Photo by Chaozzy Lin on Unsplash

If you’re looking for a new tabletop RPG to play that isn’t Dungeons and Dragons, but isn’t super difficult to find players for, Vampire: the Masquerade is one of your best bets. Since its creation, it’s continued to be a fairly popular tabletop game with a legion of dedicated fans.

Maybe it’s because we all just have some kind of hidden desire to play a sexy vampire at least once in our lives (notwithstanding Nosferatu vampires, anyway). Perhaps it’s due to the fact that most people are interested in dark, supernatural worlds.

Whatever the reason, it’s an excellent choice for your next tabletop campaign. I’m creating this brief, generalized guide on where to start in Vampire: the Masquerade for beginning players who might feel as if they’re in over their heads initially.

If you’ve looked at any of my other “where to start” tabletop guides in our tabletop RPG section, you’ll find they’re pretty similar. That’s because I feel like the general steps of getting a campaign together are the same for most games. Nonetheless, I’m putting this up as a way to help those who might specifically be searching for Vampire: the Masquerade info online.

Starting Your own Vampire: the Masquerade Campaign

1. Learn about the system and decide which edition you want to play.

The first step to playing most TTRPGs is knowing which edition you’re going to play. The longer a game has been around, the more editions it will usually have available.

Between editions, there will be variations in rules and additional character creation options. For instance, a race or class you could play in the most recent edition might not be available in earlier ones. Once you have an idea of which edition you want to play, you need to get a copy of the core rulebook for said edition.

The core rulebook is the minimum requirement. This is where you will learn about the rules for the system. Most games will also have supplementary books, such as those with lists of potential monsters or those created specifically for the DM/GM to use as a resource.

If you’re not sure where to start at all with a new game, the most recent edition is usually a good starting point. That’s because it’s typically easier to find supplementary books to go with your core rulebook – not to mention, the core rulebook itself will probably be easier to acquire.

In the case of Vampire: the Masquerade, the latest edition is called V5.

2. Figure out who’s going to run the game and who you’re going to play with.

You can’t really play Vampire: the Masquerade alone. Unlike Call of Cthulhu, it also doesn’t have easily accessible solo campaigns you can play to get a feel for the system.

That means one of your first steps should be figuring out who’s going to be in your group. You also need to designate someone to run the sessions if it’s not going to be you.

Ideally, you have a group of at least two or three friends who are interested in playing with you. It’s oftentimes easier to play with people you’re already comfortable with, especially if you’re new to tabletop games. There’s a bit of shyness some new players can experience when it comes to role-playing, and you’ll find this easier to overcome with people you know.

However, if you don’t have any friends who would be interested in playing, your campaign isn’t necessarily doomed before it even started. If you’re willing to play virtually, consider checking out sites that help you search for other players, such as Roll20, Reddit’s r/lfg, or even TabletopRPGFinder.

I’ve personally had the most luck with Roll20. That’s where I’d suggest starting first, as it seems to have the widest variety of games available in general.

3. Plan a session schedule with your group.

With a group in mind, it’s time to figure out a play schedule that works for everyone in the group. This can often be harder than it sounds.

I think the DM/GM should have a significant amount of power when it comes to determining the schedule. It takes a lot of time for them to put together sessions, and they should be able to choose a date and time that allows them to fully guide you through each of their scenarios.

But it’s obviously important that everyone else be able to attend most sessions, too, otherwise there’s no point in playing. If you’re having a hard time deciding as a group, I think using a poll would be helpful. Polls allow you to visually see when most people would be available for playing.

There are plenty of sites online that make polls you can share for free, otherwise you can just use the polls provided in messaging services like Facebook messenger.

4. Start developing a character concept.

Red-Eyed Vampire
Image by DarkmoonArt_de from Pixabay

Coming up with your vampire (called Kindred) is seriously one of the most fun parts of the process. I personally spend days coming up with an elaborate backstory behind every single one of my characters, but you certainly don’t have to get that into it.

Much of what you can or can’t do is going to be determined by your group’s DM. If that’s you, then you can largely disregard this whole section. At some point in the future, I may create a guide directed more at Vampire: the Masquerade Storytellers to help you out.

Your Storyteller dictates the timeframe you’re playing in, your settings, and may choose to ban or allow particular types of characters. For instance, your Storyteller may choose to forbid Sabbat vampires if you’re playing in the Camarilla, depending on which edition of the game you chose.

