Disciplines

Needing humans to prey upon, vampires are often urban creatures, bur the Dark Medieval world is overwhelming rural. The lonely farms and trackless wilds between cities are dangerous places. Ignoring supernatural dangers, mortals and Cainites who leave the protection of cities may find themselves threatened by wild animals, from the wolf pack to the enraged elk. Vampires who are too squeamish or desparate to feed from humans must often approach wild animals for their blood, as well. The wilderness is a place of tension and danger for vampires.

Humans also need animals. They ride them, work them, eat them or keep them as companions. Animals make up an inextricable part of mortal society. Animals infiltrate every part of human life, and for the most part, humans ignore the swarming animal life in their midst. This is just as true in cities as it is in the countryside: Fowl, pets and even small livestock wander around even the richest of medieval houses.

Ordinarily, a Cainite needs a moderate rating in Animal Ken just to keep mundane animals from panicking when the beasts catch the scent of such a supreme and unholy predator. With Animalism, however, vampires can use animals as food, as spies and occasionally as weapons. Such activitiy does go against the animals' natural instincts, but the unholy power of the Cainite is more than sufficient to trample the creatures' basic desires. After all, as more than one Gangrel has pointed out, being saddled and ridden goes against a horse's natural instincts, and yet they acquiesce to such treatment quite readily after learning their place in the universe.

Animalism, like all Cainite Disciplines, contains a reflection of God's curse on Caine. Vampires who use Animalism extensively recede from humanity and from Cainite society - a fact that may help explain why the Nosferatu and Gangrel are such outcasts. Animals' activities and reactions are simple and predictable, and they easy to shove about with Animalism. This is much less true for humans and vampires, and Animalism users risk the loss of their social skills.

Animalism is a clam Discipline for the Gangrel, Nosferatu, Ravnos and Tzimisce. Their twisted visages and outre habits push these vampires farthr away from the embrace of immortal culture and out into the company of beasts. Nosferatu, many of whom are devoutly religious (whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim), believe that Animalism is one of the last remnants of God's blessing over man. They frequently refer back to biblical stories to help explain their manifestations of the Discipline. The Gangrel, most of whom do not even believe that they descend from Caine, see this Discipline as a reflection of their role as supreme hunters who are favored by their gods. The Tzimisce, in a somewhat similar light, see themselves as absolute masters of their faraway mountain domains and believe that it is only right that they dominate the creatures of their lands as easily as they do the peasants who toil under them. Many Ravnos treat the animals that they turn to their service as faithful companions or servants, at least as valued as any human ghoul. In these nights, Animalism is a useful Discipline for nearly any Cainite, but many of the High Clans eschew it in favor of those abilities that more directly affect the human psyche. Animalism is favored by those on the Road of the Beast in particular. Regardless of clan, those who live as peasants, knights or travelers find much value in Animalism.

Traits for various animals appear in the Bestiary.

• Feral Speech

This power allows the Cainite to hark back to the days before the fall of Babel, when all speech was one. Although he cannot use this ability to communicate with humans or Cainites who do not speak his language, he can communicate with animals, be they wild or domesticated. The vampire needs only to look into the creature's eyes for a moment, and he briefly gains facility with that animal's native speech. The two communicate in the animal's tongue - a vampire speaking to a horse must whinny, one talking to a wolf might bark or howl and so on. (The animal replies in mind, of course.) According to rumor, the Nosferatu can communicate with animals without making a sound, but they must concentrate solely on the creature in question, and they cannot lose eye contact for even a moment.

The use of Feral Speech does not predispose an animal to react in a friendly fashion toward the vampire. Keep in mind that animals that have not been made ghouls tend to react poorly to supernatural predators of the night. The character can bully small creatures such as squirrels or rabbits easily, but raptors and swift, independently minded animals do their best to escape from such a situation. Larger creatures require some negotiations to get any useful information.

