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Vampire - The Masquerade: The Final Nights Guide
This is currently under construction. Please do not post in this thread without my express permission, or the permission of a co-GM of Vampire - The Masquerade: The Final Nights. This page acts as a table of contents, and will link you to the page you need.
1. Questions about Vampires
~ The Embrace
~ A Beautiful Corpse
~ The Beast
~ The Aristocracy of the Dead
~ The Jyhad
~ The Modern Advantage
~ The Camarilla
~ The Sabbat
~ The Anarch Movement
~ The Independents
4. Playable Clans
~ Followers of Set
Last edited by Vanilla Fire; 01-06-2013 at 12:59 PM.
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Questions about Vampires
Q1: Are vampires immortal?
A1: Yes. While they can be killed (a very difficult process), they do not age or die from natural causes. They don't need food such as humans eat, and they don't need to breathe.
Q2: Do vampires have to drink blood to sustain themselves in unlife?
A2: Yes. A vampire is clinically dead - it's heart doesn't beat, it doesn't breathe, its skin is cold, it doesn't age - and yet it thinks, and walks, and plans, and speaks... and hunts and kills. To sustain its artificial immortality, the vampire must periodically consume blood, preferably human blood. Some penitent vampires eke out an existence on animal blood, and some ancient vampires must hunt and kill others of their kind to nourish themselves, but most vampires consume the blood of humanity. Our blood.
Vampires drain their prey of blood through the use of retractable fangs, which Cainites develop as soon as they first become undead. Each vampire can also mystically lick closed the wounds made by their fangs, thus concealing the evidence of their feeding.
Blood is all-important to the Kindred, for it is both the crux of their existence and the seat of their power. Mortal food, mortal air, mortal love - all of these things are meaningless to a vampire. Blood is the Kindred's only passion, and without it, they will quickly wither and fall dormant. Moreover, each vampire can use its stolen blood to perform amazing feats of healing, strength, and other supernatural abilities.
Q3: If you die from a vampire bite, do you become a vampire?
A3: No. If this were true, the world would be overrun with vampires (and not just in our media). Vampires do feed on human blood, and they do sometimes kill their prey - but most humans who die from a vampire's attack simply perish. To return as undead, the victim must be drained of blood and subsequently be fed a bit of the attacking vampire's blood. This process, called The Embrace, causes the mystical transformation from human to undead.
Q4: Are vampires demons?
A4: No... and yes. Vampires are not demons per se, but a combination of tragic factors draws them inexorably toward wicked deeds. In the beginning, the newly-created vampire thinks and acts much as they did while living. They don't immediately turn into an evil, sadistic monster. However, the vampire soon discovers their overpowering hunger for blood, and realizes that their existence depends on feeding on humanity. In many ways, the vampire's mindset changes - she adopts a set of attitudes less suited to a communal omnivore and more befitting a solitary predator.
At first reluctant to kill, the vampire is finally forced into murder by circumstance or need - and killing becomes easier as the years pass. Realizing that they themselves are untrustworthy, they wall themselves away from the mortal world. Realizing that their existence depends on secrecy and controls, they become manipulators. And things only degenerate as the years turn to decades and then centuries, and the vampire kills over and over, watching the people they loved age and die. Human life, so cheap in comparison to their own, becomes of less and less value, until the mortal 'herd' means no more to them then a horde of annoying insects. Vampire elders are among the most jaded, unfeeling and paranoid - in short, monstrous - beings the world has ever known. Maybe they are not demons exactly - but at that point, who can tell the difference?
Q5: Are vampires burned by sunlight?
A5: Yes. Vampires must avoid the sun or die, though a few can bear the sunlight's touch for more than a very short period of time. Vampires are nocturnal creatures, and most find it extremely difficult to remain awake during the day, even within sheltered areas.
Q6: Does garlic repulse vampires?
A6: No. These are myths, and only a very small fraction of vampires are even inconvenienced by them.
Q7: Do crosses and holy symbols repulse vampires?
A7: The answer is generally no. However, if the wielder has great faith in the power it represents, a vampire may suffer ill effects from the brandishing of the symbol.
Q8: Do vampires die from a stake to the heart?
