The kid shot me twice, then pissed his pants when he saw me keep oncoming. It was a nice gun he had, one of those TEC-9s that are all the rage among street-level dealers these days, but it had absolutely no slopping power. The slugs stung a little bit when they hit, but they didn't pack enough to break anything loadbearing. So I kept oncoming after I felt the bullets go out of my back, because if you take a shot at you are going to die, simple as that.
He was a skinny little kid who looked Puerto Rican. He was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans with a big wet stain along one leg, and he'd been toting the gun around in his hand without the slightest attempt to conceal it. He'd mouthed off and waved the gun around, and when I called him on his attitude he laughed and put a couple of caps in me.
I am very happy to say that his attitude changed immediately, at least for the next 10 or 15 seconds. I came over his cover - a rusted-out Chevy Impala - while he was turning to run and after that, it was easy. It took me one swipe to knock the gun out of his hand, another to bury my fist inside the gut, and his face took on that "O" expression that I've seen on so many gutshot soldiers. He dropped then, with a wet sucking noise as my fist came out. It was coated in equal parts blood and whatever crap he'd had for lunch, and that put me off the idea of feeding from him before he croaked. So I shook the crud off my hand and leaned in close to his face. He was shivering with shock already, as I feared.
"Listen up, pobrecito," I said. "You're dead. The gut wound's going to kill you, even if you don't bleed to death. But I'll make you a deal. I used to be a good Catholic, so I'm gonna give you a few seconds to make some kind of confession, then I'm going to stick my finger through your left eye and put you out of your misery. Comprende?"
He nods, and starts praying. Me, I start counting.
All vampires possess Disciplines, supernatural powers granted by the Embrace. These powers separate the undead from mortals, providing vast physical and spiritual might. With Disciplines, a vampire can display the strength of 10 men, bend another being to her will, or transform into an animal. Elders, who have not only learned several Disciplines but mastered them as well, are truly beings to be feared.
No vampire knows exactly whence Disciplines originate. Some Kindred claim that Disciplines are gifts from Caine, or Lilith the Dark Mother; others believe they are simply innate supernatural abilities intrinsic to the vampiric form. Regardless, it is mastery of the Disciplines, more than any other factor, that enables a vampire to play at Jyhad and survive to tell of it.
Like other Traits, Disciplines are rated from 1 to 5. A score of 1 indicates that the Discipline in question has barely been awakened, while a score of 5 indicate mastery of the highest powers. As a character increases her score in a Discipline, she gains access to the powers listed next to the appropriate number of dots, and of course retains access to lesser powers as well. Certain elders are rumored to have Discipline levels of higher than 5, but such beings are assuredly potent in Blood.
Players begin the game with three dots to spend on their characters' clan Disciplines, which are listed with each clan description in Chapter Two. Caitiff may place their three dots on any Disciplines they like, subject to the Storyteller's discretion. Characters may also acquire Disciplines other than those commonly taught by their clan, provided they spend the proper freebie or experience points and have access to a vampiric teacher.
Note: Unless stated in the description, Disciplines cost no blood or Willpower points to activate.
The Beast resides within all creatures, from lice-ridden rats to powerful Kindred elders. The Discipline of Animalism allows the vampire to develop a close, intense connection with his primordial nature. He not only communicates empathically with the lower beasts, but also projects his own force of will upon them, directing the animals to do his bidding. Additionally, as the vampire grows in power, he can use Animalism to control the Beast within mortals and even other supernaturals.
A vampire who lacks this Discipline or the Skill of Animal Ken is repellent to animals. Beasts grow distinctly agitated in the presence of such a Kindred, often to the point of fleeing from or attacking the vampire. In contrast, Kindred with Animalism present a soothing aspect to lower creatures - indeed, animals are often attracted to them.
The Gangrel are especially renowned as the masters of Animalism, although the Nosferatu, Ravnos and Tzimisce clans show a talent for the Discipline as well.
The Traits of Manipulation and Charisma are key to Animalism powers. The stronger the vampire's force of personality, the better able he is to influence lesser creatures.
This power is the basis from which all other Animalism abilities grow. The vampire creates an empathic connection with a beast, thereby allowing him to communicate or issue simple commands. The Kindred locks eyes with the animal, transmitting his desires through sheer force of will. Although it isn't necessary to actually "speak" in chirps, hisses or barks, some vampires find that doing so helps strengthen the connection with the animal. Eye contact must be maintained the entire time; if it's broken, the Kindred must look into the beast's eyes once again to regain contact.
Since Feral Whispers requires eye contact, animals that cannot see are not affected. Further, the simpler the creature, the more difficult it becomes to connect with the animal's Beast. Mammals, predatory birds and larger reptiles are relatively easy to communicate with. Insects, invertebrates and most fish (with the possible exception of larger ones like sharks) are just too simple, their Beasts too weak, to connect with.
Feral Whispers provides no guarantees that an animal will want to deal with the vampire, nor does it ensure that the animal will pursue any requests the vampire makes of it. Still, it does at least make the creature better disposed toward the Kindred. The manner in which the vampire presents his desires to the animal often depends on the type of creature. A Kindred can probably cow smaller beasts into heeding commands, but he's better off couching orders for large predators in terms of requests.
If the vampire successfully uses the power, the animal performs the command to the best of its ability and intellect. Only the very brightest creatures understand truly complex directives (orders dealing with conditional situations or requiring abstract logic). Commands that the animal does understand remain deeply implanted, however, and may affect it for some time.
System: No roll is necessary to talk with an animal, but the character must establish eye contact first. Issuing commands requires a Manipulation + Animal Ken roll. The difficulty depends on the creature: Predatory mammals (wolves, cats, insectivorous/vampire bats) are difficulty 6, other mammals and predatory birds (rats, owls) are difficulty 7, other birds and reptiles (pigeons, snakes) are difficulty 8. This difficulty is reduced by one if the character speaks to the animal in its "native tongue," and can be adjusted further by circumstances and roleplaying skill (we highly recommend that all communication between characters and animals be roleplayed).
The number of successes the player achieves dictates how strongly the character's command affects the animal. One success is sufficient to have a cat follow someone and lead the character to the same location, three successes are enough to have a raven spy on a target for weeks, and five successes ensure that a grizzly ferociously guards the entrance to the character's wilderness haven for some months.
The character's Nature plays a large part in how he approaches these conversations. The character might try intimidation, teasing, cajoling, rationality or emotional pleading. The player should understand that he does not simply play his character in these situations, but the Beast Within as well.
It's challenging for the Storyteller to present animals as more than just plot devices when a character communicates with them. Many Storytellers have beasts speak in monosyllables and allow the characters to direct them easily.
Animals are, indeed, simple creatures. They live always in the present and are directed by basic instincts, seldom understanding the complex rationales that motivate vampires. This doesn't mean they're stupid, however; beasts must be cunning to survive in forest wilds and urban landscapes. Younger vampires are often surprised by how perceptive animals can be - since animals don't play mind games, they're often quite good at cutting through lies and deception.
Bearing these things in mind, the Storyteller can make animals as dynamic and interesting as any other Storyteller characters the troupe encounters.
Statistics for certain animals are found in the Appendix, p. 302.
The vampire's connection to the Beast grows strong enough that he may call out in the voice of a specific type of animal - howling like a wolf, cawing like a raven, etc. This call mystically summons creatures of the chosen type. Since each type of animal has a different call, Beckoning works for only a single species at a time.
All such animals within earshot are summoned, but may choose individually whether or not to respond. While the vampire has no control over the beasts who answer, the animals who do are favorably disposed toward him and are at least willing to listen to the Kindred's request.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Survival (difficulty 6) to determine the response to the character's call; consult the table below. Only animals that can hear the cry will respond. If the Storyteller decides no animals of that type are within earshot, the summons goes unanswered.
The call can be as specific as the player desires. A character could call for all bats in the area, for only the male bats nearby, or for only the albino bat with the notched ear he saw the other night.
Quell the Beast
As the supreme predators of the natural world, Kindred are highly attuned to the bestial nature that dwells within every mortal heart. A vampire who develops this power may assert his will over a mortal (animal or human) subject, subduing the Beast within her. This quenches all powerful, assertive emotions - hope, fury, inspiration - within the target. The Kindred must either touch his subject or stare into her eyes to channel his will effectively.
Mortals who lack the fire of their inner Beasts are quite tractable, reacting to even stressful situations with indifference. Even the most courageous or maddened mortal becomes apathetic and listless, while an especially sensitive individual may suffer from a phobic derangement while under the power's influence.
Different clans evoke this power in different ways, although the effect itself is identical. Tzimisce call it Cowing the Beast, since they force the mortal's weaker spirit to cower in fear before the Kindred's own inner Beast. Nosferatu refer to it as Song of Serenity, since they soothe the subject's Beast into a state of utter complacency, thus allowing them to feed freely. Gangrel know the power as Quell the Beast, and force the mortal spirit into a state of fear or apathy as befits the individual vampire's nature.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Intimidation if forcing out the Beast through fear, Manipulation + Empathy if soothing it into complacency. The roll is made versus difficulty 7 in either case. This is an extended action requiring as many total successes as the target has Willpower. Failure indicates that the player must start over from the beginning, while a botch indicates that the vampire may never again affect that subject's Beast.
When a mortal's Beast is cowed or soothed, she can no longer use or regain Willpower. She ceases all struggles, whether mental or physical. She doesn't even defend herself if assaulted, though the Storyteller may allow a Willpower roll if the mortal's life is threatened. To recover from this power, the mortal rolls Willpower (difficulty 6) once per day until she accumulates enough successes to equal the vampire's Willpower. Kindred themselves cannot be affected by this power.
Subsume the Spirit
By locking his gaze with that of a beast, the vampire may psychically possess the animal. Some older Kindred believe that since animals have no souls, only spirits, the vampire can move his own soul into the animal's body. Most younger vampires think it is a matter of transferring one's consciousness into the animal's mind. In either case, it's agreed that the beast's weaker spirit (or mind) is pushed aside by the Kindred's own consciousness. The vampire's body falls into a motionless state akin to torpor while his mind takes control of the animal's actions, remaining this way until the Kindred's consciousness returns.
Tzimisce seldom use this power, considering it debasing to enter the body of a lesser creature. When they do stoop to using it, they possess only predators. Conversely, Gangrel revel in connecting to the natural world in this fundamental way. They delight in sampling different animals' natures.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Animal Ken (difficulty 8) as the character looks into the animal's eyes (only beasts with eyes can be possessed). The number of successes obtained determines how thoroughly the character overrides the animal's spirit. Fewer than three successes means the character must use Willpower points to take any action that directly violates the instincts of the animal in question. With fewer than five successes, the possessing character behaves much like the animal - his soul is clouded with needs and impulses from the animal's spirit and body. Multiple successes allow the character to utilize some mental Disciplines while possessing the animal, as noted on the chart below.
This power entwines the character's consciousness closely with the animal's spirit, so much so that the character may continue to think and feel like that animal even after breaking the connection. This effect continues until the character spends a total of seven Willpower points to resist and finally overcome the animal nature. This should be roleplayed, although to a lessening degree as Willpower is spent.
At the end of any particularly exciting incident during possession, the player rolls Wits + Empathy (difficulty 8) for the character to retain his own mind. Failure indicates that the character's mind returns to his own body, but still thinks in purely animalistic terms. A botch sends the character into frenzy upon returning to his own body.
The character may travel as far from his body as he is physically able while possessing the animal. The character retains no conscious connection with his vampire body during this time, though. The vampire may also venture out during the day, albeit in the animal's body. However, the character's own body must be awake to do so, requiring a successful roll to remain awake (see Chapter Six). If the character leaves the animal's body (by choice, if his body falls asleep, after sustaining significant injury), the vampire's consciousness returns to his physical form instantaneously.
Although the vampire has no conscious link to his body while possessing the animal, he does form a sympathetic bond. Anything the animal feels, the vampire also experiences, from pleasure to pain. In fact, any damage the animal's body sustains is also applied to the character's body, although the Kindred may soak as normal. If the animal dies before the vampire's soul can flee from the body, the character's body falls into torpor. Presumably this is in sympathetic response to the massive trauma of death, although some Kindred believe that the vampire's soul is cast adrift during this time and must find its way back to the body.
Drawing Out the Beast
At this level of Animalism, the Kindred has a keen understanding of the Beast Within. Whenever this predator spirit threatens to overwhelm the vampire's soul and send him into frenzy, he may instead release his feral urges upon another creature. The recipient of the vampire's Beast is instantly overcome by frenzy. This is an unnatural frenzy, however, as the victim is channeling the Kindred's own fury. As such, the vampire's own behavior, expressions and even speech patterns are evident in the subject's savage actions.
Gangrel and Tzimisce are especially fond of loosing their Beasts on others. Gangrel do so to stir their ghouls into inspired heights of savagery during combat. Tzimisce care less for who receives their Beast than they do for retaining their own composure.
System: The vampire must be in frenzy or close to it to use this power. The player must announce his preferred target (since it must be someone within sight, Drawing Out the Beast cannot he used if the vampire is alone), then roll Manipulation + Self-Control (difficulty 8). Refer to the table below for the results:
If the attempt fails, the intensity of the frenzy actually increases. As the character relaxes in expectation of relieving his savage urges, the Beast takes that opportunity to dig deeper. In this case, the frenzy lasts twice as long as normal and is twice as difficult to shrug off; its severity also increases exponentially. Botching this roll is even more catastrophic; the heightened frenzy grows so extreme that not even expending Willpower curbs its duration or effects. The character is a hapless victim to the terrible fury of his Beast.
If the character leaves the target's presence before the frenzy expends itself, the vampire loses his Beast, perhaps permanently. While no longer vulnerable to frenzy, the character cannot use or regain Willpower and becomes increasingly lethargic. To recover the Beast, he must find the person who now possesses it (who likely isn't enjoying herself very much) and retrap the Beast. The most effective way to do so is to behave in ways that make the Beast want to return - however, this isn't a guarantee that it will wish to do so. Alternatively, the character can simply kill the host (thus causing the Beast to return to the vampire immediately), but such an act costs at least one point of Humanity.
This Discipline bestows uncanny sensory abilities upon the vampire. While Auspex initially heightens all of the Kindred's senses significantly, that is merely the beginning. As she grows in power, the vampire can perceive the psychic auras that flow around her and even project her mind into another being's thoughts. Furthermore, Auspex can pierce the disguises that Obfuscate creates; see "Seeing the Unseen," p. 152, for more details.
Such sensory command gives the vampire a distinct advantage over mortals and even many supematurals. Whether these talents let her view a distant haven, sense the prince's mood or pluck secrets from a rival Kindred's ghoul, Auspex is a powerful tool.
Still, the vampire must be careful lest this heightened sensitivity cause her to be distracted by beautiful things, startled by loud noises or overwhelmed by foul smells. Sudden or dynamic events can disorient an Auspex-using character unless she makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 4) to block them out. The more potent the source of distraction, the higher the difficulty. Failure overwhelms the character's senses, making her oblivious to her surroundings for a turn or two.
Malkavians and Toreador are most susceptible to such distractions. Kindred from the Tremere and Tzimisce clans seem better able to regulate their sensory input, but they are not immune to the occasional distraction.
A high Perception Trait is a great boon to using Auspex powers. The better the roll, the greater the degree of sensory information the character gains.
This power sharpens all of the vampire's senses, effectively doubling the clarity and range of sight, hearing and smell. While her senses of taste and touch extend no farther than normal, they likewise become far more acute; the vampire could taste the hint of liquor in a victim's blood, or feel the give of the board concealing a hollow space in the floor. The Kindred may magnify her senses at will, sustaining this heightened focus for as long as she desires. At the Storyteller's option, this may make hunting easier.
Occasionally, this talent provides extrasensory or even precognitive insights. These brief, unfocused glimpses may be odd premonitions, flashes of empathy or eerie feelings of foreboding. The vampire has no control over these perceptions, but with practice can learn to interpret them with a fair degree of accuracy.
Expanded senses come at a price, however. Bright lights, loud noises and strong smells present a hazard while the vampire uses this power. In addition to the possibility for distraction mentioned above, an especially sudden stimulus - like the glare of a spotlight or a clap of thunder - can blind or deafen the Kindred for an hour or more.
System: This power doesn't normally require the use of dice, instead being defined through the Storyteller's descriptions and the player's imagination. In certain circumstances, use of this power requires a die roll: for a normal Perception roll (the Storyteller may reduce the difficulty by the character's Auspex rating), to notice a subject using Obfuscate (see p. 166), or to perceive a threat (the Storyteller privately rolls the character's unmodified Auspex rating, applying whatever difficulty he feels best suits the circumstances). For example, in the last instance, sensing that a pistol is pointed at the back of the character's head may require a 5, while the sudden realization that a rival for primogen is planning her assassination may require a 9.
This power does not let characters see in pitch darkness, as does Eyes of the Beast (p. 173), but it does reduce difficulty penalties to act in pitch darkness from +2 to +1, and the character may make ranged attacks in pitch darkness if she can hear, smell or otherwise detect her foe.
Using this power, the vampire can perceive the psychic "auras" that radiate from mortals and supernatural beings alike. These halos comprise a shifting series of colors that take practice to discern with clarity. Even the simplest individual has many shifting hues within his aura; strong emotions predominate, while momentary impressions or deep secrets flash through in streaks and swirls.
The colors change in sympathy with the subject's emotional state, blending into new tones in a constantly dancing pattern. The stronger the emotions involved, the more intense the hues become. A skilled vampire can learn much from her subject by reading the nuances of color and brilliance in the aura's flow.