This ability does not grant the animal in question any unusual information. The Storyteller should consult the Bestiary to determine a rough level of intelligence for the animal, and use that and the creature's known behaviors as a base for roleplay. Remember that few animals can count and none can read, and humans mostly all look alike to them. The character may be able to convince animals to do him favors if he is sufficiently impressive to them. If usch is the case, the beasts do their best to perform such favors.

System: No expenditure or die roll is necessary to activate this power, but the character must spend one turn getting the animal's attention and looking into its eyes in order to key his own Beast to the creature's language. Roll Manipulation + Animal Ken to get favors or useful information out of an animal. The difficulty is 6, unless modified up or down for circumstances. Each success gleans one favor or one useful piece of information; five successes gets the character roughly anything he needs within reason. The style by which the character gets what he wants depends in part on his road and Nature, but primarily on the roleplaying between the player and animal.

•• Noah's Call

This ability - named by those Cainites who believe that Noah called on all the wild creatures to come to his ark before the flood - allows a character to call out a summons for a particular kind of creature. In order to use Noah's Call on a particular kind of animal, the vampire must already have used Feral Speech on an animal of that species in the past. The Cainite then uses his sublimated memories of that "language" to cry out audibly and summon as much of the local population of that animal as he can. Not all of those creatures definitely come to the character's assistance, but those that do aid the character as best they can. The character can call a somewhat broad group of animals - all those of a single species, by modern parlance - or he can be more precise. He could to try summon all dogs in an area, or all female red-tailed hawks between the ages of one and three years inclusive. Obviously, the former summons brings more creatures and the latter might not bring any at all.

System: Roll Charisma + Survival (difficulty 6) to use this ability. Consult the table to see how many creatures succumb to the character's power. Note that if, for instance, only one animal meets the character's criteria within range of hearing, then one or two successes will not summon it. The power works out to the limit of hearing - which can vary from beast to beast. A wolf might be able to hear a summons howl as far as four miles away, while a groundhog had better be within a half-mile. When in doubt, the Storyteller should roll Perception + Awareness for a simple member of the species. Every success extends the range by half a mile.

Successes Response
Botch A random fraction of the creatures respond, but are hostile to the character
Failure No response; you may try again
1 success One animal responds
2 successes One-quarter of the animals within range respond
3 successes Half of the animals within range respond
4 successes Three-quarters of the animals within range respond
5 successes All animals within range respond

••• Cowing the Beast

The wildest rage of human or animal pales besides the unholy, God-cursed Beast of the Children of Caine. A Cainite with Cowing the Beast can use that fact to his advantage. He has little difficulty causing the heart of a man or animal to grow faint at the very sight of him. With a modicum of effort, he can cause an opponent to run shrieking into the distance or collapse into a gibbering heap.

If the target suffers from fear-driven derangements, she is likely to succumb to them, as the sight of a vampire using Cowing the Beast drives the Discipline's target into paroxysms of terror. Nosferatu and some Gangrel pass the secret of using this ability to soothe an opponent's Beast, rather than dominate it. Those who do not so refer to the ability as Song of Serenity. (To learn this Song of Serenity effect, the character must simply find a teacher and spend a few nights learning it. It is an effect inherent to Cowing the Beast that many Cainites simply do not realize they can unlock. There's no additional experience cost.)

As with many aspects of a Cainite's existence, the use of Cowing the Beast involves a harrowing loss of control to the vampire's own Beast, if only for an instant. The character cuts loose for a moment, letting his Beast terrify his target's inner nature. Those Cainites who are not on the Road of the Beast are likely to be rather unsettled by this display themselves, as their rational natures must momentarily give way to a rush of power and hatred.

System: When the character uses Cowing the Beast, the player should roll Manipulation + Intimidation (or Manipulation + Empathy, if using the Song of Serenity variant), at a difficulty of 7. This action is exclusive. The character cannot engage in combat, run, or create works of art while activating the Discipline. The character must earn a number of successes equal to the target's Willpower. If doing so takes mroe than one turn, then the Discipline becomes an extended test, and it succeeds as soon as the character collects that many successes. Failure means that the character loses all collected successes. A botch means that the target's Beast is forever beyond the character's control.

