Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

There, I Fixed It: Vicissitude

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

  • There, I Fixed It: Vicissitude

    I have long detested Vicissitude because it isn't a Discipline, it's a plot device designed to make the Tzimisce horrific and scary antagonists. The first three levels alone are stronger than most other Disciplines up to Elder levels. Everything after those levels is a random hodge-podge of shapeshifting, blood and fire-breathing because why not? It's a messy, incoherent Discipline that exists as an homage to the Necroscope series by Brian Lumley. I have nothing against that series, but that series is science fiction written by someone whose work draws heavily from Lovecraftian themes and moods. I do not believe it's particularly well-suited to the World of Darkness.

    All that aside, Vicissitude is pretty popular and it's entirely central to the Tzimisce as they exist outside of the corebooks. It defines their entire Clan culture, history and all their NPCs. Tzimisce without Vicissitude are just Ventrue dressed up like Dracula. So, for most games, Vicissitude is here to stay. That doesn't give it any excuse at all to out-do Obfuscate 3 on every level with its first-dot power. It doesn't excuse that Vicissitude 2 and 3 are free-form powers with virtually no limits on what they can do other than those imposed by individual Storytellers.

    It was only recently, inspired by the forthcoming new edition of Trinity, that I started going over Biokinesis and realized that it could be used as a basis for re-designing Vicissitude so that it has actual powers that do actual things instead of just a poorly-written freeform system that forces the Storyteller to improvise effects for whatever madness their Tzimisce players can come up with. Who has time to invent a system to represent what happens when you pimpslap someone's eyes out of their face with Fleshcraft, or decide you want to whip up mermaids by Fleshcrafting gills and fish-tails onto your ghouls?

    So, here's a Biokinesis-inspired version of Vicissitude that doesn't include any type of melting into blood muddles or vampire-Crinos-form, or even any mid-combat face-melting.

    EDIT: most-recent version

    Vicissitude (Revised)
    Purification
    The first step to mastery of one’s own body is the ability to sense and remove intruders. Mundane poisons, drugs, diseases and toxins are detected as soon as they enter the Tzimisce's body, while magical ones may require additional effort to notice and remove. Once made aware of a contaminant, the vampire can be expel it from their flesh with an effort of will and an expenditure of vitae. The intruding material is consumed by the blood, and becomes a foul, black fluid which is secreted from the vampire's skin like sweat. Many vampires regard the Tzimisce with jealousy, for there are rumors that it is possible to prevent the Blood Bond by neutralizing vitae.
    System: After learning this ability, the character becomes instantly aware if any mundane substance enters their body. Magical contaminants, such as vitae or the poisons produced by Quietus, can be detected with a Perception + Occult roll (difficulty 8). Cleansing a mundane toxin takes one blood point per dose; the cost is doubled for magical toxins. If this power is used to neutralize vitae, it will not only prevent the Blood Bond, but also prevent any blood points or other effects being gained.
    While Purification can remove diseases, poisons and drugs at any point, it cannot nullify Vinculum or Blood Bonds that have already taken effect. Such potent magic is beyond this power once it settles upon the victim.

    •• Lamarckian Adaptation
    Adapting his body instantly to any situation, a Tzimisce can trade strength for endurance or flexibility for vigor. Re-arranging his own physical structure, the vampire decides how best his body might serve him at any given time.
    System: The character must roll Willpower (difficulty 7). Each success allows the Fiend perform any of the following actions: temporarily re-allocate 1 dot from one Physical Attribute to another, convert a dot of Dexterity or Strength into an extra Bruised Health Level, or convert a Health Level into an extra die of soak against non-Aggravated damage. These changes last for a scene. If any extra Health Levels contained damage when the power ends, that damage is transferred to the character’s normal Health Levels.

    ••• Malleable Form
    This power grants the ability to manipulate one’s own body on a superficial level. Build, voice, facial features and skin tone can all be altered easily. With great skill, it is even possible to impersonate others by mimicking their physical form. Alterations performed with this power are cosmetic only and cannot confer more than a foot of height gained or lost, nor more than a 20% shift in physical size.
    System: Each desired alteration requires one blood point and a Dexterity + Medicine roll (difficulty 6). Duplicating another person’s appearance requires at least five successes. This ability can improve one’s Appearance, but only temporarily. Malleable Form’s adjustments last until the character uses the power again to remove them.

    •••• Transmogrification
    A far more in-depth mastery of one’s physical form than Malleable Form, this power allows drastic and inhuman alterations. Vampires who learn this technique can transform themselves into hideous beasts or gorgeous visions. They can sprout feathers, scales, even additional limbs, organs or biological armor.
    System: The transformations wrought by this power require 2 blood points each, and a Dexterity + Medicine roll (difficulty 7). Transmogrifications can impart the effect of nearly any mundane piece of equipment. Claws can act as knives, or bony plates can replace a bullet-proof vest. Improved eyes can confer the effects of night-vision goggles, while a parachute might be imitated through helium gas bladders or patagia webbing between limbs. These changes will last until the Tzimisce activates Transmogrification again to undo them.

