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Spirit Manipulation - Uses of Duality?

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  • Spirit Manipulation - Uses of Duality?

    I was reviewing Rites of the Blood today and reading over Spirit Manipulation. I'm not sure why, but I've always liked the idea of Vampires meddling in Garou affairs. That said, I'm just a bit stumped on the applicable uses for the fifth level power Duality.

    The thaumaturge can now fully interact with the spirit world — a strange place that only sometimes resembles the real world. While using this power, she exists on both planes of existence at once. She is able to pick up objects in the physical world and place them in the spirit world and vice versa. Beings and landscape features in both realms are solid to her, and she can engage in any manner of interaction. She can even use Thaumaturgy and other Disciplines in either world. This is not without its dangers. With a single misstep, the vampire can find himself trapped in the spirit realm with no way to return home. Several incautious thaumaturges have starved into torpor while trapped on the other side of the barrier that separates the physical and spirit realms.
    System:
    The thaumaturge may interact with the spirit world for fifteen minutes. Each additional level of success on the activation roll increases the duration of this power by an additional fifteen minutes. Duality can only be enacted while the character begins the process in the physical world. While in this state, the thaumaturge becomes susceptible to attacks from both realms and suffers from a +1 difficulty to all Perception rolls. The character is still considered to be in the physical world for purposes of basic physics (and common sense).Spirits who have been previously angered will seek physical revenge on unwary thaumaturges using this power. A botch on the roll to activate this power tears the vampire out of the physical world and traps him in the spirit realm. The way back the physical realm, if there is one, is left to the Storyteller’s discretion, and may spark an entirely new story.
    I guess what confuses is me that they exist on both planes at once and still remain physical on the normal plane. So you can't use it to bypass obstacles. Is it just for hiding stuff in the umbra? Hopefully someone gets it better than me for why this is the top power of the path.

  • #2
    It's really good at getting yourself killed by spirits. Considering PoSM 3 lets you command spirits and 4 lets you create fetishes, I'm not sure what reason you could really have to want to enter the Umbra unless you were really spoiling for a good whooping.

    I'm sure there are niche uses for this power, but 1-4 covers pretty much everything you could want to do with spirits, and this power is both expensive and extremely dangerous to use.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Zanos View Post
      It's really good at getting yourself killed by spirits. Considering PoSM 3 lets you command spirits and 4 lets you create fetishes, I'm not sure what reason you could really have to want to enter the Umbra unless you were really spoiling for a good whooping.

      I'm sure there are niche uses for this power, but 1-4 covers pretty much everything you could want to do with spirits, and this power is both expensive and extremely dangerous to use.
      Like others have said, it's good for evidence disposal or hiding objects you don't want found. I'd presume it would be useful when certain acts of chiminage are involved, like delivering mortal world items or novelties to spirits which may be so inclined or as an act of good faith with certain spirits to interact on grounds favorable to them as opposed to rudely ripping them from their own demesnes.

      Likewise, it's only really to be considered dangerous if and when engaging with spirits innately hostile to vampires, or if the vampire has pissed off spirits in any of the number of ways they can. Certain spirits may certainly be prejudiced against vampires, or hold grudges against vampires as a group, of course -- especially when it comes to thaumaturges acting like dicks to them again and again. Of course, that's the case with any supernatural -- not even fera or shamanic mages are immune from it.

      There's no reason to expect vampires on agreeable Paths, or who have decent Humanity ratings, who treat spirits with due respect, refrain from acting in ways on their side of the Gauntlet which would anger local spirits, engage in chiminage on fair terms, and fulfill their obligations, wouldn't gain at least ambivalence or even foster good relations and friendship with the local Umbrood. And if they do, Duality could be one hell of an asset as spirits could provide very literal material aid to friendly spirit thaumaturges in need. I'm not saying it would be easy, but it should at least be possible.

      Not to mention the capability of dealing with malevolent spirits directly, or particularly smartass garou attempting to jump an unwary thaumaturge, or escape one, by stepping sideways. Dreamcatchers still work if the spirit thaumaturge is using Duality.

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      • #4
        PoSM 3 and 4, which are both significantly more powerful than Duality, sort of preclude a good reputation with spirits. They pretty much only work by forcing your greater will onto a spirit so it cannot deny you.

        I was also under the impression that most spirits hated or would generally refuse to work with vampires anyway, on account of them being Wyrm tainted.

        Again, I'm sure the power has niche uses, but it seems like it pales in comparison to previous features of the path, and I'd rather spend my XP elsewhere.
        Last edited by Zanos; 02-15-2017, 11:48 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Zanos View Post
          PoSM 3 and 4, which are both significantly more powerful than Duality, sort of preclude a good reputation with spirits. They pretty much only work by forcing your greater will onto a spirit so it cannot deny you.

