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Video Game / Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives

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Vampire: The Masquerade — Parliament of Knives is 600,000 word interactive horror novel by Jeffrey Dean, set in the World of Darkness for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition as part of the Vampire: The Masquerade setting, from indie game company Choice of Games. Your choices control the story. It's entirely text-based—without graphics or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

The undead Prince of Canada's capital city has disappeared, and his second-in-command, Eden Corliss, wants you to find out why. You’ve been loyal to Corliss since she Embraced you and made you a vampire, but this could be your chance to take her place. Will you defend your sire from the accusations flying, or join forces with her rivals to bring her down?

Ottawa’s court of immortals is tight-knit and merciless, with tensions between clans that go back centuries. The Prince has been missing for four days, and old alliances are starting to crumble. How will you leverage the political chaos to your advantage? The authorities are already on high alert against a new group of Anarchs in the city, who have been breaching the Masquerade by revealing their true nature. You’ll have to gather evidence to demonstrate which suspects deserve punishment, and you can’t afford to guess wrong. One careless word could get you stabbed in the back—staked through the heart, and left to burn in the sun.

Who will you save when the knives are out?

Parliament of Knives contains the following tropes:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: Combined with Laser-Guided Karma in the ending where Arundel comes back and promptly throws Corliss off a building. All of her scheming and backstabbing means nothing when faced with a Methusaleh's power.
  • Battle Butler: Gerard is willing to fight for you if you're endangered around him.
  • Beast and Beauty: Bouchard once had a relationship with a human woman. A downplayed example occurs if a Toreador protagonist romances Qui.
  • Benevolent Boss: If you choose to take Gerard into your confidence and allow him to voice his opinions. On the other hand, you can take it in the other direction and be a Bad Boss.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Downplayed, as Grace Epting had a solid operation going for a quite while. Shame that choosing Corliss as a target ended up being a fatal miscalculation, because this character ended up snapping and going full diablerist, rendering Grace Deader than Dead.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Everyone was plotting against the Prince due to his inscrutable actions that meant none of the elders or ancilla could trust him. You have to play the game extensively to realize, "The alien morality of the Prince is that he actually believes his word means something and that he always will look after the people he considers his friends. Even if it's more expedient to kill them."
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • You are actually the child of a rumoured Sabbat named Grace and Arundel removed your memories of this event. Actively siding with Arundel will cause Corliss to accused you of being brainwashed by him against her, a fact which you can refute.
    • The Banu Haqim Sevinc is this by Adeline in order to attack Robert Ward and Arundel
    • Adeline does this to Alisha to get her to commit Suicide by Cop in order to cover her tracks.
  • Bungled Hypnotism: You can encounter a human who's taking a little too much interest in Elysium. If you interrogate her, you'll find that she's a former ghoul who has since been released, but the mental command for her to forget all about that time of her life has worn off and she's desperate to work her way back into Kindred affairs.
  • Call-Back:
    • At one point, the Archon Adeline makes a disdainful comment about how Tuscon is a backwater run by a Gangrel, referencing Lettow from Vampire: The Masquerade — Night Road.
    • Prince Annabelle's childer are digging around under Ottawa because they learned from a Gangrel scholar that something powerful and dreadful may sleep beneath the city. If you ask who they mean, they'll confirm it's Beckett himself.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Jordan and you are initially confused as to how Kindred are supposed to do the deed. Apparently, it requires a lot of practice. You eventually figure it out.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Absolutely every single vampire in the entire city is this way except for Jordan. Including, in all likelihood, you.
  • Cult: Jordan has taken over one and offers to share it with you if you are in a relationship.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The court of Ottawa, Ontario is full of lies and manipulations. Every Kindred is out for themselves and constantly jockeying for power.
  • Deck of Wild Cards: There's no shortage of suspects when the Prince of Ottawa mysterious vanishes, leaving his position up for grabs. Though the culprit turns out the be the most obvious traitor of the lot.
