Beyond the Edge of Reason
Some Merits in this section have other Merits as prerequisites. These are refinements of form and additional areas of expertise. For example, Iron Skin requires Martial Arts ••. This means you must have two dots in Martial Arts before buying dots in Iron Skin.
Many Fighting Style Merits require a character to sacrifice their Defense. Defense cannot be sacrificed multiple times in a turn; this prevents certain maneuvers from being used together.
Armed Defense (• to •••••; Style)
Prerequisites: Dexterity •••, Weaponry ••
You’re able to use a weapon to stop people who are trying to kill you. Often deployed by police officers using riot shields or ASP batons, it’s just as effective with a chair leg.
|•||Cover the Angles: Whenever you take a Dodge action, reduce the Defense penalties for multiple attackers by 1. You can apply your full Defense against the first two attacks, suffer a –1 penalty against the third, and so on.|
|••||Weak Spot: You swing against your opponent’s arm rather than his own weapon. Use this ability when defending against an armed attacker. If your Defense reduces his attack pool to 0, he’s disarmed. If you Dodge, you disarm your opponent if your Defense roll reduces his attack successes to 0.|
|•••||Aggressive Defense: Anyone dumb enough to come near you is liable to get hurt. When you take a Dodge action, if you score more successes than any attacker, you deal one point of lethal damage to the attacker per extra success. Your weapon bonus doesn’t apply to this extra damage.
Drawback: You must spend a point of Willpower and declare that you are using Aggressive Defense at the start of the turn. You cannot combine this maneuver with Press the Advantage or Weak Spot.
|••••||Iron Guard: You and your weapon are one. At the start of each turn, you can choose to reduce your weapon bonus (down to a minimum of 0) to increase your Defense by a like amount. If you take a Dodge action, add your full weapon bonus to your Defense after doubling your pool.|
|•••••||Press the Advantage: You create an opening with a block and lash out with a fist or foot. When you’re taking a Dodge action, if your Defense roll reduces the attacker’s successes to 0, you can make an unarmed attack against that opponent at a −2 penalty. Your opponent applies Defense as normal.
Drawback: Spend a point of Willpower to make the attack. You can only make one attack per turn in this way.
Cheap Shot (••)
Prerequisites: Street Fighting •••, Subterfuge ••
Your character is a master at the bait and switch. She can look off in an odd direction and prompt her opponent to do the same, or she might step on someone’s toes to distract them. Either way, she fights dirty. Make a Dexterity + Subterfuge roll as a reflexive action. The opponent’s player contests with Wits + Composure. If you score more successes, the opponent loses his Defense for the next turn. Each time a character uses this maneuver in a scene, it levies a cumulative –2 penalty to further uses since the opposition gets used to the tricks.
Choke Hold (••)
Prerequisites: Brawl ••
If you can get your hands on someone, it’s over. When grappling, you can use the Choke move.
|•||Choke: If you rolled more successes than twice the victim’s Stamina, he’s unconscious for (six – Stamina) minutes. You must first have succeeded at a Hold move. If you don’t score enough successes at first, you can Choke your opponent on future turns and total your successes.|
Close Quarters Combat (• to •••••; Style)
Prerequisites: Wits •••, Athletics ••, Brawl •••
You know that hitting someone in the face is an easy way to break the little bones in your hand. To that end, you’ve perfected the art of using the environment to hurt people.
|•||Firing Lines: In some situations, your best option is a tactical retreat — especially if you’ve inadvertently brought a knife to a gunfight. You can run for cover as a reaction to a ranged attack instead of dropping prone (see “Going Prone,” pp. 164–165 of the World of Darkness Rulebook). You give up your action for the turn but can get to any cover that’s within twice your Speed.|
|••||Hard Surfaces: Bouncing someone’s head off a urinal, computer monitor, or a brick wall is a handy way to increase the amount of hurt inflicted while not breaking the aforementioned hand bones. When you’re grappling someone, you can bounce them off a hard surface with a Damage move. You deal lethal damage and immediately end the grapple.|
|•••||Armored Coffin: The problem with protection is simple: the very things that protect you can be turned against you. That holds true for body armor just as much as anything else. Sure, it blocks bullets and knives, but get in a clinch and you might as well be wearing a straightjacket. When you grapple an opponent, add their general armor rating to your dice pool. When you use a Damage move, ignore your opponent’s armor. This technique can’t be used in conjunction with Hard Surfaces.|
|••••||Prep Work: If you’ve got a second to look around, you could catch someone by surprise almost anywhere. When launching a surprise attack, your Dexterity + Stealth roll becomes a rote action.
