About Vampire: the Masquerade

Welcome to a New Night!
Laws of the Night is the official Live Action Role Playing (LARP) system for Vampire: The Masquerade (V:TM). Their chief design goal was to make a simple and fast system of mechanics to allow your character actions to flow quickly into the story. We all LARP for the immersive experience, and this system is designed to maximize that desire and allow for players familiar with the tabletop version of Vampire: The Masquerade Fifth Edition to easily and quickly convert their favorite tabletop characters and transition directly into the live action space. In the same way, characters created with their LARP rules can be converted for use in a tabletop chronicle with only a few adjustments.

This system is ideally suited for V:TM Fifth Edition stories — stories centered on younger vampires struggling to face a world where their elders are largely gone, Beckoned to a faraway war, resulting in a power vacuum. The vampiric world is now a young vampire’s bloodsoaked oyster. For good or for ill, it will be transformed by them as they face significant change.

V:TM has pushed the struggle for humanity to the forefront. The fight to maintain one’s humanity or the descent into madness is a core part of the personal horror aspects of Vampire: The Masquerade. For example, the Stains mechanics system embraces that idea by allowing characters to take action, make mistakes, and engage the monstrous side of their vampiric existence in a consequential and meaningful way.

With this in mind, Backgrounds now serve as a collaborative way for you and your Storyteller to flesh out the world around you. The Relationship Map provides a great way for a Storyteller to populate a world with NPCs that characters care about: their Allies, their Touchstones, the people they rely upon. No longer are Backgrounds a complex mini-game played out on a spreadsheet; they are both tools for characters to use to make their downtime activities easier and the people who keep them connected to their humanity.

Customizability is key for player enjoyment, and vampires are designed to be created in countless interesting and enjoyable ways. Disciplines present options that players can select, most of which are useful for solving problems without battle. With these options, characters with the same Discipline dots can function quite differently as players tailor their powers to their playstyle.

When players need to do basic math, the calculations are designed to be fast so that you can get back to roleplaying. The LARP rules for Vampire: The Masquerade are designed around a single core mechanic on which all game systems are built: a quick rock, scissors, paper game, where a tie is resolved by adding an Attribute and Skill or two Attributes together and comparing them. Bonuses and penalties that modify this core mechanic are few and far between. The rules have been tailored for rapid resolution.

Speed. Simplicity. Versatility. These are the core tenets of our design philosophy. We hope you enjoy it.

What is the World of Darkness?
At first glance, it looks a lot like the world we live in. The places you know here exist there as well. It is when you go deeper into the shadows that the real nature of the World of Darkness begins to emerge. For those who try to stay within the comforts of normality, the safety of brightly-lit streets, there is some hope to live out their lives and a chance to remain oblivious to the horrors lurking just out of sight. Those who stray from the light, who are brave or foolish enough to look deeper into the shadows, may stumble into all manner of secrets and conspiracies . . . if they follow the clues.

At the end of some rabbit holes lie the evil that mortals perpetrate. At the end of others, there are monsters. In the World of Darkness, vampires and stranger things conceal themselves among the mortal masses, pretending to be like us. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing—the predators preying upon humans. The rules of that world are similar to the rules of this one, and mortals may never realize that the monsters walk among us before it is too late. They could be anyone, and they could be anywhere.

Corruption, violence, and lies are facts of life for a great many people. The monsters take these parts of humanity and amplify them, harnessing them to accomplish their objectives, tempting the best of us to be less good and the worst of us to great evil. By turning mortals into their pawns, they can change narratives, cover up their tracks, and influence the shape of world events.

Vampire: The Masquerade is a horror game. Reality provides many horrific themes that Storytellers can focus on to create a dark world for their players to experience. Which themes you choose to emphasize is up to you. Perhaps the police and politicians are corrupt. Perhaps the news media cares more about money than the truth. You need only look at the ugly side of the world around you and draw the shadows deeper to reflect the World of Darkness. Seemingly good people are capable of evil things, and, sometimes, even a monster can have a heart. Why? That is up to you.

In Vampire: The Masquerade, there are no heroes. Players portray the monsters, feeding on and manipulating the living. Vampires are not good people, and you are not playing the good guy. Your character might be a jaded ancilla, long used to the ugliness of vampiric existence. Or perhaps your character is a fledgling, slowly accepting they must throw away pieces of their human morality to get the blood they need to stay alive. Vampires who try to be good people do not survive. They end up cautionary tales for the ones that do.

It is important to remember that the World of Darkness is a fiction. As players in a horror game, we are separate from the story being told, like actors in a movie. By honoring the story, honoring the setting, and most importantly, honoring one another, a great deal of emotional meaning, pathos, and fun can be found in exploring moral questions through the lens of immoral monsters in a horror game.

In this chapter, you will learn about the recent history of the World of Darkness from a vampiric perspective. Everything is poised for potential change, with the factions off balance and ready to be tipped by player action. Stories can be world-shifting or deeply personal. As a Storyteller, you decide how much of this world you want to use in your game. It is your toolbox.

Welcome to the World of Darkness. Enjoy walking into the shadows together.

Settings Update
The following is a summation of the important updates in the Vampire: The Masquerade setting. If you are only familiar with previous editions, these provide an introduction to core aspects of the most current version of Vampire: The Masquerade setting, often referred to as V5. For more detailed information, you may explore the expansive catalog of tabletop books for Vampire: The Masquerade. Also, look for more Laws of the Night supplements to follow from By Night Studios.

