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Integrity, revisited

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  • Integrity, revisited

    OK: so your character's Aspirations are his hopes, and his Breaking Points are his fears. Integrity serves as a sort of psychological “damage bar” that tracks your ability to cope with the world around you. Am I right so far?

    Breaking Points fall into three categories: violations of an ethical code, exposure to something traumatic, or exposure to something supernatural. You get five of them to start, each defined by a question: what is the worst thing your character has ever done, what is the worst thing your character can imagine himself doing, what is the worst thing your character can imagine someone else doing, what is the most traumatic thing that has happened to your character, and what (supernatural encounter) has your character forgotten? The first three define Breaking Points of the ethical dilemma variety; the fourth defines an “exposure to trauma” Breaking Point; and the fifth defines an “exposure to the supernatural” Breaking Point.

    My first question is: how do you determine Breaking Points from these questions? Some examples would be great. In particular, to what extent do these questions define what isn't a Breaking Point? Does “I have encountered and forgotten an Intrusion from the Abyss” immunize you from suffering a Breaking Point when you witness a vampire? Does seeing a mass shooting immunize you from suffering a Breaking Point upon seeing a dead body? Does having robbed a bank immunize you from suffering a Breaking Point for shoplifting? If not, what does it do?

    Second question: what are the effects of losing Integrity, other than a number on the character sheet decreasing by one? I'm not talking about the temporary Conditions that you acquire (they're temporary, and you usually get them even when you don't loose Integrity); if lost Integrity represents psychological damage, how does it manifest?



  • #2
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    My first question is: how do you determine Breaking Points from these questions? Some examples would be great. In particular, to what extent do these questions define what isn't a Breaking Point? Does “I have encountered and forgotten an Intrusion from the Abyss” immunize you from suffering a Breaking Point when you witness a vampire? Does seeing a mass shooting immunize you from suffering a Breaking Point upon seeing a dead body? Does having robbed a bank immunize you from suffering a Breaking Point for shoplifting? If not, what does it do?
    To be frank: The same way Cover's five questions define a Demon character's compromises, and sort of the reverse of the way Satiety's five questions define how a Beast character feeds, i.e. they provide a starting point to the Storyteller for the types of things you are interested in using as a basis for testing, threatening, or otherwise imperiling the trait, but do not comprise an exhaustive list of vulnerabilities.

    Mage and Hunter both address the limits of normal Integrity in different ways, but the general impression is that direct encounters with the supernatural are outside of the typical mortal understanding of the world and most people try to put them out of their mind after the fact; Hunter Integrity builds explicit desensitization mechanisms into its baseline set, and Mage introduces a universal class of breaking point that only goes away for characters with supernatural powers, but otherwise the the default assumption seems to be that if you're a monster with a moderately-informed mortal confidant that you don't want to break, you try not to do anything too surprising to them or around them too often.

    They're explicitly there to give the Storyteller a better idea of the character's outlook to make it easier to adjudicate whether a given experience is a breaking point for them, which usually doesn't translate to immunity to trauma from everything that wasn't one of the answers.

    Second question: what are the effects of losing Integrity, other than a number on the character sheet decreasing by one? I'm not talking about the temporary Conditions that you acquire (they're temporary, and you usually get them even when you don't loose Integrity); if lost Integrity represents psychological damage, how does it manifest?
    The most consistent effect is the increased susceptibility to the aforesaid Conditions and loss of further Integrity, which may or may not lead the character's player to play them towards a more comfortable environment.


    Resident Lore-Hound
    Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
      Second question: what are the effects of losing Integrity, other than a number on the character sheet decreasing by one? I'm not talking about the temporary Conditions that you acquire (they're temporary, and you usually get them even when you don't loose Integrity); if lost Integrity represents psychological damage, how does it manifest?
      The conditions are more or less the same for everything but Dramatic Failures. Decreasing Integrity makes it more probable that you'll be dropped to a chance die on future Integrity rolls and start getting Broken, Fugue or Madness. Plus, with Madness specifically, the condition gets worse as Integrity drops. I think that's the idea at least.


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      • #4
        Abjuration is tied to Integrity. An abjurer has an Integrity - 7 modifier to all abjuration rolls.


        Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology

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        • #5
          I've been wondering this myself and have been considering instigating permanent conditions that are a little lighter than madness and the like.

