Merits and Flaws
Eternal City uses selected merits and flaws from the V20: Dark Ages rulebook, Dark Ages: Vampire (2002), Player's Guide to the High Clans, and Player's Guide to the Low Clans. Certain descriptions and wording may be changed to better fit our setting and persistent world.
Custom Merits and Flaws
- Bloodhound <2M>: The scent of blood is nearly as revealing to your keen senses as its taste. You may smell a blood source to detect blood, track blood or decipher details of the blood.
- Expert Rider <2M>: You ride like you were born astride a horse. All difficulties on riding rolls are reduced by two.
- Stunt Rider <3M>: You can ride a horse and perform an unrelated action (e.g., seize a running target, fire a crossbow) in the same turn.
- Dead Man <1F>: Your mortal associates and loved ones in Rome believe you are dead. If you use your real name, an image of you gets out, or you are spotted by people who know you, very uncomfortable questions will be asked. Taxmen and patrons are scrupulously thorough to follow up on falsified deaths, and that's the least of your problems.
- Notable Heritage <3M>: Prerequisite: Must be from a Patrician gens. Your family is particularly renowned in the Roman Empire. You must choose which gens your heritage relates to. You are at -1 difficulty to all Social rolls when dealing with mortals who are aware of your heritage. You are expected to live up to your lineage's reputation. If you fail to do so, you may find the Merit dwindling over time as stories of your own failings begin to outweigh the high regard your family receives.
- Curse of Hospitality <3F>: Prerequisite: Vampire. You cannot enter a private residence without an invitation from a resident. While public buildings and inns cause you no difficulty, you cannot step into a bedroom or living room in an insula. This Flaw is common among the Ravnos and nomadic Gangrel, and vampires from cultures (such as Britain) with a strong tradition of hospitality.
- Faithstruck <3F>: Prerequisite: Vampire. You cannot step foot on any location sanctified to the gods. You are repelled from all temples, roadside shrines, sacred glades or the Ara Pacis. Structures or places imbued by substantial faith may cause you terrible pain. Every turn you remain on hallowed ground inflicts one level of aggravated damage. This cannot be soaked, even with Fortitude. You suffer damage until driven into Torpor if buried on site, although any objects or materials removed from the site do no harm.
- Familial Bond <1M>: Prerequisite: Vampire. You feel blood connections more closely than most. You add +1 to all blood sympathy bonuses and a +1 die to blood sympathy rolls. Your relations are one step closer for the purpose of determining blood sympathy distances.
- Foul Blood <1F>: Prerequisite: Vampire. Nothing on earth can disguise the overwhelming taste of your blood. The flavour overpowers anything you try to hide it with. On the upshot, it's still Vitae but ghouls and everyone else noshing on you will swallow with an unhappy gulp until the Kiss kicks in.
- Necrophage <5F>: Prerequisite: Vampire. You only gain nourishment through the death of your victims. Blood drank from the heart taken from someone freshly dead alone replenishes your blood pool. Unless you kill your target, you gain no sustenance from him.
- Necropolis Bound <3F>: Prerequisite: Vampire. Common among Cappadocians and Cainites of Etruscan descent, this flaw requires you to sleep in a mausoleum, necropolis or proper grave. It needn't be yours. Each night spent without proper shelter limits your dice pools to one-half, cumulatively, until you have only a single die in your pool. The penalty remains until you rest for a full day in a crypt.
- Neptune's Call <3F>: Prerequisite: Vampire. Your stability is directly tied to the weather. You calm as skies clear and grow progressively more bloodthirsty as a storm rises. If you don’t sleep on or under naturally occurring water (in a boat on a lake, river, or ocean; or beneath the waters of a stream), you cannot spend Willpower the next night.
- Past Lives <1-5M>: You can remember one or more previous incarnations. Your recollections often happen spontaneously due to triggers like trauma and extreme emotions. Once per session, you may harness your insights after 1+ turns of meditation. Roll your Past Life Merit dots against difficulty 8. Each success allows you to increase Any Ability by one for purposes of a single roll. These dice stack if you already have the Ability (to a maximum of 5 in that Trait). Botching a Past Life roll results in bombardment of memories, which may leave her stunned or subsumed by a past life for the remainder of the scene.
- 1 dot (Faint Past Life): Deja vu memories of one life.
- 2 dots (Weak Past Life): Dreamy, vague memories of one life with deja vu from several.
- 3 dots (Moderate Past Life): You definitely recall other times and places, and vague flashes of former habits and beliefs.
- 4 dots (Strong Past Life): You possess clear memories of other existences, which you can summon almost at will.
