ɢᴇɪsᴛɴᴇᴛ | ᴘᴏᴡᴇʀᴇᴅ ʙʏ ᴠɪᴄᴇ ([personal profile] geistnet) wrote2014-08-01 11:52 am
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Systems & Mechanics: White Wolf Systems

Hi there. So you might be wondering how exactly the Welcome to the New Age campaign is different from other DWRP campaigns. Well, as has been said, this campaign is derives extensively from the tabletop role-playing game World of Darkness and its accompanying supplemental material.

But what does this mean for my character? you might ask. It means that this campaign is governed by a set of rules specific to the World of Darkness core rulebook, with some tweaking here and there by the ST. Here’s a lowdown on the basic and most relevant rules. Do note that if you have any questions, feel free to contact Pam or any of the mini-mods!

Note, of course, that this is meant to be a quick and dirty guide to the basics of White Wolf tabletop systems, and how they apply or have been changed to suit the purposes of Welcome to the New Age. For more specific rules, especially ones that apply to how a "canon" template works, you're going to need to check our reference links section.

If you're looking for references regarding character creation (that includes stuff for Advantages), please refer to our Original Character Creation Guide (link under construction) and the respective references for the class of your choice.

If you're looking for our rule hacks, they have a separate page over here.


Dice rolls in White Wolf represent how chance, skill, and other factors determine whether a character succeeds or fails in an action. Naturally, the more dice you have in your pool, the greater a chance you have at succeeding in an action.

Here are some basic rules.

A success on a roll is, by default, getting a score from 8-10.
As long as you get at least one dice that counts as a success in your dice pool, then your character has succeeded in their chosen action.

Example: Anton wants to shoot a target on a tree. He has a Dexterity of 3, and Athletics of 3, which gives him a dice pool of 6. He rolled a 6, 2, 4, 5, 2 and a 10. Since he got one 10, he got one success. The ST then rules that he managed to hit the target.

Certain modifiers can lower this number as described in the section Dice Rolls & Building Dice Pools.

Rolling a 10 is both a success, and a chance to roll that same dice again to see if any more successes pop out. This is called 10-again.
This can continue as long as you keep rolling 10s on that same dice over and over, until you finally get something else.

Let's go back to Anton. Since he rolled one 10, he can rolls that dice again. That re-roll gives him an 8, which means that, at the end of the roll, he has two successes rather than one.

Certain modifiers can make a roll 9-again or 8-again. They function as above, except that you begin re-rolling dice at 9 or 8, respectively.

Rolling five or more successes means that your character has obtained an exceptional success.
The effect of an exceptional success is usually ST-determined, unless the ability or action that you rolled for has its own provision for exceptional successes.

Let’s say Brigade wanted to punch a thug. If he had rolled 4 or less successes, she would have merely succeeded in dealing a whopper to someone’s sternum. Had he rolled 5 or more, he could have broken that thug’s sternum and knocked him to the ground.

Again, this is usually up to the ST, and usually determined also by how far beyond 5 successes your character went. For example, if Brigade gains 28 successes on that roll, he splattered that thug into gibs (yes, this can happen).

Rolling no successes means that your action failed.
This means that your character did not succeed in whatever they were trying to do (well, duh). For example, if Yulia was rolling to sneak away from her blademates who are smothering her with attention, and she fails the roll, she would have been unable to effect her getaway.

There is such a thing as a dramatic failure.
This is the sort of failure that adversely hurts your character in one way or another, or has dire in-game consequences.

Example: if Taning was rolling to hurl a lightning bolt at an enemy and he suffers a dramatic failure, he gets electrocuted by his own attack, where a normal failure might have just meant that he missed, or that the attack had no effect.

What happens when your dice pool is reduced to zero?

Sometimes, a dice pool for an action can be reduced to zero. This doesn’t mean that the character does not get to roll, however; they still get to roll a chance die.

This is a 1-dice roll that only garners a success on a 10. By virtue of its nature, the character cannot gain an exceptional success on this roll. They can, however, suffer a dramatic failure if they roll a 1.

