V20 Dark Ages: Combat, Physical Disciplines

Vampire: The Masquerade

Battle_of_crecy_froissartAnother preview today, V20 Dark Ages fans. Here’s the combat rules, along with Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence. Again, we’re really looking at offering new options for play, and emphasizing the feel we want to see in the Dark Ages. For example, some of the higher level Disciplines are similar, but not exactly the same as V20. From a design perspective, this is somewhere between V20 and Dark Ages: Vampire in terms of complexity. If something doesn’t work perfectly for your needs, the rules are close enough to both that you could substitute what stands there.

With Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence, we have some emphasis shifts, and a new take on multiple actions.

Here’s the combat rules.

Here’s the physical Disciplines.

Sorry for the formatting; I’m favoring sharing these drafts, as opposed to heavily formatting a second document for your perusal. The original Word files are full of markups and internal styles that would muck up your reading experience.

On the input front, we’re getting to a point where we’re mostly sharing, taking minor tweak suggestions, and looking for clarity issues. We’re far enough into the process where we can’t do massive rewrites. We’ve been testing these rules, and like the way they’ve worked so far.

  32 comments for “V20 Dark Ages: Combat, Physical Disciplines

  1. Mark
    June 26, 2014 at 6:20 am

    Coolness. Looking at some of the tweaks to damage. I like the idea that a vampire can keep crawling around when incapped from Bashing, but I think the wording in that section needs a tweak. At present, it says that conditions apply (unconsciousness, death, torpor etc) when the health track is full. But if the health track stops at Incapacitated, then a full health track doesn’t mean unconsciousness, death or torpor – it just means incapacitation. The wording from V20 is better, where it says “If your character falls to Incapacitated and then takes another level of [whatever] damage…” as this better reflects the system.

    • machineiv
      June 26, 2014 at 6:57 am

      I’ll shift the wording a little. This is mostly only an overview; there’s a later section talking in more detail about the damage.

      And yeah, I always felt it was weird that bashing damage could incapacitate but not torpor vampires. I favor keeping them moving, albeit broken.

  2. Mark
    June 26, 2014 at 6:27 am

    On multiple actions, the document refers to split dice pools but also presents a multi-action system with scaling DCs and reduced dice pools. Do these two systems work together?

    • machineiv
      June 26, 2014 at 6:51 am

      The language shouldn’t say split. I’ll get to that in editing. Multiple actions use the sinking pools and increasing difficulties.

  3. mark
    June 26, 2014 at 8:21 am

    when using ablood point to make fortitude soak damage automatically does the soaking difficulty matter?

    if not in my opinion it somewhat unbalances the game for instance a thaumaturges lure of flames becomes completely useless.

    sunlight also becomes less threatening not just mechanically but i believe also from a roleplaying point of view..

    • machineiv
      June 26, 2014 at 9:39 am

      I think I might stipulate that fire and sunlight do not apply to that particular ability.

      • June 26, 2014 at 11:32 am

        It’s important to bear in mind that this ability is a Blood Point expenditure, which means that Generation limits do apply. Also, the automatic soak applies to only one damage source; any subsequent damage instances need additional use of Blood Points.

        • Greg
          July 1, 2014 at 4:49 pm

          It’s also Once per Turn ability. I like this, it puts fortitude on par with Potency and Celerity.

      • felipe moulim
        July 1, 2014 at 4:59 pm

        Keep the idea to not allow it to soak fire and sun light in this way or it will be a big flaw in system balance and force fortitude to work in a very strange and powerful way almos outstanding vampire weakiness to both curses. It will keep sun light and fire in the pass in systems terms…

        • greg b
          July 31, 2014 at 4:28 am

          Changing it to Blood Point per Damage Level automaticly soaked would help. I can imagine a vamp burning his blood to sustain his composition for a brief moment.

