The More Things Change… A look at the Differences between Vampire: the Masquerade and Vampire: the Requiem

February 8, 2007

I frequent the White Wolf forums and for a long time many people would troll the Vampire the Requiem forum about how little was changed from the old Vampire the Masquerade to the new Vampire the Requiem. Often they made very general claims about the clans being all the same, or it’s just the same kind of stuff in a new more expensive edition. Some would yell that they took out all that was good about Masquerade was taken out and replaced by things like the covenants. Most of these arguments were usually based on rumor or a quick read through of the book in a store. Blanket statements made with minimal information is not something anyone should do so it seemed that information needed to be shown.

Vampire the Requiem and Vampire the Masquerade are both vampire protaganist games set in the modern age, both are made by White Wolf studios. Most similiarities of the two game lines, beyond terms used to describe certain aspects of the game, end there. The purpose of this is essay is to do a small dissection of sorts to see just how much the setting has changed and to begin let’s start with the most visible of elements:

The Clans
Clans have been a part of White Wolf Vampire games for fourteen years now. Vampire the Masquerade began with seven clans that slowly inflated into thirteen with two dead clans. It became so muddled that it was unsure if being a clan meant having a member of the third generation or something less tangible. In Masquerade these clans were political entities that pushed forward their own ideals and more like families units or special intrest groups.

But with Vampire the Requiem the clan number as been cut down to a mere five. Of these five clans two of them are entirely new (Mekhet and Daeva) and three of them retained the names of old clans from Vampire the Masquerade. These three clans, the Gangrel, Ventrue and Nosferatu, are often pointed to as proof that the game hasn’t changed all that much. But let’s take a real look at them and see how similiar these clans are.

The Gangrel on the surface are the one clan that seems most similiar to their Masquerade predocessor. Both are animalistic clans that seem to be primarily regard survival as the greatest trait in a potential childe. But the similiarities end there as the Requiem Gangrel are the perfect predator and that’s what they seek to be. They aren’t wanderers and country bumpkins as they were portrayed in Masquerade. Not the outsider and loner that we had concept after concept off. No they are the predator of the city with all the tools necessary to be said predator. As predators and not animals the Gangrel no longer gain animal features and instead have a problem acting without using instict.

Secondly the Ventrue of Masquerade were businessmen and politicians, they acted like martyr’s of Kindred society in the Camarilla. They took the “burden of leadership” onto themselves for the “good of all Kindred.” This is not the Requiem Ventrue. The Ventrue of Requiem are different. They aren’t businessmen and politicians, instead they are the lords of the night. Lords over what? Well anything actually. A Ventrue can be the best painter in her style or the best computer tech or really the best of anything. That’s what they are the “best.” They lord over their chosen skills as the greatest there is. That’s what the Ventrue are, the adabtable leaders of industry, art, entertainment, ect. The blue-blood aristocrats have simply become the best and power tends to drive one mad. Heance the Ventrue no longer have the old rarified tastes and instead slowly go insane as they fail degeneration checks.

Of all the changes that were made to clans, the changes to the Nosferatu are the most obvious when one looks at them. The Nosferatu of Masquerade were outcasts too ugly to be able to interact with humanity and discarded by the “beautiful clans.” They spent most of their time skulking though the sewers and hoarding information. This has totally changed as the Nosferatu are now the monsterous clan, instead of everyone of them being deformed creatures the Nosferatu are just as likely to be gorgeous. The trick is that they all, if they are deformed or not, exude an monstrous aura that makes people uncomfortable to be around them. Topping off this is the new discipline of Nightmare, a discipline involving the causing of fear in its target.

In addition to the changes in clan, there are no “thin-blooded” in Requiem. Kindred in Requiem are tied to their sires and other ancestors of the blood by a sympathy that allows them to occasionally sense what is going on with you. Disciplines are easier to use on Kindred that you share this blood sympathy with and as such it’s impossible to not know your sire in some sense and thus, no clanless vampires. The Caitiff are gone as any sort of group but a vampire may be called a caitiff until his ancestory is known.

