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Table of Contents
- Brief Introduction to VtM (and Disclaimer)
- Top 3 Best Clans in VtM
- Two Extra Clans I Wanted to Add to the List (But Couldn’t)
- Wrap Up
If you lived through the 90’s and early 2000’s like I did, then you remember one trend that really caught on, or rather a handful of trends: goth, emo, and grunge. Like it or not, most of us went through that dark phase where we all wore regrettable outfits, listened to edgy music, and lamented how no one understood us.
Then the sexy vampire thing happened. I’m not sure how else to describe it, but vampires were suddenly in. I suppose you could trace it back to earlier movies like Interview with the Vampire, but the much later cringey Twilight saga definitely fanned the flames of the vampire craze.
Anyway, the mood was set for a tabletop RPG like Vampire: the Masquerade. And as the very first tabletop RPG I ever ran, it has a soft spot in my heart, which is why I’m introducing you to the what I feel are the top 3 best vampire clans in Vampire: the Masquerade.
A Brief Introduction to the World of Vampire: the Masquerade (and Disclaimer)
The first thing I’d like to do before diving into the vampire clans is explain what Vampire: the Masquerade is. It’s important to make a differentiation here; I’m not talking about the VtM video game that came out in 2004.
Instead, I’m referring specifically to the tabletop RPG. Although some of the abilities I discuss likely appear in the game, I’m thinking of them in the sense that they appear in the tabletop version.
Vampire: the Masquerade is another White Wolf tabletop RPG. (If you’ve read any of my Werewolf: the Apocalypse posts, then you know I’ve got a thing for White Wolf games!) It’s played with a group of two or more people, and one is the Storyteller while others are players. The game takes place in the gritty World of Darkness, but the Storyteller can shape it to the specific session or campaign.
Like other tabletop RPGs, the players create characters that they use to interact with the Storyteller’s world. Generally, players will be vampires (called Kindred), and will have their own vampiric clan they belong to.
Vampire society in the game is very gothic, political, and duplicitous. More likely than not, groups of players will be part of the Camarilla, an elite community of vampires dedicated to maintaining the Masquerade – in other words, hiding their existence from humanity.
Okay, before I get into the list, let me also give you a disclaimer: For this list, I’m using the most recent edition of VtM, V5. However, because V5 removed the Sabbat (an organization outside of the Camarilla), I was forced to cut too many of my favorite clans.
So I dug out my copy of the Revised Edition of VtM, and will include some of the clans from the Sabbat as honorable mentions. I couldn’t resist doing so.
Top 3 Best Clans in Vampire: the Masquerade (Nowadays)
This is the part where the different editions come into play. Like I mentioned earlier, the latest edition, V5, cut out information about the Sabbat. Unfortunately, the Sabbat includes my preferred clans, so I guess I ended up dividing this into two mini-lists.
Here are what I feel are the best Vampire: the Masquerade clans according to the most recent edition:
If I were ever forced to play as a vampire who’s part of the Camarilla, I’d spring for a Gangrel. Maybe it’s just my love of wolves, but I absolutely had to mention a clan of vampires that’s the closest thing you can get to being a werewolf/Kindred hybrid.
They’re very particular about who they choose to change. Only the grittiest survivors are chosen, whether it’s someone who made it out of a long prison sentence or a tenacious urban explorer. The core rulebook even notes that this has led to a problem with the clan consisting of too many leaders and clashing wills.
But that’s okay – the Gangrel clan has ancient traditions that encourage conflicting Gangrel to literally duke it out until one emerges victorious in the name of a little healthy competition.
Here’s why I think they’re awesome: Gangrel get a discipline called Protean. It basically turns them into a shapeshifter that can take on the qualities of animals. If you thought claws and fur were reserved for werewolves, Gangrel prove to you that you’re sorely mistaken.
Some Gangrel even take the form of animals and get their blood that way. These bad asses say that it’s the purest way to feed and take more pride in the kills they made in animal form.
I have a confession to make: I have a thing for mages. It doesn’t matter which game or system I’m playing, I’ll always be drawn to characters and classes with a magic-like capability. Plus, the picture of The Devil tarot card in the V5 book instantly drew me in with Tremere.
As you might have guessed, the Tremere are Kindred which use Thaumaturgy, which is the Vampire: the Masquerade equivalent of magic. But it’s even cooler (or I guess edgier?) than that, because it’s blood magic.