Drawback: You can’t use this Merit to set up sniper attacks — your ambush must use Brawl or Weaponry.
|•••••||Turnabout: If you’re caught short in a fight, your opponent’s weapon suits you just fine. When you attempt to Disarm your opponent, step the results up one level — on a failure, your opponent drops the weapon. On a success, you take possession of your opponent’s weapon. On an exceptional success, you’ve got the weapon and your opponent takes two points of bashing damage.|
Fighting Finesse (••)
Prerequisites: Dexterity •••, a Specialty in Weaponry or Brawl
Choose a Specialty in Weaponry or Brawl when you purchase this Merit. Your character’s extensive training in that particular weapon or style has allowed them to benefit more from their alacrity and agility than their strength. You may substitute your character’s Dexterity for her Strength when making rolls with that Specialty.
This Merit may be purchased multiple times to gain its benefit with multiple Specialties.
Firefight (Style, • to •••)
Prerequisites: Composure •••, Dexterity •••, Athletics ••, Firearms ••
Your character is comfortable with a gun. She’s been trained in stressful situations and knows how to keep herself from being shot while shooting at her opponents. This Style is about moving, strafing, and taking shots when you get them. It’s not a series of precision techniques; it’s using a gun practically in a real-world situation.
|•||Shoot First: In a firefight, the person who gets shot first is usually the loser. Your character has trained herself to fire first in an altercation. If her gun is drawn, add her Firearms score to her Initiative. If she has Quick Draw, she can use Shoot First to draw and fire with increased Initiative in the first turn of combat.|
|••||Suppressive Fire: Sometimes, the purpose of a shot is to distract, not necessarily to hit. Your character is trained to fire off a handful of rounds with the intent to startle opponents and force impulse reactions. When using the Covering Fire maneuver (p. 200), her opponents cannot benefit from aiming against her. She can apply her Defense against incoming Firearms attacks in addition to any cover bonuses. As well, her training allows her to use Covering Fire with a semi-automatic weapon.|
|•••||Secondary Target: Sometimes shooting an opponent behind cover is all but impossible. A bullet can knock objects off balance, however, or cause ricochets. By using Secondary Target, your character opts to not hit her target but instead strike them with any collateral objects that might be nearby. She causes bashing damage instead of lethal, but ignores all cover penalties to the roll. The weapon’s damage rating does not add to the damage in this case.|
Grappling (Style, • to •••)
Prerequisites: Stamina •••, Strength ••, Athletics ••, Brawl ••
Your character has trained in wrestling or one of many grappling martial arts.
|•||Sprawl: Your character can adjust her weight to defend herself in a grapple. Add two to her Strength for the purposes of resisting overpowering maneuvers.|
|••||Takedown: Your character can take an opponent to the ground rapidly. With a normal roll, you may choose to render an opponent prone instead of establishing a grapple. You may also choose to cause bashing damage equal to the successes rolled.|
|•••||Joint Lock: Once in a grapple, your character can administer joint locks and other immobilizing tactics. Any attempt to overpower your character causes the other character a point of bashing damage. In addition, any successful overpowering maneuvers your character uses cause
1L damage in addition to their normal effects.
Heavy Weapons (Style, • to •••••)
Prerequisites: Stamina •••, Strength •••, Athletics ••, Weaponry ••
Your character is trained with heavy weapons that require strength, wide range, and follow-through more than direct speed and accuracy. This Style may be used with two-handed weapons such as a claymore, a chainsaw, a pike, or an uprooted street sign.
