The World of Darkness features Merits as an integral part of character creation, combining the Classic World of Darkness's Background traits (which could be seen as external merits) with the original Physical, Mental and Social Merits.
In contrast to the Merits and Flaws system used by the original World of Darkness, Merits are now a required part of every character, as characters have a pool of points specifically to be spent on Merit points. Merits are also much easier to obtain through experience, having a cost of only 2 x New Dots. They have no longer have any relationship to Flaws, which are now character quirks and other debilitations that provide experience when they come up.
Merits marked with a º must be bought with Merit dots at character creation.
Types of Merits
The Core Rulebook divides these into three categories: Mental Merits, which add new mental tricks or augment the senses of the purchaser, Physical Merits, which enhance the physical capabilities of the owner or add proficiency in fighting styles, and Social Merits, which provide the owner a social network and enhance their dealings with others. Some Merits, introduced in later supplements of the core World of Darkness line, are available to mortals, but too atypical to fit into any of the three basic categories. These are known as Supernatural Merits.
Mirrors goes a step further and divides Merits into three new categories, based specifically on how they provide benefits to the player: Background Merits, like the old Backgrounds, add new traits that are a pre-existing aspect of the character which could not be expressed any other way. Expanded Trait Merits give a bonus to a certain Attribute, Skill, or other trait during a certain situation. Specialized Merits provide the player with new specific maneuvers that would not be available to an untrained character.
- Main article: Vampire Merits
For Kindred, Merits are particularly crucial, as they reflect who possesses the coveted upper echelons of vampire society. Notable Merits are Haven, the refuge that Kindred retire to during the day, unique for its three-way point split between Size, Location, and Security; Herd, how many human followers or ghouls the Kindred can draw a tithe of blood from, and the new varieties of the Status Merit, City Status, Clan Status, and Covenant Status, which, along with Blood Potency, are used to determine titles, superiority, and rank within vampiric society. As a representation of the Generation merit from Vampire: The Masquerade, Merit dots can also be used to purchase Blood Potency, at a rate of three to one.
- Main article: Werewolf Merits
Merits available to the Uratha often define how their dual man-wolf nature augments their behavior or physical form, such as Predator's Gaze or Staunch Defender. A recurring theme in werewolf Merits is their relationship to spirits, which allows them to take Merits like Fetish, a spirit that has been bound to produce a powerful artifact. The most unique and iconic werewolf Merit is Totem, which provides mechanics for a spiritual guardian of the character's pack, and is shared in cost among all packmates. Territory, a concept which is very important to the Uratha, is one of the most complex Merit families in the game, having a vast number of options to represent the tapestry of territory a pack may hold.
- Main article: Mage Merits
For the Awakened, Merits represent a large variety of power and circumstance. The most basic of merits available to Mages, High Speech, is granted merely by being a member of an Order, attained through another Merit, Order Status. Some Merits, namely Artifact and Imbued Item, bring Equipment back into the foreground of a highly powers-based game. The Sanctum, much like a vampire's Haven or a werewolf's Territory, gives the mage a permanent residence in the World of Darkness, and can be improved with offshoot Merits such as Hallow or Library. The Awakened also have a greater variety of Retainers than the average character, with the Familiar and Sleepwalker Retainer Merits giving new flavor and functionality to a classic Merit.
- Main article: Promethean Merits
The Promethean approach to Merits is distinct from many other supernaturals in that, while they get their own list of Merits, certain generic Merits are no longer available to them, such as Fame and Retainer, while the usefulness of other Merits, Mentor, Status, and Striking Looks, is significantly curtailed. Many Promethean Merits use as their theme the ebb and flow of the burning Azoth and Athanor, which powers merits such as the prophetic Elpis and the intimidating Unpalatable Aura. They have their own flavor of residence, known as a Lair. The transformation from human to something distinctly different also creates fodder for Merits, such as Residual Memory.
- Main article: Changeling Merits
Changelings are more Merit-dependent than some of the other known types of supernaturals, with Merit groups that present new varieties of power, such as Mask and Mien and Partial Transformation. Both the place-to-call-home and item-of-power types of Merit are represented, as Hollow and Token, respectively. Courts are a major part of the Changeling Merit system, with many Merits - Court Goodwill, Mantle, and Harvest, to name a few, influencing the relationship between Court and character, and varying in effect depending on which Court was selected. Following the general Changeling: The Lost structure of having each supplement relate to a certain aspect of character design, most Changeling Merits are detailed in Rites of Spring.
- Main article: Hunter Merits
Because Hunters do not have the same kind of explicitly identified powers that other templates do, such as Disciplines or Contracts, Merits play a large role in what makes Hunters different from regular mortal characters. The baseline of Hunter Merits are the Compact Status and Conspiracy Status Merits, which provide specific advantages based on how many points are obtained, and in which Compact or Conspiracy. Characters with a fairly large arsenal of Conspiracy Status may use it to purchase Endowments, Conspiracy-specific Merits that are the closest Hunters get to supernatural power. Other Merits in the line portray the gritty, high-tension feel of Hunter, such as Safehouse and Favored Weapon.
- Main article: Geist Merits
The newest and smallest of the World of Darkness lines, Geists have only a small collection of Merits to call their own, but they are still some of the most complex and powerful of existing Merits. The Haunt Merit combines the need for a place of residence and the need to regenerate a Geist's power source, Plasm, into one three-pronged Merit. Ceremonies evoke the ritual Disciplines of Kindred by providing a single Merit with a variety of purchasable applications, each with some magical power over the scenario. Memento, the magic item Merit of the Geists, exists in five different forms, with each dot coloring the Merit in a different mechanical fashion.
World of Darkness Merits