Merits and Flaws

The following are merits and flaws that I have either included for the reference of my players or modified to more closely fit the direction of the campaign.

PHYSICAL

Physical Merits and Flaws represent special characteristics in a vampire’s undead form that have a direct impact on his capabilities, but aren’t reflected in the basic Attributes and Abilities.

Addictive Blood (2 pt Merit or 3 pt Flaw)
(New Merit/Flaw)
There is a quality to your vitae that causes it to taste uncommonly sweet and desirable to others, especially Cainites. If you are a Cainite yourself, the difficulty to resist drinking your blood a second time is difficulty 7, and a roll must be made to avoid drinking it a third in addition to the expenditure of a Willpower point.

If you happen to be a mortal, perhaps the blood of a Changeling, a Mage, or a Werewolf runs through your veins, or perhaps there is simply a particular tang to your life force or chemistry that vampires find irresistible. Any Cainite who drinks your blood must make a Willpower roll at difficulty 4 to avoid becoming addicted to it upon first tasting it. This difficulty rises by 1 each feeding until the it reaches difficulty 9, at which point the Cainite has a difficult time resisting the urge to drain you dry! Those using Auspex to heighten their sense of smell, or those possessing the Trained Scent or Blood Connoisseur merits, will be drawn to the sweet vitae that flows through your veins. Naturally, anyone who possesses this flaw runs the risk of being hounded by the undead, and their likely fate will be grim.

Enchanting Voice (2 point Merit)
There is something about your voice that others cannot ignore. When you command, they are cowed. When you seduce, they swoon. Whether thunderous, gentle, persuading or simply talking, your voice commands attention. The dice pools involving the use of the voice to persuade, charm or command are increased by two. This stacks with any benefits gained by the Ability Aptitude merit, whenever appropriate.

Huge Size (4 point Merit)
You are abnormally large in size, at least 6’8" and 280 pounds in weight. Aside from making you extremely noticeable in public, this extra mass bestows an additional Bruised health level and an extra die on Grappling rolls against targets who are significantly smaller. Characters with this Merit may also gain bonuses to push objects, open barred doors, avoid being knocked down and so on.


MENTAL

These Merits and Flaws define certain special facts about the way the character thinks and sees the world about him. Again, many such factors are already covered by the basic Attributes and Abilities and thus not repeated in this list. An iron-willed character simply has a high Willpower trait, not a special Merit.

Ability Aptitude (1pt. Merit)
You are particularly gifted with one Ability. Perhaps you are a poet of great renown or a master fleshcrafter. Within your specific Aptitude, increase all dice pools by 2. Characters may purchase this Merit more than once, but Storytellers should feel free to veto any Ability selections that seem too powerful or unbalanced, especially for combat Abilities.

Eidetic Memory (2 point merit)
You remember, with perfect detail, things seen and heard. Documents, events and conversations, can be committed to memory with only minor concentration. Under stressful conditions involving numerous distractions, you must make a Perception + Alertness roll (difficulty 6) to summon enough concentration to absorb what your senses detect. Also, if a memory is significantly old, or obscure in detail, the Storyteller can ask for a roll at variable difficulty to recall it.

Well Educated (3 point merit)
Either through monastic training or determined royal tutors, you are one of the lucky few to receive superlative tutelage in classics, natural sciences and theology… Whenever you attempt a task involving a Knowledge you do not possess, your player may still roll at +1 difficulty as if the required Ability was a Skill. Characters must have at least three dots of Academics to purchase this Merit.


SOCIAL

Social Merits and Flaws represent facts about the vampire’s background and beliefs that affect his relations with others. Many of these facts give reasons for others to respect or frown upon the character before getting to know him. For the most part, the Storyteller (ST) should just represent these attitudes in the portrayal of other character. However, in some cases the difficulty of Social rolls should be reduced in situations when the Merit or Flaw should come into play. The onus is on the player to ask the ST if such modifiers should apply.

Church Ties
(1-3 pt Social Merit)
You have both extraordinary influence over, and contacts among, the Church of your home region. In times of need, you can call upon your reputation with these clergymen to gain access to special treatment, such as access to rare libraries, admittance to closed monasteries and priories, access to Church funds, and interviews with senior church officials. In theory, you might even be able to get an Interdict lifted, an excommunication reversed, or a cadre of church sponsored witch-hunters redirected.

In practice, each dot of this merit gives you an extra die to Influence rolls in with regards to the religious pillar of society, meaning that your effective Influence background could rise higher than 5 dots. It also allows you to justify the gathering of the Influence background with greater rapidity. However, influence is a currency of sorts, easily spent, and the more you choose to use your Church Ties, the weaker they might become. If warranted, the ST might reduce the strength of the merit if it is used too often. Total control can only be achieved through game play.