Aside from perceiving emotional states, vampires use Aura Perception to detect supernatural beings. The colors in Kindred auras, while intense, are quite pale; mage auras often flare and crackle with suppressed power; werebeasts have strikingly bright, almost frantic, halos; ghosts have weak auras that flicker fitfully like a dying flame; and faerie creatures' radiance is shot through with rainbow hues.
System: The player rolls Perception + Empathy (difficulty 8); each success indicates how much of the subject's aura the character sees and understands (see the table below). A botch indicates a false or erroneous interpretation. The Storyteller may wish to make this roll, thus keeping the player in the dark as to just how good (or bad) the character's interpretation is.
The Aura Colors chart offers examples of some common colors and the emotions they reflect.
The character may view a particular subject's aura only once with any degree of clarity. Any subsequent attempts that result in failure should be considered botches. It is very easy for the character to imagine seeing what she wants to see when judging someone's intentions. After a full month, the character may try again at no penalty.
It is possible, though difficult, to sense the aura of a being who is otherwise invisible to normal sight. Refer to "Seeing the Unseen," p. 152, for more information.
The Spirit's Touch
When someone handles an object for any length of time, he leaves a psychic impression on the item. A vampire with this level of Auspex can "read" these sensations, learning who handled the object, when he last held it and what was done with it recently.
These visions are seldom clear and detailed, registering more like a kind of "psychic snapshot." Still, the Kindred can learn much even from such a glimpse. Although most visions concern the last person to handle the item, a long-time owner leaves a stronger impression than someone who held the object briefly.
Gleaning information from the spiritual residue requires the vampire to hold the object and enter a shallow trance. She is only marginally aware of her surroundings while using The Spirit's Touch, but a loud noise or jarring physical sensation breaks the trance instantly.
System: The player rolls Perception + Empathy. The difficulty is determined by the age of the impressions and the mental and spiritual strength of the person or event that left them. Sensing information from a pistol used for murder hours ago may require a 5, while learning who owned a set of keys found days ago might be a 9.
The greater the individual's emotional connection to the object, the stronger the impression he leaves on it - and the more information the Kindred can glean from it. Also, events involving strong emotions (a gift-giving, a torture, a long family history) likewise leave stronger impressions than does short or casual contact. Assume that each success offers one piece of information. While one success tells the character only that "a man held this pocket watch last," three reveal that he was petty, middle-aged and afraid. Four successes discover his name, and five or more reveal his connection to the watch as well as some of the things he did with it in his possession.
The vampire projects a portion other consciousness into a nearby mortal's mind, creating a mental link through which she can communicate wordlessly or even read the target's deepest thoughts. The Kindred "hears" in her own mind the thoughts plucked from a subject as if they were spoken to her.
This is one of the most potent vampiric abilities, since, given time, a Kindred can learn virtually anything from a subject without him ever knowing. The Tremere and Tzimisce in particular find this power especially useful in gleaning secrets from others, or for directing their mortal followers with silent precision.
System: The player rolls Intelligence + Subterfuge (difficulty of the subject's Willpower). Projecting thoughts into the target's mind requires one success. The subject recognizes that the thoughts come from somewhere other than his own consciousness, although he cannot discern their actual origin.
To read minds, one success must be rolled for each item of information plucked or each layer of thought pierced. Deep secrets or buried memories are harder to obtain than surface emotions or unspoken comments, requiring five or more successes to access.
Telepathy does not commonly work upon the undead mind. A character may expend a Willpower point to make the effort, making the roll normally afterward. Likewise, it is equally difficult to read the thoughts of other supernatural creatures.
Storytellers are encouraged to describe thoughts as flowing streams of impressions and images, rather than as a sequence of prose. Instead of making flat statements like "He's planning on killing his former lover's new boyfriend," say "You see a fleeting series of visions: A couple kissing passionately in a doorway, then the man walking alone at night; you suddenly see your hands, knuckles white, wrapped around a steering wheel, with a figure crossing the street ahead; your heart, mortal now and hammering with panic as you hear the engine rev wildly; and above all, a blazing anger coupled with emotional agony and a panicked fear of loss."
Such descriptions not only add to the story, they also force the player to decide for herself what her character reads. After all, understanding minds - especially highly emotional or deranged minds - is a difficult and often puzzling task.
Seeing the Unseen
Auspex enables Kindred to perceive many things beyond mortal ken. Among its many uses, Auspex can detect the presence of a supernatural being who is hidden from normal sight (a vampire using Obfuscate, a mage cloaked with invisibility, a wraith) or pierce illusions created by the Discipline of Chimerstry.
- Obfuscate: When a vampire tries to use her heightened perceptions to notice a Kindred hidden with Obfuscate, she detects the subject's presence if her Auspex rating is higher than his Obfuscate. Conversely, if the target's Obfuscate outranks her Auspex, he remains undiscovered. If the two scores are equal, both characters make a resisted roll of Perception + Subterfuge (Auspex user) against Manipulation + Subterfuge (Obfuscate user). The difficulty for both rolls is 7, and the character with the most successes wins.
- Chimerstry: Likewise, vampires with Auspex may seek to penetrate illusions created with Chimerstry. The Auspex-wielder must actively seek to pierce the illusion (i.e., the player must tell the Storyteller that his character is trying to detect an illusion). Auspex-wielder and Chimerstry-wielder then compare relative scores, per Obfuscate, above. The process is otherwise identical to piercing Obfuscate.
- Other Powers: Since the powers of beings like mages and wraiths function differently from vampiric Disciplines, a simple comparison of relative ratings isn't applicable. To keep things simple, both characters make a resisted roll. The vampire rolls Perception + Subterfuge, while the subject rolls Manipulation + Subterfuge. Again, the difficulty is 7, and the character with the most successes wins.
The Kindred with this awesome ability projects her senses out of her physical shell, stepping from her body as an entity of pure thought. The vampire's astral form is immune to physical damage or fatigue, and can "fly" with blinding speed anywhere across the earth - or even underground - so long as she remains below the moon's orbit.
The Kindred's material form lies in a torpid state while her astral self is active, and the vampire isn't aware of anything that befalls her body until she returns to it. An ephemeral silver cord connects the Kindred's psyche to her body. If this cord is severed, her consciousness becomes stranded in the astral plane, the realm of ghosts, spirits and shades. Attempting to return to the vampire's physical shell is a long and terrifying ordeal, especially since there is no guarantee that she will accomplish the journey successfully. This significant danger keeps many Kindred from leaving their bodies for long, but those who dare can learn much.
System: Journeying in astral form requires the player to expend a point of Willpower and make a Perception + Occult roll. Difficulty varies depending on the distance and complexity of the intended trip; 7 is average, with 10 reflecting a trip far from familiar territory (a first journey from North America to the Far East; trying to shortcut through the earth). The greater the number of successes rolled, the more focused the character's astral presence is and the easier it is for her to reach her desired destination.
Failure means the character is unable to separate her consciousness from her body, while a botch can have nasty consequences - flinging her astral form to a random destination on Earth or in the spirit realm, or heading for the desired destination so forcefully that the silver cord snaps.
Changing course or continuing to another destination requires another point of Willpower and a new roll. Failure indicates that the vampire has lost her way and must retrace the path of her silver cord. A botch at this stage means the cord snaps, stranding the character's psychic form in the mysterious astral plane.
An astral form may travel at great speeds (the Storyteller can use 1000 miles per hour as a general guide) and carries no clothing or material objects of any kind. Some artifacts are said to exist in the spirit world, and the character can try to use one of these tools if she finds one. The character cannot bring such relics to the physical world when she returns to her body, however.
Interaction with the physical world is impossible while using Psychic Projection. At best, the character may spend a Willpower point to manifest as a ghostlike shape. This apparition lasts one turn before fading away; while she can't affect anything physically during this time, the character can speak. Despite lacking physical substance, an astral character can use Auspex normally. At the Storyteller's discretion, such a character may employ any Animalism, Dementation, Dominate, Necromancy, Obtenebration, Presence and/or Thaumaturgy powers she has, though this typically requires a minimum of three successes on the initial Psychic Projection roll.
If two astral shapes encounter one another, they interact as if they were solid. They may talk, touch and even fight as if both were in the material world. Since they have no physical bodies, astral characters seeking to interact "physically" substitute Mental and Social Traits for Physical ones (Wits replaces Dexterity, Manipulation supplants Strength, and Intelligence replaces Stamina). Due to the lack of a material form, the only real way to damage another psychic entity is to cut its silver cord. When fighting this way, consider Willpower points to be health levels; when a combatant loses all of her Willpower, the cord is severed.
Although an astrally projected character remains in the reflection of the mortal world (referred to as the Penumbra in other World of Darkness games), she may venture further into the spirit realms, especially if she becomes lost. Other beings, such as ghosts, werewolves and even rare magi, travel the astral plane as well, and can interact with a vampire's psychic presence normally. Storytellers are encouraged to make trips into the spirit world as bizarre, mysterious and dreamlike as possible. The world beyond is a vivid and fantastic place, where the true nature of things is stronger and often strikingly different from their earthly appearances.
Note: For Storytellers familiar with White Wolf's other games, the "astral plane" to which the vampire travels is a reflection of the Umbra in general, not one specific level.
The Embrace gifts some vampires with startling speed and reflexes. They can use Celerity to move with amazing swiftness in times of stress. Mortals, and even Kindred lacking this Discipline, move as if in slow motion compared to the astonishing blur the vampire becomes.
Celerity is common among the Assamite, Brujah and Toreador clans. The Assamites use this ability to strike down their foes before the victims are even aware of the attack. Brujah delight in the advantage this Discipline gives them against superior numbers of opponents. Toreador are more likely to use Celerity to lend preternatural grace to live performances such as dance or extraordinary speed when creating sculptures or paintings - however, they can be as terrifying as any Assamite or Brujah when angered.
System: The character spends a single blood point. The next turn, she gains a number of additional full actions equal to her Celerity rating. These additional actions must be physical (e.g., the vampire cannot use a mental Discipline like Dominate multiple times in one turn). So a vampire with Celerity 4 who spends a blood point may perform a total of five physical actions in her next turn. The actions occur at the end of the turn (the vampire's regular action still takes place per her initiative roll).
Normally, a character without Celerity must apply a dice pool penalty if she wants to take multiple actions in a single turn. A character using Celerity performs his extra actions (including full movement) without penalty, gaining a full dice pool for each separate action. Extra actions gained through Celerity may not in turn be split into multiple actions.
The Ravnos are heirs to a legacy of illusion, and none can say exactly why. The elders of their clan, when properly approached, speak cryptically of ghuls and rakshasas, and the shapeshifting antics of their Antediluvian founder are the subject of many a dark campfire tale among the clan. But whatever the source, the nomadic Ravnos have a potent weapon in the form of their Discipline of Chimerstry.
Chimerstry is an art of conjuration; the vampire may draw upon her inner reserves to bring phantoms to life. These false images can confound mortal senses and sensory equipment alike. If the Cainite's power is strong enough, illusions created by Chimerstry may even baffle the heightened senses of the vampire. The Ravnos are fond of using this power to seduce, swindle or enslave mortals, effectively purchasing their victims' souls in exchange for a sack of bouillon that isn't there.
Illusions created by Chimerstry may be detected by Auspex (see "Seeing the Unseen," p. 152). They may also be seen for what they are by a victim who "proves" the illusion's falsehood (e.g., a person who walks up to an illusory wall, expresses his disbelief in it, and puts his hand through it effectively banishes the illusion).
The vampire may conjure a minor, static mirage that confounds one sense. For instance, he may evoke a sulfurous stench, the image of a curtain, or the feel of raw silk. Note that although tactile illusions can be felt, they have no real substance; an invisible but tactile wall cannot confine anyone, and invisible razor-wire causes no real damage.
System: The player must spend a point of Willpower to create this illusion. It lasts until the Ravnos leaves its vicinity (such as stepping out of the room) or until another person sees through it somehow. The Cainite may also end the illusion at any time; this requires no effort, only the merest whim.
The Cainite can now create illusions that appeal to all the senses, although they remain static. For example, the vampire could throw a mirage over a dank basement, making it appear to be a sumptuous boudoir, although she could not create flickering candles or a flowing fountain. Again, the dweomer has no solid presence, although it's easy enough to make a filthy mattress on two sawhorses feel like a four-poster bed.
System: The player spends a Willpower point and a blood point to create the dweomer. These static images remain until dispelled, in much the same way that an Ignis Fatuus illusion does.
Not really a power unto itself, Apparition allows a vampire to give motion to an illusion created with Ignis Fatuus or Fata Morgana. Thus, the Ravnos could create the illusion of a living being, running water, fluttering drapes or a roaring fire.
System: The creator spends one blood point to make the illusion move in one specific way. She may change the image's movement only if she has done nothing but concentrate on the mirage since creating it.
This power, also used in conjunction with Ignis Fatuus or Fata Morgana, allows a mirage to persist even when the vampire cannot see it. In this way, Ravnos often cloak their temporary havens in false trappings of luxury, or ward off trespassers with illusory guard dogs.
System: The vampire need only spend a blood point, and the illusion becomes permanent until dissolved.
Rather than create simple illusions, the vampire can now project hallucinations directly into a victim's mind. The target of these illusions believes completely that the images are real; a hallucinatory fire can burn him, an imaginary noose can strangle him, and an illusory wall can block him. This power affects only one person at a time; although other people can try to convince the victim that his terrors are not real, he won't believe them.
System: A Horrid Realty costs two Willpower points to set in motion and lasts for an entire scene (although its effects may last longer; see below). If the vampire is trying to injure his victim, his player must roll Manipulation + Subterfuge (difficulty of the victim's Perception + Self-Control). Each success inflicts one health level of damage on the victim; if the player wishes to inflict less damage, he may announce a maximum amount of damage before rolling the dice. This power cannot actually kill its victims (although a target with a heart condition may well die from fright); a victim "killed" by an illusory attack loses consciousness or enters torpor. All injuries disappear once the victim is truly convinced that she wasn't actually harmed by the Horrid Reality. Of course, such a cure may take a long time, or even psychological therapy. The nightmarish power of Chimerstry is nothing to take lightly.
The special legacy of the Malkavian clan, Dementation allows the vampire to channel madness, focus it, and pour it into the minds of those around him. Though in former nights this power was practiced primarily by the Malkavians of the Sabbat, in recent years it has spread throughout the clan. Some Kindred speculate that this "infection" might be yet another move in the Jyhad; a few vampires, of particularly paranoid bent, even whisper that the Malkavians are to be harbingers of the Final Nights.
The practitioner of Dementation need not actually be mad himself - at least initially - although madness seems to grant a certain insight into the key tenets of this Discipline. Few vampires ask the Malkavians to teach them this Discipline, although the Lunatics are almost always eager to "enlighten" others. In fact, some say that one cannot learn the secrets of Dementation without eventually going mad.
Eerily enough, Dementation doesn't seem to inflict insanity on its victims per se. Rather, it seems to catalyze madness, breaking down doors into the hidden reaches of the mind and releasing whatever it finds there. The Malkavians claim that this is because insanity is the next step in the evolution of the mind - a necessary progression if one is to behold the truths of the universe. As such, they say, it is inherent to all minds, and evident only in the more highly evolved specimens of human or vampiric thought. Other Kindred pray the Malkavians are wrong, but find it difficult to dismiss such thoughts out ofhand, particularly because Dementation works as well on vampires as it does on mortals...
The vampire may stir his victim's emotions, either heightening them to a fevered pitch or blunting them until the target is completely desensitized. The Cainite may not choose which emotion is affected; she may only amplify or dull emotions already present in the target. In this way, a vampire can turn mild irritation into frothing rage or dull true love into casual interest.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Empathy (difficulty of the victim's Humanity score). The number of successes determines the duration of the altered state of feeling. Effects of this power might include one- or two-point additions or subtractions to difficulties of frenzy rolls, Virtue rolls, rolls to resist Presence powers, etc.
The vampire may stir the sensory centers of his victim's brain, flooding the victim's senses with visions, sounds, scents or feelings that aren't really there. The images, regardless of the sense to which they appeal, are only fleeting "glimpses," barely perceptible to the victim. The vampire using Dementation cannot control what the victim perceives, but may choose which sense is affected.
The "haunting" effects occur mainly when the victim is alone, and mostly at night. They may take the form of the subject's repressed fears, guilty memories, or anything else that the Storyteller finds dramatically appropriate. The effects are never pleasant or unobtrusive, however. The Storyteller should let her imagination run wild when describing these sensory impressions; the victim may well feel as if she is going mad, or as if the world is.
System: The player spends a blood point and rolls Manipulation + Subterfuge (difficulty of his victim's Perception + Self-Control). The number of successes determines the length of the sensory "visitations." The precise effects are up to the Storyteller, though particularly eerie or harrowing apparitions can certainly reduce dice pools for a turn or two after the manifestation.
Eyes of Chaos
This peculiar power allows the vampire to take advantage of the fractured wisdom hidden in insanity. She may scrutinize the "patterns" of a person's soul, the convolutions of a vampire's inner nature, or even random events in nature itself. The Kindred with this power can discern the most well-hidden psychoses, or gain insight into a person's true self. Malkavians with this power often have (or claim to have) knowledge of the moves and countermoves of the great Jyhad.
System: This power allows a vampire to determine a person's true Nature, among other things. The vampire concentrates for a turn, then her player rolls Perception + Occult. The difficulty depends on the intricacy of the pattern. Discerning the Nature of a stranger would be difficulty 9; a casual acquaintance would be an 8, an old friend a 6. The Malkavian could also read the message locked in a coded missive (difficulty 7), or even see the doings of an invisible hand in such events as the pattern of falling leaves (difficulty 6). Almost anything might contain some hidden insight, no matter how trivial or meaningless. The patterns are present in most things, but are often so intricate they can keep a vampire spellbound for hours while she tries to understand their "message."
