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  • Discipline rarity?

    Need some help understanding the commonly held ideas about the rarity (or lack thereof) of the Disciplines.
    For instance, it's very typical for players and storytellers alike to assume that the "physical disciplines" (Potence, Celerity, and Fortitude) are very easy to learn, don't necessarily require instruction, and are very common among any clan or bloodline.
    Yet, they're not even as common as some others (such as Auspex, which shows up naturally in more areas than any of the above 3). But most people would put Auspex as "harder to learn" than the above.
    In the same vein, it's common to see the idea that Protean is easy to learn if you just go looking for it. If unique disciplines are secrets to be treasured and guarded, why on earth would the Gangrel so easily share their (incredibly valuable) exclusive discipline with just anyone?

    Also, just out of curiosity, is there any given "in-lore" reason why some disciplines are more easily understood/learned/passed than others (ie: In Clan vs Out of Clan)?
    Are "clan-exclusive" disciplines truly clan exclusive? Or are all disciplines available to all kindred, but some just come more easily than others? (Nature vs nurture?)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Schwann145 View Post
    Need some help understanding the commonly held ideas about the rarity (or lack thereof) of the Disciplines.
    For instance, it's very typical for players and storytellers alike to assume that the "physical disciplines" (Potence, Celerity, and Fortitude) are very easy to learn, don't necessarily require instruction, and are very common among any clan or bloodline.
    Yet, they're not even as common as some others (such as Auspex, which shows up naturally in more areas than any of the above 3). But most people would put Auspex as "harder to learn" than the above.
    In the same vein, it's common to see the idea that Protean is easy to learn if you just go looking for it. If unique disciplines are secrets to be treasured and guarded, why on earth would the Gangrel so easily share their (incredibly valuable) exclusive discipline with just anyone?

    Also, just out of curiosity, is there any given "in-lore" reason why some disciplines are more easily understood/learned/passed than others (ie: In Clan vs Out of Clan)?
    Are "clan-exclusive" disciplines truly clan exclusive? Or are all disciplines available to all kindred, but some just come more easily than others? (Nature vs nurture?)
    Prior to the 19th century and the invention of the train and the steamship, Protean was absolutely necessary to safely travel between cities. Trips were long taking days, weeks or even months, so you had to have it to protect yourself from the sun in case you couldn't find shelter for the day.

    And even if you did find shelter for the day, how trustworthy was it? You don't know these people. Better to trust a random patch of earth that no one can tell the difference from the miles of road/wilderness before and after it.

    Also the country side was infested with lupines and other nasty things, so knowing feral claws to defend yourself, or shape of the beast so you can turn into a bat and escape through the air was also very important.

    Because of the above two factors, for kindred prior to the 19th century who needed to travel, protean would have been a necessity, not a luxury and the further back you go in time the more true that gets. People would have paid the price that the Gangrel demanded to learn until the point that protean was so wide spread that the price crashed and there were some kindred in every clan who knew it. Now, among vampires under 150 years old it's going to be rarer and rarer the younger you go, but anyone wanting to learn can probably be referred to an elder from their clan within a few hours drive who knows it. And if not, they can pay the price the local Gangrel demands.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Alucard View Post
      Prior to the 19th century and the invention of the train and the steamship, Protean was absolutely necessary to safely travel between cities. Trips were long taking days, weeks or even months, so you had to have it to protect yourself from the sun in case you couldn't find shelter for the day.
      I really would like to know where this myth comes from. I suspect it's an artefact of the original developers and setting being from the US, which was and still is vastly more rural than Europe or the Middle East.

      But in Europe, perhaps apart from Russia, there are populated places everywhere. You have to go out of your way not to have several villages (100-500 inhabitants) and a town or two (1k+ inhabitants) along a day's ride, and even a day's walk will touch many places.

      Commerce is lively, with tradesman going to-and-fro, especially on or around fair days. Every house in an inn in times of need, and middle-class people do travel on business regularly.

      Even in the world of darkness pre-modern Europe is a densely populated place with quite save roads, plenty of places to stay, and a tradition of mobility. Not to mention that a vampire would be travelling with their ghouls, who would naturally travel at daytime.

      Protean is only a necessity if you are taking off roads, want to avoid, rather than move towards settled places, are travelling by your own. None of which a vampire would do.

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      • #4
        You are right, and I honestly don't think it is a good idea to assume any Discipline is easier to learn. However, because there kind of needs to be one for corner cases like the Caitiff, Ghouls, and things that have and can learn Didciplines, but do not actually have set Clans, I would suggest Potence, (only), as the option one could develope without a mentor. An alternative, perhaps for Kindred (not Ghouls and others) might either be Dominate or Presence, two very iconic "universal" vampire powers, and in somecways actually make more sense than Potence, (if you consider that it would be sort of counterintuitive to develope Potence while also struggling to learn the general vampire condition of Blood Buffing).

