[Let’s Study] God-Machine Chronicle Rules Updates Part 2: Merits, Conditions and Soul Loss

Posted: May 6, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness
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Hello everyone and welcome back to Part 2 of the GMC series. Today we’re taking a look at the retooled Merits, the new Conditions system and a bit about Soul Loss.


The Merits system for GMC is still largely the same as it was in the core rules, with the exception that the Merits in GMC supercede those in the core rulebook. Many of the new Merits are much more balanced than their original versions, and have been toned down. The biggest change would be the fact that multiple attacks have been removed from the Fighting Styles. This reduces a lot of the rolling that used to happen with Fighting Style focused characters.

One other thing to note is that there are no longer dead dots in merits. Each dot does something, which is a big relief rather than spending experience for a speed bump dot.


Conditions are a “new” system that might seem very familiar to those who have played any game that uses the FATE system. Conditions are descriptors with mechanical effects that are applied to characters. The neat thing about them is that they’re a source of Beats, and characters are therefore encouraged to accept or play through these Conditions to benefit from the added experience of resolving them.

Conditions caused by exceptional successes or via supernatural powers. Breaking points are also a source of Conditions. Furthermore, complex behaviors may also cause Conditions. In general an ST has a large amount of leeway on when he or she feels that they can apply a condition to players and NPCs.

I feel that Conditions are an inspired set of mechanics and I’m very happy to see them in the world of Darkness. It’s a simple mechanic, and yet it slots seamlessly into a more story-focused game. It also helps GMs enforce the gravity of certain situations and gives players roleplaying cues as to how their character feels or is affected by a situation.

Soul Loss

Soul Loss is a special kind of supernatural trauma that affects individuals in the World of Darkness (and is often something of severe importance in Mage: the Awakening games.)

Admittedly losing one’s Soul isn’t something that happens everyday, but several Supernaturals can have the ability to rip it out of someone. This leads to a downward spiral of conditions all based on the fact that the person has lost their soul.

The first condition, Soulless has characters at a state where they are more susceptible to possession and cannot gain Willpower through normal means, and the rewards of her Virtue and Vice are reversed. Virtues can’t give them the kind of affirmation they seek, but Vices are capable of giving more Willpower back but only while indulging their vice in a manner that is potentially harmful to themselves.

Enervated happens when their Integrity has been lost, and their Willpower is the only thing sustaining them. At this point Virtue is no longer capable of giving Willpower, and Vices restore Willpower while reducing the maximum cap of Willpower.

Thrall is the last condition, and is a point at which a player character is no longer considered playable. Willpower may no longer be spent, and they cannot apply their Defense in combat. Further more they cannot spend Experiences and are counted as perpetually under the Broken Condition.

Magics can restore a soul back to a person, but I’m pretty sure that unless Mages and other supernaturals are concerned the process is most likely difficult. Recovery is swift however, as regaining a soul (even ones that aren’t originally theirs) allows for the character to shed these conditions and begin regaining Willpower.

Overall the changes in the system might leave a bit of a wrinkle in existing games, but I think with a few tweaks, they should be easy enough to convert. The new Conditions system is a great addition, and refreshes the Storytelling system to the point where it feels almost like a new edition with a stronger focus on making dramatic situations that are part and parcel of any horror game.

I’ve already had a chance to pitch the new rules onto my gaming group and we’re gearing up to do a quick playtest of the rules. I’m slowly putting a scenario together that ties in to the God Machine Chronicles themselves with a few twists to make it my own.

Tomorrow we take a look at the systems that make up the new Social Maneuvering System.


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