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Video Game / Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York

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Taste the Big Apple

Coteries of New York is a single-player narrative experience, set in a rich, fully licensed universe of Vampire: The Masquerade (specifically Fifth Edition) and set in the World of Darkness by White Wolf. It was developed by Polish game designer Draw Distance.

The game presents the struggle for power between two vampiric factions: Camarilla and Anarchs among the iconic buildings and night lights of Big Apple. After a traumatic transformation into the undead, your character finds themselves alone and friendless in the hostile territory of New York City. Directed to a nearby park, you encounter a vampire who advises you to do the one thing that might keep you alive: make a coterie of fellow vampires. Stronger together, you and several friends might just be able to survive your unlife a bit longer than separately. Each vampire you meet will want something and has different motivations, though, which might bring you closer to Final Death than away from it.

The game notably incorporates elements from the New York by Night supplement that was published for the tabletop RPG.

It was released for computers on December 11th, 2019. It has since been released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

A stand alone expansion — Shadows of New York, featuring a new playable character from the Lasombra clan — was released in 2020.

The game contains the following tropes:

  • All for Nothing: The player character manages to assemble a coterie of friends, has probably made some political connections, and has set up an alliance between Sophie as well as Torque. Sophia is killed, the coterie isn't there during the climax, and the player character is very likely going to become the blood bound pawn of Thomas Arturo.
  • Authority in Name Only: The Duskborn Primogen, Robert Larson, is considered a convenience by the Prince at best and a potentially dangerous Masquerade breach at worst and is mostly ignored.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Arturo achieves all of his objectives and you are forced to become his agent.
  • The Beautiful Elite: The Camarilla present themselves as such. Averted with Prince Panhard who is notably described as plain.
  • Becoming the Mask: What happened with D'Angelo. He was a former newspaper reporter and small-time novelist when he was Embraced. To cope, he literally became his fictional character by adopting all of his mannerisms.
  • Big Bad: It's set up that Callihan or Prince Panhard is this. In actuality, it's Thomas Arturo who is playing all of them for suckers.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At the start of the endgame, Kaiser alerts the friends you've made that you have been captured by the Second Inquisition. They ambush the caravan and rescue you.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sophie is killed by Adelaine on Arturo's orders, the Prince and Callihan get away with their crimes, plus the entire coup plan fails. Worse, you will remain The Pawn for the Elders above you with one drink toward becoming Blood Bound to Arturo. The only benefit you can say is that you have probably made some friends along the way who have your back. Verges on a Downer Ending depending on whether you think your character can ever break free.
  • The Cameo: Aisling Sturbridge, the Tremere signature character who's appeared in VTM sourcebooks and tie-in materials for decades, makes a brief on-screen appearance as Agathon's sire and mentor. She has a bigger role in Shadows of New York, which also introduces the major canon character of Katherine Weise, Brujah Promethean. Or does it?
  • The Chessmaster: Thomas Arturo arranged the entire plot of the game, just for fun.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Agathon's sire is Aisling Sturbridge, the Tremere signature character from the tie-in novel series and some of the sourcebooks. Coteries reveals that she remains the High Regent of the Chantry of the Five Boroughs two decades later.
    • Tamika and her siblings are permitted to keep a domain in the city (despite the Gangrel's official separation from the Camarilla) due to their sire Jezebelle's pivotal role in the Battle of New York, which took place in the V:TM tie-in novels from the late '90s/early '00s. Jezebelle herself is a minor character in the New York By Night V5 supplementary sourcebook.
    • Hope mentions being acquainted with her fellow NYC-dwelling Malkavian Dev/Null from Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption.
    • Redemption gets a few more nods in Shadows of New York, not least of all the appearance of Katherine Weise, AKA Ecaterina the Wise, as a major character. One ending is a barrage of them, including explicit references to Christof and his patron St. Jude. The alligator ghouls stalking the deepest depths of the sewers get a nod as well, although funnily enough, neither the speaker nor their recipient believe they really exist.
