I have a question regarding the courts of vampires regarding their physical strength based solely on the stats provided by the book Our World.

When I listened to the books and read some of the game guide(s), I was under the impression that there was a difference in physical strength between these guys.

To the effect of something like:

Black Court > Red Court > White Court

And Red Court > Red Court Infected...

But when I look at the stats listed, they all have [-2] Inhuman Strength and other physical powers and no might skill which would mean they are the same.

From a stat perspective (FATE points and aspects aside and/or unless I decide otherwise) are they physically the same, or am I misusing/understanding the system/stats provided?

I am not asking who is harder to kill or who is the greater threat as I know that, but I thought that physically there was a difference in might, and there doesn't appear to be and so I wanted to check to see if there was a modifier that I didn't know of that is supposed to be applied at all times (so fate and aspects don't qualify here) that I was missing.

Something like, Red Courts are supposed to get a x2 modifier when rolling for might at all times. Not a real thing, but it gives an example of what I thought I could have been missing or if the stats are meant to be taken at face value in this situation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I see you've edited to disallow answers that say Aspects are the source of the hidden modifiers you're looking for. Since you've already decided what the answer should be, this has become rhetorical and I'm voting to close as "not a real question". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 1:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ It wasn't rhetorical because it was something I speculated but was not sure about. The aspects do not have the hidden modifiers I am looking for which is why they weren't relevant to what I was asking. It's like using mapquest. I can tell it not to give me directions on how to leave my house because I know that part already. It doesn't give me those directions anyway or refuse to give me directions just because I don't need as much help as it wants to offer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 2:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ What you're looking for doesn't exist. DFRPG uses Aspects to do what you're looking for. You're welcome to ignore 90% of the system, but we can't help you then. And this question presumes its own answer, hence rhetorical. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 3:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wasn't looking for anything but a simple yes or no answer to my question and apparently that does exist because someone gave me that answer. Your problem is that to you my question was so simple that it didn't need to be asked or answered itself. To me, it wasn't and it didn't which is why I came here and asked. I thought the stats/skills could have been like the octane rating of gas. Not exact for one reason or another. I didn't need someone to explain a gas tank or combustion, just whether or not the octane rating was exact or not. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 4:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not that the question is too simple, not at all. It's that you're asking about whether the octane rating on the car is accurate when you're driving a car that runs on hydrogen fuel cells. Octane isn't meaningful to hydrogen cars in the same way that "tell me in just stats terms" isn't meaningful to Fate. You can insist on a simple yes/no answer to your octane question all day, but it won't make a hydrogen car run on petrol. But carry on—you're the one who has to play the resulting mess, not us. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 6:21

4 Answers 4



Oh, wait, you want details? Fine.

Without rereading the books right now, I don't remember them making a big deal of black court vamps being stronger per se, but a much bigger threat. And that is very much true- White court vamps aren't generally killers, and red court vamps don't have freakin' domination going on. Check the refresh costs. An average black court is -14, an average red is -11, and an average white is -8. The main differences? Domination instead of Addictive Saliva, Gaseous Form, and Supernatural Toughness instead of Inhuman. (Just as a quick test- try attacking something with Supernatural Toughness and Gaseous Form and nothing else. It's problematic.) White courts are down both Cloak of Shadows and Domination/Addictive Saliva. Yes, they are all equally strong- but a black court vampire is a lot harder to kill, as well being able to dominate mortals relatively easily. Red court vamps are about on par with whites in terms of a fight, but vastly better at controlling mortals and in being sneaky pains in the behind. Anytime you see refresh cost differences, you should look for a power difference.

Next, about those stats. Do you play D&D? Or at least know how it works? Six stats- strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. When you make a character, you roll a bunch of dice (Yes, yes, not everyone rolls dice, work with me a bit here) and those are the stats you get. Depending on your race, you get a +2 to some stats, and a -2 to others. Thing is, it's totally possible to wind up with a half orc with a 5 strength, a score so low that he might lose an arm wrestling contest with a housecat. This is pretty true for all systems I'm aware of- In Exalted you can make a dawn cast exalt with a single dot in strength and dexterity who loses a fistfight with a mortal, and in Shadowrun you can make a troll with a 5 body who can be outtanked by a particularly focused elf. In most games, racial bonuses indicate a natural aptitude, not outright automatic dominance. You will never be bad at it, and if you specialize in it you can be truly exceptional. Vampires in Dresden are much the same.