- 5 dots (Overwhelming Past Life): Sometimes you forget what life you're living.
- Saltbound <2F>: Prerequisite: Vampire. Salt is renowned for its purifying qualities. For you, this is the truth. You cannot cross a line of salt physically. A wise victim who surrounds herself with salt is effectively unreachable as long as she stays inside. Disciplines are unaffected and potent powers, such as Shadowstep, can transport you across the barrier.
- Thieving Night <1M>: Prerequisite: Lasombra. If you suffer Final Death, shadows devour your body. You leave no corpse behind. The Abyssal darkness extends extinguishes any light source it engulfs except fire. Any target caught within a 1-yard radius must make Courage roll (DC 8) or panic and flee. Vampires on a failed roll are driven into Rotschreck.
Mental Merits and Flaws
- Ability Deficiency <5F>: From W20. Whether due to poor education, lack of opportunity, or simple indolence, you've fallen short of your potential. You have five fewer points to distribute in one of your Ability categories: Talents, Skills, or Knowledges. Therefore, the most you could initially take in that category would be eight points, and the least would be zero. Of course, you can still spend freebie points to take Abilities in the affected category. However, you cannot have any Ability in that category at three dots or higher at the start of the game.
- Danger Sense <1M>: You have a sixth sense that warns you of danger to yourself and loved ones. Whenever you are unaware of being in danger, the Storyteller must make a secret roll of your Perception + Alertness; the difficulty depends entirely on the remoteness of the danger. If the roll succeeds, you will experience a sense of foreboding, though multiple successes may refine the feeling and give an indication of the direction, distance or nature of the threat.
- Enlightened <5M>: You have detached yourself from the War of Princes and taken the first step on the bitter journey to Golconda. The difficulty of the Virtue rolls is two less than normal. Characters must ascribe to the Virtues of Conscience and Self-Control and have a Road rating of 8 or higher to purchase or retain this Merit. If you ever fail to meet these conditions, you lose your way and the benefits of enlightenment. Storytellers should feel free to inflict automatic degeneration on characters who abuse this Merit.
- Lion Hearted <1M>: In a moment of great crisis, you may call upon your inner reserves of honour and nobility to fortify your resolve and bolster your moral strength. Once per story, you may reflexively spend a point of Willpower to substitute your Permanent Willpower rating for both your Self-Control/Conviction and Courage for the duration of the scene. Characters who ascribe to roads that do not venerate heroism and valor may not purchase or retain this Merit.
- Religious Heritage <1M>: This Merit indicates that your family has a history of dedicated service to one of the priestly collegia or a specific religious cult. You might have a sister or aunt among the Vestal Virgins. Family members are known for their piety and purity, with some of these relatives likely gaining prominent positions within a temple. This connection works to your benefit as well, even if you yourself are not tied directly to a priessthood. You receive a -2 difficulty modifier to social rolls when interacting with members of that faith or anyone else who would be appropriately impressed with your family’s exploits.
- Weak Willed <4F>: From W20. You have little resistance to attempts to dominate or intimidate you. Domination-focused powers, like Dominate, automatically succeed against you. Your difficulties to resist Social Talents such as Intimidation or Leadership, as well as mind-altering spells or magic, are increased by two. Your Willpower may never rise above 4.
- Well-Educated <3M>: Prerequisite: Academics 3. You are among the rare few who received superlative tutelage in classical academics, philosophy, rhetoric, and more. Whenever you roll a task involving a Knowledge you do not possess, you may still attempt to make the roll at +1 difficulty.
Physical Merits and Flaws
- Beast in the Mirror <2F>: Mirrors betray your monstrous nature. Anyone, mortal or vampire, who sees your reflection in a mirror or a reflective surface discovers your Beast leering back at them. The Beast appears much as you do, but twisted into a horrific nightmarish parody. Any mortals who view this reflection will be able to determine there is something horribly wrong with you, adding +2 to the difficulty of all Social rolls (except ones meant to intimidate or frighten) when dealing with these witnesses of your true nature. Lasombra cannot take this Flaw.
- Blood Rot <3F>: You are afflicted with an insidious vampiric disease that rots your blood, turning your veins and flesh a mildewed black. As your putrid vitae moves through your veins, this disease spreads, corrupting your flesh in patchy rivulets of sodden mold. Every time you spend a point of Blood, you take a point of normal damage. This damage cannot be reduced or negated. Blood spent to heal does not trigger this effect. This disease is not contagious, but appearing in public while you are suffering the visible effects of Blood Rot is considered gauche (and a violation of Camillus' Edicts).
