Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Balancing a new Abyssal Mysticism Ritual

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Balancing a new Abyssal Mysticism Ritual

    Shadowed Soul - Rank 4

    [flavor text goes here]

    System: Upon successful casting this ritual, the Lasombra is engulfed in shadows that are slowly absorbed into her soul over the next eight hours, taking one point of damage from fire or the sun results in final death during this time. The Lasombra must make an Obtenebration + Occult roll against a difficulty of 10 - Self-Control/Instinct. If she fails then she gains the Unholy Stain flaw. Once she has fully absorbed the shadows into her soul, she makes a Obtenebration + Occult (difficulty 8) roll. If the roll is successful then her soul is permanently shrouded in the shadows of the Abyss. Any attempt to focus on the Lasombra's through the use of Auspex from this point forward reveals nothing but the Abyss and the Auspex user must make a Courage (difficulty 8) roll or suffer a one dice penalty to all rolls for the rest of the scene. If the Auspex user was attempting to read the Lasombra's mind and fails the Courage roll, they also take one point of Aggravated Damage per dot the Lasombra has in Obtenebration. Characters with at least one dot in Obtenebration automatically succeed on the Courage roll. If the Lasombra's attempt to absorb the shadow into her soul fails they immediately fall into torpor, but if they botch they permanently gain the Lord of the Night flaw.
    Side Effect: The vampire stands out to Aura sight as a black hole into the Abyss, any use of Aura Perception in the presence of the Lasombra (regardless of the users focus) makes the user constantly aware of the Lasombra's presence and location. This side effect can be suppressed for the night with an Obfuscate + Occult check (difficulty is rank in Obtenebration).

    ---
    Basically, this is meant to be an Abyssal Mysticism analog for the Assamite Iron Mind ritual and based on the same basic idea as the Light Within Shadows ritual. If you succeed, you effectively gain a merit (the Shadowed Soul) while if you fail you are looking at potentially taking six points worth of thematically appropriate flaws.

    I'm kinda debating making this a rank two or three ritual and replacing the Unholy Stain flaw with the Light Sensitive flaw. Thoughts?

  • #2
    Considering "Claiming the Dark" works in the same ballpark, and is level 3, I'd say it should be Lvl 3 at least. Also considering it gives you a permanent buff, maybe bump it to 4.


    Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by pang4 View Post
      Considering "Claiming the Dark" works in the same ballpark, and is level 3, I'd say it should be Lvl 3 at least. Also considering it gives you a permanent buff, maybe bump it to 4.
      Thematically similar but Claiming the Dark is mechanically quite different.

      I do think that rank 4 fits, that was my first inclination at least. Thoughts on replacing Unholy Stain with Light Sensitive? I mean, it would make the ritual theoretically riskier as the downside would be worse but, honestly, anyone sane using said ritual is just going to burn will power to guarantee success so the downsides are somewhat less important. The real downside is how much more difficult it makes Obfuscate. I actually thought of the downside being a permanent two dice penalty to all dice pools involving Obfuscate, but that seemed a bit too much.

      Comment


      • #4
        On the Flaws - While there's two rolls you can fail; yes willpower will be spent for it, so odds are the downsides won't ever come up.
        Personally, I think that the Unholy Stain flaw should be the cost if it succeeds...

        ** Iron Mind Ritual is a level 6 ritual, the Obfuscate to have the same effect of a constant Aura is also a level 6 power (without the protection for Telepathy)
        So for balancing it overall, I'd put it at 6 with the downside of the Unholy stain because Iron Mind can have the circlet removed, and Obfuscate costs a lot more XP and requires you to have bought 1-5 already.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Illithid View Post
          On the Flaws - While there's two rolls you can fail; yes willpower will be spent for it, so odds are the downsides won't ever come up.
          Personally, I think that the Unholy Stain flaw should be the cost if it succeeds...

          ** Iron Mind Ritual is a level 6 ritual, the Obfuscate to have the same effect of a constant Aura is also a level 6 power (without the protection for Telepathy)
          So for balancing it overall, I'd put it at 6 with the downside of the Unholy stain because Iron Mind can have the circlet removed, and Obfuscate costs a lot more XP and requires you to have bought 1-5 already.

          I want it available to gen 8-13 characters. One of my issues with VtM in general is how powerful it makes Auspex and how few defenses exist against it, and that most of those defenses are lower generation only. If I went with Unholy Stain being the side effect then I would drop most of the other risks and the other side effects entirely.

          Obfuscate 6 (Soul Mask) is straight up better (no downsides, can be used to provide false/misleading information). Unfortunately it also comes with having to have taken 6 ranks in Obfuscate even if all a character wants to do is protect her aura.

