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. It is set in a fictionalized "gothic-punk" version of the modern world where players assume the role of vampires, who are referred to as "Kindred." and deal with their night-to-night struggles against their own bestial natures, vampire hunters, and each other.


Vampire was inspired by role-playing games such as Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, and Nightlife, as well as the writings of Joseph Campbell and vampire films such as The Lost Boys. Rein-Hagen felt that hunting vampires, as a game premise, would get boring, so he came up with the idea of a game wherein the players played vampires instead of hunting them. Rein-Hagen stated that he purposefully did not read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles until "very late" in the development process but admitted she was probably an influence on the vampire films that inspired the game. He wanted to go beyond what Anne Rice had done by creating individual vampires, with a whole secret vampire society and culture.

Some of Vampire's central themes of the power of belief developed out of Rein-Hagen's religious upbringing. Inspired by a comic book given to him by White Wolf business partner Stewart Wieck, Rein-Hagen developed the idea that the cursed character of the Biblical Cain was the original vampire. In an "Ask Me Anything" interview on Reddit, Rein-Hagen referred to the idea of Cain as the progenitor of all vampires as a "big turning point." He commented further: "I was trying to shy away from religion. After that... I went all in. The game and the world became about religion and belief. My father was a Lutheran minister, and I think that played a huge role in not only Vampire but the whole World of Darkness series. I was always fascinated by what made people believe so strongly when I didn't seem to believe at all. Talking about that theme, the power of belief, fueled the second half of Vampire's game design."

Vampire was notably new in many respects. It was conceived as a dark, moody, urban fantasy game with a unique gothic feel that harkened back to TSR's Ravenloft. It would also be the first of a series of linked games sharing the same game world. Its simple cover photo of a rose on green marble set the tone for the game and differentiated it from other games on the market. Its content was also novel, as the game focused on plots, intrigue, and story as opposed to more straightforward dungeon scenarios. While the RPG industry in general had been trending towards a more narrative approach, Vampire was one of the first games of its kind to center on these things.


The original 1991 version was superseded by a second edition in 1992 and a revised edition in 1998. The Vampire: The Masquerade game line was discontinued in 2004, at which point it was superseded by Vampire: The Requiem.

In 2011, White Wolf announced the 20th Anniversary Edition. The 20th Anniversary Edition contains revisions of rules and is a compendium of most information provided in supplemental material in the game's earlier life.

In 2015, Paradox Interactive purchased White Wolf and all of its intellectual properties from CCP Games, and it was announced that White Wolf would remain a subsidiary of Paradox Interactive.A 5th edition of Vampire: The Masquerade (also known as v5) was then released in early 2018.

v20 VS v5

A massive debate among fans of Vampire is 20th Anniversary Edition (v20) vs 5th Edition (v5). Many fans are split completely on which version they prefer. This has caused an unfortunate rift in the community, and many fans will vitriolically debate one another at any opportunity they can find on which edition is superior especially on Reddit); this has annoyed many people and caused the "v20 vs v5 debate" to be banned on numerous forums. That being said, I'd like to talk about some (fairly subjective) pros and cons of each edition, just to give you a basic idea of what each offers so you can research more into which you might prefer going forward. But you really should try both, just to be sure. :)


v20 is complete and finished. You can buy the entire game. The first book was released in 2011 and the last in 2018; you don't need to wait around for new things to be added.

v20 is completely compatible with most of the other World of Darkness lines straight out of the box. You don't have to do any complicated or confusing homebrew in order to have a Changeling or Wraith or Werewolf in your game. v20 is compatible with Changeling: the Dreaming, Wereolf: the Apocalypse, Wraith: the Oblivion and Mage: the Ascension.

v20 has much more content for playing older, more powerful, lower generation vampires, giving both players and Storytellers more options in what kind of character they want to play or what kind of game they want to run. Because of this it is also possible to have much more powerful characters who get far stronger over time.

v20 has lots of material and options right out of the box. There's little reason to think about homebrew in v20 because it's already so versatile.

Player characters in v20 feel more unique due to the clan-exclusive disciplines that were removed as of v5, such as Serpentis and Quietus.

(In my opinion) The v20 rulebook is ironically much more simple, streamlined and easy to parse than the v5 rulebook, especially when it comes to the "Advantages" section.

Combat and actiosn in v20 can be "meatier" or more "clunky" than v5; a common word used is "crunchy". It tends to be a bit slower and involve more dice rolling than the fast-paced, 3 turns or less combat of v5, and is more similar to combat in more popular or well-known games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

The setting of v20 is more "faction neutral"; each faction is equally represented and playable, and treated as a viable option for a Chronicle. It is possible to play a Sabbat Chronicle with no homebrew in v20, but it would be much more difficult in v5.


v5 is in-print and available in most game stores, whereas v20 and older editions you have to specifically order a book to be made and wait for it to be shipped to you if you want a hardcover copy. This makes v5 much more accessible.

The hunger dice mechanic is (in my opinion) a stroke of genius. It makes the Beast feel present throughout the whole game, in every session, in an organic matter, and adds an extra layer of risk and intrigue to the game.

v5 shies away from long, complicated, clunky combat. Although ti does still manage to be confusing at times, it generally does run quicker than previous editions, and it heavily suggests to Storytellers to keep conflict to 3 turns or less.

v5 also suggests avoiding rollign dice whenever possible, in order to streamline the game and make sessions run quicker.

v5 is fantastic at telling a specific type of story: young Kindred, of either the Camarilla or the Anarchs, fighting against their Beast and the elders who opress them, all the while protecting the mortals they care for. If you want another kind of story, especially a Sabbat Chronicle or playing as an Elder, you're going to have a hard time getting the system and existing rules and lore to work for you, if it isn't just outright impossible.

Because v5 is more streamlined and simple, it is much easier for a beginner to grasp.

During the "streamlining" process of v5, the clan-exclusive disciplines like Dementation and Serpentis were removed and replaced with the far more lackluster "amalgam powers". Most fans do not consider this to be a good thing, as it makes many clans feel less interesting and unique to play.

(In my opinion) the v5 sourcebook is very poorly laid out and difficult to understand, especially the "Advantages" section, which has given me endless grief while I was running v5.

The information on this page was collated and edited from the Vampire the Masquerade Wikepedia article, as well as various forum threads and my own subjective opinions.

This website was built by Miles, starting in July 2023. Some work on this site was written by me, and some was not. Individual pages have credits and attributions. Much of the writing on this site was sourced from the original White Wolf Wiki as well as the VTM v5 Paradox wiki. This site was made for personal use, but I hope you find some use in it. View at 80% zoom.