Disciplines (Main)

Disciplines are supernatural powers known to Cainites. Vampires have a number of starting Discipline dots depending on their template.

The Beast resides within all creatures, from lice-ridden rats to powerful Kindred elders. The Discipline of Animalism allows the vampire to develop a close, intense connection with his primordial nature. He not only communicates empathically with the lower beasts, but also projects his own force of will upon them, directing the animals to do his bidding. Additionally, as the vampire grows in power, he can use Animalism to control the Beast within mortals and even other supernaturals.

A vampire who lacks this Discipline or the Skill of Animal Ken is repellent to animals. Beasts grow distinctly agitated in the presence of such a Kindred, often to the point of fleeing from or attacking the vampire. In contrast, Kindred with Animalism present a soothing aspect to lower creatures - indeed, animals are often attracted to them.

• Feral Whispers

This power is the basis from which all other Animalism abilities grow. The vampire creates an empathic connection with a beast, thereby allowing him to communicate or issue simple commands. The Kindred locks eyes with the animal, transmitting his desires through sheer force of will. Although it isn't necessary to actually "speak" in chirps, hisses or barks, some vampires find that doing so helps strengthen the connection with the animal. Eye contact must be maintained the entire time; if it's broken, the Kindred must look into the beast's eyes once again to regain contact.

Since Feral Whispers requires eye contact, animals that cannot see are not affected. Further, the simpler the creature, the more difficult it becomes to connect with the animal's Beast. Mammals, predatory birds and larger reptiles are relatively easy to communicate with. Insects, invertebrates and most fish (with the possible exception of largerones like sharks)are just too simple, their Beasts too weak, to connect with.

Feral Whispers provides no guarantees that an animal will want to deal with the vampire, nor does it ensure that the animal will pursue any requests the vampire makes of it. Still, it does at least make the creature better disposed toward the Kindred. The manner in which the vampire presents his desires to the animal often depends on the type of creature. A Kindred can probably cow smaller beasts into heeding commands, but he's better off couching orders for large predators in terms of requests.

If the vampire successfully uses the power, the animal performs the command to the best of its ability and intellect. Only the very brightest creatures understand truly complex directives (orders dealing with conditional situations or requiring abstract logic). Commands that the animal does understand remain deeply implanted, however, and may affect it for some time.

System: No roll is necessary to talk with an animal, but the character must establish eye contact first. Issuing commands requires a Manipulation + Animal Ken roll. The difficulty depends on the creature: Predatory mammals (wolves, cats, insectivorous/vampire bats) are difficulty 6, other mammals and predatory birds (rats, owls) are difficulty 7, other birds and reptiles(pigeons, snakes) are difficulty 8. This difficulty is reduced by one if the character speaks to the animal in its "native tongue," and can be adjusted further by circumstances and roleplaying skill (we highly recommend that all communication between characters and animals be roleplayed).

The number of successes the player achieves dictates how strongly the character's command affects the animal. One success is sufficient to have a cat follow someone and lead the character to the same location, three successes are enough to have a raven spy on a target for weeks, and five successes ensure that a grizzly ferociously guards the entrance to the character's wilderness haven for some months.

•• Beckoning

The vampire's connection to the Beast grows strong enough that he may call out in the voice of a specific type of animal - howling like a wolf, cawing like a raven, etc. This call mystically summons creatures of the chosen type. Since each type of animal has a different call, Beckoning works for only a single species at a time.

All such animals within earshot are summoned, but maychoose individually whether or not to respond. While the vampire has no control over the beasts who answer, the animals who do are favorably disposed toward him and are at least willing to listen to the Kindred's request.

System: The player rolls Charisma + Survival (difficulty 6) to determine the response to the character's call; consult the table below. Only animals that can hear the cry will respond. If the Storyteller decides no animals of that type are within earshot, the summons goes unanswered.

The call can be as specific as the player desires. A character could call for all bats in the area, for only the male bats nearby, or for only the albino bat with the notched ear he saw the other night.

1 success A single animal responds.
2 successes One-quarter of the animals within earshot respond.
3 successes Half of the animals respond.
4 successes Most of the animals respond.
5 successes All of the animals respond.

••• Quell the Beast

As the supreme predators of the natural world, Kindred are highly attuned to the bestial nature that dwells within every mortal heart. A vampire who develops this power may assert his will over a mortal (animal or human) subject, subduing the Beast within her. This quenches all powerful, assertive emotions - hope, fury, inspiration - within the target. The Kindred must either touch his subject or stare into her eyes to channel his will effectively.

Mortals who lack the fire of their inner Beasts are quite tractable, reacting to even stressful situations with indifference. Even the most courageous or maddened mortal becomes apathetic and listless, while an especially sensitive individual may suffer from a phobic derangement while under the power's influence.

Different clans evoke this power in different ways, although the effect itself is identical. Tzimisce call it Cowing the Beast, since they force the mortal's weaker spirit to cower in fear before the Kindred's own inner Beast. Nosferatu refer to it as Song of Serenity, since they soothe the subject's Beast into a state of utter complacency, thus allowing them to feed freely. Gangrel know the power as Quell the Beast, and force the mortal spirit into a state of fear or apathy as befits the individual vampire's nature.

System: The player rolls Manipulation + Intimidation if forcing out the Beast through fear, Manipulation + Empathy if soothing it into complacency. The roll is made versus difficulty 7 in either case. This is an extended action requiring as many total successes as the target has Willpower. Failure indicates that the player must start over from the beginning, while a botch indicates that the vampire may never again affect that subject's Beast.

