You won?t believe what ?1 is, and I won?t care!
In two recent blogs, I explored the layout, presentation and mechanics of two different editions of ?Vampire: The Masquerade? (VtM). They being the fifth and the 20th Anniversary Editions (V20 & V5 respectively). I will leave links to those below.
Reviewing Vampire: The Masquerade Rule Books: Part 1 ? Fifth Edition
Let?s review a vampire book?
Reviewing Vampire: The Masquerade Rule Books: Part 2? 20th Anniversary Edition
The Holy Grail of VtM?
Some of you might be confused by this and may think there are only seven clans if your exposure to VtM comes from the PC cult-classic ?Vampire: The Masquerade-Bloodlines? (VtMB). I wrote a blog about that as well, which you can find below.
My Thoughts on Vampire: The Masquerade-Bloodlines
Let?s review a vampire game?
You would not be totally wrong thinking that there are seven clans, as that was the original number when VtM was first released in 1991. Since then, the lore has grown, old and new relationships have been embraced and met the Final Death and an additional six clans that rule the underbellies of modern city life have been added.
As I am currently on a VtM roll, I thought I would rank the 13 major clans from least favourite to favourite. I don?t have many rules for this listing, but I will be using the rules and established lore from V20 for the most part, unless otherwise stated.
I won?t be including the Bloodlines, so don?t expect to see the likes of Gargoyles, Nagaraja, Salubri or Cappadocians, despite the fact they were major clans in other versions of VtM (For example, ?Vampire: Dark Ages?). They will probably get a ranking of their own sometime in the future.
I also won?t be including Thin-Bloods, as they are technically not a clan. And no, I am not fond of them very much.
Finally, and most importantly, this is a list of my personal preference based off of my experiences with VtM and VtMB, so don?t get annoyed because your favourite isn?t my favourite.
Brujah Clan Symbol
Often seen as the poster child for the Anarch sect, their elders insist that the Ivory Tower (another term for the Camarilla sect) provides a fine structure against which to rage. They are quick to anger and always passionate in the Modern Nights.
Whilst they have been regaining their position as a clan of lofty philosophers and activists, they are often pointed to as a clan of lawless punks that should not be messed with.
I am naturally not fond of punks and whether it is VtMB or VtM, I find the Brujah clan are particularly boring to play. Knowing that VtM is part of the World of Darkness (WoD) and so bad and evil things happen, but I can?t seem to connect with any of the Brujah concepts.
Ravnos Clan Symbol
The Ravnos gleefully practice their arts of deception and theft. So much so, that their clan Bane encourages them to be lying, scheming and/or cruel bastards.
Given that Kindred (the VtM word for vampire) are known for all of these things, Ravnos are particularly distrusted within Kindred society, which can make it difficult for them to be integrated within a chronicle without becoming a tad offensive.
They are often stereotyped as Kindred gipsies who are master to the unique discipline ?Chimerstry? that makes them master illusionists, which compliments their misdoings.
Whilst I find this all very interesting, but there are few ways one can play a Ravnos character without it being stereotyped.
Assamite Clan Symbol
V5 decided that the term Assamite was offensive to this clan, so they are now referred to the ?Banu Haqim? officially. They also now part of the Camarilla and not an Independant sect.
Whatever you wish to call them, they are traditionally seen by Western Kindred as dangerous assassins and diablerists, who are Kindred that practice the sin of feeding off of another vampire. They insist that they do this to distance themselves from Jyhad, which is the subtle power that the clan originators have over their ?sons? and ?daughters?, as draining another vampire dry allows one to gain their powers and become closer to Caine, the original vampire.
Whilst being very complex Kindred that has an interesting tie with the Tremere clan, I feel there is only one way to play as an Assamite. This is fine if you enjoy playing as a vampire assassin, but I personally have struggled to add variety to my Assamite characters.
V5 Toreador Clan Symbol
Often thought as the most humane of the clans, Toreadors are a clan of vampires known for being some of the most beautiful, seductive, emotional and glamorous of the Kindred.
They seduce and entice their prey with beauty, love and sensuality. Toreadors are infamous as artists and innovators and are one of the most important clans within the Camarilla, as their very survival depends on the masquerade of civility which the sect swears by.
Toreadors are very easy to assume the role of, as the player may become a master painter, fashion idol or music makers, which can make them quite shallow and irritating to be with, which is the main reason why I have put them as low as I have done. This is especially true in V5 chronicles. That being said, art is incredibly subjective, so some would argue there is a misunderstood art found within torture techniques, so you could be quite the inhumane and complicated Toreador if you so wished.
Their disciplines don?t make them the most useful in a combat scenario either, which can be annoying if your ST insists on having battles constantly.
V5 Tremere Clan Symbol
This clan and the following clan are very similar They both came into existence during the Dark Ages through diablery. Unlike the next clan, Clan Tremere became one of the most influential of the clans, and arguably one the most powerful clan in the modern nights. This is down to their strong tie to the Camarilla and their mastery over the discipline ?Thaumaturgy?, which is essentially blood magic.
Tremere are the mages of VtM.
