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Dramatic Failures – Only dramatically failing when reduced to a chance die ensures that characters only fail dramatically when they were already pretty fucked to begin with. No more. Dramatic Failures will happen whenever the character rolls no successes and more 1s than their Skill that was used for that roll. For rolls that do not involve a Skill, such as some supernatural powers or Attribute + Attribute rolls or Willpower rolls, no successes and more 1s than half the base dice pool (round down) will result in a Dramatic Failure.

1. Background: Have a real god damned background. You’re not all orphans or loners or hermits that live in the desert in a cave. You’re a person. You have family or friends or a job, a boss, employees, or something. Pick a SETTING for your character within the setting at large. That setting is NOT “I just got back from FUCKING NOWHERE and I know NO ONE, care about NOTHING and, oh by the way, I’m awesome.” There are people around that care about you and mostly likely, some people around that you care about. Who? No, this is not license for the ST to go down the list and systematically fuck with you via every social connection your character has. But it is a way to drive home terror to your character by putting his friends and family at risk as well as himself. It’s easy to self-sacrifice for the greater good. It’s harder when you have to look your daughter in the eye and tell her 5 years old isn’t gonna fucking come.

2. Attributes: no change.

3. Pick a specialty for EVERY skill. This is your skill now. You don’t get everything pertaining to computers, programming, use, architecture, design, theory, hacking, etc all for one low price. You get ONE field. That’s it. The ST MAY, if they feel generous, allow you to use your skill at a penalty for a similar action outside your base specialty. Actual specialties such as the 3 you start with will now need to be ADDITIONALLY focused further than usual.

4. Specialties: See 3.

5. Supernatural template: Fuck You. Hammer’s coming for that, next.

6. Stand by: see Virtue/Vice, Morality, Willpower, etc changes below.

7. Merits: Fine by me.

Final Touches – look at this shit: is it a real person? Would someone like this live in your hometown? Have you ever met a person like this? Can you imagine this person having a friend or a mom or a semi-normal childhood? If not: start the fuck over, asshat.

Combat Rules: WAIT UP.

Morality – Gone: Replaced by Instability. Instability starts as “Normal” as a base of 0. There is no chart of sins or otherwise list of ‘stuff to watch out for.’ Anytime something ‘just not right’ happens, the ST will have you make a roll to save your stability. This will be a Willpower roll, using only your Current Willpower Points, not your total Willpower Dots. Failure means you gain a point of instability, success means you don’t. Things like this include seeing dead bodies, having your buddy die next to you, a demon popping out in front of you, walking in on your grandma going down on cthulu…that sort of shit. Base roll will be your current Willpower + Current Instability. This base roll is for generally freaky but not necessarily supernatural stuff. Like watching someone get hit by a car, seeing an already-dead corpse or otherwise disturbing things that most people don’t have to deal with.

The BASE level will adjust slightly for background, including coroners being able to see dead bodies without freaking, doctors not being bothered by cutting people open, ER docs being able to deal with car crash victims without vomiting. This is as far as your ‘base’ resistance via background can go. Things above this level, such as someone getting attacked by a chainsaw, feral dogs being loosed on your little sister, or watching the kid down the street get a bee enema administered by a particularly disturbed migrant worker named Pablo will net you penalties to your roll. The penalties may go up to -5 dice. Anything abjectly horrific, drawn out or supernatural will AUTOMATICALLY gain you a point, and THEN you roll again to see if you gain a SECOND point, with possibly penalties to THIS roll based on how far OVER this threshold your ST’s caught you.
Any Stability roll will be made INSTANTLY as soon as the stimulus is encountered, before rolling for reactions, actions, results or anything else. If you do gain a point you get all the benefits (and penalties) of this point immediately. You do not have to roll a second time for the same or similar stimuli multiple times in one ‘scene’, nor for anything LESS horrific than the first stimuli you rolled for. Also, you may gain no more than 2 instability points per scene (unless a specific supernatural power states otherwise).

