|Setting||Seattle||The Circle||Vampires||Other Monsters||Rules|
Each attribute governs a specific area of endeavor for a Vampire player character. Note that most beings have another attribute, Endurance, that does not exist for vampires. Vampires do not get tired, they are forced into a torporous state by the sun, and they notice an increase in hunger when they exert themselves mystically, but a vampire who runs on a treadmill all night and one who sits in a chair all night will experience the same amount of hunger.
The attributes cover a very broad range of things one can do, and the descriptions are not exhaustive. If something seems to be outside the description of any of the attributes, then simply choose the one that seems closest. If more than one attribute seems to cover the activity in question, it may be that there is more than one way to do that thing. For instance, Strength and Weaponry both give Vampires some ability to get out of harm’s way.
Cunning, in short, is sneakyness. Of course it covers a lot more than that. It covers skill at sneaky endeavors, from picking locks to skulking about to lying (politics) to smuggling goods. It doesn’t necessarily provide one with the ability to create a criminal organization, but having a good cunning score would certainly be a good start. High cunning makes one of value to such organizations. Cunning is tested when the character needs to do something where subtlety is a factor, be it athletic, social, or even in combat. It often plays a secondary role with one of the other attributes. A character wants to do something requiring an effort of Strength, Weaponry, or Will, and Cunning is added in to make the action follow from a feint, or otherwise become more subtle or tricky.
As far as Powers go, Cunning is the focus of subtle and trick-oriented powers like Nightwalking and Melpomene. It can be used as a complement to other powers much in the way it can be used with other attributes, to hide the use of a power or to make it seem like the Vampire has done something other than what she actually did.
Overall, Cunning is not a ‘win-button’ attribute. It can’t be used to just overwhelm someone. Used with finesse, and to amplify other specialties, it can be a powerful tool. A character with Cunning as her primary attribute is very flexible, able to boost other attributes as needed with a bit of trickery. Not confidant in straight up fights, but willing to take on anyone, given the right set of conditions. And Cunning is all about creating the right conditions.
Characters with very low Cunning scores need not be stupid, or gullible. They might be honorable, or very literal, having difficulty taking anything but the most direct route. Whatever the case, those characters probably don’t try tricks very often, and when they do, they are rarely successful.
Strength is more than just raw physical power. It’s that too, of course, and plenty of it. However, it also covers athletic ability in general, as well as training in hand to hand combat, and less obvious skills like climbing things and even driving. (Since driving skill is largely based on physical reflexes and responses) Strength is an attribute that can define the appearance of a character, or conversely, be deceptive. Strength gained while the character was still alive has a marked effect on the person’s body, low bodyfat, taut muscles, shapely in an athletic way. After being Turned, increases in Strength are ‘stealthy’, in that they don’t add any mass or muscle tone at all. This is a big disappointment to some vampires, but others, especially ones that were small and weak in life, really enjoy being able to fool people into thinking they’re wimps.
For Powers, Strength is most often called upon when the power in question affects the body of the Vampire directly, or has some obvious, physical outlet. The shapeshifting powers of Primal are an excellent example of this. When a power gives the vampire extra physical capabilities or options, but doesn’t rely directly on Strength, having a good Strength is still good for making the most out of those options. For instance, the Nightwalking ability that multiplies running speed is better the faster the character can run.
Strength is a dominating attribute in close combat situations. It gives a character the ability to brutally overpower an opponent that gets too close. However, there’s some risk associated in getting that close. It’s no good being strong if you get torn up just getting your hands on someone. Strength characters must be careful and plan their opportunities well. It’s not a bad idea to have some decent skill at Weaponry as a fallback for when it’s not possible to close to hand to hand range.
Characters with very low Strength are constantly in danger of being overwhelmed in said close-combat situations. Powers that allow for escape or blocking enemies away are excellent for those characters. Alternately, some good Weaponry skill or just care in not getting into close situations can suffice.
Weaponry is an attribute that is heavily skill-based. That is, it represents training with, and skill at using the various weapons that humans have developed over time. It’s a much more cerebral attribute than Strength is, governing tactical, planned weapon combat rather than primal, hand to hand combat. Weaponry is as broad an attribute as any of the others, and as such is covers all weapons, from knives and swords to guns and grenades. It also covers basic tactical knowledge, but not full-blown strategic warfare. Such large scale engagements are of little interest to Vampires in any case. Weaponry ability doesn’t have to make a character paranoid, but it does allow him to assess a situation from the perspective of what threats it might contain, and how those threats could manifest.
Very few Powers rely directly on Weaponry. However, as with Strength, Weaponry synergizes with some powers, usually those that enhance the tactical ability, physical responsiveness, or information gathering abilities of the Vampire. Unlike Strength, those powers tend to feed into Weaponry, making it stronger, whereas Strength tends to make the overall power effect better.
Weaponry is an attribute that is supreme in most combats, assuming that things don’t get so up close and personal that Strength takes over. A character with a good weapon and high weaponry is probably the dominating one in a particular fight. On the other hand, Vampires aren’t easy to hurt with a lot of weapons, and there are plenty of things that can change a situation around. That’s not to say that Weaponry is a weak attribute, rather, Weaponry oriented characters should be vigilant rather than cocky in combat. Being pro-active about taking down foes and controlling the situation can keep one from being blindsided by a weird power or sudden reinforcements.
Characters with a weak Weaponry attribute should be careful in combats, emphasizing their other strengths, like Powers, or just keeping out of the way. Staying out of combats in general might be a good idea for such characters. If a character with a low Weaponry does have to fight, it’s good to stack the deck as much as possible, and prepare surprises that are are hard for Weaponry characters to deal with, like high explosives, the aforementioned powers, or just extremely favorable terrain.
Willpower represents the mystic power of the Vampire’s psyche and soul. What does that mean, exactly? It means that Willpower is a representation of the ‘oomph’ that the character’s mind can deliver. It’s not intelligence, or social skills. It’s the character’s ability to be resolute and composed, applied as a magical force. This attribute is called upon when a character tries to resist something being done to his mind directly, rather than trying to deflect it or assimilate it. It allows dominance over another mind if some power allows them to come into direct combat, and it’s the most likely attribute to be called upon for a host of the more ephemeral powers. It has some secondary effects as well, influencing how pronounced some of the minor effects that Vampires have upon humans are, such as the lassitude that overcomes humans when they’re fed upon. Vampires with a very strong Will tend to get more advantage out of those basic touches than those who’s mystic senses and might are barely developed.
With respect to Powers, Willpower is the premier attribute. There are few powers that can’t benefit from Willpower in some secondary ways, and more powers are directly based on Willpower than any other attribute. That said, Willpower doesn’t have a lot of direct application outside of powers, so a Vampire who goes for a high Willpower should certainly get something good to go with the attribute.
Vampires with a high Willpower tend to have a bit of a presence about them. When one thinks of the Vampire master with the hypnotic gaze, and oppressive presence that’s the high Willpower vampire. That sort of thing can be suppressed, especially if the Vampire’s Cunning is also good, but it’s certainly something that can be ‘flexed’ a little if need be, which is handy for intimidating someone without actually having to blast them with a power of some kind.
Vampires with low Willpower aren’t necessarily schmucks, but they haven’t got the mystic side of their nature down yet. They tend to miss details like the relative strength of vampires they meet, and humans are less enthralled when bitten by them. Their powers are a bit weaker too, which either leads to them letting their Willpower continue to atrophy, and largely ignoring powers, or causes them to practice harder, eventually developing their Will as they advance with powers.