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What Exactly determines Vulgarity? (Heart Attack and similar)

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  • What Exactly determines Vulgarity? (Heart Attack and similar)

    Okay, so I'm an Orphan with whatever amount of Life you'd need to give someone else a heart attack (3 I believe?). I see someone I want dead. I roll Intelligence + Medicine, and get a few successes, focusing on the processes which lead to clotting, how ischemia and shock ensue from the blockage, how long it will take for them to die... and then I roll Arete at (-successes) difficulty. I might even spend Quintessence if it's really important that they're dead.

    So, is it vulgar? My immediate response, having read M20, would be no. It's perfectly coincidental if a person just happens to have a heart attack. If three people had heart attacks in rapid succession then it would stop being coincidental, however the important thing here is that my character has used their Focus, kept in their paradigm (let's say they believe Everything is Data, there must be a bit of code you can nudge to tip someone towards a heart attack) and done something which is passably just a normal occurrence.

    Despite all of that, I feel like this is/should be Vulgar. Even if it fits your Paradigm, even if you can get away with it in terms of consensual reality, I'm skeptical of Mages being able to dish out heart attacks undetected with no paradox. Am I missing something? I feel like I must be missing something. Because the only targets who would have a chance of survival are those with Life or some kind of healing power (or no need for a heartbeat).

  • #2
    That really depends on the ST and the target(s) of the effect. If the idea of the specific target dying from a heart attack is believable, than it is probably coincidental. Is the target older? Poor health? Bad diet? Are they young and active? So on and so on.

    I would assume that if you have access to the target's medicinal condition, then you could guess if it is coincidental or not before your attempt. It is also important to realize that people do survive from heart attacks, with and without immediate medical attention. Thus, it isn't always an auto-kill. There would still be some sort of resistance check, probably Stamina vs. successes.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by tzizimine View Post
      That really depends on the ST and the target(s) of the effect. If the idea of the specific target dying from a heart attack is believable, than it is probably coincidental. Is the target older? Poor health? Bad diet? Are they young and active? So on and so on.

      I would assume that if you have access to the target's medicinal condition, then you could guess if it is coincidental or not before your attempt. It is also important to realize that people do survive from heart attacks, with and without immediate medical attention. Thus, it isn't always an auto-kill. There would still be some sort of resistance check, probably Stamina vs. successes.
      But even young people can have heart attacks. Drug users, congenital heart defects...

      And you'd strike at the right moment. Plus, remember that this will also work on any Mage without Life (correct me if I'm wrong).

      I just feel like it's too easy for the Virtual Adept to glance at her phone, hack reality and have the CEO of that Company which is a subsidiary of a Technocracy controlled outlet fall down dead. Or another PC. Just... zero risk of Paradox or detection, short of someone using Spheres for detective work, but by then they're dead :P
      Last edited by 11twiggins; 02-11-2017, 10:13 AM.

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      • #4
        First, while you can do damage with Life 3, I don't think you can inflict specific changes on another persons organs without Life 4.

        Second, I'd say it would be coincidental if the victim can make a soak roll, with the victims risk factors determining the difficulty. If you wanted to bypass this stamina roll, then it becomes vulgar.
        I'd also say you'd need a minimum of 5 successes to pull it off, plus 1 to target (or more if using Corr.). The initial 5 will stop the heart, but only for a moment. This might be enough, health levels should decrease as per suffocation rules.
        Pumping more successes into the effect should make the heart attack more potent, causing the heart to stop for longer.


        Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy

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        • #5
          It is not a bad way to do it. Of course, you will need time to pull it off, so it works better as a distant death ritual than an attack. Even vulgar attacks allow resistance though, so I would say that a coincidental attack could be fully resisted with a successful Stamina roll (difficulty equal to the number of successes dedicated to the heart attack effect) and Countermagic would apply. Of course, if you are casting a death ritual from home, you will have more than enough time to kill the victim.

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          • #6
            That's the issue... I mean I get that Mage's power level is crazy, especially when PCs are given time and resources, but there's something quite wrong about magic violating people like this from so far away, with so much potency. It isn't easy, but it's doable, and if you have enough Quintessence (or God help us, a cult or some other Mages assisting you) then it's going to annihilate even player characters.

            With that said, someone with even 4 dots of Do could simply turn their body's oxygen consumption off until the effect faded... that will be most members of the Akashic Brotherhood since it's the core of their teachings (I do like how M20 tried to make it harder to get higher levels of Do by saying "you need to have x dots in these skills that almost any Mage would have anyways, ooh, investing in Awareness in character generation, what a terrible price"). And Psychics with Body Control will be fine, as will those with Path of Healing, Psychic Healing or the Life Sphere, or powerful counter-magic. Ghouls would be fine, Lupines on the other hand... I'm not entirely sure. They are very much living creatures, and I don't think they could shrug off a heart attack no matter how powerful they are, so I think they'd roll Stamina normally like everyone else.

            And Coutermagic does rely on you being aware of a mystical assault. My real issue with this is that the Mage in question doesn't need to touch their target, fire off a ball of electricity or miasma or anything. They want it to happen, it happens, and thus counter-magic isn't even an issue. Please correct me if I'm missing anything.
            Last edited by 11twiggins; 02-11-2017, 11:18 AM.

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            • #7
              I tend to think of Death spells like this in the mage world as similar to WMD in ours. Every Tradition will have a number of mages capable of committing such acts, and more than a number of members capable of tracing the resonance and Corr. to its source. If you start killing people from a distance, you become a threat, and a target for others to kill you from a distance. So while it's possible to do this, most mages won't because of the fear of being discovered, and the amount of work they'd have to do to cover up their tracks.

