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 House Rules and Game Mechanics

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PostSubject: House Rules and Game Mechanics   Sun Apr 01, 2018 11:46 am

House Rules and Game Mechanics


Willpower and Aspirations

During Open Play (see Modes of Play for more information), Willpower is locked and can be neither gained nor lost.
Similarly, while characters are expected to pursue their Aspirations, Beats for Aspirations are not awarded during Open Play.
The Staff will award Willpower points and Aspiration Beats as they see fit during the scenes they supervise.

Health and Combat

In Pinscher, your character's current Health state (the precise amount and type of damage you have suffered) is typically hidden from you.
Even an examination with the Medicine Skill, while it will give you a better idea of a person's survival chances and what type of medical care might be needed, won't provide specific information about health levels.
Only a select few supernatural abilities are capable of this type of precision and certainty.

The intention behind this system is to encourage players to roleplay more realistically when their characters are injured. There are no hitpoints in real life - and just like in real life, if you are in a life-or-death situation, you can't know exactly how much more punishment your body has taken or can take. You will need to make risk assessment choices based on what your immediate senses tell you (i.e. Storyteller description) about your injuries.

For the sake of expediency and realism in a game which potentially contains lots of players, combat turns in Pinscher are timed. Remember, a turn of combat in the World of Darkness is only three seconds - your character doesn't have a lot of time to think, so neither should you. If three minutes of real time have passed since the Storyteller has announced your character's turn, and you have neither posted your character's action nor engaged the Staff with a reasonable question about your action, then the Staff can rule that your character is too overwhelmed by the chaos of combat to make a snap decision, and your action for that turn will be forfeited and skipped.
It is therefore strongly encouraged that you start working on your character's action, and ask any relevant questions of the Staff, before your turn is announced. This will make combat a faster and more pleasant experience for everyone.

Recovery


Over time, characters recover from trauma. Injuries heal, and Willpower points come back. However, due to the play-as-you-want nature of Pinscher, a damaged or depleted character could potentially game the system by avoiding roleplay while vulnerable, waiting for their resources to recharge before returning to the game.
To persuade people to roleplay their way through difficult times, the following rules are in place.

Willpower and Health do not recover ordinarily in real time. Instead, for every 24-hour period in which a player character takes part in scenes, either with Staff or with other players:
The character regains 1 Willpower point, if the character has been able to get a restful night of sleep.
The character heals all Bashing damage (if it wasn't already healed in-scene).
The character heals 1 Lethal damage, or half of 1 Aggravated damage.
For Conditions, and other time-based effects of less than one month, such as stat debuffs from a Mage's Pattern Scouring, one day is considered to have passed.
A Mage character may perform an Oblation at a Hallow or Scour their pattern once.
A Werewolf character may draw from a Locus to which they have safe access.
A Vampire or Changeling character may request a feeding or harvesting scene. Further requests in that same real-time week may be denied, depending on the judgment and availability of Staff. (See the "Vitae and Feeding" section below for rules about feeding scenes; Changeling Harvesting scenes follow a similar model.)
Any effects that have a duration of more than one month - Awakened spells, blood bonds, Ghoul upkeep, long-lasting Conditions, etc. - will elapse in real time regardless of the player's rate of play.

Character Progression

Beats are awarded in the following ways:
You start the game with a free Beat if your character sheet background is sufficiently interesting to the Staff.
Staff will periodically award Beats for participation in Open Play. The rate will be approximately one Beat per week, with bonus Beats awarded to prolific and talented players.
Beats will be awarded much more liberally during Events. Good roleplay, achieving your character's goals, or making progress on a storyline are all great ways to earn Beats. Participating in Staff-run storylines is by far the fastest way to earn Experiences.This is intentional.

Character Advancement

All Experience spends must be submitted to the Staff for approval. The Staff reserve the right to deny Experience spends if they feel your character has not earned his or her new traits, or has progressed too quickly in one area.

Social Merits

Restricted Merits (see the Character Creation page) may not be bought with Experiences. Instead, they are awarded to and taken away from your character in a way that reflects what is happening in the game. Status - especially City Status for Kindred - is fluid and a matter of public record.
Expanded Merits may be purchased with Experiences in close coordination with the Staff. However, these traits potentially represent NPCs who may actually appear in the game. As such, they can be manipulated, killed, or otherwise dispensed with. The Sanctity of Merits rule applies to Merits lost in this manner.

