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Is Vitae Addiction a Joke?

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  • Is Vitae Addiction a Joke?

    Either my players have the most insane luck, or I'm misunderstanding the rules, or I'm going too easy on my players, or vitae addiction in Vampire The Requiem 2e is a joke?

    Let me start from the beginning:


    We started our campaign with the players being humans, becoming ghouls and eventually becoming vampires. Most of the players, trying to avoid addiction, were super careful with drinking vampire vitae, only drinking it when absolutely necessary. However, one player was a lot less careful and consumed vitae on a regular basis. In the end, all players got addicted, but then 2 of my players beat their addiction almost immediately, and the player who was taking vitae on the regular managed to go without being addicted for a long time before she eventually succumbed.

    To start with the player who consumed vitae on the regular: Her composure + resolve dice pool is 6, upping it to 8 by spending a Willpower to boost a resistance stat. This means she could roll 7 dice to resist addiction after her first point of vitae consumed, 6 dice after her second drink, 5 after her third, etc. She always got a success on her rolls to resist addiction, all the way up to the point she had to roll a chance die. Then, and only then did she fail her roll and get addicted. At this time she already consumed 8 vitae in total, over the course of 5 drinks. She then immediately resolved her addiction the next session when she managed to go up a rank in Integrity by fulfilling a heroic deed she had been working on for a while now.

    Then another player got addicted immediately when he got turned into a ghoul, but he too immediately resolved his addiction the next session by getting an exceptional success on a Breaking Point roll.


    Isn't vitae supposed to be the most addictive drug in the world, making even heroin look like a joke in comparison? That's what the lore says, but the mechanics certainly don't seem to back that up. At this point, vitae addiction looks like a joke to me, no worse than being addicted to smoking cigarettes or something mundane like that.


    So, am I doing something wrong here? Am I missing something? Or am I right and is vitae addiction really not that big of a deal in 2e?
    Last edited by Ventrue Life; 03-25-2018, 06:01 PM. Reason: Correcting a typo.

  • #2
    Nah, addiction rules over-all ain't really that close to the real deal at all.

    I you want vitae more addicting, you should probably just house-rule it. I know I have for a few chronicles, but can't remember the exact rules we used.

    But maybe spend willpower to be allowed to roll to resist addiction, or just slap on the condition after the first drink, give a larger penalty on the deprived or just remove the resolution mechanic or make it into a year without relapse.

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    • #3
      Vampires getting addicted to vitae always struck me as odd. Can't they just suck their own vein to get their fix?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Malus View Post
        Vampires getting addicted to vitae always struck me as odd. Can't they just suck their own vein to get their fix?

        Well, one could argue that since you aren't gaining any new vitae by sucking your own wrist, you also aren't being subjected to the addicting properties of vampire vitae. Or perhaps every vampire is automatically immune to his/her own vitae when it comes to addiction and blood bonds, perhaps it's a genetic thing. Or maybe it's even magic. After all, there is enough weird magical stuff going on with vampires and their vitae anyway.

        Regardless, it's not really relevant for my situation, as my players are ghouls, soon-to-be vampires, but currently still ghouls.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ventrue Life View Post
          Isn't vitae supposed to be the most addictive drug in the world, making even heroin look like a joke in comparison? That's what the lore says, but the mechanics certainly don't seem to back that up. At this point, vitae addiction looks like a joke to me, no worse than being addicted to smoking cigarettes or something mundane like that.
          As you've described it, one character has overcome it through 8 expenditures of Willpower and 2 Experiences. The other had a mind-blowing experience and came out of it renewed.

          So, am I doing something wrong here? Am I missing something? Or am I right and is vitae addiction really not that big of a deal in 2e?
          These two things are pretty momentous occasions in a person's life, it's not every day you face a Breaking Point, or strengthen your psychological Integrity. So you might be underestimating the impact these things are meant to have on people, especially someone who's spending Willpower repeatedly. That's a concentrated, powerful effort on their behalf.

