“The Children of Seth will always hate us again and again, for we are their predators. We are their Masters and they know this, deep in their soul.”

- The Book of Nod

The world of Vampire is a dark reflection of our own. The shadows loom longer here, and the night is more reluctant to yield to day. Corruption runs rampant, from the government through private corporations and into the various subcultures that revel in these culturally bankrupt times.

In this world, vampires exist, and they are very much an extension of the tarnished aesthetic that shapes the World of Darkness. Whatever their origins, or whatever they believe to be their origins, vampires are an outgrowth of the people who populate this desperate environment. Vampires exist in the World of Darkness because they are the monsters among us, the products of a world so dark that only something truly horrible and captivating can challenge the depths into which the living residents of the world have plunged it.

In this setting, you will tell tales of morality and depravity, of redemption and damnation. When you play Vampire, you enter this World of Darkness. Will you leave it a better place when your time is done? Or will you take the path so many others have, leaving more blight, ruin, and sorrow as your legacy?


The Gothic aspect of the setting is very much in the literary tradition of the word. Gothic literature paints a world of anachronisms, barbarism, decay, madness, and a romanticized history that never existed. In the ultramodern context of Vampire, we see it in the churches whose spires soar skyward, in the greed and treachery of the wealthy who enjoy great comfort, in the crumbling architecture of the cities and the way nature reclaims the places forgotten or abandoned by men. A tenement erected at the turn of the 20th century, fronted by dingy, fluted columns and infested with squatters, is a neo-gothic rookery. A merciless millionaire’s estate on the edge of town is a modern castle, as is his lavish penthouse in the bustling district where mortals go to dance and drink away their cares. A mad priest offers succor to those members of his flock tormented by “monsters,” the ivy-choked cemetery where velvet-clad sensualists recite poetry and seduce the shades of the departed, the graffiti-tagged warehouse docks where the skinheads torment their victims: All of these and more are hallmarks of the modern gothic experience.

Punk, on the other hand, refers to the context in which people experience their world. It’s about anger, about getting in someone’s face and saying “No more.” It’s about refusing to be ignored and stepping on toes to get your point across. As a result, conflict is everywhere, from the gang wars that plague the streets to the self-serving movements in the back rooms of governments and corporations. It runs in scale from the clash of cultures where domains overlap to the desperate, personal struggle of a mother who can’t afford to feed her crying child or the struggle between an addict and his drug of choice. Rebellion is everywhere, and just living another day to spit in the face of what the long-shadowed World of Darkness has to offer is an act of defiance. Everyone opposes something, and the punk element of the setting is the dramatic fulfillment of that opposition.

Ultimately, you will decide the details the Gothic-Punk ambience of your vampire stories. The setting may pale in importance to the narrative events of your chronicle, or the city and its components may become like a character themselves. Whatever the case, your vampires are a product of their environment, and every scene you and your troupe describe reflects this.


Over the course of playing a Vampire chronicle, you will explore a wide variety of story situations, interesting characters, and challenges. In almost every case, these interactions will illustrate the theme of the chronicle that the Storyteller wishes to convey, and will involve the mood of impending reckoning. That generalization leaves room for creative interpretation, however, and each of your stories will be the truly unique result of theme, mood, and storytelling.


A Beast I Am, Lest a Beast I Become: Vampire lets you play the monster and makes you morally accountable for it. All of the protagonists are vampires: blood-drinking monsters who dwell in the shadows at the edge of society and subculture. Vampires have tremendous power, but that power comes paired with the Curse of Caine, which carries a Biblical gravity. Players have an emotional stake in these characters, and when we play the game, we see their dark side and watch them wrestle with morality. This timeless riddle implies that all vampires must fall eventually, but when and under what circumstances? These questions are at the root of the chronicles that we play.

The Masquerade: It’s the very foundation of Vampire. Once the character is Embraced, they are drawn behind the curtain, and everything they know is changed. The Kindred try to keep the curtain closed, convincing their prey that monsters do not, in fact, hide among them. Inevitably, cracks appear in the façade and the Damned are revealed for who they are. What happens when this occurs?

The Sins of the Father: People rarely choose to become vampires. In most cases, a sire Embraces them without much regard for whether or not the individual wants to commit to an unlife of predation, scheming, and horror. Likewise, the childe acquires the sire’s Clan, and thus his powers, weaknesses, and often predilections. This is all a great allegory for the Biblical idea of Original Sin, and deeply tied to the prevailing religious origin than many vampires attribute to the state of vampirism. God cursed Caine for murdering Abel and, as descendants of that first vampire, all Kindred bear the stain of that primeval sin. This accountability, decided for each Cainite by the actions of her sire, pervades the vampiric condition.

