Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
“Then there are things which so afflict him that he has no power, as the garlic that we know of; and as for things sacred, as this symbol, my crucifix, that was amongst us even now when we resolve, to them he is nothing, but in their presence he take his place far off and silent with respect. There are others, too, which I shall tell you of, lest in our seeking we may need them. The branch of wild rose on his coffin keep him that he move not from it; a sacred bullet fired into the coffin kill him so that he be true dead; and as for the stake through him, we know already of its peace; or the cut-off head that giveth rest. We have seen it with our eyes.”
“Thus when we find the habitation of this man-that-was, we can confine him to his coffin and destroy him, if we obey what we know.”
Abraham van Helsing, Dracula
Caroline: “Garlic? Silver? Crucifixes? Mirrors? Holy water?”
Maldonato: “Myths and superstitions, to the majority of us. Some individual Kindred are cursed with vulnerability to such apotropaics, but they are no more universal to our race than individual allergies and genetic disorders are universal among the kine.”
Caroline Malveaux-Devillers to Philip Maldonato
“The greater a being’s power, the greater the constraints upon its power.”
Vampires play at being human. It’s the central notion behind their storied Masquerade—they wear human personas like an actor in a commedia dell’arte troupe wears their mask. Vampires even adopt stock personas. The naïve club girl looking for her first taste of love. The suave, seductive man out for a fling. The “victim” trolling for muggers, or the helpful Samaritan searching for (or arranging) flat tires in the middle of the night. These are the masks that the vampire wears.
At first, the mask is nothing more than a memory of what the vampire once was, or perhaps an idealized version of what they wanted to be. But as time goes on, the mask grows heavier. The Man recedes, the Beast takes up more room in the Kindred’s heart and soul. And as this happens, the vampire’s blood grows thicker, their Disciplines grow more powerful. In as little as a decade, a vampire might look out at humanity and wonder whether they ever truly understood it.
But there is a further price. As a vampire’s humanity falls and their supernatural powers come to the fore, so do their mythological weaknesses: being repelled by crucifixes, inability to enter a house without being invited, or difficulty crossing running water. The more monstrous the vampire and the stronger their vitae, the more severe their weaknesses: thus, Kindred elders tend to be more susceptible to banes than younger vampires. Canny neonates and vampire hunters can exploit these vulnerabilities to great advantage against otherwise more powerful foes.
One way or another, the Beast takes its toll.
Benefits of Banes
Whenever a bane inconveniences a vampire PC or causes them to fail a dice roll, the player gains a Story Point point. Thus, while vampires themselves might abhor laboring under additional curses, players are rewarded when their characters are inconvenienced by them.
Vampires can acquire banes through the following most common ways:
• Corruption: Vampires gain new banes at Beast 3, Beast 4, and Beast 5.
• Blood Potency: Vampires have a number of banes equal to their Blood Potency dots. A vampire’s clan bane counts as their bane at Blood Potency 1.
• Spontaneously: What if all of the vampires in the city just woke up one night and found that they couldn’t enter homes uninvited? What if the entirety of Clan Gangrel slowly succumbed to a condition that forced them to count grains of spilled rice? What if a handful of salt could eat away at the flesh of any vampire who had ever killed a person (which is most of them)? The vampiric condition (and mortal perception thereof) is mutable and banes can arise without antecedent from a particular character’s actions.
Banes squired from Blood Potency can’t be lost. They’re part of the vampire for good.
Banes acquired from Corruption go away when the vampire lowers their Corruption.
Banes acquired spontaneously are less predictable. There are two widely believed methods:
First, the character can shed Stains in a manner symbolically reflective of the bane. A character saves a virgin’s life with no thought of reward, and later finds that a virgin’s touch no longer burns them. A vampire breaks up a gang fight using Presence, and later realizes that they can finally walk across the bridge to their old neighborhood without feeling ill.
Secondly, the character can discover supernatural remedies for banes. Countless rumors of how to get rid of banes abound among the all-night society. Some of them work and some of them don’t. Several sample ones are as follows:
• “Drink the blood of a sorcerer. No idea how you find one or what you do if he tries to use his magic on you, but if you drink his blood, you lose all your weaknesses. Sunlight, the hunger, and anything else you might have picked up. The big stuff comes back—sorry—but those annoying curses that just seem to happen? Those stay gone.”
• “Burn off your own hand in the sunlight. I know it’s extreme, but God accepts that sacrifice. If your right hand offends you, cut it off and cast it away, right? I don’t know if it works with eyes or not.”
• “You get these things when you drift too far away from humanity, become too far removed from the human understanding, right? So the way to cure them is to become famous. Ever notice that every year, there’s always a celebrity who doesn’t have any real talent? Usually attached to another celeb? I’m not naming names, but I’m just saying—some of them were Kindred with some heavy burdens to shed.”
These banes are unique to a vampire’s clan.
The Banu Haqim are drawn to feed from those deserving punishment. This is especially true for vampire blood, the very essence of transgression. Whenever one of the judges tastes the blood of another vampire, they must roll against hunger frenzy (DC = vampire’s Blood Potency + Hunger slaked) or drain them dry.