When a mortal's Beast is cowed or soothed, she can no longer use or regain Willpower. She ceases all struggles, whether mental or physical. She doesn't even defend herself if assaulted, though the Storyteller may allow a Willpower roll if the mortal's life is threatened. To recover from this power, the mortal rolls Willpower (difficulty 6) once per day until she accumulates enough successes to equal the vampire's Willpower. Kindred themselves cannot be affected by this power.

•••• Subsume the Spirit

By locking his gaze with that of a beast, the vampire may psychically possess the animal. Some older Kindred believe that since animals have no souls, only spirits, the vampire can move his own soul into the animal's body. Most younger vampires think it is a matter of transferring one's consciousness into the animal's mind. In either case, it's agreed that the beast's weaker spirit (or mind) is pushed aside by the Kindred's own consciousness. The vampire's body falls into a motionless state akin to torpor while his mind takes control of the animal's actions, remaining this way until the Kindred's consciousness returns.

Tzimisce seldom use this power, considering it debasing to enter the body of a lesser creature. When they do stoop to using it, they possess only predators. Conversely, Gangrel revel in connecting to the natural world in this fundamental way. They delight in sampling different animals' natures.

System: The player rolls Manipulation + Animal Ken (difficulty 8) as the character looks into the animal's eyes (only beasts with eyes can be possessed). The number of successes obtained determines how thoroughly the character overrides the animal's spirit. Fewer than three successes means the character must use Willpower points to take any action tha directly violates the instincts of the animal in question. With fewer than five successes, the possessing character behaves much like the animal - his soul is clouded with needs and impulses from the animal's spirit and body. Multiple successes allow the character to utilize some mental Disciplines while possessing the animal, as noted on the chart below.

1 success Cannot use Disciplines
2 successes Can use Auspex
3 successes Can also use Presence
4 successes Can also use Dementation, Dominate
5 successes Can also use Chimerstry, Necromancy, Thaumaturgy

This power entwines the character's consciousness closely with the animal's spirit, so much so that the character may continue to think and feel like that animal even after breaking the connection. This effect continues until the character spends a total of seven Willpower points to resist and finally overcome the animal nature. This should be roleplayed, although to a lessening degree as Willpower is spent.

At the end of any particularly exciting incident during possession, the player rolls Wits + Empathy (difficulty 8) for the character to retain his own mind. Failure indicates that the character's mind returns to his own body, but still thinks in purely animalistic terms. A botch sends the character into frenzy upon returning to his own body.

The character may travel as far from his body as he is physically able while possessing the animal. The character retains no conscious connection with his vampire body during this time, though. The vampire may also venture out during the day, albeit in the animal's body. However, the character's own body must be awake to do so, requiring a successful roll to remain awake. If the character leaves the animal's body (by choice, if his body falls asleep, after sustaining significant injury), the vampire's consciousness returns to his physical form instantaneously.

Although the vampire has no conscious link to his body while possessing the animal, he does form a sympathetic bond. Anything the animal feels, the vampire also experiences, from pleasure to pain. In fact, any damage the animal's body sustains is also applied to the character's body, although the Kindred may soak as normal. If the animal dies before the vampire's soul can flee from the body, the character's body falls into torpor. Presumably this is in sympathetic response to the massive trauma of death, although some Kindred believe that the vampire's soul is cast adrift during this time and must find its way back to the body.

••••• Drawing out the Beast

At this level of Animalism, the Kindred has a keen understanding of the Beast Within. Whenever this predator spirit threatens to overwhelm the vampire's soul and send him into frenzy, he may instead release his feral urges upon another creature. The recipient of the vampire's Beast is instantly overcome by frenzy. This is an unnatural frenzy, however, as the victim is channeling the Kindred's own fury. As such, the vampire's own behavior, expressions and even speech patterns are evident in the subject's savage actions.

Gangrel and Tzimisce are especially fond of loosing their Beasts on others. Gangrel do so to stir their ghouls into inspired heights of savagery during combat. Tzimisce care less for who receives their Beast than they do for retaining their own composure.

System: The vampire must be in frenzy or close to it to use this power. The player must announce his preferred target (since it must be someone within sight, Drawing Out the Beast cannot he used if the vampire is alone), then roll Manipulation + Self-Control (difficulty 8). Refer to the table below for the results:

1 success The character transfers the Beast, but unleashes it upon a random individual.
2 successes The character is stunned by the effort and may not act next turn, but transfers the Beast successfully.
3 successes The character transfers the Beast successfully.

If the attempt fails, the intensity of the frenzy actually increases. As the character relaxes in expectation of relieving his savage urges, the Beast takes that opportunity to dig deeper. In this case, the frenzy lasts twice as long as normal and is twice as difficult to shrug off; its severity also increases exponentially. Botching this roll is even more catastrophic; the heightened frenzy grows so extreme that not even expending Willpower curbs its duration or effects. The character is a hapless victim to the terrible fury of his Beast.

If the character leaves the target's presence before the frenzy expends itself, frenzy, the character cannot use or regain Willpower and becomes increasingly lethargic. To recover the Beast, he must find the person who now possesses it (who likely isn't enjoying herself very much) and retrap the Beast. The most effective way to do so is to behave in ways that make the Beast want to return - however, this isn't a guarantee that it will wish to do so. Alternatively, the character can simply kill the host (thus causing the Beast to return to the vampire immediately), but such an act costs at least one point of Humanity.