Voice of Madness
By merely addressing his victims aloud, the Malkavian can drive targets into fits of blind rage or fear, forcing them to abandon reason and higher thought. Victims are plagued by hallucinations of their subconscious demons, and try to flee or destroy their hidden shames. Tragedy almost always follows in the wake of this power's use, although offending Malkavians often claim that they were merely encouraging people to act "according to their natures." Unfortunately for the vampire concerned, he runs a very real risk of falling prey to his own voice's power.
System: The player spends a blood point and makes a Manipulation + Empathy roll (difficulty 7). One target is affected per success, although all potential victims must be listening to the vampire's voice.
Affected victims fly immediately into frenzy or a blind fear like Rotschreck. Kindred or other creatures capable of frenzy, such as Lupines, may make a frenzy check or Rotschreck test (Storyteller's choice as to how they are affected) at +2 difficulty to resist the power. Mortals are automatically affected and don't remember their actions while berserk. The frenzy or fear lasts for a scene, although vampires and Lupines may test as usual to snap out of it.
The vampire using Voice of Madness must also test for frenzy or Rotschreck upon invoking this power, although his difficulty to resist is one lower than normal.
The vampire pulls the madness from the deepest recesses of her target's mind, focusing it into an overwhelming wave of insanity. This power has driven countless victims, vampire and mortal alike, to unfortunate ends.
System: The Malkavian must gain her target's undivided attention for at least one full turn to enact this power. The player spends a blood point and rolls Manipulation + Intimidation (difficulty of her victim's Willpower). If successful, the victim is afflicted with five derangements of the Storyteller's choice (see p. 222). The number of successes determines the duration.
This Discipline involves influencing the very thoughts and actions of others through the vampire's own force of will. Use of Dominate requires that the Kindred capture his victim's eye; as such, it may be used against only one subject at a time. The extent of this control depends on the particular power being applied.
While truly potent, Dominate powers can be exacting to perform. Commands must be issued verbally; after all, direct mind-to-mind contact is the purview of Auspex. Still, some simple orders may be made with signs - for example, a pointed finger and forceful expression to indicate "Go!" If the subject doesn't understand the vampire (she doesn't speak the same language, the order doesn't make sense, she cannot hear his words), she won't comply with the directive, no matter how mighty the Kindred's supernatural will.
Not surprisingly, Kindred who use Dominate were often willful, controlling individuals in mortal life. Indeed, it's quite possible that this is what drew the vampires' sires to them in the first place. After all, the Giovanni, Lasombra, Tremere and Ventrue clans who specialize in this Discipline consider strong will a definite benefit. Due to this tendency toward control, characters with high Dominate scores may be unable to spend experience points to increase Abilities such as Empathy.
The vampire locks eyes with the subject and speaks a one-word command which must be obeyed instantly. The order must be clear and straightforward - run, cough, fall, yawn, jump, laugh, sneeze, stop, belch, follow. If the command is at all confusing or ambiguous, the subject may respond slowly or perform the task poorly. The subject cannot be ordered to do something directly harmful to herself, so a command like "die" is ineffective.
The command may be included in a sentence, thereby concealing the power's use from others. This effort at subtlety still requires the Kindred to make eye contact at the proper moment and stress the key word slightly. An alert bystander - or even the victim - may notice the emphasis; still, unless she's conversant with supernatural powers, the individual is likely to attribute the utterance and the subsequent action as bizarre coincidence.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Intimidation (difficulty of the target's permanent Willpower). More successes force the subject to act with greater vigor or for a longer duration (continue running for a number of turns, go off on a laughing jag, sneeze uncontrollably).
With this power, a vampire can verbally implant a false thought or hypnotic suggestion in the subject's subconscious mind. Both Kindred and target must be free from distraction, since Mesmerize requires intense concentration and precise wording to he effective. The vampire may activate the imposed thought immediately or establish a stimulus that will trigger it later. The victim must be able to understand the vampire, although the two need to maintain eye contact only as long as it takes to implant the idea.
Mesmerize allows for anything from simple, precise directives (handing over an item) to complex, highly involved ones (taking notes of someone's habits and relaying that information at an appointed time). A subject can have only one suggestion implanted at any time.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Leadership (difficulty equal to the target's permanent Willpower). The number of successes determines how well the suggestion takes hold in the victim's subconscious. If the vampire scores one or two successes, the subject cannot be forced to do anything that seems strange to her (she might walk outside, but is unlikely to act like a chicken). At three or four successes, the command is effective unless following it endangers the subject. At five successes or greater, the vampire can implant nearly any sort of command.
No matter how strong the Kindred's will, his command cannot force the subject to harm herself directly or defy her innate Nature. So, while a vampire who scored five successes could make a 98-pound weakling attack a 300-pound bouncer, he could not make the mortal shoot herself in the head.
If a vampire tries to Mesmerize a subject before the target fulfills a previously implanted directive, compare the successes rolled to those gained during the implanting of the first suggestion. Whichever roll had the greater number of successes is the command that now lodges in the target's subconscious; the other suggestion is wiped clean. If the successes rolled are equal, the newer command supplants the old one.
The Forgetful Mind
After capturing the subject's gaze, the vampire delves into the subject's memories, stealing or re-creating them at his whim. The Forgetful Mind does not allow for telepathic contact; the Kindred operates much like a hypnotist, asking directed questions and drawing out answers from the subject. The degree of memory alteration depends on what the vampire desires. He may alter the subject's mind only slightly - quite effective for eliminating memories of the victim meeting or even being fed upon by the vampire - or utterly undo the victim's memories of her past.
The degree of detail used has a direct bearing on how strongly the new memories take hold, since the victim's subconscious mind resists the alteration the vampire imposes. A simplistic or incomplete false memory ("You went to the movies last night.") crumbles much more quickly than does one with more attention to detail ("You went to the nine o'clock showing of the new Leonardo DiCaprio movie. You thought about getting some popcorn, but the line was too long so you went right into the theater. The couple next to you kept whispering through the film until someone else shushed them. You liked the movie well enough, but the plot seemed weak. You were tired after it ended, so you went home, watched a little late-night television, and went to bed.").
Even in its simplest applications, The Forgetful Mind requires tremendous skill and finesse. It's a relatively simple matter to rifle through a victim's psyche and rip out the memories of the previous night, without even knowing what the subject did that evening. Doing so leaves a gap in the victim's mind, though, a hole that can give rise to further problems down the road. The Kindred may describe new memories, but these recollections seldom have the same degree of realism that the subject's true thoughts held.
As such, this power isn't always completely effective. The victim may remember being bitten, but believe it to be an animal attack. Greater memories may return in pieces as dreams, or through sensory triggers like a familiar odor or spoken phrase. Even so, months or years may pass before the subject regains enough other lost memories to make sense of the fragments.
A vampire can also sense when a subject's memories were altered through use of this power, and even restore them like a hypnotist draws forth psychologically suppressed thoughts. However, the Kindred cannot use The Forgetful Mind to restore his own memories if they were stolen in such a way.
System: The player states what sorts of alteration he wants to perform, then rolls Wits + Subterfuge (difficulty of the target's Willpower score). Any success pacifies the victim for the amount of time it takes the vampire to perform the verbal alteration, provided the vampire does not act aggressively toward the victim. The table below indicates the degree of modification possible to the subject's memory, depending on the number of successes gained. If the successes rolled don't allow for the extent of change the character desired, the Storyteller reduces the resulting impact on the victim's mind.
To restore removed memories or sense false ones in a subject, the character's Dominate rating must be equal to or higher than that of the vampire who made the alteration. If so, the player must make a Wits + Empathy roll (difficulty equal to the original vampire's permanent Willpower) and score more successes than his predecessor did.
Most victims cannot stand against the effects of Dominate. Still, there are situations where this Discipline is powerless to sway the subject.
- Mortals: Few mortals can hope to resist Dominate, their strength of will nothing compared to the supernatural magnetism of a vampire. Still, there are extremely rare individuals who, due to strong religious faith, unique psychic talent or simple mental resolve, can shrug off this Discipline's effects. Beyond these scattered few, a select number of organizations like the Inquisition know certain rituals to render a mortal immune. Only a foolish vampire ignores the potential threat such human beings represent.
- Vampires: It is impossible to Dominate another Kindred who is of stronger Blood - the vampire must be of an equal or higher generation than the target for the powers to be effective.
- Nature: A character's Nature can have a distinct impact on how easily Dominate influences her. A vampire might control subjects with inherently empathic Natures (Caregiver, Child, Conformist) more easily, while those whose Natures denote a great degree of inner strength (Bravo, Director, Rebel) can be more of a challenge. The Storyteller may reduce the required difficulty or number of successes by one or two when the player rolls against those subjects with "weaker" Natures, or raise them by a similar amount for "stronger" Natures. On the other hand, "strong" Natures might be more easily influenced to take aggressive actions - for example, coaxing a Rebel to denounce the prince is likely easier than goading a Conformist to do the same thing. Ultimately, the Storyteller must adjudicate this.
- Botches: If a Dominate roll botches, the target is rendered immune to future attempts by the same vampire for the rest of the story.
Through sustained manipulation, the vampire can make a subject more pliant to the Kindred's will. Over time, the victim becomes increasingly susceptible to the vampire's influence while simultaneously growing more resistant to the corrupting efforts of other immortals. Gaining complete control over a subject's mind is no small task, taking weeks or even months to accomplish.
Kindred often fill their retainers' heads with subtle whispers and veiled urges, thereby ensuring these mortals' loyalty. Yet vampires must pay a high price for the minds they ensnare. Servants Dominated in this way lose much of their passion and individuality. They follow the vampire's orders quite literally, seldom taking initiative or showing any imagination. In the end, such retainers become like automatons or the walking dead.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Leadership (difficulty of the target's permanent Willpower). Conditioning is an extended action; the Storyteller secretly determines the number of successes required. It typically requires between five and 10 times the subject's Self-Control score. Targets with more empathic Natures may require a lower number of successes, while those with willful Natures require a higher total. Only through roleplaying may a character discern whether his subject is conditioned successfully.
A target may become more tractable even before becoming fully conditioned. Once the vampire accumulates half the required number of successes, the Storyteller may apply a lower difficulty to the vampire's subsequent uses of Dominate. After being conditioned, the target falls so far under the vampire's influence that the Kindred need not make eye contact or even be present to retain absolute control. The subject does exactly as she is told, so long as her master can communicate with her verbally. No command roll is necessary unless the subject is totally isolated from the vampire (in a different room, over the phone). Even if a command roll fails, the target will still likely carry out part of the orders given.
After the subject is fully conditioned, other Kindred find her more difficult to Dominate. Such conditioning raises others' difficulties by two (to a maximum of 10).
It is possible, though difficult, to shake conditioning. The subject must be separated entirely from the vampire to whom she was in thrall. This period of separation varies depending on the individual, but the Storyteller may set it at six months, less a number of weeks equal to the subject's Willpower score (so a person with 5 Willpower must stay away from the vampire for just under five months). The subject regains her personality slowly during this time, although she may still lapse into brief spells of listlessness. If the vampire encounters the target before that time passes, a single successful Charisma + Leadership roll (difficulty of the target's Willpower score) on the part of the vampire completely reasserts the dominance.
If the subject makes it through the time period without intervention by her master, the target regains her former individuality. Even so, the vampire may reestablish conditioning more easily than the first time, since the subject is forever after predisposed to falling under the Kindred's mental control. New attempts require half the total number of successes that the last bout of conditioning did.
At this level of Dominate, the force of the Kindred's psyche is such that it can utterly supplant the mind of a mortal subject. Speaking isn't required, although the vampire must capture the victim's gaze. During the psychic struggle, the contestants' eyes are locked on one another.
Once the Kindred crushes the subject's mind, the vampire moves his own consciousness into the victim's body and controls it as easily as he uses his own. The mortal falls into a mental fugue while under possession. She is aware of events only in a distorted, dreamlike fashion. In turn, the vampire's mind focuses entirely on controlling his mortal subject. His immortal body lies in a torpid state, defenseless against any actions made toward it.
Vampires cannot possess one another in this fashion, as even the weakest Kindred's mind is strong enough to resist such straightforward mental dominance. Only through a blood bond can one vampire control another to this degree.
System: The vampire must completely strip away the target's Willpower prior to possessing her. The player spends a Willpower point, then rolls Charisma + Intimidation, while the subject rolls Willpower in a resisted action (difficulty 7 for both). For each success the vampire obtains over the victim's total, the target loses a point of temporary Willpower. Each success the subject gains over the vampire's total equals another die she adds to her roll on the next turn. It's often only a matter of time before the victim falls under the vampire's power. Only if the attacker botches can the subject escape her fate, since this makes the target permanently immune to any further Dominate attempts by that vampire.
Once the target loses all her temporary Willpower, her mind is open to the vampire. The vampire rolls Manipulation + Intimidation (difficulty 7) to determine how fully he assumes control of the mortal shell. Similar to the Animalism power Subsume the Spirit, multiple successes allow the character to utilize some mental Disciplines, noted on the chart below.
The character may travel as far from his body as he is physically able while possessing the mortal. The vampire may also venture out during the day, albeit in the mortal form. However, the vampire's own body must be awake to do so, requiring a successful roll to remain awake (see p. 204). If the vampire leaves the mortal shell (by choice, if his body falls asleep, through supernatural expulsion, after sustaining significant injury), his consciousness returns to his physical form in an instant.
Once freed from possession, the mortal regains mental control of herself. This can happen in an instant, or the victim may lie comatose for. days while her psyche copes with the violation.
The vampire experiences everything the mortal body feels during possession, from pleasure to pain. In fact, any damage the victim's body sustains is also applied to the character's body (although the Kindred may soak as normal). If the mortal dies before the vampire's soul can flee from the body, the character's body falls into torpor. Presumably this is in sympathetic response to the massive trauma of death, although some Kindred believe that the vampire's soul is cast adrift during this time and must find its way back to the body.
The Kindred can remain in the mortal's body even if his own torpid form is destroyed, though such a pathetic creature is not likely to exist for long. At each sunrise, the vampire must roll Courage (difficulty 8) or be expelled from the body. If forced from the mortal body, the vampire tumbles into the astral plane, his soul permanently lost in the spirit world. Nor may a vampire trapped in a mortal body be "re-Embraced"; if the Embrace occurs to such a creature, he simply meets Final Death.
All vampires possess a preternatural constitution that makes most normal damage inconsequential. Fortitude bestows a resilience and vigor far beyond even normal vampiric toughness. Kindred with this power ignore the mightiest punches and barely feel hails of bullets. This Discipline also helps protect against sources of damage even vampires fear, such as sunlight, fire and terminal falls.
Gangrel, Ravnos and Ventrue possess this potent ability. Gangrel enjoy the benefit of Fortitude as a matter of course, but Ravnos and especially Ventrue delight in the power's psychological effects. It's not unusual for a Ventrue to take a "fatal" blow, giving his opponent just enough time to register the vampire's smile before the Ventrue finishes off the shocked victim.
System: A character's rating in Fortitude adds to his Stamina for the purposes of soaking normal damage (bashing and lethal). A character with this Discipline may also use his dots in Fortitude to soak aggravated damage (Kindred cannot normally soak things like vampire bites, werewolf claws, magical effects, fire, sunlight or massive physical trauma). So a vampire with Fortitude 3 has three dice to soak aggravated damage.
See Chapter Six, pp. 208-209, for further details on soaking and damage.
Necromancy is at once a Discipline and a school of magical learning, all dedicated toward the command of the souls of the dead. It has some similarities to Thaumaturgy in that, rather than being a strict linear progression of powers, Necromancy consists of several "paths" and accompanying "rituals." Well-trained and puissant vampiric necromancers can summon the dead, banish or imprison souls, and even reinsert ghosts into living - or unliving - bodies. Needless to say, the study of Necromancy is not widespread among the Kindred, and its practitioners - primarily Giovanni Kindred - are shunned or ignored whenever possible.
Over the centuries, the various schools of vampiric Necromancy have diversified, leaving three distinct paths of necromantic magic available to Cainites. All necromancers first learn the so-called Sepulchre Path, then extend their studies to the Bone Path or the Ash Path as time and opportunity permit. The Sepulchre Path is always considered the character's "primary" path; it increases automatically as the character increases her overall Necromancy rating. The Bone and Ash Paths must be bought separately, using the experience costs for secondary paths.
Like Thaumaturgy, Necromancy has also spawned a series of rituals. While not nearly so immediate in effect as the basic powers of Necromancy, Necromantic rituals can have impressive long-term effects. Unsurprisingly, the elements of Necromantic ritual are things like long-buried corpses, hands from the cadavers of hanged men, and so on, and so obtaining suitable materials can be quite difficult. Scarcity of supply limits the frequency of Necromantic rituals, giving cause for many other Kindred to breathe a metaphorical sigh of relief.
System: A Cainite necromancer must learn at least three levels in the Sepulchre Path before learning his first level in either the Bone Path or the Ash Path. He must then achieve mastery in the Sepulchre Path (five levels) before acquiring any knowledge of the third path.
As with Thaumaturgy, advancement in the primary path (in this case, the Sepulchre Path) costs the normal experience amount, while study of secondary Necromantic paths incurs an additional experience-point cost (see p. 143). Because Necromancy is not quite so rigid a study as Thaumaturgy is, the rolls required to use Necromantic powers can vary from path to path and even within individual paths.