        It always kind of bugged me that it kind of screws over some Clans like the Brujah, who basically have two "easy that anyone could do it" Clan Disciplines. I also really agree that it makes little sense that the Gangrel would at all easily part with Protean. It is very counter to the overall Clan's mindset to give potential enemies and rivals tools to better compete or hunt you, even for some sort of boon. It also, very obviously, undermines the mythology and function of the Clan. Similarly, I would think that the Nosferatu would be incredibly resistant to teaching Obfuscate, as so much of their Clan's power base and mystique revolves around it, though it is not unique to that Clan. Simply put, the more Kindred who know it, the less "needed" the Nos are, the harder it is for them to do their jobs, and they already have an uphill battle in the fact that many of their most likely rivals have the counter-Discipline of Auspex.

        This is also true for vampires that learn a Discipline from a mentor. Sharing that understanding weakens yourself, makes it possible for others to use those tricks against you, and depowers your corner of the market. In most cases, I would say this is about in the same area as a Life Boon. As in, it generally takes a Life Boon being paid off to get another Kindred to teach you a Discipline, or by earning their trust, respect, or patronage (Mentor) or taking down a Red List member or very powerful local Clan Enemy.

        Generally speaking, outdide of the Sabbat, and to a much lesser degree the Anarchs, it is very, very difficult to learn other Disciplines, almost regardless of which one it is. Kindred simply do not grant that information to others without a damn good reason (long-term Mentor, Clan Friendship, or a pretty notable debt). One's Coterie/Pack might be an exception, particularly for the first few dots, because that might be one of the few edges they have, but, at the same time sharring that can begin to chip away at an individuals place in the group.

        This allows for the PCs to still have some access to it, and sort of establishes a mentality where it os not impossible to earn other Disciplines, but just difficult enough that entire sessions and stories can be run to make it possible for the PCs, to get that needed edge against the rest of the society.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Alucard View Post
          Prior to the 19th century and the invention of the train and the steamship, Protean was absolutely necessary to safely travel between cities. Trips were long taking days, weeks or even months, so you had to have it to protect yourself from the sun in case you couldn't find shelter for the day.

          And even if you did find shelter for the day, how trustworthy was it? You don't know these people. Better to trust a random patch of earth that no one can tell the difference from the miles of road/wilderness before and after it.

          Also the country side was infested with lupines and other nasty things, so knowing feral claws to defend yourself, or shape of the beast so you can turn into a bat and escape through the air was also very important.

          Because of the above two factors, for kindred prior to the 19th century who needed to travel, protean would have been a necessity, not a luxury and the further back you go in time the more true that gets. People would have paid the price that the Gangrel demanded to learn until the point that protean was so wide spread that the price crashed and there were some kindred in every clan who knew it. Now, among vampires under 150 years old it's going to be rarer and rarer the younger you go, but anyone wanting to learn can probably be referred to an elder from their clan within a few hours drive who knows it. And if not, they can pay the price the local Gangrel demands.
          With that much bargaining power for the Gangrel shouldn't that make them a powerhouse clan? Aren't they basically the same, politically, in the Dark Ages as they are in Modern Nights; reclusives at best and Tremere lab rats at worst? What did all that power earn them? Nothing?

          As for travel, I think you might be underselling other disciplines. Sure, specific city to specific city might take days, weeks, or months, but you wouldn't travel in a straight line; you'd hop from town to hamlet to village to farm to roadside inn, to conveniently-in-the-way-city, etc. Any place with people and shelter will do, and that doesn't require a city. Once you have that, how necessary is Protean? For instance, both Presence and Dominate are shared among many different clans (neither are clan-specific the way Protean is) and either one would go a looong way toward making travel much easier.
          Last edited by Schwann145; 01-02-2018, 07:42 AM.

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          • #6
            A lot of the Gangrel lore from early on was that they where some of the only Cainites that could reliably manage to travel and survive in the wilds. It wasn't just Protean, but also Fortitude and Animalsim. Being able to set up in a home or cave day to day is possible, but leaves way to much up to chance. The house could catch fire (complete accident, but not uncommon), a tiny hole in the roof or wall decapitates you with a beam of sunlight in the the day, a child stumbles upon you by accident, or well shit, you travelled all night and there is no cave or house in sight. What now... Protean (and Anamilism and Fortitude and woodlands and survival skills) was far, far more reliable. Even in the more modern times, you can't "hack" a Gangrel, and they are still good to go when the power goes out or internet drops.

