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 hapless thralls to 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"note officially abbreviated as "V20", since "20th Anniversary Edition" is kind of unwieldly of the rulebook, and will be releasing other "Classic" World of Darkness titles, though they have said they will not be updating the metaplot.
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Generations of Blood
The Curse of Caine loses potency in each successive generation, so that a vampire is generally weaker than its sire. Generation and age determine the power structure of vampiric society:
Thin-bloods: The 14th and 15th generations. The Curse of Caine is very diluted in these vampires, so that they are weaklings compared to lower generations, but are less affected by vampiric weaknesses. The 15th generation is unable to sire, but are the only Kindred who walk in daylight without bursting into flame.
Fledglings: Newly embraced vampires still under the protection of their sires, yet to have truly been able to control their beast like most neonates do. Most need to show themselves worthy to their peers to some degree before they can be fully accepted into vampire society.
Neonates: Less than 100 years of age. Inexperienced vampires who might one night make something of themselves - but, more likely, will fall as pawns in the schemes of the other undead. Player characters generally start out as 13th generation neonates.
Ancillae: Vampires 100-200 years old who have proved themselves as valuable members of Kindred society. Ancillae are the lackeys to greater Kindred, and - if they're clever or lucky - tomorrow's elders. Very few Sabbat reach this age, so the sect has a dearth of ancillae. Due to the recent explosion in human population, the majority of vampires are ancillae and neonates.
Elders: The visible rulers of vampire society; most sect leaders and princes are elders. They typically range from sixth to eighth generation and are centuries old. The most physically active participants in the Jyhad — they do not suffer the long fits of torpor that hamper the Methuselahs and Antediluvians, but are not so powerless or easily manipulated as the younger Kindred are. A Kindred who qualifies as an elder in the New World might be just another ancilla in Europe or older corners of the Earth.
Methuselahs: Vampire demigods of the Fourth and Fifth generations; the majority are 1000+ years old. A few are still active and greatly feared; the rest are in torpor, where they continue to direct their plans using magic and telepathy. There are between 100 and 200 of them.
Antediluvians: The most powerful creatures in the world (excluding Caine). These godlike vampires of the Third Generation founded the 13 clans. Their eternal struggle, the Jyhad, touches all Kindred, and innumerable layers of manipulation and deception make the plots of these Ancients almost imperceptible.
The second generation: murdered by the third, somewhere between 3-7 individuals sired by Caine.
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 titularMasquerade.
Brujah: Rebels without causes. Fiercely independent vampires whose powers center around physical might and kicking ass. Disciplines: Celerity, Presence, Potence. 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. Disciplines: Animalism, Fortitude, Protean. Nickname: Outlanders. Weakness: Becomes more animal-like with each blood frenzy.
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 excellent agents and spies. Disciplines: Animalism, Obfuscate, Potence. Nickname: Sewer Rats. Weakness: Guess.
Toreador: The artistes. Anne Rice-inspired vampires with a talent at social manipulation. Disciplines: Auspex, Celerity, Presence. Nickname: Degenerates. Weakness: Paralyzed at the sight of true beauty.
Tremere: Vampire wizards. A tightly-controlled clan of wizards-turned-vampires that simulates their former magical abilities in the form of blood magic. Disciplines: Auspex, Dominate, Thaumaturgy. Nickname: Warlocks. Classic Weakness: Blood bound to their masters. Anniversary Weakness: More susceptible to blood bonds.
Ventrue: The vampire lords. Use money, influence, and the Mind Control power of Dominate to seize power. Disciplines: Dominate, Fortitude, Presence. 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".
Lasombra: Manipulative bastards who can even manipulate the very shadows to do their bidding. Disciplines: Dominate, Obtenebration, Potence. 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. Disciplines: Animalism, Auspex, Vicissitude. 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. Generally 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.
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. Disciplines: Celerity, Obfuscate, Quietus. 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. Disciplines: Obfuscate, Presence, Serpentis. Nickname: Serpents. Weakness: Bright lights.
Giovanni: An incestuous extended family of Venetian vampire Necromancers. Often take on qualities associated with The Mafia. Disciplines: Dominate, Necromancy, Potence. 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.) Disciplines: Animalism, Chimerstry, Fortitude. Nickname: Deceivers. Weakness: Compulsion to a specific vice.
Two of the original 13 clans are practically extinct in modern nights, having been reduced to a handful of vampires.
Cappadocians: The original Clan of Death, Cappadocians were detached scholars obsessed with studying death and the soul. Their passive nature facilitated their extermination by the brood of Augustus Giovanni, a necromancer embraced by Cappadocius himself. Unfortunately for the Giovanni, they may have underestimated what it takes to kill a clan of experts on death. Disciplines: Auspex, Fortitude, Mortis. Nickname: Graverobbers. Weakness: Have a corpse-like complexion.
Salubri: The Clan of Healers, and the 'nicest' vampires in the setting, the Salubri's pacifism and low numbers made them perfect targets for the Tremere. Tremere's diablerie of Saulot and a campaign of violence and propaganda reduced the Salubri to less than a bloodline. The few remaining Salubri are either in hiding or have joined the Sabbat to fight the Tremere. Disciplines: Auspex, Fortitude, Obeah. Nickname: Unicorns (due to a third eye which manifests at higher levels of Obeah). Weakness: Can only safely drink from willing vessels.
