Vampire: The Masquerade

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Vampire: The Masquerade
Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised Edition) cover
Designer(s) Mark Rein-Hagen, Graeme Davis, Tom Dowd, Lisa Stevens, Stewart Wieck [1]
Publisher(s) White Wolf Publishing, Onyx Path Publishing
Publication date 1991 (1st edition)
1992 (2nd edition)
1998 (Revised edition)
2011 (20th Anniversary)
Genre(s) Personal horror
System(s) Storyteller System

Vampire: The Masquerade is a role-playing game (RPG) created by Mark Rein-Hagen and released in 1991 by White Wolf Publishing as the first of several Storyteller System games for its World of Darkness setting line.[2] It's set in a fictionalized "gothic-punk" version of the modern world, where players assume the roles of vampires, who are referred to as "Kindred", and deal with their night-to-night struggles against their own bestial natures, vampire hunters and each other.[3]

Several associated products were produced based on Vampire: The Masquerade, including dice, collectible card games (Vampire: The Eternal Struggle), video games (Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines and Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption), and numerous novels. In 1996, a short-lived television show loosely based on the game, Kindred: The Embraced, was produced by Aaron Spelling for the Fox Broadcasting Company.


Vampire was inspired by RPGs such as Call of Cthulu, and Runequest as well as the writings of Joseph Campbell, and Mafia and vampire movies, such as the Lost Boys.[4][5] Rein-Hagen felt that hunting vampires, as a game premise, would get boring so he came up with the idea of of a game where the players played vampires instead of hunting them.[4][5] Rein-Hagen specifically stated that he purposefully didn't read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles until "very late" in the development process but admitted she was probably an influence on the vampire films that inspired the game.[4] He wanted to go beyond what Anne Rice had done with creating individuals vampires and create a whole and create a complete, secret vampire society and culture.[4][5]

Some of Vampire's central themes of the power of belief developed out of Rein-Hagen's religious upbringing. The cursed character of the Biblical Caine as the progenitor of was inspired by a comic book given to him by White Wolf business partner Steward Wieck. In an "Ask Me Anything" interview on Reddit Rein-Hagen referred to the idea of Caine as a vampire as a "big turning point".[4] He commented further: "I was trying to shy away from religion. After that... I went all in. The game and the world became about religion and belief. My father was a Lutheran minister, and I think that played a huge role in not only Vampire but the whole WoD series. I was always fascinated by what made people believe so strongly when I didn't seem to believe at all. Talking about that theme, the power of belief, fueled the second half of Vampire game design."[4]



The game uses the cursed and immortal vampiric condition as a backdrop to explore themes of morality, depravity, the human condition (or appreciation of the human condition in its absence), salvation, and personal horror. The gloomy and exaggerated version of the real world that the vampires inhabit, called the "World of Darkness," forms an already bleak canvas against which the stories and struggles of characters are painted. The themes that the game seeks to address include 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.

Game system[edit]

Vampire is based on the Storyteller System. In addition to the general Storyteller rules, it uses a number of specific mechanics aimed towards simulating the vampiric existence. A vampire has a blood pool signifying the amount of human blood or vitae currently in their body; this blood can be spent to power abilities and perform supernatural tricks. These tricks simulate many of those portrayed on film, such as turning into animals or mist, sleeping in the ground or having unnatural charisma and powers of hypnotic suggestion.

Close to the central theme of the game is Humanity. Each vampire has a Humanity score, measuring how closely in touch with his human nature the vampire is; as it decreases, the vampire becomes more susceptible to his Beast, the feral side of the vampiric soul that is driven entirely by rage, hunger, and hatred of God and humanity. Brutal, immoral actions risk lowering a vampire's Humanity score. If the individual's Humanity drops to zero, the Beast takes over and the vampire is in a state of constant frenzy known as Wassail.

The actions taken during gameplay are expressed using ten-sided dice. The number of dice used correspond to the player's current skill level, often based on two different skills that together represent the player's ability. For example, to land a punch, the character's dexterity and brawl skill are combined. The resulting number is the number of dice rolled to perform the task. It is up to the story teller to set how high a dice roll must be to be considered a success (usually 6 for standard actions).

