Sleepless Nights: The Vampirism Power

In my first post I laid out the vampire racial template I’m planning on using, and I followed it up with a list of optional traits. Now it’s time to look into the Vampirism power, the equivalent of Disciplines in V:tM.

This is a wall of text, so feel free to skip to the end for the design notes first.


3                  Vampirism Power

3.1              Power Basics

All vampires have one ability of the Vampirism power, Mesmerism. Most have other abilities, and up to 5 levels of the Vampirism talent.

3.1.1         Power Source: Nocturnal

Vampiric abilities are powered by an unknown, likely malevolent force relating to night and darkness. They are vulnerable to special countermeasures: the vampire’s bite can temporarily steal another vampire’s abilities, and other supernatural skills and powers can interfere with or protect against them. This is worth -5% of the power modifier.

The Vampirism power specifically, but not other Nocturnal powers necessarily, are completely ineffective during the day. When the Sun clears the horizon, the vampire loses its ability to mesmerize mortals and any other Vampiric abilities it possesses. The power returns when the Sun sets. Together with the -5% for vulnerability to countermeasures, this -20% Accessibility limitation constitutes the Vampiric -25% power limitation.

3.1.2         Vampirism Talent [10/level]

The character’s Vampirism Talent is added as a bonus to all success rolls made to use any ability with the Vampiric limitation, except melee attack rolls, and to rolls to resist the power theft effect of another vampire’s bite. Talent levels up to 5 are available to player characters. This Talent is more expensive than most power Talents, because the range of abilities it covers is very wide. Vampirism Talent also serves as a prerequisite for Vampirism abilities: to gain an ability of any given level, the vampire must possess at least that level of Talent.

3.1.3         Special Rules

The following special rules apply to the Vampirism power:

  • Blood-powered: Vampires spend HP instead of FP for extra effort and all other Vampirism-related uses.
  • Gestures and invocations: To focus their Nocturnal power into an ability, vampires typically gesture at the target or themselves, and whisper what they want their power to accomplish: “Come to me,” “Do not see me,” “Spirit, reveal yourself,” or the like. They can use their powers in complete silence and without gestures that give away their intent, but this imposes a -2 penalty to any roll to activate or maintain an ability. Conversely, by gesturing fiercely and invoking their power with a vigorous voice, and spending an extra 1d seconds, they gain a +2 bonus instead.

See GURPS Powers for the following special rules; all apply to Vampirism:

  • Abilities Enhancing Skills (Powers, pp.161-162)
  • Crippled Abilities (Powers, p.156); lasting crippling can be recovered by hibernating 1d days
  • Extra Effort and Godlike Extra Effort (Powers, pp.160-161)
  • Repeated Attempts (Powers, p.159)
  • Skills Enhancing Abilities (Powers, p.161)
  • Temporary Enhancements (Powers, pp.172-173)
  • Trading Fatigue for Resistance (Powers, p. 169)

3.2              Abilities

All abilities (other than Mesmerism, common to all vampires) come in levels, up to 5. Some abilities have a constant cost per level, others don’t. Ability level is capped by Talent level: to get an ability of any given level, the vampire must first possess an equal or higher level of Vampirism Talent.

Players are free to create new abilities, provided they follow the five-level scheme, are thematically appropriate to vampires, and do not overlap excessively with the abilities listed here..

3.2.1         Animal Mastery [22/33/48/76/114]

You have a supernatural rapport with all animals that live by night or draw blood. You may communicate with them as if their vocalizations and gestures were a language you shared. You can also understand their behavior and emotions instinctively. They do not obey you mindlessly, but do react to you favorably and are amenable to persuasion or leadership. You also have a lesser ability to influence and get along with all other animals.

Higher levels improve your skill and reaction bonuses. Starting at level 2, you can call animals to you with a subconscious telepathic message, with increasing reliability and in greater numbers at higher levels. On arrival, the animals make a reaction roll that determines how willing they are to help you.

