The Masquerade in VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE, Explained

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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 newest 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.

So what happens when a young vampire, fresh off the slab, tells her new boyfriend that she’s a bloodsucking demoness of the night? Then what happens if she turns him into a fellow vampire, and he goes and tells his other lover the truth, then embracing them? Or what happens when a sloppy vampire just keeps feeding in a single university in L.A. and creates a rash case of anemic individuals, single-handedly weakening the school athletic team?

The answer: They die. They die horribly. Along with everyone involved is in violation of The Masquerade. An ancient tradition that says vampires must remain hidden from mortal eyes. They do this because while there is roughly one vampire for every one-hundred-thousand humans (and vampires do have some amazing powers), those humans have guns, fire, and the ability to walk in the daylight. We’ve already had time periods where people were burned at the stake for being less than a blood-sucking creature of the night.

In V5 ( Vampire: The Masquerade’s 5th edition), some updates have been made to the first tradition that are critical to the setting. So let’s take a closer look at the updated versions and why Annabelle in L.A. By Night may have caused a sect war without even knowing it. Or… maybe her sire really does know.

The First Tradition

“Thou shall not reveal thy true nature to those not of the Blood. Doing so shall renounce thy claims of Blood.”

It’s a pretty short tradition that says if you mess up, some other vampire will claim the blood in your veins back. Trust me when I say that will involve the glorious art of sucking your soul out (regardless of how taboo diablerie is). In V5, the tradition of masquerade is back to being the forefront of the setting, with more focus on keeping hidden, and less focus on the eternal war, Gehenna, or other battles with the Sabbat. This is because the Second Inquisition has come underway. Mortal governments, Vatican church hunters, and CIA operatives have not only discovered vampires, they’ve taken out some of the strongest.

Prior to V5, a player-driven creation called Shrecknet was created in the Vampire setting and became official in time. A safe spot where vampires, particularly clan Nosferatu, could store information online, hack, and keep all the juicy clan secrets. In the late nineties, this made a lot more sense, I swear. Now here we are in 2018 living under the thumb of the all-seeing-eye and the Patriot Act with a clan of warlock/witch themed vampires rising to become the most powerful clan in existence. Clan Tremere ruled from their stronghold in Vienna, and was arguably the strongest and unified clan with magnificent ambitions, until the Second Inquisition wiped out their headquarters with the cunning use of missiles and C4. Scores of vampires soon died afterwards, and now the two major sects both handle the first tradition differently.

The Camarilla

V5 Artwork

I love the new Camarilla. Sheer age, power and wealth make them the ruling body of the undead and they aren’t afraid to use it to ensure their own survival. After getting slapped in the face with the realities of the modern world, they created a “Second Masquerade” outlawing any use of digital technology. While this was happening, elders were recalled to the Middle East for an upcoming war and left their cities behind. This allowed clever and enterprising vampires to rise up and save the Ivory Tower while keeping the Feudalism of old.

Now a mix of spy games, politics, and nightly warfare the Camarilla fight against the Second Inquisition as their primary opponent. They do this through dead drops, kindred fashion choices, street tags, and subtle influence over human slaves. Instead of using cell phones to wage a war or fly on planes, they’ve gone back to cross-country road trips or wearing gloves that match the color of their aura. While they aren’t foolish enough to try to kill all the Anarchs, they did expel them from the sect. They once stood as brothers-in-arms, but no longer. Now the Anarchs and their young and untrained kindred serve as the bait for mortal hunters so competent Camarilla Sheriff’s can swoop in after cleaning up the mess.

The Anarchs

Vampire Masquarade Image 1

The revolution against the Camarilla is as old as the Camarilla itself (around 583 years old) and was originally known as the Anarch Revolt. After the Camarilla outlawed Shrecknet and thanks to the Gehenna war pulling elders to the Middle East, the Anarchs have gone into full revolt. It turns out that trying to take away cell-phones from young vampires is enough to get them mobilized—who knew Fangbook was so important? The blame for the Second Inquisition lays squarely at the feet of the Anarchs, and not without reason, their tenants of freedom and laissez-faire attitude did little to police the digital footprint of vampires and resulted in the greatest breach of the Masquerade to date.

Galvanized by this betrayal the Anarch movement now revolts openly against the Camarilla while still maintaining the masquerade. They maintain mortal identities, stay mobile, and hide within the bureaucracy to avoid the Second Inquisition. Their cause is helped by the inclusion of thin-blooded vampires that blur the line between human and undead. A 16th generation vampire has such thin blood, they can still function as a human. In cities ruled by Anarchs, the Baron will still claim the blood of Anarchs who break the Masquerade, and we only need to see the first two episodes of L.A. By Night to get that impression.

What are your Masquerade Breach stories from Vampire: The Masquerade? Let us know in the comments below!

Are you ready to jump into the World of Darkness? Be sure to join us for Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night at 8 PM Pacific this Friday, September 14th for the premiere airing on Twitch and Alpha! Not an Alpha member? Get a free 60-day trial at with code BITTEN!

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Featured Image: 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.

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