Additionally, the Banu Haqim’s skin darkens as their blood thickens, imposing a (Blood Potency – 1) penalty on non-Intimidation Social rolls against many mortals. This also penalizes rolls to avoid notice from hunters.
The Blood of the Brujah simmers with barely contained rage, exploding at the slightest provocation. The rabble take Disadvantage on frenzy rolls.
Caitiff have no inherent clan bane. However, Kindred society disdains them for their clanless blood. Caitiff are frequent targets of discrimination and have to work twice as hard for half the credit.
Gangrel relate to their Beast much as other Kindred relate to the Gangrel: suspicious partnership. Whenever a Gangrel frenzies, they gain an animalistic feature: a physical trait or behavioral tic that lasts until the next night, lingering like a hangover following debauchery. Each feature imposes Disadvantage on a type of roll or costs a Rouse check if the Gangrel doesn’t engage in a type of behavior. For example, the GM may decide that a forked tongue or bearlike musk penalizes Manipulation, while batlike ears penalize Resolve (“all those distracting sounds”).
Additionally, frenzy makes Gangrel regresses to a point where speech is hard, clothes are uncomfortable, and arguments are best settled with teeth and claws. For the rest of the scene, the Gangrel takes Disadvantage on Intelligence- and Manipulation-based rolls. They can also only speak in one-word sentences.
The Hecata’s bite is excruciatingly painful. Living victims always resist when fed upon unless subdued and do not experience the effects of the kiss. Additionally, Hecata treat all feedings as one “step” worse for living victims: a light feeding counts as a deep feeding, a deep feeding counts as a dangerous feeding, and a dangerous feeding is always fatal. Other vampires experience the effects of feeding normally.
Lasombra have no reflections and can’t ever turn off Lost Visage. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk. Whenever a Lasombra sees a prominently displayed surface that should show their reflection and doesn’t, they must make a frenzy roll (DC = 1 + Blood Potency) to avoid attacking the surface or fleeing in terror.
Every Malkavian is incurably insane and suffers from a type of madness that imposes Disadvantage on a type of roll and/or costs a Rouse check if they don’t engage in certain behaviors. Work with the GM to determine how your Malkavian’s particular brand of insanity manifests. The Moon Clan’s “madness” is wholly supernatural and may bear no relation to actual mental illnesses.
No clan wears their curse as openly as the Nosferatu. Every sewer rat appears as a hideously deformed and obviously inhuman monster. Mortals react accordingly: most Social rolls besides Intimidation are impossible. Nosferatu who interact with the kine tend to do so in disguise, or else seek out individuals sufficiently jaded, demented, or (rarely) compassionate enough to be undisturbed by their appearances.
The Ravnos are addicted to vices. Choose a single vice, such as gambling, lying, theft, blackmail, or cleverly framed murder. Whenever the Ravnos turns down an opportunity to indulge their vice, make a Rouse check.
The Setites are creatures of darkness. They take Disadvantage on rolls when exposed to bright lights, as well as rolls to withstand sunlight damage.
Salubri are shepherds of the kine and find it difficult to feed from unwilling vessels. Whenever they do so, make a Rouse check. Vampiric blood and animal blood are exempt from this restriction. Additionally, Salubri have a third eye in the center of their foreheads. They can retract the eye into their skull to hide it, but it opens wide whenever the Salubri uses any of the Devotions unique to their bloodline.
Toreador are obsessed with beauty. Make a Rouse check whenever a degenerate neglects to engage with a stimulus they find beautiful. Pick a general trigger that always affects your Toreador (paintings, live performances, beautiful people, etc.), although other stimuli may also have this effect. Engaging with a stimulus may be harmless, impose Disadvantage on rolls from the distraction, or get the Toreador into inconvenient situations.
The Blood’s chains weigh heaviest of all upon the Tremere. The warlocks take Disadvantage on rolls to resist or overcome blood bonds. Whenever a Tremere would accrue Stains from a blood bond, they also make a Rouse check.
Additionally, Tremere neonates are forced to drink the (transubstantiated) blood of the Council of Seven upon their Embraces, and are under a first stage blood bond towards all clanmates with higher Blood Potency than theirs.
Tzimisce are creatures of ancient custom and cannot enter private dwellings uninvited. If a fiend does so, they take Disadvantage on all rolls and take the Injured Condition as if the dwelling’s interior were sunlight.
Ventrue have rarified palates. Choose a type of vessel for your Ventrue, such as Catholics, police officers, left-handed people, or some other subjective criteria. When feeding from a vessel that doesn’t match their preferences, blue bloods reduce Hunger as if the feeding was one “step” shallower: a deep feeding counts as a light feeding, a light feeding provides no sustenance, etc. Vampiric blood is exempt from this restriction, but animal blood is not. Additionally, Ventrue take Disadvantage on hunting rolls when looking for vessels that match their preferred criteria.
These banes affect a vampire’s behavior towards others.
You cannot feed on vessels who put up any fight at all, even to the point of saying “stop.” Every Hunger you slake from such vessels incurs a Stain.
Severe: You cannot cause harm of any kind to mortals put up any fight at all. Every harmful action you take incurs a Stain.
