This power is the basis from which all other Animalism abilities grow. The vampire creates an empathic connection with a beast, thereby allowing him to communicate or issue simple commands. The Kindred locks eyes with the animal, transmitting his desires through sheer force of will. Although it isn’t necessary to actually “speak” in chirps, hisses, or barks, some vampires find that doing so helps strengthen the connection with the animal. Eye contact must be maintained the entire time; if it’s broken, the Kindred must re-establish contact to continue communication. The simpler the creature, the more difficult it becomes to connect with the animal’s Beast. Mammals, predatory birds, and larger reptiles are relatively easy to communicate with. Insects, invertebrates, and most fish are just too simple to connect with. Feral Whispers provides no guarantees that an animal will want to deal with the vampire, nor does it ensure that the animal will pursue any requests the vampire makes of it. Still, it does at least make the creature better disposed toward the Kindred. The manner in which the vampire presents his desires to the animal often depends on the type of creature. A Kindred can often bully smaller beasts into heeding commands, but he’s better off couching orders for large predators as requests. If the vampire successfully uses the power, the animal performs the command to the best of its ability and intellect. Only the very brightest creatures understand truly complex directives (orders dealing with conditional situations or requiring abstract logic). Commands that the animal does understand remain deeply implanted, however, and guide its behavior for some time.
System: No roll is necessary to talk with an animal, but the character must establish eye contact first. Issuing commands requires a Manipulation + Animal Ken roll. The difficulty depends on the creature: Predatory mammals (wolves, cats, vampire bats) are difficulty 6, other mammals and predatory birds (rats, owls) are difficulty 7, and other birds and reptiles (pigeons, snakes) are difficulty 8. This difficulty is reduced by one if the character speaks to the animal in its “native tongue,” and can be adjusted further by circumstances and roleplaying skill (we highly recommend that all communication between characters and animals be roleplayed). The number of successes the player achieves dictates how strongly the character’s command affects the animal. One success is sufficient to have a cat follow an individual and lead the character to the same location, three successes are enough to have a raven spy on a target for weeks, and five successes ensure that a grizzly ferociously guards the entrance to the character’s wilderness haven for some months. The character’s Nature plays a large part in how he approaches these conversations. The character might try intimidating, teasing, cajoling, or rationalizing. The player should understand that he does not simply play his character in these situations, but the Beast Within as well. Using this power cannot force an animal to do something against its nature, or to force a creature to risk its life. While the aforementioned grizzly would stand guard to the vampire’s haven and even fight for it, it would not do so against obviously superior numbers or something overwhelmingly supernatural. A predatory bird might be convinced to harry a target, but would definitely not hold ground. A docile dog or skittish cat would have no problem with reporting something it had seen, but it wouldn’t enter combat unless given no other option — though it would likely agree to stand and fight and then flee at the first opportunity, if a harsh Kindred demanded it.