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A Storytelling Game of Personal Horror.

The tabletop roleplaying game that started the Old World of Darkness line. Subverted many tropes of roleplaying games from that time by making the player characters monsters (as opposed to heroes who hunt them) and installing a Karma Meter that makes violence a dubious solution in many situations. In this game, players take the roles of vampires (aka the Kindred, aka the Damned), undead beings gifted with eternal (un)life and superhuman power, but forced to endure such drawbacks as compulsive bloodlust, poor impulse control, danger of degenerating into a mindless monster by committing too many evil acts, weakness to sunlight, and being bitches of older and more powerful vampires. The common ways to spend your unlife in this game include angsting over your condition, engaging in political intrigues and games of status within the vampire society and kicking ass with your newfound superpowers (called Disciplines).

Of course, these vampire powers range from those inspired by classic vampire tales (turning into bats, invisibility, Mind Control, and so forth), to the truly bizarre (shadow manipulation, body-morphing, or the ability to drive others into insanity).

Recently, Crowd Control Productions, makers of Eve Online, announced that their upcoming Old World of Darkness MMO will start off centered on Vampire: The Masquerade, rather than the New World of Darkness and Vampire: The Requiem. White Wolf (now a CCP subsidiary) has released a "20th Anniversary Edition"[1] of the rulebook, and will be releasing other "Classic" World of Darkness titles, though they have said they will not be updating the metaplot.

Vampiric society tends to be divided into a number of Clans, each of whom claim a different vampiric Antediluvian as an ancestor. Some of these clans are found primarily in the Camarilla, the society dedicated to preserving the titular Masquerade: Edit

  • Brujah: Rebels without causes. Fiercely independent vampires whose powers center around physical might and kicking ass. Nickname: Rabble. Weakness: Less resistance to blood frenzy.
  • Gangrel: The beastmen. Wild and animalistic vampires who have the ability to command beasts and shape-shift. For several reasons including their wild nature and the awakening of a clan founder, the clan as a whole has left the Camarilla, but individual Gangrel still claim membership. Nickname: Outlanders. Weakness: Becomes more animal-like with each blood frenzy.
  • Malkavians: The madmen. Cursed with vampiric insanity, and the ability to see things that shouldn't be seen, or pass that insanity to others. Nickname: Lunatics. Weakness: With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • Nosferatu: Butt-ugly vampires. Usually dwell in sewers and forgotten places where they can dig up secrets, as their ability to hide in the shadows makes them into excellent agents and spies. Nickname: Sewer Rats. Weakness: Guess.
  • Tremere: Vampire wizards. A clan of wizards-turned-vampires that simulates their former magical abilities in the form of blood magic. Nickname: Warlocks. Classic Weakness: Blood bound to their masters. Anniversary Weakness: More susceptible to blood bonds.
  • Toreador: The artistes. Anne Rice-inspired vampires with a talent at social manipulation. Nickname: Degenerates. Weakness: Paralyzed at the sight of true beauty.
  • Ventrue: The vampire lords. Uses money, influence, and the Mind Control power of Dominate to seize power. Nickname: Blue Bloods. Weakness: Can only drink from a specific type of person.

Others are (with a few exceptions) exclusive to the more overt Sabbat, who don't believe in hiding from their mortal "cattle": Edit

  • Lasombra: Manipulative bastards who can even manipulate the very shadows to do their bidding. Nickname: Keepers (as in "My Brother's"). Weakness: No Reflection.
  • Tzimisce (pronounced "ZHIM-ee-see"): Monstrous lords of the night who have rejected any semblance of humanity, using their Body Horror powers to transcend to a "higher" state. Nickname: Fiends. Weakness: Tied to their mortal homes; must have at least a handful of their native earth to rest.
  • Antitribu: Members of clans that are generally Camarilla or Independent, but have joined the ranks of the Sabbat. Are considered traitors by their parent clans. On paper, Lasombra antitribu exist within the Camarilla, but they're far less common and keep a low profile.

A few clans belong to neither faction, preferring to go it alone: Edit

  • Assamites: Vampire mercenaries. Believe in drinking the blood of other vampires to bring themselves closer to their founder. As the name should give away, their Quietus discipline makes them into perfect killers-for-hire. Nickname: Assassins. Weakness: Addicted to vampire blood.
  • Followers of Set: A vampiric Religion of Evil. Dedicate themselves to corrupting both humans and vampires alike, and therefore often become drug lords, pimps, and Cult leaders. Their special discipline of Serpentis mixes some of the other vampires's powers into one handy, snake-themed package. Nickname: Serpents. Weakness: Bright lights.
  • Giovanni: An incestuous extended family of Venetian vampire Necromancers. Often take on qualities associated with The Mafia. Nickname: Necromancers. Weakness: Feeding causes victims excruciating pain (this is a world where the Kiss of the Vampire is almost orgasmic for the victim).
  • Ravnos: Vampires based on Gypsy stereotypes. Con men whose abilities revolve around illusions and tricks. Due to the awakening of their clan founder, they are an endangered/extinct species, depending on who you ask. (Information is never reliable in this setting.) Nickname: Deceivers. Weakness: Compulsion to a specific vice.

