Fate Core Vampire 4.5: Necromancy and Thaumaturgy

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As promised, these two get their own post, because there’s a lot to go through here. Also, fair warning – none of my current players have used either Necromancy or Thaumaturgy, so I only have a NPC-eye-view thus far. In the case of Necromancy, I combined some of the paths, as I found the ones listed in V20 had a lot of overlap, and for Thaumaturgy I didn’t list all of the paths because with all of the various splatbooks there are just so many. I also have not gotten around to fleshing out all of these various paths, so I’ll just list the ones I have worked on.


The (Reworked) Ash Path

Vampires with any levels in The Ash Path can use Notice to detect wraiths and other death-related spirits.

  1. Lifeless Tongues: the necromancer can use Charisma and Manipulation on spirits once she has detected them.
  2. Ex Nihilo: enables a necromancer to spend a Fate point and reach across the Shroud, either to use Fight and Physique against wraiths for a scene, or to draw an object into the lands of the living.
  3. Shroud Mastery: the necromancy can raise or lower the Shroud in her zone and adjacent zones, dramatically affecting the difficulty of wraith abilities and some necromantic abilities in turn. Assume the Shroud in an average urban setting is an obstacle of +6, and for each level of success on an Occult roll the necromancer can reduce that by one (one for each +1 on the roll).

The Bone Path

Tremens: Vampires with any levels in The Bone Path can roll Will to cause a corpse to make a single, creepy movement.

  1. Apprentice Brooms: spend a Fate point and roll Occult. For each +1 you roll, you animate one undead servant. They do not have much in the way of skill, but can be put to menial tasks.
    • Corpse Servant: equivalent of +1 in one Skill, 4 physical stress boxes.
  2. Shambling Hordes: spend a Fate point and roll Occult. For each +1 on the roll, you raise one zombie servant. The zombies follow simple commands and last for a single scene.
    • Zombie: Physique +2, Fight +1, Notice +1, 4 physical stress boxes
  3. Daemonic Possession: the necromancer can remove the soul of a living person or restore a soul to a dead body. She spends a Fate point and touches her victim, and rolls Occult +2 vs. her victim’s Will. She must take her victim out with mental stress to remove her soul. To implant a soul in a body, the necromancy spends a Fate point and rolls Occult. This creates a revenant, an undead creature who will remain corporeal until her one task is accomplished. The necromancer defines that task when she gives the revenant her single Aspect.
    • Revenant: +3 in one Skill, +2 in two and +1 in three. One Aspect that represents her singular task. 4 mental and physical stress boxes and one moderate physical consequence slot.


A character with any levels in Thaumaturgy has access to Thaumaturgical rituals. For each level of Thaumaturgy, she receives a ritual of the same level. Further rituals can be bought with refresh.

The Path of Blood

  1. A Taste of Blood: A Taste of Blood: if you are able to taste someone’s blood, you can roll Occult and learn their Clan or clan-related Aspect, or answer one question, for each degree of success (one for +1, two for +2, etc.). The questions must have to do with blood.
  2. Theft of Vitae: you can roll Will vs. Physique to rip blood from a target within your line of sight, up to two zones away. This attack deals physical stress, and restores an equal amount of stress on your mental or physical stress track. If you deal 2 stress, you can treat a minor consequence, and if you deal 4 stress, you can treat a moderate consequence. This stress must be dealt in a single attack.
  3. Cauldon of Blood: if you touch your victim, you can roll Occult +2 vs. their Physique to boil their blood. Any damage will kill a mortal – otherwise treat this attack as a +2 damage weapon.

Lure of the Flames

Any Lure of the Flames failure inflicts mental stress equal to the degree of failure. Anyone with a level of Lure o the Flames can light small flames at will, but it still requires a Will roll. 

  1. Basic: use Will in place of Shoot to loose flames at your enemies up to two zones away, who can defend with Athletics or Will. Treat the flames as a +3 damage weapon. At least one of the stress you deal must be mental stress.
  2. Intermediate: your now roll Will +2 to make your flame attack.
  3. Advanced: your flames are now a +4 damage weapon, and 2 of the stress you inflict must be mental.

