[Theory Thursday] VtM: Another Kind Of Thaumaturgy


So. Here we are. The caps above should explain more or less what I’m trying to achieve here – a streamlined version of the most out-of-control Discipline which boils it back down to part of the vampire fantasy and the standard structure of Disciplines, instead of trying to fit a whole D&D’s worth of spell section into Vampire because Tremere came from Ars Magica and blech. 

The version of the Discipline I present here is not attempting to imitate the full range of “wizard spells”. I want it to be the sort of thing a Hermetic order or a group of medieval alchemists might engineer upon finding themselves a Tzimisce bloodline (in much the same way as the Giovanni engineered Necromancy out of Mortis), but I hope it still has the echo of “we used to be Mage: the Ascension characters but the magic started to run out” about it.

Note that this is built up from the second edition framework, because second edition is where the ‘linear Disciplines’ thing comes from and it’s also the one I prefer to run. I have nicked off with the streamlined casting roll from Revised though, because I know an elegant system thing when I see it.

All Thaumaturgy powers cost a minimum of one blood point to activate, and a botch on any Thaumaturgy roll induces a permanent loss of one spendable Willpower point (the Willpower stat doesn’t change, just scribble out one of the boxes for spendable points – it’s gone and can never be replenished).

Here’s a reminder of what we have so far, and then I’ll slide into the new stuff straight away, because WordPress formatting won’t let me pick the list up from 5.

Many of these powers are adapted from Rituals in the Player’s Guide (second edition) or Clanbook: Tremere (revised/third edition). This is no accident; it consolidates these powerful, flexible, more classically ‘wizardly’ abilities in the hands of those Tremere of the seventh generation or lower, those who were around for the Usurpation and may recall being true mages, or living in a time when true magic was more widely accepted.

  1. Taste for Blood – The bedrock of the Tremere’s knowledge and subtle influence. A mouthful of blood, swilled and spat out, reveals much about its origins; how much blood is left in a vampire or mortal, how recently a vampire has fed, a vampire’s clan and approximate generation.System: roll Willpower (difficulty 5); each success reveals one fact about the blood sample in your mouth.
  2. Blood Rage – A touch of the Thaumaturge’s hand, and another Kindred finds their vitae betraying them, rising in their gorge, flooding muscles they have no intent of using.System: roll Willpower (difficulty target’s Willpower); each success forces them to spend one blood point in a manner of your choosing (subject to their Generation limits). The target’s frenzy difficulties increase by one for the remainder of the scene (non-cumulative). Requires touch.
  3. Blood of Potency – Manipulation of the Blood secured the Tremere’s rise to power and their survival in the early nights; indeed, it’s rumoured that this power is a corrupted, weakened version of the ritual by which Tremere achieved his false Embrace.System: roll Willpower (difficulty 7); each success either awards a temporary dot in Generation or an hour’s duration to the effect (which means you need two for it to do anything).
  4. Theft of Vitae – It’s one thing to guide the blood through the vessels of another; quite another to rip it through the skin from a distance. This spectacular power is beloved of Tremere sheriffs and scourges, and loathed by those who recall its first uses in the Omen War.System: roll Willpower (difficulty = number of blood points you wish to transfer plus four, maximum 10); each success successfully transfers a blood point from yourself to the target. Mortals take one level of damage for each point transferred. Range 50 feet, requires line of sight, creates a cloud of red mist that travels from the target to you.
  5. Cauldron of Blood – Vitae can be tasted, manipulated, stolen, and even transubstantiated, searing the vessels through which it flows. This power causes incredible physical harm, virtually ensuring the death of any mortal and sorely testing all but the most resilient of vampires.System: roll Willpower (difficulty = number of blood points you wish to boil plus four, maximum 10); for each success the target takes one level of aggravated damage (and, if a vampire, loses a blood point from their pool). Requires touch.
  6. Hand of Destruction – What is done unto others can be done unto oneself. The next step on the Pyramid is the mastery of one’s own vitae, igniting it as a light in the darkest nights of the House Tremere – and a brand with which to sear the House’s enemies.System: roll Willpower (difficulty = number of blood points you wish to ignite plus four, maximum 10); turns blood to fire, which can be released by touching a target (Perception + Brawl, difficulty 7) or throwing it (Perception + Athletics, difficulty 7). One blood point creates a ‘palm candle’ which deals one health level of aggravated damage per turn (soak difficulty 3). Each additional blood point spent adds either a point of difficulty to the soak roll or a point of aggravated damage to the effect. The fire does not damage its creator or induce Rotschreck until released, but once released it burns as normal and the character has no control over it.
  7. Blood that Walks – By an effort of will, the Tremere have transcended the legacy of their Tzimisce blood; what the Tzimisce divide from themselves the Tremere have learned to store, shape and animate, even as their ancient enemies shape flesh and bone.System: roll Willpower (difficulty = number of blood points you wish to animate plus four, maximum 10); creates a simulacrum out of your vitae. The simulacrum has one health level per blood point spent, and may be destroyed and consumed by its creator at any time, returning the blood points used to create it. The more blood spent, the larger and more sophisticated the simulacrum looks. Simulacra of all kinds take aggravated damage as vampires do, and may be targeted by the caster’s Auspex or Dominate Disciplines, including Possession. Their existence may be sustained by feeding them one blood point per night.