Vitae and Feeding


We believe that Vampire characters are too often thought of as dark action heroes with magical powers and no downsides. In Pinscher, we want to remind you that Vampires are monsters who need to drink blood - and that stealing someone's blood is not a harmless act. To that end, the following rules concerning Vitae and Feeding are in effect:

Vitae is locked during Open Play. Powers which require Vitae to activate may not be used without direct Staff supervision.
A Vampire PC's Vitae pool does not go down by one each night. If you're playing a Vampire, it is assumed that your character is at least competent enough to find enough food to counteract the amount of Vitae he or she needs to expend to wake at sunset. It is also assumed that this means your character is drinking blood on a regular basis, and that this is the extent to which your character feeds with ease on random and unimportant people.

Vitae spent during Storyteller scenes and Events does not come back on its own. In order to regain Vitae, your PC must actually feed on an NPC or another PC during the course of play.

A Vampire PC may feed on another PC during Open Play if the victim's player and character are consenting. If the mortal is fully cooperative, these feedings do not present a frenzy risk unless both players want that risk for story purposes.

If the Vampire is starving (Vitae is 2 or lower), or the victim has a feeding-related Condition, Staff supervision is required for feeding to proceed even if the victim has given consent.

When feeding, the player of a Vampire must notify the Staff. In order to be granted Vitae, the player must specify which character he or she fed from as well as where and when, and so must the character he feed from. The Vampire PC will then be granted an amount of Vitae that the Staff deems appropriate.
PCs who are the victims of feedings will be assigned Conditions to reflect their experience. PCs who are fed upon too frequently risk being killed by the act.

If no PCs are available to feed from, or the player does not want to feed from any PCs, the Vampire player may request a feeding scene from the Staff. These scenes will allow the Vampire player to hunt for blood - but there will always be some level of accompanying risk, complication, or cost.
As you can see, getting blood is not a trivial thing in Pinscher. If you're playing a Vampire character, you'd better plan accordingly.

The Embrace


Vampire PCs may Embrace other PCs, per the normal rules of Vampire: the Requiem (2nd ed.). A dot of Humanity is lost by the Sire.
Just because the rules of the game allow you to Embrace someone doesn't mean the NPC cast will like it. The Prince frowns upon those who Embrace without permission. Consider yourself warned.

Posthumous, spontaneous, and Revenant Embraces may occur at the discretion of the Staff, but don't count on it. A PC who is drained dry is probably just dead.
Given the game mechanics concerning feeding, it is strongly advised that players of Vampires give a lot of thought to the Embrace. If everyone becomes a vampire, who will you feed from…?
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PostSubject: Re: House Rules and Game Mechanics   Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:06 pm

Social Maneuvering


Social maneuvering is a system for applying persuasion and social pressure over time.
Social actions within this system may be direct or subtle, complex or simple. For example, your character may shout at another and demand he gets out of the way, or your character may subtly offer clues suggesting someone needs to vote for her.

It is not always possible to get someone to do what you want.
For instance, no amount of social maneuvering is going to convince the chief of police in a large city to hold a press conference and admit to murder, even if the player has a dice pool impressive enough to make it happen.


This system is designed to allow characters to manipulate or convince other characters to perform favors or undertake actions, but it does raise the question: 
Is one character dictating another’s actions, and how much of that should be allowed in a roleplaying game? Or, put a different way, can one character seduce
another with this system?

Under a strict read of the rules, yes. The goal is “get that character to sleep with my character,” the number of Doors is decided as explained below, and impressions and other factors play into the final result. This is not too different from how seduction and other, less carnal, forms of persuasion actually work — the persuader tries to make the offer as enticing as possible.

Goals

When using a Social action with this system, the first step is to declare your character’s intended goal. This is as simple as stating what you want the subject to do, and how your character is going about making it happen. You need only announce the initial stages, as the effort will likely occur over multiple rolls, reflecting different actions.
At this point, the Storyteller determines whether the goal is reasonable

A character might, with time and proper tactics, convince a rich person to give him a large sum of money. He probably isn’t going to convince the wealthy individual to
abandon all of his wealth to the character (though it might be possible to get him to name the character as his heir, at which point the character can set about speeding up the inheritance process).

Doors

Once you’ve declared your character’s goal, the next step is to determine the scope of the challenge. We represent this with “Doors,” which reflect a character’s resistance to coercion, her social walls, skepticism, mistrust, or just a hesitance toward intimacy. It’s abstract, and means different things in every given case.
The base number of Doors is equal to the lower of the character’s Resolve or Composure. If the goal would be a breaking point for the character, add two Doors. 
If accomplishing the goal would prevent a character from resolving an Aspiration, add a Door. 
Acting in opposition to a Virtue also adds a Door. Doors may increase as the effort continues and the circumstances change. For example, if the goal seems mundane at first but the situation makes it reprehensible, that may increase the number of Doors. 
If your character gives up on the goal and shifts to another, any Doors currently open remain so, but assess Aspirations, Virtues, and Integrity in case of a potential increase.

Doors must be opened one by one. Each successful roll — not each success — opens one. 
Exceptional successes open two.