          That said, if you treat it just like cigarettes, you shouldn't expect it to be worse. The problem with Vitae addiction is that the primary sources of Vitae in the universe are selfish, greedy, and predatory. You haven't described what's going on in your game but it sounds like they just go to a vampire to refill like a cup at a fast food restaurant, when a vampire would more likely be pressing them to get addicted, which should in turn get them blood bonded, making them more amenable to a vampire's further attempts to keep them addicted. 'My last doll couldn't take it anymore. I need you to dispose of the body. And bring me a new one. Someone who won't be missed.'

          It's fine if you happen to have a 'nice vampire' or whatever, but if you're going to excise that part of the game, but if you excise the more dreadful parts of the experience you're going to get a lessened impact on the rest.

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          • #6
            Also, WP should've given them +3 on a dice roll; the +2 to resistance is for when those traits are subtracted by another pool, such as say, Withstand ratings.

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            • #7
              In short, of course it looks like a joke when you look only at a few lucky circumstances and its numbers, without every other context. Almost everything looks like a joke that way. (Then again, we’re talking about a TRPG, so that’s to be expected.)


              MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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              • #8
                Originally posted by nofather View Post

                As you've described it, one character has overcome it through 8 expenditures of Willpower and 2 Experiences. The other had a mind-blowing experience and came out of it renewed.



                These two things are pretty momentous occasions in a person's life, it's not every day you face a Breaking Point, or strengthen your psychological Integrity. So you might be underestimating the impact these things are meant to have on people, especially someone who's spending Willpower repeatedly. That's a concentrated, powerful effort on their behalf.

                That said, if you treat it just like cigarettes, you shouldn't expect it to be worse. The problem with Vitae addiction is that the primary sources of Vitae in the universe are selfish, greedy, and predatory. You haven't described what's going on in your game but it sounds like they just go to a vampire to refill like a cup at a fast food restaurant, when a vampire would more likely be pressing them to get addicted, which should in turn get them blood bonded, making them more amenable to a vampire's further attempts to keep them addicted. 'My last doll couldn't take it anymore. I need you to dispose of the body. And bring me a new one. Someone who won't be missed.'

                It's fine if you happen to have a 'nice vampire' or whatever, but if you're going to excise that part of the game, but if you excise the more dreadful parts of the experience you're going to get a lessened impact on the rest.

                You make some solid points, but I also think you got the wrong idea of what this campaign is like. So let me elaborate a little. Prepare for a somewhat lengthy recap of the campaign so far. I'll ask you a couple of question at the end of it:


                The campaign started during the Autumn of 1888, London, England, after the 2nd canonical victim of Jack The Ripper (although at the time it was believed to be the 3rd victim because it was the 3rd murder in Whitechapel within a short period of time). The party is a group of civilians who decided to take matters into own hands in trying to find the Ripper. They are with 4 people, a coroner who did the autopsies on the Ripper's victims, a Whitechapel prostitude who knew the victims, a Metropolitan Police constable of the Special Irish branch and a German immigrant who's father is one of the suspects.

                In their search of clues they stumbled upon the All-Night Society. They learned that vampires are real. They learned vampire hunters are real too. Both Kindred and Hunters were also looking into the Ripper murders for their own reasons. The Kindred because they believed one of their own could the Ripper, and the Hunters because they also believed the Ripper to be a rogue Hunter.

                The players got pretty close to solving the Ripper murder case, but the vampires caught on to them. They decided the players shouldn't be allowed to go freely, because they knew too much, but they also didn't want to murder them because they have been pretty useful so far. The head of the Invictus wanted the players to get embraced immediately, but a couple of other vampires convinced the Invictus that the 'embrace' would disrupt the player's investigation, and opted to turn them into ghouls instead, at least for now.

