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[V5] Protean Questions

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  • [V5] Protean Questions

    I'm about to pick up Shapechange, and there are a few things that I'm not sure about based on the description.

    1.The Vampire takes on the "physical attributes, senses and native skills associated with that animal". Let's say I'm going to be a wolf. In V5, these aren't fully statted out but have dice pools, so my wolf has "Physical 6", or for a skill check perhaps "Intimidate 5" or "Stealth 5". These stats are... kind of bad, even for a starting player. My Gangrel isn't a combat build, but can already throw out 6 dice on a brawl test pretty easily, and throw out 7 intimidation dice. Wolves are really scary, and good at fighting, surely? It seems like many mid-range players are likely to take a hit in effectiveness by changing shape, which seems rough for a 15 dot discipline.
    2. Our example wolf has a +1 damage to their attacks. Since this is a wolf, I think we can go ahead and assume this will almost always be a bite of some sort. Would this bite be superficial damage (as for a wolf) or aggravated (as a vampire bite would be)? This seems like an interesting call because if it's aggravated, it's very powerful and if it's superficial it's, once again, probably a downgrade from the vampire's usual form
    3. I can use my Protean powers in my wolf form. If I use Feral Weapons to manifest even more terrifying fangs, it adds +2 damage. Would you rule that as Base Wolf Damage of 1 + 2 from FW equals 3 total damage, or that the +2 from FW replaces the +1 base wolf damage? +3 damage sounds like a lot, I'll grant you, but it can be matched by another character simply picking up a basic handgun. Whether this damage is superficial or aggravated as mentioned above also makes a big difference.

    I understand I'm being kind of crunchy here, and that there are other reasons (disguise, travel etc) that being able to turn into a wolf is useful. Since it's a decently high XP spend though, I'd kind of like to be able to nail down what the mechanics should look like. I'll obviously be consulting my ST too for the final say, but any thoughts you have are most appreciated.

  • #2
    One theory I had is that the mention of Stealth & Intimidate aren't supposed to be "dice pools" but actual added skills. Rather than having 5 total stealth pool, for example, Wolves are intended to have simply have 5 dots in stealth. This is inconsistent with other entries in the section (A cop having 8 in firearms, for instance, should be impossible) but it's the only way, to me, that wolves having an "exceptional dice pool" of 3 in Awareness seems to make sense. My character has a goose egg in awareness and can roll 4 dice on an awareness check based just on her wits stat.

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    • #3
      1.The Vampire takes on the "physical attributes, senses and native skills associated with that animal". Let's say I'm going to be a wolf. In V5, these aren't fully statted out but have dice pools, so my wolf has "Physical 6", or for a skill check perhaps "Intimidate 5" or "Stealth 5". These stats are... kind of bad, even for a starting player. My Gangrel isn't a combat build, but can already throw out 6 dice on a brawl test pretty easily, and throw out 7 intimidation dice. Wolves are really scary, and good at fighting, surely? It seems like many mid-range players are likely to take a hit in effectiveness by changing shape, which seems rough for a 15 dot discipline.
      Wolf (or any animal) form was never supposed to be a 'combat form', a la Crinos. It's so you can 'masquerade' as something other than yourself, and maybe gain an advantage or two. For a wolf, perhaps that is sense of smell, or running speed. For a bat, you can fly, or navigate in darkness better. And yeah, wolves can fight well, compared to an average human (2-4 dots), but not compared to a combat master (8-10 dots), so I think that 5-7 dots is plenty.

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      • #4
        Yes, your stats can take a hit from shapshifting, or could increase depending on the form. Importantly, you get access to things your human form can't, like fly.
        I would treat the Bite +1 damage as a weapon stat, therefore replaced by growing Feral weapons, not improved by it.

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        • #5
          That’s interesting, thanks! I think it would be good to add some of the advantages enumerated in V20 for Shape Of The Beast, because right now it’s unclear what the advantages of wolf form (for example) are.

          Metamorphosis, the level 4 power, is clearer because turning into an owl or other flying animal gives very clear advantages.

          Regarding stats, I still think they’re a little low, but it’s kind of a gaming trope that wolves are a low level opponent. In real life of course, a wolf will take out any given human being nine times out of ten, and a bear (seven physical dots) is completely, 100% impossible for a human (or vampire within human limits) to even come close to hurting. That’s why it’s a game, not a simulation I suppose

          Thanks for the responses, I’d love to hear any other opinions on using shapechange in a V5 game.

