Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Vampire Character Rules
Part appetite, part lust, and part addiction, Hunger gives voice to the Blood and claws to the Beast. It calls to vampires constantly, whispering and screaming of needs, urges, and desires. Every vampire awakens to Hunger and must kill to silence it. The Kindred pay for their immortality and their powers in Hunger, and the bill is always coming due.
Vampires have a unique trait, Hunger, which measures how hungry they are.
Hunger 0: The vampire is full. They take Advantage on frenzy rolls from their Beast’s quietude.
Hunger 1-5: The vampire is sated. This level of Hunger has no game effect.
Hunger 6-7: The vampire is hungry. They must roll against frenzy whenever they are exposed to the sight, smell, or taste of blood. Anger and fear frenzies are at +1 DC.
Hunger 8-9: The vampire is starving and can barely think of anything besides their next drink. They must roll against frenzy whenever they are around other people. Other hunger frenzies are at +1 DC. Anger and fear frenzies are at +1 DC.
Hunger 10: The vampire is all but empty of blood. In addition to the above, they take must make a frenzy roll whenever they make a Rouse check (DC = their own Blood Potency + 1).
Starting Hunger: When a PC first enters play, and after any significant time skip, roll a 10-sided die. The vampire has Hunger equal to the roll result, minus their Blood Potency and Domain dots. A vampire’s starting Hunger is never lower than their Blood Potency.
Every time a vampire rises each sunset, calls upon certain vampiric powers, or stirs their Blood some other way, they make a Rouse check to see if their Hunger increases.
To make a Rouse check, the player rolls a single die. On a result of 1, the vampire’s Hunger increases by 2. On a result of 2-5, the vampire’s Hunger increases by 1. On a result of 6-9, the vampire’s Hunger remains unchanged. On a result of 10, the vampire’s Hunger decreases by 1.
Vampires don’t make Rouse checks to use most Disciplines with a dot rating lower than their Blood Potency. This is one of the primary benefits of high Blood Potency, as elder vampires can draw upon many of their powers freely.
Drinking blood reduces a vampire’s Hunger level by a fixed amount. As a vampire’s blood thickens, so does their resting Hunger level. Vampires cannot reduce their Hunger below (5 or their Blood Potency, whichever is less) from mortals except through dangerous feedings. Only fatal feedings from mortals can reduce their Hunger to 0. Other vampires and true night-folk, who have much more potent blood, can reduce Hunger to 0 through any type of feeding.
It takes time to drink blood and care to do it properly. The bite of a vampire can seem downright euphoric to the victim; vampire fangs produce a supernatural intoxicating effect while opening up a blood vessel. Assuming the vampire takes the time to hit a vein or artery correctly and licks the wound closed afterward, the victim may only remember the encounter as a drug trip, an interlude of weird rough sex, or just a delirious fog of drunken intimacy. Even a closed wound and happy hallucination for the victim might still leave behind an air embolism, to say nothing of long-term anemia. Vampires call this phenomenon “the kiss.”
As a general rule, attempting to preserve the victim’s life, health, or blissed-out screen memory (all of which of course also preserve the Masquerade) takes longer than simply ripping open an artery and slurping down the red stuff. On the other hand, a victim who fights back slows things down and endangers the Masquerade. A vampire can drain and kill a helpless or otherwise unresisting human in roughly half a minute.
• Light Feeding: -1 Hunger. Mortal victims look slightly pale and woozy, taking Injured -1. They recover after 24 hours.
• Deep Feeding: -3 Hunger. Mortal victims look notably pale and woozy, taking Injured -2. They recover after 48 hours.
• Dangerous Feeding: Choose the new Hunger level you want to have (minimum = Blood Potency) and roll Resolve + Composure (DC = current Hunger – desired Hunger – 1). On a success, the victim survives and takes Injured at a penalty equal to half the Hunger slaked, rounding down. On a setback, your Hunger falls to (0 + Blood Potency) but mortal victims take Injured -5 and pass out. They’ll die without prompt medical attention, and take a while to recover even if they get it. On a botch, your Hunger falls to 0 and mortal victims die on the spot.
• Fatal Feeding: Hunger falls to 0. Mortal victims automatically die.
More Blood Sources
Frail Victims: Some victims suffer worse effects from vampiric feeding than others. A vessel who’s already been lightly fed from, for example, counts as being deeply fed from if the vampire drains them again during the same night. Children, elderly, and people with certain medical conditions may also suffer this effect.
Kindred Victims: Vampires don’t ever take Injured from being fed on. Instead, every Hunger you slake increases the other vampire’s Hunger by an equal amount. (Lovers traditionally leave each other at their initial Hunger after mutual feeding.) The GM usually doesn’t track Hunger for NPCs, but a setback on a dangerous feeding will often cause a frenzy in other vampires, and a fatal feeding will almost always do so.
Feeding directly from another vampire also causes a blood bond unless the drinker waits several seconds for freshly-spilled blood (usually left to run down the other vampire’s skin) to “cool.” This is less pleasurable than drinking straight from the source.