3.2.1.1        Level 1 [22]

  • Animal Empathy (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [3]
  • Animal Friend 1 (Vampiric, -25%) [4]
  • Reputation +1 (Small Group: Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, ×1/3; Vampiric, -25%) [2]
  • Speak With Animals (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [13]

3.2.1.2        Level 2 [33]

  • Allies (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals, 25% or less, 6 or less, ×1/2; Up to 10; ×6; Summonable, +100%; Uncontrollable, -10%) [6]
  • Animal Empathy (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [3]
  • Animal Friend 2 (Vampiric, -25%) [8]
  • Reputation +2 (Small Group: Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, ×1/3; Vampiric, -25%) [3]
  • Speak With Animals (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [13]

3.2.1.3        Level 3 [48]

  • Allies (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals, 25% or less, 9 or less, ×1; Up to 20; ×8; Summonable, +100%; Uncontrollable, -10%) [16]
  • Animal Empathy (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [3]
  • Animal Friend 3 (Vampiric, -25%) [12]
  • Reputation +3 (Small Group: Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, ×1/3; Vampiric, -25%) [4]
  • Speak With Animals (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [13]

3.2.1.4        Level 4 [74]

  • Allies (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals, 25% or less, 12 or less, ×2; Up to 50; ×10; Summonable, +100%; Uncontrollable, -10%) [38]
  • Animal Empathy (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [3]
  • Animal Friend 4 (Vampiric, -25%) [15]
  • Reputation +4 (Small Group: Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, ×1/3; Vampiric, -25%) [5]
  • Speak With Animals (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [13]

3.2.1.5        Level 5 [111]

  • Allies (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals, 25% or less, 15 or less, ×3; Up to 100; ×12; Summonable, +100%; Uncontrollable, -10%) [69]
  • Animal Empathy (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [3]
  • Animal Friend 5 (Vampiric, -25%) [19]
  • Reputation +5 (Small Group: Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, ×1/3; Vampiric, -25%) [7]
  • Speak With Animals (Nocturnal and carnivorous animals only, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [13]

3.2.2         Clinging [11/16/20/25/29]

You can crawl on walls and ceilings like an insect or gecko. Higher levels increase your movement speed.

  • Clinging (Costs 1 HP/minute, -10%; Requires at least 1 free arm, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [11]
  • Super Climbing 0/2/4/6/8 (Vampiric, -25%) [5/9/14/18]

3.2.3         Energy Reserve [6/level]

You can power Nocturnal abilities that normally cost Hit Points by tapping into an additional reserve of energy instead. You have 4 energy points per level to use each night; these can replace hit points at a 1-for-1 rate. Any remaining points are lost at dawn, and your reserve is fully replenished at dusk.

Energy Reserve (Nocturnal) 4/level (Accessibility: Only at night, -20%; Slow Recharge, all at once at dusk, -30%) [6/level]

3.2.4         Enslavement [18/level]

By giving a mortal some of your own blood (by injection or in a drink), you can turn him or her into your loyal servant or familiar. This effect ends after a few months, unless it is renewed with another dose of blood. At level 1, the mortal gains no additional abilities, but will serve you fanatically. Starting from level 2, each level improves the slave with minor supernatural abilities. See the Vampiric Slave template set for more information. If the mortal resists successfully with a HT roll, you cannot attempt again the same night.

3.2.4.1        Level 1 [18]

  • Affliction (Disadvantages: Extreme Fanaticism to Master, +15%; Extended duration, 1d months or permanent with continued dosage, +150%; Low signature, +10%; Accessibility: Mortals only, -20%; Blood agent, -40%; Blood agent, reversed, -40%; Increased Immunity, one night, -30%; Vampiric, -25%) [18]

3.2.4.2        Level 2 [36]

  • Affliction (Alternate Form: Vampiric Slave, 11 points, +250%; Extended duration, 1d months or permanent with continued dosage, +150%; Low signature, +10%; Accessibility: Mortals only, -20%; Blood agent, -40%; Blood agent, reversed, -40%; Increased Immunity, one night, -30%; Vampiric, -25%) [36]

3.2.4.3        Level 3-5 [54/72/90]

  • Add the Improved Slave lens to the Vampiric Slave template once at level 3, twice at level 4, and three times at level 5. [54/72/90]

3.2.5         Improved Bite [8/level]

Your teeth are sharper than other vampires’, and you can suck blood faster.