  4. Daniel P
    June 26, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Wow, I must say I was positively suprised when I read the new writeup on the physical disciplines, I really like the new versions of them. Especially Fortitude, which always felt like the “little brother” among the physical disciplines has been changed into a format I really like, particulary the spend one blood and soak your fortitude rating, which is something me and my troup have been houseruling since we started playing Vampire. The reason for this is that our games are almost always partly combat oriented elder games set in the Dark Ages which means that combat and combat-balance is very important to us. With these changes I feel like the disciplines have been reborn in a new, more balanced form, which Im sure will be funnier to play as well. Im still checking the combat rules but so far they to look very good. Please keep us informed of new progress, cant wait to see more. Finally, heres to hoping we get a super heavy deluxe edition of V20 Dark Ages, preferably in a black metal set with fake gold and rubies in the shape of a cross or anhk in order to honor the physical appearance of the predecessor, Dark Ages Vampire in its corebook form 🙂

    • machineiv
      June 26, 2014 at 11:34 am

      I know we’re doing a Kickstarter. No idea what we’ll be doing as far as deluxes and all that go.

      I would LOVE a really fancypants version, though. This book is a huge thing for me. This is basically my love letter to the game I grew up with.

      • Joe B.
        June 28, 2014 at 11:15 am

        Dave, if this book is anything like your other work it will be a heart-wrenchingly beautiful love letter to Vampire. Really looking forward to this and *really* hope that OPP offers a deluxe edition akin to the Heavy Metal W20 book. Lets see.

  5. Octavo
    June 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I have to admit, I like the idea of the 20th anniversary books largely replicating the old rule systems, while using the Dark Ages books to tweak and improve the systems, like combat and disciplines.

    I’d love to see Dark Ages Mage get the same kind of treatment you’re giving V20DA.

  6. JezMiller
    June 26, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Blessing of Vitality: are Fortitude dots bestowed on another lost from the donor’s own pool? If not, a Cainite with sufficient blood could bestow elder-level fortitude on a group.

    • machineiv
      June 26, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      I’m comfortable with it. It would take a truly massive amount of blood to, say, bless a coterie.

  7. Oshaegda
    June 27, 2014 at 12:48 am

    I love what you did with Celerity! That discipline seems much less overpowered in the new system. If you’re still taking votes on what to reveal next, I would like to see the character creation chapter, especially the section on personality archetypes. I’m curious about what makes the characters tick.

    • machineiv
      June 27, 2014 at 1:58 am

      That’s a great idea. Let me see if it’s through editing or not. And I’ll probably launch it next.

      Hell, I might just dump the whole “traits” section, too.

      • Bloody Anger
        June 27, 2014 at 3:09 am

        Finally, David, you gave us this whole damn thing, and is fucking awesome!!!
        I was only asking to myself if with the “Potence Trick” (spending 1 blood point to have automatic success on damage) fights would be, maybe, a little bit “fast”.
        I know that Vampire it’s not about fighting, I know what’s about.
        But donh’t you think that fights could end in a blink with such power?


        • machineiv
          June 27, 2014 at 7:49 pm

          Well, in Revised, Potence was always auto-successes. No blood, no nothing. So if you had Potence 5, you could split your pool for five attacks, and expect about 25 automatic damage before you even roll. This tones that down quite a bit, without making it utterly ferocious.

          It’s also countered by Fortitude’s auto soak ability; characters with equal levels in the Disciplines will burn blood faster, but have some standstill.

      • Oshaegda
        June 27, 2014 at 4:02 pm

        Awesome! Thanks!

  8. Christofer
    June 27, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I think there is something left out from Fortitude. I love that the vampire can spend a blood and Auto-soak dmg. However i think we need to make a difference between various forms of Agg dmg. For example: DA:V had a system that allowed you to soak agg from fire, sunlight and faith with Stamina+Fortitude. While that always felt wonky to me i think that if you switched it around it would be alot better.

    Something like this:
    Bashing dmg – Soak with Stamina+Fortitude (1bp to auto soak up to Fortitude rating) bashing is halved after soak.

    Lethal dmg – Soak with Stamina+Fortitude (1bp to auto soak up to Fortitude rating)

    Aggravated dmg (except fire, sunlight, faith and certain magics) – Soak with Stamina+Fortitude (1bp to auto soak up to Fortitude rating). This should mainly be agg dmg from claws, teeth etc from supernatural creatures.

