The Challenge System

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A Challenge occurs whenever two or more characters come into conflict, which is whenever they attempt to produce a different outcome to a particular interaction. Common examples of this are combat, the use of disciplines e.g. Dominate and the use of abilities e.g. Subterfuge. A challenge can also occur to see if a character succeeds in a particular action that does not directly affect another character, this being carried out with a Storyteller. There are a number of steps. Most challenges will require just the three basic steps; the other rules are to assist you in the complicated situations, and to highlight your options. Read through them to know what rules exist, and please learn them when you have time.

Contents

The Basics

The Challenge

The ‘attacker’ declares a Physical (or Social/Mental) Challenge, bids one relevant Trait and describes the outcome of the Challenge should he win e.g. hitting a foe, using Dominate etc. If the ‘defender’ does not (or is unable to) bid one relevant Trait, the attack succeeds. If the defender does bid, a Test will be conducted. The defender, as part of his bid, describes the effect if he should win e.g. a dodge, or a counter-attack. Either party may relent at any time up until the Test. If they do, the action as described by the other party takes place, but no Traits are lost.

The Test

After a count of three, attacker and defender each simultaneously reveal one of Paper, Stone or Scissors. Stone blunts Scissors, Scissors cuts Paper, Paper wraps Stone. The loser forfeits the Trait(s) bid and will be subjected to the attack as described by the attacker, unless he overbids (see Advanced Options) or uses an Ability-based Re-Test (see below). If the same symbol is revealed there is a draw.

In The Case Of A Draw

After a draw, the attacker first, then the defender, reveal a number of Traits, up to their maximum in the challenge attribute (Mental, Social or Physical), including the ones bid, and excluding ones previously lost. You may declare less than your current total, but cannot change your declaration that Challenge. The one who announces the least loses the challenge. The loser of a challenge loses the Trait bid for the rest of the evening and cannot count this towards his total in subsequent challenges. If both characters still draw ‘on Traits’, they Re-Test until there is an outright winner.

Retrying The Test In An Ability-Based Challenge

In the event of a player wishing to Re-Test a lost ability based test (i.e. Brawl, Subterfuge), he declares his number of the appropriate ability, as does his opponent. If he has more, he gets one Re-Test. Abilities are neither bid or lost unlike Traits. Obviously, if someone is trying to Dodge a punch, they will compare their characters Brawl and Dodge abilities, rather then Brawl and Brawl. Dodging a Flamebolt would therefore be Occult vs. Dodge, etc.

Willpower

In the event of losing a Mental or Social Challenge, a defender may spend a Willpower point to gain one Re-Test. This Re-Test is the last allowed in the challenge, cancels out all others, and the outcome is final. If the Re-Test is successful and fends of the attack, the defender is immune to the attacker using the same ability again for the following ten minutes of game time. In the case of Disciplines this means that they may not use that path on the individual concerned for ten minutes. If both parties were engaged in offensive actions (i.e. both Dreadgazing each other) the Willpower expending character will have to drop his action against the other participant, as willpower can only be used defensively. Willpower determines the final outcome of the Challenge, therefore determines Trait loss etc. Disciplines such as Beast Within and Soul Stealing that make special allowances for willpower expenditure are now adjudicated by the final outcome of the challenge, the use of Willpower within the Challenge not making any difference.

Trait Categories

Some Challenges don’t use the same Trait category for both attacker and defender (e.g. Firearms Challenges). In this case you should announce the Challenge as the type that the defender is expected to respond with.

Health

Your Health Level can affect your character’s performance in Challenges (subject to Fortitude):

  • Bruised - You are one Trait down in Challenges.
  • Wounded - You lose all ties automatically without comparing Traits, and if your opponent has more Traits than you, he gets a free Re-Test.
  • Incapacitated - You are unable to Initiate Challenges. You opponent will normally qualify for Surprise (see Advanced Option #2) when you are in this state.

Static Challenges

Static Challenges are used when you are not actually Challenging another character directly (although often another Player’s character may be involved). They work exactly as normal Challenges, but in the event of a draw, you will compare your Traits against a pre-determined difficulty. Over bidding and Ability-based Re-Tests are applicable (often for both parties). Only the aggressor will lose a trait in the event of losing a static challenge.

Simple Test

This is a straight-forward way to make a quick decision (like flipping a coin). Both sides just do a Test, the initiator winning draws. Some Disciplines require Simple Tests, others will be called by Storytellers.

Difficult Test

As the simple test but the character must outright win the test. A draw is not sufficient.

Challenge Re-Tests

To speed up the Challenge there are a maximum number of Tests allowed in a Challenge are:

  • The initial Test.
  • One Discipline based Re-Test, if appropriate. Identical Re-Tests cancel each other out.
  • One Ability based Re-Test, if appropriate.
  • One overbid Re-Test, if eligible.
  • The defenders Willpower Re-Test. This will always be the last Re-Test.

Advanced Options

Negative Traits

Either bidder may announce a negative Trait of the appropriate category as possessed by his opponent. If correct, the opponent is one Trait down in the event of a draw. If the announcer is wrong he is one Trait down. The announcer must always be able to pay the price of being wrong, and may not bid Negatives if he could not drop a Trait if he were wrong. Blood Traits may not be used to counter negative Traits in a Physical Challenge. There is no limit to the number of negative Traits that can be announced. Negatives of the appropriate attribute are always applicable. There are to be no uneducated guesses, this is tantamount to cheating!