A successfully cowed mortal or animal is so intimidated that she cannot engage in any form of struggle and may even refuse to move unless the Cainite orders her to do so. The victim will not even defend herself unless her player makes a Willpower roll. The player of a cowed character cannot spend or regain Willpower. She should roll Willpower (difficulty 6) every night until she accumulates as many successes as the vampire's Willpower. The effect then lifts. The Song of Serenity has the same game system effects, but it makes its victim utterly listless.

Cainites' Beasts cannot be cowed with this ability, but the Storyteller may permit characters to use the Song of Serenity variant to pull a vampire out of a frenzy. Should the character earn three or more successes, the frenzied target may attempt to pull herself out of the frenzy, using the same difficulty stimulus that pushed her into it.

•••• Ride the Wild Wind

Cainites who know Ride the Wild Wind are able to dislodge their own souls from their bodies and seat them in the bodies of wild animals. Since animals have no souls, by any reasonable definition (including the Christian one of the time), the Cainite commits no sin by resting his own in the creature's body for a short time. While possessing an animal in this fashion, the vampire controls the beast's every move and reaction.

The character must stare for a moment into the animal's eyes before possessing it. His body then drops into a torpid stupor as his soul drifts out of his body and into the animal's. The character may remain in the host animal for as long as he likes, but his body still loses blood at its normal rate while he does so. Those using Ride the Wild Mind are prone to adapt some of their host animal's behaviors when they emerge from the possession. Many Tzimisce sculpt dogs or wolves into hideous war-ghouls and then possess them with Ride the Wild Mind, giving themselves command of a frightening monster during a battle while leaving their bodies safe at home. Some superstitious Gangrel and Ravnos believe that a piece of their soul remains in the animal when they leave it, so they make a point of consuming the animal's blood when the ride is done.

Cainite who miss their living days exult in the freedom and power of Ride the Wild Mind, as it brings a strong sensation of life along with it. Those who no longer miss their living days - particularly those not on the Road of Humanity, or who have low scores on that road - find the power's use to be disconcerting. Once again, the vampire can feel "his" heart beating, he suffers from mundane hunger, and sweats and produces filth all on hi sown. These sensations are long absent even in the ancilla.

System: Roll Charisma + Animal Ken (difficulty 8) while the character looks into the animal's eyes for a turn. The character cannot possess worms or other creatures without eyes, as they have no easy passage for the soul. The animal must also be a living creature of flesh and blood to be possessed. The Cainite cannot ride a demon (even a familiar in animal form) or a ghost. One success allows the character to just barely take over the animal's body; multiple successes give him greater access to his Disciplines, per the following table:

Successes Result
Botch Roll to resist Rotschreck as the character's Beast is overwhelmed by the animal's nature
Failure Cannot possess; try again next turn
1 success Possess the animal, but cannot use any Discpiplines
2 successes Can use Auspex^
3 successes Can also use Presence^
4 successes Can also use Dominate, Dementation
5 successes Can also use Thaumaturgy and Mortis (paths only), Chimerstry

Results marked with a ^ also require the character to spend Willpower to take any action that the Storyteller deems out of line with the animal's base instincts. While using Ride the Wild Mind, character may walk around as the animal in the sunlight without suffering any ill effects, although he must make a Road roll to remain conscious, just as he would in his own body.

When the character leaves the animal's body to return to his own, the player must roll Wits + Empathy (difficulty 8) and score as many successes as days the character spent within the creature (minimum of one). If the character fails this roll, the character spends the same number of days in a purely animalistic mindset, obeying the urges and instincts of the creature whose body he just left. Should he botch, the vampire frenzies and then drops into the animalistic mindset just described.

Whether the player succeeds or fails at that roll, the vampire is stuck thinking in the creature's ways for some time. The character must spend seven Willpower points or seven days (or some combination of the two) to get over the effects of having used this power. Until that time has passed, the character reflexively reacts as his old host did. A vampire who spent time in the body of a wolf may growl at unexpected visitors, kowtow excessively to princes and others of acknowledged higher status and so on. Many Gangrel use this side effect of Ride the Wild Mind to their advantage, possessing a wolverine for extra ferocity or a squirrel to get themselves in the habit of storing goodies away for wintertime.

