States of Being Edit
The World of Darkness is a hostile place. The dangers inherent to such an uncivilized environment are many, and they inflict the same kinds of harm that combat does. In addition, a vampire’s greatest enemy lies within, in the form of the Beast. Whether a vampire suffers the fiery grip of frenzy or the slow descent into monstrousness, the Beast is ever willing to batter the Damned.
The following systems present a variety of ways that characters can suffer injury, whether physical, mental, or emotional. As well, this section presents a couple of rare and precious ways whereby the Damned can hope to rise above their state.
Blood Bond Edit
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 a being drinks three times, on three separate nights, from the same Kindred, she falls victim to a state known as the blood bond. A vampire who holds a blood bond over another being is said to be that victim’s regnant, while the being subordinate to the bond is called the thrall.
Put simply, the blood bond is one of the most potent emotional sensations known. A blood-bound victim is absolutely devoted to her regnant and will do nearly anything for him. Even the most potent uses of Dominate cannot overcome the thrall’s feelings for her regnant; only true love stands a chance against the bond, and even that is not a sure thing.
The blood bond is most commonly used to ensnare mortals and ghouls, but Kindred can bind each other as well. Such is the blood bond’s power that a mighty elder can be bound to a lowly neonate; in this respect, the blood of a Thirteenth-Generation fledgling is (presumably) as strong as that of Caine himself. As such, the blood bond forms an essential strategy in the Jyhad; some Ancients are said to hold dozens of influential Kindred in secret thrall.
• First drink: The drinker begins to experience intermittent but strong feelings about the vampire. She may dream of him, or find herself “coincidentally” frequenting places where he might show up. There is no mechanical effect at this stage, but it should be roleplayed. All childer have this level of bond toward their sires, for the Embrace itself forces one drink upon the childer; they may love their “parents,” hate them, or both, but are rarely indifferent toward them.
• Second drink: The drinker’s feelings grow strong enough to influence her behavior. Though she is by no means enslaved to the vampire, he is definitely an important figure in her life. She may act as she pleases, but might have to make a Willpower roll to take actions directly harmful to the vampire. The vampire’s influence is such that he can persuade or command her with little effort (Social rolls against the thrall are at -1 difficulty).
• Third drink: Full-scale blood bond. At this level, the drinker is more or less completely bound to the vampire. He is the most important person in her life; lovers, relatives, and even children become secondary to her all-consuming passion.
At this level, a regnant may use the Dominate Discipline on a thrall, even without the benefit of eye contact. Merely hearing the regnant’s voice is enough. Additionally, should the thrall try to resist the Dominate (or similar mental control power) for some reason, the difficulty of such resistance is increased by two. Naturally, a higher-Generation vampire still cannot use Dominate on a lower-Generation thrall.
The blood bond is true love, albeit a twisted and perverse version of it. Ultimately, we can’t reduce the vagaries of love down to a simple “yes/no” system. Some thralls (particularly people with Conformist or other dependent Natures, or with Willpower 5 or less) will commit any act, including suicide or murder, for their beloved; other characters have certain core principles that they will not violate.
A full blood bond, once formed, is nearly inviolate.
Once bound, a thrall is under the sway of her regnant and her regnant only. She cannot be bound again by another vampire unless the first blood bond wears away “naturally.” A vampire can experience lesser (one- and two-drink) bonds toward several individuals; indeed, many Kindred enjoy such bonds, as they create artificial passion in their dead hearts. Upon the formation of a full blood bond, though, all lesser sensations are wiped away. Vampire lovers occasionally enter into mutual blood bonds with each other; this is the closest thing the undead can feel to true love. Even this sensation can turn to disgust or hate over the centuries, though, and in any event few Kindred trust each other enough to initiate it.
A blood bond is a mighty force, but it is at its most potent when perpetually reinforced with further drinks.
Feeding a thrall often reinforces the bond, while depriving a thrall of vitae may cause the bond to grow tepid over time. Like any other relationship, treatment and courtesy play a part in the dynamics of the bond. A thrall who is treated well and fed often will likely fall even more deeply in love, while a thrall who is degraded and humiliated may find resentment and anger eating away at the bond.
It is possible, though difficult, for a vampire to temporarily resist a blood bond. Doing so requires the player to make a Willpower roll (difficulty is typically 8, though this can be modified depending on the regnant’s treatment and the thrall’s Nature) and accumulate a number of successes equal to the number of times the thrall has partaken of the regnant’s blood, to a maximum of difficulty 9. The thrall must then spend a Willpower point. Upon doing so, the bond is negated for a variable amount of time: from one scene (if the thrall merely wishes to plot against the regnant, deliver confidential information to an enemy, etc.) to one turn (if the thrall wishes to attack the regnant physically). The thrall can continue to expend Willpower to extend the duration of “freedom,” but once she ceases doing so, the blood bond resumes at full force.