Salubri Antitribu: Sufficiently different from their kin to warrant a subsection, they are the result of Adonai, one of the Salubri, growing sick of his fellows and their pacifistic ways. Determined to take revenge on the Tremere for their crimes, he abandoned his kin and joined the Sabbat, siring numerous vampires to aid him. They serve the Sabbat as shock troopers and commandos, their anger having warped their blood considerably. Like their unaligned relatives, Salubri antritribu develop a third eye on learning the third level of Valeren, but their eye is distinctly angrier than that of the Unicorns. Disciplines: Auspex, Fortitude, Valeren. Nickname: Furies. Weakness: Can only safely drink from unwilling victims (or fallen foes).
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.
The Anarchs: A Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. 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.
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.
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.
Gargolyes: Horrific stone creatures made by the Tremere from two vampires of different clans.
Vancouver: the city. Run by a single powerful vampire, it's one of the few locations of where vampires and werewolves have a ceasfire.
This game features examples of:
Abusive Parents: Most sires are these; some of them are just assholes to their children, while others use them as disposable minions; and the worst inflict horrendous tortures. See tropes below.
The Nosferatu Antediluvian Absimiliard hates his clan, and has created a bloodline of semi-sentient monsters called the Nictuku to hunt them down. This is actually the main reason why the Nosferatu are the reclusive information-brokers of Kindred society: they need intelligence and have to stick together to protect themselves. Fortunately for them, Nictuku are super-rare; unfortunately, they are powerful enough to take down Baba Yaga, the 4th generation Methuselah who single-handedly destroyed the Brujah of Russia.
A God Am I: This was Cappadocius's fatal flaw, since he sought to somehow diablerize God (yeah, you read that right), and enlisted the backstabbing Augustus Giovanni's help. In the Gehenna scenario "The Crucible of God", becoming a god through diablerie of their brothers is the goal of each Antediluvian. Whether they achieve this goal is left up to the storyteller.
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?"
Always Chaotic Evil: Either Averted or played straight depending on how you look at it. One of the prominent themes of the game is that every vampire is a unique individual, and that every one of them have motives for what they do. No vampire has to kill, no vampire has to manipulate. Any vampire could, at least in theory, spend their entire unlives feeding on willing donors whom they have cultivated healthy relationships with, receiving blood out of love or as quid pro quo. However, blood isn't just food but is an addiction (which is compared to heroin addiction, except stronger), they're always aware of the fact that just a few sips of their blood can make most living creatures their slaves, not to mention their easy availability of Mind Control powers; they must contend with The Beast, and last but not least, they exist within a paranoid, backstabbing society that tends to treat every mortal and vampire as both a threat and a tool. It's true enough to say that being a vampire doesn't make you evil, but unless you're prepared to be evil, you won't stay a vampire for long.
Always Night: One of the reasons why vampires slide into depression.
Always Someone Better: If you're a mortal, there's a vampire. If you're a vampire, there's an elder. If you're an elder, there's a methuselah. If you're a methuselah, there's an antediluvian. If you're an antediluvian, there's Caine. If you're Caine, there's God.note These last three may or may not exist.
Ancient Conspiracy: Vampires in general play this role to humanity. There are also multiple conspiracies within their own society.
And I Must Scream: One of the reasons why Vicissitude is feared so much. The fate of a Tremere caught by one in the Bitter Crusade chronicle: "She once had plans to rise swiftly within the ranks of her clan. Now, the flesh of what used to be her back functions as the surface upon which a Tzimisce composes his letters."
Various Methuselahs such as the Sleeper of Cairo (Setite) and Tiamat (Ventrue) are in this state. However, they can still use Presence and Dominate to control their affairs, and Auspex to travel on the Astral Plane.
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). Later re-purposed into Mage: The Ascension, with 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.
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 is essentially semi-sentient Vicissitude that was created by the 4th generation Tzimisce Yorak, which later turned on its creator. It pops up in various places in the metaplot including Transylvania and New York City as a cool location to do battle, including in Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption.
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...
Asskicking Equals Authority: Vampires don't really elect their leaders, and any ambitious vampire needs to be proficient in several disciplines and have combat experience to stay undead. Asskicking is the only thing equal to authority in the more combative clans such as the Brujah and Gangrel, and in the Sabbat.
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.
Back from the Dead: Although Final Death is supposed to be, well, final, Antediluvians and Methuselahs can sometimes break the rules. Tzimisce is said to have been resurrected by its progeny after being slain by a 4th generation Salubri warrior; Cappadocius survived as a wraith after being diablerized by Augustus Giovanni, and Saulot survived Tremere's diablerie and eventually took over his body.
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.
Bat out of Hell: The fourth level of Protean allows a vampire to turn either into bat or wolf form.
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 Houdini. Rasputin was given three separate backstories as a vampire as well as described as a mage and werecreature in other White Wolf games. A Meta Plot was created that tied all of the discrepancies together, which involved Rasputin making himself into a clone of Caine, but it was scrapped.
Believing Their Own Lies: The Camarilla's Inner Circle denied the existence of the Antediluvians originally as a means to establish themselves as the strongest vampires in the world in the eyes of ancillae and neonates, thereby preserving their power. Over time, they have convinced themselves that the Antediluvians were a myth anyway, so they ignore all portents and do nothing to prepare for Gehenna.
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.
Beware the Silly Ones: The Malkavians can sometimes be childish or amusing, but messing with them is a very bad idea. Not only is Dementation a crippling mental discipline, but the Malkavians are also mentally connected, so the rest will also come after you.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Giovanni in a nutshell. They sire exclusively from the extended family; incest, necrophilia and domestic abuse are just the tip of the iceberg.
Bilingual Bonus: The Shadow Clan is called Lasombra. Also, Brujah is Spanish for witch.
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.
