Vitae and Special Rules

Properties of the Blood

More than anything else, blood defines the Kindred. Within seconds after a vampire consumes blood, the vital fluid changes into something quite different that the Kindred call Vitae.

Vampire Vitae looks like mortal blood, but it doesn’t flow like mortal blood. A vampire’s Vitae moves through her body at the behest of the character’s will, not because of a beating heart. Kindred don’t bleed when they are wounded; Vitae might pool slightly in the wound, but it does not flow forth unless the vampire wills it to do so.

Vitae retains its supernatural properties for a few minutes after it leaves a vampire’s body and is exposed to air, and then reverts to ordinary blood. A scientist who examines a sample of former Vitae would find a mixture of blood from many sources, with some of the cells broken down. Some of the Tremere have found ways to preserve the supernatural power of Vitae outside a vampire’s body, and blood that came from a vampire always retains a mystical connection that ritualists can exploit.

Kindred employ their Vitae for many purposes. As a vampire calls upon the occult power in her stolen blood, the actual mass and volume of Vitae in her body decreases. As a character uses up her Vitae, her skin tightens and blanches and her body shrinks slightly. She looks less alive. Feeding enables her to restore her lifelike appearance — as lifelike as the character can manage, anyway.

A player may spend Vitae in the same turn in which he spends a point of Willpower. Spending a Vitae is always a reflexive action. Even if the actions that doing so enable might not always be reflexive themselves (such as with certain Disciplines), the act of spending the Vitae is.

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Blood Potency

Although the Kindred each call upon the Blood in different ways, not all wield the same levels of power. Blood Potency determines the degree of power the Blood bestows upon a vampire. Having more dots of Blood Potency allows characters to learn more advanced Disciplines and to develop their traits to superhuman levels. Further, vampires with more dots in this advantage can hold more Vitae within their bodies, as it is more potent and therefore more concentrated. In short, the higher a character’s Blood Potency, the greater her potential.

All newly Embraced vampires start at Blood Potency 1, regardless of their sire’s potency, with nowhere to go but up. Blood Potency can be increased only by experience, diablerie, or age. As Blood Potency increases, feeding requirements become more stringent. Only blood of potency a certain degree lower than a character’s can provide sustenance (see the accompanying chart). In fact, some elders’ blood is so potent that they can’t feed on mortals at all, requiring the Vitae of other vampires to nourish them. Only those with the fewest dots of Blood Potency can feed from animals.

Eventually, a vampire’s blood becomes so potent that he is unable to find regular prey and falls into torpor, the duration of which is based on his current Blood Potency and Humanity. While in torpor, a thinning of the blood occurs, and the vampire's blood potency slowly drops. It is rumored that the older a vampire is, the more slowly his blood potency drops while in torpor, and truly ancient vampires might slumber for aeons before being able to rise.

Characters who diablerize several vampires in a short span of years can remain active through seven to nine diableries before the potency of their blood causes them to succumb to torpor. Such Kindred tend to have short but violent bouts of activity between long periods of torpid idleness. When Blood Potency decreases (through torpor, for example), any traits that exceed the character’s new capacity disappear. If Blood Potency increases again during the chronicle so that a character could once again gain access to them, the player must spend experience points a second time to “re-learn” what was lost.

Blood Potency Attribute/Skill/Discipline Maximum Max Vitae/Max Vitae per Turn Vampires can feed from…
1 5 10/1 Animals
2 5 11/1 Animals
3 5 12/1 Humans
4 5 13/2 Humans
5 5 14/2 Humans
6 6 15/3 Humans
7 7 20/5 Humans
8 8 30/7 Vampires
9 9 50/10 Vampires
10 10 100/15 Vampires
11 ? ? ?

Understanding Blood Potency

Blood Potency is the game mechanic behind the fact that older vampires tend to be much stronger than younger ones. However, not all vampires think of it as such. In particular, the Sabbat, with their religious fanaticism, explain the phenomena described by blood potency with Generation. The Sabbat believe that a vampire's strength is determined by the number of steps that vampire is removed from Caine, whom they believe to be the first vampire. Caine's children were the second generation, and his grandchildren the third generation and so on. Furthermore, the Sabbat believe that diablerie reduces your generation by one. Sabbat vampires are obsessed with diablerie not only as a means to become stronger, but also as a means to get closer to Caine.