A blood bond can be broken, though this requires the thrall to not only avoid the regnant entirely for an extended period of time, but also spend great amounts of Willpower to overcome the addiction. As a general rule, a thrall who neither sees nor feeds from her regnant for a period of (12 - Willpower) months finds her bond reduced by one level (so, a fully bound thrall with a Willpower of 5 has her blood bond reduced to the equivalent of two drinks if she goes seven straight months without any contact with the regnant). If the bond is reduced to zero in this fashion (a feat typically accompanied by the expenditure of a great deal of Willpower on the thrall’s part, as she resists the gnawing urge to seek out her sire), it is nullified entirely.
Another, though somewhat less certain, way to be rid of the bond is to kill the regnant. Such a choice is extremely perilous on many levels, and makes no guarantees that everything will go smoothly. Those who have been released by such means claim the bond shatters like spun glass upon the moment of the regnant’s Final Death.
The thrall’s Nature may play a large part in whether the control is completely ended, though, and such aftermath is best left in the hands of the Storyteller.
The vampires of the Sabbat take their nightly struggle seriously — so seriously that they tolerate no dissent in their ranks. From the lowliest new recruit to the most exalted Cainite, the Sabbat ensure loyalty to one another through a bloody rite known as the Vaulderie.
The Vaulderie is similar to a blood bond, though it differs in intent and function. No Sabbat would ever voluntarily succumb to a blood bond, reasoning that such bonds are the tools the elders use to enslave their childer. Rather, the Sabbat swear the Vaulderie to each other, bonding themselves to the pack instead of an individual, and, thus, to the Sabbat’s greater cause.
Those who are ignorant of the Vaulderie’s finer details believe it to be a simple commingling of vampire vitae in a vessel and the subsequent drinking of it. In truth, the matter is far more mystical. To start the ritual, the priest takes a tool used specifically for the Vaulderie and nothing else and cuts her wrist. The ritual cutting tool could be a small knife, silver straight razor, or awl. To impart more gravity to the rite, many packs use elaborate ritual bloodletters decorated with engraved swirls, spirals, or blood droplets. The priest then bleeds into a vessel and passes the cutting device to each Sabbat member present, who pierces his own flesh and bleeds into the chalice. The vessel is then passed around the pack until everyone has poured their blood in, before the priest recites an incantation over it, consecrating it as a terrible sacrament before every member of the pack draws a draught.
Vaulderies take place at any time — before assaults, during important Sabbat gatherings, at the initiation or Creation Rites of new members, and almost infallibly at pack gatherings. This rite is perhaps the foundation of the Sect, and it is afforded the most reverent status. The result of this rite is known as a Vinculum, or bloodtie. These ties connect each member of the pack to one another, engendering a mutual loyalty in addition to bolstering pack morale. Because of the mystical nature of the Vaulderie, however, Vinculi are imperfect — what one pack member feels toward another one night may pale in comparison to what he feels toward her the next. Vinculum ratings may change every time the rite is observed.
Without the Vaulderie, the Sabbat would probably collapse under its own weight and dogma — the chaos and anarchy that follows the Sect would erode what little organization it has without the loyalty and sympathy created by the rite. Those who refuse the Vaulderie or oppose it are not viewed favorably by other Sabbat. Vampires who refuse to partake of the Vaulderie at least monthly suffer ostracism from the pack at best — and may be destroyed outright at worst.
The first time a character observes the Vaulderie (or during creation of a Sabbat character), roll a die for each character whose vitae is part of the rite. That number reflects the Vinculum the character feels toward the individual whose blood she ingested; see the chart for effects generated by individual Vinculi. Every time a new member participates in the Vaulderie, each player should roll a die and record the score for her Vinculum rating toward that character. Afterwards, each time the pack partakes of the Vaulderie, each player should roll one die for each of her Vinculi. If the result is higher than the Vinculum score, increase that Vinculum score by one (to a maximum of 10). If the result is a 1, lower the Vinculum score by one (to a minimum of 1).
It bears mention that, like the emotions engendered by blood bonds, these feelings are artificial, as they are created through ingestion of blood. It is quite possible for a character to utterly hate someone for whom she would risk her unlife, just as it is possible to have immense love for someone who has little in the way of Vinculum. Players are encouraged to explore the full range of these complexities in their packs through roleplaying. At times, a character may be at odds with herself over how to react to a given situation because of Vinculi she possesses toward another vampire. In cases such as these, the player should decide which party her character would favor outside the Vinculum. The character then rolls a number of dice for each party equal to her Vinculum score for that individual against a difficulty of 5 (for the party favored regardless of Vinculum) or 7 (for all other parties). The individual who receives the greatest number of successes earns the character’s aid.