    By spending a Willpower point, the simulacrum may be upgraded to a homunculus. Homunculi have one dot in all Physical and Mental Attributes, plus one additional dot in one Attribute per blood point spent to create them (so a six point homunculus might have two dots in all Physical and Mental Attributes, or up to six dots in one Attribute). Homunculi cannot fight, although homunculi capable of independent movement can push, hold or otherwise manipulate objects for their masters.

    By spending a further Willpower point, a six point homunculus may be upgraded to a ‘blood golem’ – a humanoid with a vestigial personality (one dot in all Social Attributes). Blood golems can fight autonomously.

  8. Blood Mastery – The dreaded Inner Circle of the Tremere collect the blood of their childer’s childer; it’s said this hoard of vitae is how the Inner Circle maintains its iron control over the Clan, and even whispered that subtle applications secured the alliance of unsuspecting Ventrue who thought they’d bound their courtly Warlock.System: roll Willpower (difficulty = target’s Willpower); guarantees a marginal success on the next Discipline effect used against the target. However, the target must have previously been the subject of the user’s Taste for Blood power.
  9. Night of the Red Heart – Those few Tremere who fall from the Pyramid seldom last long. The arm of the Inner Circle is long, and their vengeance brutal. A blood-red gem or a spectral manifestation heralds the traitor’s final night. The weak-willed are dead by dawn; the strong are scourged again and again, unto destruction.System: Willpower (difficulty = target’s Willpower); at sunrise, the target dies, subject to the following conditions being met. The user must sacrifice a Willpower point in the same way as if they’d botched a roll; the target must previously have been the subject of the user’s Taste for Blood ability; the caster must touch the target at the point of use. This power is traditionally used via Astral Projection or a Possessed simulacrum; the Tremere took tales of the Black Spot to heart.
  10. Chain of the Bloodline –  With this pinnacle of Thaumaturgical power, Tremere himself masterminded the hunting of the Salubri, the cursing of the Assamites, and the destruction of the rebel House Goratrix. The Usurper’s reach extends through clans and bloodlines, and come Gehenna may herald his final triumph – or his final fall.System: Willpower (difficulty: target’s Willpower); the user learns the identities of all of the subject’s brood, and all their brood in turn, down to the last of the bloodline, provided the target has previously been the subject of the user’s Taste for Blood ability.

    When encountering any of these vampires, the caster may attempt to command them by rolling Manipulation + Leadership (difficulty: target’s Willpower) against the victim’s Wits + Self-Control (difficulty: user’s Willpower).

    The difference between successes indicates the number of hours before the user can attempt another command, or the number of hours before the target can attempt to resist again.

    Commanded vampires become subservient and enfeebled; with a difference of five or more successes, they may be commanded to offer themselves up for diablerie, or even seek their own destruction.

What say you to that?

Author: Jon

Sententious, mercurial, and British as a bilious lord. Recovering Goth, lifelong spod. Former teacher and amateur machine politician, now freelance writer and early-career researcher.

You may now commence belching

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