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Why do Tzimisce get a free pass on Appearance rating?

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  • Why do Tzimisce get a free pass on Appearance rating?

    What do I mean by a "free pass?" Well, hear me out:

    •Clans with monstrous or inhuman appearances all end up with an Appearance value of 0. I'm talking about the Nos, the Samedi, the Gargoyles, etc. and so on. Even Gangrel who have succumbed to enough Frenzies will start seeing penalties from all the animalistic features they get stuck with.
    •Powers such as 'Shape of the Beast's Wrath' (Protean 7) or 'Horrid Form/Chiropteran Marauder' (Vicissitude 4/6) reduce all Social stats to 1 or lower, depending on the power.

    But the other day, just for poops and giggles, I'm browsing the whitewolf wiki and reading up on Sascha Vykos, the Tzimisce signature character, and notice that even though s/he has turned itself into essentially something out of a Lovecraftian story or Clive Barker film... it still has Appearance 7. Is it beautiful? Yes, but in a very horribly unnatural and alien sort of way.
    Because Malleable Visage (Vicissitude 1) doesn't seem to care what you actually look like; your Appearance goes up no matter what sort of beauty or monstrosity you turn yourself into!

    ...
    Wut? How? Er... does not compute?
    Help me wrap my head around this. A "monstrously beautiful" "sculpted" Gargoyle is stuck with Appearance 0, but Sascha Vykos (and potentially any other Tzimisce) gets super-human levels at a rating of 7 (or whatever individual Generational max is)?
    Last edited by Schwann145; 12-22-2017, 12:56 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by V20, Apperance, p.98
    The Appearance Attribute is a measure of how well a character makes a first impression. This may be conventional “attractiveness,” but it can also be the effect of distinctive features, an exotic mien, an air of confidence, distinctive posture, a flair for dressing well — anything remarkable upon initial observation can contribute to a character’s Appearance. Indeed, Appearance is the amalgamation of many descriptive personal characteristics. Appearance is subconscious and instinctual — it appeals to the lower levels of the psyche, so it shapes first impressions and the nature of memories thereafter.
    Appearance is not just about how pretty you are: it's about how you carry yourself. And funnily enough, in V20 only Nossies and Gangrel with deformities can't be made pretty with Vicissitude: all the others are fair game.

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    • #3
      That only makes it more confusing. Flesh-Craft it's supposed to be just that, transforming the flesh. How does "crafting the flesh" traduce into something obviously monstrous still being regarded as beautiful?, because reasons like "how you carry yourself" seem more like a Presence thing...

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      • #4
        Appearance is a poorly implemented attribute in general, and sometimes it is just chaff and nonsense.

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        • #5
          I'd say it's less how you carry yourself and more how much you reach a standard or standards of beauty, however incongruent or alien they may be. When I think of high Appearance but alien looking Tzimisce, I sorta think along the lines of Grace Neutral (Google it), where it's definitely far outside the norm, but it's executed at a much higher level than most.

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          • #6
            This is something that requires active ST policing as blind adherence to game mechanics over story can lead to ridiculous results.

            Now to some extent, I don't mind a non-human appearance still having a high Appearance. Any number of non-human alien races in science fiction/fantasy settings still seem attractive from a human point of view. (Even if in a Vampire setting such appearances can be Masquerade violations). But definitely there are many canonical examples of Tzimisce monstrosities that in no way could be considered to result in high Appearance; they'd be much lower, even zero.

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            • #7
              It's a literary conceit, essentially. Thematically, Nosferatu are supposed to be grotesque. And so they are mechanically, even if you could make a case for some being appearance 1, going from pictures.

              Tzimisce are supposed to be tempting in their alieness. And so they are, even if you could make a case for them being hideous, going by the pictures.

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              • #8
                As others have said, Appearance is a composite stat of "natural" beauty, hygiene, fashion sense, social acumen and grace, body language, and (little-p) room presence. Under it fall topical and trivial, but no less important to social grace, applications of Charisma, Manipulation, Dexterity, Perception, and Wits. The word "topical" is the key, there; one doesn't roll Charisma to flash a winning smile or alluring smirk to someone across a room, one rolls Appearance because it is based exclusively on, well, appearance; it's not until the target of the smile walks over to speak to the person, or vice versa, happens that Charisma comes into play.

                It's a mechanical application of "je ne sais quoi", basically.