Statistics for wraiths may be found in Chapter Nine, pp. 282-283.
The Sepulchre Path
This power allows a necromancer to stare into the eyes of a corpse and see reflected there the last thing the dead man witnessed. The vision appears only in the eyes of the cadaver and is visible to no one except the necromancer using Insight.
System: This power requires a roll of Perception + Occult (difficulty 8 for formerly living creatures, 10 for unliving ones such as vampires) as the vampire stares into the target's eyes. The number of successes on the roll determines the clarity of the vision; a botch shows the necromancer his own Final Death, which can induce Rotschreck.
This power cannot be used on the corpses of vampires who have reached Golconda, or those in whom advanced decomposition has already set in.
The power of Summon Soul allows a necromancer to call a ghost back from the Underworld, though for conversational purposes only. In order to perform this feat, the Giovanni must meet certain conditions:
- The necromancer must know the name of the wraith in question, though an image of the wraith obtained via Psychometry will suffice.
- An object with which the wraith had some contact in life must be in the vicinity. If the object is something of great importance to the ghost, the chances for success in the summoning increase dramatically (- 2 difficulty). Note: This bonus applies for all powers on the Sepulchre Path.
Certain types of ghosts cannot be summoned with this power. Vampires who achieved Golconda before their Final Deaths, or who were diablerized, are beyond the reach of this summons. Likewise, many ghosts of the dead cannot be called - they are destroyed, unable to return to the mortal plane, or lost in the eternal storm of the Underworld.
System: To use Summon Soul, the vampire's player must roll Perception + Occult (difficulty 7, or the ghost's Willpower if the Storyteller knows it). The number of successes on the roll indicates the tractability of the summoned spirit and how long the summoned wraith remains in the vicinity of her summoner. Summoned ghosts are visible and audible to the vampire who summoned them, and remain so up until the time the summoning wears off. Ghosts who wish to be summoned can voluntarily appear.
For each question the vampire asks the summoned spirit, the Storyteller should roll one die per summoning success. At least one success is needed on this second roll (difficulty 6) in order to keep the wraith around long enough to answer the question.
If a vampire botches a summoning roll, she calls forth a malevolent ghost (known as a spectre), which immediately sets about tormenting its summoner.
With this power, a vampire can command a ghost to do his bidding for a while. Compel is a perilous undertaking and, when used improperly, can endanger vampire and wraith alike.
System: In order to compel a wraith, the vampire must first successfully summon it. Before the wraith has left the scene of the summoning, the vampire's player must roll Manipulation + Occult (difficulty equal to the target's Willpower). The wraith can spend Pathos (the ghostly equivalent of blood; assume a pool of 7 for all ghosts or consult Chapter Nine) to combat the compulsion; each point spent removes one of the vampire's successes. The vampire may attempt to compel a wraith multiple times during a single summoning.
For each success achieved on the Manipulation + Occult roll, the necromancer achieves a greater degree of control over the wraith. The breakdown is as follows:
Failure: The compulsion of the summoning ends and the wraith is free to leave. Many wraiths take the opportunity to assault their would-be masters as they depart.
One success: The wraith must remain in the vicinity and refrain from attacking any creature without the necromancer's consent.
Two successes: The wraith is bound to remain and answer any questions truthfully, though the questions had best be phrased carefully.
Three successes: The wraith is forced to remain and answer any questions truthfully, without evasion or omission.
Four successes: The wraith must remain, answering truthfully any questions asked of it. It must also perform any services commanded by its new master, though it is bound only by the letter of the command, not the spirit.
Five successes: The wraith is trapped, obeying the spirit of the vampire's commands to the best of its ability.
Compel holds a ghost for one hour per success rolled. If the vampire wishes, she can expend a temporary Willpower point to keep the wraith under the compulsion for an extra night. The expenditure of a permanent point of Willpower on the vampire's part binds the wraith for a year and a day.
Haunting binds a summoned ghost to a particular location or, in extreme cases, an object. The wraith cannot leave the area to which the necromancer binds it without risking self-destruction. A wraith attempting to leave the area of a haunting must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 10, two successes necessary) or take a level of aggravated damage; if the wraith runs out of health levels, it is hurled deep into the Underworld to face destruction.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty is target's Willpower if she resists; otherwise it is 4). Each success ties the wraith to a particular spot of the necromancer's choosing for a night; with the expenditure of a Willpower point, that becomes a week. Expenditure of a point of permanent Willpower extends the duration to a year.
It is through the use of this power that elder Giovanni ccsrvince bound ghosts to behave - or else. Torment allows the vampire to strike a wraith as if he himself were in the lands of the dead, inflicting damage on the wraith's ectoplasmic form. The vampire remains in the real world, however, so he cannot be struck in return by the wraith.
System: The player rolls Stamina + Empathy (difficulty is the wraith's Willpower), and the vampire reaches out to "touch" the wraith. Each success inflicts a level of lethal damage on the wraith. Should the wraith lose all health levels, it immediately vanishes into what appears to be a doorway to some hideous nightmare realm. Ghosts "destroyed" thus cannot reappear near the real world for a month.
The Bone Path
The Bone Path is concerned primarily with corpses and the methods by which dead souls can be restored to the living world - temporarily or otherwise.
Tremens allows a necromancer to make the flesh of a corpse shift once. An arm might suddenly flop forward, a cadaver might sit up, or dead eyes might abruptly open. Needless to say, this sort of thing tends to have an impressive impact on people who aren't expecting a departed relative to roll over in his coffin.
System: To use Tremens, the necromancer spends a single blood point, and the player must succeed on a Dexterity + Occult roll (difficulty 6). The more successes achieved, the more complicated an action can be inculcated into the corpse. One success allows for an instantaneous movement, such as a twitch, while five allow the vampire to set up specific conditions under which the body animates ("The next time someone enters the room, I want the corpse to sit up and open its eyes."). Under no circumstances can Tremens cause a dead body to attack or cause damage.
Corpses animated by a necromancer of the Bone Path have Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 4, Brawl 2, and always act last in a turn (unless there are mitigating circumstances). They have zero Willpower points to spend, but resist attacks as if they have Willpower ratings of 10. All Mental and Social ratings are zero for a reanimated corpse, and zombies never attempt to dodge. Zombies' dice pools are not affected by damage, except that caused by fire or the claws and teeth of supernatural creatures. Most zombies have 10 health levels, but they are incapable of healing any damage they suffer.
With Apprentice's Brooms, the necromancer can make a dead body rise and perform a simple function. For example, the corpse could be set to carrying heavy objects, digging, or just shambling from place to place. The cadavers thus animated do not attack or defend themselves if interfered with, but instead attempt to carry out their given instructions until such time as they've been rendered inanimate. Generally it takes dismemberment, flame or something similar to destroy a corpse animated in this way.
System: A roll of Wits + Occult (difficulty 7) and the expenditure of a point of both blood and Willpower are all that is necessary to animate corpses with Apprentice's Brooms. The number of corpses animated is equal to the number of successes achieved. The necromancer must then state the task to which he is setting his zombies. The cadavers turn themselves to their work until they finish the job (at which point they collapse) or something (including time) destroys them.
Bodies energized by this power continue to decay, albeit at a much slower rate than normal.
Shambling Hordes creates exactly what you think it might: reanimated corpses with the ability to attack, albeit neither very well nor very quickly. Once primed by this power, the corpses wait - for years, if necessary - to fulfill the command given them. The orders might be to protect a certain site or simply to attack immediately, but they will be carried out until every last one of the decomposing monsters is destroyed.
System: The player invests a point of Willpower, then spend a point of blood for each corpse the necromancer animates. The player then must succeed on a Wits + Occult roll (difficulty 8); each success allows the vampire to raise another corpse from the grave. Each zombie (for lack of a better term) can follow one simple instruction, such as "Stay here and guard this graveyard against any intruders," or "Kill them!"
Note: Zombies created by Shambling Hordes will wait forever if need be to fulfill their functions. Long after the flesh has rotted off the mystically animated bones, the zombies will wait... and wait... and wait - still able to perform their duties.
This power affects the living, not the dead. It does, however, temporarily turn a living soul into a sort of wraith, as it allows a necromancer to strip a soul from a living - or vampiric - body. A mortal exiled from his body by this power becomes a wraith with a single tie to the real world: his now-empty body.
System: The player spends a point of Willpower and then makes a contested Willpower roll against the intended victim (difficulty 6). Successes indicate the number of hours during which the original soul is forced out of its housing. The body itself remains autonomically alive but catatonic.
This power can be used to create suitable hosts for Daemonic Possession.
Daemonic Possession lets a vampire insert a soul into a freshly dead body and inhabit it for the duration. This does not turn the reanimated corpse into anything other than a reanimated corpse, and one that will irrevocably decay after a week, but it does give either a wraith or a free-floating soul (say, that of a vampire using Psychic Projection) a temporary home in the physical world.
System: The body in question must be no more than 30 minutes dead, and the new tenant must agree to inhabit it - a ghost or astral form cannot be forced into a new shell. Of course, most ghosts would gladly seize the opportunity, but that's a different matter. Should the vampire, for whatever reason, wish to insert a soul into another vampire's corpse (before it crumbles to ash), the necromancer must achieve five successes on a resisted Willpower roll against the original owner of the body. Otherwise, the interloper is denied entrance.
Note: The soul can use whatever physical abilities (Dodge, Brawl, Potence) his new home possesses, and whatever mental abilities (Computer, Law, Presence) he possesses in his current existence. He cannot use the physical abilities of his old form, or the mental abilities of his new one.
The Ash Path
The Ash Path allows necromancers to peek into the lands of the dead and even to affect things there. Of the three Paths of Necromancy, the Ash Path is the most perilous to learn, because many of the Path's uses increase a necromancer's vulnerability to wraiths.
Shroudsight allows a necromancer to see through the Shroud, the mystical barrier that separates the living world from the Underworld. By using this power, the vampire can spot ghostly buildings and items, the landscape of the so-called Shadowlands, and even wraiths themselves. However, the odds are that an observant wraith will notice when a vampire suddenly starts staring at him, which can lead to unpleasant consequences.
System: A simple roll of Perception + Alertness (difficulty 7) allows a necromancer to utilize Shroudsight. The effects last for a scene.
Where Shroudsight allows a necromancer to see ghosts, Lifeless Tongues allows her to converse with them effortlessly. Once Lifeless Tongues is employed, the vampire can carry on a conversation with the denizens of the ghostly Underworld without spending blood or causing the wraiths to expend any effort.
System: To use Lifeless Tongues requires a roll of Perception + Occult (difficulty 6) and the expenditure of a Willpower point. This power also grants the effects of Shroudsight, so the vampire can see with whom, or what, she is conversing.
Similar to the Sepulchre Path power Torment, Dead Hand allows a necromancer to reach across the Shroud and affect a ghostly object as if it were in the real world. Ghosts are solid to necromancers using this power, and can be attacked. Furthermore, the necromancer can pick up ghostly items, scale ghostly architecture (giving real-world bystanders the impression that he's climbing on air!) and generally exist in two worlds. On the other hand, a necromancer using Dead Hand is quite solid to the residents of the Underworld - and to whatever weapons they might have.
System: The player spends a point of Willpower and makes a successful Wits + Occult roll (difficulty 7) for the vampire to activate Dead Hand. For each scene the vampire wishes to remain in contact with the Underworld, he must spend a point of blood.
Ex Nihilo allows a necromancer to enter the Underworld physically. While in the lands of the dead, the vampire is essentially an extra-solid ghost. He maintains his normal number of health levels, but can be hurt only by things that inflict aggravated damage on ghosts (weapons forged from souls, certain ghostly powers, etc.). A vampire physically in the Underworld can pass through solid objects (at the cost of one health level) and remain "incorporeal" thus for a number of turns equal to his Stamina rating. On the other hand, vampires present in the Underworld are subject to all of the Underworld's perils, including ultimate destruction. A vampire killed in the Deadlands is gone forever, beyond even the reach of other necromancers.
System: Using Ex Nihilo takes a tremendous toll on the necromancer. To activate this power, the vampire must first draw a doorway with chalk or blood on any available surface. (Note: Doors can he drawn ahead of time for exactly this purpose.) The player must then expend two points of Willpower and two points of blood, then make a Stamina + Occult roll (difficulty 8) as the vampire attempts to open the chalk door physically. If the roll succeeds, the door opens and the vampire steps through into the Underworld.
When the vampire wishes to return to the real world, he needs merely to concentrate (and the player spends another Willpower point and rolls Stamina + Occult, difficulty 6). At Storyteller discretion, a vampire who is too deeply immersed in the Underworld may need to journey to a place close to the lands of the living in order to cross over. Vampires who wander too far into the lands of the dead may be trapped there forever.
Vampires in the Underworld cannot feed upon ghosts; their only sustenance is the blood they bring with them.
A bit of an exaggeration, Shroud Mastery is the ability to manipulate the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead. By doing so, a necromancer can make it easier for bound wraiths in his service to function, or make it nearly impossible for ghosts to contact the material world.
System: To exercise Shroud Mastery, the necromancer expends two points of Willpower, then states whether he is attempting to raise or lower the Shroud. The player then makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 9). Each success on the roll raises or lowers the difficulties of all nearby wraiths' actions by one, to a maximum of 10 or a minimum of 3. The Shroud reverts to its normal strength at a rate of one point per hour thereafter.
The rituals connected with Necromancy are a hodgepodge lot. Some have direct relations to the paths; others seem to have been taught by wraiths themselves, for whatever twisted reason. All beginning necromancers gain one Level One ritual, but any others learned must be gained through in-game play. Necromantic rituals are otherwise identical to Thaumaturgy rituals (pp. 182-185) and are learned in similar fashion, though the two are by no means compatible.
System: Casting times for necromantic rituals vary widely; see the description for particulars. The player rolls Intelligence + Occult (difficulty 3 + the level of the ritual, maximum 9); success indicates the ritual proceeds smoothly, failure produces no effect, and a botch often indicates that certain "powers" notice the caster, usually to her detriment.
Call of the Hungry Dead (Level One Ritual)
Call of the Hungry Dead takes only 10 minutes to cast and requires a hair from the target's head. The ritual climaxes with the burning of that hair in the flame of a black candle, after which the victim becomes able to hear snatches of conversation from across the Shroud. If the target is not prepared, the voices come as a confusing welter of howls and unearthly demands; he is unable to make out anything intelligible, and might well go briefly mad.
Eyes of the Grave (Level Two Ritual)
This ritual, which takes two hours to cast, causes the target to experience intermittent visions of her death over the period of a week. The visions come without warning and can last up to a minute. The caster of the ritual has no idea what the visions contain - only the victim sees them, after all. Each time a vision manifests, the target must roll Courage (difficulty 7) or be reduced to quivering panic. The visions, which come randomly, can also interfere with activities such as driving, shooting and so on.
Eyes of the Grave requires a pinch of soil from a fresh grave.
Ritual of the Unearthed Fetter (Level Three Ritual)
This ritual requires that a necromancer have a fingerbone from the skeleton of the particular wraith he's interested in. When the ritual is cast, the fingerbone becomes attuned to something vitally important to the wraith, the possession of which by the necromancer makes the casting of Sepulchre Path powers much easier. Most necromancers take the attuned fingerbone and suspend it from a thread, allowing it to act as a sort of supernatural compass and following it to the special item in question.
Ritual of the Unearthed Fetter takes three hours to cast properly. It requires both the name of the wraith targeted and the fingerbone already mentioned, as well as a chip knocked off a gravestone or other marker (not necessarily the marker of the bone's former owner). During the course of the ritual the stone crumbles to dust, which is then sprinkled over the fingerbone.
Cadaver's Touch (Level Four Ritual)
By chanting for three hours and melting a wax doll in the shape of the target, the necromancer turns a mortal target into a corpselike mockery of himself. As the doll loses the last of its form, the target becomes cold and clammy. His pulse becomes weak and thready, his flesh pale and chalky. For all intents and purposes, he becomes a reasonable facsimile of the walking dead. Needless to say, this can have some adverse effects in social situations (+2 difficulty on all Social rolls). The effects of the ritual wear off only when the wax of the doll is permitted to resolidify. If the wax is allowed to boil off, the spell is broken.
Grasp the Ghostly (Level Five Ritual)
Requiring a full six hours of chanting, this ritual allows a necromancer to bring an object from the Underworld into the real world. It's not as simple as all that, however - a wraith might well object to having his possessions stolen and fight back. Furthermore, the object taken must be replaced by a material item of roughly equal mass, otherwise the target of the ritual snaps back to its previous, ghostly existence.
Objects taken from the Underworld tend to fade away after about a year. Only items recently destroyed in the real world (called "relics" by wraiths) may be recaptured in this manner. Artifacts created by wraiths themselves were never meant to exist outside the Underworld, and vanish on contact with the living world.
This uncanny power enables Kindred to conceal themselves from others' sight. By simply wishing to remain unseen, a vampire can disappear, even if he stands in full view of a crowd. The immortal doesn't actually become invisible; he simply deludes any observers into thinking he has vanished. Additional uses of Obfuscate include changing the Kindred's features and concealing other people or objects.
Unless the vampire purposefully makes himself seen, he can remain obscured indefinitely. At higher levels of power, the vampire may fade from view so subtly that those nearby never register the point at which he "left."
Under most circumstances, few mortals or supernaturals can penetrate Obfuscate's cloaking fog. Animals, operating on a more instinctual level, often perceive (and fear) the vampire's presence even if they can't detect him with their normal senses. Children and other innocents to whom deception is foreign might also be able to pierce the deception, at the Storyteller's discretion.
