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Do your vamps routinely wear masks when going about their business?

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  • Do your vamps routinely wear masks when going about their business?

    Do vampires (PC and NPC) in your campaigns routinely conceal their faces when hunting or committing other acts of skulduggery?

    It always seemed cool and obvious to me that they would, but I've gotten the impression most storytellers and players don't bother. A lot of "breach stories" and related drama can be traced back to someone's face getting recognized at an awkward moment, something a mask might have prevented.

    Because a vamp really wants to keep their mouth exposed, I've personally grown fond of a standard-issue black gauze face hood that fits tight and hides everything else (including the eyes since the gauze can be seen through up close). It's not as cool as a highly personalized (dare I say supervillain) mask, but it's got a good creepy inhuman vibe and focuses the victim's eyes on the business end of the monster.

    EDIT: On further consideration, this sounds more judgmental than I intended, sorry. I'm open to the idea that what seems obvious to me is not in fact so cut and dry.
    Last edited by MatterofTact; 10-12-2018, 12:48 PM.

  • #2
    Masks attract attention in public. Not wearing masks is partly to blend in with your prey. Guaranteed if you walked around with a mask on, the cops are going to stop you and have a little chat.

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    • #3
      Unless the campaign city is in a bitterly cold climate where balaclavas are common winter gear, or in regions where cultural/religious traditions involve veiling the face, I'm not sure how this would work.

      In most other places, appearing in public wearing a mask is an immediate tip-off that someone is up to no good. In some places, wearing masks in public is even illegal because they facilitate crime.

      I could maybe see this being done for a specific infiltration mission, maybe. Even then, the problem becomes when you do you put the mask on and take it off? Presumably the location being infiltrated has security from anywhere even vaguely associated with the facility, like parking lots and surrounding streets, to the very heart of the operation. So, at some point, the facility's security and public spaces where bystanders might observe the masked vampire will overlap.

      I'm picturing a vampire smuggling stolen documents out of an office building in a briefcase she's carrying. A police cruiser on a regular beat-patrol happens to pull up and the officer asks: "Evening! Is everything alright, ma'am?" She smiles and responds, "It will be, now. I had work to do at home this weekend, but forgot my briefcase. I came back to get it." Cop responds: "And your ninja mask and bullet-proof vest...?"

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      • #4
        Covering the face in Italy is illegal. Yes: no mask-wearing for actual Harbingers of the Skull hanging around their (im)mor(t)al enemis' Mausoleum in Venice to buy new Venitian masks...

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Florin View Post
          Masks attract attention in public.
          Well yes, obviously, but there are many situations where that doesn't matter and you don't want to be identified if you are spotted. Jumping people in back alleys, trespassing, breaking and entering, disposing of evidence, making deals with people and entities who are already outside of polite society, etc. Vampires spend a lot of time doing illegal things where getting caught means 'game over' anyway, so I find it odd that masks are not more standard in all these stories and actual plays I've encountered.

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          • #6
            Why not change your style completely?.Ink your hair , cut it , make some scars , add some tatoos or a piercing etc...

            It is less suspicious than a mask and the next night your face is gonna go back to looking in the same way that it does since the day of your death in that alley at the hands of your sire (Yes your embrace wasn´t romantic) also what the witness will remember is not seeing you but he will remeber seeing a nonexistent man with some distintive signs like scars , a strange hair or a specific tatoo.
            Last edited by Leandro16; 10-12-2018, 04:35 PM.


            Hunger pool

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            • #7
              I find that it really depends on playstyle as much as anything else.

              A Ventrue who acts like Gordan Gekko from the movie "Wall Street" does all of his skullduggery by business deals and minions. Feeding is done in private with a herd or a random that you use dominate on to ensure there aren't any problems.

              Any clan that has Dominate, Obfuscate, Protean, or Vissicissitude has little need for masks.

              The one exception to this however is full masks used specifically to counter facial recognition technology or maintain legal standards, such as wearing a motorcycle helmet so the cops leave you alone. In the case of anti-facial ID you need something that specifically covers and disguises the eyes and nose area, so a tinted motorcycle helmet would work but a clear face shield one wouldn't.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Thoth View Post
                Any clan that has Dominate, Obfuscate, Protean, or Vissicissitude has little need for masks.
                While this is generally true, there are plenty of circumstances where a mask is still a good backup.
                Obfuscate and Dominate can and do fail at the worst of times, and work best when you're dealing with a single witness in your presence under calm circumstances. Sometimes there are too many potential witnesses moving in too many directions. Sometimes bullets are flying and cameras are recording, and you can't anticipate every angle a breach can come from.

                Additionally, the strongest breach-plugging abilities usually come at higher dot ratings, so until you get those, having a cheap precaution handy seems like a good idea.

