Vampire: The Masquerade is a tabletop role-playing game (tabletop RPG) created by Mark Rein-Hagen and released in 1991 by White Wolf Publishing as the first of several Storyteller System games for its World of Darkness setting line.
Vampire: The Masquerade is the first World of Darkness game and the first Storyteller System game published by White Wolf. A major departure from the more power and heroics oriented games of the era, VTM is a game of personal horror. It is the parent and the most popular of all the World of Darkness games, and was the genesis of almost all the major ideas people associate with White Wolf.
In Vampire: the Masquerade, the players assume the role of vampires, immortal beings cursed with an unquenchable thirst for blood and vulnerability to sunlight – creatures forever bound to their inner Beast (the animal urges of hunger, fear and rage). It is a game of personal horror, as the characters are continually forced to walk a moral tightrope between their need to survive and the horrific means by which they ensure it.
The Vampires of the World of Darkness
- Main article: Vampire (WOD)
Vampires are one of the three main supernatural races in the World of Darkness and the fundamental characters of Vampire: The Masquerade and its spinoff games like Vampire: The Dark Ages and Kindred of the East. The article above offers a closer look at vampires, with their physiology, their politics and their clan division.
In Vampire: The Masquerade, "Kindred" is the most common euphemism for a vampire. However, the term is mostly used by vampires who strive to maintain their Humanity. On the other hand, Sabbat vampires prefer the term 'Cainite' to refer to themselves - as many of them believe that the vampiric curse originated with the biblical Cain, after he murdered his brother, Abel. The term "kine" (i.e. "cattle") is the opposite of Kindred, and refers to human population.
Most vampires live in cities, which are run feudally by the Princes; life in a city is one of constant political manipulation and paranoia, as the Cainites vie for food, territory, and power. But while they must dwell in close contact with their source of sustenance, vampires largely fear the exposure to the mortal world, and since the Inquisition the majority of these creatures have lived under the Masquerade – an enforced campaign to hide their supernatural existences from humanity.
In general, vampiric societies consist of two levels: sects and clans. Characters within the Vampire setting are members of one of the clans or minor bloodlines offered, and usually belong to factions associated with these or that reflect a general ideological stance the characters happen to share. For example, a Brujah may belong to the Camarilla, the Sabbat, or the Anarchs, but very few Tremere would be found among the Sabbat and even more rarely among the Anarchs.
Some clans and most of the minor bloodlines declare themselves independent from any sects. In addition, the Laibon, known as the Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom by Western Vampires, are not so much a sect as a cultural group bound together loosely by a powerful spiritual bond to the land and the people of Africa. While the Kuei-jin, also known as the Kindred of the East, share some superficial similarity to the western vampires, but they are actually an entirely different variety of supernatural beings.
Created by Mark Rein·Hagen, Vampire: The Masquerade was the first of White Wolf Game Studio's World of Darkness live-action and role-playing games, based on the Storyteller System and centered around vampires in a modern Gothic-Punk world.
The Revised Edition, sometimes alternately referred to as the Third Edition by fans, was released in 1998 and explains, "the setting of Vampire is a composite of its populace and their despair". The title of the series comes from "The Masquerade", referring to the Camarilla's attempts to hide vampirism from humans and their governments and mass media.
In 1992, Vampire: The Masquerade won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Rules of 1991. The game line was discontinued in 2004, and followed by revised rules and a new setting in Vampire: The Requiem.
The game resumed limited publication in 2011 with Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition. A new edition with significant system changes was announced in 2017 followed closely by an open alpha playtest. Following a secondary play test, which was a revisit to Gary, Indiana, Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition or V5 came out in August of 2018.
Tie-ins and Adaptations
Other role-playing game titles set in the World of Darkness are:
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse
- Mage: The Ascension
- Wraith: The Oblivion
- Changeling: The Dreaming
- Hunter: The Reckoning
- Mummy: The Resurrection
- Kindred of the East
- Demon: The Fallen
Live Action RPG
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption (2000) was developed by Nihilistic Software, and published by Activision.
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (2004) was developed by Troika Games using Half-Life 2's Source Engine, and also published by Activision.
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, developed by Hardsuit Labs using Unreal Engine 4 and to published by Paradox Interactive, is scheduled to be released in 2020.
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York (2019), developed and published by Draw Distance.
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong (announced in October 2019), developed by Big Bad Wolf (The Council) and to be published by Bigben Interactive, is scheduled for release in 2021.
Another game, Vampire Prelude: We Eat Blood And All Our Friends Are Dead, was released in 2017, but its sale was discontinued in 2019.
In November 2018, Vampire: The Masquerade: L.A. By Night, a Chronicle set in Los Angeles, began broadcasting live on the Geek and Sundry Twitch channel, switching to the official World of Darkness channel in January 2020. A second live-play chronicle, Vampire: The Masquerade: Seattle By Night, began airing on the Penny Arcade Twitch channel in November 2019. The events of both are considered canonical to the metaplot of the Fifth Edition, and are hosted by Storyteller Jason Carl, Brand Marketing Manager of White Wolf. In 2020 the 4th season premiered on the official World of Darkness twitch channel.
Masquerade and Requiem
In August 2004, the games set in the World of Darkness were replaced by the "New" World of Darkness, and Vampire: The Masquerade was replaced with Vampire: The Requiem. Although Requiem is an entirely new game, rather than a continuation of the original, it uses many elements of the original game, including certain clans and disciplines. The article above summarizes those revisions.
Vampire: The Masquerade Books
- Main article: Vampire: The Masquerade books
Vampire: The Masquerade clans
Banu Haqim (Assamites) · Brujah · Gangrel · Hecata (Cappadocians, Giovanni) · Lasombra · Malkavian · Ministry (Followers of Set) · Nosferatu · Ravnos · Salubri · Toreador · Tremere · Tzimisce · Ventrue
|Vampire: The Masquerade Sects|
|Anarch Movement • Ashirra • Camarilla • Independent Alliance • Independent Clans • Sabbat|
|Inconnu • Lost Tribe (Black Hand) • Tal'Mahe'Ra|