Table of Contents
- Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Apocalypse – an Introduction
- Wrap Up
The average person only knows about Dungeons and Dragons when it comes to tabletop RPGs. We personally think that’s a shame, because there are so many other options out there to play. With all the worlds to dive into with your friends, there’s no reason to limit yourself solely to the universe of D&D.
White Wolf games are an example of excellent alternatives if you’re looking to dive a little deeper into the world of tabletop RPGs. Two of the most popular White Wolf RPGs are Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Apocalypse.
But which one should you try playing next? That’s where we come in. We’ll be comparing Vampire: the Masquerade vs Werewolf: the Apocalypse here.
Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Apocalypse – an Introduction
Before we jump into the comparison, we’ll start with a very quick introduction to these two games. As you know already, Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Apocalypse are tabletop RPGs.
That means that each game consists of a number of players, and one Storyteller who runs each campaign. The Storyteller is the equivalent of a DM in DnD, and, well, tells the story of the game. They address disputes between the players, control all NPCs, and dictate the plot of the story in which the players play.
In VtM, players create vampires (called Kindred) and play through the game as these bloodthirsty creatures of the night. WtA, on the other hand, has players step into the paws of werewolves (called Garou), or possibly other changing creatures like werecats and werebears.
Both take place in the World of Darkness. The World of Darkness is basically the modern-day world as we know it, although quite a bit drearier, as the name implies. Imagine a gritty, gothic, shadowy underbelly to the world, like a nightclub in a 90’s vampire movie, and you’ll have the gist of what the world is like in these games.
We’ll be comparing and contrasting VtM and WtA on a few different points. For each point of comparison, we’ll give a brief description of what the similarities and differences are.
At the end of the post, we’ll tell you how to decide between the two in terms of which one you should try for your next campaign.
In general, the gameplay between the games is quite similar. Dice rolls are made in the same fashion, and most of the attributes and skills have the same names, with a few exceptions.
Vampires do need to keep an eye on their hunger and blood potency stats, though, whereas werewolves need to be conscious of their Rage. Becoming too hungry in VtM or too filled with Rage in WtA could cause your character to lose control.
In both game systems, you’ll use ten-sided dice to make rolls. You’ll roll a greater or lesser number of dice depending on your character’s skills and attributes.
On each die, you need to a roll a certain number or higher to get a success. The more successes you get, the greater your chance of getting a favorable outcome in whatever situation the Storyteller made you roll on.
Some say WtA is the more combat-focused of the two games. Truthfully, it does have a lot more rules dedicated to combat than VtM. VtM has a heavy focus on political intrigue and roleplay.
Building a new character is basically the same between WtA and VtM. In each one, you’ll assign points to the same attributes and skills with a remaining number of freebie points to dedicate to whatever you wish.
In either system, you can also choose merits and flaws during character creation. Merits are positive qualities that give you some kind of benefit, such as metamorph in WtA, which allows you to shift forms without needing to make a dice roll. It costs you points to take a merit.
Flaws, on the other hand, give you points when you take them. It can be something as simple being shy, or something as debilitating as being insane. When you take a flaw during character creation, it gives you more points to spend on other qualities.
For either game, you’ll also need to choose a greater group your character is part of. In VtM, this would be your clan. In WtA, you’d be choosing your tribe.
When you choose your clan or your tribe, you’ll gain access to a range of abilities that your character can learn later on. Each clan or tribe has their own unique abilities and reputation.
With WtA, you take it a step further and choose an auspice, too, which is the phase of moon you’re born under. Your moon phase will determine what role you play in society, whether it’s a warrior, trickster, judge, bard, or mage-like character.
Read Also: Top 5 Best Werewolf: the Apocalypse Tribes
When it comes to leveling up your characters, WtA and VtM are again quite similar…although it’s probably better not to think of it as “leveling up.” Unlike in DnD or many other tabletop RPGs, your characters aren’t given a numerical level.
Instead, their skills and sometimes even attributes increase as they gain experience points to spend. They’ll also be able to access more tribal and clan skills as earn experience. Like with other tabletop RPGs, that experience is earned by completing tasks and story arcs in the campaign.
How much experience is earned depends entirely on the Storyteller. They may even choose to reward players with bonuses if they played particularly well at a given time.
Another thing these games have in common is the setting. As we mentioned previously, both take place in the World of Darkness, which is essentially the modern-day world.
Exactly where in the world the campaign takes place is up to the Storyteller. Both can take place anywhere in the world as we know it today.
With either one, it’s also possible to get a little more creative with the time. Although they generally happen in the modern era, there’s no reason you couldn’t adjust the game to occur in the past or the future.