Blood Magic: Thaumaturgy, the most flexible discipline, and the foundation of Clan Tremere's power. Although every Kindred has the potential for it, the Tremere guard their knowledge extremely jealously, and will hunt you down if you exhibit Thaumaturgical power.
Blue and Orange Morality: Some vampires abandon the Humanity Karma Meter for Paths of Enlightenment, which subsitute human morality for a code of ethics that fit with vampiric existence.
Tzimisce and Baali provide many examples. The Tzimisce power of Vicissitude allows them to invoke this, allowing them to craft flesh and bone like clay and even graft on body parts from other creatures. They can even create 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 vozsht can actually do.
Nosferatu get to watch themselves physically turn into actual monsters, and for Samedi the part of undeath that keeps them from deteriorating doesn't really kick in for a few months.
It's not detailed all in one place, but there's some seriously unwholesome things going on behind the scenes of the Tremere Council of Seven. It seems that Tremere has turned into a gigantic white slug. Tremere was playing body Musical Chairs with his lieutenants, which came back to bite him in the ass when Saulot took over his body. Tremere may have been in the body of the traitor Goratrix at the time, suggesting that the Tremere Antitribu was a side project of his...
Brown Note: One use of the "Dementation" discipline.
Butt Monkey: The Ravnos clan was originally introduced to tie into gypsy stereotypes and the idea of Indian vampires. However, clanbooks clearly established that they were outcasts hated by everyone else, tying with the Caitiff for Butt Monkey status. Then came the Week of Nightmares, where White Wolf decided to simply kill off the whole clan as a foreshadowing of Gehenna.
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.
Charm Person: Presence turns you into one of these. It is easier to resist than Dominate but affects vampires regardless of generation.
Conditioned to Accept Horror: Natural for most vampires. Although it might take a few centuries, this eventually leads to loss of Humanity. Vampires with high Humanity are better off avoiding contact with others for this reason.
Conspiracy Theorist: Many of them turn out to be right after all, in essence if not in details.
The Corrupter: The speciality of the Setites, whose entire Religion of Evil revolves around this. They will use sex, drugs, and lies to corrupt both vampires and humans. The Path of Cathari is another evil belief system that encourages corruption. This doesn't sound that bad, until you read Black Dog books such as Montreal By Night, and realize just what that entails.
Centuries of Setite influence on Constantinople's Toreadors might be the main reason for that clan's degeneration. Likewise, the Baali influence on Carthage's Brujah resulted in the clan embracing violence instead of philosophy.
The Corruption: Vicissitude in a nutshell. Non-Tzimisce can acquire the discipline only after drinking some Tzimisce blood, and the process of leveling it up utterly corrupts body and soul. Also, if Tzimisce is alive in the Gehenna scenario you play, you're pretty much screwed.
Some of the Baali's Daimonion powers manifest as this.
Corrupt Church: In the Middle Ages, the Cainite Heresy was a plot to subvert the Catholic Church with vampiric rites and beliefs. The Inquisition had great success in stamping it out, thanks to the Anarch Revolt distracting (and killing) the leaders of the Heresy.
Cover Blowing Superpower: Some disciplines are unique to a single clan, and an outsider should have a watertight alibi after using them. For example, Obtenebration is a Lasombra clan discipline, and except for the handful of Lasombra antitribu, knowledge of the discipline marks you as Sabbat.
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.
Crazy-Prepared: The best way a Tremere or Tzimisce neonate can survive fights (except for avoiding them altogether). Advanced Vicissitude turns a Tzimisce into a close-combat monster and Thaumaturgy can be used to set enemy mobs on fire, but until then both clans lack any straightforward combat disciplines. Unless the right body alterations are made or rituals prepared beforehand, the vampire will be dusted.
Curse That Cures: When you are turned into a vampire all injuries, illnesses and disabilities disappear. However, now you are at the bottom of the pecking order surrounded by vampires who want to use you as a pawn and aren't shy of killing you if it helps them, must prey on humans to survive, can be smelled out by werewolves who will hunt you with prejudice and have to pretend you're human while dealing with the "burns in sunlight" thing.
Darkest Africa: The Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom supplement paints unlife in Africa as quite different.
Daywalking Vampire: Sunlight is deadly to vampires but some, especially with the Protean discipline maxed out, can resist it for short periods of time. The Gangrel Beckett, for instance, is known for having once ran the length of a football field under scorching sun.
The Children of Osiris also have an ability called Ra's Blessing at high levels of Bardo which allow them to walk in sunlight for a short time.
The Ravnos Antediluvian had such high Fortitude that he had to be destroyed by sunlight focused using orbital mirrors (this comes after surviving a nuke).
Dead All Along: Some of the Antediluvians turn out to be this: Veddhartha (Ventrue), Set, Troile (Brujah), not exactly dead but trapped in salted earth at Carthage, unable to rise.
Dead Person Impersonation: Thanks to Obfuscate, Vicissitude and the secluded unlifestyles of most elders, this is common in the Jyhad. The Sabbat once managed to hit a member of the Camarilla's inner circle and replace him with an impostor; and though the other members noticed immediately, they did not move against him for some time to feed the Sabbat false information. Kemintiri, a Setite Methuselah on the Red List, impersonated the Ventrue justicar for decades. There are also other critical secrets: Melinda Galbraith, Regent of the Sabbat, has been assassinated. The Tzimisce who discovered the body took her form to avoid being killed as a scapegoat; it's only a matter of time before he is discovered. Hardestadt, the 5th generation Ventrue instrumental in the Camarilla's founding, was successfully diablerized by Tyler during the Anarch Revolt. His childe secretly replaced him to prevent the project's collapse. Beckett is one of the few privy to this secret, which is why 'Hardestadt' tries to hunt him down.