Despite having very interesting lore and Bane changes to reflect their history, Tremere are very hard to play, especially if you are new to VtM. Storyteller characters can easily wipe up super powerful mages that can do anything and everything to drive the plot forward, but all of the Thaumaturgy paths are incredibly context-specific and difficult to use in chronicles.
That?s not to say that they are not worth experimenting with, as I enjoyed a chronicle as ?The Marvelously Magical? Malcolm, an ex-circus magician hired by a Venture club owner to perform at his club, whilst building a series of wards to protect his haven from the Kuei-Jin (East Asian vampires) that were attempting to overthrow the Camarilla.
Giovanni Clan Symbol (my favourite clan symbol)
Players of VtMB may recognise the name from a late main quest/mission, where you must go to a mansion and find out why a certain sarcophagus is there. If you thought they were a family of vampires, you are very correct with that assumption, in more ways than one!
Usurpers of the once-great Clan Cappadocian, the Giovanni clan are the youngest of Caine?s descendants. These Kindred are technically inbred, as they embrace exclusively within their family and are heavily focused on the goals of money and necromantic power. I like to pretend they are Ventrue Necromancers (purely for my own amusement, as they are not associated with them or the Camarilla at all).
Their unique discipline of ?Necromancy?, like the Tremere?s ?Thaumaturgy? has many different paths that focus on many different ways of manipulating the dead. Like ?Thaumaturgy?, it is rather difficult to get your head around. I would argue it is more difficult for a player to embrace the role of a Giovanni. They are not the most easily accessible clan for any player.
The reason is that they are one place higher than the Tremere is because I am more intrigued over the manipulation of life and death than they have over the various breeds of blood magic a Tremere can wield.
7. Followers of Set
Followers of Set Clan Symbol
Most Kindred would say that Caine is the first vampire. The Setites would tell you the first vampire is actually Set, the Egyptian Lord of The Underworld. This weird ideology places them outside of the rest of Kindred society, and they are quite happy with that as they plot and manipulate the other clans. They see themselves as both a clan and sect.
Those who have been keeping up to date with the popular Geek & Sundry chronicle ?LA By Night? (which follows the current V5 rulebook) would know them as The Ministry. They underwent their name change as part of a rebranding, an update for the times as it were. It was down to how they viewed Set itself. Rather than being Set?s followers, they see Set as being within them, making them his living church.
Now having their territories invaded, they are unable to survive as an Independent Sect. After being refused entry to the Camarilla, they now work with the Anarchs.
It is these developments in lore and their weird discipline, ?Serpentis?, that allows them to transform into Egyptian monstrosities, which can make them quite the interesting powerhouses. They are a strange combination of Ancient Egyptian beliefs and Mafia Godfathers and I love that.
V5 Gangrel Clan Symbol
The Gangrel resemble the beasts associated with vampires more than any other clan. With their mastery in ?Protean?, they can turn into the likes of bats, wolves and any other beast that takes their fancy (within reason).
It is for this simple reason why they are as high as they on this list of mine.
They tend to be extremely territorial and possessive and to enter a Gangrel?s territory without permission is suicide. They do have their role and reputation among the kindred as fierce warriors, but to get a Gangrel to agree to work with others, even other Gangrel, can be a difficult task. So if you are the sort of person who likes to punch first before asking questions, the Gangrel may be the clan for you!
But to say they are a simple clan would be a mistake, for the clan themselves are filled with traditions and routines. They may embrace their inner beast, but don?t always act as such. For example, the famous Kindred scholar Beckett is a Gangrel, and is usually quite the sophisticated scholar.
V5 Ventrue Clan Symbol
When you mention the discipline ?Dominate?, most people think of the Blue Bloods, with good reason. The Ventrue have swayed politicians from the shadows across the centuries. Their clan works hard to maintain a reputation for honour and leadership, accompanied by the genuine belief that the Ventrue know what is best for everyone.
They see themselves as the enforcers of tradition and the rightful leaders of Kindred society.
I am very fond of the Venture clan because of their natural desire for leadership and are never easy to run on a social level. Their disciplines are great for getting anyone to do what you want, and any points in ?Fortitude? makes them quite the punching bag.
My one complaint concerning the clan is how most people adopt the CEO position, as that is the go-to archetype. I once played a Ventrue who controlled a large gang in Paris, and when this was revealed to the other players, they were really surprised, because how odd it was to see a Venture in denim and leather who was very hands-on, rather than a Kindred in an expensive suit barking orders.
Tzimisce Clan Symbol
At a glance, a Tzimisce appears to be one of the more pleasant vampires. They appear to be civilly inquisitive, making them an odd fit for the Sabbat gangs. On closer inspection, it becomes clear that this is merely a facade to hide something far more sinister.
The Fiends are a clan of academics flesh-shapers, moulding themselves and their victims into complete monstrosities. If you were to call a Tzimisce inhuman and sadistic, they would probably applaud you on your observation, before morphing you into a living throne in unbearable pain. In short, they are the mortal definition of sadism.