The Auspex Discipline enables Kindred to see through Obfuscate. Even that is not guaranteed, however; refer to "Seeing the Unseen," p. 152, for more details.
Since Obfuscate affects the viewer's mind, Kindred cannot use this Discipline to cloak their presence from mechanical devices. Video recordings and photographs capture the vampire's image faithfully. Even so, such is Obfuscate's ability to bend the mind that someone using a recording device will not see the immortal's image until she views the footage at a later date, if even then.
Several clans - Assamites, Followers of Set, Malkavians, Nosferatu - use this power, but it stands as the hallmark of the Nosferatu. A number of elder Kindred believe Caine, or perhaps Lilith, bestowed the clan with this Discipline to compensate for the hideous physical deformities its members suffer.
Most Obfuscate powers last for a scene or so, or until the vampire ceases maintaining them. Once evoked, they require very little mental effort to keep in place.
Cloak of Shadows
At this level, the vampire must rely on nearby shadows and cover to assist in hiding his presence. He steps into an out-of-the-way, shadowed place and eases himself from normal sight. The vampire remains unnoticed as long as he stays silent, still, under some degree of cover (curtain, bush, door frame, lamppost, alley) and out of direct lighting. The immortal's concealment vanishes if he moves, attacks or falls under direct light. Furthermore, the vampire's deception cannot stand concentrated observation without fading.
System: No roll is required as long as the character fulfills the criteria described above. So long as he remains quiet and motionless, virtually no one but another Kindred with a high Auspex rating will see him.
With experience, the vampire can move around without being seen. Shadows seem to shift to cover him, and others automatically avert their gaze as he passes by. People move unconsciously to avoid contact with the cloaked creature; those with weak wills may even scurry away from the area in unacknowledged fear. The vampire remains ignored indefinitely unless someone deliberately seeks him out or he inadvertently reveals himself.
Since the vampire fully retains his physical substance, he must be careful to avoid contact with anything that may disclose his presence (knocking over a vase, bumping into someone). Even a whispered word or the scuffing of a shoe against the floor can be enough to disrupt the power.
System: No roll is necessary to use this power unless the character speaks, attacks or otherwise draws attention to himself. The Storyteller should call for a Wits + Stealth roll under any circumstances that might cause the character to reveal himself. The difficulty of the roll depends on the situation; stepping on a squeaky floorboard might be a 5, while walking through a pool of water may require a 9. Other acts may require a certain number of successes; speaking quietly without giving away one's position, for instance, demands at least three successes.
Some things are beyond the power of Unseen Presence to conceal. Although the character is cloaked from view while he smashes through a window, yells out or throws someone across the room, the vampire becomes visible to all in the aftermath. Bystanders snap out of the subtle fugue in which Obfuscate put them. Worse still, each viewer can make a Wits + Alertness roll (difficulty 7); if successful, the mental haze clears completely, so those individuals recall every move the character made up until then as if he were visible the entire time.
Mask of a Thousand Faces
The vampire can influence the perception of others, causing them to see someone different from the immortal himself. Although the Kindred's physical form does not change, any observer who cannot sense the truth sees whomever the vampire wishes her to see.
The vampire must have a firm idea of the visage he wishes to project. The primary decision is whether to create an imaginary face or to superimpose the features of another person. Manufactured features are often more difficult to compose in believable proportions, but such a disguise is easier to maintain than having to impersonate someone else. Of course, things get simpler if the Kindred borrows the face but doesn't bother with the personality.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Performance (difficulty 7) to determine how well the disguise works. If the character tries to impersonate someone, he must get a good look at the subject before putting on the mask. The Storyteller may raise the difficulty if the character catches only a glimpse. The chart below lists the degrees of success in manufacturing another appearance.
Actually posing as someone else carries its own problems. The character should know at least basic information about the individual; especially difficult deceptions (fooling a lover or close friend) require at least some familiarity with the target in order to succeed.
Vanish from the Mind's Eye
This potent expression of Obfuscate enables the vampire to disappear from plain view. So profound is this vanishing that the immortal can fade away even if he stands directly before someone.
While the disappearance itself is quietly subtle, its impact on those who see it is anything but. Most kine panic and flee in the aftermath. Especially weak-willed individuals wipe the memory of the Kindred from their minds. Although vampires are not shaken so easily, even Kindred may be momentarily surprised by a sudden vanishing.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Stealth; the difficulty equals the target's Wits + Alertness (use the highest total in the group if the character disappears in front of a crowd). With three or fewer successes, the character fades but does not vanish, becoming an indistinct, ghostlike figure. With more than three, he disappears completely. If the player scores more successes than an observer's Willpower rating, that person forgets that the vampire was there in the first place.
Tracking the character accurately while he appears ghost-like requires a Perception + Alertness roll (difficulty 8). A successful roll means the individual can interact normally with the vampire (although the immortal looks like a profoundly disturbing ghostly shape). A failed roll results in +2 difficulties (maximum 10) when attempting to act upon, or interact with, the vampire. The Storyteller may call for new observation checks if the vampire moves to an environment in which he's difficult to see (heads into shadows, crosses behind an obstacle, proceeds through a crowd). When fully invisible, the vampire is handled as described under Unseen Presence, above.
A person subject to the vanishing makes a Wits + Courage roll (mortals at difficulty 9, immortals at difficulty 5). A successful roll means the individual reacts immediately (although after the vampire performs his action for that turn); failure means the person stands uncomprehending for two turns while her mind tries to make sense of what she just experienced.
Cloak the Gathering
At this degree of power, the vampire may extend his concealing abilities to cover an area. The immortal may use any Obfuscate power upon those nearby as well as upon himself, if he wishes.
Any protected person who compromises the cloak exposes himself to view. Further, if the one who invokes the power gives himself away, the cloak falls from everyone. This power is particularly useful if the vampire needs to bring his retinue through a secure location without drawing the notice of others.
System: The character may conceal one extra individual for each dot of Stealth he possesses. He may bestow any single Obfuscate power at a given time to the group. While the power applies to everyone under the character's cloak, his player need only make a single roll. Each individual must follow the requirements described under the relevant Obfuscate power to remain under its effect; any person who fails to do so loses the cloak's protection, but doesn't expose the others. Only if the vampire himself errs does the endowment drop for everyone.
The bailiwick of the Lasombra, the Obtenebration Discipline grants its users power over darkness. The precise nature of the "darkness" invoked is a matter of debate among the Keepers. Some believe it to be shadows, while others, perhaps more correctly, believe the power grants a Kindred control over the stuff of her soul, allowing her to coax it tangibly forth.
In any event, the effects of Obtenebration are terrifying, as waves of enveloping blackness roil out from the vampire, washing over their targets like an infernal tide. Blatant uses of this power are obvious breaches of the Masquerade - of course, as Obtenebration is proprietary to the Sabbat, any Camarilla neonate or ancilla caught using the Discipline had better have an impeccable explanation.
Note: Lasombra vampires can see through the darkness they control, though other Lasombra cannot. Dreadful tales of rival Keepers struggling to blind and smother each other with the same wisps of darkness circulate among young members of the clan, though no elders have come forth to substantiate these claims.
This power grants the vampire a limited control over shadows and other ambient darkness. Though the vampire cannot truly "create" darkness, she can overlap and stretch existing shadows, creating patches of gloom. This power also allows Kindred to separate shadows from their casting bodies and even shape darkness into the shadows of things that are not truly there.
Once a Kindred takes control of darkness or shadow, it gains a mystical tangibility while under the vampire's manipulation. By varying accounts cold or hellishly hot and cloying, the darkness may be used to aggravate or even smother victims. Certain callous Lasombra claim to have choked mortals to death with their own shadows.
System: This power requires no roll, but a blood point must be spent to activate it. Shadow Play lasts for one scene and requires no active concentration. Kindred cloaking themselves in shadow gain an extra die in their Stealth dice pools and add one to the difficulties of ranged weapon attacks against them. Vampires who use the darkness to make themselves more terrifying add one die to Intimidation dice pools. Opponents plagued by flapping shadows and strangling darkness subtract one die from soak and Stamina dice pools. Mortals, ghouls and other air-breathers reduced to zero Stamina in this manner begin to asphyxiate; vampires lose all appropriate dice but are otherwise unaffected. Only one target or subject may be affected by this power at any given time, though some modicum of concealment is offered to a relatively motionless group.
The unnatural appearance of this power proves extremely disconcerting to mortals and animals (and, at the Storyteller's discretion, Kindred who have never seen it before). Whenever this power is invoked within a mortal's vicinity, that individual must make a Courage roll (difficulty 8) or suffer a one-die penalty to all dice pools for the remainder of the scene, due to fear of the monstrous shadows.
Shroud of Night
The vampire can create a cloud of inky blackness. The cloud completely obscures light and even sound to some extent. Those who have been trapped within it (and survived) describe the cloud as viscous and unnerving. This physical manifestation lends credence to the tales of those Lasombra who claim that the darkness is something other than mere shadow.
The tenebrous cloud may even move, if the creating Kindred so wishes, though willing this requires complete concentration.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 7). Success on the roll generates darkness roughly 10 feet in diameter, though the amorphous cloud constantly shifts and undulates, sometimes even extending shadowy tendrils. Each additional success doubles the diameter of the cloud (though the vampire may voluntarily reduce the area she wishes to cover). The cloud may be invoked at a distance of up to 50 yards, though creating darkness outside the vampire's line of sight adds two to the difficulty of the roll and requires a blood point's expenditure.
The tarry mass actually extinguishes light sources it engulfs (with the exception of fire), and muffles sounds to the point of indistinguishability. Those within the cloud lose all sense of sight and feel as though they've been immersed in pitch. Sound also warps and distorts within the cloud. Even those possessed of Heightened Senses or Eyes of the Beast suffer +2 difficulty penalties for most actions. Additionally, being surrounded by the Shroud of Night reduces Stamina-based dice pools by two dice, as the murk smothers and agitates the victims (this effect is not cumulative with Shadow Play). More than one unfortunate mortal has "drowned" in darkness.
Mortals and animals surrounded by the Shroud of Night must make Courage rolls per Shadow Play, above, or panic and flee.
Arms of the Abyss
Refining his control over darkness, the Kindred can create prehensile tentacles that emerge from patches of dim lighting. These tentacles may grasp, restrain and constrict foes.
System: The player spends a blood point and makes a simple (never extended) Manipulation + Occult roll (difficulty 7); each success enables the creation of a single tentacle. Each tentacle is six feet long and possesses Strength and Dexterity ratings equal to the invoking vampire's Obtenebration Trait. If the vampire chooses, she may spend a blood point either to increase a single tentacle's Strength or Dexterity by one or to extend its length by six feet. Each tentacle has four health levels (and is affected by fire and sunlight as a vampire) and soaks bashing and lethal damage using the vampire's Stamina + Fortitude. Aggravated damage may not be soaked.
Tentacles may constrict foes, inflicting Strength +1 lethal damage per turn. Breaking the grasp of a tentacle requires the victim to win a resisted Strength roll against the tentacle (difficulty 6 for both).
All tentacles need not emanate from the same source - so long as there are multiple patches of suitable darkness, there are sources for the Arms of the Abyss. Controlling the tentacles does not require complete concentration; if the Kindred is not incapacitated or in torpor, she may control tentacles while carrying out other actions.
The Lasombra calls upon his inner darkness and infuses himself with it, becoming a monstrous hybrid of matter and shadow. His body becomes mottled with spots of tenebrous shade, and wispy tentacles extrude from his torso and abdomen. Though still humanoid, the Lasombra takes on an almost demonic appearance, as the darkness within him bubbles to the surface.
System: The player spends two blood points and makes a Manipulation + Courage roll (difficulty 7). Failure indicates the vampire cannot undergo the Black Metamorphosis (though he spends the blood points nonetheless); a botch inflicts two unsoakable health levels of lethal damage on the vampire, as darkness ravages his undead body.
While under the effects of the Black Metamorphosis, the vampire possesses four tentacles similar to those evoked via Arms of the Abyss (though their Strength and Dexterity ratings are equal to the vampire's own Attributes). These tentacles, combined with the bands of darkness all over the Lasombra's body, subtract two dice from the Stamina and soak dice pools of opponents physically touched in combat, for as long as the vampire remains in contact with the victim. The vampire may make an additional attack without penalty by using the tentacles (for a total of two attacks, not one additional attack per tentacle). Additionally, the vampire can sense his surroundings fully even in pitch darkness.
The vampire's head and extremities sometimes appear to fade away into nothingness, while at other times they seem swathed in otherworldly darkness. This, combined with the wriggling tentacles writhing from his body, creates an unsettling sight. Mortals, animals and other creatures not accustomed to this sort of display must make Courage rolls (difficulty 8) or succumb to a panic that amounts to Rotschreck (though it is inspired by the darkness rather than fire). Many Lasombra cultivate this devilish aspect, and the Black Metamorphosis adds three dice to the invoking Kindred's Intimidation dice pools.
At this level, the Kindred's mastery of darkness is so extensive that she may physically become it. Upon activation of this power, the vampire becomes an inky, amoeboid patch of shadow. Vampires in this form are practically invulnerable and may slither through cracks and crevices. In addition, the shadow-vampire gains the ability to see in utter darkness.
System: The transformation costs three blood points and occurs over three turns. The vampire is immune to physical attack while in the tenebrous form (though she still takes aggravated damage from fire and sunlight), but may not herself physically attack. She may, however, envelop and ooze over others, affecting them in the same manner as a Shroud of Night, above, in addition to using mental Disciplines. Vampires in Tenebrous Form may even slither up walls and across ceilings or "drip" darkness upward - they have no mass and are thus unaffected by gravity. Rotschreck difficulties from fire and sunlight do increase by one for vampires in this form, as the light is even more painful to their shadowy bodies.
Mortals and others not used to such displays who witness the vampire transform into unholy shadow require Courage rolls (difficulty 8) in order not to suffer the debilitating terror described under Black Metamorphosis.
Vampires endowed with this Discipline possess preternatural strength. Potence enables vampires to leap tremendous distances, lift massive weights and strike opponents with terrifying force. Even the lowest ranks of this power gift the Kindred with physical might beyond mortal bounds. More powerful immortals have been known to leap so far they seem to be flying, toss cars aside like tin cans, and punch through concrete as if it were cardboard. While the mental Disciplines are awe-inspiring, Potence's brute effectiveness is formidable in its own right.
Clans Brujah, Giovanni, Lasombra and Nosferatu are the primary possessors of this Discipline. Still, members of other clans often make a point to search out someone who can enlighten them in the ways of Potence.
System: The player rolls all Strength-related tests normally, but then adds an automatic success for each point he has in Potence. Thus, the character succeeds at most Strength feats without needing to make a roll at all. In melee and brawling combat, the automatic successes are applied to the damage roll results.
This is the Discipline of supernatural attraction. Kindred who develop Presence can inspire zealous fervor, devoted passion or unspeakable terror in mortal and immortal alike. This subtle power is one of the most useful Disciplines a vampire can have.
Presence is notable since, unlike virtually all other Disciplines, some of its powers can be used on entire crowds at a time. The vampire may bring large groups under her sway, so long as her face is visible to those she wishes to affect - Presence doesn't even require eye contact. Further, this Discipline transcends race, religion, gender, class and (most importantly) supernatural nature. In theory, the powers have the same chance of affecting a Methuselah as they do a cab driver. In practice, while Presence can sway virtually any immortal, older and more canny Kindred are much more likely to notice the influence and resist with preternatural will.
Quite aside from its deliberate uses, Presence conveys upon the vampire an indescribable mystique. She stands out in any crowd, drawing the interest (and often desire) of those around her even when she's merely standing still. The higher the vampire's Presence, the greater this allure and the more powerful its impact on others.
Anyone can resist Presence for one turn by spending a Willpower point and succeeding on a Willpower roll (difficulty 8), but the affected individual must keep spending points until he can no longer see the vampire (or, in the case of Summon, until the effect wears off). The simplest way to deal with this is to turn around and stop looking. Those who don't understand that they're dealing with supernatural influences (as is the case with most mortals) seldom think of this tactic, but it's a simple assumption for clever vampires. Vampires three or more generations lower than the wielder need only spend a single Willpower to ignore the Presence for an entire scene and need not roll Willpower to do so.
The major drawback of Presence is that it controls only the emotions. It causes others to feel a certain way toward the vampire, but does not give her outright control over them. While people weigh strongly the orders that the vampire declares, their minds are still their own. Suicidal or ridiculous directives don't sound any more sensible just because the person giving them is unusually fascinating. Still, inspired eloquence or significant wealth used in combination with this Discipline can enable the vampire to urge others along a desired course.
The Brujah, Followers of Set, Toreador and Ventrue clans are all adept in this Discipline. The Ventrue are arguably the most skilled with its application, however, due to their ability to use Presence and Dominate in efficient combination.
Awe amplifies the sublime magnetism this Discipline gives the vampire. Those near the vampire suddenly desire to be closer to her and are very receptive to her point of view. Awe is extremely useful for mass communication. It matters little what is said - the hearts of those affected lean toward the vampire's opinion. The weak want to agree with her; even if the strong-willed resist, they soon find themselves outnumbered. Awe can turn a chancy deliberation into a certain resolution in the vampire's favor almost before her opponents know that the tide has turned.
Despite the intensity of this attraction, those so smitten do not lose their sense of self-preservation. Danger breaks the spell of fascination, as does leaving the area. Those subject to Awe will remember how they felt in the vampire's presence, however. This will influence their reactions should they ever encounter her again.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Performance (difficulty 7). The number of successes rolled determines how many people are affected, as noted on the chart below. If there are more people present than the character can influence, Awe affects those with lower Willpower scores first. The power stays in effect for the remainder of the scene or until the character chooses to drop it.