In addition to the Camarilla and the Sabbat, there are a few smaller sects, some of which are considered sub-sects to the aforementioned sects, while others are wholly independent sects altogether: Edit

  • Inconnu: A sect housing some of the oldest vampires in the world, with just about nothing known about them to outside viewers, and they are doing a pretty good job at keeping themselves in the shadows.
  • The Black Hand: A sub-sect to the Sabbat who serves as the assassins of the sect, and an elite group of warriors within the Sabbat to call upon in times of need.
  • True Black Hand: Another sub-sect to the Sabbat and the ones who essentially bring it order and structure from within, while primarily concerning themselves with the return of the Antediluvians, and/or a bunch of Antediluvian worshipping loons whose "conspiracies" and "infiltrations" run a mile wide and an inch deep. Introduced in a very controversial for the time gamebook (Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand) in Second Edition, made irrelevant and then wiped out during Revised Edition, and then reintroduced in the "metaplot-free" 20th Anniversary Edition.
  • The Anarchs: Formally a Camarilla sub-sect, this sect is home to a great amount of younger vampires who reject the rule of elders that the main Camarilla body supports, and wish to see an equal vampire society where all vampires are equal or at least judged by merit rather than age. They tend to be composed mainly of younger vampires from all clans who don't like being treated like dirt by their elders. They're not very good at practicing what they preach.

