“Let’s tell a story about vampires.”
– Jason Carl, L.A. By Night
On our new Vampire: The Masquerade RPG show, L.A. By Night, we get to watch a coterie of players roleplaying as vampires using the fifth edition rules of Vampire: The Masquerade RPG. Like and unlike the vampires we’re familiar with from folklore and horror movies, VtM vampires have supernatural mental and physical powers granted to them once they are Embraced. For the sake of viewers who are unfamiliar with the World of Darkness setting, or who are looking for what’s new in VtM’s fifth edition, let’s sink our teeth into what some of those powers are.
Although VtM draws much of its’ inspiration from our long history of vampire tales, VtM is a tabletop RPG at its’ warm, blood-pumping heart. In true RPG fashion, a wide variety of powers are available for players to choose from to flesh out their vampires as they see fit. Instead of going into detail about all the powers in VtM, let’s focus on the powers we have seen, and may yet expect to see, from the characters in LA By Night.
Gifts of the Blood
Once a character is Embraced, their new vampiric blood automatically grants a set of powers that are standard to all vampires.
Through the power of their vampiric blood alone, characters may call upon this power to give a temporary boost (additional dice) to a Mental, Physical, or Social Attribute dice pool roll. More dice rolled to succeed at an Attribute test means there’s a better chance of succeeding.
Blush of Life
VtM follows some classic vampire traits, such as them having cold, pale skin, and no heartbeat or breath. The Blush of Life power will allow a vampire to temporarily look more alive than undead. It can mimic a heartbeat and breath, can allow the vampire to consume human food without getting sick, and even make sexual intercourse a thing that can be done.
Being undead doesn’t allow vampires to heal as they did while human. However, depending on the potency of their vampiric blood, characters can use it to mend superficial damage, aggravated damage, and possibly even a more serious crippling injury or some other dangerous impairment.
Gifts of the Clan
During character creation, players will choose a vampire clan to be associated with. Clans come with specific Disciplines to choose from.
Clan Brujah is the clan of L.A. By Night’s newest vampire, Annabelle, played by Erika Ishii. Typical Brujah clan members are counterculture revolutionaries, rebels, gang members, and people from the ‘outsider’ realms of society. Celerity, Potence, and Presence are the Disciplines available to Brujah.
Celerity means speed and quickness, which Brujah use to strike, escape, hunt, and feed with haste. Potence means force and toughness, and is used by Brujah to bring fights and other crisis to a fast, and often brutal, end. Brujah use Presence to affect and manipulate the emotions of others, often to make feeding easier, or to make enemies flee in fear.
We have yet to see Annabelle manifest any of her recently-gained powers (or get a new iPhone) yet, but the season is still new. No doubt we’ll see them soon.
Jasper (played by Alex Ward) is the coterie’s Clan Nosferatu representative. Nosferats are typically drawn from the ‘outcasts’ of society, such as the deformed, vagrants, and the destitute. After their Embrace, Nosferatu undergo ghastly physical changes that transform them into grotesque abominations. As such, Clan Nosferatu offers the Disciplines of Animalism, Obfuscate, and Potence.
Animalism gives Nosferats the ability to befriend animals and creatures such as birds, bugs, and rats, which they claim as both pets and food. Obfuscate is the Nosferat stealth mode, allowing them to seemingly vanish and hide in plain sight, disappear into the shadows, or camouflage themselves in any environment. Potence comes in handy when a Nosferat needs their raw vampiric brute strength for their favorite hit-and-run tactic.
We’ve seen Jasper make regular use of Obfuscate, when he was tracking down Annabelle in episode 1, and when he was doing recon in the abandoned building in episode 2. It’s not his fault those stairs were old.
Clan Toreador (epitomized by Nelli G, and played by Cynthia Marie) specifically Embrace the avant-garde, people such as actors, artists, writers, musicians, and those with the most talent, beauty, intelligence, and charisma. Fittingly, the Disciplines available to Clan Toreador are Auspex, Celerity, and Presence.
Auspex is the ability of foresight, true vision, mind reading, and like magical and mystical powers. Toreador use the power to gain and keep the upper hand when dealing with Kindred, and when scouting for highly interesting food sources. Celerity is used in conjunction with the Toreador’s artistic and performance skills, as well as physical combat skills. Presence is used to support Auspex when Toreador are working to lure a food source closer to them, or to manage Kindred.
Known as the Clan of Kings, Clan Ventrue signify the leadership of the vampire establishment, drawn from and for the beings of politics, business, power, and wealth. Victor, played by B. Dave Walters, is an entertainment mogul and nightclub owner, a leader and Kindred perfectly suited for the LA nightlife. Dominate, Fortitude, and Presence are the Disciplines offered by Clan Ventrue.
The Dominate Discipline allows the Ventrue to enthrall others, force them to carry out commands, and cloud their memory of events, which we’ve seen Victor do a few times already. Fortitude bolsters the mental and physical toughness of the Venture, while Presence gives them a higher ability to command from their positions or power.
This is just a general overview of powers available to the characters of L.A. By Night. What powers the players have chosen for their characters will have to be seen while watching the show, which you can do on Friday nights at 8 p.m. Pacific on Twitch and Alpha!
More Vampire: The Masquerade Goodness!
- Blood and The Beast: Hunger In VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE, Explained
- VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE;s World of Darkness, Briefly Explained
- GM Tips For VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE’s 5th Edition Relationship Charts
Images credits: Geek & Sundry, White Wolf Publishing