A8: No. However, a wooden stake - or arrow, crossbow bolt, etc - through the heart will paralyze the monster until it is removed.
Q9: Can vampires heal grievous wounds, command animals and possess the strength of 10 men?
A9: Yes and no. The power of a vampire increases with age. Young, newly created vampires are often just a little more powerful than humans. But as a vampire grows in understanding and knowledge, they learn to use their blood to evoke secret supernatural powers, which vampires call Disciplines. Elders' power can often rival those of fictional Lestat or Dracula, and the true ancients - the Methuselahs and the Antediluvians who have stalked the nights for thousands of years - often possess literally godlike power.
Last edited by Vanilla Fire; 01-04-2013 at 09:51 AM.
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Upon the Embrace, the fledgling's senses sharpen, displaying to her a richness of visual colours, auditory distinction, tactile fineness, and olfactory alertness that mortals senses are too limited to discern. The most important of all, however, is taste - taste becomes the new Kindred's primary sense, and with it they engage the pursuit of a single taste to the exclusion of all others: vitae. Mortal blood. The mortal dies, and in their place rises a member of the undead, a Kindred. With this unholy rebirth comes a host of new potential, from the mystical powers known as Disciplines that Kindred possess to the quintessential vampiric ability to use blood for a variety of supernal purposes.
Thereafter, nothing is the same for the fledgling. They're no longer mortal, but a new member of an elaborate society of the Damned, who have their own complicated codes of behaviours, their own customs, and seemingly endless rules and protocols that dictate who is subservient to whom and under what circumstances. Even for those who rebel against the system - Anarchs and rogues - a pecking order must exist. The only place it doesn't is when only one vampire claims the domain, and if that vampire just performed the Embrace, well, there's no longer only one vampire there.
The trappings of the fledgling's mortal life can no longer support them. In the short term, the new vampire now requires blood to sustain itself, and surrounding oneself with vessels of sustenance whom one loves will inevitably result in bloody ruin. In the long term, while the new vampire will remain deathless, unchanged by time, those around it will age, wither, and die. The easiest course, most sires agree, is simply to turn one's back on the mortal life that no longer offers anything but tragedy and a reminder of the damned state of the undead.
Last edited by Vanilla Fire; 01-04-2013 at 10:17 AM.
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A Beautiful Corpse
Once a vampire is Embraced, their looks are frozen in time. Their skin will be unnaturally cold to the touch and become paler as they age, but they will look the same in a thousand years as they would on the night of their Embrace. As previously mentioned, nearly all Kindred are unable to eat food after the Embrace, vomiting it up immediately - only blood will sustain them. Over time, most of the vampire's bodily fluids will be replaced by blood - the Kindred sweats a thin sheen of blood when nervous, cries tears of blood when sad, and makes a god-awful mess during sex.
Blood has other,unique uses for vampires. Besides needing it for sustenance, Cainites can mentally direct the blood to various parts of the body, "spending" it to perform a variety of feats. They may heal themselves, mending scrapes, cuts and slashes in moments. They can also enhance their physical capabilities, making themselves stronger, hardier or more agile for a short period of time, and fuel the mystical power at their command. Their blood can also create new vampires throuugh the Embrace, and enslave the minds of mortals and even other Kindred. Some vampires can also spend blood to appear human once again: make their skin rosy and warm, mimic breathing and even allow them to have sex once again (although intercourse pales in comparison to the ecstasy of the Kiss).
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Of course, there's a downside as well. Inside every vampire lurks an impassioned, hungry creature that is the opposite of the Man. It is the Beast, and the Beast knows only three activities: kill, feast, sleep. It is the roiling, inchoate desire every Kindred feels to slay their prey rather than taking just enough. It is the inevitable urge to be what the vampire is - a predator who doesn't answer to the will of men or hide from their numbers. When the Beast takes control, they are said to enter a state of frenzy, directing the Cainite into a response of fight or flight.