Movement of the Mind

  1. Basic: use Will in place of Physique to life objects and persons. Victims can resist with a Will roll of their own. The obstacle to lifting an average-sized person is +2.
  2. Intermediate: +2 to the Will rolls to replace Physique, which might enable superhuman feats of telekinesis.
  3. Advanced: +4 to Will to replace Physique.

Weather Control

  1. Fog, Rain or Snow: roll Will to add an Aspect to a scene, like creating an advantage. The Aspect can be anything related to fog, rain or snow, or whatever weather is natural to the location and season.
  2. High Winds or Storm: you can roll Will to shove everyone in a zone with a gust of wind. Those in the zone can resist with their Physique scores or be thrown into an adjacent zone, taking physical stress. If you have already created an advantage, you can spend a Fate point to summon up a serious storm appropriate to the climate.
  3. Lightning Strike: roll Will to make a ranged physical attack. The lightning bolt is a +4 damage weapon. Victims can defend with Physique or Will.

Necromancy Rituals

I haven’t done as much work on these rituals, because many of them have effects that are easy to leave undefined in terms of mechanics.

Thaumaturgical Rituals


Bind the Accusing Tongue: Will vs. thaumaturge’s Will in order to say something negative about him for a scene when activated.

Blood Rush: after the ritual is complete, count one minor beast consequence as treated. OR enables an Occult roll to treat beast consequences: +2 for minor, +4 for moderate, and +6 for severe.

Blood Walk: a limited version of Taste of blood which reveals a vampire’s lineage, back one generation for each degree of success on the Occult roll.

Communicate with Kindred Sire: it’s an occult phone call, basically, but a lot of Tremere elders don’t have phones.

Deflection of Wooden Doom: the next stake to pierce you still does damage, but it does not paralyze you. Must keep a piece of wood in your mouth at all times.

Devil’s Touch: curse a mortal by placing something discretely on their person

Eyes of the Night Hawk: allows you to approximately replicate the basic effects of Protean.

Illuminate the Trail of Prey: after the ritual is concluded, can use Occult in place of Investigation to follow someone’s trail for a scene.

Machine Blitz: roll Occult to attack a machine, causing stress and malfunction.

Principal Focus of Vitae Infusion: take mental stress now to infuse vitae into an object. You can reduce it back to constituent vitae later on in order to clear mental stress boxes or treat a hunger-related consequence on a one for one basis.

Recure of the Homeland: Will roll and use of dirt from homeland to mark one physical consequence as treated

Ward Versus Ghouls: Ghoul’s Will versus your Occult in an opposed roll to cross the warded area. If the Ghoul fails but forces herself to cross anyway, she takes physical stress equal to your roll to activate the ritual.


Bone of Lies: roll Occult instead of Empathy versus the victim’s Manipulation to cause a bone to darken if the victim lies.

Incorporeal Passage: allows a Thaumaturge to slip from one zone to an adjacent zone, even if through a barrier

Mirror of Second Sight: once the mirror is prepared, for one scene you can look at reflections in it and roll Notice to determine whether they are supernatural and what sort of supernatural they are.

Pavis of Foul Presence: the first time that a use of Presence during a given night would inflict stress on you, that stress rebounds back on the attacker.

Sanguine Assistant: basically, roll Occult instead of Contacts to create a creepy blood-fueled assistant for a night.

Shaft of Belated Quiescence: after an attack with a stake, a piece breaks off and beings worming its way to your victim’s heart. The stake makes a secondary attack, using your Occult rating, and then again for a second time if anyone tries to remove the splinter.
Ward Versus Lupines: as Ward Versus Ghouls.


I also haven’t completed work on advanced rituals, especially since none of the players in my Fate Core Vampire game are even Thaumaturges 🙂

OK, there we go. Next up, Mechanics.

Fate Core Vampire 1: Starting Point

I’ve been running an online Vampire the Masquerade game using my Fate Core hack for a few months now, and I think it is working really well. My idea was to playtest the hack and then put the rules up on this blog for anyone to use. If I’m someday blessed with more free time it might even become a document all to itself, instead of my notes and a half dozen blog posts. But we’ll see. I’m adding a blog category, Fate Core Vampire, for anyone who wants to see just posts related to this hack.

