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Vampire 20 Thaumaturgy Roll

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  • Vampire 20 Thaumaturgy Roll

    Hey there so with somehow I have dived back into the deep end when it comes to Vampire and Dark Age Vampire and such. Related to this is my returning love for Thaumaturgy and its Paths and Rituals.

    But I just sort of realized that what I thought was the standard Attribute + Ability activation roll for Thaumaturgy is wrong, its actually Willpower.

    Willpower!

    I am not really a fan of that.

    So I was wondering what one might think about making it be instead Intelligence or Manipulation + Occult or Academics (depending on the particular path and such). Nothing else would change, just how to make the dice pool.

    That said, a part of me would like to have added one Thaumaturgy rating to said dice pool, but as only one success is needed to activate even level five path powers that boost isn't really needed.

  • #2
    The willpower roll is a hold over of the older mechanics where a botch on a Thaumaturgy roll resulted in permanent willpower loss, as a balance for how powerful it was. I want to say that they changed that in Revised edition, but I am away from my books at the moment.

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    • #3
      are you against it because you've already made your characters? (also just to be clear: rituals are still Intelligence+occult generally)

      Originally some types of sorcery, namely Settite sorcery, used Attribute+Abilitiy rolls instead of willpower, though they were all converted to willpower rolls for streamlining purposes come V20 (It makes it a lot easier, so I mostly approve. The Fluff for using willpower also makes a lot of sense especially when you start reading the real-world paradigms for the in-game magic)

      Koldunic sorcery and Necromancy are Attribute+Ability rolls still.

      Rites of the blood makes recomendations of choosing what you want for rituals. Like if you're using a very religious path you might use academics or a specialist knowledge, the modern computer nerd variation of Thaumaturgy you can use computer instead of occult, and if you're using Punk sorcery you might end up with a wits+expression roll or something radical like that.


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      • #4
        Thanks for the information.

        Honestly, you say it makes sense, but I don't really see it. Thaumaturgy was 'formed' by the Tremere using what is basically Hermetic teachings, and that is very Intelligence + Occult or Academics or some other scholarly work rather than pure gritting of the teeth to force the magic to work. But even if you take out the Tremere element, Thaumaturgy isn't something that comes natural or automatic to the Kindred, its something they had to work for. That work being study and research and looking into the depths of the world's arcane lores - again, hence Intelligence + Occult or Academics.

        So yeah, I think I am totally going to slap a piece of paper on the Thaumaturgy page that says 'not Willpower, its Intelligence + Occult".

        The fact that both Necromancy and Koldunic Sorcery has that be the roll means there isn't a super mechanical balance point that requires it, which makes me changing it all the easier and better for me.

        Oh, by the way, I look at this from an ST perspective and not a player.

        Thanks for the information, like seriously. Knowing why something might have been done helps me know whether it makes mechanical sense to change it and such.

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        • #5
          The Tremere were not the first thaumaturges.

          Now, from my understanding of Gnostic (setite) and it's more optimistic hermetic cousin (Tremere) is that you're not strictly using alchemy, calling upon gods, and using star signs. Much of Alchemy, for example was about improving yourself, exceeding your earthly limitations, and becoming closer to God. Because in the begining we were all impressive divine beings before we got stuck in material bodies (Gnostic) whilst hermetics want to reach a more divine state of being in general because that sounds nice. The idea of turning 'lead into gold' was more metaphorical than literal for most alchemists.

          So, mages (re)learning to impose their will on the world as gods would, rather than just calling upon gods to do it for them (with an Attribute+ability roll) makes a lot of sense.


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          • #6
            I'm sorry but that is not as far as I can tell true.

            The Hermetic magics performed by the Tremere when they were mortal wizards and magi were not about becoming closer to god but rather about getting power. (It was that power wish that led them to go the route of the vampire, since despite their world shacking power mages are fundamentally mortal.) Their version of alchemy WAS the transform lead into gold and one substances into another substance, even the creation of purely magical substances. The branch of the Hermetic Order that the Tremere were a part of was very scientific in mindset. Very tried and true. Very scholarly. Very much trying to figure out the nature of the world.

            When they became vampires they found their old forms of magic closed off to them (obviously) and so they began looking around, studying the blood, trying to figure out what they could do to bring back at least a portion of their old forms of magic. They saw the Disciplines and then they discovered certain ancient remnant arts - the other versions of blood sorcery - and they took that, began to study it, began to practice with the Blood, and they 'created' what is the modern, Kindred form of Blood Sorcery - Thaumaturgy.

            Tremere - and thus mainstream Camarilla - Thaumaturgy is all about the the scientific approach to magical willworkings. Its very much less then closing their eyes and praying real hard and more it is them trying to use their intelligence and understanding (that is Intelligence + Occult) to shape the forces of the world in the only way vampires can - through the mystical power of their blood forcing change in the world.

            Which is why I really don't see it making any sense for it to be a Willpower roll. I definitely see Willpower being spent for some effects, that make sense, but not the dice pool being that. But even more when rituals themselves are Attribute + Ability to cast.

