Whenever you roll dice, you roll one die for every dot in the appropriate Trait; for instance, if your character is trying to find something and he has three dots in Perception, you would roll three dice. However, you almost never simply roll the number of dice you have in an Attribute; raw potential is modified by skill, after all. The most common rolls in the game involve adding the dice gained from an Attribute (p. 115) to the dice gained from an Ability (p. 119).
For instance, if Veronica were trying to find a specific file in a cluttered clerk’s office, the Storyteller might have her player Lynn roll Perception + Finance – an Attribute plus an Ability. In this case, Lynn would take two dice for Veronica’s Perception of 2, plus as many dice as she had in Finance; Veronica has Finance 4, so Lynn gets four more dice from that.
Veronica has a total of six dice tcr attempt her task. These dice are called the dice pool – in other words, the total number of dice you roll in a single turn. Most often, you’ll calculate a dice pool for only one action at a time, although you can modify it to be able to perform multiple tasks in a turn (for more information, see the “Multiple Actions” sidebar). Of course, you might not need to add an Ability to an Attribute for some rolls; for instance, there’s no skill that will help Veronica heft a small safe. In such cases, Lynn would use only the dice from the Attribute – in this case, Strength.
There is absolutely no situation in which more than two Traits can add to a dice pool. What’s more, if your dice pool involves a Trait whose maximum rating is 10 (such as Humanity or Willpower), you can’t add any other Traits to your dice pool. It’s effectively impossible for a normal human being to have more than 10 dice in a dice pool.
Some basic dice roll examples
- You want to conduct yourself flawlessly at the governor’s formal dinner (and you can’t actually eat anything). Roll Dexterity / Etiquette (difficulty 8).
- You’re miles from your haven, and the sun will be up soon. Roll Wits / Survival (difficulty 7) to find shelter for the day.
- You try to distract the bodyguard with your left hand while surreptitiously slipping your knife back into your belt with your right. Roll Dexterity + Subterfuge (difficulty of the bodyguard’s Perception / Alertness).
- You lock gazes with the gang leader, trying to cow him into submission before his gang – of course, he wants to do the same to you. Make a Charisma / Intimidation roll, resisted by his Charisma + Intimidation.
- The ritual requires three days of nonstop chanting. Can you stay awake even through the daylight hours to finish it? Roll Stamina + Occult (difficulty 9).
- You need to board up the door to your haven in record speed – and it needs to be durable, too. Roll Wits / Crafts (difficulty7).
Types of Combat
There are two types of combat, each involving the same basic system with minor differences:
This covers unarmed combat (Dexterity / Brawl) and melee (Dexterity / Melee). Unarmed combat can involve a down-and-dirty Pier Six brawl or an honorable test of skill. Opponents must be within touching distance (one meter) to engage in unarmed combat. Melee involves hand-held weapons, from broken bottles to swords. Opponents must be within one or two meters of each other to engage in melee.
Armed combat using projectile weapons – pistols, rifles, shotguns, etc. Opponents must normally be within sight (and weapon range) of each other to engage in a firefight.
In combat, many things happen at virtually the same time. Since this can make things a bit sticky in a game, combat is divided into a series of three-second turns. Each combat turn has three stages – Initiative, Attack and Resolution – to make it easier to keep track of things.
Stage One: Initiative
This stage organizes the turn and is when you declare your character’s action. Various actions are possible – anything from leaping behind a wall to shouting a warning. You must declare what your character does, in as much detail as the Storyteller requires. Everyone, player and Storyteller character alike, rolls one die and adds it to their initiative rating [Dexterity + Wits]; the character with the highest result acts first, with the remaining characters acting in decreasing order of result. If two characters get the same total, the one with the higher initiative rating goes first. If initiative ratings are also the same, the two characters act simultaneously. Wound penalties subtract directly from a character’s initiative rating.
Although you declare your character’s action now, including stating that your character delays her action to see what someone else does, you wait until the attack stage to implement that action. At this time, you must also state if any multiple actions will be performed, if Disciplines will be activated, and/or if Willpower points will be spent. Characters declare in reverse order of initiative, thus giving faster characters the opportunity to react to slower characters’ actions.
All of your character’s actions are staged at her rank in the order of initiative. There are three exceptions to this rule. The first is if your character delays her action, in which case her maneuvers happen when she finally takes action. Your character may act at any time after her designated order in the initiative, even to interrupt another, slower character’s action. If two characters both delay their actions, and both finally act at the same time, the one with the higher initiative score for the turn acts first.
