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Should ghouls have weaknesses?

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  • #16
    I generally use flaws to represent any such “clan” weaknesses in ghouls and, so far have limited them to ghouls well past their mortal lifespans.

    As always, the best use of such flaws is when it adds to the story.

    For example, one ghoul who had served loyally for centuries had started manifesting the light sensitivity and deep sleeper flaws. So he petitioned his Mistress (a PC) to finally be Embraced. So the PC cashed in favors for permission from the Prince to sire, but then a rival poisoned her mortal lover and to save him she Embraced that lover instead.

    So now the ghoul is still stuck as a ghoul, blood bound to the PC but with great resentment towards both her and the 20-something nobody who recieved the gift meant for him. What’s he going to do next? We’ll just has to see what opportunities present themselves.


    • #17
      Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
      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.

      Wuuuh?? Racism is only a meaningful term when applied to humans. Vampires have actual weaknesses and actual clan compulsions. Something is actually different about the mind of, say, a Ventrue and a Gangrel, something that becomes aggravated under stress and comes out as the Gangrel behaving like Tarzan and the Ventrue becoming a control freak. Nosferatu are actually physically warped. Etc, etc. It's not racist to suggest that their ghouls would get a toned down version of those physical differences and psychological tics.


      • #18
        Originally posted by CajunKhan View Post
        I don't think they should have weaknesses per se. However, there should be a flavor to them that reveals their master's clan.
        I like the idea of someone very knowledgeable about vampires, or maybe just one particular clan, having the opportunity to determine what clan the ghoul's domitor hails from, but only after it's already been determined the ghoul is in fact a ghoul. In other words, I don't want this to be a method for detecting ghouls, but rather, once the discoverer/investigator knows it's a ghoul, I think there's something to be said for giving them an opportunity to ferret out what clan made the ghoul. I would do something involving an Int or Per + Kindred- or [Clan]-lore roll, difficulty based on the length of time the ghoul has been a ghoul for a vampire from that particular clan, but absolutely no lower than diff 7 or 8 for the oldest ghouls, and it may be literally impossible (no roll,) to figure it out if the person hasn't been a ghoul for at least X number of years (I'd say somewhere between 1 and 5 years.) As for what the actual particular quirks would be... I don't know. But ideally it should be stuff that is subtle enough that you'd need the deep well of in-game knowledge reflected by a character having 3 or 4 in a lore.



        • #19
          Originally posted by CajunKhan View Post
          Wuuuh?? Racism is only a meaningful term when applied to humans. Vampires have actual weaknesses and actual clan compulsions. Something is actually different about the mind of, say, a Ventrue and a Gangrel, something that becomes aggravated under stress and comes out as the Gangrel behaving like Tarzan and the Ventrue becoming a control freak. Nosferatu are actually physically warped. Etc, etc. It's not racist to suggest that their ghouls would get a toned down version of those physical differences and psychological tics.
          There are times when fictional "racism" still has bad connotations or effects in the game, I think that's why MWIS said it is "too close" and not "it is racism!".

          But the point isn't, of course, to protect the sensibilities of imaginary monsters. It is just that the stereotypes you described are too cartoonish as presented and too shallow a reading of the groups involved. Something that let those characters have more nuance instead of being promptly recognized at a glance would work better.

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          • #20
            I don't think it should be obvious at a glance what clan most vampires are, let alone secondhand from observing their ghouls. Unless we're talking about Tzimisce revenant families, maybe.


            • #21
              I would use the idea of similar clan weakness on ghouls more for flavor text than anything else. A Nosferatu ghoul looking slightly uglier, a Malkavian ghoul acting more strangely, a Ventrue ghoul becoming more selective in his tastes, etc. can be a good description that adds to the setting for the player's enjoyment. Just don't take it too far. It doesn't need to be the case for every ghoul, and works best as a way to indicate his ghoul has been in long service. Once they have outlived a normal human lifespan, it makes sense they would display more attributes of what has caused them to do that.

