White Wolf games have always been tabletop systems that premised story over gameplay. The implication of this is that you must have a character in mind, and it would be best if this character is someone believable. A solid concept usually helps one dictate what kind of Attributes, Merits, and Skills they ought to possess; it also aids one greatly with future development, and the allocation of experience points.
Something central to conceptualization is your character’s primary Virtue and primary Vice. Virtues and Vices represent the light side and the dark side of your character. Every human being has the same set of drives, but their primary drive sits at the core of their being, and often determines their actions and where they’re going to end up going. In a game where one’s principles are going to constantly be challenged and the temptation to fall is incredibly real, Virtues and Vices are increasingly important.
Note, of course, that while a Virtue or Vice can change, this entails an incredibly serious shift in perspective, together with all of the events – world-shaking and traumatic – that come with something of that level. In general, a character’s principle drives never really change.
The Seven Virtues are Charity, Faith, Fortitude, Hope, Justice, Prudence, and Temperance. The Seven Vices are Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth and Wrath.
Anchors – the Chronicles of Darkness equivalent of this system – has its own section on this blog.
Other Names: Compassion, mercy
Possessed by: Philanthropists, saints, soup-kitchen workers
True Charity comes from sharing gifts with others, be it money or possessions, or simply giving time to help another in need. A charitable character is guided by her compassion to share what she has in order to improve the plight of those around her. Charitable individuals are guided by the principle of treating others as they would be treated themselves. By sharing gifts and taking on the role of the Samaritan, they hope to cultivate goodwill in others, and the gifts they give will eventually return to them in their hour of need.
Your character regains all spent Willpower points whenever she helps another at the risk of loss or harm to herself. It isn’t enough to share what your character has in abundance. She must make a real sacrifice in terms of time, possessions or energy, or she must risk life and limb to help another.
Other Names: Belief, conviction, humility, loyalty
Possessed by: Detectives, philosophers, priests, scientists, true believers
Those with Faith know that the universe is not random, meaningless chaos, but ordered by a higher power. No matter how horrifying the world might be, everything has its place in the Plan and ultimately serves that Purpose. This Virtue does not necessarily involve belief in a personified deity. It might involve belief in a Grand Unified Theory whereby the seeming randomness of the universe is ultimately an expression of mathematical precision. Or it might be a view that everything is One and that even evil is indistinguishable from good when all discriminating illusions are overcome.
Your character regains all spent Willpower points whenever he is able to forge meaning from chaos and tragedy.
Other Names: Courage, integrity, mettle, stoicism
Possessed by: Dictators, fanatic cultists, gumshoes
A person’s ideals are meaningless unless they’re tested. When it seems as though the entire world is arrayed against him because of his beliefs, a person possessing Fortitude weathers the storm and emerges with his convictions intact. Fortitude is about standing up for one’s beliefs and holding the course no matter how tempting it may be to relent or give up. By staying the course regardless of the cost, he proves the worth of his ideals.
Your character regains all spent Willpower points whenever he withstands overwhelming or tempting pressure to alter his goals. This does not include temporary distractions from his course of action, only pressure that might cause him to abandon or change his goals altogether.
Other Names: Dreamer, optimist, utopian
Possessed by: Anti-globalization activists, entrepreneurs, martyrs, visionaries
Being hopeful means believing that evil and misfortune cannot prevail, no matter how grim things become. Not only do the hopeful believe in the ultimate triumph of morality and decency over malevolence, they maintain steadfast belief in a greater sense of cosmic justice – whether it’s Karma or the idea of an all-knowing, all-seeing God who waits to punish the wicked. All will turn out right in the end, and the hopeful mean to be around when it happens.
Your character regains all spent Willpower points whenever she refuses to let others give in to despair, even though doing so risks harming her own goals or well-being. This is similar to Fortitude, above, except that your character tries to prevent others from losing hope in their goals. She need not share those goals herself or even be successful in upholding them, but there must be a risk involved.
Other Names: Condemnatory, righteous
Possessed by: Critics, judges, parents, role models
Wrongs cannot go unpunished. This is the central tenet of the just, who believe that protecting the innocent and confronting inequity is the responsibility of every decent person, even in the face of great personal danger. The just believe that evil cannot prosper so long as one good person strives to do what is right, regardless of the consequences.
Your character regains all spent Willpower points whenever he does the right thing at risk of personal loss or setback. The “right thing” can be defined by the letter or spirit of a particular code of conduct, whether it be the United States penal code or a biblical Commandment.
Other Names: Patience, vigilance
Possessed by: Businessmen, doctors, priests, scientists
The Virtue of Prudence places wisdom and restraint above rash action and thoughtless behavior. One maintains integrity and principles by moderating actions and avoiding unnecessary risks. While that means a prudent person might never take big gambles that bring huge rewards, neither is his life ruined by a bad roll of the dice. By choosing wisely and avoiding the easy road he prospers slowly but surely.
