Through constant veiled whispers, subtle hints and frequent sustained manipulation, a vampire can slowly render a particular victim substantially more suggestible. Conditioning is normally used only on favored or valuable servants and, over sufficient time, makes the character’s efforts to Dominate a subject far easier while making it harder for any other Kindred to do so. Acquiring such complete control over even the weakest mind is no easy task, however, and it normally takes weeks or even months to accomplish.
While they are undeniably loyal, servants subject to Conditioning lose much of their ability to think for themselves, their own personalities blotted out by the will imposed on them. They follow their orders literally and to the letter, rarely showing any imagination or judgment, or taking the initiative to act on their own. Some Kindred have remarked that, after a sufficiently lengthy period of Conditioning, their servants actually resemble the walking dead more so than their masters.
Mortals, thralls, other vampires and other supernatural creatures are all subject to Conditioning, if it can be performed on them over the required period of time.
Cost: 1 Willpower per roll
Dice Pool: Wits + Subterfuge + Dominate versus Resolve + Blood Potency
Action: Contested and Extended (6-15+ successes; each roll represents one week of mental manipulation); resistance is reflexive
Dramatic Failure: All of the user’s successes to date are negated and the subject is immune to the character’s Dominate until the next sunset.
Failure: The character loses or ties a contested roll and the attempt fails.
Success: The character wins a contested roll and makes progress in his efforts to suborn the subject’s will.
Exceptional Success: The character wins a contested roll with five or more successes and makes substantial progress in his efforts to suborn the subject’s will.
Conditioning does not have any mechanical effect until five more successes are accumulated in excess of the victim’s Willpower dots. (If the subject has Willpower 6, Conditioning begins to take effect once 11 successes are achieved.) Once this benchmark has been reached, all future attempts by the character to use any Dominate ability (including further uses of Conditioning) on the victim receive a +1 bonus, and all attempts by other Kindred to Dominate the subject suffer a -1 penalty. For every additional five successes that are accumulated, the bonus and penalty each increase by one, to a maximum of +5 and -5. The Storyteller, not the player, should keep track of the number of successes accumulated.
Once the character’s bonus reaches +3, he no longer needs to make eye contact with the Conditioning subject to use any Dominate abilities, though giving orders through artificial or impersonal means (such as by phone) imposes a -5 penalty to that particular attempt.
Subjects of Conditioning are oblivious to the process being inflicted upon them unless they also possess the power. The Storyteller may allow a victim or someone close to him a Wits + Occult roll to recognize that something is wrong. If the roll fails, the process may continue unaffected. If the roll succeeds, an effort may be made to interrupt the process. If the Conditioning vampire is particularly careful about how suggestions and messages are conveyed, the Wits + Occult roll might suffer a -1 penalty. Interrupting the process could mean fleeing the vampire or restraining the subject from meeting the vampire before all the required successes are accumulated.
It is possible, albeit extremely difficult, to break a subject’s Conditioning after the required successes are gathered. If the victim is isolated from her master for a number of weeks equal to twice the master’s current Conditioning-granted bonus, the bonus drops by one. For example, a subject has been Conditioned for a long time, and her master has achieved a bonus of +4 to Dominate her. If she is kept completely isolated from her master for eight weeks, the bonus drops to +3. Six more weeks, and it drops to +2, and so forth.
The subject’s own personality and creativity slowly reawakens during this period, though she still experiences periods of listlessness, depression and desperation. For at least the first few weeks, the subject most likely makes every attempt to return to her master. Until the subject is completely free, it is horrifyingly easy for the vampire to reassert his dominance, as he likely has at least some bonus to Dominate the individual for a long while.
If the subject of Conditioning is also the thrall of the vampire, all successes on a Conditioning roll are doubled. So, if a vampire seeks to Condition his own ghoul, and he gets three successes to her two in one roll to program the subject, he actually accumulates six successes in that Conditioning session.
If this power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie (see p. 162), a +2 bonus applies.