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The Insidious Curse

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  • The Insidious Curse

    This is a "bloodline" "discipline" I came up with while thinking of possible motivations for the NPCs in my chronicle. It is more like a disease, if anything. It could be compared to Malkavia, but it is far more rare and far less predictable, by an order of magnitude at least. This is the secret most Kindred guard with all they have, because Final Death is a very likely outcome if the secret ever got out. It is

    The Insidious Curse

    There is something in the blood. A curse. A disease. A power. Those that are aware of its existence know it as the Insidious Curse, or the Defiance, or the Blood of Anarchy, or a number of similar names. And they rarely, if ever, talk about it.

    The Curse
    At first, one that has the curse manifest thinks himself lucky. It gives him an opportunity to become free of the weight of a Vinculum that he has been subjected to without consent, to rebel a little against his regnant. With time and conviction, it may be developed fully into a tool of oppressing and destroying the very oppressor that tried to control him.
    Soon, though, the vampire realizes that the gift is a curse, because it can happen to his own thralls without warning, even several generations down the line. And it also makes him a target; if anyone ever found out about it, he'd be facing a sunrise in no time at all.
    Where does this danger, this potential for carnage come from? Several things. First, the curse does not announce its presence. If developed, it's an offensive strategy that allows for no counter of any kind. It spreads with incredible ease, has no cure, no vaccine, no test, and it is nearly impossible to root out.

    Origins
    The origins of this curse are a mystery. Not only is the curse exceptionally rare, but those that carry are determined to keep it a secret at all costs. There are no stories of this curse bringing low entire cities, but it has happened. There are no legends of Princes ruined by subjecting the wrong Kindred to the blood bond. There are no myths of ancient sorcerers and dragons developing the insidious gifts. There is simply nothing. Anyone willing to spend time researching the origins of this disease should better prepare themselves for disappointment.
    And, of course, there are those that tried.
    One vampire so blessed researched the issue, and now believes that Dracula is the one responsible. Without a Kindred sire, Dracula was made a vampire by God just like Longinus centuries ago. However, unlike Longinus, Dracula did not bow down to his will; he defied God and spat in his face, thus awakening the potential for Defiance within his blood.
    A bishop on the other side of the world, however, thinks that the curse originated in ancient Rome or Carthage, as a blood sorcery ritual that either went horribly wrong or horribly right.
    One Invictus elder thinks it is a Carthian declaration of war against the Invictus, but another is convinced it is the work of other Invictus elders that wished to increase their station in a most unorthodox manner.
    Two of Japan's most prominent Kindred, who may or may not be unliving in perversion, are convinced that it is the work of a particular Strix that enjoys the sight of chaos in the All Night Society.

    Infection
    The curse will only manifest if one end of a blood bond is a carrier of the curse, and the unwilling thrall is not yet cursed. A carrier of the curse is any vampire that has had the curse manifest within himself, or was Embraced by a carrier. A carrier can manifest the curse if he is made a thrall, and his own thralls can manifest the curse the same way. If the curse does not manifest in a thrall that was not a carrier before, it does not turn him into a carrier.
    For those Storytellers that like to increase the suspense with dramatic dice rolls, or are interested in the mechanics of how the curse spreads, the dicepool for the curse to manifest in a thrall depends on the strength of the curse within the blood. A curse's strength is equal to the carrier's dots in the Insidious Curse discipline, or to the highest possible total attained by taking such a vampire and subtracting the number of generations between that vampire and the carrier. For the curse, the regnant counts as one generation if he is the carrier.
    For example, Mark has Insidious Curse 5, and so the strength of the curse in his blood is 5. His childe, Lily, is a carrier of the curse, with a strength of 4 (5, Mark's Insidious Curse dots, minus 1, Lily's generation relative to Mark). Similarly, any vampire subjected to Mark's blood bond against the vampire's will has a chance to manifest the curse with a dicepool of 4. However, if they do not manifest the curse, they do not become a carrier unless they were one before. Bill, Lily's childe, is also automatically a carrier, with the curse in his blood being strength 3 (5, Mark's Insidious Curse dots, minus 2, Bill's generation relative to Mark).
    The dicepool to manifest can be reduced to 0 or a negative number, in which case a chance die is used. If the negative dicepool is significant, 10-again chance dies could also be used, requiring two successes for the curse to manifest. The chance to manifest the curse never disappears, regardless of the distance or dilution of blood.
    The curse does not work "in reverse"; a thrall that was not a carrier before, but acquires the curse later, does not automatically make his sire a carrier, nor does his childe embraced before the manifestation become a carrier either. Similarly, the carrier thrall does not make his regnant a carrier, as the curse simply doesn't work in that direction.
    In order to even have a chance of taking, vampire must resist the bond by spending Willpower. The roll, however, must fail, for the curse only manifests in those that are blood bound.

    The Discipline
    Each activation of these abilities works only in relation to a particular blood bond. If you are under multiple blood bonds, the abilities may be activated multiple times during the same scene in order to affect those additional bonds as well.
    Although the thrall must be an unwilling participant in a blood bond for the curse to manifest, the abilities work even in relationships in which the thrall is willing.
    Note that the curse, on its own, does not subvert the blood bond; it takes determination to develop these abilities in opposition to your own instincts. Refuge In Audacity and Denial Of Fealty are fairly minor transgressions, and can be developed while subjected to a first stage blood bond with some mental effort. Developing them while in the second stage requires great willpower, and the amount of effort to develop even the first ability while subjected to the third stage of a blood bond is impressive indeed. Similarly, Subversion Of Command, and the more advanced abilities, represent greater capacity for betrayal of the one you are bound to, and may require several days, if not weeks, of silent, uninterrupted meditation under Denial Of Fealty.

