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Breaking rules to balance Harmony

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  • Breaking rules to balance Harmony

    I am sorry if this was addressed in another post, but I wanted to ask about Harmony rules in Werewolf 2ed. The Harmony scale makes 5 the ideal state of balance between man and spirit. However, in order to get there you need breaking points which involves things that are pretty bad such as "eating the flesh of Man for Essence". This, however, is a direct violation of the Oath of the Moon which could deal with severe penalties such as Death or Maiming. Other ways to do it can be by spending a month in the Hisil which I am sure is probably not very healthy either. Does finding perfect balance in Harmony really mean doing things that are in direct violation of rules set out by Werewolf society.

    In addition, can breaking points be done in Kuruth or death rage? It says that doing something willingly such as letting the herd know or eating man flesh is a sin, but in the rage of Kuruth can a werewolf say "hey, I was in kuruth, don't blame me!"

  • #2
    Originally posted by maryshelly View Post
    However, in order to get there you need breaking points which involves things that are pretty bad such as "eating the flesh of Man for Essence". This, however, is a direct violation of the Oath of the Moon which could deal with severe penalties such as Death or Maiming. Other ways to do it can be by spending a month in the Hisil which I am sure is probably not very healthy either. Does finding perfect balance in Harmony really mean doing things that are in direct violation of rules set out by Werewolf society.
    No, because there's always other ways. You do not 'need' to do oathbreaking activities like eating the flesh of a man for Essence. Killing a human or wolf, staying in the Hisil for a week or month are all ways that are not against any rules. So you don't have to break any Oaths.

    That said, breaking the Oath is not something that is going to be immediately punished by only Maiming or Death. Or if they are, it should be something foreshadowed well ahead of time by the storyteller, as the players would know they live in what is the equivalent of a theocratic dystopia. Shunning and other social punishments are also on the table, and in a more organized territory you may have packs taking your loci as punishment, while in a less organized one no one may do anything at all.

    In addition, can breaking points be done in Kuruth or death rage? It says that doing something willingly such as letting the herd know or eating man flesh is a sin, but in the rage of Kuruth can a werewolf say "hey, I was in kuruth, don't blame me!"
    Yes. This is one of the dramatic parts of it. If a werewolf says 'hey, I was in kuruth, don't blame me!' someone can point out, 'hey, you know what puts you into kuruth, you know what it makes you do, you are capable of resisting it.' Intoxication, on blood or anger, isn't really a great excuse, though going into Kuruth and doing something they regret an experience every werewolf's likely been through, and there may be some sympathy there. But, again, in most territories you won't have werewolf cops who will be patrolling and enforcing all Oaths of the Moon, though if you make a habit of going into kuruth and eating werewolves word will spread and if your pack doesn't point out your problem, someone else might decide you're too dangerous to keep around. Uratha society may be short on police, but it's got an abundance of killers.
    Last edited by nofather; 04-24-2019, 02:20 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by nofather View Post
      But, again, in most territories you won't have werewolf cops who will be patrolling and enforcing all Oaths of the Moon, though if you make a habit of going into kuruth and eating werewolves word will spread and if your pack doesn't point out your problem, someone else might decide you're too dangerous to keep around. Uratha society may be short on police, but it's got an abundance of killers.
      Was there a Lodge that punished Oathbreakers in the 1st edition? I am sure that somewhere out there are some werewolves who have dedicated themselves to be the police of the Uratha

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      • #4
        Originally posted by maryshelly View Post
        Was there a Lodge that punished Oathbreakers in the 1st edition? I am sure that somewhere out there are some werewolves who have dedicated themselves to be the police of the Uratha
        There absolutely are, and you don't even need to be in a lodge to be fervent about Oath breakers, but even with that and lunes telling on the People, they're still going to be able to get away with it, and even those who get caught wouldn't be solely punished with maiming or death. These are opportunities for story and character development, not instant Game Overs.

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        • #5
          ^

          That said, Harmony does have a problem as a game mechanic in not actually reflecting a character's behaviour. If you're playing an extreme character you'll end up at the right end of the scale sooner or later, but if you only tend towards one end you'll end up not moving much at all due to few breaking points and relatively high dice pools compared to other splats. And if your character is balanced in behaviour, well, you'll be forever stuck at your current rating instead of approaching the middle. The only mobility in such cases comes from pressured situations where you're forced into taking extreme actions that doesn't accurately represent you.

