Obfuscate

Obfuscate is the uncanny ability for Kindred to conceal themselves from sight, sometimes even in full view of a crowd. An Obfuscated vampire doesn’t actually become invisible, however — rather, he is able to delude observers into believing that he has vanished. Obfuscate also allows Kindred to change their features and conceal other people or objects. Typically vampires using Obfuscate must be within a short range of their witnesses (approximately five yards or meters per dot of Wits + Stealth) for their power to be effective.

Unless the Kindred chooses to make herself seen, she can remain obscured for as long as she wills it. At higher levels, the vampire can actually fade from sight so subtly that those nearby can’t actually recall the moment at which she left.

Usually, few mortals or supernaturals (even those trained in Awareness) can pierce through the fog of Obfuscate. Animals, who rely more on their instincts than their normal senses, can sometime perceive (and be frightened by) the vampire’s presence. Children and those to whom deception is foreign may also be able to pierce the illusion, at the Storyteller’s discretion. Finally, the Auspex Discipline enables Kindred to see through Obfuscate. Even that is not guaranteed, however; refer to Seeing the Unseen for more information. (Storytellers needing a die roll for animals or children can use this quick and dirty guideline: treat them as if they had Auspex 1 in terms of contesting Obfuscate. They do not have the Auspex 1 power, but are considered to have it when determining whether a vampire is noticed.)

Since Obfuscate clouds the mind of the viewer, vampires can’t use it to hide their presence from electronic or mechanical devices. Video and photo cameras, for example, capture the vampire’s image accurately. Even so, the person using, say, her cell phone to record an Obfuscated vampire will still have her mind impacted by the power, and she won’t see the Kindred’s image until she views the video at a later date (if even then).

Several Clans cultivate this power — the Assamites, Followers of Set, and Malkavians, for example — but the Nosferatu are particularly known for this Discipline. Some elder Kindred believe that Caine, or perhaps Lilith, bestowed the Clan with this Discipline to compensate for the hideous physical deformities its members suffer.

Most Obfuscate powers last for a scene, or until the vampire ceases maintaining them. Once evoked, they require very little mental effort to keep in place.

• Cloak of Shadows

At this level, the vampire must rely on nearby shadows and cover to assist in hiding his presence. He steps into an out-of-the-way, shadowed place and eases himself from normal sight. The vampire remains unnoticed as long as he stays silent, still, under some degree of cover (such as a curtain, bush, door frame, lamppost, or alley), and out of direct lighting. The immortal’s concealment vanishes if he moves, attacks, or falls under direct light. Furthermore, the vampire’s deception cannot stand up to concentrated observation without fading.

System

No roll is required as long as the character fulfills the criteria described above. So long as he remains quiet and motionless, virtually no one but another Kindred with a high enough Auspex rating will see him.

•• Unseen Presence

With experience, the vampire can move around without being seen. Shadows seem to shift to cover him, and people automatically avert their gazes as he passes by. Others move unconsciously to avoid contact with the cloaked creature; those with weak wills may even scurry away from the area in unacknowledged fear. The vampire remains ignored indefinitely unless someone deliberately seeks him out or he inadvertently reveals himself.

With experience, the vampire can move around without being seen. Shadows seem to shift to cover him, and people automatically avert their gazes as he passes by. Others move unconsciously to avoid contact with the cloaked creature; those with weak wills may even scurry away from the area in unacknowledged fear. The vampire remains ignored indefinitely unless someone deliberately seeks him out or he inadvertently reveals himself.

System

No roll is necessary to use this power unless the character speaks, attacks, or otherwise draws attention to himself. The Storyteller should call for a Wits + Stealth roll under any circumstances that might cause the character to reveal himself. The difficulty of the roll depends on the situation; stepping on a squeaky floorboard might be a 5, while walking through a pool of water may require a 9. Other acts may require a certain number of successes; speaking quietly without giving away one’s position, for instance, demands at least three successes. Upon success, the vampire, all her clothing, and objects that could fit into a pocket are concealed.

Some things are beyond the power of Unseen Presence to conceal. Although the character is cloaked from view while he smashes through a window, yells out, or throws someone across the room, the vampire becomes visible to all in the aftermath. Bystanders snap out of the subtle fugue in which Obfuscate put them. Worse still, each viewer can make a Wits + Awareness roll (difficulty 7); if successful, the mental haze clears completely, so those individuals recall every move the character made up until then as if he had been visible the entire time.

