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[V20] Able to speak in Protean 4 Shape of the Beast?

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  • [V20] Able to speak in Protean 4 Shape of the Beast?

    Can you speak while you turned yourself into a Wolf or Bat?

    It doesn't say you can, but it also doesn't say you can't. It allows you to use Dominate and Presence which generally require you to talk to people, and it says you can call upon the abilities of the animal form in addition to your own.
    It also doesn't mention that people will need Animalism to speak with you in this form.

    To me that seems like one would be able to speak.

  • #2
    No, you wouldn't, they just don't have the capacity. As to animalism, it wouldn't work on you because you're not an animal. You can understand them just fine, assuming you normally would, but can't answer back. There are uses of dominate and presence you could use without being able to talk, just limited. Dread gaze, summon and majesty don't need any speech, and i would make the case that acting "friendly" in wolf form, like an affectionate dog, might even allow entrancement. Dominate is much more hampered, but if you got eye contact you could still enact forgetful mind, locking them into the trance state but obviously not allowing any actual memory alteration, but still handy if you need them to just freeze. Most wouldn't be on guard against this from a wolf.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Quatar View Post
      Can you speak while you turned yourself into a Wolf or Bat?

      It doesn't say you can, but it also doesn't say you can't. It allows you to use Dominate and Presence which generally require you to talk to people, and it says you can call upon the abilities of the animal form in addition to your own.
      It also doesn't mention that people will need Animalism to speak with you in this form.

      To me that seems like one would be able to speak.
      You're a wolf. You do not have the anatomy to form human sounds. Dominate mentions that Auspex 5 can be exchanged for verbal commands while Presence often works nonverbally - you can certainly Dread Gaze someone without talking to them.


      • #4
        You're a vampire and a respectable one even if a neonate if you reached Protean 4+, speaking shouldn't be naturally possible but would not be against non-verbal influence Dominate or Presence, specially if the kindred is already capable of communication to animals in human form.


        • #5
          I believe you can talk in wolf shape, if only for the sake of dominate and other

          the only in-character case I can remember is the setite in the Gehenna book who talked while being in snake form (it wasn't protean in that case however),
          the vampire she was talking to didn't have animalism
          Last edited by Pleiades; 07-19-2019, 09:27 AM.



          • #6
            V20 rules do not take a clear stance on this except to say:

            Furthermore, each form gives the character the abilities of that creature.
            -V20, p200

            Now, this can be read either as, "add the abilities of the animal form onto the abilities the vampire already has", or as, "remove all of the vampire's abilities which are dependent on their form, and replace them with those of the animal form taken".

            Grammatically, and therefore RAW, I would say the transformed vampires retains the power of speech, because the animal abilities are added to the native form.

            There are, however, several reasons to infer this was not the RAI meaning.
            • Lots of abilities are lost, that few would argue should be retained. Can a bat ride a bicycle, or use a sewing machine? Can a wolf type 120 wpm, or wear human clothes?
            • The power description mentions retaining "his own psyche and temperament", with no mention of speech. This would seem an unusual omission, if speech is retained.
            • I am not aware of any canon npc who has used speech while in animal form. Indeed, transforming to humanoid form to interact with another character is often the way the writer points out the character has Protean 4. This implies human communication requires human form.
            • There are abilities lost or reduced by the change. Flight form reduces Strength, for example. So, there is a precedent for abilities being changed, not added.
            • In V5, the writers went out of their way to point out that the change removes human speech. This implies they meant to limit it in the past, noted the ambiguity, and issued a clarification1.
            • Physically, the appropriate anatomy does not exist in most animals. I get that some folks will hand-wave this by saying, "it's magic!" Okay, but then do you allow people to speak while earth melded or in mist form? How about Vicissitude or Obtenebration 5?
            • Thematically, a talking bat could easily seem cartoonish or silly, rather than horrific. Not the most rational argument, but there it is.
            So, when STing, I would rule that no speech is possible in animal form. I would certainly allow some very expressive uses of what voice the animal has. A wolf could growl something like a "yes" or "no" answer to a question, or communicate the rhythm of a human word, for example.

            OTOH, if a player were dead-set on talking in animal form because it is central their character concept, I would allow it. One option would be a species that is good at mimicking human speech, such as a parrot. The other is charging some freebie points for it as a merit.


            1And many thanks to the eagle-eyed writer or editor who caught the problem and fixed it. Cake for you!


            • #7
              Thank you all for your opinions and thoughts, and pointing out that V5 clarifies this issue. So I think I'll go with "Nope, unless the species is good at mimicing it".