Such is the nature of the Damned and the Vinculum — a character who knows better may sometimes be forced into an obviously bad course of action by following her emotions. Storytellers should consider Vinculum rolls for matters of dramatic significance, but too much reliance on Vinculum rolls may leave players upset at being railroaded by dice rolls.
The Vaulderie can also corrode existing blood bonds. Multiple draughts of the Vaulderie may be required, but sooner or later, the pack‘s blood will overcome all but the most potent of vampiric vitae. A vampire wishing to break a blood bond via Vaulderie must have no more than one blood point in his blood pool, and must ingest six points of Vaulderie vitae. At that point, the old blood bond fades rapidly, replaced almost as quickly by Vinculi toward those whose blood composed the Vaulderie. On the other hand, a vampire attempting to replace Vinculi with a new blood bond is in for a disappointment — unless her blood is powerfully potent, Vinculi may not be so easily erased. Unlike normal blood bonds, Vinculi do not fade over time — a Vinculum left after a Vaulderie with a vampire in nights hundreds of years past is still as potent as the night it arose. Indeed, many elder Sabbat have vast webs of Vinculi connecting them to Sect members across the world.
10 You will readily give your life — or take the life of another — for the individual.
9 You will do practically anything for him, including putting yourself in great danger.
8 You will gladly offer resources or influential assistance to the individual.
7 You may put yourself at moderate risk of harm for the individual and, depending on your code of ethics, may kill for him.
6 You feel strongly for the individual and help him even if it inconveniences you. You will gladly fight for the individual.
5 You respect the individual and help him out so long as it’s no huge risk or bother.
4 You will aid the individual as long as it doesn’t involve risk or anything out of your way.
3 You are loyal to the individual as long as that loyalty doesn’t interfere with your own designs.
2 You have a minor sense of kinship toward the individual, but you’re not going to go out of your way to help him unless something’s in it for you.
1 Fuck ’em. This isn’t necessarily hostility, but you don’t care about this person on a Vinculum level, though you may on a personal level.
Torpor is the deathlike sleep common to the undead, particularly among ancient vampires. Torpor may be entered voluntarily (certain undead, weary of the current age, enter torpor in hopes of reawakening in a more hospitable time) or involuntarily (through wounds or loss of blood). Once in torpor, a character remains dormant for a period of time depending on her Humanity or Path rating.
As mentioned, characters with zero blood points in their blood pools begin to lose health levels each time the rules call for them to spend blood. When a vampire falls below Incapacitated in this fashion, she enters torpor. There she will remain until someone feeds her at least a blood point. If this happens, she may rise, regardless of Humanity or Path rating. This sort of revivification works only for vampires who enter torporfrom blood loss.
Vampires who enter torpor due to wounds must rest for a period depending on their Humanity or Path rating:
Humanity/Path Length of Torpor
10 One day
9 Three days
8 One week
7 Two weeks
6 One month
5 One year
4 One decade
3 Five decades
2 One century
1 Five centuries
Following this period of rest, the player may spend a blood point and make an Awakening roll for her character to rise. If the vampire has no blood in her body, she may not rise until she is fed; if the player fails the Awakening roll, she may spend another blood point and make an Awakening roll the following night. If the vampire rises successfully, she is considered Crippled and should either spend blood or hunt immediately.
A character may enter torpor voluntarily. This state resembles the character’s normal daily rest, but is a deeper form of slumber and should not be entered into lightly. A vampire in voluntary torpor may rise after half the mandatory time period for involuntary torpor, but must make an Awakening roll to do so. A torpid vampire may ignore the nightly need for blood; she is effectively in hibernation.
Mortals have no torpor rating; if reduced below Incapacitated, they die.
A vampire who is staked or otherwise paralyzed continues to spend blood at the rate of one point per night. If the vampire is further deprived of blood, the decaying process that unlife has held at bay begins again.
A vampire with no blood begins consuming all excess moisture within his body at a rate of one health level per day. As the process continues, the vampire begins to resemble a mummified corpse. At first the vampire appears merely emaciated, but as the body is completely dehydrated, the meat and ligaments, along with the mostly useless organs within the body, begin to wither. By the seventh day, when the character has reached Incapacitated on the Health chart, the character’s eyes shrivel within his skull, the tendons and ligaments within the body draw painfully tight, the gums recede from the teeth, and the lips draw back in a death rictus. At this point, the character enters torpor. Once in torpor, the character cannot rise unless supplied with enough blood to bring him back to Injured on the Health chart (at least four blood points).
A vampire emerging from this state is ravenous to the point of insanity, and will attack whatever source of blood is closest, regardless of any emotional ties.
