Visceratika is an extension of the Gargoyles’ natural affinity for stone and earth. Certain Visceratika powers closely resemble some aspects of Protean and, to a lesser extent, Vicissitude. Tremere in a position to know insist that this is pure coincidence, but the few among the Gargoyles who retain scholarly aspirations insist that the Gangrel and Tzimisce blood used to create the bloodline still maintains a certain hold over its members.
For many years, Visceratika was regarded as endemic to the Gargoyle condition, just like the repulsive visage and the wings with which other Kindred associate the bloodline. That is, vampires — including the Tremere — believed that they couldn’t have the one without the others. Supposedly this isn’t true, and provided one can find a Gargoyle tutor, any vampire can learn the Discipline. Of course, that assumes one can find a willing tutor — the Gargoyles aren’t eager to reveal these secrets. Furthermore, few Kindred want to bet that the Tremere are wrong and risk waking up with wings and horns.
• Skin of the Chameleon
This basic power has saved countless Gargoyles breaching the Masquerade — and has allowed just as many to ambush unsuspecting intruders. When Skin of the Chameleon is in effect, the Gargoyle’s skin takes on the color and texture of the surrounding environment. This coloration changes reflexively as long as the Gargoyle maintains a walking pace or slower. More rapid movement causes the Gargoyle’s appearance to blur, negating the camouflaging effect. If this power is used while the Gargoyle is in flight, his skin becomes a reasonable facsimile of the night sky (though it will not shift to mimic nearby skyscrapers or star patterns, and a black silhouette against a brightly lit skyline is likely to be noticed).
System: The player spends one blood point. For the rest of the scene, the Gargoyle’s Stealth dice pool is increased by five. This power is subject to the limitations described above. Any ground movement faster than a walk negates this power’s effect, as does flight (at the Storyteller’s discretion).
•• Scry the Hearthstone
The Gargoyles’ first function for the Tremere was that of guardian and watchdog. This power allows them to know instinctively where anyone is inside a given structure. It even allows the Gargoyle to detect characters concealed by magical means, if the Slave is perceptive enough.
System: The player spends a Willpower point to activate this power, which remains in effect as long as the Gargoyle is within or in contact with the target structure, or until the next sunset. Scry the Hearthstone may be used on anything up to the size of a cave complex, a large theatre, a parking garage, or a mansion. The character gains an innate sense of the location and approximate size and physical condition of all living (or unliving) beings within the structure. To pinpoint a specific individual’s location with this power, the player must succeed in a Perception + Awareness roll (difficulty 6).
If the subject is attempting to hide, he may oppose this roll with a roll of Wits + Stealth (difficulty 6). Scry the Hearthstone may be used to detect the presence of characters who are under Obfuscate or similar powers. In this case, the Gargoyle only knows that there is someone present — she cannot actually see the individual in question. To determine the Gargoyle’s ability to detect Obfuscated characters, compare the relative levels of the Gargoyle’s Visceratika minus one and the intruder’s Obfuscate as per the “Seeing the Unseen” sidebar.
••• Bond with the Mountain
The Gargoyle sinks into a stone surface, disappearing into the rock until he wishes to reappear. This power allowed Gargoyles to invade their masters’ enemies’ strongholds, fight until sunrise, then meld with the rocks or stone walls and reappear the next evening.
In modern nights, it can take the place of a haven for itinerant Runaways. Unlike the Earth Meld power which it resembles, Bond with the Mountain does not conceal the Gargoyle completely. A faint outline of his body can be seen in the rock where he hides.
System: The player spends two blood points, and the merge takes four turns to complete. This power functions in a fashion similar to the Protean 3 power of Earth Meld, and may only be performed upon bare rock or a similar substance. However, the Gargoyle does not sink fully into the substance with which he merges, and his outline can be detected within the stone with a successful Perception + Alertness roll (difficulty 9).
A Gargoyle attacked while Bonded with the Mountain has triple his normal soak dice pool against all forms of attack. However, if he sustains three or more lethal health levels of damage from a single attack, he is forced out of his bond and suffers disorientation similar to that experienced by an Earth Melded character whose slumber is interrupted.
•••• Armor of Terra
At this level of Visceratika, the Gargoyle’s skin hardens and becomes truly rock-like to the touch. The Slave becomes harder to harm, even with fire, and grows inured to injury. A non-Gargoyle learning this level of Visceratika would find her skin becoming gray and rock-like, putting lie to the claim that the Discipline doesn’t carry the risk of the Gargoyle’s curse.
System: This power is automatic and requires no roll; it is always in effect. A vampire with Armor of Terra has one extra soak die for all aggravated and lethal attacks and two for all bashing attacks, reduces all wound penalties by one, and halves the damage dice pool of any fire-based source of injury (this Discipline does not change the rules for Rötschreck, however). The difficulty of all touch-based Perception rolls is increased by two, due to the desensitization of the character’s skin.
••••• Flow Within the Mountain
The Gargoyle is no longer restricted to hiding within stone. Now, he can flow through stone like lava working its way down a mountainside, emerging from the hiding place at any point he wishes. Since this power works on cement or concrete as well as rock, the streets of a modern metropolis afford a Gargoyle some very interesting assassination tools.
System: Once the character has used Bond with the Mountain, the player spends two more blood points to activate Flow Within the Mountain for the duration of the scene. The Gargoyle can move within stone and cement (otherwise using the same rules as the Protean power Earth Control. The character can also use this power to walk through a stone wall and emerge on the other side without first using Bond with the Mountain. In this case, the player spends one blood point and rolls Strength (difficulty 8; Potence adds dice or successes normally). The Gargoyle may flow through a maximum thickness in feet equal to the number of successes rolled, or 30 times the number of successes rolled in centimeters. If the wall or barrier is thicker than this, the character is trapped within it until he is chiseled out or uses Flow Within the Mountain to escape.