Humanity [Vampire Open Development]

Wow. My last open development post for Vampire 4th Edition got over 250 comments! That’s an amazing response! Granted, a few folks had some comments that were a bit off-course from what I asked, but I got a lot of great feedback and input that I’m still making my way through (and even the unrelated comments sparked a few thoughts).

This time, I want to focus on something a little less controversial. Humanity has always been a central aspect of Vampire: The Masquerade, since the very first book. What Humanity actually is has been a bit fuzzy, sliding between a pure system of morality and something hard-wired into a vampire’s psyche, but it’s always been a core tenet of the Kindred makeup. Even the Sabbat, acting as inhuman monsters, have their Paths of Enlightenment as a refutation of Humanity, and that desire to divorce Cainites from Humanity shows how integral the concept is.

However, in my experience the amount of impact Humanity has on the game seems to diminish over time. I hear a lot of stories about amazing roleplay that comes from the steady loss of Humanity, but I also hear of (and have played in) games where Humanity is really just a number of points you can spend to commit atrocities before you hand your character over to the Storyteller. Both styles are, I think, valid — some vampires can certainly lean into their personal damnation and decide to burn the candle at both ends — but over the years it seems the game has unintentionally moved Humanity out of the spotlight.

I want to put the light back on it. I want to get back to the that first book, which spent so much time talking about The Riddle (yes, in capital letters) of doing monstrous things in order to prevent yourself from becoming a monster. “A Beast I am lest a Beast I become” can be so much more than a tagline.

But it could be that I’m mistaken. Maybe I’ve misread the community, and today Humanity isn’t as central as I perceive it to be. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

My question is: Is Humanity important to your game, and what could a new edition do to make it more/less central for you?

As always, I appreciate your thoughtful feedback!

187 thoughts on “Humanity [Vampire Open Development]”

  1. In a game I was in recently, my character made the hard decision to save a Mage who had invoked the myth of Caine (it was a crossover game) who had helped them enter the Shadowlands. She failed her Humanity roll and lost a point of Humanity, and RP-wise, it will have knock-on effects throughout the game, as it affects her standing as an Archon and so on. But then again, that game is very heavy when it comes to role-playing, too, and is very narrative-based; I play in another game where Humanity and Paths reflect the Cainite’s age, as well (older vampires tend to take Roads, and it’s not uncommon in that particular game to have the surviving vampires change Roads once or twice by the time the modern nights roll around) to reflect the general alien-ness/loss of humanity (small h) that occurs with having to survive that long.

  2. The notion of preserving one’s humanity in the face of monstrousness is still very important, but I think the Humanity stat, sibling to Call of Cthulhu’s Sanity and cousin to the “cyberpsychosis” meters of Shadowrun and Cyberpunk, is an ’80s gaming relic that ought to be rethought. Modern vampire media seems to flip the causation a little: if I feed on rats and bagged blood, I am a moral vampire and can deal with people as equals, and am less subject to the banes of my kind. If I feed on willing victims, I am morally questionable and somewhat subject to them and prone to acts of violence and cruelty. If I feed on unwilling victims, or kill when I feed, I am a monster, and my hungers drive me. In effect, to reverse the cliche, what you eat is what you are.

    • Modern Vampire media isn’t to be followed or taken as an example. Vampire the Masquerade already has enough depth and its own themes and mood.

      Being a monster is an essential part of VtM. The idea of “human vampiros” shouldn’t be considered, at all.

      • Excuse me but -the idea of “human vampiros” shouldn’t be considered, at all- is wrong. One of the influence in VtM was Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire, and by all means Louise is a human vampire.

        Although I agreed -Being a monster is an essential part of VtM.- I don’t think is the real essence. The real essence, for me, is the moral dilema of “being” a monster. The game was born of mature players bore of being heroes in D&D and wanting to explore the dilema of not being the “good guy” as a default.

        I think the whole Humanity (and Roads/Paths) should be rethink to be a part of the game, not just a relic of the old editions. To be a monster means to be less human, to be different

  3. As a storyteller, it really depends what I want out of the game at the time. I think it deserves center stage, and brilliant role-play can come out of that struggle (for VtM and VtR for that matter).

    What comes to mind as the challenges here is that, in first edition, there weren’t really paths of enlightenment which made it easier to focus on the one morality hierarchy.

    There is also the problem that some players want to play a path because they can skirt around one of the most essential mechanics of the game, and unfortunately there are some Paths that are written that can be potentially used for that depending on the ST’s vigilance.

    • I agree with this completely (aside from the fact that the sabbat are the good guys not the bad guys) and would go so far as to say one of the biggest complaints I hear about the sabbat these days is that it’s becoming “camarilla lite” as opposed to the alien monsters they once were. Part of that is the camarilla not worrying about humanity as much and party of that is the sabbat losing some of what made them unique (ie the creation rite).

    • Completely agree about “Shovelhead” = bigger status than pre-planned, and Sire is not the “judge” of fledgling worthiness (to minimize Sire bootlicking in the Sabbat).

  4. I think above all else, I’d like to see the current hierarchy of sins ditched. It’s been more or less the same since Vampire 2nd Edition, and it’s just wonky: “injury to another” has never made sense at Humanity 8 when “property damage” is at Humanity 5, for instance. Also property damage has never been cause for a Humanity check when I’ve played or ST’d, so there’s that too.

    I’d also like to see more of a benefit for gaining it. I’ve not seen that many players spend XP on it (though Paths is a diifferent matter) and there’s always been the problem, as you mentioned, of it becoming atrocity points to spend. I feel like maintaining it should have some mechanical benefit, and losing it should hit harder. On the other hand, low Humanity is a legitimate character choice, so it shouldn’t just be a punishment.

    I guess the big thing for me is that engaging with the Humanity mechanic should be interesting. It should lead to cool roleplay moments via its system, and have more interesting risks and rewards.

    I’d also like Virtues done away with it made to be more than basically single use dice pools, but that’s very much a personal taste thing.

    • Also, Derangements: they reflect a very Victorian version of morality (as many have noted), and the idea of vandalism (for an extreme example) leading directly to mental illness just doesn’t fly in 2015. Personally, I would be happy to see them tossed, but I do think, if they stay, they can be handled better. The idea of vampires becoming more detached from social norms, and developing ticks and obsessions as they grow old and evil is a solid trope.

    • the “Property Damage” thing is, simply put, an ALIEN concept to non-Americans. I mean… you guys REALLY think that damaging property is worse than damaging a person? Come on! (you got some problems… ^^ )

      the quick fix should be put this to level 8, then “shift down” the other Sins. But as long as Property Damage is a level 8 or HIGHER sin, it will be better than today.

        • I disagree. It makes a lot of sense if you consider that Intentionally Damaging other people’s stuff is much more easy for a character to commit without thinking of the consequences than accidentally or purposefully injuring others. Those things, if not required, generally throw up big red flags to the character/player.

          On the other hand, for a character who’s entire morality system is about trying to retain those aspects that make them who the where even though they are no longer human/mortal, blatantly treating other people’s things as less important than your will or desire seems to fit perfectly. Because that’s the point of Humanity, the fight against the becoming an animal/monster.

          If anything, the one thing I’d actually want to see changed would be the Level 9 and 10 Sins, and that’s only because they are so vague. How does a Storyteller rule what a Character is thinking? Hell, how do they even know?

          Level 9 is a little bit better, as it pertains specifically to acts, but again, it’s still extremely vague. In some senses, ALL acts are Selfish. Help an old lady across the street is selfish because some does it because they like the way it makes them feel. That is, there is no such thing as a non-selfish act, (from a point of view).

          In my opinion, these are really the only two things that need to be looked at for Humanity. The rest is nearly perfect, even if a few individuals may not like this or that. That is just personal preference.

  5. I have to agree that humanity is an important and central concept of Vampire. I feel like it’s one of the things that helps focus the theme of Vampire. The fact that it has mechanical implications helps reinforce that theme in my games. It’s easy for some players to forget that in character they are a sentient creature interacting with other independent sentient creatures with their own rights. Sometimes they may decide that they are willing to lose some of their soul and they want to be monsters, and that’s fine. But the reminder has made for more dramatic games for me and mine compared to something like my experience with D&D, where we commit genocide on a regular basis and it’s okay ’cause they’re evil. 😀

    That being said I’ve also been in games where humanity is mostly ignored, and they run fine, just not my cup of tea. The important thing though in my experience is that it exists. Individual STs can decide to what degree they want to use it, like anything else. Its inclusion is what attracted me to Vampire in the first place. It has made my job a little bit easier and my games a little more meaningful.

  6. I like the idea of there being some sort of notable internal consequence for one’s actions, even if you manage to escape any sort of punishment from without. The struggle with the beast I think is a central aspect to the game, even if it can manifest in different ways.

    The system can be kind of clunky, however. I’ve never liked virtues, at least as dotted traits. The hierarchy of sins and derangement system can come across as rather arbitrary with due reverence for context. So while I think something resembling Humanity should remain, I don’t think any particular element the current system is a must-have.

    And that’s not getting into paths of enlightenment, which while an interesting permutation of the system, is an annoyingly large amount of content for something that is generally discouraged from a “vanilla” style of game.

  7. To me, Humanity has always been one of the things that gives Vampire it’s soul, one of the things that makes it the Storytelling game of personal horror. There’s always going to be people who abuse a system, but Humanity is the way a character looks into the dark recesses of their own soul,and there are few things as chilling as one’s own soul laid bare. I say bring it back into the limelight, front and center.

    Perhaps a mechanical benefit for roleplaying one’s Humanity might be an improvement. Not a ham-fisted way of rewarding good and punishing bad, but a way to let players actually feel the weight of their decisions and the implications of their actions. Instead of asking whether or not Humanity matters, I would suggest asking if there’s a way to make it matter?

  8. Yeah, there needs to be a bigger focus on Humanity.

    As a storyteller, I always got the impression that the rules for Humanity allowed players to get away with a lot of inhumane actions.

    I think that Humanity should have a bigger impact gamewise. Such as how low or high humanity affects their interactions with others (aside from bearing) a low humanity vampire’s beast may radiate out from them, which people might pick up on.

    Feeding should get more focus, as it is one of the most important aspects of being a Vampire. The routine the Vampire has for feeding should have an effect on the Vampire’s humanity, as a Vampire who randomly hunts people when he’s hungry runs a greater risk of draining someone dry and knows it’s going to happen, so it’s less of a shock when it happens (still a shock for Vampires who don’t have low humanity) while a Vampire who has a system for feeding (a herd of people willing to let the Vampire drink some of their blood) would suffer more from draining someone dry, as that’s the point of the system, to prevent that, so that should have a greater impact on their humanity.

    How Humanity affects a Vampire’s vulnerability to temptation is a factor to. A low humanity Vampire is more likely to give in to certain behaviors as it is natural to them, while high humanity Vampire’s are more likely to resist petty sins as they have established their own moral code, but major temptation might be harder to resist.

    And interactions between Vampire’s on the “path” of humanity and Vampire’s on Path’s of Enlightenment (a Vampire on the “path” of humanity is going to be wary when dealing with a Vampire he knows is on the Path of Metamorphosis or the Path of Evil Revelations (humanity and inhumanity does not get along well))

    The most exotic idea is group humanity.
    When a group of like minded people get together they can reinforce each others actions and drive away certain actions.
    So a group of low humanity Vampires might hamper attempts to raise humanity (as they help their friend from performing behavior that is “bad” for him) but also help slow further degeneration (as their friends help reassure them if they commit any really monstrous acts)

    For Vampire’s with High Humanity, they might help any who commits a sin by reassuring them, but all the time spent doing so might detract from maintaining their humanity.

    Truly monstrous acts could cause the whole group to test humanity (as if their friends can do it, then are they capable of doing so as well) while truly virtuous acts can help the whole group gain humanity (as the actions can inspire their friends)

    The Group effect can extend to Paths of Enlightenment as well.

    • Humanity isn’t a way to punish evil players.

      Low humanity needs to be handled differently, both for the players and the characters.

      A Vampire who drains his victims dry and feeds when he wants, not when he needs, are going to have more issues than a Vampire who only drinks what he needs from people who give their blood willingly.

      Low humanity is more if a challenge to play, but can yield impressive results for players who can roleplay such characters.

  9. Most of my V:tM experience is LARP and of that most players treated the stat as..well…something to either be worn down until you get onto a path or something.

    I’ve seen players engage with it, but eventually it started just being a gigantic drag and got ignored in favor of the fun.

    I’ll chime in that Paths are a two fold problem as currently implemented.
    A – they make humanity a sucker’s bet which just makes “The sabbat are objectively correct” issue worse
    B – There are so many ‘path of whatever the fuck I was going to do anyway’ that ‘solves’ the humanity problem for the player in some of the lamest and most obnoxiously “Hey, I’m just playing my character” method possible. Path of Caine, Night, whatever the hell the Ravnos are on – I’m looking at you. Mostly “Path of if you fail to commit diablre take a test”. There’s no upside to being on humanity (intentional) but the supposed downside to being on a path are easily side-stepped or non-existent.

    also too, dat chart man. dat chart. Just…it needs something. Chaining the Beast tried but…it can only do so much.

    • Additional thought,
      in order to make humanity (or the morality system in general) matter the game is going to have to decide if being on Humanity *is* a sucker’s bet that will never win (and thus the Camarilla’s elders (who are generally on paths) are intentionally crippling/emotionally stunting the next generation for personal gain/risk mitigation) or if Humanity is sustainable. As people said – the way you hunt is important. by the rules anyone who hunts unwilling victims should be down to Humanity 3-4 within the year if you actually play out the scenes.

      So…is Humanity a sucker’s bet and a Vampire’s best long-term survival plan to hop onto a path or are path’s just abuser’s ability to justify their actions and actually impair the functioning of the vampire who’s on them?

      Additionally we need to define what Humanity *does* in the game. Like…why does it exist and what is it supposed to bring to the table.

      Originally iirc it was to 1) re-enforce the gothic downward spiral and 2) drive home the (actual) punk idea that anyone who succeeds does so by becoming The Man, who in early material were all Humanity 0.

    • As someone who has abused the “No downside to being on a path” thing my entire vampire career I would love to stand up in defense of my favored playstyle, but at the end of the day everything said here is spot on.

      I want a core monstrous corner of the game world to do HORRIBLE black dog style stories with lots of clean developed text to pull from, but I don’t think that land should be consequence free either because that makes for boring stories. I do think the hierarchy of sins in the more monstrous paths needs to be looked at not just from a cleanup within the current system, but rethinking how the mechanic works overall to be more significant.

  10. Humanity is obviously an important concept for Vampire, but as mentioned its implementation leaves something to be desired. There wasn’t a lot of incentive to gain Humanity, nor a lot of disincentive to resist losing it. Requiem 2e’s new system incorporating Touchstones was a great step forward, but I think Masquerade needs to do something entirely new.

    In addition to the state of being undead and preying on your former peers, post-Gehenna Kindred are faced with new challenges: they’ve likely seen or otherwise somehow dealt with the chaos of the Methuselahs and Antediluvians running rampant across the world.

    This is your family. The ancients are the literal founders of your community. This is the life you’ve chosen to lead. This is your legacy: even if you can resist turning into a literal monster as the centuries wear on, there’s nothing which guarantees your childer or coterie won’t.

