Draft Rules

Social Identity Traits

There are 4 basic traits for understanding a character's social identity: Intimacies, Failings, Motivation, and Paradigm.


An Intimacy is a person, institution or ideal that the character has a strong emotional connection with. Each Intimacy is connected with one Virtue:

  • Compassion Intimacies are things you love. Any attempt to harm your own Compassion Intimacy costs 1 Willpower, to a maximum of 3 in a scene.
  • Conviction Intimacies are things you trust or are loyal to. Any act which is mistrustful of or or disloyal to your own Conviction Intimacy costs 1 Willpower, to a maximum of 3 in a scene.
  • Temperance Intimacies are things you refrain from. Indulging in or giving into the practice or behavior of your own Temperance Intimacy costs 1 Willpower, to a maximum of 3 in a scene.
  • Valor Intimacies are things wish to destroy or transform. Not taking any opportunity to harm or change your own Valor Intimacy costs 1 Willpower for the scene. Helping or protecting your own Valor Intimacy costs 3 Willpower for the scene.

By default, a character has multiple Intimacies, usually a number of each type equal to the associated Virtue - they can gain more, but they tend not to last, fading at a rate of one per day until the normal maximum is reached.


A Failing is a sort of inverted Intimacy, a specific break-down in Virtue which characters do not have by default but may gain through social combat.

  • Compassion Failings are things you hate despite your compassion. Not taking any opportunity to harm your own Compassion Failing costs 1 Willpower for the scene. Helping your own Compassion Failing costs 3 Willpower for the scene.
  • Conviction Failings are things you will not do despite your conviction. Performing the act of your Conviction Failing costs 1 Willpower per turn, to a maximum of 3 in a scene. Adding a Conviction Failing is the default method for preventing a specific course of action through social combat.
  • Temperance Failings are things you cannot resist despite your temperance. Not taking an opportunity to indulge in the practice or behavior of your own Temperance Failing costs 1 Willpower, to a maximum of 3 in a scene.
  • Valor Failings are things you fear (or are in awe of) despite your valor. Confronting or directly opposing the object of your Valor Failing costs 1 Willpower, to a maximum of 3 in a scene.

Adding or destroying your character's Intimacy requires a full scene of dramatic action.

Destroying your character's Failing requires a full scene of dramatic action, the expenditure of 1 Willpower, and a successful roll of the associated Virtue.


A Motivation is the driving goal of a character - it can change over time (it might be completed or abandoned in the course of a story), but it tends to be stronger and more fixed than a single Intimacy.

  • By default, a character has only one Motivation, and cannot choose to have more, although they may be forced to have more, leading to internal conflict.
  • A character's Motivation is connected to their Willpower, and "flavored" by their dominant Virtue.
  • Ignoring or working against your Motive in a serious manner costs 3 Willpower for the scene.
  • Changing your character's Motivation intentionally (without completing it) requires a full scene of dramatic action, the expenditure of half your Willpower (rounded up) and a successful Willpower roll. (This will strip away all of the character's Motivations, leaving them with one of your choosing.)
  • Characters without any Motivation subtract their Willpower from the base defense of their Paradigm, and must spend 3 Willpower do take any action (the window of volition lasts for a scene).


A Paradigm is the framework in which a character's Virtues operate. It can often be summarized by a religious or philosophical system, although other labels might also be used.

  • In general, the player who named the Paradigm is the arbiter of what is considered virtuous within it (subject to ST oversight) - thus characters are usually the final arbiters of the actions their Virtues dictate, until and unless some exterior force imposes a new Paradigm on them.
  • A character's may only ever have one Paradigm at a time.
  • You cannot violate your Paradigm (though you can act against your Virtues as defined by your Paradigm, with the usual effects).
  • Changing your character's Paradigm intentionally requires a full day of dramatic action, the expenditure of all your Willpower and a successful Essence roll (it costs the same amount to assume a new Paradigm after it has been destroyed).
  • Characters with no Paradigm are treated as having all Virtues rated at 0; they may spend 1 Willpower to substitute their normal rating any time that the Virtue is counted.


There is one other important Social Combat term: Task. Tasks are somewhat similar to Failings, in that they tend to be inflicted by others rather than being innate to the character, but they are specifically short-term.

Tasks are divided into 3 tiers or circles of importance. A Task's Circle is the highest Circle that it meets any of the guidelines for, as determined by the Storyteller.

A Task is any possible activity with a set duration and manner of completion.

Task Circles

First Circle Tasks

  • require between no effort and one scene of effort,
  • do not conflict with Motive or Paradigm,
  • and are not particularly more trouble for the target than the destruction of an Intimacy.

Second Circle Tasks

  • require between one scene and one day of effort
  • do not conflict with Paradigm
  • and are not particularly more trouble for the target than the destruction of a Motivation.

Third Circle Tasks

  • require between one day and one week of effort
  • and are not particularly more trouble for the target than the destruction of a Paradigm.

Social Attack Basics

Social attacks attempt to either destroy an Intimacy, Motivation, or Paradigm, or to assign an entirely new one, or to assign a Task.

The attack roll (Charisma+Presence, Manipulation+Socialize, etc.) is automatically resisted by a defensive pool based on the goal of the attack.