|•||Sure Strike: Your character doesn’t always hit the hardest or the most frequently, but you guarantee a deadly strike when you do hit. You can reflexively remove three dice from any attack dice pool (to a minimum of zero) to add one to your character’s weapon damage rating for the turn. These dice must be removed after calculating any penalties from the environment or the opponent’s Defense.|
|••||Threat Range: Your character’s weapon is immense and keeps opponents at bay. If you opt not to move or Dodge during your turn, any character moving into your character’s proximity suffers 1L damage and a penalty to their Defense equal to your character’s weapon damage rating. This penalty only lasts for one turn. This cannot be used in a turn the character is Dodging.|
|•••||Bring the Pain: Your character’s strikes stun and incapacitate as well as causing massive trauma to the body. Sacrifice your character’s Defense to use Bring the Pain. Make a standard attack roll. Any damage you score with Bring the Pain counts as a penalty to all actions the victim takes during their next turn. So, if you cause 4L damage, the opponent is at –4 on their next attack.|
|••••||Warding Stance: Your character holds her weapon in such a way as to make attacks much harder. If her weapon’s drawn, spend a point of Willpower reflexively to add her weapon’s damage rating as armor for the turn. This will not protect against firearms.|
|•••••||Rending: Your character’s cuts leave crippling, permanent wounds. By spending a Willpower point before making an attack roll, her successful attacks cause one point of aggravated damage in addition to her weapon’s damage rating. This Willpower point does not add to the attack roll.|
Improvised Weaponry (• to •••; Style)
Prerequisites: Wits •••, Weaponry •
Most people don’t walk around armed. While someone pulling a knife or a gun can cool a hostile situation down, it can also cause things to boil over — an argument that wouldn’t be more than harsh words suddenly ends up with three people in the morgue. If you’re on the receiving end of someone pulling a knife, it helps to have something in your own hand. You’re good at making do with what you’ve got. Sometimes, you’re lucky — if you’re in a bar, you’ve got a lot of glass bottles, maybe a pool cue to play with. But you’ve got something almost like a sixth sense for weaponry and can find one almost anywhere.
|•||Always Armed: You can always get your hands on something dangerous, and you’ve an instinctive understanding of how to put it to good — and deadly — use. At the start of your turn, make a reflexive Wits + Weaponry roll to grab an object suitable for use as a weapon in pretty much any environment. (The player is encouraged to work with the Storyteller to determine an appropriate item — a large, jagged rock in the wilderness, for example, or a heavy glass ashtray with one sharp, broken edge in a dive bar.) Regardless of what you pick up, the weapon has a +0 weapon modifier, −1 initiative penalty, Size 1, Durability 2, and Structure 4. On an exceptional success, increase the weapon modifier and Size by 1, but the initiative penalty increases to −2. Whatever you grab doesn’t suffer the normal −1 penalty for wielding an improvised weapon (see p. 205).|
|••||In Harm’s Way: You’ve got a knack for putting your weapon in the way of an oncoming attack, no matter how small or inappropriate for blocking it might be. While wielding an improvised weapon acquired with Always Armed, you can treat the Structure of your weapon as general armor against a single Brawl or Weaponry attack. Any damage you take inflicts an equal amount of damage to the improvised weapon, bypassing Durability. You can use the weapon to attack later in the same turn, but can only use this ability when applying your Defense to an attack.|
|•••||Breaking Point: One sure way to win a fight is to hit the other guy so hard that he doesn’t get back up, even if that means losing a weapon in the process. When making an all-out attack with an improvised weapon acquired with Always Armed, you can reduce the weapon’s Structure by any amount down to zero. Every two points of Structure spent in this way adds +1 to the weapon modifier for that one single attack. Declare any Structure loss before making the attack; this Structure is reduced even if the attack does no damage. If the weapon is reduced to zero Structure, it is automatically destroyed after the attack.
You can use this technique in conjunction with In Harm’s Way, allowing you to parry an attack made on a higher Initiative and then go on the offensive, provided that the weapon wasn’t destroyed.
Iron Skin (•• or ••••)
Prerequisites: Martial Arts •• or Street Fighting ••, Stamina •••
Through rigorous conditioning or extensive scarring, your character has grown resistant to harm. She can shrug off shots that would topple bigger fighters. She knows how to take a strike and can even move into a hit from a weapon to minimize harm. She gains armor against bashing attacks; one point of armor with ••, and two points of armor with ••••. By spending a point of Willpower when hit, she can downgrade lethal damage from a successful attack into bashing. Downgrade one point of lethal damage at ••, two points of lethal with ••••.
Light Weapons (Style, • to •••••)
Prerequisites: Wits ••• or Fighting Finesse, Dexterity •••, Athletics ••, Weaponry ••
Your character is trained with small hand-to-hand weapons that favor finesse over raw power. These maneuvers may only be used with one-handed weapons that have a damage rating of 2 or less.