    Aggravated dmg (from fire, sunlight, faith and certain magics) – Soak with Fortitude only (cannot auto soak).

    Also, i feel that the ability to auto soak all agg dmg up to Fortitude rating for only one BP is a little cheap, especially for agg dmg. Maybe 1 BP per aggravated pre soak to auto soak it.

    What do you think?

  9. Hawthorn
    June 27, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Some quick questions –

    1) Just to check that I have Celerity straight in my head –

    A Vampire with no Celerity makes 3 attacks. His first attack is at -1 dice and +1DC. His second attack is at -2 dice and +2DC. His third attack is at -3 dice and +3DC.

    This Vampire can make a maximum of 4 attacks a turn before his DC hits 10 and he can’t make any more attacks.

    A Vampire with 5 dots of Celerity makes 3 attacks. Since half his Celerity rounded up is 3 he does no suffer any DC adjustment on these attacks. He is however at -1,-2 and -3 dice for his three attacks.

    This vampire can make a maximum of 7 attacks a turn before his DC hits 10 and he can’t make anymore. Due to the DC increase only kicking in from his 4th attack onwards.

    If I’ve got that right this version of Celerity is far less problematic the previous version. However, very high stated combat characters (10+ dice) can still be an issue with the multiple actions thing.

    In relation to this, multiple actions are now nowhere near as punishing without Celerity as they used to be. So even middling combat characters are likely to make 2 attacks a turn (-1 dice and +1DC/-2 dice and +2DC does not cripple that action).

    I’m not inherently against the idea that characters with higher combat ability are more likely to attack more often a turn because they can deal with the mechanical consequences. I would be very interest to see how often multi-actioning in the absence of Celerity (as with blood points to spare and in the absence of human witnesses there is very little reason not to use Celerity in a combat situation, but that has always been the case) occurs in combat heavy games under these new rules.

    2) Likewise a comprehension question in relation to Fortitude –

    With the phrase “Once per turn” does that mean the auto-soak ability can only be used against one attack a turn, even if the Vampire is of a low enough generation that he could spend multiple blood points around? Or is it the case that the vampire could auto-soak from a number of damage sources a round equal to the blood points he can spend per round? I ask because I find the wording a little ambiguous at the moment.

    Other then that, I agree with a previous poster that the auto-soak ability should not apply to Fire or Sunlight. Though I actually like the idea of it working against all other sources of agg including Faith and “certain magics” (whatever that means?).

    3) In the case of spending a Blood Point to activate the automatic success feature of Potence does the character retain the benefit from the passive Potence bonus to their strength?

    For example does a Brujah with 3 dots in Potence who spends a blood point retain his +3 Potence bonus to his Strength and count has having 3 autosuccesses on the result of his strength (such as lifting something huge)/damage roll?

    I as because with Fortitude the power expressly states that when using the “autosuccess” ability the passive effect is lost. So I was wondering if the same is true of Potence and the two powers are consistent in that way.

    Many Thanks,


    • machineiv
      June 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      Celerity: Do note that normally, you can’t split for additional attacks. Archery allows for it, and Celerity allows for it. You can take multiple ACTIONS, but not multiple attacks without a specific maneuver. Celerity allows for multiple attacks, and at normal levels, no more than three additional.

      Honestly, for Celerity, it’s not even a balance issue for me. It’s taking all day to resolve one person’s turn. To me, that gets really boring, really quick. And it leads to situations where you just stop giving evocative descriptions, because you’ve just made 20+ rolls in a turn.

      Fortitude: That’s a good note. I’ll say it’s once per damage roll against you.

      Potence: Good catch. You should lose the damage dice, and instead take automatic successes. Just like with Fortitude.

      • greg b
        July 17, 2014 at 4:56 am

        I’m affraid of that new celerity too. Multiple attacks still take too long to play with (with potetntial 4-rolls per attack).

        I’d also go for dropping extra dice granted by Cel for those additional attacks, because now they all are too good (standard warrior type have about 7-8 base dice pool + 2-4 dice from cel), it gives a shitload of dice to roll – and it’s hard to miss anything with all those attacks. Give that bastard some claws and say bye bye to Your elders.