              • #8
                Quoth the raven, "Look at my eyes! You're in my power!"

                Some crows and ravens are actually quite good at talking. Maybe more than I even realize. Generally I'd rule the same as Nosimplehiway, though if it was part of the character concept I might rule that with a willpower and blood point (rouse check in V5, obviously) spent, you could speak for the scene. Otherwise it's worth while to get Auspex and raise it up to Telepathy. Telepathy is a wonderful power anyway and works even better for the talking animal bit, since the voice just forms in your head. Much spookier, less silly, also can allow you to stealthily communicate with people and even keep them from suspecting the animal being supernatural if you're not obvious with it.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                  V20 rules do not take a clear stance on this except to say:
                  This ain't d&d theoretical optimization. This is World of Darkness, we go with the intent not some contrived interpretation of the exact phrasing so you can do silly things like this.


                  • #10
                    I rule that Animalism can let you talk to (But not command) someone in an animal form. Otherwise you'd have to both use Animalism to talk to the same animal to speak.

                    There are some Gangrel that remain in animal forms, so would need some way to communicate to others in that form


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PazuzuAxelf View Post

                      This ain't d&d theoretical optimization. This is World of Darkness, we go with the intent not some contrived interpretation of the exact phrasing so you can do silly things like this.
                      Good point, and thank you. I'm always looking to learn better ways of running games.

                      I presented the RAW rule, a reason the RAW might match the RAI, a list of reasons the RAW might not match the RAI, and a feasible house-rule interpretation of how the RAW and RAI could interact in the actual game environment. I came to the conclusion that, at my table, vampires in animal form cannot create human speech, albeit with a few exceptions if speech helps the narrative.

                      How does your process for adapting RAW to RAI to table-use differ? And, how would you rule on the question at hand - tell the player talking animals are how the power works, tell the player no talking animals are allowed, or a compromise solution?


                      • #12

                        On the side issue of discipline use, I've worked up a few quick notes. I hope it is helpful.

                        Several are disallowed outright: Necromancy, Serpentis, Thaumaturgy, and Vicissitude. Most of these are theoretical, as few Giovanni, Setites, Tremere, or Tzimisce are likely to know Protean 4.

                        For all of these, I would allow sensory-based powers that were activated prior to taking animal form. It makes sense that a wolf might be able to see the dead, communicate with plants, etc.

                        I would also allow powers which are activated but do not need further action to maintain (like Heart of Stone or Ex Nihilo) could be activated and would remain active after the transformation into an animal for the usual duration. That is, someone could step into the Shadowlands and then transform into a bat, but not the other way around.

                        I am undecided and would like others' input on how to handle powers that enchant a magical item. Is the item absorbed into the animal form, like clothing and other personal effects? Does this end the enchantment? If so, does changing back resume the enchantment? Or, does an enchanted item continue to function while within an animal form? Some rituals (eg Chime of Unseen Spirits) don't make sense to keep working. Others (eg Impressive Visage, Iron Body) seem like they may continue to operate normally. I'm not sure.

                        Vicissitude... I might leave some wiggle-room. Certainly, if the user lacks manual dexterity making careful alterations is nearly impossible. However, if Vicissitude 2 is used as an attack to lower Appearance, I think an animal scratching and biting at the victim's face makes sense. Also, I would allow someone in animal form to change directly into Zulo or Bloody Puddle form, mostly because that's awesome.

                        Serpentis... I'm not sure why this is on the disallowed list at all, except maybe removing a heart. A wolf which beguiles with snake eyes, or extends the flickering tongue of a snake just seems too horrific to not use. And, a wolf with Typhonic Maw just this moment became my new favorite monster.

                        Powers RAW allowed:

                        The physical disciplines work fine with Protean 4, though using Potence in bat form raises an eyebrow. The whole point of a flight form is you trade offensive capability for escape, but it's allowed RAW so I'd let it stand.

                        Abombwe should operate normally. Invoking the Beast might need case-by-case rulings.

                        Animalism works smoothly, but there are questions about communication. Most of these have already been discussed elsewhere on this thread.I would only add that the choice of whether Animalism 3 is based on intimidation or lethargy might be dependent on whether you are in fight or flight form.

                        Auspex is well-suited to animal form. Psychic Projection is interesting, because a spirit wolf could get into all sorts of hijinx in the WoD.

                        Bardo... dues to its intense focus on denying vampiric nature and its ritualistic nature, I would rule no power of it is usable in animal form.

