Merits and Equipment

CORE MERITS
Mental Merits:

  • Danger Sense (••): You have a +2 Edge on rolls (usually Wits + Composure) to detect ambush, surprise, or impending peril.
  • Eidetic Memory (••): You have a perfect memory and a +2 Edge on any rolls to remember something under stress.
  • Encyclopedic Knowledge (••••): You can roll Intelligence + Wits to recall useful factoids about situations normally outside the realm of your experience.
  • Holistic Awareness (•••): Once per day, you can take an hour to roll Intelligence + Medicine, halving the healing time of a patient’s worst kind of damage for that day.
  • Language (•): You can understand and communicate in an additional language fluently.
  • Library (• to •••••): Choose a field of information with the breadth of a Skill specialty. You have a trove of information pertaining to that specialty, and gain an Edge equal to your rating in this Merit to research the topic when you have access to your library. You can buy this merit multiple times, each time for a different field of information.
  • Meditative Mind (•): You ignore penalties from pain or the environment to any rolls to enter a meditative state.
  • Trained Observer (• or •••): With one dot in this merit, you have 9-again on Perception rolls. With three dots, you have 8-again instead.
  • Vice-Ridden (••): You have a second Vice, but can only regain Willpower from one of your Vices in each scene.
  • Virtuous (••): You have a second Virtue, but can only regain Willpower from one of your Virtues in each session.

Physical Merits:

  • Direction Sense (•): You can instinctively orient yourself along compass directions or retrace your steps.
  • Disarm (••): If you equal or exceed a target’s Dexterity in net successes on a weapon attack, you can disarm them instead of dealing damage.
  • Dodge (••): You can use Dexterity + Athletics to defend yourself from ranged attacks or environmental hazards as long as there is room to leap bodily out of the way.
  • Fast Reflexes (• or ••): Your Initiative increases by 1 for each dot of this merit you have.
  • Fighting Style (• to •••••): Choose one of your skill specialties in Brawl, Firearms, or Weaponry. When making attacks or taking other combative instant actions falling under that specialty, increase your Edge by your dots in this merit, to a maximum Edge of 5.
  • Fleet of Foot (• to •••): Increase your Edge on rolls to cover ground on foot equal by your dots in this merit.
  • Giant (••••): You have an extra health level and a +1 Edge on rolls to hold people down, block doorways, or otherwise leverage your size.
  • Grappler (••): You can use Brawl plus the lower of your Strength and Dexterity to defend yourself against attacks originating within arm’s reach from enemies you can grab, as long as your attacker was within your reach at some point during their turn.
  • Iron Stamina (• to •••): You ignore up to this merit’s rating in Difficulty arising from fatigue, sleeplessness, or physical pain.
  • Natural Immunity (•): You have a +2 Edge on rolls to resist infection, sickness, and disease.
  • Quick Healer (••••): Your natural healing is twice as fast: one bashing in eight minutes, one lethal in one day, one aggravated in four days.
  • Strong Back (•): You have a +1 Edge on rolls to lift, carry, or shift weight.
  • Strong Lungs (•••): You can hold your breath for longer than usual, as though you had two more dots of Stamina.
  • Stunt Driver (•••): You can drive a vehicle and perform an unrelated action in the same turn.
  • Toxin Resistance (••): You have a +2 Edge on Stamina rolls to resist drugs and poisons, but anesthetics are half as effective as normal on you.
  • Weapon Parry (••): You can defend yourself using Weaponry plus the lower of Strength and Dexterity instead of Defense unless your attacker wasn’t in your reach at any point during their turn and nothing you’re holding could stop whatever’s coming at you.

Social Merits:

  • Allies (• to •••••): Choose a character, social group or organization. You can call upon them for favors within the scope of their power or influence. Each favor is assigned a rating from 0 to 5:
    • + 0: Simple tasks without appreciable cost or risk to the ally
    • + 1: The task is particularly difficult, involved or time-consuming
    • + 1: The task will cost the ally appreciable influence or resources
    • + 1: The task poses considerable risk or danger to the ally
    • + 2: The ally will bring appreciable supernatural power to bear on the task (this might prevent a favor from being difficult, costly, or risky, depending on the power)

    You begin each story with a pool of Allies points equal to your dots in that Allies merit. Each favor your ally undertakes on your behalf costs you Allies points equal to its rating. Your Allies points can be rebuilt if you complete favors for your ally that your ally requests – you regain points commensurate to the kind of favor you do, but can’t have more points at once than you have dots in the Allies merit.

