The Cities of Eternal Fog
A vampire with this power can literally delve into a subject’s mind, stealing or reshaping memories at whim. The power, as with all uses of Dominate, requires eye contact. The Forgetful Mind does not allow for telepathic contact. Instead, the vampire acts much like a hypnotist, asking direct questions to draw answers from the subject, and then describing in detail any new memories she wishes to impose on the victim. Simple alterations, such as blurring brief and recent memories, are easy enough (and very effective for eliminating evidence of feeding or other Masquerade breaches). More comprehensive alterations, up to and including a complete reconstruction of the victim’s past and even identity, are possible albeit substantially more difficult.
The victim’s subconscious struggles to resist false memories implanted from without, so the degree to which the vampire details new memories has direct bearing on how fully the subject assimilates them. An incomplete or simplistic false memory shatters much more swiftly and easily than does one with more attention to detail. For instance, “You drove home after work and had a very bad evening” is not likely to hold up. Far more effective would be an account such as, “You left work late, due to a last-minute change ordered by the client. You still managed to get stuck in rush hour for an extra 25 minutes, and you were seriously frustrated by the time you pulled off the freeway. There weren’t even any good songs on the radio. Three blocks from home, a cop pulled you over for coasting through a stop sign. At least he only gave you a warning, but it was still just one more hassle. The frozen dinner you microwaved was awful, the TV movie starred some hasbeen you didn’t like, and the news was depressing. You finally turned off the TV in disgust and went to bed.”
Truly effective use of The Forgetful Mind, then, requires substantial finesse and patience, as well as the ability to carefully and thoroughly think things through ahead of time. It’s fairly simple to sift through a victim’s memories and strip out recent events without even knowing precisely what happened, but doing so leaves a gap in the memory that can lead to further problems. Most people aren’t comfortable realizing they’ve lost a few hours or a night’s worth of memories, and they’re likely to try to find out what happened.
Even new memories that the character imposes rarely have the same strength as the originals, and they can be broken or at least contradicted through investigation. For instance, a victim might not recall that she was attacked by a vampire, but she might remember being bitten, chalking it up to an animal attack or a spider. More vivid memories can return as snippets in dreams or be triggered by an unusual olfactory stimulus or spoken phrase. The process might take weeks or even years before the victim can begin to make sense of these flashes, but even the most effective memory manipulation is far from perfect — or truly permanent.
A vampire may also use The Forgetful Mind to sense whether someone has had her memories altered in this fashion, and he can sometimes use his own power to draw forth and restore the original thoughts. No Kindred may use The Forgetful Mind to restore his own lost or altered memories, however.
Dice Pool: Wits + Persuasion + Dominate – Resolve
Action: Extended (1-100+ successes, based on the detail and complexity of memory; each roll represents five minutes of mental manipulation)
Dramatic Failure: The attempt fails, and the subject is immune to the character’s Dominate until the next sunset. All accumulated successes are lost and the subject continues to remember what happened.
Failure: The attempt fails.
Success: The character makes headway toward altering a block of memories.
Exceptional Success: The character makes considerable headway toward altering a block of memories.
Even a single success pacifies the victim for the length of time it takes to complete the process. Both vampire and subject must be safe and relatively composed when this power is used; it cannot be used to calm someone already in combat, for example.
To restore stolen or false memories, or to sense when memories have been altered, a character must possess Dominate at a level equal to or greater than that of the vampire who first tampered with the subject’s mind. If such is the case, the player then makes a contested roll in each stage of the extended action, to be compared against the initial user’s attempt, and must score more successes than the predecessor did.
+2 Power is turned on a vampire with whom the user has a blood tie (see p. 162).
-1 to -3 The character’s description of the new memories is lacking in detail.