Elder Vitae: A vampire at Blood Potency 1-5 who feeds on an elder vampire with Blood Potency 6+ slakes an amount of Hunger equal to (elder vampire’s Blood Potency – 4) for every point of Hunger they inflict on the elder vampire. Elder vampires who feed on other elder vampires slake an amount of Hunger equal to (donor’s Blood Potency – drinker’s Blood Potency, minimum 1).
Lower-Quality Blood: Cold blood, bagged or stored blood, and blood from animals decrease their “grade” by one step per vampire’s Blood Potency. Vampires gain the benefits of a light feeding from a deep feeding at Blood Potency 1, a dangerous feeding at Blood Potency 2, and a fatal feeding at Blood Potency 3. Vampires with Blood Potency 4+ gain no sustenance from such paltry fare. Stored vampire blood counts as only one “grade” worse, regardless of the drinker’s Blood Potency. Blood from vampires who immediately bleed themselves after feeding from a mortal still counts as mortal blood for purposes of how filling it remains.
The Very Last Drop: Vampiric feeding is extremely efficient at its job, but even it cannot drain 100% of a victim’s total blood volume. Vampires who extract their victims’ blood through even more efficient means (meat processing equipment, tying them up and butchering them like livestock, the Vicissitude line of Devotions for Protean, some forms of Blood Sorcery, etc.) can extract up to several feedings worth of blood for later use, depending on the methods used. This behavior is obviously not conductive to maintaining one’s humanity and can incur Stains.
The Blood seethes at the core of every vampire. Not quite sentient, but far from mindless, it prods and cajoles its host into actions unthinkable to mortals. It can yield immense power, but sooner or later, someone always pays a price.
All vampires gain their unholy prowess from the Blood, but not all blood is equal. The closer a vampire is to their mythic progenitor Caine, the greater the potential of their vitae. Vampires talk of generation, with Caine (and perhaps Lilith) as the mythic progenitor of the first generation. Following a vampire’s Embrace, they rise from death one generation higher—one generation weaker—than their sire. Thus the Antediluvians, childer of childer of Caine, comprise the third generation, their childer becoming the fourth generation. A vampire’s Embrace sets their generation. Only through the forbidden act of diablerie, by consuming the Blood and very soul of another vampire, can it be changed.
A vampire’s generation does not necessarily indicate their age. An elder might have sired a vampire of the tenth generation when Columbus sailed; a methuselah could have begotten a vampire of the sixth generation last year.
Even within a generation, the potency of the Blood varies. As the years pass by, the Blood thickens and matures within the limits of a vampire’s generation. Being Embraced by a powerful sire or braving the foul amaranth provide shortcuts to this power. But with increased potency comes also a price—you require more potent blood to sustain you, and Caine’s curses also become more evident.
Blood Potency 0: You are a thin-blood or ghoul, scorned and dismissed by true vampires. Mortals do not have Blood Potency scores of 0. They lack Blood Potency as a trait altogeter.
Blood Potency 1: You are a true vampire, though only barely so according to some elders. Still, your vampiric Blood can accomplish some spectacular things when roused.
Blood Potency 2: A cut above lesser licks, your Blood sustains your vampiric existence better than theirs. However, blood not fresh from a human vessel starts to lose its power, as it has long since lost its savor.
Blood Potency 3: For more conservative elder vampires, your Blood has thickened enough to render you no mere lick, but a true Cainite, worthy of consideration and notice. However, even as your Blood bestows great gifts, it nourishes your banes.
Blood Potency 4: So close, and still so far, you occupy an unenviable position, both exercising lordship over the low and remaining a runt to the high. You require ever-more human gore to slake your Hunger, and you feel your humanity slipping from your red-stained fingers.
Blood Potency 5: On the cusp of true elderhood, you remain but one tempting step from what many would consider godhood.
Blood Potency 6 and Greater: These levels of Blood Potency are rare, especially outside of the Old World. With Blood more potent than it is human, these vampires can turn quite alien, both in mind and body. In olden times, many such Kindred were revered as gods.
Generation and Blood Potency: A vampire’s generation determines the maximum Blood Potency they can reach with age. For example, a vampire of the 9th generation can reach Blood Potency 4 after ~200 years, but can’t increase their Blood Potency any higher even if they’re 2,000 years old: Blood Potency 4 is their maximum.
Age and Blood Potency: Blood Potency increases as a vampire ages, up to the maximum allowed by their generation. Consult the below table to determine a character’s typical Blood Potency at what age. These times are approximations, not hard rules. A 5th-generation Cainite could have Blood Potency 8 but “only” been Embraced 1,231 years ago. Intense experiences and exposure to potent vitae can also speed the rate at which a vampire gains Blood Potency dots. Torpor can make a vampire’s Blood Potency temporarily go down.