          I really like the idea of Harmony and the shift from 1e to a balance scale where middle is best, but I don't think the end product is that good. The inertia coupled with no natural gravitation towards representational Harmony ratings means it becomes a balance game where you have to overcompensate in order to actually move to your desired rating. It's simply not the kind of balance game I would expect or prefer from this game.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tessie View Post
            ^

            That said, Harmony does have a problem as a game mechanic in not actually reflecting a character's behaviour.
            Don’t confuse personality/behaviour with physiology/nature. For a broad and very general example, as a human, if my behaviour is that I love eating cakes and sweets all the time and hate doing exercise, my nature as a human doesn’t give a shit that my personality would like me to stay thin. Eat too much sugar, don’t exercise, get fat.

            Uratha are the same. Harmony is their nature. It doesn’t give a shit whether your personality likes or wants to do the things that move you towards balance. It just reacts to what you actually do. If you want to stay in balance you do the things required. If you want to eat all the sweets you need to balance it with exercise.

            What harmony you stay around very much does reflect your character’s behaviour. But if you want to take advantage of being balanced, you sometimes need to adjust your behaviour to fit the reality of the situation.


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            • #7
              Don't confuse behaviour with nature, you say, but your point is that Harmony reflects behaviour. That's the very thing I disagree with. Balanced behaviour has too much inertia as long as you're not at the extremes where you take extra breaking points one way or the other, and then only until you no longer take those extra breaking points.


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              • #8
                So how you can rebalance Harmony without willingly facing a breaking point?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ipergigio View Post
                  So how you can rebalance Harmony without willingly facing a breaking point?
                  Accidentally facing a breaking point? One of the suggested powers a Bodhisattva werewolf had was 'Always at Harmony 5.'

                  Rebalancing Harmony (moving it at all) takes breaking points outside of ST handwaving. But breaking points are not all linked to breaking the Oath of the Moon, so they don't all have social repercussions. In general breaking points for werewolves are not as bad as they are for other gamelines, either, as you don't usually get Conditions (like Guilty for mortals, Bestial for Vampires, or Megalomaniacal for Mages) even if you Dramatically Fail them, they just change your Harmony up or down.

                  While breaking points aren't that bad, having Harmony at the extreme ends, in either direction, can be pretty disadvantageous. There's some bonuses there but not much.
                  Last edited by nofather; 04-25-2019, 08:28 PM.

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                  • #10
                    So breaking points are the only way to rebalance the Harmony?

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                    • #11
                      Losing a Touchstone automatically pushes you a dot of Harmony in the other direction (i.e.- lose one Harmony if you lose your Physical Touchstone), while gaining a new Touchstone automatically pushes you a dot towards that direction.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by maryshelly View Post
                        In addition, can breaking points be done in Kuruth or death rage? It says that doing something willingly such as letting the herd know or eating man flesh is a sin, but in the rage of Kuruth can a werewolf say "hey, I was in kuruth, don't blame me!"
                        Originally posted by nofather View Post
                        Yes. This is one of the dramatic parts of it. If a werewolf says 'hey, I was in kuruth, don't blame me!' someone can point out, 'hey, you know what puts you into kuruth, you know what it makes you do, you are capable of resisting it.' Intoxication, on blood or anger, isn't really a great excuse, though going into Kuruth and doing something they regret an experience every werewolf's likely been through, and there may be some sympathy there. But, again, in most territories you won't have werewolf cops who will be patrolling and enforcing all Oaths of the Moon, though if you make a habit of going into kuruth and eating werewolves word will spread and if your pack doesn't point out your problem, someone else might decide you're too dangerous to keep around. Uratha society may be short on police, but it's got an abundance of killers.
                        What about situation where Uratha's body is making go into Death Rage? Like I have Contagion in game that makes you lose Essence - and then lead you to Death Rage to get Essence needed in your system. Killing human in Death Rage then is or is not Harmony Breaking Point toward Spirit? I.E. Is 2E Harmony objective measure of Uratha's action - even unconscious ones - or subjective, of his own 'sins' he made by his own decisions and failures?

                        Originally posted by maryshelly View Post
                        Was there a Lodge that punished Oathbreakers in the 1st edition? I am sure that somewhere out there are some werewolves who have dedicated themselves to be the police of the Uratha.
                        On Pure side, Predator Kings are surely hunt any Oathbreakers as 'disrespecting the Hunt'. But would Ivory Claws also being dedicated to those kind of things to declare hunts?