Those affected can use Willpower points to overcome the effect, but must continue spending Willpower every turn for as long as they remain in the same area as the vampire. As soon as an individual spends a number of Willpower points equal to the successes rolled, he shakes off the Awe completely and remains unaffected for the rest of the scene.
While all Kindred can frighten others by physically revealing their true vampiric natures - baring claws and fangs, glaring with malevolence, hissing loudly with malice - this power focuses these elements to insanely terrifying levels. Dread Gaze engenders unbearable terror in its victims, stupefying them into madness, immobility or reckless flight. Even the most stalwart individual will fall back from the vampire's horrific visage.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Intimidation (difficulty of the victim's Wits + Courage). Success indicates the victim is cowed, while failure means the target is startled but not terrified by the sight. Three or more successes means he runs away in abject fear; victims who have nowhere to mn claw at the walls, hoping to dig a way out rather than face the vampire. Moreover, each success subtracts one from the target's action dice pools next turn.
The character may attempt Dread Gaze once per turn, though she may also perform it as an extended action, adding her successes in order to subjugate the target completely. Once the target loses enough dice that he cannot perform any action, he's so shaken and terrified that he curls up on the ground and weeps. Failure during the extended action means the attempt falters. The character loses all her collected successes and can start over next turn, while the victim may act normally again.
A botch at any time indicates the target is not at all impressed - perhaps even finding the vampire's antics comical - and remains immune to any further uses of Presence by the character for the rest of the story.
This power bends others' emotions, making them the vampire's willing servants. Due to what these individuals see as true and enduring devotion, they heed the vampire's every desire. Since this is done willingly out of love (albeit a perversion of it) instead of through sapping the subjects' wills, these servants retain their creativity and individuality.
While these obedient minions are more pleasant and spirited than the mind-slaves created by Dominate, they're also somewhat unpredictable. Further, since Entrancement is of a temporary duration, dealing with a lapsed servant can be troublesome. A wise Kindred either disposes of those she entrances after they serve their usefulness, or binds them more securely by a blood bond (made much easier by the minion's willingness to serve).
System: The player rolls Appearance + Empathy (difficulty of the target's permanent Willpower); the number of successes determines how long the subject is entranced (see the chart below). The Storyteller may wish to make the roll instead, since the character is never certain of the strength of her hold on the victim. The vampire may try to keep the subject under her thrall, but can do so only after the initial Entrancement wears off. Attempting this power while Entrancement is already in operation has no effect.
This impressive power enables the vampire to call to herself any person whom she has ever met. This call can go to anyone, mortal or supernatural, across any distance within the physical world. The subject of the summons comes as fast as he is able, possibly without even knowing why. He knows intuitively how to find his summoner - even if the vampire moves to a new location, the subject redirects his own course as soon as he can. After all, he's coming to the vampire herself, not to some predetermined site.
Although this power allows the vampire to call someone across a staggering distance, it is most useful when used locally. Even if the desired person books the next available flight, getting to Kyoto from Milwaukee can still take far longer than the vampire needs. Obviously, the individual's financial resources are a factor; if he doesn't have the money to travel quickly, it will take him a far greater time to get there.
The subject thinks mainly of reaching the vampire, but does not neglect his own well-being. This is less of a consideration if he only has to cross a room, unless he must get through a gang of gun-wielding punks to do so. The individual retains his survival instincts, and while he won't shirk physical violence to reach the vampire's side, he won't subject himself to suicidal situations.
The summoning dissipates at dawn. Unless the subject is trained to continue toward the vampire after the first call, the immortal must summon each night until the target arrives. Still, as long as the vampire is willing and able, she is assured to greet her desired subject some night - as long as nothing happens to him along the way, of course.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Subterfuge. The base difficulty is 5; this increases to difficulty 7 if the subject is virtually a stranger. If the character used Presence successfully on the target in the past, this difficulty drops to 4 - however, if the attempt was unsuccessful, then the difficulty is 8.
The number of successes indicates the subject's speed and attitude in responding:
At this stage, the vampire can augment her supernatural mien a thousandfold. The attractive become paralyzingly beautiful; the homely become hideously demonic. Majesty inspires universal respect, devotion, fear - or all those emotions at once - in those around the vampire. The weak scramble to obey her every whim, and even the most dauntless find it almost impossible to deny her.
People affected find the vampire so formidable that they dare not risk her displeasure. Raising their voices to her is difficult; raising a hand against her is unthinkable. Those few who shake off the vampire's potent mystique enough to oppose her are shouted down by the many under her thrall, before the immortal need even respond.
Under Majesty's influence, hearts break, power trembles, and the bold shake. Wise Kindred use this power with caution against mortal and immortal alike. While Majesty can cow influential politicians and venerable primogen, the vampire must be careful that doing so doesn't come back to haunt her later. After all, a dignitary brought low before others loses his usefulness quickly, while a humiliated Kindred has centuries to plan revenge.
This Discipline allows the vampire to manipulate his physical form. Some Kindred view this power as a heightened connection to the natural world, while others see it as a magnification of the mark of Caine. Whatever its basis, vampires who develop this Discipline can grow bestial claws, assume the forms of wolves and bats, transform into mist and meld into the earth.
Vampires can generally use other Disciplines while transformed - Kindred in wolf form can still read auras and communicate with other animals. However, there are some situations in which the Storyteller may decide that the immortal cannot use a certain Discipline. After all, a vampire in mist form cannot use Dominate, since he has no eyes with which to make contact. The vampire's clothes and personal items also change when he transforms, presumably absorbed within his very substance. Kindred cannot transfigure large objects or other beings; Protean is a very personal expression of undead power.
A vampire who has been staked, thereby trapping his soul within the mortal coil, cannot transform. Some Kindred claim that truly powerful Gangrel - those who have mastered the highest levels of Protean - can deny even this limitation.
Clan Gangrel lays claim to this Discipline, although other individual vampires have learned some of Protean's secrets from these bestial Kindred.
Eyes of the Beast
The vampire sees perfectly well in pitch darkness, not requiring a light source to notice details in even the darkest basement or cave. The vampire's Beast is evident in his red glowing eyes, a sight sure to disturb most mortals.
System: The character must declare his desire to call forth the Eyes. No roll is necessary, but the change requires a full turn to complete. While manifesting the Eyes, the character suffers a +1 difficulty to all Social rolls with mortals unless he takes steps to shield his eyes (sunglasses are the simplest solution).
A vampire without this power who is immersed in total darkness suffers difficulty penalties of +2 to perform most feats. At the Storyteller's option, ranged attacks, extended actions and precision tasks (those requiring more than one success to succeed) cannot be performed successfully at all.
The vampire's nails transform into long, bestial claws. These talons are wickedly sharp, able to rend flesh with ease and even carve stone and metal with little trouble. The Beast is prominent in the claws as well, making them fearsome weapons against other immortals. It's rumored that some Gangrel have modified this power to change their vampiric fangs into vicious tusks.
System: The claws grow automatically in response to the character's desire, and can grow from both hands and feet. The transformation requires the expenditure of a blood point and takes a single turn to complete.
The character attacks normally in combat, but the claws inflict Strength + 1 aggravated damage. Other supernaturals cannot soak this damage, although a power such as Fortitude may be used. Additionally, the difficulties of all climbing rolls are reduced by two.
One of the most prized powers the Gangrel possess, Earth Meld enables the vampire to become one with the earth. The immortal literally sinks into the bare ground, transmuting his substance to bond with the earth.
Though a vampire can immerse himself fully into the ground, he cannot move around within it. Further, it is impossible to meld into earth through another substance. Wood slats, blacktop, even artificial turf blocks Earth Meld's effectiveness - of course, it's a relatively simple matter for a vampire at this level of power to grow claws and rip apart enough of the flooring to expose the raw soil beneath.
By interring himself in the ground, the vampire gains full protection from daylight when outdoors. It is also the method of choice for those Kindred who wish to sleep away the centuries; these vampires lock themselves in the earth's embrace, gaining strength and power as they rest. Superstitious and paranoid Kindred whisper that thousands of Ancients sleep within the ground and will awaken on the night of Gehenna.
While so interred, the vampire is in a transitional state between flesh and earth. His physical presence exists between the physical world and the astral plane. As such, the vampire is difficult to sense, even through supernatural means. However, a disruption to the soil that the immortal occupies, or to his presence on the astral realm, returns him immediately to the physical world (and to full wakefulness), showering dirt outward as his body displaces the soil.
System: No roll is necessary, although the character must spend a blood point. Subsuming into the earth is automatic and takes a turn to complete. The character falls into a state one step above torpor during this time, sensing his surroundings only distantly. The player must make a Humanity roll (difficulty 6) for the character to rouse himself in response to danger prior to his desired time of emergence.
Since the character is in an in-between state, any attempts to locate him (catching his scent, scanning for his aura, traveling astrally) are made at +2 difficulty. Astral individuals cannot affect the vampire directly, instead meeting with a kind of spongy resistance as their hands pass through him. Similarly, digging in the material world encounters incredibly hard-packed earth, virtually as dense as stone.
Attempts at violence upon the submerged vampire from either side return him to his physical nature, expelling the soil with which he bonded in a blinding spray (all Perception-based rolls are at +2 difficulty for the turn). The character himself subtracts two from his initiative for the first turn after his restoration, due to momentary disorientation. Once expelled from the earth, the vampire may act normally.
Shape of the Beast
This endows the vampire with the legendary ability to transform into a wolf or bat. A Kindred changed in this way is a particularly imposing representative of the animal kingdom. Indeed, he is far superior to normal animals, even ones possessed by Subsume the Spirit. He retains his own psyche and temperament, but can still call upon the abilities of the beast form - increased senses for the wolf and flight for the bat.
Some vampires are reputed to change to other animal forms better suited to their environment - jackals in Africa, dholes in Asia, even enormous rats in urban environments.
System: The character spends one blood point to assume the desired shape. The transformation requires three turns to complete (spending additional blood points reduces the time of transformation by one turn per point spent, to a minimum of one). The vampire remains in his beast form until the next dawn, unless he wishes to change back sooner. Clothing and small personal possessions transform with the vampire.
While in the animal's shape, the vampire can use any Discipline he possesses except Necromancy, Serpentis, Thaumaturgy or Vicissitude. Furthermore, each form gives the character the abilities of that creature. In wolf form, the vampire's teeth and claws inflict Strength + 1 aggravated damage, he can run at double speed, and the difficulties of all Perception rolls are reduced by two. In bat form, the vampire's Strength is reduced to 1, but he can fly at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, difficulties for all hearing-based Perception rolls are reduced by three, and attacks made against him are at + 2 difficulty due to his small size.
The Storyteller may allow a vampire to assume a different animal shape, but should establish the natural abilities it grants the character.
This truly unsettling power enables the vampire to turn into mist. His physical shape disperses into a hazy cloud, but one still subject entirely to the immortal's will. He floats at a brisk pace and may slip under doors, through screens, down pipes and through other tiny openings. Although strong winds can blow the vampire from his chosen course, even hurricane-force winds cannot disperse his mist shape.
Some Kindred feel that this power is an expression of the vampire's ultimate control over the material world, while others believe that it is the immortal's soul made manifest (damned though it maybe).
System: No roll is required, although a blood point must be spent. The transformation takes three turns to complete, although the character may reduce this time by one turn for each additional blood point spent (to a minimum of one turn). Strong winds may buffet the character about; only his rating in Potence (if any) may be used to resist this influence.
The vampire is immune to all mundane physical attacks while in mist form, although supernatural attacks affect him normally. Also, the vampire takes one fewer level of damage from fire and sunlight. The character may not attack others physically while in this state - this includes encountering another vampire in mist form. He may use Disciplines that do not require physical substance, however.
Quietus, the Discipline of silent death, is practiced by the assassins of Clan Assamite. Using the principles of poison, vitae control and pestilence, this blood-based Discipline focuses on the destruction of its target through varying means. Quietus does not always cause a quick death; the Assassins rely upon its secret lethality to hide their involvement with their victims.
Silence of Death
Many Assamites claim never to have heard their targets' death screams. Silence of Death imbues the Assamite with a mystical silence that radiates from her body, muting all noise within a certain vicinity. No sound occurs inside this zone, though sounds originating outside the area of effect may be heard by anyone in it. Rumors abound of certain skilled Assamite viziers who have the ability to silence a location rather than a circumference that follows them, but no proof of this has been forthcoming.
System: This power costs one blood point to activate, which maintains a 20-foot radius of utter stillness around the Assamite for one hour.
By changing the properties of her blood, an Assamite may create powerful venom that strips her prey of his resilience. This power is greatly feared by other Kindred, and all manner of hideous tales concerning methods of delivery circulate among trembling coteries. Assamites are known to deliver the poison by coating their weapons with it, blighting their opponents with a touch, or spitting it like a cobra. An apocryphal account speaks of a proud prince who discovered an Assamite plotting her exsanguination and began to diablerize her would-be assassin. Halfway through the act, she learned that she had ingested a dire quantity of tainted blood and was then unable to resist the weakened hashashiyyin s renewed attack.
System: To convert a bit of her blood to poison, the Assamite's player spends at least one blood point and rolls Willpower (difficulty 6). If this roll is successful, and the Assamite successfully hits (but not necessarily damages) her opponent, the target loses a number of Stamina points equal to the number of blood points converted into poison. The victim may resist the poison with a Stamina + Fortitude roll (difficulty 6); successes achieved on the resistance roll subtract from the Assamite's successes to affect the target. The maximum number of blood points an Assamite may convert at any one time equals her Stamina. The number of successes scored indicates the duration of the Stamina loss.
If a mortal's Stamina falls to zero through use of Scorpion's Touch, she becomes terminally ill and loses immunity to diseases, her body succumbing to sickness within the year unless she somehow manages to increase her Stamina again. If a Kindred's Stamina falls to zero, the vampire enters torpor and remains that way until one of her Stamina points returns. If a Kindred is permanently reduced to zero Stamina, she may recover from torpor only through mystical means.
To afflict her target with the poison, the Assamite must touch her target's flesh or hit that target with something that carries the venom. Many Assamites lubricate their weapons with the excretion, while others pool the toxin in their hands (or fleck their lips with the poison, for a "kiss of death") and press it to their opponents. Weapons so envenomed must be of the melee variety - arrows, sling stones, bullets and the like cannot carry enough of the stuff to do damage, and it drips off in flight. Players whose Assamites wish to spit at their targets must make a Stamina + Athletics roll (difficulty 6). No more than two blood points' worth of poison may be expectorated, and a Kindred may spit a distance of 10 feet for each point of Strength and/or Potence the character possesses. Assamites are immune to their own poison, but not the blood-venom of other Assamites.
This terrible and recently rediscovered power allows an Assamite to drown her target in his own blood. By concentrating, the Assamite bursts her target's blood vessels and fills his lungs with vitae that proceeds to strangle him from within. The blood actually constricts the target's body from the inside as it floods through his system; thus, it works even on unbreathing Kindred. Until the target collapses in agony or death throes, this power has no visible effect, and many Assamites prefer it because it leaves no trace of their presence.
System: The Assamite must touch her target prior to using Dagon's Call. Within an hour thereafter, the Assamite may issue the call, though she need not be in the presence or even in the line of sight other target.
Invoking the power costs one Willpower point. The Assamite's player makes a contested Stamina roll against the target's Stamina; the difficulty of each roll is equal to the opponent's permanent Willpower score. The number of successes the Assamite achieves is the amount of damage, in health levels, the victim suffers. For an additional point of Willpower spent in the next turn, the Assamite may continue using Dagon's Call by engaging in another contested Stamina roll. Damage from Dagon's Call is considered lethal. So long as the Assamite's player continues to spend Willpower, the character may continue rending her opponent from within.
The penultimate use of blood as a weapon (short of diablerie itself), Baal's Caress allows the Assamite to transmute her blood into a virulent ichor that destroys any living or undead flesh it touches. In nights of yore, when Assamites led the charges of Saracen legions, the Assassins were often seen licking their blades, slicing open their tongues and lubricating their weapons with this foul secretion.
Baal's Caress may be used to augment any bladed weapon; everything from poisoned knives and swords to tainted fingernails and claws has been reported.
System: Baal's Caress does not increase the damage done by a given weapon, but that weapon inflicts aggravated damage rather than normal. No roll is necessary to activate this power, but one blood point is consumed per hit. For example, if an Assamite poisons his knife and strikes his opponent (even if he inflicts no damage), one blood point's worth of lubrication disappears. For this reason, many Assamites choose to coat their weapons with a significant quantity of blood. If the Assamite misses, no tainted blood is consumed.
Taste of Death
A refinement of Baal's Caress, Taste of Death allows the Assamite to spit caustic blood at her target. The blood coughed forth with this power burns flesh and corrodes bone; some Assamites have been reported to vomit voluminous streams of vitae that reduce their targets to heaps of sludge.
System: The vampire may spit up to 10 feet for each dot of Strength and/or Potence he possesses. Hitting the target requires a Stamina + Athletics roll (difficulty 6). Each blood point spewed at the target inflicts two dice of aggravated damage, and there is no limit (other than the vampire's capacity and per-turn expenditure maximum) to the quantity of blood with which a target may be deluged.