The sound of your mortal name enrages your Beast. Whenever you hear someone address you by the name, make a frenzy roll (DC = your Blood Potency + 1). Your mortal name includes any part of your old full name, as well as any nicknames you responded to.
Severe: You risk frenzy whenever you read or hear your mortal name, even if someone isn’t specifically addressing you by it. This can be very inconvenient if your old name is common.
Your mortal name makes your warped soul shudder and your Beast writhe. If you hear the name specifically in the context of addressing you with it, make a Rouse check. Your mortal name includes any part of your old full name, as well as any nicknames you responded to.
Severe: You make a Rouse check whenever you read or hear your mortal name, even if someone isn’t specifically addressing you by it. This can be very inconvenient if your old name is common.
You can only use your mortal name or an anagram of that name. Make a Rouse check whenever you use or respond to another name. You can still use another name online, through writing, or in other nonpersonal interactions.
Severe: You can’t use another name in those instances.
Your mortal name carries power over you. You take Disadvantage on any dice roll against someone whenever they call you by your real name.
Severe: You cannot use Disciplines on someone who calls you by your name. You also accrue a Stain whenever you try to physically harm them.
Whenever you break a sworn oath or promise, incur an additional Stain.
Severe: You incur additional Stains even for “non-serious” promises, such as saying you’ll meet someone in 10 minutes and showing up after 12.
You find the pure of heart to be utterly repulsive. Any touch by a mortal who fits your definition of purity sears your flesh, inflicting the Injured Condition or increasing its penalties by 1 per interval of contact. Actually feeding from such mortals slakes no Hunger and increases Injured’s penalties by an amount equal to the Hunger you’d have slaked. Definitions of purity can include: virgins, children, any mortal with True Faith, a member of a particular religion, any mortal who has never raised a hand in violence, etc.
Severe: You cannot use Disciplines upon such mortals.
The proximity of other vampires agitates your Beast and drives it to establish dominance. Whenever you encounter an unfamiliar vampire, you must either make a predatory roll against them or roll for frenzy (DC = other vampire’s Blood Potency + 1) to avoid attacking them. If they’re higher Blood Potency than you, flee instead.
Severe: You must make a predatory aura or frenzy roll upon encountering any other vampire, not just unfamiliar ones. You don’t roll because of this bane more than once per story arc. Nevertheless, many vampires with this bane find it too difficult to function within larger Kindred society and become autarkis.
You can’t ignore a true act of kindness. If someone does you a good turn with no expectation of reward, you incur an additional Stain whenever you harm them, lie to them, or otherwise actively deceive them. This lasts for one night or until the doer knowingly accepts any kind of recompense from you (even as little as a penny), whichever is longer. Doing a good deed with the express purpose of taking advantage of this bane negates the effect. Solicited good deeds are still affected by this bane (that is, you can ask for help), so long as the doer doesn’t expect to be rewarded for their efforts.
You may not lie to mortals without accruing Stains. You can still speak the truth in misleading ways, omit information, or change the subject. You can lie normally to other night-folk.
Severe: You cannot lie to other night-folk. Vampires with this bane have to be very creative to get ahead in their kind’s politics.
These banes affect a vampire’s feeding habits.
This also counts as a feeding bane.
You require a taste of your victims’ blood before you can command their mind. Rolls with Dominate and Presence take Disadvantage unless you’ve previously tasted the victim’s blood.
Severe: You can’t use Dominate or Presence on someone unless you’ve tasted their blood.
Mortals you feed from evince signs of faux vampirism. They become pale, find light uncomfortable, lose appetite for vegetarian food, and shift to a nocturnal sleep cycle. This lasts for one night per Hunger you slake from them.
Severe: Such mortals lose their appetite for food and feel a compunction to drink human blood.
When you’re hungry, it shows on your face and skin. Your eyes grow red, your skin pulls tight over your visage, and you look every bit the corpse. Take Disadvantage on Social rolls to do anything but scare people when you’re hungry (Hunger 6-7) and Major Disadvantage when you’re starving (Hunger 8-9). At Hunger 10, most Social rolls are impossible.
Choose a type of vessel, such as police officers, red-headed people, members of a family, or some other subjective criteria. Their blood is poison to you. You slake no Hunger from such blood, and take the Injured Condition (or increase its penalties by 1) for every Hunger you would have slaked.
Variation: You treat the blood of dead mortals as if it were poisonous.
Mortals you feed from still feel the ecstasy of your kiss, but you can’t lick the wound closed. If someone doesn’t dress and bandage the wound, your vessel risks infection and death.
There is no ecstasy in your Embrace—only terror and pain. Living victims you feed from do not experience the kiss (that is, feelings of ecstasy and glazed-over recollections). They struggle and shriek and resist unless subdued. This can also make you more likely to accrue Stains. Hecata cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version.
Normally, the Embrace takes a deliberate effort or unfortunate accident. Those unfortunate accidents becomes easy accidents for you. Any mortal who dies during a scene where you feed on them arises as a larva. Any ghoul who dies with your blood in them also arises as a larva.