                        Notice: I recall my fan Silver Fangs as Lodge write-up that makes your Ivory Claws that police Oathbreakers of Oaths. They are from terrains of Great Steppe from modern Russia. but maybe they are interesting to have in the 800s AD Constatinopole also.
                        Last edited by wyrdhamster; 03-31-2020, 02:45 AM.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bunyip View Post

                          Don’t confuse personality/behaviour with physiology/nature. For a broad and very general example, as a human, if my behaviour is that I love eating cakes and sweets all the time and hate doing exercise, my nature as a human doesn’t give a shit that my personality would like me to stay thin. Eat too much sugar, don’t exercise, get fat.

                          Uratha are the same. Harmony is their nature. It doesn’t give a shit whether your personality likes or wants to do the things that move you towards balance. It just reacts to what you actually do. If you want to stay in balance you do the things required. If you want to eat all the sweets you need to balance it with exercise.

                          What harmony you stay around very much does reflect your character’s behaviour. But if you want to take advantage of being balanced, you sometimes need to adjust your behaviour to fit the reality of the situation.
                          I think what Tessie is saying is best illustrated with an example.

                          Say I'm a fairly fresh Uratha at Harmony 7. I aspire to Harmony, so I avoid extremes of behavior which would constitute Breaking Points, trying to find the best balance between Flesh and Spirit or alternatively I ensure to encounter Breaking Points towards Spirit and Flesh in roughly equal measure. What Harmony do I end up with? In the former case my Harmony never moved at all from 7. In the second case the math works out such that I am most likely still at Harmony 7 (potentially having swung up and down for short periods of time). Getting to Harmony 6 and then 5 reliably requires some extreme actions to have a good chance of a shift first.

                          Now this could be representative of you needing to tear down your preconceptions and old life first before you can achieve Harmony, but that is not really spelt out specifically. This reasoning also breaks down for older Uratha who have simply moved towards one of the extremes over the course of their lives but now seek to regain Harmony. Harmony then is being equally extreme in both directions until you have achieved a net 0. This is somewhat removed from most people's conceptions of Harmony.


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                          • #14
                            I mean any new Werewolf is probably going to go down to 6 or 5 once they start having to kill people, which they USUALLY have to do regularly. That's not a violation of the Oath (unless you eat them), and is an easy way to get yourself to break towards Spirit. There's also stuff like Totemic Empowerment which can have you break down towards Spirit. And to keep out of the Hisil for a while to keep yourself balanced to Flesh is easy enough if you fall down too far.

                            It's usually only a problem when things knock you wildly out of wack in short order, like cannibalism or something.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by saibot View Post
                              Say I'm a fairly fresh Uratha at Harmony 7. I aspire to Harmony, so I avoid extremes of behavior which would constitute Breaking Points, trying to find the best balance between Flesh and Spirit or alternatively I ensure to encounter Breaking Points towards Spirit and Flesh in roughly equal measure. What Harmony do I end up with? In the former case my Harmony never moved at all from 7. In the second case the math works out such that I am most likely still at Harmony 7 (potentially having swung up and down for short periods of time). Getting to Harmony 6 and then 5 reliably requires some extreme actions to have a good chance of a shift first.

                              Now this could be representative of you needing to tear down your preconceptions and old life first before you can achieve Harmony, but that is not really spelt out specifically. This reasoning also breaks down for older Uratha who have simply moved towards one of the extremes over the course of their lives but now seek to regain Harmony. Harmony then is being equally extreme in both directions until you have achieved a net 0. This is somewhat removed from most people's conceptions of Harmony.
                              Your Breaking Point dicepool is modified by your existing Harmony. If your Harmony is 7, and you face equal breaks towards Spirit and Flesh, mechanically you would have more of a tendency to break towards Flesh (towards 10), as you would be penalized on your roll by 2 (your Harmony above 5). Mechanically, you are pulled away from 5, traditionally the 'best' Harmony. This can be good if you have something like Code of Honor, which requires a high Harmony, or enjoy the benefits of the extremes, including the ease of shapeshifting at low Harmony.

                              As for requiring extreme action to change it, this is sort of a key element of the game. Werewolves are not just given the opportunity to live their ideal world where they can choose to take a Breaking Point alternatively in each direction depending on their mood. As other posts have noted, there's an abundance of antagonists in the game, and their own drive towards a sacred hunt is its own change. At a point, leading the sacred hunt is a breaking point, and refusing to join it always is, and refusing altogether is going to cause series of breaks as you hit the limit of your primal urge. Killing a human is a Breaking Point towards Spirit. Killing 5 humans (the size of an average hunter cell) is 5 Breaking Points. It takes dedication and luck (which is easier represented by ST fiat) to be able to just sit at one Harmony.
                              Last edited by nofather; 04-01-2020, 03:37 PM.

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