Leaving a vampire staked until he reaches this neardeath state, then reviving him with just enough blood to prolong the agony, is a favorite method of torture for both mortal hunters and the Sabbat. Most vampires undergoing this form of torture suffer permanent mental damage as a result.
There are certain advantages to being a walking corpse. One of the biggest is a natural immunity to most diseases. AIDS, SARS, cancer, syphilis, and other illnesses mean little or nothing to the undead.
But immunity to disease doesn’t mean the vampires can ignore diseases. Any illness that can be transmitted by the blood is a potential problem for vampires, because they can carry the illness and transmit it from victim to victim. Indeed, several Kindred have become active carriers for HIV. By drinking from someone infected with HIV and then feeding on different victims, these vampires have helped to spread a particularly virulent infection.
In some fiefdoms, any vampire found carrying such a blood-borne disease is locked away for the good of the herd. In rare cases such carriers have even been put to Final Death for spreading disease. Such plaguedogs are frowned upon heavily in the Camarilla, for not only does disease threaten the human populace, but victims of the disease might speak of their affiliation with vampires, putting the Masquerade in grave danger. Even the vampires of the Sabbat, with their lack of concern for the herd, have begun to consider regulations regarding disease carriers.
An Intelligence + Medicine roll (difficulty 7) will allow characters to detect the presence of blood-related diseases. On a failed roll, the vampire does not notice the symptoms and exposes himself to disease (Stamina roll, difficulty 6, to avoid). A botch indicates the character feeds sloppily and automatically becomes a carrier for the disease.
Kindred legends speak of certain plagues potent enough to affect vampires. Very few vampires have any knowledge of such ailments, and those who do are highly prized. Despite the Kindred’s formidable powers, they are ill-prepared to handle the occasional illness that can cause them harm.
Vampires are not nearly so affected by simple electricity as are mortals. Nonetheless, electrocution might occasionally prove a danger. The strength of the electrical flow determines the amount of lethal damage a character takes from electrocution. She suffers the damage effect noted below each turn until contact with the source is severed (Strength roll to pull away; difficulty 5 for vampires, 9 for mortals). Vampires may soak this damage normally, but, if a soak roll is botched, the damage is considered aggravated — the vampire’s bloodstream and brain are fried.
Electrical damage is a lethal effect, and armor doesn’t protect against it (depending on the subject’s defenses, the circumstance, and the Storyteller’s decision).
Health Levels/Turn Electrical Source
One Minor; wall socket
Two Major; protective fence
Three Severe; vehicle battery, junction box
Four Fatal; main feed line, subway rail
If a mortal character is subjected to significant amounts of electrical damage (that reduce her to Incapacitated), she may suffer permanent damage. This can be physical impairment (reduced Physical Attributes), permanent memory loss, brain damage (reduced Mental Attributes), or disfigurement (reduced Appearance). Specifics are up to the Storyteller.
According to Kindred legend, the Curse of Caine has made all vampires forever outcast in the eyes of God. This might or might not be the case, but it is quite true that symbols or persons of great religious faith can cause discomfort or even harm to the Damned. Most mortals, even supposedly devout ones, lack the ability to affect the Kindred with faith alone. However, certain mortals — those with the True Faith Trait — can use their devotion as a defense or weapon against vampires.
Even vampires can suffer great damage from falling significant distances. The Storyteller rolls one die of bashing damage for every 10 feet or 3 meters (rounded down) that your character falls before hitting something solid.
Falling damage may be soaked normally. Landing on sharp objects can change the damage from bashing to lethal at the Storyteller’s discretion. If your character plummets 100 feet (30 meters) or more, she reaches terminal velocity. The damage effect reaches a maximum of 10 dice at this point, and it is considered lethal damage. Additionally, any armor your character wears in a terminal-velocity fall functions at only half its rating (rounded down), since it’s not designed for this sort of punishment.
Fire and Burns Edit
Vampires fear fire, for it is one of the few things that can end their immortal existences. Fire damage is aggravated and ignores armor; it may be soaked only with Fortitude. A fire’s size determines the levels of aggravated damage a character endures per turn, while its heat determines the difficulty of the Fortitude soak roll. A character suffers the full damage effect for each turn that she’s in contact with the flames; she must leave the area and/or put out any fire on her to stop taking damage. All damage inflicted by fire is automatically successful unless soaked (i.e., a character trapped in a bonfire takes two automatic health levels of damage per turn, not the results of two damage dice per turn).