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          • #6
            V5 has also tried to turn down attributes and skills, they're now limited to 5s, so it's within the theme of the new system.
            If it gave you a stat boost like previous editions of vampire (and werewolf) then it would be the only way currently to surpass the 5 cap.

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            • #7
              So you have any thoughts on whether you’d rule the bite to be aggravated or superficial? It’s not specified either way in the book.

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              • #8
                Unless it explicitly says agg, make it lethal/bashing. For every edition, you should use this rule.

                Just to compare, the Shotgun is like 5 damage (I don't have the book here) But becomes +0 Agg with dragonsbreath.

                Agg is deadly A.F.

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                • #9
                  I was having this same conversation with one of the PCs in my group a week or so ago. i'm happy to keep the stats as they are - after all, a Wolf's body is only as good as it is and being a martial arts master is hardly going to benefit you when having four legs - the idea of a wolf doing a spinning back kick is amusing, buts holds no place in any of my games

                  With the fangs and bite though, i came down on the side that it would be aggravated damage. this was for a number of reasons - A vampires fangs normally do Agg damage - why would this change? The Kindred hasn't become an actual wolf - they just look like one. Whilst i agree that Wolf form isn't inherently a 'combat form', in historic versions there was the concept of Flight or Fight, and that the dual forms where somewhat a manifestation of the Beasts urges. I think that this form has to have some form of combat feel, otherwise why would they take the form of a Wolf? As the basic fight stats 'aren't great' (i know, they wipe the floor with humans, but it's fair to say that the average Gangrel is primed for a bruising, so it'll be a step down, or sideways for most of them - the Ministry not so much of course) i feel the form benefits from some form of combat bonus - Fatal fangs seems a good trade. Finally, whilst it doesn't explicitly say in the Rule book, there are a few things that aren't really explained well in the V5 book, and i'd argue that the whole animal form part is a particularly egregious example. Just because it doesn't say it, doesn't mean it isn't so,

                  Anyway, this is just my opinion and how i'll run it in my games (which aren't combat heavy anyway), i can see the other perspective and wouldn't have an issue if either way was confirmed as canon.

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                  • #10
                    I think that this form has to have some form of combat feel, otherwise why would they take the form of a Wolf?
                    As I said: 1) Disguise, 2) faster running, 3) better sense of smell (and maybe hearing). VTM isn't all about combat.

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                    • #11
                      I think it would be good if those improved senses and faster running were enumerated in the book, as they are in the V20 book. A smart storyteller will of course come up with some way to represent this, but as written there's nothing in the actual rules that says you receive any of those benefits.

                      Shapechange has more flexibility in terms of the forms you can take (I'm curious as to whether many people are going with something different from wolf/dog) but I'd love more official material on the mechanics of those. Maybe when a Gangrel Clanbook appears?

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                      • #12
                        The big bonus to Shapechange is the ability to take on the native skills of the animal into which they transform.

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                        • #13
                          Those native skills in V5 are dice pools of awareness 3, intimidation 5 and stealth 5, with +1 to damage. Anything else is homebrewed, to some extent, or cribbed from V20.

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                          • #14
                            The most easily over-looked ability included in this power is a single sentence, embedded in what seems like fluff, but has major implications.

                            The animal, while usually a spectacular example of their species, shows no signs to a mundane observer of being supernatural.
                            This means that it can be a Masquerade saver. While in wolf-form you do not appear supernatural to a mundane observer, regardless of Humanity. For an Alley Cat feeder, this is a big deal. While humans might get upset about a wolf attacking people in dark alleys, they will not think "vampire" when it happens.

                            On occasion animals even break into homes and attack people.

                            Bears break into houses all the time. So, if you break in, bite somebody and run away, no one will think "vampire". Though, I suppose it would be odd that the person you bite really likes it.

                            Another example, here is a panda breaking into somebody's house. I mean, I have my doubts whether this is real. Believe me, I flew 6000 miles to go to the San Diego zoo, and turns out those lousy critters are only awake like five minutes a day.

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                            • #15
                              Here’s a goofy follow up question: Feral Weapons does superficial damage, but isn’t halved. Vampire bites are aggravated damage. One of the example for Feral Weapons is snake like fangs (aimed at Setites presumably). Are those Feral Weapon attacks aggravated or superficial? If superficial, Feral Weapons would actually make the Vampire less effective if that’s how they manifest their weapons.

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