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Torpor | Options & Opinions

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  • Torpor | Options & Opinions

    Heya! This thread is made for the purpose of collecting people’s various thoughts and opinions regarding torpor and torpor rules. People can use any edition as a resource, I’m partial to V20 but every edition has its reasons to love it and I’m not interested in any pissing contests. Everyone is welcome here.

    I ask because I feel an important factor to worldbuilding my own settings in vampire is how long vampires are active and inactive. It helps me feel like I can create realistic and reasonable seeming generations of development and allows for a certain schematizing of history.

    I’ve been thinking about implementing something like what Requiem uses with its blood potency system as a rule of thumb, where a vampire will basically have an activity to inactivity ratio of 2:1 (50 years active : 25 years torpid) with a loose cap of around 400-600 years of continuous activity before torpor is inevitable for most kindred.

    However I’m also curious what other people’s thoughts on the subject are and how they handle it at their table and in their own vampire philosophy. So, if interested, please feel free to share your ideas below.

    Thanks for reading and thank you in advance for any who choose to post. Stay safe out there y’all.

  • #2
    IIRC there aren't many differences in torpor rules among editions, actually. VtM is far different from VtR in this regard, but also fairly consistent in itself on this particular aspect of the game.

    Torpor as a rule always depended only on damage/hunger and Humanity, period. Nothing outside it can really force a vampire into torpor, and Humanity is the only real limit on when it ends. Everything else is entirely up to ST's discretion. Well, there is a rule on DASC about elders entering torpor because of age, but it is just there and I'm not sure if it is consistently used.

    Methuselahs are said to enter torpor by their own volition, but that was never a hard rule. And different from VtR there are no mechanical consequences, good or bad, to torpor. It just is.

    Now, the problem with messing with rules and meaning for torpor is its effects on the lore and themes of the game. Masquerade uses a lot of the idea of elders from the distant past coming back to retake their positions, and the lack of effects in torpor is key to this since you expect those elders to have access to their full power upon awakening. Requiem, on the other hand, focus on the idea of long torpor serving as a way for the Kindred to have a fresh start, where the past can influence their new unlife, but more as a kind of heritage than direct continuity, and the declining Potency plays a role there.

    So, I personally find Requiem superior in many ways to Masquerade on this regard, but I can't say that you can simply translate this rule and expect exactly the same setting. I would rather play Requiem than change Masquerade's torpor (I play both, a lot).


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    • #3
      The Elysium sourcebook had a rule for voluntary torpor. I don't remember if that was incorporated into later corebooks, but I suspect not.

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      • #4
        My preference is, outside of damage, narrative torpor is far more useful than any mechanics. If a plot requires a particular vampire to be active or slumbering at a particular point, just make it so.

        My personal take is that voluntary torpor is something some vampires do out of sheer boredom with their present situation and the older you get, the more likely you are to just call it a decade/century/millennia, slip into torpor and hopefully wake up in more interesting times.

        It’s basically a coping mechanism for immortality and not every vampire feels the need for it. Some ridiculously high Humanity vampire who spends time among humanity (and adjusts expectations to “each moment with this person is a gift to be treasured and remembered fondly when its over”) might NEVER feel the tug of torpor despite being millennia old because every day, year and decade is something new.

        Conversely some low Humanity recluse who sees humans only as food and spends every night essentially just like the last might fall into torpor for decades or more after just a century.

        Another thing to consider is that, particularly for the real ancients, torpor doesn’t necessarily means they’re “asleep” in a human sense, just that their bodies are inactive while their minds are active telepathically or astrally or dominating another creature and manipulating events from their crypt.

        But if they do just “sleep” I think a case could be made for that impacting their Humanity and virtues coming out either for good or ill (i.e. a brand new world coming out might be just the kick one vampire needs to feel more connected to Humanity while another has a bit ground away to see its the same stuff with a different coat of paint).

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        • #5
          I saw a fun take somewhere that daysleep for vampires doesn't feel like sleep. There is no transition between asleep and not asleep. There is no sense of time passing. They just lie down, close their eyes, and in all the time it takes to re-open their eyes, it's ~8 hours later. Daysleep is not psychologically restful. I don't think this was ever made canon anywhere, but I liked it enough to make it so in many games. (Daysleeping vampires typically don't dream, either.)

          Torpor is how vampires sleep for real. I like Chris24601's description of torpor as a coping mechanism. That's basically how I see it too. Humans aren't meant to never sleep. Humans aren't meant to live forever. Humans aren't meant to be vampires. Torpor is how they psychologically recuperate.

