Sanctity of Merits and PvP

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Sanctity of Merits and PvP

Post by magus666 » Wed May 18, 2016 7:31 pm

So, something occurred to me, and it's a little troubling, and falls somewhere along the same lines as the discussion regarding Death XP Bonus, but I think is actually more relevant. It deals with the "Sanctity of Merits".

In basic form, and as presented in the books, Sanctity of Merits makes sense. You've earned a certain number of XP, and spent some of it on Merits. Now, through IC circumstances, one (or more) of those merits are lost. Should you lose the XP as well? That doesn't usually seem fair, and Sanctity of Merits addresses that, by refunding the XP for the lost merit, which can then be spent on other things. So far, so good, right?

I think that an issue occurs when dealing with PvP scenarios. Although PvP is/has been a relatively rare thing in the past, in 5.0, with the addition of more effective social maneuvering, changes in the way Status works, the house Territory system, as well as just the natural tensions that might occur with the more open cross-venue play, it MAY become a more important factor. Consider the following scenario-

I am a mid-level xp PC in...whatever venue (it's irrelevant). I have a rival who has a lot more XP than I do, but through excellent RP, planning, downright ruthlessness and some luck, I manage to ruin his reputation (lost Status), bankrupt him (lost Resources), alienate his allies (lost Allies, Retainers, Contacts, etc), and even have him evicted from his home (lost Safe Space/Sanctum/whatever). I have really succeeded in defeating my rival!! Haven't I? Well....

Yes and no. Sure, I have deprived him of all those merits...for now. But thanks to Sanctity of Merits, I have also just GIVEN him a whole handful of XP that he can now use to buy other merits, abilities and attributes with which to take his revenge. That MIGHT be reasonable with the genre, but it does raise a question - why wouldn't I then just KILL my rival and be done with it? Yes there are moral issues there, but in a "real world" scenario, you might reasonably assume that a thoroughly beaten rival is going to have a very hard time recovering from the losses you inflicted on him. But in the game system, you KNOW that he has all those "free XP" now that he WILL use to rebuild. And while some PCs might try to rebuild their fortunes and status to ruin me in return, others will go Mad Max and start spending those XP on ways to KILL ME. So if I am willing to leave my rival homeless, penniless, friendless, etc...isn't it in my best interest to take the probable breakpoint, and just get rid of him permanently and save myself the future trouble?

All that considered, might it not be logical to suggest that for ST or storyline caused losses, XP should be refunded in full....BUT...for losses from PvP XP are only recouped at 50% (if at all)? Then, all that work that I did to damage my rival actually DOES damage him, not just force him to rearrange some XP for a few weeks and come up with a couple new justifications for things.
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Post by Hail Satan » Wed May 18, 2016 8:55 pm

"My opponent might get revenge!" well...yeah. That's part of the pro's and con's a character must weigh before they take that action.

"Why wouldn't my PC just kill him?" I feel that's more of a character motivation question than a system issue. If your character honestly believes that his actions against another character might end up blowing up in his face then they need to decide if it's worth that risk or worth the extra step to ensure it doesn't

changing the system in order to cut off narrative possibility sounds like a bad idea to me. Ideally we want to be in a place where the story continues and the sanctity of merits allows that. I could maybe see an argument where we should just get rid of Sanctity of Merits all together and go back to our old school ways but I'm not for having it only apply in one situation and not another. Either universal or not at all.
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Post by praetor » Wed May 18, 2016 8:59 pm

If i am not mistaken, "Sanctity of merits" applies to losses forced upon the player through ST interactions.

It has no bearing on PvP situations where the ST's SL didn't have any effect on the situation.
Last edited by praetor on Wed May 18, 2016 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Falco1029 » Wed May 18, 2016 9:26 pm

I don't think the system needs to be changed. "My PVP isn't punishing enough" seems like a poor motivation for a house ruling.
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Post by Wolfpact » Wed May 18, 2016 9:35 pm

Sanctity of Merits is sacred and inviolate, and not 'exempted' by PvP.

Anything else is, simply, griefer bait and draws the exact worst sort of player.

