The Veil. Draw and Consume Humanity?

I’m getting ready to run a Veil campaign, but I cannot get a grasp of what Humanity, in the Apparatus playbook, is how do you spend it or how does it interact with Abyss Stares Back or Rise.

  • In Abyss Stares Back: can the player only spend 1 humanity at a time? or if they had 1 humanity, and generated 2 could they choose the three options? Could you choose an option twice/thrice?
  • Rise says “When you draw and consume on your humanity” wouldn’t that mean it triggers twice when you choose the first option of Abyss?
  • Are there other ways to spend humanity?

Thanks! I’m really finding this confusing any help is welcome

Humanity works the same as Hold, so, if a character has more than one Humanity, they can spend up to as much Humanity as they have at once (meaning they can choose multiple options and/or the same option multiple times). They can also save their Humanity.

The Abyss Stares Back and Rise are for sure intertwined, but you don’t need to trigger The Abyss Stares Back in order to trigger Rise (but you do need Humanity to trigger Rise) — it’s important to look at their triggers:

The Abyss Stares Back: When you search the vast accumulated knowledge of The Veil or interact with something new in an attempt to understand humanity and what your place may be in it,

Rise: When you draw on and consume your Humanity to become something more than you once were,

So you have to look at what’s going on in the fiction and what the character is doing in that context. If a character triggers The Abyss Stares Back and the information or interaction they find let’s them become something more than they once were, it would follow the fiction that they consume spend that Humanity to select an option from Rise. If not, consider the scene and the options available.

Importantly, The Apparatus never has to spend Humanity as soon as they generate it! The character can hold on to it for a fictionally appropriate moment — a scene of self-reflection or interrogation that leads to triggering Rise; confronting an adversary with the truth and divulging a belief or truth about themselves or their target in order to inflict Humanity Harm; etc.

Lastly, Humanity can only be spent as a playbook dictates. The Apparatus interacts with it the most, but The Honed, I think, can also inflict Humanity Harm.
I’ll tag in @Frasersimons for his thoughts, if he’d like to!


Thanks! These are great pointers. As I was reading the manual humanity sounded interesting, and it still does, but as I come closer to running the game I’ve been finding some specific mechanics I’m not sure how to interpret when/if a player asked.

It’s also the first PbtA I’ll run as a campaign, previously I had only ran a Pasión one-shot.

If you have any more advice I’d appreciate it. Thanks again

Oh, no problem! As for general advice with The Veil…

I know the writer has a strong preference for suggestive and evocative mechanics (more descriptive rather than prescriptive, if those are helpful adjectives) so there is rarely ever any guidance on a 6-/miss, for example. Some options in moves are strictly evocative — for example, in Sway, one of the options the MC can select is “You need to give a piece of yourself to them, body or heart.” That can mean whatever you and your players interpret it to! When you run into bits that require interpretation, lean into it. The Veil is designed very much to shape itself to the kind of cyberpunk story you (the whole table) wants to tell. That’s part of why the playbooks have such a strong influence on the setting.

Use the feeling wheel! It’s a very good resource because it can be hard to figure out what your players’ characters are feeling when they roll. As y’all play, though, it will become second nature. Along with that, make sure your players are saying their feelings when they roll! Don’t let them get away with not! It’s not something you have to push, but it really affects a scene if, for example, a security guard is threatening a PC and the player keeps rolling with joyful — how’s the security guard going to respond seeing this PC…what? Laugh them off? It’s a way different scene if the PC is scared, right?

A couple moves to really think about: Probe and Neutralize. The PCs will probably be triggering Probe a lot (and they should), but Probe generates Hold, which the player is meant to spend during the interaction (they lose the Hold after the interaction ends). So butt in early if you even have an inkling that a player is trying to Probe, especially if they’re not telegraphing very loudly!
Neutralize is really great, imo, because it generates Hold. Instead of something like Attack Someone from Apocalypse World, Neutralize lets you extend a scene without punctuating it with multiple rolls. You can make your MC moves and they can respond by spending Hold. When they’re out of Hold, then there can be a big shift in the narrative moment, a reassessment to reroll Neutralize, etc.


Thank you! I’ll keep in mind the Neutrilize move

Yes, I think a common error on an MC and players part with The Veil is how much of it is player-driven. The setup in session 0 (or 1) to a game matters a lot because of this. Everyone should express what kind of a game they want to play and then use the playbooks to steer the fiction toward those goals. Playing the game in a more traditional style, where the players look to react to the MC all the time, are going to be frustrated.


Thanks! I’ll keep this in mind. I think, for me, it’s the need to explain how the game works to people who’ve never played it before more than being prescriptive as to how it “should” be played. But reading it’s I think it’s more about turning the table and asking the players “how do you think that works?” ?

I really appreciate you both taking the time to orientate me.

It will be this group second ever RPG so I’m trying to find a way to hold the players hand just enough that they are not overwhelmed by options (which is a comment I got after the last campaing) and my first time running PbtA :sweat_smile:

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PbtA, across the board, tends to be more “writers’ room,” so it might be helpful to reinforce that, even though you are the MC, everyone at the table has equal authorial control of the narrative — they have as much say in the direction of the plot as you do!
Definitely review your agerda and principles! Those are your guiding lights *~

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Thank you @darren for the advice, and @Frasersimons for being available as the game designer.

Last Saturday we had our first session and it went great! The players jumped right in and it eased a lot of the concerns I had about being familiar with the system.

I captured some notes on the game on a blog post (spanish). I’m looking forward to having a lot more sessions and playing to find out what happens.


Glad to hear it went well!