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In my actual campaign of Vampire: the Masquerade, I actually made an SPC that knows all disciplines except all magic-related disciplines (blood magic, necromancy, etc.).

As I created it, this made me wonder:
What could prevent a vampire (other than "this clan won't teach it to somebody that is not of the clan" things) from learning magic-related disciplines?

Any edition book can be use to answer; it's just a curiosity (and maybe to re-use it in another campaign).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "SPC"? \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Nov 8 at 13:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JRodge01 Storyteller Player Character (if I remember)... If you prefer it's the term use by vampire the masquerade v5 to say NPC \$\endgroup\$ – Rorp Nov 8 at 13:56
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As JRodge01 said there is nothing mechanically that would prevent an otherwise normal vampire character from learning the magic related disciplines.

There are ways that fit within at least the lore if not the hard rules that could be invoked.

Lack of resources

If my storyteller introduced an NPC with that many disciplines, my question as a player would not be "how did he fail to learn the magic disciplines", but how did that vampire get so many? I would start wondering if I was dealing with an antediluvian or even Caine.

There is no published NPC (for whom stats are provided at least) that has anything remotely close to that many disciplines. Elders and methusaleh have a lot, but not "everything but the magic related ones".

And that is simply talking about the availability of discipline dots/experience. Many disciplines require a teacher. While most are not guarded nearly so well as thaumaturgy and necromancy, finding teachers for all of them would still be a challenge. Finding a teacher for temporis for instance might be challenging and some of the lore suggests learning vicissitude comes with side effects.

In short, lack of resources is plenty of explanation for why they don't have the magic disciplines.

A Curse

The World of Darkness is filled with curses in Lore even if the hard rules are a little light on creating them. It would be very easy to believe that someone that was trying a bit too hard to learn the secrets of Thaumaturgy, but was somehow protected from being killed, might have been cursed by a group of Tremere elders to guarantee that person's failure.

It's even possible a group of Mages cursed the entire family line to prevent them from learning any form of magic while performing Gilgul on a horribly twisted avatar and the character in question simply inherited that condition.

A peculiar form of insanity or other mental defect

There could be a mental block in the character's own mind preventing them from learning those disciplines even with a teacher. This could be a small portion of a Malkavian's insanity or just something that lodged in their mind due to earlier bad exposure to magic.

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Mechanically, nothing prevents them from learning any discipline if the storyteller agrees they can.

Lore-wise, the thing preventing one vampire from learning multiple magic-based classes would be the clans themselves being unwilling to share the knowledge.

Thaumaturgy would not be taught to anyone not blood-bound by a Tremere elder (pretty much every edition supports the clan curse of paranoia for their knowledge being lost is kept in check through the blood bond), so diablerie may be the only way a non-Tremere could easily learn it. Any non-Tremere that is known to know thaumaturgy would likely have the entire clan on a blood hunt, even if it is a Tremere that broke the blood bond and tried to escape the clan. Necromancy is even more fiercely guarded by the Giovanni, and other fragmented clans that know necromancy would be unlikely to share the knowledge with someone they don't trust.

If you want to create an NPC with every discipline, you're free to do so. If you want to keep the character lore-appropriate, then this character would also be hunted by every major clan to keep him from rising to power and for possessing talents he shouldn't.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited my question when I have seen your answer, because it seem that I wasn't clear. I don't want to make an NPC with all disciplines. I created an NPC that know all discipline except "magic ones", and I want to know if there is a thing (other than "that clan don't teach to stranger") in the lore that prevent it to learn the thoses disciplines, or if the only explaination that I could give to my player is the one I homebrewed. \$\endgroup\$ – Rorp Nov 8 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ My first sentence answers that. There is nothing that mechanically stops a character from knowing all the disciplines. \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Nov 8 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer seems to ignore the existence of tremere antitribu, as they are pretty much the definition of "Tremere that broke the blood bond". \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Nov 8 at 15:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wasn't going to go into all the lore possibilities. \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Nov 8 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ You specifically call out "Thaumaturgy would not be taught by anyone not blood-bound by a Tremere elder". That's simply untrue. It's not just a matter of not going into all the lore possibilities. Also, if you want to respond to someone and actually have them be informed of the response, either it needs to be a question/answer they wrote or you need to add the @username to the front. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Nov 8 at 18:16
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Extreme risk, mind-bending difficulty, and time.

This is detailed in some of the supplements for Revised and V20, but isn't focused on as much in the core rulebooks:

Experimenting with magical Disciplines which bend the Curse to produce reliable magical effects is almost absurdly dangerous all by itself.