Some actions are designated as rote.
Rote actions mean that the failures on the dice roll can be rolled just one more time, adding the successes (if there are any) to the initial roll. 10-, 9-, or 8-again rolls still apply to the successes rolled on the second, rote roll, if applicable.

Example: Say Kaz has an ability that makes shooting handguns rote. He rolls 10 dice, but gains only one success. He then re-rolls his 9 failures, gaining an additional 4 successes. His action can be deemed to have 5 successes and is, thus, an exceptional success.

White Wolf's Rule of 5.
In most circumstances, having additional successes above five will not add any other special effects to your roll - the only real exception to this rule would be damage (as outlined in Brigade's exploding thug). There is, after all, so much that can happen when one succeeds at something, especially if they're still limited by their "mortality".

In this same sense, massive reductions can only go so far. If you think about it, for most characters, a negative deduction of 5 dice already hurts their chances greatly. Once again, the only real exception to this rule would be determining damage reduction. The rest will be up to the discretion of the mod team.

Before looking at this section, make sure that you have read the section Employing Dice Rolls in Welcome to the New Age, as found in our Systems & Mechanics Guide. It has a breakdown of the most basic roll combinations for quick reference.

White Wolf campaigns utilize a ten-sided dice (d10), and this one ain’t any different. This means that anything that your character does that requires skill and even the smallest measure of luck is subject to a dice roll. The number of dice that a player can roll for a particular action is governed by several factors, which are listed below.

As seen in the examples above for Anton, the number of dots that the character possesses in the relevant Attribute and/or Skill required to perform an action.
For example, if Josh wants to tell if someone is lying, that is a Wits + Subterfuge roll. If he has three dots in Wits and three dots in Subterfuge, that means that he gets a base of six dice.

Equipment modifiers, meaning the rating that a particular item has that contributes to a particular activity.
Say Josh is wearing a particular set of goggles that functions like a polygraph test, providing a +2 to rolls to determine if someone is lying. His original base, if we're going to use the example listed above, was six dice. With the goggles, he now has 8 dice.

Circumstance modifiers affect rolls.
There are positive circumstance modifiers and there are negative circumstance modifiers. Positive circumstance modifiers could be things like bonuses from Merits, in-game buffs from party members or NPCs or environmental factors that work the character's advantage. Negative circumstance modifiers could be things like bad weather, low light conditions, psychological stress, or debilitating physical conditions.

Example 1: If Josh tries to tell if someone is lying in the cacophony of a noisy dance club, his roll might then have a -3 modifier that conflicts with the special equipment that he is using. His dice pool is then back at 6.

Example 2: If Josh had a Merit that would allow him to ignore penalties of up to -3 on Subterfuge rolls, then the -3 modifier would be eliminated. Thus, his dice pool is back to 8.

Note, however, that modifiers that specifically provide a penalty mitigation effect can NEVER add to a dice pool beyond what it mitigates. Thus, if Josh was actually in an intimate setting, and he was not being distracted from any subtle cues by the noise, his dice pool remains at 8, and does not become 11.

Storyteller-determined modifiers can also affect the dice pool.

Example 3: Josh’s attempt can suddenly be boosted because a particular NPC decided to make him more empathetic for a trice (yes, they can do that). He gains +2 dots to all his Mental Attributes, which means his Wits is now at 5. He now has 10 dice to make the determining roll.

Resistance modifiers are those that come from the target of the intended action.
Example: Josh decides to apply his roll to Brianna, Brianna can choose to resist it with a Manipulation + Subterfuge roll. The number of successes she rolls on this attempt determine the dice penalty to Josh’s attempt to pry. If she rolls 5 successes, Josh gets a -5 modifier to his roll, and now only has 5 dice to work with.

Note, of course, that this is far from being a complete list of all dice pool modifiers; these are just some of the most basic (and therefore most commonly used) rules that govern dice.

Now that you have your dice pool, it is now time to roll the dice. The success or failure of any given action is contingent on the number of successes you get on the dice roll. There are five types of actions: reflexive, instant, extended, contested, and combined.

Instant Actions & Reflexive Actions
An instant action is one that takes a turn (about three seconds in "real time") to resolve, whereas a reflexive action can happen at any time during the turn so long as the character has not acted yet (although there are exceptions to this rule).

