One of five games by White Wolf Games Studio set in the World of Darkness. The world is secretly populated with the powers of the occult and mystical, of which Vampires are one. They are divided into bloodlines, according to their founder (known as an Antediluvian). When the Age of Reason and the Inquisition came, some banded together into a society in hiding, called the Camarilla; others, who are known as the Sabbat, rebelled, set on revelling in their inhumanity.

The Kindred in V:tM have a variety of supernatural powers known as disciplines. These vary according to clan. Well-known disciplines are:

Animalism: The power to hang out with animals like wolves and bats
Auspex: The power to perceive things that are not obvious
Celerity: The power to go really fast
Dementation: The power to twist other people's minds
Dominate: The power to make friends
Fortitude: The power to be really hard
Obfuscation: The power to disappear
Obtenebration: The power to produce lots of darkness
Potence: The power to kick bottom
Presence: The power to look really cool
Vicissitude: The power to sculpt flesh into exotic forms

What these disciplines say about the goths who enthuse about them is left as a deduction for the reader.

And yes, I play Vampire.
Here is a comprehensive list of all known vampiric disciplines from Vampire: The Masquerade, and the clans to which they are most common:

It frightens me that this list came from memory. As I can, I will create writeups for those disciplines that don't already have one. Please /msg me if I've forgotten anything.

Character Creation

That's right. Character creation. How many of us RPG players, have spent countless hours at the kitchen table with dice, a blank sheet of paper, books and a brain fart? I know I have. I also know, being a seasoned player how the game works. And that more often than not all the hand guides and source books in the world is not enough to make getting that 'perfect character' out of your head, and into the game play.

This is not going to tell you 'how' to make a character for Vampire: The Masquerade. This is just to give a basic idea how to get started. In my opinion the imagination and story behind the character makes it more fun to play. The points and stats in making the page itself other than combat to me are irrelevant.

A lot of the 'creation' has to do with the type of game you are planning on bringing your character into. It may be TT (Known as TableTop), LARP (Known as Live Action Role-Play), or even online. I as a player personally recommend playing online if you are just starting out. Many people have sites all over the net. Including White Wolf itself (Which is where I still play today, even though the other forms of play are just as much if not more fun to play). Please keep in mind that this is a personal experience write up so the following might not work for you. With that said, let me begin.

Online Tools

First off, if you are going to be playing online, what's the point in having paper and a pen? Having these items is a big old pain in the ass. Trust me, lost character sheets make it hard for game play. Having said this - downloading something called a 'Character Generation Program' would be high on the priority list. No this program will not make your sheets for you, rather it will keep your sheets stored on your computer. It keeps track of initial point spending; freebie spending and most importantly experience point spending. Makes for quick character reference. Not to mention it looks pretty.

Once you have the program downloaded and installed on your computer your ready to get started. It is also a good idea to at least have one source book, or hand guide by your side (Mainly Vampire: The Masquerade 3rd Edition). The more books you have, the better. Though a starting player can get by with only these items and have some fun.

Getting Started

Great! We now have our books in our lap's, and our empty character sheet on our screen. Let's start making that blood sucking, alternate ego that's everyone knows you have in you.

The Basics:

Everybody starts at ground zero. Who is your character going to be?

Name: Monica Bedard
Player: Sabbatangel
Chronicle: DQ
Nature: Director
Demeanor: Survivor
Clan: Lasombra
Generation: 13th
Haven: Catacombs
Concept: Militant Leader

Name: Your characters name is something you are going to have to live with until the character is dead, or the game you are playing in is completed. So make sure you like the name, also try to make sure it will suit your character in the end. Sometimes the name says it all!

Player: Now this is an easy one! What's your name, or nickname? That goes here.

Chronicle: This is normally where the name of the game goes. For example - DQ 'Club Darqness' a Sabbat chronicle played at White Wolf.

Nature: What would someone say if they were talking about your nature? This is what you have to think about when assigning one to your alternate ego. What are your characters 'true' personality? Who is he/she deep down?

Demeanor: Don't lie, most of us have put on a front when trying to catch the opposite sex's eye. That muscular guy at the gym, or that pretty girl next door. You were not yourself. It was that alternate ego that you show the world. This is what you have to think about when picking your character demeanor. What does this kindred make other's think he/she is on the inside?

Clan: What bloodline do you wish to choose? Your character clan defines the lineage and relationship he/she has to Caine. Clan also dictates what powers and or weaknesses the character posses. The following are the main 13 clans played within the World of Darkness.
- Brujah
- Gangrel
- Malkavian
- Nosferatu
- Toreador
- Tremere
- Ventrue
- Lasombra
- Tzimisce
- Assamite
- Followers of Set (Setite)
- Giovanni
- Ravnos

Generation: Closely related to clan. This defines how many times the character has been removed from Caine, the progenitor vampire. It also relates to the kindred's blood potency.