This game features examples of: Edit

  • Actual Pacifist: Obviously varies from character to character, but the Salubri healer caste's Disciplines are all geared toward healing and they can only drink blood from willing victims, so your archetypal Salubri will probably be one of these.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The Baali Dark Ages clanbook is full of this. In reference to the founder of the Salubri clan mentioned above: ‎"Gentle Saulot. Philosopher. Pilgrim. Pacifist. Passionate. Pathetic. Of what use are his meditations on pity and purity now, I wonder?"
  • Addiction Displacement: Described as a common event among ghouls who lose their source of vampire blood.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted. Vampires in this game can feed without killing people and, in fact, must do so to avoid troubles with the Karma Meter. However, their addiction to blood (which is compared to heroin addiction, except stronger), the fact that just a few sips of their blood can make most living creatures their slaves, easy availability of Mind Control powers, their Enemy Within, and, last but not least, paranoid, backstabbing vampire society tends to turn most of them into deeply unpleasant beings.
    • It's played pretty straight for the Tzimiszce, the Followers of Set, the Sabbat and to a lesser extent the Lasombra, all of which basically idolise this trope.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Vampires in general play this role to humanity. There are also multiple conspiracies within their own society.
  • Animal Eye Spy: Animalism 4's ability.
  • Animorphism: Clan Gangrel is the best known example, but also Followers of Set, Tzimisce and anyone who bothers to learn necessary Disciplines.
  • The Artifact: Several.
    • Clan Gangrel was created to tie "werewolf" legends into vampires back before Werewolf: The Apocalypse was thought up. They were later stated as having an "understanding" with the werewolves (mainly to counter White Wolf encouraging Storytellers to use werewolves as Beef Gates to keep vampires in the cities), until this was retconned out.
    • Clan Tremere was originally tied to Ars Magica (which has a House Tremere in its version of the Order of Hermes).
    • In general, most of the bloodlines and independent clans were "one trick ponies" to show off cool new vampire powers and then became an albatross around the setting's neck.
  • Ascended Demon: Golconda.
  • Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: The Cathedral of Flesh is almost exactly what it sounds like -- a mass of constantly-mutating living flesh large enough to serve as a literal cathedral. It may or may not actually be the Tzimisce Antediluvian, and is Vicissitude incarnate either way.
  • Aura Vision: The Auspex discipline has the ability to do this among its powers. In particular, vampires who can read auras can tell if someone is a Diablerist (their auras have nasty black veins running through them).
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Vampires' supernatural powers, as a rule, grow and develop with age, and positions of authority are, as a rule, again, occupied by old vampires, so...
  • Ax Crazy: The Sabbat vampire sect is infamous for being full of Ax Crazy young vampires, who brutalize humans for fun and eat non-Sabbat vampires for fun and power (older Sabbat members are generally those vampires who grew out of this - into calm and calculated monstrosity).
  • Badass: Which "signature characters" are this and which are Canon Sues is debatable.
  • Bad Boss: More abstract parts of fluff, such as descriptions of vampire society in core rulebooks, imply that most vampire elders treat their progeny and other underlings like this. Specific examples of elders provided by city books are usually much more rational and prefer to mix carrots with sticks.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: And Cain was the first vampire (spelled Caine when referring to him as a vampire). Many modern-day vampires think that this is a myth. They are wrong. Many other people from history and mythology were/are vampires too, from Helen of Troy to Rasputin.
    • Rasputin's origin was deliberately muddled for a Metaplot that never took off -- various Old World of Darkness books describe him as a mage, werecreature, and at least three different vampires. The idea was that Rasputin was a powerful alchemist and Ventrue ghoul who mastered mystical blood magic and distilled the blood of all his vampire allies into the Blood of Caine. Ingesting it caused him to become a "clone" of Caine - with the powers and attributes of all vampires - who would show up as the Big Bad of a Gehenna scenario where killing Rasputin would prevent Gehenna because the universe would be fooled into thinking Caine died. Since it was a relatively happy ending for the game (and God forbid that), White Wolf rejected it and Rasputin remained in limbo.
      • Really, the Rasputin references were just thrown into every clanbook as a joke, because early White Wolf was very clearly a place where no one took themselves very seriously. Once the game became "High Art" and fun was replaced with "tragic angst", multiple retcons were created solely to justify why Rasputin was apparently a member of every clan.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Tremere (the clan founder, not the clan) decided to gain the power of an Antediluvian and establish his followers as a full-fledged clan by consuming the soul of Saulot, founder of the most pacifist vampires in the setting. Maybe he should have kept researching and noted that Saulot also founded the uber-evil Baali.
  • Biblical Bad Guy: Most prominently Cain(e), the first vampire, but Lilith shows up as part of his backstory, and Elimelech (a minor character from the Book of Ruth) is one of the leaders of the Sabbat.
  • Blessed with Suck: This seems to be the general idea. Many books from the first and second editions tend to disregard it.
  • Blood Bath: One of the sacred rites of the Sabbat. Although it isn't about rejuvenating youth or beauty, like in other depictions, but more a ritual of baptism and consecration interpreted through the Sabbat's "Crusades-era Catholicism on PCP" lens.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Some vampires abandon the Humanity Karma Meter for Paths of Enlightenment, which don't follow any human sense of right and wrong.
    • There's a bit more to it, but this is the basic idea. The rest of the story is that vampires are no longer human, and trying to stick with the path of Humanity will lead to derangement, and the Paths of Enlightenment are modalities that actually fit with vampire "biology" and instinct. It is telling that any Camarilla vampire over a certain age has a diminished Humanity score and a derangement, whereas Sabbat -- regardless of age -- are derangement free so long as they have an alternative Path of Enlightenment. Reading the rules for these Paths, however, reveals them to basically be derangements of choice instead of random craziness. Still, if this is how vampires turn out no matter what, this is alien psychology by the very definition.
    • Various editions played this aspect up or down. 2nd Edition definitely played up the Paths of Enlightenment, making Blue and Orange Morality a key part of any Sabbat chronicle; Revised edition played it down, making it clear that the majority of the Sabbat were simply low-Humanity vampires, and made it clear that Paths were supposed to be extremely stringent mental disciplines rather than a license to engage in depravity for the hell of it. The most recent edition, (20th Anniversary Edition) seems to take a middle ground, maintaining the Revised Edition mechanics but not going into any great detail otherwise.
