Bellevue World of Darkness
Morality reflects a character’s sense of compassion for his fellow human being and basic respect for the rule of law. This isn’t an absolute value. As people grow and change over time their perspectives on society and morality often shift. Some individuals strive to become more compassionate and virtuous, while others, driven by desperation or embittered by dire circumstances, reject their old convictions and adopt a more callous and selfish approach to existence. Your character’s Morality is not fixed. Depending on his actions it can increase or decrease during play. A starting character has a Morality of 7 — a basic respect for the law and a realistic sense of compassion for other people. He believes in the need to uphold the law, and treats others as he would expect to be treated himself. He has the potential to become more selfless and virtuous, or has a long way to fall into the depths of human barbarity. The course he follows depends entirely on the choices he makes during the course of the chronicle. Each Morality rating has a threshold of sinful behavior from your character must refrain in order to avoid degeneration to a lower moral state.
|10||Selfish thoughts. (Roll five dice.)|
|9||Minor selfish act (withholding charity). (Roll five dice.)|
|8||Injury to another (accidental or otherwise). (Roll four dice.)|
|7||Petty theft (shoplifting). (Roll four dice.)|
|6||Grand theft (burglary). (Roll three dice.)|
|5||Intentional, mass property damage (arson). (Roll three dice.)|
|4||Impassioned crime (manslaughter). (Roll three dice.)|
|3||Planned crime (murder). (Roll two dice.)|
|2||Casual/callous crime (serial murder). (Roll two dice.)|
|1||Utter perversion, heinous act (mass murder). (Roll two dice.)|
Losing Morality Dots – Degeneration Rolls
If a character commits a sin equal to or worse than the threshold of his current Morality trait, roll the number of dice associated with the sin performed to avoid degeneration. If the roll succeeds, the character’s overall sense of compassion remains intact, and his Morality does not change. If the degeneration roll fails, your character’s sense of right and wrong is altered by his experience and he loses a point of Morality. His soul hardens to the needs of others and he becomes inured to greater acts of selfishness or violence.
As a character’s Morality slips ever lower, she becomes more deranged and perhaps more of a monster, capable of virtually any depraved act. When a Morality point is lost because of a sin perpetrated, roll your character’s new Morality trait as a dice pool. If the roll succeeds, she finds some kind of balance or existence at her new state of spiritual and ethical standing. If the roll fails, she manifests a derangement. Derangements are mental and emotional ailments or conditions, in this case brought on by your character’s stress, grief or even remorselessness over acts performed. Derangements are detailed at length later in this chapter.
If your character develops such a condition, you and the Storyteller can decide which is appropriate based on the circumstances. An avoidance condition might set in whenever your character enters a situation that reminds her of the sin she committed. If she decided to harm a child and paid the emotional price, being around children thereafter might cause her to escape. Note that the conditions detailed later each have a mild and severe form. Your character probably starts with a mild ailment in any new derangement, unless something horribly traumatic occurs and you feel that she should descend directly into a severe problem.
On your character sheet, write the derangement gained on the line associated with the Morality trait to which she has fallen. If your character manifests a fixation when she drops from 6 to 5 Morality, write "Fixation " on the line associated with 5 Morality.
If a character descends so far that her Morality drops to zero, she can no longer be played in any meaningful way. She becomes a true monster, inflicting pain and suffering on everyone around her without the slightest hint of remorse and no hope of redemption. At that point control of the character passes to the Storyteller.
Virtues and Degeneration
It’s important to note that V irtues (explored later in this chapter) are not extensions of a character’s Morality. Rather, they are ideals that inform his actions and provide a framework by which he interacts with society. Thus, it’s possible for a character to commit ostensibly immoral acts in the pursuit of his V irtue. This doesn’t excuse the immorality of a particular act, but the character may be able to rationalize the deed as a necessary one in pursuit of a higher purpose, and thus avoid compromising his ethics. If your character commits an immoral act in pursuit of his defining V irtue, the Storyteller may allow you to add a +1 modifier to your degeneration roll. Higher modifiers are possible if the Storyteller feels that your character is compelled to sin in order to uphold his V irtue, but should never rise higher than +3.
It’s possible to reverse your character’s slide into damnation and insanity through concerted effort and contrition. The road is long and difficult, though.
A character’s Morality trait can be increased primarily by spending experience points, but Morality can be increased by only one point at any given time. See p. 35 for the experience points required to achieve each Morality rating. Storytellers are encouraged to require that characters demonstrate the desire to redeem themselves with concrete acts of contrition before a Morality increase is warranted. A good rule of thumb is to encourage character actions that aspire to the highest level of Morality that the player wants his character to attain. A moral existence is much more about the journey than the destination, after all. Typically, the best time to allow experience points to be spent on increasing Morality is at the end of a story, but exceptions can always be made for significant character actions between chapters or even scenes.
When a derangement is assigned to a Morality point, that ailment is overcome when the next, higher point is gained. The experience spent to gain a Morality dot represents your character’s efforts to come to terms with her sin and thus free herself of her condition. She might also undergo treatment or simply forgives herself.
When making a degeneration roll, use only the dice pool associated with the sin committed. Likewise, when rolling Morality to check for a derangement, do not add other Attributes, traits or bonuses and do not apply any penalties. You may not spend Willpower to gain a +3 modifier on either kind of roll.
Failure: On a degeneration roll, your character loses the struggle to maintain his standards of behavior when faced with the reality of his sin. He loses one dot of Morality. On a failed Morality roll, he gains a derangement.
Success: Your character emerges from his crisis of conscience with his sense of right and wrong intact. His Morality is unchanged and he remains as sane as before.
Exceptional Success: Your character re-dedicates himself to his convictions in the wake of his sin, learning or growing from the deeds he has committed. Not only does his Morality remain unchanged on a degeneration roll, he gains a point of Willpower (which cannot exceed his Willpower dots). No special bonuses are gained for an exceptional Morality roll when testing for a derangement.