Rising

A vampire expends one Vitae in the course of his daily slumber. If a Kindred falls asleep without any Vitae in his body (an unlikely event, but it could happen), he enters a longer torpor for a duration set by his Humanity and Blood Potency, just as if he had lost all his Health points to lethal damage. See the rules for torpor that follow.

For accounting on the character sheet, mark off the Vitae when the character awakens. Usually, the Vitae is counted as being spent at nightfall, the normal time for vampires to rise. If a Kindred forces herself to wake up during the day, the character must expend a Vitae. If the vampire lets herself sleep again before night falls, she expends another Vitae when she rises again that evening.

Counterfeiting Life

Although vampires are dead, they can imitate some of the things that living people do. The Damned know this process as “the blush of life.” A Kindred can force Vitae into his outer tissues to give his skin a lifelike flush, or to force his heart to beat and his lungs to inhale and exhale in a normal rhythm.

Normally vampires vomit up any food or drink they consume immediately. If a Kindred wishes to consume food or drink, her player must spend a Vitae. This is in addition to the “blush of life” a character may have already paid during the course of the scene, though a character need not invoke the blush of life to be able to consume food.

At the end of the scene, the character noisily, messily and bloodily eliminates the consumed matter by way of regurgitation, so it’s best to make sure that no one’s around to see the Kindred afterward. Imitating the appearance and functions of life or the ability to consume food for one scene costs a character one Vitae, and both expenditures are reflexive

Physical Augmentation

A vampire can call upon his Vitae to enhance his muscular power, speed and agility, or ability to withstand harm. In rules terms, for each Vitae the player expends, he adds two dice to one Physical dice pool — one based on Strength, Dexterity or Stamina. This boost lasts for one turn and is a reflexive action.

Healing Wounds

Mortals heal wounds through time, rest and medical treatment. The undead heal supernaturally, using their stolen blood to repair their bodies. Ordinary medical treatment offers them no benefits whatsoever.

Kindred heal bashing damage quite easily. In one turn, a Kindred character can expend one Vitae to heal two Health points lost to bashing damage. Kindred who are able to spend more than one Vitae per turn may heal two points of bashing damage per Vitae spent per turn, up to their limit. For example, a character with Blood Potency 4 can spend two Vitae per turn, so he could spend two Vitae and heal up to four points of bashing damage in one turn.

Lethal damage heals less easily, since it requires building new tissue to replace and rejoin parts of the character’s body. In one turn, a vampire can expend one Vitae to heal one Health point lost to lethal damage. As with bashing damage, vampires who are able to spend more than one Vitae per turn may heal one point of lethal damage per Vitae spent per turn, up to their limit. Both bashing and lethal damage could even be healed at the same time if you can spend all the Vitae required to do so.

A character can perform other actions while healing bashing or lethal damage, as this recovery is a reflexive action. An undead character can therefore take as much damage in a fight as a mortal does and heal the damage back while the fight continues. Of course, a Kindred carries a limited supply of blood, but she can replenish herself from a defeated foe. (Although bloodless corpses or the addictive taste of a fellow Kindred’s Vitae pose their own problems.)

Aggravated damage presents much greater difficulties. Each Health point lost to aggravated damage costs five Vitae to heal, and the process takes two nights per Health point. Those five Vitae must be spent over the course of the two nights it takes for the character to heal the wound, though they need not be spent together. For example, a player might spend three Vitae after the character rises on the first night, and two Vitae after she rises on the second night to heal the wound.

Disciplines

Discipline Use

Most Disciplines do not cost Vitae to use. Some of the most formidable powers do, however, as do the rituals of Thaumaturgy. See each power or ritual to see how much they cost.

Favored Disciplines

If a discipline is bolded on the clan page, it is that clan's favored discipline. When using that discipline, the vampire of that clan gains a +1 bonus to his roll.