          I also prefer the idea that the older a vampire gets and the higher their Blood Potency gets (V5) or the lower their generation is (V20), the more predisposed they are towards torpor. "Thicker" blood predisposes vampires towards torpor. You can explain it psychologically; being a millennia-old blood god is alien to the human psyche and it uses torpor to help cope. You can explain it physiologically; thicker-blooded vampires use up more "energy" (be that blood or energy of a more abstract variety) and need more time asleep to recharge. You can even explain it metaphysically; the modern world has no place for millennia-old blood gods and the present nature of reality predisposes thick-blooded vampires towards slumber and seclusion. (Mages would call this Paradox, or perhaps classify ancient enough vampires as a form of bygone.)

          No matter the reason for the correlation between torpor and thick blood, though, the former is the latter's major drawback. Having a high generation isn't always bad. I like the idea that there are "wandering Jew" type elders who are quite old but of modest generation, and consequently haven't risen to the same prominence in the Camarilla as stronger-blooded elders. Like Lucien from Chicago. Eighth generation and two thousand years old, but up and about and interacting with mortal society with no major problems. He probably wouldn't be doing that if his generation was lower.

          Van Richten's Guide to Vampires had a great description of torpor that I shamelessly stole in my current chronicle.

          "It is sleep but not sleep, where thoughts are sluggish as thick honey and take years to flow. It is a state where dreams and might-have-beens intercourse with true memories. It is a state where sounds and smells from the deepest recesses of one's consciousness find their way to the surface again, but disturb the mind no more than a rose petal falling on a still pool of water. Time has no meaning; hunger has no meaning. There is no future. There is no past. There is but an endless and eternal now."
          In addition to age and high Blood Potency, ennui and trauma also predispose vampires towards torpor. It's a common trope that elders who are dissatisfied with the current age will fall asleep in hopes of waking up in more interesting times.

          I tend to think that torpor only really bothers elders. Neonates almost never deal with it (outside of torpor caused by injury or starvation) and ancillae rarely do. Most elders eventually succumb at some point. Old enough elders are likely to have succumbed multiple times. Many methuselahs and pretty much all of the Antediluvians spend more time asleep than awake, but start to function more like the Great Old Ones than human sleepers. Slumber for them is still a higher state of consciousness than wakefulness is for many humans. The higher an ancient's Auspex and Mental Attributes, the less of an impediment torpor is to their cognition.


          Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
            Van Richten's Guide to Vampires had a great description of torpor that I shamelessly stole in my current chronicle.
            That is actually a really great sourcebook from the 2e Ravenloft setting. When I moved from home 20+ years ago, it was one of the few D&D sourcebooks I kept. There's a lot of stuff that is applicable to VtM especially elders. It does a great job discussing the normal vampire tropes and determining how to best use them in an RPG.

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            • #7
              I think I have the entire Van Richten's Guides collection here and have to agree. There is a lot of good stuff and ideas in Ravenloft with general application. You could say that my first Promethean games were done using the Guide to the Created.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Black Fox View Post

                That is actually a really great sourcebook from the 2e Ravenloft setting. When I moved from home 20+ years ago, it was one of the few D&D sourcebooks I kept. There's a lot of stuff that is applicable to VtM especially elders. It does a great job discussing the normal vampire tropes and determining how to best use them in an RPG.
                The Van Richten's Guides are awesome precisely because they stick to the classic horror movie/novel tropes. The World of Darkness can get overly caught up in its own mythology sometimes and the Guides are good sourcebooks for going "back to basics".

                Van Richten himself is also a super likeable character. It's fun to follow his personal journey throughout the Guides and watch it culminate in the Guide to the Vistani.


                Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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                • #9
                  I like the post-mortem 3.5 era guides too, by the Weathermay-Foxgrove twins. There is a striking difference in style, sure, but they stay having loads of interesting ideas and concepts to work with. And from the Guide to the Walking Dead, Toben the Many remains one of my favorite RPG villains of all time, and exquisite execution of the zombie plague trope with a twist. You can borrow many things from there and adapt for a Necromancy-based story, chronicle or character.

                  But yeah, I think the Guide to Vampires can help a lot with Torpor and even other aspects of Kindred condition by revisiting a classic take on the trope.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
                    The World of Darkness can get overly caught up in its own mythology sometimes and the Guides are good sourcebooks for going "back to basics".
                    I agree. It's fun to play with the unique mythos and lore of the setting, but if you do it too much and forget the source material that inspired it, then it's not always clear you are talking about vampires in the game as opposed to mutants, superheroes, elven paladins, or Highlander immortals.

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