Former Ghoul (1 or 3 point merit)
You were introduced to the Blood long before you were brought across into the ranks of the Children of Caine. Your long experience as a ghoul gives you insight into and comfort with vampiric society. You are at -1 difficulty on all Social rolls when in the presence of other neonates (particularly those who haven’t been educated by their sires), and have a standing -1 difficulty on rolls relating to knowledge of the Kindred. You may substitute Potence for one of your starting clan discipline dots.

For three points: You are at -1 difficulty on all Social rolls when in the presence of other neonates (particularly those who haven’t been educated by their sires), and have a better understanding of Cainite society and the powers of the Blood. The difficulty of all rolls to recall such information is 2 less than normal. In addition, with your starting dots you may substitute Potence and one other Discipline (typically Fortitude, although with ST approval it can be another Clan Disicipline of your former domitor), although it is not considered a Clan Discipline unless that is normally the case.

Of course, the downside to this merit is that you will almost certainly be Blood Bound to your sire, or to someone else if you were not embraced by your domitor!

Economic Ties
(1-3 pt Social Merit)
You have both extraordinary influence over, and contacts among, the craft and trade guilds of your home region. In times of need, you can call upon your reputation with these commoners to gain access to special treatment, such as access to closed markets and very rare goods, admittance to closed guild meetings, access to guild funds, and interviews with senior guild officials. In theory, you might even be able to have a favoured pawn gain a particularly coveted apprenticeship or guild office (or deny one to an enemy), dramatically raise or lower prices of certain fluid commodities, or call upon the far flung economic ties of the guilds themselves.

In practice, each dot of this merit gives you an extra die to Influence rolls in with regards to the economic sphere of society, meaning that your effective Influence background could rise higher than 5 dots. It also allows you to justify the gathering of the Influence background with greater rapidity. However, influence is a currency of sorts, easily spent, and the more you choose to use your Economic Ties, the weaker they might become. If warranted, the ST might reduce the strength of the merit if it is used too often. Total control can only be achieved through game play.

Nobility (1-3 point merit)
You possessed a mortal title before your Embrace, and have somehow managed to pass yourself off as alive. Alternatively, you have reliably set yourself up in a new persona and title after becoming undead,. Consequently, you enjoy the advantages of being counted amongst the nobility. Unless you are a member of the military orders (see Prestigious Order merit) or you purchase the Resources background, you are assumed to be landless. If you don’t purchase the Vassal background, you also lack the protection of the feudal hierarchy, and your title is insecure.

The 1 point version of this merit represents a minor title with little status or land (such as a knight). A 2 point Noble will be a minor baron, or a knight with significant lands and status. The 3 point version of this merit translates to a burgrave, count or perhaps a weak landgrave or margrave/ marquis. Any noble title higher than this (duke, prince, or obviously king) cannot be purchased as a merit, and can be granted only through role-play. In the Dark Medieval, such high nobles titles hold great power, but they also require a great deal of work (and an uncomfortable amount of visibility) to maintain.

Political Ties
(1-3 pt Social Merit)
You have both extraordinary influence over, and contacts among, the ruling class of your home region, whether they be landed nobility, city councils, or a mix of both. In times of need, you can call upon your reputation with these aristocrats to gain access to special treatment, such as temporary havens, manpower, city or county treasuries, and preferential selection for those you wish to see occupy certain positions in local government. Alternatively you can unleash many different means of harassment against your enemies, such as having local tax laws changed, removing warriors or guards from certain neighbourhoods or villages, redrawing property boundaries, and the like. In theory, with a good enough roll, your influence could tap into ducal, or even royal, spheres of politics.

In practice, each dot of this merit gives you an extra die to Influence rolls in with regards to the political pillar of society, meaning that your effective Influence background could rise higher than 5 dots. It also allows you to justify the gathering of the Influence background with greater rapidity. However, influence is a currency of sorts, easily spent, and the more you choose to use your Political Ties, the weaker they might become. If warranted, the ST might reduce the strength of the merit if it is used too often. Total control can only be achieved through game play.

Prestigious Order (1 point merit)
You are a member of one of the most prestigious of the military orders, most likely the Templars, the Hospitallers or the Teutons. By virtue of this membership, you stand as a paragon of Christian knighthood, a warrior-monk. You gain a -1 difficulty to social rolls among knights who are not part of the military orders. This merit does not define your status within the order (use Allies, Contacts, Influence and Vassalage to do so). It is possible to earn this merit on a temporary basis (usually 5-10 years), as a number of military orders (particularly the Teutons) accept penitential knights who wish to serve as brothers for a limited term.

Note that Templars, Hospitallers and Teutons generally cannot have the Resources background, as they take a vow of poverty. However, the military order outfits its soldiery with the best equipment suitable for their station (Resources 5 for knights, or 3 for common serving brothers), and it also provides lodgings, mounts and sustenance. The Resources background may be taken (representing lands that have been turned over to the management of others), but the wealth is inaccessible to the brother so long as he remains a part of the order.