••• Mask of a Thousand Faces

The vampire can influence the perception of others, causing them to see a face different from his. Although the Kindred’s physical form does not change, any observer who cannot sense the truth sees whomever the vampire wishes her to see.

The vampire must have a firm idea of the visage he wishes to project. The primary decision is whether to create an imaginary face or to superimpose the features of another person. Manufactured features are often more difficult to compose in believable proportions, but such a disguise is easier to maintain than having to impersonate someone else. Of course, things get simpler if the Kindred borrows the face but doesn’t bother with the personality.

System

The player rolls Manipulation + Performance (difficulty 7) to determine how well the disguise works. If the character tries to impersonate someone, he must get a good look at the subject before putting on the mask. The Storyteller may raise the difficulty if the character catches only a glimpse. The chart below lists the degrees of success in manufacturing another appearance. Vampires wishing to mask themselves as a person more attractive than they are must pay additional blood points equal to the difference between the vampire’s Appearance rating and the Appearance of the mask (which means that younger vampires may need to take longer in order to spend the blood necessary).

1 success — The vampire retains the same height and build, with a few slight alterations to his basic features. Nosferatu can appear as normal, albeit ugly, mortals.
2 successes — He looks unlike himself; people don’t easily recognize him or agree about his appearance.
3 successes — He looks the way he wants to appear.
4 successes — Complete transformation, including gestures, mannerisms, appearance, and voice.
5 successes — Profound alteration (appear as the opposite sex, a vastly different age, or an extreme change of size).

Actually posing as someone else carries its own problems. The character should know at least basic information about the individual; especially difficult deceptions (fooling a lover or close friend) require at least some familiarity with the target in order to succeed.

•••• Vanish from the Mind’s Eye

This potent expression of Obfuscate enables the vampire to disappear from plain view. So profound is this vanishing that the immortal can fade away even if he stands directly in front of someone.

While the disappearance itself is quietly subtle, its impact on those who see it is anything but. Most kine panic and flee in the aftermath. Especially weak-willed individuals wipe the memory of the Kindred from their minds. Although vampires are not shaken so easily, even Kindred may be momentarily surprised by a sudden vanishing.

System

The player rolls Charisma + Stealth; the difficulty equals the target’s Wits + Alertness (use the highest total in the group if the character disappears in front of a crowd). With three or fewer successes, the character fades but does not vanish, becoming an indistinct, ghostlike figure. With more than three, he disappears completely. If the player scores more successes than an observer’s Willpower rating, that person forgets that the vampire was there in the first place.

Tracking the character accurately while he appears ghostlike requires a Perception + Alertness roll (difficulty 8). A successful roll means the individual can interact normally with the vampire (although the Kindred looks like a profoundly disturbing ghostly shape). A failed roll results in a +2 difficulty modifier (maximum 10) when attempting to act upon, or interact with, the vampire. The Storyteller may call for new observation checks if the vampire moves to an environment in which he’s difficult to see (heads into shadows, crosses behind an obstacle, proceeds through a crowd). When fully invisible, the vampire is handled as described under Unseen Presence, above.

A person subject to the vanishing makes a Wits + Courage roll (mortals at difficulty 9, vampires at difficulty 5). A successful roll means the individual reacts immediately (although after the vampire performs his action for that turn); failure means the person stands uncomprehending for two turns while her mind tries to make sense of what she just experienced.

••••• Cloak the Gathering

At this degree of power, the vampire may extend his concealing abilities to cover an area. The immortal may use any Obfuscate power upon those nearby as well as upon himself, if he wishes.

Any protected person who compromises the cloak exposes himself to view. Further, if the one who invokes the power gives himself away, the cloak falls from everyone. This power is particularly useful if the vampire needs to bring his retinue through a secure location without drawing the notice of others.

System

The character may conceal one extra individual for each dot of Stealth he possesses. He may bestow any single Obfuscate power at a given time to the group. While the power applies to everyone under the character’s cloak, his player need only make a single roll. Each individual must follow the requirements described under the relevant Obfuscate power to remain under its effect; any person who fails to do so loses the cloak’s protection, but doesn’t expose the others. Only if the vampire himself errs does the power drop for everyone.

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