    I would think that would weigh on your mind, and make clinging to Humanity all the more important, even among the Sabbat.

    • I agree a lot with Ian’s comment about little incentives. They only notable reasons are Golconda Seekers, and the odd instance where you’re active during the day. The latter shouldn’t come up that often.

    • I would like to see a system where having a low Humanity would make a Cainite less able to withstand the commands and magics of Elders (or just Antediluvians). After surviving Gehenna, the vampiric society would have taken this lesson to heart – keeping in tune with one’s Humanity is necessary to keep Ancients from stealing one’s freedom away. Following a Path might have had something of the same effect, but preferably less so, pushing most Cainite towards Humanity in the modern nights. Perhaps a high Humanity might even help avoiding the effects of such Disciplines as Dominate, Dementation and others? Of course, the Sabbat would deny that following Paths would be less effective, all the while researching why that is, indeed, the case.

  11. Humanity and morality are essential and key parts of the game. In game about about morale grey and ethics versus the monster you are becoming it’s very important. Even if you embrace that beast instead of fight it.

    Trying to codify morals and ethics into a mechnical system…has always been diffcult and tricky. I dunno if there is a good answer.

    I will say the best system for this so far that I have seen (and LOVED) is the humanity system in vampire the reqiuem second edition. Touchstones and how one loses humanity (and those effects) are deep, meaningful, and effective.

    I woukd personally take inspiration from that.

    My 2 cents as usual.

    • This whole open dev process needs to happen in a setting where you can upvote someone’s opinions, it would give much more context to which ideas really resonate with the fan base. I completely agree with this and wish to upvote several times.

    • I agree with you ser. Although i haven´t read VtR 2nd ed I think Requiem brought good ideas, that should be account, in the 4th edition.

      But in VtR 1st Humanity was bleh. I think the best morality i have read was in WtF, Harmony. I want the Grey line, but I think in 4th Vampire should be more akin to a way to be a part of the world than pretend to be a human.

      Also i like the depth that Forsaken writers give to every level of their morality, if i remember right it was like 1 full page each pair (1-2, 3-4, etc). I think Humanity (and Roads/Paths) should have a real depth writing, to make them better

  12. For me, the problem with characters losing Humanity has always been that there is effectively no consequence until you lose the last point. In games that I’ve run, players have only ever been concerned with retaining the last dot. Humanity is a binary – you’re either totally fine, or you make a new character. There’s never really been anything in place to help emphasize the ride down, or the climb back up, for that matter. I think it would be useful to have mechanics at each level, possibly even both benefits and detriments, so a player can choose whether he’d rather play a low-Humanity monster, a paragon of high-Humanity, a “Beast I Am” type who walks the line near the middle, or what have you.

    • However most of these effects are either wholly fluff (appearance changes), only have a serious impact at the extreme ends of the scale (bearing, virtue caps), rarely come up in game (period of alertness, daytime dice pool caps) or are glossed over or ignored for gameplay reasons (length of torpor). A mechanic that has an effect in the middle of the hierarchy, where the majority of characters tend to sit, would make humanity more of a consideration for players.

      • I highly disagree. The fact that your Humanity partially dictates how early you rise each night, your Dice Pools during the daylight hours, and also the public’s general impression on you are pretty dang important, and common, or at least uncommon, but far from rare things.

  13. As a point of roleplaying, I think it’s extremely valuable. Even in my troupe’s splatterpunk Sabbat chronicles, the *idea* of humanity (or the philosophy/religion of a Path of Enlightenment) was a crux of a character’s identify. Mechanically, the only thing we used that particular stat for was gauging potential day-time activity level. Basically, I use it as a Fluff stat.

    To make Humanity (the stat – capital “H”) more central for me, there would have to be mechanical benefits for pumping XP into it. The modifiers from the DA line are nice idea, although I’m not sure if cribbing from another game line is the way to proceed with a Fourth Edition…

    The only way that Humanity would become less central for me is if Fourth Edition significantly altered how vampires operate (if at all) during the daytime.

    • I totally agree with this. In addition to my comments below about not really liking the characters who focus on humanity I really want the paths of enlightenment to mean something if we have to develop them.

      I had a newbie vampire player ask me once why he should care about his path stat. I was allowing paths of enlightenment, including instinct/conviction paths, so honestly it’s not like anyone was really going to be pushed to honor their hierarchy of sins the way you are with humanity and I honestly couldn’t come up with much for him. It’s an RP stat, and if it’s going to be an actual stat it needs more meat.

      • This was a game set in the 8th century. Very few of those ideas applied at that point in the cannon, and you didn’t list a single reason to get your stat above maybe 7 at the high end. For a stat that goes to 10 that’s a pretty minimal justification. The aura especially really doesn’t bring much to the table at that point in history, and only barely brings anything to the table for a lot of modern street level games.

  14. Humanity is central. There’s no Vampire without humanity.

    My only contribution is to say that there should be ways to attach mechanics and narrative / character prelude. For example, what would be the impact (on humanity) of having living relatives, or a living lover?

    Besides, I never understood why Kindred have to go mad after losing humanity. There are some cool supernatural derangements, like Sanguinary Animism. They make more sense than Schizophrenia.

  15. I think Humanity is essential to the feel of Vampire, but that the current mechanics don’t really reflect the fiction very well. I’ve never played in a game where the hierarchy of sins was strictly enforced for example.

    I honestly like Requiem 2nd edition’s humanity system quite a lot and think that the idea of Vampires becoming more and more inhuman in appearance as they lose humanity as well as picking up strange banes are a very good representation of the kind of degeneration that the fiction implies. They have the added benefit of incentivising players to keep their humanity reasonably high. At the same time players want to pick up Banes if they find their character commiting the same sins frequently.

    I don’t think that this system should be copied to Masquerade, but I do think that Masquerade could benefit from a System that achieves similar goals; perhaps expanding the Clan Weaknesses into a tiered System that scales in intensity with low Humanity.

    • This.

      Yes, Requiem 2.0 gets it right for Requiem, but the classic World of Darkness in general – and Vampire: the Masquerade in particular – has a very different scope. The basic POSSIBILITY of something like the Antediluvians or the Methuselae or even Caine (oh my!) changes the effect that Humanity as a TRAIT has on a neonate, ancilla, or even an elder vampire as distance from the living grows. I’d say that goes double for a vampire following a Path of Enlightenment.

      I’ll offer more about this below, but know that while there ARE aspects of Requiem 2.0 Humanity that are laudable (not to mention instructional), it is NOT what V4 needs.

    • I’ve got to admit, the idea to expand the Clan Weaknesses into a tiered System scaling with Humanity sounds interesting. It would definitely help with clans, whose weakness requires a bit of bookkeeping in order not to run rampant and ruin the chronicle (e.g. clan Gangrel, whose weakness at times makes them “delayed Nosferatu”). That’s another voice for keeping Humanity. Plus, just imagine what can be done if a similar solution is applied to clan weakness/Paths of Enlightenment relation but, of course, in a more twisted way…

  16. My experience has been that everyone loves to speak about the importance of character morality, but will ignore it as a factor when there is something else they’d rather do. For example, all vampires are equally likely to kill regardless of their Humanity.

    I also get frustrated by the belief that not getting your hands dirty gives you the moral high ground. Getting your Sheriff/Ghoul/whatever to gank someone is still an act of murder.

  17. I agree with most the comments about humanities importants but I also like to play the other side. I always feel like why play something akin to real life. I play a game to explore something I am not. Something I can not do. Something not exactly human. It’s about exploring those darker aspects of humanity. Those dark thoughts and desires along with the struggle from falling too far.

  18. I always thought there needed to be more mechanical bemefits and draw backs to humanity/roads. I mean more than dice pool caps. Golconda is one example, but shouldn’t there be benefits to folowing the path of Night or Caine (for example) that reinforce that behaviour? The beast should gnaw at those who have degenerated to a low score regardles of path/road. Increased willpower costs for lower scores but maybe they have easier time following the hierarchy of sins.

  19. To make humanity central to the game, make the Humanity stat central to the game. For comparison, the Disciplines are related to your Attributes and Abilities for dice, to your blood pool and Willpower, to your generation (in case of Domination), to your clan etc.

    Looking at the game elements Vampire is not a game about Humanity. It’s a game about Disciplines.

    If you want a game about humanity, make the Humanity stat at least as well connected as the Disciplines.

    Also get rid of “loosing” Humanity for “evil” acts. Such a set-up makes it a stat best forgotten. It is not in the best interest to remind the group of his or her Humanity stat, because there is something to be lost by playing, which you can only gain by spending hard XP.

    Make sure that Humanity – on any level – is a benefit to the character. The benefit should be different for high and low Humanity, but there has to be the ide of “I can do this, because my Humanity rating is X”.

    Here is a way to do both things:

    The opposite of Humanity is Beast. Your Humanity and Beast points always add up to 10. Choose any number your like, but each stat must have one dot.

    The human has free will. The beast has not. Humanity is the Willpower stat. Humans have relationships, the beast does not. Spend points equal to your Humanity on backgrounds (except Generation). There are no free background points.

    The beast is power. Gain a point in your clan disciplines for each dot in beast. There are no free discipline dots at character creation, except those from your Beast.

    When there is a rage trigger, roll Beast. A success gets you going.

    • I like the Beast/Humanity mechanic. Not so sure Willpower should be tied directly to Humanity, after all Tremere should have high willpower but I doubt their humanity’s going to be all that hot, but the idea certainly has merit.

    • I was going to suggest EXACTLY this same thing, a push-tug kind of thing that could even come out of the experiences of Gehenna. As for mechanics…

      Take a look at the Hun/Po Traits from Kindred of the East, or the Glamour/Banality dyad from Changeling: the Dreaming. Neither one of those are EXACTLY what I’d want, but they’re likely instructional on how it could work in another game. The former is WAAAAY too much have-a-second-character (a-la the Shadow in Wraith), and the latter is less to do with morality than power (but still less so than the Quintessence/Paradox thing in Mage: the Ascension).

      …Regardless, I feel that in a post-Gehenna world (of Darkness), a stronger and scarier notion of morality-versus-monster could appear simply by fiat or explained by circumstances of how the event unfolded.

    • I think you might be misunderstanding what Humanity and the Beast really are. The Beast is basically a foreign/alien Id on Super Soldier Steroids and Hulk-Juice. It’s that part of you that screams I WANT NOW, AND I DON’T CARE HOW. But, it’s also a supernatureal Id with different desires that the mortal ones.

      Humanity is a mixture of the individual’s attempt to cultivate the Super-Ego to resist the Beast.

      One doesn’t empower the Beast by doing Evil things. One empowers the Beast by not seeing the danger in allowing it to gain a foothold. Thinking that “this one time is ok”, or “it can’t happen to me”, or “it’s okay, because ________”, when it never is. But, it’s also not a simple, “I do ____ and I loose Humanity”. Instead it’s “If I allow myself to do _____, I RISK loosing Humanity”, and that’s an important distinction. The Beast is tricky, and just because you got away with it once, doesn’t mean you will again.

    • I agree with a Beast/Humanity mechanic too. I always thought it would be neat in VtM to have something tangible that each part of your character’s soul (the Man, the Beast) had. 1st edition really made it a struggle about your Man and Beast. While I love the Paths of Enlightenment, they kind of took away the issue of losing Humanity.

      Humanity can aid in the human things your vampire does (social interaction, daytime activity, resisting Frenzy). Beast can aid in vampiric things (hunting, resisting Disciplines, riding the wave).

      Downsides are the reverse. Too high Humanity and you aren’t very good at vampire things. Too high Beast and you become a raving monster/npc.

      I think by providing a dual stat, it can really expand the role-playing opportunities. Players could make choices about what kind of monster their character becomes.

      And, it can still be utilized for a good old fashioned twink fest game too. 🙂

  20. I have played in games that have relied heavily on playing Humanity and others where it was just dots. Both types of games can be fun for entirely different reasons.

    The important thing about playing it either way is that you can ignore the Humanity rules if they don’t fit the game, but you want them in the game as a reference to players in games where Humanity matters. For that reason alone it should remain.

    However, it would be nice if having Humanity (or a Path) of 4 or less had some effect on vampires. Negatives on non-intimidation based social roles to start with and more obvious visual cues later, perhaps red eyes at 2.

    Lastly, I am not convinced that Humanity (or Willpower) should be target numbers for powers. There is something off putting about having your resistance to a discipline be based off of a single stat (or in the case of Willpower, be based off what is a low stat in most starting characters built to make sense)

  21. I personally think that there should be a option to ditch the Beast along with Humanity and Path of Enlightenments all together so your Vampire character can do whatever they want without the fear of becoming a wight.

  22. So to be honest I don’t really like humanity as a central tenant of Vampire. I always saw humanity as an attempt to tap deeply into the themes being explored by Anne Rice at the time that Vampire came out and I truthfully got over the Louise character archetype in mid high school.

    My favorite vampire chronicle to date that I have played or run in was a Carpathian dark ages game where we all played Tzimisce children of the same Tzimisce baron. We were at our core true classic monsters. We drove the peasants under our heel and explored the deepest depravities that the Tzimisce are capable of and the Roads we were on never even bent in the breeze.

    I think that having a system that accommodates the tortured human struggling with the inhuman thing they’ve become is important due to the fact that there are still players who want to play that sort of story.

    For me I’d much rather see a return to the Toreadore antitribu that see pain as an art form and express it on the canvas of human flesh with the incomparable toolset of Viscissitude, and have roads that really embrace that level of monstrosity.

    Around the Revised guide to the Sabbat a lot of the harshest edges of the old cannon were blunted in favor of a much more emotional set of themes (at least that’s what it seemed like to me at the time). Similar to the development of Mage 20 that really sought to bring together what people loved from 2nd Ed and Revised I’d like to see a text that attempts to do the same thing with Vampire.

    My Goto clans are Tzimisce, Lasombra, and Ravnos on the old 2nd Ed path of paradox. I mean when I play something undead sociopathy runs deep for me. If I want to NOT play a monster I’ll play Mage. While I get that not every player wants to treat vampire this way, and I would even say most don’t I do think having a nice corner of the game carved out for players like me opens up your player base.

    For some additional context, because this is at least partially a marketing decision the only remaining book on the vampire lineup I am likely to purchase is Tal Ma Rah. I’m hoping for shadowlands wandering Antidiluvians to make a return to my beloved World of Darkness streets. Bring back the sorts of themes that showed up in the darkest Black Dog texts of days gone by and you’ll definitely get an extra chunk of my checking account.

  23. My experience with Humanity is unless a player is actively interested in bringing Humanity down it is wholly up to the ST to enforce its use and I don’t know many STs that care o enforce it.

    My own personal thoughts on Humanity: I can find better ways to drive home the balance morally questionable actions versus survival in my game than the choice of Lose a dot in Humanity or not. Mostly because I find that unless there’s a mechanical reason to keep humanity high, then players are already desensitized to the meaning of the number. The main consequence of low humanity is “You’re an NPC at 0” so any player can look at humanity and say “Well, I can get as low as 1.”

    Whereas, if a consequence of humanity is, say, a die bonus/penalty to social rolls equal to humanity – X, there’s a little bit more of a disincentive for, say, social characters, losing humanity. It doesn’t adversely affect Physical/Mental PCs as much, but maybe thats what the game needs, a way for a low humanity to impact a broader range of character types.