            The ability to survive, the lore that Gangrel have some sort of Lupine pact (somewhat false, but widely believed), the fact that they are generally politically neutral and not terribly easily bribed/tempted by others earned the Clan a very strong niche as trusted couriers across different lands and also helped spread news from place to place. It wasnt uncommon for Domains to allow a degree of Gangrel Hospitality for the day/night in exchange for rumors, news, and stories they had picked up on the way.

            It didn't give them a huge barganig chip, (most likely because they didn't care enough to take advantage of it), but it did secure them a strong place/niche in Cainite Society.


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            • #7
              Time of Thin Blood offers a brief discussion of selecting Disciplines for Caitiff which can shed some light on the thoughts why some are more common than others. It often mentions that trial and error can eventually lead to success in learning some Disciplines even without a teacher.
              • The physical Disciplines (Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence) are listed as the easiest to learn because they extend the inherent ability a vampire possesses to buff their physical attributes with blood.
              • Then it has a section about other common Disciplines. It says that the common"psychic" Disciplines (Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate, and Presence) are pretty easy to learn and should not require a teacher.
                • It makes a point of saying many vampires know these Disciplines and it would be easy to find a teacher.
                • Later it discusses that these common psychic Disciplines add supernatural force to natural abilities adding to one's command is Dominate, enhancing ones ability to hide is Obfuscate as examples.
              • Protean is discussed in its own paragraph. It talks about how the Gangrel remain its masters and chief practitioners, but many vampires of other clans have learned the art. The most important point that it makes is that Protean has seeped into the legends and popular culture about vampires. Thus a Caitiff would think to continually try it and eventually might succeed.
              • It discusses how spending time practicing mortal skills might eventually lead to Discipline learning.
                • Spending time with animals could lead to Animalism for example.
              • It specifically states that Necromancy and Thaumaturgy must be taught and cannot be casually learned.
                • It mention they could learn Hedge Magic paths or develop their own magical like Discipline following the Inceptor rules.
              One bit I would add is that one could argue Protean builds on a vampiric process as well, the growing of fangs.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Beckett View Post
                One's Coterie/Pack might be an exception, particularly for the first few dots, because that might be one of the few edges they have, but, at the same time sharring that can begin to chip away at an individuals place in the group.
                Which is where the classic coterie combo of Brujah, Gangrel, and (Dominate) Malkavian comes in. Between them, they have in-clan access to Celerity, Fortitude, Potence, Animalism, Auspex, Obfuscate, Presence, and Dominate. All the common disciplines covered in one, small coterie. If they are willing to share, they can be quite the power bloc in a city.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post

                  Which is where the classic coterie combo of Brujah, Gangrel, and (Dominate) Malkavian comes in. Between them, they have in-clan access to Celerity, Fortitude, Potence, Animalism, Auspex, Obfuscate, Presence, and Dominate. All the common disciplines covered in one, small coterie. If they are willing to share, they can be quite the power bloc in a city.
                  That's less Fighter, Mage, Thief and more Fighter, Fighter, Crazy Spy.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Alucard View Post
                    That's less Fighter, Mage, Thief and more Fighter, Fighter, Crazy Spy.
                    Eh, I think it works.
                    Brujah = Party Face (Paladin, Bard, etc.)
                    Gangrel = Party Fighter (Fighter, Barbarian, etc)
                    Malkavian = Party Mage/Thief (Obfuscate + "Magic")

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post
                      • The physical Disciplines (Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence) are listed as the easiest to learn because they extend the inherent ability a vampire possesses to buff their physical attributes with blood.
                      • Then it has a section about other common Disciplines. It says that the common"psychic" Disciplines (Auspex, Dominate, Obfuscate, and Presence) are pretty easy to learn and should not require a teacher.
                      The physical ones were also the first disciplines that Caine managed to develop on his own after Lilith awakened his blood, so it stands to reason that they could be developed in autonomy from any vampire. Dominate, Obfuscate and Presence, though, were taught to Caine so Thin Blood conflicts here with the book of Nod. Of course it's not so hard to find a teacher now.

                      Auspex, Protean and Animalism should be under the same "difficulty" since the same book says they were developed in autonomy later on, when Caine had more experience (and the knowledge of other mental disciplines); I'd call these three harder to learn than the others, so sure you may still learn them without a teacher but not quickly and not if you're young.

                      Which is where the classic coterie combo of Brujah, Gangrel, and (Dominate) Malkavian comes in. Between them, they have in-clan access to Celerity, Fortitude, Potence, Animalism, Auspex, Obfuscate, Presence, and Dominate. All the common disciplines covered in one, small coterie. If they are willing to share, they can be quite the power bloc in a city.
                      Being in a coterie doesn't mean being friends, though. Discipline trading may be done, but I think the rules require a Teaching roll and a discipline level superior to the one your packmate is willing to learn. Gangrels won't probably teach Protean anyway, no matter how common the Discipline is now. The Primogen may also have something to say about power-buffing members of another clan.