A single dice roll, unless otherwise stated, is counted as an instant action. Reflexive actions, in theory, do not take any time at all, as they usually represent something that is intrinsic to a character (i.e. hiding one's emotions).

Extended Actions
Extended actions take place across several turns, denoting an activity that takes place over a protracted period of time. Extended actions require that a certain number of successes be accumulated (hence the player must reach a Target Number or TN provided by their ST, which the player rolls for each turn.

Depending on the skill level or the level of ability of the character, an extended action turn can be as fast as seconds, or as long as days.

These are the rules for extended actions.
  • Because of the nature of extended action rolls, exceptional successes usually do not matter. All it means is that the goal of the action is that much closer in sight. If on the last roll the player gets more successes than are absolutely required, however, the ST has the discretion to detail what extra accomplishments the character got. Say Taning is defusing a bomb. On the last turn, he gets four more successes than he needs to complete the process. This could mean that he defuses the bomb without damaging it at all, being able to keep it for his own purposes.
  • A failure on an extended action roll does not mean the failure of the entire endeavor, but rather, that the character’s time is wasted in that particular time period. Say for example that Brianna is attempting to eat balut. If her player rolls a failure, that means that for a particular time period (say, three minutes), she is unable to take a bite of the balut at all.
  • While there are no exceptional successes on an extended action roll, there are, however, dramatic failures. At the ST’s discretion, this could mean anything from a few hours’ worth of work irretrievably damaged, to the total failure of the entire project. Say Josh is cooking a batch of rosemary chicken for a party. Ten minutes to it being done, the oven suddenly develops a glitch, turning the heat up to maximum. The chicken comes out charred and inedible.

Contested Actions
Contested actions are those done to achieve something in direct competition with another character, or several other characters. This roll can either be instant or extended.

Here are the rules.
  • Whether the contested action is instant or extended, the one who gets the most successes wins. The dice pool for this roll is the base dice pool plus or minus all of the modifiers for that particular activity. So if Kaz is competing with Josh in a foot race on a slippery track, they both get a -2 penalty, but if Kaz turns out to be wearing special anti-skid shoes, the penalty is mitigated for him, and will only apply to Josh.
  • For instant actions, scoring the same number of successes (or both scoring none) can mean, depending on the ST, that both of them fail at the task, or that they can roll again to try to resolve the matter. Either the mod on call or you guys, as players, can decide how that happened and why.
  • Scoring five or more successes than the next closest opponent will give your character an exceptional success over them. The effects of this exceptional success are determined by the ST.
  • Scoring a dramatic failure on a contested roll can mean two things: either a dramatic failure for your character, or an exceptional success for your opponent, depending on the ST. Thus Taning scoring a dramatic failure against Yulia in a sparring match can mean either that he trips and faceplants spectacularly while attempting a dodge, or that Yulia slugs him squarely across the jaw and knocks him out.
  • For extended actions, the first player to roll the required number of extended successes wins. If Kaz and Brigade are both parkour racing to the top of the Tokyo Tower, the first player to score the required amount of successes is the first player to reach the summit. Note also that the rules on exceptional successes and dramatic failures applies also to contested extended action rolls. Thus, if Kaz scores an exceptional success on the final roll, he gets to the top of the summit so fast he has time to bring out a megaphone and gloat loudly in Brigade’s face. Similarly, if Brigade scores a dramatic failure, he is hit by a car on a mistimed leap and has to profusely apologize to the owners of the car for wrecking it, allowing Kaz to leave him in the dust.
  • There are special contested actions that aren’t exactly character against character, but character against system designed by a character to foil another. Thus, if Josh password-encrypts his Vice Tablet because Taning keeps snooping around in it, Taning has to pit his knowledge of computers and hacking against Josh’s tablet’s anti-hacking software and how well he set it up.
  • Note that an extended action can also have a time limit. In the above example of bomb defusal, if a turn in the extended action is worth 10 seconds, and there is only 1 minute left on the clock when Taning gets there, he needs to accumulate the required number of successes within 60 seconds, or 6 turns, or else it’s goodbye Taning.