Should the animal die while being ridden in this fashion, the character's psyche returns to his body. When it does, it may be slightly traumatized, an effect that has no game mechanics but which the player is encouraged to roleplay out.

••••• Drawing out the Beast

Cainites with this ability are so familiar with the vagaries of animals' instinctive reactions that they can even read the reactions of their own Beasts. What's more, as the vampire's Beast becomes more aroused, he gains the ability to send it out into another being, rather than allowing his own spirit to be overwhelmed by the blood rage.

The target of the Cainite's Beast is immediately overwhelmed by a frenzy, and during that frenzy, he acts precisely as the Discipline's user does when in frenzy, right down to the occasional murderous turn of phrase. Those who know the vampire might recognize their friend's Beast in another, but such a thing is quite rare.

The Gangrel who use this power to enable their ghouls and childer to act as terrible proxies in time of battle, while the Ravnos use it to torment individuals who present themselves as beacons of righteousness. The Tzimisce use Drawing out the Beast's to wreak dreadful havoc on an opposiing voivode's holdings before bringing their full force to bear, while the Nosferatu prefer to use the ability to humiliate other vampires whom they feel need to be taken down a peg.

System: The character must be in a frenzy or near one - that is to say, exposed to a possible source of frenzy and engaged in a test of Self-Control or Instinct to resist or ride it. To use the ability, announce a target to whom your character has a line of sight and then roll Manipulation + Animal Ken (difficulty 8). At least two successes are required on this roll to achieve the desired effect.

Success Result
Botch Enter a tremendously dangerous frenzy, from which even Willpower expenditure cannot rescue you.
Failure Enter a terrible frenzy, that lasts twice as long and requires twice as many successes to shrug off as normal.
1 success Accidentally release your Beast upon a friend.
2 successes Transfer your Beast successfully, but you are stunned, and lose your next turn to inaction while you recover.
3+ successes Transfer your Beast successfully.

If the target leaves the character's immediate vicinity before the frenzy ends (or vice versa) the character risks losing his Beast permanently, as it remains with the victim. The vampire's Beast often likes "living" inside other beings, and it is loath to return to the vampire it knows so well after having a taste of freedom. Should the character lose his Beast, even temporarily, he becomes lethargic, sleeping late in the evenings and needing to spend Willpower to perform even such tasks as feeding.

To recover his Beast, the character must first find its carrier - who is probably not having an easy time of things, especially if he is mortal - and then coax his Beast back to his body. To do so, the character must act in ways that would lure a ravenous, frenzy-yielding vampiric monster toward him. The Storyteller should make sure to play this scene up for all it's worth. In the tragic event that the Beast carrier dies, the vampire's player an Instinct roll against a difficulty of 9. Even one success returns the Beast to its owner, but a failure means that the vampire has lost his Beast forever. The shock of the Beast's death cry immediately sends the vampire into torpor.

•••••• Quell the Herd

This power works similarly to Cowing the Beast, save that the Cainite using it subdues the passion and individuality of a whole group of mortals or animals simultaneously with the power of his own Beast. It does not work against Cainites, though it does affect ghouls. As many as 20 targets may be affected by this ability at once, as long as all involved can see the character.

System: Roll Strength + Intimidation (difficulty 7). This is an extended test: You must accumulate as many successes as your target has temporary Willpower. You cow any target whose Willpower you exceed with successes - as soon as you have rolled 5 successes, all targets with a Willpower of 5 or less are subdued. Failing your roll means that you have to begin accumulating successes again from 0, but your victims do not become free. A botch not only sets your victims free of the quelling, but sends them into a frenzy, howling for your blood.

Those cowed with Quell the Herd behave and free themselves in the same manner as those affected by Cowing tbe Beast.