Vampires in World of Darkness[edit]

A diagram of the genealogy of the Assamites
Main article: Masquerade society

In the World of Darkness, most vampires in the game refer to themselves and their race as "Kindred" although some vampires, specifically members of the Sabbat faction, refer to themselves as "Cainites" as the curse that transforms them into vampires is said to have originated from the blood of Caine. The term "Kine", an archaic term for cattle, refers to humans.

Characters within the Vampire setting are members of one of the vampiric clans or minor bloodlines and usually belong to factions associated with these or that reflect a general ideological stance the characters happen to share. For example, a vampire of the Brujah bloodline might identify as a member of the Camarilla, Sabbat or Anarchs sects but very few Tremere vampires would be found among the Sabbat and even more rarely among the Anarchs. Some clans and most of the minor bloodlines declare themselves independent from any sects. A vampire who rejects all associations with any sect and clan is known as "Autarkis". Laibon, called Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom by Western Kindred, are not so much a sect as a cultural group bound together loosely by a powerful spiritual bond to the land and the people of Africa.

The Kindred of the East, while sharing some superficial similarity to the western Kindred, are actually an entirely different variety of supernatural being.

The 13 Clans[edit]

Vampire: The Masquerade introduces the use of 13 clans (or major bloodlines) in the game:

  • Assamite: A clan of Middle Eastern assassins. Their Discipline of Quietus allows them to move soundlessly and gives them power over the blood of other vampires.
  • Ventrue: A clan of aristocrats and bureaucrats. Most princes come from this clan. Their Disciplines of Dominate and Fortitude allows them to control the minds of mortals and vampires alike and grants them supernatural resilience respectively.
  • Followers of Set: A clan of cultists who worship their Antediluvian progenitor, the Egyptian snake god Set.
  • Malkavian: A clan of lunatics whose madness grants them strange insight. Their Discipline of Dementation allows them to spread their insanity like a plague.
  • Ravnos: A clan of gypsies and charlatans who hail from India. Their Discipline of Chimerstry allows them to alter perceptions to create illusions.
  • Nosferatu: A clan of deformed vampires who often dwell in the shadows of the sewers. Their Discipline of Obfuscate allow them to hide in the shadows.
  • Lasombra: A clan with the power to control shadows. Their Discipline of Obtenebration allows them to command darkness and shadows.
  • Giovanni: A clan of mostly Italian merchants and gangsters, who Embrace within their own human family. Their Disciplines specialize in Necromancy. They were originally a bloodline of the former Clan Cappadocian, who they have since usurped.
  • Brujah: A clan of hot-headed malcontents, rebels, rogues and anti-authoritarians who strive for freedom from societal restraints. Their Disciplines of Potence and Presence grants them superhuman strength and supernatural charisma respectively.
  • Toreador: A clan of sensualists and artists. Their Disciplines of Celerity and Auspex gives them superhuman speed and heightened senses respectively.
  • Gangrel: A clan of animalistic vampires highly in-tune with their Beasts. Their Disciplines of Animalism and Protean allow communion with animals and the power of shape-shifting respectively.
  • Tzimisce: A clan of scholars and flesh-shapers. Their Discipline of Vicissitude allows them to reshape the flesh and bone of themselves and other creatures.
  • Tremere: A clan of blood sorcerers and mages originally belonging to the Order of Hermes. They were originally a bloodline of Clan Tzimisce until their founder, a mage named Tremere, diablerized the Antediluvian of the former Clan Salubri, Saulot, solidifying the Tremere's status as a clan. Their Discipline of Thaumaturgy allow them to use the power of their blood to cast spells.

Each accepted clan can trace its origins to one of 13 elder vampires known as an Antediluvian, for they survived God's biblical flood. Each Antediluvian is a “grandchilde” of Caine, who killed Abel and was cursed by God and His archangels into becoming the first vampire. Through the back story of the game, Antediluvians started a war among themselves, called the Jyhad, and use their clansmen to fight this war for them.

