Allies (• to •••••) Edit
Allies are people who are willing to help your character from time to time. They may be associates, friends of convenience or people who owe your character a favor. Each acquisition of this Merit is dedicated to one type of ally, whether in an organization, society or circle. Examples include the police, City Hall, criminals, unions, banks, university faculty and hospital staff. In order to have alliances in more than one venue, you need to purchase this Merit multiple times, each trait with its own dots. Thus, your character might have Allies (Police) ••, Allies (Criminals) ••• and Allies (City Hall) •, each acquired separately at character creation or during play.
Each dot that your character has indicates how deep his influence runs in that group. One dot might mean he can ask for minor favors, such as being spared a parking ticket if alliance is among police, or being allowed to see an article before it goes to press if alliance is among reporters. Three dots garner considerable favors, such as a building permit going missing at City Hall, or a strike resolution being wrapped up early among union leaders. Five dots allow for dangerous and even overtly criminal favors, such as a stock being sabotaged on Wall Street or the answers to an exam being shared by a university professor. The kinds of requests made of people in an organization typically have to relate to their sphere of influence. Asking a criminal to slow down the bureaucratic process at City Hall makes no sense, but asking him to pass along word of a drug buy does. Favors might be minor and within the bounds of a person's job or role, such as processing some paperwork more quickly than usual, or could be significant or dangerous and outside what's allowed or even legal, such as allowing a civilian access to the police evidence locker. The Storyteller has final say over what is an acceptable request and what is not. If there's any doubt, the Storyteller could call for a Manipulation + Persuasion roll, with a bonus equal to your character's Allies dots. Penalties might also apply based on the importance or danger of the request. Asking someone to do something already in the bounds of their role imposes no modifier, while asking them to do something that could get them suspended imposes a -3 penalty, and asking for something that could get them jailed or killed is -5. Frequent favors asked of the same group also imposes a penalty as group members grow tired of being called upon. Similarly, a roll of Manipulation + Persuasion + Allies dots could determine how many police answer your character's call for help, or how many longshoremen turn up when your character needs a show of force (one per success rolled).
Allies doesn't have to be defined in terms of specific individuals over whom your character has sway. He could simply know a variety of people among city reporters and he can call upon them in general from time to time. You should, however, explain why your character has influence in a particular body. Maybe he worked there himself at one time and still has friends in the organization. Or he has done a group a favor and its members still owe him. Allies are not automatons, waiting for your character to ask for help. They have their own lives and needs. An alliance is a two-way relationship. Calling for favors makes your character indebted to his friends, and they are sure to call such favors in when they need help. The Storyteller can use such debts as inspiration for future stories.
Barfly (•) Edit
No matter what town or city your character is in, he can find his way into the best nightspots with a few quick words and a timely bribe. There isn't a velvet rope made that can keep him out of a restaurant or club.
Bureaucracy has a pattern, and your character has learned to recognize it. Within any given bureaucratic system, be it a hospital, a government agency or a corporation, he has learned whom to talk to get results, which rules he absolutely must follow and which ones he can ignore because no one pays attention. You receive a +2 bonus to all Social and Mental rolls made to navigate, manipulate or work within a bureaucratic system. Note that this Merit doesn’t accomplish the impossible. Your character isn’t going to get a permit for a heavy assault rifle if such weapons are illegal in his city, no matter how much he flirts with the ladies at the country courthouse.
Contacts (• to •••••) Edit
Contacts provide your character information in a particular area of awareness. Each dot in this Merit represents one arena or circle in which your character has a web of connections and from which he may draw information. If he has Contacts •••, his dots might be assigned to computer hackers, couriers and big business, respectively. Contacts can include individuals whom you or the Storyteller defines, but more likely they comprise an array of people from whom your character can draw information with a phone call, email or face-to-face query. Contacts is strictly information-gathering. Contacts do not come perform services for your character or rush to his aid. Those actions are the purview of other Merits such as Allies and Retainer.