  • Leech +1/level (Accelerated healing, +25%; Link, +10%; Side Effect, Euphoria, +80%; Blood agent, -40%; Vampiric, -25%) [6]
  • Striking Strength 2/level (Bite only, -60%; Vampiric, -25%) [2]

3.2.6         Improved Durability [6/level]

You get +2/level to all HT rolls versus death, unconsciousness, and knockdown.

  • Hard to Kill +2/level (Vampiric, -25%) [3/level]
  • Hard to Subdue +2/level (Vampiric, -25%) [3/level]

3.2.7         Improved Mesmerism [28/58/90/127/157]

Your ability to mesmerize others is exceptionally powerful and versatile. You can choose whether to give commands, cause amnesia, or both, and may additionally cause the target to fall into a deep sleep. At level 2, you can cause waking hallucinations (which are not under your control), and no longer need eye contact. At level 3, you are not limited to vague suggestions, but can give detailed orders. In addition, your power is no longer limited to mortals, although vampires get +3 to resist it. At levels 4 and 5, you may simultaneously mesmerize whole groups, in a 2-yard radius or 4-yard radius, respectively.

3.2.7.1        Level 1 [28]

  • Affliction: Improve Link to +20%. Add Sleep, +150%; and Selectivity, +10% [18]
  • Mind Control: Improve Link to +20%. [10]

3.2.7.2        Level 2 [58]

As Level 1, above, and:

  • Affliction: Remove Vision-Based and Vision-Based, reversed. Add Hallucinating, +50%. [10]
  • Mind Control: Remove Vision-Based and Vision-Based, reversed. [20]

3.2.7.3        Level 3 [90]

As Level 2, above, and:

  • Affliction: Remove Accessibility [2]
  • Mind Control: Remove Accessibility and Suggestion. [30]

3.2.7.4        Level 4 [127]

As level 3, above, and:

  • Affliction: Add Area Effect 1, 2-yard radius, +100%, and Selective Area, +20% [7]
  • Mind Control: Add Area Effect 1, 2-yard radius, +50%; and Selective Area, +20% [30]

3.2.7.5        Level 5 [157]

As level 4, above, and:

  • Affliction: Improve Area Effect to 2, 4-yard radius, +100% [5]
  • Mind Control: Improve Area Effect to 2, 4-yard radius, +100% [25]

3.2.8         Improved Movement [6/level]

You can improve your movement speed by +2/level for one minute by taking a point of injury.

  • Basic Move +2/level (Costs 1 HP/minute, -10%; Handling -1, -5%; Vampiric, -25%) [6/level]

3.2.9         Improved Strength [10/level]

You can improve your Strength by +2/level for one minute by taking a point of injury. This ST bonus does not affect your HP or protect against knockback, as your actual mass and build do not change.

  • External Strength +2/level (Costs 1 HP/minute, -10%; Not vs knockback, -5%; Vampiric, -25%) [10/level]

3.2.10         Improved Toughness [6/level]

You can become resistant to damage, as if your skin were armored, for one minute by taking a point of injury. This does not protect your eyes, or offer any protection against fire or the Sun.

  • Damage Resistance 2/level (Bane: Burning, -5%; Costs 1 HP/minute, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [6/level]

3.2.11       Levitation [7/13/20/26/41]

You can defy gravity for one minute by taking a point of injury. At levels 1-3, this merely permits you to jump much higher and further than normally, but at level 4 you gain the ability to actually fly, with improved speed at level 5.

3.2.11.1     Level 1-3 [7/13/20]

  • Super Jump 1/level (Costs 1 FP/minute, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [6.5/level]

3.2.11.2     Level 4 [26]

  • Flight (Costs 1 FP/minute, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [26]

3.2.11.3     Level 5 [41]

  • Enhanced Move (Air; Vampiric, -25%) [15]
  • Flight (Costs 1 FP/minute, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [26]

3.2.12       Mesmeric Charm [3/level]

You get +1/level to reaction and influence rolls with mortals. At level 4 or 5, you also get an additional +3 to one specific kind of social interaction (seduction, interrogation, etc.) if you focus on it completely, taking -5 to all other rolls for the duration.

