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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

5 Answers 5

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

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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No, virtues and vices shouldn't break your game. In fact, if you house-rule a game before becoming experienced with it, you could end up with a broken game and have no idea why it's broken. For what seems to be a new GM and possibly a group with new players, I suspect it will simpler to play the rules as-is and, after doing so, decide on how the group as a whole wants to change the rules to better suit their game.

Try playing the rules as-is before changing them. Virtues and vices are tied to willpower; they're a reward for actions taken during the game. The play experience will directly inform you whether the mechanics work as intended. Then if you do decide to house-rule them out, it will be an informed decision.

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I don't see how this is particularly helpful. Without at least a why. Plenty of people house rule things for all kinds of reasons, saying not to without an explanation seems rather sad. –  wax eagle Apr 2 '12 at 12:15
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Perhaps the play experience will directly inform the GM whether the mechanics work as intended. Virtues and vices are tied to willpower; they're a reward for actions taken during the game. For what seems to be a new GM and possibly a group with new players, I suspect it will simpler to play the rules as-is and, after doing so, decide on how the group as a whole wants to change the rules to better suit their game. Otherwise, you could end up with a broken game and have no idea why it's broken. –  okeefe Apr 2 '12 at 14:41
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-1 This is good advice. It also doesn't answer the question, it just tells the asker to find out the answer on his or her own. It's essentially the same as saying "go google it," but even less useful because the asker presumably wants the advice before the house rule (or lack thereof) has an impact on play. –  GMJoe Apr 13 '12 at 16:54
    
This is really a comment, not an answer to the question. Please use "add comment" to leave feedback for the author. –  wax eagle Aug 14 '12 at 14:32
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But the answer is lacking in useful depth. As such, it isn't really an answer. If you don't want to expand, then it is more appropriate for a comment- if it is to stand on its own, it needs the why to go with the what. –  wraith808 Aug 14 '12 at 20:02

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