Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Hacking the Dhampir

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Hacking the Dhampir

    So, Dhampiri. Half Damned presents them in glorious, fixed form: no longer the single-minded anti-vamps of 1e, and now the offspring of--um, “fated” unions hauling around minor doom-powers of a social bent.

    Lord Vader, your ride is here. It’s the black one. Yes—the scooter.

    Let’s Ducati this thing up, shall we?

    There are issues embedded in the dhampir fluff text, which seem less borne-out in the mechanics. There are things raised that are unaddressed, or addressed negatively. There are design decisions that are… odd. Instead of just complaining about these oversights, I think it will be more constructive to apply patches.

    Fortunately 2e gives a decent means to do so: Merits. Let’s start shall we?

    The following Merits are only available to Dhampir characters.

    Three-Quarters Damned (*****)
    Effect: For most dhampiri the ingestion of Vitae is pleasant and fulfilling, satisfying their Blood Lust. The will to change their bodies through Vitae into ghouls, however, slides right off them. You, by happenstance or design, carry the cracks into which the potent power of Vitae may worm itself, twisting your physiology like you twist fate.

    You may be ghouled by the ingestion of vitae and expenditure of a willpower, gaining the benefits (e.g. Vitae pool, access to Disciplines) and drawbacks (e.g. Frenzy) of a ghoul as well as those of your dhampir heritage. To your vampiric parent and her peers you may be an exceptionally useful tool—or an exceedingly dangerous threat.

    Fifty-Six and a Half-Percent Damned (*)
    Effect: You're not a ghoul, but you play one at Elysium. You may take Merits exclusive to ghouls, and so long as you hold at least one point of Vitae within your body those Merits are active--and you appear to supernatural senses as a ghoul with a regent of your vampiric parent's clan.

    Drawback: Vitae drunk fade at a rate of one point per month, and should you be deprived of Vitae you temporarily lose access to your ghoul Merits. You may not take both the Three-Quarters Damned and Fifty-Six and a Half-Percent Damned Merits; if you possess this Merit and find a means to further damn yourself, acquiring Three-Quarters Damned costs 4 Experience and replaces Fifty-Six and a Half-Percent Damned.

    The Family Mouth (* or ***)
    Effect: Dhampiri are, by and large, normal physical specimens lacking the peculiar adaptations of Homo Sapiens Vampiricus, such as the latter’s retractable fangs and psychotropic feeding effects. This presents no challenge, as dhampiri also don’t benefit from blood—they just like to eat it and obtain it by other means. In your case, however, you got a double-dose of daddy’s supernatural genetics, and were either born with, or have manifested, a brilliant pair of ivory-white stickers. Your fangs are retractable with some mental effort, and usable as 0L weapons during a grapple, similar to a vampire’s bite. You may, if desired, attempt to feed, but can only affect your victim as per the Assault.

    For three dots, your bite may affect willing or unaware victims per the Kiss as well, and you may lick closed small wounds. Sadly, neither effect registers on vampires, though some may find the attempt comical, pleasant or insulting.

    Drawback: while you do not frenzy as vampires do, whenever subjected to similar stressers roll Resolve + Composure to avoid manifesting your fangs. Their observation outside of private company has a tendency to result in… questions of the sort that stir up local Kindred.

    Unaging (**)
    Effect: Dhampiri are mostly normal humans, physically, and so age and die as humans do. Except you. You stopped aging at some point and like the men of Noah's time have stubbornly resisted the physical degeneration that would otherwise drag you down. Over time you may gain white hair or other signs, but will remain as physically vital as the day you went on pause.

    Drawback: While everyone else grows old and dies around you—you do not. This tends to raise questions among mortals; and among immortals while the idea of an eternal companion you don’t have to feed with Vitae sounds good, the idea of an eternal foe with centuries of cunning and vampiric familiarity at work in the day is even more terrifying.

    Overture to Lament (*)
    Effect: Dhampiri have normally proved immune to the embrace, their prospective sire's will simply sliding off the dhampir's shroud of fate. In your case, that shroud holds a critical flaw--a weakness that the cursed Vitae of the unliving can and will exploit. You may even know this doom, given the sensitivities to doom enjoyed by dhampiri. Regardless, should your Destiny ever change to include efforts to achieve or avoid the Embrace, that act will succeed on you.

