Well, I do like them all (all the main clan disciplines anyway—I start drawing the line at some of the weird tricks some of the rare-to-nonexistent bloodlines pull). The one Discipline I tend to always make sure my characters have, at least some of, is Auspex—because it never hurts to have those enhanced senses and a bit of extra-sensory talent available for a dark and rainy night.
But it’s not the one that’s the most fun. That one would be Protean.
Maybe it’s because my first Vampire character was a Gangrel. Or maybe because I think both bats and wolves are cool. But of all the gifts the Kindred have, Protean is just the most FUN.
For one thing, it freaks most humans out, to have a very large wolf snarling in their faces. In fact, it freaks other Kindred out. Maybe it’s because having once been human, vampires still carry racial memory, species memory—of the dangers of wolves, and more importantly, werewolves. And of course, a shape-shifted Gangrel’s teeth and claws are pretty nasty, inflicting wounds that even a vampire needs time to recover from.
They also get some of the wolf’s enhanced senses, which can be useful in sticky situations. They can run, dodge and leap with all the agility of a four-legged critter. And best of all, unlike werewolves, turning into a wolf and back doesn’t mean their clothes or the contents of their pockets get left on the side of the road. (We always explained that as the Protean shift being fundamentally magical in its essence, while the Garou shift is natural… so to speak.)
That also explains why a 180-pound Gangrel turns into a 200-pound wolf, but can also change into a bat who only weighs about a few ounces. (I’ve always considered a Gangrel-bat to be somewhat larger than a real vampire bat, but still small enough to fit through small holes and hide easily in dark rooms.)
It takes practice for a Gangrel to make full use of his alternate shapes. The wolf and bat forms are traditional, but not exclusive—Gangrel usually get one ‘fighting’ or ‘running’ shape and one that flies. Gangrel who could shift into owls, crows, bears and even panthers have been reported. (One Gangrel legend even tells of an elder who uses a horse shape).
There are other advantages to Protean too—to see clearly in the dark. To sprout claws that do serious aggravated damage in a hand-to-hand fight. And being able to sink into the ground and sleep means the Gangrel doesn’t have to worry as much as other Kindred about finding a safe haven for the day. She just needs to find an out of the way bit of scrub land where no one’s watching.
But really, it’s the shifting to animal shape that is the coolest. Because of course it is.