This blood sympathy also allows for a change in one of Masquerade’s other features, the Bloodline. Bloodlines in Requiem are much more accessible than in Masquerade as any clan member may join a bloodline tied to that clan. If a member of a bloodline creates progeny that progeny begins as a member of the sire’s clan, not his bloodline. Thus the bloodlines are something you join, not made into. The bloodlines expand on the themes of the various clans. Three of the bloodlines presented in the core book will look familiar to those who played Masquerade. The Toreador are a bloodline of the Daeva with a focus on being patrons to the arts. The Bruja (no ‘h’ is intentional) are a gang of wandering bikers related to the Gangrel. And finally the Malkovians suffer in madness as a ignored bloodline of the Ventrue. Each bloodline plays on the themes of their larger clan (the names kept to give Masquerade players a source of transition). Bloodlines pick up an additional weakness with their clan weakness and a fourth discipline that they get to purchase at “clan” cost. Some bloodlines produce unique disciplines that only they can learn.

Sects and Society
Someone familiar with Vampire the Masquerade will find a surprise in that the sects of the Camarilla and Sabbat are gone. The large global “nations”
of the Kindred known as sects have been turned to the wayside and replaced with five covenants. This is one of the often over looked but huge differences between the two game lines. With the advent of covenants the politics of the Kindred has become more based off these covenants rather than the clans with the sects as Masquerade did. Also on a more local note, the Prince and Kindred government is wide open as power levels of the elders fluctuate and the covenants all have different styles of “ruling” a city.

This shows a huge difference as all the covenants can co-exist in the same city and depending on your location and your storyteller’s prefrence there can be the same type of wars the Sabbat and Camarilla had. Or it can be a tense cold-war type enviroment as all the covenants carefully watch each other looking for a reason to pounce. When the Camarilla was dominating a city, the only time the Sabbat would make an apperance was to make a seige. When the Sabbat was in control the Camarilla could only make a presence known when trying to take a city. Meaning Masquerade had to game types, Camarilla or Sabbat. You couldn’t effectively do both at the same time as the two types were directly antagonistic with each other.

Two game mechanics were added that change the way that the Kindred interact with each other as well. Generation was nicked and replaced with Blood Potency a trait that increases with time and experience expenditure. It also decreases as you spend time in TORPOR. Thus the power levels of the Kindred tend to increase for the younger and the older move down the scale as they topor. You get a middle ground that allows the elders and the ancilla at a SIMILAR power level. No longer is the game about the players bemoaning that they can’t be as strong as the elders because they can.

The other game mechanic that changed things is Predator’s Taint. In Requiem the Beast of a vampire has a tendency to be a bit more proactive, when it senses another Beast (ie another Vampire) it reacts based on how strong the blood of the other Beast is. The want to flee those stronger and want to kill those who are weaker or equal. This creates an intersting dichotomy where the Kindred seek each other’s company but must be wary of meeting new Kindred. Elysium those becomes incredibly important to meet as it’s a safe zone and your Beast reacts to this feeling of safety.

One of the things about Vampire the Masquerade was the Paths of Enlightnment “allowed” inhuman vampires. Many people have railed that they were left out of Requiem saying it precludes you from playing a vampire who is a monster. But when you look at the Humanity scale and at what most Path characters did, they still fall around the level of four in Humanity. And as such they have a problem dealing with mortals who find them off putting and creepy. This is because the focus of Requiem is more about the strugle to keep the Beast down while exalting the Man rather than just finding a way to keep the Beast quiet. Many things that were parts of path such as Instict’s ability to ride the wave of a frenzy although the idea of completly discarding the Man by taking a path has been discarded.