Your teeth change. They might become slender and snakelike, or your jaw might unhinge to reveal a lamprey-like mouth. Whenever you actively bite someone, you are clearly identifiable as an inhuman monster. This makes feeding a risk to the Masquerade unless you’re alone with the victim, as the effects of the kiss still glaze their memory. Even when your mouth is concealed, mortal unconsciously feel nervous in your presence. Treat your Beast as one dot higher for purposes of Social penalties against mortals. (Disadvantage at Beast 3, Major Disadvantage at Beast 4, no roll possible at Beast 5.)
Should you drain a living vessel of all blood, the corpse rises as a zombie minutes after their heart stops beating. These zombies are free-willed, hostile toward you, and cannot be directed without some sorcerous or necromantic means to command them. They lose all powers and intelligence they had in life. Most vampires with this bane burn or dismember their victims’ bodies. This bane is particularly common among Hecata and users of Blood Sorcer (Necromancy).
As your thirst and the Beast’s hold over you increases, the Man dies away. You take Disadvantage on Mental-based rolls when you are hungry (6-7 Hunger), Major Disadvantage when you are starving (8-9 Hunger), and cannot make Mental-based rolls at all at Hunger 10.
The full moon stirs something truly awful in your Beast. On those three nights every month, you awaken from daysleep at Hunger 10 regardless of your previous Hunger level. Many vampires with this bane stake or otherwise restrain themselves during full moons, but that doesn’t always work. This bane is most common among Gangrel, as well as the rare werewolf kinfolk to receive the Embrace.
Severe: All stages of the moon agitate your Beast. On new moons, you’re fine. During crescent moons, you awaken at +1 Hunger. During quarter moons, you awaken at +3 Hunger. During gibbious moons, you awaken at +5 Hunger.
You cannot refuse an offer of blood, even from fellow Kindred or in the middle of a group of mortals. If anyone asks (for whatever reason) if you want blood, roll to avoid frenzy (DC = your own Blood Potency + 1) if you don’t immediately attempt to imbibe.
Severe: You also make a Rouse check if you don’t imbibe.
You must enact some ritual, chosen when you take this bane, to gain full sustenance from feeding. Rituals can be elaborate religious ceremonies, courtship and seduction routines, a requirement for a certain type of locale and mood, or anything else that seems appropriate. If you feed without the ritual, you treat feedings as one “step” less filling for purposes of slaking Hunger: a fatal feeding counts as a dangerous feeding, a dangerous feeding counts as a deep feeding, a deep feeding counts as a light feeding, and a light feeding slakes no Hunger at all.
Severe: You can’t slake any Hunger from victims without enacting your ritual.
The sight of blood makes you dizzied and distracted. Take Disadvantage on rolls whenever bleeding people are present. This penalty goes away for the rest of a scene if you slake 1 or more Hunger.
By some horrible quirk of fate, you were unaffected by the sundering of the Tremere curse in 2003. Worse, you still suffer from the Baali curse. You risk frenzy whenever you taste vampire blood, like a normal Bin Haqim, but it’s still poisonous to you. You slake no Hunger and take Injured at a penalty equal to (1/2 Hunger you’d have slaked, round up). Additionally, you suffer all of the drawbacks and gain none of the benefits from diablerie.
Only Banu Haqim can take this bane.
You must taste any blood you see. Whether the blood is seeping from a diner’s steak in a restaurant or an open sore on a homeless man’s cheek, you cannot leave the area under your own power without just a taste. You don’t have to reach out and dip your finger in, but you must taste the blood before the scene is over. If you don’t, make a Rouse check as your Beast spitefully burns through your blood reserves.
You immerse yourself in the mortal world: it feeds and compels you, making you obsessed with your vessels. On your first feeding from a mortal, you’re fine. On second and further drinks, you develop a blood bond towards them as if they were vampires: thus, after four drinks, you’re three steps bound. Kindred with this bane tend toward either remarkable promiscuity, or they cultivate massive harems and herds.
These banes include traditional vampiric weaknesses and compunctions.
The sound of bells causes you intense pain, damaging you as if it were sunlight. Recordings of bells don’t count. Some vampires manifest this bane in response to hymns instead of bells.
Severe: You take Disadvantage on rolls to resist harm from bells and are also affected by recordings.
A handful of flung salt can burn away your eyes to harsh-smelling goo. Dodging or enduring flung salt is a Dexterity + Athletics or Resolve + Stamina roll, DC = 1 + (1/2 thrower’s [Dexterity + Athletics]). On a setback, you take the Blinded Condition until you rise from your next daysleep and suffer Major Disadvantage on sight-dependent rolls.
Contact with running water damages you as if it were sunlight. You must make Resolve + Composure rolls (DC = your Blood Potency + 1) to cross running water, even rainwater running through a gutter. You can ride in cars or other conveyances across water without inconvenience.
You cannot sleep outside a coffin, mausoleum, sepulcher, or similar object or structure designed for interning corpses. Make a Rouse check if you do so.
You are compelled to count small things in disarray: rice, sticks, coins, etc. Make a Rouse check whenever you ignore this compulsion to make a dice roll or take a significant action.
You are confused and disoriented whenever you pass through a crossroads, knowingly or unknowingly. Take Disadvantage on rolls for the rest of the scene.
Variation: Make a Rouse check whenever you want to find your way to a destination you cannot walk to in a straight line.