PCs may obtain Blood Potency dots up to one dot higher than the maximum allowed by their age (but not generation) if they have Corruption 4+: unusually potent blood only comes to vampires who are exceptionally in tune with their Beasts. The only known way to obtain higher Blood Potency than this is diablerie.
|14th+||0: vampire is a thin-blood||0|
|13th||1, and sires thin-bloods||0|
Starting Blood Potency: All vampires of the 13th and lower generations begin their unlives at Blood Potency 1. Vampires with especially strong-blooded sires (Blood Potency 6+) start with Blood Potency equal to (sire’s Blood Potency – 4). Such “privileged” childer enter undeath with a significant edge, but are prime targets for diablerie.
Trait Maximums: Vampires with Blood Potency scores of 0-5 can raise their Attributes, Skills, and Disciplines to a maximum of 5. Vampires with Blood Potency scores of 6+ can raise their Attributes, Skills, and Disciplines to a maximum level equal to their Blood Potency.
The Embrace comes with many drawbacks. However, it also comes with numerous advantages. Every vampire has access to the following abilities.
Vampires can feel strong sensations and emotions from their relatives, though this awareness is vague and imprecise. When something happens to preempt sympathy from a relative (entering torpor, meeting final death, entering frenzy or a third stage blood bond, feeling an intense emotion), the GM may choose to call for a sympathy roll. This is less a foolproof detection tool and more a dramatic device. A sympathy roll uses Wits + Blood Potency, with a variable modifier depending on the relative’s familial and physical closeness.
• Once Removed: Sires and childer only. Advantage everywhere.
• Twice Removed: Grandsires, grandchilder, broodmates. No bonus or penalty on the same continent. Disadvantage on another continent.
• Thrice Removed: Great-grandsires, great-grandchilder, sire’s broodmates, broodmate’s childer. Disadvantage in the same city. Major Disadvantage in another city. No roll possible on another continent.
• Four Times Removed: Clanmates. Major Disadvantage in the same city. No roll possible outside the same city.
• Non-clanmate: No roll possible.
On a success, you receive a daymare, hallucination, knot in your stomach, or similar psychophysiological clue as to your relative’s current state. You can spend successes on a one-for-one basis to make out a single detail or hear a single, psychically transmitted word.
You can also make a Rouse check to force a sympathetic connection when there isn’t one: some Kindred use blood sympathy in this way to keep track of relatives. You can spend successes on a one-for-one basis to make out a single detail or psychically communicate a single word.
Vampires’ dead bodies are vastly more resilient than ordinary mortals’.
• Rolls to harm vampires with guns and ‘nonlethal’ sources of trauma like fists, stun guns, pepper spray, and extreme temperatures take Disadvantage. Rolls by PC vampires to resist being harmed by those sources of trauma take Advantage. For this reason, swords and bladed weapons remain in vogue among vampires and those who hunt them.
• Vampires don’t need to eat or breathe, never get sick or physically tired, and are immune to many weaknesses and ailments that plague the living.
• A vampire who is reduced to Injured −6 doesn’t die. Instead, they enter a hibernation-like state known as torpor. A vampire can only be destroyed through banes (sunlight, fire, etc.), decapitation, or the total destruction of their entire bodily volume. Simply stabbing or shooting a vampire after they’re down has no effect.
• Blood: Vampires have Advantage on all mundane rolls involving a creature’s blood: e.g., Survival rolls to track a bleeding target or Investigation rolls to notice blood around a crime scene. Vampires can smell even the faintest traces of blood in the air and don’t need to make Perception rolls to perceive blood except under truly extenuating circumstances.
• Night Vision: Vampires have excellent night vision and do not take Disadvantage on Perception rolls to see in the dark. They take Disadvantage instead of Major Disadvantage in total darkness.
• Sense Kindred: Kindred instinctively perceive other vampires as their own kind. If they can smell the vampire, they know it’s a vampire. If they touch a vampire, they know it’s a vampire. It’s not just the aura, it’s all the right cues. Kindred notice the shallow or nonexistent breathing of their kind. They notice the subtle, predatory tones in a voice. They hear the lack of heartbeat. Some supernatural powers can fool this ability, though. Ghouls are not detectable in this manner, but are through Taste for Blood.
• Taste for Blood: By tasting someone’s blood, a vampire can make a DC 2 Perception roll (Wits + Composure; remember Auspex also adds to Perception rolls) to discern details such as clan, Blood Potency (characters with Blood Potency scores of 0 are ghouls or thin-bloods), emotional state, blood type, degree of blood sympathy (mortal or vampiric) to another individual whose blood they’ve tasted, the presence of diseases, drugs, and poisons, what they ate recently, and similar details the GM approves. Diablerie is not detectable in this manner.
Every success lets the vampire discern one detail. On a setback, they can discern as many details as they like, but there is a 50% chance that whatever answer the GM provides about each one will be a lie. The GM rolls secretly to determine this.
This power can be fooled: if the vampire has recently (within the past hour or so) drunk from another vessel, the GM answers the player’s first (Hunger slaked + vessel’s Blood Potency) questions as they pertain to the vessel, rather than the vampire.