New Opportunity: The Camarilla
Created centuries ago, the Camarilla was the brainchild of forward-thinking elders who wished to see their kind safe and prosperous. For centuries, this global conspiracy kept vampires safe from prying mortal eyes. Their Traditions have been key, six sacred Laws that have guided and kept Kindred in their rightful place as kingmakers and the power behind the throne. The “Ivory Tower” is invincible—or so says the propaganda that Camarilla Princes spread.

For a long time, it might have been close to true, but things changed. The elders who created the Camarilla were essential to its power for centuries. In the last two decades, however, the elders began to disappear, called away to parts unknown by a mysterious force called the Beckoning, leaving the Camarilla in a precarious situation.

With that, the rebel cause known as the Anarch Movement gained the opportunity to strike at the seemingly invincible regime. Powerful domains such as London and Berlin, once thought unconquerable, have fallen out of Camarilla hands entirely. In many other domains, the aristocratic Camarilla shares territory in an uneasy balance with the Anarchs.

However, with a power vacuum comes opportunity. For the young and ambitious of the so-called Ivory Tower, there are many roles left vacant by missing elders. Their fortunes and networks have been left behind for the taking. Right now, the Camarilla domains are on the defensive, but the old ways of thinking are disappearing with the ancients that spawned them.

The young understand the modern world in ways the elders never could. They understand technology, surveillance, social media, and the sheer speed with which the modern world moves. As the Camarilla moves into the twenty-first century, with younger Kindred making more and more decisions, its strategy has changed from passive inaction to exerting its power in the modern world.

Centuries of stagnation have suddenly been shaken off. For the youth of the Camarilla, it is time to make things happen.

An Existential Threat: The Second Inquisition
The Masquerade has long been touted as essential by the Ivory Tower, which feared a mass uprising of mortals that could lead to an unstoppable purge of vampire-kind from the world. They were right to fear this. Unfortunately, it is too late to keep everything under wraps. The greatest threat to the existence of vampires comes from governments and religious organizations that have learned the undead are real and are doing everything in their power to understand the supernatural threat they face.

A secret Vatican organization known as the Society of St. Leopold held the records and knowledge from the medieval Inquisition. What they lacked was credibility and support. Now, these hardline Hunters find themselves allied with and supplied by powerful intelligence agencies who will stop at nothing to gain information about vampires.

However, the mortal authorities do not want to spark a panic. The agencies conducting this Second Inquisition are classified at the highest levels. Not every CIA or MI-5 agent knows about vampires. However, enough key people do that it is a major threat to vampires everywhere. The proof is in the results.

Clan Tremere’s Prime Chantry in Vienna has been destroyed. Camarilla Princes in London and Las Vegas were slain. Anarchs and the Sabbat have suffered greatly as well, losing many who were either too arrogant or too incautious to survive. The predators are not used to their prey fighting back, and the inquisitors are vicious people used to engaging in the nastiest fighting the world has to offer.

The Second Inquisition is an ongoing event that is designed to give players good reasons to take the Masquerade seriously. With vampiric keywords being flagged by the NSA, reports of mass anemia understood as potential overfeeding, and thermal scanners installed at airports and government facilities to check for blankbodies who come up cold, these antagonists are competent, effective and dangerous.

A Surging Revolt: The Anarch Movement
Long live the revolution!
Oppressed by the Camarilla and weakened by infighting, the Anarch Revolt has swept across the world. Without their elders, weakened Camarilla domains simply could not hold the line where they once dominated. The vacuum left by the Beckoning was exactly what the Movement needed to turn into a full-blown revolution. In many cities, the elite retreated from the streets to their Elysia, and the Anarchs claimed their abandoned territory.

The Anarch Movement is not a single ideology or organization. It is wave after wave of oppressed young vampires fighting for their own freedom. It is as unified and capable as the people on the ground in any given city are. With the Camarilla weakened by the Second Inquisition and the loss of their elders, new opportunities arise to try toppling the Ivory Tower.

What happens next? That is the question on wise Anarchs’ minds. Is the Anarch Revolt simply a wave of violence and revenge? Or is there a chance for a new society to be built by those who are clever and charismatic enough to make it happen?

Under The Radar: The Unbound
The vampiric world has been shaken to its core by a constellation of circumstances, leaving room for vampires who are not members of either sect to try to exist in their own way. The Hecata, known as the Clan of Death, has made a particular mark, claiming territories of their own and sending emissaries to Anarchs and the Camarilla Courts to create a place for themselves in the night.

Some individual vampires build their own domains and rule as tyrants; others form rural communes far from cities, and nomads drive through the night to eke out an existence on the road. There are as many ways to live in the night as there are vampires, and a clever vampire can hide right under the nose of authorities simply by embracing the Masquerade well. After all, keeping track of everyone within cities of millions is very difficult.

An Evil in the Shadows: The Sabbat
Once a powerful military movement of vampires reveling in violence and inhumanity, the antagonist group known as the Sabbat has been struck from many angles. Second Inquisition strike teams have annihilated much of the Sword of Caine. The Anarch Revolution has torn territories from their grasp, and ambitious Camarilla Kindred seeking their share of new opportunities have taken even more. Some Sabbat members bent the knee to the Camarilla. Others pose as Anarchs.

With their cities taken and their organization splintered, many Kindred thought the Sword of Caine was on the edge of destruction. They could not have been more wrong. The truly dedicated members of the Sabbat who remain are now free to strike from the shadows, spreading terror and death in their wake. No longer are they required to run a large organization. Working in cells in cities of their choosing, the true believers strike at targets of opportunity in the name of the Dark Father before fading away into the shadows. To what end, the Camarilla and the Anarch Movement do not know, amplifying the terror they leave in their wake.