Gaining information from contacts requires a successful Manipulation + Persuasion or Socialize roll, depending on the relationship between your character and the people in question. Penalties might apply if the information sought is little known (-1 to -3), confidential (-3), or if sharing it could get people in trouble or harmed (-3 to -5). Success doesn't guarantee exactly the information for which your character looks. Contacts aren't all-knowing, and the Storyteller is perfectly justified in saying that a particular contact simply doesn't know something.
Dramatic Failure: The contact doesn't tell your character the full extent of what he knows, or provides misleading information. Perhaps he's holding out for money or favors, or simply makes an honest mistake.
Failure: The contact doesn't have the information your character needs.
Success: The contact is able to provide some information that's helpful to your character.
Exceptional Success: The contact is able to provide a wealth of information to your character, providing answers to questions that arenÕt even asked.
Suggested Equipment: Gift (+1), small bribe (+1), large bribe (+2), an outstanding favor (+1 to +3) Possible Penalties: Lack of bribe (-1), frequent and recent requests (-1 to -2), information confidential (-1 to -3), information scarce (-2), information obscure (-3)
Decorated (• to •••••) Edit
Your character has received an award for meritorious conduct of some sort. Characters gain a bonus on all Social rolls relating to one’s Allies, Contacts or Status in the military, regardless of whether the character is currently serving or not. The three-dot, four-dot and five-dot Merits indicate an exceptional award: the Silver Star for the three-dot Merit; the Distinguished Service Medal or Distinguished Service Cross for the four-dot Merit; and the Medal of Honor for the five-dot Merit. Those who have earned the Medal of Honor are entitled to a salute regardless of rank or whether they are now civilians. new merits Servicemen and servicewomen who have received lethal injuries as a result of combat during a military action are automatically awarded the Purple Heart, a two-dot Merit.
Drawback: This Merit rides on the world’s perception of the character’s honor and Morality. The character must be seen to retain honor and dignity in his actions. Should the character commit sins rated 5 or lower on the Morality chart, and should those sins become public knowledge, the Merit may be revoked, earning him the Notoriety Flaw (see “Character Flaws”, the World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 217).
Fame (• to •••) Edit
Your character has a measure of recognition in today's media-saturated society, possibly as a performer, athlete, politician or other sort of public personality. He's frequently identified and can often get star treatment. On the other hand, it's difficult for your character to go places without being recognized, and the media watches him carefully. Each dot adds a +1 modifier to your character's Socialize (or Persuasion, where applicable) rolls among those who are impressed by his celebrity status.
Drawback: The more famous your character is, the more easily he is recognized by the public. The Storyteller should apply the same +1 modifier per dot to a general Wits + Composure roll to see if he is recognized by anyone on the street. An exceptional success indicates that one or more people are loyal fans who approach him for autographs, pictures and long conversations.
Inspiring (••••) Edit
Prerequisite: Presence ••••
Your character is able to rally others in times of great distress, renewing their courage and determination in the face of adversity. Once per game session, your character can exhort those around him to redouble their efforts in the face of great stress or danger. Make a Presence + Persuasion roll. If the roll succeeds, any individuals who actively assist your character and who are within earshot regain one spent Willpower point (not to exceed their Willpower dots). The character may not use this Merit on himself, and may not use it on the same subjects more than once a day.
Mentor (• to •••••) Edit
This Merit gives your character a friend and teacher who provides her with advice and guidance. Your character's mentor acts on her behalf, although the Storyteller determines exactly how. A mentor usually offers advice, allowing the Storyteller to use him to help guide your character through tough situations. A mentor may also use his influence or abilities to help your character out, although he probably wants to see his charge do things for herself. A mentor is likely to give up in disgust on a pupil who constantly asks for aid. Mentors may also ask for something in return for their assistance, which can lead your character into some interesting situations. The number of dots purchased in this Merit determines the relative power, knowledge and experience of your character's teacher.
• indicates a mentor with one or more specialized Skills and a small amount of experience in your character's field of interest. •• indicate a mentor with a wide range of capability and experience in your character's field of interest. ••• indicate a mentor possessing a broad range of Skills, years of experience and significant influence in your character's field of interest. •••• indicate a mentor who not only possesses a broad range of Skills and decades (or in some cases, centuries) of experience, he is also a preeminent figure with major influence in your character's field of interest. ••••• indicate a mentor with towering influence and power in your character's field of interest. A five-dot patron watches over your character and influences her life in ways both obvious and subtle, and likely has an agenda in which your character is pivotal.