                        Chimerstry... I see no reason to limit it, except that the user must be able to perceive it themselves. Some species have senses that differ from human, so that could change the appearance of the illusion. This could make illusions more difficult when dealing with human senses, but more realistic to animals. It would also extend the illusion ability to scent-marks, low and high frequency sound, and the like.

                        Daimnoinon... Daimonion... Damn Onion. However it's spelled, is too ritualistic and requires too much communication in human speech to function properly. I might allow Sense the Sin and Conflagration, as they are more like inherent powers than spells.

                        Dementation. Yes, yes, and yes. Animals that drive you crazy are too awesome to say no to. Just ask the Son of Sam. That said, some powers require conversations with the victim, and those might be limited. Though, I suppose that hinges on the outcome of the main question in this thread.

                        Dominate does not, technically, require speech. It requires communication, a slight distinction, but an important one. Every dog parent knows when their furry friend is saying, "Feed me! Feed me!", or "I want to go through that door!" If proper speech is not possible, then more detailed instructions are not possible.

                        Flight is a weird one. Presumably the Gargoyle wings vanish when the change is made, like how human thumbs vanish. OTOH, wings are part of the bloodline curse. Still, the wings aren't really the point of the power. I would disallow it just on thematic grounds. I really don't want Krypto the Superdog in the WoD. I could see a good argument being made either way.

                        Melpominee works fine. Level 1 would only throw the physical voice you have in the animal form. I would rule level 2, which throws the voice anywhere, could use your human voice whatever your form, since it is not physical speech. I love the idea of a wolf howl driving people crazy, btw.

                        Obeah should work normally, though Mens Sana and Unburdening the Bestial Soul may require communication.

                        Obfuscate works normally, which is good for City Gangrel. I would limit Obfuscate 3 to changing the animal form's identity to that of a similar animal. In wolf form, you could look like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, or a random guard dog. You could not make yourself look human while in animal form. Maaaybe, you could look like a human on all fours. A bat could look like a bird, which might be useful.

                        Obtenebration would work fine. Bonus: A shadow wolf with tentacles just became my new favorite monster. What can I say? I'm fickle.

                        Presence, as noted elsewhere, requires no verbal communication, and works fine. A Summoned individual may or may not recognize you in animal form. They will be drawn to that wolf over there as a means to reaching you, but may not make the connection of the wolf being you, unless they know you have Protean 4.

                        Quietus works fine in the original form. There are so many different versions, it's hard to make a blanket statement, though. Some alternate powers, like Blood Tempering or Ishtar's Touch may be too ritualistic to activate. Also, note that a field of silence jams a bat's echolocation.

                        Sanguinus. Eww, nothing's grosser than this. I love it. Problem is that body parts created using Protean only exist because the user knows Protean. So, I wouldn't allow those to be shared with someone who does not. It might appear as the human analogous part. I would allow mixing in animal forms with Coagulate Entity. Most other powers work normally.

                        Spiritus... all the powers work fine, possibly better, in animal form. Aspect of the Beast might replace certain aspects of the Protean form. For example, you can either have wolf eyes or bee eyes, not both. Wild Beast has particularly good synergy to make a dire wolf. This combo is as close to Crinos as a vampire is likely to get.

                        Temporis should work fine.

                        Thanatosis (and Mortis). Remember how there was "nothing grosser" than animal forms using Sanguinus? I'd like to change my answer, please. The powers should all work normally, if revoltingly. (Except, level 1. That just makes a Shar Pei, and they're cute.)

                        Valeran should work fine, except see notes on Obeah.

                        VIsceratika should work normally.
                        Last edited by Nosimplehiway; 07-22-2019, 08:42 AM.


                        • #13
                          From V20 Dark ages core (As really explains a lot of the rules and add important flavor to many things):

                          A vampire may use any Discipline in animal form that
                          he possesses and has the physical capacity to practice. For
                          example, complicated Thaumaturgical rituals would be
                          impossible for a wolf, and Dominate commands would be
                          impossible to deliver as a bat

                          This pretty clearly indicates no speech is possible... Of course, you could make a parrot into your flight form etc.

                          Source: Page 241-242, V20 Dark ages corebook


                          • #14
                            How does the stats work in V20? It does say that you get easier perception rolls and +1 agg dmg but is that it? It feels pretty weak compared to the gangrel lore book which gives you that + increased attribute stats by 5.. Am I getting something wrong?


                            • #15
                              There's no change in stats unless otherwise noted.