3.2.12.1     Level 1-3 [3/level]

  • Charisma 1/level (Mortals only, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [2.75/level]

3.2.12.2     Level 4-5 [3/level]

  • Charisma 1/level (Mortals only, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [2.75/level]
  • Focused (Task) [1]

3.2.13       Mesmeric Invisibility [6/13/21/30/40]

You can become very difficult to see. Activating this ability requires a second of concentration. At levels 1-4, you get +2 per level to Stealth against vision when moving, or +4 when standing still. At level 5, you are completely invisible. This effect, however, is psychological, not physical. All persons looking at you get to resist the effect with a Will roll, at a penalty equal to your ability level. You show up normally on cameras.

3.2.13.1     Level 1 [6]

  • Chameleon 2 (Can carry objects, very light, +20%; Doesn’t affect machines, -10%; Glamour, Will-1, -25%; Vampiric, -25%) [6

3.2.13.2     Level 2 [13]

  • Chameleon 4 (Can carry objects, very light, +20%; Doesn’t affect machines, -10%; Glamour, Will-2, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [13]

3.2.13.3     Level 3 [21]

  • Chameleon 6 (Can carry objects, very light, +20%; Doesn’t affect machines, -10%; Glamour, Will-3, -15%; Vampiric, -25%) [21]

3.2.13.4     Level 4 [30]

  • Chameleon 8 (Can carry objects, very light, +20%; Doesn’t affect machines, -10%; Glamour, Will-4, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [30]

3.2.13.5     Level 5 [40]

  • Invisibility (Can carry objects, very light, +20%; Switchable, +10%; Glamour, Will-5, -5%; Vampiric, -25%) [40]

3.2.14       Predator Sight [3/11/14/17/20]

Your sense of sight is improved: at level 1, you gain perfect night vision, completely negating darkness penalties with the exception of total darkness. Starting at level 2, you can see infrared light and track mortals by their heat traces. At levels 3-5, you get progressively higher bonuses to all vision rolls.

3.2.14.1     Level 1 [3]

  • Night Vision +4 (Vampiric, -25%) [3]

3.2.14.2     Level 2 [11]

  • Night Vision +4 (Vampiric, -25%) [3]
  • Infravision (Vampiric, -25%) [8]

3.2.14.3     Level 3-5 [14/17/20]

  • Acute Vision 2/4/6 (Vampiric, -25%) [3/6/9]
  • Night Vision +4 (Vampiric, -25%) [3]
  • Infravision (Vampiric, -25%) [8]

3.2.15        Predator Scent [3/5/24/31/38]

You have an improved sense of smell. You get +2 at level 1 and +4 at level 2 or higher to all rolls to smell something. From level 3 on, you have a particular ability to detect humans by the tiniest whiff. You gain the ability to analyze and memorize individual scents at level 4, and at level 5 can discern mortals’ emotions and state of mind from their smell.

3.2.15.1     Level 1 [3]

  • Acute Taste and Smell 2 (Smell only, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [3]

3.2.15.2     Level 2 [5]

  • Acute Taste and Smell 4 (Smell only, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [5]

3.2.15.3     Level 3 [12]

  • Acute Taste and Smell 4 (Smell only, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [5]
  • Detect (Humans; Reflexive, +40%; Smell-Based, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [19]

3.2.15.4     Level 4 [19]

  • Discriminatory Smell (Vampiric, -25%) [12]
  • Detect (Humans; Reflexive, +40%; Smell-Based, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [19]

3.2.15.5     Level 5 [30]

  • Discriminatory Smell (Emotion Sense, +50%; Vampiric, -25%) [19]
  • Detect (Humans; Reflexive, +40%; Smell-Based, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [19]

3.2.16       Retractable Claws [4/9/11/13/15]

By taking a point of injury, you can extend your fingernails into sharp claws for one minute. At higher levels, the damage you do with them increases.

