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Humanity loss and stains

Just setting up a new chronicle and so far I am enjoying the 5th edition rules. Humanity however is giving me pause…

How do other storytellers handle stains for instance. What causes a stain? Just bonding or embracing mortals and slights against touchstones?

If you have a humanity 7 vampire who kills a mortal she gains one or two (maybe) stains…
If you kill 10 mortals, how many stains do you get??

My thoughts are also that the lower the humanity, say 3 or 4, the descriptions say they could care less about mortals for the most part and that “Hey, Deaths happen”… Why would they even get any stains at all for a normal kill of a mortal, say when feeding or the like?

I guess I’m just looking for rules clarifications on Humanity and Stains, or even others house rules they are using. I would have liked a chart or something similar to the old humanity chart from previous editions to kind of gauge what may trigger a stain.

Is it your first Vampire game or are you privy to Vampire and just asking for V5 clarifications?

Here’s my take on humanity and stains:

The higher your humanity is, the more guilt you will feel due to negative actions. Stains represent this guilt.

So if you have humanity of 9 then you can only get a single stain before becoming overwhelmed with guilt. This triggers the remorse test roll. If you succeed in the test, then you forgive your actions THIS TIME and remove all stains. If you fail the roll, then you lose one point in humanity and remove all stains.

At 8 humanity you can get two stains before the remorse test is triggered. Same rolls and results apply.

Humanity 7 you can collect 3 stains, and so on and so forth.

This is how I employ forced remorse tests.

Other options: allow players to roll remorse as soon as they get stains, or roll remorse at the end of the night.

For voluntary remorse rolls, the player gets to roll as many dice as they have unmarked blanks in the humanity tracker. So a humanity 7 vampire with 1 stain, would roll 2 dice trying to get a single success. A humanity 3 vampire with 1 stain would roll 6 dice trying to get a single success.

Thus, a lower humanity rating means you can do more deplorable acts before actually feeling bad about it, or before it actually reduces your humanity further.

There’s a chart for humanity on the story tellers screen that breaks down the bonuses and banes by humanity rating as well.

Personally, I do not give stains for feeding alone. If vampires drain a vessel completely, killing them, then they get a stain for that. Not for feeding. Then how do they dispose of the body? If they bury the body, that’s a respectable action, no additional stains. But if they throw the body in the river, in a mine shaft or something along those lines… That’s desecration of a corpse, so they get additional stains depending on their actions.
Basically speaking, anything a character blatantly does that actually makes them seem monstrous, can result in a stain. ie…breaking into an orphanage at midnight just to scare all the kids would get you a stain at my table.

I hope this helps answer your question.

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Nope. Not my first. Been playing since 91… :slight_smile:

I am however a rules guy. I like to have some sort of outline that both myself and the players can refer to. Played all the other versions and actually liked the old humanity (and path) charts. So far I am really liking the 5th edition and am really looking for clarification if there is one.

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That’s a good way to interpret the rules as set out. And it does help a fair bit. Thanks.

What about regaining humanity?

The reason I ask is that we are currently converting some of our favorite characters over from the third edition and I have one player whose humanity is currently 5. She is quite old and has had her humanity erode over time regardless of her trying to fight the beast and keep herself “human”.

The book states that it is up to the storyteller to determine if it is even possible, which I feel it can be, but that xp cost (10x the new level) is extremely high. I like the idea of vampires trying to redeem themselves over time.

My thoughts are that when she awakens in this era I’ll allow her to begin making human ties to the world, try to better those she comes into contact with and see where that goes. She has a very powerful enemy that likes to twist her actions and take or corrupt what she holds dear though. Not sure what I should do beyond that though.

Again, my bane is I like rules… The more official the better. I find it almost impossible to put something in a game unless there are rules somewhere for it… :confused:

One thing to note about Humanity is that, a lot of it is predicated on your Chronicle Tenets as well. Unlike prior editions where there was a flat, hierarchy of sins, V5 models the ‘common morality’ as well as the thematics of the game via the Chronicle Tenets.

The Chronicle Tenets are meant to be designed in a way that supports the playstyle of the chronicle being run. It talks about this in the section in the book. A Humanist chronicle where lives matter and the vampires balk at killing might have ‘Don’t kill except in self-defense’ while a street war mafia John Wick-style game might have other tenets that don’t apply to killing because, well, killing is a thing that you have to do. This should’ve been something discussed when the group was designing the Tenets for your chronicle.