  • Body Horror: Tzimisce and Baali provide many examples. Such as the voszht: twenty or so ghouls fleshcrafted into a T. Rex-sized walking mountain of flesh with dozens of arms and mouths. The sheer sight of one makes the Tzimisce's enemies turn tail and run, to say nothing of what a voszht can actually do.
    • The very fact that this is what happens to Nosferatu when they are Embraced may qualify too.
  • Brown Note: One use of the "Dementation" discipline.
  • Cain and Abel: The Biblical ones, although here Caine became the first vampire as a result, and Abel wound up as the first Wraith... probably. Also, a number of clans vs. other clans, any clan and its antitribu, and the Ventrue and Lasombra clans get this feel a lot in the flavor text. "Brothers' Keepers," "mirror images/dark reflections," etc.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Diablerie, the act of devouring the blood and soul of another vampire, is primarily used by vampires to gain power above what is normally possible for their generation.
  • Chainsaw Good: Talbot's Chainsaw is a legendary and very powerful weapon. The chainsaw is also present in the card game and quite devastating. Sabbat members enjoy regular old chainsaw mayhem as well.
  • The Chessmaster: Almost every elder vampire who isn't dangerously insane.
    • And most of the ones that are.
      • Most notable is the Malkavians, where no one is sure of their origin, and some clans see them as a genetic dead end... The Clanbook in the first edition for the Malkavians states several purposes your Malkavian can take, the last one being "Hahahah you think we have a purpose?!"
  • The Commandments: The Traditions.
  • Complete Monster: In-Universe; it is a game about vampires, so sooner or later this will come up. Most vamps labor very hard to avoid becoming this trope, either out of latent morality or because it ultimately endangers their psyche, but as the years turn into decades turn into centuries it's very hard to care anymore, with Antediluvians often being hinted at as the ultimate monsters of vampire kind. On the other hand, some vamps, particularly those in the Sabbat and particularly who follow the Path of Night, actively pursue this trope as their ultimate goal. Tzimisce and Baali become this almost by default. And anyone who winds up on the Camarilla's Red List has gotten there by committing atrocity on a grand scale, such that the Inner Circle deems their very existence a threat to the sect and the Masquerade.
    • Camarilla unofficial motto: "Just because you are an undead fiend who stalks the night to drink the blood of the living is no reason to be a sick bastard about it." Sabbat unofficial motto: "Oh yes it is!"
      • Not quite. The Camarilla and the Sabbat do not differ much in the way of sickness. Only the Camarilla does not like to flaunt it and tends to play the monstrosity down, while the Sabbat goes no holds barred to appear EVEN MORE monstrous than that.
    • It's a bit more complicated than this. While the Camarilla generally sees the Sabbat as prime examples of this trope and ignore any at all hints to the Antediluvians, the Sabbat themselves see the Camarilla as ignorant fools who willingly let themselves be manipulated by the Antediluvians, who they see as the ultimate evil in the world. The Sabbat themselves usually have morals that are too alien to be actually classified as good or evil, but this generally does not matter when it comes to mortal terms anyway, since they will most likely mercilessly kill or torture humans anyway.
  • Crapsack World: The World of Darkness in general is one of these in a nutshell. There are some small glimmers of hope, but you must work hard just to keep yourself from sinking into ever-greater depravity.
  • Cross-Melting Aura: Powerful Baali vampires can do this.
  • Darkest Africa: The Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom supplement paints unlife in Africa as quite different.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Camarilla, the main world-spanning sect of vampires is one big example of this.
  • Deaf Composer: Any vampire cooks, by virtue of having normal food taste utterly rancid.
    • Unless they have the Eat Food merit, which does allow them to taste the food in addition to not having the food turn to ash in their mouth.
  • Deal with the Devil: Sometimes this is what makes you a vampire in the first place. Sometimes it's what happens when you try to make deals with older (smarter) vampires. A ghoul's relationship to his or her master often takes this form too. Literal deals with actual devils are possible, and they usually turn out about as well as can be expected (later versions of the game strongly discouraged the use of literal demons since it adds an element of Black and White Morality that undermines the game's central themes).
  • Defector From Decadence: Inverted. The Salubri turned their backs on the violent lives of vampires, and as a result were largely obliterated. The Salubri antitribu are defectors to decadence - Adonai, their founder, got so pissed off by Salubri pacifism that he stormed out of the bloodline and joined the Sabbat.
    • Adonai's problem wasn't pacificism so much as restraint from taking bloody vengeance on the Tremere. He was the founder of the Vengeful Salubri faction from the Dark Ages.
    • This is technically one of the reasons why many vampires go anarch, particularly Lasombra who believe that the Sabbat has become everything the original anarchs were trying to resist in the first place, only much worse.
  • Deus Angst Machina: A common, though by no means exclusive, approach to the game.
  • Distracted by the Sexy/Shiny: Clan Toreador's weakness. It might sound lame until it comes up at the worst possible time, say if it clouds their judgement, or if they're driving...
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Gehenna, usually envisioned as the time when the godlike Antediluvian ancestors of the 13 vampire clans will rise to devour their progeny and royally thrash the world in the process.
    • Make that 12. The awakening of an Antediluvian is detailed in one sourcebook. It was a fight from almost the very moment he woke up and lasted a whole week, resulting in the destruction of: 2 ancient Asian vampires, a significant portion of the population of the Middle East, a massive corner of the lands of the dead, most werecreatures in the general global neighborhood, and the ENTIRETY of said Antediluvian's clan. Everything but the last item on that list was caused by the fight between the founder and the forces attempting to contain him, but the last was all the work of the founder himself. He needed to break things, he was hungry, and his kids had a handy leash tethered to his very essence. Many people noticed and were affected by this event. Some 100 or so Ravnos managed to survive but they are often in hiding to keep the rest of the supernatural community from gutting them out of anger for what their Antediluvian did.
      • The Salubri Antediluvian is dead too, his soul was consumed by Diablerie by Tremere to found the clan of the same name... Or so he thinks, it's hinted that Saulot's soul still sleeps within his body and is biding its time.