Soak Difficulty Heat of Fire
3 Heat of a candle (first-degree burns)
5 Heat of a torch (second-degree burns)
7 Heat of a Bunsen burner (third-degree burns)
8 Heat of an electrical fire
9 Heat of a chemical fire
10 Molten metal
Health Levels/Turn Size of Fire
One Torch; a part of the body is exposed to flame
Two Bonfire; half of the body is exposed to flame
Three Raging inferno; entire body is engulfed in flame
If your character falls to Maimed, she is scarred temporarily by the flames (reduce Appearance by one until her wounds recover to Bruised). If she is reduced to Crippled or Incapacitated by the fire, the burns cover the majority of her body, reducing Appearance by two.
Frenzy and Rötschrek Edit
Trapped within the false civility of the Camarilla and the forced camaraderie of the Sabbat, there is a hidden truth: Vampires are monsters, possessed of an inner Beast. Though, like humans, they have the capability to overrule their baser instincts, sometimes they fail. When this occurs, the Hunger and the Beast become uncontrollable, and no one is safe from their excesses.
Older vampires refer to the ensuing savage fits as “succumbing to the Beast Within.” Younger Kindred refer to these outbursts simply as frenzies.
The Nature of the Beast Edit
During a frenzy, a character literally — and usually unwillingly — gives into the darkest instincts of the vampiric nature. The character is consumed with rage or hunger, unable — or unwilling — to consider the effects of any action. Friends, foes, lovers, ethics: None of these things matter to a vampire in frenzy. If a vampire in frenzy is hungry, he will feed from whoever is closest without regard for the vessel’s well-being. If the vampire is angry, he will do everything in his power to destroy the cause of his anger. A vampire struck by fear will commit any atrocity to remove himself from the source of his terror, regardless of the consequences.
The character completely surrenders to the basest aspects of his Nature, shunting aside the Demeanor most commonly presented to those around him. He is, in short, the Beast.
In the Camarilla, succumbing to frenzy is seen as weakness, a humiliating loss of control. Vampires who frenzy often, and especially in public, run the risk of social rejection or worse. Though many among the Camarilla Kindred are monsters through and through, the laws of the Masquerade and simple civility require that the Beast be kept in check; those who cannot do so are not vampires, but animals, and should be put down for the good of all. Among the Sabbat, frenzy is seen as a natural urge, like mortals’ needs for food and sex.
Sabbat vampires deride the Camarilla’s attitude toward frenzy as that of weak-willed fools who cannot accept their true predatory nature. Accordingly, Sabbat typically seek not to prevent frenzy, but to control it and use it to their advantage.
A frenzy can be induced by many things, but great rage or hunger are the most common provocations. It is dangerous to deny or humiliate the undead. For this reason, vampires of the Camarilla commonly veil slights and threats in webs of double-talk and subtlety, lest they suddenly trigger an outburst in Elysium or conclave. Ultimately, the Storyteller can call for a vampire to make a frenzy roll at any time, whenever he feels the character might have cause to lose control.
A vampire in frenzy gains several temporary benefits from the state. Vampires in frenzy completely ignore all dice pool penalties inflicted by injury, until the frenzy ends. Once the frenzy is finished, the pain comes back and the crippling effects of the wounds take hold again.
All difficulties to Dominate or otherwise mentally control a frenzied character are increased by two, and all difficulties to resist the effects of such mental control are reduced by two. The character never needs Willpower rolls to accomplish a feat, because the rage fueling the vampire’s actions is both a catalyst to heightened state of mind and a barrier against unwanted intrusions. Lastly, characters in frenzy are immune to the detrimental effects of Rötschreck.
The rules for handling a frenzy are deliberately vague, and the Storyteller is encouraged to make whatever changes she deems necessary to accommodate her chronicle.
In some cases, Kindred can manage to overcome the urge to frenzy. A vampire on the verge of frenzy must make a Self-Control roll against a variable difficulty. (Vampires with the Instincts Virtue always frenzy — see p. 315 for more). The difficulty is often 6 to 8, but if trying to overcome the urge to commit a blatantly evil act, the vampire’s player can roll against a difficulty of (9 minus Conscience) instead. The character must score five successes to completely overcome the desires for violence, but even one success halts the frenzy temporarily.
For each success below five, the character can resist the urge to frenzy for one turn. After this duration expires, the character may try again to gain extra successes and thus continue to resist the frenzy. Once five successes are acquired, over a longer or shorter period, the vampire resists the Beast’s urges.
Failure means the character goes into an emotional rampage, doing exactly what she wants to do with no worries of later repercussions. Botching the Self-Control roll means the character remains in a frenzy until the Storyteller decides otherwise, and (at the Storyteller’s discretion) she may gain a derangement related to the frenzy.
The following list shows common stimuli that can incite a frenzy, and the typical difficulty for a character to resist. If the frenzy has the potential to cause the vampire to commit an atrocity (killing a child or other innocent, for example), the Storyteller can rule that the difficulty is (9 minus Conscience or Conviction) instead.
