Humanity and Morality

Humanity Threshold Sin Dice Rolled
10 Selfish thoughts Roll 5 dice
9 Minor selfish acts Roll 5 dice
8 Injury to another Roll 4 dice
7 Petty theft Roll 4 dice
6 Grand theft Roll 3 dice
5 Intentional mass-property damage Roll 3 dice
4 Manslaughter Roll 3 dice
3 Murder Roll 2 dice
2 Casual/callous crime Roll 2 dice
1 Utter perversion, heinous acts Roll 2 dice

In rules terms, a trait called Humanity represents the balance of power between the Man and the Beast. Humanity is the specific form that the general Morality trait takes for vampires. The trait measures the connection a Kindred feels to her leftover mortal feelings and to her capacity to empathize with other beings. The lower a character’s Humanity goes, the less she cares and the more brutally she tends to act.

Humanity uses the same order of sins presented in the World of Darkness Rulebook (which is reproduced here for your convenience). Just as with mortals, when an undead character performs an act that carries an equal or lower rating than his Humanity, the player rolls a certain number of dice to find out whether the character suffers moral degeneration. If the roll succeeds, the character manages to feel shame, regret or at least some human response. If the roll fails, the character feels nothing except satisfaction at getting what he wanted… and a little more of the Man slips away and the character has less with which to fight the Beast in the future. His Humanity drops by one. For what it’s worth, the threshold for further moral crises drops too, so the player might not need to roll for degeneration as often — assuming the character can resist committing more heinous acts in the future.

As a character’s Humanity degrades, he grows less concerned with the world, yielding ever more to the Beast. He becomes capable of virtually any depraved act against another person. When Humanity is lost because of a sin the character committed, roll the character’s new Humanity as a dice pool. If the roll succeeds, the Kindred finds some kind of bulwark of sanity at his new level of Humanity. If the roll fails, a derangement manifests in the character’s mind. Derangements are mental and emotional “scars,” in this case brought on by the character’s stress, grief or even remorselessness over acts performed. Derangements are detailed at length on p. 186.

Roll Results

When making a degeneration roll use only the dice pool associated with the sin committed. Likewise, when rolling Humanity to check for a derangement, do not add other Attributes or traits. You may not spend Willpower to gain a +3 modifier on either kind of roll, though other situational bonuses or penalties may apply (see below).

  • Dramatic Failure: Not possible on either kind of roll. At no point is a chance roll made.
  • Failure: On a degeneration roll, your character loses the struggle to maintain his standards of morality when faced with the reality of his sin. He loses one dot of Humanity. On a Humanity roll, he gains a derangement.
  • Success: Your character emerges from his crisis of conscience with his sense of right and wrong intact. His Humanity is unchanged, and he remains as sane as before.
  • Exceptional Success: Your character re-dedicates himself to his convictions in the wake of his sin, driven by remorse and horror at the deeds he has committed. Not only does his Humanity remain unchanged on a degeneration roll, he gains a point of Willpower (which cannot exceed his Willpower dots).

No special bonuses are gained for an exceptional Humanity roll when testing for derangement.

Resisting Degeneration

Storytellers do not have to leave resisting degeneration as nothing but a straight dice roll. Ask the player to describe how the character feels about her sin, and what she intends to do about of it.

Short answers that don’t suggest much thought, like, “My character feels real bad about doing that,” receive an unmodified dice roll. So do defensive answers, such as, “Well, he was asking for me to beat him up, mouthing off like that.” At least the character tries to rationalize her actions. It isn’t a great example of humanity at its best, but it’s still very human.

Answers that show the character engages in extravagant but cost-free contrition, such as, “I return to my haven and scourge myself until dawn,” don’t quite pass muster. If you want to encourage that sort of melodrama, give the player a +1 bonus on the degeneration roll (but not the Humanity roll). If you think the character is lying to herself, don’t give the bonus at all.

Serious answers that show the character engages in some soul-searching or an attempt to do better in the future could receive a +1 die bonus to the degeneration roll. For instance, one character might go to her sire and ask how she can better resist the Beast when she’s angry, because she hates the results when she loses control. Another might pray for forgiveness. (Don’t reward that, though, unless the player has established the character’s religious feeling, or she does a good job of roleplaying the crisis that leads the character to a faith previously neglected or scorned.)

Attempts to find some good or at least necessity in the character’s actions might be worth a +1 bonus to the degeneration roll. “Sure, killing that guy was wrong… but the way he beat his girlfriend? Eventually, he probably would have killed her, and she didn’t deserve that. Better that he died than she did.” Or: “I tried every other way to stop that journalist from running the story, but the bribes, threats, Dominate attempts and schemes to discredit him all failed. He had to die to protect the Masquerade. I feel horrible about it, but how many people would die if mortals found out about the Kindred? He would have started a war.”

At most, a player should receive a +2 dice bonus to a degeneration roll, when his character shows deep regret and acts on it. Does the character try to make up for his sin? The character could apologize to someone he injured or secretly try to help the family of someone he killed in a Beast-driven rage. Anyone can “feel sorry,” but acting on regret is something special. Of course, the very acts that bring him into contact with people he tries to help may endanger the Masquerade… or enemies might threaten those people to extort concessions from your character… or he might unintentionally hurt them himself.