    But all of that just puts more onus on the ST. Even better would be a way to design a Humanity system to encourages players to care and track and follow humanity transgressions themselves.

    After-all, players follow, track, and report using their willpower pints because they are encouraged to use them. Same with Vitae. What’ll make humanity into a universally useable stat is a way to design a humanity system where players track and report their humanity gains and losses. What that is, i do not know off the top of my head.

  24. Paths. Give me paths.

    I don’t play monsters to whine about not being human anymore – I play monsters to explore the “what if” game, exploring alien psychology.

    Humanity is fine, for players and characters that want to tell that kind of story. I Want to see what’s on the other side, though, and I know I’m not alone.

    Give us paths, and give us that choice.

  25. I think that it could use some tinkering but the roleplay aspect of humanity is super important. Depending on the level the character began at ( I had a humanity 6 who has now hit humanity 4) and I have seen that profound consequence of his actions expressed through roleplay and humanity. Those rolls really affect your characters mentality and it makes for tremendous roleplay and narrative opportunity.

  26. I like Humanity and I think it’s a good mechanic that can be used for a variety of purposes.

    My only problem is that it, like many things in some previous version of Vampire, was a bit too vague. Humanity itself is a vague notion at times and good and evil are in shades of grey (sometimes more so in Vampire than any other system). It’s entirely too much to ask for a guide to refer to on a chart that says what is and is not humane for the system but if nothing else I’d like to see more written on it than just a blurb or two.

    I’m totally down for the idea of delving deeper and concentrating more on humanity. If this is truly going to be a 4th edition I’d love to see the system evolve where humanity maybe not so much takes a center stage but is at least a larger theme.

  27. I want a wider variety of moral dilemmas and questions, to keep the struggle with Humanity more in focus. (I’m currently running V20 with the wider list of Humanity breaking points from Requiem 2.)

  28. I can play hunt the bad guy games with beer and pretzle gamers. When we do humanity is a stat and I hear in the bns larp system ‘ I don’t get anything from lost ‘humanity’ points. When we are stretching our acting chops I hear the mechanic doesn’t challenge me. I think a vote at the table would be fun. Make the roll hide the results the group decides what they think your character would feel and thats a mod to the roll. Then you roleplay response then they thumb it up or down that modifies derangement possibility. When you reach bottom scale becoming a monster who has trouble comunicating but has combat bonus’ and enhanced weakness to frenzy, fire and light would be good.

  29. I was never comfortable with the heirarchy of sins, specifically making it harder to lose Humanity the lower one’s score is. PCs tend to find a comfortable level around 5 or 6 and then Humanity becomes an afterthought.

  30. I think Humanity is critical. In fact, I think it’s so critical that it shouldn’t be replaceable with Roads/Paths. I’d like to see all vampires have Humanity ratings, but allow Roads/Paths to offer protection (but not immunity) from Humanity loss when performing certain actions that the Road/Path says is okay, but which Humanity says is a sin.
    But, of course, the Road/Path introduces new sins that Humanity would normally be okay with.

    For example, maybe your Road/Path is rated 1-5 like Attributes. And when you commit a sin against Humanity, but it’s an action allowed by your Road/Path, you get to add your Road/Path rating to your roll to resist Humanity loss.

    Likewise, if you commit a sin against your Road/Path, but it isn’t a sin against Humanity, you still have to roll to resist Humanity as if it were.

    So the Road/Path offers protection from Humanity loss while performing certain dark deeds that your Road/Path says is okay, but it doesn’t offer immunity. And the price you pay for that protection is a new set of Road/Path-specific sins that you have to worry about.

    • That is… That’s a very interesting view. I’m not at all sure I agree with it or like it, but I think there’s something there worth more thought.

    • I actually love that idea and it does make a lot of sense. Everyone has a humanity rating and alien/savage vampires likely have a humanity score of zero or one, but are able to operate because of their path ratings. There really isn’t a reason someone on the Path of Chivalry (or path of power) has to completely abandon Humanity.

      Mechanic-wise, you’d probably need to add in a cap of 10 for both traits. You can have less (Humanity-6, Path of Blood-2), but it does max out (Humanity-2, Path of Power-8).

  31. I would like to add a different perspective. If we are going to focus on humanity then we mean the morality of the human society which changed literally. In 1990’s there was a common belief in society like morality. It was depending on your acts. However, nowadays even mortals live with a morality like path of inner voice. Even mortals have the morality like Path of inner voice but kindred who is embraced recently can’t have the road of the Inner Voice. Humanity is a important part of being a vampire but there should be a road which includes humanity and Inner Voice which is accepted by camarilla.

    • It sort of sounds to me more like your arguing that Humanity across the globe has dropped than anything else.

      I’m not sure that’s true, as much as maybe looking at the past with a sort of rose-tinted glasses, of sorts.

      But, you do make an interesting point, inadvertently. Please keep Politically Correct Bullshit out of Humanity.

    • Well, yeah, because Inner Voice is clearly based on Ayn Rand and Nietzsche and other variations on social darwinism. So yeah, lots of real world humans expose it.

  32. Humanity is not only central to Vampire, it’s definitional–arguably, the decision of whether or not to embrace (heh) or reject Humanity is THE choice in the game. We see that choice writ large in the warring camps of the Camarilla and the Sabbat, but it’s also a personal decision each character must make for him or herself.

    Mechanically, I’d like to see benefits and drawbacks at BOTH ends of the scale. Maybe too high a Humanity score means you’re working too hard to repress the Beast–and it will come out when you least expect it. The Beast is part of you now, and it wants to hunt. Spend too long feeding on animals and packaged blood, and you’re going to have to start making checks to avoid grabbing random passers-by. Instead, you HAVE to give in occasionally, even if–especially if–you find it morally repugnant. Beast you are lest Beast you become.

    At the opposite end of the scale, it might be much the same thing. You give in to the Beast so much that it becomes too easy to slip into that role even when you don’t mean it–or when it’s a really, really bad time for it. Maybe you have to make a check whenever you want to avoid doing something monstrous when the opportunity presents itself.

    As for the benefits, I suggest having some other stats limited by a low/high Humanity score. Too high a Humanity means you’re not in touch enough with your vampiric nature, so maybe Disciplines are limited. Too low, and you can no longer relate to humans–social skills are capped. At least, that’s the general framework. Maybe someone else can come up with something better–I think the way I’ve described penalizes players who want to play a high-Humanity vampire much more heavily than those who want to become inhuman killing machines. Then again, maybe that’s not a bad thing.

    I think having benefits/drawbacks on both ends of the scale also makes Humanity more of a player (and character) choice. It might also eliminate much of the need for Paths. Want to play a vampire conflicted about his or her monstrous nature, trying desperately to cling to mortal morality? Great, set your Humanity stat high. Want to embrace the Beast and become a terror of the night? Set it low and go wild. Either way, the choice of how much of a Beast you want to be is the defining choice of your character.

    • Interesting Idea. The challenge should be to stay in balance then, keeping it at 5 or 6, to be fully in control of oneself. I guess it would have dire effects on Golconda seekers then though 😉

      • Keeping in balance might not be a sure-fire winner either, though. If you try to sit on the fence, you’re not realizing your full potential as either a human or a vampire. It then becomes the classic “jack of all trades, master of none” scenario. And probably means that you get shunned (or at least looked at weirdly) by both the Camarilla and the Sabbat. So trying to ride the line is still a valid choice, but it also comes with drawbacks.

        • Yeah, I can see that ‘east is east, west is west’ view on this, but there’s something to be said for balance, as well. I’d look more towards how Harmony is presented in Werewolf: the Forsaken 2.0 than how it shows in, say, Kindred of the East, though.

          (If you don’t know, in Forsaken 2.0 the characters use the Harmony Trait to determine how close they are to the realms of spirit versus the realm of flesh-and-blood. That is, a balance between the two worlds they experience.)

          …I know that such a thing COULD be a tremendous change, but isn’t that kinda what ‘post-Gehenna’ allows for, hey?

          • I kind of see the balance as already there. It’s just not as simple.

            Instead it’s about trying to balance your long and short term morality against the need to gain power, influence, and keep surviving.

            The midline Humanity is already sort of the norm, as most Elders have around Humanity 6 – 4 that they traded off to get to where they are.

            I don’t think that that should be a sort of mechanical sweet spot, though. Just the easier way.

  33. Humans aren’t used to seeing their loved ones die like you are. After a few hundred years, the death of a loved one is no longer such an apocalyptical event to you, but this is probably not something you should share with your current human companion, if you want the relationship to stay on an even keel.

    But it’s not easy, always, to know how to act. The oddest things seem to be important and it takes quite some thought to act the part.

    One of the things that should happen as the Humanity score goes down is that the vampire loses the ability to “think human”. She needs to focus and intellectualize to be able to act the part and not come across as uncaring at best or an alien sociopath at the lower end.

    One simple suggestion is to have the player roll Int+Humanity to “act human” for the scene, with the difficulty increasing as the situation gets more alien to the vampire mindset. (“Your friend died? Well sad, sure, but that happens when you befriend a mortal. Get a new one” “Have you spent your life wisely? Who cares? You’re only 65, plenty of time to start a new career!”)

    This would mean 10 dice for average intelligence and high Humanity vampires, and that seems reasonable, as they are indeed experts in this and should very rarely fail. A lower Humanity but high Int vampire would be like a high functioning sociopath: Puzzled, but very much able to fake it. At some point on the way down, though, the façade would start to crack and the immortal loner predator would start to shine through, and at this point keeping any human personal relation over time would be very difficult, something that would likely increase the feeling of alienation and accelerate the downward spiral.

    This could probably lead to interesting roleplay.

  34. In a way, Humanity is already an afterthought, mechanically speaking: at least during character creation, it is derived from two of the virtues (Compassion and Self Control).
    If you want Humanity to have more of an impact on game mechanics, why not make it its own stat and derive these two virtues from it?

    That way, Humanity could act as a cap for the cumulative rating of these two virtues throughout the game. If your Humanity drops, you need to choose where to lose a point.
    You could easily see a more ambitious or darwinistic vampire sacrificing compassion first in favour of self control. Not only does this fit with his outlook, but it makes sense mechanically: Self Control as a stat would likely be more valuable to him.
    But eventually, around the much-referenced Humanity 5-6, he would have to consider his options or compromise on that Self Control after all.

    This could then be where Roads/Paths come in to add to that cap (at a price), much as it has been brainstormed above.

  35. Humanity and morality is and has always been some of the core elements of the game, just as much as the Masquerade itself. Removing Humanity or Morality from the game could be a move that would potentially alienate old fans. At the same time the system as is feels a bit arcane.

    I have many times had players, including my wife, complain about Humanity’s lack of flexibility and general rigidity. We usually play Camarilla or Anarch-focused games, as pure Sabbat games hasn’t appealed to my players more than as temporary endeavours. However they have usually praised the freedom of choosing a morality codex that rings better with their characters concepts and personality those few times we have ventured into Sabbat game territory. Also they have found the Roads of the Dark Ages more flexible and fun, simple because that’s what they are. But then those were written long after the concept of Humanity was invented together with Vampire itself (although I always wondered if the concept was borrowed from the first Howling movie).

    Anyway, as I see it, Humanity is way to unforgivable as it is written today. While the point originally was to create that sense of personal horror, that futile fight against ones own diminishing morality, in retrospect it also makes the game way too polarised. At least more than it needs to be. As it is humans are less humane than the Vampires themselves. And while Humanity of course is a morality code mimicking human values, it often only serves to work against roleplaying characters, rather than inspire roleplaying. To my experience. Which forces me as a storyteller to be a bit lenient sometimes, as to avoid creating unlikely or bizarre consquences sometimes. Which sadly makes it arbitrary instead.

    My suggestion is to keep Huamnity, but to change the system slightly, making it more interesting for players and roleplaying. You already have the Paths of Enlightenment for non-Camarilla characters, so for Camarilla or Anarch characters why not change the Path of Humanity into the Paths of Humanity instead?

    Follow me on this. The focus would be to still be on mimicking human moral values but at the same offer plenty of options that fit certain major personality types, without being as extreme as the Sabbat paths. So, there should be the core path of Humanity as always, but also a handful others that would focus on certain human moral codes but still maintain the core of what makes Humanity Humanity.

    How this could work practically is to have all Paths of Humanity share the same three major sins (I’d actually argue having all the first 4 sins be the same for them all). The other sins could vary according to the set moral code of the values it tries to mimic. Examples could be Path of Hedonism (which would be a more human and watered down version of Path of Cathari more along the line of Epikurean morality). Another could be Path of Faith (which would be better suited for vampires of different religions). Another could be more utilitarian, perfect for a capitalist Ventrue. You get the idea.

    And that’s my thoughts on the subject.

    • Oh, I forgot to say, changing between Paths of Humanity should be more forgiving than chainging between Paths fo Enlightenment.As long as a character doesn’t loose it’s core Huamnity beliefs (ie, have it’s value lower then 3 or 4), that character, if it looses it ways, should have the opportunity to change into another as level 3 or 4. Should leave a lot of roleplaying options open.

  36. Humanity as an in-universe concept and the Humanity rules are central to my enjoyment of the game; they are the most prominent elements that defines the IP in my mind.

    In games that I have run I’ve discovered that I tend to emphasize Humanity more than many players expect. I use Humanity in many ways to affect mechanics–as the Difficulty for hunters to pick out a Kindred in a crowd, as a cap to the number of successes a character can get on socially-based roles, and so forth. The rules as written haven’t explicitly supported these approaches, but unfortunately, I’ve discovered that many players don’t respond to anything but mechanical incentives.

    I’d like to see a system that rewards maintaining Humanity and perhaps gives specific penalties for violations, perhaps similar to the Beast Traits system used in the old gray Laws of the Night. (You might frenzy when you fail a Socially-based roll, for example).

    What might work best in practice is an cumulative system where characters have to actively maintain their Humanity or actively “work off” the influence of the Beast. Let’s say that a Kindred character automatically loses one temporary Humanity point (or maybe gains one “Beast point”) per night with various acts that govern their loss-acquisition. Spending a night creating art or reconnecting with a mortal acquaintance might cause you to gain Humanity, similar to the feeding mechanics and introducing a dichotomy that echoes the fundamental theme of Humanity. Mortals become a dual resource–you need them for food but you also need them to anchor yourself against the Beast.

  37. In the games I’ve played in, the very first thing a player seems to do is to pick out a path to play so they won’t be held back by Humanity. I’m usually the only person at the table that has Humanity on their sheet.

    I’m personally okay with the idea of Humanity, but paths completely invalidate it to me. Is Humanity a metaphysical thing? If so, changing your mind about which code of ethics you tack onto shouldn’t do anything, Humanity should still be your game stat. Is it a discipline method for holding the Beast at bay? Then any high willpower vampire should be just fine, just flipping off the beast as they do what they want without bothering with a ‘path’.

    My favourite incarnation of Humanity thus far has been the Requiem 2nd Edition Blood and Smoke version, where they emphasized inhuman actions and situations as the reason for degeneration. It makes it so that you degenerate for getting further from your humanity rather than further from an ethical code.

  38. I’d love for you to draw inspiration from the feel of the ‘Atrocity Dice’ section in VtR’s ‘Danse Macabre’ book.

    Humanity and that entire internal struggle should be at the heart of VtM, in my eyes.

