(Illustration by Mikael Leger.)
Derived attributes have always bugged me in the World of Darkness. It gets under my skin. I mentioned this in my God-Machine Chronicle review; it is just bad design to have...to have everything based on Wits & Composure or Dexterity. It rewards min-maxing, & I don't even mean the crummy munchkin kind. I have a friend who gets a kick out of the Willpower Ten guy. It is a neat little concept, but it shows the seams of the game, it shows where to press if you want to break it. So, with that in mind...I've decided to go ahead & re-write them as house rules for this Oubliette campaign. Nicole, Eric & Luke came over last night to talk about it (& get inadvertantly drunk). I'm not entirely happy with what I've shaken out, but I'm relatively content with the compromises I've made. I keep almost losing the sheet of paper where I wrote them down, so I thought I'd post them, as much to share them as to keep them from being misplaced.
Defense: Best of Wits, Dexterity or Manipulation.
Health: Best of Resolve, Stamina or Composure plus five.
Willpower: Best of Intelligence, Strength or Presence plus five.
Defense is the best of the Finesse attributes. I figure will make combat a little less deadly, since typically it is the worst of Wits or Dexterity, but I'm fine with that; I've seen how combat dicepools quickly inflate, so amping it up from the default is probably alright with me. Health is the same, but with Resistance, & follows the same train of logic. It makes characters slightly tougher than the old five plus Stamina, but not by much. Willpower is the one I'm least happy with. I based it on the Power attributes, because of the aforementioned over-reliance on Composure & Resolve in the old system, plus it even has "power" in the name, but I know it is a bit odd looking to have strength in there. Well, too bad; I wanted to keep the elegent "Finesse, Resistance, Power" paradigm going. Besides, since I rely on Willpower a lot to use Character Traits, it is okay with me to broaden the pool. Still not entirely happy with it, but I'm content enough until I come up with something better or start tinkering with it again.
Speed: Strength plus five.
Endurance: Stamina plus five.
Specialties: Worst of Intelligence, Wits or Resolve.
Backgrounds: Worst of Presence, Manipulation or Composure plus five.
You'll note that...I have two new derived attributes, Endurance & Backgrounds. Before we get to them, Speed is obviously the most wonky one of the pack; being fast is more than being strong, or dexterious, but whatever. Again, I wanted to do "all Social, all Mental, all Physical," like the above, so deal with it. I could have gone with D&D 3e's standard six-- or five, since that would be themeatically appropriate-- but I just wanted to stick with the consistant design approach. Specialties...instead of giving out three, I figured I'd muck around with it, especially since Character Traits do some of the heavy lifting of that area. Backgrounds...well, they are the social Merits. I liked them in the old World of Darkness so I brought them back. Endurance is the new encumberance & armor mechanic I want to try out. Also it can work as an exhaustion mechanic! I have high hopes for Endurance. I'll talk about it another time, though.