Though the nomenclature stayed the same for many of the Disciplines the similiarites for many of them stayed there. In fact the changes to the Disciplines are rather extreme in some cases though some stayed rather the same. Out of the Disciplines that made the cross-over to Requiem Auspex, Animalism and Dominate are the two that stayed the same to it’s Revised predecessors (in effect not in system)

The most notable change is the physical Disciplines. Potence, Celerity and Fortitude have fallen to the side and been revamped into Vigor, Celerity and Resilience (yes I know that Celerity is the old name but stay with me). Gone are the day of automatic success, additional actions and outrageous soak rolls in are the days of temporary increases to attribute scores, increased jumping ability (Vigor), increased running speed (Celerity), and downgrading damage (Resilience). Love them or hate them, and you’ll get alot of both, these three physical disciplines have changed extremely.

Majesty, the new name for the old Presence discipline’s first and second abilities got something of a revamp as well. Awe does more than just attract attention but instead actually instills awe in a person. Dread Gaze has gone away from Majesty and replaced with Revelation, a power that allows you to get the target to bear his soul to you. Making the theme of presence be much more force of personality and less of a grab bag of emotional control.

Obfuscate is another old favorite that makes a return, but like a person getting a face lift and dye job the name is virtually the only thing that stays the same. Touch of Shadow, the new level one power, allows the Kindred to conceal objects in your person. Mask of Tranquillity (level 2) hides your Predator’s taint from other Kindred meaning you no longer cause them to want to frenzy. Cloak of Night (level 3) is familiar to Masquerade players as it plays nearly identically to Vanish from the Minds eye, with the Familiar Stranger becoming the new level 4 power. Familiar Stranger is something akin to the old Mask of 1000 Faces but vastly different, instead of taking any form you wish, you take the form of who your target expects to see.

Protean, the famed discipline of the Gangrel has gotten a restructuring as well as a new power. Aspect of the Predator replaced Gleam of the Red Eye givng a Gangrel an angry beast that always tries to attack when encountering Predator’s Taint. However Earth Meld was put before the infamous agg dealing claws also picking up the ability to merge with other material for more XP.

To much happiness of many Thamaturgy has disappeared but blood magic remained. Two of the covenants have blood magic the dark miracles of Theban Sorcery and the blood-curses of Cruac. Blood Magic in Requiem is completely ritual based with no paths in sight so those who hated the million+ paths of Thamaturgy can breathe a sigh of relief.

One of the more subtle changes is the base setting of Requiem over Masquerade. In Masquerade we had a long history of Kindred, heck even the Prince of London was thousands of years old. And all vampires were decended from Caine, the mythical third mortal. In Requiem there is no more mythical progenitor the vampire creation myth is uncertain and most don’t even care about it. In addition no Kindred over 2000 years old is known to exist. Part of the mystery of Kindred history is that an elder who have fallen into torpor before suffer from fever dreams and nightmares mixed with their memories as they sleep. When they awaken they can’t distiguish dream from reality, this effect is called the Fog of Eternity.

There is a saying that “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Perhaps that’s the explaination on why Vampire the Requiem is often derided as being “too much the same” to Vampire the Masquerade. I hope that I have been informative and shown you that just because the changes aren’t there on the surface doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

There are still many things that remained the same it’s true. Many of the titles that Masquerade’s Camarilla used are there, although other options for titles are given. They are still called Kindred and it’s still Disciplines, Vitae, Clan, Bloodline and many other nomenclature similairites. But the similiarities truly die there. Which is a shame because I will miss the ankh being the symbol for practically every group.


9 Responses to “The More Things Change… A look at the Differences between Vampire: the Masquerade and Vampire: the Requiem”

  1. Joe Says:

    I like your assessment of diferences. I personally like the new version ALOT more than the old.

  2. Garion Says:

    I think the absence of a global plot is a real problem, just as the disapearance of generations… I liked the fact that very ancient, powerful and inhuman creatures could be behind every move in the game, this sucks as now there is no way to fully “improve” your character in the long term.

    • Terrence Says:

      Yes they gotten rid of all that was good from Vampire the masquerade and replaced with meh. The absence of the meta plot and politics leaves the vampire nothing more to bemoan his existence like some crappy version of “twilight.”

