This potent Discipline grants a character superlative sensory capabilities. At the lowest levels, it sharpens a Kindred’s mundane senses. As one progresses in mastery, entirely new avenues of insight open up before the user. Ultimately, this is the Discipline of gleaning information, whether that data comes from sights and smells, from auras and patterns of energy or directly from the mind of another creature. In addition, Auspex can be used to pierce the veil of powers that cloud, dissemble and deceive. Indeed, precious little can be kept secret from a true master of Auspex.
Once in a while, this uncanny Discipline provides extrasensory and even precognitive visitations. Such premonitions might come as quick flashes of imagery, overwhelming feelings of empathy or even as an ominous sense of foreboding. The Kindred has absolutely no control over these insights, but he can learn to interpret their significance given time and experience.
Such potent sensitivity can have its drawbacks, however. When a vampire actively uses any level of Auspex save the fifth (Twilight Projection), he runs the risk of his delicate senses being overwhelmed by excessive stimuli. Sudden or severe occurrences such as a gun report or flash bulb in the eyes can distract the character unless the player succeeds on a Resolve roll. Failure disorients the character, making him effectively unaware of his surroundings until the end of the following turn.
CLASH OF WILLS
Although Auspex is a potent Discipline, especially at high levels of mastery, a given Kindred’s execution of it is not always flawless. Other supernatural powers and abilities can cloud or contest the power of Auspex, the most common of these being Obfuscate — the direct opposite of Auspex, in many ways.
The heart of any Auspex-versus-Obfuscate contest is a clash of mighty wills, for both powers stem from and rely upon the power of the Kindred mind. When a character with Auspex uses his acute senses to see through another’s Obfuscate, make a contested roll of Blood Potency + Auspex versus Blood Potency + Obfuscate. Whoever accumulates the most successes wins the battle of wills. Ties go to the defender. Most of the time, ties result in the Obfuscated character remaining hidden (as the Auspex-user is the initiator), but not always. In the event that a vampire uses Obfuscate right in front of a Kindred with Auspex, the hiding character is the challenger, as it is he who tries to hide in plain sight.
Obfuscate is not the only supernatural ability with the potential to foil the clarity of Auspex. For example, a character using the Twilight Projection power might be seen by a character using the Heightened Senses power. The general rule of thumb is to apply the same system, but in regard to whatever mechanic is used: Blood Potency + Auspex is still rolled for the perceiving character, and Blood Potency + the Discipline in question is rolled for the defender.
When this power is activated, all of the vampire’s senses sharpen to a razor’s edge, effectively doubling both the range and clarity of all stimuli received. Heightened eyesight allows the vampire to perceive the most minute details of objects at great distances, while a heightened sense of smell might alert a character to the presence of trace amounts of alcohol on a mortal’s breath. Kindred with this power also have the option of magnifying a single sense, as opposed to all five, in order to better block out unwanted stimuli from other sources. Note, however, that the risk of sudden distraction remains, regardless of how many or how few senses are currently heightened. (Note that vampires do not breathe. As such, the Kindred do not smell unless they actively will themselves to do so, and thus cannot be overwhelmed suddenly by smells unless they are actively smelling at the time.)
Dice Pool: This power typically involves no roll. The player simply activates the power and explains to the Storyteller what his character is doing and with which sense(s). The Storyteller responds by relating whatever information can be gleaned. The only time a roll comes into play for Heightened Senses is when the Storyteller wishes to permit the character a chance to perceive an imminent threat. In this case, the Storyteller may allow the player to add her character’s Auspex dots to a surprise roll.
This power allows a vampire to see in pitch-black darkness.
With this mystic power, a vampire can open his perceptions to the psychic auras that surround all sentient creatures. Numerous and often-shifting hues and patterns compose these auras, and it can take many years before a vampire becomes truly proficient at reading them correctly with any degree of regularity. Although the strongest emotions predominate, almost every individual has more than one color to his aura at any given time, and an observer can see any number of streaks or flashes of these other colors.
“Psychic colors” change with the subject’s mental or emotional state, creating an ever-moving pattern that is as unique to each person as a fingerprint. As a rule, the more powerful the emotions, the more intense the colors, but even this guideline is betrayed by any number of mitigating factors, depending on circumstance. All the same, practice makes perfect; a true master aura-perceiver learns to understand the significance of each whorl and eddy.
Due to the peculiar nature of such creatures’ auras, this power can be used as a means of detecting other supernatural entities. Vampire auras, for example, tend to be extremely pale, regardless of the colors. Werewolf auras are quite the contrary, nearly frantic in their intensity. Mage auras sparkle with power. Ghostly auras flicker like guttering candles.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Empathy + Auspex – subject’s Composure
Action: Instant (Note that though this is an instant action, it takes more than just a fleeting glance to see the detail in an aura. A character must scrutinize her subject’s aura for two full turns to glean information from it, though only the single, immediate roll is necessary to determine if she can read it successfully.)
Dramatic Failure: The character gleans utterly misleading and wholly inaccurate information.
Failure: The character can distinguish no information at all.
