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.
Vampire has always been a meta-plot heavy game line, unlike Dungeons & Dragons. The very basis of the game hinged upon an overarching secret society lurking in the shadows of our modern world. While players and storytellers could ignore city specific plot-lines and books in their chronicles, the metaplot regarding the global organizations is a central conflict to all clans, characters, and campaigns (even if far in the distance).
So if you need a refresher, or want to know what the deal is in V5 (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th edition) here’s three critical parts of the universe to understand.
The Second Inquisition
The World of Darkness is set in an alternate modern-day world; one where everything basically sucks. Businesses are more predatory than they already are, everyone has their own agenda, and architecture reflects a more Gothic/Victorian tone. The human population has been bred for centuries to be nothing more than feeding stock for the world’s true masters—vampires. These shadowy immortal creatures that have been pulling the strings and creating cities with just enough misery and crime that they could feed without causing too much attention.
At least this is what the Second Inquisition might tell its soldiers.
Long ago, the Inquisition nearly hunted vampires to extinction, forcing them into hiding. For a few centuries, everything seemed to be going fine for all parties involved. Humans went about their daily lives, vampires waged byzantine political wars in the shadows against themselves, and nothing really got out of hand. Until a group of Anarchy vampires decided to start posting all their secrets on a “magical” server called Shrecknet. These modern vampires convinced the rest of undead society that it was safe, effective, and secure from human eyes.
Of course, the CIA found out.
The Second Inquisition is one of the driving forces in V5 and a boogeyman faction in its own right. Made up of top-secret intelligence agencies around the world, the Second Inquisition is waging a war against all vampires once again. Most government bodies aren’t aware of the Second Inquisition working in their ranks, and even the organization’s superiors are shrouded in mystery. Despite their clandestine nature, given modern day levels of technology, the Second Inquisition is hunting vampires across the globe and in every major city. They are the ever-pervasive threat lurking to find you and kill you for simply existing. Which is why you need help…
The Camarilla And You
The Camarilla has been the mainstay secret society of all Vampire games since its release. Founded after the first inquisition, its flagship purpose is to maintain The Masquerade (hence the game’s namesake). A tradition among undead leaders, the Masquerade is a law that dictates vampires shouldn’t reveal their presence to the human world. This (of course) is subject to wild interpretation because clearly new vampires are made every year and how else are you going to grab a snack to eat on Thursday? The Camarilla did a great job for a while… and then YouTube became a thing. Now in the world of V5, the Camarilla has forsaken all digital communication and internet use among vampires. It was the only way they can survive against the Second Inquisition.
Making a no-cell-phone decree to a bunch of modern vampires is difficult to enforce, but the Camarilla tries its best. It’s made up of high-pedigree nobility, the elite among the Undead if you will, and they’ve been rather inventive with survival (and even luxury) in the modern world despite the Second Inquisitions best efforts. They’ve gone back to traditional spy-craft, low-key travel through states instead of commercial airliners, and bringing back the fine art of letter writing. Being the best at hiding in a modern world, the Camarilla simply had to sit back and let their other enemies be destroyed. Patience is a virtue, after all.
Sabbat, Where Art Thou?
The bloody designers of V5 had to get rid of my Sabbat. There, I said it and I’m not sorry. If you’ve followed Vampire: The Masquerade over the past few years, the Sabbat were a faction of religious vampires dedicated to fighting for vampiric freedom from ancient god-like creatures that wanted to eat them. Unfortunately, if the Sabbat had their way, the world would look a little more like True Blood and the Second Inquisition had a field day with them, all but eliminating the sect entirely. Now, the Sabbat that do remain are saved and hidden for future Vampire supplements, no doubt, and waiting as hungry villains against the Camarilla and the Second Inquisition both.
Stepping up to the plate as V5’s moral opposition to the Camarilla are instead the Anarchs. Modern, tech-savvy, and not really down with Draconian decrees of the Camarilla the Anarchs fight for the rights of all vampires. They use burner phones, stay mobile, hop from city-to-city and teach vampires how to survive as individuals. Their lives may be impoverished compared to the elite of the Camarilla, but at least they don’t have a hundred-year-old Prince telling them whom they can love or keep up stereotypes based on the lineage of someone’s blood running in their veins.
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 projectalpha.com with code BITTEN!
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
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.