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Dominate

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20150813

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Dominate




Some Kindred are capable of overwhelming the minds of others with their own force of will, influencing actions and even thoughts. Use of Dominate requires a character to capture a victim’s gaze. The Discipline can therefore be used on only one subject at a time, and is useless if eye contact is not possible.

Dominate does not grant the ability to make oneself understood or to communicate mentally. Commands must be issued verbally, though certain simple commands (such as “Go over there!” indicated with a pointed finger and a forceful expression) may be conveyed by signs at the Storyteller’s discretion. No matter how powerful a vampire is, she cannot force her victim to obey if she cannot make herself understood — if, for example, the victim doesn’t speak the same language, she cannot hear or the orders simply make no sense.

Note that victims of Dominate might realize what’s been done to them. That is, they do not automatically sense that they are being controlled, but they might subsequently wonder why they suddenly acted as they did. Wise Kindred, especially those familiar with Dominate, are likely to figure it out in the moment, and few vampires take kindly to being manipulated in such a fashion. Most Kindred who develop Dominate are forceful, controlling personalities, and they can make a reputation for themselves if they use this Discipline wantonly.

In all cases, a dramatic failure while attempting to Dominate a victim renders the would-be victim immune to the character’s Dominate until the next sunset.

Dominate is far more effective against mortals than it is against other Kindred. Most Dominate abilities described here allow the victim to struggle against the effects; that is, a contested roll is made against the Dominator’s player. As no mortal has Blood Potency, the vast majority of humans are at a disadvantage when dealing with the Discipline.

Dominate is also more effective against those whom the user has subjected to a Vinculum. A regnant may use Dominate powers (with the exception of Conditioning) on a thrall without the need for eye contact; the thrall merely has to hear the regnant’s voice.

Other sentient, supernatural beings such as shapechangers who have animal form or who can assume animal form are affected by Dominate rather than by Animalism. A vampire can therefore try to ply his will on a werewolf — even a werewolf in wolf form — by using Dominate. Similarly, Animalism is useless against 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 Dominate power requiring eye contact is made more difficult if the subject is not standing still or otherwise immobilized. If the target moves about, the roll to initiate the relevant power suffers a -1 penalty in addition to all others listed.

● Command
●● Mesmerize
●●● The Forgetful Mind
●●●● Conditioning
●●●●● Possession

● Command

Once he has established eye contact, the vampire issues a single, one-word command that must be obeyed instantly. The order must be clear and straightforward — freeze, jump, run, stop, fall, cough, blink and so forth. If the command is ambiguous or confusing, the subject might respond slowly or perform the task poorly. Further, commands are always interpreted (within reason) in the subject’s best interests. For example, if the victim stands on the edge of a roof and the character commands “Jump!” the victim might jump up and down, rather than leap off the roof. Of course, the victim would probably not leap off the roof even if the character could find a way to order it. Subjects of Command cannot be made to directly harm themselves, so an obviously suicidal order such as “Die!” is ineffective. “Sleep” and the like causes the subject to follow the order only if she does not believe herself to be in any mortal danger. A character seduced by a Kindred might sleep if so instructed, but one in the middle of a combat or interrogation certainly does not. In such situations, the character merely falls senseless, but only for a turn.

The vampire may include the command word in a sentence, in order to conceal her use of the power from others. The command itself must be stressed, and the character must make eye contact precisely when that word is spoken. Observers may notice the unusual emphasis, but only the most alert — and those familiar with the Discipline — are likely to realize what has occurred.

Cost:—
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Intimidation + Dominate versus Resolve + Blood Potency
Action: Contested; resistance is reflexive

Roll Results
Dramatic Failure: The subject does not obey and is immune to the character’s Dominate until the next sunset.
Failure: The character loses or ties the contested roll and the subject does not obey.
Success: The character wins the contested roll by getting the most successes, and the victim obeys literally and with appreciable self-preservation.
Exceptional Success: The character wins the contested roll with five or more successes, and the victim not only obeys but rationalizes what she does as her own decision until and unless someone questions her about it in depth.

Assuming the commanded action is one that can carried out for some time, such as “wait” or “sleep,” the subject obeys for a number of turns equal to the successes obtained on the Command roll.

If this power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie, a +2 bonus applies to the user’s roll.