              Corr. 1 is enough to sense if Corr magic has been performed, and Corr 2 will allow those doing the check to trace it back, while Corr 3 lets them transport there for some instant revenge. Corr 4 brings the cavalry.

              That being said, no mage is going to take chances. I'd say most major chantries have layers upon layers of bans and corr wards upon them to avoid being spied on as well as avoid being assassinated. Some may employ spirits as personal bodyguards, others may have Contingency effects which explode in the would-be assassin's face. Other's may just have simple Time and Life Wonders which would ensure their body returns to life seconds after they die.

              The Order of Hermes have a Tradition spanning method of coping with this sort of stuff hidden in their True Name. When one is accepted in the 4th rank, they are granted a True Name which gives them protection from all forms of Corr. magic. No matter what else the attacker has to link them to the Hermetic, unless they have access to their True Name, all Corr. effects act as though they are at "No Connection" range, otherwise they are at "body sample" range.
              This make's it incredibly difficult "but not impossible" to kill a Hermetic from far away.


              Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy

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              • #8
                A simple Awareness check will tell you that you are being targeted by something. And you need Spirit of equal level to effect the Pattern of a Fera. It is no more violent than using Correspondence and Force to cook someone alive with electrical short when you are on the other side of the country.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Aya Tari View Post
                  A simple Awareness check will tell you that you are being targeted by something. And you need Spirit of equal level to effect the Pattern of a Fera. It is no more violent than using Correspondence and Force to cook someone alive with electrical short when you are on the other side of the country.
                  Well the key difference is that someone who is shocked to death out of nowhere is suspicious, someone having a heart attack is not... but I get the point.

                  As for needing Spirit when attacking the Pattern of a Fera... I had forgotten that rule haha. Now I'm imagining a Kinfolk Mage game where the Mage Kinfolk of various Breeds meet to try and overcome the problems faced by Gaia's children. By pulling on Mystic Threads they can imitate the Forms and Gifts of their Kin. Spirit and Life would tend to be primary.

                  Ooh... just remembered the fate of the Bats and Bulls and Hogs... a group of Mages who were Masters of Life and Spirit could fight to resurrect the lost breeds. But not the Weretortoises. Fuck the Weretortoises. I'm GLAD they're dead.
                  Last edited by 11twiggins; 02-11-2017, 12:35 PM.

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                  • #10
                    While yes, it would be coincidental, you run into the fact that any mage who's at all important has friends who can cover the bases they can't. So yes, you could death curse some newly awakened schlub. But that's hardly going to help when you're trying to assassinate a technocratic boss. Or even a Traditional one, to be honest. Heck, since most Chantry's have 'respawn' chambers these days just killing someone is about as handy as punching them in the face.

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                    • #11
                      True. Even Numina can make people immune to such effects if they benefit from a Fortune 4 blessing as an inexplicable event causes the Mage to fail in the casting (a water pipe bursts and floods the Mage's sanctum, the police get the wrong address and raid the Mage's house because they think he is a drug smuggler, an overflying aircraft experiences a cargo bay malfunction and drops ten metric tons of luggage on the Mage's house, etc). Of course, the Mage will eventually catch on and try to neutralize the Fortune effect (Mages cannot resist Fortune effects with Willpower if the Fortune effects do not directly target them).

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                      • #12
                        In my book there are many effects that can lead to a heart attack:
                        Life 3 (plain and simple lethal damage)

                        Life 4 (the heart is transformed in a malfunctioning heart)

                        Entropy 4 (up the probability of a heart attack A LOT)

                        Life 3, Forces 2 (electric manipulation to induce a heart attack)

                        Mind 4 (“command“ them to stop their heart)

                        Spirit 2 (call a spirit to do the job)

                        Life 3, Time 3 (Age the heart until it stops working)

                        Life 4, Matter 2 (turn the heart to stone for a scene)

                        Correspondence 5 (stretch the veins and arteries by a factor x)

                        I would only consider the last three vulgar.
                        If the effect only does damage that gets described as a heart attack (like Life 3), and the victim survives and heals, then there are no detrimental effects for him. If the effect magicked your heart into a heart attack, then you have problems even if you survive.


                        So, this Zen Master walks up to a hot dog stand and says: "Make me one with everything!"

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                        • #13
                          That Life 3 Forces 2 one would require a few dots in Medicineto be able to do that, as well as a paradigm that recognises electrical impulses that governs the heart (instead of, say, spirits, or the four humors).

                          Willpower should be able to combat the Mind one, and I'll be interested to see which spirits would be the most appropriate for the job, and what would be in it for them.


                          Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                            That Life 3 Forces 2 one would require a few dots in Medicineto be able to do that, as well as a paradigm that recognises electrical impulses that governs the heart (instead of, say, spirits, or the four humors).

                            Willpower should be able to combat the Mind one, and I'll be interested to see which spirits would be the most appropriate for the job, and what would be in it for them.
                            All good points.

                            Every effect listed needs a modern paradigm because of the heart attack. And the skill requirements should either be with every effect or with none of them.
                            Spirit Lore, Esoterics, Medicine are probably the 3 skills that let you do all the effects.


                            So, this Zen Master walks up to a hot dog stand and says: "Make me one with everything!"

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                            • #15
                              Every effect listed needs a modern paradigm because of the heart attack.
                              I'm not so sure about that. The concept of a heart mysteriously stopping isn't exactly modern..just the scientific reasons for it are
                              The earliest descriptions of according symptoms are ancient, and mythic curses to stop it might just as well be.


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