Haven: Where will the character hide and sleep during the day light hours?

Concept: What was the character before he/she was embraced kindred? This is where a one or two word sketch is used define who they were before their embrace. It may be anything from a crazed vigilante to a quiet homemaker.

After this is all said and done the rest of the creation is putting dots or points in the areas where you think the character will need them. I recommend though, by taking the information above in making your own character and using it to write a story, background, description or anything else that your heart desires. For example, below is a character description based on a character sheet and her humanity level as it stands right now. (Which is at a rating of 3 for those who want to know)

Silent steps. In addition, the form of Alandria enters the scene. The only thing giving her away, is the clicking noise that comes from her hands from time to time, a silent communication perhaps. The tell tale sound that is heard in the absence of spoken words. And an absence of words it is almost invariably.

A delicate pendant draped in her hands, looking like that of a rosary. Swinging hypnotically with each step. The shimmering line, not chain but garrote you notice on closer inspection. A well camouflaged tool.

Her hair is of a dark plum, streaked in silvers, pulled up into a braid or sometimes in a bun type style, held with one 'chopstick'. Otherwise, falling down thick to her waist. Upon her face, more likely than not, is a sand polished, female human skull fashioned into a mask. As if made to fit her perfectly, attuned to her flesh and with eyes sunken and hidden you can only wonder, if it is a mask at all. Her cold cruel stare glaring from behind it completely impassive at to her surroundings. Making one wonder if there is life behind that mask at all or just the grim taint of lifelessness.

When not wearing the mask, her eyes are indeed sunken, sickly looking, and the dull color of lifeless gray and the same mask, is attached to her belt with two twin black pouches to each side, contents unknown. Her skin that once held the blush of health, human, but now it has taken on the same pallid pigment common to most cainites upon creation. Smooth and surreal in texture. Under the right light, looking almost as if she is made of the finest porcelain or alabaster. To the touch. If you are so lucky to get that close, her skin feels almost waxy. Almost like the feel of recycled plastics. Still retaining its own innocent softness.

Most of her form is covered on the other hand, hiding most all of it. Her clothing of the finest and most beautiful of loose-fitting black silks .The perfect contrast to her flawless snow-white skin. Their folds and lightness serving to hide the variety of jagged and twisted weapons beneath while still allowing her the freedom to move, and kill with equal ease; not to mention ease of conscience.

There you have it. My opinion and encouragement for those, whom like the game, but find the sheet/point system to be foreboding. Use your imagination. Tell a tale. That's what the game is ultimately about.

Tips on running an effective Vampire: The Masquerade game

Keep your mind on the words personal horror. That is the core of any good Vampire game. Games lacking this aspect degenerate into bloody horror flicks or dungeons and dragons with fangs. So when developing your plot, remember that this should be a game of personal horror.

How do you run Personal Horror? Personal horror can be found in the character realizing that s/he is no longer human being and has become a monster. This does not mean you should run a game where the characters are boogey monsters. Rather, Humanity is key and should be jealously protected by the players and it is up to the Storyteller to challenge it. You create personal horror by placing characters still attached to their humanity in situations where that ideal is challenged. Essentially, what this means in that you need to run a game that is centered around the characters rather than a game that is centered around a linear plot.

How do you get characters who would fit into this type of game? Well, not all characters will work well in a character centered vampire game. If you want to run a political game, a loner caitiff would probably be a bad idea. Similarly, if you want to run a game focused on personal horror a battle hardened Brujah would be a bad idea. You want characters who will be horrified by the fact that they are surrounded by death and have to live on blood. Basically, you want characters who have high humanity because someone who kills for a living isn't going to have many issues with being a monster.

How shall I handle Character Creation? Be extremely selective as to what concepts you will allow in the game. My advice is that you only allow the standard Camarilla clans and that you make the players adhere to the clan stereotypes. What I mean by this, is that if a player says that s/he wants to play a Ventrue then you need to make sure that character has something the Ventrue would want and like (such as a banking genius).

It would be very wise of you to ask the players to create their characters as human beings. Have them define their jobs, their families, their relationships, where they live, what their favorite food is, what they like to do on the weekends, etc etc. Try to make these characters are real and human as possible. The players should know pretty much everything about them, a few anecdotes such as a story about getting beaten up in 3rd grade go a long way into making these characters be more than sheets of paper.

