An Introduction to Vampire: the Masquerade
We are creatures of the night, princes of the darkness. We’re all around you, but you can’t see us. We take your life to live, and we will live forever. Come play with us, will you?
Vampires. The children of the darkness. Every culture has its own myths of these hellspawn living at the edges of human society, taking the blood of man to prolong their damned existence. Countless movies, television series and books deal with them. So what is so special about Vampire: the Masquerade?
In Vampire: the Masquerade, you are the vampire. Here vampires are much more than evil undead creatures who should be staked through the heart. They are complicated beings, each one of them fighting against the own personal hell which is his life.
Some dry statistics
Vampire: the Masquerade emphasizes roleplaying over anything else. Hence, the system itself is very lightweight, almost non-existent. The system is based on ten sided dice (d10) and on dice pools. A character is made up of nine attributes, divided into three types – physical (strength, dexterity and stamina), social (charisma, manipulation and appearance) and mental (perception, inelegance and wits). Each attribute is scored between 1 and 5 (although ancient and omnipotent beings can reach higher stats). Skills are described as abilities that also range between 1 and 5.
Every time a character needs to see if he succeeds in performing an action, he rolls a number of dice equal to the sum of the appropriate ability and appropriate attribute (for instance, firearms + dexterity for firing at an opponent). The Storyteller (GM) decides the score needed for success, and the number of success are counted – the more successes, the better.
Blood and Bloodlines
Vampires in Vampire: the Masquerade are divided into several different clans, each clan representing a different vampire myth or concept, from the sexy Toreador, through the animal like Gangrel to the monstrous Nosferatu. The character’s clan determines not only the vampire’s powers, but usually also its personality traits.
This is not to mean that the characters are templated types of vampires. On many occasions the entire point of the character is the conflicts between its own nature and the tendencies its blood forces upon it.
Power, Humanity and Personal Horror
The characters in Vampire: the Masquerade are in a constant struggle. On one hand they strive to survive, to gain power and to prolong their unholy existence. On the other hand, they try and preserve what is left of their humanity. Usually, if not always, these two ends conflict.
Conclusions and Warnings
If you’re into heavy psychological dramas, skating the thin edge between light and darkness, sinners and saviors, right and wrong, Vampire: the Masquerade might very well be the game for you. If you don’t like meddling with heavy mechanics, Vampire: the Masquerade might very well be the game for you.
However, be warned – Vampire: the Masquerade deals with the very core of human existence – law, morality, kindredship, life, death and blood. It is not meant for the light hearted.
To learn more, visit White Wolf’s official website.