That vampire you're talking about has a +3 to most Might rolls without any other investment of skill. They can also probably use their "Vampire" aspect if they have a FATE point. In a skill cap 4 game, she has a decent shot at out-mighting someone who has put the maximum ranks into it. Imagine the scene- a frail looking woman in an evening gown is accosted by a beefy PC, muscle shirt stained with the sweat of his hours at the gym and his job down at the steel foundry. He grabs her roughly by the arm- and she picks him up and folds him in half, then chucks him to the side and keeps walking. That's not to say he can't possibly win this fight, but she's going to make him work for it despite putting any effort into the skill. (Gotta wonder what she did do with those skill points- Weapons perhaps? Drive?) Now picture her vampire bodyguard stepping out of the shadows- Built like the foundry worker's older brother who also plays at caber toss. Maxed ranks plus his supernatural powers puts him at around 7 Might- he's legendary without any FATE invocation, and can quickly get up into those double digit rolls that are the signal to duck and cover. It's not impossible to out-might a Dresden Files vamp, but it takes some doing, and it's never easy.

Conclusion- They are equally strong, (in terms of might and Inhuman Strength) but not equally powerful. Your players need not worry that a black court vamp is going out be excessively physically strong, but they should probably worry about the fact that small arms fire is more or less ignored due to their armor from Supernatural Toughness, and that they might be mentally dominated and forced to do the vampire's bidding.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like your answer, but one correction - the book does make a big deal about RCV and BCV being stronger than RCI and WCV. Both can summon up the same strength in short bursts, depending on the situation. But RCV and BCV are inherently stronger than WCV and RCI. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ It wouldn't surprise me if you were right, but the only head to head confrontation I can remember off the top of my head is in "It's my birthday, too!" where a WCV was winning a 2v1 fight against BCV until he got hungry. I have the rulebooks handy, but not the novels. Are you sure they mean stronger as in Might, not stronger as in more powerful? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. Normally WCV are a little stronger than humans. If they are Well-fed, then they can draw on enough strength to be as strong as the other Vamps, though only for short stretches. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 20:03

FATE doesn't go for fiddly bits

FATE, as I'm sure you've noticed, has narrative expendiency as its core philosopy. One result of this is that mechanics are pretty simple and don't have a lot of exceptions or fiddly bits hanging off.

So when the book describes one Court as stronger than another, that's primarily a narrative distinction, not something that the system is even interested in making a rule about that turns into a mechanical buff.

That doesn't mean it doesn't come up mechanically, though.

FATE has a Golden Rule.

Decide what you’re trying to accomplish first, then consult the rules to help you do it.

Figure out what you want (strength differentials in the Courts) and then look at the core rules to see how you might model it.

This rule exists because...

FATE wants you and your group to take control.

FATE doesn't limit you to using only its stunts, powers, templates, and creatures. FATE gives you all the tools you need to build your own, and that is the heart of the system: it's a set of simple mechanics that place creative power in the hands of the group who's actually playing the game.

So what does this have to do with FATE not giving Reds more physical prowess than Whites?

Skills are at the center of FATE, but they are not solid and do not give a reliable big picture when seen in isolation: Aspects are where FATE turns into something dynamic and alive, and the vampire stats are built on that assumption

If you don't see something in skills, look to Aspects

All that talk about how Red Court vamps are stronger than White Court vamps? Means that Red Court vamps can invoke their High Concept in any Might-based situation whereas White Courts can only do so in limited situations --but Whites can use their High Aspects in social and mental situations more readily, while Reds get compelled to burst out of their skins in stressful social conflicts.

Wraith is also right in saying that even a mortal with higher Might than a vampire can reasonably be expected to have limits on his physical capacity that a vampire does not: a Red Court can invoke his supernatural nature to achieve feats that no mortal could ever accomplish.

Look past the numbers, look at what Aspects mean and imply, because that's what FATE is really about: turning RP 'fluff' into mechanics. If the "flavor" says something, that can be actually invoked for mechanical impact.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the thing, I understand that this provides some suggestion, but some of it is put there for a reason. They didn't give a Master Black Court [-2] Inhuman Strength and say, "stat him how you like" and/or "give him skills to reflect him being stronger than a regular Black Court"... they gave him a [-4] Supernatural Strength so why is that? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 4:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Because of his age, and the difference being enough to account for the difference. If the difference is inconsequential to the mechanics, and is more based on narrative, then there is no difference. If there is a difference in mechanics, they make it so. And these are just for the base vampire- if you want a stronger one, give him the skills to back it up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 4:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IsaiahThorne - They did that because they wanted to represent that a Master Black court is stronger physically than a newly created one (and the books I believe present this). There's nothing stopping you from giving it the [-6] Strength power, or giving it a fighting based stunt, or a high fight skill, or any other number of things. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 4:51

From a purely skill driven perspective, no.