  3. brokenblade Says:

    I do like the effort you’ve gone through to analyze the shift from Masquerade to Requiem… but the ultimate problem is the fact that the changes are really only skin deep… there are no deeper thematic shifts in what Kindred are or what they do…. Doors have been opened for the storyteller, but the questions from the perspective of the player remain ultimately the same, as does the story of the ‘new childe’. Compare that to the experience of the First Change in Old WoD and New WoD.

    The differences and similarities become glaring.

  4. J.R. "Bob" Dobbs Says:

    Majesty and Presence are identical except for the two dot ability. Even awe is exactly the same. I’m looking at both of the editions right now. In fact, they pretty much just copied and pasted straight out of the old book for the descriptions.

    Majesty isn’t the only discipline guilty of copy ‘n past.

    I’m disappointed that in revising Presence they did little to ameliorate the overpowered nature of it. I appreciated the reduction in duration for Entrancement, and allowing Kindred to resist Summon for a whole night instead of a mere turn. But overall Majesty/Presence is still one of the most powerful disciplines in the game, and they did nothing to fix that. Despite completely nerfing Obfuscate.

  5. MrMe Says:

    Well first of all the Requiem crap takes away from the diversity of the game. There are less clans, and the new system plays up to 15 year old Emo Chicks more than pure role players in an attempt to get a new audience. For those of you that do not know, Nosferatu were based on old myths about certain vampires, as well as the classic movie, called Nosferatu, so any change there is UNWELCOME, you don’t come out with a fantasy setting and tell people that elves no longer have pointy ears, because it would be stupid.

    They took away the most interesting clans and there is no personality to the game any more, there are no Evil Bali, or Set followers. No Satan worshipping Sabbat monsters with twisted flesh, because they got rid of that clan to, too bad if you spent the last few years RPing a Losombra now they have not only ruined the LORE to their own franchise in a DESPERATE money grab, but they have ruined any chance of future video games or mmorpgs being worth a shit, because I wanted a real Nosferatu, or a Brujah not some Gay ass EMO Deavi or whatever stupid over generic vampire crap they pass off now.

    Thanks for making the game we loved IRRELEVANT.


  6. Vict0r Says:

    Well, I loved Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines more than any other game I ever played (maybe excepting Mafia but I’m not sure), and this slight changes do not really make me happy. I haven’t purchased or played requiem yet, but the lack of a global storyline and ancient bloodline just seems to transform it all in an endless battle of the night where nobody could win, and where the russian vampire from Vladivostok, who finds himself near kuei-jins daily doesn’t know a thing about the central European, Arabian, or American vampire. (just an example since the kuei-jin clan is gone as well) It isn’t as much about the changes of the clans, but about the huge plot changing which made it all a battle of different ideas, and replaced the mystery, the atmosphere and the beauty of masquerade with this thing. I played redemption too, and I liked it (still I must say I hated the controls and couldn’t finish it – mouse controls really suck in my opinion), but this is going to end it all!!! They destroyed the diversity of the bloodlines, sects, and clans by adding a boring diversity of political battles. I do also dislike the fact that my favorite socialist-idealist Brujah and mysterious Malkavian are gone, but I should probably try the game until saying more things. The review was kind of disappointing for me, but the game might be better. I’m going to try it, but I don’t think that it can even be compared with the Masquerade series… Cheers, and let’s hope the wonderful masquerade series was not destroyed by Requiem!

    • The point is to give the story over to the game masters instead of too the books. It allows the game master to instead decide what the global storylines there are and what ancient bloodlines still thrive.

      The power goes back to the gamer instead of the series writer.

      The Brujah are still their in the spirit of the Carthian Movement covenant, and the Malkavians were added back in the Ventrue clan book so here’s hoping you enjoy it.

  7. source Says:

    It appears to me that this site doesnt load up on a Motorola Droid. Are other folks getting the same issue? I like this web site and dont want to have to miss it whenever Im gone from my computer.

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