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Literature / Masquerade of the Red Death

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The Masquerade of the Red Death trilogy was written by Robert Weinberg for the Old World of Darkness, specifically tying in to Vampire: The Masquerade.

The trilogy consists of:

  • Blood War (1995)
  • Unholy Allies (1995)
  • The Unbeholden (1996)

Dire McCann is a private detective and rogue mage of the Euthanatos tradition, working for Prince Vargoss, the vampire Prince of St. Louis. Alicia Varney is a billionaire businesswoman and ghoul, serving Justine Bern, the Sabbat Archbishop of New York City. Both of them are older than they look, with mysterious ties to two older vampires considered mythology to the current Kindred.

The Red Death is a vampire of unknown lineage, with strange control over fire. He insists that only he can stave off the coming Gehenna, and only if he's granted control of all Kindred, whether Camarilla or Sabbat. But for some reason, he also demands the deaths of two humans ... Alicia and McCann.


This series contains examples of:

  • Badass Normal: Alicia's bodyguard Jackson.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Prince Vargoss holds court in the "Members Only" area of one of these clubs. When Madeline Giovanni arrives in St. Louis and needs to speak with the prince, she's immediately allowed to skip the Wannabe Line.
  • Deal with the Devil: Technically the Sheddim aren't demonic/devilish, but close enough — especially as their pact with the Children of Dreadful Night will eventually let the Sheddim move permanently into our world.
  • Fiction 500: Alicia. Possibly McCann as well (he's been skimming the Giovanni coffers for a very long time), though his lifestyle doesn't match the trope.
  • The Fog of Ages: Both McCann and Alicia suffer from this effect.
  • Fortune Teller: Madame Zorza is a Gangrel mystic and seeress, who gives Alicia some cryptic clues as to the Red Death's plot.
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  • Hacker Cave: Phantomas' lair under Paris.
  • Infodump: The entire prologue to Blood War consists of an Inquisition priest being urged to tell everything he knows about vampires to someone who already knows even more about vampires, in order to make sure the reader is up to speed on the World of Darkness.
  • Just Toying with Them: Don Lazzari likes to give the children he's about to suck dry a "chance" to get away. He pretends it's a Mercy Lead, but a centuries-old vampire using all his powers can easily catch a child before they can escape and everyone (except the children) knows this.
  • Madame Fortune: Madame Zorza.
  • The Mafia: Several of the antagonists are vampire leaders of the Mafia.
  • Missing Floor: The Varney Building has both a hidden subbasement and a hidden thirteenth floor, both only accessible from private elevators linking the two to Alicia's penthouse suite.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: When Madeline (dressed in a skin-tight minidress) and Flavia (dressed in skin-tight leather) follow McCann to his hotel room, the hotel security guard immediately jumps to this conclusion.
  • Mundane Solution: On one side, we have four ancient vampires channeling fire magic. On the other, we have NASA-surplus drones equipped with liquid nitrogen tanks and sprayers. Ouch.
    • And then the Red Death invokes his own mundane solution, in the form of enough thermite to raze several city blocks.
  • Mysterious Protector: Reuben to Alicia, during the Red Death's first attack on Justine's headquarters.
  • The Queenpin: In addition to her "legitimate" businesses, Alicia runs a huge underworld empire.
  • She-Fu: Alicia advanced to the attack once by doing a series of cartwheels and backflips, while stripped to bra and panties. Justified in that she needed to take the ghouls by surprise, and they definitely weren't expecting that. (Her normal combat style is a mix of Psychic Powers, custom weapons and Combat Pragmatism.)
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The bloodbath in the Newark Airport in The Unbeholden.
  • Turning Back Human: The offer is made to Madeline Giovanni. She's tempted, but decides to remain a vampire since she can't collect on a honor debt she's owed without her vampiric abilities.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Children of Dreadful Night have the ability to take on the form of any vampire they've met. The mechanics aren't clear, but apparently the shift can be made permanent — when two of the Children are tricked into burning through all their energy, they still retain the forms of the two vampires they're impersonating.
  • Waif-Fu: Madeline Giovanni. Though, unlike many examples, she really is good enough to defeat larger opponents — see her Duel to the Death with Don Caravelli (larger than Madeline, armed when Madeline isn't, and of older generation).
  • Wall of Weapons: Don Caravelli has a wall of melee weapons in his office, and can use everything on it effectively.
  • Wooden Stake: McCann carries several thin, sharp wooden rods in a special pocket. He can throw them hard enough and accurately enough to stake vampires with them.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Mafia capo Don Lazzari insists that the blood of a virgin child tastes the best. His decision to chow down on a child taken under Madeline's protection is what gets him killed.