Published on October 31st, 2014 | by Luke Turpeinen0
V20 Dark Ages Clans: Ranked
Following the success of the relaunch of Vampire the Masquerade’s 20th Anniversary Kickstarter project, Onyx Path has recently put up a new project to produce a vanity collector’s edition of the Vampire: the Dark Ages line. The collector’s edition is $100, is leather bound, has fancy ribbon bookmarks and silver gilding on the edges of the pages and everything.
That said, Onyx Path has made their process more open. For this Kickstarter they have released the complete text of the rule book- unformatted and with no art- as a PDF on the Kickstarter page. After reading the parts of the book that interested me, I feel much better about my decision to back this at the PDF level so I can get that sweet sweet art.
You may have heard of Vampire the Masquerade, but you may not have known that they have produced two editions of a Dark Ages version of the game. The world of mortals and vampires is quite different in the 13th Century (that’s the 1200s for those that need reminding), and this new version of Vampire the Dark Ages is written with a better understanding of those differences. Here are the 13 clans of the new Vampire the Dark Ages, V20 edition, in order of my least favorite to favorite.
Weakness: Each Malkavian, upon becoming a vampire, gains a mental illness.
While there is a tradition of Malkavians being the Looney Tunes slap stick character (known as “fishmalks”), that is not the tone the book takes. Malkavians are the oracles and seers, their vampire blood allows them to glimpse strange pathways from the past and into the future. Some Malvakians are objectified into nothing more than tools by the rulers of the local court, though more lucid Seers have become leaders themselves.
Play a Malkavian if you want to play someone who has unique roleplaying challenges, who gains mysterious insights or flashes of enlightenment. Just don’t play them like Tank Girl.
Weakness: Each Ravnos has a compulsive action that they must engage in if presented with the opportunity.
The Ravnos were not well presented in the past, falling back on Gypsy stereotypes for the entire clan. In the V20 edition of Vampire Dark Ages they chose to instead make the clans origins in the East but there is no mention of gypsies. Ravnos have a strong tradition of loyalty to their clan, no one else, and their reputation seems to be as tricksters and charlatans. While they claim this is untrue, the clan’s true goals are not clear.
Play as a Ravnos if you want to bring elements of eastern mysticism or philosophy to the game, if you want to explore racial prejudice in the 13th century World of Darkness, or if you want to mess up someone’s day with illusions.
Weakness: They are totally obsessed with the subject of their most highly rated knowledge or skill.
In older editions it was assumed that if you were an Child of Haqim, or Assamite as they are called by outsiders, then you were a mystical ninja assassin. Taking a new look at the clan, the re-vamp focuses much more on the vizier role than the warrior role. Assamites are now more likely to be advisers and engineers than fanatical jyhadists. That said, the clan does run an assassin ring where they cannibalize vampires that are unworthy or politically inconvenient.
Play an Assamite if you want to play a character who “lives” by a code of ethics, and who would kill or die to protect the mortals under their watch. Or if you want to be the spooky assassin vampire.
Weakness: Whenever you lose control in a frenzy, you are cursed with an animal’s physical feature for a short time.
The Gangrel are a clan made up of loners, nomads, hunters and trappers. Their vampiric rage tends to be more bestial and primal than that of other clans, which may be why they don’t seem to fit well into society. Gangrel are idiosyncratic and skirt societal norms in most ways, so many times it’s easier to stay away from populated areas.
Play a Gangrel if you want to play as someone who chases their prey through the woods, because you like the thrill of the hunt. Or if you really like animals or have a thing for turning into mist.
Weakness: They have a habit of getting addicted to beautiful things or people.
Toreador feel the pain of undeath more than most, as they have intense desires for the pleasures of life and no means of fulfilling them. Instead, the Toreador looks to mortals to inspire or be inspired by- though as creatures whose creativity has died this usually ends tragically. Clan Toreador forms an integral part of the vampire aristocracy- their social ability often proves useful.
Play a Toreador if you would like to be part of the idle rich, a dark patron of secret arts, a sultry incubus or succubus. Also great for players who want their characters to be mesmerized by paintings and tapestries.
Weakness: Only one specific type of blood nourishes them.
Power is the goal of most Ventrue, and they will do what it takes to get there. While the clan’s traditions emphasize more legitimate ways of getting power, either through money or titles, some have been known to go a darker route. The Ventrue have been one of the only allies to the Tremere, who represent a way to secure power that no one else is willing to accept. Ventrue come from wealthy merchant families, nobility and other high ranking parts of society.
