Combo Discipline: Shadow Nova

I’m extremely excited to finally be able to share this with you. It’s something I conceived of pretty much from the first moment I learned combo-disciplines were a thing, well before Tom even got Obtenebration.  I noticed that the canonical combo-disciplines using Obten were more for dramatic effect than strategic effectiveness, so I came up with this as an idea that’s a little bit of both and worked with Jason to hammer out the mechanics for almost two real-time years before I finally got to use it in play. We think the result is balanced pretty well, and from a narrative stand-point, both Jason and I agree that it’s the exact sort of thing that probably would occur from giving a Brujah Obten.


• Obtenebration

In use by: Tom Lytton

As any Lasombra will attest, the ability to conjure solid form from ephemeral shadow has many applications. But perhaps it takes someone from beyond the clan of shadows to seize on the usefulness of solidified shadow in its most basic form. By conjuring a momentary pulse of abyssal energy and form, the vampire can violently eject anyone and anything from his immediate presence, providing valuable seconds in combat, or simply making a point.


The vampire spends one blood point and rolls Strength + Occult (Difficulty 7). Failure means that the vampire is unable to summon the required energies from the Abyss, and nothing happens, while a Botch opens the vampire up to the yawning hunger of the abyss, instantly inflicting two levels of aggrivated damage on the vampire, and devouring three blood points. A vampire reduced to zero blood by this botch is instantly thrown into Torpor for a period determined by their Path score, while a Vampire who meets final death due to the damage above is violently and gruesomely imploded before vanishing into a singularity, never to be seen again.

If the roll is a success, then the vampire conjures a burst of semi-solid shadow energy, erupting from his body in every direction. Objects and people within five feet of the vampire are affected as though shoved or struck by someone with strength equal to the number of successes rolled. Beyond that range, the effective strength of the nova is reduced by 1 for every five feet of distance. The nova hits everything within the area of effect, though the precise effects are dependant on the relative strength of the nova at the range the object is at. A nova of effective strength 2 can shatter glass and set off car alarms, strength 4 can blow open heavy doors, and strength 6-7 can throw motorcycles through the air or flip cars on their sides. A nova with a strength of 3 or greater also generates an intense thunderclap which may be mistaken for a gunshot or even explosive, depending on the force involved.

Persons caught within the area of effect of a shadow nova must make an opposed Strength+Athletics roll at difficulty 6 against the nova’s successes (modified for distance). The difficulty increases to 8 if the target is caught unawares or flat-footed by the explosion, or if the victim is unaware of the existance of this manifestation of abyssal power. If the victim rolls the same number or more successes than the nova, she is buffeted and battered, but remains standing with no ill effect. If she rolls fewer successes, she will be staggered and/or stunned by the burst of energy, suffering 1 level of soakable bashing damage for every success of the nova in excess of their own. Stunned or staggered persons receive a -1 dice penalty to all actions for the remainder of the turn, and a -3 penalty on initiative for the next turn.

If the target is beaten by more than one success, they may be knocked prone, or even hurled through the air by the tremendous force of the shadow nova (at GM’s discretion). Prone vampires receive a -4 penalty to all actions until they are able to stand up, while characters actually thrown back by the nova may sustain additional bashing damage. Additionally, anyone who sustains three or more levels of unsoaked bashing damage from a nova will be deafened by the blast, though the vampire who employs this power is protected from these effects by the shadow wave itself. Supremely powerful novas may also carry a risk of flying debris, inflicting additional bashing or even lethal damage at the storyteller’s discretion.

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