  • Decadent Court: The Camarilla is this with all the backstabbing, murder, and treachery expected.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The plan to confront Prince Panhard and Boss Callihan over their shady alliance is derailed by the appearance of Thomas Arturo, who reveals himself to have masterminded the entire plot. He espouses some of his philosophy, has his insane minion behead Sophie, and enslaves you with the blood bond. The prince and Callihan each take their leave, and neither Qadir nor your coterie is present to help you out or offer any resistance. The end.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Camarilla is very fond of this.
    • You can be killed for your sire creating you without permission.
    • A vampire in Central Park can be killed for threatening you, claiming territory without permission, and being an Anarch.
  • The Dragon: Being vampires, multiple ones have these.
    • Qadir serves as this for Prince Panhard. Unfortunately for her, he isn't present during the climax and is thus in no position to help her out.
    • Adelaide serves as this for Thomas Arturo.
    • Victor serves as one for Callihan.
  • The Dreaded: The Scarred One is one of these, being the boogeyman of Gangrel in New York (and possibly beyond).
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Jezebelle is a minor character from New York by Night that was killed by the Second Inquisition between it and the game.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A lot of vampires have things called "Touchstones" that are the humans they care about in their lives.
  • Film Noir: D'Angelo adopts a lot of Hard Boiled Detective tropes from these. Because he used to be a small time newspaper reporter and author who wrote those kind of books.
  • For the Evulz: Thomas Arturo has arranged this entire plot for the purposes of causing a little chaos in the city he already effectively controls. Your Embrace, Sophie's rebellion, and the attack on Ellis Island? All of it is because It Amused Me.
  • Foreshadowing: Sophie admits that she hasn't been part of a coterie for a hundred years. This is foreshadowing that she's gotten far too rusty at social combat to play the jyhad at the level she is attempting.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Overthrowing Panhard and Callihan would result in one of these with Sophie and Torque taking their respective faction leaders' places while maintaining their Friendly Enemy status. Even they admit they would be pretty similar, with the sole exception of not sleeping together. Unfortunately, for them, the coup is thwarted before it can get off the ground.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In Shadows, it's implied that Hope, D'Angelo, Agathon, and Tamika were all coterie members to the protagonist of the previous game. It's impossible to recruit all four at once, as the game is scripted to end before enough nights pass to finish all of their side stories.
  • Gamer Girl: Hope invokes this along with Riot Grrrl as her attitude.
  • Gothic Punk: It takes place in the World of Darkness so this is a natural fit. You are living in New York but are surrounded by monsters trying to destroy or manipulate you.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Callihan belittles you, engages in racism (or sexism), and then has you beaten up even if you are completely respectful.
    • Your boss as the Ventrue PC is a sexist asshole who belittled you, stole your work, tried to pimp you out to clients, and framed you for embezzlement after your disappearance.
  • Hunter of Monsters: The threat of the Second Inquisition is omnipresent with several chances to meet vampire hunters throughout the story.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad:
    • Hope has a serious case of this for Cara.
    • Averted with Agathon and his sire, who he genuinely admires.
    • Tamika loved her sire and mourns her death at the hands of the Second Inquisition.
  • I Love You, Vampire Son:
    • Cara has a serious case of this for Hope. Right up until when she decides to diablerize her.
    • Played straight with Agathon and Ailsing Sturbridge. They get along fine.
    • Averted by Sophie and Benoit. Sophie barely thinks of him these days.
  • Informed Attribute: D'Angelo as a Nosferatu. Unlike most of his clan, he can pass for an ugly human with a mild facial deformity. By Nosferatu standards, he's barely cursed at all. This is lampshaded in-game.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: This can happen to the player character fairly early into the game if they're not careful.
  • Morality Pet: A number of the vampires have these, called Touchstones.
    • Agathon has informed his grandmother of his status as a vampire. She treats it more as an amusing quirk rather than a horrifying curse.
