Vampire: The Masquerade

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Vampire: The Masquerade is a roleplaying game of personal and political horror, set in the World of Darkness. Players portray vampires, struggling for survival, supremacy and their own fading Humanity—afraid of what they are capable of, and fearful of the inhuman (and human) conspiracies that surround them. All vampires suffer from Hunger, the relentless and terrible thirst for human blood. Refusal to deal with it eventually overcomes the vampire’s mind, and drives them to terrible acts to slake it.

World of Darkness

World of Darkness is a shared story universe where vampires, werewolves, and other monsters inhabit our world, hidden in plain sight. Stories within World of Darkness - told through roleplaying games, video games, comic books, and other mediums - are all set in real world locations (such as New York City or Athens) with an added supernatural layer. Vampires lurk the streets, wraiths haunt the locations of importance to them, and werewolves roam the wilderness. These monsters often find themselves in conflict with one another, or with mortal Hunters investigating their existence. In World of Darkness, player (or protagonist) is the monster, the anti-hero afraid of what they’re capable of, should they give in to their inner conflicts. Monsters in World of Darkness pretend to be human or actively hide from human sight, fighting for survival in a dark and mysterious world. Night after night, they struggle to find their place in a baroque web of secrets, ancient conspiracies, and modern upheaval. In their quest for power, they leverage every asset, from arcane abilities to simple diplomacy, seduction, and street smarts.[1]

Other World of Darkness IPs include:

  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse
  • Wraith: The Oblivion
  • Hunter: The Reckoning
  • Mage: The Ascension
  • Changeling: The Dreaming
  • Demon: The Fallen
  • Mummy: The Resurrection
  • Orpheus

Vampires in World of Darkness

Vampire: The Masquerade uses familiar vampire tropes known from myths, legends and horror media, additionally putting its own spin on vampire fantasy by separating Kindred into factions and clans.

Physical features

Kindred in Vampire: The Masquerade are undead, which means their body is functionally dead and resembles a corpse by default. They don’t require to breathe, their skin is cold and ashy, and their hearts do not beat[2]. This creates a risk while interacting with mortals, which can be mostly nullified with the use of Blush of Life - ability that allows vampires to send their blood to various body parts in order to appear completely human for a night, including but not limited to a heartbeat, body temperature, and breath[2]. Depending on their Humanity, vampires can fake or sometimes even enjoy sexual intercourse while Blush of Life is active, but they do not feel sexual pleasure by default.[3] Humanity also determines how "human" vampires appear, from highest levels making them look more sickly than dead, to lower levels enhancing supernatural features (like an unnatural eye color) and making them stand out in the crowd more.[3]

Vampires do not heal naturally, given their bodies are dead. However, they can use active effort to mend themselves using blood within their veins.[2]

Strengths

Most vampires possess Disciplines, supernatural powers ranging from mind control to shapeshifting.

Most physical damage - such as bullet wounds or sword cuts - is minor to vampires, who can mend their flesh quickly. Contracting a disease from infected human blood doesn't bother them, as the germs die in their own system (although might be still passed on to others vampires feed upon).

Any vampire can call upon their Blood for a temporary boost to their Attributes using Blood Surge, which allows them to become more powerful in a chosen field for a short amount of time.[2]

Weaknesses

Vampires are susceptible to Frenzy, a constant threat to the fragile peace. During frenzy, vampire acts automatically and doesn't listen to reason, instead led by the invisible hand of its Beast, driven solely by rage, salvation or panic.

  • Fury frenzy may happen as a result to insults, humiliation or aggression,
  • Hunger frenzy happens as a result of heavy thirst that must be immediately quenched,
  • Terror frenzy, also called Rötschreck, may happen as a reaction to a threat of sunlight, open flames or grave damage sustained.

Vampires automatically fall into the daysleep when the sun is up, rendering them partially defenseless during the day. Awakening during the day requires a Humanity roll at a Difficulty depending on the level of crisis.

Drugs and conventional poisons do not affect vampires if injected or consumed directly; however, they may be affected by poisons or drugs contained within their victims' bloodstreams.[4]

Creation (The Embrace)

The act of transforming a mortal into a vampire is called "The Embrace". The Embrace requires a vampire to drain their victim from their blood, and then replace that victim's blood with a bit of their own.[5]. Newly Embraced vampires are referred to as fledglings[6] or childer.[7]. The more recent the Embrace, the more likely the characters are to be thin-bloods of Generation 14th or higher. However, new childer of 12th and 13th Generation remain plausible even tonight[6].

Clans

See separate article: Clans

Factions

See separate article: Factions

Differences from pop-culture tropes

Vampires in Vampire: The Masquerade do not Embrace (create other vampires) by simply biting their victims. They also do not leave the marks of their fangs on the skin, as vampire saliva can close the wounds made by their fangs. Vampires in general do not flee from crosses, garlic or running water; however, these weaknesses can be present in individual Kindred in the form of Folkloric Banes, based on their Flaws. A stake through the heart does not kill vampires, instead it paralyzes them until removed. Vampires as species also do not possess inherent super-strength, supernatural vision, ability to change into bats or mist - these powers can be accessed through individual Disciplines, meaning most Kindred specialize in particular supernatural skills. However, older and more powerful vampires may rival fiction's Lestat or Dracula in the array of their skills, and those who stalked the night for millennia may possess godlike power.[8]

The Masquerade

The Masquerade is an elaborate veil of deception separating the vampire existence from mortal world, ensuring regular people do not know about the presence of Kindred among them[9]. The Camarilla's stated purpose is to preserve the Masquerade as its First Tradition, although vampires not affiliated with it - like Anarchs and Autarkis - often recognize the importance of keeping their existence secret. However, this tradition is very often broken - a sloppy feeding, an open display of vampiric powers, a bloody accident recorded by someone with a phone camera may all cause a Masquerade Breach, and result in human forces targeting the vampire to neutralize them[10]. The Masquerade means that it’s hard for vampires to find each other, especially in big cities.[11]

List of Vampire: The Masquerade products

See separate articles: Product list, Video games, Official TTRPG sources, Official TTRPG shows

References