                See, the reason why these vampires even argued this, is because these vampires already turned 2 of the 4 players into ghouls. The prostitute (named Sarah) got ghouled by a Daeva called Madame Griffith, a brothel manager who fell in love with Sarah (well, in so-far as Daeva are able to experience "love", but to put it in game terms, Sarah was the Madame's touchstone). The coroner (named Calvin) got roped in by a strange Mekhet girl named Anna-Louisa from the Ordo Dracul who had a strange obsession with him much in the same way a porn addict is obsessed with porn. She's basically a mad scientist and a stalker.

                Of course, both of these "relationships" are incredibly unhealthy and lots of drama ensued which I won't all lay out here because it's not entirely relevant, but you can believe me when I say we all had lots of fun with it as players and storytellers.
                Both of these player characters also became completely obsessed with their new regnants. Sarah was in a stage 3 blood bond with the Madame. Calvin was already in love with Anna-Louisa before he even got bonded to her. These are also the 2 players who first succumbed to vitae addiction and then also immediately resolved the addiction literally the next session.

                Sarah the prostitute was the character who rolled for vitae addiction 5 times and got successes on all rolls except for the last one, after which she became addicted. However, the next session, also literally the next day in-universe, she finally managed to establish contact again with her long lost father who disappeared 2 years ago and is now locked up in the Bedlam Mental Hospital (read: insane asylum) in Lambeth. Her father is suffering from severe shellshock (PTSD) and Sarah is now trying to be a good daughter, hoping this would help him. This, including her good behavior and acting in tune with her Virtue, made her go from Integrity 6 to Integrity 7, effectively breaking the vitae addiction literally the day after she succumbed to it (because her finally failing her vitae addiction roll happened the night before she went up a rank in Integrity).

                Calvin basically got addicted to Anna-Louisa the moment she turned him into her ghoul. Shortly after (the next session), he learned that she already prepared a coffin for him. Not only that, he learned that she plans to embrace him by murdering him, making it look like a suicide, only to raise him from his grave after his funeral. This I felt was a good enough reason to make him roll for Integrity/Breaking Point, but I didn't give him any penalties on that roll. He lucked out, got 5 successes, and thus, according to the rules, immediately got rid of his vitae addiction the session after he got turned into a ghoul.

                Now, for the regnants. Madame Griffith has basically been handing out vitae to Sarah like candy, for 2 reasons: 1) she wants Sarah to be completely hooked and 2) she is quite the messed up pervert and likes to swap blood when she's having sex with Sarah. Anna-Louisa has actually been much more careful with her vitae. She only fed Calvin once and that was when she decided to turn him into a ghoul. Despite her being an obsessed crazy scientist girl, she actually wants Calvin to keep his "free will", because in her words; "I want him to love me by his own choosing, not because of my blood".


                Now for my questions:

                1) Do you think the vampires in my setting are acting too nice? I was planning to reveal more of their ugly monstrous side when the players become actual vampires, slowly but surely making clear that these vampires are not like the ones in the novels. But perhaps I should have done so earlier?

                2) Should I have forced the embrace on them the moment the vampires found out that the players knew waaaaaaaay too much about them?

                3) Perhaps I should have given the players less clues about the supernatural, even though they were investigating a case that involves the supernatural? I tried to keep them in the dark as long as I could, but their choices, good dice rolls and my eagerness for over the top drama basically blew off the lid a bit sooner than I anticipated. Could you give me any tips on this?

                4) The most important question: What could or should I have done differently with regards to the ghouling and the vitae addiction? What should or could I have done to make the addiction properly scary and anxious without making it feel like I'm cheating the system or taking away agency from my players?
                Last edited by Ventrue Life; 03-25-2018, 07:55 PM.

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                • #9
                  The difficulty sounds like a clash between mechanics and in-world coherency. How could one become hooked on crack and get over it the next day?

                  My suggestion: They don't.

