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In a mixed Mage and Vampire game, using the 20th anniversary rules, which Spheres could be used to cast a spell that would help the thrall resist or even nullify a Vampire Blood Bond?

I'm assuming the Mind 4 effect 'Mind Control' would be right but maybe Spirit or Life could be used instead of or as well as? Could it be done with a lower level of Mind or other spheres?

If the Mage was the thrall would the Mind 1 effect 'Shield Mind' be sufficient?

  • Blood Bond is on p286+ of V20
  • Perception & Psychic Powers p509 of M20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm starting to have Samuel Haight flashbacks... \$\endgroup\$ – Ahriman Jan 27 '17 at 21:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is discussed in depth in "Blood Treachery." It's a book I don't have, but once I find it, I can answer this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Jan 28 '17 at 12:46
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This is a bit speculative because I've not tried this directly in Mage but the question appears to include the option of a 3rd party Mage who is attempting to alleviate a friend's blood bond there could be some use from lower level Mind effects.

Mind 2 can be used to influence emotions which would provide a way to make it easier for a thrall to resist the blood bond by dampening their feelings towards the regnant. e.g. Lowering the difficulty of the willpower roll by the number of successes on an Arete roll. If an extended roll was allowed then the Mage could make this last quite a long time.

Mind 3 can be used to influence the another person's thoughts which could be used to encourage thoughts of rebellion in the thrall. This would inspire the thrall to attempt to resist the regnant more often and also lower the difficulty of the Willpower roll as per the Mind 2 effect above.

Mind 4 could be used control the mind of the thrall and force them to resist the blood bond (by making the usual Willpower rolls as above) but I suspect this would actually be counterproductive compared to the more subtle approach of Mind 2 or 3

Alternatively...

The Mage friend could use a Mind 2, 3, or more effect on the regnant to promote better behaviour towards the thrall. Obviously this would need to be done very subtly to avoid recrimination.

Note that Mind effects used against a ghoul or vampire use the target's Willpower+3 as the target number making the successful use of these effects rather difficult.

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The rules are largely silent on this issue, though that may not be the case for long as additional M20 books are scheduled to be released soon (Digital Web 3.0, Victorian Mage, and Rich Bastard’s Guide to Magick are all slated to be released Summer 2017). That being said, there are a number of ways to handle this that you could discuss with your ST.

