Convictions - Coping Mechanisms

I’m toying with the idea of allowing my players the option of a single conviction not tied to a single living/breathing touchstone.

This Conviction would have to be a character flaw, a coping mechanism.

Something that when indulged in would generally have negative repercussions, or be perceived as negative by the people around them (I know, I’m repeating myself). This coping mechanism would largely have only one benefit, and that is to help reduce stains on their humanity.

That said, these coping mechanisms would not be absent a Touchstone per se, but have one of a more general nature. Coping mechanisms would be tied to an potentially deleterious behavior or substance that the character MUST indulge in before the end of the session (or at least a reasonable amount of time after their humanity is stained). These could include a compulsive act, or addiction to drugs and alcohol (imbibed though the kiss of course).

I think a good example could be found in a Requiem game I ran years ago, for a touchstone one player selected an antique powder mirror box, when stressed she would find herself opening up the box and going through the ritual of making herself presentable, typically at very inopportune times. In this case the coping mechanism would be compulsively tidying herself, while the touchstone was the mirror. She has very easy access to her coping mechanism and she had a little leeway in when she had to indulge, but this is countered by the fact that the touchstone is discrete and could easily be lost or destroyed.

If the flaw is a behavior that lacks a discrete touchstone it may be more secure from tampering, but come with other restrictions. If it is just a compulsive act it may need to be indulged in immediately following the stain regardless the repercussions, while something more general, like indulging in sexual addiction allows for more time to indulge, but may be out of reach within a reasonable amount of time.

Overindulging or doing so at a particularly bad time could incur stains too, though as a storyteller, I try to avoid being punitive, I want to encourage role-play, not punish it. Of course, any time a player selects such a conviction they would have to discuss it with the storyteller, sorting out what it is, what’s the touchstone, how vulnerable it is to interference and observation, and how soon they must indulge to gain the benefits.

  • Do you have an opinion/thoughts on such an option?
  • Do you see potential problems, assuming players trust their storyteller?
  • Have you done something similar in your V5 game? Or like me, in a V:tR game?
  • Any ideas on refining this concept? (I apologize, I had to write it up in a hurry)

Would this conviction be able to be used to heal aggravated damage on the character’s willpower as well as reduce the stains of a tenet breach?

My initial thoughts are, Neat. This does seem like a fun house rule and though I may not use it it does seem to be a cool thing for a game to use. In my game, I would have a player or two that would try to break it and have something that did not impact them as much as the reduction of stains would give them so I would not use it in my game, but your troupe and you yourself sound more adept with this type of rule’s usage since you have already done this before.

I would say go for it and let us know how it goes. Thanks for the share.

I forgot about healing Aggravated Willpower damage, you sent me on an impromptu reread of the relevant sections. Yes, when exercised to “uphold such a Conviction against their own best interest” they have the potential to heal Aggravated Willpower damage.

It’s true, my players could abuse this house rule, but I believe its important I have to trust them almost as much as I need them to trust me as their storyteller. I think the important part with an element like this is to discuss and work out the details with the player so we both have a common understanding when and how they must use such coping mechanism in order to reduce Stains and Willpower damage. And when it is unclear, it is my job as storyteller to clarify for them.

It also doesn’t hurt that many of the negative consequences can and often will reside within the narrative and setting of our chronicle, it is a world of darkness after all. So a player may find they can use their mechanism discretely and with little immediate danger, but use over time may become noticed, inviting outside abuse or derision. If a player creates a coping mechanism I would warn them of any relevant personal or social consequences I might anticipate.

With character creation almost complete, it appears unlikely I will be giving coping mechanisms a try. My players were quite keen on adopting proper Convictions for their PCs, even if they were a little less keen on adopting human Touchstones, but they stepped up when I insisted they do so.

I must admit I really enjoyed adding these mortals to the relationship map, something I have never done for a game before. Each new SPC (is that the term? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ) seemed to flesh out the world, and give me additional . . . threads, for my imagination to tug on.

I think one reason my players were so firm in forming their convictions may have something to do with the slightly vague approach I took towards Chronicle Tenets, and my inclination to use them as means of encouraging genre emulation. If I can overcome my own mental inertia, I’ll see about typing up a separate thread on the topic.

That all said, I have one player yet to finish her PC, and she is leaning into the Gothic trope of The Double, it may be ideal fodder for the Coping Mechanism, we’ll have to see.