Tremere are also hungry for knowledge. In fact, they place such a high priority on the acquisition of forbidden knowledge, that they consider positions of power useless unless they can get access such information while in power.
Here’s why I think they’re awesome: Tremere Kindred have a discipline called Blood Sorcery (in the older books, it was called Thaumaturgy). It’s exactly what the name implies. They can use fresh blood to cast horrifying spells.
Some Tremere can even drain the blood from a person’s body without actually making contact with them. If that’s not deserving of the descriptor “awesome,” I guess I don’t know what is.
I honestly waffled back and forth over whether I was going to add Malkavians to this list. I’ve known one too many people who had a kind of cringey obsession with them, so they leave a bad taste in my mouth.
In the end, I obviously decided to take the leap and put them in, anyway. If you know anyone who likes to play tricky or jester-like characters, then this is the best clan you could pick. They’re called the Clan of the Moon for a reason – like with the Moon card in tarot, they’re not everything they seem to be.
While often linked to mental disorder, the truth is that the average Malkavian knows too much. Beneath the veneer of insanity lies a disturbing wisdom.
Here’s why I think they’re awesome: Malkavians get some amazing disciplines off the bat. They may be insane, but along with that insanity comes gifts of manipulation and disguise. They’re one of a few clans that has Obfuscate, an ability that allows them slip around completely unnoticed.
Two Extra Clans I Wanted to Add to this List…And Why I Couldn’t Add Them
Like I said before, there were a couple other clans I wanted to talk about, but couldn’t add to this list if I was only sticking to the V5 edition, as they are not a part of the core rulebook. (There are some rumors of a later Sabbat supplement being added, but I don’t see one yet.)
Because I couldn’t just not talk about these Sabbat clans, I’m making an extra section for them.
I couldn’t go without mentioning Lasombra because they’re my secret favorite clan. If I’m able to make characters outside of the Camarilla, I’m pretty much guaranteed to make a Lasombra Kindred.
I mean, how could anyone resist a clan that can literally control darkness? More on that in a moment – I’m gonna give you a little bit of background on the Lasombra first.
For the most part, the Lasombra mentality is something along the lines of, “We’re no longer human, so why even try to act like it?” They have a cat-like and predatory grace to them, but they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty when they must.
Most Lasombra are powerful leaders, capable of holding sway over large audiences. The drawback to this attitude is that they’re also uppity, and some might find their air of superiority insufferable.
Here’s why I think they’re awesome: Just a couple paragraphs ago, I said Lasombra can control darkness. This is due to their unique discipline, which is called Obtenebration. It allows them to manipulate shadows.
At higher levels, a Lasombra’s obtenebration can get so powerful that they can literally become a being made of pure darkness.
Note: There is a supplementary book called Chicago by Night that gives players the rules for playing a Lasombra in the most recent edition. However, this information is not included in the core rulebook, and not all players choose to buy supplemental books.
As cool as being a vampire sounds, their unchanging immortal bodies are kind of a double-edged sword. Sure, they get to look the same forever, but it also means things like their hair and nails don’t grow, making it difficult for them to change up their style.
This isn’t a problem for the Tzimisce clan. Because of their ability to control their appearances, Tzimisce are often referred to as the Fiends. They can look either stunningly beautiful or disturbingly inhuman – it’s entirely up to their own moods.
Surprisingly, despite their oftentimes monstrous looks, the Tzimisce are gracious hosts and make great advisors. This is one book where it really does pay to look past the cover.
Here’s why I think they’re awesome: Undoubtedly, the Tzimisce signature discipline of Vicissitude earns them an honorable mention, at the very least. Wielding this unique discipline, a Tzimisce Kindred can change their appearances (and even alter their bone structure) or do the same to others.
These effects can be permanent or temporary depending on the target. Weaker Kindred who have more generations between them and the first vampire, Caine, are often forced to bear the alterations of a Tzimisce eternally. More powerful Kindred can recover from the changes.
I love the grittiness of the world in Vampire: the Masquerade. With any luck, I’ll get to return to it soon (hopefully without me having to run the campaign). If I do, I’m pretty sure I’ll make a character from one of the clans on this list.
What about you? Which clans are your favorite, and which one would you like to try building a character with next? If you have any thoughts, drop a comment below to let me know.