Following a scene where a character gains instability points, they may ‘buy off’ instability points with derangements. Mild are worth 1 point, moderate worth 2 and severe worth 3. You may do this following a scene you gain an instability point in, but not during or before it. It takes a second for the ‘shock’ to wear off. You must also choose whether or not to take a derangement at that time. You can’t change your mind and decide to buy one later down the road. You may also simply spend Instability points to ‘upgrade’ a minor or moderate derangement to a more severe level is a more sever level is available.
Benefits & Penalties of Instability – Instability is added as a bonus to any roll made to deal with a situation that simply isn’t right. Simply put, your character has become a bit numb to the walls bleeding and demons jumping out of the light fixtures. Your buddy gets bit by a zombie? Shoot him in the face and move on. You’re used to it…kinda.

Any scene which has generated a Stability roll to avoid gaining Instability points also requires success at that roll to take actions normally in. When the monster’s coming after you, the gang members are stabbing you with knives, the paint’s peeling off the walls to reveal scenes of hell…you’ll probably want to curl up in the fetal position, run away, hide under the bed or start screaming. If you fail the Instability roll, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. This is anytime you want to act in any manner except abject terror and take any action other than losing your mind, running away and crapping your pants. Additionally, anytime ‘HORROR’ is declared as a negative modifier to a roll by the ST, such as when you’re trying to climb a tree to get away from demon-possessed Chihuahua swarms or trying to fight off hook-hand with your whiffle bat in the woods while your girlfriend’s screaming at you from the car, you can ignore a number of penalty dice up to your Instability rating. You just really don’t care anymore. The world is a scary, unusual place and weird things happen and sometime you just have to deal with it.

On the flipside of this, characters that have been through the ringer a few times, know how to deal with zombie apocalypses, have no problem seeing their coworkers dragged into the bowels of hell before their eyes and are drinking buddies with Pyramid Head are not usually the most normal of people. In most movies and literature they’re the kind of folks you find stalking graveyards at night, looking for vampires, self-flagellating in the back of a Victorian church and being unwashed whilst living in a van, down by the river.

Any time your character is trying to interact with ‘normal’ people, take normal, every-day, non-horror-movie scenario actions or keep up the appearance of being a normal, sane person, if they have 1 or more points of Instability, they must roll Current Willpower – Instability to be successful. Also, your Instability rating is added as a penalty to any roll you make that is affected by your ability to ‘play normal,’ such as social rolls and rolls to keep a normal extended goal or task together, like keeping down a job, or playing soccer with your kids.

What about Morality? – Engaging in despicable and immoral behavior is the sort of thing that provokes other characters to Instability checks…and the character taking the action is not immune either. Any time you take an action that would provoke Instability checks in others (regardless if others are actually around), you must make one for yourself as well. Minor immoral acts such as stealing candy-bars from the local corner store, vandalizing the school and other such infringements are between you, your background and your own personal god.

Regaining Stability & Healing Derangements – Regaining your Stability is a long-term extended action. The base roll is Current Willpower – Instability. You may gain bonus dice to this roll for such things as serious professional mental help, psychoactive drugs given on a doctor-monitored schedule or being committed to an actually helpful mental ward. Each roll happens after 1 week of normal, non-supernaturally interrupted rest and relaxation. Any sort of undue stress, exposure to anything that would evoke a Stability roll or extended fatigue restarts the 1 week timer and discards any accrued successes. It requires 5 successes to remove 1 Instability point.

For the purposes of these rolls, all Derangements still add their normal rating to your Instability rating as if you had not taken them. So, a character with 3 Instability and a Severe Derangement counts their Instability as 6 for purposes of these rolls. When 5 successes are gained to remove an Instability point, you may choose to remove an Instability point, remove a mild derangement, or downgrade a moderate or severe derangement to its less-severe variant (if it has one). For moderate or severe derangements without lower-severity variants, you must simply save up more successes (10 for moderate, 15 for severe) to remove them.

