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How easy is it to spot a vampire?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Muad'Dib View Post
    Is it written that most Vampires do special graffiti, or just some of them ? How common the graffiti is ?
    It’s the standard way to mark territory, so you know whose domain your in, their clan, sect, etc. It can also convey other messages, like where to present yourself or when and where the next gathering is. It’s still relatively safe because most people tune out urban graffiti, and those that don’t won’t have the wherewithal to crack the code.


    • #17
      Just google hobo sign. It’s a real thing. Then see how often you can spot it in real life. More subtle then you think. More prominent then you know.


      • #18
        There isn't one scenario of "How do vampires recognize one another?", but three.

        First is active detection.
        This is when the pcs have reason to believe someone might be a vampire, and want to check their hunch. I like the earlier poster's idea of using Humanity as the base difficulty. I would ask the players to ask questions about what they observe, and decide on the appropriate pool from that. In effect, the player tells you what skill they want to use, and you have them roll... often paired with Intelligence, Manipulation, or Wits. With several successes, come up with some details appropriate to the skill used.

        Some example questions:
        • Is she visibly breathing, with her chest expanding and contracting? If it's cold, can breath fog be seen? Does she sniffle on occasion? Does she have any minor scrapes or bruises visible? If it's snowing, do the snowflakes melt when they land on her? If it's hot, is she sweating or flush? Does her breath smell of food or alcohol? Is she blinking? These all would call for a Science or Medicine roll.
        • Is she dressed in clothes which make hunting or washing out blood easier? Is she wearing notably uncomfortable clothing, which a mortal might find onerous? Are her clothes appropriate for the climate and weather? Is there anything about her which seems anachronistic, such as her hair having 1970's feathering, or her eyebrows plucked in the 1940's fashion? Is her clothing made using techniques uncommon today, like true woven flannel, non-serged seams, metal zippers, or hand-stitched buttons? Is she wearing jewelry unusual for today, like a broach, claddaugh ring, or ivory beads? If she's wearing glasses, are they functional lenses or flat? Are the frames made of a modern material? Is she wearing a watch, and of what sort? Is that real fur, and when did furriers cut the pelts in that way? These all might call for a Crafts (fashion), Etiquette, or Performance (theater arts or modelling) roll. Finance with an appropriate specialty might be allowed, such as "antiques" or "fashion industry". (Note: Some vampires replace their entire wardrobe weekly, while some humans like vintage looks... none of this is an exact science. ymmv.)
        • Are her speech patterns anachronistic, like not using upspeak, using an outdated accent, or using passe phrasing? Does her writing incorporate outdated orthography, spelling, or line weights? (Those who learned to write with a fountain pen do the whole thing differently!) Does she make any references common to an earlier time, use outdated idioms? These might call for an Academics roll.
        • How does she move? Women accustomed to wearing girdles, garter-belts, and high shoes had a slightly different posture and gait from women raised in jeans, t-shirts and Uggs. Men with military training, which is to say nearly every man from the 1940's, carry themselves in a certain way. Likewise, facial expressions, hand motions, and ways of sitting have gone in and out of style. Fighting styles have also come and gone. This might call for an Athletics, Brawl, or Performance (with a specialty in stage acting or dance) roll. (Yes, this might result in the unusual Intelligence+Brawl roll, but any good boxer should be able to date a boxing film from the style of punches.)
        Second, is passive detection.
        The pcs are strolling down a busy street and walk past a vampire walking in the other direction. Do they recognize her as Kindred?

        This is thornier, because if the pcs can easily detect her that implies she's sloppy in her Masquerade. I imagine walking up to a fellow vampire you don't know on a street corner and saying, "Ah, greetings fellow child of the night. Excellent hunting in this neighborhood, yes?" could be read as the gravest of insults. It would be the equivalent of walking up to a transgender person you don't know and saying, "Hi, you're obviously trans. That's awesome and I support you." It sounds like a compliment, until you think about it.

        That said, I would go with player's choice of Wits + Occult or Awareness, again with a difficulty of Humanity. Perhaps, use Status if the pc might have heard the subject described at a vampiric gathering. (eg "Have you heard? Millicent has a new childe. He's not here tonight. If he were, you couldn't miss him. He's seven feet tall, with a green mohawk.")

        Third, is long-term vigilance.
        This is when a vampire wants to generally check their Domain to make sure there are no vampires squatting. Usually, this would be an Investigation, Streetwise, or Contacts roll, usually paired with Resolve.

        Are there houses that only show activity at night? Are there residents with no visible means of support, but seeming wealth? Are there unexplained cases of anemia showing up in local hospitals? Missing pets? Exsanguinated rats and pigeons being left in empty lots? Are local psychotherapists treating unexplained PTSD or memory lapses? Does the Asian grocery store keep selling out of frozen pig's blood? Are there inventory shortfalls at the blood bank? Do local priests seem more superstitious than usual?

