Animalism

Although most look human, all the Kindred conceal within them a feral predator, a Beast that divides all others into only two categories: threat or prey. Some Kindred feel their affinity with the animals of the world, and their connection with their own animalistic nature to a greater degree than others. These Kindred often develop the Discipline of Animalism, which allows them to bond with the beasts — and the Beasts — around them. They can not only commune with lower creatures, but project their will upon them, forcing them to obey. As the Kindred gain power, some develop the ability to join with animals, or to influence the Beast lurking with their own souls or the souls of other vampires.

Most Kindred are repellent to animals. Lesser creatures grow agitated in the presence of the undead and normally flee the scene (or, in some cases, attack the vampire in question). Kindred who possess Animalism are a very different story. Animals are often attracted to such Kindred, and their presence is soothing even to restless beasts.

Other sentient, supernatural beings such as shapechangers who have animal form or who can assume animal form are not affected by Animalism. Their intelligence makes them the purview of the Dominate Discipline. Therefore, a Ventrue can try to ply his will on a werewolf — even a werewolf in wolf form — by using Dominate. Similarly, Animalism is useless on another vampire who assumes wolf or another bestial form. Animalism is of no avail to the vampire in regard to such intelligent beings.

Note that any Animalism power that requires eye contact is made more difficult if the subject does not stand still or is not otherwise immobilized. If the animal in question moves about, the roll to initiate the relevant power suffers a -1 penalty in addition to all others listed.

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• Feral Whispers

The Kindred with this ability has learned to understand the lesser creatures that surround her, and to speak with them and make herself understood. It is the foundation upon which all other Animalism abilities are built, for without understanding there can be no obedience. The vampire must initiate eye contact with the animal in question; doing so forges a strong empathic bond between Kindred and beast, allowing communication. This contact is at least partially mental. The vampire may either whisper to the animal in her own language (or any language she knows), or she may hiss, bark, chirp or make whatever sounds the animal might use to express itself. (Some Kindred prefer the latter, feeling that it joins them more closely with the animal in question, though many others deride them for it and consider the practice vulgar.) The animal, in turn, might make some sort of noise while responding. It might be a growl, a low chirp or anything else. The precise nature of the sound is irrelevant, as the meaning is conveyed mostly via the empathic link. Most animals instinctively respond quietly when answering Feral Whispers, unless the situation is a tense or violent one. The Kindred must maintain either eye contact or a constant dialogue with the animal. If she fails to do so for even a single turn, the link is broken and she must reinitiate contact if she wishes to speak further.

Because Feral Whispers requires initial eye contact, animals that cannot see cannot be affected. Additionally, the simpler or less intelligent the animal is, the more difficult it is to link with its Beast or its emotions. Mammals, raptors and certain large reptiles are relatively easy to communicate with; insects, invertebrates and most fish are very nearly impossible.

Note that while Feral Whispers makes sure that the animal communicates with the vampire, it does not compel the creature to obey commands or perform tasks. Further, the nature of the information conveyed by the animal depends largely on its intelligence and awareness. A cat might be able to explain that a large number of humans scared it out of a nearby building, but it’s unlikely to understand questions such as, “Was one of them wearing a green baseball cap?” or to have any real concept of numbers.

Cost

None

Dice Pool

Manipulation + Animal Ken + Animalism

Action

Instant

Usage

  • Dramatic Failure: A dramatic failure indicates that the character misreads the animal, gaining false information. Additionally, the animal is immune to any further uses of Animalism by that character until the next sunset.
  • Failure: Failure indicates that the character cannot communicate with the animal.
  • Success: Success indicates that the character can fully communicate with the animal, to whatever degree it is capable.
  • Exceptional Success: Exceptional success indicates that the animal is not only communicative but actively helpful, even volunteering information unasked if it considers that information important (so far as its intelligence allows).

•• Obedience

Having mastered the ability to commune with beasts, the Kindred’s connection with his own feral nature now allows him to command them as well. No longer need he beg, threaten or cajole animals into doing his will. He demands, and they obey as best they can.

The vampire must make eye contact, as with Feral Whispers, and convey to an animal precisely what he wants it to do. The animal obeys to the best of its ability, but its nature and intelligence might cause it to interpret its orders in unusual ways. Once it has received an order, the animal carries it out, assuming it can be completed before the following sunrise. At dawn, the compulsion ceases, regardless of whether the task is complete or not.

