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  • Obfuscate Retcon?

    So I've been recently hearing cases in which Obfuscate apparently does not work on monitoring devices, such as security cameras and the like. This has me very confused as to how in the holy hell the Nosferatu have managed to remain hidden from the world for so long, if that were the case. I remember playing Bloodlines, and using Obfuscate during the Museum level to walk right past the cameras. But if I dropped the illusion, and they saw me, the alarms instantly went off. So if Obfuscate doesn't affect security devices in the current setting of the game, there seems to be a point in its history where it did.

    Can anybody with more knowledge about this subject clarify the situation for me?

  • #2
    First off the Bloodlines game is not an accurate display of how Disciplines work as compared to the pen&paper version. Bloodlines changed and adapted many Disciplines and powers within them to be more function for an action rpg, such as Thaumaturgy letting you throw damaging blobs of blood at level 1 or Dominate causing a target to die at level 3 as opposed to finding out information from a drop of blood or altering a person's memories respectively for the pen&paper versions of those.

    As for Obfuscate itself. 1st Edition doesn't say anything about electronics but 2nd Edition does
    Though this Discipline affects others' minds and does not actually render the users invisible, the end result is much the same - Kindred employing Obfuscate simply can't be seen. However, surveillance devices still track the character normally.
    As the editions have gone on they've more clearly defined exactly what that means, V20 going so far as to have a range for the mind-clouding effect of Obfuscate (5 yards or meters per dot of Wits+Stealth). So in the case of the museum you could argue that the character would be close enough for the security monitoring the cameras to still fall under that sway. Additionally V20 Lore of the Clans has the 3pt Merit False Reflection which allows Obfuscate to work through recorded media (though the effect wears off over time and purely computer driven methods like facial recognition are unaffected as well. V5 meanwhile has made sending Obfuscate through electronics the third level power (and having the ability to glitch purely automated detection as well).

    Much of how the Nosferatu remained hidden for so long comes down to a mix of careful practices, a lack of cameras until the modern era, the Camarilla infrastructure enforcing and cleaning up the Masquerade, and the effects mentioned above. Smart Nosferatu are going to use methods in addition to Obfuscate to hide their visages things like wearing hoods, glasses, wigs, makeup, and other things. Even the Rugged Bad Looks Merit from V20 Lore of the Clans mentions covering up to avoid possible Masquerade complications.

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    • #3
      Here's how I handle obfuscate in my game:
      a) First I ignore that range limitation, because I think it's dumb.
      b) If Obfuscate is still on while the person watches the electronic feed, they will not spot the vampire, no matter if its a life recording or a delayed viewing.
      c) Once Obfuscate has been broken, any recordings made with the vampire will show him. Newly obfuscating at this point will not render previous recordings invisible again, only new ones, till that Obfuscate gets broken then.
      d) Fully automated systems, like facial recognition or motion sensors etc, are not fooled.

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      • #4
        The problem with this is that the game largely takes place in the modern age, where practically everything is under constant electronic surveillance. We have shit like street cameras, satellite monitoring, car cameras, people who are incapable of setting down their smart phones for more than 30 seconds, est.

        A weakness of this magnitude would make it damn near impossible for the Nosferatu to continue operating, even under the best of circumstances. I'm hesitant to believe that a simple disguise can protect them, because the rules of their curse explicitly states their Appearance can never be increased. Even those who subject themselves to Fleshcrafting eventually return to their hideous visage.

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        • #5
          There's a reason Nosferatu stick to the sewers most of the time - little surveillance there.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Morangias View Post
            There's a reason Nosferatu stick to the sewers most of the time - little surveillance there.

            You can't establish the world's greatest intelligence network by sitting in a cave all night hacking people's computers. Some jobs require a more hands on approach, like setting up new surveillance equipment, or stealing pass codes that aren't recorded on electronic systems.

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            • #7
              Hats and trench coats work wonders at hiding monstrous deformities.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                Hats and trench coats work wonders at hiding monstrous deformities.
                Nah, real Nosferatu wear bondage gear exclusively

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                  You can't establish the world's greatest intelligence network by sitting in a cave all night hacking people's computers. Some jobs require a more hands on approach, like setting up new surveillance equipment, or stealing pass codes that aren't recorded on electronic systems.
                  First of all: Yeah, one might almost think the monstrous appearance of the Nosferatu might actually be... a clan weakness!
                  Second, there is usually some sort of merit or discipline power that at least partially affects cameras. In V5, there's Ghost in the Machine that completely works on live feeds and at least obscures later viewings. Previous editions had something like that as a merit.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cifer View Post
                    First of all: Yeah, one might almost think the monstrous appearance of the Nosferatu might actually be... a clan weakness!
                    I understand that's their weakness. But there's a difference between having greater difficulty going out in public, and being rendered completely incapable of doing so.

