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 Virtues detailed below 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 value these ethics.
When creating your character, choose one of the seven Virtues detailed here as your character’s defining quality. This is not to say that she may not have other worthwhile or altruistic qualities, but her defining Virtue is the one that most clearly evokes her basic beliefs.
Please use the list of Assets for children characters.
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: Compassion, Mercy
Possessed By: Philanthropists, saints, and soup-kitchen workers.
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: Belief, conviction, humility, loyalty
Possessed By: Detectives, philosophers, priests, scientists, and true believers.
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: Courage, integrity, mettle, stoicism
Possessed By: Dictators, fanatic cultists, and gumshoes.
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: Dreamer, optimist, utopian
Possessed By: Anti-globalization activists, entrepreneurs, martyrs, and visionaries.
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: Condemnatory, righteous
Possessed By: Critics, judges, parents, and role models.
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 ÒtemptationÓ must involve some reward that, by refusing it, might cost him later on.
Other Names: Patience, vigilance
Possessed By: Businessmen, doctors, priests, and scientists.
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: Chastity, even-temperament, frugality
Possessed By: Clergy, police officers, and social workers.