    If you are Embraced, immediately refund (per Sanctity of Merits) all dhampir-only Merits as Experience. Dhampir-specific abilities are removed without compensation. Similarly, refund Experience invested into Themes and Twists and immediately expend it to acquire Discipline dots appropriate to your Clan and the Clan of your vampiric birth parent; if you knew any Malisons, your Theme/Twist Experience must also include a single dot of either Cruac, Theban Sorcery or a Coil. Malisons are then refunded as Experience, which must be immediately invested into appropriate rituals or scales. Unspent experience from Themes/Twists or Malisons may be combined with normal experience for purchasing new Disciplines or Sorcery/Coil dots and rituals, respectively.

    Drawback: Your former life is over, and you've lost much of your ability to manipulate fate and destiny, excepting the Thief of Fate and Omen Sensitivity merits. Unless you are quickly inducted into the applicable Covenant, someone may soon want a word with you regarding your spontaneously manifested abilities. That word would be: "goodbye."

    Further, should you be embraced without first acquiring an applicable Destiny, you simply die... and then arise the next night as a Revenant. Follow the conversion guidelines per above. You frenzy immediately.

    Pale Aura (**)
    Effect: Vampires are very good at recognizing their own. You are not a vampire, but to supernatural senses you register easily as one and the unsuspecting may assume you are simply excellent in your personal masquerade. Supernatural powers will incorrectly identify you as a vampire of the clan appropriate to your ancestry unless they achieve an exceptional success, and their users will remain convinced of the divination until dissuaded by close or repeated contact.

    Drawback: Being misidentified as a sneaky vampire is a fast way to end up introduced to the local Kindred constabulary. It's also a fast way to meet local hunters and others on the look-out for loose vamps. Being fingered outside the Elysium can be troublesome. Being fingered in the middle of a supernatural war-zone can be fatal.

    Preternatural Recovery (***)
    Effect: Your dhampir body yearns to be whole—to return to its state of best health. It even remembers, if distantly, how to accomplish that. If injured with one or more Lethal damage, at nightfall the dhampir must roll Resolve + Occult. Accumulating five successes downgrades 1 Lethal to Bashing as if she had been tended under round-the-clock, intensive care (see Healing, CofD p. 96). Successes less than five carry forward to the next night; successes more than the five needed also carry forward if other lethal damage remains.

    Drawback: Your body knows it needs something when it heals, and consumes 1 point worth of blood (held in the stomach or digestive system) per roll attempted nightly. If drunk blood is not available, Vitae will do. If neither are available the dhampir must accept the Deprived Condition (VtR p. 302) focused on the acquisition of blood. The healing effect of Preternatural Recovery will not trigger if the dhampir already has the Deprived Condition toward blood.

    Thief of Doom (***)
    Effect: Your character is a magnet for fortune and fate—the kind no one wants. When she’s close to someone, she unintentionally steals their bad fortune, passing her good luck on instead. Once per day, if she touches someone, this Merit takes effect unless she spends a point of Willpower to curb the effect for a scene. In the same day, any failures the dhampir makes are considered dramatic failures, while the benefactor of good luck gains an exceptional success once on three or more successes. If she’s used this Merit at any time in a given day, the dhampir gains four dice any time she spends Willpower to increase a dice pool.

    Drawback: Once a benefactor of this Merit gains an exceptional success, he hears your character’s name in the back of his mind. This may inspire scrutiny. You may not possess both the Thief of Doom and Thief of Fate Merits.


    Twists
    Sympathy for the Devil (*)
    While in circumstances that fall under his Theme’s purview, the dhampir may expend 2 Willpower to apply his dots in the Theme as armor against one attack. Doing so comes at considerable cost, however: he must accept the Beaten Down tilt (CofD, p. 280). His opponent immediately twists the focus of violence to a non-lethal intent, and the dhampir must immediately discard his current Destiny—unfulfilled unless it was to lose—and substitute one that reflects his predicament and surrender.

    Sympathy for the Devil may also be employed in other circumstances where the dhampir’s life is in danger, such as legal proceedings where execution is possible; in these cases the attitude of his antagonists turns toward alternative methods of punishment in exchange for his capitulation.

    Orphic Font (**)
    The blood is the life, the collected life and sustaining force of humanity; some vampires then believe that they experience with the blood a sense of the person's life and the pleasure of feeding is the mingling and one-ness of joining--a pleasure both physical and emotion on all sensual levels. For the dhampir this brief linkage may be twisted to pass on more than the vampire anticipated.

