Most RPGs have characters roll against difficulty and target numbers that are either static or determined by a strictly mechanical formula. That's all fine, but the problem is, flat mechanics don't have anything to do with the narrative of the group story, which is usually the only part of the game where the character's emotions and often even their motivations come into play.
A character's emotional ratings determine the target number the Player rolls against. The introduction told you that it didn't matter how strong a werewolf is, or how fast a vampire or beautiful a fae is; the important part is how they feel, the motivation behind whatever action they're attempting. Characters' emotions slide up and down a ten-point scale between the extremes of each emotional pairing; the target number for any roll motivated by either of those emotions is the pair's current rating. The catch is whether or not the roll is being motivated by a positive emotion or a negative one. Actions motivated by positive emotions are successful if they roll higher than the emotion's rating, while negative emotion actions are successful if they roll below the rating. Take a look at an example of an in-game narrative, with the mechanics of the scene portrayed on the meta-level, around the gaming table:
He was a vampire, had been one for twenty years, so it came naturally to him, even if he was comparatively young, for a vampire. Still, he had managed to outsmart his Master and sire, Old Man Saunders, getting him and the rest of Nest Saunders slain by Hunters, making Tom himself into a rogue vampire. He moved into Signal Lakes, knowing Old Man Saunders had a human agent there who created false identities for the aged members of the nest, so that they could operate in the modern world. Tom told Vinnie he didn't have to worry about Old Man Saunders anymore, and Vinnie hacked a few government databases, resetting Tom's year of birth to make him twenty-one. As the nest gopher, Tom had always had access to Saunders' bank accounts, and he used the centenarian vampire's funds to build a life for himself.
Ninjacat (GM): "Okay, Tom, you're just walking through the park st sunset, watching families and remembering what it was like thirty years ago, when you were a kid and your parents would make your older sister take you to the park. She would sigh heavily, roll her eyes, and pop her bubble gum in greatly-annoyed early-teenage fashion, but your family loved each other. Those memories help you keep the sadness of your missing soul at bay; watching loving families in the park is a way for you to remember how to be happy.
"You're quite surprised when your vampiric eyesight catches the sight of a familiar face through the trees, over by the parking lot. . .it's your older sister, Vicki, who's now in her mid-forties and apparently talking to her teenaged son."
Drew (Tom): "Oh, crap! —She can't see me, right?"
Ninjacat (GM): "No, you're too far away and looking from between tree trunks; her human vision couldn't spot you even if you yelled her name. She might recognize your voice if you did that, though."
Drew (Tom): "Hah, yeah, no yelling. I do want to get closer, though, close enough to hear what they're saying, without them seeing me. That would be a REFLEX roll, right, and add my STALKING Skill?"
Ninjacat (GM): "Absolutely, but I think you're having some emotional reactions here. Given your paranoia about Vicki potentially catching sight of you, I'd say your FEAR is going to increase by one point."
Drew (Tom): "Yeah, that's fair. But I was just remembering my family and thinking about familial love to counter my vampire sadness, and now I find out my big sis is actually here, and that I'm an uncle! Shouldn't my LOVE increase, too, even if I'm hiding from them?"
Ninjacat (GM): "Sure. Go ahead and adjust those, then make your REFLEX roll. Don't forget to decide which emotion is motivating your stealth, here!"
Drew adjusts Tom's LOVE and FEAR, reducing Tom's LOVE–RAGE from 6 to 5 and increasing his PASSION–FEAR from 6 to 7.
Drew (Tom): "Dangit, that still leaves me neutral on LOVE–RAGE, but now I'm actually scared, nervous. Okay, Tom's really worried about being spotted by his older sister, since she thinks he died twenty years ago —not that she's actually wrong about that, heh— but he's not letting that worry drive him away. His FEAR of being spotted is motivating his stealth here, making him extra careful about it. He really wants to see his big sis again, and hear her voice, see and hear his nephew, but the last thing he wants is to upset Vicki or make her think she's seen a ghost."