●● Mesmerize
The source of many legends of the vampire’s hypnotic gaze, Mesmerize allows the Kindred to implant a false thought or suggestion into the subject’s subconscious mind. The power requires not only eye contact but intense concentration and precise wording, so both the character and the subject must be free from distraction. The Kindred may activate the imposed thought or command immediately —“Walk over here and open the door” — or he may establish a stimulus that activates the suggestion at a later date — “When you see a man in a blue suit with a red rose in his lapel, you will spill your drink on him.” The victim must be able to understand the vampire. The Kindred must maintain eye contact only as long as it takes to implant the suggestion or idea.

Mesmerize can deliver truly complex and long-term commands, such as following someone, taking notes on her activities and reporting back on the first of the next month. A subject can have only one suggestion implanted at any given time.

Cost:—
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Expression + Dominate versus Resolve + Blood Potency
Action: Contested; resistance is reflexive

If this power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie (see p. 162), a +2 bonus applies.

Roll Results
Dramatic Failure: The subject does not obey and is immune to the character’s Dominate until the next sunset.
Failure: The character loses or ties the contested roll and the subject does not obey.
Success: The character wins the contested roll by getting the most successes, and the victim obeys to the best of his ability.
Exceptional Success: The character wins the contested roll with five or more successes. The victim not only obeys, but rationalizes what she does as her own decision until and unless someone questions her about it in depth.

This power lasts for as long as it takes the subject to carry out the required task, or until the character is destroyed or enters torpor. Impossible actions such as, “Count every grain of sand on this beach,” automatically fail to take root in the subject’s mind. If, during the course of carrying out the implanted suggestion, the victim realizes he puts himself in danger or acts completely contrary to his normal moral code, a Resolve roll may be made to shake off the compulsion. This is a contested roll. Successes rolled must exceed the number of successes obtained for the dominating character when the individual was first mesmerized.

The results for such a role are as follows.

Dramatic Failure: Not only must the subject continue to carry out the command, no more Resolve rolls may be made to shake the dominator’s control, no matter what the subject is forced to do.
Failure: The victim must continue to carry out the command as ordered.
Success: The victim escapes the suggestion.
Exceptional Success: The victim defies the suggestion, and the dominator incurs a -1 penalty to future attempts to Dominate him until the next night.

No matter how strong the dominator’s will is or how many successes he obtains, he cannot make a subject harm himself directly. Any command to commit suicide is therefore ignored, although commands that are likely to lead to harm — such as, “Walk into that crack house and shoot the man in the red shirt” — are enforceable, subject to the Resolve rolls discussed above.

If a vampire attempts to Mesmerize a subject who is already under the influence of a previously implanted directive, compare the successes rolled in the attempt against the successes gained during the implantation of the first suggestion. If the character obtains more successes than the previous Kindred, the new command may supplant the old one. If he does not, the original command remains active and the new one fails to take root. In case of a tie, the original command takes precedent over the new one. A vampire seeking to supplant an old suggestion with a new one must also acquire successes in excess of those rolled for the subject in his contested Resolve + Blood Potency roll.

●●● The Forgetful Mind
A vampire with this power can literally delve into a subject’s mind, stealing or reshaping memories at whim. The power, as with all uses of Dominate, requires eye contact. The Forgetful Mind does not allow for telepathic contact. Instead, the vampire acts much like a hypnotist, asking direct questions to draw answers from the subject, and then describing in detail any new memories she wishes to impose on the victim. Simple alterations, such as blurring brief and recent memories, are easy enough (and very effective for eliminating evidence of feeding or other Masquerade breaches). More comprehensive alterations, up to and including a complete reconstruction of the victim’s past and even identity, are possible albeit substantially more difficult.

The victim’s subconscious struggles to resist false memories implanted from without, so the degree to which the vampire details new memories has direct bearing on how fully the subject assimilates them. An incomplete or simplistic false memory shatters much more swiftly and easily than does one with more attention to detail. For instance, “You drove home after work and had a very bad evening” is not likely to hold up. Far more effective would be an account such as, “You left work late, due to a last-minute change ordered by the client. You still managed to get stuck in rush hour for an extra 25 minutes, and you were seriously frustrated by the time you pulled off the freeway. There weren’t even any good songs on the radio. Three blocks from home, a cop pulled you over for coasting through a stop sign. At least he only gave you a warning, but it was still just one more hassle. The frozen dinner you microwaved was awful, the TV movie starred some has been you didn’t like, and the news was depressing. You finally turned off the TV in disgust and went to bed.”