Also, Doors are specifically a one-way relationship between two characters. They may each have Doors to one another, or Doors to other characters.

First Impressions

First (and later) impressions determine the time required between rolls. The Storyteller sets the first impression based on any past history between the characters, the circumstances of their meeting, the nature of the favor being asked (if the acting character is asking right up front — sometimes it’s a better idea not to lead off with what you want), and any other relevant factors.

“Average impressions” call for weekly rolls, which makes the process very slow. Through play, your character may influence the interaction for a “good impression.” This may mean meeting in a pleasant environment, wearing appealing clothing, playing appropriate music, or otherwise making the situation more comfortable. This should not require a roll during a first impression, but requires one if attempted later. An excellent impression requires a roll to influence the situation. 
For example, you may use a Wits + Socialize to find the right people to invite to a party. Perfect impressions require further factors. It may involve leverage, or playing to
a character’s Vice (see below).

Hostile impressions come from tense first impressions, or threatening pitches. These interactions require you manipulate the impression, or to force the Doors (see below).

Vices

If your character knows her subject’s Vice, she can use it to influence the interaction. When presenting an offer that tempts that Vice, move the interaction one step up on
the chart. As a rule of thumb, if by agreeing to the temptation the target character stands to gain Willpower, then the temptation is a valid form of influence.

Soft Leverage (Gifts and Bribes)

Soft Leverage represents offers of services or payments in order to lubricate social interaction. Make the offer. If the recipient agrees, move the impression up once on the chart.
Mechanically, this can be represented by certain Merit dots. For example, a bribe may be represented by a Resources 3 offer, or an offer for a particular service may be reflected by Retainer 3. By default, these bribes give the recipient use of the Merit for a designated amount of time.

Impressions
ImpressionTime Per roll
PerfectOne Turn
ExcellentOne Hour
GoodOne Day
AverageOne Week
HostileCannot Roll

Opening Doors

At each interval, you may make a roll to open Doors to move closer to your character’s goal. The roll might be different each time, depending on the character’s tactics.
Some of the rolls might not even be Social. For example, if your character is trying to win someone’s favor, fixing his computer with an Intelligence + Computer roll could
open a Door.

As Storyteller, be creative in selecting dice pools. Change them up with each step to keep the interactions dynamic.
Similarly, consider contested and resisted rolls. Most resisted actions or contested rolls use either Resolve or Composure, or a combination of the two. But don’t let that stand as a limit. Contested rolls don’t require a resistance trait. For example, Wits might be used to notice a lie, Strength to help a character stand up to threats, or Presence to protect and maintain one’s reputation at a soiree.

Failed rolls impose a cumulative -1 penalty on further rolls. These penalties do not go away after successful rolls.
When the player fails a roll, the Storyteller may choose to worsen the impression level by one. If she does so, the player takes a Beat. If this takes the impression level to hostile, the attempt cannot move forward until it improves.

Aspirations

Aspirations are quick routes to influence. Find out a character’s goals, wants, and needs, and they can help move interactions forward. If your character presents a clear path and reasoning for how they’ll help a character achieve an Aspiration, remove a Door.
This doesn’t require follow through, but it does require a certain amount of assurance. If the opportunity presents itself, and your character pulls out of an offer, two Doors close.

Failure

A social maneuvering attempt can fail utterly under the following circumstances:
• The player rolls a dramatic failure on an attempt to open a Door (the player takes a Beat as usual).
• The target realizes he is being lied to or manipulated.
This does not apply if the target is aware that the character is trying to talk him into something, only if the target feels betrayed or conned.
• The impression level reaches hostile, and remains so for a week of game time. The character can try again during the next story.  

Resolution

Once your character opens the final Door, the subject must act. Storyteller characters abide by the intended goal, and follow through as stated.
If you allow players’ characters to be the targets of social maneuvering, resolve this stage as a negotiation with two possible outcomes. The subject chooses to abide by the desired goal, or offer a beneficial alternative.

Go With the Flow

If the character does as requested, and abides by the intended goal, his player takes a Beat.

Offer an Alternative

If the subject’s player chooses, he may offer a beneficial alternative, and the initiator’s player can impose a Condition on his character. This offer exists between players, it does not need to occur within the fiction of the game (though it can). The alternative must be beneficial, and not a twist of intent. The Storyteller adjudicates. 
The initiator’s player chooses a Condition to impose on the subject. It must make sense within the context of the scenario.

Example of Social Maneuvering

Stacy wants Professor Erikson to loan her a book from his private library. She intends to use the book’s contents to summon a demon, but Erickson doesn’t know that. Erickson is protective of his books, but he’d be willing to loan one out under the right circumstances. Erickson has Resolve 3 and Composure 4, so the base number of Doors Stacy needs to open is 3 (the lower of the two). Loaning out of a book wouldn’t be a breaking point, nor does it prevent him from achieving an Aspiration, but it does work against his Virtue (Cautious), so the total number of Doors Stacy needs to open to get the book is 4.