Choose a special object or substance such as grave soil, a religious symbol (e.g., a crucifix), a rose, wooden nail, an image of a mortal loved one, etc. Touching or sprinkling you with this object or substance forces you into immediate daysleep. Slipping the object or substance into your pocket or a bag you carry or pick up (e.g., a purse, backpack, messenger bag, etc.) accomplishes this as well. You can try to rise from daysleep as normal. Dodging or enduring an object or substance someone tries to press against you is a Dexterity + Athletics or Resolve + Stamina roll (DC = 1/2 attacker’s [Dexterity + Athletics]). On a setback, you fall into daysleep.
You are tied to the place of your death. If you don’t sleep with a handful of earth from this place, every action that requires a Rouse check requires an additional Rouse check. Devotions that are free to use require a Rouse check. If the free Devotion has a permanent effect (such as Potence’s bonus to Strength rolls), making a Rouse check lets you use it for a scene. Otherwise, it doesn’t function. This penalty lasts until you sleep with earth from the place of your death.
Variation: You must sleep with earth from your place of birth, the specific graveyard in which you were laid to rest, or some other emotionally significant site.
Severe: You can’t use Disciplines or make Rouse checks at all.
You are easily harmed by certain individuals or substances. You take Disadvantage on combat rolls against people who are armed with one of the following:
• Wood (oak, rowan, ash, holly, aspen, hawthorn, blackthorn, juniper, linden, and mistletoe are all common)
• Weapons wielded by virgins, clergy or “the pure of heart” (any person with True Faith)
• Attacks preceded by calling your character by name
You cannot enter a private dwelling unless invited. If you do, you take damage as if the dwelling’s interior were sunlight as blood oozes from your pores. Tzimisce cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version.
Severe: You take Disadvantage on rolls to withstand damage.
You can be bound and even dismembered by red string, prayer strips, or other seemingly harmless materials. You cannot cross such bindings if they bar your path, and if you attempt it (knowingly or accidentally) the binding remains taut and firm, even if it’s flimsy thread, and slices into your flesh like a scalpel. Take the Injured Condition or increase its penalties by 1. A doorway strung with the offending substance can dismember you in moments if you don’t back off.
You become disoriented and cannot find your way in fog, steam or mist. You take Disadvantage on rolls, and whenever you try to leave the area, you must succeed on an Intelligence + Wits roll (DC = your Blood Potency + 1). On a setback, you remain lost. If you find a guide and accept their help, you must follow the guide until you escape the fog.
You lose control of your Beast on nights of the full moon. Take Disadvantage on frenzy rolls.
Severe: You take Major Disadvantage on all frenzy rolls. If you’re already taking Disadvantage on a frenzy roll, you automatically succumb to frenzy. Such vampires often command servants to stake or lock them up on nights of the full moon, or else try to avoid leaving their havens.
White is a mourning color in some cultures, and vampires occasionally develop a compulsion to wear white. If you character do not visibly wear at least one white article of clothing, take Disadvantage on all rolls until you can dress appropriate. If the white article of clothing becomes soiled, this penalty applies until it can be cleaned or replaced.
Variation: Black, of course, is the color of mourning many cultures, but strangely, this doesn’t seem to become compulsory as often.
This is also a folkloric bane.
Your reflection looks like a twisted version of yourself: a demonic monster, a rotting corpse, a slavering beast, or some other macabre and disturbing image. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk. Lasombra cannot take this bane, nor can vampires with No Reflection.
Your Beast rages just below the surface. Something in your face or your immediate disposition lets people know that you have nothing good in store for them. Mortals react poorly to Kindred who exude such a blatant air of menace, imposing Disadvantage on non-Intimidation Social rolls against them. This bane is particularly common among Brujah.
You have no reflection. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk. Lasombra cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version.
Choose a common substance, such as garlic, salt, roses, or silver. You find this substance abhorrent. Make a Rouse check if you want to come closer than several feet of the substance and take Disadvantage on rolls for as long as you do. If someone places the substance in a circle or across a doorway, you cannot cross the substance and may take no action to disrupt it.
These banes share the theme of insanity.
Insane people find your presence magnetic and are drawn to you like moths to a flame. This interest is not beneficial: they may stalk you, attack you, or (and most often) simply cause a scene at inconvenient times. This bane is particularly common among Malkavians.
Other Kindred can drink your blood with only the usual unpleasant side effects (blood bonds). Mortals, however, grow steadily unstable when they drink your blood. Every time they imbibe from you, roll (11 – Blood Potency) dice. On a setback, the ghoul develops a form of insanity that involves obsessing over you. While many ghouls already wind up unhealthily fixated on their regnants, your servants can become something else. They might try to follow you around at all times, extolling your virtues to anyone in the area, and consuming insects and small animals in an attempt to become like you. While your ghouls are just as unlikely to deliberately betray you, they haughtily brag on your behalf to anyone who asks (including hunters). Malkavians who take this bane cause an additional type of insanity in their ghouls.
You absorbs the madness in your victims’ blood, inheriting any insanity-related Conditions that your victim has. These Conditions remain for one scene per Hunger slaked from the victim. If you kill the victim by draining him to death, their Condition becomes persistent.