Your character regains all spent Willpower points whenever he refuses a tempting course of action by which he could gain significantly. The “temptation” must involve some reward that, by refusing it, might cost him later on.
Other Names: Chastity, even-temperament, frugality
Possessed by: Clergy, police officers, social workers
Moderation in all things is the secret to happiness, so says the doctrine of Temperance. It’s all about balance. Everything has its place in a person’s life, from anger to forgiveness, lust to chastity. The temperate do not believe in denying their urges, as none of it is unnatural or unholy. The trouble comes when things are taken to excess, whether it’s a noble or base impulse. Too much righteousness can be just as bad as too much wickedness.
Your character regains all spent Willpower when he resists a temptation to indulge in an excess of any behavior, whether good or bad, despite the obvious rewards it might offer.
Other Names: Covetousness, jealousy, paranoia
Possessed by: Celebrities, executives, politicians
An envious person is never satisfied with what she has. No matter her wealth, status or accomplishments, there is always someone else who seems to have more, and it’s coveted. Envious characters are never secure or content with their place in life. They always measure themselves against their rivals and look for ways to get what they deserve. They might be considered paranoid or just consumed by a self-loathing that they project onto others.
Your character regains one Willpower point whenever she gains something important from a rival or has a hand in harming that rival’s well-being.
Other Names: Addictive personality, conspicuous consumer, epicurean
Possessed by: Celebrities, junkies, thieves
Gluttony is about indulging appetites to the exclusion of everything else. It’s about dedicating oneself to sensual pleasures or chasing the next high. A glutton makes any sacrifice to feed his insatiable appetite for pleasure, regardless of the cost to himself or those around him. He might be considered a junky or even a kleptomaniac (he steals things he doesn’t need just for the thrill of it).
Your character regains one spent Willpower point whenever he indulges in his addiction or appetites at some risk to himself or a loved one.
Other Names: Avarice, parsimony
Possessed by: CEOs, lawyers, stock brokers
Like the envious, the greedy are never satisfied with what they have. They want more more money, a bigger house, more status or influence – no matter that they may already have more than they can possibly handle. Everything is taken to excess. To the greedy, there is no such thing as having too much. If that means snatching someone else’s hard-earned reward just to feather one’s own nest, well, that’s the way it goes.
Your character regains one Willpower point whenever he acquires something at the expense of another. Gaining it must come at some potential risk (of assault, arrest or simple loss of peer respect).
Other Names: Lasciviousness, impatience, impetuousness
Possessed by: Movie producers, politicians, rock stars
The Vice of Lust is the sin of uncontrolled desire. A lusty individual is driven by a passion for something (usually sex, but it can be a craving for virtually any experience or activity) that he acts upon without consideration for the needs or feelings of others. A lusty individual uses any means at his disposal to indulge his desires, from deception to manipulation to acts of violence.
Your character is consumed by a passion for something. He regains one Willpower point whenever he satisfies his lust or compulsion in a way that victimizes others.
Other Names: Arrogance, ego complex, vanity
Possessed by: Corporate executives, movie stars, street thugs
Pride is the Vice of self-confidence run amok. It is the belief that one’s every action is inherently right, even when it should be obvious that it is anything but. A prideful person refuses to back down when his decision or reputation is called into question, even when the evidence is clear that he is in the wrong. His ego does not accept any outcome that suggests fallibility, and he is willing to see others suffer rather than admit that he’s wrong.
Your character regains one Willpower point whenever he exerts his own wants (not needs) over others at some potential risk to himself. This is most commonly the desire for adulation, but it could be the desire to make others do as he commands.
Other Names: Apathy, cowardice, ignorance
Possessed by: Couch potatoes, trust-fund heirs, welfare cheats
The Vice of Sloth is about avoiding work until someone else has to step in to get the job done. Rather than put in the effort – and possibly risk failure – in a difficult situation, the slothful person simply refuses to do anything, knowing that someone else will step in and fix the problem sooner or later. The fact that people might needlessly suffer while the slothful person sits on his thumbs doesn’t matter one bit.
Your character regains one Willpower point whenever he successfully avoids a difficult task but achieves the same goal nonetheless.
Other Names: Antisocial tendencies, hotheadedness, poor anger management, sadism
Possessed by: Bullies, drill sergeants, street thugs
The Vice of Wrath is the sin of uncontrolled anger. The wrathful look for ways to vent their anger and frustration on people or objects at the slightest provocation. In most cases the reaction is far out of proportion to the perceived slight. A wrathful person cut off on the freeway might try to force another driver off the road, or a wrathful cop might delight in beating each and every person he arrests, regardless of the offense.
Your character regains one spent Willpower point whenever he unleashes his anger in a situation where doing so is dangerous. If the fight has already begun, no Willpower points are regained. It must take place in a situation where anger is unwarranted or inappropriate.