Vampire: Flying Discipline

Something that has always bugged me about any World of Darkness Vampire edition (new, old, revised or anniversary). There’s never been any discipline that enables a power featured in vampire media all over: that of moving in a way that defies gravity.

A few scenes from famous media that grabbed me:

  • Interview with the Vampire: that fellow walking up a wall and even standing upside down under a bridge
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula: titular character climbing down a wall like a lizard or spider
  • Salem’s Lot: the kid vampire floating up to a window sinisterly waving
  • Underworld (1): vampire lady leaps up to ceiling and hangs there like a cat/spider
  • Lost Boys: hovering, floating vampire bad dudes

I also recall that in a few of the Anne Rice novels, Lestat actually flew through the air like Superman.

Now I’ve heard people argue that with a clever application of Discipline X and Thaumaturgy Y, or simply with great Potence and Protean, you can emulate flight or wall crawling. But I don’t accept that.

Here’s how I’d do it: Levitatus

That’s a working title. I need to find something pretentious and esoteric while using some words from Latin, French or Romanian. You get the idea.

This Discipline could work with any edition of White Wolf’s Vampire RPG.

The power comes on gradually:  it’s more about defying gravity in a supernatural sense while tapping into a few mythical tropes. It also isn’t just a flat progression of “you can fly a bit, then a bit faster/higher, then a bit MORE fast/high etc…” and instead, structured like some of the existing powers. I mean, look at Protean, Animalism, Dominate. They have different abilities at each dot that scale up in power but they’re not all the exact same effect.

Wallcrawl (one dot)

You can crawl on vertical surfaces; your hands and feet, even if clothed, somehow “stick”. Otherwise gravity still affects you and you can only move as quickly as you can walk. In addition, you can hang upside down from ceilings.

Glide (two dots)

You can move around without touching the ground. Rising one to three feet, you can propel yourself slowly in any direction (at the speed of walking). Extremely useful for theatrics and stealth.

Leap (two dots)

You can jump vertically upwards from a still position. The distance travelled is up to 10 feet (for every additional dot in Levitatus, the distance increases by another 10 feet). Alternatively, your regular horizontal leap gets a boost in distance of 5 feet per dot. This has nothing to do with physical athletic strength: the power comes from another source.

Hover (four dots)

Spend a point of blood to rise up into the air or float down at a speed of a slow walk. It is not possible to move around in a chosen direction but momentum is a factor. For example, if you take a running leap off a sky scraper and then invoke Hover, you’ll descend slowly across a distance (rather than straight down). The effect lasts until you land on a surface (horizontal or vertical).

Flight (five dots)

Spending a point of blood grants  you the ability to move freely about in the air.  You can fly as slowly as you wish or as quickly as a run.

What do you think?

Featured image from Phantom City Creative.

This is based on a thread that I started on the wonderful new gaming discussion forum called RPGPub. Here is a link to this thread.

Review of Arrival

Summary: Arrival is a thoughtful and dramatic movie that’s really worth seeing. It’s a “smart” alien invasion story. If you like introspective science fiction like Interstellar or Contact, then I think you’ll enjoy this one too. Bonus for folks interested in linguistics.

Science Fiction is a medium unlike many others because if often attempts to deliver a philosophical message to an audience despite the trappings of futuristic or cosmic themes. I’d argue that these poignant themes are emphasized because of the way that they ground the audience in spite of the extraordinary.

You wouldn’t always expect that. On Netflix and other video collections, the majority of Science Fiction stories focus on action, fantasy or horror. But there are a few that stand because they try to elevate the human experience to the above and beyond.

Arrival stands with such science fiction films as:

  • Interstellar (for the epic and emotional climax)
  • 2001: a Space Odyssey (for the existential observations about humanity)
  • Contact (for the unique take on interacting with alien beings)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (for the themes of memory and nostalgia)
  • Signs (where the focus is often about the people, not the event itself)

It also reminded me of Jacob’s Ladder, but for mixing anguish and loss with whatever genre it was.

All of these films tap into something primal about human emotion and existentialism. Memory, nostalgia, loss, anguish and fear. Unlike horror movies, where these feelings often (but not always) are detrimental to the protagonists’ fate, films like Arrival are about how these feelings elevate us and make us stronger. Human emotional vulnerability ultimately saves.

Arrival is a smart film, but not pretentious. All of the characters seem unsure of themselves; they all doubt and fear their own understanding of what’s happening around them. They express it in different ways, but because of this, all of the characters are relate-able, understandable. Even the film’s antagonists who tragically became worse because of their fears and anxieties. In a movie all about communication, these soldiers nearly ruined everything because of a lack of it.

The world’s military organisations play a large role, but they aren’t praised (like those propaganda schlock-fests of Michael Bay) nor bashed. There really are good people on all sides here; no cartoonish evil. It’s pretty fair.

Amy Addams is fantastic in this movie. I’m always fascinated and moved by portrayals of characters who are deeply affected by personal tragedy and loss. I’ve seen this actor in other films and I feel that she has quite a noble range. I want to see more movies with her in a leading role.

Most of the other actors did fine jobs with their subdued roles. Everyone in the world is numb in this movie and it’s quite dramatic. The representation of fear and anxiety is like a sickness, not a panic-driven fight or flight.

The special effects were extraordinary. I forgot that there was any CGI. This might be due to the excellent cinematography, editing and scoring. I felt completely immersed in the wondrous visual scenes. The alien design was very inspired and interesting.

I won’t spoil it for  you, but the movie has a surprising twist (not in a Shyamalan way, though) that is as packed with surprise and dawning understanding as it is with feeling. Intersellar made me feel the same way.

There’s an element to this movie that will make you scratch your head upon the first viewing. It all gets explained in the end, but makes you want to watch it again. Sort of like the Sixth Sense. But when it is revealed, it isn’t just another “AHA!” moment: it too is rich in emotional impact.

A common theme throughout the film is the circle or maybe even the tesseract. That is, a never-ending cycle or loop. High concept stuff for sure. I was very impressed.

The reveal of the aliens’ physical appearance, as well as their motives, also reminded me of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. I won’t go any further into that though.

As mentioned earlier, I highly recommend this movie. Definitely in my top favourites. The less you know about it, the better.

Reminiscent of the Engineers ships in Prometheus.


Domes of blessed dark

In the Sepulcher of the Abyss, the dungeon featured in A Thousand Fathoms Deep, there are all manner of interesting locations. Unlike typical dungeons, not all are necessarily dangerous or lethal. That all depends on why the adventurers are there, and how they’re behaving.

Here are a few titles to entice your curiosity and dread:

  1. Embalming orgy
  2. Well of Souls
  3. Scriptorium & tattoo parlour
  4. Sharktopus nursery
  5. Geothermal sauna
  6. The Great Seal of Stygia (cracked)
  7. Mandela of the Vortex
  8. Screaming Ossuary
  9. Abominable pulpits
  10. The twin Coral thrones
  11. Mummification Urns
  12. The Black Mirrors
  13. Library of living flesh
  14. Puzzles of brass chains
  15. The Sleeping Bodhisattva
  16. Mara’s feast
  17. The scalding baths
  18. Squid barn
  19. Jellyfish pit
  20. Brittle Star gardens
  21. Giant anemone dances
  22. Shrine to the Anti-Cosmos
  23. Opium vents
  24. Kilns for blasphemous pottery
  25. The sleeping masters
  26. Prophetic cloisters of the dawn-less day
  27. Fangtooth acupuncturism
  28. Cleansing Fountain (home of an abyssal mermaid)