                Protean needs four dots before it starts serving as identity concealment.

                Vicissitude is Vicissitude, so yeah, point.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MatterofTact View Post

                  Well yes, obviously, but there are many situations where that doesn't matter and you don't want to be identified if you are spotted. Jumping people in back alleys, trespassing, breaking and entering, disposing of evidence, making deals with people and entities who are already outside of polite society, etc. Vampires spend a lot of time doing illegal things where getting caught means 'game over' anyway, so I find it odd that masks are not more standard in all these stories and actual plays I've encountered.
                  Again, the main problem is the in-and-out, and the drawing of unnecessary attention.

                  Let's say you are going to an underworld meeting in an old warehouse. If you wear a mask, it's presumably because you don't want the people at the meeting to know who you are. When do you take the mask off? As you walk out the door of the warehouse? As you cross the parking lot? Sitting in your car? As you pull onto the street? As you leave the neighborhood? As you drive around aimlessly for hours to prevent a tail? As you pull into your haven's garage? At what point does the threat of the people you met seeing you outbalance the chance that a random cop will pull you over for driving with a mask?

                  Let's say you want to jump someone in a back alley. Okay, I guess it makes sense you walk off the street into the alley, crouch behind a dumpster or whatever, and put on the mask. So, you're crouched there waiting for a passerby for.. how long? Assuming you show any discretion in who you jump (no junkies with open weeping sores, no cops, no large groups of soldiers on leave, etc.) what happens when someone sees you? Without a mask, you can claim to be somebody looking for a place to pee, somebody who dropped their wallet, somebody who just finished with a prostitute, or a drunk who got lost. With a mask... what do you do other than attack the witness? The mask doesn't expand your options, it narrows them.

                  Now, Leandro16 makes an excellent point. Changing your appearance within the range of mundane, law-abiding people could be very helpful. Anything as blatant as a mask will just draw unwanted attention.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post

                    Again, the main problem is the in-and-out, and the drawing of unnecessary attention.

                    Let's say you are going to an underworld meeting in an old warehouse. If you wear a mask, it's presumably because you don't want the people at the meeting to know who you are. When do you take the mask off? As you walk out the door of the warehouse? As you cross the parking lot? Sitting in your car? As you pull onto the street? As you leave the neighborhood? As you drive around aimlessly for hours to prevent a tail? As you pull into your haven's garage? At what point does the threat of the people you met seeing you outbalance the chance that a random cop will pull you over for driving with a mask?
                    Interesting. I think this is really more a question of playstyles, for both storytellers and players.

                    The sort of players I usually deal with don't simply walk out of warehouses, across parking lots, or through neighborhoods when they're in the 'mode' where a mask is useful. They sneak everywhere. They slink across rooftops, through back alleys and in sewers. Cars are for ghouls to drive, after you've surreptitiously jumped into the trunk. Basically nosferatu tactics regardless of clan. If presumptuous mortals attempt to tail them, those mortals get ambushed by super-powered anonymous monsters. If other vampires try to tail them, well they likely weren't using masks because the masquerade isn't a factor and they've got bigger problems than mere facial anonymity anyway.

                    Basically, none of the above are points against the use of masks for the same reasons they are not usually points against Batman doing most of his work in a mask.

                    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                    Let's say you want to jump someone in a back alley. Okay, I guess it makes sense you walk off the street into the alley, crouch behind a dumpster or whatever, and put on the mask. So, you're crouched there waiting for a passerby for.. how long?
                    Well presumably you've already scouted your potential target(s) and the likeliest venues for the attack, so not long at all. The mask is just an added layer of protection against unforeseen witnesses or similar problems.

                    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                    Assuming you show any discretion in who you jump (no junkies with open weeping sores, no cops, no large groups of soldiers on leave, etc.) what happens when someone sees you? Without a mask, you can claim to be somebody looking for a place to pee, somebody who dropped their wallet, somebody who just finished with a prostitute, or a drunk who got lost.
                    All this presumes you were caught out of position before the crime, not during or after, which is fair. The mask helps with the during or after part.

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                    • #11
                      I have a character that uses Vicissitude to alter themselves to have a very distinct appearance before doing anything that could potentially be witnessed where I don't want witnesses, since I'm still on Humanity and can't just rip off all the witnesses mouths.

                      According to news reports in the city our current chronicle is in, Matt Damon recently was spotted running from police into the sewers following an armed scuffle, despite being on the other side of the world; this bizarre claim from exhausted officers has led to them being put on administrative leave for a few weeks.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MatterofTact View Post
                        The sort of players I usually deal with don't simply walk out of warehouses, across parking lots, or through neighborhoods when they're in the 'mode' where a mask is useful. They sneak everywhere. They slink across rooftops, through back alleys and in sewers. Cars are for ghouls to drive, after you've surreptitiously jumped into the trunk.
                        Let's assume that instead of walking out of the warehouse, you crawl up a ventilation duct onto the roof, slink across several more rooftops, and then surreptitiously jump into the trunk of a waiting car driven by your ghoul.

