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Rules Section

Storyteller Announcements

August 7 - Alternate Identity Rules
May 31 - How to write a Downtime Report
May 18 - Turning in character sheets, Narrator involvement in scenes, ST Signatures

August 7, 2001

Create False Identity
This influence action creates a false identity for six months, beginning the downtime it is created and running through the sixth following game. You must specify the name of the identity you are creating or maintaining when taking this action. The total value of an identity at any given point is determined by adding together the number of influences spent on it over the last six months.

A false identity is only "active" during months when at least three influences have been spent on it. While the false identity is active, you may take actions "as" that identity and you will recieve any resources transferred to that identity.

If a character spends at least one more influence investigating an identity than the current value of that identity, they will discover that it is a false identity, but not who created it. The Create False Identity action automatically recieves Cover Up equal to the current value of the identity (see the Cover Up influence action).

If more than one character attempts to create a false identity of the same name, whichever identity has the highest value will get the identity for the month. Any actions taken by the low bidder as that identity are lost, as well as the automatic cover up. In the case of a tie, neither player gets the identity. The "real names" of characters are always considered to have higher values than any false IDs for purposes of identity stealing.

You may not take or hinder the Create False Identity action as a false identity. The Create False Identity action may only be taken during the downtime. You may not transfer or share a false identity. A character may not have more than three false identities at any given time.

Here's a little discussion for those of you that are interested in such things.

Basically, we opted against an unlimited account-like system because we wanted to avoid the really huge, effectively impenetrable false IDs that would result. This could probably have been somewhat limited by saying that only beaurocracy could be used to create false IDs or some such, but that goes against the general philosophy of "any influence can take any action during downtime", and would really only slow the problem down rather than prevent it.

A consistantly supported, long-term false ID (the kind we want to encourage), will effectively have a 6x multiplier vs an investigator. A short-term, "I'm using this instead of cover-up" false ID won't have too much of an advantage over simply using cover-up.

Specifically, this means that you can get a 30 point ID by consistently investing 5 points a month. This is within the grasp of most characters, and takes a considerable effort to pierce. For 10 points monthly, your ID is almost certain not to be penetrated. That's expensive, but nigh invulnerability should be.

From a logistical perspective, this system shouldn't be too bad, because we only have to actually compute totals when an investigation is done. Otherwise, we just make sure at least three influences were spent on the ID that month.

Comments and discussion are, as always, welcome.

May 31, 2001

Here are some notes from the Storytellers on what a Downtime Report should look like, what information it should contain and how it should be structured.


------ Sample Downtime Below ------

-----------------------------------------------
Player Name:    John Doe
Character Name: Ruthven Sykes
Clan:           Tremere
Game Date:      May, 2001
Email:          I_Suck@hotmail.com
-----------------------------------------------

XP STUFF:
  I helped Setup.
  I helped Cleanup.
  I am a Narrator and worked my 2 shifts.
  I transported materials for the tremere jacuzzi and minibar.
  I brought brownies.
  I came in costume.
  I brought 2 new players


GAME REPORT:
  I showed up and did some stuff.  Boy howdy, what a night!


INFLUENCE TRANSFERS TO OTHERS:
  3 Occult and $400 to Dr. Polidori the Tremere


INFLUENCES EXPECTED:
  2 Street from Crazy Ed the Malkavian
  5 Underworld BUs from Woofles the Gangrel


USE OF DOWNTIME INFLUENCES:
  I have 4 High Society influences, 6 Police, 4 Occult influences, 1 Occult BU,
  and $900 on my character sheet.  
  
  After transfers, I should have 4 High Society, 6 Police, 2 Street, 2 Occult,
  and $500 available to me this downtime.

  I use 2 Occult to continue researching the ritual Deflection of the Wooden
    Doom (spent 3 so far)
  I use 1 Street to purchase 2 small vials
  I cash out 1 Street for $100
  I invest 4 High Society and $300 in a High Society BU (spent 4/3 so far)
  I spend 6 Police to investigate the attacks on local pawn shops, especially
    any connection to a man named "Phineous Dark".

  Final Balance: $300


OTHER DOWNTIME ACTIONS:
  If Woofles the Gangrel sends me 5 Underworld BUs, I teach him Blood Thaumaturgy.
  I go to the zoo and tease the animals.


COMMENTS:
  Storytellers rock!  Woo!


------ End of Sample Downtime ------

So, a few things to notice. First, the easiest way to get a layout like this is to use the form on the web page (www.necromancy.org) (Thanks, Julian!). It doesn't lay things out *exactly* like this (some indentation is added here), but you won't go wrong using the form. If you do use a different layout, at least be sure to include all of this information in roughly this order, and label the different sections.

Second, the XP STUFF section is a simple list of things you did for XP awards, 1 per line, at the top of the downtime report. A list like this will make it easier for us to add up your XP and less likely that we'll miss something. It's extra nice if you put the fixed XP awards first, and the considerations for discretionary awards afterwards, but that's not really necessary. There's no need to include any suggested point totals. In a related note, Narrators should be aware that you only get your XP award if you actually work your two desk shifts! No desk shifts, no Narrator XP.