Deader Than Dead: Diablerizing a vampire is more than administering Final Death - it also destroys the victim's soul, denying them an afterlife. This is why Camarilla vampires and even Caine consider it to be a crime worse than murder. Ancient vampires can sometimes circumvent this, but they are stated to be game breakers in canon anyway.
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.
Demonic Possession: While infernalists mostly seek to overthrow their masters and ascend to demonhood, only one very potent Baali is explicitly mentioned to have achieved this. Those that do not end up dead are possessed; both outcomes lead to the soul suffering eternal torment.
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...
Don't Make Me Destroy You: A Golconda-seeker attracts the attention of an anonymous master by warning the Sabbat pack attacking him of his age and power.
Doomed by Canon: In the Dark Ages books, characters are given a Destiny along with the regular info, and many of them meet violent ends. Also, quite a few clans are doomed: the Salubri, the Cappadocians, the Ravnos, and also the Tremere, the Giovanni, the Setites, and the Tzimisce. If you choose to play the Wormwood chronicle for Gehenna instead, God destroys all vampires except for a handful whom he rewards with mortality.
Dracula: The most famous Autarkis (independent vampire, outside the sects), hated by both Camarilla and Sabbat. As a mortal seeking to become a vampire, Dracula provoked the 4th generation Tzimisce Tabak into attacking his castle ... while also alerting a Camarilla justicar to the Tzimisce presence. Tabak wiped out the Camarilla force, but in his weakened state was driven to torpor by Dracula's men. Dracula intimidated Tabak's captured childe Lambach von Ruthven into Embracing him, and promptly diablerized Tabak to become 4th generation.
Dump Stat: Since there are so many skills introduced by each book, this is pretty common. Do you really need that point in Drive or Camarilla Lore when you can invest in Intelligence or Melee? There are far more useless skill than these as well.
Elderly Immortal: Those vampires Embraced at an old age. One example in vampire history is the Lasombra Narses, Archbishop of Nod and leader of the Cainite Heresy, embraced at 98 years old.
Eldritch Abomination: Earthbound demons. The most inhuman Antediluvians qualify as these - Tzimisce is practically Vicissitude itself now, while Lasombra is a creature of the Abyss.
Emotion Bomb: Advanced Animalism powers are of the Anger type; Presence can be used to invoke a wide variety of crippling emotions.
End of an Age: One of the main themes of Vampire: Dark Ages is the end of the Long Night, the rule of vampires over humans. The Inquisition and the Anarch Revolt are foreshadowed, and will together drive vampires into the Masquerade.
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. However, various sourcebooks have whittled down the Antediluvians who will still be alive by the time of Gehenna.
Enemy Mine: Enemy sects and clans will team up to fight the Baali, who are one of the unambiguously evil factions of the setting.
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. On the other hand, complete removal of the Beast (possible if you suffer a botch with a couple of disciplines) also robs a Kindred of all willpower and self-motivation.
Golconda allows a vampire to learn disciplines without being limited by generation. A roughly 200 year old 11th generation Malkavian in "Cairo by Night" has Auspex 7 thanks to Golconda, which is something only the 6th generation and lower is capable of.
Evil All Along: Saulot thanks to the plethoraofRetcons 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 partof the plan to take over the world and he might have created the Baali. Further complicated in Gehenna, in which he is the key to saving the world and mankind and he very rarely survives the apocalypse; he is either destroyed or makes a heroic sacrifice to destroy his fellow Antediluvians.
Listening to elder Brujah, you would think that the Ventrue destroyed their beautiful Carthage out of spite. Turns out that the Brujah had let Baali into the city, leading to its corruption. The Brujah Antediluvian Troile herself, who had lost her Humanity by this time, took up one of the three original Baali (4th generation) as her lover, and attended the Baali's organ pit ceremonies. Turns out that the Roman vampires had very good reason to attack Carthage.
Evil Counterpart: The Antitribu generally embody the worst characteristics of their parent clan and take it Up to Eleven. Sabbat Brujah, nicknamed Brutes, are super-violent frenzying shock troops who torture their victims For the Lulz. Sabbat Toreador, nicknamed Perverts, can only see beauty in ugliness and pain, and do horrible, horrible things to humans. In a minor subversion, Ventrue Antitribu are dubbed "True Ventrue" and tend to be Knight Templar types, complete with codes of honor, which nonetheless require shedding copious amounts of preferably main-clan-Ventrue blood.
Evil Former Friend: Quite common among immortal monsters. Vampires can rise from torpor to find that their former companions have joined the Sabbat and abandoned Humanity, for example.
Evil Is Not Well Lit: Naturally comes up a lot. Setites hate the light, but the one best associated with it is the Antediluvian Lasombra.
Evil Is Petty: A few vampires are strong enough to truly wreak havoc and have grandiose plans, but the majority of them whittle away eternity by getting into feuds for no reason and terrorizing a mortal once in a while for shits and giggles. They manage to get bored in a world that has mystery and adventure around every corner.
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.
Evilutionary Biologist: Tzimisce on the Path of Metamorphosis not only think that vampires are an evolutionary step above humans, but that the vampiric state is the precursor to a 'perfect' life-form. Their aspiration is to turn into a planet-wide organism through Vicissitude, and they experiment constantly for this goal. The results are not pretty, to say the least.
Evil Versus Evil: The default type of conflicts in this game, as vampire factions, with few exceptions, range from "deeply corrupt" to "demonically evil."
Eyeless Face: A Transylvanian Fiend called Noritz has mouths instead of eyes. This is one of the many ways Tzimisce go for the grand effect.