        I’d strongly suggest a way to make standard attack use less dice throws, it would steamline long and boring combat scenes when there are more than 2-3 combatants. Passive defensive bonuses (like armour rating/fortitude?) that cut attack or damage dice pool would go with me.

    • tau neutrino
      June 28, 2014 at 3:33 am

      Wouldn’t the first vampire have three actions, if they were at normal difficulty of six? The first would be DC seven, the second DC eight, and the third and last DC nine. The one with Celerity 5 could attack three times with no DC penalty, then dodge twice with no DC penalty, then three more times as above, assuming a Dexterity + Athletics pool of at least four..

      • machineiv
        June 28, 2014 at 9:59 am

        Yes. Essentially, Celerity users do get a few more attacks. But ultimately, they’re defensive machines. In most reasonable scenarios, a Cainite with a healthy dose of Celerity basically behaves almost identically to someone using a full defense, but they’re still getting attacks.

        That said, against someone without Celerity, that will seem slightly less impressive, because all the dodges in the world past the first don’t matter against a single, powerful attack.

        • tau neutrino
          June 28, 2014 at 5:48 pm

          So multiple dodge actions can’t be applied to a single attack, and the first dodge is the only one considered? There’s no benefit in declaring multiple dodge actions against a single attack? Can simultaneous block, dodge and parry actions be declared against a single attack? If so, are the reductions cumulative, or can the greatest reduction be chosen?

          Does Celerity negate the penalty for multiple opponents?

          Adding to attack rolls without spending blood gives Celerity a big offensive component. It’s hard to imagine a vampire with Celerity 5 missing any non-Celerity opponent, and the extra successes go to the damage roll.

          • machineiv
            June 28, 2014 at 8:59 pm

            I don’t know that it needs a hard rule (it’s never had one), but I wouldn’t allow multiple defensive maneuvers against a single attack.

            Reasoning: It’s mathematically silly to not just throw multiple defenses at any single attack made against you, when you’re not fighting multiple opponents or someone with Celerity. A competent human is better off using Dodge, Block, and Parry against every attack that comes his way instead of just Dodging. That would get really annoying at the table.

  10. Daniel P
    June 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Ive been discussing the level 7 Fortitude power, The blessing of Vitality, with my troupe and they had some major issues with it saying it was way to powerful, we sat down and talked about it, what we liked and disliked, and how it could be balanced as a working elder level power. This is what we came up with: First: Remove the 7 successes duration: Indefinitely and make it 10 or 100 years + that amount again per extra success above this. Second: Make the max amount of Fortitude one is able to bless another with equal to the users Fortitude rating – 1. This way an Elder with a Fortitude rating of 7 can bless another, regardless if its a human or vampire, with a maximum of 6 ranks in Fortitude with a duration of 100+ years. I think we did a good job in balancing this power with regards to its current power level and usage in combat, what do you guys think? 🙂

    • machineiv
      June 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      I’m not really sure the difference between giving someone six dice to soak and giving them seven dice to soak is really worth the added complexity.

      The V20 version has 100 years as the top chart duration. I don’t mind that or anything. I just think it’s sort of silly and pedantic, because it just adds a weird bookkeeping note if your chronicle lasts over 100 years.

      “Well. 100 years pass.”

      “Okay. My Blessing of Vitality ends.”

      “Um. During the past 100 years, my character would have used it on you again.”

      “Oh, okay. Nevermind.”

      You know?

  11. August 8, 2014 at 9:12 am


    I find the new system way more balanced than any system for multiple actions before.

    However, there is a question about multiple actions that still was never answered….

    How do actions that don’t require a roll factor in?
    The dicepool for such actions can never drop to 0 by penalty nor can the difficulty be raised to 10. Sure, just shouting might be possible but certain disciplines don’t require a roll but should still be actions that can’t be lined up at the end of a turn. So, can I just add them at the end whenever I want – provided I started out with the -1 dice pool and +1 difficulty to begin with.

    I’d appreciate, if this question was answered in the rules too.

    Best regards,

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