The Damned seldom find it easy to atone for what they’ve done. At the other extreme, a player might say his character feels no remorse at all. She intended to commit the sin, enjoyed it and would do it again. In that case, you might assess a -1 penalty to the degeneration roll. Such a Kindred doesn’t even try to resist the selfishness that’s so characteristic of the Beast. Don’t assess this penalty to a player rolling only one die for a degeneration check — the fact that the character’s Humanity is so low that she has only one die available for the check already signifies that she’s beyond caring and remorse.

Note that modifiers here apply to degeneration rolls alone, not to Humanity rolls to determine if derangements are gained.

Degeneration and Vices

The transformation from mortal to undead does not excuse a character from suffering his Vice as his Humanity drops. Characters who want to retain their Humanity need to resist their Vices as well as the Beast. Giving in to Vices can speed degeneration by eroding the self-control that a Kindred needs to fight the Beast. The lower a character’s Humanity drops, the more often he feels tempted by his Vice.

At first glance, this would seem to put all Kindred on an accelerating death-spiral. Less Humanity means a more prominent Beast, which means more sins, which eventually means still less Humanity and an even more recalcitrant Beast.

That’s not actually true, because a character can sink below the level of his Vice. A Vice drives a character to do something bad, but not the worst thing possible. A lecher might feel driven by lust to seduce, but he doesn’t have to commit rape. An avaricious money-grubber might have trouble passing up a crooked business deal, but she doesn’t have to rob banks. At low Humanity, the Kindred can find many ways to indulge his Vice without committing the most heinous acts. For instance, a Kindred who feels his pride insulted doesn’t have to murder the offender. He might satisfy his pride by Dominating the offender into making a fool of himself, use Majesty to turn other people against him or simply spy on him under cover of Obfuscate to learn damaging secrets for blackmail or humiliation. These are all sleazy, selfish acts — but not as bad as murder (probably).

Make no mistake, though: Kindred who stabilize at a low Humanity become deeply unpleasant characters.

Degeneration and Derangements

Derangements usually make it harder for characters to retain Humanity. Some derangements can cause characters to lash out in wild fury under certain circumstances, or make them believe they face deadly danger when they do not. Such outbursts can lead a Kindred to commit acts he later regrets — or not, resulting in Humanity loss.

On the other hand, some derangements can help preserve Humanity if a character genuinely cannot understand the significance of his acts. He might not realize what he actually did. For instance, the player of a paranoid vampire who believes that all banks are part of a Ventrue conspiracy might receive a bonus to any degeneration rolls that happen because of assaults on banks or bankers. The vampire thinks a greater good justifies his acts.

Players and Storytellers should remember, however, that derangements are expressly disadvantages that always cause more harm than good. Storytellers should allow a derangement- based bonus to Humanity checks only if a player has steadfastly roleplayed the disadvantages of madness — and then only in very specific cases where the character’s delusions apply. At best, madness helps a character stabilize at a low Humanity, as a last-ditch attempt by the Man to protect itself from the Beast. Indeed, a character doesn’t get “better,” he simply mires himself ever deeper in insanity.

Regaining Humanity

Kindred who make a deep and prolonged effort can regain lost Humanity or even become more ethical creatures than they were in life. It isn’t easy, though.

In rules terms, a player can spend experience points to buy dots of Humanity for her character. In story terms, the character must do something to show that he really tries to become a better person and more able to resist the Beast (see p. 92 of the World of Darkness Rulebook). If the player announces her intent to buy

Humanity for her character, the Storyteller can examine the character’s recent actions. Has he tried to atone for past crimes? Has he tried to avoid committing more sins? Has he resisted his Vice and upheld his Virtue, even when he cannot harvest Willpower? Has the character associated with mortals and cultivated relationships with them? If the character genuinely tries to act more human, the Storyteller should certainly permit the purchase.

Why demand an experience-point cost for an increased Humanity when characters lose the trait so easily? Shouldn’t highly moral acts receive an immediate reward of restored Humanity? Sorry, no. One moment of grace does not reverse the habits built through years, perhaps centuries, of abuse. Enduring gains against the Beast require a heroic struggle that never fully ends. Note that this contradicts statements made about regaining lost Morality for free in the World of Darkness Rulebook. This contradiction is intentional. Humanity is so central to the themes of Vampire: The Requiem that we want to reinforce characters’ dangerous footing on the path of Humanity by being that much more stringent with the rules.

Example: Persephone feeds from a vessel and is unable to stop herself, accidentally taking too much Vitae and killing her victim. Her Humanity is 7, so this bloody transgression causes her to test for degeneration. This amounts to “manslaughter,” so Persephone’s player rolls three dice, achieving no successes. Her Humanity drops to 6. Persephone’s player then rolls six dice (because her new Humanity is 6) for her Humanity roll, to see if she gains a derangement. Again, the player rolls no successes. The player and the Storyteller confer for a bit, deciding that the mild derangement narcissism (see theWorld of Darkness Rulebook, p. 97) is appropriate here. They come up with the rationale that Persephone just didn’t care about the vessel and, indeed, that he did the world a good thing by dying so that Persephone might see her own desires through. Remember, this is what Persephone thinks, not the objective truth. That’s why it’s a derangement! The player writes “narcissism” on the character sheet next to Persephone’s Humanity of 6. When and if the player buys Humanity back up to 7 with experience points, Persephone overcomes her narcissism derangement. Yet if her Humanity continues to drop, she might develop a more severe ailment, or even manifest some other type of derangement.

Humanity and Morality

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