Including a large section on white court vampires, one of my current interests. It’s certainly possible I’m missing some fairly important stuff here, but these are my thoughts so far. Click on the more tag if you dare:
I think it’s worth emphasizing that stunt effectively costs you one refresh, so if you’re not going to use it on average once each session (twice a session if it gives you a +1 bonus) then you might want to think long and hard about whether or not you really want the stunt, or are willing to ‘fake’ it in game with an aspect and a FATE point.
Is there a circumstance when a one step time reduction isn’t inferior to a +1 bonus to an action? As I understand it, if you succeed, a +1 bonus can be used to give you a one time step reduction, but it can be used to make you succeed, and do other things too.
(White Court Vampires and associated stunts are going to have their own section. For some reason, possibly the fact that I was interested in playing one, I had a lot to say about them.)
You get +3 Lore for purposes of supernatural alertness, but suffer +1 stress from magical attacks. Oh, and the fact that you are allergic may sometimes mean that the intended effect doesn’t work on you. Maybe. If you’re lucky. In general, it seems like you’d be better off taking the mortal stunt +2 Lore for supernatural awareness and not losing the 2 refresh. To be honest, given your allergy to magic meaning that you probably aren’t a fully fledged supernatural, I think that they’d be better off making this a mortal stunt.
Bruising Strength gives you bonuses whenever you use Might against a living being, but cannot be used in conjunction with Hammer Blows, which gives you extra stress when you hit with a muscle powered weapon. However, given description, you can complement a Fists or Weapons roll with Might. Superior Strength means that you automatically add +1/+2/+3 to your roll doing this, whilst gaining extra stress if you hit, thus gaining the best of both worlds.
The easy way to get around this is to explicitly disallow Superior Strength in conjunction with Hammer Blows. I think that’s probably the intended spirit of the rules.
They appear to be probably the most powerful template so far. Not only can they pick and choose their powers, rather than having to take a set suite of powers, which might include some powers you are less interested in, but they can easily ‘advance’ should they need to, even mid game. This allows them a lot of flexibility.
This would appear to be the weakest template. Not only do they miss out on most of the power of supernatural stunts, they also miss out on the +2 refresh that mortals get. I’d probably suggest giving them +1 refresh if they only get a 1 refresh supernatural stunt, just to reflect this halfway house.
White Court Vampires:
As previously mentioned, I was kind of interested in playing them. I guess that’s why I had so many problems with them. The first thing is that they are very strongly pushed to having Deceit/Intimidation and Discipline at high levels, and, given most of their refresh pool has to be taken up with physical combat powers, there would seem to be a big push to having decent combat skills too, just not to waste those powers you’ve had to take. The result would be that, in general, White Court vampires just aren’t that likeable. (It’s quite hard to get a good Rapport score once you get past all the other things.) And, given the high Deceit score, ye average White Court vampire would seem to resemble more a used car salesman than a suave sophisticate. Which is odd, especially for the Raith family, which is what I was really concentrating on.
Also according to the Bestiary, PC white court vampires are fairly pants specimen of their kind. (Bestiary Whote Court vamps are Inhuman normally, tempts the hunger to boost to Superhuman, as opposed to normal human usually and tempts hunger to boost to Inhuman for PCs.) Of course this latter fact may change twixt now and final product.
The basic level of this seems fairly underwhelming, looking at it in mechanical terms
Incite Fear – Since you could do the base effect (using Intimidation as a maneuver to inflict an aspect on someone) anyway, all it seems to do is remove any penalty for not being in a position of strength. And you have to touch them. Given other -1 refresh supernatural stunts, for example cloak of shadows, which removes all penalties for seeing in darkness AND and +2 stealth rolls in darkness AND no penalties whilst moving quickly in darkness, it seems a little weak.
Incite Lust – What this seems to allow you to do is to allow you to do lust style manevuers, only using deceit instead of rapport. And you have to touch them. This is more than a little weak, even for a mortal stunt, and doesn’t help the White Court’s image as master seducers. I mean, I’d be far more worried about someone with equivalent Rapport and a stunt that gives them +2 to seduction, and he’s just human.
Incite Despair – I’m fairly sure you could do this with just Deceit anyway, without even touching them.