          I was also under the impression that most spirits hated or would generally refuse to work with vampires anyway, on account of them being Wyrm tainted.

          Again, I'm sure the power has niche uses, but it seems like it pales in comparison to previous features of the path, and I'd rather spend my XP elsewhere.

          eh I think Vampire works better with High Umbra stuff they already have a connection via astral

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Zanos View Post
            PoSM 3 and 4, which are both significantly more powerful than Duality, sort of preclude a good reputation with spirits. They pretty much only work by forcing your greater will onto a spirit so it cannot deny you...
            Just because you can do something (in this case, compel or force spirits), does not mean you will do it.

            Otherwise, Dreamspeakers and Fera would be among the most universally-reviled beings among spirits, because they can coerce, harm, or even destroy spirits long before they can supernaturally command or bind them. Instead, they have about as good a relationship with spirits as one can expect (we're still talking about spirits, here), despite what they can do, because they're not as a general rule complete dicks.
            Last edited by Theodrim; 02-16-2017, 12:23 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
              because they're not as a general rule complete dicks.
              Vampires, as a general rule, kind of are though.

              Agreed with the point of view, in any case.


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              • #8
                Sorry, you're suggesting that a Thaumaturge would learn PoSM 3 and 4 and then just...never use them?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                  Just because you can do something (in this case, compel or force spirits), does not mean you will do it.

                  Otherwise, Dreamspeakers and Fera would be among the most universally-reviled beings among spirits, because they can coerce, harm, or even destroy spirits long before they can supernaturally command or bind them. Instead, they have about as good a relationship with spirits as one can expect (we're still talking about spirits, here), despite what they can do, because they're not as a general rule complete dicks.
                  I don't necessarily disagree. I really appreciate the suggestion as far as chimage as it wasn't something I considered thinking on it. However, I still somewhat agree with Zanos. At least in the presentation of Spirit Manipulation and Spirits.
                  1. It says some spirits even pretend not to speak human languages when dealing with Vampires. Not to mention how it talks about how some Garou frenzy just at seeing a Vampire with a fetish. While I think one can have an ok relationship, it seems odd that it makes it seem inherently antagonistic to start.
                  2. Levels three and four are inherently antagonistic by all accounts. Three is command and four is binding.
                  "Spirits compelled by this power are fully aware that they are being forced into these actions, and may well seek revenge on their erstwhile masters at a later time."
                  "Fetishes created by this power are often unreliable and fail at inopportune moments, as the spirits within are understandably displeased with their situation and will take any opportunity to escape or thwart their captors."
                  So if the intent of the fifth level power is to give you the ability to further a good relationship, it seems like this directly goes against the uses of the earlier powers. I'm not quite sure I'm on-board with the comparison to werewolves or mages. Since they have both a much large host of abilities to interact with spirits and history with them (arguably, not counting maybe some).

                  You might be right. Just seems like they should give you the carrot before the stick, if that's the intent. It'd make more sense to me if maybe they switched three and five at that point.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Zanos View Post
                    Sorry, you're suggesting that a Thaumaturge would learn PoSM 3 and 4 and then just...never use them?
                    Oh, for chrissake. You seriously can't see a middle ground between "never use it at all" or "all spirit dominate, all the time", where there's room for actually dealing with spirits wisely and responsibly, even ethically, to avoid precisely the sort of blowback vampires avoid at all costs with literally any other kind of supernatural creature?

                    This is to what it boils down; chiminage is spirits' version of prestation. This is as close to an absolutely perfect analogy as you'll get with anything approaching crossover material. Prestation is How to Vampire 101, and any vampire with a decent Occult rating who has studied spirits, which is kind of a prerequisite for learning Spirit Thaumaturgy, of an age sufficient to have learned Spirit Thaumaturgy 3 even as a primary path, is going to know and understand chiminage. And likewise, because they know what happens if a vampire -- any vampire -- starts ignoring and screwing around with prestation, they'll be able to figure out what'll happen to them if they start ignoring and screwing around with chiminage -- if they hope to continue existing for any amount of time.

                    Don't ask me why OPP opted to not include a primer on chiminage along with the published material on Spirit Thaumaturgy. Or Koldunic Sorcery or Necromancy, for that matter. I guess they figured it wasn't worth the page count, and any player who desires to engage in chiminage probably already has, or will get their hands on, the requisite Mage/WW books. If the ST wants to even go into that level of detail for one power out of an entire set, of one PC, in an entire chronicle. For the most part, the player saying "my character deals with spirits ethically, makes good deals, and honors their parts of the bargain" should suffice.

                    Whether or not they care is up to the individual vampire. Just like dealing with mortals and younger, higher-generation vampires. A Ventrue, for example, can run around Dominating any neonate, but they're not going to because they know that sort of behavior inevitably bites them in the ass. Perhaps literally. Even a Giovanni knows to tread lightly around powerful wraiths and spectres and resort to deal-making, even if they're perfectly comfortable bossing around and coercing lesser, vulnerable, ones.

