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I have a player who wants to take the following flaw, in VTM Revised edition. We are NOT playing V20.

SOFT-HEARTED (l-pT. FLAW) You cannot stand to watch others suffer. You avoid any situation that involves causing someone physical or emotional pain, unless you make a Willpower roll (difficulty 8). You must have a Humanity rating of 7 or above to take this Flaw.

This flaw has a requirement that the character have a Humanity rating of 7. Path ratings that high tend to go down during the course of play rather quickly - simply doing the day to day activities of being a vampire can jeopardize such a high rating.

So rather than asking what should be done IF the character degenerates, I am asking for what to do WHEN the character degenerates. I know of no rule that dictates what happens. If that rule exists, I would love to know. If not, what should I do?

The options I can think of are:

  • Continue to enforce the flaw even after it falls below the threshold
  • Keep the flaw on the sheet, and only enforce it while the character has a humanity above 7
  • Remove the flaw from the sheet, and dock the character the XP required to buy the flaw off
  • Ban the flaw (and similar flaws) outright to prevent this problem from happening.

I think I need to expand on the problem a bit for this to make sense to non-WoD/non-VtM players.

  • At Humanity 10, 9, or 8, You are a saint. The book describes them as more human than humans.
  • Humanity 7 is a typical human - hurting people and stealing is wrong but sometimes the speed limit is just too slow.
  • At humanity 6 and lower... the sentiment changes to something more along the lines of "People die, meh." At this point, you have little moral trouble murdering.

So this particular flaw, with a humanity rating of 7 makes sense - you not only have moral issues inflicting harm, you also have a moral aversion to witnessing said acts. With a humanity rating of 6, you have absolutely no problem doing the deeds. So what of the flaw? Baring a rule from the book giving clarification, I am left with the four previous options to handle the situation.

A fifth option has occurred to me, as I was editing this question: I could not allow the character to degenerate lower than humanity 7 if they have this flaw. This is the least desirable option as it breaks many mechanics in the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a quick comment - as this site expects questions to be answered by experts, I wouldn't worry too much about whether your question makes complete sense to people who don't run/play WoD or VtM \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Oct 14 '14 at 10:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that was the assumption I made when I first posted the question. This assumption had since...been brought into question. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Oct 14 '14 at 10:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just because an answerer doesn't display that expertise, it doesn't mean that it isn't the site's expectation :) \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Oct 14 '14 at 11:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ While expected to be answered by experts, non-experts also look at the question--and sometimes we don't know what we don't know, so it helps understanding the question itself. Also sometimes experts are so used to being experts that they apply their expert knowledge unwittingly outside their field. TL;DR, adding clarity and context can't really hurt. \$\endgroup\$ – Smithers Oct 14 '14 at 17:23
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I don't think there's one correct answer to this question. I know this is generally not well received on this site, but World of Darkness rely many times on player's common sense. So, there's no general rule to what to do when the prerrequisites doesn't apply, which means every Storyteller or game group must decide on every case.

Now, on this particular Merit, this is how I would handle it. The character loses humanity, which means he is no longer as sensitive as he used to be. But he is kinda broken by the experience, as he has lost one of his defining qualities. I could represent it in two ways:

  • The character is severely shocked and traumatized. So, he must roll Willpower to do most important actions, until he pays an XP cost for the Flaw.
  • The flaw is simply changed by a Derangement, which represent he is no longer able to reconcile with himself.
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Firstly -

Flaws are liabilities or disadvantages that pose challenges to a character's nightly existence.

This particular flaw poses a disadvantage to the character; so with regards to your five choices:

  • Enforcing the flaw anyway makes the most sense - The player has agreed to take a penalty to their character at a cost (and, for that matter, giving them a free point at character generation). Furthermore, the flaw itself only mentions 8 Humanity being required to purchase, not to suffer from the effects.
  • I think your third proposal is also a very valid choice, if you want to remove the Flaw, but I think a combination might be best for what you're after.

Given that Humanity 6 and below is unlikely to stick with the trait, why not enforce it at Humanity 7 and 8, and then make the player pay a penalty for it (with experience) if they drop below 7? That ensures you don't break any game mechanics, and that the player isn't being impacted by something that wouldn't realistically impact their character.

In a search through the book, I haven't found any rule that indicates anything about drops in abilities having an effect on flaws or merits, but I also couldn't find any Errata, which could, I suppose, cover it. It also wasn't mentioned in the FAQ I read.

