Geist: The Sin Eaters
All characters have strengths and weaknesses, noble aspects and dark sides to their personalities. While most people try to cultivate virtues and eschew vices, both are intrinsic elements of identity and both equally reinforce a sense of self, whether we like to admit it or not.
Every character starts play with one defining Virtue and one defining Vice, chosen during character creation. Virtue and Vice may clearly reflect your character’s background and concept, or they can be used to contrast his outward nature to create sources of conflict that make for excellent roleplaying. A character who is a priest might have the defining Virtue of Faith and the defining Vice of Pride. He’s a man of great conviction and belief in his fellow man, but there are times when his beliefs lend themselves to self-righteousness. This is a fairly complementary application of Virtues and Vices based on character concept, as they both stem from the character’s background. A contrasting approach might be to give the character the Virtue of Faith and the Vice of Wrath. He believes in the path of righteousness and the intrinsic worth of mankind, but sometimes the state of the world is such that it fills him with a violent rage to punish those who ignore the tenets of his religion. The result is a source of conflict within the character as he tries to reconcile an essential part of his nature with his dedication to the church.
When a character’s actions in difficult situations reflect his particular Virtue or Vice, he reinforces his fundamental sense of self. If the Storyteller judges that your character’s actions during a scene reflect his Vice, he regains one Willpower point that has been spent. If the Storyteller judges that your character’s actions during a chapter (a game session) reflect his Virtue, he regains all spent Willpower points. Note that these actions must be made in situations that pose some risk to your character, whereby he stands to pay a price for acting according to his Virtue or Vice. Everyday expressions of, say, Faith or Pride are not enough to reaffirm a character’s determination or sense of self.
Fulfilling a Virtue is more rewarding than fulfilling a Vice for two reasons. One, it is inherently challenging to accomplish a surpassing act of goodness in a world that’s rife with selfishness and aggression. Doing so demands sacrifice and perseverance. Two, the temptation to indulge base inclinations and desires is constant and often means taking the path of least resistance, which precludes doing the greater good. Fulfilling Vices therefore offers small rewards that are easy to come by.
Your character does not gain extra Virtues or Vices during play. The fundamental qualities that define him do not change. Nor are they compounded with more such traits.
The seven Vices are ostensibly drawn from Western, Judeo-Christian beliefs (e.g., the Seven Heavenly Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins), but it’s important to note that nearly all cultures revile these sins.
When creating your character, choose one of the seven Vices detailed below as her defining one. This is not to say that your character may not have other weaknesses or base impulses, but her defining Vice is the one that most clearly evokes her basic behavior.
Please note that, for children characters, these are called Faults.
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: Covetousness, jealousy, paranoia
Possessed By: Celebrities, executives, and politicians.
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 doesnÕt 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: Addictive personality, conspicuous consumer, epicurean
Possessed By: Celebrities, junkies, and thieves.
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: Avarice, parsimony
Possessed By: CEOs, lawyers, and stock brokers.
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: Lasciviousness, impatience, impetuousness
Possessed By: Movie producers, politicians, and rock stars.
Pride is the Vice of self-confidence run amok. It is the belief that oneÕs 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: Arrogance, ego complex, vanity
Possessed By: Corporate executives, movie stars, street thugs
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: Apathy, cowardice, ignorance
Possessed By: Couch potatoes, trust-fund heirs, and welfare cheats.
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.
Other Names: Antisocial tendencies, hotheadedness, poor anger management, sadism
Possessed By: Bullies, drill sergeants, and street thugs.