If PvP feels pointless? Good. That discourages people from indulging in it.
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Post by Ephsy » Wed May 18, 2016 10:40 pm

The only circumstance in which I can see players actually losing the myriad social merits you enumerated there is actually murdering the characters that embody them. Killed body-guards, killed allies, killed contacts, etc. A single one of those murders is likely enough to ignite a feud that would put the PC who initiated it on a kill list. Even the loss of resources is enough to entertain murderous thoughts. The best you can hope for to prevent escalation is to restrict your activities to blocking merits instead of outright stripping them. Which ultimately makes for a more interesting story than "And then I killed him" at any rate.
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Post by praetor » Wed May 18, 2016 11:58 pm

You do kind of neuter a "side effect" of PvP if you start just granting back the points involved that you lost for getting involved in said PvP.

Mind you I only think this for justified PvP, not just when someone decides they don't like your face and goes after you wholesale for no reason.

I am, assuming, the ST's would drop a hammer on that activity to begin with.

Otherwise it seems likely you started it, are a target of it, or got maneuvered into it by someone else.

You shouldn't be rewarded or reimbursed for getting involved in PvP and losing.

Its kinda nonsensical to have a person lose some merits, and suddenly come back stronger in an area they were weak in before just cause they got rewarded for losing a fight in PvP. Which is EXACTLY what that is: "You lost so, here's a reward. Enjoy!"

The point in PvP is almost always, at the minimum to weaken an enemy, beat them down; if not outright kill them.

This isn't an MMO where you die and all your crap drops on the ground and can only be touched by you when you respawn.

You got involved, and you lost, you lose something.

Next time be more careful about how you behave and who you are willing to anger.
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Post by Hail Satan » Thu May 19, 2016 3:36 am

praetor wrote:You do kind of neuter a "side effect" of PvP if you start just granting back the points involved that you lost for getting involved in said PvP.

Mind you I only think this for justified PvP, not just when someone decides they don't like your face and goes after you wholesale for no reason.
I feel this is just ignoring the story of the conflict that comes from the PvP and makes it out to be just random killing.
You shouldn't be rewarded or reimbursed for getting involved in PvP and losing.

Its kinda nonsensical to have a person lose some merits, and suddenly come back stronger in an area they were weak in before just cause they got rewarded for losing a fight in PvP. Which is EXACTLY what that is: "You lost so, here's a reward. Enjoy!"

The point in PvP is almost always, at the minimum to weaken an enemy, beat them down; if not outright kill them.
"You lost so, here's a reward. Enjoy" is not at all what this is. There is no rule in the book or on Wanton 4.0 or any rule suggested for Wanton 5.0 that when a character is lost due to PvP they should be reimbursed. The rule is that if you lose merits, you get that XP back. It just so happens that there's a number of different ways to lose merits including pvp.
This isn't an MMO where you die and all your crap drops on the ground and can only be touched by you when you respawn.

You got involved, and you lost, you lose something.
They do lose something, those merits.
Next time be more careful about how you behave and who you are willing to anger.
This is just an extremely toxic mind set that takes the entire IC story of the PvP and drags it OOC needlessly.
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Post by praetor » Thu May 19, 2016 7:11 am

"You lost so, here's a reward. Enjoy" is not at all what this is."
The reference was in terms of Merits since this is what the topic is about.

And yes if you lose them and then get something back for having done so. You are being rewarded for a loss; instead of actually, you know, losing something.

Kinda part of what the word loss, means.
"This is just an extremely toxic mind set that takes the entire IC story of the PvP and drags it OOC needlessly."
PvP is toxic, IC, and should be toxic. When you play your PC you should be wary of the concept of it and be prepared to think before you act. All of this should actually be a consideration, for IC. If you are taking it OOC, then there is something wrong, it's just a game.
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Post by Ephsy » Thu May 19, 2016 7:20 am

When the books talk about sanctity of merits they speak about reimbursing merits directly, with the caveat that they cannot be the same merits lost. Making the ruling reimburse XP instead means that the character still have to justify stuff. It also means those are tied to the ST's schedule. It also means that acting in such a fashion, covertly is akin with trying to get away with murder.
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Post by magus666 » Thu May 19, 2016 10:01 am

It just so happens that there's a number of different ways to lose merits including pvp.
Actually, no. In game, there are really only two ways to lose merits (or three if "cashing in" merits is allowed, but this isn't really "losing" it). The loss of merits is only going to occur through the action of a Storyteller (directly, or in a storyline), or through the action of another Player (PvP). In the real world, losses can happen accidentally, but this simply does not occur in game. Your house (Sanctum) doesn't burn down, a friend (Retainer, Mentor, Ally) doesn't get hit by a bus on the street, you don't lose your income (Resources) because you are laid off from your job. Or to be more accurate, these things won't happen EXCEPT through the action of a ST or PC.

