All About Disciplines
Disciplines are supernatural powers granted by the Embrace. Vampires cultivate these powers and bring them to bear against foes and prey. Fueled by blood and will, disciplines provide an incomparable, mystical edge and are the hallmarks of a vampire’s clan or bloodline.
By using her disciplines, a vampire can exert the strength of a dozen humans; trick an enemy into submission; force her way into someone else’s mind; take the shape of a wolf, bat, or hideous monstrosity — or numerous other things. A recently Embraced vampire might have only a few such powers at her command, while an ancient may have mastered a fearsome breadth of potent feats. Elders can learn awesome powers, fueled by the potency of their blood. Neonates and Ancillae use the flexibility of their thinner blood to combine two or more disciplines and create new techniques that are a mélange of powers.
Each vampiric clan possesses innate powers of the blood: disciplines that are native to that clan. A vampire can learn those powers easily through experimentation and personal study; this process requires you to spend 1 downtime action between game sessions. Learning other clans’ disciplines is more difficult; it requires having a knowledgeable teacher and drinking blood from a vampire who innately possesses those disciplines. As drinking blood causes a vampire to become partially bound to the donor, learning disciplines from another vampire requires a great deal of trust.
When you choose your character’s clan, the character gains access to that clan’s three innate disciplines. If you choose to purchase a bloodline merit, the clan’s native disciplines may be altered to reflect the differences between that bloodline and the pure blood of the parent clan.
At character creation, you assign one of your character’s native, or “in-clan” disciplines 2 dots and 1 dot to each of your character’s two remaining in-clan disciplines. You can then use initial experience points (XP) and XP gained from flaws to purchase additional dots of the character’s in-clan disciplines. With the Storyteller’s permission, you may also buy the first 3 dots of non-native, “out-of-clan” disciplines, so long as those disciplines are common to the setting. You cannot purchase more than 3 dots of a specific out-of-clan discipline (though you may buy more than one out-of-clan), nor may you buy rare disciplines during character creation. After character creation, you can freely purchase your character’s in-clan disciplines with XP.
To learn 1 or more dots of an out-of-clan discipline:
• The student must find a teacher who possesses the desired discipline in-clan, and has mastered at least the level she wishes to learn.
• The student must drink a point of Blood from the teacher to awaken the potential to learn a discipline not innate to the student’s clan. If the student already possesses a dot of the discipline to be learned, she may skip this step. The student cannot learn other powers or disciplines from the ingestion of this Blood.
• The teacher must spend 1 point of Willpower for every power to be taught, and inform the student which discipline (and which powers) he is teaching her.
• The teacher must be in contact with the student and must give her instruction from time to time, but teaching does not consume a downtime action. The student must actively train, and, therefore, must spend 1 downtime action per power to be learned.
• The student must spend the XP to purchase the power or powers.
• The student need only drink 1 point of Blood from the teacher to gain the capability to learn all of the powers of a given Discipline, even if learning from multiple vampires. The individual powers still need to be taught and learned separately. The Blood ingested counts towards the blood bound.
Each dot of Willpower spent by a teacher in this manner refreshes after playing two game sessions or after one month (whichever is longer). After spending 2 Willpower in this manner, the teacher will regain 1 Willpower after two game sessions/one month; she will then regain the 2nd Willpower two game sessions/one month after regaining the first, and so forth.
Once a character has activated an out-of-clan discipline by learning the first power, she does not need to drink more blood in order to learn additional levels of that discipline. Even after the blood bond fades, she still retains the ability learn more. However, she will need further instruction (and more Willpower expenditures) from a qualified teacher who possesses the discipline in-clan. This may be a different teacher than the one who initially taught her in the first place.
Elder Powers and Techniques
Characters with the correct generation (8th, 7th, or 6th generation) can learn elder powers. Learning an elder power requires your character to go through the same steps as learning other powers of that discipline.
To learn an in-clan elder power, your character only needs to go through the process of experimentation and personal study. Learning an out-of-clan elder power requires a teacher who has that discipline in-clan and knows the specific elder power in question. A character cannot teach a specific power she has not mastered. Further, the instructor must spend 1 point of Willpower, and the student must spend a downtime action and the required XP, as per the steps of learning any discipline.
Techniques, on the other hand, do not require a teacher. A character who possesses the prerequisite powers for a technique can naturally develop it by spending a downtime action and the required XP, as if the technique were native to the character’s blood.
The following general rules apply to all discipline use:
• Discipline powers do not cost Blood to activate, unless specifically stated in the description of that power.
• A power’s effect can only be focused on one target at a time, unless specifically stated in the description of that power.
• Unless otherwise stated, a power doesn’t stack with itself. For example, if you have a power that can be activated to give your character a +1 bonus, you cannot activate that power a second time and double the bonus to gain a +2.
• Any discipline that has a cost to activate, such as Blood or actions, lasts for one hour unless otherwise stated in that discipline’s text.