        • And a few other Antediluvians are confirmed dead in the Gehenna sourcebook as well. Ventrue was murdered, probably by Lasombra, as he left the First City. Lasombra, Malkav and Set are all bodily dead but still around in various spritual ways and may or may not be able to return. Troile (the Brujah Antediluvian) was diablerised a long time ago. But the ones that are left are still quite enough to cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Enemy Within: All vampires suffer from the Beast, an animalistic, id-like force with a hint of supernatural malice, that attempts to compel them into immediately satisfying their instinctive urges, such as consuming blood, fleeing fire and sunlight, or fighting at the slightest provocation, no matter the circumstances.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: The Salubri.
  • Evil All Along: Your Mileage May Vary with Saulot thanks to the clusterfuck of Retcons since first edition. According to rumours, he was basically a saint who helped the poor, healed the sick, and farted fairy dust, who may or may not have reached a state where he didn't even drink blood anymore. This was all just part of the plan to take over the world and he might have created the Baali, the Wu-zao and Nkulu Zao.
    • Well, depends which Gehenna version you go for. But even the nicest version of him is a Well-Intentioned Extremist at best.
    • This is all muddied up to eleven since he is the key to save the world and mankind and he very rarely survive the apocalypse, normally either destroyed or making a heroic sacrifice to take the other Antediluvians.
    • If you decide Saulot is this trope, it makes the fate of the few surviving nice Salubri even more tragic then it allready is.
  • Evil Feels Good
  • Evil Tastes Good: The act of drinking blood is described as incredibly addictive and tempting to vampires. To further the analogy, vampires who are low on blood risk losing self-control and attacking people on sight to get a "quick fix" right now.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Many Tzimisce, Lasombra and Followers of Set actually take pride at being Eviler Than Thou monsters, more often than not of Nietzsche Wannabes variety.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The default type of conflicts in this game, as vampire factions, with few exceptions, range from "deeply corrupt" to "demonically evil."
  • Eye Remember: One of the Giovanni powers.
  • Fantastic Drug: Vampire blood. In humans, it induces feelings of ecstasy, super strength and speed, and eternal youth. After three tastes, a human is "blood bound," becoming hopelessly addicted and usually falling in love with the vampire supplying it. Vampires who are fed three tastes of another vampire's blood become "thralls," utterly unable to resist the will of the supplier.
    • Also, the blood of other supernaturals - particularly fae and "mystic" mages - supposedly work this way for vampires. Results... vary.
  • Fantastic Racism: The linchpin of the Sabbat's ideology. As openly ruling "human cattle" is beyond their ability, they often make up for this with random atrocities.
    • Caitiff (rare vampires who do not exhibit blood traits of a specific Clan) are treated as sub-vampire mongrels by almost everyone, but they're lucky compared to thin-blooded vampires that did not completely transform into undead - those are hunted and killed as supposed harbingers of The End of the World as We Know It.
      • Little does anyone know that, since nothing wakes a sleeping vampire more than other vampires going * poof* , killing off the thin-blooded is what makes them said harbingers.
  • Fantastic Slurs: A lot. The books provide us with derogatory nicknames for every single Clan.
  • Fictional Document: The Book of Nod, The Prince's Primer and Revelations of the Dark Mother. All three underwent Defictionalization.
    • All three were referenced and dwarfed by the last document in the game line, "The Encyclopædia Vampirica."
  • Final Death: As an In-Universe technical term, no less.
  • Flat Earth Atheist: Recurring NPC character Beckett the vampire archaeologist refuses to believe the more magic or religion-oriented vampire mythology. He's wrong about that. Usually right about everything else, though.
    • Malkavian Dr. Netchurch does a lot of scientific tests on vampires (which science can't fully explain), studies thin-blooded seers, and knows that certain sites and individuals imbued with great faith repel vampires like himself. Of course there are perfectly rational explanations for all that...
      • He's a Malkavian, enough said.
  • For Science!: The stated motivation of many of the Tzimisce. And the stuff they're willing to do For Science curls the hair of other vampires.
    • Only really true of some Tzimisce - their motivation is more often toward a greater understanding of their Body Horror discipline Vicissitude, the Path of Metamorphosis or both. Metamorphosis regards sharing information a sin - if you aren't able to find out a secret then you aren't entitled to be given it.
  • Four Is Death: Cappadocius was diablerised on the fourth of April, 1444: 4/4/1444.
  • Funny Schizophrenia: A holdover from the very first edition, when Clan Malkavian was all about playing pranks on people and talking to faeries. Later editions' attempts to focus on the tragedy and seriousness of mental illness were often overshadowed by players playing "wacky" vampires.
    • Every once in a while you do get someone who plays a wacky Malk and then proceeds to explore the more serious consequences of things like lack of inhibition/impulse control... but don't hold your breath.
      • In LARP parlance these "wacky" Malks are often referred to as Bunny Eared Malks, Fluffy Malks, or Fish Malks.
  • Fur Against Fang: The natural enemies of the vampires are the eponymous creatures from the sister game Werewolf: The Apocalypse, who are the reason most vampires other than the Gangrel are strictly urban dwellers.
  • Gambit Pileup: And how! Many campaigns have become entirely self-sustaining (the Storyteller only serves as referee) because of this.
    • Probably the best part is the occasional mention that the entire Jyhad, the long-running game of control and conquest between vampires, may have started as a practical joke. Oh, Malkav...
  • Genius Bruiser: The Brujah were originally philosophers. Not so much these days.
  • Genius Loci: A particularly horrifying version: many Tzimisce use their fleshcrafting power to create lairs that are at least partially made out of the still-living flesh of their hapless ghouls.
    • And then there's the Tzimisce Antediluvian, who figured the ghouls were hogging all the fun and became the bedrock of one of the biggest cities in the world. Poor New York.
  • Glamour: The Presence discipline.
  • God: Who do you think marked Caine in the first place?
  • Gothic Punk: Pretty much the Ur Example and the Trope Namer.
  • Hell on Earth: What would happen if a Baali vampire managed to succeed in using the "Open the way" power. Fortunately this ritual is so complex, costly and likely to fail it never worked whenever it was attempted. And those who tried it got what was coming to them.
  • Hemo-Erotic
  • Sociopathic Hero: Among the favorite tropes of clan Brujah.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The six surviving Salubri healers (if you believe they actually exist). The Tremere want them dead,so they convinced the Camarilla of the supposed horrible crimes comitted by the "soul eaters". In the extremely unlikely event a Salubri is discovered in a Camarilla city, a bloodhunt is quickly called. The Sabbat, meanwile would love to snack on their innocent but potent blood. And the Baali...best not to think about what they would do to them. But they are supposedly pretty nice guys once you get to know them. They have to be since they can only get nourishment from willing donors.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The vampires may have run society from the shadows since time immemorial and had a hand in everything from Rome to modern politics... But it's explicitly stated that the Third Reich was all human-made. Not necessarily out of any moral consideration, mind you, but rather that they hate the idea of their food source killing itself off.