The stronger versions can also be pretty much replicated by mortal stunts, which can happily give +2 stress to attacks. And you won’t have to touch them. The fact that people defend using Discipline against all this isn’t exactly a benefit, either, as both wizards and vampires need good Discipline for other reasons, and no template requires good Resolve.
As a side note, Incite emotion never seems to give you an option to go to range, which is odd because Thomas does use it at range several times. (Just been rereading Small Favour where he uses it unconsciously on a woman in the gym.)
I’m wavering here. From the flavour text, it looks like as PCs, we’re supposed to not feed directly from someone, and certainly the main obvious benefit (healing if you kill someone) would seem to be out of bounds for a PC, which, since this costs 1 refresh, balancing out the Hunger disadvantage, leaves you with a PC who has to be careful about using his abilities and/or taking damage whenever he uses them, in return for being able to use Deceit/Intimidation for a fairly lukewarm attack. I can see the whole ‘temptation to use dark power’ thing here, but at the moment, vampires are the only characters are forced to spend refresh on powers they’re not really going to use unless they’re an NPC.
This changes with a reading of one seemingly innocuous line of the feeding power. It can be used in conjunction with Incite Emotion, using the same roll. This would seem to indicate that you can inflict an aspect/block (using Incite Emotion) and do damage with a single roll. Or, if you have the more potent Incite Emotion, you can do two damaging attacks at once, one at +2 stress. This obviously turns this into something of a monster attack, which doesn’t really seem to be borne out by the books, where White Court vampires use blades, fists and guns rather than this.
It would seem that the usual way of Raith family feeding is to seduce the target, and then feed. However, feeding is an attack in game terminology, so how do you decide whether or not a PC should go with the flow or defend himself, possibly even physically? The obvious suggestion is to tag the incite emotion to compel compliance. (If this is what is intended, it might be an idea to mention this in the text since I didn’t see it for a while.) The problem comes in that a new tagable aspect is inflicted with every successful attack, thus potentially running people out of FATE points very quickly if they don’t want to be taken out of fights. (This actually affects big bad NPCs worse than PCS, since many of them start off in FATE point debt, not giving them a choice about whether or not they’re taken out of the conflict).
Defining which targets can be affected by Incite emotion/Feeding would be useful. All I’ve got from the text so far is that human can be fed on and ghosts usually can’t apart from when they possessing someone (which means that not having a soul does not render you immune). We know that White Court vampire can be fed from from White Night, but I’m unsure about who else works.
It says that you recover Hunger Stress boxes and consequences when you feed for a ‘significant’ portion of a scene. It might be useful to have more guidance on what significant means. What about if I just take in ambient emotion for the scene? What if I force someone to concede in a single feeding attack? (Not killing them.) I’m not feeding for very much of a scene at all, but I’ve done the next best thing to killing them, which one would imagine would be good for some mojo. If you have to make successful attacks for the majority of the scene for this to count, you’re either going to need to damage a lot of people otherwise you’ll kill someone just by filling in all their boxes. Also, does the rejuvenation happen before or after the hunger attack takes place? I’m assuming after, because otherwise you could take damage from using your feeding ability (which, after all, by the rules inflicts a dmage 1 hunger attack on you at the end of the scene).
Which is a good point – do you take hunger damage at all in a scene in which you kill someone? Otherwise, you’ll take that damage 1 attack at the end of the scene (from using the feeding power), and might end up not being that satisifed anyway. Of course, if you don’t take damage, then you can feel free to use all of your abilities in that scene without worry. That may or may not be what is intended
If you succeed in defending against an attack at the end of a scene, you regain all lost stress boxes. (Though consequences heal as normal and powers don’t come back until you feed.) So, assuming you take stress from the strain of using your abilities, the best way to heal it is to use a minor ability the next scene to provoke a light attack. Frex, in a White Court vampire’s case, use Inhuman Recovery to heal physical consequences from a big fight will provoke a strength 1 attack, which should generally be easy to defend against. There is a chance of this method backfiring, but I imagine in general it’s better than the alternative of just leaving the stress there until your next big scene.
In the skills section, we have explicit defense and fortitude skills for physical, mental and social combat. (Mental combat being a new addition since SOTC.) We only have initiative skills for physical and social combat, but not mental. It’s possible this is covered in the rules section, which is so far missing, but I thought it’s worth a shout out.