The Storyteller decides that the first impression is average; the two know one another (Stacy is a former student of Erickson’s), but they aren’t close. Stacy arranges to find
Erickson at a conference and impresses him with her knowledge of esoteric funerary rites. This requires an Intelligence + Occult roll, plus whatever effort Stacy had to put forth to get into the conference, but changes the impression level to “good.” 

Now, Stacy can make one attempt to open Doors per day. At the conference, Stacy’s player rolls Manipulation + Persuasion and succeeds; one Door opens. Stacy mentions
the book to Erickson and lets him know she’d like to borrow it. He’s not immediately receptive to the idea, but Stacy’s in a good place to continue.
The next day, Stacy emails the professor about a related work (Manipulation + Academics), but fails. Future rolls will have a -1 penalty. The Storyteller decides that the impression level slips to average.

Stacy still has to overcome three Doors. She spends the next week doing research into Erickson and discovers that he wants to become a respected academic. She tells Erickson that she has a colleague who can help break the cipher in which the book is written. This removes one Door without a roll. Now she must overcome two more before he’ll agree.

(Note that even if Stacy has no intention of helping Erickson in his quest toward academic glory, as long as he reasonably believes that lending her the book will help him achieve his Aspiration, it opens the Door.)

During her research into the professor’s personality, she also learns that his Vice is Vanity; he likes to see himself as the hero. Stacy goes to his office in tears, saying that she is in danger of being accused of plagiarism for copying a paper, and asks if he can help authenticate her work. Doing this allows him to come to her rescue, which in turn lets him soak up some praise; this would allow him to regain Willpower through his Vice, and as such is enough of a temptation to raise the impression level back to good. Stacy’s player rolls Manipulation + Expression for Stacy to compose a letter of thanks to him, and achieves an exceptional success. The last two Doors open, and Erickson offers to let Stacy borrow the book for a weekend. He probably even thinks it was his idea.

On the other hand, if Erickson is a player-controlled character, his player might decide he really doesn’t want to let that book out of his sight. He might offer an alternative — he’ll bring the book to Stacy, and let her use it for an afternoon. That, of course, might complicate her intended demon summoning, but she does get to put the Flattered
Condition on Erickson.

Forcing Doors

Sometimes, waiting and subtlety just aren’t warranted, desired, or possible. In these cases, your character can attempt to force a character’s Doors. This degree of urgency is high-risk, high-reward. Forcing Doors often leads to burnt bridges and missed opportunities.
When forcing Doors, state your character’s goal and her approach, then roll immediately. The current number of Doors apply as a penalty to the dice roll. The subject contests as normal. If successful, proceed to resolution as normal. If the roll fails, the subject is immune to further efforts at social maneuvering from your character.

Hard Leverage

Hard Leverage represents threats, drugging, intimidation, blackmail, kidnapping, or other heavy-handed forms of coercion. It drives home the urgency required to force open a character’s Doors.
Hard Leverage that requires that the character suffers a breaking point removes one Door (if the modifier to the roll — not considering the character’s breaking points — is
greater than -2) or two Doors (if the modifier is -3 or less).

Example

In the example above, assume Stacy really needs that book now. She goes to Erickson and threatens him at gunpoint to give up the book. Doing this is definitely a breaking point for Stacy. She applies a modifier for her Integrity, and then a modifier based on the severity of the action and the harm it does to her self-image and psyche. She’s not in the habit of committing violent acts and Erickson is obviously terrified, so the Storyteller assigns a -2 modifier to the breaking point roll. 
This being the case, one Door is removed. If she’d shot him the leg to let him know she was serious, the breaking point modifier would have been at least -3, which would have removed two Doors.
In either case, her player rolls Presence + Intimidation plus any bonus for the gun, minus the appropriate penalty. 

Influencing Groups

Influencing a group works in the same way, using the same system. This generally means that influencing a group requires at least an excellent level impression, or
forcing their Doors, unless the group meets regularly. The Storyteller determine Doors using the highest Resolve and Composure scores in the group. She also determines three Aspirations, a Virtue, Vice, and relative Integrity score for the group. When resolving the influence, most members will abide by the stated goal. Individual members may depart and do as they will, but a clear majority does as your player suggests.

Successive Efforts

After opening all Doors and resolving the action’s goal, your character may wish to influence the same person or group again. If successful, successive influence attempts
begin with one fewer Door. If failed, or if hard leverage was employed, successive influence attempts begin with two more Doors. These modifiers are cumulative. No matter what, a character will always have at least one Door at the outset.
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