    He may expend 1 willpower when fed on by a vampire. During the feeding he experiences flashes of the vampire's life, thoughts and emotions in keeping with a Theme he holds at least one dot in, learning one of the following about her per dot of the Theme: her clan, dot ratings in one category of Attributes, Mask, Dirge, one Aspiration, Humanity rating, one Condition currently affecting her, or the identity of one Touchstone. This process is not one-sided however: if the vampire draws more blood points from him in the scene than he has dots in the selected Theme she becomes aware of the mystic linkage and also learns one thing about him in keeping with the selected Theme.

    Balance of Terror (**)
    The Dhampir selects an attack he can see and tweaks fate to challenge it just so--trusting his own luck not to take things too far. Reflexively expend 1 Willpower and subtract his dots in an applicable Theme from the number of successes achieved. If this reduces successes to zero or below the attack suffers a dramatic failure, and the opponent hears a whisper of the Dhampir's name in her mind; further, in that case the next roll the Dhampir fails automatically becomes a dramatic failure, for which he may obtain a beat as per normal.

    Conditions
    Sated (Condition, Dhampir)
    You have slaked your Blood Lust with large quantities of Vitae or blood recently--whether or not it was held down, and your body is filled by a strange ease. A tiny, mean thing has been quieted within and a veil of distraction lifted: life goes on, but un-life becomes more... obvious. Take the 9-again quality on Blood Sense rolls to perceive vampires while this Condition persists.
    Possible Sources: drinking blood points equal to your Willpower or more within the past day; drinking Vitae points equal to half your Willpower or more within the past day
    Resolution: be fed on by a vampire; go one day without drinking at least one point of blood or Vitae
    Beat: n/a

    Malisons
    Himeros
    In ancient legend the god Zeus, fearing the power of man, split him in two halves and consigned each to wander the world forever seeking that severed half. Within the convergence of the Dhampir’s blood and power lies the unmaking of that curse.

    To use this Malison, the character must name a person and confess that though they are apart, they will be joined. In doing so, he nudges fates and destiny such that they will by happenstance and accident come close. An individual so named need not be specific—“a man with a $20 bill in his breast pocket” would do, but it gains power the closer the person is to the Dhampir. That power becomes most apparent within a physical chase, in which the Dhampir seeks to connect or seize a person, but it can manifest in emotional or intellectual closeness as well.

    Regardless, the subject of the Malison receives a foreboding omen or sense of their impending destiny, and to the extent they heed that warning, may frustrate the Dhampir’s efforts.

    Cost: 1 lethal damage
    Dice Pool: Presence + Resolve vs. Occult + Supernatural Tolerance
    Time: Instant action
    Duration: 1 scene (a chase)
    Dramatic Failure: Instead of seeking the person he named, the Dhampir draws the attention and fortuitous connection to an antagonist in his life, who knowingly or unknowingly engages in a chase with the Dhampir as the target. Resolve the chase at a target successes to prevail of Dhampir’s Occult, modified per normal; he may not spend Willpower during the chase and his antagonist begins with the Edge. The Dhampir must succeed in a Wits + Occult roll to realize what has gone wrong.
    Failure: The Dhampir’s target heeds the omens and avoids connecting with him.
    Success: Immediately initiate a Chase scene between the Dhampir and the target, with a base success to prevail of the target’s Occult + Willpower, modified per normal. The Dhampir begins with the Edge.
    Dramatic Success: Immediately initiate a Chase scene between the Dhampir and the target, with a base success to prevail of the target’s Occult + Willpower, modified per normal. The Dhampir begins with the Edge and may not lose it.


    **********

    Feel free to add your own hacks. I'll toss in more as the muse strikes.

    --Khanwulf
    Last edited by Khanwulf; 06-28-2018, 09:29 AM.

  • #2
    'the dhampir must immediately discard his current Destiny'

    This feels really permanent. Like, if I'm ambushed, and beaten, and use this twist, then suddenly my destiny is altered?

    Can you explain the logic behind this design decision and prehaps supply a supporting example of how it ought to work?

    Edit: I love the rest!
    Last edited by Tabanese; 12-06-2017, 06:55 PM. Reason: didn't want to sound crabby.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hmm. Need some time to review (and a PC for better typing).

      I had a few strictly Vampire-Hunter ideas, but I'll think a bit more on them to see if they fit.


      Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
      Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
        'the dhampir must immediately discard his current Destiny'

        This feels really permanent. Like, if I'm ambushed, and beaten, and use this twist, then suddenly my destiny is altered?

        Can you explain the logic behind this design decision and prehaps supply a supporting example of how it ought to work?