          Iron Mind provides much the same benefit (although with fewer social/role-play downsides) but is likewise only available to low gen characters (and even then, only to those of a specific clan variant).

          Balance wise, I'm trying to balance it less against what else counters Auspex and more against what it counters. Limited countering of a rank 2 discipline should not take 6 dot abilities.

          Thematically, this ritual is playing into the Lasombra premise. It does nothing to hide who they are (indeed it makes it blindingly obvious to anyone who cares to look) and yet it conceals their actions in shadow. They are the clan of "you know we are here but you don't know what we are up to".

          Although I am thinking about changing the Side effect to:
          "The vampire stands out to Auspex users as a black hole into the Abyss. Any character with Auspex rolls Auspex+Perception against a difficulty of 8 - the Lasombra's dots in Obtenebration. On a successful roll the Auspex user becomes constantly aware of the Lasombra's exact location for as long as they remain in physical proximity. With 2 successes, he becomes aware that the Lasombra is steeped deeply in the Abyss and it should be obvious her clan. With three or more successes, he knows how many dots in Obtenebration that Lasombra has. This side effect can be suppressed for the night with an Obfuscate + Occult check (difficulty is rank in Obtenebration). This side effect can not be concealed by any Obfuscate effect that does not also conceal auras, and attempts to use such effects require rolling Obtenebration+Obfuscate (difficulty 10) to be successful."

          So more or less balanced with that change to side effects?

          Comment


          • #6
            Yes Auspex is "Powerful" without much of a defense.
            But short of a better Generation, so is Dominate. Most versions of Presence have no resistance, animalism can make you frenzy; etc etc. And Auspex generally only gives some rough info, it doesn't take player agency away!
            If you want your up to 8th gens to have it accessible, you could make it level 5 and go as is for what you've designed, it's your game.

            If you want a level 4 equivalent, I might suggest it could increase the difficulty of Aura perception by 1 as they get muddled by the Abyss' influence. OR maybe give an extra success requirement to get interesting info (1 is just that it's pale, make 2 pale and tinged with an abundance of Black lines that still make seeing the real aura difficult) and have 3+ function as 2+ on the normal chart.
            But Abyss rituals completely eliminating a level 2 power from working, negating what others have spend XP on as well is a bit harsh.

            If they're infusing the Abyss in to the aura, most "good" characters should be able to sense that (Which is why I recommend Unholy Stain as auto, I'd also suggest light sensitive for a botch)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Illithid View Post
              Yes Auspex is "Powerful" without much of a defense.
              But short of a better Generation, so is Dominate. Most versions of Presence have no resistance, animalism can make you frenzy; etc etc. And Auspex generally only gives some rough info, it doesn't take player agency away!
              Dominate rolls against the targets Willpower for difficulty and generally requires eye contact. It is powerful but it still offers a defense that is generally available and can still be played around to a relatively large degree (not to mention the various rituals that make Dominate much more of a pain). Dominate also uses multiple attributes/abilities to determine success and so requires a much greater investment to be generally useful.

              Presence has a ritual that throws it right back in your face, can be overcome at least temporarily with willpower, and is much less "I win". I mean Entrancement is the big one with Presence and even at 5+ successes all it takes to overcome is for the character to make the Willpower check and then voluntarily torpor themselves for a year. Have a ghoul who is trained to observe you and who is supposed to tell you when you are acting out of character, and that is all the IC justification you would need for the willpower roll. Then just torpor it away. A year out of the game for a vamp generally isn't that big a deal.

              Anamilism Drawing out the Beast and Taunt the Caged Beast are 5 and 7 dot powers respectively. DotB is a relatively difficult roll with serious downsides for failure while TtCB gives a roll to resist.

              Auspex on the other hand is generally one of the most useful disciplines with great passives and then it adds in myriad very useful abilities that have minimal to know costs/downsides and are incredibly difficult to block. Aura Perception is insanely powerful in pretty much every type of game/situation save straight combat. The Spirits Touch is quite useful in virtually all types of games and, again, has minimal risk or cost. Telepathy is a roll against Willpower and spending a temporary willpower point to read a vampire's mind, with no ability for said vamp to detect the intrusion unless the Auspex user chooses to project thoughts (as opposed to just read the mind).

              In a game where information is king (which VtM is) and where politics, plotting, and subtle power games are a major part of the story (which they tend to be in VtM); Auspex is probably the most potent discipline around. It also has a ton of ancillary benefits (more than virtually any other discipline) and tends to be essentially free to use. Abilities that counter Auspex aren't unreasonable either from a game design/storyteller perspective or from an IC perspective. Frankly every elder and Ancilla with even delusions of playing the Great Game would be looking for ways to become immune to it.