But they are referred to as skills rather than stats for a reason beyond the mundane. Stats imply that this is the be all and end all to the comparison. A skill does not stand alone- the aspects drive the conversation just as much as the numerical skill does.

The difference in strength of the courts, the narrative in Dresden states it in a bit of a situational manner that is sort of antithetical to Fate, i.e. Black and Red Court Vampires are stronger in general but White Court Vampires can summon the same strength for short bursts of time by using their excess emotional energy when well fed to feed the demon. As far as a system like Fate supports, these are narrative choices, rather than a difference in strength.

These are modeled by the aspect part of the equation, and the narrative of the story. If a Red Court Vampire is struggling with a White Court Vampire, the RCV would be well within his rights to compel the WCV on the basis of his continued exertion to create an advantage for himself in the struggle.

On top of this, the templates and stats listed in OW are basic vampires. Players will develop more from the Red Court Infected, and all of the templates say the very useful phrase "All other skills vary depending on the abilities and experience the vampire enjoyed in life."

So, if Cujo became infected (using your previous example), he'd still retain his Might skill, and have inhuman strength on top of it. Use that to your advantage.

In the situations where the strength difference is notated in the system, it is not a small difference, but a large one. So a Master Black Court Vampire is a lot stronger than not only RCV and WCV, but standard BCV also.

Ref: Inhuman Strength vs. +5 Might

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note the different skills area. If you want a stronger vampire, that is where you make it. As far as the base, I answered it in the last paragraph. Basically there isn't a difference other than narratively, as much as you want to make it. There isn't that gradation of difference in Fate in that manner. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 4:48

The other answers here are all great, but in order to help answer the question as you posed it I'd say that the "Strength" of the Vampires as you've listed it is correct, but doesn't relate to Inhuman Strength, but rather what counts as meal for them:

Black Court > Red Court > White Court

That's correct from a certain point of view. However, I'd encourage you to not think of that list of greater than's not as Top End Strength, but as an Endurance Rating of sorts of Said Strength.

In the Books, Harry describes a situation where he saw Thomas, a White Court Vampire, go one on one with a Black Court Vampire and he was very impressed. He goes on to state that it was largely due to the fact Thomas was "Very Well Fed". Later on, Thomas isn't feeding as regularly and can't push as hard.

Thus, think about it like this: White Court, Red Court, and Black Court can all bench press motorcycles, but the number of times they can do it is related to their Feeding Dependency.

Let's face it, finding the exact correct emotion, inspiring it and feeding on it is more difficult than just killing and eating somebody. Thus the well of energy each type is working with comes with it's own issues.

Black Court Vamps go with blunt attacks and rip victims apart and drink their blood. It's straightforward and doesn't require subtlety, and as such Black Court Vamps have the easiest method for filling their metaphysical gas tanks. Thus they are metaphysically "Stronger" in this regard. It also means Black Court get found out more easily (piles of corpses) and go through their food source faster (fewer people not in said pile).

Red Court works an addictive narcotic angle and can feed on anybody they can lick or get their saliva on for the most part. Technically, it's more subtle and more difficult than just ripping somebody's throat out and quenching your thirst—like Black Court—and is a bit more difficult. That said, Red Court generates fewer mass graves of exsanguinated dead bodies (but they still kill regularly).

White Court has the biggest hoops to jump through to eat. Inspire a compatible emotion, dodge all those with True Opposing Emotions, engage the victim closely and rip their life force away by contact. It's the most difficult feeding aspect of the Vamp Courts that we know of.

Thus White Court has to pace themselves a bit more than Red Court, and Red Court has to pace themselves more than Black Court; because, each respective methods of refueling is more difficult. Sure White Court can be just as strong as a Black Court, but they better have their next meal ready.

I think the idea is:

White Court needs to pace themselves more than Red Court.

Red Court needs to pace themselves more than Black Court.

Black Court doesn't need to pace themselves as they'll eat any human they can overpower.

I hope this helps make sense of their relative strengths.


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