Serpentis is the legacy of Set, his gift to his children. The Followers of Set carefully guard this Discipline's secrets, teaching the reptilian art only to those they deem worthy (almost never outsiders). Most Cainites fear the Setites purely because of this Discipline, the way of the serpent and the tempter. Serpentis can evoke an almost primordial fear in others, particularly those who recall the tale of Eden. After all, hiss the Setites, the serpent was an evil older than even Caine himself.
The Eyes of the Serpent
This power grants the Setite the legendary hypnotic gaze of the serpent. The Setite's eyes become gold with large black irises, and mortals in the character's vicinity find themselves strangely attracted to him. A mortal who meets the vampire's beguiling gaze is immobilized. Until the character takes his eyes off his mortal victim, the person is frozen in place.
System: No roll is required, but this power can be avoided if the mortal takes care not to look into the Setite's eyes. Vampires and other supernatural creatures (Lupines, mages, et al.) can also be affected by this power if the Setite's player makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 9). If attacked or otherwise harmed, supernatural creatures can spend a point of Willpower to break the spell.
The Tongue of the Asp
The Setite may lengthen her tongue at will, splitting it into a fork like that of a serpent. The tongue may reach 18 inches, and makes a terrifyingly effective weapon in close combat.
System: The tongue's razor fork opens aggravated wounds (difficulty 6, Strength damage). If the Setite wounds her enemy, she may drink blood from the target on the next turn as though she had sunk her fangs into the victim's neck. Horrifying though it is, the tongue's caress is very like the Kiss, and even strikes mortal victims helpless with fear and ecstasy. Additionally, the tongue is highly sensitive to vibrations, enabling the vampire to function effectively in the darkness the clan prefers. By flickering her tongue in and out of her mouth, the vampire can halve any penalties relating to darkness (p. 209).
The Skin of the Adder
By calling upon her Blood, the vampire may transform her skin into a mottled, scaly hide. A vampire in this form becomes more supple and flexible. The Path of the Warrior (a line of Setites who adhere to the ancient warrior-codes of Egypt) makes much use of this power.
System: The vampire spends one blood point and one Willpower point. The vampire's skin becomes scaly and mottled; this, combined with the character's increased flexibility, reduces soak difficulties to 5. The vampire may use her Stamina to soak aggravated damage from claws and fangs, but not from fire, sunlight or other magical energies. The vampire's mouth widens and fangs lengthen, enabling her bite to inflict an extra die of damage. Finally, the vampire may slip through any opening wide enough to fit her head through.
The vampire's Appearance drops to 1, and she is obviously inhuman if observed with any degree of care, though casual passersby might not notice if the vampire is in darkness or wearing heavy clothing.
The Form of the Cobra
The Setite may change his form into that of a huge black cobra. The serpent weighs as much as the vampire's human form, stretches over 10 feet long, and is as thick as a woman's thigh. The Form of the Cobra grants several advantages, including a venomous bite, the ability to slither through small holes, and a greatly enhanced sense of smell. The character may use any Disciplines while in this form save those that require hands (such as Feral Claws).
System: The Setite spends one blood point; the change is automatic, but takes three turns. Clothing and small personal possessions transform with the vampire; the vampire remains in serpent form until the next dawn, unless he desires to change back sooner. The Storyteller may allow the Setite bonus dice on all Perception rolls related to smell, but the difficulties for all hearing rolls are increased by two. The cobra's bite inflicts damage equal to the vampire's, but the vampire does not need to grapple his victim; furthermore, the poison delivered is fatal to mortals.
The Heart of Darkness
The Setite with mastery of Serpentis may pull her heart from her body. She can even use this ability on other Cainites, although this requires several hours of gruesome surgery. Only the new moon, the invisible moon, may grant this power success. If performed under any other moon, the rite fails. Upon removing her heart, the Setite places it in a small clay urn, and then carefully hides or buries the urn. She cannot be staked by any wood that pierces her breast, and finds it easier to resist frenzy. The heart is the seat of emotion, after all, and so the difficulties of all rolls to resist frenzy are two lower.
Setites are careful to keep their hearts safe from danger. If someone seizes her heart, the Setite is completely at that person's mercy. The Setite heart can be destroyed only by casting it into a fire or exposing it to sunlight. If this happens, however, the Setite dies where she stands, boiling away into a blistering heap of ash and blackened bone. Plunging a wooden stake into an exposed heart drives the Setite into instant torpor.
A Setite may carry her heart with her, or have several false hearts buried in different places. A Setite often avoids her heart's hiding place, to deter discovery. Those wise in Setite lore whisper that the corrupt elders of the clan often hold their underlings' hearts, the better to control the errant hatchlings.
System: This power requires no roll. Those who witness a Setite pull his heart from his breast (or cut the heart from another vampire) must make Courage rolls. Failure indicates anything from strong uneasiness to complete revulsion, possibly even Rotschreck.
The Discipline of Thaumaturgy encompasses blood magic and other sorcerous arts. Thaumaturgy is the unique possession of the Tremere and one of its most jealously guarded secrets. Certain Kindred rumors even speak of mystic cabals of Tremere that hunt down those thaumaturges who are not members of the Warlocks' clan.
Clan Tremere created this Discipline by combining mortal wizardry with the power ofvampiric vitae. Though its existence is not widely known by mortal mages and wizards, it is seen as a disreputable aberration of true magick by those familiar with it.
Thaumaturgy is a versatile and powerful Discipline. Like Necromancy, its practice is divided into two parts: paths and rituals. Thaumaturgical paths are applications of the vampire's knowledge of blood magic, allowing her to create effects at her whim. Rituals are more formulaic in nature, most akin to the ancient magical "spells" of bygone nights. Because so many different paths and rituals are available to the arcane Tremere, one never knows what to expect when confronted with a practitioner of this Discipline.
When a character first learns Thaumaturgy, the player selects a path for the character. That path is considered the character's primary path, and she automatically receives one dot in it, as well as one Level One ritual. Thereafter, whenever the character increases her level in Thaumaturgy, her score in the primary path increases by one as well. Rituals are learned separately, as part of a story; players need not pay experience points for their characters to learn rituals, though they must find someone to teach the rituals in question.
Path ratings never exceed Level Five, though the overall Thaumaturgy score may (higher levels of Disciplines will be covered in future products ).Ifa character reaches Level Five in her primary path and increases her Thaumaturgy score afferward, she may allocate her "free" path dot to a different path. Thaumaturges may create their own paths (through player and Storyteller collaboration) once they achieve the sixth level of Thaumaturgy.
Many vampires (wisely) fear the Discipline of Thaumaturgy. It is a very potent and mutable Discipline, and almost anything the Kindred wishes may be accomplished through its magic.
Paths define the types of magic a vampire can perform. A vampire typically learns his primary path from his sire, though it is not unknown for some vampires to study under many different tutors and learn all their secrets.
As mentioned before, the first path a character learns is considered her primary path and increases automatically as the character advances in the Discipline itself. Secondary paths may be learned once the character has acquired two or more dots in her primary path, and they must be raised separately with experience points. Furthermore, a character's rating in her primary path must always be at least one dot higher than any of her secondary paths until she has mastered her primary path. Once the character has achieved mastery of the fifth level of her primary path, secondary paths may be increased to that level.
Each time the character invokes one of the powers of a Thaumaturgical path, the thaumaturge's player must spend a blood point and make a Willpower roll against a difficulty of the power's level +3. Only one success is required to invoke a path's effect - path levels, not successes, govern the power of blood magic. Failure on this roll indicates that the blood magic fails, while a botch signifies that the character loses a permanent Willpower point. Obviously, Thaumaturgy is not an art in which one merely "dabbles."
The Path of Blood
Almost every Tremere studies the Path of Blood as her primary path. It encompasses some of the most fundamental principles of Thaumaturgy, based as it is on the manipulation of Kindred vitae. If a player wishes to select another path as her character's primary path, she'd better have a good reason (though choosing a different path is by no means unheard of).
A Taste of Blood
This power was developed as a means of testing a foe's might - an extremely important ability in the tumultuous early nights of Clan Tremere. By merely tasting the blood of his subject, the thaumaturge may determine how much vitae remains in the subject and, if the subject is a vampire, how recently he has fed, his approximate generation and, with three or more successes, whether he has recently committed diablerie.
System: The number of successes achieved on the roll determines how much information the thaumaturge gleans and how accurate it is.
This power allows a vampire to force another Kindred to expend blood against his will. The thaumaturge must touch her subject for this power to work, though only the lightest contact is necessary. A vampire affected by this power might feel a physical rush as the thaumaturge heightens his Physical Attributes, or may even find himself on the brink of frenzy as his stores of vitae are mystically depleted.
System: Each success forces the subject to spend one blood point immediately in the way the thaumaturge desires. Note that blood points forcibly spent in this manner may exceed the normal "per turn" maximum indicated by the victim's generation. Each success gained also increases the subject's difficulty to resist frenzy by one.
Blood of Potency
The thaumaturge gains such control over his own blood that he may effectively "concentrate" it, making it more powerful for a short time. In effect, he may temporarily lower his own generation with this power. This power may be used only once per night.
System: Successes earned on the Willpower roll must be spent both to decrease the vampire's generation and to maintain the change. One success allows the character to lower his generation by one step for one hour. Each success grants the Kindred either one step down in generation or one hour of effect. If the vampire is diablerized while this power is in effect, it wears off immediately and the diablerist gains power appropriate to the thaumaturge's actual generation. Furthermore, any mortals Embraced by the thaumaturge are born to the generation appropriate to their sire's original generation (e.g., a 10th-generation Tremere who has reduced his effective generation to eighth still produces 11th-generation childer).
Once the effect wears off, any blood over the character's blood pool maximum dilutes, leaving the character at his regular blood pool maximum. Thus, if a 12th-generation Tremere (maximum blood pool of 11) decreased his generation to ninth (maximum blood pool 14), ingested 14 blood points, and had this much vitae in his system when the power wore off, his blood pool would immediately drop to 11.
Theft of Vitae
A thaumaturge using this power siphons vitae from her subject. She need never come in contact with the subject - blood literally streams out in a physical torrent from the subject to the Kindred (though it is often mystically absorbed and need not enter through the mouth).
System: The number of successes determines how many blood points the Tremere transfers from the subject. The subject must be visible to the thaumaturge and within 50 feet. Using this power is like drinking from the subj ect - used three times on the same Kindred, it creates a blood bond on the part of the thaumaturge! This power is obviously quite spectacular, and Camarilla princes justifiably consider its public use a breach of the Masquerade.
Cauldron of Blood
A thaumaturge using this power boils her subject's blood in his veins like water on a stove. The Kindred must touch her subject, and it is this contact that simmers the subject's blood. This power is always fatal to mortals, and causes great damage to even the mightiest vampires.
System: The number of successes gained determines how many blood points are brought to boil. The subject suffers one health level of aggravated damage for each point boiled (individuals with Fortitude may soak this damage using only their Fortitude dice). A single success kills any mortal, though some ghouls are said to have survived.
The Lure of Flames
This path grants the thaumaturge the ability to conjure forth mystical flames - small fires at first, but skilled magicians may create great conflagrations. The Lure of Flames is greatly feared, as fire is one of the surest ways to bring Final Death upon a vampire. See "Fire" (p. 227) for more information on how vampires suffer from flame.
Fire created by this path is not "natural." In fact, many vampires believe the flames to be conjured from Hell itself.
Fire conjured by The Lure of Flames must be released for it to have any effect. Thus, a "palm of flame" does not bum the vampire's hand and cause an aggravated wound - it merely produces light. Once the flame has been released, however, it burns normally and the character has no control over it.
System: The number of successes determines how accurately the thaumaturge places the flame in his desired location. One success is all that is necessary to conjure a flame in one's hand, while five successes place a flame anywhere in the Kindred's line of sight.
Individual descriptions are not provided for each level of this path - fire is fire, after all. The chart below describes the path level required to generate a specific amount of flame. To soak the damage at all, of course, a vampire must have the Fortitude Discipline.
Candle (difficulty 3 to soak, one health level of aggravated damage/turn)
The Movement of the Mind
This path gives the thaumaturge the ability to move objects telekinetically through the mystic power of blood. At higher levels, even flight is possible (but be careful who sees you...). Objects under the character's control may be manipulated as if she held them - they may be lifted, spun, juggled or even "thrown," though creating enough force to inflict actual damage requires mastery of the fourth level or greater. Some thaumaturges skilled in this path even use it to guard their havens, animating swords, axes and firearms to ward off intruders.
This path may frighten and disconcert onlookers. Many people are quite put off when the pages of a book turn by themselves!
System: The number of successes indicates the duration of the thaumaturge's control over the object (or subject). Each success allows one turn of manipulation, though the Kindred may attempt to maintain control after this time by making a new roll (she need not spend additional blood to maintain control). If the roll is successful, control is maintained. If a thaumaturge loses or relaxes control over an object and later manipulates it again, her player must spend another blood point, as a new attempt is being made.
If this power is used to manipulate a living being, the subject may attempt to resist. In this case, the thaumaturge and the subject make opposed Willpower rolls each turn the control is exercised.
Like The Lure of Flames, individual power levels are not provided for this path - consult the chart below to see how much weight a thaumaturge may control. Once a Kindred reaches Level Three, she may levitate herself and "fly" at approximately running speed, no matter how much she weighs, though the weight restrictions apply if she manipulates other objects or subjects. Once a Kindred achieves Level Four, she may "throw" objects at a Strength equal to her level of mastery.
The Path of Conjuring
Invoking objects "out of thin air" has been a staple of occult and supernatural legend since long before the rise of the Tremere. This Thaumaturgical path enables powerful conjurations limited only by the mind of the practitioner.
Objects summoned via this path bear two distinct characteristics. They are uniformly "generic" in that each object summoned, if summoned again, would look exactly as it did at first. For example, a knife would be precisely the same knife if created twice; the two would be indistinguishable. Even a specific knife - the one a character's father used to threaten her - would appear identical every time it was conjured. A rat would have repeated "tiled" patterns over its fur, and a garbage can would have the exact same fluted texture over its surface. Additionally, conjured objects bear no flaws: Weapons have no dents or scratches, tools have no distinguishing marks, and computers have featureless casings.
The limit on the size of conjured objects appears to be that of the conjurer; nothing larger than the thaumaturge can be created. The conjurer must also have some degree of familiarity with the object he wishes to call forth. Simply working from a picture or imagination calls for a higher difficulty, while objects with which the character is intimately familiar (such as the knife described above) may actually lower the difficulty, at the Storyteller's discretion.
When a player rolls to conjure something, the successes gained on the roll indicate the quality of the summoned object. One success yields a shoddy, imperfect creation, while five successes garner the thaumaturge a nearly perfect replica.
Summon thr Simple Form
At this level of mastery, the conjurer may create simple, inanimate objects. The object cannot have any moving parts and may not be made of multiple materials. For example, the conjurer may summon a steel baton, a lead pipe, a wooden stake or a chunk of granite.
System: Each turn the conjurer wishes to keep the object in existence, another Willpower point must be spent or the object vanishes.
At this level, the conjurer no longer needs to pay Willpower costs to keep an object in existence. The object is, as this level's name suggests, permanent, though simple objects are still all that may be created.
System: The player must invest three blood points in an object to make it real.
Magic of the Smith
The Kindred may now conjure complex objects of multiple components and with moving parts. For example, the thaumaturge can create guns, bicycles, chainsaws or cellular phones.
System: Objects created via Magic of the Smith are permanent items and cost five blood points to conjure. Particularly complex items often require a Knowledge roll (Crafts, Science, etc.) in addition to the basic roll.
This power allows the conjurer to "banish" into nonexistence any object previously called forth via this path.
System: This is an extended success roll. The conjurer must accumulate as many successes as the original caster received when creating the object in question.
Power Over Life
This power cannot create true life, though it can summon forth some truly impressive simulacra. Creatures (and people) summoned with this power lack the free will to act on their own, instead mindlessly following the simple instructions of their conjurer.
System: The player spends 10 blood points. Imperfect and impermanent, creatures summoned via this path are too complex to exist for long. Within a week after their conjuration, the simulacra vanish into insubstantiality.
Hands of Destruction
This Path is practiced almost exclusively by the thaumaturges of the Sabbat. Though it is not widely seen outside that sect, a few Camarilla Tremere have managed to learn the secrets of this path over the centuries. The Hands of Destruction has an infamous history, and some Tremere refuse to practice it due to rumors that it is demonic in origin.
Brutal and painful, this path provides thaumaturges with offensive capabilities not found in other, less martial paths. It embodies the violent nature of its Sabbat wielders, existing solely to cause entropy and decay.
This power accelerates the decrepitude of its target, causing it to wither, rot or otherwise break down. The target must be inanimate, though dead organic matter can be affected.
System: If the roll is successful, the inanimate object touched by the thaumaturge ages 10 years for every minute the Kindred touches it. If the vampire breaks physical contact and wishes to age the object again, another blood point must be spent and another roll must be made.
This power warps and bends wooden objects. Though the wood is otherwise undamaged, this power often leaves the objects completely useless. This power may also be used to swell or contract wood, in addition to bending it into unwholesome shapes. Unlike other powers of this path, Gnarl Wood requires merely a glance rather than physical contact.
System: Fifty pounds of visible wood may be gnarled for each blood point spent on this power (the thaumaturge may expend as much blood as she likes on this power, up to her per-tum generational maximum). It is also possible to warp multiple visible objects - like all the stakes an opposing team of vampire-hunters wields.
The thaumaturge secretes a bilious, acidic fluid from any portion of his body. The viscous acid corrodes metal, destroys wood and causes horrendous chemical bums to living tissue.
