In the Storytelling System, Virtues and Vices are intrinsic elements of a person's identity and both equally reinforce a sense of self, whether they like to admit it or not.
Every character starts with one defining Virtue and one defining Vice. While Virtue and Vice may clearly reflect the character's background and concept, they can contrast with his outward nature and create sources of conflict within himself. However, when a character's actions in difficult situations reflect his particular Virtue or Vice, he reinforces his fundamental sense of self (however it should be noted that 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.
The representation of a changeling's virtues and vices are somewhat warped by the character’s fae nature. Often, a changeling’s Virtues or Vices are triggered by something that other mortals would consider illogical at best or mad at worst. For example, a Gluttonous Ogre might enjoy a good steak as much as any other individual with the same Vice, but he can’t quite help the way his mouth waters when he sees children playing in the street outside his home. A Charitable changeling might feel particularly compelled to help people occupied in a certain trade. There are no mechanical effects associated with these odd compulsions, although they do seem to be more pronounced in changelings with low Clarity.
Virtue and Vice represent a way to highlight the differences or similarities between the Fetch and the changeling. If the Virtue and Vice are identical, that doesn’t mean that the characters express them the same way. A Gluttonous changeling might have been the food-taster for a Fae king in Arcadia, and developed a taste for rich food born of the knowledge that any given morsel might kill him. His fetch, though, might be a simple drunk in the mortal world.
If the Virtue and Vice are different, this might be a simple matter of differing experiences shaping the characters, but these traits might also develop in an odd mirror-image to one another. For instance, the changeling mentioned above has the Vice of Gluttony born of a fatalistic attitude. His fetch, therefore, might have developed the Virtue of Temperance out of a desire to avoid this kind of excess.
The True Fae, on the other hand, are entities almost embodied by their passions and vices, with higher morality and self-denial little more than a whim to them. For them, passion is virtue, and the denial of passion an affectation.
The seven Vices are ostensibly drawn from Western, Judeo-Christian beliefs (e.g., the Seven Deadly Sins), but it's important to note that nearly all cultures revile these in some fashion.
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 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: 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.
The seven Virtues detailed below are ostensibly drawn from Western, Judeo-Christian beliefs (e.g., the Seven Heavenly Virtues), but it's important to note that nearly all cultures value these ethics.
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 "temptation" 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.