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Should ghouls have weaknesses?

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  • Should ghouls have weaknesses?

    So in a few V20 suplements there's the idea that ghouls should develop weaknesses relating to the blood of their Domitors, but should they actually? It might make things more interesting, but interesting =/= good in a world where supernaturals need to be low key. I've also been thinking it's a bit of a stretch seeing as how high-gen vampires are often Caitiffs with no clan weakness, and as thin as a 15th gen's blood is, it's still thicker than a ghoul's blood. Lastly, a clan's weakness does well to bring vampires with similar skills together as allies rather than just competitors; this function is redundant with ghouls, who are all bloodbound. Thoughts?


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  • #2
    There's a strong streak of something puritanical in the way ghouls have been treated in the rules, as if they should be punished for their sin of being only partially vampiric. So I tend to ignore any extra penalties specifically designed to screw over ghouls and no-one else.

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    • #3
      It seems like a waste of time unless you're playing a pure ghoul chronical, then it's useful to ad definition between pc's. In a conventional vampire coterie the ghouls flaw is its a ghoul, same for npcs.

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      • #4
        Rather than "should" I'd say "could." It's the kind of thing that might be interesting for a very old ghoul, or maybe a ghoul who just has the ability to hold more blood than most. But I probably would not make it something that happens with any real frequency or rhyme or reason. Sometimes a vampire might have one of his ghouls start developing the clan weakness, and then other ghouls who've been around much longer never do. More superstitious clans probably take is a good omen and consider giving that ghoul the Embrace.

        Of course, with some vampire clans it wouldn't matter. Like a ghoul getting the Ventrue clan flaw might not ever even realize it.

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        • #5
          They are generally blood addicted slaves to a vampire sugar daddy and have to go to great lengths if they want to maintain their ghoul status without drinking from any single vampire enough times for the blood slave bond to kick in. And then once they get old enough getting their fix literally becomes a matter of life and death as they literally age into dust if they extend their life out past what is humanly possible and find themselves cut off from their fix. And in general they are just more limited in how strong they can get compared to an experienced vampire and how often they can use their powers.

          edit: Oh, I guess there are those weird eugenics experiments ghouls that do produce their own vitae. They could probably do with some weaknesses to counterbalance that, yeah. And insanity from being more inbred then a Hapsburg but held together by magical vampire powers probably doesn't count.
          Last edited by Mizu; 02-19-2022, 02:16 PM.


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          • #6
            I think it is an interesting thing, if it happens only sometimes to old ghouls or at random. It shouldn't be common, as it would be it too banal.

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            • #7
              I think there might be a couple of situations that would make it more reasonable:

              1) When the Ghoul is particularly old, has been drinking vitae for centuries to survive.

              2) When the vitae in question is exceptionally concentrated, when the Ghoul has been drinking regularly from a Methuselah for a significant period of time.

              Obviously, these two have a lot of potential to occur together: Prias and Helena is the example that comes to mind. But it should not necessarily be a hard and fast rule, but rather a oddity that is possible but not inevitable. If we were a bunch of Netchurches in-universe maybe we could find a causal explanation for why some but not others, but from the OOC perspective of players and GMs it's probably better to leave it unexplained and/or mysterious.

              I would also suggest that Ghouls getting weaknesses from drinking lots of vitae over time should not necessarily always be Clan weaknesses either. Especially in cases where the Ghoul has drunk extensively from multiple Kindred bloodlines.

              And finally, I would question the direct comparison between Ghouls and thin-bloods. While they are closer mechanically than Ghouls and "proper" Kindred, the conditions are fundamentally separate. However thick or thin it may be, a Thin-blood does have vitae flowing in their veins, not living human blood that has some vitae mixed in. I wouldn't consider Ghouls developing Kindred weaknesses as a sign of "thicker vitae," but rather a reaction between their living flesh and blood and the vitae they imbibe that produces a kind of mutation. Even if they function the same way in game mechanics, I would treat them as different from an in-universe perspective to some degree.