Success: Each success on this power gives the user one question, which may be used to ask for creature type, the presence of diablerie veins, or an emotion - either the presence of specific emotions or one's general emotional state. Answers are given directly, as most players are not familiar with the color chart from the source material. If the character, however, is not familiar with an aura signifier from personal experience, they may have to investigate what it means. This is most often true in the case of creature type.
Exceptional Success: As per a normal success, with one additional question available.
Various things affect the overall Aura Perception pool, such as creature type and whether or not the subject has a blood tie to the user. All questions to be used for this power must be presented to the ST in advance so the appropriate number of bonuses and penalties can be applied.
Note that a failure indicates that no useful information is perceived, while a dramatic failure indicates a false or misleading reading. The Storyteller may therefore wish to make the roll for the player, to keep the true results secret.
Applied toward reading the mood of potential combatants, this power also grants its user a bonus to Initiative equal to the number of successes rolled in activating the effect. Doing so requires that the vampire speaks to or is in the proximity of intended combatants for at least one turn before a fight breaks out. That period of interaction allows the reading vampire to recognize that events are about to turn violent, so he can react with advanced knowledge.
An Auspex user who observes someone in the act of lying may recognize that the subject speaks falsely.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Empathy + Auspex versus Composure
If the majority of successes are gained for the Auspex user, they are able to recognize the lie.
The Spirit's Touch
The Kindred’s powers of perception have progressed to the point that he can pick up psychic impressions from objects simply by handling them for a moment or two. Such impressions can tell the vampire who last held the object, when it was last held and even what was done with it in the past.
These psychic impressions typically come in the form of quick and cryptic images, and as with other Auspex powers, learning how to decipher the information gleaned can be a task all its own. Most impressions (and therefore, most visuals stemming from them) pertain to the last person who handled the object in question, but two circumstances usually preclude such a reading. First, a long-time owner or handler of the object leaves stronger impressions than someone who handled it briefly, if more recently. Second, experiences associated with great emotion — be it hate, passion or fear — often linger in the form of intense psychic impressions on objects. It is these impressions that likely come to the fore over anything more recent or, in all likelihood, far less emotionally significant.
All that is required in order to glean information from an object by using this power is that the vampire turn the item over in his hands (or otherwise handle it) for a few moments, during which he enters a shallow trance. This trance is the gateway through which psychic snapshots arrive, and anything that prematurely disrupts the trance likely prevents any useful information from being received.
Dice Pool: Wits + Occult + Auspex
Dramatic Failure: A dramatic failure indicates the psychic equivalent of a “mixed message” or a very believable but entirely false impression.
Failure: Failure indicates that no impressions come through.
Success: Success yields a sense of the previous handler or owner’s identity, as well as a reliable vision or sense of the memory in question.
Exceptional Success: An exceptional success provides a comprehensive or extended chronological understanding of the event and its participants, such as an entire slideshow of images pertaining to the object and its past.
This power can also be used to glimpse the past of another. The subject must be touched, which could require a roll if the subject is resistant. The subject’s roll is reflexive, and he does not know that past events in his existence are perceived. If the reader gets the most successes, a vision is received of the subject’s past, all from the subject’s perspective. With no timeframe or criteria for the event witness, the last dramatic, tense or passionate act performed or experienced by the subject is glimpsed. If a specific timeframe or event is focused on, the Auspex user’s roll suffers a -1 penalty for each night that has passed since the event. Therefore, witnessing a feeding that the subject performed three nights before imposes a -3 penalty to the contested roll made for the reading vampire.
Dice Pool: Wits + Occult + Auspex versus subject's Resolve + Blood Potency
Dramatic Failure: Events witnessed from the subject’s eyes are misinterpreted. He seems to have been attacked rather than to have initiated an attack, for example.
Failure: The contested roll is lost or tied. No impressions come through.
Success: The most successes are rolled for the reading character. A distorted and blurred glimpse of the event or situation in question passes through his mind. He is left with an intuitive, general understanding of what transpired.
Exceptional Success: The reading character wins the contested roll with five or more successes. An instantaneous glimpse of the event or situation in question passes through his mind. He implicitly understands every aspect of what happened, essentially as if he were there in the subject’s stead. The reader doesn’t acquire any new traits or capabilities — say, if the subject committed diablerie. The reader simply knows what transpired.
+2 Power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie
+1 The character has drawn a psychic impression from the object or person before.
— Recent and intense (a murder weapon used four hours ago, or a murder was committed).
-1 Recent but mild, or old and intense (a dusty family heirloom in a chest).
-2 Emotionally shallow or long forgotten (a leisure suit found at a secondhand clothing store).
-3 Disconnected or spiritually muted (a set of keys found several weeks ago).
-3 Object or person read amid a fight or other stressful circumstance.
At this level of advancement of one’s extrasensory perceptions, a vampire may project his consciousness into a nearby individual’s mind. Doing so creates a mental link whereby the Kindred can communicate silently or even scan the surface of the target’s subconscious. The user senses any thought picked up as a voice inside his own mind, and the data can hardly be considered unobtrusive. Nevertheless, this power has the potential to be one of the most potent of the abilities in any vampire’s mystical arsenal. With enough practice, a vampiric telepath can uncover nearly any secret from any sentient being around him.
