Posted by: markfender | July 10, 2013

V:tM 20th – Disciplines

There’s 116 pages of these. Better get started.

Goggles AND sunglasses?

Goggles AND sunglasses?

Disciplines are the powers of the vampires. They’re broken up by the specific Discipline (of which each Clan has three, although you can learn those outside your Clan) and rated 1-9. You have to buy each power in order, so it’s a good guess you’ll get a power you’re not all that excited about as you buy towards the one you really wanted. Once Disciplines get above level 5, they start to have multiple powers at 6-8. These are for higher Generation vampires and they tend to be really, really gross. Using Dominate on everyone you’ve ever known without even being present? Yes, please.

I’m not going to go over every power, just because there’s so many. Instead, let’s talk about an issue: many of these powers have Difficulties determined by the opposed person’s stats. Auspex 4 (Telepathy), for instance, mentions a Difficulty is equal to Manipulation + Subterfuge. That’s all well and good, except when going up against Elders, who can have Attributes higher than 5, potentially making these Difficulties impossible to make. I would assume that a Difficulty higher than 10 would just be downgraded to 10, except that a later power explicitly states the opposite. So, does that mean Difficulties do get higher than 10? Beats me.

Animalism is our first Discipline. This, amazingly, lets you deal with animals. It also gives some control over a vampire’s Beast, both for offensive effects and defensive effects. Drawing Out the Beast (level 5) is a weird power that lets you put your Beast into another. Except it has a whole slew of downsides, some so devastating that I wonder why anyone would ever use this power.

Auspex is next, which deals with preternatural senses. Level 2 lets you see auras, which helps you identify the supernatural creature you might be dealing with as well as seeing the telltale markings of diablerie. Fans of old versions of Vampire will be pleased to know that the power of Omniscience is gone. But then fans of that power probably already knew that (Get it?).

Celerity lets you go really fast. Every dot gives you an extra action, which, as you would imagine, is pretty damned powerful. This version adds your Celerity to Dexterity rolls as long as you split the dots between those two effects. I like this change, as it lets you maybe not get bogged down in all those extra actions. It seems to require less blood, now, though.

Chimerstry is next. This is some sort of illusion-based power that the Ravnos have access to. I guess vampires have been known to “cloud men’s minds” but this power always felt a little weird to me. It’s also a pricey power, with Willpower points being required for almost every single power. Since several of these powers influence earlier versions, it can get quite expensive in the Willpower department.

Dementation is the Discipline of the Malkavians, letting them give other people Derangements. It’s a total asshole power. Enjoy.

Dominate is your classic vampire power, looking deep into someone’s eyes and telling them what to do. There’s a handy sidebar in this section detailing rules on how to make eye contact with a target, as this is required for a number of powers. It’s a nice inclusion as there were always some players who’d play the “I’m not looking at him” card. It also has one of my favorite level 9 powers, that lets you Dominate everyone in your bloodline at the same time, without even being present. No wonder everyone’s so paranoid about the Antediluvians.

Fortitude got a little worse than in previous editions. Each dot of Fortitude adds to soak rolls, allowing a vampire to shrug off damage. In older editions, it also allowed you to soak fire and sunlight damage. Now, only your Fortitude dots can be used to soak such sources, making it a little weaker than before. It’s still plenty handy, though. Without Fortitude, you can’t even attempt to soak those sources of damage, so it’s still a good idea to have some.

Necromancy is next and my god is it long. As one of the two sorcerous Disciplines, it’s divided into multiple Paths, each essentially counting as a separate Discipline line that you need to buy. On top of that, it also has Rituals that are much longer, well, rituals that must be completed before activating those powers. These are in addition to the regular Discipline powers, so people with Necromancy have access to a whole slew of powers. Unfortunately, a lot of these aren’t great. While influencing ghosts in various ways is neat, it does require a GM willing to introduce the spirits of the dead into his game. Raising zombies and withering limbs seems like fairly useful powers, but some of the Underworld-manipulation ones are a little underwhelming.

Obfuscate lets you disappear, both from sight and from memory. I’d talk more about it, but I forgot what I was talking about.

Obtenebration is the Lasombra’s signature Discipline, letting them control shadow. Personally, this Discipline isn’t all that great as most of its powers are just variations on debuffs (which are less than handy on enemies that can spend blood to increase their stats). It does, however, have the coolest level six power, Shadowstep, which lets you teleport from shadow to shadow. Considering, by that level, you can make your own shadows, this is a handy power for running away from fights – always a wise course of action when dealing with Elder vampires. Plus, you get to yell “Bamf!” a lot.

Potence also got slightly weaker. It adds its rating to your Strength when determining how many dice to roll. That’s useful, of course, but it used to add automatic successes. You can still add automatic successes, but you need to spend a blood point to do it. Not much weaker, but still an interesting change.

Presence is also pretty cool because it makes everyone love you. It’s the counterpart to Dominate. It doesn’t have as much raw power, but it does affect more people. And who doesn’t want people to like them?

Protean is next. It lets you change your form. You can grow claws, change into a wolf, or go into mist form. It also has the excellent “oh shit” power of Earth Meld, which lets you sink into the earth and spend the day there, just in case you end up in a tough spot with the sun rising.

Quietus is the Assamite’s special Discipline and it’s kind of dumb. You can basically turn your blood (or someone else’s) into various noxious substances. I guess that’s useful. But it can’t compare to the next one.

Serpentis lets you turn into a snake. Because that seemed useful to a Setite at some point. I don’t really recall snakes being a vampiric beast in any of the lore, but whatever. This does have a few useful powers. The level 1 power, Eyes of the Serpent, is kind of broken, as eye contact makes your target immobilized. Worse, it doesn’t use the eye contact rules presented earlier because no one at White Wolf seems to have realized how dumb this power is. At level five, you can remove your heart because that’s also something snakes do. This is handy because it means people can’t stake you easily. If you’re worried about being staked.

Thaumaturgy is next. It’s the second of the sorcerous Disciplines and so it too has a billion and a half Paths to follow. My favorite is Lure of the Flame, which summons fire. That seems like a bad idea. They also have the Path of Conjuring, which seems to do almost everything that Chimestry is trying to do, but for far cheaper. Sure, it can’t summon up a dragon to scare people with, but I’d hazard that people would be just as scared by a grenade missing its pin, which Conjuring can certainly do. Thaumaturgy also features a lot of Rituals and these are, in many cases, more useful than the Paths. Everything from telepathy (always handy in a political game), to ignoring wooden stakes, creating freeze-dried blood pellets, and various wards make the Rituals a must-get for the vampire who has everything.

Vicissitude is our last Discipline (in this section. Oh yes, there’s more) and it lets Tzimsce recraft their flesh or the flesh of others into hideous shapes. It has one of the worst powers ever, Blood of Acid (level six), which lets you turn your blood into, obviously, acid. That’s pretty handy, because it means that no one can drink your blood. Unfortunately, it also means you can no longer create new vampires. This is a permanent power. So, one wonders how exactly the Tzimsce Antediluvian was able to create an entire Clan. One also wonders how exactly the modern-day Tzimsce were able to diablerize their Antediluvian when he would have this power (Well-versed players will exclaim “Ah hah! Vicissitude is a new Discipline! The Old Clan Tzimsce didn’t possess it!” and they would be right. Except that the level 9 power in Vicissitude explicitly mentions that the Tzimsce Antidilevian probably has it, making the whole thing kind of confusing).

So, there’s a lot of powers. And there’s more later! Wow!

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