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I'm currently running a short World of Darkness mortals campaign using only the core systems rulebook. I soon house-ruled that we weren't going to have Virtues and Vices for our campaign because they seemed very easily exploited. I'm afraid that the players might try every chance they get to randomly do something spontaneously saintly, not because it was the right thing to do or because the character would do that, but because they get to regain ALL their willpower points. And my players tend to spend willpower and get a +3 bonus all the time, even now that they can't really regain it. Imagine how it would be if they knew that they just have to do something nice to get bonuses all over again.

Should I keep avoiding the virtues and vices, giving them no proper way of regaining any willpower or am I just overly paranoid and it won't be as bad as I think?

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You know, if you feel like your player's characters aren't actually being virtuous for virtues sake, who's to say that you actually have to accept it? Moreover, you gain ALL of your willpower back because it's going to cause you grief in the long run. Don't forget to stick it to them! Make Love Hurt! – B.A. Thomas Aug 21 '12 at 18:32

I do think you're being too cautious.

  1. One of the key elements of the Storytelling System is the Willpower economy. It's a "virtuous cycle." The difficulty of 8 means that, in order to succeed on important rolls, you'll want to spend Willpower — those three dice generally produce an additional success. With your Willpower rapidly depleting, the best way to gain it back is to do things that trigger your Virtue or Vice. Pursuing those things tends to get you into trouble, which means you'll make more rolls, where you'll want to succeed. In other words, when your players are spending WP to gain those +3 dice, they are doing what the game expects. It's a good thing. Giving them "no proper way to regain Willpower" would be as bad as giving D&D characters "no proper way to regain hit points."

  2. Virtues and Vices trigger when you fulfill them at some risk or danger to yourself, or in circumstances where it would be advantageous not to fulfill them. You're unlikely to have the kind of "spontaneous saintly acts" that you're afraid of -- because every time they do, they'll be putting themselves into deeper trouble.

  3. I'm curious about the phrase "not… because the character would do that." The Virtue and Vice, in a real sense, tell you what the player thinks the character would do. It's good to trust that.

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All of these points are good, but especially the last one. I'm not sure if this is the core or if it's just something that came about in gaming circle, but when players are making characters, we always talk about Virtue and Vice as "what my character is like at her best/what my character is like at her worst." These are meant to be tools for rewarding in character action, rather than effective playing. And in a WoD campaign, you'd be surprised how HARD it can be to satisfy virtues, sometimes. – jwrush Aug 21 '12 at 15:32
Running with point 3, a policeman with Justice/Wrath is an officer dedicated to stopping crime, but might be committing more out of his anger. His Virtue and Vice define him in broad strokes. Taking those away takes away what makes him tick. – Sawyer Dec 3 '15 at 20:02

If your players are taking "every chance they get to do something spontaneously saintly", remember that Virtue can only be triggered once per session. Vice can trigger once per scene, but has the double-whammy of leading to better plot hooks because of the inherently negative nature of a vice and because it only provides one point of Willpower per shot.

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While it is annoying that they seem to do the 'right thing for the wrong reasons", the only thing you should worry about primarily is that they don't leave the core plot too often to indulge in their virtue/vice. Otherwise, the only thing I can recommend is to start playing off of their low temporary willpower pools by making them lethargic, irritable, or depressed because they lack that extra oomph of drive and resolve. However this is a slippery slope to go down if you aren't careful.

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Virtues and Vices regulate your game as Jadasc suggests; Okeefe's suggestion above I think is self suggesting as to why - don't house rule something unless you have a specific reason, since most game designers nowadays do playtest their rules for usability.

V&V rewards/punishes character consistency and player role playing with Willpower, which provides a very handy boost that you believe requires some form of regulation. Tossing the mechanism, what can replace it, since you want to keep Willpower a valuable commodity?

You could replace it with the Obsession | Rage | Noble of Unknown Armies, for example, as those are more player customized rather than following a "seven sins" model like that found in WoD.

But if that replacement seems interesting - well, have a good reason for it, and convey it to your players. Sell it and the style of play.

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One important thing to remember when using Virtues and Vices is considering how they affect the character. I like to consider the Willpower benefit as a rush, almost like a high. Indulging Vices is something the PCs should be able to do in any given scene so long as they can justify it, but it will probably have ramifications. Indulging Virtues are harder to justify, and I think it's important to make them cumulative. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Paul is a police officer with the Vice of Wrath. He returns to the station after getting his ass handed to him by a werewolf where he used most of his Willpower. He yells at several people who cross his path in an attempt to regain a point, but he hasn't really felt the rush of his Vice. He still has that rage bottled up inside. He gets to the forensics lab and he finds out a critical piece of information won't be available for six weeks and he responds by angrily sweeping his arm across a table, knocking over and destroying several pieces of lab equipment. Now he is facing reprimands from the lab technicians and his superiors for his outburst, but he has earned his point of Willpower.

Erika is a furious maniac with a heart of gold and the Virtue of Charity. The first session, she indulges her Virtue by serving an evening at a soup kitchen. The Storyteller gives her full Willpower for it, and so she tries again next week. This time, however, Erika doesn't feel the same rush from doing this good deed. It doesn't regain her WP this week, but she desperately needs it for an operation the next night. Rather than spending two hours serving dinner, she instead gives five hours helping various down-on-their-luck persons obtain job interviews and flesh out their resumes. Great, she has her WP. The next week, she has to find a new way to indulge it, so maybe she spends her month's allocation of Resources on supplies for a shelter. The next week, maybe she actually gives up her Resource dot on a homeless family (as in she is now financially supporting them through repeat donations, or with a stock portfolio, etc.), and soon she has nothing more to give. She has driven herself into the ground to get those WP fill-ups.

From this, you can see the intentions of the developers: Vices have consequences for indulging them and Virtues require a toll before you even know if it will work. Prudence isn't just retreating from a fight gone bad, it's refusing a lucrative contract because of risks that might not even be apparent to most people. Charity isn't donating a few dollars to the Salvation army, it's sacrificing your comfort to give others the same. Faith isn't praying in a pew, it might be going up to a gangster brandishing a handgun and preaching of God's mercy. Fortitude isn't staying up late to work on a case, it's continuing to investigate when assassins' bullets have hit you twice now. Hope isn't blogging about a wonderful day, it's hacking into a database to erase debts. Justice is putting down a friend who has decided he is outside the law. Temperance is vetoing a bill to increase comfort levels in a city because you recognize it will put the city in debt, despite it being an unpopular position. Indulging a Virtue is putting yourself in the line of fire for your convictions, especially when doing so won't give you any benefits.

It is for these reasons why Virtues and Vices were implemented the way they are, because they promote fantastic roleplaying by rewarding the characters for taking chances on disadvantageous actions. Houseruling them away means your players have no reason other than RP to stick to who their characters are, which is not sufficient for many players.

TL;DR: Vices should have consequences for their use (Morality is an excellent motivating factor), and Vices require characters risk their well-being in some fashion.

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