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Kindred Psychic Vampirism

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  • Kindred Psychic Vampirism

    I am looking at a Coil of Zirnitra using Ordo Dracul member that's taken to Psychic Vampirism... I was wondering how some of you might think Ephemera would work alongside Vitae.

  • #2
    Ooh, interesting idea... and really, really weird.

    The quickest answer (aside from "don't do it" which is also the boring answer, bah) would be just to treat them as roughly equivalent; in that case, Ephemera is just Vitae by another name, harvested in a different manner. Given that said harvest only does bashing damage by default instead of lethal though (until you get to higher levels, hmmm), maybe it's more diffuse, and it's a two-to-one conversion (which incidentally keeps with the two resources' respective costs for healing as well, at least until the third dot comes in). But on that note, Ephemera Bleed could make pouring all of that stolen breath into Vitae a bad idea, because now they have to keep two gradually-depleting resources topped up night-to-night.

    So, repercussions:

    There's another weird-ish thing with psyvamps, in that Ephemera can also be converted into Willpower, a resource Kindred often have a harder time keeping up on. If you allow Ephemera-to-Vitae conversion, then this aaalso raises the question of whether or not you should be able to convert backward. Being able to semi-fluidly shuffle resources around is... something the Ordo would looove to get their hands on, but I can imagine at least some tables thinking it might be too much.

    You're gonna want to figure out if the vampire can spend Vitae and Ephemera in the same turn. Sure, you can spend other resources and Willpower at the same time, but being able to activate psyvamp merits and Disciplines at the same time could lead to some weird interactions.

    And on the last mechanical-ish note: how does the "Unaging" trait play out? Because if the Kindred doesn't need to worry about that bit of upkeep because they're unaging anyway then that's one of the biggest drawbacks of the psyvamp condition tossed aside entirely. On the other hand, if they do need to pay that, then... what're they putting off instead of age? Something to do with Humanity instead, maybe?

    Finally, and this is purely narrative: any vampire who finds out this particular Dragon has gone and figured out breath-drinking of any form is going to start asking Questions, since uh... there are other kinds of vampires of a more wispy variety who know that trick too. Buuut that's a good way to set up some side-plots, and that's part of the fun, ain't it?

    All the above aside though? The idea of a vampire picking up another hunger and a new set of slightly easier-to-use and more... subtle powers - including some that partly parallel clan signature Disciplines but without needing to subject oneself to the risk of a blood bond - is an interesting one, in terms of flavor and mechanics both. And I know I'd personally be very interested to see how such a character would pan out at the table, with the right group.


    I've got a bit of a bad habit of extensively editing my posts after the fact. Please try and bear with me...
    In case you're comfortable being more friendly and casual about things, my name's Estella, or Es/Essie for short. She/Her or They/Them, please.

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    • #3
      I'd also play up the differences. If the vampire takes something like Shapechanging, for example, play up how it's not Protean, it doesn't draw on the Beast, it's an entirely separate source of power.

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      • #4
        I'll just echo Sconce and add that I'd ask the player to take/figure out some Merits to convert Ephemera into Vitae and vice-versa. It's entirely appropriate for a clever vamp with occult leanings to want to dip into other means of satisfying their weaknesses (hunger, lack of Willpower, etc.). I know at my table it's been very, very common to immediately start down paths that accomplish such (this, going back to WoD).

        Anyway, a similar item I'm considering is what happens when a Purified is embraced. The 1e solution is "IT'S EVIL, DON'T TOUCH IT", but since that's also boring and outdated that attitude is tossed. I'll probably structure the resulting mess as the spiritual nature of the Purified becoming a kind of magath with the Beast, and "Claim" the fleshy body. Regaining Ephemeral abilities then would be a matter of further learning and experimentation on the part of the unfortunate immortal, in the hopes of "shaking themselves loose" from their bodily host.

        --Khanwulf

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sconce View Post
          And on the last mechanical-ish note: how does the "Unaging" trait play out? Because if the Kindred doesn't need to worry about that bit of upkeep because they're unaging anyway then that's one of the biggest drawbacks of the psyvamp condition tossed aside entirely. On the other hand, if they do need to pay that, then... what're they putting off instead of age? Something to do with Humanity instead, maybe?
          So I'm of two minds on this point.

