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Which disciplines would you not invest any exp in?

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  • Which disciplines would you not invest any exp in?

    Its no secret that a good amount of disciplines within the game stop being useful after a certain point. From what I have heard there are some disciplines that are so useless that it makes no sense even buying them. Animalism is perhaps the first discipline that comes to mind when thinking about this topic. Others may bring up that there are far better alternatives such as dominate or auspex, that don't require you to shell out exp on a very situational power.

    Which disciplines would you say is perhaps so useless, weak, or even situational, that there's no point in investing any exp into it when there are much better options available to you? What would these better options be?
    Last edited by Hello; 05-07-2022, 06:45 PM.



  • #2
    Animalism is a strong, linear progression of control; first animals, then humans, then your own Beast. From body disposal to getting past doormen, swarming enemies with ravenous packs of animals to getting out of tickets, it's a solid Discipline. One of my favorites.

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    • #3
      Also... which edition are we taking about?

      Five modern nights editions, each with different rules, and two Dark Ages versions that also tweak the rules, means there's a lot of variations on any given Discipline, and how valuable they are.

      In general though, I can't think of any Discipline that's not worth getting purely on mechanical grounds. Oblivion in V5 might be the closest, because of the constant risk to Humanity it poses by any rouse check for the Discipline having a 1/5 chance of causing a Stain. I know people like the thematic nature of how dealing with such dark arts is a strain on your ability to maintain your sense of being a human and all (but lots of Disciplines do that on some level), but the mechanics of it are so good that you want to constantly be risking your Humanity just for using your Clan's signature stuff.

      There are a lot of Disciplines, esp. in pre-V5, that aren't worth trying to learn if you don't have set access to it. If my character is setup to learn Obeah? Yeah, it's worth it. If my character isn't? All the XP and narrative effort to get it? Probably not worth it. With so many rare Disciplines around pre-V5, even if the Disciplines are obviously useful in a vacuum, there's just a lot not worth the cost of getting access too, and many of them are highly specialized and lack the broader appeal of the core/common Disciplines. For all that Animalism is oddly often looked down on, I've never seen a vampire that wouldn't benefit from learning it if they had the time and XP.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Garygeneric View Post
        Animalism is a strong, linear progression of control; first animals, then humans, then your own Beast. From body disposal to getting past doormen, swarming enemies with ravenous packs of animals to getting out of tickets, it's a solid Discipline. One of my favorites.

        A lot of what you described can be done through dominate and presence. You want to dispose of a body? Dominate, or presence someone into getting it done for you, or just push it into the sewers and forget about it. You want to get past doormen? Use either dominate or presence. You know what's better than swarming enemies with animals? Swarming enemies with humans who have guns, thanks to dominate and presence. Want to get out of a ticket? Dominate or presence. Dominate and presence seems a lot more reliable and versatile, and doesn't require you to constantly summon animals to do your bidding.

        Throwing your beast into others is extremely useful, I will give you that.
        Last edited by Hello; 05-07-2022, 08:47 PM.


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        • #5
          This question changes depending on the edition.

          V20: The objectively worse discipline is actually Dementation. It's focus on madness makes it surprisingly niece to a point it doesn't have too many powers that can actually help that often. Unless your goal is to torture someone to the point of suicide, the only powers you will use are level 1, Passion, and level 3, Eyes of Chaos. Most disciplines, including Animalism, are extremely useful in multiple situations. Surprisingly, Dementation is not one of these disciplines. Only one other discipline has such a limited use, that being Obtenebration. The difference is that Obtenebration tends to be a combat discipline, whereas Dementation is a primarily social discipline. Dementation is not a good social discipline, with the exceptions of its levels 1 and 3. You're better off using presence and/or dominate.