People with altered perceptions, such as the insane and people under the influence of mind-altering chemicals, can see you for what you are. They might not understand what they see, but they know for sure that you’re not human and dangerous. That means that clubs and parties, which are normally good places to hunt, become risky places.
These banes make the vampire look more overtly monstrous.
A chill wind follows you everywhere you go. It makes for dramatic entrances, but marks you as obviously supernatural to hunters and other night-folk. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a Rouse check.
Mortals have an unconscious awareness of your undead nature, which makes then anxious and ill at ease in your presence. Treat your Beast as one dot higher for purposes of Social penalties against mortals. (Disadvantage at Beast 3, Major Disadvantage at Beast 4, no roll possible at Beast 5.)
Your presence is anathema to life. While healthy individuals can survive your touch, sick or weak people aren’t so lucky. You cause pregnant women within several feet to miscarry and might claim dozens of lives when you stroll through an infirmary or nursing home. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a Rouse check.
In your presence lights dim, tiny flames extinguish, and shadows cling to you or languidly move about with a surreal unlife, making it impossible to pass as anything other than inhuman. These effects can be suppressed for a scene with a Rouse check. This bane is particularly common among Lasombra and users of Blood Sorcery (Obtenebration).
Severe: Your shadow is a malicious entity with a will of its own. It tears at scenery and snarls at passersby. Whenever something especially agitates your shadow, make a Resolve + Composure roll (DC = your Obtenebration dots + 1). On a setback, your shadow lashes out at whatever upsets it, rolling your (Attribute) + Obtenebration pool to make a single attack. You must have at least one dot in Blood Sorcery (Obtenebration) to take the severe version of this bane.
You glow slightly in moonlight. This isn’t too noticeable in most city environments, where you are probably surrounded by artificial light, but in a rural locale, or even a suburban area with few streetlights, you have an obvious nimbus of soft, pale light around you. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk.
Your hands look obviously unnatural. They might be skeletal, rotting, unnaturally long and thin, or covered in warts or deformities. They’re tipped with claw-like nails, unnatural bone growths, or simply outright claws. They look like the hands of a demon-corpse and break the Masquerade if seen. Invest in gloves.
This also counts as a monstrous bane.
Your respiratory system does not function, not even to the extent require to draw in a breath. You cannot speak above a strangled whisper, and even then only a few words at a time. You take Disadvantage on Social rolls where you speak and stand out to hunters. By making a Rouse check, you can negate this penalty and speak normally for a scene, forcing blood into the lungs and throat to reactivate them.
This also counts as a monstrous bane.
Your fangs do not naturally retract. When you smile or open your mouth, your vampiric nature is plain to see. You can hide your fangs for a scene by making a Rouse check.
Rain, the bringer of life, refuses to touch you and simply falls around you. Even if you walk out in a monsoon, you come back completely dry. Water you’re immersed in (showers, river, swimming pools, etc.) doesn’t avoid you, but becomes brown and stagnant within seconds of contact. This stands out to vampire hunters.
You’re always surrounded by rats, flies, cockroaches, or other vermin. This causes discomfort and disgust in most mortals and makes Social rolls not related to Intimidation impossible. You can send the vermin away for a scene by making a Rouse check.
You flesh starts rotting every night at sundown, and heals over the course of the day as you sleep. This rot isn’t harmful, but looks and smells repulsive, and seems to afflict the extremities first. The nose and lips rot off, the flesh around the fingertips blackens, and the feet develop blisters that ooze foul-smelling, clotted blood. Making a Rouse check holds this off for a scene. Otherwise, the rot progresses every scene, causing you to treat your Beast as if it were 1 higher for purposes of interactions with mortals. Once you’d reach Beast 6, you’re indistinguishable from a decayed, long-dead corpse.
Your breath always smells of dried blood, rot, and death. This imposes Disadvantage on non-Intimidation Social rolls against anyone who is close enough to you to smell your breath. It also stands out to hunters and other night-folk. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a Rouse check.
Your eyes look unnatural in dark areas or when you near frenzy. They might turn yellow and slitted like a cat’s or serpent’s, or they might glow a hellish red. Some Lasombra’s eyes turn solid black. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk.
Severe: Your eyes always look that way. Invest in contacts or sunglasses.
Shadows, reflections and even televised images turn away from you. You might make the effort to remain visible on a security camera or in a photo, but people around you seem to turn their faces away. If you stand in front of a mirror, other people’s reflections avert their eyes. If you feed on someone “in view” of a reflection, the reflection screams, automatically alerting anyone in the area. This stands out to hunters and endangers the Masquerade in its own right.
You cast no shadow, no matter how bright the light. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a Rouse check.
Your skin is freezing cold. You leave icy fingerprints on glass, even after brief contact, and touching someone is a dead giveaway as to your true nature. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a Rouse check.
Severe: If you stay in an area for a few minutes or longer, frost accumulates on windows, plants, and other conductive surfaces. Temperatures drop and mortal breath becomes visible. This stands out to hunters and other night-folk.
Your voice is deeply unsettling: a bestial growl, a corpse-dry whisper, a sibilant hiss (particularly common among Setites), etc. However it sounds, you take Disadvantage on non-Intimidation Social rolls against most mortals when you speak aloud. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a Rouse check.