    • It is made clear in most of the books that vampires don't direct society. They usually react rather than direct, riding on the coattails of mortal trends rather than creating them. A powerful vampire or group of vampires can still achieve a lot, however. The Camarilla tends to view itself as the steward of mortal affairs, despite the fact that the Masquerade is there to protect vampires from the well-armed mortal backlash that would ensue if their existence were discovered. Even the Sabbat, in all their howling anti-Masquerade vitriol, tend to follow the Masquerade!
    • There is a grand conspiracy directing and controlling the fate of mankind, or trying to at least, but this is the Technocracy, a human cabal of Magitek manipulative bastards. They are basically the reason no-one believes in magic anymore, as they find that the more people believe in science, the easier it is to control them, though they also regard magic as dangerous (which doesn't mean they won't use it if they need to).
  • Hive Mind: Malkav currently lives in the head of every vampire of Clan Malkavian. They call it the Malkavian Madness Network, and it's normally tuned down. When he turns it up, things get... weird.
    • Weirder, you mean. The Malkavian Madness Network is actually connected to the Digital Web, the magical shadow of the internet of Mage: The Ascension.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: "Rules for fighting Caine: You lose."
    • Just to clarify, the 13 Antediluvians are going to bring about the end of the world. It took the entire Technocracy, a tactical nuclear strike, 3 of the most powerful Eastern Vampires (Kuei-Jin) EVER, and a Desperation Move of calling down the light of three suns to kill one of these... ONE. It took all 13 to kill the 3 members of the second generation... Caine, as the first vampire, is stronger than all of those combined. Plus if you smack him one, freaking GOD hits you seven times. And yet, there are STILL people who think he can be slain. The Antediluvians have lost members over time, so it's REMOTELY possible to kill them and avert Gehenna (which the Sabbat are trying to do, albeit usually pretty ineffectively, and if you follow the fluff, they fail utterly and the world still ends), but Caine is about the closest thing you get to God without being face to face with the big man himself. Just be grateful the guy sticks to driving around in a taxi most of the time.
  • Horror Hunger
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Dominate powers. Also the first level of the Setites' special magic, which is called "The Eyes of the Serpent."
  • I Am a Monster: Really evil vampire factions also tend to use alternate Karma Meters based on this trope, so that they may wreck shit and do Squicky stuff without instant degeneration into animals.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Even when a new vampire isn't created purely as a servant, and doesn't mind his new condition, his relationship with his sire often goes sour sooner or later, because vampires have centuries to get sick of each other and their unlifestyle greatly facilitates distrust and paranoia.
  • It Got Worse: And then It Got Worse again. With The End of the World as We Know It on the horizon, that's the most logical direction of plot development, really.
  • Karma Meter: One of the major sources of angst is the fact that you will lose points on your Humanity Karma Meter, unless your Storyteller (as gamemasters are called in WOD) is more lenient than the rules suggest (many Storytellers tend to not subtract points of Humanity for violent actions in self-defence, for example, but the rules as written say otherwise). And when you lose them all, it is game over. It is possible to stabilize at low Humanity level (most older non-player characters do this), as long as you abstain from acts of extreme cruelty, but a character suffers penalties for this.
  • Kill It with Fire: Theoretically, this is the next best thing against vampires after sunlight. In practice, supernatural beings, including other vampires can and often do have better means of vampire-slaying, although white phosphorus grenades are still not to be underestimated.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: As well as "Killed for breaking the Masquerade."
  • Kiss of the Vampire: A vampire's bite is actually called "the Kiss," and is described as being unspeakably pleasurable for both vampire and victim. Except for the Giovanni. Their clan weakness is that their bite hurts more than it reasonably should.
  • Living Doll Collector: Depraved masters of Dominate. The Tzimisce. Mortals in third stage vinculums. People under enough Majesty. Really, we could go on all night.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Nosferatu have a tendency to take on the "Orlok" look in official artwork (especially since the concept of the clan is inspired by him).
  • Manipulative Bastard: Vampires are veeeery prone to Manipulative Bastardry. Easily available Mind Control powers and demands of the Masquerade help to push them further in this direction.
  • Masquerade: Camarilla vampires have codified this into an explicit Tradition, with Final Death penalty for violating it. Other vampires also maintain it, even if some of them are very vocal about their hatred for it.
  • Mighty Whitey: The majority of Ebony Kingdom Ventrue like to think they are this.
  • The Missing Faction: The lost/extinct vampire clans: the Cappadocian and the Salubri. The Giovanni and the Tremere filled in the power vacuum they left behind in the Final Nights. Coincidentally, they both usurped the previous clans' positions.
  • Monster Progenitor: Cain is the first Vampire.
  • Moral Myopia: Extremely common among vampires, as psychologically distancing themselves from human herds makes their night-to-night unlives so much easier.
    • It exists within clans, too. The Lasombra, the Giovanni and the Tzimisce are utter bastards to each other, but if anyone dares try treat them the way they treat everyone else, God help them.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: The Camarilla actually suppresses this mindset, as it is detrimental to Masquerade. The Sabbat and some other groups embrace it.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: A common tactic of the saner Malkavians is to act crazier than they are.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • The rules for creating abominations. Briefly: if you attempt to turn a werewolf into a vampire, the werewolf gets a skill roll. He wins, he dies peacefully. He loses, he dies horribly but his soul is free. He botches, he becomes an abomination, essentially a walking Game Breaker balanced out by crippling depression. Since there are all sorts of abilities in tWoD that can cause a skill roll to fail or critically fail, the editors in Revised Edition state that nothing short of divine intervention can affect the roll (except the werewolf spending a willpower point for an automatic success).
