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Page 91 of the World of Darkness rulebook:

Morality 4: Impassioned crime (manslaughter). (Roll three dice.)

Does this mean that if the party gets in a fight with someone and end up killing the person they roll to lose morality? I thought that's what it meant but then one of the players seemed to get really upset because it means that they can't really fight all the time. (I wasn't really planning on them fighting all the time anyway...)

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Why can't they? Fight all the time, I mean. If they want to play someone who fights and kills a lot, sooner or later they'll drop to a Morality level where you no longer test for it — killing no longer bothers that character. Which is a little creepy, but it should be. Testing for Morality in WoD is like losing Hit Points in D&D; it's a natural part of the game. –  Jadasc Oct 9 '11 at 0:06
    
@jadasc They may have fixed this in new World of Darkness, but in oWoD the key difference is that humanity never returns (short of spending experience, which still leaves it as an experience penalty). Losing humanity is permanent character mutilation. Which isn't to say it should never happen (it's a theme of the game), but players and GMs should DEFINITELY be on the same page about it. –  AceCalhoon Oct 10 '11 at 15:44
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@AceCalhoon There are, indeed, more ways to mitigate the loss of Morality in nWoD than the classic, although it does cost XP to raise. However, I question the idea that this is Mutilation -- it's character shaping. You've chosen to play a character that isn't bothered by violence, even lethal violence? How is it scarring to have the stat that reflects that at a lower number? It's also worth noting that we're talking about Morality, which is a Mortal trait, rather than the Humanity of vampires. –  Jadasc Oct 10 '11 at 18:23
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@AceCalhoon Few; there's the risk of accruing Derangements, but they don't have the same kind of social penalties and there's no equivalent of "time in torpor" or "rising after sunset." I think the idea that killing people — not just planning it, but actually successfully ending lives — is something that takes no toll on your character emotionally is probably an indicator that your character concept is "bestial" at best. Remember that each hit only lowers you one step; you've got to do it three times and fail each time to degenerate that far. Don't want to play a low Morality PC? Kill less. –  Jadasc Oct 10 '11 at 18:49
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It might be relevant to note that in Hunter: The Vigil there is a system where you can modify what causes morality loss. It's added because since hunters generally are going to kill things that they've developed a skewed/variant look at common morality. So instead of have Morality 4 be impassioned crime (manslaughter) it might be "Thou Shall Not Suffer a Witch to Live". The result being that if they run into a mage (or some other type of "witch") that if they don't make every effort to kill it they have to make a morality check. –  mirv120 Oct 11 '11 at 16:00

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I'd say yes, they do have to roll Morality, even if they killed an enemy in self defense. Even if there's no other way out (the character is cornered and being shot at), taking a life takes its toll on their psyche. However, the Storyteller may choose to consider various mitigating circumstances and award bonuses for the roll etc accordingly.

You may want to check out this (old but rather relevant) thread at rpg.net for a detailed discussion.

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We've tended to play it such that it boils down to intention and provocation.

If you confront someone and a fight ensues, and you kill them, yes.

If you are ambushed and kill someone in self defense, then no.

If you are ambushed and then they flee, and you chase them down and kill them, then yes.

etc.

This is largely based on the fact that the rulebook doesn't say "Killing", it says "Impassioned Crime". Self defense is not a Crime.

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This was pretty close to our interpretation in Old World of Darkness games. Although, we were never quite certain at what point self defense required a roll... It seemed clear that characters with high humanity should roll at some point. –  AceCalhoon Oct 10 '11 at 15:33
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If someone dies, I would count it. You don't need to kill the people ambushing you. The morality check is part of whether you actually feel remorse or if you're one step closer to "he needed killin'". –  okeefe Oct 10 '11 at 15:43
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@okeefe That depends a lot on how gritty your particular game is (and most vampire games swing more towards gritty than comic book). Consider: SWAT teams are typically armed with assault rifles. Most police units have guns (even when supplemented by less-lethal measures). The prevailing wisdom seems to be that an armed, competent, force intent on killing people will often need to be met with deadly force. Certainly a roll should be required at some point... But humanity four? Or did they change the scale in nWoD? –  AceCalhoon Oct 10 '11 at 15:54
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There's some room for leeway. A SWAT team operating legally shouldn't fall under impassioned crime. –  okeefe Oct 10 '11 at 18:07
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@okeefe It's so. It's also true that SWAT teams have access to police psychologists to help them deal with the stresses that come afterward, and that even SWAT members aren't regularly killing people. (If they are, in a World of Darkness game, that's going to take a hell of a toll on them.) –  Jadasc Oct 10 '11 at 18:35

Absolutely it's manslaughter, and they should roll to lose morality. Maybe they should stop killing people if they want to keep their morality. Fights don't have to end in death.

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Yes, it is the principle of the games : doing such things impacts the link to humanity of characters. They slide to the beast side.

BUT you can mitigate the difficulty by adding (or substracting) dices to the dice pool in function of : 1) the context (life or death situation is different from free killing); 2) reaction of the character (not the player...) if he/she doesn't care, he has already loose the humanity point.. so either I subtract dices to the dice pool or I consider an automatic lost, if he knows it's "bad" and does no comment or a simple "no choice" argument it changes nothing for me (classical dice pool), finally if he/she feels culpability and acts in consequence (saying it either in private to me or to the others players, playing the "being shocked" stuff, etc... reacting as a "normal" human would do...) then I add dice to facilitate the success.

All that is considered in the core book....

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