Kindred Weaknesses

For the most part Kindred suffer aggravated damage because of the special anathemas to the undead: sunlight and fire.

Fire

Fire presents an even greater danger to vampires than it does to mortals. Fire inflicts aggravated damage on Kindred. Only Resilience can shield a vampire from the flames, and that to a limited degree.

A fire’s size and heat determines how much damage a character endures per turn. A small, very hot fire can deliver as much damage as a large but cooler fire. The Storyteller decides how much damage a particular fire can inflict, based on these guidelines:

  • Candle: 1 point of damage per turn of exposure.
  • Torch: 2 points of damage per turn of exposure.
  • Campfire: 3 points of damage per turn of exposure.
  • Bonfire: (A burning car, a fire the size of a dumpster) 4 points of damage per turn of exposure.
  • Inferno: (A burning house) 5 points of damage per turn of exposure.

Sunlight 

The Kindred fear sunlight even more than fire. After all, fire doesn’t suffuse half the world, making half of each diurnal cycle deadly for vampires. Even the weakest sunlight presents danger. Sunlight filtered through a heavy curtain can still burn. Only the Resilience Discipline can protect a vampire from the daystar’s rays, and then only against dim, faint exposure. Direct sunlight can sear even the mightiest Kindred to ash.  

The amount of damage a Kindred suffers automatically from sunlight per turn depends on the intensity of the light and how much of the vampire’s body is exposed. The brighter and more direct the sunlight is, the more quickly a Kindred’s undead flesh burns. The more of a vampire’s body that is exposed to sunlight, the more extensive the damage is. (Mechanically, however, little practical difference exists between an arm completely burned off in a second and losing most of one’s skin from diffused exposure. Damage is damage.)

  • Faint, filtered sunlight: (light through heavy, closed drapes; cloud cover; twilight) 3 points of damage per turn of exposure.
  • Filtered or weak sunlight (light through thin drapes; outside on cloudy day; daylight through a window; reflection of sun in a mirror) 4 points of damage per turn of exposure.
  • Direct sunlight: 5 points of damage per turn of exposure.

Other Sources of Aggravated Damage

Certain weapons such as magically enhanced werewolf claws or those that Kindred can grow using the Protean Discipline inflict aggravated damage to vampires. Various rare Discipline powers, rituals and other magical effects might deal aggravated damage as well. Such special cases are explained in the description of the relevant power or ritual. Attacks that deal large quantities of lethal damage can also be “upgraded” to aggravated damage if they would destroy large chunks of a character’s body. For example, if a vampire throws himself on a hand grenade, the Storyteller has every right to declare that the character suffers aggravated damage from the explosion.

Remember that aggravated damage is also inflicted when all other Health boxes are filled with lethal injuries, and more harm of any kind is incurred; lethal wounds are upgraded to aggravated from left to right.

If a Kindred’s rightmost Health box is marked with aggravated damage — having suffered the harm either directly or by converting damage dealt to the torpid character — she suffers Final Death. Her body rots, dries and withers in minutes, and crumbles to dust within an hour. The longer a Kindred has spent undead, the more rapidly the final dissolution occurs.

Countering damage from sunlight and fire works differently than other sources of aggravated damage, in that fire and sunlight inflict automatic points of damage. The Resilience Discipline does offer some protection, allowing a character to downgrade this damage. Ultimately, though, even the oldest and toughest vampire has no chance to withstand extensive exposure to fire or sunlight. The Kindred have abundant reason to fear these phenomena more than anything else.

Starvation

A Kindred who sleeps during the day and who has no Vitae — but who is not truly in torpor — fails to rise. All Vitae in him has been exhausted, so he has none to spend to rise the next night. For every night that passes under these circumstances, the character suffers a point of lethal damage in lieu of spending Vitae. In this state, the character is incapable of functioning at all, yet is not in torpor. This is important because this vampire does not need exceptionally potent Vitae to be roused yet. At this point, any Vitae given to him allows him to rise as normal (fed only a few Vitae, the character probably rises in a hunger frenzy). Denied any Vitae from an outside source, a starving character continues to suffer one lethal wound a night until he slips into torpor.

