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Effects of magic/Vitae on physique: bodybuilders, obesity, magic "hacks"

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  • Effects of magic/Vitae on physique: bodybuilders, obesity, magic "hacks"

    How do you all think Vitae and other magic effects the acquisition/loss of body fat/muscle mass? Vampires are largely static in terms of physique (attribute wise they can only improve) but ghouls are living, breathing fellows with working digestive systems, though many authors insist the "Trapped in time" effect happens to their bodies also. Ghouls can improve their Attributes and as they don't age like Garou there is no known mechanism for the decline of their attributes (other than not-being a ghoul anymore) so if they greatly improved their Strength attribute by two or more levels would it be via magic or via ordinary physiological changes?

    Speaking as a man who's too heavy for his own good.
    Appearance is a controversial stat, but muscle size and body fat are important factors for conventional beauty standards: Given that newly embraced Vampires lose most of their body fat but keep enough for Sex appeal, I think the Beast knows what it's doing. Ghouls also have a Beast: Do you think Ghouldom would help folk stay lean for appearance purposes, bearing in mind that the extremely low body fat of bodybuilders is a health risk for ordinary people but wouldn't be a problem for Ghouls who can ignore most medical conditions and don't suffer from cancer or heart problems.

    Moving on to werewolf, we have crazy options with stuff like mother's touch. There was once a small discussion at a table I was at on whether restoring a lost amount of fat cells would also restore the excess fat they've accumulated. If he lost his arm and Mother's touch was applied, would a morbidly obese person grow back a skinny arm? (I can imagine the imbalance might be bad for them, or I can imagine some justification like "The soul and spirit has been changed by long term obesity so the body will remain fat as reflection of the soul") I also question how mother's touch would work for post workout recovery or if it'd "undo your gains" (Though I'm given to understand that muscle tears=growth is a myth)

    There are likely other gifts that could have a significant impact on the physique, and doubtless mages have specifically made Magick for it (Broscience could be it's own paradigm) . Any good ideas/sources?


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  • #2
    Unless a supernatural effect explicitly targets tissue, bones, or gland functions (Vicissitude, Biocontrol) I would say that it doesn't affect physique. Stuff like Potence, Celerity, or any other enhancement seem to work independently and get into territories that would break biomechanical limits anyways.

    Vitae is a bit trickier. Disregarding the dot of Potence for the reason above, there are so many supernatural effects packed into vitae that making a general statement is difficult. The most significant physical changes seem to be tied to Clan or Bloodline, so I would go with that. A Toreador Ghoul might lose some excess body fat, while a Nosferatu Ghoul might not be so lucky. A Samedi Ghoul would probably lose fat but has other problems. Regardless, attractiveness isn't necessarily tied to Appearance or Charisma alone. I consider vampiric attraction a supernatural effect by itself, an it's perhaps directly tied to the Beast.

    As for magical regeneration of limbs, this taps a bit into the Identity aspect of magic. In most cases, I would expect a lost limb to regenerate in a coherent state with the body. The physical body is part of ones Identity, and that's an important thing for magic to work. A regeneration spell could actually result in complications for people who experience body dysmorphia.

    I had to think of Weaver Drones as an example. Their bodies are pristine, old scars vanish, but their physique doesn't change upon becoming one. Their body Identity is refined into a idealized template version, but that doesn't mean they become more fit.

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    • #3
      I'm not sure that the Viate would confer any recognizable trackable outwardly changes. For ghouls, as long as they have the viate in their system they are static in a since like kindred. They can gain stats on their sheet but, it's always at the behest of the blood. Even if a ghoul was to gain a dot or two of strength they wouldn't outwardly show a change due to the viate keeping them static. This is different for revenants/dhampir that have the ability to age and thus grow/change.

      For healing lost limbs using magical abilities, I think we'd have to assume that the metaphysics of the universe wouldn't give you something that asymmetrical. I have no evidence to back this up, at least on hand but, I can't imagine that the lost limb taking on any kind of 'lesser' aspect after the restoration. You are using magic to restore your limb, I have to assume it would restore it. Though I do think that certain aspects of the limb in question might not be brought back, a tattoo or tan for example.

