The signature power of the Lasombra, Obtenebration grants the vampire power over darkness itself. The nature of the darkness invoked by Obtenebration is a matter of intense debate among Kindred. Some believe it to be merely shadows, while others feel that the power gives control over the stuff of the vampire’s soul, coaxing it tangibly outward.
Regardless, the effects of Obtenebration are terrifying, as waves of darkness roil out from the Cainite, enveloping those in their path like an infernal wave. As Obtenebration is mostly known as a Sabbat Discipline, any Camarilla vampire caught using the power had better have a damned good explanation.
Note: Vampires using Obtenebration can see through the darkness they control, though other vampires (even those that also have Obtenebration) cannot. Dreadful tales of rival Lasombra struggling to blind and smother each other with the same wisps of darkness circulate among young members of the Clan, though no elders have come forth to substantiate these claims.
• Shadow Play
This power grants the vampire limited control over shadows and other ambient darkness. Though the vampire cannot truly “create” darkness, she can overlap and stretch existing shadows, creating patches of gloom. This power also allows Kindred to separate shadows from their casting bodies and even shape darkness into the shadows of things that are not there.
Once a Kindred takes control of darkness or shadow, it gains a mystical tangibility. By varying accounts cold or hellishly hot and cloying, the darkness may be used to aggravate or even smother victims. Certain callous Lasombra claim to have choked mortals to death with their own shadows.
System: This power requires no roll, but a blood point must be spent to activate it. Shadow Play lasts for one scene and requires no active concentration. Kindred cloaking themselves in shadow gain an extra die in their Stealth dice pools and add one to the difficulties of ranged weapon attacks against them. Vampires who use the darkness to make themselves more terrifying add one die to Intimidation dice pools. Opponents plagued by flapping shadows and strangling darkness subtract one die from all Stamina dice pools (including soak). Mortals, ghouls, and other air-breathers reduced to zero Stamina by strangling shadows begin to asphyxiate; vampires lose all appropriate dice but are otherwise unaffected. Only one target or subject may be affected by this power at any given time, though some modicum of concealment is offered to a relatively motionless group.
The unnatural appearance of this power proves extremely disconcerting to mortals and animals (and, at the Storyteller’s discretion, Kindred who have never seen it before). Whenever this power is invoked within a mortal’s vicinity, that individual must make a Courage roll (difficulty 8) or suffer a one-die penalty to all dice pools for the remainder of the scene, due to fear of the monstrous shadows.
•• Shroud of Night
The vampire can create a cloud of inky blackness. The cloud completely obscures light and even sound to some extent. Those who have been trapped within it (and survived) describe the cloud as viscous and unnerving. This physical manifestation lends credence to those Lasombra who claim that their darkness is something other than mere shadow. The tenebrous cloud may even move, if the creating Kindred wishes, though this requires complete concentration.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 7). Success on the roll generates darkness roughly 10 feet (three meters) in diameter, though the amorphous cloud constantly shifts and undulates, sometimes even extending shadowy tendrils. Each additional success doubles the diameter of the cloud (though the vampire may voluntarily reduce the area she wishes to cover). The cloud may be invoked at a distance of up to 50 yards/meters, though creating darkness outside the vampire’s line of sight adds two to the difficulty of the roll and requires a blood point’s expenditure.
The tarry mass actually extinguishes light sources it engulfs (with the exception of fire), and muffles sounds until they are indistinguishable. Those within the cloud lose all sense of sight and feel as though they’ve been immersed in pitch. Sound also warps and distorts within the cloud, making it nearly impossible to accomplish anything (+2 difficulty, as per Blind Fighting). Even those possessed of Heightened Senses, Eyes of the Beast, Tongue of the Asp, and similar powers suffer the penalty for blindness due to the unnatural darkness. Additionally, being surrounded by the Shroud of Night reduces Stamina-based dice pools by two dice, as the murk smothers and agitates the victims. This effect is not cumulative with Shadow Play, although targets asphyxiate as per Shadow Play if they reach 0 Stamina; more than one unfortunate mortal has “drowned” in darkness. Mortals and animals surrounded by the Shroud of Night must make Courage rolls per Shadow Play, above, or panic and flee.