Torpor

The ancients called sleep the brother of death. This is even more true for vampires than for mortals. Every day, the Kindred enter a sleep that mortal senses and science cannot distinguish from death. The Kindred experience it much as mortals experience sleep. The Kindred can also enter a deeper sleep, however, in which their souls come even closer to death. The Kindred call this state torpor. A vampire’s daily sleep lasts a few hours, but torpor can last for centuries.

Wounds sufficient to kill mortals send the Kindred into torpor, instead. If a vampire’s rightmost Health box is occupied by a lethal wound, she enters torpor instead of dying. The minimum duration of this torpor depends on the character’s Humanity and her Blood Potency. A high Blood Potency extends the torpor’s duration; so does having a low Humanity. High-Humanity vampires spend much less time in torpor than Kindred who have given most of themselves to the Beast.

While in torpor, a wounded vampire can expend Vitae but can take no other action. His undead body still expends one Vitae per night as it tries to restore itself to its post-Embrace condition. The character can also expend Vitae to heal himself — a good idea, since otherwise the Vitae just trickles away without doing anything useful. Any damage that the vampire cannot heal remains on the character’s withered body until he can rise and feed again.

Torpor via Staking

Finally, a vampire enters torpor when a wooden stake penetrates his heart. Only wood has this effect. Rods of metal, plastic or other substances can damage the vampire by piercing the heart, but only wood induces torpor. Kindred mystics offer a number of religious and occult theories for why wood has this power. Most Kindred simply accept it as a fact of unlife.

Driving a stake through a vampire’s heart is extraordinarily difficult. The feat requires a melee or ranged attack with the stake. In combat, the attacker suffers a -4 dice penalty to strike so precisely. Then the attacker must inflict at least three points of lethal damage for the stake to actually thrust through the vampire’s body and into the heart. The staked vampire immediately collapses into torpor, appearing stone dead for all that a mortal could tell.

A staked vampire remains in torpor indefinitely. The Kindred awakens only when someone or something removes the stake from his heart. An unwary mortal might remove the stake from what looks like a mummified corpse. A rat might gnaw at the stake enough to dislodge it, or termites might eat the stake away completely. Until something like this occurs, however, the vampire sleeps. Grim tales among the Kindred tell of vampires who work around Princely edicts forbidding murder and Humanity erosion by trapping their enemies with stakes through the heart and burying them in secure and secret crypts, there to sleep until the Gehenna.

Feeding

It is the undeniable, dreadful truth of the Kindred condition: Vampires must hunt, and vampires must feed.

When a vampire takes blood from a vessel, he may take one Vitae per turn. A vampire need only lick the wound when he’s done to hide the marks left by feeding. (This effect applies to only bite marks made for the purposes of feeding from prey, not to aggressive bites intended to cause damage. Further only the vampire’s own bite marks are affected thus — a Kindred may not lick a wound left by another vampire and heal it.)

A vessel has a number of Vitae equal to its Health dots. In game terms, an average adult human contains seven points worth of Vitae. When a vampire feeds from a vessel, each Vitae taken inflicts one point of lethal damage on that vessel. (Special effects that augment a character’s Stamina or add temporary Health dots do not add to the quantity of Vitae in a character’s body. A character always has a number or Vitae equal to her unmodified Health dots.)

In most cases the vessel doesn’t resist, as the ecstasy of the Kiss overwhelms the shock the Kindred places on the mortal’s system. Players of mortals and other living victims who wish to resist the Kiss must gain three or more successes on a Resolve + Composure roll. Note that vampires are immune to the Kiss of other Kindred, know exactly what’s going on and can fight back.

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Feeding in Combat

According to p. 157 of the World of Darkness Rulebook, a character attempting to bite as a combat action first has to achieve a grapple hold on a target. On the following turn, the attacker can try to inflict damage by biting. If the victim has an action between the attacker’s grab and bite, he can try to break free.