AttackResisted byNotes
Destroying an Intimacy or Adding a Failing or Assigning a 1st Circle Taskthe Virtue associated with that Intimacy, Failing or Task. 
Adding an IntimacyWillpower - the Virtue associated with that Intimacy. 
Adding or Destroying a Motivation or Assigning a 2nd Circle TaskWillpower + any one Virtue with a relevant Intimacy. 
Adding or Destroying a Paradigm or Assigning a 3rd Circle TaskEssence + Willpower + any four Virtues with a relevant Intimacy. 

Arguments may be framed to sway a character based on their Intimacies, Failings, Motivations and Paradigms.

Argument Framed againstSubtracted from DefenseNotes
Intimacy or Failing or 1st Circle TaskOne Virtue 
Motivation or 2nd Circle TaskTwo Virtues 
Paradigm or 3rd Circle TaskThree Virtues 
Motivation vs. Paradigm or 3rd Circle TaskWillpower 
Motivation vs. Intimacy or 1st Circle TaskAll base defense 
Motivation vs. Motivation or 2nd Circle TaskWillpower 
Paradigm vs. Intimacy or Motivation or 1st or 2nd Circle TaskAll base defense 

Social Attacks

Potential Attacks

One-on-one social attacks may require only one turn to make, but mass social attacks generally require a dramatic action roughly equivalent to 1/4 of a scene.

  • Performance and Presence may both be used freely to attempt to add or destroy any of the four social identity traits, or to assign Tasks.
  • Socialize may also do stuff?
  • Linguistics may attempt any of these actions freely, but only through the medium of written communication.
Resolving Attacks

To resolve the attack,

  • the attacker describes their argument, behavior, scrutiny or ruse, indicating any Intimacies or Failings of the target they are attempting to employ.
  • The attack is rolled
    • (for Performance, most often with Charisma or Manipulation,
    • for Presence, most often with Charisma or Appearance,
    • for Socialize, most often with Perception or Manipulation).
  • Defense follows, drawing on whatever Intimacies the defender is permitted and can justify.
  • Any net successes on the attack roll become Obligations the defender has towards the attacker's declared goal.
  • Each social attack comes with an associated Goal -- a result the attacker wishes the defender to accept.
  • The possible Goals are
    • the addition or destruction of an Intimacy, Failing, Motivation or Paradigm,
    • the assignment of a Task.
  • If the target Capitulates, the Goal is achieved.
  • If they Refuse it, the attacker may choose (immediately there after or at any time, Reflexively)
    • to spend the accumulated Obligations and cause Hesitation,
    • or continue to accumulate them in hopes of causing greater Hesitation later.
  • Should any circumstances incapacitate the attacker, or otherwise break off social combat while Obligation is still outstanding, it immediately converts to Hesitation.

Social Damage

Hesitation represents your regret, lack of clarity, and loss of surety caused by an effective social attack on you. You can avoid Hesitation by conceding to social demands. The more Obligations you have had inflicted on you, the worse your Hesitation is.

ObligationsHesitation Effect
1You don't regain Willpower the next time you wake up.
2You suffer -1 success to your next opposed roll.
3You immediately lose 1 temporary Willpower.
4You can't channel virtues for the rest of the day.
5You suffer -1 success to opposed rolls for the rest of the day.
6You immediately lose 2 temporary Willpower.
7You must reroll the next successful, important roll you make, keeping the lowest roll.
8You cannot regain Willpower by any natural means for one week.
9You immediately lose 3 temporary Willpower.
10You botch the next critical roll you make, as the Eclipse oathbreaker effect.
11As 10, plus 1
12As 10, plus 2
21As 10, twice, plus 1

Information Warfare, or, I See By Your Outfit That You Are A Cowboy

Socialize, Investigation, and possibly Awareness can be used to passively examine a target.

  • Socialize is generally limited to identifying social effects (that is, attributes and characteristics associated with personality, or with the social combat system) in this manner.
  • Socialize and Stealth are both used to defend against such passive examination.
  • Roll Perception + the ability versus the opponent's Wits or Man + a defensive ability.

You may spend accumulated successes to learn the following information:

Sux CostEffect
1An intimacy associated with the target's highest Virtue
1The target's score in a Virtue
1A Favored Ability of the target
2An intimacy or failing associated with a specific Virtue of your choice
2The target's score in an Attribute or Ability
3The target's Nature, or if we have eliminated that, the Nature most obviously associated with the target's Motivation
3The truth value of one statement made by the target in this scene
5One of the target's Motivations

These values are doubled if, in the GM's opinion, the information in question has not been present or implied in the scene. If you attempt to make a purchase where none is available, the purchase is not made, and you may make a different choice.

Lingering Questions

Subtle Influence?

  • (K) My proposal is that making a social attack subtle, so that the target is not consciously aware of an attempt to influence, should allow the target to add their Wits to any defense roll. Targets only recognize subtle influence when the attack roll fails or is successfully defended against, or when some effect or other character tells them. Observers may make informational attacks to detect the deceit (in certain situations, a target may be able to stunt and spend an action to do so as well).

Conscious Choice?

  • (K) I'm having some trouble understanding what sort of in-character thought process the choice between Hesitation and Capitulation looks like; if Liam or others could talk more about this, I would greatly appreciate it. My chief concern is that I want players to be able to make optimal choices for their characters, but if all of them have to be entirely conscious in-character decisions, I see this leading to some weird and un-dramatic outcomes. (For instance: rather than giving into your argument, I accept that you will give me lots of Hesitation, and immediately stop taking dice actions, since I know I am due a major botch.)



Page last modified on April 08, 2009, at 10:35 AM