      I know explicitly for possessed (Fomori, Drones, Gorgons, and Kami) it calls out that if you where to take powers that boosted your ratings you started to look freakish and doubly so if you raised them pass the limit for normal humans. I'd imagine everyone who would be looking to do the same would face similar problems and have their own solutions to hide those aspects.

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      • #4
        But it is written that when non-human ghouls stay on Vitae they experience hypertrophy, likely due to various inefficiencies. Vitae doesn't make animals "static".

        Do you think a ghoul wouldn't change form if starved or if overfed? Surely ghouls shit and obey conservation of mass? Ah, if you kept overfeeding them, would the just shit more?


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        • #5
          Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
          But it is written that when non-human ghouls stay on Vitae they experience hypertrophy, likely due to various inefficiencies. Vitae doesn't make animals "static".

          Do you think a ghoul wouldn't change form if starved or if overfed? Surely ghouls shit and obey conservation of mass? Ah, if you kept overfeeding them, would the just shit more?
          Like your ridiculous example aside, viate's properties are magical in nature so why would it obey non-magical laws? If viate would allow cells in muscles to grow and change, why would they stop aging? What's the difference between cells breaking down to be replaced of one system verse another? I think nitpicking the word 'static' as it relates to how the viate interacts with systems stopping their processes is getting into the weeds a bit, especially since we also know that animals that are ghouled long enough gain human-like sentience.

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          • #6
            'Stasis' is perhaps a misnomer. Ghouls have working metabolisms. They have hunger and thirst, and their bodies process food and drink. They can store fat and burn it. Their cellular renewal is still active, but does not have the decay that comes with aging. Their hair and nails grow, they have working bodies with all that entails. They are alive, not dead.

            They can subsist on vitae alone, but that's like constantly starving while the vitae keeps them alive. Probably a really effective diet though.
            Originally posted by MrNatas View Post
            I'm not sure that the Viate would confer any recognizable trackable outwardly changes.
            It does in cases where Clan flaws that affect appearance manifest in Ghouls, albeit in milder form. I don't think it's unreasonable to infer that Ghouls also display other traits of their Donor Clan, but that isn't in the RAW I think.

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            • #7
              Vitae is magic. That is basically all that is need to be know about it.

              What it does for ghouls is preventing them from aging.

              For the rest, they are just like humans

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Kakost View Post
                Vitae is magic. That is basically all that is need to be know about it.

                What it does for ghouls is preventing them from aging.

                For the rest, they are just like humans
                But it also enables them to soak lethal damage. Imagine the implications for that if it were applied to cellular structure. Toxins just being unable to disolve Ghoul cells.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                  But it also enables them to soak lethal damage. Imagine the implications for that if it were applied to cellular structure. Toxins just being unable to disolve Ghoul cells.
                  It's pretty hard to tell what the actual interactions of vitae with the metabolism would look like.In this case I would say the cells still dissolve, but get regenerated. But to really know we would have to commission Netchurch to do a study- it gets really complicated once you consider how many different types of toxins there are and what their respective countermeasures are.

                  It's easier to use occam's magick razor and say that vitae contains 'Life-Force' (QE, Chi, Gnosis, Sekhem...) that counteracts any 'Death-Force'.

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                  • #10
                    Ghouls: Fatal Addiction goes into ghoul physiology in quite a lot of detail, though through the warped lens of Netchurch's own studies. He says there's no decay or breakdown, at the cellular level, for ghouls, but they also possess a unique enzyme (similar to that of planarian flatworms) that allows them to heal through organic processes. That makes me think all the usual biological processes work, but that they stop short of decay and death itself (voidshaper's suggestion that it counteracts the 'death force' seems most apt).

                    Ghoul healing basically uses vitae to speed up the natural processes, although the natural processes continue at their normal rate without vitae too. Ghouls also appear to use metabolic processes and mitochondria for things like the Quickening (what V5 calls Blood Surge).

                    Healing lost limbs is likened to a starfish, with the implication being that the "life" stored in vitae enhances the natural effects beyond their own innate capacities in the living, whereas for the undead, the vitae replaces those processes altogether. This supports the 'counter-death force' model.