If the vampire wishes to feed from a foe in combat, he goes about the procedure as normal. Instead of biting to inflict damage, however, the vampire may choose to consume Vitae that turn. In this case, the vampire inflicts harm caused by blood loss: one point of lethal damage.

The Dangers of Feeding and Hunger

When even the most humane vampire feeds, his Beast assaults him with the desire to follow the lifeblood down to it's source and drain the mortal dry.

If the vampire takes more than 3/4 of a human's existing blood, he must make a Resolve + Composure role to pull away. Failing this roll means that the vampire loses himself in the ecstasy of feeding, and accidentally takes too much blood. The human is not completely exsanguinated nor is he immediately dead—the vampire drains the target until his health bar is full of lethal, at which point the target is dying. However, a health bar must be filled with aggravated damage before a character truly dies. The human is in critical condition, and will die in an hour or so unless he recieved immediate medical attention.

If a vampire is hungry (defined as having less than four vitae in his system), this check occurs at 1/2 instead of 3/4. A hungry vampire is also more prone to Frenzy.

Diablerie

There is one thing that elder Kindred dread even more than fire or the light of the sun. This is the sin known as diablerie, the act of drinking not only a Kindred’s Vitae, but her very soul.

Among Camarilla society, diablerie is the ultimate crime; those who practice it are subject to the harshest punishments imaginable. It is as loathed and feared as cannibalism is among mortal society. The vampires of the Sabbat are said to indulge in diablerie freely, which is yet another reason why Camarilla elders hate them so.

Elders know the crime as the Amaranth; in olden nights, it is said, an amaranth flower was presented to the victim a week before he was to be hunted. Kindred legend tells many dark tales of murderous childer betraying and cannibalizing their own sires, and it is for this reason more than any other that elder Kindred harbor such distrust for the neonates among them. Indeed, the great Jyhad itself may well have its roots in this eternal and savage struggle for power.

Committing Diablerie

Diablerie itself is a fairly straightforward act. Most importantly, the potential victim must be in torpor, when the soul is sluggish enough to be caught off guard, and the body is placid. Most would-be diablerists attempt their crimes on Kindred who are already staked or already in torpor, and little ignites the passions of power-hungry neonates like the rumor of a torpid elder. It is not unknown, however, for particularly violent Kindred to beat their victims into torpor themselves.

The diablerist must drink all of the Vitae the subject has in his system. Thereafter, the diablerist must keep drinking, sucking at the blasphemous essence that animates the Damned. Diablerie can benefit only one vampire; it is not possible for a coterie of diablerists to consume the soul of a single Kindred and spread it among themselves.

Consuming the soul requires a Resolve + Stamina roll on the part of the diablerist’s player. This is an extended action. A number of successes must be accumulated equal to the Willpower dots of the Kindred being diablerized. Each roll represents one turn of effort. It is advised that the Storyteller does the record keeping, so the player doesn’t know exactly what happens to his character, at least immediately. Circumstance penalties (such as those associated with wounds and supernatural curses) apply to Resolve + Stamina rolls. Furthermore, if the attacking character is in frenzy when attempting diablerie, rolls suffer an additional - 3 penalty. Attempting diablerie has a limit of rolls equal to the diablerist’s Willpower dots. If the required successes haven’t been accumulated in that many rolls, the victim’s soul is just too potent or resistant and cannot be consumed. The victim is consigned to Final Death, instead.

A player may not spend a Willpower point on a diablerie roll, nor do any augmentations of his character’s Attributes (through blood expenditure, Disciplines or mystic artifacts) apply. Only the character’s natural Resolve and Stamina are relevant.

  • Dramatic Failure: The victim’s soul wrenches free at the moment of its consumption, inflicting horrific trauma on the mind of the diablerist. The diablerist suffers the normal Humanity loss (see below) and gains an appropriate derangement of the Storyteller’s choice. The victim succumbs to Final Death and cannot be diablerized.
  • Failure: The character makes no further progress in consuming the soul of the victim, as the soul fights to elude consumption. Success: The character continues to draw the soul of the fallen Kindred into his own.
  • Exceptional Success: The Kindred makes significant headway in consuming the soul of his victim.