But the Beast isn't a simple animal soul; it can be sophisticated. It knows that the war against the Man is one that, given time, it will inevitably win. Thus, in young vampires, the Beast is often a savvy creature, willing to take small victories here and there because in the long term, they lead the Kindred down the path of greater degradation and subservience to the Beast. Tonight the Kindred destroys property, tomorrow they kill with reticence, the night after they kill with relish. y the time the Man has eroded and the Beast holds sway, there is little rational consciousness left to the Cainite in question. Kill, feast, sleep is all that remains in a vampire dominated entirely by their Beast.
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Aristocracy of the Dead
The Kindred who believes they'll forever be the toughest motherfucker in the place just because he drinks blood and can't die is in for a rude awakening. Thousands upon thousands of other vampires are competing with him for that top-dog status. Vampires are powerful creatures, certainly, but those powerful creatures have put in place hierarchies of their own, and none of them have "share my jealously hoarded power with some newly Embraced whelp" at the top of their agendas.
The elders have it all sewn up, it would seem. They claim domains that have held for decades, if not centuries. The social hierarchies, no matter the Sect, are occupied by cagey vampires who didn't rise to the top by being companionable. The highest echelon of Kindred authority in almost any city is a spider's web of tenured intrigues, vicious rivalries, and outright hatreds that can boil over into physical violence and even Final Death.
Add to this the fact that these entrenched elder are masters of manipulation and misdirection, and many young vampires feel - not incorrectly - that they are pawns. They are moved in a game played by hoary old monsters, and their every movement may not even be their own. Does the brash young Brujah really hate the Toreador ancilla who snubbed her at a party? Or did the Ventrue elder encourage his great-grandchilde to hustle the inexperienced Brujah sire into introducing his progeny too soon into Kindred society in the hopes that the Toreador would make a move? These are the games the elder Kindred play with one another. These are the wheels within wheels in the spiteful war of ages known as the Jyhad
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What sets vampires at each other's throats? What motivates them to construct the elaborate social systems that allow them to stubbornly maintain their veneer of humanity?
In a single word, it is the Jyhad.
Vampires are inherently solitary creatures, lone predators whose urges are selfish and destructive. When one vampire meets another for the first time, neither of them can ignore the fact that the other exerts themselves night after night to cultivate. Whether an individual is a mighty Sabbat Bishop or a lone Gangrel who subsists by not being noticed, each Kindred on a primal level knows that for every new vampire spawned, unlife becomes more and more difficult, more and more dangerous.
In these modern nights of sophisticated Sects, long-standing Clan politics, and the histories of cities that define the fates of the Kindred who dwell there, this primitive urge to hoard all available blood all for oneself finds outlet in conspiracy and gamesmanship. What one Kindred wants, another hoards, another has plans to steal, and still another can distract the all and seize a momentary advantage.
It is ironic that Cainites turn to a mortal political figure to summarise the perilous philosophies of the Jyhad, and, indeed, if Kindred interactions can be described in terms of human perspective, the appropriate word is Machiavellian. "A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise," Machiavelli advises, and "If an injury has to be done to a rival it should be so sever that his vengeance need not be feared."
Such perspectives are the bylaws of the Kindred's eternal war against one another, and with centuries or millennia behind the individual feuds in the Jyhad, it is no wonder that the Damned play their cards so close to their chest. These are no mere territory struggles among short-lived mortal tyrants. These are the conflicts that drive history.
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The Modern Advantage
Although it may seem like the elders have all of the best domains, young Kindred do have a certain advantage. They haven't been dead as long as their elders, and remain closer to the mortals from whom they only recently parted.
This means they still have a connection to mortal trends, and in nights when even children have technology at their disposal, young Kindred do, too. Elders' age and stasis make the reluctant to engage with these new - and, frankly, frightening - technologies. Thus, the speed at which information travels is the neonate's most valuable asset.
From social media to web-based archives of city history to data clouds that house all of the public records of civic transactions (including the name on the deed of the Tremere chantry...), the ability to seemingly reach into the ether and pluck out vital information is an aptitude that confounds many elders. Consider that a given elder may have once held sway over scriptoria of monks who diligently copied manuscripts by hand over the span of years, or even one who watched the printing process slowly transform the western world. The speed at which information disseminates is a modern horror that can cause even the most stalwart elder to blanch. Flash mob at the graveyard, which just happens to be a craggy old Malkavian's favoured haven? "No problem," says the confident young vampires making their own social network.