Fallen Hero: A whole clan of them. The Assamites were originally the Clan of Judges, punishing those who broke the Traditions and fighting the Baali. However, the Baali used captured Assamites in a Dark Thaumaturgical ritual that cursed the whole clan, making them addicted to vampire blood. The result is that the Assamites are now ravening assassins with an entire Path based on diablerie.
False Flag Operation: Sabbat packs operating in Camarilla territory often pretend to be Anarchs. Baali infiltrators also conduct false flag operations to pit Camarilla and Sabbat against each other - canon states that they fan the flames whenever sect violence dies down.
False Innocence Trick: The modus operandi of a Samedi on the Camarilla's Red List. She uses Obfuscate and Chimerstry to conceal her corpselike appearance and looks like a small girl to her prey (both vampires and humans).
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.
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.
Fantastic Slurs: A lot. The books provide us with derogatory nicknames for every single Clan.
Faux Affably Evil: A persona adopted by many vampires. Hallmark of clans with lots of ancient nobility, such as the Lasombra, Tzimisce, Toreador and Ventrue.
Fearless Undead: Averted. Sunlight and fire can cause a vampire to totally freak out and run away in a frenzy-like state called Rotschreck. Also, turns out there are much scarier things out there than your run-of-the-mill vampire, most of which can inflict A Fate Worse Than Death.
Fictional Document: The Book of Nod, The Prince's Primer and Revelations of the Dark Mother, which all underwent Defictionalization. All three were referenced and dwarfed by the last document in the game line, The Encyclopædia Vampirica.
Fighting from the Inside: Possession, Presence and Dominate can be resisted and even overcome, but this takes a lot of Willpower and some serious creativity.
First Time in the Sun: A possible ending for your repentant character in the Gehenna scenario "Wormwood" has you confront the sun as a human once again. This is an example of Cue the Sun as well.
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.
Flies Equals Evil: The hallmark of the Baali. Some of them worship Lords of Disease, and most of them can use swarms of flies to do their bidding. Attracting insects is also available as a Flaw.
Food Chain of Evil: Some of the really old low Humanity vampires can only find nourishment from vampiric vitae; and since drinking it without killing the victim creates a blood bond, they go all the way. Those vampires who believe in Gehenna fear the day when the Antediluvians arise to consume their childer.
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.
Jack: A Tzimisce? No kiddin'! Those are some creepy evil bastards. Ran into one down in Mexico, had this whole village of experiments, like nothin' you ever seen in a movie. Sick, sick shit.
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 as a sin - if you aren't able to find out a secret then you aren't entitled to be given it.
Dr. Netchurch's motivation. By inflicting the same injury every time to test subjects and measuring their need for blood, he has discovered the blood point, which he terms VEU (vitae effectiveness unit). Netchurch responds to allegations of unethical practices by stating that every test subject has signed a disclaimer and is happy to participate. What the Malkavian doctor does not realize is that he unknowingly Dominates others to become test subjects.
Four Is Death: Cappadocius was diablerised on the fourth of April, 1444: 4/4/1444.
Frozen Fashion Sense: Quite common among ancillae and elders. Some of the oldest Methuselahs have never gotten used to this newfangled invention called clothing. As pointed out in the Revised Edition core rulebook, this can make them easily-identified (though not always easy to kill) targets for hunters - after all, a vampire wearing 18th-century clothing in a modern dance club is definitely going to stand out.
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.
Glamour Failure: Quite a few examples. Animals are agitated by the presence of vampires without the Animalism discipline or Animal Ken skill. Clan weaknesses give many vampires away. Most of them are also unable to keep food down, or approach fire. While Obfuscate may be used to conceal appearance or go invisible, innocents, children and those with True Faith can see through the glamour.
God: Who do you think marked Caine in the first place?
God Guise: A chronicle in Berlin By Night revolves around the appearance of an extremely powerful vampire who claims to be Caine. Investigation by the player coterie reveals that he is actually a 5th generation Ravnos being controlled by the Setites, who uses his level 8 Chimerstry to become a Reality Warper performing miracles.
Good All Along: The Assamites were originally portrayed as blood-thirsty monsters hated and feared by the other clans; but the revised clanbook put a much more positive spin on them as warriors against evil. Although later editions tried to tone this down a bit, the Assamites are still the clan with the healthiest attitude towards humans, mostly ignoring them altogether. Their Path of Blood has avoiding killing mortals as a main tenet, so all the evil of the clan is directed towards other vampires.
Guns vs. Swords: Definitely in favor of swords, which can inflict lethal damage, while vampires are very resilient to gunfire. A competent swordsman is a much more serious threat to a vampire than a sharpshooter.
Heavy Sleeper: A consequence of low Humanity. Some Sabbat vampires cannot bring themselves to rise from sleep even if their haven is on fire.
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.
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.
The fact that most non-Salubri vampires who remember the clan's better reputation are either in Torpor or got thrown to the Inquisition didn't hurt the Tremere. Combined with how much their discovery of Thaumaturgical blood magic assisted the Cammies in the Anarch revolt, the Camarilla is pretty much inclined to favor the Warlocks' view of history.
Holy Burns Evil: Potent True Faith can do this. Areas with high Ambient Faith ratings generally cause great discomfort to Kindred; but vampires with low Humanity and self-control can actually be destroyed by them.
Horrible Judge of Character: Cappadocius ignored his childer's objections and embraced Augustus Giovanni, a depraved and ambitious man who would eventually diablerize him and destroy his clan.
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 Magitekmanipulative 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.
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. 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.