After all of a victim’s Vitae have been taken, but before all successes are achieved in consuming the subject’s soul, a diablerist can cease to feed and allow the victim to reach Final Death in (relative) peace.

Upon diablerie’s completion, the Humanity of the diablerist drops by one automatically. He also gains the benefits and drawbacks described below. A diablerized Kindred crumbles to ash immediately, regardless of how old her body actually was upon the Amaranth.

Benefits of Diablerie

If the diablerized vampire had a higher Blood Potency than the Kindred committing the Amaranth, the diablerist’s Blood Potency immediately increases by one. Blood Potency increases by only one, regardless of the difference between the vampires’ Blood Potencies. This increase need not be paid for with experience points.

In consuming the fallen Kindred’s soul, the diablerist actually consumes some of her knowledge as well. The diablerist acquires a single dot of either a Skill or a Discipline that the diablerized vampire possessed at a higher level than the diablerist does. This adds to the diablerist’s dots in that Skill or Discipline, even if he didn’t have any dots at all in the Skill or Discipline before. For example, if a neonate with Obfuscate 3 diablerizes an elder who has Obfuscate 2, the neonate may not take an additional dot of Obfuscate; he already knows more than the elder with regard to that Discipline. Also, a diablerist may not exceed the trait maximum imposed by his Blood Potency (although if that Blood Potency now increases to a level that allows a higher level of those traits, he enjoys the benefit of that newly raised Blood Potency when deciding which dot of what to acquire). This increase need not be paid for with experience points.

It should be noted that the only benefit to diablerizing a vampire of lower Blood Potency is acquiring an extra dot in a Discipline or Skill. All of the detriments still apply, however.

Drawbacks of Diablerie

As noted prior, when a vampire commits diablerie, his Humanity decreases by one automatically.

A vampire committing the Amaranth risks blood addiction as normal when he consumes his fallen foe’s Vitae and soul. See p. 158 for more information on blood addiction. This risk isn’t redundant — the vampire need not check for addiction right as he tastes his victim’s Vitae and then again as it turns into diablerie.

Finally, the act of Amaranth stains the diablerist’s own soul upon its commission. The character’s aura acquires black veins that reveal her crime to those who can scrutinize such things (see p. 120). These black veins remain in the diablerist’s aura for one year per dot of Blood Potency the victim possessed. This time is cumulative; a vampire who diablerizes two Kindred of Blood Potency 6 has veins in his aura for 12 years. If a character diablerizes his victims years apart, the additional years add on to the end of last. For example, if a Kindred diablerizes a vampire of Blood Potency 4 and two year later diablerizes a vampire of Blood Potency 5, the black veins appear in her aura for seven years following the second diablerie — or longer, if she keeps to her wicked ways and diablerizes again.

Limitations

Only vampires can commit diablerie. Ghouls, werewolves, mortals and the like aren’t Kindred, so they lack the ability to consume the souls of the Damned. Furthermore, only vampires can be diablerized. Those selfsame ghouls, werewolves or mortals do not have the same spark of undeath animating them, so their souls cannot be consumed in this manner.

A diablerized vampire never leaves behind a ghost, as the diablerist consumes the soul that might become one of the lingering dead.

The Blood Bond

One of the most wondrous and terrible properties of Kindred vitae is its ability to enslave nearly any being who drinks of it three times. Each sip of a particular Kindred’s blood gives the Kindred in question a greater emotional hold over the drinker. If a being drinks three times, on three separate nights, from the same Kindred, she falls victim to a state known as the blood bond. A vampire who holds a blood bond over another being is said to be that victim’s regnant, while the being subordinate to the bond is called the thrall.

Put simply, the blood bond is one of the most potent emotional sensations known. A blood-bound victim is absolutely devoted to her regnant and will do nearly anything for him. Even the most potent uses of Dominate cannot overcome the thrall’s feelings for her regnant; only true love stands a chance against the bond, and even that is not a sure thing.

