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Is blood magic an XP sink, or is it overpowered?

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  • Is blood magic an XP sink, or is it overpowered?

    I have read many posts that have claimed that blood sorcery is an xp sink, yet at the same time I see many posts asking how to deal with a player who is somehow breaking the game using thaumaturgy. I have seen many different responses and am still confused.

    So my questions for you....

    Is blood magic really, that expensive?

    Are those who complain about how game breaking blood magic wrong? Or are they right, and is V5 blood sorcery really a breath of fresh air?

    Would limiting the type of paths you are allowed to use in game, or limiting what you can do with a certain path, solve the problem entirely?
    For example, no Lure of flames, or at the very least not allowing you to use it when you astral project.

    Is blood magic really that versatile? Common disciplines like dominate, presence, auspex, celerity, etc, seem a lot more useful.

    I am not dissing anyone, I am legitimately curious.
    Last edited by Hello; 04-13-2022, 01:44 PM.



  • #2
    Thaumaturgy 1) gave access to a wide variety of powers for less XP than other Disciplines, and not all paths were weaker or less versatile than Disciplines, and 2) didn't charge XP for rituals. Over a long enough campaign those add up to having a significantly larger array of options than other PC types, and they can cover a much broader array than conventional Disciplines. Thus an experienced Thaumaturge can be very hard to counter if their player remembers that ritual from eighteen months ago.

    V5 made Blood Sorcery more balanced, but arguably less fun, by dropping paths and charging for rituals. This limits their potential to be overpowered, as non-sorcerers can spend their XP on other things, but makes tacking specialised rituals less appealing (although you could technically cast those from a book, if your ST allows).
    Last edited by TwoDSix; 04-13-2022, 02:33 PM.


    Blue is sarcasm.

    If I suggestion I make contradicts in-setting metaphysics please ignore me, I probably brought in scientific ideas.

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    • #3
      My opinion is it doesn't quite do it's job from my perspective. I love that Dracula can control the weather, and that vampires coded as mystical can do things like make doors open and close, and make all the candles in a room light up. I want to play a vampire who can do those things, and Thaum is too much and not enough at the same time for that goal. I'm tempted to just do away with Thaum and make weather control some aspect of another power. An Animalism power where you send your beast into the clouds and it causes a thunderstom. A Dominate power where you dominate the weather. An Oblivion power where you pull the chaotic weather of the underworld into the real world. I don't even care how it's a achieved; it just should exist in some form.

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      • #4
        Much of the World of Darkness is contextual in terms of what's over or under powered.

        In a game where you're constantly battling the Sabbat (or ARE the Sabbat) five levels of Potence is OP as all hell. In some Toreador's soiree, Auspex and Presence suddenly look a lot nicer.

        That said, Thaumaturgy has an answer for everything. Need to break a machine? I got a thing for that. Need to set someone on fire? I got a thing for that. Need to deal Aggravated damage to that fool while using Psychic Projection? I got a thing for that. The question of whether you get your xp bang for your buck with Thaumaturgy, largely depends on how clever you the player are.

        Now, with that being said, if my ST makes me fight tooth and nail to learn the basics in Path of Conjuring or Lure of Flames or the like, Thaumaturgy becomes much less appealing. At that point it's not even Thaumaturgy, it's just run it up to Thaum 3 so you can get your Gen boost and work your other Disciplines.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Hello View Post
          Is blood magic really, that expensive?
          Depends on the edition. In V20, it's surprising cheap to get/advance secondary paths, but the primary path, and by extension the discipline itself, was just as costly as any other discipline. This coupled with the fact Rituals didn't cost XP until Rites of the Blood and Dark Ages V20, meant that the only limitation was how nice the ST was. However, since players rarely have access to elder abilities, Blood Sorceries were often the next best thing. So they'd dump a lot of XP into them, making them a huge XP sink.

          Ironically, V5 blood sorcery is actually MORE expensive than past editions. The simple change of words, in this case new level from current rating, makes a massive difference somehow. While there are no secondary paths to choose from, Rituals add up quick and XP is extremely hard to come by RAW, 1 to 2 EXP a session by default.

          Originally posted by Hello View Post
          Are those who complain about how game breaking blood magic wrong? Or are they right, and is V5 blood sorcery really a breath of fresh air?
          It's complicated. The main issue with blood magic in earlier editions was the fact it was very flexible and versatile. Newer STs may find it hard to work with/plan encounters when players can seeming solve everything with their magics. While can be solved with time and experience, the main issue with blood magics comes down to power gamers.