                    Netchurch likens ghouling to a sort of proto-Discipline that vampires can practice, allowing for modification of living tissue, rather than a true sharing of the undead condition. (This may be why V5 has so many "share power with others" Disciplines.) So that's a helpful way to envision it -- it's not stasis like vampiric stasis; it's more an augmentation of the qualities of life itself.

                    Netchurch reckons that first dot of Potence is instinctive to all living creatures because it is an endocrine reaction to having the vitae in the system. The arresting of decay and ageing comes from cells being reprogrammed by the vitae, which provides the additional energy to allow this to happen. So life force counters the death force.

                    Things like saliva and the glands that produce bodily fluids continue to work as normal in ghouls. Thus, a ghoul is still fertile, even if unaging. And if they don't feed, they can become "malnourished and weak", with the vitae sustaining them in lieu of food. This does mean that muscles might lose metabolic power and metabolic processes can still break things down, so long as it's for production of food and life, rather than for the production (unmaking?) of 'death'.

                    They can still contract diseases such as HIV (this is called out specifically in the book), but diseases don't progress. So cancer will be frozen in its tracks, for instance. Blood diseases are effectively neutered if the ghoul's own blood is completely replaced with vitae. Again, death being stopped in its tracks.

                    For vampires, I think the vitae allows subtle shifts in Physical Attributes, based on hunting and socialisation. You could say increases in Perception and maybe Appearance are maybe possible through the same process. But it's all handwavey and is achieved through XP as with any other character.

                    I don't think a character with increased Strength or Stamina would (usually) look any different, though. Of course, if their Appearance increases, maybe that's the result of subtle changes in the blood or maybe it's just how they hold themselves.

                    The fluff does describe the Embrace evening out perfections, sharpening senses, and so on, and you could assume this is why vampires get extra Attribute and Ability dots (but you could also assume that's due to extra life lived or just being special, since mages get them too). But there's nothing else, mechanically, that represents that, except for Disciplines themselves.

                    So long story short... As you note, vamps probably don't change at all, or only change in tiny, imperceptible ways (like a Nosferatu becoming more monstrous with time or Assamites becoming darker -- things the fluff alludes to but never provides a system for).

                    Ghouls, however, become weakened without food, and so I think their bodies would probably still metabolise the fats as normal. It's just decay that is arrested, not the processes of digestion themselves -- and metabolic processes may even be sped up in some cases. So they could presumably also gain or lose muscle mass, provided it was through dietary reasons rather than decay or 'death'.

                    But also, it's magic, so you could do whatever works for your table.
                    Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 09-01-2022, 05:01 AM.


                    Writer, publisher, performer
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post
                      voidshaper's suggestion that it counteracts the 'death force' seems most apt
                      Netchurch would hate that and call me names, lol.
                      The problem is that these kind of questions do come up at the table, and once a player tries to corner you with their science PhD, there is little refuge aside from 'it's magic'.

                      Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                      Broscience could be it's own paradigm
                      Might I suggest Bromancy / Bromancer as discipline name?

                      Speaking of which, better don't think too hard about how the biology of Blood Brothers, szlachta and vozhd works.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by voidshaper View Post
                        Speaking of which, better don't think too hard about how the biology of Blood Brothers, szlachta and vozhd works.
                        I don't imagine Vozhd being expected to live without Vitae, or for more than a month, they're more a stunt than an investment. I would warrant to guess each digestive system stays largely seperate. Szlachta is pretty broad but many probably follow the -too deformed to live without Vitae- and that's probably their greatest strength in modern nights: they have to be loyal if they want to live (Just to say it plainly: Guns or even late medieval weapons>>> anything you can fleshcraft)

                        Blood brothers are undead, but therin lies my query, because if you're going to raise fellows into Blood Brothers or similar, it might be in the interest of the owner/sire/guy want them to excersize more for strength/hypertrophy? A ghoul that excercises for hypertrophy is going to have more muscles for a Tzmisce to shape. In general, as a domitor, you can really push your slaves: they love you, and you might have advantages like Dominate, so convincing them to do reps for their queen isn't going to be so hard. A Vampire with a gym could easily make a trade out of training ultra-beefy ghouls.


