Twenty-seven years ago Vampire: The Masquerade was released in 1991, and it’s been through a few iterations thus far along its journey. Our RPG show, Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night is diving into the Vampire: The Masquerade’s Fifth Edition and the World Of Darkness it resides in. If you’re as excited about it as we are, but aren’t familiar with the universe, here’s a crash course get you up to speed.
Jasper, played by Alex Ward, represents Clan Nosferatu in L.A. By Night. While carrying the namesake of a ubiquitous vampire, clan Nosferatu is quite secretive. Let’s dig into some of the interesting elements of the clan, including their proclivity to being underground.
While those of Clan Nosferatu are pejoratively called “sewer rats” (NosfeRATu – get it?), Jasper’s rat laden Euclidean haven is more than his personal attempt at foiling any pizza delivery driver. Clan Nosferatu has long built underground havens called Warrens as a defense against their enemies. So defensible in nature, the sewers and subterranean labyrinths of the Nosferatu have become synonymous with instant death in most LARP and Vampire games for anyone not of their clan, the (possibly exaggerated) reputation kept most vampires away.
Newly embraced Nosferatu are often kept underground in the warrens as their deformities surface. Unlike other vampires, the Nosferatu are traditionally a tad more communal in their havens (it takes a fair bit to clear permits from the sanitation district okay?) and form Broods. They will spend centuries underground building Warrens under cities, just as the cities themselves are built above ground. The city of Paris once boasted Nosferatu Warrens that were another city altogether.
Collapsible tunnels, electrified floors, sluice gates, and more stand to keep the hideous clan safe from outside threats. Beyond the common perception of Nosferatu living in the sewers, the Warrens can actually be a place of great beauty; safe from the perceptions of mortal eyes, the vampires are free to let their undead craftsmanship reign unchecked.
The Nosferatu don’t build warrens to only hide from enemies above, but also from ancient horrors that seek to wipe their hideous bodies off the planet—the Nictuku. Their hatred for the Nosferatu stems from an ancient hatred over loyalty and betrayal as old as the clan itself. The first Nosferatu Vampire was named Absimiliard, a beautiful hunter and beloved by Zillah (Caine’s daughter) for his perfect looks. The violent embrace however, left a single scar along his cheek, a scar Absimiliard would now bear for centuries. With hatred in his heart, Absimiliard schemed and lead the rebellion against the first vampires, slaying his sire. For his crimes Caine cursed Absimiliard and his children by twisting his body into a hideous mockery of what it was.
The curse reverberated through his children, affecting every one of his descendants including his most powerful childer Baba Yaga. What follows is a family-wide battle of fratricide that lasted a millennia. Absimiliard and his immediate hunters called the Nictuku, hunting the rest of his clan with Baba Yaga at the helm. Absimiliard saw his clan as a curse, their ugliness a sin, and hoped that if he killed every Nosferatu then Caine would make him beautiful again. Baba Yaga and modern Nosferatu embraced their new appearance, beauty is a fleeting concern and unshackled by appearance they could pursue nobler goals. The Iron Witch eventually won the war and for centuries the Nosferatu flourished, but every new child was told the legend of the Nictuku waiting to kill them. When Baba Yaga was killed by a Nictuku a few years ago every Nosferatu’s fears were confirmed—the boogeymen are real.
Loresheets are a new concept in V5 and are found near the back of the book. Picked during character creation, Loresheets are a special type of Advantage that connects your character into the metaplot of Vampire. I’d argue that in most games, the Loresheet you pick for your character is more powerful than any other choice on your sheet. Each template sheet both updates the metaplot and gives your characters special abilities every game session.
Now how does a Loresheet come into play in L.A. By Night? The Descendant of Zelios Loresheet for Clan Nosferatu and Jasper may have a closer relationship than otherwise known. Zelios was a great architect and master planner, mason, and a scholar of geomantic power. He disappeared beneath New York in the 90s (as you do), but his descendants carry on his work. Building havens, dungeons, prisons and more with their ability to sense ley lines. Which often grant powerful magical effects left up to the storyteller, but also allow you to construct Labyrinths beneath your domain. A true underground maze made from chambers, sewers, up is down, down is up, and a truly terrifying place—nobody can pursue you once you flee to the safety of your Labyrinth. This is a fantastic game design element that ties new characters like Jasper to the ancient history of the clan and furthers the story.
What clan of Vampire: The Masquerade do you identify with? Tell us in the comments below!
More Vampire: The Masquerade Gaming goodness!
- GM Tips For VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE’s 5th Edition Relationship Charts
- A Look Back at VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE’s Various Incarnations
- PRINCE’s GAMBIT Compresses The Immortal Intrigues of VAMPIRE Into A Half Hour
Image Credits: Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition
Rick Heinz is the author of The Seventh Age: Dawn, and a storyteller with a focus on LARPs, Wraith: The Oblivion, Eclipse Phase, and many more. You can follow game or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or Facebook.