It’s hard being a Storyteller. The players look to you to set the scene, provide challenges, and describe a world of splendor and decay, stark violence and moments of calm, and gothic-punk grandeur. You referee combats, build scenarios to test the characters’ resources and creativity, and keep the chronicle moving at a pace that keeps everyone on the edge of their seats or luxuriating in the glow of their latest accomplishment.
That means it also falls to you to adjudicate “I try to set that guy on fire” and “we leave him in the trunk overnight” and “what happens when I put my tongue on this?”. Such responsibility makes for a lot of storytelling edge cases, since probably most people spend much of their lives trying not to catch on fire, having themselves locked in trunks, or putting their tongues on (certain) things.
With this in mind, the fifth edition of the Storyteller System is designed to be flexible first and foremost, favoring narrative engagement over simulation realism. Once you learn how to make story rulings on individual topics, you’ll find that it becomes easier to improvise, to draw upon that experience, and to keep the story going and your players eagerly participating in the call-and-response that is roleplaying games.
But edge cases accumulate word count, and word count makes books bigger, and from what we’ve learned about our audience, bigger books don’t help accessibility. So we’ve collected a lot of these edge cases in a PDF supplement to help Storytellers adjudicate these… strange events that occur in their games, and inform other judgments by providing a baseline.
(If you have certain printings of Vampire: The Masquerade, you have a lot of this already, but we want to both make it available to everyone and to free up 20-ish pages of core book space for things that are specific to each of the games themselves. We can also update it as a living document, as new material or recurring edge cases merit it.)
Importantly, these situational permutations establish a good baseline that can vary based on supernatural creature types. As you’ll see, vampires don’t care too much about drowning, but anything that breathes will be affected more significantly by being trapped underwater. It can also help model other supernatural creatures in a game where they’re not the players’ characters, such as Hunters having a tense pursuit as their mage quarry tries to escape or a pack of werewolves trying to scent a vampire who’s trying to sneak out of their proximity.
The rules supplement also offers additional combat options for players who prefer a little more tactical complexity in their chronicles. For example, Hunter in particular assumes that the players’ characters will be underdogs against more deadly quarry (and org flunkies hassling them…) and the default is a very light narrative combat framing. But if you prefer your Hunter chronicle to have more detail in the claw-, knife-, and gunplay aspects, these options should serve you well. There are also guidelines for abstracting conflict even more than the core rules assume, if your troupe enjoys a faster approach or needs to check for relatively minor consequences from an antagonist’s minion.
In the end, this is stuff that helps round out a roleplaying game, but is just outside of what might be considered “core.” As well, it’s stuff that would be repeated among the core games, so pulling it out and making its own supplement helps free up those pages in rulebooks for more that-game-specific material.
What’s more, we consider this a live document, so we can continue to grow it as players and Storytellers demonstrate what’s worth adding that can help others in the community. (For example, we’re already considering adding mundane animals to it, because who knows when you might need an unexpected wolf or strangely aggressive bats on demand?)
Grab the free downloadable Expanded Mechanics and Permutations here!