• By default, a vampire must be able to see a target clearly in order to use a power on that target.
›› Sensory-enhancing powers may allow a vampire to target subjects at a distance (outside the range of normal sight).
››Technological assistance is not sufficient to target powers at a distance. The target must be observed with the vampire’s own senses or powers. Use of binoculars, sound amplifiers, video cameras, or other such gear cannot be used to target a power.
• Unless otherwise stated, a user can cease using a power by spending a simple action.
• Discipline descriptions are written as though vampires are using these powers. However, unless specifically noted otherwise, the descriptions include ghouls, revenants, or other supernatural characters that can possess and use the powers.
• For the purposes of discipline descriptions, partially supernatural characters (such as ghouls and revenants) are considered “mortal.” If a power is described as having a greater effect on mortals, it will also have that greater effect on ghouls.
• The discipline’s test pool (noted in the initial description of the discipline) applies to all powers within that discipline, including elder powers. It does not necessarily apply to techniques; refer to each technique to determine its individual test pool.
A number of discipline powers refer to situational modifiers, such as relenting, wound penalties, and line of sight. For more information and an explanation of those terms, see Chapter Six: Core Systems, page 271.
Gaze and Focus
Many disciplines require the target to have her attention focused on the user of the power. These powers do not require eye contact, but do require having the attention of the individual you wish to control. Anyone whose attention is focused on you is a viable target for powers that require gaze or focus. This includes individuals that are looking into your eyes, holding a conversation with you, attacking you, or using a power on you, so long as you are the immediate center of her attention. Over the centuries, many individuals have attempted creative ways to avoid making eye contact, but the powers of the blood are not so easily thwarted.
Gaze and Focus only requires having the attention of the individual you wish to target.
It is possible for a single person to focus on two or more individuals. If supernatural powers are used to make you pay attention to two different characters at the same time, you might glance back and forth between them or move to a place where you could see both characters at the same time.
Familiarity with the Target
Several powers require you to be familiar with your target. To meet the requirements of familiarity, you must have met your target on at least three separate occasions, and you must have had a conversation with your target for at least five minutes on one occasion. In addition to these requirements, you must have interacted with your target within the past 30 days in order to remain familiar with that target. If you recently met your target at a gathering, spoke to her over the phone, or exchanged letters with her, then you are currently familiar. If you have known the target for 100 years on-and-off, but have not interacted with her within the last 30 days, then she is not currently familiar to you.
Powers that significantly alter a character’s physical shape, such as turning into a wolf or shifting into a monstrous warform, are called transformative powers. A character cannot combine two transformative powers; you can only be in one altered shape at a time. For example, a character cannot combine the effects of Shape of the Beast with the effects of Black Metamorphosis. You may either transform into a wolf or have shadowy black tentacles, but not both.
Some powers that physically alter a character are not transformative. Using Feral Claws, Heightened Senses, or a cosmetic use of Fleshcraft to change your face alters a vampire very little, and as such, can be used in conjunction with a transformative power. A character in Shape of the Beast might be Fleshcrafted to appear as a red wolf rather than a grey wolf, or she could use Eyes of the Beast while in wolf form. However, the character could not utilize Shape of the Beast while utilizing Horrid Form.
Transformative powers do not prevent you from using nontransformative powers, so long as the new form has the capacity to meet all prerequisites. Thaumaturgy relies on speech, as do many Dominate powers, and most animals cannot shape human words. A character in Mist Form or Tenebrous Form has no face with which to show her vampiric countenance, and, therefore, cannot utilize Dread Gaze. When you activate a transformative power that changes you from a humanoid into an animal, or into Horrid Form’s gargantuan monstrosity, clothing and small personal items disappear. These return when you regain human form. Some transformative powers, such as Divine Image, do not alter a character’s basic humanoid shape. Clothing and equipment are unaffected by these powers. By default, a character cannot use weapons while transformed. However, specific transformations do allow you to fight with weapons. This will be noted in the power’s text.
Injuries transfer seamlessly between altered forms. If a character with one eye transforms into a wolf, the animal would also have one eye. If a power withers one of your limbs when you are in wolf form, the corresponding limb will be withered when you transform back.
Unless otherwise stated in a power’s description, it requires a simple action to end a transformative power. Transformative powers automatically end if you go to sleep, become unconscious, or fall into torpor, but do not end if you are staked.
Most powers have a focus effect. Focus effects are bonus abilities granted to characters who possess the correct focus. If your character purchases a power and has the correct attribute focus, she can attain additional benefits when using that power. For example, a character with 3 dots of Stealth can normally use Cloak the Gathering to extend her invisibility to effect up to three nearby allies. If the character using Cloak the Gathering is Intelligence-focused, she gets the focus bonus of that power and can instead extend the effect to up to six allies. Focus bonuses come into play when the person using the power has the correct focus, regardless of whether her targets have the focus or not.