Bloodlines, on the other hand, either cannot trace their lineage to an Antediluvian founder or are too little in number to be considered a major player in the Jyhad. Some Bloodlines are considered to be off-shoots of existing clans. All Bloodlines are treated as exceptionally rare in the game, leaving most of the interactions and story lines centered around the Clans.

Each Clan and Bloodline has a unique set of powers called Disciplines, and their own set of weaknesses, also unique to that particular branch of vampire.


Vampire: The Masquerade offers the players the opportunity to play in a politically structured world in which sects (large factions) rule over all of vampire society. While many factions and sub-sects exist in the game, the main focus is the conflict between the Camarilla, the Sabbat and the Anarchs.

The primary sect is the Camarilla (see camarilla), sometimes called "the Ivory Tower". They originated in the first attempt for control over the entire vampire population. Through their use of the Six Traditions, Camarilla Kindred survive the night, hiding their existence from humans.

The second most populous sect is the Sabbat. The Sabbat, sometimes called "the Sword of Caine", is the archenemy of the Camarilla; their goal is rule over humanity, which they see as their birthright.

The third major sect is the Anarchs, who oppose the rule of the Elders and wish to manage their own lives.

Other minor sects include The Black Hand and the Inconnu. Independents are those who take no sides with any of the factions but have their own goals and agendas.


In 1992, Vampire: The Masquerade won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Rules of 1991.[6]


The original 1991 version was superseded by a second edition in 1992, and a revised edition in 1998.

The Vampire: The Masquerade game line was discontinued in 2004, at which point it was superseded by Vampire: The Requiem.

On March 17, 2011, White Wolf announced the 20th Anniversary Edition, which was published during the Grand Masquerade event in New Orleans on September 15–17, 2011, released to the attendees. Customers not attending The Grand Masquerade were offered a limited time preorder option. The 20th Anniversary Edition contains revisions of rules and is a compendium of most information provided in supplemental material in the game's earlier life. The 20th Anniversary Edition officially revived Vampire: The Masquerade as part of White Wolf Publishing's shift to a print on demand business model,[7] and multiple new Masquerade products have been announced.[8] All of White Wolf's tabletop roleplaying games are now published by Onyx Path Publishing, including Vampire.[9]

Tie-ins and adaptations[edit]

Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Mummy: The Resurrection, Kindred of the East, and Demon: The Fallen are other RPG titles set in the Old World of Darkness.

In August 2004, the original game set in the Classic World of Darkness was replaced by Vampire: The Requiem. Although it is an entirely new game, rather than a continuation of the old, it uses many elements of the old game, including certain clan and discipline names and an updated version of the Storyteller rules system.

At the White Wolf Camarilla meeting in October 2009 it was decided to re-support this game system both in the official Camarilla fan club and outside to Table Top players. [1]

Print on Demand[edit]

As of mid-2010 White Wolf switched exclusively to a print-on-demand model via online role playing game store, offering the new and classic World of Darkness source books through the DriveThruRPG web site starting with a number of formerly out of print Vampire: The Masquerade books and gradually adding more as they were ready for print. DriveThruRPG and White Wolf have indicated that eventually all World of Darkness material will be available in this way.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vampire: The Masquerade (First Edition, 1991)
  2. ^ Vasilakos, George (2007). "Vampire: The Masquerade". In Lowder, James. Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 348–351. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0. 
  3. ^ Melton, Gordon (1994). The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (1st ed.). Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 852. ISBN 0-8103-2295-1. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Rein-Hagen, Mark (2014). "I am Mark Rein-Hagen, world creator and game designer. AskmeAnything.". Reddit. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c stygianjim (September 13, 2012). "The Wyrm’s Turn: Interview with Mark Rein-Hagen". Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Origins Award Winners (1991)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-03-15. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  7. ^ "At GenCon we announced our partnership with DriveThruRPG in their Now in Print program, offering out-of-print and PDF-exclusive products as physical books through print-on-demand technology". White Wolf Publishing. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  8. ^ "White Wolf Release Schedule 2011-2012". White Wolf Publishing. Retrieved 2011-08-09. 
  9. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  10. ^ DriveThruRPG's List of Moonstone Comics with World of Darkness Theme


External links[edit]