                    1. It says some spirits even pretend not to speak human languages when dealing with Vampires. Not to mention how it talks about how some Garou frenzy just at seeing a Vampire with a fetish. While I think one can have an ok relationship, it seems odd that it makes it seem inherently antagonistic to start.
                    2. Levels three and four are inherently antagonistic by all accounts. Three is command and four is binding.
                    "Spirits compelled by this power are fully aware that they are being forced into these actions, and may well seek revenge on their erstwhile masters at a later time."
                    "Fetishes created by this power are often unreliable and fail at inopportune moments, as the spirits within are understandably displeased with their situation and will take any opportunity to escape or thwart their captors."
                    Well...yeah. I straight out laid that out in my first post on the topic, that it should be possible to foster good relations with spirits a thaumaturge contacts, but not necessarily easy. Especially if the thaumaturge has a decent Humanity rating, or at least on a path which emphasizes ethical conduct. And for the Paths which emphasize ethical conduct and fair dealing, it's usually a pretty absolute requirement backed by a low-level sin.

                    As far as levels three and four go, judging from context it's obvious the default assumption is these actions occur in a vacuum. Level 3 can be used to simply enforce an agreed-upon deal; the spirit may not be exactly happy with the lack of trust it implies, but on the other hand spirits have their own means of enforcing contracts which they may employ in turn, and if the vampire honors the deal as made or even exceeds their obligation, that's going to negate whatever ill will the vampire may have otherwise earned. That's just a part of chiminage.

                    Likewise, being bound as a fetish for a certain amount of time may be a part of a negotiated deal; that's how ethical Garou and mages do it, and their fetishes are subject to the same chance of failure based upon the spirit's temperament and attitude towards its wielder. Case in point, emphasis mine, "...often unreliable...any opportunity to escape or thwart their captors". That implies the spirit was captured and forced into an object to create a fetish, opposed to the spirit agreeing to serve as a fetish for a set period of time willingly, as a part of a negotiated deal.

                    For example, "hey, Fred the War Spirit, can I put you in this sword for a few minutes? I have a couple hunters beating down my door, and I could use a little help. I'll let you out right after, and I'll beat up a hippie every night for the next six months!". If Fred the War Spirit has good relations with the vampire, and the vampire's always come through with information, deals, and acts in a way Fred the War Spirit generally finds agreeable, Fred the War Spirit may just let the vampire bind it if Fred has no reason to doubt the vampire will in fact let Fred go, and beat up hippies for six months.

                    Getting popped into a sword to kill vampire hunters is certainly not in conflict with Fred's nature as a War Spirit. Hell, depending on Fred's attitude towards the vampire and how impressive the ensuring act of ultra-violence is, Fred may end up saying "fuck you, Fangs. Leave me in here, you have 180 days left of sweet, sweet patchouli-soaked murder to pay back, I'm counting, and I aim to be part of it! Chop chop, Moonbeam Slowflake ain't gonna decapitate herself!".

                    And, Garou are just dicks. Most Garou frenzy at just seeing a vampire, that fetish in their hand nine times out of ten won't actually matter as they're already going into Furry Cuisinart Mode. Most vampires show up as Wyrm-tainted by default, and Garou are just going to naturally assume any vampire with a fetish did something nefarious to get their hands on it.
                    Last edited by Theodrim; 02-16-2017, 11:21 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                      Oh, for chrissake. You seriously can't see a middle ground between "never use it at all" or "all spirit dominate, all the time", where there's room for actually dealing with spirits wisely and responsibly, even ethically, to avoid precisely the sort of blowback vampires avoid at all costs with literally any other kind of supernatural creature?
                      I don't really see any other ground when the path is pretty clearly written from the perspective that in the Vampire setting spirits have an inherently and automatic antagonistic view of Kindred, and spirits aren't exactly the type of supernatural creature that respond particularly well to reasonable discourse once they hold a certain view. I guess you could Presence them, but Presence isn't really in the arsenal of most Vampires with access to Spirit Manipulation.

                      I'm guessing the reason chimminage isn't included is because it's difficult to nearly impossible for a vampire to interact peaceably with spirits. Your entire view of the path is a re-interpretation of the way the powers are actually written. SM 4 doesn't say you can have a discourse with a spirit to have it agree to hop in your sword, although I suppose you could convince it to not make the willpower roll. It does say that you force a spirit into bondage with the power of the fetish being directly related to just how much stronger your will is than the spirits, and then gives another roll to keep it under control when you call on it's power because it hates you.

                      In any case I would think Spirit Manipulation 1 and 2 would be sufficient for that unless you need to deliver an object to the spirit in question to fulfill your end.