Severe: You take Major Disadvantage.
You exude an aura of death. It doesn’t harm most human beings, but small plants wither, insects fall dead, and food spoils. This stands out to hunters. You can suppress this bane for a scene by making a Rouse check.
These banes alter a vampire’s physiology.
The vampire is halfway drawn into the Abyss, operating on a different wavelength of reality than other vampires. They don’t have a normal Lost Visage: instead, their reflections and recordings distort, flicker, or become transparent (though this does not conceal their identity with any certainty), live or otherwise. Microphones have the same difficulty with the vampire’s voice as cameras have with their image, and touch technology becomes unresponsive at best. Similarly, modern technology relying on other forms of direct interaction—such as use of a stylus—tends to glitch or simply act unresponsive to the vampire, and electronic detection systems easily pick up the tell-tale signs of their passing. It’s as if they exist on a slightly different frequency to other beings, flickering in and out of light. This bane is common among Lasombra and other vampires who learn Blood Sorcery (Obtenebration).
Something about your vitae doesn’t always inspire feeling in others. Whenever someone drinks from you, the blood bond isn’t automatic—roll double your Blood Potency (DC = 1/2 their [Resolve + Blood Potency]) + 1 to see if the bond takes or not. Any ghouls you have are assumed to have succumbed to the bond.
Severe: Your vitae is incapable of blood bonding other people. No matter how much they drink, they won’t feel any differently towards you. Beyond removing a potent tool in the Jyhad, this bane also means your ghouls aren’t bound to you—and that elders incapable of subsisting off human blood will find consider you the perfect vessel…
It is very hard for you to remain awake during the day. Make a Rouse check after every dice roll or significant action you take during the day. You also take Disadvantage on rolls to resist daysleep or awaken during the day.
You make a number of Rouse checks equal to your Blood Potency whenever you awaken from daysleep instead of just one.
Bright light is like a miniature sun for you, punishing your Beast and the dead flesh that enwraps it for daring to step out of the dark. You take the Injured Condition or increase its penalties by 1 after every scene you spend exposed to light that’s bright enough for mortals to see normally in. This bane is often paired with Light Sensitive.
Severe: You take damage from bright light as if it was sunlight.
Your reflection appears as an indistinct blur in mirrors, photographs and other forms of media. This still obscures your identity, but is less subtle than the normal Lost Visage and stands out to hunters. You can appear normally in mirrors and photographs for one scene by making a Rouse check. Lasombra cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version.
Moonlight blisters your skin in a manner similar to the sun. You take the Injured Condition or increase its penalties by 1 after every scene you spend exposed to direct moonlight.
Severe: You take damage from moonlight as if it were sunlight.
You can only sustain a single ghoul. Mortals in excess of this number can still become addicted to your blood, and can use it on Mending or Physical Intensity immediately after they’re fed, but they don’t become ghouls.
The act of creating a ghoul for you takes a deliberate effort of will and the expenditure of a Story Point, along with feeding them your blood. If you create a ghoul when you already have an existing ghoul, your previous ghoul immediately loses their powers.
Severe: You cannot maintain any ghouls.
Your Embrace doesn’t always work. You have a 50% chance of killing any mortal you try to turn into a vampire. Players with no interest in Embracing a childe should not take this bane.
Severe: You are incapable of Embracing. No matter how much blood you feed your would-be childe, all it leaves you with is an inconvenient corpse.
When you get near a device that uses radio waves (older televisions, radios, cellphones), the device loses reception. Television screens turn into “snow,” while cell phones drop calls and radios crackle and warble. This bane gives a hunter an excellent way to track your character—just watch for the stream of people cursing into their cellphones or wondering why they’ve lost a wireless Internet connection.
Bright lights hurt your eyes, imposing Disadvantage on rolls for as long as you remain exposed. Setites cannot take this bane, as they already have a more severe version. This ban is often paired with Enemy of Light.
Severe: You take Major Disadvantage.
Phones, recordings, and other electronic transmissions refuse to properly carry or record your voice and garble over with static. People can still make out enough to identify you and the gist of your words, making this bane useless at avoiding surveillance.
You only retain your youth for as long as your Beast is sated. You look roughly a number of years old equal to (Hunger x 10, minimum ~20). You are still recognizable as yourself, making this bane useless as a disguise.
Severe: You awaken as a decrepit crone or graybeard (around 100 years old) every night, regardless of your Hunger. Only feeding can restore your youth (-10 apparent years per Hunger slaked), and only temporarily.
Being staked sends you into torpor rather than paralyzing you. Being fed 1 Rouse check’s worth of blood from any source (mortal or Kindred) revives you.
Severe: Being staked instantly destroys you.
You are sensitive not only to natural sunlight, but to intense ultraviolet radiation such as sunlamps. Treat strong UV light as sunlight.
These banes share a religious theme.
You radiate palpable evil. Whenever a hunter or individual with True Faith encounters you, they instinctively know something is horribly wrong and react accordingly.
Variation: Followers of a certain religion or individuals who meet another criteria (children, the insane, virgins, etc.) can detect your wrongness instead.