Truly effective use of The Forgetful Mind, then, requires substantial finesse and patience, as well as the ability to carefully and thoroughly think things through ahead of time. It’s fairly simple to sift through a victim’s memories and strip out recent events without even knowing precisely what happened, but doing so leaves a gap in the memory that can lead to further problems. Most people aren’t comfortable realizing they’ve lost a few hours or a night’s worth of memories, and they’re likely to try to find out what happened. Even new memories that the character imposes rarely have the same strength as the originals, and they can be broken or at least contradicted through investigation. For instance, a victim might not recall that she was attacked by a vampire, but she might remember being bitten, chalking it up to an animal attack or a spider. More vivid memories can return as snippets in dreams or be triggered by an unusual olfactory stimulus or spoken phrase. The process might take weeks or even years before the victim can begin to make sense of these flashes, but even the most effective memory manipulation is far from perfect — or truly permanent.

A vampire may also use The Forgetful Mind to sense whether someone has had her memories altered in this fashion, and he can sometimes use his own power to draw forth and restore the original thoughts. No Kindred may use The Forgetful Mind to restore his own lost or altered memories, however.

Cost:—
Dice Pool: Wits + Persuasion + Dominate – Resolve
Action: Extended (1-100+ successes, based on the detail and complexity of memory; each roll represents five minutes of mental manipulation)

Roll Results
Dramatic Failure: The attempt fails, and the subject is immune to the character’s Dominate until the next sunset. All accumulated successes are lost and the subject continues to remember what happened.
Failure: The attempt fails.
Success: The character makes headway toward altering a block of memories.
Exceptional Success: The character makes considerable headway toward altering a block of memories.

Suggested Modifiers
+2 Power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie.
-1 to -3 The character’s description of the new memories is lacking in detail.

Even a single success pacifies the victim for the length of time it takes to complete the process. Both vampire and subject must be safe and relatively composed when this power is used; it cannot be used to calm someone already in combat, for example.

To restore stolen or false memories, or to sense when memories have been altered, a character must possess Dominate at a level equal to or greater than that of the vampire who first tampered with the subject’s mind. If such is the case, the player then makes a contested roll in each stage of the extended action, to be compared against the initial user’s attempt, and must score more successes than the predecessor did.

●●●● Conditioning
Through constant veiled whispers, subtle hints and frequent sustained manipulation, a vampire can slowly render a particular victim substantially more suggestible. Conditioning is normally used only on favored or valuable servants and, over sufficient time, makes the character’s efforts to Dominate a subject far easier while making it harder for any other Kindred to do so. Acquiring such complete control over even the weakest mind is no easy task, however, and it normally takes weeks or even months to accomplish.

While they are undeniably loyal, servants subject to Conditioning lose much of their ability to think for themselves, their own personalities blotted out by the will imposed on them. They follow their orders literally and to the letter, rarely showing any imagination or judgment, or taking the initiative to act on their own. Some Kindred have remarked that, after a sufficiently lengthy period of Conditioning, their servants actually resemble the walking dead more so than their masters.

Mortals, thralls, other vampires and other supernatural creatures are all subject to Conditioning, if it can be performed on them over the required period of time.

Cost: 1 Willpower per roll
Dice Pool: Wits + Subterfuge + Dominate versus Resolve + Blood Potency
Action: Contested and Extended (6-15+ successes; each roll represents one week of mental manipulation); resistance is reflexive

Roll Results
Dramatic Failure: All of the user’s successes to date are negated and the subject is immune to the character’s Dominate until the next sunset.
Failure: The character loses or ties a contested roll and the attempt fails.
Success: The character wins a contested roll and makes progress in his efforts to suborn the subject’s will.
Exceptional Success: The character wins a contested roll with five or more successes and makes substantial progress in his efforts to suborn the subject’s will.

Conditioning does not have any mechanical effect until five more successes are accumulated in excess of the victim’s Willpower dots. (If the subject has Willpower 6, Conditioning begins to take effect once 11 successes are achieved.) Once this benchmark has been reached, all future attempts by the character to use any Dominate ability (including further uses of Conditioning) on the victim receive a +1 bonus, and all attempts by other Kindred to Dominate the subject suffer a -1 penalty. For every additional five successes that are accumulated, the bonus and penalty each increase by one, to a maximum of +5 and -5. The Storyteller, not the player, should keep track of the number of successes accumulated.

Once the character’s bonus reaches +3, he no longer needs to make eye contact with the Conditioning subject to use any Dominate abilities, though giving orders through artificial or impersonal means (such as by phone) imposes a -5 penalty to that particular attempt.

Subjects of Conditioning are oblivious to the process being inflicted upon them unless they also possess the power. The Storyteller may allow a victim or someone close to him a Wits + Occult roll to recognize that something is wrong. If the roll fails, the process may continue unaffected. If the roll succeeds, an effort may be made to interrupt the process. If the Conditioning vampire is particularly careful about how suggestions and messages are conveyed, the Wits + Occult roll might suffer a -1 penalty. Interrupting the process could mean fleeing the vampire or restraining the subject from meeting the vampire before all the required successes are accumulated.