            EDIT

            So the Blood Sacrifice book says this about the Willpower roll - "Hermetic Thaumaturgy uses a Willpower roll for all path powers. This reflects the systematic and homogeneous nature of Tremere's magic. Other forms of Thaumaturgy may use a different roll for each path, generally an Attribute + Ability roll."

            But that honestly makes no sense to me. How does a Willpower roll represent "a systematic and homogenous nature". What part of Willpower represents such a standardized system.

            So in the section on the Sadhana in the same book it says this - "Sadhana paths all all for Willpower rolls. A sadhu evokes all path magic by sheer force of will because that's how she believes ascetic magic works: If you gain enough merit through your asterities, what you wish comes true."

            Now that makes sense to me as a use of Willpower. Sheer force of will.

            But that isn't what the Tremere Thaumaturgy actually does.
            Last edited by LordHeru; 10-07-2020, 04:53 PM.

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            • #7
              Read up on Hermeticism and western Alchemy with wikipedia or something. It's a good read even if you want to dismiss it. You should also realize that Becoming closer to God/ Gaining power are the same thing. A Hermetic mage might even give up on being a good person because they may think goodness comes from God and being human/not God they can have no grasp on what's good. Also, being very scientific minded and scholarly does not rule out magical thinking; They're still using alchemy after all, they haven't abandoned it for chemistry! Hermetics try to find out the nature of the world but also themselves and shit science can't cover like souls or the Umbra. They're very fond of metaphores and understand rules behind the ideas of sympathetic magic and the like. The Tremere are only scientific in relation to other traditions, they're not actually scientists (Though scientists are an attractive lot when it comes to embrace).

              The Tremere use their intellegence and occult to unlock power and knowledge, once they've got it they use their will. Assamite sorcerers, though I can't remember their history over the editions, also use willpower; After they form a covenant with a spirit and learn the power they merely need to will it into the world.

              The Tremere use Willpower because they try to streamline their magic away from external factors. The egyptian sorcery of setites, for example, relies upon drawing from the power of a shrine. So it's not that direct. The Lector priest uses his knowledge to call upoin the shrine which wills magic into existence... so essentially the priest rolls his Attribute+Ability because of the intemediary. The Tremere have none of that. They want the magic to be from themselves with as little involvement from spirits, gods and star possitioning as they can. (I think the decision to move Settite sorcery to willpower was a great one because it fits their Gnostic philosophy more to not be dependent on the shrine... but also one should recognize that the Setites have corrupted their own faith and some just worship set because he's a cool snake god without putting any thought into self improvement)

              All this stuff sounds like it could be a fun in-universe argument. I think even in a world where most Tremere use willpower, one probably could find a way to circumnavigate that and use Attribute+Ability (and then make an argument for it)


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              • #8
                Thematically, I like the idea of willpower being the rolled stat. However, in practice, this makes Thaumaturgy underpowered compared to other blood sorceries. First, elders in necromancy or koldunic sorcery can have larger dice pools, because willpower doesn’t scale with generation. Second, Thaumaturgy rolls can’t benefit from specialties the way other blood sorceries can, because willpower doesn’t get a specialty (unless you houserule it).

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tiltowait View Post
                  Thematically, I like the idea of willpower being the rolled stat. However, in practice, this makes Thaumaturgy underpowered compared to other blood sorceries. First, elders in necromancy or koldunic sorcery can have larger dice pools, because willpower doesn’t scale with generation. Second, Thaumaturgy rolls can’t benefit from specialties the way other blood sorceries can, because willpower doesn’t get a specialty (unless you houserule it).

                  The paths for all three disciplines; thaumaturgy, necromancy and Koldunic sorcery, only go up to 5. You don't need much more dice when your powers only go up to five. IIRC an older generation vampire could split their dice pool better with thaumaturgy because they can spend more blood (Start ALL THE FIRES). More importantly: magic rarely rewards extra successes; you either succeed or fail, so extra dice aren't really that desirable.
                  All the rituals from these three disciplines use normal dice pools and benefit accordingly. So... this idea of being 'underpowered' doesn't really reflect the reality of the discipline. High level rituals are the same.
                  Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 10-11-2020, 02:14 PM.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                    More importantly: magic rarely rewards extra successes; you either succeed or fail, so extra dice aren't really that desirable.
                    That’s not true. At all, really. At a quick glance, almost every single Thaumaturgy power benefits from multiple successes. This is also true of Necromancy and Koldunic Sorcery.

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                    • #11
                      In V20? No. It even goes to state explicitly that most powers are succeed or fail. Vial of blood to mimic life? One success. Ward? One success. Clinging of the insect? One success. Blood contract? One success. Naturally, these powers with less variables take up less space than the powers that do demand more successes, but the 'default' state of thaumaturgy ignores the marginal/could be better/good/great/perfect success list and most powers work as well with one success as they do five.


                      Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                      There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                      • #12
                        You’re talking about rituals, whereas the topic is clearly about paths. Paths absolutely care about margin of success, full stop.

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