Vampire: The Masquerade Take1
Disclaimer about Clans
It is also important to dispel a popular misconception, or prevent it from taking hold in the first place. With a couple of exceptions, clans are simply groupings of Kindred linked by common blood – no less, and certainly no more. One may speak of a certain mannerism or ideal as “so very Brujah” or “typically Ventrue,” but clan members are vampires first and foremost. To assume that “he’s Toreador, so he must love art” or “she’s Assamite, so she must be a cold-hearted killer” is as dangerous as making assumptions about people in the real world based on their ethnicity or religion. Nor do most clans have unwavering “party lines” or all-encompassing agendas to which all members must dutifully adhere – one does not experience the agony of theEmbrace and the ravages of the Beast only to spend eternity as a faceless agent/bureaucrat for “the organization.” For every “typical” clan member, there are many others who defy conventional wisdom about the clan. Most vampires follow the clan’s teachings exactly as far as it suits them, and no farther. Play a vampire, a unique character, not a “clan clone.”
In Vampire: The Masquerade, the majority of vampires are loyal to one of several sects, which are strongly clan-oriented but primarily political entities. The two major sects are the Camarilla and Sabbat, which respectively comprise vampires who attempt to uphold the Masquerade and generally maintain their humanity at passable levels, and vampires who seek to eliminate the Masquerade and rule humanity as predators. This isn’t to say that the Camarilla are nice, they’re just pragmatic.
These sects trace their history back to 16th century Europe and the Convention of Thorns which ended the Anarch Revolt. The Sabbat are the descendants of those Anarchs, while the Camarilla are the signatories to the convention. The two sects have been mortal enemies ever since, although the difference is blurred at the higher levels and lower generations.
Brujah (AKA ‘The Brutes’)
Quick to anger and always passionate, they have been regaining their position as a clan of lofty philosophers and activists and are often pointed by their known and mysterious and unknown power and knowledge as a clan that should not mess with
Due to their inherent clan weakness, all difficulties to resist frenzy increases by two for Brujah characters, to a maximum of 10.
Malkavian (AKA ‘Kooks’, ‘Lunatics’, ‘Madmen’…)
The Malkavians are a clan of Kindred cursed with insanity. Every Malkavian is in some fashion insane; in game terms, they have at least one derangement they can never remove. Throughout history, the Malkavians have been the seers and oracles of the Kindred, bound by strange compulsions and insight.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, every last vampire of Malkav’s blood is irredeemably insane in some form or another. Some attribute this to a curse of the blood, while other Lunatics actually call it a special blessing, a gift of insight. When a Malkavian character is created, the player must choose at least one derangement for that character at the time of the Embrace; this derangement can be temporarily fought with Willpower, but can never be permanently overcome. They are also pranksters, with their “jokes” ranging from benign to sadistic.
Nosferatu (AKA ‘Sewer Rats’)
The most visibly cursed of all Kindred, the Embrace warps each Nosferatu into a hideously deformed creature; the archetypal Nosferatu resembles Max Shreck’s Count Orlok, though the curse has any number of variations. The Nosferatu are the spymasters of the dead, collecting information and selling it for a dear price. They are also the masters of the underground, living in the sewers for protection.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, all Nosferatu have Appearance ratings of zero. They may not improve Appearance with experience points. Most Social actions based on first impressions, except intimidation and the like, fail automatically.
Toreador (AKA ‘Degenerates’, ‘Artisans’)
The Toreador are some of the most beautiful and glamorous of the Kindred. Famous (and infamous) as a clan of artists and innovators they are one of the bastions of the Camarilla, as their very survival depends on the facades of civility and grace on which the sect prides itself.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, although lovely and seductive, the members of this clan are as much prisoners of their artistic vision and sensitivity as they are its beneficiaries. They are often overcome by the beauty they see around them, and become immobilized with fascination. Such things as paintings, neon signs, or even sunrises can captivate them. It requires a successful Willpower roll to break the fascination quickly; otherwise, the Toreador will stand, awed and helpless, for minutes or even hours. This trait explains why Toreador so often fall in love with mortals.
Tremere (AKA ‘Wizards’, ‘Mages’, ‘Usurpers’)
Clan Tremere is one of the youngest vampire clans, having just come into existence during the dark ages. In the little time since then they have made incredible inroads within vampiric society. This is due in no small part to their strict hierarchy, secretive nature, and mastery of Thaumaturgy, all of which elicit suspicion, fear, and respect from other Cainites. Some even go so far as to consider themselves the evolution of vampirism, citing their extreme versatility of blood magic and lack of a true clan curse.
The Tremere clan weakness consists of an initiation, which requires neonates must all drink from the blood of the seven elders of the clan when they are created. This means that all Tremere are at least one step toward being Blood-Bound to the clan, and therefore must watch their step very carefully when around their leaders.
Ventrue (AKA ‘Blue Bloods’)
Clan Ventrue has long been one of the proudest lines of vampires. Its members work hard to maintain a reputation for honor, genteel behavior, and leadership. A sense of noblesse oblige has long pervaded the clan, accompanied by the genuine belief that the Ventrue know what’s best for everyone. They not only consider themselves the oldest clan, but see themselves as the enforcers of tradition and the rightful leaders of vampire society. Unsurprisingly, they have long been chosen from the ranks of nobility and privilege, whether kings or merchant princes, but they have also been known as knights and warlords who sought to live by the laws of chivalry and duty. If anything, the Ventrue have adopted to fill the roles of leadership over the ages, and in the modern nights are more politician than noble warrior, more CEO than baron lord. They remain the largest supporters of the Camarilla and the Masquerade, believing both institutions to be the surest means of protecting vampires from the growing mortals masses, and of guarding their own power.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, Ventrue have exacting and rarefied tastes, even when it comes to blood. The player must pick a restriction on the type of blood their character can feed upon, e.g. only young men, no animals, only virgins, etc. A Ventrue will feed on no other type of blood, not even if she is starving or under duress.
Gangrel (AKA ‘Animals’)
Nomads who hold closer ties to the wild places than most of their city-bound cousins, they are also closer to the animal aspect of the Beast, and are masters of the Protean Discipline.
Due to their inherent clan weakness, Gangrel are very close to the Beast within; as they succumb to it, it leaves its mark on their bodies. Every time a Gangrel frenzies, they gain an animalistic feature. This feature is determined by the player and Storyteller; it might be tufted ears, a pelt, a tail, catlike eyes, a snarling voice, tusks, even scales or feathers. Every five such features acquired permanently reduce one of the Gangrel’s Social Attributes by one.