Just know what you're getting yourselves into, whelps.
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The Camarilla is also known as “The Ivory Tower,” and the Sect lives up to that moniker. Created in the 15th century, the Camarilla was formed to preserve and protect vampire society against the decimation brought on by the Inquisition as well as the power drain presented by the War of Princes during the Dark Ages. The leaders of the Camarilla ruthlessly enforced Tradition of the Masquerade, elevating it to the Sect’s highest law, a priority they continue to pursue in modern nights. These so-called “Kindred” seek to maintain a quiet harmony between vampires and humanity — a goal constantly threatened by the Sabbat.
The Camarilla considers itself to be vampire society, and there is some validity to their hubris. It is the largest Sect of Kindred, after all, and nearly any city on the globe likely has some Camarilla presence. A Kindred who walks into a new city and looks for the local vampire population will, more often than not, find a Camarilla court. This expansiveness is partially due to the fact that the Camarilla says that any vampire, regardless of Clan or bloodline, may go to a Prince and claim membership in the Camarilla. It’s also partially due to the fact that the Camarilla claims that all vampire society falls under its authority, regardless of what other vampires believe. Many Kindred find it easier to sit in the shadow of the Ivory Tower than debate the point.
Over the centuries, the Camarilla has moved to make good on its claims of global dominance, but with limited success. Vampires are territorial by nature, and there is a world of difference between a Prince porting the idea that a Justicar claims total authority over the globe and Archons showing up at the borders of her domain and demanding total obedience. Elder vampires who remember a time before Sects scoff at what they see as “neonate audacity.” Still, the fires of the Inquisition continue to burn in many elders’ memories, and many are willing to give up a few rights to continue preserving the Masquerade and assure their safety against mortal society.
Camarilla cities are not as cosmopolitan as the Sect asserts. While Kindred of any lineage can claim membership, most come from the founding Clans of the Camarilla: the Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavians, Nosferatu, Toreador,Tremere, and Ventrue. These Clans helped to create the Camarilla, and they have a seat on the Inner Circle. Vampires of other bloodlines can attend conclave and meetings, but they are treated as minority voices or simply ignored.
After the Sabbat formed, the Camarilla opposed them as the only way to preserve and protect the Masquerade and its own Kindred. As the Sabbat threw away the Traditions and all pretenses of humanity due to their paranoia about Gehenna, the Ivory Tower stood its ground and declared the Sabbat as enemies of the Sect. Since then, the Camarilla has been in an alternating cold and hot war, trading territories like two warring nations, and anyone who does not stand with the Camarilla against the Sabbat may be considered to be aiding the enemy.
As a result of this ongoing conflict with the Sabbat, in modern nights the Ivory Tower is crumbling, losing a few bricks here and there while it proudly proclaims itself to be strong and whole. The elders cling to their power bases, growing increasingly paranoid that other Kindred are Sabbat infiltrators or Anarch sympathizers. Neonates feel more and more like serfs to the elder nobility, asked to protect and uphold an organization in which they have little hope of advancement but plenty of opportunities for punishment. The ancillae end up in the worst position: unable to break the glass ceiling of elder dominance, but given enough scraps of power to make the younger Kindred sharpen their knives in jealousy.
The neonates and younger ancillae have an increasing advantage — modern technology. Elders find themselves unable or unwilling to master the tools and concepts of the modern nights: smartphones, tablet computers, concealable body armor, portable weaponry, social networking. They fall further and further behind in a world where even children know how to blog and media becomes increasingly fragmented. Some young Kindred co-opt these tools and use them to further the preservation of the Masquerade, but others wonder why they can’t take the power that the elders so jealously guard — not only political power, but the very blood in their veins through the foul act of diablerie. Therefore, the elders increasingly lash out at things they don’t understand, destroying loyal servant and treacherous childer alike.
The enemies of the Camarilla have taken notice, and bide their time.
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Opposite the Camarilla stand the Sect of inhuman vampires known as the Sabbat. Most of the vampiric factions believe that the so-called “Sword of Caine” is a collection of mindless barbarians and ultra-violent fiends, or even demon worshipers bent on bringing Satan to earth. As such, the Sabbat are vilified all throughout vampire society.
