Effect: A haven is a place where a vampire sleeps, protected from the sun during the deadly daylight hours. Legends tell of vampires in dark, twisted citadels on high mountain peaks, complete with labyrinthine catacombs, but the reality is far less grandiose. In truth, a haven can be as simple as a sewer or an abandoned warehouse or a crate in a forgotten storage closet, as long as it is undisturbed between dawn and dusk.
All havens are not created equal. A warehouse might have plenty of space and proximity to a significant amount of prey, but it might not be secure against unwanted visitors. An abandoned subway car in a long-forgotten tunnel has space and adequate security, but it might be so far out of the way that finding prey is difficult. Great time and effort is spent finding suitable havens, and their value is represented by three factors — location, size and security. Players who choose this Merit must also choose how to allocate these three factors when spending points. For instance, two points may be spent on Haven Location, with a third spent on Haven Security.
A good Haven Location makes it easier for a vampire to feed, situated near a meeting place for large numbers of humans. A haven with many dots in this category might be close to several nightclubs or bars that do considerable nighttime business, while one with few dots might simply be close to a bus or train station that brings travelers on a regular basis. Each dot of Haven Location grants a +1 die bonus on hunting checks for the character who controls it and any whom she allows in. Havens without any dots in Location are sufficiently secluded so as to not provide any bonus.
Haven Size is important to characters who need a place to safely store their possessions and valuables. A haven with no dots in Haven Size is just large enough for its owner and perhaps a single companion, with minimal if any storage capacity— the aforementioned crate in the forgotten storage closet, or a cramped apartment. By spending points to increase a haven’s size, a player allows for accoutrements and personal effects. Larger havens can be anything from mansions to mountain hideaways to vast subterranean catacombs. Note, however, that havens of considerable size are not necessarily easy to maintain.
- • A small apartment or underground chamber; 1-2 rooms
- •• A large apartment or small family home; 3-4 rooms
- ••• A warehouse, church or large home; 5-8 rooms, or large enclosure
- •••• A abandoned mansion or network of subway tunnels; equivalent of 9-15 rooms or chambers
- ••••• A sprawling estate or vast network of tunnels; countless rooms or chambers
Of course, Haven Location and Haven Size do not prevent rival vampires from attempting to find and steal choice havens, nor do they prevent intrusion by mortals (police, criminal organizations, social workers). Players of characters who wish to ensure privacy and safety may choose to spend points on Haven Security, thus making it difficult for others to gain entrance. Havens with no dots in Haven Security can be found by those intent enough to look, and offer little protection once they have been breached. Each dot of Haven Security subtracts one die from efforts to intrude into the haven by anyone a character doesn’t specifically allow in. This increased difficulty may be because the entrance is so difficult to locate (behind a bookcase, under a carpet) or simply difficult to penetrate (behind a vault door).
Also, each dot of Haven Security offers a +1 bonus on Initiative for those inside against anyone attempting to gain entrance (good sight lines, video surveillance). Characters whose players spend no points at all on Haven might have their own small, humble havens, or perhaps they share the haven of a sire or Prince. In any event, they simply do not gain the mechanical benefits of those who have spent Merit points improving the quality of their homes. Each aspect of the Haven Merit has a limit of 5. In other words, Haven Location, Haven Size and Haven Security may not rise above 5 (to a maximum of 15 points spent on this Merit).
Special: It’s possible for the Haven Merit to be shared among characters in a close-knit group. They might simply be devoted to one another and willing to pool what they have, or perhaps their mutual reliance on an individual or trust could bring them together to share what they have in common. To share this Merit, two or more characters simply have to be willing to pool their dots for greater capability. A shared rating in the Haven Merit cannot rise higher than five dots in any of the three aspects of the trait. That is, characters cannot pool more than five points to be devoted to, say, Haven Size. If they wish to devote extra points to the Merit, they must allocate those dots to a different aspect of the Merit, such as Location or Security.
Shared Haven dots can be lost. Coterie members or associates might be abused or mistreated, ending relationships. Group members might perform actions that cast themselves (and the group) in a bad light. Money might be spent or lost. If any group member does something to diminish the haven, its dots decrease for all group members. That’s the weakness of sharing dots in this Merit. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The Storyteller dictates when character actions or events in a story compromise shared Haven dots.
Characters can also leave a shared haven. A rift might form between close Kindred. A character might meet Final Death. Or one could be kicked out of the haven by the others. When a character leaves a shared-Haven relationship, the dots he contributed are removed from the pool. If the individual still survives, he doesn’t get all his dots back for his own purposes. He gets one less than he originally contributed. So, if a character breaks a relationship with his coterie, his two Haven dots are lost by the group, but he gets only one dot back for his own purposes. The lost dot represents the cost or bad image that comes from the breakup. If all members agree to part ways, they all lose one dot from what they originally contributed.
The Storyteller decides what reduced dots mean in the story when a character leaves a shared haven. Perhaps no one else picks up the character’s attention to Haven Security, leaving that to drop. The haven might not be tended as fastidiously, causing a drop in the Haven Location value. Maybe a portion of the haven falls into disuse or even collapses, causing an effective drop in Haven Size. Whatever the case, a plausible explanation must be determined.
A character need not devote all of her Haven dots to the shared Haven Merit, of course. A Kindred might maintain a separate haven of her own outside the communal one represented by the shared trait. Any leftover dots that a character has (or is unwilling to share) signify what she has to draw upon as an individual, separate from her partners. For example, three characters share a haven and expend a group total of five dots. One character chooses to use two other dots on a private haven for herself. Those remaining two dots represent a haven entirely separate from what she and her partners have established together.
To record a shared Haven Merit on your character sheet, put an asterisk next to the name of the Haven Merit and fill in the total dots that your character has access to thanks to his partnership. In order to record his original contribution, write it in parentheses along with the Merit’s name. It is not important to note which aspect of the Haven Merit on which those points are spent, as this allows greater flexibility should a character ever decide to withdraw from the community arrangement.