Night-dwellers, predators by nature and keepers of the Masquerade, vampires are inherently (and necessarily) creatures of secrecy and stealth. From hiding minute objects to the ability to appear as someone else to the power to fade from sight entirely, the Discipline of Obfuscate grants the Kindred uncanny powers of concealment, stealth and deception.
Obfuscate clouds the mind in practice. For example, a character hiding an object by using this Discipline doesn’t actually make the object disappear, nor does someone using the Discipline to hide himself truly vanish. Rather, the mind sees “around” the Obfuscated object, refusing to acknowledge it, even if that requires a bit of filling in mental blanks. To continue the example, if a character Obfuscated a large sheet of plywood and tried to hide behind it herself, those looking at the plywood would, indeed, see the character lurking behind it but not see the plywood itself.
The shroud of Obfuscate is very difficult to penetrate. Few Kindred or other supernatural creatures can see through it, and only under the rarest of circumstances do mortals have any hope. Because they operate on a less conscious and mostly instinctual level, however, animals often perceive a vampire’s presence — and react with appropriate fear or hostility — even if they cannot detect him with their normal senses. Similarly, children, the mentally ill and others who see the world in ways not quite normal might pierce the deception at the Storyteller’s discretion.
Some Kindred with Auspex are able to see through Obfuscate, or at least sense the presence of a supernatural deception. Refer to the “Clash of Wills” section of Auspex for details.
It’s important to note that Obfuscate affects the viewer’s mind, rather than making any true physical change to the vampire. Thus, the Discipline is not effective at cloaking a character from mechanical devices. Photographs, video cameras and the like record the normal blurred image that all vampires leave in such media, not the assumed appearance. Obfuscate does affect any individual currently using the recording device, however, so someone videotaping an Obfuscated vampire sees the illusion when looking through the lens, discovering the truth only later when he reviews the tape itself.
Unless stated otherwise, Obfuscate powers require very little concentration to maintain once invoked, and they last for the duration of a scene.
Touch of Shadow
This first level of Obfuscate allows the vampire to conceal small items, either in her grasp or on her person. If she is skilled enough, even a thorough search fails to turn up a hidden object. Increasingly larger objects might be hidden if the Discipline user is particularly adept.
Dice Pool: Wits + Larceny + Obfuscate
Dramatic Failure: The attempt fails and the user actually draws attention to the fact that she’s trying to hide something. Further uses of Obfuscate against people present to witness the dramatic failure incur a -1 penalty for the remainder of the scene.
Failure: The attempt fails.
Success: The character can hide a single object from sight, unless someone actively searches for that specific item. Indeed, “specific” is very literal here — a character looking for “an Obfuscated book” does not find it, though she does if she’s looking for “the Ordo Dracul Kogaion’s handwritten and leather-bound copy of 17th-century rituals” and has seen it before.
Exceptional Success: The character hides the object even if a searcher knows exactly what she seeks.
+2 A tiny item, one easily concealed in the palm of a hand.
+1 An item that can be hidden in a pants pocket.
— An item that can be squeezed into a pants pocket or easily hidden in a jacket pocket.
-1 An item that can only barely be squeezed into a large jacket pocket.
-2 An item that can be concealed under a jacket without too obvious a bulge.
-3 An item too large to be naturally hidden, but still small enough to be carried easily.
-3 The “item” is actually an abstract ideal or negative space, such as a hallway or portal to another room. If a closed door seals the portal, this is not subject to the penalty, as all the Kindred needs to do is hide the door, not the portal itself.
-4 An item as large as the vampire herself, such as a motorcycle.
-5 An item bigger than the vampire herself, such as a car or large shipping crate, but smaller than five times the vampire’s Size.
The player must declare which specific item is concealed and the power must be invoked separately for each item. Apocryphal tales insist that sepulchers, tractor-trailers and even entire buildings have been hidden from the sight of others, but that’s just not possible… is it?