If it is through the actions of a ST, then sure, refunding the XP is fine. Why? Because the ST is effectively God within the game, with near omniscience and near omnipotence, and so can set things up any way they like. It would be distinctly unfair for the ST to say....well, your 5 dot Mentor was just run over by a bus, so you lost the mentor AND the xp you spent for it.

On the other hand, in a PvP situation, this is an issue. First of all, saying PvP is bad or toxic or whatever is just plain silly. In a setting like the chat, PvP situations occur CONSTANTLY. PvP stands for Player vs Player. ANY situation in which two or more PCs are competing or in any sort of conflict, be it physical, mental, or social, is a PvP situation. It does not have to involve any sort of violence, and could even potentially be a sort of "friendly" rivalry. Two PCs playing poker or chess (with something actually at stake) is a PvP situation.

In a situation where one PC is trying to remove merits from another, it is very likely NOT friendly at all, but it certainly does not have to involve violence, or even suggest it. The "damaged" PC MAY consider violent retribution, but that is dependent on the character.

No, the "loser" in a PvP situation like this is not being "rewarded" for losing, and yes, they do "lose" the merit. But by being given back full XP value of any merits lost, they are not being "weakened" in any significant way, which is very probably at LEAST a secondary goal of attacking someones merits. IE, even if my goal is to get myself promoted, I probably don't want to leave my rival in a situation where he can easily counterattack me. And if my opponent is more powerful (more XP) than I am, this mechanic guarantees that he will always BE more powerful than I am, no matter what actions I take or how successful they may be.

Of COURSE my rival would want to take revenge. It's perfectly logical and thematic for him to want to do so. What ISN'T logical is for him to be able to immediately do so with the full weight of his XP (including now, the ability to reallocate whatever XP were refunded from the lost merit) when my goal (which, theoretically, I SUCCEEDED at) was to weaken him.

Conditions, be they permanent or lingering, could modify this a bit. Certainly if I wanted to ruin an rivals reputation (remove Status), I could also attempt to apply a Condition like Notoriety, which would then give him a -2 on appropriate social rolls. But most conditions like that are only effective until resolved, and then we are back to the same situation, in which my rival has the full weight of his XP to throw back (plus a little from resolving the Condition!)
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Post by BloodyQuill » Thu May 19, 2016 2:08 pm

You seem to think your defeated rival would be able to instantly spend that xp... they probably wouldn't be able to. If you really want so e mechanical ic for it the new condition system seems perfectly suited for this. For example maybe if you lose at some pop conflict they gain the Reeling condition which makes the so they can't spend xp for a time or until it's cleared.
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Post by magus666 » Thu May 19, 2016 2:59 pm

Well, the CoD core book in the section on sanctity of merits says -
At the end of any chapter where your character has lost Merits, you can replace them with another Merit.
So, no, that's not exactly "instantly", given that for the chat, a chapter is considered one month. That is, in fact, probably just about enough time for the player to come up with some justifications, write an xp request, and have it reviewed and approved by an ST. But instantly or not is not relevant, at least not on the time scale of a few weeks or a month.

Look at it this way (and this is not meant to be taken as a literal situation, PLEASE do not start picking apart this scenario). If my "rival" were a huge, thick, brick wall that want to prevent me from going where I want to go, I might take days or weeks (barring supernatural powers), to break my way through it, chipping at it over time until I finally broke a hole in it. Now I can get to where I need to go, without the wall in my way. A few days (or a month) later, I am walking through the hole in the wall, and step on a landmine. That landmine wasn't there before, was it?? No, but because I damaged part of the wall ( structure - a "merit" for the wall), it got the XP for that merit back and used them to buy a minefield (a different merit). Sure, the wall (as a sentient creature) might decide that I pissed it off, and that a minefield would be a good way to get back at me, but there should be SOME benefit to all the work I did getting through the wall in the first place. If it is simply allowed to say "well with those same XP, theres now a minefield, a different merit, but just as tough to get through as before and now might kill you", how have I benefited? And what loss has there been to the wall? Yes, it has a hole in it now, but in return, it got a minefield for free.