  39. There’s always been a disconnect between what the book suggests that Humanity should represent (and how that’s described in the fluffier section of Humanity write-ups) and what the hierarchy of sins has actually supported.

    In my opinion, the fluffier section always seemed much more playable.

    At the very least, the hierarchy should be reworked to better reflect the behaviors of vampires at various specific levels of Humanity. Rather than specific sins at each point, give examples of the types of behavior that might provoke a Humanity roll at any given point.

    You can probably do away with the Virtues entirely and have things like Frenzy roll off of Humanity. Heck, even Humanity loss should roll off of Humanity (with a penalty based on the heinousness of the action that provoked it). This would underscore the dread spiral into damnation.

    But frankly, I’d rather see Humanity represent how Human the character is rather than how moral they are in a Judeochristian sense. Humans can be real dicks. They can do terrible things to one another for terrible reasons. But humans can’t pick up and throw cars. They can’t hide from sight or erase memories with prolonged eye contact. They can’t shrug off gunshot wounds. They don’t burn in the sun. I’d like to see a game where Humanity represents how close the character cleaves to her mortal identity – or how much of it she’s willing to trade away for the power and convenience of the Kindred condition.

    • A final note – I think that the Paths/Roads undermine the importance of Humanity. They create the sense that Humanity isn’t important, that there’s an escape from it, a way to sidestep it.

      That said, I like them a lot. Of COURSE vampires would create faiths and philosophies specific to their condition.

      So my suggestion would be that Paths be reworked as something that works with the Humanity mechanics rather than replacing the Humanity trait. All vampires have Humanity. Some adopt a Path of Enlightenment that allows them to ameliorate some of the problems with being low-Humanity by maintaining a very specific code of conduct.

      For example, Humanity might be a trait scaled from 0 to 10. Paths of Humanity might be a Background rated 0 to 5. If Frenzy was always rolled with Humanity, a character at Humanity 2 who had gained 3 dots in Path of Death and the Soul might gain his Path rating in bonus dice to rolls to A) avoid losing Humanity when pursuing Path objectives and B) avoid Frenzy.

    • That’s kind of the point, though. It’s not, in it’s entirety, about trying to be a basic human. It’s about trying to live up to the best ideals of being a human, or rather human-like.

  40. For our group, humanity is a stone in your site. You lose a few points until you get to around humanity 5, then it loses all relevance, and you can continue your political machinations/fighting the sabbat/building your powerbase to your heart’s content.

    I *hate* VtR. Too much moping around, wishing you were human again. Our group enjoys political intrigue, maintaining the masquerade, fighting the sabbat.. Maybe keeping an eye on an elder that looks close to Wassail.. But nobody is ever keen to lament the property damage that caused them to fall to the level of a serial killer (???).
    I like that the humanity system exists, but it needs a major rework. It should be more about what you will and won’t do, rather than how many points until you can kill with impunity.
    It should be harder to lose humanity, so it’s more meaningful when you do.
    This is one of the harder things to get right, but I would hate it if it became center stage. I got enough of that boring emo crap in Requiem.. I want it to be a part of the game like paradox is a part of mage, it’s a check and balance to make sure you don’t go overboard too fast, not a complete buzzkill.

    • Can you elaborate on that because V:tR 1st Edition has essentially the same chart as V:tM and V:tR 2nd isn’t even close to what you’re describing….

  41. The conceptualization of what Humanity “is” is dated and the system for representing morality in V20 was outdated.

    Consider what Requiem 2E/Blood and Smoke did. Circumstances completely beyond your control could trigger a humanity check because they reminded you that you were no longer human. Parents die of old age? Humanity check. Your child dies of old age? Your grandchild? Roll the bones…

    I think Masquerade 4E is a chance to take this even further. Do not make regaining Humanity entirely contingent on spending XP. Humanity requires active engagement and active roleplaying, and there should be opportunities to restore Humanity through RP actions completely independent of XP.

    As far as Paths of Enlightenment are concerned, they should work the same way. For instance, circumstances that prove that a vampire who is not an Assamite can have redeeming moments should challenge the Path of Blood and the convictions of its follower.

    Conversely, there should be opportunities to increase Path dots without XP by roleplaying exploring higher tenets of those paths. Considering paths like Sin/Cathari, this can get pretty debauched and pretty horrific.

    If that seems too liberal, attach a check to regaining Humanity/Path much as you would when a character’s rating is challenged.

    • While I agree that Humanity should be a core element of V:tm, I’m not sure the game would benefit from too much focus on it, which your suggestions would result in. Personal Horror in V:tm has always been divided between morality, intrigue and loss. That balance needs to be maintained imho. V:tm is not and should not be V:tr ever, since that would water down both franchises.

  42. Regarding virtues, part of me says that you should toss them. There are better ways to resolve the checks that depended on them, and they’re mostly a useless appendix stat that shouldn’t be kept around for nostalgia’s sake.

    On the other hand, part of me says maybe there’s some way to keep them in and create an active element to them. In what circumstances would Conscience/Conviction, Self-Control/Instinct, and Courage help you complete an action?

    • Virtues, Willpower, and Humanity/Morality all interact, but I’ve never quite seen a great description of HOW they do… Chaining the Beast touches on some of this, but it didn’t come close to fully showing how that equation might even look, much less how it affects a character’s experiences. Maybe it’s too complicated? Or maybe that ‘derived Traits’ bit could be altered or ditched?

      I dunno the answer, and I both love and hate those self-same complexities. There’s room to make Humanity/Morality a stand-alone Trait (a-la new World of Darkness versions) whilst making the ‘derived Traits’ version and OPTION for troupes who want to get into those fiddly bits of how a soul works. Again, I can’t say that’s optimal, either, but it does offer options for different styles of play.

  43. Humanity is an vital aspect of my mostly Camarilla chronicle, which has a lot of violence and a fair amount of romance. I increase/decrease players’ humanity based upon their actions, and this impacts how they interact with mortals and with each other. When your humanity drops to a six, you start spooking mortals.

    Also, we use a house rule regarding humanity and sexual desire. If your humanity score is between 10 (extremely compassionate) to 7 (average human), you’re capable of experiencing desire and enjoying human sex (although it doesn’t compare to the ecstasy of feeding). If you drop to a six, that desire becomes muted. At five, you might find it distasteful. If you drop below a five in humanity (or practice a Path of Enlightenment), you’re incapable of feel human desire at all… and the very idea of it is usually quite disgusting.

  44. What about approaching it from a multiple-pillar style of thought? Similar to Bushido being made of 7 equal tenets (though I don’t think we need that many), what are the “Pillars,” of being human? There are soldiers and criminals who compartmentalize violent acts and are still able to function unless it’s taken to an extreme. Similarly, there’s a whole range between selfishness and sociopaths’ behavior. Maybe something along that multiple access, with appropriate mechanical and roleplaying consequences if things are taken too far, would better reflect things than a single sliding scale. When you throw the Beast into the mix, the reactions are going to be a lot more volatile than what we see among humans.

    • That could be interesting, but it could also be harmful. Humanity, as is, is a pretty universal sense or human morality across most cultures and beliefs. Obviously, there are a few individuals that will disagree, thinking murder is ok or whatever, but, the main issue I see with this is that it’s either going to water it down far too much, or it’s going to establish some pillars/axes that are not fairly universal/moral concepts.

  45. I think Humanity is very important to my games, and plays a part in a lot of central ideas to Vampire even within the political intrigue plots where most people will ignore it. The Machiavellian plot of a High Humanity Vampire vs a Low Humanity Vampire are quite different, and how characters deal with events in the game is informed by the Humanity stat.

    It isn’t Vampire: the Masquerade without Humanity and the Beast as core concepts to the game. How the game mechanics for it should work is something we can talk about at length (and is an interesting conversation) due to the philosophical idea of “what is humanity?”. But I feel a simpler approach is required.

    The main hook line of Vampire is “A Beast I am, Lest a Beast I become”, unless I’m getting it wrong. I think the Humanity slider should be there to measure how much of a monster, how much of a beast, an animal or an inhuman being you are. Higher stats show how human you are, on the other hand. Even saints make mistakes, but within the gothic themes of VtM higher humanity stats (Humanity 8-10) should definitely incorporate ideas of charity, altruism, sacrifice on the part of others, and other acts of generosity. Normal people sit somewhere between 6-8, and being around here shouldn’t have massive penalties. It’s when you start acting like a serial killer that you hit Humanity 5, a Psychopath at Humanity 4, and a completely inhumane blood sucking parasite at 3.

    Humanity is a difficult game mechanic topic because if you really look at the implications of the idea above, it forces your character to act a certain way, whether they like it or not. So does the slider move often? That’s kind of off. But, then again, If you look at Humanity in terms of brackets you move around within, then it’s less of an issue. It’d make sense for someone to move more freely between Humanity 6-8 on the ideas proposed above, in fact that may even happen several times in a session relative to the conflicts going on. So if we’re looking at really putting Humanity in to be a middle ground between the hard line “Humanity is central to Vampire” and “Humanity is not central to Vampire” groups, then perhaps rather than a 1-10 slider, we separate the Humanity stat based on these “brackets”. For example: Humanity 9-10: Altruist, saintly figure. Humanity 6-8: a regular person, who goes from selfish and harmful acts to generous and helpful acts. Humanity 4-5: A killer, a psychopath, a criminal, a monster. Humanity 1-3: an inhumane monster with no discernible human traits other than that they look human. This then becomes 4 different stat scores for Humanity rather than 10, and when Humanity takes a backseat, something this broad takes away the pain and work of a more complicated system: you can include it without ignoring it altogether.

    So what could the next edition to help with using and facilitating Humanity? Well, I’m not too sure, but I like the idea of “Quirks”. Basically, you gain different characteristics due to your humanity rating. These can be extremely minor quirks, to major quirks. Low humanity Vampires are likely to salivate while walking through a busy city street, while high humanity vampires are likely to blend in so well the low humanity vampire won’t see them. Quirks like little twitches in the eye or flares in the nostrils at the smell of blood, or for the more humane vampires, a blush of life in their skin and a warm smile. Some quirks may even allow Vampires to really truly enjoy some of the things they used to enjoy as a human (like movies) and for the low humanity vampires, they begin to take a liking to things core to being a vampire: hunting, feeding, toying with their disciplines in their free time. I feel like little roleplay quirks as 1 point merits and flaws may really help players look at their humanity rating and say “Oh I want this flaw to show how many times I’ve frenzied”. Maybe that’s too much? Maybe that’s too roleplay heavy and doesn’t need mechanics? I’m not sure, but I thought I’d throw it out there all the same.

  46. In my own experiences I’ve noticed VtM humanity (and Paths and Roads in DA) act like a straight-jacket for character development. While it does the job of providing game mechanics to represent that slide into the Beast, I think the Requiem 2.0 system hits a little closer to the mark by making the degeneration far more personal. Instead of having a list of 10 static commandments thou shalt not break, it’s more of a list of that characters greatest fears of what damnation means to them, not some Code of Cockiness some random Lasombra decided was the best way to deal with the Beast 2000 years ago.

  47. The concept of humanity has always been an important one for me in Vampire. It’s one of the things that makes roleplaying a vampire interesting, for me. Struggling to be a “good guy” while your community and this new set of alien instincts pushes you to be a bad guy.

    Paths always felt a little off, to me. So how does this alternate, monstrous morality system prevent you from becoming a monster again? Because that’s what you should be if you follow most of these paths, IMHO. But it seems like the game had to have them in order to excuse the presence of characters like Tzimisce fleshcrafters and such.

  48. I wish it could come up more often. I find that unless I’m running a Sabbat game where low level sins are common place, humanity dice rolls come up very rarely.

  49. Humanity *should* be a focal point, it’s a main theme. Unfortunately I’ve found that it’s a stick one sadistic player uses to beat the other players. She who has the highest humanity is a slave to the whims of the character with the lowest humanity. What is a character with a high humanity supposed to do when the combat monster of the group decides to tear up a rave? Either they turn a blind eye and lose humanity or you have player on player combat. Player on player combat never ends well for the group, particularity if it ends in character death. It doesn’t even matter if “good” or “evil” wins. Someone is going home disappointed. I’ve died at least twice this way.

    “Here lies [humanity character]. She died doing the right thing.”

    I’ve only ‘won’ once. That game ended shortly thereafter because ‘it wasn’t fun anymore’ for some of the players. And to some extent, I understand. We get to be human every day, why play at being human? If you work hard to make your character human, will you ever be more than human? That was a theme in the Lestat books for a while. The only gift Louis had was staying as human as possible. That might be fun to read, but not really all that exciting to play.

    A player should cherish their humanity over all other stats. Yet the most powerful vampires are inhuman beasts. Villains belonging in the lowest level of hell. Is this not a contradiction? Should not the most inhumane be the weakest if humanity is so important?

    In the world of darkness, and especially Vampire, there is so little hope. What salvation is there for the dammed? And if you quantified it and blazed a certain and clear path of morality and rightness to encourage high humanity characters, would it even be the same game anymore? I’m not sure it would.

    • in any negotiation the less invested party is always going to have a huge advantage and the high-humanity character is always more invested than the low humanity character.

  50. Humanity has always been important in my chronicles, especially those in which the PCs took on noble aspirations and slowly watched as their morality and humanity eroded while they made the world a better place. I think Vampire should have many Pyrrhic victories like that.

    Sure, your character destroyed a vampire who was a dangerous psychopath, making the world safer for your kindred and even for mortals, but those nightmares? And all the things the PC held dear during the investigation and ensuing fight, well, they just don’t mean as much after the fact. Maybe the character was foolish for trying to do the right thing when faced with great evil?

    Likewise, I’ve liked playing with Paths of Enlightenment that play with virtue and vice. For example, the Path of Honorable Accord takes the concept of honor and accountability, which most people consider good and noble aspirations, and it completely separates them from compassion and a sense of the natural rights of others. Sure, the character may want to make nice with humans so as not to disturb the herd, but if the boss asks him or her to kidnap and kill a baby, then surely that’s the good, noble thing to do. But break a promise? Only a true monster would do something so vile. To me, that brings the personal horror to the fore when after the game I’m like, “I pretended to do what?”

    I think the new morality system(s) need to focus on the idea that no matter how rosy the character acts, he or she really is a monster and one of the damned. The morality trait(s) should make the characters reconsider whether their actions were worth the costs.

    Adding some behavioral tics could help with that. For example, the social butterfly of the group has dropped to a Humanity of 5 because she ruthlessly exploited a leader to make her put the lives of hundreds, or thousands, at risk. many died while as a result of her machinations. The next night, she goes out hunting, and in spite of her witty repartee, she is unable to do anything but scare the humans in her midst.

    What she stopped paying attention to is blinking. She hasn’t blinked in about seven hours, and people notice those things and get creeped out.

    Or, less physical, maybe she doesn’t notice that her hilarious pick up lines about torturing her beaus to death just don’t come across.

  51. Reading through a lot of the comments here, I would agree that the distinction between Paths of Enlightenment and Humanity needs to be even greater than they currently are. They should feel even more alien, and I think that needs to be adressed better in mechanics than just the broken aura effects. (Why is someone following Path of Death and the Soul less alien to Humans than a vampire with just low Humanity?)

