Storyteller System

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The Storyteller System

The Storyteller System

The Storytelling or Storyteller System is an RPG system created by White Wolf, Inc. in 1991 that premiered in Vampire: The Masquerade, a part of the (Old) World of Darkness series. While on the road to Gen Con '90, Mark Rein·Hagen came upon the idea of a new game design that would become Vampire: The Masquerade. Tom Dowd, co-designer for Shadowrun (Needs link to Shadowrun when page is complete), adapted the mechanics from his previous game success to use d10 instead of d6 for calculating probability.

The Game Master in any game using this system is called the Storyteller.

Over the course of its lifetime the system has gone through a slow but steady evolution. Starting with the original Storyteller Systemin 1991, which would later become the Revised Storyteller System in 1997, and the most current adaption as the Storytelling System in 2004. The current edition has recently gone through a few modifications of its own with the recent release of the The God Machine in 2013, changing the value of merits and the cost of experience points for upgrading characters. With many things regarding the current system though all game modifications are purely up to the ST and the group as a whole for what best suits the chronicle.

The World of Darkness setting has even gone on to spawn a LARP system, a collectible card game, a (be it short lived) television show, dozens of novels, board games, several video and computer games, including a MMORPG currently in production.

Basic Dice Mechanics

All mechanics of the Storytelling Systems utilize a number of 10-sided dice (d10s). World of Darkness games suggest players to have at least ten d10s available to roll for their character's task resolutions and Attribute tests. The system of determining success or failure is very similar to the system in Shadowrun and is based on rolling a pool of dice trying to meet or exceed a set difficulty number. The more successes rolled, the better the character performed the task. Equipment, environment, merits and other situations may provide bonus dice or remove dice from the pool.

Basic Character Creation

Storytelling System characters are built with character points that represent a Dot on their character sheets. Each Dot represents a ten-sided die (d10). The more Dots in an Attribute or Skill, the better the character is at those abilities. A set of dice representing the Dots in an Attribute or Skill forms a Dice Pool that the character uses to see if he/she succeeds or fails at specific tasks.

Key Features of the Current Storytelling System

The Storyteller System
  • Nearly all actions are resolved with a single roll, including combat actions (which required three or more rolls in earlier systems)
  • For simple actions, a single success is always sufficient
  • Multiple successes are sometimes insignificant unless five or more are scored, which leads to an exceptional success
  • Difficulties are represented by subtracting dice from a pool (as opposed to the varying target numbers in the Storyteller System, and requiring additional successes in the Revised Storyteller System); bonuses are likewise represented by adding dice
  • The target number for all rolls is fixed at 8 (fixed target numbers were introduced in the Revised Storyteller System, but were usually fixed at 7)
  • The "rule of ones" has been eliminated, along with the old botch system; instead new chance roll and dramatic failure rules are used when resolving actions under severe difficulty
  • Attributes and Skills use the same categories (Physical, Mental, Social); each category contains a Power, Finesse and Resistance Attribute
  • The Attributes have been changed for the first time; Charisma has been renamed Presence, while Perception and Appearance have been replaced by Resolve and Composure (the Mental and Social Resistance Attributes)
  • Some common actions, like perception rolls, use dice pools composed only of Attributes, rather than the usual Attribute + Skill
  • Supernatural powers often use three Attributes to form their dice pools, Exp:(Attribute + Skill + Discipline)
  • More than any other version before it, the concept of "hacking" the rules is actually highly promoted. Multiple books have been released providing rules variants and different mechanics to best suit the style of the game desired to be run.

Free RPG Day

In 2012, the free PDF download Nightmare on Hill Manor was released. This quickstart guide's release was the first free-to-public of the core rule mechanics for the Storyteller system. This was again followed up by a free pdf of the God Machine that provided an update option to the current system to help further streamline some of the merits and the experience points cost.


World of Darkness Portal on MW

Official White-Wolf Wiki

MW World of Darkness Character Sheet

Off-Site Character Sheets