Third, you'll notice that any time another character is referenced, his clan is included. This isn't necessary, but it's nice for the STs. Also, if you think there might be some confusion as to who you're talking about (eg, the character may be using an alias), try to include the player name or some other means of identifying the character. Sometimes characters will use a name for ten minutes to make a deal and then not come back to it, and unless they mention it to us we have no way of knowing where an influence transfer is supposed to go. [insert toilet flushing sound effect here]

Fourth, looking at the USE OF DOWNTIME INFLUENCES section, you'll see that all of "Ruthven's" resources are explicitly spelled out, both what's on his character sheet and what's actually available for his downtime actions. He also gives the specific types and amounts of influences being spent on each action, plus the total so far for any ongoing action. The same is true of INFLUENCE TRANSFERS TO OTHERS and INFLUENCES EXPECTED: the exact amount and type is listed in each case. This is probably the most important thing to note in this entire document: explicitly list your available resources, and give the *exact* type and amount of influence being spent on each action.

Also in USE OF DOWNTIME INFLUENCES, you'll notice that the amount spent so far on the High Society BU is split into two amounts ("spent 4/3 so far"). This is to distinguish between the 15 influences of the same type needed for a BU and the 5 cash or influences of any type (so "4/3" would read "4 street and 3 other").

The last action in USE OF DOWNTIME INFLUENCES is an investigation. Investigations currently yield results at story teller discretion. Having a specific target or focus of your investigations makes it much more likely that you will get usable information back.

In the OTHER DOWNTIME ACTIONS section, there is a simple if-then statement based on whether Ruthven received something from Woofles. This is the *only* kind of conditional statement that we specifically allow. Any if-then statement that is not a simple "If I receive [foo], then I do [bar]" is technically not allowed. We will usually make some effort to carry out more complicated actions, but there are no guarantees. Prioritized lists are not allowed, either, but we will usually try to do the actions in the order they are listed (eg, if you try to buy two things, but can only afford one of them, we will usually give you the one you listed first). Again, the general rule here is that we will make some effort to carry out priority lists or complicated conditionals, but there are no guarantees.

The second item in OTHER DOWNTIME ACTIONS, "I go to the zoo and tease the animals," is obviously not covered by any game mechanics. This type of purely role-playing action may or may not have any in-game effect, and you may or may not get any response back in your downtime results, depending on the nature of the action and the ST doing your downtime.

Here are a few things that were specifically NOT done in this downtime, and that we DON'T want you to do.

Ruthven does not try to take actions with indeterminate types or amounts of resources. That is, he does not say anything like "I use all my underworld to buy a sniper rifle" or, even worse, "I use all the influences sent to me by Silent Bill to buy a sniper rifle". You should always specify the exact amount and type of influences when describing a transfer or action.

He *absolutely* does not say, "I use all the influences sent to me by the malkavians to buy a sniper rifle." Always specify exactly who is sending you what influences. If you wish to receive mass transfers of this sort, you must list the exact type and amount you expect to receive from each person sending you influences. You may use a "funnel" if you like (eg, all the malkavians send their influences to the malk elder, and the elder makes one transfer to you), but that "funnel" character *must* list the exact types and amounts from each person, and to you.

Ruthven does not take indeterminate actions - he does not say "I spend 5 Street and $300 on a gun." Always specify the exact nature of your action (what kind of gun does he want?).

There are no complex or complicated lists of conditionals or priorities. He does not have any conditionals based on factors other than receiving or learning something from another character (eg, he does *not* say "If my haven is attacked, I spend 4 Street to defend.") I'm not going to give any examples of egregiously elaborate and complicated lists of priorities and conditionals because it would take to long and I don't think I could do justice to the kind of convoluted logic problems we sometimes receive.

One last note - you can only spend as much cash on an action as you have spent influences (at $100 per influence). This does *not* include any bonuses for influence specialties! For instance, say you spend 4 Media influences on a Cover Up action and receive 1 bonus influence, since Media has a specialty in Cover Up. You can only spend $400 cash on this action, not $500, since the bonus does not count toward the total number of influences spent for purposes of cash "doubling."

Well, that pretty much covers it. And, just to be clear, this isn't anything that's a serious problem, currently - I'm just fulfilling a request made by some players for a sample downtime and discussion. Feel free to post or mail me any comments or questions you might have.

May 18, 2001

1) Turning in character sheets- Players must turn in character sheets at the end of the game. Any players who do not turn in their character sheets will have their bank accounts zeroed out.

2) Narrator involvement in scenes- In order to avoid problems of the reality or appearance of unfairness and cheating, Narrators may not run scenes in which they are, or intend to be, involved. If a Narrator is forced into a scene, in order to prevent actual or apparent collusion, they must get an ST to continue the scene, not another Narrator.

3) ST Signatures- This has been stated at the game, and will be again here. The following items and actions must have ST signatures on them (NOT Narrators) in order to be valid: Other Characters' blood; Rituals that create permanent items or effects (Blood beads, Wards, etc); Diableries. Any without an ST signature will not be permitted to affect play.

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