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Banes for Breaking Points

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  • Banes for Breaking Points

    I'm curious how loosey-goosey other people are in terms of taking Banes to avoid suffering certain breaking points ever again.

    Per 2E:

    When Kindred hit certain points in their detachment, they can turn their monstrosity inward, growing spiritual scars over their emotional wounds. When losing Humanity, a character can take a bane and a Beat. If he does so, he becomes unable to lose Humanity from that particular breaking point again. However, each bane causes a –1 die penalty to further detachment rolls, which speeds the Requiem’s downward spiral.
    To me, though, it's pretty clear that some breaking points are more of a spectrum - the various levels of going without human contact, surviving X years, etc. Players have pointed out, and I agree - from a mechanical sense one would really never take a Bane/Beat for One week without human contact (7), when just two dots down is Two weeks without human contact (5).

    Or how do you handle the character who takes a Bane/Beat for Two weeks without human contact (5) when they drop from 8 to 7 Humanity? Do they still suffer a breaking point from One week without human contact (7)? The easiest answer is probably just to fudge things a bit, and if the breaking point is similar enough to the one they took the Bane/Beat for, don't be a super stickler.

    Another issue is that this doesn't cover custom or non-book breaking points. The big IC game event that really got me thinking about this was having a character witness his sire be executed for a crime he didn't commit. We agreed it should be a breaking point for him due to the circumstances (He was still Humanity 7, very young, and still naive in many ways - still believing that people are fundamentally good and that vampires are fundamentally people.)

    But since it is such a specific situation in his story, it wouldn't happen a second time without reeling back the specificity from "Witnessed the death of your Sire" to something like "Witness the Death of a Mentor" Then that got me thinking about how you could categorize the breaking points, and rather than have to choose a particular one, you pick a category - and you no longer have to test for any related breaking points in that category.

    Here's the categories I'm thinking of allowing my players to choose from. Breaking points listed as (house) are general ones I've added for our campaign that aren't directly in the example list of breaking points on p107.
    • Isolation
      • (10) One night without human contact
      • (7) One week active without human contact
      • (5) Two weeks active without human contact
      • (3) One month active without human contact
      • (2) One year active without human contact
      • (1) One decade without human contact
    • Treachery
      • (10) Lying in defense of the Masquerade
      • (8) Altering another's belief or memories with a Discipline (house)
      • (4) Breaking a Blood Oath (house)
    • Inhumanity
      • (9) Committing a superhuman feat of physical prowess
      • (7) Surviving something that would hospitalize a human
      • (6) Experiencing a car crash or other immense trauma
      • (4) Surviving a century
      • (2) Surviving 500 years
    • Predation
      • (9) Feeding from the unwilling or unknowing
      • (7) Injuring someone over blood
      • (6) Feeding from a child
    • Coercion
      • (9) Urging another's behavior with a Discipline
      • (8) Depriving another of consent with a Discipline
      • (3) Causing a breaking point in another through discipline use​ (house)
    • Banes
      • (9) Spending an hour in the sun
      • (8) Spending most of the day in the sun
      • (6) Falling into torpor
      • (4) Spending a year or more in torpor
    • The Blood
      • (8) Creating a Ghoul
      • (7) Creating a full vinculum within another (house)
      • (2) Creating a revenant
    • The Beast
      • (10) Spending more than one Vitae in a night
      • (8) Riding the wave of frenzy
      • (5) Reaching Blood Potency Three
      • (3) Reaching Blood Potency Six
    • Grief
      • (6) Reading your own obituary
      • (5) Death of a mortal family member
      • (3) Death of a mortal spouse or child
      • (2) Death or destruction of a touchstone (house)
    • The Dirge
      • (9) Watching humans eat a meal
      • (8) Rejected by a human
      • (5) Joining a Covenant to the point of gaining status for it
      • (4) Joining a bloodline (house)
      • (2) Seeing a culture that didn't exist when you were alive
    • Violence
      • (5) Impassioned violence
      • (4) Premeditated violence (house)
      • (3) Torture (house)
    • Manslaughter
      • (4) Accidentally killing
      • (3) Impassioned killing
    • Murder
      • (2) Premeditated killing
      • (1) Heinous, spree or mass murder
    I would limit Diablerie, the Embrace, and Killing a Touchstone from being eligible for taking a Bane/Beat. I'd also try and assign non-example Breaking Points to those categories. So the character who watched his sire be executed could take Grief. I'd also allow some wiggle room for overlap, so I'd say the Daeva who got lost in the kiss, overfed and killed their blood doll could either take Manslaughter (Impassioned Killing) or Predation (Killing someone over blood).

