Best and Worst Clans/Bloodlines of Vampire the Masquerade


500px-VampireMasqueradeV20LogoFor 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.

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.

ClanToreadorTitle3. Toreador 

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.

BloodlineSalubriTitle2. Salubri

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.

ClanLasombraTitle1. Lasombra

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.

Worst

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.

Bloodbrotherstitle3. Blood Brothers

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.

ClanFollowersofSetTitle2. Followers of Set

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.

ClanRavnosTitle1. Ravnos

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.

Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this list then please like and subscribe for more from me.

8 thoughts on “Best and Worst Clans/Bloodlines of Vampire the Masquerade

  1. I like your post, though I must say I disagree with some of your choices.

    For example, some of the points you make about the followers of Set (attracting creepy players, having carnal vices) I have seen apply to clan Toreador, “the degenerates”.
    Additionally, I don’t think blood brothers deserve to make the list simply for being “flavourful NPC” material; there are many other bloodlines that fit the flavourful npc trope, or that purely exist as an adjunct to another clan (looking at you, gargoyles). Blood brothers need love too.

    • Thank you and fantastic I love a good debate! It isn’t any fun when everyone just agrees with you.

      When it comes to the Followers of Set, it has been my personal experience as a story teller and a player that they attract a very weird group of people. Not to say the Toreador do not as well, they do. But from my experience, most people who create Toreadors tend to stick with artists and writers and I see only a few of these creepy characters trickle in. With the Setites, it is in their blood. They are coerced by the mythos to be corrupt and to enjoy the ‘earthly pleasures’. I ran into two characters who I either quickly dispelled in my game or demanded they be taken out after they made sexually perverse characters, the nature of which I will leave ambiguous because I really don’t want that stuff on my site. Add on to the fact that Setites are another clan that is predominantly seeing in middle eastern settings makes them worse than the Toreador in my mind.

      Funny thing about the Blood Brothers, whenever I made this list I have a friend of mine who is really into VTM as well and when I showed her the list she said the same thing about them. I can understand that many would expect a spot on the list to be reserved for another slot and yes two that competed for the slot were the Harbingers of Skulls, True Brujah, and the Giovanni. The Giovanni for the fact that they are so limited to Italian settings with few exceptions and the True Brujah and Harbinger of Skulls for being pratically game breaking. But ultimately I felt that the Blood Brothers were such as forgettable creation that they deserved the spot for being nothing more than playable canon fodder.

      • My current game has a cool set of blood brothers; acting as servants/companions to a tzimisce elder.

        But I digress.

        I guess I must have had bad luck with Toreador players- not seen anyone play a writer or an artist yet.

        Maybe the list could be split into categories- problematic fluff (Ravnos), attracts terrible players, and boring.

      • I am not as sure about Giovanni, the familial lines means they can be hard to create a PC for, but the same can be said of Tremere, with their rigid hierarchy and organisation/the Pyramid. Relegating Giovanni to just being “The Italian Vampire Family” strips them of the fact that they are a Necromantic Mafioso Family, that dabble in incest and necrophilia if the more creepy fluff is to be believed. Dwelling on the former because it’s more interesting and more tasteful, can you imagine Al Capone if he could raise the dead or bind spirits, and had a whole familial network who could do similar, or act as ghouls/contacts/do wetwork? There’s a pretty wide base for Italian-American branches, or just scattering the family across europe rather than staying purely Italian-based.

        In my current game, the Prince’s pet warlock is a Giovanni who runs the Mortuaries/Crematoriums of the city (dead blood’s still good and painful bite is no longer a problem, and ashes are hard to differentiate – good supply of bodies). Since the city is mostly Malkavian and Toreador, he’s well respected/feared by those with Auspex as they can see the souls bound into his clothes.

        True Brujah have the hilarity of Temporis, why are the Harbingers game-breaking?

        Also chiming in with my experience on Setites, most of those I have encountered have been NPCs, though I have mostly noticed more of a predilection to serving as Cultists more than creepy pleasure enthusiasts, rituals to honour their clan founder, or dark gods or whatever, moreso than the Lasombra or Tzimisce. That and turning from suits to giant demonic snakes.

    • The Ventrue fit more of the ‘political corruption’ Followers of Set like human corruption a lot more. You know sexual perversion, hard drugs, anything that destroys the human soul type of deal.

      The Followers of Set are the sleazy exploitation cinema of vampire :P

  2. Think of the Setites as Conan and Kull villains – Thoth Amon, Thulsa Doom, etc. You also might want to check out how they’re treated in the Dark Ages material, especially now that V20 Dark Ages is out.

  3. This is a really nice little article, and I really get where you are coming from on most of these. Personally, for me, the list for best PC clans goes:

    Best:

    Honorable Mention: Nosferatu. See below for more detail.