    ••••• Promethean Clay
    No longer limited to modifying their own body, a master of Vicissitude can twist and shape the bodies of others with a mere touch. This power is the stuff of nightmares, but it can also be the making of dreams come true, for it can also remedy long-standing physical deformity.
    System: The process of shaping another being’s flesh is slow and painstaking. Promethean Clay is always an extended action; each Dexterity + Medicine roll (difficulty 7) requires 30 minutes and a blood point. Such changes are represented as Physical Merits and Flaws that can be applied to or removed from the Tzimisce’s subject. Applying or removing Merits and Flaws requires 1 success for every point the trait desired is worth. If the subject is unwilling, as most are, each Merit or Flaw can be ‘healed’ as if it were an amount of Aggravated damage equal to its point value. These alterations do not vanish on their own; they last forever if not healed.
    Last edited by Telgar; 06-23-2015, 05:14 PM.


    I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

  • #2
    Ok I like this. But biokinetics can become a liquid. Alternate powers in Terra Verde and I think it is at a lower level than standard.

    Comment


    • #3
      When you said you fixed Vic, you meant it. Well done!

      Although I’m a little (very little) sad about the loss of “Shaithis-form,” I think you kept the thematic spirit of the Discipline, balanced the mechanics, AND revised it in a way that wouldn’t be a retcon nightmare.

      The added caveat of “unwilling” subjects healing unwanted alterations, I think, adds some extra roleplaying potential to the relationship between Fiend and Szlatcha…

      I’m printing this and putting it between pages 186 and 187 of VtMRev.

      Again, well done.


      This is what happens when an Abyssal Exalted ends up in H.o.L.
      (Also known as "Derpwraith" and "PretentiousFontsGuy
      ").

      Comment


      • #4
        I would argue that for Promethean clay, the damage equivalent for removing traits should be Aggravated, not lethal. Otherwise, you have the situation where a human, shaped into a monster with spikes for hands somehow grows back hands from a couple weeks of bedrest. Which I find a bit...odd.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by lncbill View Post
          Ok I like this. But biokinetics can become a liquid. Alternate powers in Terra Verde and I think it is at a lower level than standard.
          They sure can! Originally I included that as my level 5, but then I was reminded that the only reason most people even want Vicissitude is to fleshcraft other people. So I ditched the melt-into-ooze power and put Fleshcraft back in. Biokinesis has over 15 powers in the 1-5 range, I couldn't include them all. Some of them might make for nifty combo-Disciplines or Elder powers.

          Originally posted by HOD
          I would argue that for Promethean clay, the damage equivalent for removing traits should be Aggravated, not lethal. Otherwise, you have the situation where a human, shaped into a monster with spikes for hands somehow grows back hands from a couple weeks of bedrest. Which I find a bit...odd.
          Making the damage Aggravated would certainly keep mortals from healing it, but it would also making undoing significant Vicissitude alterations incredibly taxing for vampires as well. That's one of the problems for me with RAW-Vicissitude: permanence. It's already flexible and crazy powerful, but it's also permanent even to vampires, who are supposed to be immune to permanent physical changes? Nuts to that. It's scary enough that they can slap your eyes off your face, they don't need to do that and leave you crippled forever. I went with Lethal Damage specifically to make Vicissitude still scary, but not "OMG EVERYONE RUN IT'S A NEONATE TZIMISCE!" scary.

          You could add a note that says mortals just don't get to heal Vicissitude, but then what about werewolves or mages that get Vicissitude'd? I'm actually fine with the changes being temporary even on mortals. An Elder-level power (7 or so sounds right) might upgrade the "damage" caused by alterations to Aggravated. Call it Persistent Molding or something.


          I'm glad you like the changes, Naz.


          I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

          Comment


          • #6
            This is good stuff! I think that thematically Vicissitude is just fine and dandy - gory and unnatural transformations are straight from Romanian folklore in addition to Lumley - but mechanically the discipline has always been among the shoddiest, and this revision goes a long way to fix that. I'm very interested in playtesting this.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Telgar View Post
              Making the damage Aggravated would certainly keep mortals from healing it, but it would also making undoing significant Vicissitude alterations incredibly taxing for vampires as well. That's one of the problems for me with RAW-Vicissitude: permanence. It's already flexible and crazy powerful, but it's also permanent even to vampires, who are supposed to be immune to permanent physical changes?
              You already moved it from the 2nd and 3rd levels to the 5th level. When comparing with other 5th level Discipline powers, I hardly feel it is overpowered to have the changes require some blood and time to undo.