A War of Ages: Elder Kindred hate younger vampires because they fear new generations will take away the domains they’ve fought for decades or even centuries to establish. Younger Kindred resent their elders for the ways they selfishly lord over their domains and refuse to allow the young to make a place for themselves. It’s like waiting for a promotion that will never come because the person in the position above you is never going to die or retire — and you need your job to stay alive. Kindred history is characterized by the haves versus the have-nots, most often in the form of the elders versus the neonates. The Anarch Revolt and the subsequent Inquisition were the apex of this struggle in history, but it plays out every night on more localized scales of Kindred community and influences the way all vampires interact in the World of Darkness.

Inherent Conflict: Sect versus Sect. Clan versus Clan. Rebels versus the status quo. The Man versus the Beast. Everybody’s against everybody in the World of Darkness, and there’s never enough to go around. These conflicts color the other themes of the game, and what your sire has made you — in terms of Kindred, Clan, Sect, and outlook — automatically buys you a panoply of enemies.

Conspiracy: Wheels turn within wheels. The Kindred as a race are skilled manipulators and deceivers, the better to enact their schemes while maintaining a veneer of deniability. A neonate striking out against a hated elder might actually do so at the behest of that elder’s rival, who incited the turbulent vampire with a clever ruse. Indeed, some Kindred wonder if the whole of the Jyhad is the machination of the Antediluvians, and whether any vampire truly has free will.

Apocalypse: These are the End Times. The judgment of the Kindred, Gehenna, is coming. We don’t know when, we don’t know how, and we don’t even know what it’ll be, but all of the grim portents of our kind indicate that we’re careening toward our reckoning. Do we rage against the dying of the light, or do we fiddle while our contemporary Gothic-Punk Rome burns? Are all these elders really so vituperative over petty politics with the Biblical Rapture at the threshold? What will happen to the mortal world when the Kindred judgment is nigh?


Sensual: It might be a pang of desire, or it might be an undeniable physical lust, but becoming a vampire is a sexual consummation, as is the act of feeding. We’re dead, sexy things and we’ll never grow old, and we have a license from our maker to indulge our every erotic urge.

Mysterious: Fog and shadows shroud the landscape. This is the mood of Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, of Hitchcock and J. J. Abrams. The imagination is aroused by the things that remain nebulous and hidden, and even the vampires that stalk the night don’t know everything that happens in the shadows.

Dangerous: Nonstop action, full of intensity. The World of Darkness is a dangerous place, and death is always just around the corner. Just when you catch your breath, two guys kick in the door with guns in their hands. The life of the vampire is filled with drama and suspense.

Eerie: There is an oppressive weight in the air, a sense of great evil that hangs over everything. Everything has a strange, unreal quality to it. The World of Darkness is full of the bizarre, and the vampires are not the only monsters around.


For the Kindred, cities are urban collections of territories and domains that stand as illuminated points against the greater backdrop of the wilderness and the places in between their safety. For vampires, the paradigm is almost medieval. The cities are their homes, and everything that’s not a city represents some sort of danger. Outside the city are packs of savage werewolves, vast fallow areas where there is no blood to be found, and the unquantifiable strangenesses endemic to a World of Darkness. Modern technology eases those dangers somewhat, but most Kindred are effectively trapped in cities, where they gild their cages with elaborate games of prestige, social status, and vendetta.

To that end, much of Vampire takes place in urban environments. Why should the Kindred risk starvation in the untamed wild when those badlands confer no status upon their masters, and when a hungry werewolf may well come rampaging across the landscape, leaving dismemberment in his wake? Truly, vampires are uniquely acclimated to city domains, and the cities are the places that hold the most of their most precious resource: blood.


Upon the Embrace, the fledgling’s senses sharpen, displaying to her a richness of visual colors, 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 she engages the pursuit of a single taste to the exclusion of all others: blood. The mortal dies, and in her places 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. She’s no longer mortal, but a new member of an elaborate society of the Damned, who have their own complicated codes of behavior, 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, ungovernable Autarkis, and any number of other rogues — a pecking order must exist.

The trappings of the fledgling’s mortal life can no longer support her. In the short term, the new vampire now requires blood to sustain herself, 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 her 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.


Once a vampire is Embraced, her looks are frozen in time. Her skin will be unnaturally cold to the touch and become paler as she ages, but she will look the same in a thousand years as she does on the night of her Embrace. However, her body does not work like it used to.

Nearly all Kindred are unable to eat food after the Embrace, vomiting it up almost 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 her body, “spending” it to perform a variety of feats. She can heal herself, mending scrapes, cuts, and slashes in moments. She can also enhance her physical capabilities, making herself stronger, hardier, or more agile for a short period of time, and fuel the mystical powers at her command. Her blood can also create new vampires through 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 her to have sex once again (although intercourse pales in comparison to the ecstasy of feeding).


Inside every vampire lurks an impassioned, hungry creature that is the opposite of Man. It is the Beast, and the Beast knows only three activities: kill, feed, sleep. It is the roiling, incipient desire every Kindred feels to slay her 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 over a vampire, she is 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 she kills with reticence, the night after that she kills with relish. By 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 her Beast.

The information on this page was collated and edited from the Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition sourcebook.

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.