    • The PC will each have a Touchstone but be forced to break off all contact with them except for the Ventrue PC who hates their Touchstone.
  • The Man Behind the Man: the shadowy figure seen talking about destiny to your sire in the introduction. The climax reveals this to be Arturo
  • Morton's Fork: There's no good solution to the Red Hooker Killer case as you either let a insane serial killer go or frame a (mostly) innocent man. Even then, the former just results in them being killed anyway.
  • The Masquerade: One of the major concerns about the setting (it's in the name). Any vampire who threatens to expose their kind to the world is killed.
  • No Ending: The player character is now the pawn of another vampire but his or her position hasn't really changed all that much. They've just switched masters. Which, admittedly, is how Kindred politics works in the tabletop game.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: It is actually possible to die in this game: refusing to follow Sophie Langley's plan requiring you to beg for mercy, either by staying silent or attempting to make a run for it as you're about to be executed, can result in your execution on the game's first night. While there are two achievements that can only be unlocked by meeting your Final Death in these ways, you do lose your save file and have to start again from the beginning. (Fortunately, the scene in question occurs only about 20 minutes into the game.)
  • "Not So Different" Remark: You can annoy Sophie and Torque by pointing out they'd be similar to Panhard and Callihan. Their only defense is they wouldn't be sleeping together.
  • Out-Gambitted: Considering the nature of vampire society it's inevitable that this is going to happen to someone.
    • In game, it happens to Cara courtesy of Hope and Sophie by way of Arturo
    • Sophie is utterly owned by Thomas Arturo and thus, by proxy, the character.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: No matter which character you play as, Callihan will take issue with something about them: the Ventrue for being a woman, the Brujah for being Asian, and the Toreador for being a gay black man. He's keen to point out that neither of the male characters would have been considered "a real American" in his day.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: An analogue to COVID-19 is written into the plot about halfway through Shadows.
  • Recycled Premise: A fledgling, illicitly Embraced without the Camarilla's princely permission, is dragged before the Court and sentenced to Final Death for their sire's criminal disregard for the Traditions, but the intervention of one of the prince's political rivals saves their life. Remind you of anything?
  • Relationship Values: The game is based around building a relationship with multiple vampires in order to protect yourself.
  • Religious Vampire: Benoit is a Noddist fascinated by God, a priest with true faith, and damnation.
  • Reluctant Monster: Qadir turns out to be one of these.
  • Revenge: A common motivation among Kindred in the game.
    • You can get this on your boss by Blackmail and turning him into a ghoul.
    • Hope wants this on her sire Cara.
  • Serial Killer: The Red Hook killer, Sana, is someone that D'Angelo is trying to track down. It turns out she's a Thin Blood gone insane with visions of Caine.
  • The Sheriff: Qadir is the Sheriff of New York for the Camarilla.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: The Camarilla vs. the Anarchs in a nutshell.
  • Too Dumb to Live: If you're disrespectful and turn down attempts to rescue you, the Camarilla kills you.
  • True Companions: A coterie is something that has the potential to be this but usually just amounts to vampires watching each other's backs for their own purposes.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Fledgling, of course, is someone used by everyone around them. It turns out it's Sophie instead as she was manipulated into this entire game by Thomas Arturo.
  • The 'Verse: Is a a canonical game set in the World of Darkness, updating New York City to 5th Edition.
  • Vampire Monarch: Hellene Panhard is the Prince of New York City.
  • Visual Novel: Explicitly stated to be one of these. Jason Carl of White Wolf says that it is an attempt to export these to the West.
  • Visionary Villain: Cara has a plan to create tens of thousands of fake identities on the internet that live completely fictitious lives in order to create a buffer for Kindred against the Second Inquisition. Hope wrecks this plan out of spite.
  • Voluntary Vampire Victim: Sophie introduces you to one of these on your first night out.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Benoit after his encounter with the Priest and breaking the Masquerade?
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Feeding actually plays a fairly central role in the storyline.