        Edit: I love the rest!
        I would be delighted to unpackage the thinking--and thank you for asking. Doubly-so as this is the first opportunity to discuss what some of the concepts behind dhampir mechanics mean.

        First, my understanding of Destiny: Destiny is intended (mechanically speaking) to provide a means of obtaining willpower and beats for following a specific story thread, backwards or forwards. In this manner it is similar to Ambitions, but longer-lasting. You are expressly enabled to fulfill/deny Destiny, and then at the start of the next story acquire a new one; so it does not represent a character straight-jacket such that resolving tosses him into the retired folio.

        The suggested Twist, Sympathy for the Devil, works by entangling the dhampir's fate with those who wish(ed) to murder him. If you're taking lethal damage, someone's headed for a homicide and that--from a fate perspective, needs to be redirected. The Twist wrenches the attitudes of the antagonists in such a way as to preserve the dhampir's life, but derails it in the process. You drop the previous Destiny and take a new one linked to the circumstances of defeat or the group/person who you lost to--this ensures the dhampir must make an effort to untangle himself before re-orienting on his next Destiny (which could be a return to the previous, dropped one).

        There is much meta here, as well. Players hate to lose. They hate especially to surrender during lethal combat, which is where you're at when you use this Twist. Many players are trained by monster-hunting games (computer or pen and paper) to understand lose=death. They also have a lot of trouble empathizing with their character's serious opponents enough to avoid murdering them, should they surrender--and breaking point rolls are not going to keep them from removing a true thorn from their side. Well, conversely, they have trouble imagining themselves--as a serious thorn in someone's side--being spared from death should they surrender/lose.

        The Twist is structured to incentivize the end of conflict: Beaten-Down returns you a willpower AND a beat for affirming your capitulation to the victor (resolving the condition), and your new Destiny ensures you will want to either rebel or go along with a new situation. It also acts as an extra anchor for the trust between player and storyteller that the ST isn't going to go "welp, I can't see a reason Mr. Evil won't just end you. Goodbye!" Further, the new Destiny ensures that narrative flow emphasizes the entangled nature of the dhampir and opponents, so the incident assumes an appropriate importance.

        From a narrative standpoint, being captured by the enemy is a major twist--one that dominates a third to half of a book and leaves significant marks on the protagonist(s). It deflects them from whatever important thing they were doing and often defines relationships that continue for a long time: both positively and negatively. Altering Destiny is intended to reflect this as well, and help the ST to reflect it by setting aside whatever other, important thread was being followed.

        Lastly, note that there are no (zero) supernatural defenses against physical damage available to dhampiri as written. They have a Twist to provide a temporary Supernatural Tolerance stat, but if someone bites them they better be wearing armor in that spot! This is either a major oversight (vampire-hunters? Ha!), or a purposeful design decision to force dhampiri into social maneuvering and sneaky tricks if they want to oppose vamps. Philosophically I don't agree with removing options for play (i.e. being Blade, or Angel)--hence this thread, but I do want to be careful while unzipping the social-creature straight-jacket into which dhampir are forced. This is also why Sympathy for the Devil does not have a dot-value assigned: it could be a 1-dot starter to an avoidance line, or a 3-dot, rare defense power as needed.

        Examples of Sympathy for the Devil:

        1. Dateline 1984, upstate Washington: Sean the Dhampir is caught just this side of the border by about 50 FBI agents. Shot twice and badly beaten, he uses Sympathy for the Devil and they take him into custody. He's characteristically mum and they've already recovered Hoover's files from Sean's drop-hole, but the frustrated FBI vamp in charge just can't bring herself to off him behind the woodshed as would make sense after his 20 years of international trouble. Maybe he's just too charming? After being disowned by his agency, Sean receives a hidden tribunal and is sent to Alcatraz, dropping his Destiny ("Bring down the President of the USA/Prove the President is an honest politician") in favor of a new Destiny ("Escape from Alcatraz/Serve out my incarceration").

        2. Dateline 2017, Skopje: Andre led the ill-conceived assault on the Albanian mafia's safehouse, incensed by their brutal kidnapping of his cousin under orders from the Prince of Prizren. Now he's trapped downstairs while the roof is on fire, half his team is down and Anika's taken a bullet when the mafia reinforcements arrived. Saimir Two-Knives bursts in, screaming "I have you now, Andre!" He looks up and smiles thinly, arms cradling the girl, "yes you do, Saimir; take us to your Prince." The thug pauses, the simple family love before him penetrating 80 years of ghoulish mayhem and stupifying amounts of blood and Vitae. Saimir looks at his knives, then Andre, then knives. His fist swings. Everything goes black. Andre struggles to consciousness, struggles against the bonds as he hears, "you'll be delighted to know I've contacted your father. He's disappointed of course, but thinks a few decade's penance will help you forget that silly crusade. We agree that including a dhampir in the breeding program may increase success rates by upwards of 40 basis points. Welcome aboard. Fortunately you've already met Anika...." Andre discards his Destiny "Bring down my Father's plans for Greater Macedonia/Restore the glory of Macedonia beside my father" in favor of a new one "Sire a new ghoul family with Anika/Escape the long-arm of the Albanian Dracul with Anika."