Morbid Fascination (••) Edit
People find themselves wanting to talk to your character even despite themselves. There’s something distinctly wrong with how you come across, whether you miss common social cues or deliberately cultivate a predatory air. Their fear begets fascination, and soon they can’t leave you alone. You ignore all penalties for your otherwise disturbing mannerisms when talking one-on-one with someone. This includes any penalties that you gain for changes in your Code. You may give off a weird air because you see no problem in killing the “unclean,” but when you give someone your full attention they just don’t care.
Drawback: If at any point you fail a Social Skill roll when talking to that person, your penalties come back in full force.
Resources (• to •••••) Edit
Effects: This Merit measures your character's material resources, both possessions and wealth. All characters are assumed to have a job or a source of income (trust fund, parents) that is sufficient to cover their basic needs: food, shelter and transportation. Dots in this Merit represent disposable income, wealth and assets that can be liquidated for more money in case of emergency. The number of dots indicates your character's general level of wealth.
• suggests low disposable income: $250 a session and approximately $1,000 worth of assets. •• suggest moderate disposable income: $500 a session and approximately $5000 worth of assets. ••• suggest significant disposable income: $1000 a session and maybe $10,000 worth of assets. •••• suggest substantial disposable income: $2000 a session and $500,000 worth of assets. ••••• suggest significant wealth: $4000 a session and as much as $5,000,000 worth of assets.
Resources can be used to determine if your character can reasonably afford a purchase or expenditure. Equipment, weapons and items throughout these rules are assigned costs in dots. The Storyteller can assign cost dots to other items during play based on what's here. If your character has the same or more dots in Resources, he can afford the item on his disposable income. That doesn't mean he has a blank check with which to buy everything he sees. He might be able to afford one or two items with a cost equal to his Resources dots in a single month. Items with lower costs can be acquired more often. The Storyteller has final say on what's too much or what's too often. Your character's Resources dots aren't spent and don't go away. They represent available cash at any given moment. The only means by which your character's Resource dots might decrease is if story events conspire against them. Perhaps your character's fortune is wiped out, he loses his job or his company is subjected to a hostile takeover. The Storyteller therefore influences how your character's dots might decrease, and whether they can be salvaged.
Retainer (• to •••••) Edit
Your character has an assistant, aide, indentured servant or fanatical follower on whom she can rely. You need to establish how this trusty companion was acquired. He may be paid exorbitant amounts of money that buy his unwavering loyalty. He might owe his life to your character (or to your character's predecessors). Your character might blackmail this person or threaten his family with harm if services are not rendered. Or your character might have a supernatural hold over this poor person. Regardless of the circumstances, this person is constantly loyal and follows almost any order without question.
A retainer can be called upon to perform many duties without fail. A bodyguard might be willing to hurt other people on a mere command. A dedicated street kid might hang on your character's every word and get her information or contacts without being asked. Unless your character has direct control over a retainer's mind, however, this person can't be made to perform any task. He might not risk his own life unduly or perform a task that violates his own morals. You or the Storyteller should detail your retainer with an identity, background and character sheet of his own. The Storyteller usually plays your character's retainer. Each acquisition of this Merit grants your character one follower. Dots spent in the trait indicate the training, capability or flexibility of the aide.
• suggests a child, an automaton or a madman with limited capabilities and freedom of thought. •• indicate an ordinary person over whom your character has sway. The servant is completely mundane and has no particular training above the human norm (he has two dots in all of his Attributes and Skills). ••• represent a capable employee with a range of training at his disposal (three or four of his traits have three dots). •••• represent a valued and irreplaceable assistant (someone with a handful of traits with four dots each). ••••• indicate an extraordinary follower. He is exceptional in many ways (five dots in a couple traits, and four in many others) or he may be capable of supernatural feats. Retainer is different from Allies in that no roll is ever made to get results from an aide. He performs the task requested, unless subjected to repeated abuse or an utterly intolerable assignment (as decided by the Storyteller based on the assistant's personality).