    • When the creators broke down and allowed dhampirs into the game, they made a rule more or less banning them from combining with any other supernatural type.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Ghouls are mortal servants of vampires who gain magical powers (and an overwhelming addiction) by drinking the blood of their masters. As they are inevitably blood bonded to vamps, and as they're usually the victim of other compulsions both magical and non-magical, they can be forced into committing most unspeakable acts by their controllers. Oh, and they tend to suffer from mental disorders, so sometimes they do screwed up stuff even when they haven't been told to. Bonus Squick points go to revenants, inbred ghoul families who work for the Sabbat and manifest Axe Crazy and Complete Monster traits.
  • Our Souls Are Different: There are a few subtle hints that the Beast is the closest thing a Kindred has to a soul.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: An in-game example are the Tremere, who were not borne of Caine. Rather, they were human wizards who made their own vampirism.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: The Camarilla. Half the people present are trying to be angry without offending anyone, and the other half are trying to get the first half to frenzy just for lulz. How to set this up:
    1. Take a bunch of Vampires who, in this setting, have to actively resist going into a berserker rage when injured, threatened, or humiliated.
    2. Put them in a building called Elysium, in which violence of any sort is forbidden and legally enforced by vampires old enough to remember (fondly) medieval torture.
    3. Have Fun.
  • Poisonous Friend: ghouls can often become this.
  • Power Born of Madness: Clan Malkavian and their Dementation Discipline.
  • Power Perversion Potential: This game does not stop at "potential."
    • There was even an official erotic novel. It may not be canonical, but White Wolf did publish one.
  • Power Parasite: Diablerie, which involves eating the soul of someone if you want to get their powers. It's a serious crime, even for vampires of this setting.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The main difference between the Sabbat and the Camarilla is that the Sabbat use their vampire abilities to be the biggest dicks they can. The Camarilla on the other hand don't engage in this behavior for the simple reason that The Masquerade allows them to hunt without their prey being aware of them. An added bonus is that the Human Vampire Hunters mostly concentrate on killing Sabbat, you know, the ones being evil and dicking everyone over for shits and giggles.
  • Pride: Everything Tremere ever did, which caused massive, ever-lasting shifts and rends in vampiric society, came about because he never admitted failure. One wiki sums up every one of his actions with "It half-worked".
    • Also Caine himself. The Book of Nod reveals that he was offered forgiveness and release from his curse by God three times and each time refused because doing so meant submitting to another's will. There are even hints that that offer is still open, that Caine could redeem himself and all other vampires at any time but still refuses to accept forgiveness until God asks him for forgiveness first.
  • Prophecy Twist: The rise of thin-blooded vampires (most if not all of the 14th Generation and all of the 15; for reference, PCs are typically 13th-Gen) is supposed to herald Gehenna, the vampire apocalypse. However, no one knows that it's because vampire Final Deaths disturb the torpor of elders regardless of how thin the dead vamp's blood is, and thin-blooded vampires, for obvious reasons, die easier than stronger ones. Oh, and guess how the Kindred are trying to prevent/forestall Gehenna?
  • Psychic Surgery: Tzimisce. Seldom used for healing.
  • The Punishment: Vampires came into existence as a result of God's curse on Cain, presumably aimed at making Cain repent. As you can guess, this worked about as well as most examples of The Punishment.
    • Well, he's retired into cab driving. Seems about as good as these things get.
      • Just don't mention that on a forum. The Internet Backdraft about it won't be pretty.
      • Being forced into driving a cab for millennia really would be an unholy punishment: Cabbie: the Fare Taker, anyone?
  • Railroading: The Metaplot may or may not try to do this, depending of the GM and fan. But one example that just jump from the book to beat you to death is in New York by Night, where the writer pretty much orders you to explore the deep meaningful theological discussions between two hunters (a young angry man with a crippled sister (Mike and Zhanna) and a ex-security guard (Bobby)), that your players should stop the game to pay attention and if they die, that they should lose Karma points instantly and brutally.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Vampires stop aging at the moment of their transformation, which leads to this trope. And often to Squick.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: The Brujah antitribu wear purple on their clothes as a sign of clan affiliation. Mind, they are generally considered Sabbat's shock troops but also actively recruit Camarilla's and Anarchs' lost youth into their sect. Badass indeed.
  • Retcon: Along with a Continuity Snarl worth of Comic Timeline. Each new editon changed things and the flavor of the verse. There were splats that confounded, sneered at or simply invalidated others, and the sheer amount of rumors was frankly ridiculous. There is a reason why Vampire is synonymous in RPG circles with metaplot... and railroading.
  • Recycled in Space: There are settings for the Dark Ages, the Victorian Age, the Far East, and Darkest Africa.
    • Subverted by the unfortunate hype around White Wolf's later science-fiction game, Trinity, which many players billed well before its release as "vampires in space". Oh how wrong they were. (Hint: It's a game about politics, psychic supersoldiers, and fighting mutants, spies, and crazy scientists)
  • Religion of Evil: The Followers of Set. Their whole faith revolves around corrupting others, including each other. The Paths of Enlightment provided for Setite characters in their splatbook include the Path of Ecstasy (sample moral precept: "To resist temptation is a great wrong") and the Path of the Warrior (sample moral precept: "You are a warrior; do not hesitate to kill").
  • Resist the Beast
  • Romanticized Abuse: supplement Ghouls: Fatal Addiction, The Camarilla was played straight as this kind of organization. The theme of playing the social structure between vampires and ghouls as Romanticized Abuse is hinted in the core rulebook as well as many other supplements, but it's much more blatant in "Ghouls". (In this setting, a "ghoul" is a human who drinks vampire blood. The blood makes her superhumanly strong, make her stop aging, let her heal faster and increases her sexual urges, but it also enslaves her under the Vampire's will.)
  • Scaled Up: Settites' powers revolve around turning into snakes. Gangrel can turn into any predatory creatures, but a significantly powerful one can turn into a dragon.
  • Sexy Packaging: The cover of the first Tzimisce splatbook combines this with Covers Always Lie. It displays a voluptuous and scantily clad blond woman in a sexy pose.
  • Sourcebook
  • Society Marches On: The entire setting ended in 2004, one year before YouTube came alive. In the Camarilla sourcebook, it stated that the Masquerade was becoming more and more difficult to uphold (a real concern for the elders, leading to the creation of a more draconian watch force) because our society was a vouyerist with international instantaneous devices in the hands of the humans... now think about this and compare with the situation today where it's weird not to have cell phones with Internet, amateur video pages and reality shows. Or hell, 2008 to get the idea how long it would have lasted.
