This power is the basis from which all other Animalism abilities grow. The vampire creates an empathic connection with a beast, thereby allowing him to communicate or issue simple commands. The Kindred locks eyes with the animal, transmitting his desires through sheer force of will. Although it isn't necessary to actually "speak" in chirps, hisses or barks, some vampires find that doing so helps strengthen the connection with the animal. Eye contact must be maintained the entire time; if it's broken, the Kindred must look into the beast's eyes once again to regain contact.
Since Feral Whispers requires eye contact, animals that cannot see are not affected. Further, the simpler the creature, the more difficult it becomes to connect with the animal's Beast. Mammals, predatory birds and larger reptiles are relatively easy to communicate with. Insects, invertebrates and most fish (with the possible exception of larger ones like sharks) are just too simple, their Beasts too weak, to connect with.
Feral Whispers provides no guarantees that an animal will want to deal with the vampire, nor does it ensure that the animal will pursue any requests the vampire makes of it. Still, it does at least make the creature better disposed toward the Kindred. The manner in which the vampire presents his desires to the animal often depends on the type of creature. A Kindred can probably cow smaller beasts into heeding commands, but he's better off couching orders for large predators in terms of requests.
If the vampire successfully uses the power, the animal performs the command to the best of its ability and intellect. Only the very brightest creatures understand truly complex directives (orders dealing with conditional situations or requiring abstract logic). Commands that the animal does understand remain deeply implanted, however, and may affect it for some time.
System: No roll is necessary to talk with an animal, but the character must establish eye contact first. Issuing commands requires a Manipulation + Animal Ken roll. The difficulty depends on the creature: Predatory mammals (wolves, cats, insectivorous/vampire bats) are difficulty 6, other mammals and predatory birds (rats, owls) are difficulty 7, other birds and reptiles (pigeons, snakes) are difficulty 8. This difficulty is reduced by one if the character speaks to the animal in its "native tongue," and can be adjusted further by circumstances and roleplaying skill (we highly recommend that all communication between characters and animals be roleplayed).
The number of successes the player achieves dictates how strongly the character's command affects the animal. One success is sufficient to have a cat follow someone and lead the character to the same location, three successes are enough to have a raven spy on a target for weeks, and five successes ensure that a grizzly ferociously guards the entrance to the character's wilderness haven for some months.
The character's Nature plays a large part in how he approaches these conversations. The character might try intimidation, teasing, cajoling, rationality or emotional pleading. The player should understand that he does not simply play his character in these situations, but the Beast Within as well.
The vampire's connection to the Beast grows strong enough that he may call out in the voice of a specific type of animal - howling like a wolf, cawing like a raven, etc. This call mystically summons creatures of the chosen type. Since each type of animal has a different call, Beckoning works for only a single species at a time.
All such animals within earshot are summoned, but may choose individually whether or not to respond. While the vampire has no control over the beasts who answer, the animals who do are favorably disposed toward him and are at least willing to listen to the Kindred's request.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Survival (difficulty 6) to determine the response to the character's call; consult the table below. Only animals that can hear the cry will respond. If the Storyteller decides no animals of that type are within earshot, the summons goes unanswered.
The call can be as specific as the player desires. A character could call for all bats in the area, for only the male bats nearby, or for only the albino bat with the notched ear he saw the other night.
|1 success||A single animal responds.|
|2 successes||One-quarter of the animals within earshot respond.|
|3 successes||Half of the animals respond.|
|4 successes||Most of the animals respond.|
|5 successes||All of the animals respond.|
Cloak of Shadows
At this level, the vampire must rely on nearby shadows and cover to assist in hiding his presence. He steps into an out-of-theway, shadowed place and eases himself from normal sight. The vampire remains unnoticed as long as he stays silent, still, under some degree of cover (curtain, bush, door frame, lamppost, alley) and out of direct lighting. The immortal's concealment vanishes if he moves, attacks or falls under direct light. Furthermore, the vampire's deception cannot stand concentrated observation without fading.
System: No roll is required as long as the character fulfills the criteria described above. So long as he remains quiet and motionless, virtually no one but another Kindred with a high Auspex rating will see him.
With experience, the vampire can move around without being seen. Shadows seem to shift to cover him, and others automatically avert their gaze as he passes by. People move unconsciously to avoid contact with the cloaked creature; those with weak wills may even scurry away from the area in unacknowledged fear. The vampire remains ignored indefinitely unless someone deliberately seeks him out or he inadvertently reveals himself.
Since the vampire fully retains his physical substance, he must be careful to avoid contact with anything that may disclose his presence (knocking over a vase, bumping into someone). Even a whispered word or the scuffing of a shoe against the floor can be enough to disrupt the power.
System: No roll is necessary to use this power unless the character speaks, attacks or otherwise draws attention to himself. The Storyteller should call for a Wits + Stealth roll under any circumstances that might cause the character to reveal himself. The difficulty of the roll depends on the situation; stepping on a squeaky floorboard might be a 5, while walking through a pool of water may require a 9. Other acts may require a certain number of successes; speaking quietly without giving away one's position, for instance, demands at least three successes.
Some things are beyond the power of Unseen Presence to conceal. Although the character is cloaked from view while he smashes through a window, yells out or throws someone across the room, the vampire becomes visible to all in the aftermath. Bystanders snap out of the subtle fugue in which Obfuscate put them. Worse still, each viewer can make a Wits + Alertness roll (difficulty 7); if successful, the mental haze clears completely, so those individuals recall every move the character made up until then as if he were visible the entire time.
Vampires endowed with this Discipline possess preternatural strength. Potence enables vampires to leap tremendous distances, lift massive weights and strike opponents with terrifying force. Even the lowest ranks of this power gift the Kindred with physical might beyond mortal bounds. More powerful immortals have been known to leap so far they seem to be flying, toss cars aside like tin cans, and punch through concrete as if it were cardboard. While the mental Disciplines are awe-inspiring, Potence's brute effectiveness is formidable in its own right.
System: The player rolls all Strength-related tests normally, but then adds an automatic success for each point he has in Potence. Thus, the character succeeds at most Strength feats without needing to make a roll at all. In melee and brawling combat, the automatic successes are applied to the damage roll results.
All vampires possess a preternatural constitution that makes most normal damage inconsequential. Fortitude bestows a resilience and vigor far beyond even normal vampiric toughness. Kindred with this power ignore the mightiest punches and barely feel hails of bullets. This Discipline also helps protect against sources of damage even vampires fear, such as sunlight, fire and terminal falls.
System: A character's rating in Fortitude adds to his Stamina for the purposes of soaking normal damage (bashing and lethal). A character with this Discipline may also use his dots in Fortitude to soak aggravated damage (Kindred cannot normally soak things like vampire bites, werewolf claws, magical effects, fire, sunlight or massive physical trauma). So a vampire with Fortitude 3 has three dice to soak aggravated damage.