          Outside of a group where power gaming is acceptable, power gaming can be a real issue for certain STs. Not only that, but blood magic being so versatile makes it the best choose for someone wanting to maximize damage. It was so common that even Samuel Haight, an official character meant to parody power gamers, had 8 levels worth of Thaumaturgy and 4 Rituals to work with. This NPC wasn't even a vampire BTW, but still.

          Originally posted by Hello View Post
          Would limiting the type of paths you are allowed to use in game, or limiting what you can do with a certain path, solve the problem entirely?
          For example, no Lure of flames, or at the very least not allowing you to use it when you astral project.
          Not really. Honestly it would create the same issue many old fans have with V5 now, removing options. Honestly, the Masquerade alone should be a great deterrent in a reasonable game. Players who abuse their powers will draw attention, eventually putting them in hot water. Even using lure of flames in Astral Projection is risky as the power makes fire come out of fucking nowhere, which will draw attention to the supernatural world as a whole. Vampire's do not want this, and this can put anyone with such abilities in hot water politically.

          Originally posted by Hello View Post
          Is blood magic really that versatile? Common disciplines like dominate, presence, auspex, celerity, etc, seem a lot more useful.
          Before even V20, Revised has so many options for Blood Magics, especially Thaumaturgy. It was so bad that Thaumaturgy could do anything Dominate, Presence, Auspex, and the rest could do, and more! V20 removed most of the redundant options so each discipline could have some time in the spot light. Now only a handful of Paths will see their way onto character sheets, such as:
          • Path of Conjuration
          • Lure of Flames
          • Path of Blood (especially this one)
          • Technomancy
          • Weather Control
          • The Taking of the Spirit (This one is Dark Thaumaturgy, which is a separate line, but still. BTW if the character uses this, make them roll Conscience or Conviction. Using this one is a violation of nearly all Paths, especially Humanity.)


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          • #6
            Even V5 didn't address one of the issues that makes blood magics a problem:

            You can keep buying rituals. Compared to the earlier editions that doesn't seem great, but in V5 you only get five powers per Discipline. Period. No matter how many options Auspex gives you, you only get five of them. Even Oblivion's Ceremonies are limited in how many you can get. A Blood Sorcerer can buy as many rituals as they can get the chance to study and spend the XP on. The ability to buy rituals to make up for the powers you couldn't take because of that hard cap retains Blood Sorcery as a power gamer magnet.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              Even V5 didn't address one of the issues that makes blood magics a problem:

              You can keep buying rituals. Compared to the earlier editions that doesn't seem great, but in V5 you only get five powers per Discipline. Period. No matter how many options Auspex gives you, you only get five of them. Even Oblivion's Ceremonies are limited in how many you can get. A Blood Sorcerer can buy as many rituals as they can get the chance to study and spend the XP on. The ability to buy rituals to make up for the powers you couldn't take because of that hard cap retains Blood Sorcery as a power gamer magnet.
              Yeah, that's an issue. I've always wondered why kindred can't buy more powers for 30/42XP each, it makes no sense to go 'you're a master of Dominate so you can't learn new tricks in that Discipline '.

              I'd have probably given a recommended cap on number of Discipline powers per age, with an explicit 'this is just a suggestion, override if you want' note.

              If I wasn't switching to V20 'more than five powers/Discipline' would be the first houserule in my list.


              Blue is sarcasm.

              If I suggestion I make contradicts in-setting metaphysics please ignore me, I probably brought in scientific ideas.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                Even V5 didn't address one of the issues that makes blood magics a problem:

                You can keep buying rituals. Compared to the earlier editions that doesn't seem great, but in V5 you only get five powers per Discipline. Period. No matter how many options Auspex gives you, you only get five of them. Even Oblivion's Ceremonies are limited in how many you can get. A Blood Sorcerer can buy as many rituals as they can get the chance to study and spend the XP on. The ability to buy rituals to make up for the powers you couldn't take because of that hard cap retains Blood Sorcery as a power gamer magnet.
                That you can keep buying rituals is very much intentional and a strength of the discipline in V5, to quote the corebook: "Its regular powers seem comparatively weak, but the versatility of the Rituals more than compensates, assuming the user can learn them".