There are also other ways that Stains can happen besides what you mentioned, as well, such as the effects from truly monstrous actions (this is mentioned in the book, and further illustrated in powers like Brutal Feed or Cauldron of Blood; basically the concept is supremely monstrous acts should give stains). A Messy Critical giving a Stain would need to be appropriate to the scenario, to use an example of a Stain outside of the Tenets; for example, you might Messy Critical and brutally tear out a dude’s spine (to use an example from the book). That’s beyond just simple killing, that’s a heinous and MONSTROUS action. That’s why a Messy Critical has so many options, because it’s meant to be tailored to the situation that the Critical occurred.

The book doesn’t assume the ‘no killing’ as a Chronicle Tenet, but it does seem to assume monstrous actions that incite the Beast should be Stains.


To regain humanity, vampires have to do something very special. Something not self serving. Something to better the human condition in some way. Think of things like setting up an orphanage or establishing a hospital in a poverty stricken area. Something that they may get a little recognition, but ultimately is designed to help humans…not vampires.

Old vampires reemerging into society can regain humanity by aquiring new touchstones. By devoting themselves to new populations of people they can reconnect with their lost humanity as well.

Kinda like when your touchstone dies a natural death, you can take on one of their children/grandchildren as your touchstone.

The issue with these of course is the difficulty that a vampire might face in dealing with humans, when humans may see them as monsters, based on their low humanity ratings.

The Cults of the Blood Gods book that just finished Kickstarter introduces various religious paths that a kindred may follow. These should be familiar territory with your experience in previous editions.

Thanks a lot for your responses guys, they really helped me see things in a new way as opposed to my old gaming habits. :smiley: :+1:

Part of my issue was that I had yet tot decide on the chronicle tenets with my players. As they all have a fairly set play style and long history with these characters it shouldn’t be too hard to set out the framework.

Like elmerg pointed out, the chronicle tenets are the new hierarchy of sins for V5, and thus the rules you are looking for. With the assumption of three tenets per chronicle, the list should be relatively easy to remember/track, and they apply equally to all PCs regardless of their Humanity (the Stain mechanic and remorse roll serve to differentiate the degree to which a sin is likely to affect them).

An advantage to Chronicle Tenets is they can be molded to your chronicle, emphasizing mood, theme, and types of gameplay; adjust how severe or open you want your hierarchy of sins to be; and be used to help emulate genre, mediums(?), and moralities.

But don’t forget Convictions.

Convictions are the other half of the coin. This is were each character forms their own personal morality. If a PC incurs stains, but was fallowing a conviction, it can reduce the number of stains they receive, potential reducing it to zero.

I’m unsure if it is in the rules, but in my chronicle, my PCs can I incur stains for violating their convictions too, though this is more self enforced by the players, so I need not remember each PC’s Convictions.

As the system is now, I think Convictions are the best tool for representing Path or Roads of Enlightenment in V5, with tenets aiding too if all PCs follow the same path. As the system grows and develops I’m hoping Loresheets, and perhaps even alternate rules for touchstones, to help to better differentiate these Paths.

Note that what’s considered right and wrong is based on the Chronicle Tenets as well as the actions noted specifically in the Humanity section. You get stains for violating those. I REALLY love the Chronicle Tenets aspect as it means the GM and players can dictate what the gaming group considers to be right and wrong and add the ‘wrong’ as Chronicle Tenets to keep in check.

Your character’s Convictions allow him to violate Tenets at a reduced price. So if your character was a street vigilante and has the Conviction “All criminals must be punished!”, then his two stain violation from torturing and killing a criminal might drop down to just 1 stain as his actions are aligned with his core beliefs.

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That makes sense. The biggest beef I had with old Humanity was that some of the items were out of order for the character I was playing. X meant more to them, while Y meant less, etc…

V5 is certainly more steamlined and forgiving when it comes to Humanity checks. I don’t how it is in V20, but up to Revised, you’d have to roll for Humanity loss for doing something as banal as stealing. Needless to say, many if not most GMs sort of hand waved those kind of transgressions. V5 on the the other hand only makes you incur stains if you break the chronicle tenets, which in most cases is the Humanist one that says no killing innocents and no torture. On top of things that automatically cause stains like embracing people.

If you have humanity 7 and kill 10 people just deduct a humanity point straight up.

V20 is just Revised’s rules reprinted with some cleanups, so it’s the same there. The big change between pre-V5 and V5 is the hierarchy of sins; Humanity now is more ‘How Much You Are Not The Beast’ and old Humanity was an objectively moral ‘be a good person’ scale. Old humanity also had issues that you’d become inured to certain acts at lower levels of Humanity, so at some point you could mass-murder and it wouldn’t effect humanity at all.