                    If the Tremere's curse is borderline harmless, it seems like the Nosferatu curse is borderline excessive. I understand 5th edition takes place nominally in current year, and we monitor everything in this day and age.

                    With the Second Inquisition being active now, I'm under the impression that Nosferatu are forced to heavily rely on Ghouls and Animalism to operate in the modern world now. Which begs the question as to why anybody would ever want to play one, if all your character is allowed to do is sit in the darkness all night, stewing in a puddle of somebody else's filth?

                    Originally posted by Morangias View Post
                    Nah, real Nosferatu wear bondage gear exclusively
                    I imagine that latex is much easier to clean, as well.
                    Last edited by Nyrufa; 05-14-2019, 09:22 AM.

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                    • #11
                      In all seriousness, this isn't such an insurmountable problem as you make it out to be. A Nosferatu in a face-covering mask and perhaps heavy, posture-concealing clothes will be indistinguishable from a normal dude in the same outfit on surveillance footage. If you're infiltrating a particular place and know there's gonna be heavy surveillance, you can take a detour through their security room and delete/destroy any recordings from the time of your infiltration. And I suppose in places with heavy city surveillance the Nosferatu will be vitally interested in infiltrating the surveillance network.

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                      • #12
                        Also one shouldn’t forget that the Nosferatu have other Clan Disciplines aswell, like Animalism which allows one to possess animals to which makes it possible to go to places you can’t get with Obfuscate. Also animal spies despite their limited intellect are useful as hell.

                        But yes Nosferatu in the modern world need to use mundane disguises like covering clothing, hats, hoods Etc in addition to Obfuscate to remain unseen and unregognizable. Motorcycle clothes, thick leather clothes and a helmet that covers ones head entirely works wonders and makes you indistinguishable from normal human bikers for example.

                        And that is all in addition to what has already been said.
                        Last edited by Possessed; 05-15-2019, 03:00 PM. Reason: Typo due to auto”correct”

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post

                          Much of how the Nosferatu remained hidden for so long comes down to a mix of careful practices, a lack of cameras until the modern era, the Camarilla infrastructure enforcing and cleaning up the Masquerade, and the effects mentioned above. Smart Nosferatu are going to use methods in addition to Obfuscate to hide their visages things like wearing hoods, glasses, wigs, makeup, and other things. Even the Rugged Bad Looks Merit from V20 Lore of the Clans mentions covering up to avoid possible Masquerade complications.

                          IIRC, the entire fashion trend of hoodies allegedly originated in London as a direct response by young people to the presence of security cameras. Also, I think the tv adaptation of The Strain did some interesting things with make up as a way to hide inhuman appearance. One wonders if Nosfeatu sometimes deliberately seek out cosmetologists or makeup effects artists for ghouldom or the embrace for that very reason.



                          Originally posted by Morangias View Post
                          Nah, real Nosferatu wear bondage gear exclusively
                          That is so brilliant that I wish I had thought it first. I'm also now disappointed that the revised clanbook didn't include The Gimp as a character template.


                          What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                          Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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                          • #14
                            I've been playing since the 90s and I always knew Obfuscate to not work on technology, that's why the Revised Clanbook had that merit added. But we've also seen sections written on Nosferatu using makeup, heavy clothes, and alternate routes to account for this drawback. Obfuscate will still work on an observer even through technology if they are watching a live feed, it's just if someone was to go back and watch a recording of that footage and the Nosferatu wasn't covering themselves up then someone would see what they were. But if we're talking about security footage that generally only gets checked after the fact if they have cause anyway, like someone broke in and they knew it or something like that, so it doesn't usually come up anyway.


                            "The only consistent wisdom is in knowing you know nothing" ~ Socrates

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                            • #15
                              As for the subject of using disguises to look human, I'm given to understand that 5th edition of the Nosferatu Bane also imposes a penalty to attempts at doing exactly that. But I'm not entirely sure about the specifics on that.

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