It is extremely difficult to order an animal to do anything blatantly against its nature (such as ordering a sparrow to attack someone) or obviously self-destructive (such as forcing a guard dog to lie down in front of a moving truck).

A vampire can give single orders to only one animal at a time, but he may have as many animals currently under his control as circumstances allow, as long as he can give each one its orders individually.

Cost

None

Dice Pool

Presence + Animal Ken + Animalism – animal’s Composure

Action

Instant Obedience also requires a contested roll if the animal is already under the control of another Kindred with this power (in which case Obedience successes achieved must exceed those rolled for the original vampire).

Usage

  • Dramatic Failure: Dramatic failure indicates that the animal either attacks the character or does the exact opposite of what he commands it to do. In addition, that animal is immune to any further use of Animalism by that character until the next sunset.
  • Failure: Failure indicates that the character cannot command or communicate with the animal.
  • Success: Success indicates that the animal obeys the character’s orders to the best of its abilities.
  • Exceptional Success: Exceptional success indicates that the animal develops a strong, if temporary, affection for the character. It attempts to please and to anticipate orders, even when not actively following a specific command.

••• Call of the Wild

The Kindred is so fully in tune with her own Beast that she can call out in a feral voice — howling, hissing, cawing or the like — that beckons all creatures of a specific type. Any animal of that sort within a given area is compelled to respond, immediately moving toward the Kindred at its fastest possible speed, via the most direct route it can find. Only animals that can hear the call are summoned, so creatures that have been deafened or that are insulated from the sound by thick walls or other barriers do not respond. Additionally, only natural animals respond to this call — no hell hounds or gargoyles, for example, answer it.

Animals that respond to the Kindred’s call are not automatically under her control, but they are more easily subjected to other Animalism powers.

Cost

1 Vitae

Dice Pool

Presence + Animal Ken + Animalism

Action

Instant

Usage

  • Dramatic Failure: All animals of the type called within 100 yards immediately turn hostile toward the character and are immune to any further uses of Animalism by that character until the next sunset.
  • Failure: On a failure, no animals appear.
  • Success: The area of the call is 100 yards for every success rolled. That is, a single success when summoning rats calls all rats within 100 yards. The Storyteller determines how many animals respond based on the environment. Hundreds or thousands of rats might appear in an inner city, while no hawks or coyotes would.
  • Exceptional Success: As per a normal success. In the previous example of the rat summoner, if the player achieved seven successes, all rats within 700 yards would heed the call.

Suggested Modifiers

The Storyteller may impose bonuses or penalties to the call based on weather, barriers or other ambient noise, as he feels is appropriate. A heavy wind might cut down the distance the sound can travel, for instance, imposing a -2 penalty. Animals responding to Call of the Wild are easier for the beckoning character to influence with other uses of Animalism. Any further use of Animalism on these specific creatures receives a bonus equal to the number of successes on the roll to invoke this power. This bonus lasts for the remainder of the scene.

•••• Subsume the Lesser Spirit

By locking eyes with an animal, a vampire may psychically enter the creature’s body and possess it as though it were his own. Some Kindred believe that doing so actually transfers the vampire’s soul into the beast, though other, less mystically minded Kindred disagree. Regardless, the animal’s own mind and instincts are completely subsumed, allowing the Kindred free reign to take whatever actions he chooses in the creature’s body. The vampire’s own body falls into a torpor-like state and appears for all intents and purposes to be a corpse. Until the character returns, his body cannot be awakened by any means (though Kindred urban legends tell of ghosts possessing such bodies and wreaking havoc). Also, it is whispered among certain circles that some vampires, addicted to the sensations of life they experience while riding an animal, remain too long in that form and forget their true nature.

Cost

1 Vitae

Dice Pool

Manipulation + Animal Ken + Animalism versus animal’s Composure

Action

Contested

Usage

If the roll made for the character wins the contested roll and gets successes in excess of the animal’s Composure dots, the character is in total control and his mind remains clear. If his roll succeeds but garners a number of successes equal to or lower than the animal’s Composure dots, a Willpower point must be spent for the character to take any actions contrary to the animal’s instincts. Otherwise, bestial urges and impulses cloud the vampire’s mind.

