Disciplines are supernatural powers possessed by Vampires. Disciplines allow a character to perform feats an ordinary mortal could not. Anyone can use their own wits to win an argument or convince someone to his side, but a Vampire with Presence can take this to absurd levels.
The ones we use in our game are based on the ones used in Vampire: the Masquerade rulebooks, so those of you who are familiar with them may notice that not all Clans possess the Disciplines they do in the books, and many of the powers work differently. In order to make discipline use simpler and more immersive, we took some creative liberties in converting them into our system.
The system itself is minimalistic, and works on the “Really, really…” principle. There are 4 different levels of each Discipline:
- Weak: The Character is a novice in using this Discipline. 2x Really
- Medium: The Character has grown used to employing this Discipline and has a good measure of control over it. 3x Really
- Strong: The Character has mastered this Discipline. 4x Really
The higher your level in a Discipline, the more learned and powerful you are in its use. If two characters share the same Discipline, the one with a higher rating can employ his on the one with the lower rating, and ignore any effects of the Discipline’s use at lower or equal ratings than his. The Powers cancel each other out. Of course, you could always fake your opponent’s success, if it suits your interests…
The “Really, really…” principle: Using the words “Really, really…” activates a Discipline you possess. The more“Really” there are in a sentence, the more powerful your Discipline use is. As an example, if someone with Weak Potence would wish to detain someone, he could hold their arm and say: “You really, really can’t move from my grip right now.” Even if you possess a higher level in a Discipline, you can still use its weaker variants freely if you wish.
The purpose of this system is to allow us to use Disciplines seamlessly within a conversation and not break our immersion by stopping play and calling a Game Master to assist us. Reacting to the use of a Discipline is entirely up to its target! The Disciplines are intentionally left vague so as to allow for conflict and contention during play. However, we ask you to be fair and react appropriately if a Discipline is used on you, though the specifics are up to you.
On Elysium itself, the use of Disciplines is a smaller taboo, not entirely prohibited but certainly frowned upon. If done, it requires some subtlety, as Dominating someone in public is both a huge humiliation for the target and a serious breach of etiquette for the user. In addition, Kindred don’t generally call the Disciplines by the names written here; these just exist to help classify them by the players. A Vampire is far more likely to call Auspex “supernatural perception” or something similar.
Please note that these descriptions are left intentionally vague. Disciplines are broad powers that can be used in a number of ingenious ways, the following are just general examples of what the Discipline can do at certain levels.
Nothing escapes your sight, your smell or your hearing. You can hear your victim’s heartbeat from across the room. You can feel the ecstasy on the young girl’s breath. When powerful enough, the minds of others are open to you.
In game, this Discipline works as perceiving the emotions and later thoughts of others with but a glance. It is the only one that should always begin with “I really, really know…”
Weak: You immediately feel the victim’s emotional state. “I really, really know how you feel right now.”
Medium: You can peer into the victim’s desires. “I really, really, really know what you want right now.”
Strong: You can unravel the victim’s deepest held secrets. “I really, really, really, really know everything about your connection to the Tremere.”
Your will is their command. With this power you can fully subjugate others and even erase their memories.
With Dominate, you can literally give simple commands to others. Its power grows with time, just as its user’s will, however, so all uses of Dominate against Elders are considered one level weaker.
Weak: You can convince others into following simple orders. “You really, really want to follow me.”
Medium: You can erase simple memories from the minds of others. “You really, really, really didn’t just see that.”
Strong: Total control. “You will really, really, really, really go up to the Prince right now and spit on her shoes. And you won’t even remember who told you to.”
Blades, bullets, even fire… You can withstand it all. What’s more, you can sometimes resist even the unbreakable Blood Bond.
Fortitude represents unnatural resistance to damage and the ability to resist emotional control. Its level is also added to your Combat Rating.
Weak: You can withstand minor pain without flinching. You can also ignore the effects of a minor blood bond once per night. “Do you really, really think that I can’t handle a punch?”
Medium: You won’t break even under the harshest torture. You can also ignore the effects of a weak or medium blood bond once per night. “I don’t care what you do to me, I really, really, really won’t betray them.”
Strong: You shrug off the hardest hits with a smile. You can also ignore a medium or strong blood bond once per night, and a weak blood bond twice. “I’m really, really, really, really sorry, my master, but in this, you are wrong.”
Your vampiric blood allows you to move like a ghost. The shadow of the wall just slightly elongates to cover your passing. Just as you open the door, the victim sneezes. And as you leave, the guard is conveniently looking the other way.
You are hidden, even though you stand in plain sight. Obfuscate work differently than the other Disciplines, in that it doesn’t have a verbal component. It’s user simply crosses his arms and indicates the power’s level by using his fingers.
Weak: As long as you stand out of everyone’s way, you are invisible.
Medium: You can stand in the middle of the room, and nobody will notice you.
Strong: You can move freely without being discovered.
Superhuman strength. Your fists break bones and nobody escapes your grip.
Only the brave and the stupid will accept a duel against someone with Potence. Its level is also added to your Combat Rating.
Weak: You can stop someone from entering or leaving a room. “You really, really can’t get past me.”
Medium: You can completely overpower someone physically. “You really, really, really don’t want to resist.”
Strong: You can fling people across the room with a touch. “My slap will really, really, really, really send you flying into that wall.”
Unnatural attraction. With your very presence, you may influence the emotions of others.
With Presence, you can never run out of fans. With but a few words, you can end the most bitter hatreds against you, and you can incite a burning rage or deep remorse in your victims. Note, however, that Presence is not permanent, and generally lasts a single scene, after which the victim realizes he has been fooled.
Weak: You can influence a person’s initial perception of you. “You really, really like me, don’t you?”
Medium: You can turn friends into foes. “That made you, really, really, really angry.”
Strong: You can influence whole crowds with your power. “You all really, really, really, really respect me and will hear what I have to say!”
Thaumaturgy and Necromancy work differently than the other Disciplines. They do not have levels and their specific powers are left extremely open for the magicians. They work purely as Rituals, in that they take a longer time to cast, which has to be played out, and more than one person must assist in each ritual. The outcome of the Ritual is decided beforehand by both the casters and the ritual’s intended victim, if it has one. The more participants a Ritual has, the more powerful it can be. We recommend all Blood Mages prepare rituals beforehand and make them look cool!
The blood magic of the Tremere is powerful and highly flexible. It can achieve almost any effect and even mimic other Disciplines. Its Rituals must always include some fake blood, hermetic implements and some sort of chant, but the specifics of that are entirely up to the casters. The Tremere Clan write up explains more about Thaumaturgy.
The death magic of the Giovanni is far more rigid and cold than Tremere Thaumaturgy. It deals in the summoning of the dead, be it Wraiths or even Zombies, and other entropic and destructive magic. Its rituals often include parts of the dead, grave dirt, nudity and various perverse acts or self-mutilation, but must always also contain fake blood and chanting. The Giovanni Clan write up explains more about Necromancy.
Certain Disciplines don’t work on the “Really, really…” method and have no mechanics, but simply serve as roleplaying tools for players.
The flesh shaping of the Tzimisce is just that. It allows players the use of prosthetics to change their appearance for the game and provided the character has a fleshcrafted weapon, such as claws, it also adds a single point to your Combat Rating.
The Gangrel shapeshifting ability simply allows players to wear claws during the game, which give them a single point to their Combat Rating.
Dementation is the Malkavian Discipline of madness and revelation. It gives Malkavian characters peculiar insights that they must unravel in order to understand. The Malkavian Clan write up explains more about Dementation.