- Controlled Thirst <1M>: Regular time spent among mortals has dulled the hungers of your palette. You reduce the difficulty of any frenzy roll involving the sight, scent or taste of blood by one. You cannot frenzy from sensing blood if your blood pool is full; conversely, you lose your normal difficulty reduction if your blood pool is less than a quarter full (rounded down).
- Face of the Beast <2F>: The Beast Within emerges in times of hunger or stress, twisting your visage into a monstrous caricature of human form. Your Appearance rating can never exceed your current blood pool. In addition, you must roll Self-Control (difficulty 6) whenever you are subject to stress. This is in addition to any checks for frenzy. If you fail, your Appearance drops to zero for the rest of the scene. Characters with this Flaw who follow Instinct automatically assume their bestial visage if provoked, as do those who actually succumb to frenzy.
- Impaired Sense <4F>: Whether by birth or an unfortunate circumstance later in life, one of your senses has been diminished. Perhaps you are hard of hearing or blind, or perhaps one of your other senses has lost its functionality. Rolls involving your impaired sense are made at a difficulty increased by 3. This may also increase the difficulty of other rolls or impose other, appropriate penalties. At Storyteller discretion, this flaw may be taken more than once, but additional senses are each 1 point Flaws.
- Low Pain Threshold <2F>: You are not particularly blessed when it comes to resisting physical discomfort and pain. Although you soak damage normally, you suffer from an additional -1 die pool penalty whenever you are injured (and therefore even a -1 penalty even at Bruised).
- Odd Gait <1F>: Moving swiftly does not come easily for you; perhaps walking is painful or perhaps you are simply never in a hurry. Whatever the reason, you move at half your normal movement speed. Storyteller characters may also come to recognize you by your uncommon walk.
- Ragged Bite <2F>: Unlike your Cainite peers, you lack the ability to neatly seal up the wound caused by feeding. Instead, you leave torn, bleeding marks which have a chance of becoming infected. Your target must make a Stamina roll (difficulty the number of damage caused + 5) to resist infection. The impact of such a notable wound in conjunction with a diseased target is left to the discretion of the Storyteller. At the very least, this poses complications in hiding your identity as anything other than a monster.
- Strong Back <2M>: You are exceptionally well-muscled and conditioned. As such, you can lift a full 100 lbs more than your Strength rating permits, and all feats of strength you undertake (save for lifting weight maximum) are rated as though your Strength rating was 2 dots higher than it actually is.
- Sturdy <4M>: Training, hardships, or natural ability have inured your body to pain and damage. While you are not necessarily a hulking brute, anyone who has seen you in action knows that you can take more damage than the average individual. You gain an additional Bruised health level and the Storyteller may award you with any appropriate bonuses when your innate toughness comes into play.
- Unblinking Vigil <1F>: Your eyes do not close — ever. Perhaps you stared too deeply into the Abyss or fleshcrafted away your eyelids for better alertness. Your quirk probably makes astute observers uncomfortable (+1 to the difficulty of friendly social interactions with anyone who makes a successful Perception + Alertness roll at difficulty 8 to notice).
- Unclean <2-3F>: Whether a lingering trait from your mortal life or an unfortunate side effect of your Embracing, your skin is marred in such a way that most casual observers assume you are a leper (or at least carrying some kind of plague). You may be barred entry to major cities, thrown out of most establishments, or subject to misguided attempts at healing or mercy. At 3 points, you carry leprosy (or some other contagious and visible disease). Nosferatu who take this Flaw receive only 1 point for it, and only for its full effects (3 points).
- Visage of Death <2F>: You bear the stamp of death on your face and pallor, revealing the truth of your undead state for all to see. You cannot mimic the "flush of life" that other Cainites may evince, and your corpselike mien adds two to the difficulty of all Social rolls not based on Intimidation. You cannot use Blush of Health. Cappadocians cannot buy this Flaw.
- Without a Trace <2M> When you stray from the paths of civilization and wander into the wilderness, leaves, grass and moss grow back where you pass and the earth itself moves to fill your footprints. You leave no noticeable traces of your passing, not even a scent. Normal attempts to track you (such as with Survival or ordinary dogs) automatically fail. Supernatural attempts, such as with Auspex, are done so at +2 difficulty.
Social Merits and Flaws
- Apostate <2F>: There is no sin in changing Roads; however, the manner in which you changed Roads was spectacular and offensive. You decried your former Road in public and spoke out against the faults within their tenets. Predictably, this has earned you the ire of those on your former Road, but it has also made the members of your new Road suspicious. You must work twice as hard to earn the respect of your peers. Be wary, also, for those who might seek revenge.