              If you want your up to 8th gens to have it accessible, you could make it level 5 and go as is for what you've designed, it's your game.

              If you want a level 4 equivalent, I might suggest it could increase the difficulty of Aura perception by 1 as they get muddled by the Abyss' influence. OR maybe give an extra success requirement to get interesting info (1 is just that it's pale, make 2 pale and tinged with an abundance of Black lines that still make seeing the real aura difficult) and have 3+ function as 2+ on the normal chart.
              But Abyss rituals completely eliminating a level 2 power from working, negating what others have spend XP on as well is a bit harsh.
              Might make it rank 5, but rank 4 has plenty of rituals of comparable power. And people's XP get negated to some extent at least all the time. Note that you are also spending your own XP on this (getting both Obtenebration and Occult high enough, spending the XP to learn the ritual).

              If they're infusing the Abyss in to the aura, most "good" characters should be able to sense that (Which is why I recommend Unholy Stain as auto, I'd also suggest light sensitive for a botch)
              I thought about Light Sensitive for a botch, but figured that Lord of the Night was thematically more appropriate while still being bad enough that any player is going to spend will power to auto succeed instead of risking the roll. One reason that I made it multiple rolls is to increase the will power cost.

              Might actually make the variant I already posted a Rank 5 ritual but also make a Rank 2 variant where Unholy Stain is the side effect and Light Sensitive is the botch, and activating the aura for a scene requires spending a BP.

              Play it as the Rank 2 ritual being for those who dive in, grasping power regardless of risks or costs, while the Rank 5 version is for those who take the time to truly master the power they desire and so suffer a lesser permanent cost.

              Comment


              • #8
                My two cents:

                I love me some Abyss Mysticism, and view it almost as a religious practice by Abyss Mysics. They commune with their formless, nameless non-God, and through rituals summon the void they serve and master.

                I therefore don't think anyone should create Abyss Rituals with a specific effect in mind. Rather, players get to create the fluff and the experience, and the ST sets the effects and level based on that. So in this circumstance, I wouldn't let players say "I want to counter Auspex", but rather "I want to draw the Abyss into my soul" and the ST determines effects after that.

                _____

                Second, I personally don't think there should be counters to cool abilities like Auspex, Presence or Dominate. I dislike rituals like Pavis or Iron Mind, because they stop players from doing, and experiencing, fun stuff. Some of the most fun my Players have had is when Toreador seduce them from inside their heads with Auspex, or when they become madly Loyal to a Ventrue thanks to Entrancement. Believe it or not, but being the subject of these powers can be a lot of fun, story wise.

                A power which by all accounts is extremely overpowered, the Dark Thaumaturgy path Chains of Pleasure, is currently driving an awesome plot thread in my game. A few of the players have been subject to it, and now intense debate is going on about what to do with the internalist. Keep it as a drug-dispenser? Torture it to learn the path themselves? Kill her and wash their hands? All the while, the players who have felt it have a neverending desire to just get one more hit...
                If there had been a block to this power, the story arc never would have happened.


                Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pang4 View Post
                  My two cents:

                  I love me some Abyss Mysticism, and view it almost as a religious practice by Abyss Mysics. They commune with their formless, nameless non-God, and through rituals summon the void they serve and master.

                  I therefore don't think anyone should create Abyss Rituals with a specific effect in mind. Rather, players get to create the fluff and the experience, and the ST sets the effects and level based on that. So in this circumstance, I wouldn't let players say "I want to counter Auspex", but rather "I want to draw the Abyss into my soul" and the ST determines effects after that.

                  _____
                  Which is nice and all, but I'm the ST doing the designing.

                  Second, I personally don't think there should be counters to cool abilities like Auspex, Presence or Dominate. I dislike rituals like Pavis or Iron Mind, because they stop players from doing, and experiencing, fun stuff. Some of the most fun my Players have had is when Toreador seduce them from inside their heads with Auspex, or when they become madly Loyal to a Ventrue thanks to Entrancement. Believe it or not, but being the subject of these powers can be a lot of fun, story wise.

                  A power which by all accounts is extremely overpowered, the Dark Thaumaturgy path Chains of Pleasure, is currently driving an awesome plot thread in my game. A few of the players have been subject to it, and now intense debate is going on about what to do with the internalist. Keep it as a drug-dispenser? Torture it to learn the path themselves? Kill her and wash their hands? All the while, the players who have felt it have a neverending desire to just get one more hit...
                  If there had been a block to this power, the story arc never would have happened.
                  So what do you do when players run Auspex at every gathering of Kindred to perform an area scan looking for diablerie stains? Or when they use Spirit Touch against the art piece the Toreador Primogen is displaying at Elysium to get a fairly detailed breakdown of her mental state and desires? Or against the car of any old vamp as they leave Elysium to gain the location of their haven? Or against their clothes for the same purpose? Or when they decide to spend a willpower to read the princes mind?