    Also, more rewards for maintaining high Humanity should exist, as practically someone with a high rating always ends up as a liability for the rest of the coterie due to the moral limitations of taking certain actions.

    • I completely understand if there’s no room for this, but it’s an interesting thought experiment to see what it would look like to have Vampires of different Paths interact with each other. Perhaps it would highlight their differences? I also back up the idea that the Paths should be completely and utterly alien to Humanity. Perhaps it’s like a Vampire having a Mage (Ascension) paradigm, which to many normal people also seems very alien, but relatable.

      I think an issue with “high humanity characters being a liability” is that people tend to go towards the most violent or malevolent solutions to problems they can. Rewards for high humanity may encourage people to approach the political game of Masquerade differently. Maybe even an example in the text about how a cotorie of high humanity Vampires completely overthrew the Prince would be an interesting way to show players that you can be both political and have high humanity. I mean, low humanity characters simply won’t be able to be as effective in using the mortal world as puppets if they are more likely to appear as monsters compared to their high humanity counterparts. What’s more, high humanity vampires may not resort to violence as often, and would be able to crack mysteries, intrigue and disputes in a more lawyer/detective style, which any vampire would value (or hate). Overall there’s a lot of advantages to high humanity when it’s laid against low humanity.

      • The players in my troupe haven’t ever had any chance to delve into Paths of Enlightenment beyond the story at the Black Monastery in Giovanni Chronicles, but as Storyteller, I’ve created characters who’ve used those moralities. Three vampires of the two-thousand years vintage, each of whom have eschewed feelings – or had feelings denied – for various reasons, they interact as Elders and forebears of the player characters’ lines. Paths of Enlightenment gave me a chance to explore things that Humanity didn’t allow, but the players saw only the outcomes…

        What I mean by the above is that Paths of Enlightenment have utility above and beyond what comes up in day-to-day (or ‘night-to-night’ as the case may be) play, and getting rid of them is narrowing options for play. Is that the same as saying that ‘alternate moralities’ ought to receive the same attention as Humanity? No. It only means that they’re useful, whether they’re open to all or soley presented – in the ‘core’ book or not – as possibilities.

    • My understanding is that ALL paths, with the possible exception of 2 or 3 that are effectively now gone or changed beyond recognition) ARE already do make others feel extremely uncomfortable around those individuals even beyond low Humanity. Low Humanity is like an old lady being sat at a table across from a functional serial killer, while almost every Path is like being sat on the lap of Leatherface.

  52. The Question is: what is Humanity for? Is it a roleplaying aid/guide for teh player? A straightjacket? Shall it encourage or prohibit some kind of behavior for the characters?

    I personal woukd like to see the Humanity trope get re-inveted from scratch. AD&D had a straightjacket called alignment, so a character is prohibit to do some things and forced to act in special ways because of this. Later incarnations has gone the other way around: bacause you character does and don´ts are X his alignment is Y.

    As for a more modern system for VtM4, i would like to see a binary (bi-polar?) system of moral for the characters. Humanity and Bestiality. Both design like the Willpower scale: with dots and boxes.
    Bestiality and Humanity are allways sum up to 10 (player characters would start with 7 humanity and 3 Bestiality).
    When ever a player does something that strengthen the beast, she marks one (or more?) squares under this beast track, when the acts “Human” she marks a square under the Humanity track (and right there we need to know, if Humanity is about morality or about acting “human”. I myself have no preverens, it just change the mood of the game, if it the one or the other).
    If you marks more boxes than you have Dots, all boxes in this track got wiped out, your dots in this track increase by one and the dots in the other decrease by one. (in rare circumstances now the other boxes are now enought to increase die just decrease stat back, so nothing was won, or lost, at all).
    No XP are ever used in this Morality system.

    To rise Humanity from 9 to 10, you would need 10 “Deeds”, but beware, because the sum to 10 rule, your Bestiality sits on 1, so it would be enough to give two times in to the Beast to rise this track and bring Humanity down to 8.

    Next: Path or Enlightment. Every Player choose one, this Trait has no Track, it is “just” a note on the Hunaity/Bestiality monitor. The Path gives boni (bonuses?) for high Humanity and Bestiality ratings and added in social components. So a character with the Path of the Animal and High “Humanity” (maybe “Morality” or “Self-control” would fit better) looks wild, but more like the “Noble Barbarian” trope, a high Humanity charakter with Path of Humanity (sounds stupid) would gain the blush of life. A charakter with Path of Heaven and high Bestiality could easier cause fear, while one with High Humanity on the same Path would easier use empathy. etc.

    English is not my first language, so i am sorry for all the mistakes.

  53. My experience with Humanity is that it doesn’t have much impact on the game if you are between 5-7. The extremes (1-4, 8-10) are rarely seen.

    *It’s to non-descriptive, it’s hard to figure out if an action is a violation. If this is as bad as this or that.

    *Also i don’t like that you stop caring about stuff because you are lower on the spectrum. It’s definetely possible to be both a serial killer who has no problem killing innocents and a person who loves his family, pays taxes and wouldn’t steal if his life is dependant on it.

    *Humanity as a mechanic should be more fluent. More depending on the reasons behind the act more than the act itself. Like A person that has to choose between killing 1 person to save 10. The phychopath that doesn’t have compunctions about raping, stealing or torturing but still gives money to charity. The overall morality of the character should be more important than the actions he does.

    *Perhaps a system where you roll Humanity and the difficulty is set depending on what you did rather than rolling virtues with a static diff.

    *Paths of Enlightement shouldn’t have this fluency, they should be rigid rules that vampires have set out for themselves to stave off the Beast.

    *I liked the idea of closeness to humanity being better and that isolating yourself or being faced with evidence that you are no longer human should influence the degeneration.

    *I also likes the idea that being on high Humanity should make it harder to use Vampiric stuff like healing, disciplines etc.

  54. I feel like the struggle between the Beast and Humanity is vital to Vampire. I also feel that “punishment stats” are a fairly archaic notion in today’s RPG world.

    Rather than setting players/PCs up to fall, or “struggle”, I’d like to see an incentive mechanic, more along the lines of FATE’s aspects, for example.

    Vampire needs kindred like Louis from Interview with the Vampire. It also needs kindred like the Lost Boys, or the vampires from Blade, essentially amoral jackwads who feed and kill without compunction or question. Rather than the mechanics subtly rewarding one group and punishing another, why not make actions in line with a concept desirable?

    While Paths in theory do this, in practice, the setting legislates heavily against their use. This is one reason why I tend to run with the Roads system from Dark Ages. It’s less punishment oriented.

  55. In my humble opinion, Humanity lost her purpose. In comparison with the other games of the World of Darkness gameline (Werewolf, Mage, etc) the Humanity became a flaw of the vampire comparing with the other creatures. The morality must be linked to the sect (Camarilla vs Sabbat)not to the character. The Humanity in my games always was an anchor pulling the char’s down, while other creatures (in crossovers) not have this drawback (specially werewolfs). The beast must be present, but not as a drawback but as a narrative resurce (like Rage). Remembering that Vampire (and Mortals) was the only “races” that have the disadvantage of the Humanity.
    With the rise of the antediluvians was a oportunity to forget the problem of the Humanity and embrace the Beast, taking the inumerous Paths of Enlightment that makes the players choice for a life without the problems of the lost of Humanity by obeing their natures.

  56. I hate that i cannot edit :(.

    Another thing i’d like to see is how a Vampire feeds is somehow tied to his Humanity.

    When is it a Violation of the Hierarchy of Sins to seduce a person at a nightclub, take them home and during the sex take a few BPs worth of Vitae? Stalking and attacking people on the streets?

    Is feeding considered rape and where does that fall on the 1-10 scale?

    Is there a difference between taking blood from a willing donor (how do you explain that without breaking the masquerade?) and grabbing a person off the street for a quick snack?

  57. Morality/Humanity is very important when I play Vampire. In fact, one of my favorite things about the New WoD was that everyone had a Morality stat and I wish the cWoD would adopt this as well.

    But, especially with VtM I feel that the Humanity/Path trait is very important and a great way to show the degradation of what makes you human as you become more of beast.

    You can choose to be a good person, or you can choose to be a bad person. When you choose the bad road, it becomes easier and easier for you to bad things without feeling the tug of conscience. Like the serial first he starts with harming animals but once he takes a human life, it becomes easier and easier to do without the guilt that went along with that first kill. Or, at least to justify it…”they’re not people, they’re objects. I’m better than they are, why shouldn’t I kill them? The laws don’t apply to me…”

    • I agree.

      It’s worth noting that from the VtM perspective, everyone did have a pseudo Humanity trait, but it was just a general gauge on their morality and outlook, and didn’t follow the same rules and a Cainite’s/Kindred’s Humanity.

      It worked ok from the VtM perspective, but not so much from anyone else’s, mostly because their morality wasn’t tied into the same ideas that vampire’s was and they didn’t have to deal with the same personal/internal struggles. Even in WtA or WtO, which was very similar in a lot of ways, the focus wasn’t really that close.

  58. Humanity, for me, is what makes VtM so groundbreakingly awesome. If you cleave to the way it’s presented in 1e, then you’ve got this awesome mechanic tied to behavior – you HAVE to do things to survive/achieve your goals, but those things drive you progressively downward with consequences. One of the coolest mechanics ever. Golcanda is a thing.

    So now, when I run V20, I House Rule to make it a stat – there are no “Paths” – its like 1e. For ME, paths break the whole thing – letting you do what you feel like doing for your character without consequence.

  59. In my group we adopted a house rule for humanity sequence since ages ago because, as someone already told, if you play a “normal” character you will rarely go beyond 4-5 or stay above 6-7. Whithout that, we would have forgotten humanity long ago.

    Another problem is that high humanity should keep the character away from doing something bad, but that often result in a disadvantage compared to rival vampires, there is no way around it. So to make humanity interesting there should be strong advantages to keep it high, so a player has really a choise between equal options.

    Another thing my group is gonna make house-ruled is the concept behind humanity loss: you lose it if you care less. So a killer who enjoy killing has more humanity than a soldier who stop feeling guilty?? That should really be fixed.

    Lastly it would be really cool if the action of the character would be judged by her morally point of wiew.
    Briefly there are 3 mayor “schools” in today’s moral philosophy debate:
    1) People act good if the consequences of their actions does good
    2) People act good if they follow good principles
    3) People act good if they try to be a good person (trying imitating an ideal example).
    Each sistem follows different “rules” and may suggests different actions for the same situation.

  60. I find humanity is a essential part of the game and I didn’t like that is was circumvented by the Paths of Enlightenment in many cases.
    Mechanically the hierarchy of sins and the rolls to check if humanity is lost or not were kind of okay, but I found they weren’t that easy to handle.

    I like how nWoD deals with morality, however. In any case, checking for humanity loss is something that should be at the end of a game session, with the experience awards. For it is a kind of a feedback/reflection thing.

  61. I am in full agreement with your statement that Humanity has taken a back seat as the game line and time in general has moved forward. This is tragic because, to me at least, Humanity, and really morality in general, is at its core what the game is truly about. This game has always advertised itself as a game of personal horror, and without Humanity being important both in the setting and mechanically this crux of the game is lost. I do my best whenever I ST for TT or LARP to push this morality side of things, because I find there to be no better moment in all of vampire than that moment where a player looks back at his past actions and sees how far down his character has spiraled. So it is my sincerest hope you are able to bring this incredibly important piece of the setting and the game back to the fore.

    To make it more central and important I think Humanity needs to touch on more pieces of the game than just the RP side. I would tie morality into the mechanics more, even if only through flavor. Perhaps though it would be interesting to give benefits to certain disciplines or merits for being lower on humanity and thus closer to the Beast inside. Tempt players to commit unspeakable deeds in the name of their vampiric natures, and when they do give them a taste of the power the Beast offers. When an low Humanity character uses Telepathy have the flavor of the discipline change from a very subtle power to one where thoughts and memories are ripped from minds or a shadowed miasma is left over their mind when it is done, making the victim feel wronged and preyed upon. Give them room to have their own details, but set limits to give off the feel you want.

    Humanity should also be much harder to gain back than to lose. Giving guidelines to the ST on this in some way could be really useful. I would also remove the cost to buyback virtues and Humanity. Put the decision solely in the ST and players hands. Putting a cost on these things make them feel like just another stat, and not one of the characters central focuses.

    Ok I think I have rambled long enough. Lots more thoughts on this topic as in truth I can talk all day on it, but good for the moment. Thanks for bringing this idea up for discussion.

  62. Humanity is OK for me but my players see this trait like a flaw of vampires, in Mage you play with mortals and dont have this trait for example. In 20 years of game only 2 players lost his character with Humanity 0 and only a player get Faith with Humanity 8+ (for losing after). Only a player try to get the Golconde and failed. The agressive players played with Humanity 1 or 2 and the other with 4-5. Perhaps high Humanity must have more appeal like resistance to Disciplines, access a “divine” powers, advantages versus characters with paths or else. To maintain an average Humanity and Virtues costs xp, if you spend your precious xp in this traits, your npc is more weak and must play a passive character with fear of losing his Humanity, my players prefer play with a comfortable low humanity and spend his xp in Disciplines. Losing the character is difficult, you must make a genocide, true heinous evil or else. A player must have TRUE fear of losing his character to Humanity zero. An idea is enter in frenzy as Sin at Humanity 1. Another idea is to tempt to the “dark side” and gain disciplines and special powers at very low Humanity but you have the risk of losing the character…

  63. Humanity, as a concept and as a system, needs a total overhaul. I have seen it too much as a “points you loose for doing exactly what the character, even sans fangs, would do”. In fact, that is pretty much how all the paths of enlightenment work out. This comes back to playing a mortal.

    If I play a psychopath mortal who kills willy-nilly, there is no mechanical disadvantage to that. A thief does not gain grotesque features from stealing. Vampires do. Both actions reduce humanity, and humanity affects appearance. It also affects social interactions in OPPOSITE of the way they do in mortals. Serial killers manage social interactions with more ease than the average Joe.

    Vampires are supposed to be supernatural predators – wolves in sheep’s skins. The aspects that make mortals better at being such, make vampires worse off. So if there is a humanity trait (which there should be, for historical reasons), it should be tied to some other aspect of the character.

    Should killing babies make you less sympathetic to humans? No, sympathy is an analytical process. Hunting humans should make you more sympathetic.

    Should killing babies make the Sun hurt more? Maybe. Maybe humanity, your character’s moral core, should work by manipulating the curse. Maybe the pious should be less damned than the debased.

  64. Without a VtM 1e understanding of Humanity (Humanity as a Stat, not a path), the game is absolutely not a “dark game of personal horror.” If you have a 1e Humanity, then “building a flesh cathedral” is something you can do, but it’s a choice that has in-game consequences – you become more inhuman, more monstrous. If you go with the whole post 1e path thing, it’s great – there are no consequences to anything – your making a flesh cathedral is a great idea – puts you higher on whatever path you’re on.

  65. I like Humanity. Vampires fascinate me for their ability to act as protagonists in centuries-long story arcs like the Transylvania or Giovan(n)i Chronicles (or the Conspiracy of Hrad ?erná Hora) – for the perspective of a creature trapped in an “endless forever night”. But I don’t feel comfortable with sociopathic characters or casual killers, and I don’t enjoy playing them. A core mechanic that emphasizes the importance of a “humane” perspective is important to my enjoyment of the game.

