2-dot power Arms of Ahriman is the signature power of the Lasombra, allowing them to create shadow tentacles that attack their foes - except in V5 this power seems weaker than a punch.

The way I understand the power is as follows:

  1. Vampire makes a Rouse Check (possibly gaining a Stain from 1-10 rule).
  2. Vampire spends a whole round summoning shadowy tentacles. These have 3 health levels, can be hurt by bright light and attack using vampire's Wits+Oblivion - but if there's more than one tentacle this pool needs to be split using normal rules. The tentacles gain half Potence as bonus damage.
  3. On each subsequent round vampire can attack a foe to grapple, deal superficial damage etc. at distance, provided the arms can reach. The vampire can do nothing else or the power dissipates.

So the dice pool scales with Attribute+Discipline and gets half Potence as extra damage, requires a full round to activate, threatens Stains and prevents doing anything else. For comparison, throwing a punch scales with Attribute+Skill, gets full Potence as extra damage, can be split the same way, doesn't threaten Stains, can't be interrupted etc. Using a gun damages at range just like these tentacles, except it's a flat +1-3 damage rather than depending on Potence.

This seems underwhelming for what is a 2-dot Amalgam with Potence 2. Signature Gangrel ability, Feral Claws, deals unhalved superficial damage at the same 2-dot place, with no downsides. This power is perhaps comparable to Dominate 2: Mesmerize, but even than doesn't threaten Stains and has the extra power of triggering Compulsions.

I find it quite confusing as to why this power is so underwhelming. Am I reading it wrong? Am I missing something? I can't believe this is what my favourite clan's signature ability can do.


2 Answers 2


I think it's a mistake to compare Arms of Ahriman solely to other means of dealing damage; rather, it's instructive to think of it as telekinesis that hurts people. Here are the benefits of AoA, as detailed on page 294 of Chicago by Night 5e:

  1. You can attack people in your line of sight. This means you can reach people behind cover and at a distance without endangering others or yourself.
  2. The arms are persistent, remaining for the scene and able to shift targets as needed.
  3. The arms can manipulate objects for you. Not something to be discounted in a world without Movement of the Mind.
  4. Because it works off Wits, it allows non-physical characters to engage profitably in physical combat. What's more, it ties up Physical opposition effectively because the grapple escape is based on Resolve + Composure.

That's not bad for a Level 2 power. It's also worth noting that the Fifth Edition of Vampire: the Masquerade cracks down hard on abilities that give the ability to act more than once a turn. (Compare this version of Celerity to others.) There's been a diminution across the board, but I don't believe this power compares badly with others of its ilk.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answer! I think I understand where you're coming from. Regarding specific points, however, it's difficult for me to agree, as attacking behind cover and persistence does not seem to balance out a whole turn wasted in a "three turns and out" combat. I also doubt there are many non-physical characters that already have Potence 2 for the amalgam. I guess my problem with the power is that in previous editions shadow tentacles were primarily combat-oriented while these seem to be more of a utility power. \$\endgroup\$
    – eimyr
    Jun 30, 2020 at 15:55

I know this is a bit old at this point, but I would also add that comparing it to a normal discipline isn't really appropriate anyway, as Oblivion has more in common with Blood Sorcery than it does with standard disciplines.

The individual abilities of Blood Sorcery are a little weaker than those of other disciplines because Rituals are another aspect of the discipline.

Similarly, Oblivion has Necromancy Ceremonies that allow the base discipline to be expanded from to add a host of extra abilities for having level 2 of the discipline.

It makes sense for the individual abilities within the discipline overall to be a hair weaker when you have Rituals/Necromancy Ceremonies bundled in with it. In this case, it is roughly on par with other abilities except it trades the chance at a stain for access to Ceremonies.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is true, but ceremonies didn't exist when Chicago by Night came out (the book with Arms of Ahriman in it), and the powers don't seem to have been designed with them in mind. When ceremonies were introduced in Cults of the Blood Gods, they all had prereqs put on them that required you to take the weaker powers from Cults instead of the stronger ones from Chicago to deal with this issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Draconis
    Jul 6, 2022 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Draconis good point. I don't have Cults yet. I'm probably going to get it, but skip Chicago by Night and opt for the companion (or whatever they are calling it) when it's released instead. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aviose
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I'm not a fan of ceremony prereqs, but the developers somewhat painted themselves into a corner. Obtenebration and Necromancy were supposed to be the same discipline now, with no distinction between "Lasombra powers" and "Hecata powers". But then they balanced the Chicago powers without thinking of ceremonies. So they needed a way to ensure it wasn't too strong if you took the Chicago powers and also got ceremonies, and their solution was to re-impose a distinction between "Lasombra powers" and "Hecata powers": (…) \$\endgroup\$
    – Draconis
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ (…) the "Hecata powers" let you take ceremonies and the "Lasombra powers" don't. It's annoying, but that's the way it is. \$\endgroup\$
    – Draconis
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, waiting for the Player's Guide is probably a good move at this point. If you're not playing a game in Chicago you shouldn't buy the whole book just for the Oblivion powers, and the Player's Guide is supposed to come later this summer anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – Draconis
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:34

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