Last night and during my lunch hour today i’ve been thinking about the best way to represent morality within my NWOD hack; since all of the games feature some sort of morality (generally represented by a Hierarchy of Sins that causes moral degeneration of the character when it is transgressed against) and a struggle to prevent it from sliding down to a point where the character becomes a monstrous NPC that dances at the whims of the GM, it doesn’t seem inappropriate to say that the descent of morality is a major theme within the entire gameline. The various Morality systems within the different game lines have been given different names, whether it’s the Humanity of Vampire: the Requiem, Wisdom in Mage: the Awakening or Clarity in Changeling: the Lost but broadly they function in the same way, building on the mortal system of morality provided in the core NWOD rulebook to track a characters decline or fall.
I originally considered added an additional Stress Tracker where a character would sustain Stress when committing “sins” as a method of tracking a character’s degeneration, however this wasn’t particularly interesting as far a the story goes and didn’t really take into account the individual tweaks on the morality system that were applied to each supernatural.
Currently my favourite alternative to the Stress Tracker system is the addition of a set of Morality Consequence boxes that function in most ways like the normal set of Consequence boxes as detailed in FAE, however when a character commits a sin from the reduced Hierarchy of Sins (as shown below) they automatically acquire a Morality Consequence, the strength of which is related to the “sin” committed.
Hierarchy of Sins
- Injury to another, theft – mild morality consequence.
- Arson, manslaughter – moderate morality consequence.
- Murder or other heinous acts – severe morality consequence.
Morality consequence boxes and normal consequence boxes can be used for this purpose and, if all the boxes of the listed level are full then the damage bumps up to the next level. For example: If a vampire steals from someone and both his Mild Consequence boxes are full then the consequence becomes a Moderate Consequence (and if they are both full then it gets bumped up to Severe).
Anyone who gains a morality consequence when their list is already full has fallen to such a state of degeneration that they are no longer suitable for play as an player character and become a particularly monstrous NPC. After thinking of this idea I wondered whether or not this was a little harsh considering that there are only three Morality Consequence boxes on the tweaked sheet that I have been working on, and I toyed with the idea of adding additional boxes; however some re-reading of the FAE rulebook lead me to realise that the recovery rate of Consequences is fairly rapid:
- Mild consequences – clear at the end of the scene.
- Moderate consequences – clear at the end of the next session.
- Severe consequences – clear at the end of the scenario.
Looking at the recovery times I think that it is not unreasonable that a creature who goes around committing “sins” willy-nilly will quickly burn through their consequences; although I did decide that allowing the normal consequence tracker to also ‘soak’ Morality Consequences was probably a wise move (although Morality Consequence tracker can only be used to ‘soak’ consequences from Morality.
I’m eventually planning to tie blood hunger and other such concepts into the two Consequence trackers.
A link to my WIP character sheet for the hack can be found here
Changing the Rules
Having run nine sessions of the game one thing had become quite obvious to myself as the GM, and that was that, whilst we were very much enjoying the Warhammer 40K background (since most of the players had more than a passing familiarity with it) the actual rules system felt a little clunky and a lot of time was spent during a game session flipping through our (very)slowly expanding pool of rulebooks looking up various abilities and powers. My own preference has always been for games where the story is the main focus of the session and the rules almost fade into the background, supporting but not over-powering the game; slowly I began to consider the idea of keeping the game background but changing to rules to something a little more story based and streamlined.
I dug out my old printed copy of FUDGE, it was a system that i’d always liked the look of and it contained some very interesting notes on converting across elements from other systems; searching around on the internet lead me to discover the surprising number of RP based communities that had sprouted up on Google+ since the last time I had used it. One in particular caught my eye, a community based around FATE, an updated and expanded version of FUDGE, and this in turn lead to the discovery of Diaspora, a science-fiction template game for FATE that already covered most of the elements that I wanted for my game.
On the evening before the session I printed out some character sheets and did my best to create Diaspora versions of the characters that, whilst not precise replicas, maintained the essential nature of the characters…
- Lord Captain Black: A rich, socialite with a dark, haunted background and a soul touched by the warp.
- Navigator York Benetec: A physical strong and twisted mutant bearing the navigator gene.
- Chief Confessor Cornelius: A fiery priest, secure in his faith and wearing it like armour against the alien and the deviant.
- Enginseer Prime Pak: A techpriest steeped in the art of the Omnissiah and bearing many strange pieces of technology either incorporated into his body or buzzing around him.
…since the players were currently on Hiveworld Decusis I decided not to worry so much about the spaceships at this moment, the idea was to first try the rules in a test-lite session and see if the Diaspora rules looked promising and then, if so, continue to use them in future sessions.
Quickly listing equipment I halved the damage modifers and penetration values from the Rogue Trader equipment list and used them as weapon stats for the Diaspora rules, assigning them to three categories…
- Melee weapons
- Slug weapons
- Energy weapons
…the energy weapons were further divided into melee and ranged varieties.