Drawback: If your retainer is ever hurt he may be incapable of service while recovering. If he is killed, he's lost forever unless supernatural in origin. A retainer who possesses his own will and who is forced to perform a duty that offends his sensibilities or defies his morals may abandon your character, temporarily or permanently. Points spent to acquire a retainer who is killed or driven off are lost.
Small Unit Tactics (•••) Edit
Prerequisites: Manipulation ••• and Persuasion ••• with a Leadership Specialty
The character is familiar with the tactical application of force by a small unit: no unit larger than a platoon. The character must be in charge of the unit in question for it to benefit from his tactical leadership. When conducting a tactical maneuver such as a flanking attack, covering fire or when in a CQB (Close Quarters battle) or FIBUA (Fighting In Built Up Areas, aka Urban Warfare) situation, in any turn, the leader may spend 1 Willpower and roll Manipulation + Persuasion reflexively to issue a command to his unit. The Willpower bonus of +3, or +2 to a defensive dice pool, applies to all the men in the unit in that turn, including the leader. Any individual member may also stack their own Willpower expenditure and bonus on top of the leadership bonus conferred by the leader.
Drawback: The Willpower bonus only applies in a situation in which the leader and his men are already well trained, using tactics familiar to all men in the unit. In game terms, all members of the team, including the leader, must have gained 1 experience point at some prior stage whilst under the guidance of the leader. If a situation arises for which there is no SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), the leadership bonus does not apply unless it is applied to a defensive dice pool.
Status (• to •••••) Edit
Effects: Your character has standing, credentials, authority or respect within an organization, group, company or social body. He might have an official position or title, or might simply be revered and honored within the group and therefore accorded a degree of authority. Your character might be a company vice president, a police sergeant or lieutenant, an army corporal or a nurse at a hospital. Or he could be a lowly member of the group whom everyone likes or who has won some acclaim and is allowed more standing than he is officially entitled. Each acquisition of this Merit is dedicated to one type of authority, whether in an organization, society or circle. Examples include police, City Hall, criminals, unions, banks, a university faculty and hospital staff. In order to have authority in more than one venue, you need to purchase this Merit multiple times, each trait with its own dots. Thus, your character might have Status (Police) ••, Status (Criminals) ••• and Status (City Hall) •, each acquired separately at character creation or during play. You would need to explain how he reconciles all this authority in the setting. The aforementioned character might be a dirty police sergeant who has paid his dues in civil elections and gained some recognition among city officials. Status represents the privileges and liberties that your character is authorized to take within the confines and definitions of his group. Increasing dots reflect increasing clout. A cop with Status 1 can enter the suspect lockup and interrogation rooms, while a cop with Status 4 can enter the evidence locker without supervision or get involved in a crimescene investigation without specifically being called in. The phrase 'within the confines and definitions of his group' is emphasized above because Status operates exclusively through official channels. A surgeon might have one patient seen or operated on before another, because that's within the official confines of his authority. Exceeding the confines of authority or proper channels transcends the limits of the Status Merit. Going above and beyond to ask for favors rather than give orders or to requisition an official request enters the realm of the Allies Merit. So, a police detective who gets a lower-ranking officer to investigate a case may do so with Status. That request is conducted through proper channels. Meanwhile, a police detective who asks another officer to overlook some evidence or to delay an investigation does so with Allies. The favor is asked outside official channels.
While Status might allow your character to give orders to underlings, the Merit doesn't automatically get results. Subordinates or co-workers might resent their assignments, dislike your character or have personal agendas that interfere with your character's needs. Efforts to get things done through official channels still call for Manipulation + Intimidation, Persuasion or Socialize rolls, whichever Skill is appropriate to the request, circumstances and your character's standing within the organization. Bonus dice equal your character's Status dots. Penalties might apply if your character browbeats someone (-1), uses threats (-2), skirts the limits of his authority (-2) or exceeds his authority (-3 to -5). Some sample organizations and the basic benefits, perks and privileges of standing in them are listed below:
Police: A patrol officer has legal powers of search, seizure and arrest, is permitted to carry a firearm at all times and has access to a wide range of local databases. High-ranking officers (•••+) can initiate investigations, coordinate with neighboring county or state police, and call in urban-assault teams.