And you know some Malkavian, if they ever run into Caine, is going to slap him upside the head just to see if God reaches down to smack him seven times.
Horrifying Hero: The nicest player characters can at best become this. The sourcebooks make it clear that, even in Golconda or at very high Humanity, a vampire is still an undead monstrosity.
Hypnotic Eyes: Dominate powers. Also the first level of the Setites' special magic, which is called "The Eyes of the Serpent."
Hypocrite: Camarilla elders will punish diablerists with horrible deaths and ban the practice in strongest terms - but quite a few of them got to where they are through the Amaranth.
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'm a Humanitarian: The curse of the Nagaraja bloodline. They have to consume human flesh along with blood to gain nourishment. Since this isn't exactly great for your Humanity, many Nagaraja are on the Path of Death and the Soul.
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.
In the adventure Lair of the Hidden, this trope has basically become the core of Hill's existence. Everything he does, he does in order to act contrary to his sire Cret (such as wearing barbarian-style furs to contrast with Cret's refined, 1920s gentleman-style manner of dress) or to screw Cret over. Played straight and inverted with the other sire/childe pairing in that adventure, Danika and Anastazi Ruthven - Danika (the sire) thinks Anastazi's a terrible disappointment, and Anastazi hates her in turn for her condescension.
Islam: A large minority of the Nosferatu are Muslims and call themselves the Hajj. The Lasombra also had a significant Muslim branch before the Anarch Revolt. The Assamites are an interesting case, since most of them except those on the Path of Blood were Muslim; but after the Methuselah ur-Shulgi's awakening and takeover of the clan, they have been persecuted. A schism has occurred among the Assamites, with many Muslims defecting to the Camarilla.
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.
Although the Humanity meter runs from 0 to 10, the scale is practically 4-7 for a playable character, with the rest being borderline unplayable. A Humanity score of 8+ makes it very hard to work with other vampires (including other player characters) and requires pacifism, so that most chronicles cannot be run. A Humanity score lower than 4 sets a vampire on a downward spiral of murder and depravity that ends either in death or Wassail. Unless your group is willing to run a Sabbat story, the character is finished.
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.
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.
Knight Templar: The Society of Leopold falls into this category. While they should be the good guys of the setting, they tend to torture the vampires they catch and abuse other humans, so they are grey at best.
Level Drain: There is a Thaumaturgical ritual called Quenching the Lambent Flame which raises a vampire's Generation to 13. Elder Baali have a Daimonion power that lowers Humanity or Path rating.
Lightning Bruiser: Celerity grants super-speed; Potence grants super-strength. Brujah have both as clan disciplines, and naturally have a reputation as lightning bruisers.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Starts kicking in for elders and fully in effect for Methuselahs. Level 5 Celerity, Melee and Potence make a physically-oriented vampire a Tremere ancilla's worst nightmare. However, beyond level 5 the law of diminishing returns is in effect, so that moving really really really fast is not worth the XP after being really really fast. In contrast, sorcery takes centuries to master, but then allows a Methuselah to cast curses on entire clans or destroy bloodlines, rendering most physical stats irrelevant. The exception is Fortitude; you can't have too much Fortitude.
The level 8-9 Dementation powers of the Malkavian Methuselahs turned the tide during the Battle of Carthage against the Brujah, who got into melees and used Presence to lead the Carthaginian army. After a certain point, physical might just doesn't cut it.
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).
Lunacy: The Malkavians were originally known as the Moon Clan.
The richest clans with the greatest influence over mortals are the Ventrue, Tremere, Giovanni and Lasombra. Guess which of the 13 clans have Dominate as a clan discipline.
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.
Mind Control Conspiracy: Elders use their powers of Presence and Dominate very liberally to enforce their wills, thinking themselves at the top of the Jyhad. Most of them are quite unaware that their grandsires and even clan founders are very much in charge and using them as pawns in their proxy wars thanks to even higher levels of these disciplines.
Mind Rape: Malkavians can inflict crippling insanity through the Dementation discipline. High-end Dominate powers can mold your head into any configuration of the vampire's choosing.
Min-Maxing: Mostly averted. Traits, Skills and Disciplines are all taken into account to determine success in Feats; and since boosting one of these to level 5 is really expensive XP-wise, the smarter choice is to spread your XP around to maximize performance. Furthermore, disciplines are rarely automatic successes, instead requiring you to 'roll Sneaking + Dexterity' for example, so a well-balanced character works best.
The Mirror Shows Your True Self: An ancient's tomb in the "Diablerie: Britain" chronicle has, among other traps, a mirror enchanted to reflect the Beast's true form. Vampires with high Self-Control can overcome the shock and avoid Rotschreck; but since diablerists already have low Humanity and Self-Control, the mirror is quite effective.
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.
Mistaken Age: You should NEVER try to judge a vampire's power by his looks; that teenage girl might just be an elder. This is one of the reasons why vampires don't simply attack each other on sight: they have no way of knowing how old or experienced the other is.
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.
Mugging the Monster: Mugging a vampire is generally a bad, bad mistake. Vampires themselves can have their short Oh Crap moment when their most recent victim turns out to be a werewolf.
Attempting to diablerize an Antediluvian is a very bad idea, because even if you somehow succeed, there's a good chance that they will simply take over your body. When a vampire publicly announces the successful diablerie of an Antediluvian and then disappears or goes into torpor, it generally means something very bad has happened to them.
Muggles Do It Better / Not So Harmless: Since most gangbangers have 9mm popguns they go down easy. Those same humans with twelve gauge shotguns? Not so much. A well armed group of humans can make your day REALLY miserable if you aren't careful. This means that, potentially, humans can be the biggest threat you ever meet. More so than a werewolf or that powerful vampire.