        If a cautious vampire makes it a devoted practice to check for such signs, they should be able to know when a new vampire has arrived in town. They will need further research to pinpoint where and who, but it's a start. (And a good story-hook.)


        • #19
          If the vampire is new to a territory and doesn't want to go to the local leader, then it should be very difficult to notice outside of Auspex or Animalism. Other than clan curses/attributes that scream a certain clan, they should be doing everything in their power to maintain the masquerade so humans don't even wise up to their existence.


          • #20
            Originally posted by Dreamwalker View Post
            In V5 vampires tend to wear signs and symbols of their nature, ancestry and background. There's some rules for reading vampire's graffiti on p. 322, I think, they could work just fine.
            This sounds like a good way to let the SI know where and who the vampires are.


            • #21
              Originally posted by Vamps Like Us View Post

              This sounds like a good way to let the SI know where and who the vampires are.
              Why do you assume that the Second Inqusition would know the meanings and codes of graffiti that Vampires use ? I think that they wouldn't. Is the amount of knowledge that the members of the Second Inquisition have in regard to Vampires outlined and discussed in the V5 books ?


              • #22
                Originally posted by Vamps Like Us View Post

                This sounds like a good way to let the SI know where and who the vampires are.
                Well, for a good guiding principle on this, look at the aforementioned allusions to the hobo code. Hobo culture in the US originated after the Civil War, not during the Depression as most believe, and indeed most of the history of hobo culture has been marked by persecution by law enforcement and/or private investigators. There's a reason it's survived to this day.

                Smaller, tighter-knit, communities that rely on interpersonal contact and espionage-y stuff to disseminate information, are going to have vastly more fluid means than those who would attempt to survey them, especially if the communities know they're under constant surveillance. Definitely when the surveillance is part of a large and bloated bureaucracy with means and goals that are often at cross-purposes, and said bureaucracy must focus no trivial amount of resources on internal policing.

                Think your code's been broken? Change it. Better, use your now-broken code to start false flagging and clogging the pipes with disinformation. Dead drop locations compromised? Find new spots. Think your code's too easy to crack? Add new keys, or make keys dependent on privileged information. SI might think they're onto something when they realize you're using a Vigenere square to encode messages, but will come up with nothing except a whole lot of wasted time when every message is misninformation with a randomized keyword, except for the one sprayed in taupe paint, on cinder block, where Mongo whacked the Nossie antitribu back in the '80s and only the people in Mongo's old coterie ever found out about it.

                One fun implication of all this, is vampire age itself. Ancillae are going to remember encryption and espionage methods that pre-date the Cold War and computers. The utility of modern cryptanalysis, however powerful, is going to be fairly limited when it comes up against people kicking it old school, and the SI is going to have to bring on a lot of historians to compensate.


                • #23
                  I think that any mundane human(s) who would be going around, and reading and trying to figure out grafitti left by Vampires would be very noticable and visible to Vampires ( and Ghouls ) . "Interested in grafitti" is a very, very thin cover when a person is evidently focusing ( or trying to focus ) on grafitti done by Vampires.
                  Last edited by Muad'Dib; 12-29-2018, 10:23 AM.


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Mithras View Post
                    For example would a vampire spot another vampire walking on the other side of the street or would they need to get closer to notice? Also would it be easier or more difficult for a mortal familiar with vampires to notice.
                    In V20, IIRC, any vampire who's not following the Humanity path immediatly looks inhuman to the bystanders. It's not like there is a "vampire" tag over his head but anyone who knows about them is probably able to identify them: the incarnate is deathly pale, they don't breathe, they're cold to the touch, etc. Should the Path be low enough (5 or less?) you can probably also see traces of the Beast on his face, like an homicidal gaze or the feeling he's going to prey on you.

                    Vampires that follow Humanity have a deathly pale incarnate, but by spending blood points they may look and appear like humans for a scene, including details as body warmth; as long as they do so they're virtually impossible to detect without supernatural means. Creatures with a better smell than humans are still going to recognize the smell of decay and blood though - dogs will bark and appear hostile, flies will be drawn to them, etc... yes, a shower may help a bit.

                    Vampires can't also eat nor drink anything but blood - the food is going to get puked instantly and any water will probably soil their pants in seconds, unless they have a very specific merit. In social situations an hunter with a bit of know-how might just get some hint from their table behaviour.

                    There is no rule in V20 that says that a Vampire can automatically recognize another vampire without adequate disciplines. They can probably identify their own better, though, so when a Sabbat pack shows up it shouldn't be that hard to realize they're vampires too - as I said, if they don't follow Humanity it's quite obvious.
                    Last edited by Maris Streck; 12-29-2018, 10:44 AM.