Prestigious Sire (1 point merit)
Your sire has or had great status in her region or clan, and this has accorded you with a certain amount of prestige. Although your sire may no longer have any dealings with you, the simple fact of your ancestry has marked you forever. This prestige might aid you greatly in dealings with your elders or other neonates, or it might engender jealousy or contempt.

Unbroken Lineage (1 or 2 point merit)
You can perfectly recite your lineage back to your Antediluvian progenitor. If this Merit is worth only one point, noble Cainites accept your recitation and treat you more favorably as a true keeper of the Traditions. If this Merit is worth two points, your bloodline has sufficient prestige to warrant an extra dot of Status that remains as long as none of your direct ancestors rejects you. Even if you err and lose face, you always have at least one dot of Status from your birthright.

Underworld Ties
(1-3 pt Social Merit)
You have both extraordinary influence over, and contacts among, the criminal element of your home region. In times of need, you can call upon your reputation with these villains to gain access to special treatment, such as access to markets for stolen or forbidden goods, freedom for yourself or others from extortion rackets or burglary sprees, extra manpower for shady activities, and interviews with the shadowy, careful people who run the show outside the law. Alternatively, you might use such influence to deny others access to these benefits. In theory, given time and the careful cultivation of the levers of blackmail, intrigue, force, and favour, one could create a patchwork criminal empire extending to nearby cities, regions, and perhaps even countries.

In practice, each dot of this merit gives you an extra die to Influence rolls in with regards to the criminal sphere of society, meaning that your effective Influence background could rise higher than 5 dots. It also allows you to justify the gathering of the Influence background with greater rapidity. However, influence is a currency of sorts, easily spent, and the more you choose to use your Criminal Ties, the weaker they might become. If warranted, the ST might reduce the strength of the merit if it is used too often. Total control can only be achieved through game play.

Ward (3 point flaw)
You are devoted to the protection of a mortal. You may describe your ward, though the Storyteller will actually create her. This character may be a friend or relative from your pre-Embrace days, or simply a mortal you admire and consider important. Wards have a way of getting caught up in the action of stories, and are frequent targets of a character’s enemies.


SUPERNATURAL

Merits and Flaws of a supernatural nature reflect the vagaries of the Curse of Caine. Although all vampires suffer from a basic set of limitations and enjoy certain gifts in common, each individual is unique and at times the curse manifests in strange ways. Clan differences reflect this variation in the ancient Antediluvians, who passed them on to their progeny.

Charmed Existence (5-7 point Merit)
Your unlife is somehow protected, and you do not face the perils that others must. It could be that you are simply lucky. Whatever the reason, at 5 points of this Merits you may ignore a single “one” thrice each night of game play, but no more than once each scene. This makes it far less likely that you will ever botch, and grants you more successes than others obtain. For 6 points, you may ignore a single “one” six times each night of game play, but no more than twice each scene. For 7 points, you may ignore a single “one” on any roll you make, but no more than once each round (meaning the use of split actions or Celerity can still lead to disaster).

Lucky (1-4 point Merit)
You were born lucky – or else the Devil looks after his own. Either way, you may repeat a number of failed rolls per story up to your number of points in this merit. This includes botches, but you may try only once per failed roll.

Partially Bound (1 point flaw)
(New Flaw)
You have taken two drinks of another vampire’s blood and, as such, your feelings towards that Cainite have grown in intensity. Without consideration, you act in the interests of your regnant, and instinctively seek means to place yourself in their company. The prospective thrall often experiences obsessive thoughts and feelings towards their regnant, and if they treat you poorly or indifferently it is not uncommon for you to experience incredibly conflicting emotions about them (such as simultaneous feelings of intense love and hate). You tend to rationalise your feelings as respect for a worthy lord or true love for a dear paramour, and they certainly feature heavily in your dreams.

While not yet completely bound to your regnant, you find it difficult to act against their interests (requiring a Willpower roll to do so) and their words command your attention (reducing the difficulty of all their social interactions with you by 1). Moreover, you are more susceptible to the mind and emotion altering effects of their Disciplines (which are also at -1 difficulty). Finally, the sight or promise of taking that third drink enraptures you, and you must spend a Willpower point to avoid doing so.

This flaw can also represent that difficult time when the Blood Oath begins to wear, whether through constant abuse or a great deal of time has elapsed. The thrall regains some of her will, but this is a dangerous stage for while she may wish to throw off the dominance of her regnant, she also desperately wants to slip back into its comforting folds.

Note: All Cainites, being at least one step bound to their sires, already have feelings akin to infatuation or deep filial love towards them. Even with that one drink, the mind and emotion altering effects of their Disciplines are already at -1 difficulty, and the drinker must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 6) to avoid drinking their regnant’s blood again, should the opportunity arise.


Merits and Flaws

The Concord of Ashes Haligaunt