Something which nearly every high up Camarilla recognizes. There's a reason they play nice; humans outnumber vampires nearly 500'000 to one.
Murder Makes You Crazy: Murder is one of the fastest ways to lose Humanity; and by the time vampires get to Humanity 1, they will be barely coherent monsters rambling in their blood-soaked havens.
Muscles Are Meaningless: Blood Buff and Potence are magical means of raising strength, so there's no way of telling how strong a vampire is by his or her looks. A Lasombra embraced as a teenage girl might just lift a car and bash you over the head with it.
Nietzsche Wannabe: The Camarilla actually suppresses this mindset, as it is detrimental to Masquerade. The Sabbat and some other groups embrace it.
The Path of the Feral Heart, followed mostly by Gangrel and the rare Brujah and Nosferatu, has acceptance of the Beast as its main tenet, and so most adherents fall into this category.
Noble Demon: Vampires on the Path of Honorable Accord are Lawful Evil, in contrast to their mostly Chaotic Evil brethren in the Sabbat. They place honor and chivalry foremost and never go back on their word. Background books state that they prevented the Sabbat from disintegrating in its early days and drafted its only 'laws', the Code of Milan. Their chivalry does not mean that they are any nicer to humans, however.
No Saving Throw: Unless you have Fortitude, you cannot soak aggravated damage (fire, sunlight, vampire claws, supernatural effects).
Not So Different: For all of the Camarilla's Civility and the Sabbat's "You're a monster, ACT like it" mentality, much of the rules that govern the Camarilla also govern the Sabbat, they just come about it from different angles. For instance, the Camarilla's masquerade is in place to keep mortals from finding out about vampires and mobilizing accordingly. The Sabbat employs a similar law, but with the justification that they're better than mortals anyway and don't need to associate with such rabble.
The fluff makes it clear that, despite how the two sects look completely different from the trenches, the elder leadership of both the Sabbat and the Camarilla are essentially reflections of each other. The Ventrue as a whole are said to be the closest Camarilla clan to the Sabbat with respect to outlook.
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).
This was apparently then applied preemptively to other shapeshifters, in addition to the above rules if a vampire tries to embrace them (only werebear abominations work as relatively smoothly as werewolves). Werecats can become abominations, but constantly lose Gnosis until they die, while wererats constantly lose Gnosis and rot away. Wereravens and lizards are tied to the sun, and thus inevitably die the day after they're embraced...the lizards after turning into their dinosaur forms and going on a nightlong unstoppable rampage. Werecoyotes are immune to becoming abominations. Werespiders are immune to bloodsucking in general. Werefoxes explode in a giant pillar of flame if a vampire tries to embrace them. And there's no record of a vampire ever even encountering a weresnake or wereshark (except in Bloodlines).
Celerity's nerf in V20. In the original game, for a single blood point, you got as many extra actions as your Celerity rating - if you had Celerity 5, you could take 6 physical actions in your next term. Since the ability to deliver x6 damage for low cost and regardless of generation was so imbalanced, Vampire: Dark Ages introduced the limitation that every extra action cost one blood point. Still very powerful, but at least there was a blood pool cap on the ability due to generation.
Omnicidal Maniac: Although there are quite a few in the setting, a large cabal of them takes the cake: the Giovanni. Their secret plan? Collect about 100 million wraiths - 50 million by tracking them down in both our and their worlds, another 50 by setting of global nuclear war and harvesting the huge amount produced. Then use those wraiths to shatter the Veil, merging the Afterlife and the physical world. While they hope to rule the mess that is left with Necromancy, it would actually annihilate both worlds. Fortunately, they are screwed in pretty much any Gehenna scenario, and this Worst Ending does not occur.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Generation determines your Blood Pool, your maximum potential in a Discipline, and whether a vampire you encounter can Dominate you (or vice versa). Although an experienced and clever vampire of high generation has the upper hand against a dumbass of low generation, an experienced 6th gen can massacre coteries of 13th gen vampires. This stat is nonlinear: the difference between 13th and 12th generations is a single blood point, while that between 8 and 7 is 5 blood points plus access to advanced disciplines. Bottom line is, player characters cannot solo their elders, and cannot take them down by playing fair.
Only Sane Man: Beckett, the Kindred historian and archaeologist. Too bad he's wrong about Caine and the Antediluvians being just a myth.
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 traits.
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:
Take a bunch of Vampires who, in this setting, have to actively resist going into a berserker rage when injured, threatened, or humiliated.
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.
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.
Later revisions play up the Not So Different aspect between the sects and show that the Sabbat upholds many of the same rules in its own fashion. Their depredations are more often than not made to look like especially violent street crime, and they're shown to be capable of backing off if it's actually at the point of driving people and business away from their host city.
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?
Punic Wars: In the setting, Carthage was founded by the Brujah as a city where vampires of all clans could walk openly among humans. A rivalry with the Roman Ventrue and their Malkavian and Toreador allies developed into a proxy war; and eventually the Romans directly attacked Carthage and razed it to the ground. The Brujah and the Ventrue have been at odds ever since. This is listed as the first true war of the Jyhad, rather than conflicts between individual vampires and their broods.
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.
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.
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.
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").
Reviving Enemy: A tried-and-true combat tactic of the Ravnos and Ventrue. They can survive massive damage thanks to Fortitude, but like to play dead until their foe thinks he or she is done and walks away ...
Rise from Your Grave: The Sabbat rite for siring. The embraced human is hit over the head with a shovel and buried. Those with strong wills manage to dig themselves out; the less fortunate fall into torpor. This was originally a Cappadocian tradition before adoption by the Sabbat.