        As in application of other Twists, how they work out will be highly dependent on the circumstances and story.

        Does this help?

        --Khanwulf

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Khanwulf View Post
          Does this help?
          Fuck yeah, it does!

          My original reading was 'Mage Armour lite' to give the dhampir survival power - a motivation you admit to, so not off the mark - and has such, I expected a minor penalty. I also regarded Destiny as a bigger deal; when I first read in Half-Damned you got more after the first, I even felt a little cheated. Your explanation not only justified your choice but persuaded me it was the right one. I really enjoyed the metaphysical element of merging fates such that you survive but not your telos; it adds a bit of 'fluff crunch' to the power that one could further exploit for ST seeds. Eg. A Mage noticing the entanglement or Blood Magic suddenly snapping it back. Plus, it corrected my idea of what the merit was, going from Armour to Emergency-Escape. Lastly, you toned down my expectations of Destiny and give the mechanical reading, which is important in using the Dhampir correctly, assuming a balanced system.

          Your examples were cool too, because I got to enjoy the idea of a president hunting son-of-a-vamp.

          All in all, I am sated. Cheers.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Tabanese View Post

            Fuck yeah, it does!
            Very pleased to be of service.

            Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
            My original reading was 'Mage Armour lite' to give the dhampir survival power - a motivation you admit to, so not off the mark - and has such, I expected a minor penalty. I also regarded Destiny as a bigger deal; when I first read in Half-Damned you got more after the first, I even felt a little cheated. Your explanation not only justified your choice but persuaded me it was the right one. I really enjoyed the metaphysical element of merging fates such that you survive but not your telos; it adds a bit of 'fluff crunch' to the power that one could further exploit for ST seeds. Eg. A Mage noticing the entanglement or Blood Magic suddenly snapping it back. Plus, it corrected my idea of what the merit was, going from Armour to Emergency-Escape. Lastly, you toned down my expectations of Destiny and give the mechanical reading, which is important in using the Dhampir correctly, assuming a balanced system.
            Entirely correct on all points. I must amend my previous statement however: Dhampir do have a physical defensive power--if they're descended from a Gangrel and wish to take double lethal damage they can use their clan Twist to gain armor vs. Bashing.

            As a contribution to their vampire-hunting reputation I remain underwhelmed. Sympathy for the Devil is the button you press to punch out when realizing you're going down with the flaming wreckage of the plot. It's as much a friend to the ST as it is the player, since calibrating a game around vamps + that one guy made of tissue-paper is hard. Or, running a mortals vs. supernaturals game. Mistakes happen. Dice happen. Frenzies happen, and then you're out months of work while Jonny rerolls (remember: no embrace!). Less than fun.

            Good call on the ST-meta link to mages. A fate mage around a Dhampir would have a fun mystery to follow around for a while, pulling at strings he ought not to.

            Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
            Your examples were cool too, because I got to enjoy the idea of a president hunting son-of-a-vamp.
            Honesty in sources: I've simply reforged the hidden back-plot of the last Sean Connery Bond movie. Watch it if you want, or read a synopsis.

            Originally posted by Tabanese View Post
            All in all, I am sated. Cheers.
            Sated (Condition, Dhampir)
            You have slaked your Blood Lust with large quantities of Vitae or blood recently--whether or not it was held down, and your body is filled by a strange ease. A tiny, mean thing has been quieted within and a veil of distraction lifted: life goes on, but un-life becomes more... obvious. Take the 9-again quality on Blood Sense rolls to perceive vampires while this Condition persists.
            Possible Sources: drinking blood points equal to your Willpower or more within the past day; drinking Vitae points equal to half your Willpower or more within the past day
            Resolution: be fed on by a vampire; go one day without drinking at least one point of blood or Vitae
            Beat: n/a


            --Khanwulf
            Last edited by Khanwulf; 12-08-2017, 11:42 AM.

            Comment

            Working...
            X