They’re right to fear the Sabbat, but not for those reasons.
While the “Kindred” (a term the Sabbat despise) of the Ivory Tower cower among mortals and cling to outdated Traditions, the Sabbat prefer to indulge in their vampiric nature. They refuse to wear the tattered rags of humanity or to act as slaves and cattle to their elders. Besides, vampires are clearly and openly superior to mortals — do humans lie down with cows and call them brother? As such, Sabbat vampires consider mortals to be tools and food at best, and have little tolerance for “Cainites” who pretend to be human. They are inherently alien and literally inhumane.
But the Sword of Caine isn’t just a collection of gore-streaked psychotics running around shopping malls with chainsaws. They reject humanity as a moral basis for their lives, so they have turned to other alternatives. They adhere to a wide variety of Paths of Enlightenment, philosophical tenets that force the Beast into a narrow channel and allow the Cainite to maintain a day-to-day existence that resembles stability (if not sanity). Further, the Sabbat not only rebel against morality, but also against their own inclinations towards solitude. They frequently join together into packs that act as one part religious cult, one part political faction, and one part combat unit.
Between moral devotion, pack loyalty, and the need to rebel, Sabbat cities are devoid of the calm, quiet society of the Camarilla court. Tensions are always high in Sabbat “dioceses,” and the Cainite’s surroundings often reflect their explosive natures. In cities controlled by Sabbat, murder, robberies, rape, and assault are commonplace. The Sword of Caine threatens every city it possesses, insinuating itself into urban landscapes until they become nothing but raw resources for the eternal crusade. Although the Sabbat might not be any more “evil” than some of the elders of the Camarilla, they are certainly more overt with their acts of destruction and elaborate games of terror.
Because of these tensions, the Sabbat is hardly a unified entity, and the Sect is home to numerous factions of vampires united under the Sabbat’s banner. One of the most feared is the Black Hand, a special militia hidden within the packs of the Sword of Caine. All members of the Black Hand bear a distinguishing mark — a permanent, mystical sigil on the palms of their right hands. Although this brand may be concealed or made over, it may never be removed — once you’re in the Hand, you’re a member until Final Death. The Sabbat also has its own Inquisition, a small faction of Cainites charged with rooting out heretics and infernalists. If it labels someone as an infernalist, the accusation is unlikely to be denied, and the faction uses torturous tactics to gain the confessions it needs.
The Loyalist faction believes that it is the “true” Sabbat, claiming that each vampire is his own master. They preach that the freedom to do whatever you want belongs to all vampires, and they tend to act against their leaders’ orders just because they feel they should. There is also the Status Quo faction, who accepts the nature of vampires and knows that shaking the foundations of the Sabbat serves only to distract it from its greater goal. The Moderates oppose the encroachment of rules and guidelines that have no place among such creatures as vampires, resting between Loyalist dogma and Status Quo conservatism. Finally, the eldest members of the Sabbat belong to the Ultra-Conservatives, those who favor centralization and authoritarianism in order to turn the Sabbat into a military force against the Antediluvians and the Camarilla.
The thread that holds the Sabbat together is a religious zeal to tear down the Antediluvians. When packs or ideologies threaten to explode into all-out civil war, the Sabbat manage to pull together around their common hatred for the Camarilla (who they view as puppets of the Antediluvians). The entire Sect claims that Gehenna is coming, and that they must prepare for those end times when the Antediluvians awake and destroy the world. When the time comes, the Sword of
Caine will save the world and take their rightful places as the vampiric lords of the night.
And the Sabbat has proven to be a serious threat to the Camarilla. Neonates disgusted with staring at the same elders every night dangling power eternally out of their reach have openly joined the Sabbat. Every Prince grows increasingly terrified that one night the Sabbat will show up in his Elysium and murder him. Various cities that have stood as Camarilla strongholds for years are contested or have fallen into Sabbat control. As the nights roll on, the Camarilla has been forced into harsh measures, killing vampires with known (or even suspected) Sabbat affiliation outright. Some Kindred use this increasingly hard-line stance to help remove rivals or better themselves in the eyes of their sires, but for every Sabbat Cainite killed, more join their ranks.