    Where Humanity has always fallen down, in my opinion, is in failing to accommodate the “soldier/cop” scenario where a vampire might use violence in self-defense or defense of others. If Vlad Vampire sees Terry Terrorist about to machine-gun a crowd of innocents in a shopping mall (note to self: use a random name generator next time), then Vlad has no good options. He can passively allow the deaths of multiple innocents, or he can actively choose to kill a would-be mass murderer to stop him from killing. The law, society, and common sense all acknowledge a distinction between a scenario like that and killing Auntie Mavis for her insurance money. Humanity ought to have a similarly defined “justification” mechanic. (Easier said than done, I know, but worth a try).

  66. I’ve seen a player actually break down in tears when her character fell from Humanity 6 to Humanity 5, and the player decided to do everything she could to raise that Trait to make her character a better person, such as a vampire can do. I asked around my troupe about what Humanity means to them and why, and they all said that it’s vitally important. The REASON is that their Storyteller (yours truly) impressed upon them how important it is…

    Now, I KNOW every table is different, and among my troupe we’ve had ‘one shot’ games or entire stories around vampires who don’t worry about morality at all. The character above has been part of a chronicle that’s run for over thirteen years now, and that’s a big part for that solid connexion. Still, I think there is a problem with Humanity as it’s presented in Vampire: the Masquerade, and it comes from the ‘default’ nature of morality. That is, the Humanity of vampires is the SAME Humanity as, well, HUMANS, give or take a bit. My quibble is that Humanity for vampires ignores the change that occurs along with the Embrace.

    The Embrace changes a human into a vampire, but Humanity as presented doesn’t – has never, actually – allowed for this to be any kind of psychic change. Rather, Humanity suggests that the Embrace causes a moral fragility that comes along with the physical and psychic strength. The basic scaffolding of human morality remains in the Virtues of Conscience and Self-Control, but the resulting structure (i.e. Humanity Trait) is left as a very brittle and all-too-easily broken construct for a vampire. Ultimately, Humanity is less about reminding a vampire of the life she lost than it seems to reflect how much stronger the living are than the un-dead. That’s a useful tool for sure, but it isn’t particularly focused on the vampire condition. With a little tweak, this difference could be made into a HUGE benefit to the roleplaying experience of Vampire.

    As I said above, my troupe takes Humanity very seriously, but that doesn’t mean it needs to stay the same in V4. Ideas of the Beast reflected as an opposed Trait to Humanity are interesting to me, as are mentions of how Humanity in Requiem 2.0 works. However, what I’d most like to see happen to Humanity – and morality in general if Paths of Enlightenment are included – is running with that notion of how very FRAGILE a vampire’s ties to the mortal world are. As Humanity and Virtues erode, the mask of a vampire feeling or believing or behaving as one of the living (or whatever a Path of Enlightenment says is the epitome of its ethics) moves further from the vampire. The cracks in a vampire’s ‘mask of morality’ must stand on their own rather than lean on and conform to the face behind the mask. Maybe Conscience can bulwark the façade of Humanity for a while, but the Beast slips inbetween the face and the mask as time goes on. Eventually, without Humanity (or some other morality) only the face of the Beast remains, and the vampire is left with no face of her own.

    …How that translates into mechanics, I can’t say. I think that notions of Humanity gaining a few mechanics or a shorter ‘Trait chain’ (from 1 to 5 for instance) or a name change to differentiate from what mortal humans possess would be fine. Even if it comes as new experience for the un-dead growing out of survival Gehenna – or ESPECIALLY since it’s a convenient reason for the change – sounds good. The game needs Humanity or something like it, regardless. As was mentioned a few times above, that’s a HUGE part of why Vampire: the Masquerade is as wonderful as it is!

  67. Count me among those who likes the idea of humanity in the game, but not how it worked in practice in the old system. In practical effect, it seemed to have a number of issues/outcomes:

    1. Characters went to, or at least lobbied for paths, which were kind of neat in their own right but made humanity far less relevant for the group. I really liked what dark ages did with that in running with it and having ashen priests and everything, but modern vamp never seemed to do as much with it.

    2. It was kind of a pain to always keep in mind the hierarchy of sins and where each of your PCs was on it for STs. In my experience players usually weren’t keeping track, either because they didn’t want to be “punished” by conscience rolls or because they were into what was going on in the scene are less about some mechanical litmus test of whether they would feel bad. As a result, a lot of games I played or ran missed rolls and/or just focused on really bad things, rendering the gradations of the path irrelevant.

    3. While roads are sometimes thought of as “the path of what I was going to do anyway”, in practical effect for a lot of games humanity had that too. As TadDewberries noted above, PCs seemed to gravitate to a certain point, 4-6ish, at which point most of the common PC-type things they wanted to do weren’t going to become a moral concern (i.e. they could beat up their enemies, break into places, feed on who they wanted, etc.). So really once you got to around humanity 4, the whole “slide to the beast” thing became more or less irrelevant. Assuming your character wasn’t already predisposed to wanton acts of cruelty, at that point they weren’t likely have to worry about any more downward slide. That never really felt like it hit what humanity and its loss was supposed to represent.

    4. Keeping with 3), even if you are telling a story about the downward slide, at a certain point the story has to introduce some kind of bizarrely hideous moral choices to make lower humanity PCs have a conundrum. I mean, your hypothetical humanity 2 PC may not care about burning down an orphanage, but they’re also not inherently irrational to where they’d see running around burning down orphanages to be a useful thing to do (some with heavy derangements maybe, but not all). So the story has to end up introducing “should we burn down this orphanage?” (or whatever other really immoral act) and present reasons why that might be a useful thing to do, or we’re back to morality no longer being a concern in the story. That ends up being a little weird, especially if the game runs for a decent amount of time at those humanity levels.

    5. The whole “beast trying to drag you down” element never seemed fully realized in the games I played, or in reading the rules. I mean sure, as your humanity decreased you would frenzy more and care less, but that just meant you were more likely to periodically blow up and go on a murder rampage. That’s part of the beast, but I always took it as a broader urge towards your base urges, to hunt, to feed, to kill. In practice it never seemed to really be a darker tempting force except for people RPing a certain way. For something that’s at the heart of the vampiric condition, the beast always seemed pretty limited in the whole humanity issue.

    I’m not sure how you’d go about fixing it exactly. I like the idea of a more active beast, or something where balancing the beast and the human has more reason for the PC to engage than “you have trouble waking up and you may frenzy more”. I think if you make the struggle for humanity interesting in both a mechanic and an RP sense, people will go for it. If the mechanics are just dull or wonky, then people will ignore them.

  68. I think Humanity and Path levels should be less morality hit points and more a dial for different sorts of play. Low humanity/paths would be about power and freedom on the razor’s edge. You can do anything, it will take something truly spectacular for you to burn out… but maybe its needed

    Midteirs is about balancing morality and power, its stable and where most elders end up.

    High morality is about the value of your morals in the face of the world, no matter what they are.

    Each Tier gives bonuses towards a certain level of play, and rising or falling is less random and xp based and more plot driven.

  69. I agree with everything that has been said in the previous few posts, I just wanted to add that I think that Humanity is at the Core of Vampire but I’ve been looking over a lot of old Vampire artwork like Tim Bradstreet’s art and such and also the general feel of the Clans (Brujah especially and my personal favorite Clan), and to me the Humanity does feel like a drag at times and imo, too restrictive to make the artwork and the feel and mood of Vampire, come to life, like I WANT to play as a cool badass Brujah that kicks ass BUT is still in touch with his Humanity, but with the way the Hierarchy of Sins is written I can’t do that I feel.

    • I think there’s an intrinsic element of “violence dehumanizes you” I know people are going to throw out all sorts of examples of how that’s not the case about how being a cold blooded killer is just a really easy path but I disagree.

      I rather think the ass kicker should be a middle tier character, he still feels its kind of bad and doesn’t want to hurt anyone but shit sometimes happens right?

      I think if you are Mowing through people like a hack and slash videogame that should require a serious level of fucked upness either alien morality or getting near the bottom.

  70. This might belong in the NWoD stuff, but we’ve pretty thoroughly rethought Humanity in my Requiem game. Instead of having a static “rating,” characters consciously or unconsciously choose three “Tenets,” reflecting their moral outlook. When they act in accord with those Tenets, they get Willpower points back (so this replaces Nature/Demeanor/Virtue/Vice/et c as well). When characters violate the things they believe in, they gain a Conflicted Condition, and risk downgrading their Tenets to reflect the (more morally-compromised) principals that really define their outlook. My players tell me it’s really helped drive dramatic choice without over-complicating the mechanics. We get the versatility Paths were trying to demonstrate without the complete moral relativism that always seemed to play out on the ground. (Should I move this comment to a forum??)

  71. I really do hate getting into such a heavily mechanically involved part of the game in this format.

    Anyway… I’m not sure how much I have to add besides another voice in the, “Humanity is important, but the mechanics need addressing, also VtR 2e as a lot going for it conceptually.” camp.

    That said, I posted something to the VtM forums that I hope communicates what sort of direction I’d love to see the mechanics go that isn’t VtR 2e, but isn’t keeping the same old VtM systems from 1991.

  72. Humanity, as a game mechanic, falls by the wayside over time with good reason. Even more than the explicitly Fundamentalist metagame, which sets the age of the Earth at less than 10,000 years if the Caine myth is meant to be literally true, the Humanity concept drags the Vampire myth down into the drabbest, dreariest, and most abusive schools of religious thinking. Every natural instinct to survive and procreate come not from the self, but from this demonized, externalized Other which must be fought at every turn. You’re not a good person unless you despise yourself for what you are. Religious movements that teach this as true exist in the real world, and they do more to darken it than any Ventrue could hope to.
    The latest edition of Requiem tries to do something different and new with the Humanity concept, measuring the player’s ability to remember what mortality was like well enough to blend in and be a more subtle killer. 4th Edition Masquerade should try something similarly creative with the mechanic, or relegate it to the dustbin of game design history.

    • The Beast isn’t the Other, it’s an intrinsic part of mortals and vampires. (There are bad effects if it’s removed.) The difference for the latter is that it’s awakened, as if the id could take control of a person.

  73. Humanity is the undead beating heart of V:tM, but as it is now, it’s an hybrid of two things : a roleplaying guide and a mechanical trait. I think that it needs to be more one than another. And it should be the roleplaying way.
    Let’s face it, players who want to play V:tM the “Katana-Wielding-Highlander” way will do it, no matter how Humanity will be mechanically-enforced.
    By putting Humanity, and the Paths, more on the roleplay side, it will fit to the style of play of the groups that already heavily use it, showing the progression of the struggle against the Beast, or the descent into alieness (for the Path).
    The mechanics of this kind of Humanity should be light and adaptable, giving the Storyteller the leeway to reward or punish the roleplay of it’s players as he see fit, depending of the situation and the playstyle of his group.

  74. My players FUCKING DESPISE Humanity and the Paths of Enlightenment mechanics. For them, playing Vampire is about a deadly, decadent court of people-shaped monsters. The idea that some things are ‘sins’ against their ‘inherent nature’ is equivalent to saying ‘you can’t take the most efficient solution because you’re lawful good.’ Imposing an artificial morality they don’t agree with is basically being ‘the Fun Police.’

    So, by and large, we abstract the shit out of Humanity and the Paths to make things go smooth. That being said, if Humanity/Paths were less adjudicatory — like, the Hierarchy of Sins were more hard-and-fast, with clear upward/downward mobility — I think my players would engage with it more. Previous editions’ versions of them felt like a mallet to bludgeon players into the plots that I, the Storyteller, wanted.

    That being said, that’s just my armchair analysis. The problem might be vampires in general — they had a much better time engaging with Humanity in Promethean, regarding a high Humanity as a great stat to have, even if it did didn’t directly pay dividends in bonus dice every game session.

  75. Is Humanity Important to my game? No it’s not but that’s not a matter of mechanics it’s a GM decision. My characters for their part of followed their morality and the changes that it has had on their own. So given the game I’m running I’m satisfied with that.

    What could new mechanics do to make it more/less central for me? Probably nothing since it depends on the game I’m running.

    Mechanics to make it less central would be making the mechanics feel forced or overly punitive to the players for having a low rating.

    Mechanics to make it more central would be ones that make it fun for me and my players. That drive home the theme of humanity without it being some crazy mechanics heavy system that gets in the way of enjoying the game.

    As for suggestions, I’m not familiar with what’s in Requiem 2.0 but it doesn’t sound too bad but I don’t know if that works well with the paths of enlightenment or

    I think the “Morality” vs “Beast” trait sounds good. I like the idea of maybe even having some sort of temporary ratings for each or points to spend on certain mechanics. Radically I might even suggest something like the “Shadow” in Wraith. I kind of envision a scene where a character with a high-ish morality doesn’t need to use their disciplines to influence someone but the beast “pushes” them to use a little Dominate or Presence anyway. Or a scene where a Harpy is getting on their high horse in a social setting and the beast sets the suggestion of using Animalism to make them frenzy. Even something like feeding where you only need a few blood points and the beast urges you to drink just a little deeper. It’s also something that could be a mechanic that takes away from the fun of the game too, especially in the hands of other players, so maybe it’s relegated to the GM only.

    I don’t think Paths of Enlightenment should be scrapped but I do agree they often can be used as excuses to play a character “how I want them to be” as opposed to them being an alternative morality/philosophy to keep the beast at bay. I almost think mechanically speaking everyone should have “morality” as a stat vs humanity and then if you are on a philosophical path of enlightenment it just flavors how you rationalize keeping the beast at bay.

    The only other concern / problem I have with very high or very low humanity is that it gets to the point where it makes the character almost unplayable. If you’re a raving monster or a saint, at some point you become less of a playable character. I think it can be even more so with some of the paths of enlightenment where you need to spend every waking evening studying your given path instead of being out in the world. It also creates player conflict that might not be good conflict. It’s different when someone slips in their humanity and the corterie tries to get them back on track vs when a player is a monster and needs to be “put down” or when they won’t leave their haven cause “they need to do more research”.

    Anywho, interesting changes are welcome. I’m almost tempted to home brew something to try it out. Could be fun.

  76. I played in just a few games where humanity was actually a thing. It was seldom more than a rough measure for who wakes up first. I’m fine with that, because sometimes humanity is the focus of a character, but mostly other things became quick far more interesting.

    When we play Dark Ages: Vampire or Sabbat or older Vampires came in to play, the Paths are much more important. Especially because they determine the characters philosophical and spiritual alignment. The way Dark Ages: Vampire made the paths to something between sects and the social splat was one of the major improvements to Vampire: Dark Ages and we loved to play with that. (For example if you are one of the seldom Tzimisce on the path of the Grey Hunter (road of the beast) and meet a Tremere on the same path at a ritual meeting).
    Since you can see hints on the characters path in his Aura, it became a very interesting playing tool as well, both for storyteller and players.

    The exact value is still secondary. “Non”, “Low”, “Average”, “High” and “Out of Scale” would be entirely sufficient.

    As I said before, I would keep the paths. Since Requiem has no paths they would help to divide the games as far as you can.