3.2.16.1     Level 1 [4]

  • Sharp Claws (Switchable, +10%; Costs 1 HP/minute, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [4]

3.2.16.2     Level 2-5 [9/11/13/15]

  • Long Talons (Switchable, +10%; Costs 1 HP/minute, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [9]
  • Striking Strength 0/2/4/6 (Claws only, -60%; Vampiric, -25%) [0/2/4/6]

3.2.17       Shapeshifting (Bat, Mist, or Wolf) [8/14/20/26/35]

You can transform your body into either a bat, a cloud of sentient mist, or a wolf. These are not natural animals, let alone an ordinary bit of fog, but supernatural forms that have their appearance, and some of their qualities. Your clothes and small possessions are absorbed into the transformed body and reappear as you revert back to your normal form.

Each of the three Alternate Forms is a separate ability, granting a different racial template that replaces the Vampire template for the duration of the change. Aside from these three classic options, other Alternate Forms may be available on request.

At level 1, the change takes a successful HT + Talent roll, 10 seconds during which you are completely inactive, and 2 initial HP of injury, plus 1 HP extra for every minute you spend transformed after the first. From level 2 on, the transformation becomes easier: you can remain active while shifting, and the change takes only five seconds at level 2, three seconds at level 3, and a fraction of a second at level 4 or 5. At level 3 or higher, the change also causes no hit point loss. At level 5, you can remain in the Alternate Form even while unconscious, sleeping, or hibernating.

3.2.17.1     Level 1 [8]

  • Alternate Form (Absorptive change, No Encumbrance, +5%; Costs 2 HP per minute, -20%; Requires HT Roll, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [8]

3.2.17.2     Level 2 [14]

  • Alternate Form (Absorptive change, No Encumbrance, +5%; Active change, +20%; Reduced Time 1, 5 seconds, +20%; Costs 2 HP per minute, -20%; Requires HT Roll, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [14]

3.2.17.3     Level 3 [20]

  • Alternate Form (Absorptive change, No Encumbrance, +5%; Active change, +20%; Reduced Time 2, 3 seconds, +40%; Requires HT Roll, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [20]

3.2.17.4     Level 4 [26]

  • Alternate Form (Absorptive change, No Encumbrance, +5%; Reduced Time 5, instantaneous, +100%; Requires HT Roll, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [26]

3.2.17.5     Level 5 [35]

  • Alternate Form (Absorptive change, No Encumbrance, +5%; Once On, Stays On, +50%; Reduced Time 5, instantaneous, +100%; Selectivity, +10%; Requires HT Roll, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [35]

3.2.18       Silent Movement [4/8/12/15/19]

  • You gain +1/level to Stealth against hearing while moving, or +2/level while still.
  • Silence 1/level (Vampiric, -25%) [3.75/level]

3.2.19       Sixth Sense [8/16/27/35/54]

You can detect supernatural beings and phenomena. At level 1, this requires a second of concentration and only alerts you to the presence or absence of the supernatural in your vicinity, but gives no other information. At level 2, you can concentrate for a full minute to get the rough direction, numbers, and power level of the presence, and an opportunity to analyze what you perceive further with an IQ + Vampirism Talent roll. At level 3, you are constantly vaguely aware of the presence of the supernatural, and require only a second of concentration for more precise information. At level 4, this, too, becomes effortless and reflexive. At level 5, you can also see invisible entities and cannot be fooled by illusory disguises.