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                • #9
                  Thaumaturgy's versatility and appeal to power gamers was intentional as well. The Tremere's whole role in the Camarilla was built on their ability to have a Path or Ritual to cover things nobody else could.

                  That doesn't change the issues with implementation.

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                  • #10
                    What issues with implementation? I find it hard to believe it is a "power gamer magnet", especially considering how often I see people complaining it is underpowered and too nerfed.

                    Besides, rituals take time to learn and to cast, ingredients, a teacher, and while less expensive compared to discipline levels, they aren't cheap, especially higher level ones. Not being limited like powers is part of the disciplines strength.

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                    • #11
                      Making most of the things Blood Sorcery can do rituals that take time and effort to set up works a lot better for flavor imho. Even though I like playing sorcerers, the sheer number of Thaumaturgy Paths and their increasing detachment from folkloric vampire powers got ridiculous after a while.

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                      • #12
                        percieved power is different from actual power, and thaumaturge pcs are going to give the impression that they're bullshitting: thaumaturges are going to say things like "I cast X and it'll solve the complex problem the ST set up in a jiffy". On the otherhand the character with potence can simply break out of his cage and jump over the wall, but he doesn't need to anounce so much and his abilities seem less like tricks and more like something his character has developed as an intrinsic part of them. Most disciplines offer a small selection of tools that work for a lot of problems, while Thaumaturgy is a massive toolset although each tool has a more specified roll. The thaumaturgical toolbox is bigger and the user gets more chance to show off his tools which are far shinier, but opening the box is a pain and everyone is using a more convenient tool pouch. The Thaumaturge comes across like a rich kid, and it's annoying, and some of his tools are very enviable, but he's not any better at his job (at least untill he's spent a lot more on his tools than you have)

                        One thing people miss about rituals is that they do actually take a lot of time to learn. Time you could've better spent obtaining or maintaining backgrounds or building relationships. If someone's learning rituals in downtime, everybody else should be getting a comparable amount of backgrounds. As useful as rituals are, backgrounds are better. In the long run, rituals have their advantages, since retainers and allies have upkeep and tend to die while you're not really limited to how many rituals you can have and aren't going to forget a ritual. In addition thaumaturgy is a good way to get favours and trade for more backgrounds. However, learning a high level ritual is a really good way to give up on backgrounds since maintainence is very difficult when you're spending months learning how to do something and your rivals can easily take advantage of that. In the short timeframe of the usual player campaigns, learning rituals is usually worse than having an extra dot or two of backgrounds. It's not OP if you run things right.

                        You should also consider the ingame social impact of playing a thaumaturge. Vampires are jealous creatures and showing off your flashy powers is a terrible idea if you don't have a big organization like the Tremere at your back: The prince can easily call you a devil worshiper and have you killed if he doesn't want to repay his debts to you. Someone will very likely try to enslave you so they can have their own pocket wizard at their beck and call, or they'll want to steal what's yours. If you dare to share your knowledge, other thaumaturges will become your enemies since you're devaluing their services. If you aren't Tremere, then paranoia is the order of the day. If you are Tremere, you've got a lot of baggage with you.


                        Concerning V5
                        V5 absolutely does thaumaturges dirty.
                        Firstly, Thaumaturgy has the same complexity as once-simple disciplines like Celerity. So yeah you're not showing off as much because other players are now shouting out their special moves, so you're no longer special and they're no longer using easy to remember and intuitive powers that they can use low key.

                        Second, "Blood Sorcery" denies the metaphysics of why thaumaturgy worked. IE it was a wonderful power all splats could learn with some variation as all human souls could learn some kind of hedge magic, it was simply an innate part of the human condition to be able to improve and achieve mystical powers. It's also just less attractive because it's all about blood and being a vampire and there's nothing miraculous or enlightening like conjuring fire or striving to become human again. It's also less attractive because it's Weak. Because it's less attractive, you don't need to be so paranoid about it when you're a user, which sucks shit because Fear is really the prime motivator for most vampire behaviours.



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                        • #13
                          I'm not certain that fifth edition hedge magic isn't going to be all rituals. But yes, V5 Blood Sorcery could probably stand to be a bit broader, especially with the weakened Tremere.