It is possible, albeit extremely difficult, to break a subject’s Conditioning after the required successes are gathered. If the victim is isolated from her master for a number of weeks equal to twice the master’s current Conditioning-granted bonus, the bonus drops by one. For example, a subject has been Conditioned for a long time, and her master has achieved a bonus of +4 to Dominate her. If she is kept completely isolated from her master for eight weeks, the bonus drops to +3. Six more weeks, and it drops to +2, and so forth. The subject’s own personality and creativity slowly reawakens during this period, though she still experiences periods of listlessness, depression and desperation. For at least the first few weeks, the subject most likely makes every attempt to return to her master. Until the subject is completely free, it is horrifyingly easy for the vampire to reassert his dominance, as he likely has at least some bonus to Dominate the individual for a long while.

If the subject of Conditioning is also the thrall of the vampire, all successes on a Conditioning roll are doubled. So, if a vampire seeks to Condition his own ghoul, and he gets three successes to her two in one roll to program the subject, he actually accumulates six successes in that Conditioning session.

If this power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie, a +2 bonus applies.

●●●●● Possession
By this point, the Kindred need not rely on spoken commands and limited understanding. With the mere locking of the victim’s gaze, the vampire can utterly supplant the subject’s own psyche with her own, possessing the subject like a malevolent spirit.

Once the Kindred has crushed the victim’s will, she literally takes over the body, inhabiting it and controlling it as easily as she does her own. The mortal enters something of a fugue state while possessed, and he is aware of events only in a dreamlike, distorted fashion. The Kindred suffers the opposite effect. Her mind now resides within the victim, and her own body falls into a torpor-like state, becoming indistinguishable from a true corpse. The vampire may choose to break the possession and return to her body at any time, over any distance, but until and unless she does so, her true physical form is utterly helpless.

Kindred cannot possess other Kindred in this fashion, regardless of force of will or differences in Blood Potency. Mortals alone are subject to possession, although whispers of possessed Lupines and mages sometimes circulate.

Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Intimidation + Dominate versus Resolve
Action: Contested and Extended (see below); resistance is reflexive

The vampire locks eyes with the victim and begins the process of utterly stripping away the subject’s Willpower. The vampire must obtain a number of successes in excess of the victim’s Willpower. The victim is held, trapped in this psychic struggle, as long as the vampire’s player continues to win each contested roll. Each roll occupies a turn’s time.

Roll Results
Dramatic Failure: The attempt is over and the victim is immune to that vampire’s Dominate until the next sunset. All previously accumulated successes are lost.
Failure: In any turn in which the vampire loses or ties a contested roll, the victim may attempt to escape. If the vampire succeeds in restarting the process during the same scene, the contest picks up from where it left off.
Success: The character wins a contested roll and accumulates successes in her attempt to exert ultimate control over her subject.
Exceptional Success: The character wins a contested roll with five or more successes in her attempt to exert ultimate control over her subject.

Once the character has exceeded the victim’s Willpower in number of successes, she may take control of his body. The character may take any actions she chooses, travel as far from her own body as she wishes, and is unharmed by daylight while possessing the subject, but she must still force herself to stay awake during the day (see Humanity on p. 184). The vampire may choose to end the possession and return to her body at any time, regardless of distance. This occurs automatically if the vampire fails to remain awake. Any injuries inflicted on the subject also affect the vampire’s body. If the subject dies while the vampire is still present, the Kindred falls into torpor immediately. (Some believe the soul attempts to find its way back to its own body during this time.) If the Kindred’s physical form is destroyed, she remains trapped in the mortal body until she finally fails to remain awake, at which point her psyche is lost to oblivion and is unrecoverable. Any attempt to “re-Embrace” a vampire’s spirit trapped in a host body results only in Final Death.

When finally freed of vampiric possession, some mortals recover immediately, while others lie comatose or suffer trauma-induced psychoses for days or even weeks before recovering.

Because a vampire experiences everything her physical body does — tasting food, soaking up the sun — many become addicted to the sensations and spend more time possessing mortals than inhabiting their own bodies. It is possible, though uncommon, for a vampire to neglect her physical body long enough for it to starve into torpor while she’s “out.” If a vampire’s dormant body slips or is forced into torpor, the vampire’s spirit automatically returns to its body.

If this power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie, a +2 bonus applies.
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