Entering churches damages you as if the interior were sunlight. If the church is also a site of True Faith, take Disadvantage on rolls to withstand damage.
Christian tradition holds Sunday as a day of rest, while Jewish custom keeps the Sabbath holy. You’re still affected by daysleep during the night of whatever “day of rest” you hold significant.
You holds one day of the week holy. Your undead powers are greatly weakened on this day. You take Disadvantage on rolls with Disciplines and accrue a Stain whenever you would use a Discipline.
Your undead powers fail you on consecrated ground. Accrue a Stain whenever you use Disciplines or make Rouse checks. “Holy ground,” for purposes of this bane, might include any church or worship site, the sites sacred to a particular religion, or a site prepared with special herbs, symbols or rituals. Discipline rolls also take Disadvantage.
Severe: You can’t use Disciplines or make Rouse checks at all.
You’re weakened by the presence of holy symbols. Accrue a Stain whenever you would deface a symbol or attack someone brandishing a symbol. If you’re touched by a symbol, you take the Injured Condition (or increase its penalties by 1) per interval of contact. You might be vulnerable to all symbols, the symbols from a particular religion or subset of religions (all Christian symbols, all Abrahamic religious symbols, etc.), or only the religion that you practiced in life.
You’re even more susceptible to devout faith than other vampires. Your undead powers fail you. You take Disadvantage on rolls to use Disciplines against people or objects with True Faith, or when you use Disciplines in a site with True Faith.
Severe: You can’t use Disciplines at all.
These banes fall into none of the other categories.
You have another clan’s bane. You might have diablerized or frequently shared blood with a vampire from the clan, been a former ghoul to one of the clan’s members, or be a Caitiff with some idea as to your sire’s identity. Some vampires also spontaneously manifest another clan’s bane with no clear rhyme or reason.
Your mortal relatives and descendants make deadly vampire hunters. You take Disadvantage on rolls to use Disciplines on them, to physically harm them, and to resist being physically harmed by them. Relatives who’ve been Embraced or ghouled don’t enjoy this benefit.
Severe: Ghouled and Embraced relatives still enjoy this benefit.
You can’t help but stare at clouds of dust. This might arise when you disturb a room’s dust or if a knowledgeable foe blows a handful of dust in your face (requiring a Dexterity + Athletics or Resolve + Stamina roll to resist, DC = 1/2 attacker’s (Dexterity + Athletics) + 1. In either case, you must make a Rouse check to make a dice roll or take any significant action besides standing in dumb transfixion. If you’re attacked, this effect ends.
Severe: This effect doesn’t end if you’re attacked.
You stand out to ghosts. Whenever you encounter one of the restless dead, they may take an unhealthy interest in you. Ghosts respond differently to vampires based on their lingering passions. A vengeful ghost might follow you hoping to do harm, while a protective ghost might want to make sure you don’t kill anyone.
Your undead powers are tied to your family’s life-force. If a family member takes the Injured Condition, you can’t use Disciplines with a higher dot rating than (4 – family member’s Injured Condition + family member’s equivalent blood sympathy) until they heal their injuries. For example, if your brother or sister takes Injured -4, you couldn’t use Disciplines with a higher rating than 2. You can accrue (highest Discipline you want to use – highest Discipline you can use) Stains to use a Discipline anyway. Family members who’ve become true night-folk don’t count for purposes of this bane, although ones who are lesser night-folk still do.
You can’t easily return to places of significance to you as a mortal—anywhere that you were attached to or felt at home, such as an old house, the workplace of a job you liked, or a favorite bar or restaurant. If you enter the borders of such a place, you take take Injured -1 at the start and end of every scene there. You also take Disadvantage on Discipline rolls.
Severe: You take damage as if such places were sunlight.
Cremated human remains burn and sear your flesh. You take the Injured Condition (or increase its penalties by 1) for every interval of contact. Coating you in ashes (requiring a Strength or Dexterity + Brawl roll, variable DC) probably dooms you to the worst minute of your unlife as your flesh drops away and your bones sizzle and crack. If you can manage to get to water and wash the ashes away, you might survive. If the ashes belong to a mortal you killed, take Disadvantage on any rolls to avoid harm.
You have an especially crippling version of your clan’s bane. You take Major Disadvantage instead of Disadvantage on penalized rolls, make two Rouse checks instead of one, or make two Rouse checks whenever you would make one. Banu Haqim take Disadvantage on prompted frenzy rolls. Hecata and Ventrue treat feedings as two “steps” worse for their victims. Nosferatu who take this bane make a Rouse check whenever they use Obfuscate to assume a more attractive appearance than their cursed visages.
You fear the image of the sun as much as the sun itself. Whenever you see a picture of the sun, you must roll to avoid frenzy. The DC varies by how realistic the picture is. A child’s crayon drawing of the sun might be only DC 2 while a video of the sun at high noon would be DC 6.
You become weak as a child when faced with thickets, briars or brambles. Strength-based rolls for the rest of the scene take Major Disadvantage if more than one of your limbs touches such plants.
Spiderwebs cause you great problems. Once you touch a web, you stop dead in your tracks. You can eventually untangle yourself, but breaking free quickly takes a Strength + Stamina roll (DC = your Blood Potency + 1).