Intro to Vampire: The Masquerade. Josephine McAdam (from L.A. by Night) welcomes you to the 5th edition of World of Darkness, and shares the basic concepts of Vampire, the roleplaying game of personal horror and political intrigue.
Vampire: The Masquerade is a tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG), set in a dark reflection of the modern world where players assume the roles of Vampires, often referred to as "Kindred", and deal with their night-to-night struggles against their own bestial natures, vampire hunters and each other.
The game uses the vampiric condition as a backdrop to explore themes such as retaining the character's sense of self, humanity, and sanity, as well as simply keeping from being crushed by the grim opposition of mortal and supernatural antagonists and, more poignantly, surviving the politics, treachery, and often violent ambitions of their own kind.
Vampire: The Masquerade is based on the Storyteller System and uses a number of specific mechanics and tools aimed towards simulating the vampiric existence:
- The Hunger mechanic, introduced in the 5th edition, is used to play out the drama of the vampire's struggle against their Beast by adding extra risk and difficulty to their actions, sometimes causing the Beast to intercede in a vampire's actions through Bestial Failures or Messy Criticals.
- Disciplines, also known as a vampire's supernatural powers, are often subject to Rouse Checks, a dice roll that checks if an increase in Hunger has occurred
- Hunger ranges from 0 to 5. A vampire can only be free of Hunger and the Beast if they take a life, and even then, it's only temporary. If a vampire reaches Hunger 5, they need to make a Frenzy check in an attempt to resist the Beast temporarily taking over the vampire's thoughts and actions.
- Frenzy is a term describing a supernatural fight-or-flight reaction experienced by vampires:
- Fury Frenzy usually triggers when a vampire is provoked, insulted, or humiliated into bestial violence
- Hunger Frenzy usually triggers when a vampire is tempted by blood or when they reach Hunger 5
- Terror Frenzy, also called Rötschreck, usually triggers when a vampire is confronted with a threat like sunlight or fire
- The Beast is the innate predator inside of every vampire that drives and urges them to become entirely a monster. Every night, sometimes multiple times a night, a vampire has to resist The Beast, lest they forsake all humanity left within them.
- Humanity is a measure of how closely a vampire clings to the morality and values of mortal life, and consequently how well they are able to resist the urges of the Beast:
- Players choose between one to three personal human Convictions and create Touchstones to represent their connection to each, to help mitigate Humanity-compromising Stains. By default, they must be living mortals or ghouls
- The player coterie determines Chronicle Tenets to self-define its moral and ethical values. If the Tenets are broken, each offending character incurs Stains.
- Stains represent the corruptions and deformations of a vampire's Humanity. If too many Stains build up without repentance or redress via a Remorse test, a vampire's Humanity will drop.
- The Masquerade is the elaborate veil of deception pulled over the eyes of the living to hide the existence of Vampires. The Masquerade is the cornerstone survival strategy for Vampires because without it, the humans would rise up and exterminate all Kindred.
Vampires of the World of Darkness
Vampires are the fundamental and player characters of Vampire: The Masquerade. They are undead creatures with hearts that do not beat, they do not age, their skin is cold, and the only sustenance they require is blood. Despite their undead status, Vampires are thinking, feeling beings capable of very human emotions and empathy.
- The Embrace is the act of transforming a mortal into a vampire. A vampire drains and replaces a victim's blood with a bit of their own to pass on their Clan and curse.
- A newly Embraced vampire is always one Generation higher than their sire, the number indicating how many generations they are removed from the original progenitor.
- Vampires of every Clan have unique Banes and Compulsions, save a few exceptions
- A Bane is curse, a supernatural limitation experienced by vampires based on their Clan, and are one of the features that set one Clan of vampires apart from other Clans.
- Compulsions occur when a vampire experiences a bestial failure, the Hunger subtly urging a vampire into actions dictated by their Blood and Clan
- Aside from the particular Curses of each Clan, vampires share a few weaknesses:
- Vampires are dependent on blood to sustain their existence
- Vampires universally fear fire and sunlight
- A wooden stake through the heart will immobilize a vampire
- Every vampire is subject to the Beast
In the World of Darkness, most Vampires belong to a Faction or sect—a social organization of Kindred composed of multiple Clans with its own dogma that its members attempt to uphold:
- The Camarilla is the most widely influential organization Kindred history has ever known. Its stated purpose is to preserve the Masquerade, but just as importantly, to preserve the power of the elders who control vast amounts of wealth, resources, and influence.
- The Anarch Movement is the revolution against the Camarilla. The Anarchs especially resent the privileged status held by elders within the Camarilla, and actively fight back against their control.