    • The 20th Anniversary edition updates the setting to the 2010s, with all the potential that implies. The artwork vampire in the Giovanni section even has a smartphone in hand.
  • Splat
  • Stages of Monster Grief: All over the place. Some highlights: Most Camarilla vamps are Fully Embraced Fiends, with the occasional Golconda seeker. The Sabbat and Tzimisce in particular are fully into embracing their sadistic natures against humanity.
  • Super-Powered Evil Side: Subverted. Losing control to the Beast does not make you meaningfully stronger and the mindless frenzy associated with that is a major disadvantage more often than not.
  • Third Eye: The Salubri.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: There are thirteen clans (not including Caitiff and Antitribu). Further, unless a player spends points during character creation, all player characters are thirteenth generation vampires.
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Tzimisce with fleshcrafting can do this.
  • Truce Zone: Any place declared to be Elysium. Well, for the Camarilla anyway.
  • True Companions: More or less forced on Sabbat packs by the vinculum. Essentially, each member binds himself to the pack in order to prevent domination by others. While members of the same pack don't necessarily like each other, the supernaturally enforced loyalty ensures personal differences have little or no impact on a pack's warfighting ability.
  • Undead Child: "Child" is an available flaw. As one Fauxtivational Poster puts it, "In due time your name may cause shudders among the Kindred... but adults will always ask why you're up so late on a school night."
  • Vampire Invitation: The extremely territorial Tzimisce practice this, although it's a tradition, not some sort of mystical compulsion.
  • Vampire Monarch: Caine, though he's not particularly interesting in ruling his vampiric descendants. That task falls to the Antediluvians.
  • Vampires Are Rich: Many of them are. As the corebook points out, between being Really Seven Hundred Years Old and having Mind Control powers, it's not that hard for a vampire to accumulate lots of cash. The Ventrue and the Giovanni also tend to recruit people who are already very wealthy into their clans.
    • This is part of the official Ventrue initiation process. If you don't have more money than you know what to do with by the end of your third decade, you're seriously behind the power curve.
    • The Elysium supplement, created in early 1st edition, while the game still focused more on the idea of vampires secretly controlling the world rather than personal horror, allowed for truly insane amounts of wealth. Designed to provide rules for elders and low generation kindred, such a character can take enough Resource dots to control literally trillions of dollars. Enough dots in other backgrounds could give an elder access to entire militaries, as well as controlling the politicians behind those militaries.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: There's no actual sex, but this trope is what the Presence Discipline is all about. It's a Clan Discipline for the Toreador and the Followers of Set, naturally.
    • Whether or not vampires can have sex really does depend on your GM. At some points the books say that being driven by blood makes a vampire lose such impulses (despite all vampires being former human beings and still reacting with instinct to most things a human would). In a lot of other cases (most of the Clanbooks and Citybooks), vampires are very clearly depicted as being in sexual relationships of all kinds. This is a less crucial contradiction then some of the crazy things they did later...
      • The rules here were finally confirmed in the Road of Sin book for the Dark Ages spin off (which is in the same canon) and there's no reason why it shouldn't apply elsewhere: Vampires can have sex and may still have the mental desire to do so. However they no longer have the physical drives, so in practice have a much reduced sex drive. Also their sensations are so deadened that they feel next to nothing while having sex. This can be dealt with by drinking the blood of your partner during coitus, which actually heightens the pleasure to inhuman levels. Squick all the way. Well, for most people...
        • Actually, this rule STILL varies from book to book. In the Revised Vampire Player's Guide from 2003 there is a series of essays toward the back. One goes into the matter of sex with great frankness. It states that while humans get aroused organically, vampires get aroused intellectually. However, they can move blood to the right places, and all of their nerve endings still function just fine, so they can certainly experience pleasure during sex, though it is sensual and not sexual. They can even reach a form of climax, though there is no ejaculation.
        • Oddly enough, it's mentioned that half-human/half-vampires and even vampire/werewolf hybrids are possible in the games, so that just makes it more confusing.
          • Well, not the werewolf/vampires. They have nothing to do with sex, they are just Garou who had the misfortune to be Embraced. As for half-humans, that's a result of Thin-Bloods, who are more human in many other ways as well.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Kindred are not Friendly Neighborhood Vampires. Vampires can be as good or as evil as any human; just being a vampire does not make you any eviler than your average human unless you let the Beast get a grip on you (usually by being too hungry around people). Some vampires become as good as any saint. The Sabbat's "freedom" philosophy saps their morality and makes the Paths of Enlightenment more attractive, which of course leads back into acting more inhuman in a vicious circle.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Can happen when you frenzy too much. Vamps who let their karma meter slide too much may end up in this as well, as will those who run afoul of powerful Malkavians.
  • Warrior Poet: Older members of the Brujah clan have tendencies toward this. Younger members tend to be less cerebral and more smashy.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: As there are thirteen vampire clans, never mind multiple bloodlines, and each of them has a unique weakness, some examples of this trope are inevitable. Not having a reflection simply isn't in the same league as being an obviously hideous monster, incurably insane, or at the mercy of great beauty.
  • Wham! Episode: The Week of Nightmares, depicted at the end of the Time of Thin Blood book. The Ravnos Antediluvian wakes up and goes on a rampage in Bangladesh, causing the entire Ravnos clan go insane for a week, trying to kill each other and anyone else around, spitting out dangerous illusions. The three most powerful Eastern vampires try to stop him, conjuring a hurricane to block out the Sun. The hurricane prevents the Technocracy from using their orbital mirrors, so they launch a dual-plane (Skinland/Shadowland-affecting) nuclear weapon. It kills the Kuei-jin and hurts Ravnos. The hurricane dissipates and the Technocracy hits Ravnos with their mirrors of doom, which may not have worked if the Kuei-jin and the nuke hadn't hurt him first. In the wake an entire clan is near dead, the Antediluvians are clearly real and other consequences reverberate across all the other games.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: How Diablerie generally works.

Notes

  1. officially abbreviated as "V20", since "20th Anniversary Edition" is kind of unwieldly