampires get beats for facing detachment from Humanity, but as far as I'm aware, werewolves don't get any when their Harmony wavers, and demons don't get any for risking the compromise of their Cover.

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      • #4
        Sure thing. Here's some Mage and Promethean differences (don't have the Demon book on me).

        In Mage the Beats section has little table of categories for getting Beats. Resolve or make headway with an Aspiration, end of game session, resolving a Condition, opting for a dramatic failure, and any major event that the storytell thinks is appropriately dramatic. Then it says you can only get one Beat from each category once a scene. Unless the storyteller finds it really dramatic, then you can get more.
        The Aspirations section specifically mentions replacing them after the scene is over, and also replacing unfulfilled ones when the game session ends. The Conditions section also says that the Beat section of a particular condition triggers only once per chapter.

        In Promethean the Beats section has a little table too, but it's different. It says you get the Beat at the end of the session and choose another Aspiration. The only one it says is limited to once per scene is turning a failed roll into a dramatic failure. It also says taking lethal damage in the 3 rightmost health boxes grants a Beat, which the Mage book doesn't. Then it has a little note for awarding Beats to all the characters if more than one is involved (although I think I saw something similar somewhere in Mage).
        The Aspirations section says you get a Beat for completing Aspirations. It doesn't say anything about making progress. The Conditions section says when you resolve Conditions take a beat. It also says you can get a Beat once per game session when a persistent condition impacts her life, which differs from Mage in that it's once per game session, instead of once per Condition per game session.

        The books are big, and do tend to reiterate their points across different chapters, so it's possible I missed something, but those do seem to me like some big differences.

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        • #5
          Yeah, werewolves don't get any beats for breaking points because they go up and down like a seesaw.

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          • #6
            I wasn't even meaning specific splat criteria like Torment triggers, or differences between vitriol and arcane beats. But yeah, you're right, those are definitely different.

            I would accept the different games just being more or less specific for the most part, and just add all the different guidelines together, but some contradict each other. Like Promethean and Mage in regards to Aspirations.

            And again, it's not a big issue, it's just one of those questions that had me thinking if one of them was supposed to be "more" correct.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Elfive View Post
              Yeah, werewolves don't get any beats for breaking points because they go up and down like a seesaw.
              I'd rather keep the Beat per exceptional success on the Siskur-Dah anyway.

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              • #8
                So, I'm pretty sure the things that are supposed to be universally true are:
                • Beat for Resolving a Condition
                • Beat for satisfying the Beat criteria of a Persistent Condition
                • Beat for fulfilling an Aspiration
                • Beat for making progress towards a long-term Aspiration (this one is often not explicitly stated but is, I think, intended to be universal)
                • Beat for voluntarily taking a Dramatic Failure instead of a regular Failure
                • Beat for experiencing a Breaking Point (this one is somewhat controversial. Some developers have said this was intended to be a universal Beat criteria that got left out of the core book by mistake, while others have said it's intended to be case-by-case for different splats. In any case, werewolves should be an exception because of the specific nature of their Integrity stat)
                • Beat for taking damage in one of the three rightmost health boxes (not always explicitly stated, but intended to be universal)
                • Beat at the end of each game session
                In general, the Storyteller is always able to award additional Beats for any reason if they feel it is appropriate.

                There have been a few variations throughout the books on how often these things count for Beats, and there's really no official answer for which are right. Personally, I use the limits from God-Machine Chronicle, since it was the first book published using the revised rules. It says you can only get a Beat for taking a Dramatic Failure once per Scene, you replace fulfilled Aspirations between game sessions, and you only get one Beat from a Condition per Scene. It also mentions the thing about awarding a Beat to each character involved in a Beat-worthy display of roleplaying/tactics/character development.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                  In general, the Storyteller is always able to award additional Beats for any reason if they feel it is appropriate.
                  We have a rule of cool beat in my current game. Whenever we do something suitably badass, dope, etc, ST chalks you up a beat. Example: I just finished mowing down 5 NPCs with machine gun fire from their own fortified position, cue rest of the combat, Kuruth and cannibalism, 50+ dead on the other side, plus all the hostages. Main antagonist asks my PC "what did you felt after killing so many?" My character shrugged "Recoil."

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                  • #10
                    I don't know how much I like that rule (although I certainly don't dislike it).

                    What I do know is how much I love that one-liner. Awesome.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Akaru View Post
                      Sure thing. Here's some Mage and Promethean differences (don't have the Demon book on me).
                      Welp, there's part of the problem right there. Mage, because of how the rules work, actually change how a number of rules work to make the game run smoother. You'll notice a number of core rules in Mage that are different from other games. Take spirits, for instance. The Blast Numina is subtly different depending if you read Mage, or if you read Core Wod/Werewolf/Promethean, etc Mage is the only supernatural game that specifically says they get willpower from sleep. And so on.

                      I could go on, but Mage has a number of tiny little wording difference throughout the game that have been tweaked, while other books tend to be more consistant in their wordage.

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                      • #12
                        I like Charlaquin list, but have one nit pick...

                        Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                        [*]Beat for experiencing a Breaking Point (this one is somewhat controversial. Some developers have said this was intended to be a universal Beat criteria that got left out of the core book by mistake, while others have said it's intended to be case-by-case for different splats. In any case, werewolves should be an exception because of the specific nature of their Integrity stat)
                        I run till this day with Uratha getting 1 Beat per each Breaking Point per scene. As my players made up to one Breaking Point roll per session - they move up and down on Harmony - it looks as just a 'werewolf getting extra XP' a bit, nothing more. Compared to how mages hoard from Obsessions or Created can get from fulfilling Milestones in one game session - it's really nothing big for giving a Beat for wolves per Breaking Point on Harmony. This and for doing Siskur-Dah Conditions fulfilled.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                          I like Charlaquin list, but have one nit pick...

                          I run till this day with Uratha getting 1 Beat per each Breaking Point per scene. As my players made up to one Breaking Point roll per session - they move up and down on Harmony - it looks as just a 'werewolf getting extra XP' a bit, nothing more. Compared to how mages hoard from Obsessions or Created can get from fulfilling Milestones in one game session - it's really nothing big for giving a Beat for wolves per Breaking Point on Harmony. This and for doing Siskur-Dah Conditions fulfilled.
                          Eh, my long term aspiration is "Balance my Harmony" so every time I breaking point in the right direction, I get a beat.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Malus View Post
                            Eh, my long term aspiration is "Balance my Harmony" so every time I breaking point in the right direction, I get a beat.
                            Exactly - Harmony Breaking Points are 'dramatic and intense scenes' from the start - the thing that ST would award them from the 'free pool' he gives players on his whim. Each Oaths of Moon breaking is possible repercussion from Uratha society at large, if not spirits or Lunes ire. You eat humans? Breaking the Oaths of Moon, Harmony hit. Uncovering your 'werewolfness' to humans? Breaking the Oaths of Moon. Hunting spirits? Showing your 'otherworldliness' as half-spirit being. At least half of Harmony Breaking Points are major scenes in characters lives, so should be Beats.


                            My stuff for Realms of Pugmire, Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E, MtC 2E & BtP
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