Smell of blood (when hungry) 3 (or higher in extreme cases)
Sight of blood (when hungry) 4 (or higher in extreme cases)
Being harassed 4
Life-threatening situation 4
Malicious taunts 4
Physical provocation 6
Taste of blood (when hungry) 6 (or higher in extreme cases)
Loved one in danger 7
Outright public humiliation 8
Note: The Storyteller has final say in what can or cannot provoke a frenzy. In some cases the Storyteller might completely ignore what the players feel should send their characters into a rage, and instead have some minor event cause a frenzy. This is commonly done in situations where the Storyteller feels a frenzy can make a point about a character’s personality, or enhance the events of a story.
Roleplaying Frenzy Edit
Characters in a frenzy are not themselves — or, more accurately, reveal more of themselves than they normally would. They will do anything to sate their hunger or destroy the source of the frenzy, even attacking other players’ characters. Characters in a frenzy generally attack their enemies first, but if no enemies are present, friends are perfectly acceptable fodder for their baser instincts. Even lovers and family can fall victim to vampires in frenzy. The character might feel remorse and hideous guilt later, but while the frenzy occurs, nothing matters save the immediate gratification of the character’s desires. This can lead to subsequent degeneration checks. Therefore, repeated frenzies can prove very detrimental to a vampire’s Humanity or Path.
Some players might feel hesitant about roleplaying a frenzy, but such is the nature of the vampire. Players are encouraged to portray the frenzy effectively. A player whose character is in the midst of frenzy may choose to spend a Willpower point. This enables him to control one action of his character for one turn. In this manner, a vampire may give her victim-to-be a chance to run, or an offending mortal the chance to stammer out an apology. This moment of self-control lasts for only a turn, possibly two; it does not stop the frenzy, but only allows the character to control it slightly. As Storyteller, if a frenzied character takes an action you deem inappropriate, you may allow the action, but rule that the character has just spent a Willpower point to take the action.
The Storyteller decides how long any frenzy lasts, but one scene typically suffices. If a character is knocked unconscious or trapped alone for an extended period, the odds are good she will eventually regain control of herself.
Rötschreck: The Red Fear Edit
Though there are few things that can kill a vampire — and though many among the Damned claim to loathe their immortality — certain sources of injury frighten all vampires. Sunlight and fire can bring about a terrified flight-or-fight mentality. While under the spell of this Rötschreck, a vampire flees in blind panic from the source of her fear, frantically lashing out at anything in her way regardless of any personal attachments or affiliations. Rötschreck is in most ways similar to any other frenzy; just as the Beast sometimes seizes control in times of anger, so it does in times of great fear.
Relatively innocuous stimuli, or stimuli directly under the character’s control, are unlikely to induce Rötschreck. For example, a character who sees a lit cigarette in a nightclub, or a screened-in fireplace in an ally’s home, might grow uneasy, but is unlikely to succumb to the Red Fear. If that same cigarette is pointed threateningly at the vampire, though, or the fireplace suddenly flares up…
A vampire seeking to avoid Rötschreck requires a Courage roll. As with frenzy, five successes must be accumulated to ignore the Beast completely, though fewer successes enable the vampire to overcome her fear for a greater or lesser period of time. Failure means the vampire flees madly from the danger, making a beeline for safety and tearing apart anything or anyone that gets in her way. Any attempt to restrain a vampire suffering from Rötschreck results in an immediate attack, just as if the character were in frenzy. One Willpower point may be spent to maintain control for one turn.
A character who is the victim of a botched Courage roll immediately frenzies and remains in a frenzy until the Storyteller decides otherwise.
Lighting a cigarette 3
Sight of a torch 5
Obscured sunlight 7
Being burned 7
Direct sunlight 8
Trapped in burning building 9
Golconda and Other Means of Salvation Edit
For most Kindred, to be vampire is to be eternally Damned. Many legends speak of vampirism as the curse not only of Caine, but of the Devil himself. To become vampire means being forever forsaken by God and man, and so an unlife of horror leads, at last, to an afterlife in hell. Even those vampires who scorn such “superstition” nonetheless see a secular hell of sorts in their Beast, their Hunger, and the all-consuming ennui that comes with centuries of existence.
It is not surprising, then, that some Kindred speak of a state of being whereby they may transcend their eternal hunger and rage. Vampires who attain this state, which is called Golconda, are said to have mastered the Beast to such an extent that it no longer controls their actions. While still tied to the need for blood, vampires in Golconda need far less of it than their ravenous kin. Moreover, they are able to quell the urges of the Beast to such an extent that they need never fear losing control to it. They are no longer properly Kindred, but a different, higher species of creature entirely.