    3: Gargoyles. They both fulfill different roles, and overall I have to side with the Gargoyles. I love both of these guys, but Gargoyles get the whole “I serve the Tremere” vs. “I want to destroy the Tremere” thing. These two clans can’t really (un)live with the illusion of humanity. They look too ugly to interact meaningfully with humans, and theirs is one of the few curses that permeates every interaction. Their disciplines suit the Vampire mythos, and they fill interesting and unique rolls in Kindred society (informants and watch-dogs). Right now I am GMing a cool conflict with a Gargoyle PC, and I am warming up to a battle between the Tremere and their enemies (primarily the Free Gargoyles (who are very populous in my chronicle) and the Tzimisce).

    2: Gangrel. Again, a clan that ties closely to the Bestial nature of Kindred. Firstly, I love their set of disciplines. Unlike the Gargoyles, who are almost 100% adapted for combat/guard duty, the Gangrel have a nice spread of offensive and defensive disciplines. In terms of story, Gangrel are easy to write in as “lone wolves”. That isn’t to say that they are “loners” but they don’t have a Sire or Clan hierarchy following them. This makes them one of the better “starter clans” as the PC doesn’t become weighed down by an inescapable power structure. Furthermore, the Gangrel enmity with Werewolves is simply brilliant. The fact that the Changing Breeds look upon Vampires and immediately despise the group who are most similar to them is a lovely concept that I have played up in the past. My current Gangrel PC is a bit of an oddity. He has amnesia, he has the City Gangrel disciplines and he is obsessed with becoming stronger. Thus far he has been a bit of a Diablerie machine, picking up the powers of Potence and Animalism from Sabbat and Camarilla members who have been unlucky enough to cross his path.

    1: Caitiff. Oh, I have so much love for this clan. Firstly, the explanation for their bizarre discipline manifestation is brilliant. They do whatever they expect Vampires to be able to do as their 1st three disciplines. Therefore, common options are Celerity, Potence, Dominate, Presence, Flight, Protean, Fortitude, Obfuscate and Auspex. This gives a lot of scope for creativity in character creation. Secondly, being a Caitiff forces players to be smart. Everyone has a built-in reason to destroy you if you are playing Camarilla, so you are forced to hide your true nature (claiming membership of Clan Brujah, Toreador or Gangrel is popular) or make yourself so useful that no one will kill you. Playing a Caitiff balances you on the Knife’s edge, but it leaves so much room for growth within the Chronicle. If you take the power-gamer route of ‘Diablerise Everything’ then Caitiff is for you, since the disciplines you will inevitably pick up will be quicker to learn at the 6x cost.

    Worst:

    Honorable Mention: Malkavian. I love Clan Malkavian if it is played well, but it almost never is. That, combined with the insensitive portrayal of mental illness in the early resources (1st edtion) makes them a clan I am uneasy with. Some of the lore on Malks falls into; “well, isn’t mental illness WACKY!” With that said, I love the MMNetwork, Dementation and the idea of the madness coming from them remembering what they saw in the brief period of being dead. Player execution is what puts me off them.

    3: Ravnos. For all of the same reasons as you. Just give them a weakness that doesn’t play up to racist stereotypes.

    2: True Brujah. I will never let a PC play as a True Brujah, or obtain Temporis. Their backstory is nice, but they are not ‘for’ PCs in my opinion.

    1: Salubri. I know some people love this clan, but I cannot stand them. Some of this is irrational, but I also cannot stand their Clan’s unique discipline. Healing, combined with their “no evil feeding” weakness makes them so far removed from the Vampire mythos that I struggle to see them as Kindred. VTM is usually played as a game of personal horror and struggling to maintain humanity (and eventually sliding away from it). Being Salubri makes maintaining your integrity *far* too easy in my opinion.

    NPCS:

    Best:

    3: Tzimisce. VTM is personal horror. Vicissitude is the discipline of horror. There are so many creative ways you can ‘punish’ a PC for failing to escape the clutches of a Tzimisce. I began my chronicle with a disclaimer: Do not let the Tzimisce catch you. Ever.

    2: Baali. Yes, demons are evil, and VTM can become Grey vs. Black if you include them, but I don’t really care. Their power Sense the Sin wins them this place by itself. On top of that, their backstories are incredible. Ventrue blame the Brujah for the collapse of Carthage, while the Brujah claim the Ventrue attacked out of spite. Turns out the Baali were totally to blame for all of it. I am running a “Baali inflitration” arc and it is going so well. Without even using supernatural powers (other than Sense the Sin), they have already turned two of the PCs against eachother. “Oh, I’m currently starring in a play about a corrupt Prince who brutally killed two of his prisoners, and then his most senior knight” the Baali says, after the PC has found out about a) The Scourge having migrated to Asia (she was actually killed and Diablerised by another PC) b) The two torporous Sabbat prisoners in the basement having been diablerised.

    1: Harbingers of Skulls. Vengeance is sweet, and this clan have been waiting for theirs for a long time. Their backstory, their clan weakness, their hatred of Clan Giovanni… I have based an entire Chronicle on their attempts at revenge, which has culminated in an epic conflict between the Alliance of the Skull (Harbingers, hired Samedi, Tzimisce, some of the PCs) and the Giovanni (plus hired Assamites and some of the PCs).

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