Play a Ventrue if you want to play as someone with a lot of privilege and a lot of money, as someone who fights for the establishment because they hope to become it someday.
Weakness: Upon being Embraced, their features contort into hideous forms.
Possibly the most socially outcast of all the clans, with the possible exception of the Followers of Set. Nosferatu have undergone a change that twists their bodies into something like Joseph Merrick’s.
Nosferatu typically lurk around urban poverty, and make it their business to know all of the dirty secrets around town, using their untouchable status to their benefit. No one notices the old leper on the street corner begging for change, no one suspects that he is actually keeping an eye on the home of a soon-to-be-unfortunate vampire.
Play as a Nosferatu if you would like to be angsty about your appearance, if you like being an information gatherer and if you like having friends in low places.
Weakness: It is much more difficult for them to not go into a frenzy when upset.
The Brujah are the vampire clan most likely to use their influence to encourage a peasant uprising. Problems in the world come from too much top-down authority, they say, like the right of kings and divine providence. While actual opinions differ throughout the clan, being passionate about their causes is something you can always count on.
Play a Brujah if you want to champion a cause, maybe be the “first among equals” to a group of mortals who are looking for more freedom. If your character frequently hulks out and messes things up, they might be a Brujah.
#5 Followers of Set
Powers: Being Hard to See/Notice, Emotional Manipulation, Turning Into a Snake
Weakness: Another special weakness to sunlight.
The Followers of Set are a cult of vampires that believe that vampirism comes not from Cain(e) in the book of the Hebrews, but from the ancient Egyptian god Set. The Setites are all members of a local temple and are card carrying devotees of a dead god. They are enemies of both Christiandom and the Caliphates, as they seek to destroy all Abrahamic faiths. No one likes them and the feeling is mutual.
Play as a Follower of Set if you want your character to pray to idols and be in a cult, to fight against established religious hierarchies or deal in vice.
Weakness: When they enter blood bonds with other vampires, they get doubled bonded.
The Tremere are a tight knit cabal of sorcerer vampires. They originally were mages who, thinking that magic was dying, sought immortality through other means. After dark sorcery performed on Tzimisce vampires, they managed to unlock the secrets of vampire magic and become vampires without sires. Sometime afterwards it is said they cannibalized several older vampires and gained their power.
Play a Tremere if you want to play a vampire that uses blood magic, is a student of the occult or practices alchemy.
Weakness: Bright light and sunlight is even more uncomfortable and damaging to them.
Lasombra is one of the more diverse clans in Europe and the Near East, with much of their clan in southern Italy, Iberia and North Africa. The clan is in schism right now as the Reconquista of Iberia is in full swing, and so the clan has divided along religious lines and wars against itself. Lasombra are usually embraced because of their royal or aristocratic status, combined with their ambition and drive to succeed.
Play a Lasombra if you want to be the lord of a manor, a Machiavellian politico, and play with shadows. Lasombra are basically the Malfoys of the Vampire Dark Ages setting. (They also have the most pretentious and worst named, but coolest power: “Obtenebration”)
Weakness: They must rest during the day with their native soil nearby.
Known as “the vampires of vampires”, these are the boogy monsters that vampires tell tales of. Hailing from the Carpathians, they are exactly the kind of creepy feudal dark lord you would imagine- housed in a decrepit castle in the unforgiving mountains, where the wolves are half-starved and unafraid of humans. The amount of respect a Tzimisce gets is directly related to how much money they have and how much they frighten other vampires- they tend to get a lot of respect.
Play a Tzimisce if you want to play the Dracula of draculas, an obscenely weird aristocrat or an unholy knight who worships his blood. Also, if you want the most un-pronouncable clan name in the setting (either tzih-mees-KEE or TZEH-mee-shay depending on if you’re Greek or Hungarian, I’m told).
Weakness: They appear to be an actual walking corpse: not rotting, but recently dead- gaunt and pale.
Cappadocians are some of the most philosophical and religious sects in the world of Vampire Dark Ages. Their clan tends to be somewhat monastic and very studious of the lore surrounding death. Over the years they have learned how to use magic powered by their blood to command ghosts and speak with the dead.
Play a Cappadocian if you want to be a monk or scholar who studies death, undeath and dying. Almost any scholarly or religious background fits for the clan of the dead.