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Like with any other tabletop RPG, there’s a lot that goes into building your vampire in Vampire: the Masquerade. That’s what I like about it, though; there are so many options to build the perfect gritty character of your dreams.
One of the things you’ll have to look at in character creation is choosing Disciplines. Depending on your clan, you’ll be restricted in your choice of Disciplines, so you won’t have tons of options to confuse you. Nevertheless, I thought I’d talk about the best Disciplines for every clan in Vampire: the Masquerade in case you need some advice.
What are Disciplines and How Do You Get Them?
Let’s start at square one: what are Disciplines and how do you get them?
Vampires get a whole arsenal of special abilities when they become Kindred. That’s what makes them fun to play.
One type of ability you can get is a Discipline. These are powers you get that are typically unique to specific Kindred clans.
During the character creation phase, you can choose two different Disciplines. Both must be specific to your clan initially. Later on, you may be able to learn Disciplines from other clans by sampling the blood of someone who already knows the Discipline.
A lot of these rules fly out the window when you’re playing a Caitiff, which is a clan-less vampire. Caitiffs literally get to choose any two Disciplines they like, but the downside is that you also don’t have a powerful clan at your back.
If you’re playing a Thin-blood (a vampire with the most generations between them and the first vampire), you don’t get Disciplines at all. Sorry. But you do get Thin Blood Alchemy in addition to the ability to get more resonance from the people you feed on.
Your skill in a given Discipline is measured on a scale of one to five dots. Each dot level allows you to choose from a list of abilities within that Discipline that are equal to your level or lower. Generally, you can activate these abilities at any time, provided the ability doesn’t say otherwise.
Best Disciplines in Vampire: the Masquerade
Before I dive into the Disciplines, let me give a couple quick disclaimers. First, I’m sticking only with the main tribes in the V5 core rulebook because that’s the one I have. I do not own supplementary books at this point in time for that edition.
Second, I’m not including Caitiffs on this list. By definition, they don’t have a clan, and furthermore, they can choose any Disciplines they want. If you’re playing a Caitiff, just take your pick from this list.
The Brujah clan is the true punk clan in Vampire: the Masquerade. Many of its members are taken directly from the counterculture, so they generally have lofty ideals about peace between vampires and mortals. They’re all about raging against society and fighting to reshape it.
Out of their three Disciplines, I chose:
Have you ever watched a vampire movie or a read a book in which the vampire can move at lightning-like speed? If they were in the World of Darkness, these cat-level reflexes and breathtaking speed would probably be the result of said vampire using Celerity.
Basically, Celerity heightens your speed and your reflexes. The combat benefits of this are immediately obvious. However, in the roleplay-rich game that is Vampire: the Masquerade, this Discipline has numerous benefits.
Ever wanted to leap gracefully from roof to roof without fear of danger? What about hunting your prey with a relentless pace that can’t be matched? Want to move so quickly, you can’t be captured on film?
Those are just a small sampling of what Celerity will make possible for you.
If you’ve ever wanted to combine a savage werewolf and a vampire, then what you want to play is a Gangrel in Vampire: the Masquerade. These brutal vampires have chosen to rebel against the superficial society of the Camarilla, choosing instead to embrace their bloodthirsty appetites.
It should be no surprise, then, that I chose this Discipline for them:
In some franchises, vampires are known for their incredible durability. It’s not unusual to see them resisting things like bullet wounds and other acts of violence that don’t involve a wooden stake with amazing ease.
That’s what Fortitude is in a nutshell. It’s not just the physical that Fortitude can protect you from, though – it’s also the mental. Being able to resist supernatural coercion could be crucial in a world that’s packed full of powerful supernatural creatures that would love to dig into your mind.
The problem with Fortitude is that it’s obviously an ability that benefits you more in combat-oriented situations. Vampire: the Masquerade tends to focus on roleplaying over combat, so depending on your campaign, you may get more or less use out of it.
Read Next: Vampire: the Masquerade – Best Disciplines to Pick When Building a Character
In Lovecraftian horror, it’s exceedingly common for protagonists to go insane simply from being exposed to truths too terrible for humanity to bear. This is the essence of the Malkavian clan, a group of aggrieved vampires who have just seen too much of the World of Darkness.
On the surface, they seem utterly mad. But beneath that chaos, there is a cold and horrifying understanding of our universe. Such clear perception of the way things really are is why I chose this Discipline for them:
You can think of Auspex as sort of the ultimate gift of perception. Those who possess the Discipline can tell when someone is lying, peer into the minds of others, and catch glimpses of the reality around them that others wouldn’t see.
A vampire skilled in Auspex can easily perceive another using Obfuscate to blend in, for instance. They may also get premonitions of terrible events to come, such as an attempt on their unlife.
The roleplay and combat uses for Auspex are limitless. At the end of the day, though, I just think roleplaying a seemingly insane vampire who knows too much would be a blast.