              I keep my ghouls fairly low powered though when I run chronicles. They are limited to the three physical Disciplines and can't increase by more than one rank. In fact, they don't actually have "Disciplines" per se. It's just that the interaction of vitae with living tissue can improve their physical prowess. I want things to be the case where other NPCs go "Renfield has the strength of a madman!", not that they are a supernatural creature in their own right. They should fit in with normal humanity.


              • #22
                The thing is that vampires are actually smart to ghoul people who specialize in things the vampire isn't very capable in or who can otherwise take roles the vampire wants to avoid. IE you should very frequently ghoul against type. Your average Ventrue will benefit more from a brute or a computer wiz than they would a charismatic manipulator; they're a charismatic manipulator, they have less need for another one. Conversely, a Nosferatu would very much benefit from a beauty that can get close to the right people, or a corporate type. A Brute or ninja doesn't hold so much utility for a nosferatu, who can do those jobs well. (Informants benefit everybody but you're not going to ghoul someone that by default isn't meant to be around you much)

                Ghoul Potence isn't exactly Potence how I run it. Potence for vampires is 100% -screw conventional laws of physics this is magic, you're going to punch through walls and stuff-. Potence for ghouls is more "your body is better because Vitae is reinforcing it and the same power that allows vampires to move around despite all their cells being dead is enhancing your ability to move, but ultimately you've just got a better body and still need to obey the known laws of physics even if you're skirting the known laws of biology" This helps to keep ghouls from getting tired, and they need less sleep as a result. Lastly, Vampires gain attributes by consuming the blood of those with desirable traits over the years. Ghouls can increase their hard to increase attributes (like intelligence) in part because of their awakened non-sleeper state, and in part because the vampire is bestowing within the blood he offers a fraction of the stolen traits he can't digest.

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                • #23
                  With V5 I'm fairly certain you can build ghouls with their domitor's flaw. How often it should crop up I'm not really sure. I think maybe if the Ghoul is very old, drinks very potent vitae, or perhaps if they fit the traditional mould of the clans embracing habits.

                  In the first instance, there's such a concentration of vitae, and has been for such a long time, that some transitive properties build up. (An interesting concept with the new Dyscracia system, the idea of a blood clot causing it to concentrate and congeal.)

                  In the second, there's a longstanding tradition of potent vitae having stronger effects. Therefore a Methuselah's Ghoul would inherit more of the clan's abilities I'd say than the Ghoul of a 13th gen fledgling.

                  In the third, I like the idea of a sympathy in the blood. It recognises and binds to its own more effectively and with more telling effects because that person suits it. A pragmatic and ruthless CEO bound by a Lasombra might develop the bane quicker; likewise, an artist obsessed with their surroundings might inherit the Toreador weakness sooner. In both cases, the blood realises their potential and is trying to draw it out and show it.

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                  • #24
                    The blood bond is their weakness

                    That said in my games I replaced the thin blood/failed embraces with ghouls and gave them fangs

                    They are basically lesser vampires who can ascend by comitting diablerie wich is why they are hunted down if they don´t have a master.



                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Matt the Bruins fan View Post
                      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.
                      This is why I'd support them having developing clan weaknesses over time, whether it's in an all-ghoul chronicle or one where vampire PCs hewing close to their Humanity have important ghoul NPC's in their supporting cast.

                      At some arbitrary benchmark, say when the ghoul is old enough to manifest 2 dot discipline powers, or even when the ghoul starts to learn clan discipline powers instead of just Potence 1, the Blood starts to show, and now the risk of the ghoul becoming a Masquerade-breaching liability is on the horizon.

                      Part of a ghoul's personal horror is their disposability, and the precariousness of their position with their masters is a button worth pushing.
                      Last edited by Reasor; 02-28-2022, 04:58 PM.


                      • #26
                        Perhaps I am just old school, but I like my malk ghouls slightly crazy and my nos ghouls mutated. Most of the other types are just reflections of their vampire master's personality rather than clan/bloodline.


                        • #27
                          In the first case it doesn't need to be an effect of the blood. Constantly being around someone crazy in high stress situations will quickly result in more than one crazy person. Add that to the baseline mental trauma of being a ghoul and I doubt there are many sane Malkavian ghouls. Or ghouls of any sort, really, though a lot are probably high-functioning and unobvious.