    So, feedback appreciated, especially:

    Do you think any of the categories are too broad or not broad enough?
    Are there any breaking points I missed? I know they pop up here and there under other rule sections.

  • #2
    I've always run Banes as covering all levels of severity for the same act, but I'd never thought to actually sort them into categories. This is a great idea! I'd sort the categories slightly differently, but this works. Mine would be a lot more granular.
    Last edited by Charlaquin; 10-17-2015, 12:57 PM.


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    • #3
      I see taking banes as very specific. So yes, if you take a bane to avoid a breaking point for spending two weeks without human contact, spending one week without human contact would still be a breaking point. The thing is, you usually wouldn't take banes for trivial stuff (breaking points at higher level humanity), but rather for specific things that you plan doing repeatedly. For example, taking a bane to avoid a breaking point for accidental killing (during feeding for example) wouldn't protect you from reaching a breaking point for impassioned killing. These are two very different acts in my opinion.

      And yes, personally I wouldn't take banes related to the isolation breaking points - unless I make a point to avoid humans. Similarly, taking banes for one time breaking points is kind of pointless. Also I would advice players against taking banes for the higher levels of humanity (5-7),since they will be gone soon enough anyway.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Holy View Post
        Players have pointed out, and I agree - from a mechanical sense one would really never take a Bane/Beat for One week without human contact (7), when just two dots down is Two weeks without human contact (5).
        I'm sorry, but why not? You're going to hit one week before you hit two weeks. That alone makes it a Breaking Point that'll come up more often, not to mention how often are you going to go two weeks without human contact?

        Not to mention that you can only form a Bane to a Breaking Point when you suffer from it, so you'd have to go two weeks at least once in the first place. In pretty much all ways, taking one week is the "better" option if we assume each "level" is different for the purposes of Banes. Which I do, personally.

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        • #5
          I can't help but feel that that would just come off as incredibly awkward. Like

          "Well, I get a breaking point if I go a week without human contact. I'm fine at two weeks, but then a month really bugs me for some reason."

          It really just makes more sense to me to go by action, not level.

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          • #6
            @Elfive Or, alternatively, you get the "one week" breaking point weekly, which is a higher level breaking point so you get more dice to resist. Makes more sense than no roll at all every other week. By action feels like it makes Banes overly powerful and really easy to get a vampire that never has to roll Breaking Points. My groups already roll almost never and none of them ever even picked a Bane.

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            • #7
              Surely that's an incentive to make them more powerful? If breaking points are rare anyway, why not trade them in for something that will show up in the story more often?

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              • #8
                Why should I make something more powerful, because it doesn't show up in the story? The rules as written are fine, and it's up to each individual player how to engage with the system. Apparently, the emphasis of Maina's players is on avoiding breaking points all together which is a very valid and humane approach. You are looking at this purely from the isolation angle. But if I could buy away both manslaughter and both murder breaking points (four in total) with two banes, than that is way too powerful and open to abuse.

                In regards to the isolation breaking points, each player has to figure out, if they are worth to waste a bane on.

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                • #9
                  @Murder - By book / as written is absolutely fine. Like I said, I was curious how strict people are in other live games. I would have no problem playing in someone's game with the that-particular-breaking point clause for taking banes.

                  But, as been pointed out - I think you'll rarely see people take banes for much else than violence / killing, maybe feeding. I.E. - the biggest mechanical bang for the their buck. But that's speculation, if people have different actual play experience I'd love to hear it.

                  Advantages I see for the category approach in my games:
                  • Eliminates the difference between something like, "Impassioned Killing Where You Don't Have a Chance To Stop It" and "Impassioned Killing Where You Do." The book treats them as different level breaking points. Is it okay to lump them both together with one bane or would you need to take a bane with each?
                  • Expands the value / effect of taking a bane for the non-action-movie breaking points.
                  • Eliminates the "never take a bane for a sin at humanity 5+" mentality.
                  • Allows one off and unique breaking points to be covered by the system.
                  • Adds a new level of characterization to the beast for me, when designing NPCs. How is a vampire who is calloused against Grief different than one who is calloused against Murder or Isolation? But I'm a sucker for Vampire psychology stuff.
                  • Allows the group to be a little more free with accepting breaking points, knowing the option to take banes is a little more robust.
                  And like Charlaquin said, there's a lot of room for more granularity in the list. I could see keeping the various types of murder / manslaughter as distinct (accidental, impassioned, premeditated, mass) and they'd probably still be taken. Pre-Category, the banes that got taken in my game were the violent ones. Murder, Torture - so those already show value. post-Category, Grief and Inhumanity make an appearance, and I like that.