          Nothing to report beyond the desire though.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mateus View Post
            I've been wondering this myself and have been considering instigating permanent conditions that are a little lighter than madness and the like.
            You could make the basic conditions function like the permanent Dramatic Failure conditions.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
              OK: so your character's Aspirations are his hopes, and his Breaking Points are his fears. Integrity serves as a sort of psychological “damage bar” that tracks your ability to cope with the world around you. Am I right so far?
              This feels like a very narrow reading of things, though I can't say it impacts the rest of the post much, I think it deserves some attention.

              1) Aspirations are not strictly in-character things. They're story goals the player has in mind for the character. They're usually also the character's goals, but they don't have to be things the character is conscious/aware of coming their way. They're also not 'opposed' by Breaking Points the way calling one "hopes" and the other "fears" might suggest. A character could have an Aspiration on their sheet that is very likely to challenge their Integrity with a Breaking Point (or multiple esp. for a longer term Aspiration), because the player might have specifically chose something likely to be a test of their character's mental fortitude.

              2) Breaking Points are moments of potential mental trauma with the check being how your character copes with that stress. The Breaking Points you build up during character creation aren't just listing stuff your character is afraid of, but rather traumas they've encountered in the past that have shaped their current self-image. A solider that's come home from war isn't necessarily carrying around a lot of fears from their time in combat... but they're probably carrying around a lot of mental trauma. Whether diagnosed with PTSD or not, the return to civilian life and unresolved issues can easily create a bunch of Breaking Points that have nothing to do with things the character fears, but rather things that overload their ability to cope.

              3) This is the closest to accurate of the three. Your ability to cope is really your Resolve + Composure dice pool. Integrity helps/hurts that pool depending where it's at. As you note, it's something of a damage bar. It's a measure of how well coping is going for you, not your ability to do so. If you look at a character's Health track after a fight without knowing what happened in the first place, the amount of damage there doesn't really tell you what happened, just how bad the character's got messed up (or not). Likewise if you see a character is down to Integrity 3, you don't know what happened to them, just that their didn't come out of it unscathed.

              You get five of them to start...
              You have at least five specialized ones for your character at start. If the player/ST feel that the answers justify more than five, you can have as many as you want. As well, they are explicitly not an exhaustive list. As noted by Satchel, it's a guide for the ST to better understand the character as the player intends them.

              My first question is: how do you determine Breaking Points from these questions?
              CW: references to child abuse

              I'll just use myself here as an example of what's the "worst" thing I've ever done in the context of what the game is going for. Between the ages of 8 and 9 (my 9th birthday was the tipping point) one of my teachers was grooming for sexual activity, and actually did something on my 9th birthday. I consider myself very lucky because that in and of itself didn't really mess me up that bad. What still hurts decades later? Remembering when I told my parents. Seeing the pain in their eyes when I told them what happened, their guilt over failing to protect me, made me feel like I was stabbing them in the gut and twisting the knife around. Intellectually I know that what I did then was good, and that objectively I've done so many worse things than that, but nothing at all has stuck with me like that moment. Decades of bad decisions came from doing my best to never be in a position where my personal pains could hurt someone I loved like that again.

              And thus, we get the Breaking Point. Not the obvious on that the content warning starts with, but the more personal one: Making my loved ones feel guilt because of my actions. If I was a PC in the CofD, any time someone looked at me with that feeling of if only they had done more, or realized earlier, or whatever, break out the Integrity rules.


              In particular, to what extent do these questions define what isn't a Breaking Point?
              They generally don't. That's supposed to come more from character concept than not. The questions help flush out the character concept, which means helping the ST and players thinking about what might not count for their character.

              There's no guaranteed system way to immunize a character from Integrity Breaking points like you can for vampires by taking on a Bane, or just keeping your Humanity below a certain point.

              A homicide detective with 20 years on the force, or an exorcist that's preformed dozens of rituals, might be inured from some things that other characters wouldn't, but that doesn't mean a particular incident can't press their buttons and result in Breaking Points.

              For a pop-culture example, if we consider Morgan Freeman's character in the movie Se7en, while he seems to be a high Integrity cops that's see it all and hasn't been emotionally harmed by it for ages, it's clear over time that it's the exact opposite. His Integrity has been slowly spiraling down for years, he knows he needs to get away from this because he's holding onto it by a string, and he's doing everything he can to emotionally seal himself off from people around him so he doesn't finally topple over the edge.

