A Virtue is a standard trait, measured from one to five dots, measuring the moral and personal convictions of a VTM character. The three default Virtues are Conscience, Self-Control and Courage, and in VTM, all characters – both kindred and mortals – possess these Virtues.
The Virtues affect the starting levels of other traits: Willpower is based on starting Courage, and Humanity (or its equivalent) is based on the total of starting Conscience and Self-Control. Many vampires follow Paths of Enlightenment (or, in the Dark Ages, Roads) rather than Humanity. Many of these Paths and Roads use the alternate Virtues of Conviction and/or Instinct, which may replace Conscience and Self-Control, respectively.
The alternate Virtues, and the Paths of Enlightenment that make use of them, were first introduced in the Players Guide to the Sabbat. This book, and those that followed, originally used Callousness instead of Conviction as a substitute for Conscience, and used "Instincts" for Instinct. These early books also replaced Courage with Morale for Path followers, but there was no real difference between the two other than flavor text. The names of the alternate Virtues took their current form with Vampire: The Dark Ages and Vampire: The Masquerade Rulebook Revised. In the Storytellers Handbook to the Sabbat, demons also used their own distinct alternate Virtues, with Treachery and Cruelty replacing Conscience and Self-Control, though Courage remained unchanged.
The Laibon, as depicted in Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom, use the Virtues of Orun ("Heaven") and Aye ("Earth"), which represent the vampire's spirituality and humanity, respectively. Orun partially governs the vampire's Disciplines and to their ability to resist the workings of hostile magic, while Aye is used to resist frenzy and function during the day. Both of these traits also reflect the vampire's appearance: vampires with high Aye can pass for mortals, vampires with high Orun appear beatific, and vampires with low Orun appear bizarre or even monstrous. The Guruhi legacy (Laibon Nosferatu) are an exception, as their weakness makes it difficult to determine the actual state of their Virtues. A Laibon's maximum total ratings in these Virtues is restricted by generation: Laibon of tenth generation (or of even weaker blood) can only have a total of ten dots between these two Virtues.