If the roll succeeds, the item goes undetected. Perhaps a careful search such as a pat-down or close examination reveals it, along with a Wits + Composure roll, successes from which must exceed those rolled for the activation of the power. As with all Obfuscate abilities, a character with Auspex might be able to see through Touch of Shadow (though he would still have to find the object normally if it were inside a pocket or otherwise physically concealed from view). Once the character does anything to draw attention to the object — such as deliberately showing it to someone or using it to attack or threaten — Touch of Shadow ends. If someone successfully detects the item, he can point it out to others. A Wits + Composure roll is made for each such person, and successes achieved must exceed those acquired in the Wits + Larceny + Obfuscate roll made for the Discipline user. If an onlooker’s successes aren’t high enough, he still doesn’t recognize the item, even when it’s pointed out.
Note that this power affects only the item in question. A character could not, for example, conceal a mailbox and then hide behind it or conceal a computer and hide a stake beneath it. The mailbox or computer would indeed be concealed but the character or stake would not.
Once invoked, Touch of Shadow lasts for a scene or until ended prematurely.
Mask of Tranquility
The Kindred masters the art of hiding himself to such a degree that he may subvert some of the stains that undeath leaves upon his soul. A vampire who knows this power can mask his Kindred nature from onlookers, leaving them without the impression that the Predator’s Taint inflicts.
Dice Pool: This power involves no roll, and is considered “always on.” The character does not trigger the Predator’s Taint. Therefore, the character doesn’t even appear as a vampire to other Kindred who see him. Kindred who can discern auras fail to register the vampire as undead; his aura is no different from a mortal’s (the colors are not pale like a normal Kindred’s). Note that this power doesn’t render the user immune to the Predator’s Taint himself, he merely doesn’t cause the reaction in others.
The character may turn off this power if he wishes, but such is an all-or-nothing proposition. He may not turn off certain aspects of this power and keep others active. Note also that uses of Auspex may call this power into question — see the “Clash of Wills” section of Auspex.
Cloak of Night
An essential expression of the Kindred’s secretive nature, Cloak of Night allows a vampire to literally fade from sight, becoming completely invisible to observers. Though it’s easiest to invoke the capability out of sight, Cloak of Night is so potent that it allows the vampire to vanish even under direct observation.
The actual process of fading away is subtle, but its effect on witnesses might not be. Mortals are likely to panic and flee the area, or to find some way to justify what they’ve witnessed, even if it means constructing new memories of the event. (“I glanced away for a moment, and when I looked back I think I saw him leave through that door.”) Some especially weak-willed mortals might simply forget the vampire was ever present at all. Kindred, of course, tend to be less strongly impacted, though even an experienced and knowledgeable vampire might find the experience somewhat startling.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Stealth + Obfuscate
Dramatic Failure: The character believes he has vanished from sight, when in fact he has not.
Failure: The character does not vanish at all, and knows it.
Success: The character vanishes from sight. Mortal witnesses reconstruct the scene in their memory to justify the character’s disappearance if successes achieved on the invocation roll exceed their Willpower dots.
Exceptional Success: Five or more successes are rolled for the Discipline user. The character vanishes from sight. See preceding text for the effect on mortals. Kindred witnesses reconstruct the scene in their memory to justify the character’s disappearance if successes gained on the invocation roll exceed their Willpower dots.
+1 Character is by himself when he activates the power.
— Character vanishes before a single witness.
-1 Each witness after the first present when a character invokes the power.
Successful use of Cloak of Night renders the character invisible until and unless he does something to draw attention (launching an attack, smashing a window, shouting a warning), in which case the cloak drops.
Hiding oneself with this power even accounts for a character inadvertently revealing himself. A vampire doesn’t accidentally bump into bystanders, as they subconsciously move out of his way. No one hears when he steps on a squeaky floorboard unless they have somehow already pierced his Obfuscate.