                  Ultimately, I see identifying the "power" of a breaking point bane through two questions:
                  • How often does the bane allow a character to avoid risking their current humanity?
                  • How often does the bane allow a character to avoid other dramatic consequences for scenes, because they have a go-to action immune from breaking points?
                  In the first question, a character with a bane for murder who only tests once during a chapter has a less powerful advantage than the character with a bane for injuring over blood, who feeds through violent means every session.

                  The second bit is less direct. But I wouldn't want a game derailed because the PCs treat every problem like the proverbial nail because they have a murder-hammer bane. But I also like those types of challenges as an ST. I'm very lucky with my player set right now, so I don't have to do a lot of theme or setting policing. So if a player wanted to portray a character hardened against murder, it would actually be fun for me to try and figure out a way to throw a potential victim in their way that made them stop and think. Sure - you can solve this problem by just killing the person - but you can already see the dramatic consequences that can blow back, regardless on if it's a hit to your humanity.

                  Like - it's not your touchstone that is getting close to breaking your masquerade. You can always smooth things over with them. But their kid is another matter. Just killing the kid might solve the problem, and in a perverse way might even make your touchstone come to rely on you even more to fill that new void. That's a fun, dramatic choice either way.

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                  • #10
                    I love the groupings.
                    Another modification that I want to use is a different dice pool system, where it's not only relevant what level of transgression you do, but also what your own humanity level is.
                    Works a bit like this: Your Dicepool is 5 - (Your Humanity - Act's Level). That way some monsters actually "stabilize" at Humanity 2 or even 1.
                    Still haven't actually played with this, so... anyone have any thoughts about it?


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                    • #11
                      @TheBoz So something like:

                      Neonate (Humanity 7) and an Elder (Humanity 3) work together on a premeditated murder (Level 2 Breaking Point).

                      Neonate rolls [5] - ( [7] - [2] ) = [5] - [5] = 0 Dice + Modifiers
                      Elder rolls [5] - ( [2] - [2] ) = [5] - [0] = 5 Dice + Modifiers

                      Which shifts the system from the downward spiral (the lower you get, the easier it is to lose humanity to triggered breaking points), to the stabilization aspect as you mention.

                      Thoughts:
                      • It makes new incentives for players to stick to sins close to their current humanity rating, rather than jumping down multiple rungs out of the gate.
                      • Incentivizes taking the lower sins as breaking point banes early on, de-incentivizes taking them at lower humanity since you'll be getting a significant die bonus.
                      • As mentioned, makes low-humanity vampires more likely to stabilize at 1 or 2 rather than spiraling into draugr territory.
                      You could also increase rolls as opposed to decreasing pools for large gaps:
                      • If the breaking point is 3 or more below your current humanity rating, it triggers two checks for detachment. If 6 or more below, it triggers three checks.
                      So, the starting character who jumps immediately to mass murder suffers three detachment checks at 1 Dice + Modifiers each. Then depending on if you wanted quick initial erosion, decide if each failed check causes a separate humanity loss, or if any failure on the checks causes a single loss.

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                      • #12
                        It depends. On one hand I would treat most of the "(Not) Do X for Y time" as the same sin, but for example in my last game one of the players chose to take a Bane to eliminate "Premeditated Murder" as a Breaking Point, but he still sufer from impassioned killings.

                        The idea was that if he killed on purpose and while in perfect use of his mental faculties he was fine, but if he did it in the heat of the moment, the lack of control still startled him.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Holy View Post
                          @TheBoz So something like:

                          Neonate (Humanity 7) and an Elder (Humanity 3) work together on a premeditated murder (Level 2 Breaking Point).

                          Neonate rolls [5] - ( [7] - [2] ) = [5] - [5] = 0 Dice + Modifiers
                          Elder rolls [5] - ( [2] - [2] ) = [5] - [0] = 5 Dice + Modifiers
                          Something like that (you forgot the Elder is 3, not 2, so 4 dice for him), but I've not yet decided if the modifiers should come before or after the penalty. Going from a chance die to 3 dice because of two touchstones is a pretty big deal if you sell off a bus of kids to slavery.
                          Last edited by The Boz; 10-18-2015, 06:22 PM.


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