- Conniver <1F>: From W20. You are known as someone whose word cannot be trusted. Whether earned or not, you have a reputation for deceit and treachery, and you lose one die from all Social rolls involving any extension of trust, truth or believing your words.
- Debt of Gratitude <1 or 3M>: Though they may grudgingly admit it, an elder is in your debt. At 1 point, the elder owes you a favour. Work together with the Storyteller to determine what type of favour is owed and what was done to earn such a thing. At 3 points, the indebted elder owes you his or her unlife. Such an incident is extraordinarily unusual, so the elder likely despises being beholden. Work with the Storyteller to detail how (and why) this happened.
- Noble Arrogance <1F>: Prerequisite: Patrician. Whether or not you actually believe you are inherently better than anyone else, those around you consistently feel that you possess a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. You underestimate adversaries of lesser station. In any case, you suffer a +1 difficulty modifier to all Social rolls made to sway others of equal or lesser social class.
- Infamous Lineage <1F>: Your parents or grandparents were, or perhaps still are, distrusted and disliked by many Romans. As a result, you are inevitably distrusted and disliked as well. The stigma follows you even if you repudiate your parents or grandparents. One cannot escape one’s own blood, after all. This flaw may apply to your Sire and vampiric family.
- Lineage Resentment <1F>: Your gens (family) dislikes you strongly and probably wishes you ill. What did you do to get the patriarchs and matriarchs of your family to turn upon you so viciously? Given the smallest and most petty opportunity, they actively seek to do you harm, either by sullying your reputation or causing you emotional or psychological pain. They most likely do not mean you physical harm, but would likely wish it upon you from afar. Their allies also work against you, and so others might also resent you. This flaw may apply to your Sire and vampiric family.
- Outsider <1F>: This is not your native land; this is not your mother tongue. You are not from around here. Worse, the Romans know it and they look down on you. Everything is strange and different from the customs to the food. You struggle with the area’s native language and suffer +1 difficulty to applicable Social rolls.
- Vulgar <1F>: You are famously uncouth, abrasive, and unpleasant. Tact is a foreign concept to you, and no matter of gentle prodding or harsher discussions can seem to teach you how to navigate a social situation. Mechanically, you suffer +1 difficulty to rolls involving social grace, manners, or delicate social proceedings. You may also roleplay yourself into a bind by accidentally offending the wrong people.
Supernatural Merits and Flaws
- Beast in the Mirror <2F>: Mirrors betray your monstrous nature. Anyone, mortal or vampire, who sees your reflection in a mirror or a reflective surface discovers your Beast leering back at them. The Beast appears much as you do, but twisted into a horrific nightmarish parody. Any mortals who view this reflection will be able to determine there is something horribly wrong with you, adding +2 to the difficulty of all Social rolls (except ones meant to intimidate or frighten) when dealing with these witnesses of your true nature. Lasombra cannot take this flaw.
- Bound to the Earth <4F>: Some vampires are inextricably tied to their domains of origin, and they must rest in the proximity of at least two handfuls of native soil: earth from a place important in their mortal days. This earth may be the soil from your birthplace or earth from the graveyard where you underwent your Embrace. Each night spent without this physical connection to that land halve your dice pools every 24 hours, until all pools fall to 1 die. These penalties remain until you rest for a full day amid your earth once more. Tzimisce may not take this Flaw.
- False Amaranth <3F>: Your halo always shows the blackened marks of Amaranth, even if you have never committed diablerie. Perhaps your sire was a habitual diablerist, or perhaps in the throes of frenzy, you almost committed the foul act yourself.
- Initiate of the Road <1F>: Your life on the road of enlightenment has just begun. Though you fully grasp the tenets and precepts of your chosen Road, you have not yet put them to the test. This may be because you were recently Embraced or because you previously abandoned a former Road (in which case you may also consider taking the Apostate flaw). With this comes a +1 difficulty in resisting frenzy and Rotschreck, and you lack an aura tied to your Road.
- No Shadow <1F>: You possess no shadow, even when the brightest of lights shine about you, no shadow can be found whatsoever. Social rolls with mortals are at a +1 difficulty. Romans tend to think of you as soulless or cursed. Lasombra may find this flaw a serious drawback when using Obtenebration.
- Thirst of Caine <7F>: Prerequisite: Generation 1-5 You derive no nourishment from the blood of animals or mortals. Only the vitae of other Cainites sustains you. On the upside, the sight, scent or taste of human blood will never drive you into frenzy. If you are not extremely careful, however, your thirst will inevitably lead you to blood oaths and the forbidden draught of the Amaranth. This Flaw must be bought off at Generation 6.