    Refuge In Audacity *
    Cost: 1 Vitae and 1 Willpower
    Dicepool: None
    Requirement: An active blood bond
    Action: Instant
    Duration: Scene
    The first act of rebellion and defiance is the lie. For the duration of the scene, any Social action you take towards your regnant enjoys the bonus dice from the blood bond, and denies the same from the regnant. Other actions, and disciplines, are unaffected by this ability.

    Denial Of Fealty **
    Cost:
    1 Vitae and 1 Willpower
    Dicepool: None
    Requirement: An active blood bond
    Action: Instant
    Duration: Scene
    As your determination to be free of the bond increases, so does the power of the Defiance. This ability allows you to ignore any effects from a blood bond for the duration of the scene. This does not remove the blood bond, but selectively removes the drawbacks of one, still leaving you capable of using other Insidious Curse abilities.

    Subversion Of Command ***
    Cost:
    1 Vitae and 1 Willpower
    Dicepool: None
    Requirement: An active second stage or greater blood bond
    Action: Instant
    Duration: Scene
    This grand act of betrayal allows you to undermine your regnant with his very own assets. For the rest of this scene, you can interact with your regnant's thralls and ghouls as if they were also your own. Your authority over them is equal to either your regnants authority over them minus one, or your regnant's authority over you minus one, whichever is lower. This ability ignores the limitation of a third stage blood bond and works regardless, but it does not remove, weaken, or subdue the bond, even temporarily; thralls will still obey the original regnant's orders over your own, and will endeavour not to harm their true regnant.
    Additionally, this ability allows you to tell if a person you are interacting with is a ghoul or thrall of your regnant with a Wits + Empathy + Insidious Curse roll.

    Betrayal Of Blood ****
    Cost:
    1 Vitae and 1 Willpower
    Dicepool: None
    Requirement: An active second stage or greater blood bond
    Action: Instant
    Duration: Scene
    It is now possible to use the Vinculum directly against your regnant. For the remainder of the scene, your regnant becomes your thrall, and your authority over him is one lower than his authority over you. This ability ignores the limitation of a third stage blood bond and works regardless, but it does not remove, weaken, or subdue any other bonds in any way.

    Sovereign Power *****
    Cost:
    1 Vitae and 1 Willpower
    Dicepool: None
    Requirement: An active third stage blood bond
    Action: Instant
    Duration: One night
    The corruption and perversion of the Vinculum is now complete, and you can wield this with minimal effort. You can use this ability in order to benefit from any or all other Insidious Curse abilities at no cost for the remainder of the night. Again, although it affects multiple abilities, it only works in relation to a particular blood bond, and must be activated multiple times in order to affect multiple bonds.


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  • #2
    Well while the idea seems interesting, I don't think it should be a discipline. First of all, this power is very limited (you can only use it against regnants, so you're totally screwed if you've developed level 3 blood bond (since then you'll only have a single target). So at least I wouldn't be able to justify the xp expenditure to myself to buy this. Especially when simply opposing my regnant and possibly killing him will be cheaper XP wise (I could buy some skills which will help me as much/more (since it will also help me afterwards) and be left with enought xp to rebuy a dot or two of humanity which I might lose to the blood bond.

    If I were you, i'd change this into some sort of a disease, which just has passive benefits/drawbacks. For example after a month of being contaminated you ignore the drawbacks of all blood bonds, at the same time you can no loner blood bond anyone. After two months, you get the benefits while your regnant does not, you may no longer ghoul anyone. After three months you no longer feel have any blood sympathy (insert minor drawback here, since not having blood sympathy is as much of a boon as it is a curse).

    Something along these lines seems a bit better in my eyes. Of course, timed growth could be changed for something else, for some triggers or whatever. Also this looks like it could also be turned into a coil.
    Last edited by Griautis; 02-06-2014, 08:49 AM. Reason: added some more stuff to the first paragraph. Didn't want to double post


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    • #3
      It's a nice idea - I especially like the idea of this whole thing being infective. I agree with Griautis that an entire discipline seems excessive, at least for the purposes of my games. I think I'd prefer a merit or a flaw (because it's both, really).

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      • #4
        THen it's a merit. Most of the merits have drawbacks nowadays anyways 3-4 dot merit which makes blood bonds ineffective against you and for you? Of course, this is extremely rare merit. (otherwise whole elder feeding issues kinda disappear...) .Perhaps this merit can be purchased only while having the disease contracted?
        Perhaps the disease itself simply has some drawback (something related to blood, perhaps two blood needed to wake, or something else?) and it allows purchasing of merits? One of them would disable blood bonds. another one would allow you to use your old blood bonds in reverse (thus, your old thralls gain bonus against you, and you gain a bonus against your old regnants)


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        • #5
          Oh, I agree, it is definitely on the expensive side, and the applicability is quite limited, but it does allow an upstart to skip a whole lot of rungs and insert himself as the whisper behind the throne in no time at all, if used offensively.
          It is similar to a coil because it started out as one.
          And I should have made this more clear before, it is not intended to be a seriously balanced discipline, but rather a plot hook/phlebotinum/MacGuffin/Chekov's Whatever.


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          • #6
            Could I give this a try? I've got an idea that would take this and make it closer to, say, Celerity or Vigor.


            I have decided, after some thought, that I don't really feel happy on these forums. I might decide to come back to post. Who knows - but right now, I'm gone.

            So good bye, good luck, and have a nice day.

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            • #7
              Sure, everybody's free to grab it, use it, change it, whatever. Feedback, however, is mandatory.


              MAKE LOVE, NOT SPAM!

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              • #8
                Be it a Discipline, disease, merit, or whatever, it should definitely be something ghouls can use/get/have.

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