# When do mortals get a chance to sense a vampire's nature?

Under what circumstances do ordinary mortals get a roll to notice that a vampire is not just "odd" but actually inhuman? When is it automatic? Aside from, say, being found standing over a body with blood dripping from its fangs. This seems fundamental in a game where maintaining a masquerade is so important, yet the core book does not seem to address it.

Page 75 of V:tR describes how vampires no longer have reflections, or are blurred (unless the vampire consciously chooses to suppress this effect, pg 170), so this would give an attentive mortal a chance to notice that there's something unnatural about a person. Indeed, the book mentions witchhunters using small hand mirrors to scan for the undead.

Pages 184-185 describes how Humanity serves as a cap on social pools with mortals, and describes how vampires (especially low-Humanity vamps) seem creepy or unnatural to normal humans even if there's no obvious sign.

Perhaps there's an expansion that covers this explicitly? If not, if this is left to the discretion of the Storyteller and players, I'll accept as an answer the best set of house rules or guidelines.

Since there are so many variables, I'd like to give this baseline: the vampire is dressed ordinarily, fairly young, and not a Nosferatu; the mortal is not already aware that the supernatural exists; the vampire is being ordinarily cautious: simulating breathing, trying not to let his or her fangs show; lighting is dim, as in streetlights or a decent restaurant. People just walking past should probably take little notice, but what if the kindred engages in extended conversation with a mortal? What if he or she uses relatively subtle disciplines like aura sight or regeneration?

As @Nigralbus points out, a person can fool themselves about almost anything. Even seeing a guy turn into a cloud of bats can be written off as a hallucination from to much cheap wine. But there has to be a limit, a point where a skeptical person will start to really wonder, and I'm wondering if the rules make any attempt to define this.

• Actually, being found standing over a body with blood dripping from your fangs would probably mark you as a nutcase rather than a Vampire. Stupid mortals can make up lots of bull in their minds to remain in their comfortable illusion of normalcy... – Nigralbus Jul 3 '14 at 13:31

It the the Storyteller's call, and depends what kind of chronicle he (and the players) want to run.

It might be a story where it is a constant strain to maintain the masquerade, a struggle of silencing witnesses.

Or it might be a story all about how humanity will shrug off every hint they are given -- "stupid cattle doesn't even know it is food."

It is probably somewhere between.

Visibly detecting vampires is hard, but not impossible for someone who does believe vampires are real. They are pale, they have very pronounced canines.

And of course there is the blurred reflection. Personally I would suggest that low humanity vampires might forget to breath, but I don't think that is in the rules.

I would require a exceptional success on a wits+composure, or perhaps wits+occult roll for someone who believes in vampires, to "Cold Spot" a vampire walking the street. I might give a +1 or +2 if you had been talking with him awhile, in your restaurant example.

If I wanted to make it easier for them I would cut the successes required down because "you spot some blood left in the corner of the mouth." (etc).

Now, if you didn't have to do it visually, and could touch them, then it is much easier. Vampires have no pulse and are at the temperature of their environment.

As to when someone stops being a skeptic, that is completely a matter of roleplaying the NPC. Is he fundamentally a skeptical dude? Does he remember stories that his grandfather told of the night beasts that drove the family out of the old country -- that the rest of the family brushed of as senile ramblings?

WRT Discipline use, to my knowledge using a discipline is not at all a physical action. No gesturing or chanting takes place. So identifying a vampire by him using disciplines doesn't work directly. Identifying based on the consequences of discipline, is sometimes viable. Most people with a dot or two of occult have heard that vampires are stronger (vigor) and tougher (resilience) and can move really fast (Celerity), and that they can hypnotise people with eye contact (dominate). They might not have ever heard of vampires being able to read emotions like a book (aura sight). They almost definitely haven't heard that vampires can possess/poltergeist buildings (Institutionalise). However the same people with a few dots in occult have also heard that garlic, holy water and religious symbols work.

Spotting vampires is hard. This is why some Hunter endowments specifically let you do it.

I'll wrap up with a quote from page 13 of 13th Precinct (the blue book for playing police officers)

“Well, It’s Another Vampire Murder . . . . ” ... Any attempts to engage in cover-ups within the Analysis Bureau will reveal a startling truth: any Bureau personnel who are aware of the paranormal are already doing their best to suppress knowledge of it. Medical examiners and crime lab technicians must maintain impeccable credibility if their evidence is to stand up in court... [and] They’re smart enough to be afraid of what might have left that blood sample or broken through that ﬁre door.