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              • #8
                I don't think they should have weaknesses per se. However, there should be a flavor to them that reveals their master's clan. Nos ghouls should be vaguely slimey, like they always need a bath. Ventrue ghouls should be very snobby, like butlers who can barely hide how low class they think you are. Gangrel ghouls should never look comfortable in their clothing, fidgeting with a hint of desire to run naked in the woods. It shouldn't be to the point of affecting dice, but it should be there when RPing NPCs as an ST.

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                • #9
                  CajunKhan ...That's a little too close to racist stereotypes, and really undermines the roles these clans actually want to use their ghouls for IE a Nosferatu's spy doesn't do half so well when he's got the tell-tale slimy marks of a Nosferatu's spy and a Ventrue's disdainful butler is just going to offer bad service and terrible hospitality. Also a snooty Ventrue ghoul/clothes hating Gangrel ghoul sounds like a bad joke. If these clans are a little more likely to recruit these kinds of people, that's enough; you don't need to curse them all to be cartoonish fools so they can better fit your prejudices. I think it'd be more difficult to take their addiction and unyielding love seriously with those kind of quirks.
                  Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 02-21-2022, 03:01 AM.


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                  • #10
                    I would just say no. But if you want them, you could add them for ghouls who've consumed the same vitae from the same domitor for decades or centuries. Even then, the weakness should be relatively weakened (i.e., halve any penalties).

                    Revenants, though, can and do have weaknesses. Which makes sense, since they're ghouls without a lot of the other weaknesses of ghouldom.


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                    • #11
                      I like the idea of ghouls taking on some of the weaknesses of the domitor’s Clan. Unfortunately, in some cases the weakness doesn’t apply to humans. Like Ventrue, they need to drink one type of blood and how could that apply to their ghouls? They shouldn’t necessarily be snooty, because even Ventrue don’t have to be by mechanics of the game.

                      Maybe it would be cool if you had different rules for different kinds of ghouls. Ghouls who drink more blood and/or who have been ghouls longer gain greater supernatural abilities but likewise suffer from more if the supernatural weaknesses of their vampire master. This could be generic vampire weaknesses, like vulnerability to sunlight, or could be weaknesses tied to Clan.

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                      • #12
                        I don't think it should be frequent or reliable. most Ghouls wouldn't ever develop any weakness, but I do think the idea has merit for special characters. In those cases, the weakness of the Ghoul should come from that ghoul particular life and relationship with vampires and vitae.

                        As a rule of thumb a Ghoul would have a chance at developing the Clan Curse of the Domitor not only due time, but time spent in closer proximity than even most Ghouls would be, or maybe due to studying and emulating that clan. Sometimes it could be a weird effect of the Domitor themselves, maybe there's a Tzimisce whose Ghouls that live too long at their manor develop their weakness, but others of the clan just don't have the same effect.

                        Weaknesses for Ghouls don't even need to actually be the same as a clan weakness, but they should be a unique happenstance, that is significant in that circumstance but ultimately an unpredictable and rare phenomenon.


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                        • #13
                          Wouldn't a ghoul who develops a vampire's vulnerability to sunlight consequently become almost useless to their master? I can't imagine that such would remain a ghoul for long afterward.

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                          • #14
                            Where clan weaknesses don't translate, it could be behavioural or aesthetic, but roughly based on the domitor's weakness. E.g., a Ventrue ghoul might only be able to drink from their domitor or other Ventrue, Lasombra ghouls may have a slight Dorian Gray effect in mirrors or may develop a shadow that moves like Peter Pan's, Setite ghouls may flinch in bright lights or sunburn easily, Assamite ghouls might seek out the vitae of vampires they hunt and slay themselves (with a desire for ever stronger vitae), Gangrel ghouls may develop animalistic behaviours, and so on.

                            In fact, V5 Compulsions may be a good guide here. They are less overtly supernatural than weaknesses and so more easily applicable to ghouls.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dogstar View Post
                              There's a strong streak of something puritanical in the way ghouls have been treated in the rules, as if they should be punished for their sin of being only partially vampiric. So I tend to ignore any extra penalties specifically designed to screw over ghouls and no-one else.
                              I mean they already have the weakness of being a blood-addicted slave.

                              It's like looking at a meth head and going, "That guy clearly needs more troubles in his life."


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