Vampire the Masquerade is the perfect tabletop role-playing game for those who wish to experience the power of being a vampire. Various series like LA by Night, Port Saga, and even my own Phoenix by Night use this system to create incredible stories of vampires, or kindred as they are referred to in the core book, just trying to survive their own path of night. However, as a new storyteller to Vampire the Masquerade, the biggest challenge I found with the game was that the lore was so dense.
In the first season of Phoenix by Night I got so many terms and cultural aspects incorrect so I wanted to help fellow players and storytellers by explaining some of these concepts!
Camarilla vs Anarchs
In Vampire the Masquerade there are two major political factions which are the Camarilla and the Anarchs. The Camarilla is an elite organization made up of powerful elders who do everything in their ability to prevent the mortals from knowing of their presence. So much so that they have strict rules that their members must abide by in order to maintain the ‘masquerade’. They are also do not allow Anarchs, Caitiff, or Thin bloods within their ranks.
The Anarchs are an organization of kindred who believe more so inequality for all kindred instead of catering just to elders. Despite their differences in philosophy, the Anarchs also abide heavily by the masquerade to ensure their survival. However, they are more disorganized and lack the sheer amount of territory that the Camarilla has.
Barons vs Princes
When a Camarilla holds a territory they will place a single Prince who oversees a city and ensures that the laws placed by the elders are upheld. A Baron is similar since it is also a figure of authority placed by the Anarchs, however, there can be multiple Barons in a place who look after different sections. Every time someone new comes into their area, they must visit the local Prince or Baron to ensure respect is maintained otherwise it could cause issues.
The vampire origin story does not have to be religious
One aspect of vampire lore that I always loathed was that the father of all vampires was Cain which promoted the idea that Christianity was accurate in its teachings. Which at the same time also discredits other religions and their origin stories for the world. However, while flipping through the Anarch sourcebook, there is mention of alternate origins ranging from a meteor crash landing on Earth which brought the vampiric gene, simple mutants, just another animal, or even vampirism as a disease.
These alternate origins help to make for a more inclusive world so that you don’t have to cater heavily to Christian beliefs in your campaign if you don’t want to.
True Faith is when a mortal is truly devoted to their faith, regardless of what it is and in turn, their items or prayers can actually cause real harm to supernatural creatures. If their faith is strong enough, they can even resist becoming a ghoul and are immune to mind-influencing abilities. When a person is truly pure, their mere touch can even cause supernatural beings to flee for their unlife.
Ghoul vs Thin Blood
I was super confused when I was introduced to the concept of a ghoul and then found thin blood as a clan choice since both are essentially enhanced humans with slight vampiric traits. However, the difference is that ghouls are minions created by a vampire when they give their subject vitae or vampire blood without draining them. If they drained them and then gave them vitae, the subject would turn into a vampire.
A ghoul is a servant for their master and vitae is highly addictive for them since it causes their body to go beyond its limits, stops aging, and causes a sort of euphoria. However, over time the effect can wear off, freeing the ghoul from their master.
For Thin Bloods, they are kindred from 14th generation or higher. Their traits can vary from being able to walk into the sunlight, still retaining their humanity enough to eat food and look alive, and they can even only have baby fangs. Many kindred look down on thin bloods for their weakened state and even hunt because of it.