Combined/Teamwork Action
A combined action is one where a group performs a single task together, combining their dice pools in order to perform the task better. Sometimes, these actions are referred to as teamwork actions.

These are the rules.
  • A combined action is always an extended action. Because of the way that the WoD system set up individual instant actions, especially in combat, combining dice pools for an instant action will not work. However, it is a special kind of extended action, as can be seen below.
  • Setting up a combined action means selecting one character to be the focal point of the activity, usually the character with the highest stats in the requisite attributes and skills for the particular task. Thus, if Yulia and her blade are planning to hike the Siberian Wastes, she would be the ideal focal point, as she has the highest stats in Survival.
  • All characters roll their base dice pool plus/minus modifiers. All of the successes that the non-focal point characters roll are counted and added to the focal character’s dice pool for that particular stage in the extended action. If Kaz and Brigade score two successes each and the rest don’t score any at all, then four dice are added to Yulia’s dice pool to traverse the freezing tundra. This continues per turn until all the required successes are achieved, or until a dramatic failure derails the activity.

Combat mechanics in this campaign rely on the same actions outlined above, following the steps provided below.

The Initiative Phase
Before the start of each fight, all combatants should roll their Initiative score. Initiative is Dexterity + Composure + other modifiers. The way it is rolled is different from how actions are rolled: you take your base Initiative score, then add the number you roll on a single die. If two or more characters roll the same initiative, the one with the highest Dexterity + Composure goes first. If the Dexterity + Composure is still the same, rolls are made until the Initiative order is settled. The one with the highest Initiative score moves first in combat.

During a tabletop session for a White Wolf campaign, the Initiative score determines which characters get to go first, and - subsequently - which players declare their actions before others, including the ST.

For the purposes of Welcome to the New Age, Initiative scores will determine the base tagging order. Even if all combat sequences will be played out off-site, it's good to unify the tagging order with the Initiative as a reference point.

At the most basic, there are two ways to deal damage in combat in this system: physical attacks, and supernatural attacks.

Physical attacks are divided into two categories: melee and ranged. Melee attack damage typically has a dice pool composed of the attacker’s Brawl/Weaponry + Strength + equipment modifier (if any), although certain merits can change parts of that equation. Ranged attacks can be thrown weaponry, archery, or guns, and typically has a dice pool of Firearms/Athletics + Dexterity + equipment modifier (if any).

Resolving Melee Attacks
A melee attack is resolved against the target’s Defense and Armor score. Armor is usually provided as an equipment modifier, although certain supernatural abilities can provide additional points of armor.

The combined Defense + Armor score is subtracted from the attacker’s attack dice pool.

A player can declare a Dodge at any time during a turn. This effectively doubles that character’s Defense at the cost of any actions that they might have been able to undertake on that turn.

Note that a dodge cannot be performed once the character has performed an attack or other instant action for the turn. A character that has declared Dodge can do so against multiple attacks, albeit at a cumulative -1 penalty. If a character has a Dodge score of 6, then the first attack made against him is -6, and then -5, and so on. If a character declares a Dodge late in the turn and has already been attacked, however, consider the preceding attacks prior to the dodge to have triggered the penalty already. Thus a -6 post-Dodge is now only a -5 if he had been attacked once before the Dodge, and so on.

Resolving Ranged Attacks
Ranged attacks do not contend with the target’s Defense, merely their Armor. This is unless the ST decides that a ranged attack is slow enough (or the target is fast enough) that the target can apply their Defense (or Dodge) against the attack, or if the ranged attack is performed within melee range.

Speed & Combat Sequences
A character’s Speed Rating determines how far a character can move around the battlefield in yards in a turn. If a character has Speed 15, that means that he can either run 15 yards to his target and attack, or run 9 yards to his target, attack, then run a further 6 yards away. The character can also sprint, doubling the Speed they have for one turn, but that is the only action they can undertake for said turn.

Supernatural Attacks
Supernatural attacks tend to affect their targets in ways that circumvent normal Defense and Armor. Thus, they go up against a target’s Resistance. This is a variable thing, and is generally not a roll unless specified, as different supernatural attacks affect targets differently.