Vampires do not appear normally in reflective surfaces or visual recording media (photos, videos, etc.) unless they consciously choose to. The lighting comes out too dark, the shot’s angle doesn’t catch the vampire’s face, the image quality is poor, or something else goes wrong. Some individuals can recognize a vampire’s Lost Visage for what it is, however, so this power can be a double-edged sword. Audio recording media still captures vampires normally.
Being dead, vampires do not heal naturally. Their unliving frames can still knit themselves together, given enough effort. By making 1 Rouse check, a vampire can reduce the penalties from the Injured Condition by 1 (to a minimum of 0). Vampires cannot, however, reduce Injured’s penalties through bed rest and medical attention.
Vampires automatically use Mending to heal any injuries they’ve suffered during daysleep. This also restores the vampire’s body to its original appearance at the time of death: hair grows out, blemishes and disfigurements disappear, and so on. A vampire can spend (6 – Resolve) Willpower to forestall this process for a single uninterrupted daysleep.
By making a Rouse check, a vampire can increase a Physical Attribute by 1 dot, up to a maximum of (5 + Blood Potency + any dots in relevant physical Discipline). This lasts for a single dice roll. The vampire can use this power before or after a roll is made, but before the GM describes the result.
By hissing and baring their fangs, a vampire can lash out with their Beast and make a victim give in to an immediate impulse: e.g., shutting up, backing down from a fight, giving in to a sexual advance, or just looking obviously weaker.
Dice Pool: (Charisma or Resolve) + Blood Potency
DC: (1/2 victim’s Charisma or Resolve + Supernatural Tolerance) + 1.
Roll Modifiers: If you’re in your territory, add your Domain dots as a bonus to your roll. If you’re in the victim’s territory, the DC becomes (1/2 Attribute + Blood Potency + Domain) + 1. Home ground has its advantages.
Vampires traditionally use predatory aura to establish dominance among their kind without bloodshed, though it’s considered poor behavior in Elysium. It’s also an effective way to quickly put mortals and ghouls in their place, as they don’t benefit from Blood Potency scores, so long as the vampire is willing to reveal what they are.
One of the most wondrous and terrible properties of Kindred vitae is its ability to enslave nearly any being who drinks of it three times. Each sip of a particular Kindred’s blood gives the Kindred in question a greater emotional hold over the drinker. If someone drinks three times, on three separate nights, from the same Kindred, they fall victim to a state known as the blood bond.
Full article: Blood Bonds.
A soon as a mortal receives the Embrace, they receive access to the powers colloquially known as Disciplines. Developed from the temperaments of victims consumed and refined to devastating potential, vampires bring these blood-borne gifts to bear against foes and prey.
Disciplines work like every other trait and have ratings from one dots to five. One dot indicates rudimentary proficiency with the Discipline, while five dots indicates mastery.
All Disciplines have individual powers known as Devotions. For example, the Compel Devotion (•) for Dominate lets the vampire issue brief commands to victims, while the Possession Devotion (•••••) for Dominate lets the vampire seize control of victims’ bodies. Devotions have dot ratings according to how powerful they are. For every dot a character gains in a Discipline, they gain one free Devotion at the same dot rating. Characters can learn additional Devotions at the same dot rating.
Amalgams: Some Devotions require proficiency in more than one Discipline. Characters must also possess the listed number of dots in the other Discipline to take these Devotions.
Ghoul Devotions: Any Devotion that uses “the ghoul” rather than “the vampire” as the example character in its text cannot be learned by vampire characters. Embraced ghouls lose any such Devotions upon their Embrace.
Maximum Disciplines for PCs: Neonate PCs may only learn so many Disciplines before the GM says no more. While the GM doesn’t have a hard cap in mind, bear in mind that your PCs are neonates: they probably aren’t going to know oodles and oodles. PCs who’ve spent more time as vampires, have higher Corruption, and who have higher Blood Potency are likely to be allowed more Disciplines. Ghouls are likely to be allowed fewer Disciplines.
Remember that ghouls, regardless of age or PC status, also cannot learn more dots in a Discipline than their domitor’s Blood Potency (and cannot learn 6+ Disciplines at all). Ghouls who change domitors retain whatever Disciplines they’ve previously learned, even if their new domitor has lower Blood Potency. “Hand-me-down” ghouls from Kindred elders can thus be highly valued commodities.
Clans and Disciplines
Different clans have affinity for different Disciplines: they can learn them independently, without instruction from a teacher, and also pay less XP to. These Disciplines are known as in-clan Disciplines, and are as follows:
• Banu Haqim: Blood Sorcery (Dur-An-Ki), Celerity, Obfuscate
• Brujah: Celerity, Potence, Presence
• Caitiff: Pick any three, at least one of which must be a physical Discipline (Celerity, Fortitude, Potence). Blood Sorcery requires GM permission.