                  The mechanics and in-world coherency need not line up perfectly every time, or rather, there is no one-to-one relationship. The mechanics can be realized in different ways. What ways then might the mechanics be realized?
                  The binary state of addiction according to the mechanics stands in for a spectrum in game. Basically, both characters were on the cusp of habitual behavior change. However, one was scared straight while the other has a reason to shape up. Mechanically, they won't suffer from compulsion but you should make it clear to your players that you will incorporate pangs and urges, things that might have taken hold had their new perspective not risen their awareness. They may still slip. They can acquire the condition again with just one unlucky roll. In-world, that isn't an on-again-off-again relationship with addiction, it is a good week and a bad week. In-world, if you consume blood 20 times in the past month, you are an addict to others. Condition or not.

                  Alternatively, the binary state of addition does map to the in-world on a one-to-one basis and the PC's got lucky that before the powerful urges could really drive their behavior. The big shift in their lives was sufficient to break a downward spiral at the start. This is fine: no rule says one has to hit rock bottom.

                  I prefer a loose mapping, but strictly mapping and playing it straight is fine too and in line with other posters.
                  Last edited by Tabanese; 03-25-2018, 09:37 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
                    The difficulty sounds like a clash between mechanics and in-world coherency. How could one become hooked on crack and get over it the next day?

                    My suggestion: They don't.

                    The mechanics and in-world coherency need not line up perfectly every time, or rather, there is no one-to-one relationship. The mechanics can be realized in different ways. What ways then might the mechanics be realized?

                    1) The binary state of addiction according to the mechanics stands in for a spectrum in game. Basically, both characters were on the cusp of habitual behavior change. However, one was scared straight while the other has a reason to shape up. Mechanically, they won't suffer from compulsion but you should make it clear to your players that you will incorporate pangs and urges, things that might have taken hold had their new perspective not risen their awareness. They may still slip. They can acquire the condition again with just one unlucky roll. In-world, that isn't an on-again-off-again relationship with addiction, it is a good week and a bad week. In-world, if you consume blood 20 times in the past month, you are an addict to others. Condition or not.

                    2) Alternatively, the binary state of addition does map to the in-world on a one-to-one basis and the PC's got lucky that before the powerful urges could really drive their behavior. The big shift in their lives was sufficient to break a downward spiral at the start. This is fine: no rule says one has to hit rock bottom.

                    I prefer a loose mapping, but strictly mapping and playing it straight is fine too and in line with other posters.

                    I actually like both of your ideas and explanations!

                    In fact, I'd almost say 1 would work best for Sarah's situation and 2 works best for Calvin's situation. I'll think about it. Thanks for the advice, keep it coming!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Malus View Post
                      Also, WP should've given them +3 on a dice roll; the +2 to resistance is for when those traits are subtracted by another pool, such as say, Withstand ratings.

                      So I've been doing it wrong then? The book says:

                      "Spending a point of Willpower adds a +3 die
                      bonus to most dice pools, or +2 to a Resistance trait. You can
                      only spend one point of Willpower per action."



                      When exactly does the +3 apply and when does the +2 apply? I always assumed the +2 applies when you try to resist something, for example trying to resist addiction or resist against a vampire using Majesty on you or something similar.

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                      • #12
                        You resist something only when you subtract one of your traits from another's dice pool.
                        Dominate 1 has the dice pool Intelligence + Expression + Dominate vs Resolve + Blood Potency. That is a contested dice pool so the victim gains +3 dice.
                        Dominate 3 has the dice pool Intelligence + Subterfuge + Dominate - the victim's Resolve. That's a resisted dice pool so the victim gains +2 to their Resolve.


                        Bloodline: The Stygians
                        Ordo Dracul Mystery: Coil of Smoke
                        Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ventrue Life View Post
                          1) Do you think the vampires in my setting are acting too nice? I was planning to reveal more of their ugly monstrous side when the players become actual vampires, slowly but surely making clear that these vampires are not like the ones in the novels. But perhaps I should have done so earlier?
                          Nah. I mean, I don't think it's stressed enough that people can play games how they want, and really it sounds like the players had fun, which is the biggest concern. But being a prostitute, even in a brothel, clearly wasn't the best lifestyle in the time of Jack the Ripper. It's not as if they were swept away to the status of the aristocracy (and this is effectively something that's happened in canon so that isn't even that weird).

