Last Updated 6/19/17
My biggest pet peeve about World of Darkness is how the rules and the fluff are inseparable. And I don’t mean that in the “I want to be able to make my own setting” sense, I mean that in the “I can’t tell where the fluff ends and the rules start” sense. Chronicles of Darkness has done a much better job putting their rules in one place and their fluff in another, but it’s still not perfect. The biggest culprit is the Merits.
I get that fluff text helps paint a picture of what a Merit looks like, but any competent Storyteller can come up with something. Merits are basically Feats, and I don’t see Pathfinder (shudder) waxing poetic about Cleave. Once you learn the setting in World of Darkness, all you really need is the rules, and they should be concise entries arranged in easily referenced columns.
So that’s what I did! I boiled down the Merits from Chronicles of Darkness and Hurt Locker that I liked, made sure they were compatible with New World of Darkness 1e, adapted them to my house rules, and then rewrote and reformatted them from the ground up.
The biggest change I made that I’m most proud of is how I categorized Merits. Instead of Mental, Physical, and Social, I use Background, Trait, and Combat:
- Background: Merits that represent advantages tied directly into the narrative. The Storyteller can bestow or revoke them at will.
- Trait: Merits that represent qualities inherent to your character, and skills that have been honed into instinct.
- Combat: Merits that represent your character’s preferred methods of inflicting violence.
Another change I’m proud of is getting rid of Style Merits. The writers of Chronicles of Darkness claimed to have excised all “empty” dots from the Merits, but they only shifted those dead dots into an emphasis on Style Merits. There’s a lot of duplicate maneuvers, and maneuvers nobody wants; it’s why they moved away from 1 to 5 supernatural powers starting with Demon: the Descent and Changeling: the Lost 2nd Edition.
I hope you appreciate how tightly written and formatted these Merits are. Expect updates as I start playtesting them with my group, as we embark on the second chapter of the most memorable Chronicle I’ve ever run!Download a PDF containing overhauled Merits here.