    You can make a roll (usually Manipulation + Persuasion) to negotiate with your ally when asking them for a favor. Success reduces the cost of the favor by 1, and exceptional success reduces the cost of the favor by 2.

    You can buy the Allies Merit multiple times. Each purchase represents your influence over a different character or group, and each Merit’s pool of expendable points is tracked separately.

  • Anonymity (•to •••••): You’re careful not to leave a paper trail, and any attempt to track or research you suffers a Difficulty equal to your rating in this Merit.
  • Contacts (• to •••••): You’ve built a network of experts and informants that you can draw upon for information, and who draw on you for information in turn. For each dot of this Merit, choose a field of information within the scope of a Skill specialty. When you draw on your contacts in their field of specialty, rolls you make to recall or research information gain the rote action quality.
  • Fame (• to •••): You’re famous in some way. This merit gives an Edge equal to its rating to social rolls your fame benefits, but also an Edge on any roll others make to recognize you.
  • Inspiring (••••): Once per game session, you can roll Presence + Persuasion to inspire those around you, allowing those actively assisting you to regain a willpower point. You can’t use this merit on yourself, and no character can benefit from it more than once per day.
  • Resources (• to •••••): Each dot of Resources represents increasing amounts of disposable income that your character can use to make purchases beyond those necessary to maintain their lifestyle. One dot means about $500 of disposable income a month and twice that in assets, while five dots allow for $50,000 in monthly disposable income and five million dollars in assets. Resources dots aren’t spent or depleted through use; you can afford items with a Resources cost equal to your Resources rating once or twice a month, and obtain cheaper goods or services more often.
  • Retainer (• to •••••): You have a loyal assistant, aide, or servant. This Merit’s rating is an indication of their power or skill. Generally, a Retainer has a dicepool of (5 + their rating) in their area of specialty, or half that amount otherwise. A Retainer can be assumed to enjoy a +3 Edge in combat or other situations in which Edges are important. A Retainer that suffers their Merit rating in total net successes of attack or opposition is defeated and can’t continue to meaningfully affect the scene. If your Retainer is aiding you directly in a scene, you can use their dicepool in place of your own or claim up to half that Retainer’s rating rounded up as your minimum success total for appropriate rolls.
  • Safe Place (• to •••••): You have a particularly secure place to go, and others need at least as many successes as you have dots in this Merit to gain entry by normal means. Your safe place can feature traps and other security measures that inflict its rating in automatic lethal damage on intruders; these traps can be circumvented with appropriate Animal Ken, Crafts, Larceny, or Science rolls with a Difficulty equal to your safe place’s rating, and defended against normally if they’re sprung. When you’re in your safe place, you add its rating to your Initiative score.
  • Staff (• to •••••): You have a group of reliable assistants or servants. Choose one Skill for each dot of this Merit; you can count on your Staff to complete tasks based on that Skill with one automatic success.
  • Status (• to •••••): You have standing, whether official or unofficial, in some organization or social group. A Status merit provides an Edge equal to its rating to social rolls made against other members of that group that don’t outrank you, and also usually indicates some formal rank whose privileges and responsibilities you automatically enjoy.
  • Striking Looks (• or ••): Your physical appearance makes it easier to influence people. Whether you look attractive, fearsome, trustworthy, or harmless, you can claim an Edge equal to your Merit rating on any social roll to which your looks lend an advantage. You specify what kind of appearance your character has when purchasing this merit.

Supernatural Merits:

  • Destiny (• to •••••): The world conspires to preserve you so that you can meet or fulfill some future event, whether you want it to or not. You begin each story with a pool of Destiny points equal to your dots in the Destiny merit. Up to once per session, you regain a Destiny point up to your maximum amount when you’re significantly denied agency, such as by being beaten into submission or seized by powerful mind control, without spending Destiny points to mitigate or undo that misfortune.

    At the end of each scene, you can spend Destiny points to mitigate lasting harm you’ve suffered in that scene:
    • One Destiny point can downgrade a wound suffered in the previous scene in your last three health boxes from aggravated to lethal, from lethal to bashing, or from bashing to empty. This works even on Resistant wounds and can rescuscitate you from unconsciousness or even death.
    • One Destiny point can restore one of your last three Willpower points that you lost in the previous scene, unless they were lost to a crisis of conscience.
    • One Destiny point can restore one Willpower dot that you lost in the previous scene.
    • One Destiny point restores to its prior rating and function another Merit of yours that was disabled, sabotaged, or destroyed in the previous scene, such as an assassinated Retainer, burned-down Safe Place, or marred Striking Looks.