••• Arms of the Abyss
Refining his control over darkness, the Kindred can create prehensile tentacles that emerge from patches of dim lighting. These tentacles may grasp, restrain, and constrict foes.
System: The player spends a blood point and makes a simple (never extended) Manipulation + Occult roll (difficulty 7); each success enables the creation of a single tentacle. Each tentacle is six feet (two meters) long and possesses Strength and Dexterity ratings equal to the invoking vampire’s Obtenebration Trait — Potence and Celerity dots are added to these Strength and Dexterity ratings, respectively. If the vampire chooses, she may spend a blood point either to increase a single tentacle’s Strength or Dexterity by one or to extend its length by another six feet or two meters. Each tentacle has four health levels, is affected by fire and sunlight as if it were a vampire, and soaks bashing and lethal damage using the vampire’s Stamina + Fortitude. Aggravated damage may not be soaked.
Tentacles may constrict foes, inflicting (Strength +1) lethal damage per turn. Breaking the grasp of a tentacle requires the victim to win a resisted Strength roll against the tentacle (difficulty 6 for each). However, tentacles cannot be used for any kind of manipulation, such as typing or driving.
All tentacles need not emanate from the same source — so long as there are multiple patches of suitable darkness, there are sources for the Arms of the Abyss. Controlling the tentacles does not require complete concentration; if the Kindred is not incapacitated or in torpor, she may control tentacles while carrying out other actions.
•••• Black Metamorphosis
The Cainite calls upon his inner darkness and infuses himself with it, becoming a monstrous hybrid of matter and shadow. His body becomes mottled with spots of tenebrous shade, and wispy tentacles extrude from his torso and abdomen. Though still humanoid, the vampire takes on an almost demonic appearance, as the darkness within him bubbles to the surface.
System: The player spends two blood points and makes a Manipulation + Courage roll (difficulty 7) — vampires of lower Generation may have to take two turns to make the transition. Failure indicates the vampire cannot undergo the Black Metamorphosis (though he spends the blood points nonetheless). A botch inflicts two unsoakable health levels of lethal damage on the vampire as darkness ravages his undead body.
While under the effects of the Black Metamorphosis, the vampire possesses four tentacles similar to those evoked via Arms of the Abyss (though their Strength and Dexterity ratings are equal to the vampire’s own Attributes, including dice from Celerity and Potence). These tentacles, combined with the bands of darkness all over the Kindred’s body, subtract two dice from the Stamina and soak dice pools of opponents physically touched in combat, for as long as the vampire remains in contact with the victim. This is not cumulative with other powers in Obtenebration, although targets can asphyxiate at Stamina 0, as per Shadow Play. The vampire may make an additional attack without penalty by using the tentacles (for a total of two attacks, not one additional attack per tentacle). Additionally, the vampire can sense his surroundings fully even in pitch darkness.
The vampire’s head and extremities sometimes appear to fade away into nothingness, while at other times they seem swathed in otherworldly darkness. This, combined with the wriggling tentacles writhing from his body, creates an unsettling sight. Mortals, animals, and other creatures not accustomed to this sort of display must make Courage rolls (difficulty 8) or succumb to a panic that amounts to Rötschreck (though it is inspired by the darkness rather than fire). Many Kindred cultivate this devilish aspect, and the Black Metamorphosis adds three dice to the invoking Kindred’s Intimidation dice pools.
••••• Tenebrous Form
At this level, the Kindred’s mastery of darkness is so extensive that she may physically become it. Upon activation of this power, the vampire becomes an inky, amoeboid patch of shadow. Vampires in this form are practically invulnerable and may slither through cracks and crevices. In addition, the shadow-vampire gains the ability to see in natural darkness.
System: The transformation costs three blood points (which may need to occur over three turns, depending on the vampire’s Generation). The vampire is immune to physical attacks while in the tenebrous form (though she still takes aggravated damage from fire and sunlight), but may not herself physically attack. She may, however, envelop and ooze over others, affecting them in the same manner as a Shroud of Night, in addition to using mental Disciplines. Vampires in Tenebrous Form may even slither up walls and across ceilings or “drip” darkness upward — they have no mass and are thus unaffected by gravity. Rötschreck difficulties from fire and sunlight do increase by one for vampires in this form, as the light is even more painful to their shadowy bodies.