System: The player spends blood to create the acid - the blood literally transmutes into the volatile secretion. One blood point creates enough acid to burn through a quarter-inch of steel plate or three inches of wood. The damage from an acid-augmented hand-to-hand attack is aggravated and costs one blood point per turn to use. A thaumaturge is immune to her own acidic touch.
This power withers a victim's limb, leaving only a desiccated, almost mummified husk of bone and skin. The effects are instantaneous; in mortals, they are also irreversible.
System: The victim may resist the effects of Atrophy by scoring three or more successes on a Stamina + Athletics roll (difficulty 8). Failure means the limb is permanently and completely crippled. Partial resistance is possible: One success indicates that difficulties involving the use of the arm increase by two, though these effects are still permanent with regard to mortals. Two successes signify that difficulties increase by one. Vampires afflicted by this power may spend five blood points to rejuvenate atrophied limbs. Mortals are permanently crippled. This power affects only limbs (arms and legs); it does not work on victims' heads, torsos, etc.
Turn to Dust
This fearsome power accelerates decrepitude in its victims. Mortals literally crumble to dust at the mere touch of a skilled thaumaturge, aged beyond death and into putrefaction.
System: Each success on the roll ages the victim by 10 years. A potential victim may resist with a Stamina + Courage roll (difficulty 8), but must accumulate more successes than the thaumaturge's activation roll - it's an all-or-nothing affair. If the victim succeeds, he does not age at all. If he does not acquire more successes than the thaumaturge, he ages the full amount. Obviously, this power, while it affects vampires, has no detrimental effect on them (they're immortal). At most, a Kindred victim withers slightly (-1 to Appearance) for one night.
Rituals are Thaumaturgical formulas, meticulously researched and prepared, that create powerful magical effects. Rituals are less versatile than paths, as their effects are singular and straightforward, but they are better suited toward specific ends.
All thaumaturges have the ability to use rituals, though each individual ritual must be learned separately. By acquainting herself with the arcane practice of blood magic, the thaumaturge gains the capacity to manipulate these focused effects.
Thaumaturgical rituals are rated from 1 to 5, each level corresponding to both the level of mastery of Thaumaturgy the would-be caster must possess and the relative power of the ritual itself. Unless stated otherwise, a ritual requires five minutes per level to cast. For example, Andreas the Tremere wishes to cast Ward Versus Ghouls, a Level Two Ritual. Invoking this ritual requires 10 minutes, and Andreas must know Thaumaturgy at 2 or greater.
Casting rituals requires a successful Intelligence + Occult roll, for which the difficulty equals 3 + the level of the ritual (maximum 9). Only one success is required for a ritual to work, though certain spells may require more successes or have variable effects based on how well the caster's roll goes. This uncertainty of effect is a recent development; Tremere rituals formerly worked infallibly, so long as the caster executed them successfully. Many thaumaturges fear that the movements of awakening Antediluvians have caused imbalance in the flow of magic, making the success of rituals more precarious than in previous nights. Should a roll to activate a ritual fail, the Storyteller is encouraged to create strange occurrences or side effects, or even make it appear that the ritual was successful, only to reveal its failure at a later time. A botched ritual roll may even indicate a catastrophic failure or summon an ill-tempered demon...
Rituals sometimes require special ingredients or reagents to work - these are noted in each ritual's description. Common components include herbs, animal bones, ceremonial items, feathers, eye of newt, tongue of toad, etc. Acquiring magical components for a powerful ritual may form the basis for an entire story.
At the first level of Thaumaturgy, the vampire automatically gains a single Level One ritual. To learn further rituals, the thaumaturge must find someone to teach him, or learn the ritual from a scroll, tome or other archive. Learning a new ritual can take anywhere from a few nights (Level One ritual) to months or years (Level Five ritual). Some dread Warlocks have studied individual rituals for decades, even centuries. Precisely what these rituals do is unknown, but their effects are surely grave.
Level One Rituals
Defense of the Sacred Haven
This ritual prevents sunlight from entering an area within 20 feet of this ritual's casting. A mystical darkness blankets the area, keeping the baneful light at bay. Sunlight reflects off windows or magically fails to pass through doors or other portals. The caster draws sigils in her own blood on all the affected windows and doors, and the ritual lasts as long as the Tremere stays within the 20-foot radius.
System: This ritual requires one hour to perform, during which the thaumaturge recites incantations and inscribes glyphs. One blood point is required for this ritual to work.
Wake with Evening's Freshness
This ritual allows a Tremere to awaken at any sign of danger, especially during the day. If any potentially harmful circumstances arise, the Tremere immediately rises, ready to face the problem. This ritual requires the ashes of burned feathers to be spread over the area in which the Kindred wishes to sleep.
System: This ritual must be performed immediately before the Tremere settles down to slumber for the day. Any interruption to the ceremonial casting renders the ritual ineffective. If danger arises, the Tremere awakens and may ignore the Humanity dice pool limit rule for the first two turns of consciousness. Thereafter, the penalty takes effect, but the Tremere will have already risen and will be able to address problematic situations.
Communicate with Kindred Sire
By enacting this ritual, a Tremere may join minds with her sire, speaking telepathically with him over any distance. The communication may continue until the ritual expires or until either party ends the conversation. The caster must possess an item once owned by her sire for the ritual to work.
System: The caster must meditate for 30 minutes to create the connection. Conversation may be maintained for 10 minutes per success on the activation roll.
Deflection of Wooden Doom
This ritual protects the Tremere from being staked, whether or not she is resting or active. While this ritual is in effect, the first stake that would pierce the Tremere's heart disintegrates in the attacker's hand. A stake merely held near the Tremere is unaffected; for this ritual to work, the stake must actively be used in an attempt to impale the vampire.
System: The thaumaturge must surround herself with a circle of wood for a full hour. Any wood will work: furniture, sawdust, raw timber, 2' x 4's, whatever. The circle must remain unbroken, however. At the end of the hour, the vampire places a wooden splinter under her tongue. If this splinter is removed, the ritual is nullified. This ritual lasts until the following dawn or dusk.
The Tremere use this ritual to place curses upon mortals who earn their ire. Using this ritual marks an individual invisibly, causing all those who come in contact with him to receive him poorly. The mortal is treated as the most loathsome individual conceivable, and all who deal with him do anything in their power to make him miserable. Even bums spit at an afflicted individual, and children taunt him and barrage him with vulgarities.
System: The effects of this ritual last one night, disappearing as the sun rises. The mortal (it doesn't work on vampires) must be present when the ritual is invoked, and a penny must be placed somewhere on his person (in a pocket, shoe, etc.).
Level Two Rituals
Ward Versus Ghouls
Wary Tremere created this ritual to protect themselves from the minions of vengeful rivals. By invoking this ritual, the Tremere creates a glyph that causes great pain to any ghouls who come in contact with it. The Kindred pours a point's worth of blood over the object he wishes to ward (a piece of parchment, a coin, a doorknob, etc.), and recites the incantation, which takes 10 minutes. In 10 hours, the magical ward is complete, and will inflict excruciating pain on any ghoul unfortunate enough to touch the warded object.
System: Ghouls who touch warded objects suffer three dice of lethal damage. This damage occurs again if the ghoul touches the object further; indeed, a ghoul who consciously wishes to touch a warded object must spend a point of Willpower to do so.
This ritual wards only one object - if inscribed on the side of a car, the ward affects only that door or fender, not the whole car. Wards may be placed on weapons, even bullets, though this usually works best on small-caliber weapons. Bullets often warp upon firing, however, and for a ward to remain intact on a fired round, the player needs five successes on the Firearms roll.
Principal Focus of Vitae Infusion
This ritual imbues a quantity of blood within the object upon which the ritual is cast. The object must be small enough for the vampire to carry in both hands, and it may be as small as a dime. After the ritual is conducted, the object takes on a reddish hue and becomes slick to the touch. At a mental command, the thaumaturge may release the object from its enchantment, causing it to break down into a pool of blood. This blood may serve whatever purpose the vampire desires; many Tremere wear enchanted baubles to ensure they have emergency supplies of vitae.
System: An object may store only one blood point of vitae. If a Kindred wishes to make an infused focus for an ally, she may do so, but the blood contained within must be her own (and if the ally then drinks the blood, he is one step closer to the blood bond). The ally must be present at the creation of the focus.
Level Three Rituals
Use of this ritual allows the thaumaturge to make herself insubstantial. The caster becomes completely immaterial and thus is able to walk through walls, pass through closed doors, escape manacles, etc. The caster also becomes invulnerable to physical attacks for the duration of the ritual. The caster must follow a straight path through any physical objects, and may not draw back. Thus, a Kindred may walk through a solid wall, but may not walk down through the earth (as it would be impossible to reach the other side before the ritual lapsed). This ritual requires that the caster carry a shard from a shattered mirror to hold her image as she moves insubstantially.
System: This ritual lasts a number of hours equal to the number of successes scored on a Wits + Survival roll (difficulty 6). The thaumaturge may prematurely end the ritual (and, thus, her incorporeality) by turning the mirror shard away so that it no longer reflects her image.
Pavis of Foul Presence
The Tremere joke privately that this is their "ritual for the Ventrue." Kindred who invoke the Presence Discipline on the subject of this ritual find the effects of their Discipline reversed, as if they had used the power on themselves. For example, a vampire using Presence to instill utter fear in a Kindred under the influence of this ritual feels the fear herself. This ritual is an unbroken secret among the Tremere, and the Warlocks maintain that its use is unknown outside their clan. The magical component for this ritual is a length of blue silk, which must be worn around the neck of the person protected by the magic.
System: This ritual lasts until the sunrise after it is enacted. Note that the Presence Discipline power must actually succeed before being reversed by the ritual.
Level Four Ritual
Bone of Lies
This ritual enchants a mortal bone so that anyone who holds it must tell the truth. The bone in question is often a skull, though any part of the skeleton will do - some Tremere use strings of teeth, necklaces of finger joints or wands fashioned from ribs or arms. The bone grows blacker as it compels its holder to tell the truth, until it has turned completely ebony and has no magic left.
This ritual binds the spirit of the individual to whom the bone belonged in life; it is this spirit who wrests the truth from the potential liar. The spirit absorbs the lies intended to be told by the bone's holder, and as it compels more truth, it becomes more and more corrupt. If summoned forth, this spirit reflects the sins it has siphoned from the defeated liar (in addition to anger over its unwilling servitude). For this reason, anonymous bones are often used in the ritual, and the bone is commonly buried after it has been used to its full extent. A specific bone may never be used twice for this ritual.
System: The bone imbued with this magical power must be at least 200 years old and must absorb 10 blood points on the night that the ritual is cast. Each lie the holder wishes to tell consumes one of these blood points, and the holder must speak the truth immediately thereafter. When all 10 blood points have been consumed, the bone magic ceases to work any longer.
Level Five Ritual
This ritual creates an unbreakable agreement between the two parties who sign it. The contract must be written in the caster's blood and signed in the blood of whoever applies their name to the document. This ritual takes three nights to enact fully, after which both parties are compelled to fulfill the terms of the contract.
System: This ritual is best handled by the Storyteller, who may bring those who sign the blood contract into compliance by whatever means necessary (it is not unknown for demons to materialize and enforce adherence to certain blood contracts). The only way to terminate the ritual is to complete the terms of the contract or to burn the document itself. One blood point is consumed in the creation of the document, and an additional blood point is consumed by those who sign it.
Vicissitude is the signature power of the Tzimisce and is almost unknown outside the clan. Similar in some respects to Protean, Vicissitude allows the Fiends to shape and sculpt their own or others' flesh and bone. When a Tzimisce uses Vicissitude to alter mortals, ghouls and vampires of higher generation, the effects of the power are permanent; vampires of equal or lower generation may heal the effects of Vicissitude as though they were aggravated wounds. Naturally, a wielder can always reshape her own flesh.
Note that while this Discipline permits powerful and horrific effects, the wielder must obtain skin-to-skin contact and must often physically sculpt the desired result. This even applies to the use of the power on oneself. Tzimisce skilled in Vicissitude are often inhumanly beautiful; those less skilled are simply inhuman.
Note: Nosferatu always "heal" back Vicissitude alterations, at least the ones that make them better-looking. The ancient curse of the clan may not be circumvented through Vicissitude, except possibly by the Antediluvian of the Tzimisce clan (who is rumored to have been destroyed anyway).
A vampire with this power may alter her own bodily parameters: height, build, voice, facial features and skin tone, among other things. Such changes are cosmetic and minor in scope - no more than a foot of height gained or lost, for example. She must physically mold the alteration, literally shaping her flesh into the desired result.
System: The player must spend a blood point for each body part to be changed, then roll Intelligence + Body Crafts (difficulty 6). To duplicate another person or voice requires a Perception + Body Crafts roll (difficulty 8), and five successes are required for a flawless copy; fewer successes leave minute, or not-so-minute, flaws. Increasing one's Appearance Trait is difficulty 10, thus usually requiring Willpower expenditure for even minimal success, and a botch permanently reduces the Attribute by one.
This power is similar to Malleable Visage, above, but allows the vampire to perform drastic, grotesque alterations on other creatures. Tzimisce often use this power to transform their servitors into monstrous guards, the better to frighten foes. Only flesh (skin, muscle, fat and cartilage, but not bone) may be transformed.
System: The vampire must grapple the intended victim, while her player makes a successful Dexterity + Body Crafts roll (difficulty variable: 5 for a crude yank-and-tuck, up to 9 for precise transformations). A vampire who wishes to increase another's Appearance Trait does so as described under Malleable Visage; reducing the Attribute is considerably easier (difficulty 5), though truly inspired disfigurement may dictate a higher difficulty. In either case, each success increases/reduces the Attribute by one.
A vampire may use this power to move clumps of skin, fat and muscle tissue, thus providing additional padding where needed. For each success scored on a Dexterity + Body Crafts roll (difficulty 8), the vampire may increase the subject's soak dice pool by one, at the expense of either a point of Strength or a health level (vampire's choice).
This terrible power allows a vampire to manipulate bone in the same manner that flesh is shaped. In conjunction with Fleshcraft, above, this power enables a Vicissitude practitioner to deform a victim (or herself) beyond recognition. This power should be used in conjunction with the flesh-shaping arts, unless the vampire wants to inflict injury on the victim (see below).
Vicissitude is as much an art as it is a power, and vampires who wish to use it well must learn a particular version of the Crafts Skill (p. 124), known as Body Crafts. This Skill enables its possessor to make all manner of alterations to living and dead flesh and bone. The Skill also gives insight into more mundane techniques; many Tzimisce are skilled at flaying, bone-carving, embalming, taxidermy, tattooing and piercing.
System: The vampire's player makes a Strength + Body Crafts roll (difficulties as above). Bonecraft may be used without the flesh-shaping arts, as an offensive weapon. Each success scored on the Strength + Body Crafts roll (difficulty 7) inflicts one health level of lethal damage on the victim, as his bones rip, puncture and slice their way out of his skin.
The vampire may utilize this power (on herself or others) to form spikes or talons of bone, either on the knuckles as an offensive weapon or all over the body as defensive "quills." If bone spikes are used, the vampire or victim takes one health level of lethal damage (the vampire's comes from having the very sharp bone pierce through his skin - this weaponry doesn't come cheaply). In the case of quills, the subject takes a number of health levels equal to five minus the number of successes (a botch kills the subject or sends the vampire into torpor). These health levels may be healed normally. Knuckle spikes inflict Strength +1 lethal damage, while defensive quills inflict a hand-to-hand attacker's Strength in lethal damage unless the attacker scores three or more successes on the attack roll (the defender still takes damage normally). Quills also enable the vampire or altered subject to add two to all damage inflicted via holds, clinches or tackles.
A vampire who scores five or more successes on the Strength + Body Crafts roll may cause a rival vampire's rib cage to curve inward and pierce the heart. While this does not send a vampire into torpor, it does cause the affected vampire to lose half his blood points, as the seat of his vitae ruptures in a shower of gore.
The Tzimisce use this power to become hideous monsters; naturally, this provides great advantages in combat. The vampire's stature increases to a full eight feet; the skin becomes a sickly greenish-gray or grayish-black chitin; the arms become apelike and ropy, tipped with ragged black nails; and the face warps into something out of a nightmare. A row of spines sprouts from the vertebrae, and the external carapace exudes a foul-smelling grease.
System: The Horrid Form costs two blood points to awaken. All Physical Attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina) increase by three, but all Social Attributes drop to zero, save when dealing with others also in Horrid Form. However, a vampire in Horrid Form who is trying to intimidate someone may substitute Strength for a Social Attribute! Damage inflicted in brawling combat increases by one due to the jagged ridges and bony knobs creasing the creature's hands.
A vampire with this power can physically transform all or part other body into sentient vitae. This blood is in all respects identical to the vampire's normal vitae; she can use it to nourish herself or others, create ghouls or establish blood bonds. If all this blood is imbibed or otherwise destroyed, the vampire meets Final Death.
System: The vampire may transform all or part of herself as she deems fit. Each leg can turn into two blood points worth of vitae, as can the torso; each arm, the head and the abdomen convert to one blood point. The blood can be reconverted to the body part, provided it is in contact with the vampire. If the blood has been utilized or destroyed, the vampire must spend a number of blood points equal to what was originally created to regrow the missing body part.
A vampire entirely in this form may not be staked, cut, bludgeoned or pierced, but can be burned or exposed to the sun. The vampire may ooze along, drip up walls and flow through the narrowest cracks, as though she were in Tenebrous Form (p. 169).
Mental Disciplines may be used, provided no eye contact or vocal utterance is necessary - and if a vampire in this form "washes" over a mortal or animal, that mortal must make a Courage roll (difficulty 8) or fly into a panic.