Wait until you have an understanding of what they will or won’t allow, then get started on thinking about a character. Assuming you’re playing within the Camarilla, choosing your Clan will be one of the most important aspects to your character. Stats-wise, a lot will fall into place afterwards.

If you’re not sure which clan to go with, try one of the ones I mentioned in my list of the best VtM clans. Beyond that, here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you form a character concept:

  • What were the circumstances surrounding their Embrace (transformation)? (Decide who sired them, when it happened, and potentially even where it happened)
  • Who are the important people in their life now, if any?
  • What is your character’s name? Do they go by a different name from when they were human?
  • What are your character’s goals in their unlife?
  • How does your character look? (May be influenced by their Clan, so choose carefully)
  • Does your character have monetary resources?
  • Where to does your character live?
  • What does your character do to relax?
  • Does your character have any enemies?

Feeling a little overwhelmed by all this detail? You can always use this VtM V5 Vampire Generator to help you develop a character concept much more quickly. I love the amount of detail this generator goes into – it will tell you your clan, name, generation, attributes, skills, and even appearance.

Of course, if you don’t like some of the qualities generated automatically, you can tweak them, too.

5. Create your character and put them on a sheet.

When you’re ready, the next step is getting your character put down on a character sheet. A character sheet is essentially a point of reference where you can keep track of your character’s qualities and their improvements as you play.

If you’re playing V5 like I suggested, you can use a sheet like this character sheet. For other editions, finding a character sheet is often as simple as searching online for something like, “Vampire the Masquerade X edition character sheet.”

I will always suggest having some kind of pre-session where the players discuss and create characters together. This allows to the Storyteller to address everyone’s questions at once, and it allows players to work together to create a cohesive party.

Vampire: the Masquerade FAQs

What do I need to play Vampire: the Masquerade?

Assuming you’re a player and not the storyteller, you only need a few things:

  • Access to the core rulebook
  • Your character sheet
  • Notebook for note-taking
  • Pencil
  • Various dice to make rolls with

It goes without saying that you’ll need your group. It’s also important to mention that the Storyteller will require more resources most times than the players, but I might get into that in a separate post at some point. This one is already getting long.

Which edition of Vampire: the Masquerade is best?

As I mentioned earlier, one of your first steps is deciding which edition of the game you’re going to play. So, how exactly do you choose? Is there one which is the best?

I’m personally most familiar with the revised edition. It’s fairly streamlined, but still gives players rules to access all the clans rather than arbitrarily roping some of them off. Many feel it’s a better introductory edition to the series, but I think some newer players could be put off by just how dated it looks and feels.

However, I’d suggest starting with V5 these days if it’s your first time getting into VtM. Again, as the most recent edition, I feel as if it’s easier to find materials that go with it. It also does an excellent job of focusing on the strong storytelling aspects of the game that I think are best suited for the world.

Furthermore, V5 gives you a taste of what the world will probably be like moving forward with the system. If you’re new the game, you might as well adjust now to how it’s going to be in the future.

How does Vampire: the Masquerade work?

I’ve addressed in a nutshell how tabletop RPGs work in a few other posts, but assuming this is the first post of mine you’re reading, I’ll cover it briefly again here.

A tabletop RPG is comparable to a choose-your-own-adventure book. One person, the Storyteller, functions as the “book,” sharing the world and secondary characters. Other players function as main characters in the story, choosing how they will respond to scenarios proposed to them by the Storyteller.

For the most part, these stories take place in the players’ imaginations. Some groups try to make it feel more material, however, by using miniatures, maps, and graphics to portray what is happening in the story.

Campaigns are divided into manageable pieces and sessions. I feel like a pretty common schedule is to meet weekly, but your group can meet as often as you agree to. You can also continue to meet as long as you like – campaigns can be short one-shot stories completed in one session, or can even go on for years in dedicated groups, provided none of you gets bored.

When did Vampire: the Masquerade come out?

Vampire: the Masquerade, the tabletop RPG, was first released in 1991. It is one of a handful of White Wolf games, with perhaps their other most popular title being Werewolf: the Apocalypse.

Wrap Up

If you look at any of our other posts about tabletop RPGs, you’ll find that I have a tremendous soft spot for White Wolf games. Although it appears that Vampire: the Masquerade is now being handled by a different publisher, I have high hopes for its future and would like to play it again soon.

Should you have the opportunity to get a campaign going, please don’t hesitate to let me know how it went by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

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