Mortals (and others not used to such displays) who witness the vampire transform into unholy shadow require Courage rolls (difficulty 8) in order to avoid the debilitating terror described under Black Metamorphosis.
••••• • The Darkness Within
This power allows the Cainite to call forth the darkness contained in her black soul. This enormous, turbulent shadow vomits from the vampire’s mouth, though some vampires are said to cut themselves and let the blackness seep from their veins. The shadow-cloud engulfs a chosen target, burning it with a soul-scarring chill and siphoning its blood away in torrents.
System: The player makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 6) and spends a blood point. The resulting shadow envelops the target and, though it does not physically harm the victim, it may strike terror into him. Individuals observing the Darkness Within, whether as targets or onlookers, may suffer from the terror described under Black Metamorphosis, unless they are already familiar with the Kindred’s power.
Individuals touched by The Darkness Within lose one point of blood per turn, though targets may resist this effect by succeeding on a Stamina roll (difficulty 6) each turn the target remains in contact with the cloud. The Cainite invoking The Darkness Within must devote all her attention to maintaining the cloud. If the vampire is attacked, the darkness immediately returns to her through whatever orifice it originated. The Cainite can summon the darkness back at any time, gaining a number of blood points equal to one-half the number the shadow siphoned from its victims (round up). Taking blood from another in this fashion is similar to drinking from that vampire, and blood bonds may result. Additionally, the Darkness Within may take blood from only one individual per turn, though it may be in contact with many.
••••• • Shadow Perspective
Using this ability, the vampire can potentially observe anything done near the shadows. She shifts her perception from the shadows she is standing in to a nearby shadow. She can choose to shift any or all of her senses across to that area as if she were actually standing there. Should she move all her senses, it will be as if she is standing in the other shadow, but she would not even feel an attack made on her own body.
System: The vampire must be in line of sight to the shadow she wishes to shift her perception to, and spend a blood point for each sense she moves. She may only shift her sensory perceptions (touch, taste, sight, smell, or hearing), and cannot affect the area with any other powers she cannot already use from where she is currently standing. However, by shifting sight she can change her options for any line-of-sight effects. She must stand in shadow for the power to work, and there must be shadow at the area she shifts her perceptions to.
She may attempt to shift perception to an area she cannot see but knows very well. If she does so, she must also make a Perception + Awareness roll (difficulty 9) to succeed. If there are no shadows at the area in question, the power will not work, but the blood points are still spent.
••••• • Shadowstep
The vampire has such fine control over the darkness that he may become it briefly and reform himself from other darkness close by. The vampire may Shadowstep through walls, floors, and even mystical barriers. The Cainite simply steps “into” a shadow and re-emerges from another shadow a short distance away (or next to the barrier, if there is no shadow on the other side).
System: The player rolls Dexterity + Occult, and on a successful roll, the character may emerge from another shadow no more than 50 feet (or 15 meters) away. Failing the roll means simply that the character cannot step through the shadow-realm, while a botch signifies the character has become trapped between shadows (which fiendish Storytellers should have a heyday with). Pulling another individual through the shadow requires a Strength + Occult roll, with consequences for failure similar to failing by oneself.
••••• •• Shadow Lair
This power is an advancement on Shadowstep, effectively allowing the vampire to pause mid-step. She enters a dark realm outside existence, where she is unaware of what might be occurring in the real world. Just as nothing can see the vampire here, she also can’t see anything outside the void.
System: Using Shadowstep the vampire enters the shadows, but may spend a blood point to delay her exit for up to an hour. At the end of that hour, she may spend another blood point to remain for another hour or return to the real world. If she returns to the world in a different shadow, she must make a Dexterity + Occult roll as with Shadowstep, but there is no roll if she returns to where she entered. The vampire can take others into shadow in the same way as Shadowstep, as long as they are willing. They do not need spend any blood points, but if they lose contact with the vampire, they are lost in shadow forever.