    Destiny generally doesn’t work through blatant supernatural power, but instead through fortunate coincidence and retroactive continuity: a fatal stab turns out to have missed the heart by inches, a loyal functionary cancelled a ruinous financial transaction at the last minute on a hunch, an ally or relative turns out to be able to furnish you with a replacement safehouse.

    Each Destiny comes with a bane, a circumstance expressed as a short phrase that can dissipate and unravel the Destiny’s hold over you. When you’re stymied or opposed by that circumstance, whether the opposition fits the description literally or metaphorically, you can’t use Destiny points to mitigate or undo lasting harm you suffer in that scene.

  • Dream (• to •••••): Once per game session, after at least an hour of sleep, meditation, or otherwise altered consciousness, you can roll Wits + Composure + Dream to receive supernatural insight into a question or topic. Each success produces one symbolic clue pertaining to the subject of the dream. On an exceptional success, the dream is clear enough to warrant a suggestion about its interpretation from the Storyteller.
  • Unseen Sense (•••): You can feel the nearby presence of a specific type of supernatural phenomenon. Only mortals can have this merit.

EQUIPMENT
Equipment usually serves either to allow a character to perform a task they otherwise could not, or to add an Edge to a roll they could already make unaided. Like all Edges, Edges associated with equipment are combined holistically rather than stacking directly; everything a character has at hand is considered together and then assigned a total bonus.

The Edges associated with specific pieces of equipment normally only become important when characters are competing against each other; a character rolling to perform an uncontested action doesn’t need to carefully tabulate Edges against Difficulties and can instead depend on the storyteller to judge equipment quality against task difficulty and assemble an aggregate bonus or penalty for the task in question.

Weapons: Knives, clubs, pistols, and sniper rifles all provide an Edge on attacks, as well as usually enhancing the kind of damage that attack deals. Any weapon designed to be dangerous deals Lethal damage, and the total Edge derived from mundane weaponry won’t exceed five dice, as with other normal equipment.

The Edge of a weapon assumes that the weapon is being used under optimal conditions. Weapons might lose some or all of their Edge in situations that arrest their use – for instance, a shotgun is ineffective at long range and a battleaxe is cumbersome in small spaces. The Storyteller usually decides what kind of penalty to assess, but combatants themselves often take an active hand in arranging such circumstances; it’s entirely appropriate for a character to use an instant action to attempt to shift the battle to a place where their opponents’ arms are ineffective.

A listed weapon’s Edge is used for the purposes of inflicting bodily harm on other characters. When used to perform other tasks – knocking someone down, defending the wielder or another character, battering down a door – a weapon might have an Edge greater or less than its Edge for inflicting damage.

The Fighting Style merit can increase a weapon’s effective Edge to up to 5, even if it would normally have no Edge at all or have its Edge reduced due to unfavorable circumstances. Fighting Style can bring intrinsically weaker weapons up to par with stronger ones, or overcome the problems with using already-powerful weapons in awkward or inappropriate circumstances. Fighting Style’s improvement to Edge can apply to nondamaging as well as damaging attacks, and also to instant action attempts to block or hinder.

Character inventories aren’t strictly tracked, but it’s safe to assume that a character armed with a type of weapon is also equipped with enough spares or clips of ammo to continue to use it through a scene. Characters overloaded with weapons and ammo might be assigned penalties to Strength or Dexterity rolls by the Storyteller.

Melee Weapons: The Edge an object provides to Weaponry attacks depends on its suitability to melee combat and its raw size:

  • Lethality: Weapons that are totally improvised have a base Edge of +0 or +1, and might only deal bashing damage. Objects that are credibly dangerous but not outright weapons of war have an Edge of +2. Military-grade killing tools start with an Edge of +3.
  • Size: A weapon too large to be hidden seamlessly in everyday clothing has an Edge 1 greater than normal. A weapon or set of weapons so large as to defeat even trenchcoats, duffel bags, and cello cases – something impossible to conceal on one’s person – has an Edge 2 greater than normal.

