Cogs in the Machine
The God-Machine Chronicle is a subset of the World of Darkness (not unlike Mage, or Vampire), but the characters are still normal mortals out of the base World of Darkness book. However, there are a number of rules changes and additions that make it unique.
How the World of Darkness rule system works
For anyone who has not played a World of Darkness game (or who is rusty or new to the New World of Darkness) the way that gameplay progresses is fairly straight forward.
Dice rolling consists of rolling a number of d10s equal to your dice pool, and every 8, 9 or 10 is a success. Some rolls require that you simply get a success, and some have degrees of success (as in the case of attack rolls). Generally, rolls have the 10-again property, which means that whenever a d10 comes up with a 10, the player can roll it again and add any successes to their number of successes. A d10 can “explode” any number of times, as long as it keeps coming up with a 10. Thus, it is possible to get more successes than a character has dice in their pool (though not common).
To figure out a dice pool, you basically just add your characters dots in the relevant attribute, skill, or other modifiers. For example, to roll a perception check, you add the dot totals from your Wits and Composure attributes and roll that many d10s. If you want to climb a tree, you add together your dice pools from the Strength attribute and the Athletics skill. Outside of conditional modifiers, like equipment and circumstances, that’s all there is to actions in World of Darkness.
New Character Creation Rules:
The 5th dot in any attribute, skill, etc. does not cost two dots like it normally does.
Morality has been replaced by Integrity. Integrity represents a characters continued grasp on reality. Any time a player is faced with a Breaking Point an Integrity roll needs to be made. Breaking Points will be described below. If any players wish to work out a character’s connection to the supernatural in their back story, and start with an Integrity lower than 7, please discuss it with me before hand. I may award you an experience or two to represent this disadvantage (on a case by case basis).
Breaking points are a way to measure when a character might lose integrity. When a character performs certain actions or endures certain experiences, it may represent a breaking point. This replaces “sin” as per the normal morality scale. A breaking point is simply something that something a character has experienced outstrips their ability to rationalize or handle it.
The categories include:
- Performing an action that either violates his or her own moral code, or an action that is considered unacceptable in society.
- Witnessing something traumatic, terrifying, or that rattles his or her understanding of the world at large.
- Becoming a victim of a supernatural attack, whether physical, emotional, or mental.
Virtues and Vices are no longer the lists of 7 options, but can instead be chosen from a list, or made up, based on your characters personality. They should be based on dominant personality traits, as opposed to physical traits, and shouldn’t be based on already existing attributes (such as composed, or resolute).
Example Virtues: Hopeful, Loving, Honest, Humble, Trustworthy, Loyal, Ambitious, Just, Peaceful, Generous, Righteous, Courageous, Patient
Example Vices: Pessimistic, Hateful, Deceitful, Arrogant, Untrustworthy, Treacherous, Ambitious, Cruel, Violent, Greedy, Corrupt, Cowardly, Hasty
These are goals for your character. During character creation, choose three aspirations that your character wants to work towards. I recommend one short term-goal, one medium-term goal, and one long-term goal.
Not as important at character creation, but experience and character progression have been changed. No longer is it an exponential progression where the higher your dots in a stat, the more it costs to raise it. Instead, use the following chart for character advancement.
- Merit: 1 experience per dot
- Skill Specialty: 1 experience
- Skill: 2 experience per dot
- Attribute: 4 experience per dot
- Integrity: 3 experience per dot
- Willpower: 1 experience per dot
Gaining experience has changed to reflect these new, lower numbers as well. Throughout the game, there are things that allow a character to “take a Beat”. Think of them as a “unit of drama”. Once you’ve taken five beats, gain an experience. Beats can be gained by fulfilling the following criteria:
- Fulfilling an aspiration (at the end of the session, replace that aspiration)
- Resolving a condition (explained below)
- Once per scene, if you fail a roll, you can choose for it to be a dramatic failure instead. If you do, take a Beat.
- Take a point of damage in your last (right most) health box.
- Storyteller’s discretion for exceptional roleplaying, tactics, or character development. All characters involved receive a beat.
- After every scene (normally session, but this is a play by post), take a Beat.
The list of available merits has changed. There are a great deal more available than in the core World of Darkness book, pulled from many different WoD sources. I will be posting a link to the game rule section of the God-Machine Chronicle book in the forums. Any merit not included in this section has been purposefully omitted from the setting.
There is a rule called the “sanctity of merits” in this setting. What this means is that if you invest in a merit using your experience points, and something happens (for example, an ally gets killed), then you will have the opportunity in game terms to reallocate those merit points (or in a few cases, convert them back in to experience). Because of the nature of the setting, that allies and friends may be incapacitated or killed, the characters should not be weakened because of it.
Lastly, before choosing any of the Supernatural Merits, please discuss them with me.
Conditions and Tilts
Conditions and tilts add an additional layer of consequence and reward to actions taken during the game. Conditions generally work longer term, outside of combat, while tilts affect combat and are generally fleeting. They generally impose bonuses or penalties to certain actions, and come with a “resolution”. Additionally, there are persistent conditions that if they negatively affect a character, they may take a Beat.
For example, the Amnesia (persistent) condition is resolved if your character regains their memory and learns the truth. Bonded is a positive condition, representing a bond with a particular animal. Its resolution occurs if the animal dies or is separated from the character.
To gain a beat from a persistent condition, a character has to either be negatively impacted, or choose a course of action that causes them (or others) a hardship. For example, if a character has Addicted, they gain a Beat if the forgo an obligation to get a fix (or miss one because they were high or drunk). If a character has Connected (The Mob), if they are asked to perform a favor that puts them in harms way, or otherwise inconveniences them (and they carry it out), they gain a Beat.