• Gangrel: Animalism, Fortitude, Protean
• Hecata: Auspex, Blood Sorcery (Necromancy), Fortitude
• Lasombra: Blood Sorcery (Obtenebration), Dominate, Potence
• Malkavian: Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate
• Nosferatu: Animalism, Obfuscate, Potence
• Ravnos: Animalism, Fortitude, Obfuscate
• Salubri: Auspex, Fortitude, Presence
• Setite: Obfuscate, Presence, Protean
• Toreador: Auspex, Celerity, Presence
• Tremere: Auspex, Blood Sorcery (Thaumaturgy), Dominate
• Tzimisce: Animalism, Auspex, Protean
• Ventrue: Dominate, Fortitude, Presence
Vampires can still learn non-clan Disciplines, and many vampires do. It just takes longer and requires a teacher.
Players with previous VtM experience may notice these Discipline spreads look different. V5 got rid of “snowflake” clan-unique Disciplines by folding their powers into the “common” Disciplines: Serpentis was folded into Protean, Chimerstry into Obfuscate, etc. Our game took this a step further by also folding Oblivion into Blood Sorcery. All of their former powers still exist, just as Devotions within other Disciplines.
Vampires desire power. Vampires also hoard power. Devotions are divided into three categories according to how easy they are to learn:
Common Devotions are familiar to virtually every practitioner of the Discipline, as well as many non-practitioners.
• Vampires for whom the Discipline is in-clan can learn its Common Devotions on their own. The GM can hand these out to PCs as awards based on their in-game actions and behavior, or the player can purchase them with XP.
• Vampires for whom the Discipline is non-clan require a teacher. The vampire must drink a Rouse check’s worth of the teacher’s vitae and spend some time being tutored in the Devotion’s use. Most teachers who don’t have a pre-existing relationship with the vampire (e.g., a sire or coterie-mate) will charge a Debt in return. PCs who buy such Devotions with XP owe a Debt to an NPC vampire if they don’t have an Ally, Mentor, coterie-mate, etc. who would have taught them the Devotion. PCs can spend another (Devotion’s dot rating) XP to declare the Debt has already been repaid.
• One exception to the above are the physical Disciplines: Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence. All vampires can independently learn Common Devotions for these Disciplines without a teacher, even if they are non-clan. They simply cost less XP for vampires for whom the Discipline is in-clan.
Uncommon Devotions are not as widely known by Kindred society at large, but experienced occultists and practitioners of the Discipline are usually familiar with a number of its Uncommon Devotions.
• Vampires for whom the Discipline is in-clan cannot learn its Uncommon Devotions on their own, but require a teacher as described above under Common Devotions. The GM may still award such Devotions to PCs retroactively. Players may spend XP to know such Devotions retroactively, as described above. They may owe a Debt to a teacher, as described above.
• Vampires for whom the Discipline is non-clan also require a teacher, as described above. It costs (2 XP per Devotion’s dot rating) to declare the Debt to a teacher has already been repaid.
Rare Devotions are kept secret between small numbers of Kindred: some may be entirely unique to one vampire. Rare Disciplines can have outlandish effects that stretch the boundaries of the Discipline’s concept and are typically only shared among close allies and blood kin. Outsiders who wish to learn such Devotions will probably need more leverage than just one Debt. Even dedicated practitioners of a Discipline may only know hearsay and rumors about Rare Devotions.
• Players may not spend XP to know such Devotions retroactively, unless they are ones the PC has personally developed. The GM may also hand out personally developed Rare Devotions as awards.
PC Teachers: At the GM’s discretion, PCs may teach other Devotions (for free) at narratively cool moments or when it accompanies an equivalent exchange of services. For example, if another PC earns a Debt from your PC, you might pay it back by sharing a Devotion you know.
Players who ask if they can share Devotions with each other off-screen, or who seek to contrive lots of Devotion-swapping scenes in close succession, will get charged normal XP costs.
Clashes of Wills: Sometimes, two Disciplines clearly oppose one another. For example, when two vampires attempt to Dominate the same mortal, or a vampire with Auspex comes across a hiding vampire with Obfuscate, there is a Clash of Wills. The PC rolls their (dots in the relevant Discipline) + Blood Potency against a DC of 1 + (1/2 NPC’s dots in the relevant Discipline + Blood Potency). On a success, the PC’s Discipline wins out: they Dominate the mortal, notice the Obfuscated vampire, and so on.
Clashes of Wills also apply against the supernatural powers of other night-folk. For example, if a PC vampire tries to Dominate a mortal under the influence of an NPC mage’s Mind Sphere, the PC would roll against a DC of 1 + (1/2 NPC’s Mind + Arete).
Glossary: “Night-folk” is a catch-all term for supernatural creatures: “common” supernatural races such as vampires, werewolves, mages, etc. and their associated hangers-on (ghouls, kinfolk, etc.), ephemeral entities such as spirits and demons, less common races that aren’t played by PCs, and other supernatural beings that aren’t so easily classified. “Night-folk” is an in-universe term.