  • Didn't See That Coming: If you kill a certain certain character by executing her with her own magic sword, it's a genuine shock to this person. And everybody else.
  • Face–Heel Turn: While you can be nasty enough to count as a Heel from the jump if you choose, taking up Trevor on his offer to join the Sabbat is definitely this.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first chapter, it's mentioned specifically that Corliss has three Childer, which makes some people jealous because it's unusual to be granted the Right of Progeny more than once or twice. Turns out she actually did only get it twice. The third time was an emergency coverup of Corliss murdering your real Sire on the very night you were Embraced.
    • Several characters mention that Arundel spoke of you to them often and has a high opinion of you, which the narration always notes you find somewhat surprising because as far as you know, you're not that important to him, and his earlier mentorship of you was just a favor to Corliss. Of course he's invested in you and thinks well of you—you're his failsafe against Corliss's betrayal.
    • Most Kindred don't dream much at all, yet recently the protagonist has been consistently dreaming of the early nights of their unlife. This is because Arundel going missing triggered to breakdown of the Fake Memories implanted in them.
    • After Vivian's crucifixion, multiple people question why most of her servants took poison, but her butler was violently murdered. The butler was a spy. His true loyalties always lay elsewhere, so he wasn't brainwashed enough to kill himself for her sake.
  • Gambit Pile Up: There's like seven or eight plans plus however many you're doing going on at once.
    • Corliss is working with the Quebec Tremere in order to undermine the Prince, keep him imprisoned, and banish the Banu Haqim.
    • Robert Ward is working with Kashif Salik to overthrow Corliss but is not a true Anarch, although he believes in their cause and wants them in the city. He is actually Prince Arundel's lover (sort of ex, sort of not).
    • Prince Arundel has been working to spread his Princedom all across Canada. He is also building alliances with the Banu Haqim and other sources of non-Camarilla power. He intended to vanish on purpose for a little bit to see what would happen, but Corliss and the Tremere got the jump on him.
    • Henrik Lang is in a feud with the Quebec Tremere, who are allied with House Carna.
    • The Lasombra representative Basaras is not joining the Camarilla in good faith (inasmuch as vampires have such a thing). He's secretly a Shalimite who wants to get more converts from the city, and he wants to assassinate Qui because the Sheriff is getting in his way.
    • Trevor Haidt is actually a Sabbat holdout pumping up support for a new wave of fighting against the antediluvians. While he's ostensibly in town to deliver Annabelle's message, he only took the job so he'd have a chance to recruit you, as Grace Epting was once his mentor and he wants her childe to be in the Sword of Caine.
  • Golden Ending: If you play your cards right, including destroying Adeline Durand and saving Arundel, Arundel makes Ward his second-in-command, you his Seneschal, and creates a city where Anarchs and Camarilla alike actually get along and live in relative peace. Corliss is dead and gone (or imprisoned so you can mine her memory). Kashif survives and helps destroy the last of Durand's forces. Lucca gets a promotion, instead of being blamed for what Corliss did, Vivian quickly retakes control of the media to get the hunters off your back, and Qui is able to expand the police force to better protect the Masquerade. So much positive change occurring in one go and having it end well for so many people is is nigh-unheard of in the World of Darkness. The only downside is that Vivian never receives any punishment for the massacre of her household.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Arundel says this word for word if the protagonist let's slip to him that they've unlocked their suppressed memories. And for good reason, since those memories explicitly implicate him in helping to cover up diablerie.
  • Hot-Blooded: The Banu Haqim Anarch Sevinc, even more so than the Brujah she works with—she almost always wants to go in swinging.
  • Knowledge Broker: Grace Epting was the most powerful information broker in Canada and the Northern US, even being described as a kingmaker. Several Kindred muse that, if news of Corliss diablerizing her ever became public knowledge, Corliss would have to flee the continent at the bare minimum in order to avoid the many who'd do anything to get their hands on whatever scraps of information Grace left behind.
  • Implausible Deniability: Should you kill Durand, another character will speedily cover your ass with the flimsy claim that Durand was actually a fraud and a spy. It's near outright stated that nobody actually believes this, they're just not in a position to argue. Really, they're not supposed to buy it, either. Arundel just can't straight-up say that he's ordering them to let you get away with killing an Archon. When Bouchard questions the story's plausibility, Arundel's response boils down to "you'll believe it because I'm the Prince and I say so".