Rodents of Unusual Size: Vampire blood allows animals to grow far beyond normal size; naturally, the Nosferatu use giant ghoul rats (and even alligators) to defend their sewer lairs.
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.)
Rule of Seven: The Tremere like to organize themselves around the number seven, with each leader responsible for seven subordinates. In practice, since there aren't enough Tremere around to realize this ambition, only the top of the pyramid obeys the rule of seven.
Salt the Earth: When Troile realized during the Battle of Carthage that the Brujah had lost, she embraced her 4th generation Baali lover and together they melded into the earth. The Ventrue had the Romans salt the earth to prevent them from rising again.
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. High-end Vicissitude powers such as Zulo war-form and Chiropteran Marauder allow the Tzimisce to turn into powerful beasts with a nightmarish aspect.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The level 5 Serpentis power allows a vampire to take out its own heart so that they are immune to staking and some other forms of attack; powerful Setites usually keep them in canopic jars.
Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Of the supernatural sort; an advanced Auspex power allows a vampire to make up intricate stories on the spot.
See the Invisible: To pierce through Obfuscate, a vampire needs an Auspex level greater than or equal to the level of the Obfuscate power. Low-level Obfuscate powers fall to careful observation and some logical thinking.
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.
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.
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.
This Is a Work of Fiction: Most Vampire: The Masquerade books come with one of these disclaimers. The book on Thaumaturgy states that the spells don't work, while the one on Paths states "You are not a vampire".
Town with a Dark Secret: Pretty much every setting in the game is guaranteed to have a sleeping Methuselah or trapped demon secretly manipulating events and playing elders like pawns. In the Dark Ages supplements, expect a Baali coven to show up.
Torches and Pitchforks: Were surprisingly effective during the Inquisition. Turns out that a large mob wielding fire is a match for most vampires.
To Win Without Fighting: The proper way to play the Jyhad. Attacking a vampire is always extremely risky, since clever ones keep some strong abilities secret. Physical violence is also frowned upon unless in the right context. The most dangerous vampires prepare schemes covering decades that result in humiliation or destruction for the enemy. In any case, why would you need to fight a vampire if you can just manipulate the city council into demolishing their haven in the middle of the day?
The Tragic Rose: On the cover of the 20th Anniversary Edition. Also, the clan symbol for the Toreador.
Treacherous Advisor: A few foolish or power-hungry princes enlist help from the Setites. It turns out as well as you'd expect.
Treacherous Quest Giver: The norm in this game. No vampire will just pat you on the back and reward you: they mean to use and abuse you, if not sending you into a trap to die.
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."
Undeathly Pallor: Gets worse as a vampire ages, except for the Assamites, who grow darker. The Blush of Life is a vampiric ability that allows a vampire to look hale and healthy, but the cost in blood points is tied to Humanity. Humanity of 8 and above can do it for free; each level lower than 8 costs an extra point.
Unfinished Business: One of the reasons behind the presence of Wraiths in the world. The Giovanni exploit this by doing horrible, horrible things simply to produce wraiths so they can enslave them.
Using You All Along: The norm. Make the assumption that every NPC is secretly under an elder's control; and that every quest you perform benefits some other vampire who has been manipulating you from the start.
Überwald: Transylvania in the World of Darkness, of course.
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 700 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.
Vampire Hunter: Come in normal and Imbued varieties. The best of them, armed with True Faith, supernatural powers and modern weaponry, can maybe take down an ancilla if they're lucky and CrazyPrepared. However, they are a serious threat to neonates, and their numbers have started growing rapidly, so that they will eventually outnumber their enemies.
Villain Has a Point: The Sabbat go on about fighting the Antediluvians when they're not torturing people. Turns out that having your Antediluvian destroyed in the past is the one thing that gives you a shot at surviving Gehenna.note Too bad the Sabbat couldn't pull it off.
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 humannote Now, what you have to do to stay a vampire as opposed to a pile of ash, on the other hand.... Some vampires become as good as any saint.
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.
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.
The Malkavian Dr. Netchurch's insanity is being unable to accept any explanation other than the rational and scientific. Being able to rationalize the mind-numbing terrors of the World of Darkness is less of a curse than, say, catatonia or psychosis. Netchurch often lampshades this, unable to understand why the rest of his clan is so crazy while he is 'perfectly normal'.
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 acrossalltheothergames.
Wretched Hive: Many cities in the setting, especially those controlled by the Sabbat. This makes a city or neighborhood much easier to defend for them, since they have a practically inexhaustible supply of shock troops in the local hoodlums. Camarilla attacks often make use of shock and awe tactics for a speedy victory, since they have no other means of forcing out mass-embracing Sabbat.
Wrong Side All Along: After an encounter with a Methuselah, the Gangrel justicar Xaviar realizes that the Camarilla has been lying all along about the Antediluvians. He responds by taking the clan out of the Camarilla.
A Lasombra elder of the Sabbat recalls joining the Anarch Revolt after having an audience with Lasombra himself, and recognizing the evil of the creature.
Zerg Rush: The standard tactic of the Sabbat is to mass-embrace lots of people and throw them at the Camarilla. While these poor shovelheads are slaughtered by the enemy, they also help pin them down while more experienced Sabbat packs wipe them out. Rushes are also the best way to take down a lonely elder, who could easily solo an inexperienced coterie.
If a Shovelhead SURVIVES their mission, they're admitted into the Sect in full has "True Sabbat", so if you want to get past your first night or two has a Sabbat-Sired Kindred, you only have to survive a suicide mission!