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In both OWoD and NWoD there are supernatural powers which allow you to see peoples' 'auras', represented as patterns of 'colour'. Is the knowledge of what each colour means innate, or is it something I have to (l)earn?

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Good question! @Pureferret – C. Ross Mar 16 '12 at 12:37
thanks for the Edit @Jadasc – Pureferret Mar 16 '12 at 12:58
Would a colour blind person be able to see auras? ... – Sardathrion Mar 16 '12 at 12:59
@Sardathrion Certainly. For one thing, color-blindness has to do with the signals that come from the retinal cones; the auras aren't being literally "seen" so much as perceived. For another, even if they were "seen," the user would just map the colors they "saw" to the emotions they understood — the only problem would be in trying to explain it to another Auspex-user who had a different color metaphor. (It's worth noting that even blind vampires can see auras, as per the description of the flaw.) – Jadasc Mar 17 '12 at 12:08
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I would say that it is something learned but is common to all supernatural being possessing it. Thus "red" is always anger whoever/whatever is viewing it and whoever/whatever is radiating it. Depending on the level, a dice roll, or story, I would suggest that more details can be learned based on the target's specific state.

For example, I see "red". There are literally thousands of reds, just as each one depends on exactly the level, intensity, and nature of the anger. You could have a large colour chart and mark it all or just meta-data it.

As a side effect, this would allow obfuscate users to modify their aura as they would "know" the right colour to go to. Of course, that would depend on whether or not they could mimic it as well: more empathy/acting roles needed. You could even go as far as to map it all to micro-facial expressions if you were to believe Dr Paul Ekman.

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I would say this depends on how the Auspex power is handled by your character/world as the books themselves do very little to expand on if the colours representing emotions/etc by using the power are "known" or have to be learnt; personally I've always worked with this sort of thing:

For clans like the Tremere such things as Auspex would be taught, the students expected to learn them by rote, with punishments for failure of course, this is the Tremere we're talking about!

For Malkavians I hinge the Auspex in as part of their insanity, their crazy blood gives them insight to the feelings much like synesthesia and the colours become feelings they somehow 'understand' the more they use the power.

So it all becomes flavour to a lesser and greater degree and the quality of the success will determine much of what the player learns while the flavour determines how they find out.

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The knowledge of Auras is not necessarily intuitive-it's part of the aura, but it's not impossible to figure out what's going on. In my campaign, I make the caitiff with Auspex always be confused about what the auras mean (his backstory didn't have anyone to tell him what they meant) through narrative (I don't tell the player the emotion or even the color unless it's pretty obvious, because he has the book). That said, it won't be long until he's seen most everything; a lot of people let their emotions show clearly and you can derive what the auras mean from that.

That said, there's a lot of pop culture about stuff like auras, so it's not entirely unreasonable someone with Occult 1 would be able to know everything from the start.

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This is supported by the description on page 136 of V20, which states that "The Aura Colors chart offers some example ideas of common colors and the emotions they reflect that Storytellers can use." – Jadasc Mar 17 '12 at 12:11

For OWoD, there was a side-bar in the Auspex description of what each color meant. There wasn't any sort of story description for how you knew that X color meant Y emotion. I figure it's one of those things that each group will have to figure out (like if you reroll a die that goes on the floor, or take what it shows, etc.).

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