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This is a question about a crossover game that uses the 20th anniversary rules for Mage and Vampire so ideally I'd like a 20th anniversary answer.

I had an odd situation in the last session where a vampire with Dominate used their Command power on a Mage that had an active Mind 1 'mental shield' effect.

I ruled that the Mage was allowed to make an Arete roll and deduct the successes from the Dominate effect but I suspect that this was not a balanced call as the relative sizes of the dice pools are markedly different even though the difficulties are also different.

e.g.

  • Vampire's dice pool is Manipulation + Intimidation vs current Willpower
  • Mage's dice pool is Arete vs 3 or 4

If this were Mage vs Mage it would be:

  • Mage's Mind 4 mind control effect using Arete vs Willpower +3
  • Mage's Mind 1 mental shield effect using Arete vs 3 or 4

Is there a better way to handle this in the future where the Dominate Discipline comes into conflict with the Mind Sphere?

Review

Both answers so far are really good and I've voted them up but I'm going to go with something closest to Flux's answer for my specific situation although I think Doctor Kill's answer would be better in general.

I'm going to add the successes from the Arete roll for the Mental Shield to the Mage's current Willpower when setting the difficulty for the Manipulation + Intimidation roll.

Dominate and Mental Shield are both 1 dot effects/powers so they should be able to oppose each other reasonably well but I feel that the mental shield effect should not be an opposed roll like an attack vs a dodge but a difficulty increase like trying to pick a lock in the dark when it's raining.

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If sphere rank is too low for your preferences you could use Willpower, or even Willpower + Sphere (since in WoD the mechanic for combining ability and effort is addition of the dice pools).

For a more canon response, Changeling: the Dreaming's "Book of Storyteller Secrets" page 4 and "Chaos Factor" page 132 both list similar tables for cross-gameline comparisons (although I find the Changeling table a more useful); essentially the Sphere rating (highest of more than one Sphere is in use) is directly challenged against the Discipline rank.

Personally, I would probably consider the user's Sphere or Discipline rank (which may exceed the Discipline technique rank) as well as I feel a character will get better at doing tasks with more skill and experience.

Another line of thought: Dominate requires a command be issued to the soul (generally through the eyes, but not necessarily), so using the Spirit Sphere might offer some soul Obfuscation-like ability (as well as the ability to alter an aura). Also, V20 core book, page 158, has a discussion on how a target's Nature may make Dominate easier or more difficult.

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When Vampire Disciplines and Mage Spheres must interact, find what Discipline the Mage Power would be closest to, and work from there.

oWoD didn't have as good rules for crossover campaigns as nWoD does because you weren't expected to run Vampire and Mage in the same campaign. Of course, since that's what wasn't expected, that's what everyone did, forcing ST's to just wing it, like you're doing.

Winging it is fine, but if you're looking for crossover rules, the best oWoD has to offer is to model out-of-game powers with in game ones. For example, in Vampire: The Dark Ages, they stat out Werewolves and Mages using Disciplines instead of Spheres or Gifts.

From p.381 of V20

Magickal powers are diverse. To simulate a magician’s repertoire, the Storyteller may assign a group of Disciplines as his “arsenal.” Common Disciplines include Thaumaturgy, Auspex, Dominate, Presence, Protean, Obfuscate, and Obtenebration. Uncommon powers include Animalism, Celerity, Fortitude, Potence, Necromancy, and Chimerstry. A young magician would command five or so dots, an experienced one 10 or more, and a powerful wizard might have more than 20.

General Notes From VtM on Psychic Resistance

  • In general, psychic manipulation is often countered with Willpower. Have a look at p.141 of V20 for the System for Psychic Assault.
  • There are Combination Disciplines like Ward the Soul's Sanctity that effectively simulate psychic defense / mind manipulation. WtSS is from Dark Ages: Road of Sin p.70
  • Iron Heart also simulates psychic resistance.
  • Have a look at these House Rules concerning how Dominate can be resisted.

Homebrew Territory Abandon all canon, ye who enter here

nWoD tends to compare power traits like Blood Potency, Primal Urge, and Arete, so if you want to steal some good crossover rules, read one of those games and import the rules. This may be more or less invasive surgery, depending on how deep you let the crossover rules affect your game. You could translate Generation to effective Blood Potency, for example, and add that in with your resistance roll.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a Discipline that provides some sort of mental shield effect that could be used to simulate? Normally Dominate is fairly difficult to oppose \$\endgroup\$ – user28291 Feb 24 '17 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Changed my comments into an Edit since there were so many notes on different Disciplines and Systems for resisting Dominate. \$\endgroup\$ – Doctor Kill Feb 24 '17 at 16:19
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Dominate shouldn't be that easily resisted

You have looked at mage vs. mage situation, than at a vampire vs. mage situation. But let's look at V20 for a vampire vs. someone else situation -- there are very few things allowing to resist Dominate:

  1. True Faith -- a very, very rare thing.
  2. Low Generation -- more or less hard to get, only Diablerie or Blood of Potency might help.

I am not an expert of Mage line, but as I understand it, not only can Mind sphere block Dominate, but also inflict many other effects. As I hear it in russian Mage community, it is made on purpose that inexperienced mages, while they have enourmous potential compared to vampires (for example, one of the few ways to resist Dominate), are very limited by small Arete dicepool.

If they have both high dicepools and a lot of potential ways to use them, they become overpowered.

Vampires may have high dicepools for particular actions, for example, a neonate could roll as many as 10 dice for a Discipline and 25 dice to shoot a firearm, but they are just too specialized to compete with mages. That neonate, while very good at firearms, is likely to be a lot worse in social interactions. The one built for using Dominate spent 2 of his 3 (or even a bit more than 2) starting Discipline dots on that and is likely to be specialized at that, etc.

If your campaign is about mages against vampires -- yes, your PCs should win at the end of ends. If some PCs are vampires, Dominate would become useless if such a mind shield appears.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So are you saying that a Mage with an ongoing mental shield effect should get no bonus at all against Dominate? \$\endgroup\$ – user28291 Mar 2 '17 at 9:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me that this isn't really an answer as far as I can tell, just an opinion, I think you need to add something concrete to it \$\endgroup\$ – user28291 Mar 2 '17 at 9:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ClaraOnager He should get no bonus and just roll his Arete, because while vampires normally roll comparable dicepools against each other, Dominate has almost no ways to resist it. It's an ultimate power. It's user needs to be very specialized, while user of Mind sphere can do a lot more than just resist Dominate. \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Mar 2 '17 at 15:33

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