Starting Principles

For any hack, I like to have in mind, and state right at the top of the page I’m using for notes, what my goals are in succinct form. In this case, I wanted to run Vampire the Masquerade online for my friends. I’ve used the standard OWoD rules for this more than once, and while it can be fun, it is also clunky and slows down dramatically during conflicts, right when you’d prefer tension to be high. So I decided to try to use Fate Core, knowing that there will be some wiggle room between the core themes of Fate Core as a system and Vampire the Masquerade’s World of Darkness as a setting. I knew, going in, that this would probably lean a bit toward Superheroes With Fangs, but given the limitations of online gaming and what I knew of my friends, this was likely to be OK.

First, there would need to be a system for hunger and hunting that would place these things things at the center of the game. I toyed with the idea of another stress track, specific to hunger, or maybe to one’s Humanity or Path score, but instead just left the two standard stress tracks.

Next, I would have to model all of the various Vampire Disciplines as well as the various Backgrounds, almost certainly as Stunts and Extras of course, and for this I took some cues from Venture City, the cyberpunk supers setting for Fate Core, and how that game handled super-powers.

Other things I had in mind that I needed to decide how to model if possible: mind control from things like Dominate, aggravated damage, Humanity and Path development (including decay), and the three kinds of frenzy.

Step One

Once I sketch out my first thoughts, the first thing I often do for a Fate Core hack is to create a custom Skill list. Since the Skills are the main way the players interact with the game, a custom Skill list goes a long way toward the end of setting design and laying out some themes for the game you want to run. Here is the custom Skill list I came up with for Vampire, as well as, in parentheses, the Fate Core Skills these replace, or the Vampire abilities that they replace:

Athletics, Charisma (Provoke, Rapport), Contacts, Drive, Empathy, Expression (some Craft), Fight, Investigate, Knowledge, Manipulation (Deceive, Provoke), Notice, Occult, Physique, Resources, Shoot, Stealth, Streetwise, Survival (Animal Ken), Tech (some Craft), Will (20 total)

I brought over Charisma and Manipulation from the social abilities of Vampire. Lore got split into Knowledge, to cover most mundane knowledges, and Occult, to cover the supernatural. I also added Streetwise, key to the World of Darkness, as well as Survival to cover Animal Ken as well. Craft got split into Expression and Tech. And there you have it.

Hunger and Hunting

It took me a while to hit on this idea, but it was always a priority. This being Fate Core, I keep it simple. Each evening when a vampire wakes up, they wake up hungry. It’s the first thing I say to them as the night begins. I want it to be an incessant reality, and even boring and repetitive as they go through night after night. You wake up hungry. You wake up hungry. You wake up hungry.

In this case, “Hungry” is a minor condition that they take immediately upon awakening. The only way to treat this condition is through hunting, and hunting requires two Skill rolls, both against an obstacle of +2. I ask them how they go about hunting, and then we figure out the Skills that work best for that. Using Disciplines makes it take less time, or makes it somewhat more safe, depending on the circumstances (Dominate, for example, is great for hunting, but not a fail-safe).

Hap hunts with money, using Resources to find a prostitute who’s willing to indulge him. I also have him roll Empathy to make sure it’s the kind of prostitute who also won’t talk about what happens. (Or it could be Manipulation to threaten, etc.) Patrick hunts with Dominate, but I still have roll Notice or Empathy to make sure that the person he’s Dominating won’t be missed, isn’t highly willful, etc. Ash hunts with sex, so that’s usually an Empathy roll to find a likely dance partner and Charisma to seal the deal. Ellis tries to hunt from people who deserve it, so that’s Streetwise or maybe Notice and then Fight.

If they succeed, the minor condition is treated and goes away at the end of the hunting scene. If not, it stays, or they succeed with a concession, etc. If they go to bed hungry, they wake up “Hungry” again, but this time, it’s a moderate condition. Their roll to treat it is against an obstacle of +4 now, and it’s a real problem.

Oh, and you can always treat the “Hungry” condition by killing someone and draining all of their blood. Because of course.

Next: Character Creation in Fate Core Vampire