  • The easiest solution is to simply not drink the vampire's vitae in the first place. Mages must be very wary of vampires, and only the most reckless mage would allow themselves to be caught in a position where they could be embraced or enthralled by a vampire. Being embraced kills the avatar which means the mage loses all of his or her ability to wield magick. Socializing with vampires is very risky indeed.
  • Mind 5: Mind 4 only allows you to control the minds of others; if you want to master your own subconscious and thereby free yourself from the effects of the Blood Bond by sheer force of will, you need Mind 5. See the Control Subconscious effect of Mind 5 on page 520 of M20 core.
  • Mind 1: I would not allow Mind 1 to make a mage completely immune to the effects of Blood Bond, because all it does is simply shield you from attack (and even then, it only allows you to cancel out your opponent's successes with an Arete roll, and therefore is not foolproof). That's not what the Blood Bond does; the Blood Bond alters your character's own emotional state 'from the inside' so to speak. Why would you even choose to shield your mind from a creature that you have fallen deeply in love with? Instead, I would allow a mage with Mind 1 to resist the Blood Bond as if they were a vampire using the rules in V20 on page 288. Once you have successfully (albeit temporarily) resisted the effects of the Blood Bond, you have more options...
  • Time 3/5: Depending on how long ago you sealed the Blood Bond with your third drink of the vampire's vitae, you can use either Time 3 or Time 5 to rewind time so you can avoid taking the drink. If the Blood Bond was sealed during the current scene (X number of turns ago, where X is half the number of successes you can reasonably pull off with your Arete roll) you can do so with Time 3. If it has been longer than that, you will need to crank up the juice and go further back in time, which would require Time 5. This is vulgar as all get-out and will probably earn you some serious Paradox, but ultimately the most attractive realistic option aside from the aforementioned Mind 5.
  • Spirit 3: If you have Spirit 3, you can transmute your body into ephemera and cross into another plane of existence far beyond the vampire's reach. This will allow you to effectively detox yourself and break your addiction to the vampire's vitae. This will not be easy; it will take a minimum of months and possibly even years (12 - Willpower months per level of Blood Bond) for the effects of the Blood Bond to wear off, so make sure to pick a relatively safe and comfortable realm for your rehab. You may want to look into using the Time sphere to fast-forward time, or your ST may allow you to use various mage skills to locate a realm where time passes at an accelerated rate, thereby reducing the amount of time your character is out of action.
  • Prime 4: The Crossovers sidebar on page 379 of M20 core discusses the possibility of chronicles where the various cWoD lines are mixed together, and mentions that vampire blood (along with other materials from other Night-Folk) can be used as a source of Quintessence. You may be able to convince your ST to allow you to use the Expel or Infuse Energy effect of Prime 4 (see M20 core page 521) to drain the Quintessence from the vitae in your system, causing it to immediately decay and become inert. This option might also be possible with Matter 2 + Prime 2.
  • Kill/Disable the Vampire: This solution has its own perils, as V20 makes clear that the sudden shattering of the Blood Bond can mentally cripple characters. You may instead choose to use the classic tried-and-true strategy of transforming the vampire into a chair (or any other inanimate object), as your ST might be persuaded into considering them still technically "alive" for the purposes of the Blood Bond. Beware, though, that vampires experienced with Thaumaturgy and/or Koldunic Sorcery (or who may be otherwise significantly experienced in occult matters) such as the Tremere or Tzimisce may use their Wits + Occult pool as countermagick.
  • Demon Pact: This option is only provided for the sake of completeness, as your ST is unlikely to allow it. As a mortal, a mage is eligible to make a pact with a demon. In exchange for drawing on the mage's faith, the demon can impart upon the mage its immunity to mind control. This is a blanket immunity (no rolls required) to any and all supernatural mind control and fear effects, and this would certainly protect the mage from the vampire's Blood Bond in addition to a variety of other effects. This is an especially attractive option for a Nephandus mage, who is much more likely to pal around with especially dark Night-Folk such as vampires, Black Spiral Dancer werewolves, and the like. See the Demon the Fallen core book (pages 250-252) for the rules on demonic pacts.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmmm, seems like an accurate and well researched answer, I'm just disappointed that there isn't anything at lower sphere levels, mages need a lot of XP to get to Mind 5 \$\endgroup\$ – Still Not Happy Jan 28 '17 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StillNotHappy Spirit 3 and Prime 4 are still viable alternatives. Additionally, assuming you start off with Mind 3 at character creation (which is possible if you spend 8 freebie points to increase Arete to the maximum allowed at character creation), then you will need to complete two seekings and acquire either 112 experience (if Mind is not your affinity sphere) or 105 experience (if Mind is your affinity sphere) respectively to reach Mind 5. It's a big investment, but that's to be expected to counter an extremely powerful static magic effect such as the Blood Bond. \$\endgroup\$ – Dyndrilliac Jan 28 '17 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's been a while since I played Mage but from my memory I had guessed that life should make it possible to cleanse your body and expel harmful stuff (in this case the vitae) from your body with your sweat or urine. Why isn't that an option? \$\endgroup\$ – Umbranus Jan 31 '17 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Umbranus it depends on whether or not you consider vampire blood to be a disease or a toxin. I personally don't, and wouldn't allow it - after all, it's not like you've got a relatively small amount of a toxic substance like alcohol or cocaine in your system; you've been drinking vampire blood on a regular basis. I might be persuaded to allow Life 4 + Matter 2 (Alter Complex Life-Forms + Basic Transmutation) to rewrite the pattern of the vitae and remove the Blood Bond effect. You might spend the next couple of days sick and vomiting up the now-mundane blood you've drank recently, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Dyndrilliac Feb 1 '17 at 8:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Umbranus The blood bond doesn't have a physical component that way. It's true that the thrall needs to drink the blood of his/her regnant, but the bond will exist even after the blood leaves the thrall's body (blood bonding != ghouling). \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Feb 1 '17 at 22:21
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Vampire blood is both psychologically and spiritually addictive. The blood bond taints both the mind of the mage and their Avatar. While drinking the blood of those cursed by god should be avoided entirely, removing a blood bond should be a character arc or campaign.

Blood Treachery, page 79

Breaking the bond is a Herculean feat; only the most strong-willed mages could ever hope to escape the chains of servitude. There is a magical solution (Prime 1, Entropy 3, Mind 3, Life 4), but it requires years of work, tremendous study into the secrets of vampire occultism and anatomy, and permanent expenditures of Willpower. How much effort is ultimately up to the Storyteller in question. And then the mage has to deal with his Avatar, who wants the mage to stay so it can get its fix.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Shout out to @Jadasc for knowing where to look. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Feb 1 '17 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I find that the Blood Treachery book is a bit extreme, the paragraph before describes the blood bond in terms way beyond those used in V20. To me the blood bond should be a useful roleplaying inspiration not totally abandoning your character to the whims of an npc \$\endgroup\$ – Still Not Happy Feb 1 '17 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StillNotHappy M20's only description of the blood bond is in a subsection called Slavery. It's not to be taken lightly. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Feb 1 '17 at 18:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ It also mentions Buddhism in the same section... it's all down to interpretation and as I said I don't think it's much fun playing a literal slave \$\endgroup\$ – Still Not Happy Feb 1 '17 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StillNotHappy Blood bond for a human (even a human Mage) is a much more serious affliction than a blood-bound vampire, and it should be treated appropriately seriously. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Feb 23 '17 at 14:47
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Traveling to Shard Realm of Entropy should also break a Blood Bond (or at least aid in breaking it), although it is certainly not without its own risks.

Time moves differently in some of the other Realms, so travel to them could mitigate the effect of a Blood Bond without actually breaking it.

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