                      Are you actually arguing that Spirit Manipulation 5 deserves it's spot at the top of the path, past the really potent abilities that are 3 and 4? I recognized that the power has some niche uses in my original post, but the entire point of this thread is whether or not it's actually justifiable as a 5th dot path power.

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                      • #12
                        I generally see/agree with your point. It seems to me like the flaw only really holds with the fluff makes it seem inherently antagonistic and that dealing should come before forcing (imo).
                        Well...yeah. I straight out laid that out in my first post on the topic, that it should be possible to foster good relations with spirits a thaumaturge contacts, but not necessarily easy. Especially if the thaumaturge has a decent Humanity rating, or at least on a path which emphasizes ethical conduct. And for the Paths which emphasize ethical conduct and fair dealing, it's usually a pretty absolute requirement backed by a low-level sin.
                        I mean, like I said, it seems very ass backwards to give the stick before the carrot. Fostering good relations is hard, as you indicate. I get your point, Duality could be good if you've fostered a good relationship. And it might help with that. It just seems an inherently better design (even if that doesn't seem to be the intent from the fluff) if it switched with three. Otherwise you are giving all these tools that seem much more likely to piss them off. Comes off as See, Speak, COMMAND, ENTRAP, Deal. I'll have to give another look at W20 core. Because it was my impression that most spirits view Vampires as Werewolves do. But this could be way off.

                        As far as levels three and four go, judging from context it's obvious the default assumption is these actions occur in a vacuum. Level 3 can be used to simply enforce an agreed-upon deal; the spirit may not be exactly happy with the lack of trust it implies, but on the other hand spirits have their own means of enforcing contracts which they may employ in turn, and if the vampire honors the deal as made or even exceeds their obligation, that's going to negate whatever ill will the vampire may have otherwise earned. That's just a part of chiminage.
                        Eh, I feel like this concept is hard for me to buy. To give what I'd consider an equivalent. You make a deal with another Cainite, 'Ok, now I need to Dominate you to make sure you follow through.' I mean, I'm not sure any following through on both sides would remove the bother of the lack of trust. That seems like a big deal. Again, not contesting the interpretation of duality's possible uses.

                        Most Garou frenzy at just seeing a vampire.
                        Are you sure about this? That's not the impression I've gotten before.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
                          And, Garou are just dicks. Most Garou frenzy at just seeing a vampire, that fetish in their hand nine times out of ten won't actually matter as they're already going into Furry Cuisinart Mode.
                          What a load of hogwash. What GM would ask for a rage roll for merely seeing a vampire? Maybe if vampires killed that particular Garou's family while forcing him to watch, sure. That is an extreme exception, though. Saying that 'most' Garou frenzy on sight is silly and would make Garou unplayable idiots.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Monalfie View Post
                            Because it was my impression that most spirits view Vampires as Werewolves do. But this could be way off.
                            If you are going by Werewolf, this is pretty much correct. But worth adding, I don't know that the initial writers of Spirit Manipulation really had the Werewolf cosmology in mind. They seemed to more just be writing cool spirit powerz.
                            Originally posted by Monalfie View Post
                            Are you sure about this? That's not the impression I've gotten before.
                            Originally posted by The Laughing Stranger View Post
                            What a load of hogwash. What GM would ask for a rage roll for merely seeing a vampire? Maybe if vampires killed that particular Garou's family while forcing him to watch, sure. That is an extreme exception, though. Saying that 'most' Garou frenzy on sight is silly and would make Garou unplayable idiots.
                            You guys beat me to it. I don't understand why this perception keeps coming up.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by idpersona View Post
                              If you are going by Werewolf, this is pretty much correct. But worth adding, I don't know that the initial writers of Spirit Manipulation really had the Werewolf cosmology in mind. They seemed to more just be writing cool spirit powerz.


                              You guys beat me to it. I don't understand why this perception keeps coming up.
                              I do- it is because lupines are depicted kinda like this. People don't seem to pick up on the fact that lupines = werewolf lite, not actual Garou. The werewolves act like moronic antagonist beatsticks because that is how vampires regard them, as savage monsters without subtly or tact.

                              That is fine, in a vampire game... that is the role that NPC wolfmen were designed to play. Unfortunately the idea that lupine behavior = fleshed out Garou behavior seems to have bled into real-world meta perception, to the point that all WoD werewolves across time and space are supposed to frenzy at the literal drop of a hat.

                              Kindred don't auto-frenzy around fire; they aren't so blood addicted as to be compelled to lap up any and all blood sources they are confronted with. By the same token, Garou are under no obligation to be psychotic berserker half-wits that claw-fuck everything they see that that slightly annoys them.
                              Last edited by The Laughing Stranger; 02-16-2017, 01:57 PM.

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