Surprise

Surprise occurs when someone is unaware of an attack coming and unable to respond to it. This normally involves combat. If a character is attacked from behind, he is surprised. If a character is attacked from Unseen Presence (or Vanish from the Minds Eye), he is surprised. If the target character has Heightened Senses (or Telepathy), there are certain exceptions - please refer to the Auspex discipline for more information. Someone who is surprised may not harm the attacker, even if he wins the challenge. In the case of physical combat you may only defend with Stamina based physical Traits and cannot burn blood to give bonus physical Traits, though you can still heal if you are harmed, as this takes place after being hit. You cannot use a Brawl, Melee or Dodge Re-Test as you are not actually fighting, just trying to absorb the damage without harm.

Expending Blood

Either bidder may announce he is expending up to three Blood to provide Physical Traits gaining one Physical Trait for each blood Trait spent (subject to generation limit), at any time before the Test. These apply to both initial bids and to totals in the case of a draw. These Traits are active for up to five minutes after the end of the last challenge in a conflict.

Overbidding

If either the attacker or the defender loses a Test, he may attempt an Overbid Re-Test. The over bidder then announces a number of Traits, up to his maximum in that attribute category, including all usual bonuses. If the defender reveals that he has more than half this number of Traits, the overbid fails. Otherwise a Re-Test is conducted. Once again, Trait loss is determined by the overall outcome of the Challenge.

Weapons / Ranged Combat

Each weapon has a number of Traits that can be added in the case of a draw. Weapons do not have negative Traits. You require Melee ability to gain the additional Traits from Melee weapons, and Firearms ability to gain the additional Traits from Firearms. You may use the weapons (but without the Trait bonus’s) even if you don’t have the appropriate ability. A Dodge is usually the only effective Ability Re-Test against a ranged attack. Ranged combat is conducted as normal combat except that if the defender is unarmed, he may not counterattack. You may use either Mental or Physical Traits when using Firearms (but not both together). If there is disagreement, a Storyteller must adjudicate.

Celerity Challenges

The attacker states his attack - and whether he is making a stated number of follow-up attacks. The defender, if able to, can then opt whether to use Alacrity or not. Alacrity allows an action before the normal combat action if the target has no Celerity (or does not/cannot use it), and is totally effective when dodging against a Brawling attacker with no Celerity. If Celerity is being used the Actions in a combat Round will be adjudicated thus: Alacrity, Normal combat Action, Swiftness, Rapidity, Fleetness. Alacrity is considered to be slower than Alacrity + Swiftness, which in turn is beaten by Alacrity + Rapidity, etc. If two characters use Alacrity against each other, unless both parties are of equal Celerity, only one will get an Alacrity action before the normal action, the other will have to respond as if he hadn’t used Celerity. Blood spent for announced Celerity Actions is spent even if the character was unable to use them. A victim of Celerity Actions that they cannot match may only bid Stamina based Physical Traits in response as they attempt to ‘soak’ the blows without damage. Mass Celerity combats are worked out as a normal Mob Scene for the first round - with people stating what follow-up attacks they wish to make (for attacks and counterattacks), and also which level of Alacrity is being used. In Mob scenes, Alacrity can be effective against one attacker and ineffective against another in the same set of challenges.

Status Traits And Boons

Status (including boons) is no longer used in the Challenge system.

Mob Scenes

Please note: The Mob Rules are now only used with the agreement of all the involved Players, or the insistence of a Storyteller.

  1. Get a Storyteller!!!
  2. If you are not directly involved - keep away!!!
  3. Do not join in a mob scene until permitted by a Storyteller.

If more than two people are involved in a challenge situation, a mob scene may occur, first have everyone involved simultaneously reveal whom they are attacking or what they are doing. For each similar action (e.g. combat against one individual) one challenge occurs. In each challenge, the person with the most people ‘attacking’ him becomes the primary victim. The ‘attackers’, up to a maximum of five, then select a primary attacker for their group, the primary attacker conducts the Test. The challenge is resolved as normal except that:

Each attacker must bid one relevant Trait. The defender is as many Traits down in the event of a draw as the total number of additional attackers. The defender may only have his negative Traits applied once, but each attacker may name all those he knows. The defender may name relevant negative Traits of his attackers as per normal. If the defender names more negative Traits than his attacker can match, the attacker must drop out (and a new attacker chosen if necessary). If the defender wins, all the attackers lose all the Traits they bid, and the defender’s stated reaction occurs. If there is a draw, the primary attacker and the defender compare total Traits. If the attackers win, then the defender suffers the most damaging single effect. I.e. if two of three attackers in one challenge do normal damage and the third does aggravated damage, then a success will cause one level of aggravated damage, regardless of which of the three was the primary attacker. If there is any question over which single effect is most damaging then the primary attacker chooses which occurs. i.e. If three attackers are involved in a successful challenge, one with wolves claws, one with puissance and one with a stake then the primary attacker has the choice of whether the defender suffers three levels of normal damage, one level of aggravated damage or one level of normal damage + the chance of being staked.

If Celerity is being used then there may be a number of Actions per combat round. If so the first challenge round will occur normally and additional rounds will occur with only those capable of action at that point involved. This needs careful work keeping track of as there may be a lot going on in the ‘extra’ rounds, which affect those involved at normal speed, not least, movement! The system works identically if up to five people are defending against a single person (e.g. a Lupine tries to break down a door held by three Kindred).