If you were to take a bunch of vampires and group them together, you’d probably be able to tell at a glance which ones were part of the Nosferatu clan. Nosferatu are characterized by hideous deformities that happened to them while they underwent their transformation from human to vampire. They take the sexy vampire stereotype and turn it on its head.
The funny part is that Nosferatu pride themselves on being more compassionate as a result. Anyway, here’s the Discipline I picked for them:
When you look as obvious as the Nosferatu, you need to learn to conceal yourself or else you’d be stuck hiding in sewers for all of eternity. Obfuscate gives them the ability to perfectly camouflage themselves in virtually any setting, whether it’s a dark alley or a crowd of people.
It’s not a Discipline for the faint of heart or new player. It has many finely nuanced uses at each level, so it takes some research and practice to use efficiently.
But once you adjust to it, I think Obfuscate could be one of the most interesting Disciplines in the game. Just keep in mind that any vampire with Auspex will be able to see right through your camouflage every time.
I feel like the “average” vampire today – if there can really be such a thing – would probably be most like a Toreador if they were in the World of Darkness. The Toreador clan is filled with narcissistic and tortured artist types.
They’re all about aesthetics. You’ll find them pining over paintings, staring longingly at performers, and doing whatever it takes just to feel something again.
Here’s what I think you should choose if you’re playing a Toreador:
The Presence Discipline is what would happen if you took the effortless charisma of a cult leader and dialed it up to 100. A vampire skilled in Presence can twist their image to achieve a variety of effects in their onlookers.
With a glare, you could strike an icy bolt of fear deep into the heart of whomever you’re speaking to. Your smiles would be like beatific expressions on the divine face of an angel. A laugh from your throat would cause anyone with you to feel an uncontrollable explosion of mirth.
Using Presence, you basically become the ultimate manipulator. Your targets don’t even know that their feelings are being coerced.
The roleplay uses for this ability are numerous and obvious. I think it could easily be used to intimidate your way out of conflict, as well.
Read Next: Vampire: the Masquerade – Where to Start
I’ll be honest with you: I have a soft spot for the Tremere. When I played the Vampire: the Masquerade game, the quiz you can take in the beginning put me in the Tremere clan. To top that off, the V5 book has a picture of a Tarot card (the Devil, for those of you wondering) right before the Tremere section, and that just makes me happy.
Okay, I’m done gushing, so let me explain who the Tremere are. The clan came from a group of ancient magicians who thought the vampiric curse was actually the gift of immortality they had long sought. To this day, the clan consists of magic users who must now use fresh blood to work their rituals.
Understandably, I had to choose this Discipline for them:
In the early days of Vampire: the Masquerade, Blood Sorcery was called “Thaumaturgy.” Sometimes, I still fall back on the word when I’m describing it, because my first real experience with the game was with the old Revised Edition (even though newer editions were out at the time).
Blood Sorcery is exactly what it sounds like: using blood to essentially do magic. If, like me, you have a fondness for mages in other systems, you’ll probably want to spring for a Tremere character and grab this Discipline.
Given that you must learn Blood Sorcery abilities from ancient experts in your clan, and also given that the mechanics for it can be needlessly confusing, it may not be the best path for someone new to the game. But if you have a lot of experience playing Vampire: the Masquerade or even tabletop RPGs in general, you should be able to get the hang of it quickly.
Imagine a meeting of a board of directors, everyone sitting around a polished mahogany table in their finest suits and dresses. Not a hair out of place as everyone coolly decides the fate of a company.
You’ve just imagined what the Ventrue are like. They’re comprised largely of natural leaders who have been this way for literal centuries. Many Ventrue remember what it was like to be nobility in the medieval times and now know what it’s like to be nobility today: an elite businessman or politician dispassionately manipulating the masses with a perfect mask.
I couldn’t resist choosing the same Discipline as the Toreador here:
Yes, Ventrue also have access to the Prescence Discipline. Since they have a natural proclivity for leadership, it makes sense that they’d have supernatural abilities that make it easy for them to inspire whatever feelings they’d like in their companions.
This is the perfect clan and Discipline to choose if you’re planning on playing the “face” for your group. You will become the masterful manipulator, capable of talking your way out of just about anything.
Need to fool someone into doing the dirty work for you? Prescence will make that a snap. What about sending an enemy running with just a cold look? Check.
Again, the roleplay possibilities for this superstar ability are endless.
Truth be told, some clans have stronger Disciplines than others, so I apologize for Prescence appearing on here twice. I just felt it was the best option for both Toreador and Ventrue vampires.
Maybe sometime I can do an analysis of strongest clans by Disciplines or other abilities. Anyway, I hope this post helped you. Let me know if you have any questions about Vampire: the Masquerade or want me to discuss anything else in the comments below.
I would have gone with Protean for Gangrel: turning into mist or a bat, sinking into the earth, etc. All quintessentially vampiric!
Those are all great choices, too! To be honest, I always have a hard time making lists like this because there are so many things I want to choose. I did a list of my favorite changing breeds in Werewolf: the Apocalypse, for instance, and it was borderline impossible for me to keep it to 5.