  77. The importance of Humanity (and Paths) depends on the overall themes and goals of the game, and is further affected by the current events of the game. To be honest, I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Humanity. It has its uses, but too much of a focus on it can quickly turn a game in to little more than an exercise in maudlin existentialism. Use it too little, and the game loses a considerable chunk of what makes it what it is. Regardless of the rules, finding a good balance between the two is up to the ST and players. Some text offering suggestions on how to incorporate Humanity and Paths in a game without hitting either extreme could be useful.

    Humanity as it is currently written (in V20, and prior) doesn’t reflect The Riddle all that much. It’s more about *not* doing bad things to avoid becoming a monster than it is about doing bad things in order to avoid doing worse things. “A Beast I am not, lest a Beast I become”, if you will. If The Riddle is what you’re going for, then this begs the question:

    What are some of the bad things Kindred on Humanity must do in order to prevent themselves from degenerating, and where does not doing them fall on the Humanity scale? How do they exercise their Beast in order to prevent it from exorcising the Man?

    The Paths, more or less depending on the Path, already incorporate this to some degree. Some Paths explicitly require that followers do monstrous things, while others simply establish a framework in which monstrous things may “safely” be done. Humanity should have something along these lines as well.

    Perhaps at levels 8-10, Humanity should be about managing the little things that help keep the Beast at bay (such as staying fed, avoiding things that might provoke Frenzy, etc.), at levels 1-3 Humanity should be about not doing the horribly inhumane and violent things that the Beast revels in, and Humanity 4-7 should be about being a decent person while giving the Beast a little controlled exercise now and then.

    Avoid using VtR2e’s Humanity for inspiration, as that system takes maudlin existentialism, adds an unhealthy dose of angst, cranks it up to 11, and then breaks the dial.

    Personally, I’ve been using a system inspired by the Sanity system in WoD: Mirrors as Humanity has been so problematic for me.

  78. I’d like to see a much more pragmatic take on Humanity, chuck the Hierarchy of Sins and instead focus on the Riddle and how to make Humanity and the Beast (I like that dichotomy) and go for something like Shadow from Wraith.

  79. Personally, I would like to see Humanity (as a stat) somewhat divorced from a Morality mechanic. Humanity, being an indicator of how well a vampire composes himself in resisting The Beast and resisting the primal urges, should be a mechanical result of rolls made while adhering to a morality (Path of Enlightenment). Path follower or not, vampires all used to be human and all now have the Beast Within. Simply because one adheres to the teachings of Caine or elder mystics of some sort or clinging to memories of what being human once was, it does not change the fact that there is an essential balance of how much The Beast is able to influence the mind and corrupt its desires.

    Morality (Path of Enlightement or simply the human-like baseline we commonly refer to as the path of Humanity) is what a character uses to resist The Beast’s urges. Instead of a system that “allows or punishes” a character based upon her Humanity, turn the system around. Now, have a set list of “What the Beast wants to do.” When a character encounters a situation and The Beast urges one direction, the player rolls a Virtue to resist. I.E.: when hungry, the character sees someone bleeding, and The Beast within NEEDS to be satiated completely. Instead of a player deciding what to do and resist the complications of degeneration, the player is using the Virtues she is building up on her character sheet to resist the urge. The result then dictates Humanity as a modifier of future Virtue rolls. It is no longer a 1-10 stat, but a sort of semi-permanent modifier to Virtue.

    Now, as far as what your virtues are, in this version 1.0 and keeping simple because of history, each Path/Morality has Three Virtues. These virtues are the basis of dice pools to resist the Beast. The player must be able to justify (or perhaps in-depth rules would spell it out) just IF or how one of his Virtues would resist a particular urge from The Beast. A vampire keeping a baseline “Humane” morality could easily have Virtues that keep him resolute and resist the urge to drain a mortal dry. However, one following the Path of Metamorphosis might not even have a Virtue applicable to resisting that particular urge. This mechanic shows that the character has *decided* to separate himself from thinking “like a human,” and simply will become more bestial over time. However, should the Metamorphisist need to endure the pain of self-mutilation (perhaps torture), he might be more apt to resist the urges of The Beast needing to flee from or lash out at the source of the pain.

    I would not suggest allowing an “easy out” regarding Virtue rolls (or lack of a Virtue appropriate to a situation), such as the old stand-by of spending willpower. It is up to the player to have a Morality and Virtues appropriate to the character he wishes to play. The Virtues are the important traits to derive dice rolls from. Humanity is the result of how much a vampire commits actions that DARE the Beast to try to exert influence – thus, that trait remains to show how much or how little his Virtues have impact when the Beast wants something.

  80. I think it’s an important stat, but it does get glossed over for new players or when starting a new game. As a GM, you’ve got this great idea for a story or a setting. Humanity and Path ratings aren’t a starting priority. They”re also mostly internal to the psyche of one character so they may not particularly play when dealing with a new coterie.

    I disagree with a lot of people above in that I like the way virtues work. They do need to get explained better to new characters. “Why do I need conscience?” Well, it allows you control over your actions.

    Personally, I’d like to see consequences other than non-hand wringing for Humanity and Path degradation. Temporary derangements and the occasional lost-time episodes (the Beast trying out control of your body). At some point on the scale, the beast should start verbally trying to get you to kill your companions and do all sorts of horrible things. Alternatively, Humanity and each path should get some sort of bonus for super-high levels. Ex: Humanity-10 not effected by True Faith or given +2 resistance to mental domination.

  81. what you really need is an {{EXPLICIT INHUMANITY TRAIT}}.

    It should show us:

    1) How “inhumane” (not necessarilly ugly, but INHUMAN) my character appears. An Elder Toreador with high Inhumanity and High Appearance could appear to be a living marble ancient-greek-style Statue: it’s AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL, mesmerizing, does not breath, and you can’t EVER mistake it for a human. Low-level inhumanity means the classic “cold skin”, pale skin, no-breathing, cannot swallow food to pretend eating, unnatural body language & vocalizations… this sort of “signs” that anyone that knows what to look for may help in finding or recognizing that you are a Cainite.

    2) How many Blood Points you must spend to “counteract” each level of the Inhumanity Trait, and so, APPEAR to be “more human”. The Effect of this spent Blood should last UNTIL DAWN, for lesser bookkeeping.

    a) Character has Humanity of 8 = automatically appears human. (Inhumanity 0)

    b) Character has Humanity of 7 = Inhumanity 1. +1 die to Perception Rolls of any other Characters “looking for a Cainite” or “Trying to figure if you are a Cainite”. Price to fully appear Human = 1 Blood Point; lasts until Dawn.

    b) Character has Humanity of 5 = Inhumanity 3. +3 die to Perception Rolls of any other Characters “looking for a Cainite” or “Trying to figure if you are a Cainite”. Even people that do not know Cainites exist may discover your secret if they get 3 sucesses in ther tests, since they will notice 3 of your “aberrations” (Masquerade Breach!!!). Price to fully appear Human = 3 Blood Points; lasts until Dawn. Spending less than 3 Blood points will make your Inhumanity lower, say, 1 BP = -1 Inhumanity, making you LESS inhuman, but not completely “Masqueraded”. ^^

    And here is the catch!!!

    1) If you follow a Path of Enlightenment – ANY Path, except “the Path of Breath” (DA20), YOUR INHUMANITY IS +X POINTS BIGGER than of Humanity seekers.

    2) If your Path has “Conviction” as Path Virtue, your initial Inhumanity gets +1.

    3) If your Path has “Instincts” as Path Virtue, your initial Inhumanity gets +1. (cumulative with “2)”).

    At last… each time you LOSE a Dot in Humanity, your Inhumanity RISES 1 point. Each time you RAISE a Dot in Humanity, your Inhumanity automatically LOWERS 1 point.

    Each time you LOSE a Dot in Your Path, your Inhumanity RISES 1 point.
    Each time you RAISE a Dot in Conviction, your Inhumanity automatically RISES 1 point.
    Each time you RAISE a Dot in Instincts, your Inhumanity automatically RISES 1 point.

    Each time you RAISE a Dot in any non-Humanity Path, your Inhumanity also RISES 1 point (yes. Path Characters can never LOWER their Inhumanity).

    I think these Systems can explain what I think is the best course to solve the Briefing:

    a) Humanity IS important and IS playable an NOT necessarilly a Sucker’s Bet: it makes you mingle better with humans.

    b) Paths ARE playable, but the make you PLAIN visible as WHAT YOU REALLY ARE. A Vampire.

    That’s my 30 cents. ;-}

  82. Humanity is a very important aspect of V:tM –some games may emphasis it while others largely ignore it (and I’ve enjoyed both and a lot in-between)– regardless I feel that it lies at the heart of the Masquerade and reinforces many of the themes and tones that forms the foundation of the narrative.
    I do feel Paths of Enlightenment have a place in a new edition of V:tM, just not in the core book; the core should be made as accessible as possible to help attract new players and keep the page count down. I might include a single Path in the back to assist the storyteller in depicting more alien NPCs, and offer an alternative for existing players. Future supplements can then expand on the subject.

    • To elaborate on my thoughts some more,

      Masquerade may not be Victorian Gothic, as some have commented, but it is Gothic and Humanity serves to communicate such themes and in turn I think examining these themes can help in understanding Humanity:
      – – Degeneration: Moral decay leading to mental illness has become a fading thing in 21st-century Gothic, the theme of Degeneration, as others have noted, might be better served through inhuman atavisms and supernatural Banes.
      – – The Double: Instead of a degenerating scale, humanity becomes the battleground between the Beast and the Human. As the Human shrinks the Beast grows. The system is not punitive, but a balance between two halves each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
      Now instead of a hierarchy of sins for the player and storyteller to remember, a simpler approach is warranted, a balance between feeding the Beast and nourishing the Human. Of course the battlefield is not an even one, like Hyde, the beast is a child of evil, but the Human is like Dr. Jekyll, containing all the same virtues and vices that he held before and indulging the Human carries the risks feeding the Beast.
      (Disorder: Making the balance all the more difficult is Frenzy, an aspect of the Beast. Choosing to indulge in Frenzy feeds the Beast while failing to resist its call does much the same. Only through successfully resisting can you nourish the Human.)
      – – The Other and the Self: The Beast may be a part of you now, but it is still a foreign thing, a manifestation of the curse. If that is the case then Humanity becomes a manifestation of the Self, or what remains of it. Mechanically, the Beast may be as appealing as Humanity, but that makes it an inconsequential choice, on the other hand if the more you give in to the Beast the less of you sense of self remains then it creates a sense of significance. An acceptable trade for some players and games, but for others this becomes a horrendous bargain plants the seeds of horror at the heart of the game.

  83. Let me start by saying I tend to play high humanity (or with Exalted, high virtue) characters a lot. It’s what I gravitate towards. I’ve dabbled in evil (I made an infernal who ended up being such a terrible person the entire party turned on her and I had to reroll, which was pretty fun and interesting in itself.) but I tend to like really, really nice characters.
    I mean, characters who have forgiven their torturers type of nice characters.
    So I think it does mean something when I say I find the old standards of “high humanity” not only nigh impossible, but also ironically inhuman. (Considering huamnity 10 requires a lack of selfish thoughts…) and since we’re talking THOUGHTS, that means you literally have to lose your sense of self. At that point, it seems you should also have to hand your character sheet over to the DM, because you’re as much not a person as 0 humanity. It’s also, frankly, kind of boring, and it’d a bit sad as someone who likes the idea of playing a vampire’s struggle to be a good person and possibly even find redemption is boring and frankly, less human than their fall with the way it’s built.
    What makes a good person good isn’t that they don’t have selfish thoughts or feelings, it’s that, DESPITE them, they are willing to do what they think is right. Self sacrifice has no meaning with no sense of self. Where is the sacrifice of something that has no value to you? Why is that interesting at all? Why is that worth anything at all? Just as you can’t be brave without knowing fear, you can’t truly be a good person without loving yourself at least as much as you love those outside yourself.

    With that said, I think that’s the aspect of humanity that really needs to be focused on. When it’s just a number, 1-10, it feels like another stat, something to max out or ignore, or whatever.
    But it should be more about the story you’re trying to tell, your struggle, your fall, or even your ability to find redemption, to face down that part of you that’s a monster.

    (There’s also the whole idea that ethics and morality are incredibly complicated and really very based on person to person.)

  84. For me humanity is huge! I love to ask to my players… “How do you feel about that murder?” It’s this amazing fight against the beast that makes Vampire such a unique game. Without that we will become a D&D game with a little more interpretation. The Beast is the greatest menace of all RPG’s, cause it’s you, your greater threat.

  85. Humanity is as important as the Beast, but it is rarely the focus of my stories. It becomes important when the characters are faced with decisions that may affect their rating or when they do them without care. Good players tend to avoid this unless they see no way out.
    To make Humanity more important than just being a number in the character sheet that defines whether or not you can do something illegal. There could be a system in which the Storyteller has a Beast Dice of 10 – Humanity (or Path). To lure the characters into doing something brutal in certain situations, not just when they are hungry, scared, wounded as the normal Frenzy check.
    Let’s say the character sees a woman with a small child in a park, Humanity’s rating is 6, and so the Storyteller rolls 4 dice difficulty 6 (For the Character’s Humanity rating). If successful, he can tell the player that his character feels the need to taste the blood of the child, visions of how easy it would be to kill the woman and take the child into the bushes, drink his young sweet blood.
    The player can respond with a Self-Control as normal or a Willpower roll to focus on whatever he was doing.
    Mechanics can help improve the importance of Humanity, a bit imposing perhaps, but a good reminder for not just the storyteller but the players. Make them much more aware of their Beast and the importance of keeping it at bay.

  86. I think the existing Humanity system should be completely scrapped.

    The Virtues should be kept and used instead as a means of controlling/fighting the beast.

    Conscience can be used to stop you from completely killing a vessel you are feeding off of, Conviction keeps the beast from strengthening because you truly believe the sinner had to die. Self-Control keeps the beast in check so you don’t frenzy. Instinct lets you frenzy to get more powerful in a situation….

    The Beast itself would be its own rating. I think it should be a double-edged sword. A stronger beast means more blood loss, more hunger, stronger frenzies. But… it also can be used to your benefit…

    Humanity loss should be more of an RP thing that gets represented as you choose to spend xp in virtues, or sacrifice them for xp…

  87. I think Humanity is a fundamental part of Vampire the Masquerade so long as Vampire is a horror game first and foremost. To that end I believe that Humanity should represent what parts of yourself keep the Beast at Bay and that Paths of Enlightenment be about what parts of yourself you forsake to gain the strength to keep the Beast at Bay.

    Doing so gives the players the ability to define for themselvs what Humanity and their Path means to them and would lead to much more organic roleplaying when involving moments when the Beast tears away a part of themselves that gives them strenght or meaning.

  88. I’m relatively new to Vampire the Masquerade (I have only been playing a year) but I do find myself struck by how humanity (particularly in the hierarchy of sins) focuses on physical harm to people and property, but is considerably more fuzzy about the creation of ghouls, use of blood bonds, domination etc. This contrives much of our modern concepts of human rights and can reduce mortals and other vampires to the status of addicted and ffed up slaves. As a ST you can still play this one way or another, but I don’t think enough is made (in the humanity rules at least)of what are actually horrifying practices and a big step away from what the majority of mortal humanity would consider acceptable behavior.