|•||Rapidity: Your character moves with swiftness to find just the right spot to strike. You can sacrifice your character’s weapon damage rating to add her Weaponry score to her Initiative for the turn. The weapon becomes a 0 damage weapon for the turn.|
|••||Thrust: Your character knows when to defend herself and when to move in for the kill. At any time, you can sacrifice points of Defense one-for-one to add to attack pools. This cannot happen if you’ve already used Defense in the same turn. If you use this maneuver, you may not sacrifice your full Defense for any other reason. For example, you cannot use Thrust with an all-out attack.|
|•••||Feint: With a flourish in one direction, your character can distract an opponent for a cleaner, more effective follow-up strike. For example, if you Feint with a 2 damage weapon with three successes, the attack causes no damage. However, your next attack ignores five points of Defense, and causes three extra points of damage.|
|••••||Flurry: Your character moves quickly enough to stab opponents with numerous pricks and swipes in the blink of an eye. As long as your character has her Defense available to her (it’s not been sacrificed for another maneuver or denied from surprise, for example), any character coming into her immediate proximity takes one point of lethal damage. This damage continues once per turn as long as the enemy stays within range and occurs on the enemy’s turn. This can affect multiple opponents but cannot be used in a turn where the character is Dodging.|
|•••••||Vital Shot: Your character can use her smaller weapon to get past an opponent’s defenses and hit where it hurts most. Sacrifice your character’s Defense for the turn to use this maneuver. If the attack roll succeeds, the attack causes one point of aggravated damage in addition to the damage rating of the weapon.|
Marksmanship (Style, • to •••)
Prerequisites: Composure •••, Resolve •••, Firearms ••
When prepared and aimed, a gun is an ideal killing machine. Your character has trained to take advantage of the greatest features of any gun. This Style is often used with rifles, but it can be used with any type of firearm. Because of the discipline and patience required for Marksmanship, your character cannot use her Defense in any turn in which she uses one of these maneuvers. These maneuvers may only be used after aiming for at least one turn.
|•||Through the Crosshairs: Your character is a competent sniper, able to sit in position and steel her wits. Usually, the maximum bonus from aiming is three dice. With Through the Crosshairs, it’s equal to her Composure + Firearms.|
|••||Precision Shot: With this level of training, your character knows how to effectively disable a victim instead of focusing on the kill. When attacking a specified target, you may reduce your weapon’s damage rating one-for-one to ignore penalties for shooting a specified target (see p. 203).
For example, if you’re using a sniper rifle (4 damage weapon), and attacking an arm (–2 to hit), you could choose to use 3 damage reduce that to –1, or 2 damage to eliminate the penalty entirely.
|•••||A Shot Rings Out: A master sniper, your character has no worries or lack of confidence. She can fire into a crowd and strike a specific target without penalty. If she misses, it’s because her shot goes wide. She will never hit an unintended target.|
|••••||Ghost: Your character has trained to shoot unseen and vanish without a trace. Her Firearms score acts as a penalty on any roll to notice her vantage point, or any Investigation or Perception roll to investigate the area from which she shot.|
Martial Arts (Style, • to •••••)
Prerequisites: Resolve •••, Dexterity •••, Athletics ••, Brawl ••)
Your character is trained in one or more formal martial arts styles. This may have come from a personal mentor, a dojo, or a self-defense class. It may have been for exercise, protection, show, or tradition. These maneuvers may only be used unarmed, or with weapons capable of using the Brawl Skill, such as a punch dagger, or a weapon using the Shiv Merit.
|•||Focused Attack: Your character has trained extensively in striking specific parts of an opponent’s body. Reduce penalties for hitting specific targets by one. Additionally, you may ignore one point of armor on any opponent.|
|••||Defensive Strike: Your character excels in defending herself while finding the best time to strike. You can add one or two points to your character’s Defense. For each Defense point you take, subtract a die from any attacks you make. This can only be used in a turn in which your character intends to attack. It cannot be used with a Dodge.|
|•••||Whirlwind Strike: When engaged, your character becomes a storm of threatening kicks and punches; nothing close is safe. As long as your character has her Defense available to her and is not Dodging, any character coming into arm’s reach takes 1B damage. This damage continues once per turn as long as the enemy stays within range and occurs on the enemy’s turn. If you spend a point of Willpower, this damage becomes 2B until your next turn.|
|••••||The Hand as Weapon: With this degree of training, your character’s limbs are hardened to cause massive trauma. Her unarmed strikes cause lethal damage.|
|•••••||The Touch of Death: Your character’s mastery has brought with it the daunting power of causing lethal injury with a touch. If she chooses, her unarmed strikes count as weapons with 2 damage rating.|
Police Tactics (Style, • to •••)
Prerequisites: Brawl ••, Weaponry •
Your character is trained in restraint techniques often used by law enforcement officers. This may reflect formal training or lessons from a skilled practitioner.
|•||Compliance Hold: Gain a +2 bonus to overpowering rolls to disarm or immobilize an opponent.|
|••||Weapon Retention: Opponents attempting to disarm your character or turn her weapon against her must exceed your character’s Weaponry score in successes.|
|•••||Speed Cuff: Against an immobilized opponent, your character may apply handcuffs, cable ties, or similar restraints as a reflexive action.|
Shiv (• or ••)
Prerequisites: Street Fighting ••, Weaponry •
Your character carries small, concealable weapons for use in a tussle. Rolls to detect the concealed weapon suffer your character’s Weaponry score as a penalty. With the one dot version, she can conceal a weapon with a 0 damage rating.