The Familiar Stranger
This power allows the character to assume the image of whomever the subject most expects to see under the circumstances in which they meet. The character has no say in whom he “becomes.” In fact, he is not even immediately aware of what aspect he is perceived to have, unless the target gives the identity away through verbal or behavioral clues. For this reason, The Familiar Stranger is best used under circumstances when contact between the character and the subject is likely to be brief. Otherwise, the character runs a substantial risk of giving the deception away through improper behavior.
Note that this power does not actually change the vampire’s true appearance. It merely convinces an onlooker that the Kindred is someone other than who he truly is by clouding the subject’s mind.
Dice Pool: Wits + Subterfuge + Obfuscate versus subject’s Resolve + Blood Potency
Action: Contested; resistance is reflexive
Dramatic Failure: The character believes she is accepted differently, when in fact she is recognized as herself.
Failure: The vampire loses or ties the contested action. The character’s recognition does not change, and the vampire is aware of the failed attempt. Onlookers see the vampire for who she is.
Success: The vampire wins the contested action and is recognized as someone else for the duration of the scene.
Exceptional Success: Five or more successes are rolled for the Discipline user. The vampire wins the contested action and is accepted as someone else for as long as she wishes, rather than for the scene.
+2 Character knows for a fact who the subject expects to see.
+2 Power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie.
— Character has no idea who the subject expects.
-1 Character displays an emotion or undertakes an action not entirely appropriate to the circumstances.
-2 Character displays an emotion or undertakes action clearly out of place under the circumstances, or one largely foreign to the person whose appearance he mimics.
If faced with more than one observer, the character must choose one and hope the others expect to see the same person. Success in the contested action indicates that the character assumes the aspect of whomever the chosen subject most expects to see, and the others see that person as well, even if they have no knowledge of him or her. The character himself does not gain any knowledge of the individual, and might prove unable to maintain the deception for long. A character with Auspex can potentially see through this disguise, as per the normal rules for Auspex versus Obfuscate. Note also that it’s entirely possible that the next person the subject thought she would see is the vampire himself…
Example: Scratch uses The Familiar Stranger to appear before a child at home, who is attended by a babysitter. Three successes are rolled for him and none are rolled for the child. The child sees Scratch and shrieks, “Daddy!” which alerts the babysitter — who sees a person who she assumes is the child’s father.
Cloak the Gathering
A more powerful manifestation of Cloak of Night, Cloak the Gathering allows the vampire to extend her powers of vanishing from the mind’s eye over others. A vampire can hide one extra individual per dot of Obfuscate she possesses, not counting herself. She may attempt to hide more, but in doing so invokes a penalty to the player’s roll.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Stealth + Obfuscate
Dramatic failure: The character believes that he and his entourage vanishes from sight, when in fact they do not.
Failure: The characters do not vanish at all.
Success: The characters vanish from sight. Mortal witnesses reconstruct the scene in their memory to justify the characters’ disappearance if successes achieved on the invocation roll exceed their Willpower dots.
Exceptional Success: Five or more successes are rolled and the characters vanish from sight. Check previous for the effect on mortals. Kindred witnesses reconstruct the scene in their memory to justify the characters’ disappearance if successes gained on the invocation roll exceed their Willpower dots.
+1 Character is with only those to whom she extends this power when she activates it.
— Characters vanish before a single witness.
-1 Each witness after the first present when a character invokes the power.
-1 Each person Obfuscated beyond the number equal to the character’s level of Obfuscate, not counting the character herself.
While under the effects of this power, each individual must obey the rules of Cloak of Night. That is, anyone who draws attention through loud or brash actions likely becomes visible. If the Discipline user herself becomes visible, the effect fades away utterly, exposing everyone involved. Vampires under the effects of Cloak the Gathering can see each other, but if an individual ever leaves the sight of the vampire extending “invisibility,” the power ceases for him. He becomes visible while the rest of the characters remain hidden.