          V5: Surprisingly, not a lot of bad options in V5. Nearly every discipline has some use now, which plays well into what V5 attempts to do. In fact, the worse option is Oblivion, which is my favorite. Oblivion primarily comes into play as a sort of shadow/death magic user, but ironically this is its downfall. First, Oblivion Ceremonies are restricted based off the powers you choose. This actually makes it a terrible sorcery discipline, as you cannot learn all the options, even in theory. Ironically the V5 limitation of 1 power per level, murders the potential strength of Oblivion. Even Blood Sorcery, which countless veterans bash as a nerf, gives you many more options with the same niece.


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          • #6
            Dementation in Revised, V20, and DA suffers a lot because it was originally a Sabbat-only Discipline; thus the specialization in torment that makes a lot of the Discipline less useful to most vampires. When they tried to make it something for all Malkavians, there was a big struggle to not change it too much from its origin by try to make it less "Sabbat Disciplines are evil." Obviously it wasn't that successful.

            I do think you're undervaluing Dementation 2 though; being able to effectively incapacitate a target is a good trick to have. It's 4 and 5 where it gets really lacking.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Vilenecromancer View Post
              V20: The objectively worse discipline is actually Dementation.
              I agree that the discipline is definitely Niche, but it's not the worst. The entire thing is thematically centered around making other people Think their crazy to greater and greater degrees of loosing control until it culminates with the 5 dot power allowing you to straight drive them to insanity.

              As social discipline, it's definitely not as direct as presence or dominate, but it's still Very useful for convincing people that they can't trust their own judgement. Especially if your malkavian is masquerading as a therapist or other mental health professional, as it let's you slowly drive people into trusting you more than themselves as your "Treatments" drive them further and further off the cliff.

              My vote for worst discipline is Ogham. It's a branch of discount koldunism that either requires a human sacrifice for Everything(V20 Dark Ages) or is mechanically designed to piss off werewolves while simultaneously not letting you use it effectively in cities(V20 modern)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Hello View Post


                A lot of what you described can be done through dominate and presence. You want to dispose of a body? Dominate, or presence someone into getting it done for you, or just push it into the sewers and forget about it. You want to get past doormen? Use either dominate or presence. You know what's better than swarming enemies with animals? Swarming enemies with humans who have guns, thanks to dominate and presence. Want to get out of a ticket? Dominate or presence.
                Animalism is better than both Dominate and Presence when disposing of a body. Animals are pretty easy to convince to just eat a corpse, especially ravens, cats, and dogs. Also, leaving a corpse in the sewers is an issue for several reasons. Let’s say a Nosferatu finds the body, they’ll want to find who did it to blackmail the bitch. If, and when, the body clogs up the sewer system, a worker will find it. This will cause an investigation, which needs to be cleaned up. Dominate and Presence will be useful then, but you’ll also likely already gain a stigmata for being a liability.

                Let’s say you use either of Dominate or Presence to convince someone to get rid of the body. You now have a witness that needs to be dealt with. Dominate can rewrite memories. However, this is much more work. Coupled with the fact few people know how to dispose of a body means someone will find it. This means an investigation. Which means more work. What about fights? Yes, these disciplines can get you a mob of people to fight for you. However, you now witnesses. Witnesses can rat you out. Do you know what can’t rat you out? A rat, ironically. In fact, the only way an animal can become a witness is if someone can speak with animals.

                Animalism can also stop a vampire in the throes of a frenzy, something neither Dominate nor Presence can accomplish. Now Dominate can control a victim in frenzy, but too bad it’s much more difficult to do. Frenzy, in Camarilla terms, is not something you want to do, but you want your political enemies to do. For the Camarilla, going into a frenzy in public is political suicide, something that being able to stop is a great tool. Same for being able to force your raging beast upon others and not take the blame.