The second breach of the initiative order occurs in the case of a defensive action (see “Aborting Actions,” and “Defensive Maneuvers,” on the next page), which your character may perform at any time as long as she has an action left.
Finally, all multiple actions (including actions gained through activating the Discipline of Celerity) occur at the end of the turn. If two or more characters take multiple actions, the actions occur in order of initiative rating. An exception is made for defensive multiple actions, such as multiple dodges, which happen when they need to happen in order to avert attack.
Stage Two: Attack
Attacks are the meat of the combat turn. An action’s success or failure and potential impact on the target are determined at
this stage. You use a certain Attribute/Ability combination depending on the type of combat in which your character is engaged:
Close Combat: Use Dexterity + Brawl (unarmed) or Dexterity + Melee (armed).
Ranged Combat: Use Dexterity + Firearms (guns) or Dexterity + Athletics (thrown weapons).
Remember, if your character doesn’t have points in the necessary Ability, simply default to the Attribute on which it’s based (in most cases, Dexterity).
In ranged combat, your weapon may modify your dice pool or difficulty (due to rate of fire, a targeting scope, etc.); check the weapon’s statistics for details.
Most attacks are made versus difficulty 6. This can be adjusted for situational modifiers (long range, cramped quarters), but the default attack roll is versus 6. If you get no successes, the character fails her attack and inflicts no damage. If you botch not only does the attack fail, but something nasty happens: The weapon jams or explodes, the blade breaks, an ally is hit.
Stage Three: Resolution
During this stage, you determine the damage inflicted by your character’s attack, and the Storyteller describes what occurs in the turn. Resolution is a mixture of game and story; it’s more interesting for players to hear “Your claws rip through his bowels; he screams in pain, dropping his gun as he clutches his bloody abdomen” than simply “Uh, he loses four health levels.”
Attacks and damage are merely ways of describing what happens in the story, and it’s important to maintain the narrative of combat even as you make the die roll.
This part is OVERAGE
Normally, additional successes gained on a Trait roll simply mean that you do exceptionally well. In combat, each success above the first you get on an attack roll equals an additional die you add automatically to your damage dice pool! This creates fatal and cinematic combat.
All attacks have specific damage ratings, indicating the number of dice that you roll for the attack’s damage (called the damage dice pool). Some damage dice pools are based on the attacker’s Strength, while others are based on the weapon used. Damage dice rolls are made versus difficulty 6. Each success on the damage roll inflicts one health level of damage on the target. However, the damage applied may be one of three types:
Bashing: Bashing damage comprises punches and other blunt trauma that are less likely to kill a victim (especially a vampire) instantly. All characters use their full Stamina ratings to resist bashing effects, and the damage heals fairly quickly.
Bashing damage is applied to the Health boxes on your character sheet with a “/.”
Lethal: Attacks meant to cause immediate and fatal injury to the target. Mortals may not use Stamina to resist lethal effects, and the damage takes quite a while to heal. Vampires may resist lethal damage with their Stamina. Like bashing damage, lethal damage is applied to the Health boxes on your vampire’s character sheet with a “/.”
Aggravated: Certain types of attacks are deadly even to the undead. Fire, sunlight, and the teeth and claws of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings are considered aggravated damage. Aggravated damage cannot be soaked except with Fortitude, and it takes quite a while to heal. Aggravated damage is applied to the Health boxes on your character sheet with an “X.”
Combat Summary Chart
Stage One: Initiative
- Roll initiative. Everyone declares their actions. The character with the highest initiative performs her action first. Actions can be delayed to any time later in the order of initiative.
- Declare any multiple actions, reducing dice pools accordingly. Declare Discipline activation and Willpower expenditure.
Stage Two: Attack
- For unarmed close-combat attacks, roll Dexterity + Brawl.
- For armed close-combat attacks, roll Dexterity + Melee.
- For ranged combat, roll Dexterity + Firearms (guns) or Dexterity + Athletics (thrown weapons).
- A character can abort to a defensive action (block, dodge, parry) at any time before her action is performed, as long as you make a successful Willpower roll (or a Willpower point is spent).
Stage Three: Resolution
- Determine total damage effect (weapon type or maneuver), adding any extra dice gained from successes on the attack roll.
- Targets may attempt to soak damage, if possible.