For a VtM session I'm taking part in – we're playing using the Vampire 20th Anniversary book – I have created an interesting young Giovanni necromancer. “Young” is a keyword here – my “powers” aren't really that strong (yet). The character has the mind of a scientist (working in a morgue in New York as his “day” job) and certainly knows his way around social situations.
The way we handle social aspects is through role-playing, where character stats only serve as a description of said character and using dice is rare. Actual combat is handled through dice rolls almost exclusively.
Now, the majority of our time during sessions is spent lying, plotting and generally role-playing, and we've only had one big combat encounter thus far. However, I found that my character was next to useless during that encounter. I did get a few lucky rolls and managed to do some damage, but that was really just luck.
Thus far I have the “standard” starting Sepulchre Path at level 3. I feel my characters combat prowess could be vastly improved with the selection of a proper necromancy discipline. I'm not looking to have my character become death incarnate in combat, just be able to actually help in a more reliable manner.
My character has a cane which contains a hidden blade (because of course it does), but that's a last-line of defense. He has proven himself to be pretty good with various chemicals, especially narcotics (don't ask!). At one point he has created a potent mixture which did work on a vampire (albeit a particularly susceptible one).
A thought did cross my mind to have the hidden blade coated with some form of chemical, but that still means he would need to attack with said blade. In the simplest form it could be something that burns easily and long for a fiery-blade effect, but THAT in turn means my character is just as likely to be afraid of it as are his enemies.
Finally, the character has a ghostly companion. However, the relationship is more “friends” than “master-slave”, and he won't force the ghost to do anything the ghost doesn't feel like doing. Essentially this ghost is controlled by the DM as a “give out tips and freebies” kind of option while my character can make simple requests.
So… which necromancy discipline path could be most useful for combat?
I could pick The Bone Path – given that my character works in a morgue and has access to corpses. However, that'd be only useful if he were to fight in the morgue. A corpse might not be readily available everywhere. I would like to keep the theme of the character intact. The character is well connected and he could just as well learn a discipline belonging to another clan it... just... wouldn't fit, I think. He embraces the core Giovanni concepts and enjoys his work – why would he be studying a discipline not connected with necromancy?
My character does posses a ghoul, a helping hand working with him at the morgue. The ghoul is far more "brawly", so he could, in theory at least, be of some use in combat. That said, given the supernatural nature of combat I'd fear for his life - he is human after all. That, and my character would need to take him wherever he went. This is troublesome and deprives my character of a valuable “behind the scenes” resource.
Creating more ghouls requires an official permission from a vampire higher in the chain of command, so creating disposable bodyguards doesn't seem like an option.
Finally, even with bodyguards of some kind that still leaves my character to sit idly on the time-out bench while others are having all the fun. It would be really nice to be able to do SOMETHING. If not direct damage, then some control. Otherwise he'd have to maniacally laugh while his minions are killing / getting killed, which doesn't fit the character one bit.