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Jordan often uses Dominate to make mortals forget they've seen things that breach the Masquerade. And Arundel in the past used Dominate to make you forget that you're not actually Corliss's childe at all. If you side with the Anarchs Sevinc will also alter your memories so that the Archon can't get her and Robert's whereabouts out of you.
  • Memory Gambit: The protagonist's true memories (namely, the one of Corliss diablerizing the protagonist's real Sire, Grace Epting) are damning enough to get both Corliss and Arundel staked in the sun. Arundel made sure to use his powers to suppress those memories to save both his and Corliss' hides, but left triggers to cause them to resurface if Arundel was ever indisposed, so they can be used as ammunition against Corliss.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: There are several options for age at Embrace, career as a mortal, and your feelings towards Corliss.
  • No Kill like Overkill: If you choose Bouchard's route, you have to help him fight a pissed-off Tremere. He has you unload the entire magazine of an antique heavy machine gun into her while he has her distracted. There's barely anything left by the time you're done.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Robert Ward—a scrappy Brujah Anarch—and Prince Arundel—a Ventrue in charge of the local Camarilla—are actually very good friends, even if they disagree on a lot. Or at least, they were before Robert left the Camarilla and Arundel mysteriously vanished.
    • Everyone thinks this if you're genuinely friendly with Jordan the Malkavian.
  • Off with His Head!: Naturally, as it's one of the few ways a vampire will meet Final Death.
    • The Archon will order you to do this to Ward in some endings. If you refuse, then Arundel is forced to do so in your place. Or you can flip the script and use the sword on her.
    • You can off Bouchard and Corliss, both times potentially with the blessing of Prince Arundel.
  • Once More, with Clarity: It is impossible to understand the Gambit Pile Up going on in one playthrough and you will only understand the entirety of the plot if you play through the game several times while taking different actions.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Robert, which is the name of both a major Anarch character and Vivian's butler.
  • Path of Inspiration: Jordan's cult is about mortals getting enlightenment from being fed on by vampires. It is an obvious scam.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Prince Arundel was quite fair and even-handed (for the Camarilla) before he vanished, welcoming in the Banu Haqim and even making reforms on Robert Ward's advice. He will be again if you manage to rescue him.
  • Rightful King Returns: This is one possible ending. It is also a brutal, violent coup that shows how vampire politics works.
  • Sadistic Choice: In several endings, Adeline forces one on you and Prince Arundel: publicly defy an Archon for the sake of a known Anarch, getting yourselves into even deeper trouble with the rest of the Camarilla, or execute Ward, forcing Arundel watch his dearest friend/lover die. However, this actually turns out not to have been a great idea on her part. If you don't kill her to save Ward, Arundel goes on the warpath afterwards and destroys her.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Corliss, Adeline, and Arundel all have this attitude with regard to Kindred law.
  • Thanatos Gambit: In the event of his disappearance, Arundel has a trigger in your mind to leave clues to find him.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: If you're playing as Lasombra, Corliss decided Lucca actually couldn't handle the truth of your heritage, and with the help of some judicious mental blocks by Arundel, convinced Lucca that you're all actually Malkavians pretending to be Ventrue (and that any weird feelings she might have about shadows, her reflection, or technology not working right are her "gifts from Malkav"). This decision was probably helped along by an incident in which Nathaniel, her other childe, just up and told some other neonates his true heritage, forcing her and Arundel to kill them all to cover it up.
  • Undying Loyalty: Invoked and mocked by Lucca when you suggest you have it to your sire. Kindred don't have this according to her. You can prove her wrong by being loyal to Corliss to the very end.
    • Qui is completely loyal to Prince Arundel, the latter of whom lampshades the rarity of this if you and Qui are the ones to rescue him.
  • The Unfavorite: Lucca bitterly comments that you're the "golden childe", as Corliss completely ignored her in the decades she was handling Corliss's overseas business affairs. It's true that of your three "siblings", you're the one who gets the most attention, but whether that's actually positive for you depends on your choices. If you're loyal, you will in fact turn out to be Corliss's favorite, or at least the one she considers most useful. If you're subversive, you are very much not and she only kept you around because Arundel made her.