For the purpose of attacking in combat, one weapon or set of weapons is as good as any other so long as they’re of equal lethality and size; a sword and shield can be as deadly as a two-handed axe in the hands of a trained warrior. The strengths and weaknesses of various weapons reveal themselves in other kinds of Instant Action – a shield might make it easier to defend an ally, while a spear or staff aids more in an attempt to trip an opponent or drive them back. Example melee weapons follow:

  • Shard of Glass, Sharp Rock: +0L
  • Awl, Kitchen Knife: +1L
  • Dagger, Hatchet: +2L
  • Machete, Fire Axe: +3L
  • Straight Sword, Flail: +4L
  • Battleaxe, Sword and Shield: +5L

This list isn’t definitive; specific weapons might be more or less deadly than those listed here (though, if they’re of mortal make, no better than +5), inflict bashing rather than lethal damage, or have other special properties.

Thrown Weapons: Thrown weapons resemble melee weapons, except that they can be used to attack at range with a Dexterity-based dicepool rather than a Strength-based dicepool and need to then be picked up or replaced. Such weapons are generally light enough to heft and throw with one hand, so their Edge usually doesn’t exceed four dice, but they can be combined with other equipment to generate a higher Edge when fighting hand to hand. For instance, a character hurling javelins while holding a shield with their other hand attacks with a +4L weapon at range but can bring a +5L Edge to bear in melee combat.

The Weaponry skill is usually used to deal lethal damage with thrown weapons. The Athletics skill can be used to accurately throw objects, but doesn’t represent the expertise required to deploy spears, throwing knives, javelins, and similar objects to lethal effect. Ranged attacks using Dexterity + Athletics generally involve rocks or other improvised projectiles and almost always inflict bashing damage unless the projectile is explosive or otherwise intrinsically dangerous.

Firearms: Firearms almost always deal lethal damage and can easily attack from distances that might take characters one or multiple turns to close. Their Edges usually range from +3L to +5L based on their size and sophistication. Some rare firearms might deal bashing damage by firing rubber bullets or administering electric shocks. Some firearms allow their users to use autofire, dealing automatic damage to each target in an area rather than attacking normally.

  • Pistol, Light SMG: +3L
  • Hunting Rifle, Shotgun: +4L
  • Automatic Rifle, Heavy SMG: +5L

A character using a firearm in combat is assumed to be fighting conservatively, taking measured shots separated by enough time to allow them to reload as necessary. Assuming they didn’t enter the fight strapped for resources, they don’t need to worry about the minutiae of digging clips out of side pockets, chambering fresh rounds, and so on. Autofire consumes a great deal of ammunition, and players of characters on a budget should establish with the Storyteller how many times they can use the autofire action before running out of ammo all together.

Armor: Armor is worn equipment that mitigates damage characters are otherwise unable to avoid. A character wearing armor enjoys guaranteed minimum successes on rolls (usually Defense rolls) made to avoid damage, even if no dice were actually rolled due to incapacitation or surprise. However, the more durability and coverage a piece of armor provides, the more that armor restricts its wearer’s movement.

Armor has an Armor Rating ranging from 1 to 3 equal to the number of effective minimum defense successes a piece of armor is worth. Armor Rating 1 might represent very heavy or padded clothing, while Armor Rating 3 is reserved for military-grade full body protective gear. In case it becomes necessary, a storyteller can treat an Armor Rating as an Edge that has been halved and rounded up.

Each suit of armor has a Mobility Penalty, a Difficulty on its wearer’s rolls to move with deftness, agility, or stealth. This penalty expressly applies to Defense rolls and other Strength or Dexterity rolls to reduce incoming damage in combat, but can inhibit other actions at storyteller discretion. A suit of armor’s Mobility Penalty is usually equal to its Armor Rating. Suits of armor might also come bundled with suites of associated extra Edges and Difficulties – for instance, a protective facemask might make it easier to intimidate people but more difficult to spot subtle details.

Specialized suits of armor which only block certain forms of damage (bulletproof jackets, fire retardants suits, and so forth) can have a mobility penalty up to two points lower than their armor rating.

Mundane armor normally degrades with use. After a piece of armor has blocked more total damage (meaning, has used its Armor Rating to mitigate points of damage that its wearer failed to avoid by rolling successes on Defense) than its current rating, its rating decreases by one until the armor is repaired.

Armor is only effective against conventional modes of attack. Sources of aggravated damage usually ignore armor all together, and supernatural modes of inflicting bashing or lethal damage are often strange enough to bypass the protective qualities of whatever the target is wearing.

Merits and Equipment

The Act of Hubris Ferrinus