          The first is that the "unaging" isn't quite a weakness, per se. Or rather, it's only a weakness if you wish to utilize it. Granted, I don't know a lot of people who wouldn't want to stop getting older (at least once they've hit their twenties), but the Unaging effect isn't a requirement or a bug in the way that many other forms of mortal-attainable "eternal youth" are. Compare to both ghouls and ghost eaters (at least per the kickstarter previews). Ghouls have a very "small" maintenance requirement - just one vitae a month. The cost of missing it, however, is disastrous, as you catch up any aging you have forestalled. Less a problem if it's only been a year or five (unless you're a Heisenberg), but a problem if you're really 90 and look 20, or if you're older than a human can really be. And, their source of immortality is out of their hands for the most part, unless they're reverse blood dolling captive or victimized vampires (and even then, they still have to find ones if they don't keep one locked up somehow). Ghost eaters, similarly, have an upkeep cost like the PsyVamps, though theirs is measured in Plasm per week. Technically, that also is a "may" power, but once you start, you can't get off the ride without paying a price (and at some point, that price is fatality). But, a ghost eater who starts the Rapacious Immortality the day they become one, and only steals the minimum plasm to keep that up, will hit Rapacity 5 in about eight years, at which point they'll need over 250 plasm a year, with a minimum of 5 a week (and there's a steep penalty if they fail to pay up).

          Conversely, PsyVamps have a steeper overall cost than ghouls (unless they're not yet a teenager and are trying to live out the Toys R Us song about not growing up, but that's probably not going to be the case, and not for long - and now I have to pour one out for Geoffrey the Giraffe), but it's far easier to acquire the coin to pay that cost, especially with Breath Drinker and/or Soul Eater and/or higher levels of the core merit that allow you to drink Willpower and Health alike. Their cost does go up over time, but it takes a while to build up, especially since it can be paid over the course of the year. With the daily upkeep that a PsyVamp needs, you need to live a long time to regularly need to consume more than one point a day to remain alive (when you hit 180 or so, you'll need one a day, and one every other day, assuming you're not spending on other effects, to catch up - technically more than you need plasm, but again, your sources are far more plentiful). And, if the year ends and you missed your target... you age a year. Not to your current age, but just what you would have aged that year. Eventually it could be an issue, but it's far easier to survive a mess up with PsyVamp than with the other two. And running out is BAD and does put you on a time table to get more, but it's real, real hard to not find a source unless you're on a desert island or in solitary confinement (and even in that last case, with Breath Drinker the guards will probably just write-off the willpower loss as being drained by your presence and you being so creepy).

          That all said, a Kindred has no need for that function. It's definitely a drain on your ephemera if you're a mortal using PsyVamp to stay young, but only if you choose to let it be; if you don't want to live forever, you can spend your ephemera on other things. It's not that vampires are not paying a cost; it's more that they don't need that power because they have a better version already.

          -

          That said.

          The Coil of Zirnitra is considered by many Dragon's to be questionable. It's not an outright heresy, but most of the Ordo think it's not worth it. Maybe there's a deeper reason - sometimes taking back aspects of mortality can have a price. For most minor magics the price is inherent in the power: the Aura Perception merit isn't as subtle as Auspex and requires a marginally more noticeable effort (and thus builds up different habits), and thus reveals to the attentive signs that you're taking note of others in an odd way; the Telepath merit has leaks and lets you hear things that you shouldn't; the Dark Passenger may whisper secrets, but it is DAMN annoying; and being Cursed is... well, somewhat a case of the benefit deriving from the drawback rather than the other way around. The Atariya merits may not give a serious mechanical drawback, but they can alter your thinking and make you overconfident, especially with the protection of other Mysteries. Being a Plain Vampire means quite frequent detachment checks unless you have a herd of the truly willing (and maybe even then).

          But with something like Psychic Vampirism, you're not just re-seizing lost mortal potential - you've added a whole new hunger to your own. You're stealing the very LIFE energy of mortals into yourself without the medium of blood to keep it in check. And while the Strix do the same, they are themselves ephemeral - they are not adding something other than their nature to their forms.

          A Psychic Vampire Kindred is.

          Perhaps as a price for the edges such hunger unlocks, you lose or weaken your immortality as a Kindred and become dependent upon your new power to retain your youth. It's possibly not as bad as a traditional Psychic Vampire - you don't increase the "actual" age since the stasis does remember when you became a Kindred, and thus can pay a far lower cost than otherwise (unless you want to enforce that too). But your apparent aging DOES return, similar to the Oberloch curse, unless you burn enough ephemera in a year to stay young. You can turn into a veritable skeleton and remain active, but you will not look human. Enough Obfuscate can mitigate this issue... but it is something to mind.

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