The Beast resides within all creatures, from lice-ridden rats to powerful Kindred elders. The Discipline of Animalism allows the vampire to develop a close, intense connection with his primordial nature. He not only communicates emphatically with the lower beasts, but also projects his own force of will upon them, directing the animals to do his bidding. Additionally, as the vampire grows in power, he can use Animalism to control the Beast within mortals and even other supernaturals.
A vampire who lacks this Discipline or the Skill of Animal Ken is repellent to animals. Beasts grow distinctly agitated in the presence of such a Kindred, often to the point of fleeing from or attacking the vampire. In contrast, Kindred with Animalism present a soothing aspect to lower creatures - indeed, animals are often attracted to them.
The Gangrel are especially renowned as the masters of Animalism, although the Nosferatu, Ravnos and Tzimisce clans show a talent for the Discipline as well.
The Traits of Manipulation and Charisma are key to Animalism powers. The stronger the vampire's force of personality, the better able he is to influence lesser creatures.
- Sweet Whispers
While most animals are hardly intelligent enough to carry on a lengthy discourse on any subject, with this discipline you can attempt a limited form of empathic communication and can make specific requests of creatures. Such intercourse takes place mentally – there is no need to hiss or bark to communicate with the animal. You need only look into the animal’s eyes to initiate the conversation. Eye contact must be maintained throughout. If it is broken, you will need to re-establish eye contact in order to speak with the animal once again. Of course there is no guarantee that a given animal will either desire to talk at all or deal honestly if it does. After establishing eye contact, you are able to issue complex commands to a single animal, which it will follow to the best of its ability. However, the command must be couched in terms of a request, and the animal must be coaxed into it. (In other words you need to roleplay through it.) The “favour” cannot be too complex for the intellect of the animal to comprehend. For instance, a mouse would be incapable of distinguishing between people, while a dog would not know what a phone is. These commands can be deeply implanted, however, so that they will affect the animal for some time. For instance, you could instruct a cat to come and get you when anyone enters the cellar, and the cat will continue to do so for days or even weeks.
System: No roll is necessary to talk with the animal, but the player must make a Manipulation + Animal Ken roll to get it to do favours. (Diff 6.) This difficulty can be adjusted by circumstances and roleplaying skill. Depending on the nature of the characters inner soul, the approach of the conversation with the animal will differ – it is not completely up to the player to decide, and depends heavily on the character’s Nature. The approach taken might be that of intimidation, teasing, cajoling, rationality, or practically anything. Interactions must be roleplayed through, but the player should understand that he does not simply play the character, but the beast within instead.
- The Beckoning
The essence of the animal has grown strong in you, and now animals respond when you call to them. You are now able to summon nearly any species of animal, drawing them to you. The character must actually sing in the voice of the animals to be summoned – Howling like a wolf or squawking like a bird. The primary limitation is that you may not call animals of different species. Only one summons may be active at a time and there is no way to cancel a call after it has been made. Thus, you had better get it right first time. Animals called this way are under no immediate obligation to heed your commands, though they are often friendly and inquisitive with regard to your call.
System: The player must roll Charisma + Survival to determine how well the call is received by the intended targets (Diff 6) and consult the table below. The only animals that might respond are those within hearing distance of the song. The summons may be very complicated, though the storyteller will assign a higher difficulty if the player gets too carried away.
1 Success One animal responds
2 Successes A quarter of the animals that hear the beckoning respond
3 Successes Half of the animals respond
4 Successes Most of the animals respond
5 Successes All of the animas respond
*** Song of Serenity
This power allows you to expel the savagery from an animal or mortal, causing the target to become passive and listless. Simply by touching the individual you wish to affect and singing a song of comfort and solace to the beast within, you can take from him that which gives him the fire of individuality and creativity. When the beast has been removed from an individual, he loses the will to fight or struggle. He cannot use or regain willpower, nor can he resist any attack upon him. Kindred are immune to this power. Mortals and creatures that lack a beast are prone to accept nearly anything, which occurs to them in this state as completely normal and natural, evincing no reaction to it. Later they might wonder why they had no reaction, but often they avoid thinking about the situation at all.
System: The player must roll Manipulation + Empathy (Diff 7) and must collect as many successes as the target has willpower (Five for most animals). This is an extended roll. Any failure indicates that the vampire must start over from the beginning, while any botch indicates that he will never again be able to steal that creature’s beast.
- Sharing of Spirits
By staring into the eyes of an animal, your spirit or conscious mind moves within the animal and possesses it. This allows you to control the actions of the animal as if you were that animal. Your body becomes unconscious and remains motionless during this time, exactly as if you were in torpor.
System: The player must roll Charisma + Animal Ken (Diff 8) as the character looks into the animal’s eyes (only Animals with eyes can be possessed.). The number of successes obtained determines the free will and powers the character still retains while possessing the animal. Less than 3 successes means the player must use willpower points to take any action which directly violates the instincts of the animal in question.
1 Success Cannot use Disciplines
2 Successes Can use Auspex
3 Successes Can also use Presence
4 Successes Can also use Dominate
5 Successes Can also use Thaumaturgy
The character will behave much like the animal if less than 5 successes are obtained – Her spirit is clouded with the needs and impulses of the animal body. Sometimes she will begin to think and feel like the animal, even after the connection has been broken. The player behaves like the animal she was, retaining many of its instincts for a time. This will continue until 7 willpower points are spent to resist and overcome specific effects. At the end of any particularly exciting incident, the player should roll Wits + Empathy (Diff 8) for the character to retain her own mind. Failure indicates that the characters mind returns to her own body, but still thinks in purely animal terms. A botch sends the character into a frenzy. When employing this power, it is possible for a vampire to travel about during the day, albeit in the body of an animal. However, she must be awake to do so, and therefore the player must successfully make a roll to stay awake.
- Drawing out the Beast
You have attained a deep understanding of the mysteries of man’s wild cousins. Armed with this knowledge, you are better able to deal with the beast within. When the beast becomes to powerful to control, you can transfer the feral urges to another creature. Effectively, you induce frenzy in another animal, man or vampire as a means of avoiding it yourself. The recipient of this vast, savage energy must be something that is fit for the burden; only beings with a humanity score of 7 or less are wild enough to provide a home for your beast. This unfortunate creature actually receives your beast, and thus your personality will be apparent in the nature of the frenzy the victim undergoes. The frenzy will progress just as if you were the creature in that state.
System: To use this power, the vampire must be in frenzy, or close to it, and roll Manipulation + Animal Ken (Diff 8). The player needs to announce his preferred target prior to rolling. It must be someone within eyesight.
1 Success The character transfers the beast, but releases it on a friend.
2 Successes The character is stunned by the effort and may not act next turn, but transfers the beast
3 Successes The character is completely successful.
If the attempt fails, the intensity of frenzy actually increases, for as the character relaxes in expectation of relieving himself of the savage desires of the beast, the beast takes that opportunity to dig deeper. The frenzy will last at twice as long and twice as hard to shrug off; it will also be many times more severe than normal. A botch on this roll is even more catastrophic. The heightened frenzy is so extreme that not even the expenditure of willpower points will effectively curb its duration or effects. If the character leaves the targets presence before the frenzy concludes, he will lose his beast, perhaps permanently. While no longer vulnerable to frenzy, the character will not be able to use or regain willpower and will become increasingly lethargic. To recover the beast, he must find the person who now possesses it (who probably won’t be enjoying herself much) and retrap the beast. He must behave in ways that will make the beast want to return since, unfortunately, the beast does not always wish to do so.