This is aimed primarily at the players who will be taking part in the one-off, several of whom have never had any contact with Vampire or the wider World of Darkness setting. It’s also *my* take on the setting, so if something looks weird or isn’t as you remember it from when you played it, that would be why.
Vampire: the Masquerade (VtM, 20th Anniversary edition in this case) is part of the larger (classic) World of Darkness setting and both have had several distinct iterations over the last 25 years. Other games in the WoD setting include Werewolf, Wraith (play a ghost), Mummy, Changeling (play the Fae), Mage and more. All are set in the modern day though most include provisions for playing in other historical settings.
You can read the shorter (for me) version below, or the longer version here. If you’re a total masochist you can read both. I won’t stop you. But you’re probably a Malkavian.
Characters have Attributes (Str, Int…) and Skills (driving, melee…). Attribute + Skill = Dice pool, roll vs difficulty, count successes. Some rolls can be contested and/or resisted by the other party.
Vampires have two defining elements: age (how long they’ve survived as a vampire) and Generation. Generation is a measure of potential power – the lower the number, the more powerful the vampire. Lowest is 1, highest is 13. When age is about equal, Generation wins in terms of power. In game terms generation is a measure of how diluted the Blood is from Caine, the original (Gen 1) vampire. He’s the OV, motherfucker.
Your sire has taught you one thing: DO NOT mouth off to or cop an attitude in front of, well, pretty much anyone (vampire, that is; mortals don’t really count). You’re brand new and basically pretty much any other vampire can and will kick your ass from here into next week if they feel like it. Vampires don’t have to look old to be old, so watch your step and your mouth. Better yet, don’t even talk unless someone asks you a direct question.
Setting: you’re a new Vampire and don’t have much of a clue. You do know that you’re part of this thing called the Camarilla (the ‘good’ guys with a mostly-feudal political organization who care a lot about not being discovered by humans) and that there’s another thing called the Sabbat (a bunch of brainwashed bad guys who are always out to kill stuff and suck its blood and who believe the 3rd Generation vamps are going to pop out of the woodwork and devour everyone).
The Camarilla is made up of seven Clans (vampire lineages) whose names are: Brujah (troublemakers), Gangrel (hick country cousins), Malkavian (every last one of them is batshit crazy, even if it doesn’t show), Nosferatu (seen the Murnau movie?), Toreador (pretty pretty social butterflies), Tremere (Harry Potter with fangs) and Ventrue (they think they rule the rest of us).
The Sabbat is made up of some clans we don’t have and a bunch of end of the world prepper splitters. Members of the seven Camarilla clans who choose to join the Sabbat call themselves ‘anti-tribu’ which is fancy French for anti-clan (e.g. Brujah anti-tribu, Nosferatu anti-tribu, etc.).
Then there’s some independent clans we don’t talk about and prefer not to think about.
Outside the cities you have werewolves, who are super dangerous and can eat young vamps for breakfast. Inside the cities you have mages, but if you leave them alone they’ll mostly leave you alone. There are ghosts and faerie creatures everywhere, or so you’re told, but you haven’t seen any… that you know of.
All the art on this page is by Tim Bradstreet, hands down the best VtM artist EVAR.