From an e-mail sent by erdedrache
Several people have asked how they can go about raising various Abilities, Backgrounds, Disciplines, etc.. I've outlined the procedure for raising most stats.
- Abilities: There are two ways to raise an Ability. First, you can spend a month training with a teacher who has the Ability at one level higher than the level you desire to learn. Thus, to raise Survival to 3, you must learn from a teacher with Survival 4.
Second, you can spend a number of months training by yourself equal to the level of the Ability to wish to buy. During this time, you must use the Ability in some meaningful way in game. So again, to raise Survival to 3, you would have to spend 3 months learning on your own. During that time, you would need to track an elusive quarry over a long distance, cross a mountain range, or do something significant that uses Survival.
However, in most cases, buying the first level of an Ability can be done with minimal effort, and can be learned over the course of a month with no further requirements. Some esoteric abilities, particularly Lores, will always require additional effort, but buying the first level of Archery is as simple as picking up a bow and shooting with it for a month.
- Traits: You can generally just buy these at the rate of one trait per category per month, unless there's some reason that you shouldn't. For instance, if you've spent the last three months in captivity chained to a wall and barely being fed, you have no justification for raising Physical Traits, and if you've been living in the woods without any contact with sentient beings, don't expect to buy Socials.
- Road rating: To raise your character's Road (or Humanity, if you're human), you spend a number of months equal to the level you wish to buy acting as if that were your Road rating and without committing ANY sins of that level. Thus, to raise Road of Heaven to 3, for three months, you would have to act as if you were on Road of Heaven 3, and cannot commit any sin of level 3 or lower.
- Backgrounds: Background requirements are a bit more vague. In general, you must provide some sort of explanation for why you should be allowed to raise the Background, and the ST must accept it. For example, you might raise your Military Force for 2 to 3 if you recently increased your Resources and are using that new income to hire soldiers. You might raise your Equipment to 2 if you recently murdered a trader and stole his wares. Backgrounds may or may not require time to raise, depending on the explanation given.
- Influences: We use the Influence growth rules in Dark Epics. Basically, you devote your Influences to the Growth action. Once you have spent a number of traits on growth equal to three times your current rating, the Influence automatically goes up by 1. This does *not* require an XP expenditure. Example: to raise your Court Influence from 3 to 4, you must devote 9 levels to growth. The quickest way to do this is to devote all your levels to Growth for three months. However, in doing that, you leave yourself vulnerable to Watch and Trace actions that can lead to attacks on your Influences. Read Dark Epics for more details.
- Disciplines: For in-clan Disciplines or physical Disciplines (Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence) you simply spend the XP. (All vampire can learn the physical Disciplines without a teacher, but must pay out-of-clan costs if the Disciplines aren't in-clan for them.) A character may learn one Discipline per month. To learn any other Discipline, you must have a Cainite teacher who has the Discipline at one level above the level you wish to learn. It doesn't necessarily need to be in-clan for the teacher, though, as long as they know it. Thus, a Tzimisce with Auspex 4 could teach his Gangrel ally up to Auspex 3. That Gangrel could in turn teach his Brujah ally up to Auspex 2. However, for clan-specific Disciplines (Protean, Obtenebration, Vicissitude, etc.), you must drink a trait of blood from a vampire who has the Discipline as an in-clan. (This needn't necessarily be the same person who is teaching it.) So a Ventrue with Protean 3 could teach his childe Protean 2, but the childe would need to drink a bit of Gangrel blood first. Yes, this means out-of-clan Disciplines can become very widespread. That's why vampires are very reluctant to teach their Disciplines. A Toreador may teach his Lasombra friend Presence, but that also means that he's indirectly allowing any of that Lasombra's allies, whether he likes them or not, to learn Presence as well. In general, Cainites should think very hard before teaching their Disciplines. After all, that Nosferatu who taught his animalistic Gangrel buddy Obfuscate may well get killed in a ninja surprise attack from a Brujah who learned Obfuscate from that Gangrel.