I can't see that banning the flaw outright would make much sense given the alternatives, either.

In chapter five, it mentions this rule, which I would tend to use:

This is the most important rule of all, and the only real rule worth following: There are no rules. This game should be whatever you want it to be, whether that's a nearly diceless chronicle of in-character socialization or a long-running tactical campaign with each player controlling a small coterie of vampires. If the rules in this book interfere with your enjoyment of the game, change them. The world is far too big - it can't be reflected accurately in any set of inflexible rules. Think of this book as a collection of guidelines, suggested but not mandatory ways of capturing the World of Darkness in the format of a game. You're the arbiter of what works best in your game, and you're free to use, alter, abuse or ignore these rules at your leisure.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the RPG StackExchange. When you have a moment, check out the tour and help center. I am having a bit of difficulty trying to ferret out your answer. Can you edit it to make it more clear? It looks as though you are advising me to make a table ruling on what happens, but are not giving any advice specific to this game, or even to this situation. If you can clarify your answer, and back it up with precedent from the books, it would be very helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Oct 14 '14 at 10:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, sorry. I've only access to the core VTM Revised book, but I assume that's alright, edit inc. to clarify \$\endgroup\$ – Thomi Oct 14 '14 at 11:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is, in fact the edition that my group is playing. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Oct 14 '14 at 11:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Update posted, apologies if it was unclear! \$\endgroup\$ – Thomi Oct 14 '14 at 11:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi @Mu_, "I disagree with this"-type comments generally aren't constructive since it leaves nothing actionable for the author. Though since you've posted an answer, mentioning "I would avoid X" is a valid thing to state as part of an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 14 '14 at 15:06
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(Moved from comments because my response was too long winded)

I think Flamma is on the right track here. I don't know what cost in XP you can pay because there are no rules for buying a merit after the game begins (IIRC).

But storytelling is the answer. First of all, I need to ask, how did this character lose humanity? That is very important. Perhaps every time she commits an act that would have been forbidden by this flaw, she has flashbacks to the event that made her erase that dot.

Then you see what happens. In WoD, the player is as much a storyteller as the one running the game. Does she push through and do these things despite the flashbacks? Does she hold back despite her lack of humanity because she remembers who she was and sees the monster she has become? If a pattern emerges one way or the other, I would eventually give her a derangement of sadism and take another humanity point (erasing the flaw), or I would give her a chance to earn that humanity point back.

Long story short -- make it subtle and let the player decide what happens to her character, but in the end make sure it is meaningful because this was a defining quality of her character.

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The only option I would not consider is enforcing the flaw after losing Humanity. By definition, a character who loses Humanity becomes egoistical and insensitive towards others, if not directly sadistic. Enforcing a character to avoid injuring others when he has low Humanity will ruin the experience.

The second option is not quite good either, specially if the player that chose the merit does not care about Humanity (a signal of that he is picking the flaw only to get freebie points).

I would directly ban the flaw. If the player wants to play a soft hearted vampire who do not want to harm anyone, let him do by pure roleplay. Having the player roll WP to make the things he supposedly do not want to make will make a poor experience and will harm the immersion in his character.

Be careful with M&F. If you read carefully them you will see that many (if not most) of them are unbalanced, inappropriate or expendable at least. My advice is to allow a merit or flaw only when it is necessary to represent the character you are building.

NOTE: Have in mind that World of Darkness games are not quite heavy on rules, so this kind of questions are left to the good (or not so good) judgment of the Storyteller.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Although not a WoD guy (having only played a game or two), the flaw sounds like something that should be banned outright. Unless it's very recently acquired (like from trauma right before play begins), vampires who will "avoid any situation that involves causing someone [including other vampires!] physical or emotional pain" don't seem like they'll last very long and won't mesh well with most groups: "Your political maneuverings may make the Vampire Prince of Chicago sad; roll Willpower! O, you failed! Better try something else!" \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 14 '14 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan The flaw is meant for young, almost naive vampires or those who are playing through the struggle for Humanity. (Think of Louis, from Interview with a Vampire, as an example.) \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Oct 14 '14 at 19:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy Please use comments only for asking clarifying questions about or suggesting improvements to questions and answers. Stuff beyond that should be woven into your own answers instead. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Aug 13 '16 at 14:51

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