I enjoy playing as Tzimisce, who arguably the most villainous of clans. They are a delight to roleplay as they are rather mistrustful of other Cainites (the Sabbat term for vampire, as Kindred, is a Camarilla invention) and thus enjoy solitude. As an appreciator of the arts who is also a recluse, I can relate to them in that regard.
A lot of younger VtM players would be made aware of the Tzimisce through Andrei from VtMB, who is the stereotypical Tzimisce.
Malkavian Clan Symbol
The Malkavians are twice damned: once by the curse of Caine, and again by the turmoil that disturbs their heart and mind. The Clan of The Moon are inflicted with some insuperable insanity, that distorts their outlook on society, making their unlife one enveloped in madness.
Malkavians are just as insightful as they are dangerous as they can inflict their madness or premonitions onto others with their discipline ?Dementation?. In V5, this is replaced by ?Dominate?, with ?Dementation? being a skill available to Malkavians (there is also an option to play as a ?Dominate Malkavian? in V20, which is a Malkavian with ?Dominate? instead of ?Dementation?).
The Malkavians are terribly misunderstood, as most people make them raving lunatics or absolute idiots (the term ?Fishmalk? is thrown around a lot), which is never fun and is usually offensive. Because of this, many storytellers ban players from playing as a Malkavian, just in case.
I am no storyteller (not yet at least) but to anyone who really wanted to play a Malk, I would recommend Malkavians to first-time players who would describe themselves as socially awkward or shy, for they can use those ?flaws? to make really interesting characters. Outside of that, anything that makes you a bit weird in real life can be roleplayed into a Malkavian character, making your unique weirdness quite normal. In a way, the clan encourages you to be a little bit weird, and I am rather fond of that.
Lasombra Clan Symbol
If the Venture are the go-to leaders of the Camarilla, it is clan Lasombra that oversees the Sabbat (that is until V5 had them jump ship to the Camarilla). They are a clan of social Darwinists, predators, elegant, and, like all Kindred, are rather inhumane.
They?re firm believers in the worthy ruling and the unworthy serving and have maintained their traditions even as they have turned the Sabbat to their own purposes. Whereas as Venture control large corporations, the Turncoats have been known to control religious sects, usually the Catholic Church. Due to their similarities with the Venture, there is a greater joy I have playing as a Lasombra and a certain level of intrigue I have for the clan.
The myth that vampires don?t have reflections stem from this clan?s weakness, as they can?t be seen in mirrors or recordings. They also have the discipline ?Obtenebration? (which is called ?Oblivion? in V5), which allows them to manipulate shadows and darkness and become one with it. They can also manipulate weird shadowy tendrils to deal damage, which gives me ?The Darkness? vibes.
Nosferatu Clan Symbol
For those who doubt that becoming a vampire is a curse, one only need to look at the Nosferatu. Those who are embraced by the Sewer Rats are painfully turned into hideous-looking monsters, who must use their discipline ?Obfuscate? to either vanish from the mind?s eye or to look the most average of Joe?s if they don?t wish to be seen. Some, however, embrace this, refusing to hide from the lower mortals.
Given their appearance, humans tend to run away they spot one. Because of this, many storytellers insist that anyone who sees a Nosferatu is a walking Masquerade violation waiting to happen, so they are encouraged to be incredibly stealthy, which is a very different sort of playstyle compared to most of the other clans.
As for other clans, they usually ignore and resent the Nosferatu, unless they want information about someone or something, as the Sewer Rats are fonts of all sorts of hidden information, thanks to their expansive network and ShreckNET, an online network for Kindred (from V20 onwards) controlled by the Nosferatu. Think of it as a Kindred internet provide/database steals data from mortals.
Outside of the game, I can relate to the Nosferatu in many ways. Not because of my hideous features, but because I am used to people not wanting to talk to me unless they want something from me.
I have a lot of personal history with the clan. During the creation of my first character for my first session of VtM, the storyteller prevented me from playing as a Nosferatu, because they did not want players to break the Masquerade. They were also certain I would find it hard to play as a Nosferatu and not enjoy the playstyle. I stupidly listened to them and played a Ventrue instead. This sparked my persistence to play as a Nosferatu as frequently as possible, just to spite that first storyteller.
Petty vengeance aside, turns out I love playing as a Nosferatu and have never tired playing one.
My clan rankings, complete with changes and incorrect spellings
When I sat down to write this blog/list, I thought this would be a fairly simple task, but that turns out that was not the case at all, as seen by the picture to the left (or above, depending on where you are reading this blog).
Not only did I change my mind a billion times where I wanted the clans to be placed (with exception to the Lasombra, Brujah and Nosferatu), but I had to think for the first time which clans I liked more, something that I have not done since playing VtMB, which technically doesn?t count, as those interpretations of the clans play very differently to how a real person may portray them in a game of VtM.
Hopefully, I haven?t upset or offended too many people with the placement of each clan. Not that anything you say will change my mind?probably.
How would you rank each clan? Which is your favourite and least favourite? What clan are you playing as at the moment in your game of VtM or/and VtMB?
Let?s start a conversation, people!