Posted by: markfender | June 19, 2013

V:tM 20th – Setting

Did you know it’s a World of Darkness?

Harley Quinn

It’s Harley Quin!

This chapter gives an overview of Kindred life. This primarily consists of moderate discussions on the Sects as well as the vampiric condition. In traditional White Wolf manner, we’re presented with Themes and Moods. One of the Moods is Mysterious, with the example of J.J. Abrams given. But won’t all those lens flares burn the vampire’s delicate skin?

This section starts off with a description of how vampires are created as well as their various physical characteristics. They don’t age, they can’t eat food, they make sexy slobbering motions whenever they drink blood, you know, the regular stuff. There’s a bit about the modern advantage, which incorporates things like social media and the wired society that we now exist in that didn’t exist when the game was originally published. Do vampires have a Facebook? Oh, wait. Yes they do.

After a bit about vampiric ages, we get to the Sects. There are a few: the Camarilla, the Sabbat, The Anarch Movement, the Inconnu, and the Tal’Mahe’Ra. The Big Three get more detail later, which I’m sure to talk about when we get to it, but it’s interesting how the Inconnu and Tal’Mahe’Ra get a little space. It’s almost like Vampire is trying to retroactively apply the Covenants from Requiem to this game. (Which is probably unfair, as the Covenants map pretty closely to these groups. They just get more screen time.)

Next, we get the Traditions, which are the laws that keep them hidden from humanity and establish some rules to create a society. My favorite of these is the Sixth: Destruction, as that’s the one that’s mostly broken in the games I’ve been in. Diablerie, the act of drinking another vampire dry and gaining a measure of his power and Generation, was generally a thing that happened. It was brushed under the carpet a lot, despite that it had lingering stains upon the soul that vampires with Auspex could suss out. And yet, as a GM and a player, I was pretty cavalier with this one. But, I guess that comes down to saying “thou shalt not murder” to a bunch of murder-hoboes like PCs. It’s just not gonna stick.

We get a little bit about power structures next, with the various titles in use. This is one of the areas where I think the game shines for creating those political stories I love so much. A Council made up of powerful elders and a Prince with feudal levels of power creates an easy power structure to grasp, as well as an easy one to manipulate. Is it weird that gamers find themselves most comfortable with a feudal power structure? Even in our ostensibly “modern” games, we still regress to the 14th century for our power structures. There’s probably a lot more to unpack there, but I’ll move on.

Next we have the mythology of vampires. This is basically a generational structure descended from Caine, the first murderer. Cursed to forever walk the earth for killing his brother, his descendants have all been vampires. I like this bit of mythology. It ties it pretty closely to Judeo-Christian ideals, but as a game taking place in the Western world, that makes perfect sense. I also think the Generation concept works well for political games. The game has a built-in family that you are automatically slotted into just by playing. Sure, you can always play the rebel, but that still means there’s people disappointed in your rebellion. Having this additional structure in the game creates ties of fealty beyond a simple Sect. It’s, to borrow an overused phrase, ties of blood. Family’s a powerful motivator for stories and especially political ones with nepotism, lineage, and all that stuff coming to the fore. It’s a concept I miss from Vampire that’s downplayed more in Requiem. Yes, it’s still there, but the strict Generation system is missing with Blood Potency coming and going over the space of a chronicle. It’s more fluid (which was the goal of Requiem in general) but I miss that set structure that provided a definite ladder to climb (or slip off of).

There’s an odd mention in the write-up of the Third Generation, the Antediluvians that founded each of the 13 Clans: only two of their names are known with Lucian and Mekhet the two names mentioned. Uh, I’m not up on all my Vampire lore, but I’m pretty sure more of them than that have been named. Off the top of my head, I can remember Troile, Arikel, Abismilard, and there’s probably others. Hell, the Malkavian Clan write-up later mentions Malkav. Is this an oversight or an attempt to step away from the metaplot that grew so heavy in later years? Or is this just cut and paste from 2nd edition?

We finish off this chapter with the Lexicon. White Wolf loves to use old words to describe the concepts in their games and this one is a doozy, with three separate lists. First we have Common Parlance, which are the terms that are usually used throughout the rest of the book. In fact, they’ve already been sprinkled in throughout this earlier section, which could be confusing to a new reader. But nobody’s reading this as a new reader, so I guess that doesn’t matter. Then, we have Old Form which has less words that are used in other sections of the book. I mean, have you ever seen “Cauchemar” used in any Vampire book? Yeah, me neither. Finally, we have Vulgar Argot, used by the young punk vampires. I can reduce this list to three words that show up in other places: “bloodline,” “blood doll,” and “the Rack.” All those other words that you so carefully memorized in 1991? Never to be seen again.

Next we’ll talk about the Sects and the Clans, in which I’ll probably sperge about how every single one is my favorite.



  1. Murder-hobo ill remember that in your next game ill make the greatest murder-hobo you have ever seen.

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