As the stories go, Golconda is known only to a few among the undead, and these no longer participate in the Jyhad or the society of their kind. They live in the wild places, at one with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky. Even the werewolves leave the masters of Golconda be. Vampires in Golconda occasionally enter the larger society of undead, seeking disciples whom they can guide along the path to Golconda — but only in secret, for they wish nothing to do with the Jyhad. A few stories say that one of the Antediluvians has found the path to Golconda, and that this being seeks both to bring other Damned into Golconda’s grace and to frustrate the schemes of its rivals. In truth, none will — or can — say.
Among the Camarilla, Golconda is seen as a pleasant but ultimately whimsical fable — an allegory for maintaining one’s Humanity, but nothing more than that. Some among the Inconnu are said to possess the secrets of Golconda, and to aid actively in its attainment — then again, there are many rumors concerning these recluses. The Sabbat, by contrast, scorn Golconda and its seekers as unworthy vampires. Wolves, they say, should not seek to emulate sheep.
Storytellers are free to include Golconda in their chronicles, and players may pursue it if they choose.
Attaining Golconda, though, cannot be simulated with charts or experience points. It is as ephemeral, yet as powerful, as love or self-acceptance, and its attainment should be the focus of an entire chronicle. In general, characters learn of Golconda only after spending some time among the undead, for Golconda lore is spread in puzzling riddles and whispered from seeker to seeker. Many vampires never hear of it at all.
Pursuit of Golconda entails not only seeking out cryptic lore, but also seeking the truth in the vampire’s own being. It is certain that vampires who wish to attain Golconda must feel — and display — remorse. The greater a vampire’s sins, the greater the penance necessary.
Vampires wishing to enter Golconda must seek out the families of old victims and make amends, protect those weaker than they, and try to make the World of Darkness a better place. This inevitably entails maintaining one’s Humanity and spending Willpower to commit good deeds (and avoid monstrous ones) whenever possible. (Vampires on Paths of Enlightenment are believed to be unable to achieve Golconda.)
As mentioned, attaining Golconda should come only at the end of a long and arduous chronicle (spanning months, if not years, of real time). During this chronicle, characters must meet certain criteria. They must attain Humanity ratings of 7 or higher and Conscience ratings of 4 or higher, and they must maintain those ratings over lengthy periods. They must seek always to overcome the worst effects of frenzy, fighting the urge and spending Willpower points if necessary to avoid committing atrocities. Moreover, they must consistently display penitent, abstinent, and honorable behavior over dozens of stories.
Power, indiscriminate feeding, and the games of the Jyhad are to be avoided by vampires seeking the higher path. Typically, at about the midpoint of the chronicle, prospective Golconda-seekers travel in search of a mentor reputed to harbor the secrets of Golconda. If they find a mentor, the vampires must prove themselves worthy through the undertaking of quests and answering of riddles. Such tasks often lead the questers through grave perils to both body and soul.
The culmination of the chronicle comes when a worthy vampire undergoes a ritual called the Suspire. Sometimes the vampire is approached by others already in Golconda, who guide the vampire through the test; other times, the mentor conducts the Suspire; still other times, the vampire travels into the wilderness and undergoes the Suspire alone. The precise effects of the ritual are unknown (and in the Storyteller’s hands), save that it involves a perilous journey into the world of dreams and, ultimately, into the vampire’s own soul. It is extraordinarily difficult, and many vampires fail to survive it with unlives or sanity intact. Still others return from the Suspire whole, but having forever failed to gain Golconda. There are no second chances, and so perhaps the lot of the latter is the most bitter of all.
Should a vampire actually gain this legendary state, the effects are most miraculous. Foremost among them is a total immunity to frenzy or Rötschreck. The vampire will never again commit an evil act at the Beast’s urging (though the player can still choose to sin, the dice will never again force a character to do wrong). Though a vampire in Golconda must drink vitae, he need never fear inadvertently taking too much from a victim.
In addition, the character does not need to drink blood as often. The character loses only one blood point per week rather than one blood point per night. He must still spend blood normally to power Disciplines, heal wounds, etc.
Furthermore, a vampire in Golconda partly transcends the Curse binding his own Blood to the fount of Caine. In so doing, he may increase any Trait to as high as 10, regardless of Generation. His blood pool remains as it was, though.
A vampire in Golconda must maintain rigid standards of physical and mental purity. Should his Humanity rating ever slip below 7, or his Conscience rating ever fall below 4, the vampire loses all benefits of Golconda, including heightened Traits.