                Every disciplines have their use. Animalism, Dominate, and Presence are some of the most useful disciplines. Same with Auspex, all the physical ones, and Obfuscate. Even niece disciplines, like Obtenebration and Protean, have some use.
                Last edited by Vilenecromancer; 05-07-2022, 09:39 PM.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Vilenecromancer View Post
                  Animalism is better than both Dominate and Presence when disposing of a body. Animals are pretty easy to convince to just eat a corpse, especially ravens, cats, and dogs. Also, leaving a corpse in the sewers is an issue for several reasons. Let’s say a Nosferatu finds the body, they’ll want to find who did it to blackmail the bitch. If, and when, the body clogs up the sewer system, a worker will find it. This will cause an investigation, which needs to be cleaned up. Dominate and Presence will be useful then, but you’ll also likely already gain a stigmata for being a liability.
                  Then bury the body in the forest or throw it in the furnace.

                  Depending on who you murder, the location it occurred at, and how you offed them, you may have a chance to get away with it. If you kill a random nobody in their apartment and make it look like an overdose, you could theoretically just leave the body there and the cops will think it was either a suicide or someone having too much of a good time. That's if somebody calls the cops. If the person was living alone it may be a while before anyone finds his body, and by the time someone breaks into their apartment to check up on them, their body would have already started to decompose, no doubt negatively impacting the investigation. As long as you leave with your face covered, you should be golden. You are going to have to stay low for a couple days, but after that you should be fine. The longer it takes to solve the murder the less likely it is to find the culprit. A body in the sewer will draw investigation, but depending on the city it may just be one of the many investigations, and water has a tendency to destroy evidence, especially the polluted water found in the sewer.

                  Originally posted by Vilenecromancer View Post
                  What about fights? Yes, these disciplines can get you a mob of people to fight for you. However, you now witnesses. Witnesses can rat you out. Do you know what can’t rat you out? A rat, ironically. In fact, the only way an animal can become a witness is if someone can speak with animals.
                  Presence allows you to scare off attackers, and getting people to love you to the point of taking a life sentence for you should be easy for a master of presence or dominate. This is especially true if the mob under your control comes from a culture where snitches get stiches is a real thing. This type of culture is prominent in poorer neighborhoods with a lot of gangs.

                  Originally posted by Vilenecromancer View Post
                  Animalism can also stop a vampire in the throes of a frenzy, something neither Dominate nor Presence can accomplish. Now Dominate can control a victim in frenzy, but too bad it’s much more difficult to do. Frenzy, in Camarilla terms, is not something you want to do, but you want your political enemies to do. For the Camarilla, going into a frenzy in public is political suicide, something that being able to stop is a great tool. Same for being able to force your raging beast upon others and not take the blame.
                  I will admit that this is an extremely useful power that shouldn't be looked down upon.
                  Last edited by Hello; 05-07-2022, 10:44 PM.


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                  • #10
                    Animalism has great utility when you don't want to be noticed or be at a place personally. You can send spies that are unlikely to be noticed, or even possess one and watch through their eyes.

                    Sending a bird to track your enemy to their haven, using rats to probe the insides, etc.

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                    • #11
                      Here's the thing about old school Animalism to me: it doesn't fulfill it's purpose. It's purpose being to control swarms of beasts.

                      I don't buy Animalism because I want to possess an animal and spy on people.

                      I don't buy Animalism because I want to stop frenzies.

                      I buy Animalism because I want to make a swarm of beasts strip the flesh off of someone and leave nothing but a skeleton. I want the power you see in horror movies when a character has swarm-control-powers. I want to grin toothily from ear to ear, point at someone, and have a swarm of bats fly past me and skin that person alive. And old Animalism doesn't give me that. It only has two animal control powers, and both are balanced around being low-level, which is to say that they are too weak to give me the effect that I want. By the time it gets to the level where making a swarm reduce someone to a skeleton would be balanced powerwise, it has long since stopped being about controlling animals and become about esoteric abilities that I don't care about. Note that I am not saying that those esoteric powers are not potent. But they are potent in a way that I give zero F's about.