Virtue/Vice – Whenever presented with a situation where you character could regain willpower from their Virtue or Vice, they must spend a Willpower point NOT to take that course of action. Self-restraint in the face of an action that seems ‘right’ to one’s personal drives is draining. However, whether your character regains 1 point or all points of Willpower is not an issue of whether your character indulges their Virtue or Vice, but rather to what extent they do. Minor indulgences that risk little for your character will regain 1 point of Willpower, and large, grand gestures that risk much in terms of loss, retribution, bodily or social danger to your character will regain all your Willpower points. Additionally, when you risk something and LOSE, regardless of how much you risked, you regain only 1 point of Willpower. Losing while doing the right thing IS vindicating, but it still sucks.
Also, per normal, a good night’s rest and/or significant relaxation is worth 1 Willpower point, as is achieving a personal goal. Success at large or significant goals such as the completion of a plotline or achieving a long-term character goal that required a large effort and/or involved significant risk will regain ALL lost points, as well.

Combat – Hiyo! Initiative is not a standard roll anymore! It’s an action type! Unless otherwise noted every combat round happens in a flurry of cold-sweat-drenched utter chaos. All actions are simultaneous unless denoted as an initiative test.
At the beginning of each combat round, all characters may declare ONE action, if they wish to take one.

Then, all characters declare any defensive actions they’re taking, either on their behalf, or the behalf of another character.

Now, add up all dice penalties accrued by the declared actions, as listed below. All rolls for this round are made at this penalty.

All attack/action rolls are made simultaneously. Any actions or attacks which have succeeded now have any declared defenses rolled against them. Any defensive roll that was declared against an action which failed need not be rolled and is considered an automatic success, unless it had additional effects, such as a Control or Riposte defense.

Action! Base!

Action->No Response You win. All dice count as successes unless the action itself is somehow difficult or iffy in itself. Punching someone in the face when they do nothing to stop you is easy.

Action->Stop You want to do something while someone else’s action is simply to stop you. If the defender ties or beats your roll, your action is completely stopped and does not happen. Costs defender 2 dice.

Action->Control The defender takes your action and redirects, re-purposes it or otherwise turns it to his advantage, such as ducking a shotgun blast only to have it hit the attacker’s buddy in the face. If the defender’s successes exceed yours, count the defender’s roll as the action roll for your action, but with its target/purpose changed how the defender wishes. Costs the defender 3 dice.

Action->Parry/Dodge You simply avoid or disrupt the attacker’s action so that it does not affect you. If this sort of defense is not feasible (such as dodging a flamethrower filling a room you’re in with delicious fire) you may not use this type of defense. Costs the defender 1 die.

Action->Riposte You stop the attacker’s action, either parrying or stopping it along with turning another action back into the attacker, using his momentary lapse in defense to strike at him (either figuratively or literally). If the Defender's roll wins, count the Defender's roll as the action roll for the riposte Attack. Costs the Defender 3 dice.

Action->Preemptive Action The defender negates the attacker’s action by performing an action that would make the attacker’s action useless or not possible FASTER than the attacker can act. The defender and attackers' rolls are now the lower of Initiative and the normal roll. This costs the Defender no dice but counts as an Action, not a Defense.

Multiple Actions->Single Response If you can find a way to respond to multiple actions with a single simple response such as shutting a door, or pulling a target away into cover then there is no penalty for this.

Single Action->Multiple Responses For the unlucky character who find his action cock-blocked by several other characters there’s no additional penalty except that life sucks for you, now.

Multiple Actions->Multiple Responses Simply treat this as a combination of the above 2 situations. Life is complicated now. It sucks. Hopefully someone dies and goes away before the ST’s head explodes.

BONUS – All of these re-purposed combat rules can ALSO apply to non-combat activities, such as social confrontations such as debates. Think about it. For social contact “simultaneous” doesn’t truly have to be simultaneous. You CAN allow the other person to finish their ‘talking’ action before taking your ‘talking’ action, though for rules purposes the rolls and effects for all these expositions happens simultaneously.

Bashing/Lethal/Aggravated Damage – Lethal damage definition has been expanded. Anything that a normal, real-life human being couldn’t walk-off in about an hour is NOT Bashing damage. It’s lethal. That includes things like getting a real good punch in the face or taking a baseball bat to the ribs. Anything that could break bones, cause significant blood loss, either internal or external, rupture organs or otherwise end up with you laying in a hospital bed is Lethal damage. Anything the book currently lists as Bashing damage that would be affected by this change has its damage rating halved, rounding down.

Aggravated damage is fine as it is.

Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:36 pm
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