“Supernatural Tolerance” is whatever game trait measures a night-folk’s innate supernatural power. It’s Blood Potency for vampires, Rank for werewolves, Arete for mages, Psyche for wraiths, etc. Night-folk without a species-specific trait simply have Potency.
Resisting NPC Disciplines: When an NPC uses Disciplines on your PC, reverse the traits you’d roll for its DC and dice pool.
For example, Confidant uses a dice pool of Charisma + Presence against a DC equal to (1/2 Composure + Supernatural Tolerance) + 1. When an NPC tries to use that Devotion on your PC, you’d roll Composure + Blood Potency against a DC equal to (1/2 NPC’s Charisma + Presence) + 1.
Developing Custom Devotions
Your PC may develop their own custom Devotions. In fact, most of the game’s vampire PCs (played under the Decanter rules) have had a unique trick or two in their larger bag. Developing a custom Devotion involves the following steps:
First, pitch it to the GM. He’ll iron out the mechanics and ensure balance with other Devotions of the same level.
Second, pick up the Devotion with your PC. You can buy the Devotion retroactively via XP purchase, or you can learn it for free in-game (either via flashback or in the present) via a two-step process that involves research and an ordeal: some kind of challenge to overcome and/or sacrifice to make that’s unique to the nature of the Devotion. For example, a Devotion that grants the vampire command over a swarm of insects nesting in their body might involve an ordeal where the vampire allows the swarm to devour part of their flesh (and must resist the urge to frenzy).
For any players who are wondering: yes, these exist.
Many of the elder Disciplines released over the years aren’t very good ones and work just fine as 1-5 Devotions. What distinguishes 6+ Devotions from normal Devotions, to the GM, are two things: scale and breaking the normal rules for how the Discipline is supposed to work. For example, Dominate doesn’t let the vampire give suicidal orders to victims. An elder Dominate Devotion could allow that. Higher-level 1-5 Devotions can “break rules” too, but they have a cost, take a dice roll, or take some extra degree of effort. The Protean 5 Devotion Death’s Crawl, for example, lets a vampire move while in torpor, but costs 2 Rouse checks and lasts a scene. An elder Protean Devotion might cost nothing and always be in effect.
Scale is exactly what it sounds like. Michael’s iconic Devotion, A Perfect World, was essentially Green Eyes (and perhaps Entrancement) on a massive scale. It affected the entire mortal and Kindred populace of Constantinople and lasted forever, even while he was in torpor.
There is no such thing as a Common elder Devotion. Each of these awesome powers is either independently and laboriously developed by an individual elder, or taught by one elder to another—rare, given the distrust inherent to such long-lived Kindred and their inclination to hoard power. Many elders have independently developed a number of the same Devotions, however, which are classified as Uncommon.
While PCs may cross paths with Cainites who have mastered elder Disciplines, they are unlikely to reach the levels of Blood Potency necessary to develop such powers themselves. Until such time, their exact mechanics will remain in the shadows.
While Kindred carry many gifts and advantages, their Requiems are far from blessed. Vampires suffer numerous banes.
Sometimes, the Beast grows impatient. When the vampire faces danger, hunger, or threat, the Beast goads them to immediate and extreme response, usually meaning a blood-soaked frenzy. Frenzy comes from many sources, but always shares the same response: End the problem by any means necessary.
Dice Pool: Resolve + Composure
• Hunger frenzies: Sight or smell of blood when hungry (6-7 Hunger) is DC 3. Sight and smell is DC 4. Taste of blood is DC 5. Being starving (8-10 Hunger) is +1 DC. Starving vampires must make DC 3 frenzy rolls just for being around other people, even without any spilled blood.
• Other frenzies: Varies by provocation. Being hungry is +1 DC. Being starving is +2 DC.
Roll Modifiers: Vampire is sated (Hunger 0; Advantage)
Botch: Your character frenzies, as per Setback, but something else goes wrong: they might cause even more damage than their Beast initially wanted to (e.g., killing several victims instead of one), spending Willpower may be impossible, or they might incur an additional Stain.
Setback: Your character succumbs to their Beast. Frenzy lasts for the rest of the scene or until the Beast gets what it wants: killing the source of its rage, draining a vessel until they’re empty, escaping the source of its fear, etc. Physical dice rolls take Advantage (Physical rolls against frenzying NPCs take Disadvantage) and your character is immune to all mundane and supernatural attempts to sway their behavior. Your character also doesn’t take dice penalties from the Injured Condition, although they still enter torpor at Injured -6.
Success: Your character resists the Beast… for now. Your next roll to resist frenzy takes Disadvantage, or increases to Major Disadvantage if you’re already rolling at Disadvantage. You can eliminate this penalty or decrease Major Disadvantage to Disadvantage by indulging the Beast with a Dark Deed that incurs a Stain.
Extra Successes: Your character resists the Beast without taking Disadvantage on their next frenzy roll. Further successes may grant Advantage or reduce Hunger from the moment of catharsis.