Telepathy is most effective on the mortal mind. When used on ordinary people, the character can maintain a link as long as he keeps concentrating, and as long as the mortal target does not leave his line of sight for more than moment or two. Trying to breach the supernatural mind, however, is a more difficult prospect. A given link is good only for the moment and must be reestablished each time the character wishes to send or dig for thoughts.
Cost: None for a mortal; 1 Willpower for a supernatural subject unless the supernatural subject is willing.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Socialize + Auspex – subject’s Resolve
Dramatic Failure: Dramatic failure on a Telepathy attempt can be disastrous, as the user instantly adopts any derangements present in the target for the rest of the night.
Failure: Failure results in no link being established, and the character cannot try again for the remainder of the scene.
Success: Success allows a character to read from or add a thought to the subject’s mind. See the suggested modifiers list that follows for specific applications of the Telepathy power.
Exceptional Success: Exceptional success at Telepathy allows the character to gain an additional piece of information (or an additional aspect to the original insight).
Note that the player of any subject who is aware that he is being probed or “ridden” may spend a Willpower point to eject the telepath. Each time the telepath sends a message, the subject instantly becomes aware that the thought didn’t originate from his own mind. Each time the telepath digs out a piece of data, Intelligence + Composure is rolled for the subject to detect the intruder.
+2 Power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie.
— Attempting to project a single thought/message into the subject’s mind.
-1 Trying to probe the subject’s surface thoughts for whatever idea is there at the time.
-1 Each derangement the subject possesses.
-2 Digging for one piece of data about which the subject isn’t currently thinking.
-3 Searching for a specific memory or event buried deep in the subconscious.
Commonly seen as the pinnacle of Auspex achievement, this power allows a vampire to project her perceptions out of her physical body. Her senses take on an existence their own, traveling the material world like a spectre. Such a form, called a “ghost body,” is immune to fatigue and physical harm, and it can fly at great speeds. Ghost bodies can even go underground at will — anywhere within and below the limit of the lunar sphere.
Cost: 1 Willpower
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Occult + Auspex
Dramatic Failure: Dramatic failures can be disastrous. They usually result in the character projecting successfully but being flung to an undesired destination (around the world or deep into an unknown place, for example).
Failure: The character cannot separate her consciousness from her body, but may try again at her next opportunity.
Success: The Kindred separates her ghost body from her physical body and may venture throughout the world.
Exceptional Success: As with a normal success, but the separation occurs with ease and the character regains the Willpower point spent.
Typically, no modifiers are necessary, but the Storyteller may penalize the activation roll up to two dice in the event of a hastened projection, such as when a vampire abandons her body at the moment of Final Death (after all, a ghost body is better than no body at all).
Interacting with the physical world or sprit world while using Twilight Projection is impossible. The character has no substance at all, not even spiritual substance — she is merely a projected consciousness. This state can be both a benefit and a drawback, in that the character is unimpeded by obstacles, but is also unable to affect any threats she encounters. It might come to pass that two vampires’ ghost bodies or a projected vampire and a genuine ghost encounter one another. They can communicate as if they were in the real world, but no sorts of physical or mystical exchanges can occur between them.
A projected vampire’s psyche is invisible to most physical beings. A child or animal might intuitively sense the vampire’s presence, or even see him. Another Kindred using Heightened Senses or Aura Perception might spot the projected being by getting the most successes in a Wits + Investigation + Auspex (spotter) versus Resolve + Occult + Auspex (projector) contested roll. Both rolls are made reflexively.
A projecting vampire’s other Disciplines do not work. Her spirit can certainly observe things, but its temporal connection to the body that serves as the conduit for the Kindred’s mystic curse is too tenuous for other mystical powers to manifest.
While her consciousness roams, a vampire’s body lies in a torpor-like state on the spot where she left it. As long as her ghost body is active, the character remains ignorant of what goes on around her physical body. If the body is subjected to either torpor or Final Death, the projected psyche is pulled back immediately.
A vampire’s body continues to expend Vitae nightly for the purposes of sustaining itself. The player must succeed on a standard Humanity roll for the ghost body to remain awake during the daytime. The consciousness of a vampire who falls asleep returns to her body and she rises the nex night as normal, entirely within the physical world.
A ghost body appears naked and with no possessions. Artifacts that are composed entirely of spirit matter might be employed in this form, but no physical objects transfer over. Likewise, any objects found during the wraithly endeavor cannot be manipulated or return with the character when she finally rejoins her physical body.
A projecting vampire can potentially be barred mystically from returning to her body, or she might become lost and incapable of finding her body again. Rumors also speak of other spirits that can enter a vampire’s vacant body, stranding the Kindred as a ghost body. Denied her own body (or perhaps another one to possess), each night that passes for the ghost body removes a dot of Blood Potency from its essence. When those dots are reduced to zero, the ghost-Kindred suffers Final Death and fades into oblivion.