                What one must bear in mind with Nosferatu, Gangrel, Gargoyles, Samedi, and even Cappadocians, as compared to Tzimisce, is the latter clan revels in and emphasizes social graces vastly more than the others. As devolved as they are in the modern nights, Tzimisce still cleave to their old traditions: hospitality, civility (even if it's a twisted definition of civility), scholarly pursuit, and learning. All of that mandates at least a baseline level of social aptitude, and the sense of aesthetics which supports it, of which other "monstrous" clans have no need (Gangrel), little if any capacity to practice (Gargoyles), or even consciously reject (Nosferatu). Sure, those clans have internal social structures and cultures which work around their own flaws and collective shortcomings, but that does not negate the very existence of those flaws and shortcomings; in fact, those flaws and shortcomings are what mandate their unique clan cultures.

                VtR, I think, does a better job of explaining the Nosferatu weakness, even if it's less pronounced in the latter version. VtM Nosferatu aren't just ugly. They lose any and every last vestige of aesthetic sense and social grace that would otherwise redeem their horrific mugs. That doesn't mean a Nosferatu can't be interesting to talk to and even likable (high Charisma) or be able to work a room and extract information or minor favors (high Manipulation), but it does mean they need to put some time and real effort into cultivating assets in order to overcome their severe social deficits.

                A Tzimisce can also use Malleable Visage to reduce themselves to an Appearance 0 monstrosity if they so choose, don't forget; the ones that do also happen to be on the more solitary and monstrous side of things, taking on applicable Paths and fomenting relevant abilities and Virtue ratings. But, there's more value in crafting oneself into a "beautiful monstrosity" as a demonstration of skill with Vicissitude (something upon which clan prestige hinges), and to further oneself as a Metamorphosist if the Tzimisce in question has that Path.

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                • #9
                  In at least some versions of the story, Snow White is so beautiful that even animals see her as beautiful, even though clearly she looks nothing like a gazelle or wolf. With inhuman Tzimisce, it's the same thing, only now it's the humans who are impressed just as much despite the alien looks.

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                  • #10
                    Elves are usually inhuman yet beautiful; Asari from Mass Effect look attractive even with the tendrils they have as an alternative to hair; anime girls have giant eyes and disproportionate bodies, yet many people still find them arousing. I wouldn't say that "alien" is enough to be ugly.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post
                      Elves are usually inhuman yet beautiful; Asari from Mass Effect look attractive even with the tendrils they have as an alternative to hair; anime girls have giant eyes and disproportionate bodies, yet many people still find them arousing. I wouldn't say that "alien" is enough to be ugly.
                      Sure, but examples such as these come with the baked-in suspension of disbelief that is part of their stories.
                      Asari fits in the Mass Effect world. If she literally walked up to you on the street in the real world, would she be beautiful or would you be freaked out?

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                      • #12
                        Firstly - have any of you seen the trailer for the new Battle Angel Alita? It's right down in the uncanny valley but technically the title character could be considered to have a good Appearance stat because other than the eyes she's quite pretty.

                        Secondly, as we all should know, any rules system is an abstraction and prone to flaws, especially with rules that use zero rated stats. Fixing the App stat to zero is actually a fairly bad design, it would be much better if the Nosferatu et al had difficulty or dice pool modifiers to social skills rather than the argument causing App 0.

                        Thirdly, again as we all should be well aware of, the artwork in an RPG book (particularly White Wolf products) is not genuinely representative of what the characters in the world of darkness would actually look like. It's magnified to make the books look cool and get you to buy and enjoy them - so take it with a pinch of salt, especially the more grotesque it is.

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                        • #13
                          EDIT: Please disregard this reply. Others have answered better than I could.
                          Last edited by Nyrufa; 12-26-2017, 07:50 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Schwann145 View Post
                            If she literally walked up to you on the street in the real world, would she be beautiful or would you be freaked out?
                            Why not both?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Schwann145 View Post

                              Sure, but examples such as these come with the baked-in suspension of disbelief that is part of their stories.
                              Asari fits in the Mass Effect world. If she literally walked up to you on the street in the real world, would she be beautiful or would you be freaked out?


                              The only thing that freaked me out about the Asari is their cranial structure. When I look at them, I just imagine the skull being wrapped around their brain, instead of encasing it.

                              Other than that? They're just blue skinned humans with (occasionally) black eyes.

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