The blood bond is most commonly used to ensnare mortals and ghouls, but Kindred can bind each other as well. Such is the blood bond’s power that a mighty elder can be bound to a lowly neonate; in this respect, the blood of a fledgling is (presumably) as strong as that of Caine himself. As such, the blood bond forms an essential strategy in the Jyhad; some Ancients are said to hold dozens of influential Kindred in secret thrall.

First drink

The drinker begins to experience intermittent but strong feelings about the vampire. She may dream of him, or find herself “coincidentally” frequenting places where he might show up. There is no mechanical effect at this stage, but it should be roleplayed. All childer have this level of bond toward their sires, for the Embrace itself forces one drink upon the childer; they may love their “parents,” hate them, or both, but are rarely indifferent toward them.

Second drink

The drinker’s feelings grow strong enough to influence her behavior. Though she is by no means enslaved to the vampire, he is definitely an important figure in her life. She may act as she pleases, but might have to make a Willpower roll to take actions directly harmful to the vampire. The vampire’s influence is such that he can persuade or command her with little effort (Social rolls against the thrall have a +1 bonus).

Third drink

Full-scale blood bond. At this level, the drinker is more or less completely bound to the vampire. He is the most important person in her life; lovers, relatives, and even children become secondary to her all-consuming passion.

At this level, a regnant may use the Dominate Discipline on a thrall, even without the benefit of eye contact. Merely hearing the regnant’s voice is enough. Additionally, should the thrall try to resist the Dominate (or similar mental control power) for some reason, the thrall takes a -2 penalty to the roll. Naturally, a higher-Blood potency vampire still cannot use Dominate on a lower-Blood Potency thrall.

The blood bond is true love, albeit a twisted and perverse version of it. Ultimately, we can’t reduce the vagaries of love down to a simple “yes/no” system. Some thralls will commit any act, including suicide or murder, for their beloved; other characters have certain core principles that they will not violate.

A full blood bond, once formed, is nearly inviolate. Once bound, a thrall is under the sway of her regnant and her regnant only. She cannot be bound again by another vampire unless the first blood bond wears away “naturally.” A vampire can experience lesser (one- and two-drink) bonds toward several individuals; indeed, many Kindred enjoy such bonds, as they create artificial passion in their dead hearts. Upon the formation of a full blood bond, though, all lesser sensations are wiped away. Vampire lovers occasionally enter into mutual blood bonds with each other; this is the closest thing the undead can feel to true love. Even this sensation can turn to disgust or hate over the centuries, though, and in any event few Kindred trust each other enough to initiate it.

A blood bond is a mighty force, but it is at its most potent when perpetually reinforced with further drinks. Feeding a thrall often reinforces the bond, while depriving a thrall of vitae may cause the bond to grow tepid over time. Like any other relationship, treatment and courtesy play a part in the dynamics of the bond. A thrall who is treated well and fed often will likely fall even more deeply in love, while a thrall who is degraded and humiliated may find resentment and anger eating away at the bond.

Regnants are the objects of their thralls’ love, artificial and unwilling though it may be. A regnant gains a +2 dice bonus on all Social rolls affecting her thrall. Further, thralls are subject to a Resolve + Composure roll at a -3 penalty any time they want to take an action (or engage in inaction) that might result in indirect harm to their regnants. For example, a ghoul thrall who tries not to run to her regnant when she sees obviously hostile Kindred breaking into his haven would be subject to this die roll. A thrall who directly tries to act against her regnant — say, the same ghoul trying to stake her regnant as he slept — is subject to the Resolve + Composure roll at a -5 penalty. Failing either of these rolls means the thrall cannot act against the regnant (or allow engage in the dangerous inaction). Dramatically failing either of these rolls means that the thrall isn’t even allowed to make such a roll again for the next month, meaning she’s unable to even consider allowing harm to befall her master.

Another, though somewhat less certain, way to be rid of the bond is to kill the regnant. Such a choice is extremely perilous on many levels, and makes no guarantees that everything will go smoothly. Those who have been released by such means claim the bond shatters like spun glass upon the moment of the regnant’s Final Death. The thrall’s nature may play a large part in whether the control is completely ended, though, and such aftermath is best left in the hands of the Storyteller.

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