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Presence: Entrancement Revisited

by: Kallistos A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

As a player and a storyteller I have run into several problems with the discipline of Presence at rank 3. This power is supposed to grant some limited measure of control over the actions of another. However it is NOT a complete mind control like Dominate. Here is a description of how we handle Presence 3 in our chronicle.

Entrancement Effect, or 'Your new best friend'.

This power creates a need in the mind of the target, a need to please the vampire. It becomes a dominant, but not driving need in the mind of the target. At best the target will obey the vampire's commands and try to please the vampire in all ways; at worst the target will try to 'please' the vampire in such a way that the vampire suffers some collateral damage. The need manifests according to the nature of the victim. A Child nature would become obedient and compliant, treating the vampire as a parent to be obeyed; A rebel would think (not really think, but feel and act as if) the vampire were a high up man in his rebellion, or a sympathizer, or perhaps someone who's advice could be trusted, even if he was an establishment stooge. Note how the Child is much more likely to obey a command
than the Rebel is.

The effect also depends on Willpower of the victim. A low willpower (5) would be extremely compliant, act little on the target's own initiative and basically do what the vampire says. The target simply hasn't the Willpower to resist the compulsions of Presence. A victim with a Willpower of 5-7 would tend to do as the vampire asked, but would be more likely to have individual initiative as the nature allows. An individualistic Nature will do more on its own while a Sycophant would be practically incapable of independent action. At a Willpower 7 the victim will not likely obey spoken commands at all, feeling that the vampire is persuasive, but not commanding. The target will most likely spend willpower to resist commands and may to a limited extent pervert the feelings (sub-/un-conciosly), placing the vampire in danger. As a general rule we use Temporary willpower for this determination as it allows for the person to resist a few commands and them start to become more and more compliant as willpower dwindles. But a case can be made for using permanent Willpower for this.

An entranced subject should be played with a keen eye on his nature and Willpower. Long term entrancements demonstrate that the need created by entrancement doesn't supersede survival needs (food, shelter, safety) but is among the foremost social need. It replaces and overlays all but the deepest love/friendship relationships. However just as most people will not betray one friend for another an entranced subject is unlikely to betray close friends or loved ones. To overcome such relationships requires Dominate, Presence 6 or the Blood Bond. Depending on nature the entranced is best played as if he though the Vampire was a combination best friend, guide, parent, mentor and (to some extent) master.

Entrancement really shines when backed up by mundane psychology and brainwashing. A victim who is both entranced and brainwashed will tend to obey the vampire without question and will not spend willpower to resist the feelings about the vampire. Clever and manipulative vampires with Entrancement have NO problem starting cults that are quite willing to die for their master. (Look at any modern cult that doesn't have a SUPERnaturally charismatic founder and see that level of devotion... add in Presence and Viola... Waco, Texas here we come).

Entrancement FAQ

Q: Can I entrance an enemy in combat?
A: NO! This is a social power and the mind is closed during combat to this kind of effect. It can be used before combat, even if combat is imminent, but not once initiative is being rolled.

Q: Will someone I have entranced attack me?
A: Probably not. He views you as a friend and not an enemy. He can still spend willpower to attack you though. He still remembers that he is your enemy, but his personal feelings are conflicted about you.

Q: What happens if I attack a person I have entranced?
A: He will defend himself if attacked. He will still be entranced, but remember survival needs are above the need to please the vampire.

Q: Will someone I Entrance attack his former allies?
A: Probably not. He still knows they are his friends, and now you are too. If pressed he will go with the more meaningful friendship, which is almost always not the Entrancement.

Q: If I entrance someone and order her to do X, will they?
A: Depends on X and their nature. The key idea is the need to please the vampire is important, but it does not over rule survival or other social needs.

Entrancement Duration, or 'Here today, gone tomorrow'.

Use the chart from V:tM main book with this addition:

Successes: Duration:
6 10 yr.
7 25 yr.
8 50 yr.
9 100 yr.
10 1000 yr.

The success (and thus duration) roll should be made by the ST. The player doesn't know how long she has the victim for. A generous ST may allow a (Perception + Alertness, Awareness or even Occult) to detect an approximate number of success achieved.

A mortal entranced and then embraced will still be entranced until the end of the duration or he shakes it off through Willpower.

A possible variant to this is to say that a mortal under the effects of 8 success of Entrancement is entranced for life.

Here is a codified version of the rules to resist and throw off the effects of Entrancement: Spending Willpower will allow the victim a turn of free action and add to the victims pool of willpower spent to throw off the effects permanently. The effect is thrown off after an amount of Willpower is spent according to this chart.

Successes: Willpower:
1 1
2 2
3 4
4 8
5 16
6 32
7 64
8 128
9 256
10 1024

After this amount of willpower is spent the effect is thrown off and cannot be reinstated until after the effect would
have ended if it ran its course. If it is not thrown off, or if it is, it can be reinstated at the end of the original duration.

Entrancement Range, or 'What a long leash you have'.

A vampire must be seen by her victim to entrance him. However once entranced, how far away can the victim travel and still be influenced by the vampire? At low success the Vampire must be nearby for her presence to keep the victim entranced, but at high success levels the victim can travel some distance from the vampire and still be swayed. Here is the chart we use:

Suc. Range
1 The target must be able to see the Vampire
2 The target is in proximity of Vampire, same building or area
3 Target must be in the locale of vampire. a few city blocks etc
4 Target must stay in the same neighborhood or area of the city
5 Target must stay in the same city
6 Target must stay in the vicinity of the Vampire's city. Approx. the size of a (US) state or two
7 Target must stay in same geographical region. (East Coast, Midwest, England)
8 Same Landmass (North America, or Asia)
9+ Limitless

As long as the victim is in range he acts entranced as per Entrancement Effects, above.

A victim that is ordered out of range or by Willpower use takes himself out of range is considered to be 'freed' of the Entrancement. He is not completely free of the power, but the Entrancement is not sufficient to support the distance between them. The character is no longer trying to please the vampire and only has occasional desires to return to his master UNLESS the nature of the target and the circumstances suggest that the Vampire is endangered by the thrall's absence. In that case a Willpower roll needs to be made daily against a difficulty of 5 to avoid returning to the master. For the Vampire to recover her thrall she must again be face to face, but needs not reroll the power the original duration still holds. Also for every night spent 'free' from the vampire the target is considered to have spent one Willpower on breaking the effect. This 'Willpower' is free and doesn't subtract from the targets Willpower pool. Thus if the target annoys a truly ancient and powerful Kindred who gets 6 success on her Entrancement roll, the victim is Entranced for a decade. If the victim can flee the area however and get out from under the influence of the Vampire the Entrancement fades after a mere month.

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