3.2.19.1     Level 1 [8]

  • Detect (All supernatural entities and phenomena; Vague, -50%; Vampiric, -25%) [8]

3.2.19.2     Level 2 [16]

  • Detect (All supernatural entities and phenomena; Immediate preparation required, 1 minute, -30%; Vampiric, -25%) [14]
    • Alternative Ability: Detect (All supernatural entities and phenomena; Vague, -50%; Vampiric, -25%) [2]

3.2.18.3     Level 3 [27]

  • Detect (All supernatural entities and phenomena; Vampiric, -25%) [23]
    •    Alternative Ability: Detect (All supernatural entities and phenomena; Reflexive, +40%; Vague, -50%; Vampiric, -25%) [4]

3.2.19.4     Level 4 [35]

  • Detect (All supernatural entities and phenomena; Reflexive, +40%; Vampiric, -25%) [35]

3.2.19.5     Level 5 [54]

  • Detect (All supernatural entities and phenomena; Reflexive, +40%; Vampiric, -25%) [35]
  • See Invisible (Deception; True Sight, +50%; Vampiric, -25%) [19]

3.2.20       Supernatural Speed [22/45/70/100/125]

You can move faster than a human. At level 1, you can either strike an extra blow any time you take an attack maneuver, or run at twice your normal speed, but this costs one hit point each second. At level 2, you can take two full maneuvers in one turn, again at the cost of one HP per second. This is still only physical speed, however, so you can’t take two Concentrate actions. At level 3, one HP buys you an extra meneuver each turn for a whole minute, and by spending an extra HP, you can instead take one attacking maneuver to strike three blows or run at triple speed. At level 4, you can spend one HP per minute for an extra maneuver, and an extra HP per second for a third maneuver, each turn. At level 5, you get two maneuvers every turn for free, but can spend an extra HP either for a third maneuver each turn, or to strike two extra blows or run at triple speed; you can even spend two HP in one turn, and use each of your maneuvers to make a triple attack or triple-speed run.

3.2.20.1     Level 1 [22]

  • Extra Attack 1 (Multi-Strike, +20%; Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [19]
    • Alternative Ability: Enhanced Move 1 (Reduced Time, no preparation, +20%; Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [3]

3.2.20.2     Level 2 [45]

  • Altered Time Rate 1 (Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; No Concentrate, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [45]

3.2.20.3     Level 3 [70]

  • Altered Time Rate 1 (Costs 1 HP/minute, -10%; No Concentrate, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [55]
    • Alternative Ability: Extra Attack 2 (Multi-Strike, +20%; Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [10]
    • Alternative Ability: Enhanced Move 1.5 (Reduced Time, no preparation, +20%; Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [5]

3.2.20.4     Level 4 [100]

  • Altered Time Rate 1 (Costs 1 HP/minute, -10%; No Concentrate, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [55]
  • Altered Time Rate +1 (Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; No Concentrate, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [45]

3.2.20.5     Level 5 [125]

  • Altered Time Rate 1 (No Concentrate, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [65]
  • Altered Time Rate +1 (Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; No Concentrate, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [45]
    • Alternative Ability: Extra Attack 2 (Multi-Strike, +20%; Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [10]
    • Alternative Ability: Enhanced Move 1.5 (Reduced Time, no preparation, +20%; Costs 1 HP/second, -20%; Vampiric, -25%) [5]

3.2.21       Terror [18/33/39/46/52]

You can evoke an irrational fear in others. When you activate this ability, everyone who can see or hear you must make a Fright Check at a penalty equal to the ability level. Those who succeed are immune for the rest of the night.

  • Terror (-1/level to Fright Check; Increased immunity, one night, -10%; Vampiric, -25%) [26/33/39/46/52]

Design Notes

Well, that took a while. Let’s look at a couple of design choices in detail.

The Power Framework

Who doesn’t love Powers? Great book, great expansion of the ruleset. It was clear from the start that I wanted a large variety of vampiric special abilities available to the players. At first, I thought I’d have a small number of separate powers split by focus – shapeshifting, enhanced attributes, psychic stuff – with a number of discrete abilities in each. Instead, I ended up making it all one power. Why? A multiple-powers scheme encourages developing multiple abilities in one or two powers over picking and choosing a wide variety, due to Talent being power-specific. More than that, it serves to guide the player’s character creation process: you look at the powers available, and think “Okay, I’ll be a shapeshifting vampire.” There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what I want for this campaign. Instead, I want each individual to have an idiosyncratic combination of abilities, some of them minor and some huge. Having those categories is great for, say, a psionics or superpowers campaign, where each power corresponds to a character archetype – a telepath takes the Telepathy power, a speedster takes the Super-Speed power – but a vampire is already an archetype, and I knew I wanted to restrict the selection of abilities to stuff that fits that archetype. That’s a sufficient restriction, too, that I think “stuff vampires can do in books and movies” isn’t too broad a focus.