                      Let's not also forget that disciplines are rolled on specific stats, so there's really little point for a Gangrel to learn Dominate unless she raises her social traits.

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                      • #12
                        There are several answers to how common or easy some Disciplines are, and several reasons for each answer.

                        Out of Character, it starts with Vampire 1st Ed Core. The Seven Clans where presented as the basic vampire archetypes, other clans where not a thing yet, and only Thaumaturgy was thought as a true secret. So all the other Disciplines where quite common, and the Out of Clan cost was the main barrier on them. Also, at the time the "three physicals" were already thought as the most simple and unrefined, and barring anyone on them seemed off. At most, trade of Disciplines was one of the many bargains that marked the (un)life of the Kindred, dangerous and costly, but expected. The three physical Disciplines were already pointed as ideal choices for Out of Clan, Caitiff and Ghouls.

                        It was with the advent of new Clans and Bloodlines, and their stranger powers, that the concept of exclusiveness on Disciplines entered the game for real. What was before a trademark of the Clan Tremere turned into a common practice of strange lineages, and the idea grew.

                        But thinking In Character, we can make some assumptions to account for this. First, Disciplines are mostly a manifestation of the power inherent on the "Curse of Caine". As far as anyone knows, even if you disregard the Myth of Caine, it still seems that Kindred are a single "species", each Clan just a variation of it. So every Discipline, with maybe a couple of exceptional cases, are possible or even innate to the Blood, even if Out of Clan. They are like unarmed fighting techniques: sometimes too complex and precise to learn with ease without a teacher, but at the end of the day, your body is everything you really need.

                        Second, by being simple, direct and obvious, it isn't hard to picture the three physical Disciplines being sought of frequently, developed without much complexity, and not saw as a bargain chip as good as others.

                        Finally, you could think of it as a result of the formation of the Camarilla, with the founding clans agreeing to trade their Disciplines to a degree, and the Tremere holding their sorcery as a secret through unknown means.


                        Sorry if I seem too straightforward, or if I don't get you. Autism isn't a forgiving condition.

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                        • #13
                          First of all this is just how I personally handle the matter, and so stand firmly on House rule territory.

                          At my table players may buy any of their Clan disciplines without a teacher as well as the three physical ones. And yes this is somewhat unfair towards Brujah, for example, but they still get those at a discount. The rest of the out of clan disciplines require a teacher and Blood from someone who knows the discipline, usually the teacher obviously.

                          Magical disciplines always require either a teacher or tomes and scrolls to learn, and a lot of research, but I generally let the Tremere, Giovanni, Kolduns and the rest to have easy access to their main paths if they havent burned any bridges with Clans, and if they manage to impress well access to more research materials is a fine reward for productive members.
                          Last edited by Possessed; 01-10-2018, 11:47 AM. Reason: Typo

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            So every Discipline, with maybe a couple of exceptional cases, are possible or even innate to the Blood, even if Out of Clan. They are like unarmed fighting techniques: sometimes too complex and precise to learn with ease without a teacher, but at the end of the day, your body is everything you really need.
                            Actually, V20 says that you need to unlock the ability to learn a specific discipline by drinking the blood of whoever is teaching you, so I assume that you should, at the very least, sip the blood of someone knowing Quietus if you ever hope to learn it. Also, I disagree with the idea that everything should be learnable in time: Disciplines are an evolution not only of the blood of Caine but also of the Curse affecting each Antediluvian, and the bloodlines have even more obscure and focused blood-feats.
                            Blood magic can't, obviously, be learnt without proper study (so necromancy, thaumaturgy, assamite and kuldunic sorcery...) under any circumstance.

                            Even assuming that everyone could eventually learn Bardo autonomously, though, he main issue here should be time: let's say you have 200 years, should you spend them re-developing Bardo 1 or learning like six more common disciplines at level five?

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                            • #15
                              From a Dark Ages perspective I agree with Alucard in that Protean would be very much a necessity among regurarly travelling Cainites. But I don't think that Cainites travelled as much back in the day as we do today. Most likely you grew up and existed more or less in the same domain as your Sire, and his Sire and his Sire before him had inhabited, and might still inhabit.

                              Thus the first few members of a Clan in a domain would probably have Protean but as they gain control and put down roots I would think, especially in an urban enviroment, that Cainites would simply start to focus on other Disciplines due to them not having much of a need for travel or sleeping in the ground.

                              And partially I would avoid everyone running around with claws so maybe they also associate Protean with the Low Clans and thus consider it tactless to use it to much.

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