Theme and Mood
One of the biggest differences between Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Apocalypse are their themes.
Werewolves are natural guardians of the planet. They’re warriors of the Wyld, opposing anything that does harm to the earth. Many stories center on opposing the corrupting influence of corporations which cause pollution.
By their very nature, werewolves are built for combat. Even the most physically weak werewolf can still kick butt. For that reason, many WtA campaigns are very combat-heavy, although they can certainly have copious amounts of roleplay, too.
Werewolves also have a very interconnected society. Wolves are pack animals, after all, so their ability to work together is vital. Characters will need to be concerned about being in good standing not only with their own small pack, but the Garou nation as a whole.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, vampires are essentially agents of corruption themselves. They feed on humans, and they’re bound to live under the cover of darkness and deception. They’re much more solitary creatures than werewolves, and often live alone.
Vampire: the Masquerade campaigns tend to be more about storytelling and roleplaying. Combat can definitely be a part of them, but most vampires are not natural warriors, like werewolves are. Games will often center on the darkly elegant and decaying political structure of vampire society.
How often either game is played is another factor where they differ. Go on any tabletop RPG site, such as Roll20, and we’ll bet you’ll find way more Vampire: the Masquerade campaigns going than Werewolf: the Apocalypse ones.
VtM was always the more popular of the two games. Even today, it continues to have its dedicated players. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of notoriety that DnD enjoys, but it’s still not too difficult to pull together a group if you really want to.
WtA, alternatively, is kind of uncommon. It can be exceedingly difficult to find campaigns looking for players, and even harder to pull together enough people yourself for one…unless you volunteer to run it, of course.
Playable Character Options and Backgrounds
By their very definitions, the options you’re going to have for character backgrounds will be vastly different in VtM and WtA.
As a werewolf, you’ll have a number of things to decide. You’ll need to determine if you’re a homid (human) werewolf who lived their life as a person before their change, or a lupus (wolf) born werewolf that was living their life as a wolf before their first change. You can even, if you want, choose to be a metis, a werewolf born of two werewolf parents that lived as a hybrid before experiencing their first transformation.
You’ll then need to decide which tribe you’re in, and which phase of moon you were born under. These things will have a huge impact on how you play your character going forward, so it’s important to decide on a concept that sounds enjoyable to you.
Vampires all start as human beings. Eventually, they undergo the Embrace with their sire vampire, which transforms them into a bloodthirsty creature of the night.
You’ll then choose your clan. Like with tribes, your clan will affect how you play your character, so it’s wise to study them all and choose wisely.
In Werewolf: the Apocalypse, your party will likely oppose agents of the Wyrm (decay) and the Weaver (order and technology). As such, your possible enemies may include things like corporate agents, evil spirits, fallen werewolves, and even potentially vampires.
Things aren’t so straightforward in Vampire: the Masquerade. Remember, it’s a game of political intrigue, so potential foes could be anyone, even the people you trusted as allies.
Aside from other Kindred, you might find your vampire confronting any of a wide number of enemies. They can be paranormal creatures such as ghouls, everyday beings like humans, or even werewolves. (You might want to avoid werewolves as a vampire, though – they can definitely destroy you.)
Which One Should You Play Next?
Now here’s the ultimate question: which one should you play for your next campaign? And here is the unsatisfying answer: it depends on what you want.
Looking for a dark and gritty romp that would satisfy your gothic heart? Then you’ll love Vampire: the Masquerade. It has a lot going for it in that regard. It’s basically Queen of the Damned made into a tabletop RPG.
If you’re one person looking to join a campaign, VtM may also be preferable simply because it’s more well-known. You’re more likely to find groups open to accepting new players.
But if you’re looking for a campaign with a spiritual undertone that encourages strong teamwork, Werewolf: the Apocalypse is the choice for you. The downside is that, unless you’ve got a group of people together who want to play, you’re not likely to be able to play at all. There aren’t too many campaigns looking to add players to their groups, because it’s not as common a game.
In terms of difficulty, they’re both the same. Neither one is significantly harder to learn than the other, so that likely won’t factor into your decision.
Think about combat, too. If you’re searching for a way to play characters that can smash face and dominate in battle, you’ll love werewolves in WtA.
But on the other hand, if what you want is a game that’s perfect for political drama and plotting, VtM is the choice for you.
And that’s a wrap on this comparison. Keep in mind this is a very shallow and quick comparison that gives you only a snapshot of either game.
Each game has been lovingly created by White Wolf to be packed with details. There’s so much more than what we touched on here. We strongly recommend getting your hands (or paws) on the core rulebooks for either one to learn more.