Obviously it's possible (the existing knowledge came from somewhere, after all), but this is not similar to, say, teaching yourself to cook or draw. Tiny mistakes in what an aspiring Thaumaturge tries to do can have any of an essentially unlimited number of side effects and consequences. Final Death is very much in that grouping, but there are other consequences which could be as bad or worse (depending on personal tastes).

Most Disciplines are not so strict, in that they are extensions or representations of the Curse of Caine-- the only way you're going to mess up with trying to learn Fortitude is thinking you've succeeded when you haven't. But Thaumaturgy is about bending the Curse to totally new purposes and relies on principles that can't really be observed or experimented with in other ways. Messing up a Thaumaturgical principle on your way to gaining the first dot can easily be fatal.

The "you can't find anyone that will teach you anything" is an absolutely massive obstacle, and while it may not suit this question's purpose it is absolutely sufficient as an in-game explanation. Most (by far) of the individuals that try to learn Thaumaturgy totally on their own die in the effort.

These Disciplines are massive, and some of their effects are inherently dangerous.

Some specific Path powers don't automatically have extreme dangers to them, but others do. Summoning a demon is dangerous under any circumstances. Crossing the Shroud may not be too hazardous by itself, but being stuck in the Deadlands definitely can be.

The big risk in this area is that while it's plausible to account for some of these dangers the risk quickly builds as characters learn more, particularly when they don't have advice or warnings from individuals that already know about the dangers. It doesn't sound like the character described in the question is going to be stopping their education at a couple of dots, so they have to deal with extra, compounding danger while they also have less foreknowledge and support.

Self-study, even if successful, can be another great way to cut your eternal existence short.

Most groups that already know such Disciplines actively prevent others from knowing them and living (so to speak). And those groups will always know more than you do about the subject.

If you're not a Tremere, but you're caught performing Thaumaturgy, you are virtually guaranteed to be marked for execution. And caught is a loose term. There are rituals that allow Thaumaturges to identify when and where Thaumaturgy was used (to some degree), and with time and observation that can conclusively point to a specific vampire that "shouldn't" know Thaumaturgy at all. And this isn't a Law & Order style courtroom scenario-- we're not talking about proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Kindred scheming being what it is, you could be killed (or set up to be the subject of a Blood Hunt, or otherwise dealt with) because someone thinks you might know slightly too much. Just to be safe.

And depending on events surrounding your chronicle, trying to learn about how bending the Curse really works can drop you into an ocean of vital information which you definitely won't have, but that your opposition absolutely does. Tremere knows a lot about Thaumaturgy and can use that knowledge to identify, find, and interfere with you and your studies in ways which you will fundamentally be unable to predict, understand, or counter. And if we're talking about someone like Ur-Shulgi... their understanding of Thaumaturgy indicates a deep knowledge of how both the Curse and reality itself operate.

Trying to learn these Disciplines all by yourself is sort of like not being able to swim at all, and deciding to learn by hurling yourself into a tank of water filled with sharks, and which you can't exit afterwards. Learning to swim that way is risky and difficult enough, but the sharks are at least as dangerous whether you ever learn to swim or not.

Dedicated study takes time, and even immortality may not provide enough.

These Disciplines are huge, deep subjects all on their own, and an autodidact doesn't have anyone to share the burdens of study with. You'll have to come up with every idea to test by yourself, and design the tests yourself, and execute those tests yourself, and interpret the results yourself, and build up a broader theory of everything by yourself.

There will be no other perspectives to help break through mental blocks, no other sources of inspiration to suggest new avenues of research, no accumulated body of work to consult for previously discovered knowledge. It will take a long time, a ton of effort, a strong, organized mind, and no small amount of luck to develop much practical knowledge of these Disciplines. And, as above, you'll also need to survive that development.

Couple that with the "slowing" of an immortal mind over centuries (the relative lack of ability to learn new skills thoroughly, plus the loss of inspiration and creativity accompanying the Embrace) and you can see that learning these Disciplines may crowd out other activities you need to take care of (hunting, learning other Disciplines, navigating undead social and political challenges, etc.) to be viable at all. And even then, you don't quite have forever to study them well. Rebuilding all existing knowledge from scratch means that a lot of this time will be spent duplicating things a more typical Thaumaturgy student can just be told about and contemplate, placing a lower ceiling on your magical abilities than most other Thaumaturges/Necromancers/Koldun/whatever might know.

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