Now, as I said before, Conditions COULD help to fix this somewhat, but they would need to be persistent conditions that are not simply shrugged off with a simple one time resolution (I take an automatic Dramatic Failure, and the condition is gone.) Otherwise, again, you have not really weakened your rival, just simply inconvenienced him for a short time and he is going to be just as strong as he was before when he decides to take revenge. Notoriety (per the book) could be a good condition since it applies a -2 modifier to appropriate social rolls if you damaged your rival's Status, but it would have to be difficult to resolve. If you damaged your rivals Resources, perhaps an (improvised) Condition like "Debt Ridden" could work (in which all items have a +1 Availabilty Cost) but again, would have to take some time and effort to resolve.
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Post by GerryB » Thu May 19, 2016 4:06 pm

You scenario seems pretty organic and expected. The wall was broken they couldnt fix it all quick and so found another solution to keep themselves safe. They still had to work and do some story acrobatics to find a new solution to the problem created by someone 'breaking' their wall.

AND something that some people seem to be missing what if I keep a stash of unspent XP? It ends up being the same thing but now is 'okay' based on what peoples issues seem to be.

Also XP is not a IC issue. I dont think hey that super powerful vampire, I bankrupted him but he has so much XP it wont do much. No you think I might have bankrupted him but he still has alot of options (Boons jump to mind which he could use to instantly pretty much to rebuild his assets depending who owes him).

Making someone lose an outside of game thing (XP) for an IC thing seems strange to me. I feel like we'd also have to consider if people could get stuff for 'free'. That's technically an option in some games.
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Post by magus666 » Thu May 19, 2016 6:06 pm

Sure, as I said, the minefield is not an unreasonable, or inexplicable, development in that scenario. What is unreasonable, and inexplicable, is that is would appear with no effort on the part of the wall (or its owners).

Yes, XP are a sort of OOC thing, but then again...they're not. Yes, XP are an OOC bookkeeping method, but what they REPRESENT IC is very real. Gaining XP requires in character activity and work. (True, on the chat we get a certain number per week, but this is assuming that the character is at least minimally active.) Spending XP also requires in character activity in the form of justifications. (Yes, again, in 5.0, justifications are being done away with for 1 and 2 dot purchases, IIRC, but there is still the ASSUMPTION of activity.) That being the case, it's not really odd to lose it for IC reasons. Think of it like money. In reality, money has NO ACTUAL VALUE. Its just paper (cloth really). All it really is, is a bookkeeping method, like XP. 1 dollar represents a certain amount of work that we do, and with it, we are able to purchase a certain amount of goods or services. But while it is just a placeholder, it is still a real thing that can be effected by outside influences.

THAT is what I mean by "no effort on the part of the wall". No REAL XP that were earned are being expended, just the "free" ones given for the lost merit. Those XP were originally earned, but were SPENT on the original merit. Once that merit is lost, so is the work that went into it. If you want to rebuild that merit, or purchase a new one, it should take new work, new effort, and therefore, new XP. Otherwise, it's sort of like saying...well, my girlfriend (a Retainer?) of 3 years just broke up with me (and in an IC PvP situation, maybe another player manipulated her?). I put a lot of work and effort into that relationship. I'll just find another girl, start dating her, and it will be just like we've been going out for 3year since I ALREADY did all that work! Well, no, you didn't, not for THIS one. However - maybe she has a friend or cousin or something that you do know, have hung out with because of your ex, etc...so perhaps not ALL the work (that is...EXPERIENCE) is a TOTAL loss, and why I originally suggested that perhaps a percentage (50%?) of the value of a lost merit be recouped. Or, since your GF broke up with you, you now have more money to spend (Resources), or whatever. That's fine. I just think that a full return of 100% of the value of a lost merit...specifically in a PvP scenario...makes the whole thing relatively pointless.

But again, Conditions can make this a bit more worthwhile. If I can place a persistent Condition on you, like Swooned or Obsessed, now I have actually done something that WILL effect you for some time to come and make you "weaker".

As for the Vampire with lots of XP, that's a completely different issue. If a PC has a bunch of unspent XP, that's a bit like having a stash of hidden treasure. They HAVE earned those XP, and have already intentionally weakened THEMSELVES to some extent by NOT USING THEM, saving them for when they might need them. And as for other merits, boons, abilities, etc., that they might have...that is also mostly tangential to the subject. If the vampire is calling in favors, or whatever, to rebuild his assets, he has still been weakened since he then owes others, or has less favors owed to him in the future. Furthermore, if I am only attacking one aspect of a well positioned PC, that is MY problem for not knowing my target well enough, but still does not mean that they should be able to just shrug it off as if it was meaningless...which just handing back the XP basically does.
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