The two-dot version can conceal a 1 damage rating weapon. Your character may use the Brawl Skill to use this weapon.
Street Fighting (Style, • to •••••)
Prerequisites: Stamina •••, Composure •••, Brawl ••, Streetwise ••
Your character learned to fight on the mean streets. She may have had some degree of formal training, but the methodology came from the real world in dangerous circumstances. Street Fighting isn’t about form and grace. It’s about staying alive. These maneuvers may only be used unarmed, with weapons capable of using the Brawl Skill (such as punch daggers), or weapons concealed with the Shiv Merit (above).
|•||Duck and Weave: Your character has been beaten all to hell more than a few times. Now she dodges on instinct, not on skill. You can reflexively take a one-die penalty to any actions this turn in order to use the higher of her Wits and Dexterity to calculate Defense. If you’ve already made a roll without penalty this turn, you cannot use Duck and Weave.|
|••||Knocking the Wind Out: Shots to the center mass can shake an opponent, and your character knows this well. When your character makes a successful unarmed attack, the opponent suffers a –1 to his next roll.|
|•••||Kick ‘Em While They’re Down: The best enemy is one on the ground. Your character topples opponents and keeps them down. Any time your successes on an attack roll exceed an opponent’s Stamina, you may choose to apply the Knocked Down Tilt (p. 211). Additionally, any time your character is close enough to strike when an opponent attempts to get up from a prone position, she can reflexively cause 2B damage.|
|••••||One-Two Punch: Your character hits fast and follows through with every hit. Whenever she makes a successful attack, you can spend a point of Willpower to cause two extra points of bashing damage.|
|•••••||Last-Ditch Effort: In a street fight, every second could be the one that kills you. A proficient street fighter is a remarkable survivalist. She bites, headbutts, trips: whatever it takes to prevent that last hit. Any time a character with this level of Street Fighting is about to take a hit or an overpowering maneuver when she’s already suffering wound penalties, she can reflexively spend a Willpower point and sacrifice her Defense for the turn to make an attack against her would-be assailant. This can occur even if she’s already acted in a turn, so long as she’s not already spent Willpower. Resolve this attack before the opponent’s action.|
Unarmed Defense (• to •••••; Style)
Prerequisites: Dexterity •••, Brawl ••, Defensive Combat: Brawl
You’re better at stopping people from hurting you than you are at hurting other people. Maybe you practice a martial art that redirects an opponent’s blows, or else you’re just very good at not being where your opponent wants you to be.
|•||Like a Book: You can read your opponents and know where they’re likely to strike. When facing an unarmed opponent and not Dodging, increase your Defense by half your Brawl (round down).|
|••||Studied Style: You focus on reading one opponent, avoiding his attacks, and frustrating him. Attacks from that opponent do not reduce your Defense. If your Defense reduces his attack pool to 0, his further attacks against you lose the 10-again quality.|
|•••||Redirect: When you’re being attacked by multiple opponents, you can direct their blows against one another. When you Dodge, if your Defense roll reduces an attack’s successes to 0, your attacker rolls the same attack against another attacker of your choice.
Drawback: You may only redirect one attack in a turn. You cannot redirect an attack against the same attacker.
|••••||Joint Strike: You wait until the last possible second then lash out at your opponent’s elbow or wrist as he attacks, hoping to cripple his limbs. Roll Strength + Brawl instead of Defense. If you score more successes than your attacker, you deal one point of bashing damage per extra success, and inflict either the Arm Wrack or Leg Wrack Tilt (your choice).
Drawback: Spend a point of Willpower to use this maneuver.
|•••••||Like the Breeze: You step to one side as your opponent attacks and give her enough of a push to send her flying past you. When dodging, if your Defense roll reduces an opponent’s attack successes to 0, you can inflict the Knocked Down Tilt.
Drawback: You must declare that you’re using this maneuver at the start of the turn before taking any other attacks.