Desert of Shadows
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FAQ - Clarifications
03/11/19    Clarifications on Alternate Identity  
03/08/19    Lore, what is it good for?  
03/21/19    Humanity and the Beast  

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Clarifications on Alternate Identity (03/11/19)

I wanted to talk about a question I've been asked by several people after the Q&A that I think players might benefit from during this character creation process.

The question has been about Alternate Identity, specifically about how Alternate Identity 5 works with supernatural powers. If we look at the level 5 of the Background on page 99, it says:

" Your identity is a respected member of society; it holds powerful office in the mortal world, or among vampires, concretely influences another clan or sect. You have a long history, an in-depth lineage, and your cover is solid enough to pass even supernatural means of verification. Note that this doesn’t prevent the character from being “found out” if you make a mistake and other players catch on. Even the strongest Alternate Identity will fail if you can’t keep a secret."

Following this level of Alternate Identity, in the closing graph of the background, it says:

"Alternate Identity will not fool supernatural powers or direct observation. For example, it will not help you when targeted by Telepathy. "

This ending of the Background sets the parameters, in my mind. I can think of non-discipline methods of supernatural verification that the 5th dot can refer to; The use of Boons to compel an honest answer from a Vampire who would know, the verification of the Tradition of Accounting not only through the pretend Sire of the character, but through supernaturals who shared a city at the time of the fictional embrace. The use of status to compel an answer from a Retainer of the character. Researching the history of the character's boon portfolio.

Ultimately, even Alternate Identity 5 is not a perfect cloak of deception. Players who buy this Background must be ever mindful not to trigger the suspicions of other players. This, to me, is what the Background means when it says "giving yourself away", inviting the use of disciplines to be used to find out more.


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Lore, what is it good for? (03/08/19)

The question relates to Lore (Page 94), specifically, what Lore gets you. And that's a complicated answer. The more general the Lore, the more vague a successful lore check will be. So imagine that a player has Werewolf Lore; you would get some basic details about the Werewolf setting, the Tribes of the setting, and that there is a "structure" of government for Werewolves. But you wouldn't know that the High King stepped into a portal and there is a struggle now for the throne of the Garou Nation, or that a Black Spiral Dancer is not part of that nation. If you want to know details about certain ratified or secret areas of the WoD, you have to specify your Lore so that you can get more detailed answers.

Also, remember that your mileage will vary. There is a difference between a Lore check at game and a Lore check in DT. This is both thematic and practical. A lore check at game represents you searching through your memory for things you've read, and this thematically reflects the IRL challenge of a ST also remembering lore and story elements while at game. It's not that things are withheld from you; a ST might genuinely forget a piece. A lore check in DT represents an action to research the topic in the sources of your Lore, and this is reflected in the ST being able to take their time and have access to story materials in order to give you a more complete response.


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Humanity and the Beast (03/21/19)

Let us discuss the Beast.

Or to put it less dramatically, lets discuss the mechanics around Humanity!

For those of you who would like to read along, we start on page 299.

"Humanity measures a vampire’s innate empathy. As she degenerates, the vampire loses the ability to form meaningful, emotional connections with others. Her control over the Beast diminishes as it encourages indulgence in twisted pleasures. Perversion, cold-blooded murder, mutilation, and wickedness for its own sake are all signs of a vampire whose control is slipping. A vampire with a low rating in Humanity begins to reflect her Beast in her outward appearance."

As Vampires of the Camarilla, most of you cling to some semblance of the world you knew before. You hold recognizable ideas of "right" or "wrong". Your behaviors mimic the living. This is even more true if you are an Anarch, for your views are decidedly more modern than the Camarilla's, and thus even more recognizable as mortal inspired.

Why do we use words like 'mimic' or 'cling'? Because at the heart of every Vampire is a Beast, a force for destruction and vice, yearning to take control. It is a voice that urges violence, cowardice, and greed. It encourages Vampires to exert dominance over one another, and glories in the harm they do to living and undead beings. This translates, mechanically, to "Beast Traits".

On page 300 we see a list of sins for those on Humanity. They are:

1 Harm Another: You’ve significantly harmed another individual physically, mentally, or financially in a way that will take weeks for the victim to recover. For example, you may have broken a mortal’s arm, inflicted a point of aggravated damage on a vampire, or severely damaged a mortal’s livelihood.

2 Permanent Injury: You’ve harmed another individual in a way that will take the victim years to overcome (if ever). For example, you may have ripped a mortal’s leg off, left a vampire staked and buried, or driven someone permanently insane.

3 Killing: You’ve killed another individual.

4 Multiple Murders: You’ve killed more than one individual.

5 Heinous Acts: You’ve committed inhuman acts that cannot be excused. For example, you may have brutally tortured your victim or committed diablerie.

Everyone starts with 5 points of Humanity and zero beast traits. Merits and flaws may alter these numbers, but that's our default setting. Beast Traits for those following Humanity are gained by the list above. Depending on what level of sin you commit, you gain that number of Beast traits. Shoot a Vampire with an incendiary round? You gain one Beast trait. Mutilate a person in a horrific series of torture sessions? You gain five beast traits. You may attempt a degeneration challenge which lowers the amount of Beast traits gained by 1. The challenge is Mental+Willpower vs. 10+1 for each level of Sin.

When you gain five beast traits, you lose a point of Humanity. Go below Humanity one and your character becomes a NPC!

Also, as your Beast grows stronger, your ability to avoid Frenzy becomes weaker, which seriously risks your life. Once you have 1 Beast trait, for example, you risk Rage Frenzy from taking a blow that deals 4 or more damage to you. This means that you must attack the source of that damage, and render them unconscious or place them in torpor. At 3 Beast traits, you risk Frenzy from taking 2 damage! I don't know about you, but this sounds like a recipe for disaster!

There is another way. Paths of Enlightenment create alternate ladders of sin that allow Vampires to live in accordance with the monsters they truly are. The cost, of course, is that such Vampires are barely able to pretend to be people. So alien are they that they are unable to hide their natures. Physical changes begin to warp them, and though these changes may be hidden with Mask of a Thousand faces or Vicissitude, the aura of their alien natures cannot be hidden.

("Vampires who follow Paths of Enlightenment, rather than Humanity, cannot spend Blood for this purpose, and they are incapable of appearing mortal even for short periods of time. Supernatural disguises (like Obfuscate) can mask the physical marks of following a path, but no disguise can suppress the subtle terror that surrounds a vampire who’s forsaken her Humanity in favor of a Path of Enlightenment. Page 294)

So, what does all of this mean? This mechanic in some way reinforces the setting of our game. Sometimes players want to do crazy things. We've all been in a game before where we found ourselves doing something nuts because we're bored, or looking for some action! Well, Beast traits and the degradation of Humanity are the price of such random acts of violence. Vampires incapable of restraining themselves find that they are at greater risk of falling to the Beast. Those who adopt philosophies more in line with the reality of their natures find themselves under the Lesser Status Ban of a Camarilla that encourages more humanistic behvaiour, for the sake of the Masquerade if nothing else.


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