                          Honestly, the best way to deal with the potential breadth of Thaumaturge is to limit the knowledge any one Chantry (or other blood sorcery group) has access to. Suggest the ST pick or randomly determine a number of Paths and give a chance for a specific ritual to just not be in the books. If you're Tremere/Banu Haqim you can probably still get it, but it's going to cost you even more than normal.
                          Last edited by TwoDSix; 04-14-2022, 06:23 AM.


                          Blue is sarcasm.

                          If I suggestion I make contradicts in-setting metaphysics please ignore me, I probably brought in scientific ideas.

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                          • #14
                            I think Requiem probably struck the best balance here:

                            1) All Blood Sorcery is rituals. There's no individual powers per level besides a free ritual. Even with V5's abbreviated power cap, juggling powers from the Discipline and Rituals has never been a good balance, and turning Blood Sorcery into just another Discipline takes away a lot of its Charm (VtMB 1's implementation of Thaumaturgy never really makes you feel like a vampire wizard).

                            2) The different schools of Blood Sorcery are mostly defined by the sacrifices you make to power the rituals. Cruac's sacrifice is lots of blood to bind the power of the Beast, and Humanity risk for making the Beast your power source. Theban Sorcery has a "lighter" sacrifice in Willpower and ritual objects, but the ritual objects power is directly related to how hard they are to obtain (and frequently get destroyed either during the ritual or after the effect ends to make that a bigger hurdle). You can really spin out dozens of these to make sure that Tremere Thaumaturgists feel different from Banu Haqim sorcerers, Abyssal mystics, and so on.

                            3) A pretty solid ritual design system that can be used in a number of ways that also helps fine tune the power of Blood Sorcery in individual games. It can just be a resource for the ST/players to homebrew rituals to help populate the local ones so there's a good selection and not have to lean on the example ones in the books since there aren't that many and it makes it hard to do what TwoDSix suggested by only having some of them available which just ends in very samey local blood wizards. It can be used to model the in-game process of research and creation of new rituals as something to engage to give the PCs a bit more say in what they can do, but it creates a lot of opportunity costs to relying on making new rituals to solve all your problems. If you want more powerful blood magic, you can even use it to do on-the-fly rituals as a costly but flexible way to creatively channel that power that makes it more unpredictable and scary (both to be subjected to, and to use the risky option).

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              I think Requiem probably struck the best balance here:

                              1) All Blood Sorcery is rituals. There's no individual powers per level besides a free ritual. Even with V5's abbreviated power cap, juggling powers from the Discipline and Rituals has never been a good balance, and turning Blood Sorcery into just another Discipline takes away a lot of its Charm (VtMB 1's implementation of Thaumaturgy never really makes you feel like a vampire wizard).

                              2) The different schools of Blood Sorcery are mostly defined by the sacrifices you make to power the rituals. Cruac's sacrifice is lots of blood to bind the power of the Beast, and Humanity risk for making the Beast your power source. Theban Sorcery has a "lighter" sacrifice in Willpower and ritual objects, but the ritual objects power is directly related to how hard they are to obtain (and frequently get destroyed either during the ritual or after the effect ends to make that a bigger hurdle). You can really spin out dozens of these to make sure that Tremere Thaumaturgists feel different from Banu Haqim sorcerers, Abyssal mystics, and so on.

                              3) A pretty solid ritual design system that can be used in a number of ways that also helps fine tune the power of Blood Sorcery in individual games. It can just be a resource for the ST/players to homebrew rituals to help populate the local ones so there's a good selection and not have to lean on the example ones in the books since there aren't that many and it makes it hard to do what TwoDSix suggested by only having some of them available which just ends in very samey local blood wizards. It can be used to model the in-game process of research and creation of new rituals as something to engage to give the PCs a bit more say in what they can do, but it creates a lot of opportunity costs to relying on making new rituals to solve all your problems. If you want more powerful blood magic, you can even use it to do on-the-fly rituals as a costly but flexible way to creatively channel that power that makes it more unpredictable and scary (both to be subjected to, and to use the risky option).
                              Requiem is indeed the perfection of blood sorcery mechanics. You feel like a true wizard because you are buying spells not paths. You may buy a blood whip and a healing spell separately for example if you have the dots. Also each school of magic has a different feeling
                              • Cruac is beastly and penalices your humanity but is more easy to use
                              • Theban sorcery is more akin to a miracle, you expend will power to use it instead of blood but in exhange it does not penalice your humanity


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