For anyone who wants to hear me fanboy over Classic World of Darkness games, you can watch my video of it on The Nerdiest Talk Show on Earth. I love White Wolf Publishing’s dark and gritty world and all the characters that can be created from it. Vampire the Masquerade is the flagship of the company’s Classic World of Darkness and with the 20th anniversary of the book, not counting the Antitribu bloodlines, there are thirty different clans and bloodlines to choose from. Needless to say variety is the spice of life and when you have this many options, there is always one that shines as one of the best and those who sully in the realms of the worst. So with that being said, I give to you the Best and Worst Clans/Bloodlines of Vampire the Masquerade!
Before we get started on this list, I do want to reiterate that this is my personal opinion. If you disagree with this opinion that is fine, you are welcome to your own opinion, and I would love to debate you as well. I also want to add the criteria to which I am basing this list on. This is not my personal list of the ones I hate and the ones I love. That is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT LIST. I base this on a number of things. First is the idea itself. Is it a good idea, does it represent the mythos well, could it be construed as offensive or racist? Second, the actual game mechanics. Can using a character like this break the game and be so overpowered that playing anymore is a moot point? Finally, how does the community receive the characters? This one is relatively subjective as it depends on your group of people. But playing the game is another story. How do players play as these characters, if a character rolls up a certain clan will the others start groaning, and is there a reason why one clan gets overlooked more than others. With that being said, let’s get started with the Best.
Honorable Mention: Tzimisce: What can best be representative of the ‘vampires of old’. The fiends with their ability of fleshcraft are one of the most feared clans in the game. The Tzimisce are just kept off the list due to the fact that I think the top three slots are better representations of the kindred community and what they stand for with number three just barely edging them out in my mind.
Vampire the Masquerade borrows from just about every pre-White Wolf Publishing vampire mythos. But out of all of them, there seems to be none that it borrows more from then writer Anne Rice and out of all of the vampires in the game, none exemplifies Rice’s vision of vampires than clan Toreador. Often nicknamed the degenerates, the Toreador is the clan of the artists. Having not lost their sense of beauty from the embrace, it is in fact increased ten fold as the kindred in question can become almost paralyzed by incredibly beautiful things. Often a clan for the lovers not the fighters, Toreador is a favorite among anyone who loves the romantic aspect of the vampire mythos.
While the Toreador may not be my favorite clan, I do have to say it is one of the most well thought out and needed aspects of the game. It is just a fact of life that people love to romanticize vampires and this clan gives them the ability to fulfill their wishes as well as remain as an accurate interpretation of Rice’s contribution to the genre itself.
The former clan Salubri that was all but wiped out by the Tremere warlocks, this clan is one of the most interesting concepts in the entire game due to the fact that they may be the one last hope for the kindred to regain their actual humanity through the means of the nirvana like ‘Golcanda’… Yet thanks to some magnificent propaganda by the Tremere, they are labeled as demonic soul suckers. They become the most fascinating by the mere fact that they feel like the kindred’s last hope at redemption and to regain their humanity, but instead they are hunted to near extinction and labeled as the worst of the worst when it comes to the kindred.
The Salubri are an amazing concept and well executed. Due to the contradicting nature of their Antediluvian Saulot and their history with the Tremere, the concept of a Salubri almost becomes a sort of paradise lost. Their one hope to regain their humanity is cast aside due to warlock usurpers and labeled as demon soul suckers to boot.
If the Salubri represent the paradise lost of the kindred, then the Lasombra are the personification of the beast within all of them. Of all the clans and bloodlines within the game that is so in tune with their predatory nature. While other vampires attempt to hold on to their last shreds of humanity, the Lasombra embrace their true nature. They love nothing more than being sadistic tyrants and view themselves as the next evolutionary step to the human race. Social Darwinists through and through, the Lasombra lurk in the shadows and kill without remorse.
The reason I put the Lasombra at the top of this list is that out of all the kindred, they seem to best represent the darkness of the game. They are predators, they lurk in the shadows, and they absolutely revel in it. In a game series called World of Darkness, takes a certain type of character and variety is the spice of life. You have beasts, artists, rebels, lunatics, blue bloods, and more… But when it comes to the true darkness, the beautiful people who revel in their vile ways… Well you have the perfect storm of evil.
Dishonorable Mention: Anda: Being a bloodline sect of the Gangrel, sadly the Anda almost make this list for a number of reasons, being forgettable is one, being hard to use in any type of setting is another. The Anda just miss the list due to the fact that they are just not memorable enough to warrant its own section in the top three.
A by-product of the Tremere Antitribu and Tzimisce Kolduns, the Blood Brothers are a handful of Sabbat kindred who share a sort of hive mind, making them very effective fighters. Used for little more than that purpose, the Blood Brothers make this list for being little more than a handful of semi-intelligent bodies to throw at the PCs. They have some function as a playable character, but for the most part they are merely a tool for the story-teller to give the Sabbat imposing numbers besides using a handful of ‘Shovelheads’. A decent concept as NPCs, but it is there that they should stay.
While they are not as filled with racist undertones as the number one clan on this spot, the Followers of Set are still a very poor concept. The snakes of (obviously) Egyptian stock could have been a decent construct. I can at least hand it to the creators that they really delve into the mythos when it comes to these guys. But man, they are not only very difficult for anyone to play as a PC, are rarely seen as NPCs, and offensive in many ways.
Due to their love for corruption and lust for the ‘earthly pleasures’ of the world, the Setites are very much mistrusted by just about every kindred, including themselves. Very few are ever allowed into a Prince’s domain and thus making a playable character in any campaign a difficult one. Not to mention from my personal experience, due to their documented love of earthly pleasures, the Setites are often the favorite pick of anyone who wishes to create a sexual deviant or a drug addict (by feeding on the blood of a mortal who took the drugs). I understand that the setting is supposed to be dark and gritty, but when even the book has undertones that allude to some questionable sexual activities… Well you have a whole different can of worms on your hand that very few people want to touch. They are hard to put into a story and are generally creepy when they are able to weasel their way in, a clan that I prefer to stay far away from.
When I decided to make this list, I struggled to come up with the top spot for the best as well as who gained the honor or infamy of making either list… But when it comes to the Ravnos, I knew that they were going to be my top slot. The reason this one takes the top slot is due to the racist undertones that follow the clan. The Ravnos are ethnically Romani or by their pejorative term, Gypsies. Their clan discipline is known as Chimerstry which is the power of illusion and the clan weakness is that a Ravnos are addicted to committing some kind of crime, most notably stealing.
Considering the unfortunate stereotype connected to the Romani people as well as intensifying it by having the Ravnos stated to come from ‘Gypsy stock’ makes for a very awkward situation. You can add-on to the fact that the Ravnos live a nomadic lifestyle thus making it very difficult to create a PC in a fixed location due to the fact that you will have to come up with a good excuse as to why this particular Ravnos have decided to stay in a particular city instead of living its nomadic style. Racist undertones and poor execution are the reason why the Ravnos are the worst clan in Vampire the Masquerade.
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