Chimerstry

The Ravnos are heirs to a legacy of illusion, and none can say exactly why. The elders of their clan, when properly approached, speak cryptically of ghuls and rakshasas, and the shapeshifting antics of their Antediluvian founder are the subject of many a dark campfire tale among the clan. But whatever the source, the nomadic Ravnos have a potent weapon in the form of their Discipline of Chimerstry.

Chimerstry is an art of conjuration; the vampire may draw upon her inner reserves to bring phantoms to life. These false images can confound mortal senses and sensory equipment alike. If the Cainite's power is strong enough, illusions created by Chimerstry may even baffle the heightened senses of the vampire. The Ravnos are fond of using this power to seduce, swindle or enslave mortals, effectively purchasing their victims' souls in exchange for a sack of bouillon that isn't there. Illusions created by Chimerstry may be detected by Auspex. They may also be seen for what they are by a victim who "proves" the illusion's falsehood (e.g., a person who walks up to an illusory wall, expresses his disbelief in it, and puts his hand through it effectively banishes the illusion).

What is Chimerstry?
Players and Storytellers alike are often uncertain as to what Chimerstry actually represents and how it works. Another common concern is that Chimerstry doesn't readily tie into the vampire mythos.

Bear the following in mind.

Chimerstry is not Obfuscate
Chimerstry can't make anything "invisible." Unlike Obfuscate, Chimerstry does affect cameras, motion detectors and other technological sensing devices (but it won't trigger tripwires or pressure plates). Chimerstry derives from the Ravnos' ability to visualize an image and bring it to life and doesn't rely so much on the human mind's tendency to fill in the blanks, at least not to the extent that Obfuscate does.

Disbelief
This is a tough one — just because a character knows that a Ravnos can create illusions is not sufficient reason to disbelieve everything a Ravnos does. If the Ravnos draws a kris from her purse, it very well could be a real kris. Belief is not like a water faucet. Characters can't simply turn it on or off at will. On the other hand, a completely implausible illusion won't convince anyone. Either way, the fact that someone has a good reason to disbelieve a Ravnos' Chimerstry-created images does not mean those images will vanish. The false nature of such images is obvious to any who can penetrate the illusion, but the illusion will remain until it would otherwise disappear.

Horrid Reality vs. High Auspex
Auspex and Chimerstry work against each other in the same manner as Auspex vs. Obfuscate(see Vampire: The Masquerade, p. 152). If a Ravnos inflicts Horrid Reality against another Kindred who has Auspex at level five, the interaction occurs as described in the core rules. If the victim has more Auspex than the Ravnos has Chimerstry, the power fails automatically. Harsh luck.

Chimerstry isn't Vampiric
Some people have strict definitions of what fits into traditional vampire tales. Their views may be as narrow as what Stoker's Dracula could do, or perhaps as broad as whatever appeared in European legends. Either way, strict definitions imply that a body of legend is obliged to stop growing at some point and never add anything new. This is not necessary or required. Anyone who's seen Lost Boys probably recalls the sequence with the rice disguised momentarily as maggots. This is a good example of Chimerstry in a vampire story — a very recent story, certainly, but how does a story's age invalidate it? Indeed, Chimerstry is a fine way to evoke psychological horror.

It's not that Chimerstry is somehow "not vampiric," but rather that it's rarely used in a manner that supports the themes running through Vampire. How can a Storyteller maintain a game of "personal horror" when the Ravnos conjures up stock-fantasy tropes or near-comical absurdities? In the hands of a clever Kindred, Chimerstry is a potent tool — it can be used to cover or prevent Masquerade breaches, to add subtle touches to a scene, to drive mortals (or other Kindred) to their mental limits and the like. It works best when its use isn't obvious. Use Chimerstry to reinforce the mood rather than break it.

Level 1: Ignis Fatuus


The vampire may conjure a minor, static mirage that confounds one sense. For instance, he may evoke a sulfurous stench, the image of a curtain, or the feel of raw silk. Note that although tactile illusions can be felt, they have no real substance; an invisible but tactile wall cannot confine anyone, and invisible razor-wire causes no real damage.

System: The player must spend a point of Willpower to create this illusion. It lasts until the Ravnos leaves its vicinity (such as stepping out of the room) or until another person sees through it somehow. The Cainite may also end the illusion at any time; this requires no effort, only the merest whim.

Level 2: Dweamor


The Cainite can now create illusions that appeal to all the senses, although they remain static. For example, the vampire could throw a mirage over a dank basement, making it appear to be a sumptuous boudoir, although she could not create flickering candles or a flowing fountain. Again, the dweomer has no solid presence, although it's easy enough to make a filthy mattress on two sawhorses feel like a four-poster bed.

System: The player spends a Willpower point and a blood point to create the dweomer. These static images remain until dispelled, in much the same way that an Ignis Fatuus illusion does.

Level 3: Apparition


Not really a power unto itself, Apparition allows a vampire to give motion to an illusion created with Ignis Fatuus or Fata Morgana. Thus, the Ravnos could create the illusion of a living being, running water, fluttering drapes or a roaring fire.

System: The creator spends one blood point to make the illusion move in one specific way. She may change the image's movement only if she has done nothing but concentrate on the mirage since creating it.

Level 4: Permanency


This power, also used in conjunction with Ignis Fatuus or Fata Morgana, allows a mirage to persist even when the vampire cannot see it. In this way, Ravnos often cloak their temporary havens in false trappings of luxury, or ward off trespassers with illusory guard dogs.

System: The vampire need only spend a blood point, and the illusion becomes permanent until dissolved.

Level 5: Horrid Reality


Rather than create simple illusions, the vampire can now project hallucinations directly into a victim's mind. The target of these illusions believes completely that the images are real; a hallucinatory fire can burn him, an imaginary noose can strangle him, and an illusory wall can block him. This power affects only one person at a time; although other people can try to convince the victim that his terrors are not real, he won't believe them.

System: A Horrid Realty costs two Willpower points to set in motion and lasts for an entire scene (although its effects may last longer; see below). If the vampire is trying to injure his victim, his player must roll Manipulation + Subterfuge (difficulty of the victim's Perception + Self -Control). Each success inflicts one health level of damage on the victim; if the player wishes to inflict less damage, he may announce a maximum amount of damage before rolling the dice. This power cannot actually kill its victims (although a target with a heart condition may well die from fright); a victim "killed" by an illusory attack loses consciousness or enters torpor. All injuries disappear once the victim is truly convinced that she wasn't actually harmed by the Horrid Reality. Of course, such a cure may take a long time, or even psychological therapy. The nightmarish power of Chimerstry is nothing to take lightly.

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