This has been a point of arguement between me and another storyteller: Can a vampire starting with (e.g.) 4 dots in Domination use the lower level power (i.e. 2 dots Mesmerise)?

To me it's pretty obvious that if you can turn someone into a slave (4 dots Dominate) you can just as easily give them a simple order (1 dot), but his counter-argument is that this is true only if you've upgraded your discipline (so, if you started at 2 dots and upgraded it later to 3, you would have access to 2- and 3-dot discipline, but not to level 1).

To be fair I can't find any written support for either side.

Let me ponder on this discussion bit more: If we'd assume that fledgling vampire has to (even briefly) train/concentrate to gain access to higher than first level of discipline, this is akin to learning any other skill i .e. riding a bike: At 1 dot you can ride with training wheels, at 2 you can drive in most condition, at 5 you could do a 360 flips during blizzard. But having high level skill wouldn't suddenly made you forget how to ride on straight road.

But then from the other hand you became vampire instantly - there was no situation where you were "just a little bit undead" and such skills as blood drinking you learn instantly. Same principle works with other vampiric properties i.e. clan flaws - when turned to Malkavian you almost instantly get insane, then why such principle shouldn't apply to discipline? Bam! You got hit in the head, bitten and now you can make people fear you (Presence 2) but making them attracted to you (Presence 1) is bit beyond your grasp.


5 Answers 5


Yes, Having the level in a discipline allows you all the powers of that level or under, so at level 4 in a discipline you have the powers listed under 1,2,3 & 4. Evidence for this case in abscence of 'rules as written' (which I'm sure exist somewhere):

  • In the world of darkness systems where this isn't true (hunter, for example), it's made abundantly clear.
  • A player who goes up from 2 to 3 won't just 'forget' the lower level power, that's daft.
  • It means potence and celerity would be massively overpowered as they 'rank up' every time.
  • They have powers of a certain rank you just straight up learn. They're called thuamathurgy rituals. Why create them and make them function differenty/call them something else if they functioned like disciplines. By defining rituals don't work that way, can be implied pretty explictly that disciplines do.
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ and you can not buy level 4 in a discipline without first having purchased level 1, level 2 & level 3 :) it is only after level 5 that there might be some powers at a level you have not yet purchased/learned \$\endgroup\$
    – AquaAlex
    Feb 13, 2015 at 12:11

In short, yes, a character with 4 dots of a Discipline (Dominate or anything else) can use the 1, 2, 3, and 4 powers.

To support this more directly with RAW, when you spend XP or character-gen points you must purchase each dot/level linearly. So, in order to have learned Dominate 4 a character must already have Dominate 3. When buying dots with XP this process is well supported by the published rules and examples.

When buying powers at character creation this is obfuscated slightly because you assign dots for Discipline ratings all at once. However, assigning 4 dots to Dominate at character gen still represents buying dots 1 through 3 as well. The design of the character sheets also reinforces this. In the published examples you never fill in a higher dot without filling in the ones below it.

How fledgelings learn powers

The basic character creations rules for VtM assume that the vampire has been undead for roughly 25 years, and has been "released" by their sire into vampiric society. The exact age of characters can deviate a lot from that, but the idea here is that the points you assign to a starting character represents years of practice and advancement.

Fledglings in the World of Darkness tend not to rise from the Embrace with three (or four, if you're using Dark Age or Sabbat rules) dots of Disciplines. Those take time to learn and develop. Skills like how to hunt for blood without making a mess or causing unwanted attention must be taught by one's sire or learned through painful trial-and-error. How to use innate vampiric abilities like blood buffing (spending a blood point to temporarily boost a physical attribute) can be taught, or learned instinctively. Published setting fiction shows a variety in how easily or quickly new vampires figure out their abilities.

People sometime fudge this part of the setting in order to tell stories about characters who have just been embraced, but still put them a power level that matches a standard starting character. It's a fine way to play if that's one of your story objectives.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ About the second part or the answer, newly borns starting without any dot in disciplines, I must say it's the more logical, consistent, and immersive option. It is how I do it. But in some books it is assumed that you get three dots in disciplines in the instant moment you rise as a vampire. I have read such kind of things in crossover rules, and in Dust to Dust, for example. Anyway, I recommend everyone to slowly increase the disciplines as Jessa suggested. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flamma
    Feb 13, 2015 at 9:41

Sadly, I can't find a source, but I'm fairly sure Dominate 4 gives you access to all previous Dominate power. The wording "As a character increases her rating in a Discipline" is not meant to be taken so literally.

I consulted previous editions (second and first editions) and the system wasnt explained at all!

Anyway, it has always worked that way. I can't provide you proof, but there are a few evidences. For instance, when in the books says the Prince or another Kindred has 5 in a discipline, the powers are not listed, he is supposed to have all.

If you had that system in which in character creation you only have access to the power of the level you start, but when you advance with XP you retain previous powers, it would be impossible to know the powers a vampire have reading the stats. You wouldn't know if he bought that discipline with starting points or XP.

If it helps you, you can think of this way: look at the character sheet. You don't have just the third dot in Presence. You have the first, second, and third dot in Presence. If you only had the third level, the logical notation would be to fill only the third dot, leaving first and second blank. But if you look at character creation examples, you can see they fill all the dots.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Dominate was maybe bad example, since Dominate level n+1 is simply stronger Dominate level n (I've updated to Presence - effects differ bit more between levels - i.e. on level 1 you make people like you, on 2 - fear you \$\endgroup\$
    – Yasskier
    Feb 13, 2015 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KrisWojcik I don't think that's true. D 2 is an upgrade of D 1, but the rest of the power (erase or modify memories, conditioning, possession) are different powers. For instance, if you want someone to do something and forget about it, you must use two separate powers: D2 AND D3. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flamma
    Feb 13, 2015 at 9:30

V20 Core Rulebook, Page 128

As a character increases her rating in a Discipline, she gains access to the powers listed next to the appropriate number of dots, as well as retaining access to lesser powers.

Emphasis mine. The text makes no distinction regarding how disciplines are advanced. A character who advances a discipline to 3-dots still has access to the 2-dot version of the the discipline, regardless of whether that advancement occurs during play or during character creation.


V:tM is a linear learning structure; to learn level 2, you must have learned level 1. learning a new power doesn't remove the old power (because if you have 2 dots, the first dot is still there).

Weirdly, Werewolf doesn't work this way; a wolf with sufficient rank can learn a level 3 power without learning the ones before it. The powers are structured somewhat differently, though; Werewolf doesn't have strict trees, and if memory serves, you do need a level 1 power for each level 2, and a level 2 for each level 3 and so on, but they aren't confined by "power trees" like Vampire powers are.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, because Werewolf Gifts are not connected in any way - gift level 2 is not stronger or broader version of gift level 1, so in this case is quite obvious when you learn gift level X you don't get lower level ones as well. This way you can have i.e. 3 level 1 gifts, one level 2 and five level 3 gifts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yasskier
    Feb 26, 2015 at 1:23

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