                          2) Should I have forced the embrace on them the moment the vampires found out that the players knew waaaaaaaay too much about them?
                          No way. I mean. On one hand, story has to story, if you just have the vampires slice the throats of the players and feed them to the rats, or make them forget everything, you don't really have a story going on. But on the other, 'You're being an annoyance, lets make you a super-powered immortal' isn't exactly a solution. There's a lot of ground to cover between those two points and ghouling's fine, though the vampires are still rewarding them.

                          I actually think the 'embrace a problem mortal away' comes up in the Strix fiction anthology but it comes with a hefty drawback.

                          3) Perhaps I should have given the players less clues about the supernatural, even though they were investigating a case that involves the supernatural? I tried to keep them in the dark as long as I could, but their choices, good dice rolls and my eagerness for over the top drama basically blew off the lid a bit sooner than I anticipated. Could you give me any tips on this?
                          I'm not quite sure how the All Night's Society introduced themselves, did they just come out as vampires? You probably could have strung them along for a while with a vampire pretending to be (or actually being) a powerful or influential member of the aristocracy or some other organization. It's worth noting that for mortals a lot of 'the supernatural is real!' and even after that being or witnessing supernatural stuff can cause Breaking Points. I do like how you handled giving Sarah her Integrity back, I don't know if it's from the core but I've always thought certain things should raise up Integrity or Humanity, though rarely.

                          4) The most important question: What could or should I have done differently with regards to the ghouling and the vitae addiction? What should or could I have done to make the addiction properly scary and anxious without making it feel like I'm cheating the system or taking away agency from my players?
                          I don't think you should sweat it too much. While Vitae is addictive, that's just part of the deal, the rest is the blood bond, another sort of addiction but to the vampire it's attached to. Sure on one hand you could be a cringy, bug-eating Renfield, but you could also be an enamored, 'constantly thinking of them' Smithers. If none of that, the attachedness to the regnants, came across, then maybe work some on description in-game. You don't want to dictate how people run their characters, or tell them how their characters feel, but since this is basically a supernatural influence you do have some leeway for that.
                          Last edited by nofather; 03-26-2018, 12:14 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I don't see a problem at all and I like the scenario. ExSux are fancy, especially in 2e, and having to spend XP on a stat that basically does nothing seems like a fair price to pay. And they'll just be addicted again later iirc. Them being future embrace candidates means it makes perfect sense that they'd only be somewhat overbearing. You don't want to cause resentment.

                            I doubt vampires would be that stingy with vitae for ghouls as long as the ghoul is doing something actively helpful, they can just feed them their own processed blood (GROSS). Its the ghouls that do nothing that could possibly justify quicker replenishments of vitae (ie. just house sitting, being a mole, etc) that it'd really matter. But as long as they're actively doing what you want them to do it seems fine.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
                              Mechanically, they won't suffer from compulsion but you should make it clear to your players that you will incorporate pangs and urges, things that might have taken hold had their new perspective not risen their awareness. They may still slip. They can acquire the condition again with just one unlucky roll. In-world, that isn't an on-again-off-again relationship with addiction, it is a good week and a bad week. In-world, if you consume blood 20 times in the past month, you are an addict to others. Condition or not.
                              This definitely seems closer to the intent; looking across the board to Changeling 2e, Glamour Addiction that works like it did for Wyrd 6+ characters in 1e now only kicks in to the level of a Condition if you harvest Glamour every day for at least a week, and the rest of the time those characters are still dealing with a higher floor for the "not having this much Glamour means food and drink will not sustain you" effect 2e changelings as a whole are subject to — the Condition is there to mark the places in the narrative where it's become a core problem for the table to make use of.


                              Resident Sanguinary Analyst
                              Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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