How do I start the game? The most effective way I've found is to Embrace the characters in game. What this means, is that the characters begin as human beings and become Vampires during the first few sessions. This allows the characters to get attached to being humans and then be suddenly confronted with the horror of having to hide from the sun, live on blood, and be a parasite of humanity. During this period do not fast foward through anything that occurs. Describe everything they feel, hunger pangs, etc. And make them detail how they plan to feed, find shelter, and cope with their new existance. The first few nights of vampiric life will likely be the most memorable part of the game and the part where the characters (and players) really bond.

NPC's It is very important to make three dimensional non-player characters. Go through the same character generation method for each NPC that your players go through. Work out what their goals are and how they interact with each other and how they'll likely react to the player characters.

Vampire: the Masquerade released its fifth edition in 2018. While editions come and go this one was somewhat special as it breaks with prior versions more than any other edition. Revised (3rd) edition ended with the storyteller's choice of Gehenna and White Wolf moved onto the new World of Darkness. When that didn't work out they came out with the 20th Anniversary Edition which was basically a beefed up revised. This was exactly what the old fans wanted, more of the same. Little did they know what was to come.

Fifth edition is a return to first in some ways. It's simultaneously streamlined and ornamented. Gone is the granulated range of successes. Rolls come in three plus one flavors. Roll the dice pool of ten siders and count every one greater than or equal to six as a hit. If your hits reach or exceed the target number the roll succeeds. If you roll two 10s that counts four four hits and if you reach or exceed the target number the roll critically succeeds! Less than the target number and you fail. But where are the critical failures you ask. Well to understand that we need to address hunger. In fifth edition vampires are no longer sloshing blood tanks running through some finite supply of the red stuff. They are hunger incarnate. Blood pools that count down have been replaced with hunger that counts up. Hunger goes from zero to five and for every hunger you replace one of your regular dice with a hunger die. If you fail with a hunger die showing a one it's a bestial failure. More over if you get a pair of tens and reach or exceed the target number but one or both is on a hunger die it's a messy critical. All of this amounts to replacing resource tracking with risk management. More over whether you increase hunger or not is always a dice roll. Gone are the days of optimized combat builds. Your vampire is always a handful of bad rolls away from being reduced to a wretched starving animal.

New mechanics aside what's going on in the World of Darkness. It might be easier to list what's not going on. All of the major intelligence agencies learned that vampires are real based on all of the mass surveillance they were doing over the internet and collectively decided that the world wasn't big enough for so many global cabals of sociopathic parasites and began both independently and collectively informing and arming the Society of Leopold to go nuts. As a consequence half of the major powers are either dead or missing. Clan Tremere's leadership is mostly gone and they're in full on melt down. Clan Giovanni lost (or was abandon by) its founder and has rebranded itself as clan Hecata. The biggest effect has been that the Sabbat decided to stop talking about killing Antediluvians and start practicing it. Everyone who still calls themselves Sabbat has headed over to the Middle East to eat some ancients (Or be eaten by them) which no longer includes clan Lasombra who defected en mas to the Camarilla because what's six hundred years of pure enmity when compared to having to fight Methuselahs in the dessert. Speaking of the Camarilla, they have decided that all of this is a consequence of electronic communication and banned it. Also, you're either with them or against them. Anarchs get bent. The Second Inquisition is too much of an existential threat for them to tolerate that kind of nonsense. Of course it's also too much of a threat for them to wage open war on the Anarchs. Last but not least in all of this is the beckoning which is a psychic pull that is calling the elders to the same region where the Sabbat is hunting. Not all of them are heeding it but enough of them are that it's left a power vacuum. That's the state of vampire politics in the modern nights. Power vacuums everywhere for player characters to try and capitalize on while the storyteller is encouraged to employ fully armed hunters on PCs who think they are too cool for the Masquerade.

The last major change is in the realm of character creation. Thin bloods are an option in the core book. Player characters now distribute fixed numbers of dots to attributes and skills which prevents min-maxing. It's really expensive and hard to get five dots in anything. The power level has been capped and flattened in general. More over, character advancement as written is very slow. On a whole this keeps the game grounded in the personal horror and out of the power gaming optimization trap. All of these choices seem to be working. Despite the extent of the changes the response from the fans both new and old has been mostly positive despite fifth edition being a soft reboot. A running theme of previous editions had been that the powers that be would squish player characters like bugs if they stepped too far out of line. That plus the fact that the metaplot kept fixating on the continent spanning battle between Camarilla and Sabbat in this game of personal horror and you had a slightly bipolar setting. None of that went away but it's off screen for most kindred in North America. Their nights (your nights) are a heady mixture of opportunity and danger where the strongest players are off the board but a lot of niceties are too. Descend into monstrosity, ascend to power, do both, or die another ignominious death at the hands of the monsters that made you. Different rules, same game.


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