Riding the Wave: A vampire can intentionally succumb to frenzy without a dice roll. This incurs a Stain for vampires at Corruption 3 or above, but lets the vampire choose how they act on the Beast’s impulse: for example, they could choose what target they attack (if angry) or what vessel they feed from (if hungry), but they couldn’t ignore the Beast’s impulse to attack or feed.
Humanity is the measure of how well a vampire can still pass for human: their personal Masquerade. The higher a vampire’s Beast, the lower their humanity.
• Animals: Animals respond to you as if human.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening around nautical twilight.
• Food: You can savor the taste of food and drink, but must regurgitate it by dawn.
• Mortality: You have a healthy, vibrant complexion. You unconsciously keep blood circulating through your body to give yourself a pulse, heartbeat, and warm body temperature. You automatically pass basic medical tests to appear alive. Take Advantage on other rolls to pass for human.
• Sex: You can engage in sexual activity and even enjoy it.
• Animals: Animals are nervous and skittish around you. Cornered animals grow aggressive. Take Disadvantage on many Animal Ken rolls.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening around nightfall.
• Food: You can hold down food and drink, but it’s tasteless and you must regurgitate it within the scene.
• Mortality: You have a pallid but passably human appearance. Your body temperature is cooler than normal and you have an irregular pulse and heartbeat. Basic medical tests show you are in ill health.
• Sex: You can engage in sexual activity, but it carries no pleasure.
• Animals: Animals are significantly distressed by you and may attack. Take Major Disadvantage on many Animal Ken rolls.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening around half an hour after nightfall.
• Food: You can’t abide the foul taste of food and must immediately regurgitate it.
• Mortality: You start to look sick or disturbed, which mortals may remark on. You have no pulse or heartbeat and appear clinically dead to medical tests. Your body is room temperature.
• Sex: You can no longer engage in sexual activity.
• Animals: Animals either flee from you or attack on sight. Many Animal Ken rolls are impossible.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening around an hour after nightfall.
• Mortality: You look seriously ill, disturbingly predatory, or both. Mortals try to ignore their instincts about you, but those instincts are starting to win out. Take Disadvantage on many Social rolls to relate to humans. Intimidation is never penalized. Intimidation, though, takes Advantage against mortals that don’t know what you are.
• Other humanity facets as Beast 3.
• Daysleep: You rise for the evening around 1.5 hours after nightfall.
• Mortality: You look barely more alive than a corpse. Mortals’ polite facades around you start to crack as their instincts scream how wrong you are. Take Major Disadvantage on many Social rolls to relate to humans. Intimidation takes Major Advantage against mortals that don’t know what you are.
• Other humanity facets as Beast 4.
Beast 6: Vampires this far gone are wights and no longer suitable as PCs.
• Daysleep: Wights for the evening around 2 hours after nightfall.
• Mortality: Wights are unmistakably monsters. Mortals don’t know exactly what they are, but instinctively sense something is horribly wrong. Social rolls to do anything but terrify mortals are impossible. Rolling for Intimidation is also largely superfluous.
• Other humanity facets as Beast 4.
Blush of Life: Vampires can pump blood through dead veins to briefly make their bodies look alive again. By making a Rouse check, you can treat one humanity facet as one “step” higher. For example, a Beast 5 vampire could hold down food like a Beast 2 vampire by making three Rouse checks. This lasts for a scene. The vampire can’t use Blush of Life on animals or daysleep.
Food and sex never carry pleasure for vampires with Beast 2+, no matter how many Rouse checks they make.
Whenever a vampire rises from daysleep, they make a Rouse check. If the vampire gets a setback or botch that would raise their Hunger above 10, they fall into torpor.
During the day, vampiric blood becomes quiescent, even gelid. Awakening during the day requires the vampire to make a Rouse check and roll Wits + Composure – Blood Potency at a variable DC depending on the level of crisis (a fire is only DC 2, while a minor inconvenience is 6 or higher). Attackers ambushing the vampire in their sleep are DC (1/2 Dexterity + Stealth of lowest attacker). PCs ambushing a sleeping vampire must succeed on a Dexterity + Stealth roll with a bonus equal to the vampire’s Blood Potency, against a DC of (1/2 vampire’s Wits + Composure) + 1. A vampire automatically awakens if they take the Injured Condition while sleeping, though by then it may be too late—and certainly is if they’ve been staked.
Once awakened from daysleep, a vampire is sluggish and lethargic, weighed down by their Blood. They take a penalty on all dice rolls equal to their Blood Potency. PCs acting against an NPC vampire during the day take a bonus on rolls equal to the vampire’s Blood Potency.
An awoken vampire can only act until the immediate crisis is resolved. Once it is, they fall back sleep, although another crisis can wake them back up.
