Vampires are making a comeback. With Vampire the Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 releasing this year and the gothic genre on a winning streak, now is the perfect time to kick off some fantastic new adventures with the original Vampire the Masquerade RPG. But before you get started, you'll have to set the scene.
What Is Vampire: The Masquerade?
Vampire: The Masquerade is a tabletop RPG where players take on the role of vampires operating within a secret society. In this 'World of Darkness', vampires must comply with the rules of the Masquerade, which keeps their existence hidden from mortals.
Players are separated by politics, race, and their governing clans, with the ultimate goal of surviving (and thriving) in a terrifying new world. Those looking to enter the World of Darkness for the first time should be wary that Vampire: The Masquerade may include references to sexual assault, extreme violence, torture and abuse — but these themes are not necessary in your playthrough.
Vampire: The Masquerade's system and lore have been incorporated into several cult video games, including 2000's Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, 2004's Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines and its upcoming sequel, releasing in 2020.
Planning Your Vampire: The Masquerade Party
First, you'll need a basic understanding of the mechanics of the game. If you're familiar with Dungeons & Dragons, you'll find a lot of similarities between it and Vampire. But unlike D&D, Vampire: The Masquerade focuses on storytelling and world-building over action.
Recruiting a DM with a a passion for deep lore and gothic fiction is a bonus. But Vampire's world is fairly accessible and there's a lot of great online resources, like this particularly fun guide to the Vampire clans.
Once you have an understanding of the game's world and power structures, you can set about making your cast of characters. As Geek and Sundry recommends, creating a set of characters with interlinking stories is best, so action and lore can be focused on one location before the wider world is explored. Charts and maps may also come in handy with tracking all the action.
Vampire: The Masquerade Set Dressing
So, you're starting your Vampire: The Masquerade adventure. You've got your campaign set up, and your characters are good to go, but your lounge room isn't exactly giving off 'immortal blood-sucking monster' vibes. That's OK. This is where we improvise. You just need a few subtle decorations.
You could start off with a spooky skeleton man sprawled beside the TV. While you don't necessarily have to kill people in Vampire: The Masquerade, you may be forced to give in to your vampire urges on occasion. An anatomically-accurate skeleton will bring the perfect amount of terror and moodiness to your adventure.
You might also like to make your vampire characters feel more at home with some more tactical accessories.
This set of rat plushies would be perfect for players in the Gangrel clan. As animalistic shapeshifters, they usually stick to the sewers and feed off rats to survive. These plushies are sure to remind a Gangrel vampire of home.
For those players belonging to the Ministry clan, a nice ankh should give them a nice morale boost. The Ministry worship the Egyptian snake god Set, and share a religion where Set's blessing exists in every clan member.
The Toreador clan are obsessed with beauty, to the point where they're almost immobilised by it. While it might seem like a silly weakness, it's an easily exploitable one. Bring a hand mirror to your first session of Vampire: The Masquerade — it might just captivate the Toreador long enough to defeat them.
The best part about roleplaying games is that rules don't have to be strictly followed.
Vampire: The Masquerade is an open-ended RPG, and its lore can be adapted to your preferences. Whether you choose to be a sewer-crawling Grangrel or an upper-class Ventrue, Vampire is a great experience, and one that all fans of good RPGs should try. With the perfect scene setting and preparation, your Vampire: The Masquerade party will be a bloody good one to remember.
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