How does hunger work in V5?
For the uninitiated to V5, you only have five hunger slots. You have a chance to earn an additional hunger every time you make a rouse check with what is called a hunger die. Hunger dice are dice that make it more difficult to get a success, which means you gain more hunger. Hunger dice also include the messy critical and bestial failure systems, but that is a topic for another time. Also, you cannot go below hunger one without draining someone dry. Starting at hunger four, you need to start making hunger frenzy checks if you see or taste blood. I’m sure some of you can already see the problem here.
The Problem I have with hunger in V5
The main problem I have with hunger, given that there are no elder rules at the time of writing, is that you are already 20% hungry pretty much no matter what. I understand that V5 focuses mostly on fledglings and neonates, but in my personal experience you are constantly hungry in V5. On average, I found myself at hunger two or three. While I understand that V5 has themes of dis-empowerment, I feel that it is too limiting. A great way to see why this is a problem is that in the year-long Chronicle I was in we would spend at least an hour or two every session on feeding – and that’s assuming everything went well! I understand that an important part of being a vampire is that thirst for blood and V5 does an amazing job of making you feel like a vampire, but there’s needing to feed and practically starving during combat when disciplines are flying and you’re making many of those rouse checks. Speaking of combat.
This hunger system is crushing in combat where every discipline power above level one requires one or more of them. So, let’s say you’re playing a combat Gangrel. You’d be rousing to use Feral Weapons, maybe rousing to increase your combat dice, and then rousing to heal. In this theoretical combat let’s say you pop your claws, that’s one rouse. Then, you have a contest or two that you’re not sure you can win so you rouse for them that’s three rouses. After the combat let’s say you took 3 superficial damage, that’s three additional rouses assuming BP1. In total, that brings us to a grand total of six rouse checks! I will now roll a hunger die six times on my desk and record the results: success, fail, fail, success, fail, and success. In this example, we would have gained three hunger. That would take us, assuming we had one hunger at the start of this, to hunger four. At hunger four, you need to make a frenzy roll to feed. Are you starting to see the problem yet?
I want to make it clear that I am not advocating for the hunger system to change drastically. I like the hunger system for how it makes you feel like a vampire, but I see the problems. Especially with combat characters, this system punishes then too harshly. See the example above. Before I write out two ways of solving this issue, I will address counterpoints to my opinion.
Counterpoints to my opinion
I have had a discussion or two about this topic and I wanted to address some of the common arguments against me disliking how limiting the hunger system in V5 is.
“Elders didn’t fight all the time, they had sphere of influences or had ghouls do things for them.”
Yes, they did, but V5 focuses on neonates and fledglings, mostly. Quite frankly, while neonates and fledglings do a fair amount of politicking, you’re going to fight much more as a fledgling. This system punishes them unfairly, I feel.
“Combat should be a last resort for Kindred.”
I agree, but sometimes you get an SI on your tail or another Kindred just refuses to listen, so you have to go in and do the dirty work. As I said, due to this system focusing on fledglings, combat is going to be inevitable at one point or another unless you’re amazing with words.
Also, what if you want to be a combat-focused character? That’s just punishing someone for playing the game in a way they find enjoyable. You cannot tell me that there is not a guard dog of some kind for a Ventrue or a Prince’s personal bodyguard that is there purely for combat.
Let us not forget about the Sabbat, who have not been released at the time of writing. Their whole perspective is that they are fighting a war against the antediluvians and their servants. They’re going to engage in combat a lot.
“Maybe you should be more strategic when you use your rouses.”
This argument is like saying “Don’t use the powers that are given to you”. While, yes, some situations don’t call for them they can be really useful. Now, you can argue that this is using your disciplines as a crutch which is a fair argument, but to that I say yes. Kindred sometimes need to rely on their disciplines. It’s a fairly big part of the game and I’m not saying you should be able to use them 24/7, but there should be some more wiggle room than there currently is.
“But I like the hunger system how it is.”
I’m glad you do and your opinion is completely valid. I just personally feel it is too punishing to combat characters as I mostly play one. If you find it good at is it I’m happy for you and I hope you continue to enjoy it!
I have to ways to fix this problem that I can think of. One is how I handle it, and the other is one suggested by a friend of mine who is also an ST.
Solution 1: sect food supplies.
This was the solution I came up with for the chronicle I ran. Basically, given that hunger is such a big problem, it would be reasonable that the sects, especially the Camarilla, would have a place where people could go to get unlimited blood. Though, with the caveat that you cannot find dyscrasias there. In order to find those you would need to actually hunt.
While this does lessen parts of being a vampire this also would make sense given how easy it is for people to frenzy. This way, you don’t need to spend hours feeding you can just go “Hey, I’m stopping by the place we get blood” and you’re ready to go.
Solution 2: have a total of seven hunger
This solution was given to me by one of my friends who is also an ST. He suggested increasing the hunger to a total of seven. That way you could still have a limited amount of hunger, but you have a little more breathing room. This would alleviate this system being so crushing for combat-focused characters and also allow you a little more flexibility on when you can use your disciplines.
The downside suggested to being above hunger four is that you have the equivalent to the Obvious predator flaw (V5 p.189).
I love the V5 hunger system, but I feel that it is a little too punishing for people who want to be combat-focused. The system also is a little too restrictive on when you can use your disciplines. I love V5 and that’s why I care enough to write about this. I will probably write about the resonance system at a later point because I have opinions on that system. In the meantime, feel free to discuss in the comments. I’d love to see what other people think about my take on this topic.