Clerical Standing: Your character is a licensed minister, gaining access to people and places such as accused criminals, hospital patients, crime and accident scenes, and restricted areas in religious institutions. Prerequisite: Academics Skill Specialty: Religion.
Syndicate Industries: A low-level corporate executive has access to much of the company's resources, including corporate credit cards, vehicles, cell phones and computer equipment. Depending on the company, he can also access sources of information and influence not available to the general public. Executives (•••+) have larger salaries, expense accounts, and hiring and firing powers, not to mention social perks and access to connected political figures and/or celebrities. Prerequisites: Changeling.
Diplomat: Your character is a registered diplomat for a sovereign country. If he works in a foreign country he has free lodging, access to his country's embassy and immunity from foreign criminal prosecution. Prerequisites: Politics •• and Persuasion ••.
Licensed Professional: Your character is licensed in a recognized profession that affords him privileges unavailable to most civilians. He might be a private investigator and authorized to carry a concealed weapon and to have access to restricted databases and government files, or he could be a building contractor and be authorized to own and use explosives for professional applications. Prerequisite: Academics Skill Specialty: Law (private investigator), Science Skill Specialty: Demolitions (building contractor).
Medical: Your character is licensed to practice medicine. He can write prescriptions, access medical records and gain access to restricted areas such as crime and accident scenes. Prerequisite: Medicine ••.
Military: An enlisted soldier has a monthly stipend, is permitted to possess military-grade firearms and has access to restricted sources of information and equipment. If he is an active-duty soldier he receives free room and board and medical care. High-ranking soldiers (•••+) are officers who can command units, requisition military equipment and perhaps even initiate foreign insurgencies.
Rotary Club: A basic member in good standing has access to the local meeting hall and a network of members who can provide club-related information or perform club-related duties. A basic member can also benefit from the organization's emergency fund in times of need. Highranking members (•••+) have access to other clubs around the country, and have sway over connected civic groups and political figures.
Drawback: Your character's standing in a given organization is dependent on the fulfillment of his duties and on abiding by the regulations required of members.
Striking Looks (•• or ••••) Edit
Your character is exceptionally attractive by modern standards; heads turn and conversations stop when she enters a room. For two dots, your character gets a +1 modifier to all Presence or Manipulation rolls when she attempts to use her looks to entertain, persuade, distract or deceive others. For four dots, your character's looks are angelic; she gets a +2 modifier.
Drawback: The more attractive your character is, the harder it is for her to avoid notice in public. Witnesses to any criminal acts are much more likely to remember your character's appearance, and easily recognize her in a lineup. Your character is also likely to receive a great degree of unwanted attention in social situations.
Sworn Officer (• to ••••) Edit
You character is a sworn law enforcement officer, with all the rights and duties thereof. She is empowered within her jurisdiction to make arrests, use department equipment and resources, view confidential information, request assistance from other agencies and use force during the course of her duties. She may legally carry a concealed deadly weapon anywhere in the United States not prohibited by federal law, even when off duty. When in another agency’s jurisdiction, she also can expect professional courtesy, subject to local customs and policies.
This Merit differs from Status (see the World of Darkness Rulebook, p. 116) in that Status represents a character’s standing within an organization, while Sworn Officer indicates that the character actually is a duly empowered law enforcement officer. The civilian director of the Chicago Forensic Science Center may be an CBI employee with Status (CBI) ••••, but he’s still a civilian, not a sworn officer.
The number of dots purchased in this Merit determines the extent of the jurisdiction of the agency for which your character works. One dot indicates a small to mid-sized town or a rural county. Two dots indicate a major city (such as Midway) or a densely populated county. Three dots indicate a statewide agency. Four dots indicate a federal agency with national jurisdiction.