Additionally, if the player wins the contested roll but gets a number of successes equal to or lower than the animal’s Composure, his character’s consciousness is so closely intertwined with the beast’s that he maintains some bestial behaviors even after returning to his own form. Until the player spends a total of three Willpower points specifically to overcome this effect — the points can’t, say, be spent to gain three extra dice in unrelated rolls — the character continues to think and feel in an animalistic manner. (This effect has no “hard” mechanical applications, but it should be roleplayed. If the character doesn’t indulge in animalistic activity, the Storyteller should feel free to either dock the character future experience points or spend Willpower automatically for the character when a particularly bestial response is appropriate but not displayed.)

While possessing an animal, a character can travel as far from his own body as he wishes and is unharmed by daylight, but he must still force himself to stay awake during the day. The vampire may choose to end the possession and return to his body at any time, regardless of distance. This occurs automatically if the vampire fails to remain awake. Any injuries inflicted on the animal also affect the vampire’s body. If the animal dies while the vampire is still present, the Kindred falls into torpor immediately. (Some believe that the soul attempts to find its way back to its own body during this time.) If the Kindred’s physical form is destroyed, his psyche remains trapped in the animal until he finally fails to remain awake, at which point his spirit is lost to oblivion and is unrecoverable.

It is possible, though uncommon, for a vampire to neglect his physical body long enough for it to starve into torpor while he’s “out.” If a vampire’s dormant body slips or is forced into torpor, the vampire’s spirit automatically returns to its body.

  • Dramatic Failure: The character fails to bond with the animal; the animal grows hostile and is immune to any further uses of Animalism by that character until the next sunset.
  • Failure: The character loses or ties the contested action and fails to bond with the animal.
  • Success: The character wins the contested action and occupies the animal’s body. He can use Animalism but no other Disciplines while doing so.
  • Exceptional Success: The character wins the contested action with five or more successes and occupies the animal’s body, and can also use Auspex and Majesty while doing so.

••••• Leashing the Beast

The vampire’s connection with the Beast is so powerful that she can manipulate not only the lesser creatures around her, but her own Beast and that of other Kindred.

This is not overt control, as with Obedience or the Dominate Discipline. Rather, the Kindred learns to rouse the Beast’s instincts, inspiring it — and thus the vampire within whom it lurks— to behave in a certain manner. Of course, communing with the Beast is dangerous even under the best of circumstances, and a few unfortunate Kindred have been destroyed by their own failed attempts to manipulate others’ Beasts.

The subject must be a vampire and must be within the character’s line of sight. (If the character makes herself the subject, she need not be able to see, so she can do so even in complete darkness or when otherwise blinded.) The player must decide to invoke a rage frenzy or Rötschreck, or to alleviate either of them.

Cost

1 Vitae

Dice Pool

Manipulation + Empathy + Animalism versus Composure + Blood Potency (to affect another); Manipulation + Empathy + Animalism (to affect oneself) Action

Instant (to affect oneself) or Contested; resistance is reflexive (to affect another)

Usage

  • Dramatic Failure: Used on another, the character’s power rebounds and a Willpower point must be spent or she enters either frenzy or Rötschreck, whichever she attempted to influence. Additionally, the subject is immune to any further Leashing the Beast attempts by the character until the next sunset. When the power is used on the character’s self, the opposite kind of frenzy sought is invoked (Rötschreck when rage frenzy was intended).
  • Failure: The character fails the instant action, or loses or ties the contested action and the power fails.
  • Success: The instant action inspires or calms rage frenzy or Rötschreck in the character herself. Or, the character gets the most successes and manipulates another’s Beast. Frenzy or Rötschreck rules apply as normal for the remainder of the scene if either is induced.
  • Exceptional Success: The character fulfills the instant action or wins the contested roll with five or more successes, and the subject is immediately forced into (or out of) frenzy or Rötschreck. If the subject is forced into frenzy or Rötschreck, he or she remains in that state for the remainder of the scene, regardless of surrounding events or circumstances. Additionally, Willpower cannot be spent to end the frenzy prematurely. If the subject is brought out of frenzy or Rötschreck, he or she is not subject to frenzy or Rötschreck for the remainder of the scene, regardless of surrounding events or circumstances.

Suggested Modifiers

If the character knows another’s Virtue and/or Vice, such knowledge grants a +1 bonus, though she must cajole the Beast by specifically focusing on those aspects of the subject’s personality. These bonuses are not cumulative. Knowing a character’s Virtue and Vice nets only a +1 bonus, not a +2.

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