                      One of my favorite aspects of V5 is that it actually has a 5th level power that lets me reduce my enemies to a skeleton. Finally, after all this time, Animalism actually does what I wanted it to do from day one. That is so pleasant to me that it's like the pleasure of taking a deep, satisfying breath.

                      To me, old school Animalism is like buying heat vision, where the first two levels are scalding heat, then first degree burn heat, and then esoteric abilities that aren't related to burning stuff with your eyes, so you never actually get to chop enemies in half like Homelander.
                      Last edited by CajunKhan; 05-08-2022, 01:59 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Perhaps it might be a tad contrarian of me, but I feel that the type of game you are playing more or less determines the value of a given discipline.

                        In a combat heavy game/story you pretty require the standard combat suite disciplines but drop those same character builds into a social focused game or perhaps even a Backgrounds driven game and they are useless.

                        Give Path of Conjuring to a creative player with IRL knowledge of chemistry and engineering...... the game is over. It has been broken and beaten so badly that you either agree to keep playing just to see how it all plays out or you start a new game. Give the Path of Conjuring to a player who isn't creative, lacks IRL knowledge, and isn't particularly motivated..... and they couldn't defeat an inanimate log cabin (actual examples from a game). Given the xp investment to get a primary path and then the secondary path ranked up, the first example is well worth it, while the second was a complete waste of time.

                        Necromancy can be very powerful, unless the ST enforces the concept that only mortals with a willpower of 5+ can have a chance to become ghosts upon death. Which means your average necromancer has practically no ghosts to summon or work with in any given city. Rather than having a ghost army at your beck and call, you get a replay of the 13 Ghosts movie where the characters have to travel the world just to collect a dozen ghosts.

                        So yeah, blanket white room reviews for cost/value analysis on disciplines doesn't really work given the variety of game types they have to be compatible with.

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                        • #13
                          I'm not sure it's that contrarian... but I'd counter that the style of game influences value but not necessarily to the point of making most Disciplines worthless. Obeah was my example of a very niche Discipline that's good at what it does... if you find that desirable. A social focused game is going to make Celerity less of a "must have" Discipline and more of a niche Discipline, but it still has plenty of applications (Celerity + Obfuscate = a great package for spy vampires that are going to personally break into places to look for things that will then be used as social leverage). Even the borderline (depending on edition) value of Fortitude has it's uses in a social game (being able to risk running around during the day because you can soak some sun damage gives you lots of social engineering/etc. options others have to rely on proxies for).

                          The physical Disciplines are certainly less valuable in certain modes of play, but I'm not sure that alone gets to the OP's question of them actually being not worth putting XP into them.

                          I think a different consideration might be to look at which Disciplines tend to be very game-style dependent in their value, and which seem to always be useful.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Thoth View Post
                            Give Path of Conjuring to a creative player with IRL knowledge of chemistry and engineering...... the game is over. It has been broken and beaten so badly that you either agree to keep playing just to see how it all plays out or you start a new game. Give the Path of Conjuring to a player who isn't creative, lacks IRL knowledge, and isn't particularly motivated..... and they couldn't defeat an inanimate log cabin (actual examples from a game). Given the xp investment to get a primary path and then the secondary path ranked up, the first example is well worth it, while the second was a complete waste of time.
                            the best counter that I've found for this is to ask your players "why would your character know this very specific and not widely known thing?". Give some of that a minimum knowledge dots in a specialization and ask them to "roll to see if they know this" if it's particularly game-breaking.

                            A tremere character is a gun nut and can summon widely available guns/ammo on the cheap? Sure. Your tremere wants to start conjuring high-level controlled military equipment like RPGs? I'm gonna need knowledge: firearms at 4 dots and a specialization on engineering at the minimum.

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                            • #15
                              Why would having 4 in firearms shooting skill be relevant to building a gun? I grew up hunting and was top of my school's ROTC rifle team, and I couldn't build a gun to save my life. And I'm sure many gun designers aren't shooters themselves, being lab-geeks.

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