Tuesday, June 30, 2020

V5: Ground Anchor

There's too much stress in my day job, so it's time again to geek out about something I like: vampires and role-playing games. 

In Vampire:the Masquerade, there's a vampiric Discipline (suite of supernatural abilities) called Potence. In previous editions, Potence was boringly simple: each point you had in it (and Disciplines run from 1 to 5) gave you an automatic success* at any strength based test, including damage.
* OK so short version: You have a pool of dice which you roll, typically your attribute plus your skill. Each of those has a rating of 1-5, so player characters end up rolling between 1 and 10 dice depending on how buff and how skilled they are. The average difficulty is 6 or better on a 10 sided die, so that's 50% chance of success on each die. The more dice you roll, the greater your chance to succeed and the greater your chance to succeed well, as 1 success is "barely" and 5 is "amazing" and 10 is probably "godlike".

Let's say you're a moderately fighty character with Strength 3, Brawl 3, and Potence 3. You would roll 6 dice, count up how many of them were 6 or better, and then you would add three because of Potence. Stupidly simple, but brutally effective as a combat focused character could end up rolling fifteen dice
But all of that is old style. V5 does away with that and replaces them with a suite of abilities which scale in power. For example, at Potence level 1 you could choose the power Lethal Body, which enables you to ignore increasing amounts of armor and deal deadly damage with your punches and kicks... or you can pick Soaring Leap, which enables you to jump 3 times your Potence rating in meters straight up and 5 times that horizontally.

Most of Potence is like this: you can pick an obvious combat power, or you can pick a utility "feat of strength" power. I like that, especially since the character I play is a priest who is trying really, really hard to be a pacifist.

However, there's only one second-level Potence power, which is Prowess and that basically repeats the old version of Potence of adding that value to their damage and feats of strength. I didn't want that for my character, so I came up with a utility power for second level:
Level 2 Potence: Ground Anchor
Channeling inhuman strength into their legs, hips, and back, the user can absorb the force of a landing after falling from a great height. This strength can also be used to resist being toppled or pushed back by another.
Cost: One Rouse Check
Dice Pool: Dexterity or Strength + Athletics
System: So long as the user succeeds on the Dexterity + Athletics roll to land on their feet, they can absorb without injury the impact of a landing up to 100 times their Potence level in meters. (Due to terminal velocity, at Potence level 5 the user can survive a fall from any distance.) However, this energy must go somewhere, and so whatever the user lands on immediately suffers the effect of falling damage, which is one level of Superficial damage per meter of fall (core book, p.409). The user may also add their Potence rating to any Strength + Athletics roll to resist being pushed back or knocked over by another; however, this does require a firm foothold to work.
Duration: One scene 

Google Docs version here

One of the things which I like about this power is that it segues nicely into the third Potence ability Uncanny Grip, which is where "Focusing their unnatural strength into their toes and fingers, the vampire grips and burrows their extremities into almost any surface, enabling them to climb and even hang otherwise unsupported from walls and ceilings." There's a logical progression: Leap far distances, then fall further distances safely, then spider climb or hang on. Yes, it sounds a bit super-heroic, but it makes narrative sense.

I also like the punny name. You can anchor yourself to the ground... or you can plummet to the ground and bury yourself into it, like an anchor hitting the sea floor. If Cassidy had this power in the first episode of Preacher, he wouldn't have ended up like this:

Finally, to answer the expected question: While I find it highly unlikely that you would actually be able to hit someone with this, as there is no effective way to steer while plummeting to the ground, there's always someone who is going to try it. Well, guess what? There's already a to-hit roll baked into the activation (Dexterity + Athletics). Set the difficulty to the target's Dexterity + Dodge and if you beat it, you hit!

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