This is an alternative Virtue and Vice system, as found in Chronicles of Darkness. If the New World of Darkness Virtues and Vices don’t suit, try this one out!
All characters have defining personality traits. These traits not only tell a character who she is, but also allow her to regain Willpower. These traits are called Anchors. For a mortal character, these Anchors are her Virtue and her Vice.
Virtues and Vices
When creating a character, you define her Virtue and Vice. These words describe key aspects of her personality. Things like Cruel or Generous work, but a physical description, like Clean, wouldn’t. Similarly, you don’t want to pick a Virtue or Vice that is covered by an Attribute or Skill. Athletic wouldn’t really make a good Virtue or Vice (though Competitive probably would). Composed wouldn’t work very well as an Anchor, as Composure is already an Attribute.
A character’s Virtue or Vice isn’t simply indicative of her morality. Having a Virtue like Good isn’t really appropriate, and is kind of boring, to boot. While a character’s Virtue is definitely a positive trait for her, she should absolutely be able to fulfill her Virtue while dealing with a traumatic situation. Sometimes even our Virtues can drive us to do terrible things.
When a character acts in accordance with her Virtue or Vice during a scene, she reaffirms her sense of who she is. This is a way to regain Willpower during play.
It’s a good idea to make sure that everyone is on the same page with regards to Virtues and Vices, both in terms of what they mean for your character, and in terms of everyone being comfortable with each other’s choices. While you cannot choose the same trait as both your Virtue and Vice, another character could have a trait as a Virtue that you have as a Vice, such as Ambitious. Also, as your Vice in particular will come up repeatedly during play, you should make sure that the Vice you select doesn’t make any of the other players uncomfortable.
A character’s Anchors will likely stay the same for most of a chronicle. However, Virtue and Vice can change if the character undergoes an event that alters her life or personality.
A character’s Virtue is her higher calling, the personality trait that represents who she is when she is being her best. Behaving in accordance with Virtue gives a character a sense of satisfaction and re-affirms her sense of self. Acting on a Virtue is difficult, however.
The following are some possible Virtues for characters. This is not an exhaustive list, it is merely intended to help you in coming up with your own Anchors for your character.
Competitive: Your character always pushes herself to excel and be the best at whatever she does. It’s not about defeating others, but about the rush she gets from honest competition, and the thrill of knowing that she pushed herself further and faster to stay ahead of her rivals. Regain Willpower when your character honestly competes with someone who outclasses her, for stakes that she will feel if she loses.
Generous: Your character feels at his best when giving to others. He may give to charity or simply lend items to friends with no questions asked. A generous character may be taken advantage of sometimes, but he isn’t in it for thanks or hope of repayment. He gives because other people need. Regain Willpower when your character is deprived of an important resource or put at risk because of his Generous nature.
Just: A Just character is driven by a sense of fairness and justice. She wants everyone to get what they deserve, and will stick her neck out to make sure it happens. Regain Willpower when the character sets her own goals aside in order to make certain that justice is done.
Loyal: Loyalty to a person or a group is your character’s guide. This group could be other PCs, a company, a mentor or family member, their country, or any other group that makes sense. The character is not necessarily foolish or blind to the flaws of their chosen group. The character regains Willpower when refusing to act against the group’s interests puts him at risk.
Vice is a character’s short-term comfort. It is the easy way out, the personality trait she takes comfort in to avoid confronting her actual feelings or problems. Like Virtue, acting on a Vice reinforces the character’s sense of herself, even if it is self-destructive. It still helps relieve stress and allows her to refresh herself, but it’s not healthy behavior in the long term.
Ambitious: Your character wants to get ahead, to move up the ladder – no matter what the cost. She wants advancement, rank, and authority in advance of what she actually has earned. Regain Willpower when your character jockeys for position or tries to advance socially instead of pursuing a more useful activity.
Arrogant: Your character is good at something, and makes sure everyone knows it. He defines himself by being “better” than those around him. This goes beyond justifiable pride in an ability. The character regains Willpower when he takes an opportunity to lord his superiority over someone else.
Competitive: You character needs to win. Nothing makes her happier than crossing the finish line first, and nothing makes her angrier than losing. She may even be willing to cheat in order to get her victory. Regain Willpower when the character indulges in a competition that distracts from other, more pressing, matters.
Greedy: Your character wants to hoard resources, keeping them for himself in case they are useful someday. Regain Willpower when you take an advantage for yourself, denying it to another character.