I'm running a Dark Ages campaign and one of the players is a young Tzimisce vampire, left in service of Gutka in Poland. While there, he decided to invent winged hussars several hundred years early, but instead of winging the hussar, he'd prefer to use Vicissitude III to shape horses into wing-bearing, flight-capable death cavalry machines, ghouled to their rider. Extra armour in bone included.

To me, this seems incredibly cool, yet I cannot see whether such proficiency in Vicissitude actually allows such a feat.


3 Answers 3


Yes, but not the animals you've described in the question.

I agree with JRodge01's answer 100%, and I would rule Vicissitude III is not enough for such a dramatic alteration (something so radical would be a more-than-5-dot power at my table). Vicissitude is an odd power, which is particularly prone to runaway game-breakery. I've seen it in VtM games that I have been running in NPCs that I designed with that danger in mind, which has led me to be very cautious in allowing novel uses of the Discipline.

Even if those prerequisites were met, some of the desired characteristics conflict with others. A flying animal capable of air combat maneuvers and of carrying a rider while also having the animal use a horse body plan and giving it reinforced bones and armor isn't really plausible (with Vicissitude alone; Thaumaturgy could do it, though it would still be very difficult and require elder-level powers to do).


Starting with the horse is the wrong direction. Flying animals tend to show a lot of physiological and anatomical tradeoffs to make true flight possible, and a horse's physical traits basically all run in the opposite direction. The required modifications would be pretty extreme, and what came out of the process would probably be a lot less horse-like than you're imagining.

With that in mind, why start with a horse? It would be easier (though still quite difficult) to start with something like an ostrich and modify that. It can already carry a rider (though certainly not as well as a horse), and is closer to a flight-capable body plan (though still not terribly close to it).

I would still rule it to be very difficult, well beyond anything Vicissitude could grant any lower than 6 dots. The vampire attempting to create such a creature would definitely want high stats in Medicine and other stats relevant to implementing the features you want (possibly including things like Academics, Science, or others at your GM's discretion).

But if your character can meet the prerequisites, including the critical linchpin minimum Vicissitude rating, it should be possible to get somewhat close to what you want, with a few compromises. If you're willing to make even more compromises (and endure some failed attempts), you might be able to get something like what you want with less skill in Vicissitude. You could get something like:

  • A (variably) horse-shaped animal ghoul
  • Capable of gliding and, perhaps, rather limited powered flight
  • Optimized body plan for high-velocity dives and impacts (like a peregrine falcon)
  • Very limited ability to absorb damage (relative to a regular horse)
  • A physical Discipline or two, at one dot each, such as Celerity, Potence, or Fortitude. The first two could be especially helpful in getting closer to true, self-powered flight
  • A rider who has also been subjected to Vicissitude to make it lighter and more capable of staying mounted

It'd be difficult because a horse likely doesn't have a high enough stamina to survive the bio-modification (describe in Bone Craft, level 3 Vicissitude). Horses weigh hundreds of pounds and have solid bones, so you'd need to hollow their bones, lose them a lot of weight, and give them wings and the supporting musculature. That's a lot of modification and the horse would likely die, even if ghouled.

The level 6 Vicissitude gift "Grant Life to Life" would likely be necessary. When a limb from one body is attached to another, the limb is dead and useless, but this gift allows limbs from one body to fully function on another body and doesn't count against the bio-modification limit. You could graft wings from a large bird onto the horse and then make smaller modifications to the horse.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the answer! This leaves me wondering, would horse-vozhd-chariots with succificient Vicissitude aptitude be subject to the same limitations? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ivan T.
    Oct 3, 2019 at 12:20

I'm not sure I'd necessarily require anything more than the basic flesh and bone craft powers; but I'd definitely require lots of high difficulty rolls and successes just to properly create such a beast without killing it. After that, there would be a copious amount of rolls and successes required to train the thing to even use it's new body format.

Failures in the creation phase would outright kill the unfortunate subject; insufficient successes could render it extremely weak (strengh or stamina-wise), or introduce muscle spasms or partial paralysis (effecting dexterity), or reverse the progress of previous rolls.

Once the physical transformation was complete; training would be required to teach it how to walk again, to use it's new appendages, and possibly just to prevent the thing from attempting to kill itself the first chance it gets. Successes also determining final effective dexterity, strength, and willpower (if applicable).

While I said at the beginning it would only require 3 dots in Vicissitude; the real demands would be high levels of basic stats involved. Medicine, Biology, Mechanical Engineering skills paired with Intelligence and Dexterity attributes would be necessary for the creation; and Animal Training (along with maybe some actual levels in Animalism) would be the least needed after the change.

This is something that should probably be roleplayed through to "find" the skill checks. If the creator doesn't paralyze the subject as a precaution before certain stages, convulsions or thrashing could kill it... but then they might fail trying to undo that paralyzing later.

When the creator starts building the wings, where are they going to take the muscle from? Basic Vicissitude allows rearranging things, higher levels might be need to transform mass, and are definitely need to transplant. If bones are hollowed out, will the creature become more blood dependent?

Will the creator succeed, ultimately to have only created an utterly broken and useless thing. Needless to say, if the character was on the path of Humanity before, they certainly will not be after the process has finished.


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