Example: A Mastigos Mage’s psychic attack, for example, attacks a character’s mind, so a Mental resistance roll would be called for, while an Obrimos Mage’s celestial fire attacks a target’s physical composition, so a physical resistance check would be called for.

Usually, a character’s Supernatural Advantage (or, in the case of a mortal character, their Conviction) could also come into play in defending against supernatural attacks. What occurs then is that a character’s stats in the relevant resistance traits are summed, and then subtracted from the attacker’s dice pool.

Health Boxes
Your character's Health Boxes basically serve as their "hit points" in-game. The moment these Health Boxes are full of what we call aggravated damage (something that will be explained below), the character in question dies.

Types of Damage
Combat or no, characters can and will get hurt in Welcome to the New Age. White Wolf has provisions for dividing the kinds of damage there are in-game, and how long they take to heal with or without assistance.

BASHING DAMAGE: represents injury from blunt weapons, such as a fist or a bat.
LETHAL DAMAGE: represents injury from a ranged weapon, or from a bladed weapon, such as a gun, or a sword.
AGGRAVATED DAMAGE: usually represents extreme injury from a supernatural element. For example: a Werewolf takes aggravated damage from silver weapons.

Damage Upgrading
As your Health Boxes fill up with damage, it's natural that the more fire you take from an attacker, the more injured you will get regardless of the kind of weapon they are using.

There is a specific method to filling out one's Health Boxes to reflect the amount of damage that their character has been taken, including damage upgrades. We'll include a section with visuals soon.

Wound Penalties
Special penalties do apply according to how injured a character is - these are called wound penalties. Typically, the last three Health Boxes on your character sheet have a respective penalty rating:
    Third to the last Health Box has 1 Lethal/Aggravated Point of Damage: -1 to all actions
    Second to the last Health Box has 1 Lethal/Aggravated Point of Damage: -2 to all actions
    Last Health Box has 1 Lethal/Aggravated Point of Damage: -3 to all actions

Note that the moment your Health Boxes are all filled out with lethal damage, your character starts to bleed out. This means that unless he or she is healed, every time their turn begins, one of the lethal points of damage on their Health counter will convert to an aggravated point of damage.

Filling the Health Counter
This part is still under construction! We'll have it up soon, with luck.

Standard Healing Rates
Barring any bonuses from Merits, one's supernatural nature, medical intervention and whatnot, this is how much in-game time it takes to heal an injury.

    BASHING: 15 minutes per point
    LETHAL: 2 days per point
    AGGRAVATED: 1 week per point

Special Rule: Resistant Damage
Resistant damage is, for whatever reason, injury that CANNOT be healed by supernatural means and must therefore heal at the standard rates listed above. If damage is not listed as resistant, you are free to assume that healing spells and similar abilities will sweep the injuries away according to their stipulations.

RP Portal: White Wolf (quick reference on White Wolf stuff; perfect reference for abilities and builds and whatnot for the canon classes)
A List of Skill Specialties
White Wolf Wiki (Canon Enyclopedia for all things White Wolf)
Mr. Gone's Character Sheets

Nothing, of course, beats the core rulebooks per class template, and for World of Darkness itself. The important books to look at are:

  • World of Darkness: Core Rulebook
  • World of Darkness: Changing Breeds
  • Changeling: The Lost
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters
  • Mage: The Awakening
  • Promethean: The Created
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken
  • Vampire: The Requiem

We are NOT including Demon and Mummy in Welcome to the New Age. Furthermore, we are not including Hunter: the Vigil because the Waking the Dead universe has changed many of the factors that HtV put into the White Wolf universe. You're free to refer to Hunter, however, for your own reference.

Note that you don't have to read through the entire book in order to understand the way things work: the first few chapters devoted to the basic rules and character creation are enough. It helps to know more, of course, especially if you're out to build a plausible character for a specific template, but it's far from mandatory.

If you guys need copies, the mod team would be happy to email PDFs of interest to you. Remember, though: if you ever fall in love with White Wolf because of this game, do try to support them by buying hard copies of their work!

This post will double as a Q&A section for queries regarding the White Wolf system and canon class template questions. Comment threads will not be screened so that other players can check in and see if their questions were already answered in the past.