All vampires fear fire. A lit cigarette makes them nervous and agitated: open flames trigger frenzy rolls (DC varies by size, heat, and proximity of the fire) to resist fleeing in terror. All rolls to attack vampires with fire take Advantage. Rolls to fight characters employing fire take Disadvantage. Fire-inflicted wounds are also much harder to heal, costing 1 automatic Hunger instead of 1 Rouse check per use of Mending. If the vampire waits until they enter daysleep, healing fire-inflicted wounds with Mending costs Rouse checks as normal.
Staking a vampire through the heart leaves them conscious but paralyzed and near-helpless. A staked vampire cannot take physical actions (including speech), use Disciplines, or make Rouse checks for any purpose except to awaken each evening. By spending 1 Willpower, the vampire can perform minute movements, such as twitching a finger or opening their eyes. PCs gain 1 Willpower if an NPC vampire does this to significant effect. Without fresh blood, a staked vampire inevitably succumbs to torpor.
Staking a vampire takes combat rolls as normal. The winning character can declare they stake the vampire at the end. Driving a stake through a human sternum is much harder than Hollywood makes it look and is physically impossible for ordinary mortals. Wood, however, pierces vampiric bone as easily as steel pierces flesh. (Wood is anathema to the Kindred due to photosynthesis: the trees that produce wooden stakes are symbolic reservoirs of sunlight.)
A popular tactic among hunters is to stake a sleeping vampire during the day and then decapitate them or drag them into the sun. For PCs, this takes a Stealth roll to see whether they wake up the vampire, with the DCs as detailed under Daysleep. On a success, PCs can stake the sleeping vampire without an additional roll. On a setback, it takes a combat roll as normal to stake the awake and struggling vampire.
Sunlight burns the undead, incinerating their unholy blood and flesh under the eye of heaven. A vampire exposed to direct sunlight takes the Injured Condition (-1) and must roll (11 – Blood Potency) dice after every narratively significant dice roll or other interval they spend under the sun, at a -1 penalty per previous sunlight roll. On a setback, Injured’s penalties increase by -1. On a botch, they increase by -2. On an exceptional success, the vampire automatically passes their next sunlight roll.
Weaker sunlight, such as during sunset or on a heavily overcast day, provides Advantage on this roll. Protective clothing (i.e., a heavy coat, gloves, mask, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and boots) also provides Advantage. Wearing no or minimal clothing imposes Disadvantage.
Sunlight-inflicted wounds cost 1 automatic Hunger instead of 1 Rouse check to heal with Mending. If the vampire waits until they enter daysleep, healing sunlight-inflicted wounds with Mending costs Rouse checks as normal.
Torpor is a state of death-like hibernation common to the undead. Vampires can enter it through injury, starvation, and ennui.
Full article: Torpor.
While all vampires suffer from the great curses of fire, sunlight, frenzy, and so forth, banes are folkloric supernatural curses and compulsions that individual vampires suffer from. One vampire might be nauseated by garlic, while another might be repelled by holy symbols.
Full article: Banes.
Ghoul Character Rules
A mortal who drinks a vampire’s blood becomes something both more and less than human, for a time. Derisively called a ghoul by western vampires, the mortal gains a smidgeon of the power of a true vampire.
Full article: Ghoul Character Rules.
The following rules apply to miscellaneous other scenarios.
Using Other Vampires’ Blood
There are numerous Devotions and story effects built around having someone else’s blood in your system. One iconic example is how in the Lasombra clan novel, the villain’s haven is protected by an Abyssal guardian with orders to kill anyone who isn’t of its master’s blood. The Assamite deuteragonist bangs the Lasombra’s childe a few hours earlier, so the guardian lets her pass because she has some of its master’s blood in her system. There are likewise a ton of Devotions keyed off of “has the vampire’s blood in their system.” The blood is obviously power. So how long does that power last?
The answer is either (other vampire’s Blood Potency + 1 hours) OR until the vampire slakes more total Hunger than (other person’s Blood Potency + 1), whichever comes first. At that point, the blood is too diluted amidst the vampire’s to be of use.
If the vampire uses the “admixed” blood sample as part of a power that requires a blood sample, any dice rolls take Disadvantage, or Major Disadvantage if the vampire’s Blood Potency is 2+ higher. For example, if the Assamite went to a blood sorcerer and had them cast a spell on the Lasombra’s childe with the blood in her system, the roll would take Disadvantage, or Major Disadvantage if the Assamite’s Blood Potency was 2+ higher than the Lasombra’s childe. If she had the blood sorcerer cast a spell on the Lasombra himself, the roll would take Major Disadvantage, and no roll would be possible if the Assamite’s Bood Potency was 2+ higher than the Lasombra’s childe.
Index of Sub-Pages
|Mythological weaknesses vampires are cursed by.|
|The enslaving properties of Kindred vitae.|
|“Sub-clans” Kindred can belong to beyond the great thirteen.|
|The rewards and perils of the Kindred’s greatest crime.|
|The Kindred’s half-damned thralls and daytime guardians.|
|The hunting strategies Kindred use to obtain blood.|
|Death-like hibernation induced by injury, starvation, and ennui.|
|Mortals who keep the Kindred connected to their humanity.|