••••• •• Shadow Twin
The vampire’s control over darkness has progressed to such a degree that he may bestow upon it a limited degree of sentience. By animating his own shadow or that of another, the Cainite can actually “free” the shadow cast by light. While this power is active, the subject casts no shadow, as it has left to pursue the vampire’s commands.
This power can unnerve mortals and even a few inexperienced vampires. The Kindred wielding Obtenebration commands the individual’s shadow; some vampires report having seen mortals literally scared to death, as their shadows leapt away to taunt or menace them.
System: The player spends a blood point and makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 8). If the roll succeeds, the shadow springs to unholy freedom for one hour per success (though it disappears at sunrise regardless of how many successes the vampire had). The Shadow Twin has Attribute and Ability ratings equal to half those of its parent body; they won’t do much talking or thinking, so Mental and Social Traits don’t matter much, though Wits may come into play. Additionally, the Shadow Twin has an Obtenebration score equal to one-half of that of the vampire who animated it (rounded down). Mortals and vampires unused to Obtenebration require a Courage roll upon witnessing this, as per Shadow Play.
The twin may separate itself from the parent and travel up to 50 feet or 15 meters away, crawling through crevices or sliding up walls. It may attack and be attacked, though it takes and does only half damage (again, round down). Flame and supernatural attacks (such as vampire fangs, mystical powers, etc.) do full damage. If the Shadow Twin is killed, its parent loses half her Willpower points and must roll to avoid Rötschreck (difficulty 9).
••••• ••• Oubliette
By creating a “chamber” of pure darkness, the Cainite may entrap or smother her enemies. No air exists in this shadow-trap, and mortals suffocate within its chilling void. Even vampires have little recourse once trapped — they may leave only at their captor’s whim. The Oubliette appears as a dense patch of shadow, unaffected by ambient light around it.
System: The vampire spends a blood point, but no roll is necessary to create the Oubliette. To actually create the Oubliette around someone requires a contested Wits + Larceny roll against the target’s Dexterity + Occult (difficulty 7 for both rolls). Mortals suffocate within a number of minutes equal to their Stamina (though the Lasombra may choose to leave their heads exposed or trap a quantity of air inside as well), while vampires are simply suspended impotently in darkness and may not use Disciplines or take other actions. The Oubliette vanishes instantly when touched by sunlight — which has left more than one vampire exposed to the sun’s unforgiving rays — or when the Kindred chooses to relax it. A vampire may maintain only one Oubliette at a time (which can only contain one target at a time), which leads some Cainite philosophers to argue that it is a prison created from the vampire’s very soul.
••••• ••• Shadow Watchtower
Using this ability, the vampire can merge so fully with the shadow she becomes part of it. While standing in shadow she seems to dissolve, vanishing into the darkness. While merged in the shadow she is almost indestructible, and can see everything going on around her as if she were standing there.
System: This power is an advanced version of Tenebrous Form. Like Tenebrous Form, it takes three blood points to assume the form of the Shadow Watchtower, and there must be a nearby shadow to merge with. The vampire becomes part of the area, but can shift to another shadowed area if she desires. If she has no shadow to merge with or move to, she returns to her physical form. When merged, she becomes a true shadow and cannot be detected as anything but an indistinct shadow in the corner. She also takes no damage, normal or aggravated, from anything except sunlight (which is still aggravated damage).
••••• •••• Ahriman’s Demesne
This power allows the vampire to summon a darkness so oppressive that it extinguishes the light of life — or unlife — of any victim trapped within it. Ahriman’s Demesne creates a 50-foot (or 15-meter) radius of void that issues from the Cainite’s hand and takes away the bodies of those it claims when it vanishes. The overwhelming darkness destroys friend and foe alike, claiming anyone unfortunate enough to be within its circumference.
System: The player spends two points of Willpower and concentrates for three turns. During this time, the blackness billows out of the character’s hand, growing to fill the area. At the end of the third turn, the player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty 6). Everyone in the darkness’ area suffers that many health levels of damage (aggravated, if the victims are vampires) outright — six successes yield six levels of damage, not six dice of damage. After Ahriman’s Demesne does its damage, it collapses, taking with it the bodies of any who died when they came in contact with the dreadful shadow.