The Thing About Talents

Nevertheless, it is a broad power in terms of abilities, because vampires in books and movies can do an awful lot of different things. And you get a bonus to all of them from the same Talent? That could be unbalancing. Because of that, I decided to price the Talent at 10 points/level. Powers doesn’t actually set strict criteria for power Talents at that cost, just stating they should be comparable to Magery. Well, Magery adds to hundreds of skills and any number of potential abilities, so if that’s ok at 10/level, Vampirism Talent can hardly be too costly either. Comparing it with the sample powers in the book, none of them seem as broad as Vampirism (certainly not its namesake) except Cosmic and Cosmic. So I’m happy with 10.

Leveled Abilities

I originally intended to have abilities as just sets of ca. 25 points each, but as soon as I started actually writing them down, I realized I’d much rather make them leveled, like the abilities in Psionic Powers. Unlike Psionic Powers and very much like Disciplines in V:tM, I decided on a unified range, with each ability coming in 5 levels. It was actually surprisingly easy to expand each ability into 5 consecutive levels while keeping the cost per level from fluctuating too wildly, a testament to the flexibility of the system. With five levels in each ability, I had a nice way to tie abilities to Talent level, using Talent as a bit of a leveled Unusual Background as well. Some of the individual abilities are very cheap, Retractable Claws 5 costing only 15 points, but with Talent as a leveled prerequisite, even that requires 50 points worth of prior investment. This, in turn, encourages diversification: it’s less efficient to blow all your points on just one ability at a very high level.

Specific Abilities

Animal Mastery

The Allies advantage has the Uncontrollable limitation: if a player takes this ability at level 2 or more, he attracts predators and vermin unconsciously. This means they’re usually not far when he summons them intentionally, but it can also be inconvenient! I intend to treat a swarm of rats, bats, snakes, etc. as a single Ally for the purposes of numbers. This means someone with Animal Mastery 5 might summon over a thousand rats! The animals make a reaction roll on arrival, at +2 per level of the ability for Animal Friend and Reputation. On a Good or better result, if the PC talks to the animals, I’ll either roll again on the Request for Aid table (at +2 for Very Good or +4 for Excellent), or the player can roll Animal Handling or Leadership.

Energy Reserve

I set the cost of recovery at dusk at -30%. It’s considerably worse than the -20% for 1 point per hour, but much better than the -60% for 1 point per day.

Enslavement

I like the ghouls in V:tM, and certainly the possibility of a Renfield must be available! This ability gives that. The Alternate Form advantage grants a meta-trait we’ll look at next time.

Shapeshifting

Like vampiric slaves, I’ll detail the three classic Alternate Forms of vampires in my next post on Sleepless Nights.

Sixth Sense

I decided to price the Detect advantage at the maximum level, for all supernatural abilities and beings. This way I don’t have to make up my mind yet about what varieties are available, and the player can rest assured that the points he spent aren’t wasted because all the interesting powers they run into have some source I only just came up with.

Supernatural Speed

This one is a bit of a kludge: the alternative abilities should work like I describe, but while it’s affordable and sort of makes sense, it’s far from optimal. Still, I want an ability that lets you do more in the same amount of time, not just run fast, and Altered Time Rate is what you need for that in Gurps, expensive as it is. The Reduced Time enhancement on Enhanced Move may seem like a cheat: Enhanced Move doesn’t require a Ready or Concentrate maneuver, it requires a Move or Move and Attack, but that’s just as restrictive in my opinion. The enhancement means you get your doubled move on the first turn of running, not the second – but it does not improve your Step or jumping distances (unless you run a full turn beforehand anyway), so it’s not as good as the much more expensive option of buying lots of extra Basic Move.


Next time we’ll look at a couple of Alternate Forms, and that will conclude the tour de vampire.

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5 thoughts on “Sleepless Nights: The Vampirism Power

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