House Rules: General

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These are general clarifications, interpretations, and changes we've made to cWoD 20th Anniversary Edition. Most of these rules deal with corner cases. The more important or broad something is, the higher on the list it will appear.


This section is for rules that are worded in ways which require specific interpretations and are policy here on FtA.


We will be using the 20th Anniversary Edition mechanic for Specialties. Namely, rather than causing the player to roll an additional die, each 10 on a roll where a Specialty applies adds 2 successes instead of one. Rolled 1s do not cancel dice, they cancel successes, so a roll with one 1 and one exploded-10 has a net +1 successes.

Masochism Flaw

This 2 point flaw is worded very poorly everywhere it has appeared. Since Changeling still runs using revised, we still have some revised flaws in. The Masochism Flaw, thusly, should be interpreted as raising the difficulty to soak physical harm to 7. There are some limits. Bashing is always soaked at 7 until the character is unconscious. Lethal is soaked at the higher difficulty so long as the source is not recognized as a threat-to-life, until the -2 wound penalty has been attained. (Masochistic doesn't mean suicidal, at some point the desire to feel pain is overwhelmed by the desire to keep on breathing.) Aggravated damage is always soaked at diff 6. If a masochist is wearing armor, two soak rolls are made. The armor will do it's job at difficulty 6 no matter what the opinions of the wearer are.

Natural Linguist Merit

This merit gives you two languages for the price of one. During character generation that means you get two Language merits for each freebie you spend. After character generation, when spending XP, each Language merit costs only 1XP. All other systems related to this merit remain as written in the book (M20 Book of Shadows p45).

House Rules

This section is for rules that do not meet our theme, are mechanically ineffectual, or generally just need to not be as they are written.

Difficulties Above 9

Because of the way probabilities work, difficulty 10 means that any given die is 80% likely to do nothing, 10% likely to botch and 10% likely to help. In other words, an additional die on the roll is equally likely to hurt as it is to help, it's essentially a coin flip. Generally speaking additional dice are meant to represent additional skill or ability. At difficulty ten, then, more skill doesn't actually make you more successful, it just makes your results swing more violently. This is contrary to our desired behavior so we are abolishing difficulty 10.

Instead we will use the Threshold System. When you encounter difficulties higher than 9 the difficulty is reduced to 9. For every step higher than 9 that the difficulty would have been, the roll now requires an additional success. These additional successes are known as the threshold. For example:

A difficulty 10 roll now becomes
Difficulty 9, Threshold 1. It requires 2 successes to begin being successful at this task.
A difficulty 11 roll now becomes
Difficulty 9, Threshold 2. 3 successes are required.
A difficulty 14 roll now becomes
Difficulty 9, Threshold 5.
A difficulty 9 roll facing +2 diff becomes
Difficulty 9, Threshold 2 (As it would've been Difficulty 11).

You subtract the threshold from the number of successes rolled and then resolve the roll as normal. Failing to meet the threshold does not result in a botch, even if the number of successes is, ostensibly, negative. So long as there was one successful die, the worst result a character can face is a simple failure.

Combat Mechanics

Main Article: Combat Mechanics

We use a moderate modification to World of Darkness' combat system. In actual use and implementation we have found the combat system to be too 'kill focused' and built around hit-point races rather than good storytelling. We have developed a new system that has as much overlap with the old way of doing things as possible. This system was developed in consultation with soldiers and martial arts instructors - people who know a thing or two about what a fight is really like. Concessions have been made to streamline the reality into a workable system for a role playing game. The whole thing, printed, fits on three pages and that's with examples and details that most people don't need. You can find those rules on the Combat Mechanics page.


Main Article: Backgrounds

Aside from their basic game functions, there are two mechanics around backgrounds that are important to understand for play on From The Ashes: pooling and taxing.

Pooling is the gathering of common types of resources (money, equipment) and abstract scores (Node, Totem, Kinfok, etc) to increase their potency. While many applications of the pooling systems laid down in 20th are obviated by our taxing system, there are still situations where this is important. Race-specific groups (Cabals, Packs, Motleys) are eligible to pool backgrounds subject to ST review.

Taxing is a system meant to represent the long-term commitment of resources to projects. Your allies, kinfolk, retainers, even your money, can't be everywhere at once. Certain projects will require focusing resources on the problem for extended periods of time - during which time, access to those resources is diminished. We call such backgrounds 'taxed.' Taxation is given as a number of dots for a period of time. Most often, the dots return after the designated time regardless of success or failure (though risky investments can backfire).


Main Article: Influence

The Influence background and its associated mechanics have been overhauled to avoid three main complaints with how influence has been handled on other games:

  1. There is little reason to do anything with influence other than attack someone else's influence.
  2. Once someone has attained a solid lead in the influence race, there's very little reason for later comers to the game to bother playing at all, favoring older characters rather than more influential characters.
  3. Influence scores allow too many people to have obscene pools and be capable of doing whatever they like, damaging the plausibility of the setting.

As such, From The Ashes' Influence rules have the following attributes:

  1. To counter the constant attacking
    1. Attacking carries higher risks
    2. The 'utility' action allows minor benefits that mimics Contacts, Allies, Backup, Requisition, Fame, and other backgrounds depending upon the sphere of influence.
  2. To counter the 'first past the post' effect
    1. Influence is subject to decay pressure, requiring maintenance. If you don't maintain your influence, it withers.
    2. The more influence you put behind an action, and the more resistance it faces, the more social capital you expend in the process.
    3. Large, diverse coalitions are especially notorious for coming apart at the seams over seemingly minor disputes.
  3. To counter the general saturation of influence pools
    1. As above, but also: Influence actions are not necessarily based on the influence score.


We find that XP discounts are something that has a detrimental effect on game balance in a MU setting. Consequently, we do not permit the Instruction stat presented in the books.