                        If no one spots you doing any of this, the mask doesn't help.

                        If someone does spot you... well, it's odd that you're up there, but getting a good look at your face is probably a tall order in a lot of situations (as let's remember you're only getting spotted at night). It's a lot easier to say "he was wearing a mask" than it is to identify your face in a photo lineup, and the mask broadcasts that you're up to no good. Wearing the mask might be better if you're only spotted once, as it's that much harder to identify you, but if you're spotted enough times it's better for witnesses to say "I didn't get a good look at their face" than "it was a masked figure, every time."

                        Originally posted by MatterofTact View Post
                        Basically, none of the above are points against the use of masks for the same reasons they are not usually points against Batman doing most of his work in a mask.
                        Batman wears his mask to conceal his identity as Bruce Wayne. Everyone recognizes him on sight, which is also what he wants--to be a symbol criminals fear and Gotham's good citizens can trust and be inspired by. He specifically wants to stand out. Kindred generally don't want this.

                        As others point out, vampiric healing means you can effectively wear a different face every day even without Vicissitude. A mask is superior if you want to specifically conceal your face and make it hard for people to identify you--but given how much easier it is to notice you, it's hard to think of many situations where a mask is the better option.


                        Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post

                          Let's assume that instead of walking out of the warehouse, you crawl up a ventilation duct onto the roof, slink across several more rooftops, and then surreptitiously jump into the trunk of a waiting car driven by your ghoul.

                          If no one spots you doing any of this, the mask doesn't help.
                          But if they do, it does. If it's a choice between a masked individual being connected to some crimes and an approximation of my face appearing in rumors and police sketches, I'll take the former easily.

                          Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
                          If someone does spot you... well, it's odd that you're up there, but getting a good look at your face is probably a tall order in a lot of situations (as let's remember you're only getting spotted at night). It's a lot easier to say "he was wearing a mask" than it is to identify your face in a photo lineup, and the mask broadcasts that you're up to no good. Wearing the mask might be better if you're only spotted once, as it's that much harder to identify you, but if you're spotted enough times it's better for witnesses to say "I didn't get a good look at their face" than "it was a masked figure, every time."
                          I'm not sure where you're going with this. See my answer above. Masks are disposable and optional on an encounter-to-encounter basis. They're not like a suit of armor that takes minutes to don or doff. When they're useful they're really useful, and when they're a liability they don't come out, or they get burned and you switch tactics for a while.

                          Note that in my campaigns a lot of kindred use very similar masks too, leading to scattered reports across the nation of different masked individuals of many different builds being involved in many mutually exclusive incidents, so knowing a masked individual is involved doesn't advance you that much.

                          Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
                          Batman wears his mask to conceal his identity as Bruce Wayne. Everyone recognizes him on sight, which is also what he wants--to be a symbol criminals fear and Gotham's good citizens can trust and be inspired by. He specifically wants to stand out. Kindred generally don't want this.
                          I only brought up Batman as an example of how the moment and act of putting on or taking off a mask isn't that fraught with liability.

                          Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
                          As others point out, vampiric healing means you can effectively wear a different face every day even without Vicissitude. A mask is superior if you want to specifically conceal your face and make it hard for people to identify you--but given how much easier it is to notice you, it's hard to think of many situations where a mask is the better option.
                          It is a good idea and I'll investigate it more, but there are certainly situations where having no face is better than having your face plus some bruises or scars or whatever. People understand makeup is a thing, and it's not like there's no precedent for criminals or terrorists wearing masks in real life. Google image "bank robber wearing mask" brings up a huge variety of incidents.

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                          • #14
                            I'm with MatterofTact on this one. There is a time and a place for a face-concealing mask, but the utility to be found when one is appropriate is inarguable. Especially since most flexible mask material - like that of a balaclava or ski mask - allows the wearer transition between worn and unworn in seconds. You can hide a ski mask in a pocket, and throw it away if need be. The user who "dares" to use a mask isn't locked into their choice. Nor is a mask's utility somehow negated by there existing ways of getting by without it. Saying "you can just use X" is not a mark against wearing a mask. If the vampire uses the mask in the right circumstances, it has the potential to make her job considerably easier. At that point, NOT having a mask is effectively handicapping herself.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MatterofTact View Post
                              Note that in my campaigns a lot of kindred use very similar masks too, leading to scattered reports across the nation of different masked individuals of many different builds being involved in many mutually exclusive incidents, so knowing a masked individual is involved doesn't advance you that much.
                              That sounds like something that's going to piss off the Camarilla sooner or later.

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