Becoming Mortal Edit
Besides the tales of Golconda, certain legends among the Kindred speak of vampires who have thrown off the Curse of Caine completely and become mortal once more. No vampire seems to actually know any of their kind who has done such a thing; all such tales involve “the lover of my grandsire’s ally” or “the childe of a distant Prince” or some other indeterminate figure. The catalysts behind such a change can be anything from slaying one’s sire to finding true love to sacrificing oneself unselfishly for another (and becoming mortal in the dying). Most Kindred, cynical and jaded as they are, scoff at such tales — then again, acts of true love or unselfish sacrifice in the world of the Damned are rare indeed. Ultimately, the truth of such things is up to the Storyteller.
Poisons and Drugs Edit
As undead, vampires have little fear of conventional poisons. However, they may succumb to poisons or drugs contained within the bloodstream of their victims. Indeed, certain vampires actively seek out victims under the influence of alcohol or drugs to receive a vicarious buzz.
Following are some examples of what might happen if a vampire were to drink the blood of a poisoned or drugged victim. A vampire with low Willpower (4 or less) and/or an appropriate Nature (Bon Vivant, Child) might risk addiction to a certain substance, but this is unlikely. In general, the effects of most drugs on vampires are far less than their effects on humans.
• Alcohol: The vampire subtracts one from Dexterity and Intelligence dice pools for every two drinks’ worth of alcohol in his victims’ blood. This effect fades at the rate of one die per hour, as the alcohol purges itself from the bloodstream.
• Cocaine/meth/speed: Vampires with the Celerity Discipline gain an extra level of the Discipline for (10 minus Stamina) minutes after drinking. Difficulties to resist or control frenzy are increased by one.
• Hallucinogens: The vampire lowers all dice pools by one to three (inability to concentrate). He suffers effects similar to the Level Two Dementation power The Haunting. Depending on the precise nature of the “trip,” he may gain extra dice in one particular Ability (such as Awareness) or find his Auspex Discipline raised by a dot or more. The effects last for (8 minus Stamina) hours.
• Heroin/morphine/barbiturates: The vampire subtracts two from Dexterity and all Ability dice pools for (10 minus Stamina) minutes, and experiences a dreamlike state for (12 minus Stamina) hours. Difficulties of frenzy rolls are decreased by one.
• Marijuana: The vampire experiences a slightly altered perception of time, as well as a one-die reduction to Perception dice pools. Difficulties of frenzy rolls are decreased by one, due to the calming effect of the drug. The effects last for about half an hour.
• Poison: The vampire subtracts one from all dice pools and takes from one to three levels of lethal damage per scene or even turn, depending on the intensity of the poison. Few poisons have any real effect on the undead, and most inflict a fixed maximum amount of damage before wearing off. The vampire may purge the blood at his normal expenditure rate, and the effects heal automatically within minutes to hours after purging the blood.
• Salmonella (food poisoning): The vampire becomes nauseated, unable to consume more blood (roll Stamina, difficulty 6, to overcome), and suffers one health level of bashing damage. The effects last about a day.
Sunlight, even more than fire, is deadly to vampires. Even diffuse sunlight running through a heavy curtain can cause burns, and direct sunlight sears to ash all but the most powerful vampires. Unless a character has Fortitude, the rays of the sun cause burns. Characters with Fortitude (and only characters with Fortitude) may attempt to soak sun damage, using a soak dice pool equal to the level of the Discipline. The difficulty to soak the damage depends on the intensity of the light, while the amount of damage taken depends on the amount of protection between the vampire’s skin and the sunlight.
No part of a vampire is immune to the rays of the sun. Any character looking into direct sunlight is blinded instantly, her retinas burned by the illumination. Fortunately for vampires, the light reflected from the moon is not strong enough to inflict any serious damage, though some suffer the equivalent of mild sunburn if they are exposed to the light of a full moon and aren’t wearing any protective gear.
As with fire, sunlight inflicts automatic damage per turn unless soaked.
Soak Difficulty Intensity of Light
3 Faint light coming through a closed curtain; heavy cloud cover; twilight
5 Fully protected by heavy clothes, sunglasses, gloves, and a wide-brimmed hat
7 Indirect light coming through a window or light curtains
9 Outside on a cloudy day; hit by one ray of direct light; catching the sun’s reflection in a mirror
10 Direct rays from an unobscured sun
Health Levels/Turn Exposure One Small part of body exposed — a hand or part of the face Two Large part of body exposed — a leg, an arm, or the whole head
Three Fifty percent or more of the body exposed — wearing thin clothing
Temperature Extremes Edit
Vampires, being undead, suffer little from the privations of temperature. However, very high (200+ °F or 100+ °C) temperatures might have the same effects as fire, at the Storyteller’s discretion. Vampires suffering from extreme cold might be forced to spend additional blood points or suffer from the effects of frostbite (-1 or more to Dexterity-based dice pools). In general, though, vampires should not suffer greatly from most “normal” temperature fluctuations.