                  Auspex, and the relative lack of counters to it, makes it much more difficult to legitimately run a game focused around intrigue and politics. More so than dominate and presence combined in many respects.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One. I think you're being incredibly generous with what information you give out with The Spirit's Touch. From what I can read in V20 Core, it only reveals the owner's (or last person who handled it) mental state and relationship to the object. Not locations, and certainly not deep dark desires.

                    Two, let them have fun with their toys. If they spent their XP to raise Auspex and Empathy to where they can reliably Auspex the fuck out of a room, let them. Let them become masters of intrigue, and unleash them upon the dark world of Elder Schemes. Have NPCs read THEIR minds, realize they have been spying on their masters, and whole new levels of intrigue emerge. Ones where powers like The Forgetful Mind become king, as suddenly information is hidden behind unknowing servants.

                    Auspex is powerful, yes. A single Brujah who is tired of your mind reading can push that shit right in, given motivation and a hacksaw.


                    Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I mean when you're saying "Presence is easy to counter, you just need a ghoul to monitor you at all times with enough empathy to notice its effects, then stake yourself for a year whenever they say to"…

                      I'd second the idea that Auspex isn't as powerful as you've been running it. If someone used Spirit's Touch on a car, for instance, I'd say "you get a short vision of the Ventrue Primogen driving to Elysium, feeling annoyed that he has to waste another hour in the presence of bickering neonates". Definitely not the Haven location. Similarly, Telepathy on the Prince would mainly reveal mundane thoughts like "why is the Torrie Primogen such a pretentious idiot and when will he finally shut up"; the book says that deep secrets always require five or more successes to access, and an Elder's schemes would always count as deep secrets imo.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Draconis View Post
                        I mean when you're saying "Presence is easy to counter, you just need a ghoul to monitor you at all times with enough empathy to notice its effects, then stake yourself for a year whenever they say to"…
                        I didn't mean to imply that it is easy (although the ability to use Willpower to negate Presence does make it much easier), just that you could counter it both mechanically and through role-play/ in story actions.

                        Now how do you counter Aura Perception? Short of just flat out avoiding other vampires, they are going to be reading your aura and thus getting both a good grasp on your emotional state at any given time and potentially learning major secrets (magic use, diablerie). Personally, if I was rewriting the game I would allow characters to make a Self-Control+Manipulation (6, or perhaps 8) roll to display whatever emotions that they want and strip Aura Perception of its ability to detect anything but emotional state.

                        I'd second the idea that Auspex isn't as powerful as you've been running it. If someone used Spirit's Touch on a car, for instance, I'd say "you get a short vision of the Ventrue Primogen driving to Elysium, feeling annoyed that he has to waste another hour in the presence of bickering neonates". Definitely not the Haven location.
                        Oh? The place that the car is parked every night? Or it's most common destinations? Seem's kinda like what a 5 success Spirit Touch would give you. Although this one is one that can work around to some decent extent at least via in story actions (assuming that you have the knowledge and wits to do so).

                        Similarly, Telepathy on the Prince would mainly reveal mundane thoughts like "why is the Torrie Primogen such a pretentious idiot and when will he finally shut up"; the book says that deep secrets always require five or more successes to access, and an Elder's schemes would always count as deep secrets imo.
                        Who needs deep secrets? Simply whether or not the Prince believes what someone says to him can be a huge deal. Or what he is thinking when he gives you orders. Or that he thinks the Primogen is a pretentious idiot.

                        And if your response to a player using Telepathy on an important NPC is that they never learn useful things, then do you do the same thing when you have NPC's use it on them? Or just use it as an excuse for how the Prince/Elder/etc. knew some secret of the players that they could use to position themselves to get the outcome that they wanted? And in story wise, every individual involved in anything juicy (i.e. most PC's) is going to have their mind raided by at least one of the courts powers that be (Auspex 4 not being all that rare, especially among elder/powerful vamp's).

                        More, any vampire that knows Telepathy exists and can be used against them is going to offer major boons to gain immunity if that is what it takes and they have any desire to play the Great Game.

                        I mean read the Prince's mind and his Fortitude 3/Presence 3 combination discipline results in you being hit with Entrancement with the difficulty dropped by 2. Or try to read the Nos Primogen's mind only to find yourself suddenly in a frenzy as his Animalism 4/Auspex 4 combination hits you with a Drawing out the Beast type effect.

                        This would be the Obtenebration equivalent, with its own (relative) benefits and drawbacks.

                        Comment

                        Working...
                        X