                        Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                        There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                          A Vampire with a gym could easily make a trade out of training ultra-beefy ghouls.
                          Oh, for a beefcake factory Vicissitude 3 is probably the most useful. Some oldschool Alchemy will help, too - the mortal sorcery path more than the blood sorcery. Thaumaturgy is surprisingly less useful, since most paths that directly affect biology (Biothauma*, Mastery of Mortal Shell) tend to be on the destructive side. Maybe you could cook up variants with inverse effects.

                          If you have a Mage with decent command over Life, Mind, and some Prime, you're practically good to go for all kinds of wild body mods. That's probably the most cheat-y option.

                          Edit:
                          *The pre-revised version of the path would actually be quite useful, if costly
                          Last edited by voidshaper; 08-31-2022, 05:00 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Zdzisław "Z" Zdrojewski

                            Clan: Toreador (antitribu)
                            Generation: Tenth
                            Embraced: 1612

                            A gifted sculptor in his mortal years, Zdzisław has always been fascinated by the human form. After his Embrace at the tail end of the Renaissance in Prague, it came to him as a shock when he discovered the source of his fascination and that he had lost it forever: the spark of life. Unable to find beauty in dead things, Zdzisław turned his attention to the kine. He started to sculpt humans, but soon found the crude application of his Vicissitude Discipline to be lacking the necessary subtlety. Realizing that he was missing the insight in what makes a human body work, he attached himself to the developing medical profession in the schools of Prague. In return for providing bodies for scientific dissections, he eagerly learned the literal in and outs of anatomy, quickly becoming a skilled physician.

                            It was inevitable Zdzisław made contact with the flourishing occult circles of the city, as his studies overlapped with many of the interests of the various sorcerous groups active at that time. At first, his ventures into alchemy were a necessity to produce the various embalming fluids and solvents he needed for his work, but he soon discovered more useful applications of the art when he started experimenting with concoctions brewed for living bodies. Like trees in a garden, his human sculptures grew into the most beautiful specimens when provided with nurture, just the right amount of pruning, and warding off diseases, but otherwise left to natural growth.

                            While his proficiency as apothecary and physician made him an asset to Cainite society by providing it with healthy herds, the reputation he accumulated in mortal society started to draw unwanted attention from outside groups. When the plague hit Prague at the beginning of the 18th century, he abandoned the city and ventured south. After traveling through Greece, Cyprus, and Crete for some years, he eventually found himself in Alexandria, where he settled down again. His 'sculptures' soon attracted the attention of a Typhonist, and the two discovered a mutual interest in arcane effects on bodies, their preservation, and manipulation. Their years of undisturbed exploration and experimentation were cut short when Napoleon arrived, and Zdzisław lost his Setite lover in the ensuing conflict. He fled westwards along the northern coast of Africa and, feeling trapped by the politics and memories of the Old World, departed for the New World.

                            Zdzisław currently runs a successful chain of all-night gyms, which he uses to put his passion and expertise to good use. His shops produce top tier candidates for ghoul muscle and herds. With his heritage mostly forgotten and by staying out of sect politics, he is contractor for all kinds of groups of kindred and kine. While he does accept custom orders when they pique his interest, he will decline any outlandish modifications that would disturb the natural beauty of his 'sculptures'. Centuries of carefully crafting bodies into an idealized form has made him quite snobbish, and he soon loses interest in his charges once he feels his work is complete. Zdzisław still is dissatisfied with his results, and will probably forever think he could do better. While he has developed a keen interest in genetics, he despises the idea of direct manipulation or breeding- the stone contains the sculpture, and perfection comes from chipping away only the right bits.

                            Nature: Perfectionist / Demeanor: Visionary
                            Disciplines: Auspex 3, Presence 3, Vicissitude 4, Akhu 4, Dominate 2
                            Thaumaturgical Paths (Akhu): Alchemy 3, The Snake Inside 3, Biothaumaturgical Experimentation 4
                            Morality: Humanity 6

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