Ninjacat (GM): "Excellent. From what you can see, it looks like Vicki and her son are having an argument; she looks like she's worried for or about him, and he's got that teen angst dismissal going on as you start sneaking closer, through the trees. Make your roll, and I'm gonna go ahead and give you an Angst Point for embracing your character's emotions."
The GM tosses Drew a token representing Tom's new Angst Point, increasing his number of Angst Points from 3 to 4.
Drew (Tom): "Awesome! Okay, here goes something..."
Drew rolls 5d10, the total of Tom's REFLEX Attribute plus his STALKING Skill, getting results of 10, 4, 1, 8, 4.
Drew (Tom): "Geeze, what a roll! A 1 is two Successes on a FEAR roll, but a 10 removes a Success, so that's just 1 Success. Plus two Successes for the two 4s makes a total of 3 Successes. Is that enough, or do I accidentally get their attention?"
Ninjacat (GM): "Well, it's more than enough to avoid your sister's notice, since she's paying attention to her pouty son and not minding other park patrons, especially when they're hidden in the trees. Jason, on the other hand, is trying to tune his mother out, rolling his eyes and turning away from her, etc. Jensen, why don't you make an INSIGHT roll. . .what are Jason's emotions at?"
Jensen (Jason): "Heh. My defaults are 6, 5, 3, 6, but I'm guessing arguing with my mom adjusts that, right?"
Ninjacat (GM): "Yep, that's why I was asking. She's all worried about you, afraid you're still beating yourself up about your girlfriend's death and suppressing it, trying to get you to open up to her and share, all that jazz. You didn't want to tell her that you think maybe your birth mother wasn't so crazy after all when she called you the son of a demon, right?"
Jensen (Jason): (laughing) "Hell, No! That's why I'm ignoring her!"
Ninjacat (GM): "Okay, increase your LOVE–RAGE, your PASSION–FEAR, and your HAPPY–SAD by 1 each, That gets you an Angst Point, unless you want to spend one you already have, to resist letting your mom bug you?"
Jensen (Jason): "Hmm, I'm an incubus, so I don't like having FEAR reduce my PASSION, but I think I'm gonna want the Angst Points later; I'll take it, then make my INSIGHT roll. My LOVE–RAGE and my PASSION–FEAR are both equally off center, but I'm feeling more negative emotions than positive at the moment, so I roll using my RAGE, right?"
Ninjacat (GM): "Absolutely, that makes total sense. You've had your world rocked by learning the paranormal is real and that you're part of it, that your bio-mom wasn't crazy, and you're angry about it. In fact, a tiny part of you is even angry at your adopted parents, because even though they've always loved and supported you, helped you overcome your bio-mom's abuse. . .it turns out she was right, even if what she did to you because of it was wrong. You can't help being angry that all the work they did to 'heal' you has actually led you away from learning who you really are. Make your angry roll, see if you notice the pale stalker guy in the trees; he is a hottie..."
Jensen (Jason): "HAH! I'm gonna hit on my uncle; that sounds like a bad country-western song. Then again, we're not related by blood..."
Jensen receives an Angst Point and rolls 3d10, Jason's INSIGHT Attribute, hoping the dice come up less than 7. He gets results of 7, 1, 3, for a total of 3 Successes; tying Tom's stealth roll.
Ninjacat (GM): "Alright, your rolls are even. Ties go to the defending party, so in this case, Tom's action of sneaking failed to beat Jason's defense of noticing. Tom, you get close enough to hear your sister telling her son: 'Jason, honey, it was not your fault! Being with you did not kill Sheila...' Jason turns away from his mother as he rolls his eyes, turning to face the trees, and you. You can see on his face that he doesn't believe her at all, that he does think sleeping with Sheila killed her, but as you're watching his expression, you realize he's spotted you looking at him...."
You can come find out what it's all about, too, at the Chicago ENWorld GameDays hosted by Games Plus in Mt. Prospect, and at Gen Con and Who's Yer Con in Indianapolis. Join Tom, Jason, and a bunch of other pre-gen example characters from
Next Session: Gen Con Online 2020, July 30th – August 2nd, 2020 (on Discord).