              Having it lethal just has the "She turned me into a Newt! Well I got better..." factor too much for me to handle.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yeah, considering that this is a 5 level Discipline and requires 30 minutes of time, I see no problem making the changes the equivalent of aggravated damage. That isn't at all unbalanced, considering that some Disciplines can do instant aggravated damage much earlier, and it feels more thematic for it to be a bit difficult to heal such changes for a vampire and impossible for less resilient beings to heal them.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by HOD View Post
                  You already moved it from the 2nd and 3rd levels to the 5th level. When comparing with other 5th level Discipline powers, I hardly feel it is overpowered to have the changes require some blood and time to undo.
                  I don't believe Fleshcraft and Bonecraft were even remotely balanced as 2nd and 3rd level powers, but I do concede that when compared to other level 5 abilities like Quietus or some Necro-Thaum Paths, it's reasonable to be able to deal Aggravated damage under very controlled conditions. A Tzimisce that has you in their grip for 30 minutes could, after all, just set you on fire. So I will change the healing rates to Aggravated instead of Lethal. Poor mortals. So sad.


                  I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Man, I love it! The only thing I'm wondering is wich use is the first dot as poisons, drugs and such aren't usually a matter to vampires. Is a bit niche even for a first dot. I do like the simplicity of the 4th.


                    I'm So Meta Even This Acronym

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Drinking from drugged vessels can impose penalties on a vampire, and there are poisons (like those created by Necromancy and Quietus) that affect vamps just fine. The power also allows you to purge diseases from your blood, allowing you to avoid becoming a carrier and infecting all your herd.


                      I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ah, yeah. That ought to be useful, for some reason I didn't see the mention to diseases the first couple of times I read it. How would it work against Quietus 2, for example? One Blood Point to negate the power altogether, or one Blood Point per Blood Point used in the poison?


                        I'm So Meta Even This Acronym

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm of two minds regarding this, but at least PART of it is that I don't wanna appear to like anything that Telgar puts up... Dude, I got a rivalry to maintain with you, right? I do like it, despite how wed I am to the messy, hands-on approach of classic Vicissitude's mechanics. I've had a couple of players with Tzimisce characters in the past, and the 'on-the-fly' rulings for the Discipline haven't ever struck me as onerous. However, mileage varies and whatnot, and I KNOW that my troupe isn't 'typical' for what others here experience.

                          As for the thematic notion of this, I think that it changes some of how I see the Clan, but it actually fits better with how the Tzimisce arts are presented in various fictions in Vampire: the Masquerade (including novels, in-character accounts, descriptions of Kupala's Night). This version actually goes a long way towards making things like Souleaters less far-fetched, if one's willing to accept any of the weirdy-wonkiness of Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand or ideas of Vicissitude being a disease. The idea of some practitioners of the Discipline becoming horrid monsters unable to keep a single form is scarier with this version of the Discipline.

                          I do agree that the first power doesn't fit great with vampires, but I'm currently unable to think of a way to shore it up, buff it up, fix it up. It's a great idea, but poisons and foreign bodies don't come up that much in any Vampire game I've ever played. I wonder if a small, physical change to bearing or stature could work here? Something that might just darken skin, pull up shoulders, that would offer a short-lived bonus to Intimidation, Expression, etc. rolls? I'm thinking like the old, first power but with much more limited, well-defined effects. I mean, can't you just spend one Blood Point to remove diseases from the blood if you know it's there? *shrug*


                          B.I.G. Bird spreads the word: Anybody with a heart votes love

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I rather like the idea that mortals so afflicted can heal the damage. In-story, it does seem a little “odd,” but from a balancing-perspective, it does prevent neonates from making an army of Slither-esque pseudo-fomori.

                            And why not use Szlatcha as a potential neonate spawning pool? They already do it for with the Revenant families. You could make some sort of Clive Barker Faustian deal: “Serve me as my faithful flesh-templar of fugliness for ten years and I will make you a vampire.” Ten years as a Tom Savini project in exchange for immortality might make a few juicebags not want to heal.

                            I like the first level of the new Vic (from henceforth it shall be known as Telgar’s Vicissitude, or simply TelVic). The idea of becoming a carrier for some random STD and infecting my Herd has always been a concern of mine. Even from a Sabbat perspective, a rancher doesn’t want to give his cattle Mad Cow Disease. I like it. It’s simple, it does what it needs to do for a first level power and, personally, I would find it useful.



                            This is what happens when an Abyssal Exalted ends up in H.o.L.
                            (Also known as "Derpwraith" and "PretentiousFontsGuy
                            ").

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Nazfool View Post
                              I rather like the idea that mortals so afflicted can heal the damage. In-story, it does seem a little “odd,” but from a balancing-perspective, it does prevent neonates from making an army of Slither-esque pseudo-fomori.
                              Neonates regularly have 5th level Disciplines in your games ? They sure don't in mine.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X