  89. I have another question, is in most vampire mythology, vampires have lost all of there humanity in the change, should there not be a reward for regaining parts of your humanity rather than punishments for losing what you don’t actually have. In the original stories of vampires, the mortal was lost and a monster occupied the dead humans body. Hence the vanhelsing quotes that “this is not your dead loved one, it simply looks like her”.

  90. I had an idea: what if to make a Humanity a double-ended stick. And stop having it like a single sided limiting factor of the Vampire game. At first I thought of making it like the Wraith’s Shadow, or Kathayan’s P’o, but in time it came to me: leave the matter as it is, but change the perception point. Make that very high humanity as damaging for the typical kindred’s agenda as bad as low humanity is.
    So – let the high levels and low levels of humanity both give their strengths and weaknesses: like more control in frenzy? cheaper combat disciplines for vampire on low side, and social bonuses for those on the high end.

  91. I agree, to a point, but I tend to take a different view. The Lower an individuals Humanity is, the more they are likely to use these sorts of things as tools to hurt/blackmail others or achieve their goals without understanding (or caring) how these things are important to others. Not so much gender, as gender is largely irrelevant to most Cainites (that are not specifically sexist, therefore badguys).

    It also kind of reinforces the idea that the less “human”, the less mortal their mindset becomes, the less all the little characteristics that makes individuals unique individuals matter and the more they become simple tools to be used for what one wants. Usually around Humanity 5ish.

  92. I think Humanity is an important concept to prevent vampires from committing too many attrocities (and thus as a concept is central to preserving the Masquerade). Also, I think that Humanity is what differentiates the game from D&D or Shadowrun. You start to value life. In my own games, Humanity was central to some characters and less central to others. Some players enjoy degrading their humanity to 2-3 and then staying there, others tried to keep their humanity high (around 6) in order to blend in better. The way Humanity is currently offered is actually great. Because each group, each player can decide how much value to put on Humanity. It might be central to some, less so to others. I like the flexibility of the current rules.

    • This crossed my mind too but I was thinking the Yin/Yang instead. You could have a Humanity/Beast and give it both a permanent and a temporary box. Or maybe even treat it like Mage and Quintessence/Paradox.

      I think making humanity some sort of dynamic mechanic would be more interesting. Where if you do a good deed your temporary humanity goes up and if you get to 10 “good” deeds then you can increase your humanity. But the same thing works for the beast rating. And if you end up hitting 10 “bad” deeds you have a crisis of humanity where you must confront what it is you’ve been doing and then take a step back and either have remorse for your actions or not and give in to the beast.

      Been watching a lot of the Walking Dead lately and to me it’s a show about Humanity. How the characters react to the deeds they have to do to survive, is Vampire any different? Rick Grimes is a good examples of someone who loses his humanity but reaches a “crisis” point and reclaims it only to slip yet again. While Glen is just someone who has a higher humanity and maintains it.

  93. Yes, Humanity should be an inesacapably significant asect of playing VtM. Yes, it needs to change. Suggestions –
    Consider the concepts of transhumanism. Humanity is changing, literally. What does that mean for a static soul? The question of how human awareness is changed through biological and social transformation has always been there in VtM. Reframe it by asking afresh what human awareness is.
    Make it Powerful. People are often drawn to play as vampires because they are drawn to being powerful. Make having Humanity more beneficial. Make BE-ing human as rewarding as having Disciplines, but make its piwer different. Ultimatetely, being human is a

    • erk, laggy device and software… as I was saying, ultimately humanity is a collective experience of awareness that connects us all together. A vampire loses touch with that and must work hard to maintain it whereas a human being was always assumed to find it natural. This is an error. Human beings are basically always searching for it too, but they have each other to help out. Vampires do not. So its power should basically be about counteracting the vampires power over others with the (actually much greater) human power found *with* others.
      Essentially, what I see is that notions of humanity are being radically challenged and that the game needs to reflect these in its content. Additionally, the power of humanity is increasing alarmingly and this should be considered and reflected system wise too.
      I have more fleshed out ideas for this but this message is not the place.

  94. I always see VtM like a game of a character soul’s corruption.

    The eternal morality fight between the beast and the human. The Camarilla’s components tries control the beast, and the Sabbat beloved this.

    So the Humanity should be the focal point and this should reflect not only the power but on social interactions.

    Rewarding both ways:
    The human -> socially, and with The Mask maintenance.

    The Beast -> fast acess to powers, and more difficult to keep the mask.

    But the idea of NWoD power increase over years is also interesting and should be brought to the VTM 4ed.

    And this increase in power by the time reflect the greater difficulty over the years to control the Beast.

  95. It depends what kind of story I want to tell, but I often pay no mind to Humanity.

    Most of my players doesn’t want to get involved on “take care on what you do or you will suck until became a NPC”.

    They do prefer to shake vampire society, build power structures, bribe politicians and such. Their argument: “we do suck in real life, do we need to suck in game too?”.

    I like to use Humanity when I think it’s proper. When the players are submerse on game and they feel the tension of moral choices, then I use the Hierarchy of Sins.

    More than Humanity, though, I do use Path of Enlightenment to simulate how a Cainite can be a monster. How they have to deal with their brainwashed heads with their undead “life”.

    Sometimes I make a character have Humanity AND a Path of Enlightenment to show him how hard is to be a bloodsuck freak on Sabbat… of course, I use some House Rules of my on.

  96. I got into RPGs in high school thanks to Vampire the Masquerade 2nd edition. The D&D geeks and all those bland generic systems weren’t interesting to me and my friends. Vampire was. A fantastic world with a myth and metaplot and mysteries and half-truths. A simple yet very cool rules system that arrived just in time to ride the Lestat and Louis-fueled reign of Anne Rice.

    What really grabbed me, however, was the afterword by Mark Rein-Hagen. About good and evil, about what a good story can do for us to learn about ourselves.

    While I still follow the developments and purchase some products, to me most of the latest developments with enormous rule books and silly special factions and revision upon revision has castrated this magic.

    If you want to do Vampire 4E right, jettison 80% of the rules and all the bloodlines and go back to the basics.

    In the era of Vampire Diaries and True Blood and Teen Wolf and American Horror Story and all the rest, Onyx Path should be selling millions of Vampire books. Instead, it’s a nische blip on the radar. Has anyone ever asked yourselves why?

  97. I think Humanity is a core aspect of the game, but in my games it’s also something that can cripple the fun of playing a vampire, i don’t think it should be removed but i want to see better mechanics when you decide to fight for your humanity, as it is vampire the masquerade is a game where it’s pretty rare to find a player who has fun playing as the “Louis”.

    I don’t like the concept of paths, i believe vampire should run on humanity alone.

  98. Considering how Paths are just alternate philosophical points of view, I understand Roads from DA are kind of like this too, instead of Paths or Roads, why not keep Humanity and use philosophical ethics as a buffer between Humanity and the Beast?

  99. I think that the Paths have a place, but I also think that they would be much better served as being very difficult to attain, and much more rare than they tend to be in play. The base assumption is that a player character has been a vampire for about 10 years, where they have been generally trained about the World of Darkness and vampire society. Obviously this is not so true for the Sabbat, but still, for the most part the PCs are relatively new to unlife. A Path of Enlightenment should take nearly a lifetime to begin to follow. Its not like starting a new job and adopting a new company policy. Its more like moving to another contry you hadn’t even knew existed and trying to get a job, while learning the language, and making new friends, and learning the lay of the land.

    Reducing the prevalence of Paths I think would really help make Humanity do it’s job better. It would also make, I think, the Sabbat more interesting, and a bit more difficult/challenging to do some of the things they do, (to the players).

    Another thing that could be kind of cool is to have maybe one or two Paths somewhat similar to Humanity as relatively acceptible alternatives. Something like the Dark Ages Path of Heaven and Path of Chivalry. I don’t mean to bring those into the modern setting, just examples.

  100. Tough question. I tend to agree with those, who saying that humanity perhaps would be better with a focus on being (seeming…) and acting human-like, than with as a strict moral code. Or, if it is too Requiem like, at least a more opened, more realistic one. Also, there should be advantages to keep humanity high. More blending with the herd, maybe free merits at certain levels, like being able to ate human food, or “blush of life” without the need to spend blood. But, please, don’t bring Requiem’s systems, like touchtstones here, they are good, but I think they don’t mesh well with the themes of Masquerade. Lets keep the lines apart and unique, with their own focuses!

    Also, please keep the Paths, they are also a very evocative part of the game, as showing true monsters, whom realy alienated from the illusion of being one of the herd. Many people mentioned the DA stuff, I’m not familiar with, but sounds good!

    As a system, I only realy see the problem in that the humanity-targeting powers are “vampire only” therefore not friendly to crossover. I would like to see them more universal, or having alternative effects regarding splats. Maybe a future book about crossover would be great, with optional fluff and mechanics.

  101. I think the humanity and path aspect is a must keep. It is a huge part of the “horror” aspect of the game. A good RPGer will feel his character’s struggle or lack of struggle with his new world. I personally love playing characters in a Human capacity and work into the Vampire game. I think it adds a lot to the back story and depth of the characters. The player gains a sense of love for his character and can feel the actual progression into the WoD.
    That being said, Humanity/Path helps guide the character and give a stat number to the character for use by the GM. Just like a LG Paladin is a guide line, it depends on his view of what is lawful. It doesn’t constrain, but it guides and gives a set bar. (I.e.: the paladin that slaughters defenseless baby evil creatures because he feels it’s the right thing to do)
    Also, without a gauge for humanity, what is the negative of draining the hobo’s blood and how would you judge the hold of the beast!

  102. It’s importantly just like a character being LG can decide that overthrowing a king is good, despite being “illegal” it’s subject to interpretation.
    Humanity is a tool to use when calculating the hold of the soul of the player.
    I agree with other posts that reference keeping a consistent view of certain stats across the whole of the WoD “next edition”. I think if we say Humanity for a vampire, then what about a Mage, changling or a werewolf. Shouldn’t they have some gauge of their “goodness”?

  103. My thoughts on Humanity:

    1. This is the central theme of your game: Humanity vs the Hunger. It should definitely be supported by the mechanics of the game. (In Werewolf, Mage, and Changeling, the themes are Nature vs Industrialization, Creativity vs Conformity, and Wonder vs Banality.)

    2. Support this theme thematically by both internalizing and externalizing it. Show how horrible it is to forsake Humanity and embrace the Hunger by providing mechanical downsides to having a low Humanity/Hunger balance. (Same with the other games.) The worst thing classic Vampire did was to introduce Sabbat Paths as an alternative to Humanity. It made Sabbat vampires fun and uninhibited and turned Humanity into an obnoxious burden. Players wound up resenting Humanity and wanting to play a bunch of True Brujah murderhobos, because in contrast, Camarilla vampires were weak and stuffy and boring. Instead, externalize the threat by making Hunger-claimed vampires a bit like the Dauntain: powerful, yes, and horrifying, sure, but also disgusting and abhorrent and completely constrained by their Hunger. They should serve as frightening antagonists, but also as cautionary tales. Above all, don’t make them appealing as PCs, unless you want to completely undermine the theme of the game. Giving up Humanity should have short term in-game benefits (killing someone is expedient) and long term mechanical drawbacks (perhaps a low Humanity imposes limits on how well you can use Disciplines.)

    3. Keep it simple. Don’t make players and STs track too many things, unless you want them to deemphasize or ignore some of them. Ditch Willpower, Virtues, Nature, and Demeanor. Keep Humanity/Hunger as a single contested track, keep Blood Pool, and tie the splats to Humanity/Hunger. For instance, maybe each Clan/Bloodline has its own type of Hunger, and each Faction has its own code of conduct/hierarchy of sins for maintaining Humanity.

  104. One of the things my old tabletop game did, was relative humanity. For example, a Vietnam veteran doesn’t blink at having to shoot someone, but betraying or lying to his friends weighs much heavier on him than it would anyone else. A cop might have a little leeway when it comes to violence, but having to break the laws she used to protect really grates on their soul. A firefighter might not care about breaking down a door or just taking the tools they need from someone, but failing to save someone carries extra weight. Reminding STs this kind of thing might help people from doing the rules lawyery bullshit of, “Oh, I just threw the guy out of the car, I don’t know if he died or not, I shouldn’t have to make a humanity check” and at the same time, hold players to playing the archetype they created for being punished for things they do that their character finds repulsive.

  105. The Riddle was the central conflict of the game. It’s what made Vampire the Masquerade so appealing and more than just a “superpowers” game. I would like to see Humanity more than just a reflection of a presumed “universal morality” originating in Judeo-Christian belief. I’d to see humanity as a blend of the connection to the living and morality. In a way, I see the Masquerade as a survival tool of the psyche of the vampire, and not just protection against another Inquisition. If a vampire is associating with mortals, acting human and connecting to human society, it helps the Kindred maintain its humanity and sense of self. I’d like to see a danger of a vampire’s humanity eroding because of social isolation or disconnecting from human society.

    I thinking tying in mechanical benefits and drawbacks for all humanity scores would keep it relevant. Maybe a humanity of 10 would allow a vampire to take reduced damage in the sunlight and day walk for a brief period but the vampire must expend more blood to use disciplines requiring vitae expenditure? Maybe a humanity of 1 grants some sort of benefit to a Kindred’s use of disciplines but at the cost of increasing the vampire’s vulnerability to the Kindred weakness to sunlight?

  106. On the subject of Humanity the Beast also plays a huge role. As it is now it’s just represented in general as the reason for virtue-checks, and the rationale for why low Humanity is bad for your character. And that’s fine, but it has more potential than that. The Beast could and, according to me, should be even more tightly bound to a characters Humanity.

    After all, the Beasts drive is survival. And that’s already represented in current mechanics. But is that all the Beast is? Isn’t it also greed, urges and temptation?

    During my game sessions I sometimes hand out notes to players telling them what their Beast desires at that particular moment. If they succumb to the Beast they of course risk Humanity (or Path) loss, but on the note is always added a small bonus. Things like extra dices for that scene, or resistance against certain powers a limited time, etc.

    While that system might not be what 4th Edition needs, it serves as a good example for how The Beast could become more central in gameplay and mechanics.

    In short, when considering changing how Humanity works, please put a lot of thought into what role The Beast is supposed to have in 4th ed.

    As a sidenote, I always found the rationale for The Beast as represented in the old werewold-flick The Howling to work really well witht his game. Except it’s werewolves suffering that subconscious force, not vampires.

  107. I absolutely believe the paths of enlightenment need to go, or be an aside to humanity (if you are on a path you should still have a humanity rating).

    Additionally the hierarchy of sins needs to be reworked or abandoned. Have certain cardinal sins (murder, torture, etc) that cause humanity loss checks regardless of your level

  108. “A Beast I am lest a Beast I become.” The Riddle, this to me, should be what 4e is all about, let’s discuss the Riddle, what are some examples of doing bad things to stop worse things?

    If anyone has watched Dexter, then some may know the tagline “Am I a good person who does bad things, or a bad person who does good things?” I don’t ever remember it being spoken in the series proper but I always found it very much like The Riddle.

    I know I’ve spoken about Humanity and taking a much more pragmatic approach to it, but I say it only in relation to The Riddle (to me the Riddle represents pragmatism). To me there should be some sort of balancing act within the mechanics themselves to really bring The Riddle to the forefront.


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