A Monster I Am

…Lest a Monster I Become

Hunting

A hunting roll represents the search for willing or unaware prey to feed from. The dice pool involved varies based on the the method of hunting. Common pools include:

  • Seduction in clubs or other large venues: Charisma + Subterfuge + Presence/Dominate
  • Sleeping targets (homeless or breaking and entering): Dexterity + Stealth/Security + Obfuscate
  • Feeding from animals: Perception + Survival + Animalism

The difficulty for these rolls varies based on the area and time (e.g., it’s easier to use seduction in the party district on a Saturday than in the suburbs on a school night). They typically range from 6 for an ideal location to 9 for somewhere that is possible but unlikely.

The number of successes rolled indicate the number of possible targets gained within around four hours of hunting. Successes can be dropped to reduce the hunting time by an hour for each (e.g., five successes could mean five targets in four hours or three targets in two hours).

For each target, one blood point can usually be taken safely (i.e., you can just decide that the successes are the number of blood points regained in four hours). Taking two blood points per target is generally safe, but makes the feeding more obvious and difficulties in the area will be increased for a few days. Taking more runs the risk of injuring or killing at least one target.

Ventrue reduce their effective blood points gained based on the rarity of their preferred targets in the area (by up to 1/4 for no matching adjectives). For example, a Ventrue whose targets are “Young blonde women” likely has little difficulty in Buckhead (gaining full or only slightly reduced blood points) but would have a much harder time preying on the homeless in alleys (gaining 1/4 of the normal blood points).

Gaining Beast Traits

Beast Traits represent the strength of the beast within a Cainite. Even the most noble and ethical heart means little against a failure to reign in the Beast, while a near sociopath can still lead a blameless unlife if her violent urgings are kept in check. Thus, there is no real concept of a morality or hierarchy of sins, merely actions that cause the Beast to grow and gain more power over its host. You can be as moral or immoral as you like, as long as you maintain a leash on your inner monster.

The easiest way to gain Beast Traits is killing. While there is no hierarchy of sins, there is one of murder:

  1. True accidental deaths, killing in self defense (no quarter offered or given), killing an antagonistic supernatural
  2. Careless deaths (could have been prevented with some foresight but it was an accident), killing out of expediency (dangerous, untrustworthy, but inactive opponent)
  3. Killing a non-innocent during a Frenzy, killing a violent opponent (who was only threatening injury, not death), killing out of a sense of justice (the target wasn’t deadly but was mounting up small horrors over the long term)
  4. Killing an innocent during a Frenzy, killing a non-innocent in the heat of the moment out of anger, hunger, or fear
  5. Killing an innocent in the heat of the moment, premeditated murder on a non-innocent
  6. Premeditated murder of an innocent, cruel/unusual/torturous death, mass murder or serial killing

When your character kills, determine whether the motivation is out of rage, hunger, or fear (if it’s not obvious, as in a frenzy, the player chooses what makes the most sense). Find the type of kill on the chart and reduce the number by the number of current Beast Traits you have in that category (even the Beast gets jaded after a while). If the number is 0, you don’t gain an additional Beast Trait this time (though repeatedly performing the action may bump it up). If it is 1 or more, you gain another Beast Trait in that category.

While the Beast is less interested in actions that don’t involve death, a history of cruelty or otherwise unnecessary harm short of killing someone may eventually catch its attention. In these cases, the player will be warned after such an action that the Beast is waking and her character can feel that it will grow if the actions continue to be repeated.

A Gangrel gains an additional Beast Trait if she earned one during a Frenzy, as her Beast is more active and aware at these points even than other Kindred.

Derangements

In most cases, Kindred are free of mental illness apart from having a psychotic monster living inside their souls. Chemical imbalances in the brain tend to fade away after a few months of the mind being powered by something other than natural biology. Purely experiential traumas pale against the horrible things that must be done just to survive, and, again, the motivating force of a Cainite seems to provide some level of distance to keep her from going immediately insane from these actions (perhaps by forcing most of the trauma to be partitioned off into the Beast; Kindred psychologists are ever evolving new theories).

Thus, Cainites that have unusual mental problems are rare. Anything that could be categorized as a mental illness would tend to come from an event so horrifying even the undead mind cannot process it or some kind of supernatural curse. This is fortunately not common. Kindred may still evince a number of minor neuroses and tics, but these are rarely enough to seriously interfere with nightly life.

The exception is, of course, the Malkavians. Each gives evidence of a profound mental disturbance and no amount of therapy seems capable of treating it. Many simply believe it is a supernatural curse laid down upon the line. When an already ill human is embraced into the Malkavians, it seems to be roughly a fifty/fifty shot as to whether her existing problems will translate into her clan Derangement, or whether her old problems will clear up just as new ones are beginning. Mentally stable individuals develop a Derangement soon after the Embrace as well.

A Malkavian’s Derangement is never humorous. Each is a bundle of the worst problems the DSM can categorize. Those truly incapacitated by their illness tend to not last long, folding up into early Torpor if not mercy-killed by their sires. Similarly, those with psychopathic tendencies quickly begin spiraling into the arms of the Beast and are killed for the safety of all. What remain are high-functioning individuals that would generally prefer their nightly challenges to not be a source of fun for others, or even, if possible, noticed. In the socially Darwinist society of the undead, playing up one’s uncontrollable weakness is a dangerous and short-lived game.

A Monster I Am

Children of the 80s samhaine