              Second question: what are the effects of losing Integrity, other than a number on the character sheet decreasing by one? I'm not talking about the temporary Conditions that you acquire (they're temporary, and you usually get them even when you don't loose Integrity); if lost Integrity represents psychological damage, how does it manifest?
              Your Integrity rating provides a -2 to +2 modifier to Breaking point rolls depending on rating; increasing the odds of Persistent Conditions to come up.

              Integrity and Breaking points influence how well you can use Hard Leverage to remove Doors before rolling to Force Doors.

              The Integrity rating of a human sacrificed to an Angel determines how much Essence the Angel gets from it.

              A character under the Possessed Condition might have moments of lucidity away from the possessing entity's control if an action the entity takes would result in the host losing Integrity.

              Abjuration (as previously noted), Warding, and Binding are all modified by your Integrity rating.

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              • #8
                On the Aspiration front, I once had a character with the Aspiration "irreparably damage her leg." She was a proud parkourist and losing her leg was basically one of those "still living but quite dead" things.

                Suffice it to say Aspirations are not always positive things.


                Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

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                • #9
                  So, first, this old thing:

                  Originally posted by Errol216 View Post
                  I think of the "morality" stats as subjective stats. This is me appropriating a term from the Dramatica system, which is a theory about narrative structure rather than an RP thingy. In Dramatica, there's an objective story (let's go find the MacGuffin!) and a subjective story (this is my journey of self-discovery). The objective stat is arguably the power stat: you gain power and become more capable of punching through the plot-provided obstacles to the end of the story; as your power stat increases, you're faced with bigger and badder antagonists until you can face down the biggest bads of your chronicle. The subjective stat is the "morality" stat; it tells the story of your internal struggle with yourself, who you are, why you are, what you believe, and so on. If you have a True Friend or a nemesis, or friends and family, it covers how you relate with them, how you grow through your interactions with them, what the consequences of what you are are upon them.

                  For a mortal, that subjective story is about your psychological Integrity in the face of a worldview that's losing coherence and lets you see the supernatural behind it. System-wise, it's milestoned by Breaking Points, which are personally significant moments that make-or-break your Integrity and decide why you lose some, or how you keep it together. Breaking Points are opportunities for you to focus on character development in terms of that personal story (rather than the traditional RPG development of skill-gain): the extent to which the stat moves in your game (either up or down) is basically the extent to which your character progresses on the default narrative provided by the game. You can buy a dot of Integrity for 2 Experiences, which translates to 10 Beats, which come from session progress, exceptional successes, dramatic failures, condition resolutions, and so on, so you can actually move up and down the scale quite a bit if you choose to focus everything on it. (That gets a little... narcissistic, though, and probably doesn't advance the objective story's plot very much.)

                  You can also completely ignore the Integrity stat and focus entirely on the objective story plot. Minimize the number of Breaking Points that are thrown at you and spend all your Experiences at skills and merits and attributes. Or choose to drive a personal story plot that isn't related to the default one, such that Breaking Points are much less relevant to your character. But the subjective stat provides some mechanics for you to use for a default personal story.
                  As noted by others, Aspirations and Breaking Points are both codified ways of giving the ST some quick bullet points on what direction the chronicle should take. Aspirations are general ways of doing this: you'll just get a hit of experience from fulfilling them. Werewolves might take a Pack Aspiration to demonstrate their closeness; Mages have an Obsession to demonstrate their drive. Breaking Points are milestones along a structured story. Integrity is the story of engaging with the supernatural and being fucked up by it. Humanity is the story of losing your connection to what made you human. Harmony is the story of balancing two different responsibilities in a finite amount of time. Wisdom is the story of losing sight of the consequences of your actions. And so on and so on. I'm implying that there's only one possible story, too, which isn't true, but I've already rambled on long enough, y'know?

                  Suffice to say, they don't replace just flat-out talking with your ST, but they make for a useful outline around which scenes and chapters can be structured. To answer your second question more directly, it depends on the exact reason you lost Integrity. Maybe it complicates the setting by inspiring a small cult. Maybe you take a -1 on any positive Social rolls. Maybe you can't make Mental rolls if your ex is perceivable by you. Or just take a Dramatic Failure every so often when it seems relevant.

                  There are options. Honestly, I could see someone writing a book specifically about How to be a StoryTeller going over this kind of thing in more thorough detail than I could.


                  I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
                  An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
                  Guanxi Explanations: 1, 2, 3.

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