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The Social Satire of Vampire: The Masquerade

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  • #16
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

    Actually, it was stated that there was 1 Cainite per 100,000 as a DESIRED outcome.
    This is a situation where any magical vampire population algorithm, and numerical outcomes, matter less overall than the variables that would go into it. "Ideal" vampire population is a function of the Masquerade's sustainability, itself a function of a number of factors such as public awareness, mortals' internalization of the Masquerade and marginalization of the aware, the ability to disseminate information and disinformation, and population density.

    Talking about an hypothetical vampiric census is glorified fanwank. The entire point of the Masquerade is to create a scenario where such a thing is impossible. If a vampiric population can be easily counted, it's too high.

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    • #17
      Agreed with Theodrim. It's pointless and self-indulgent to get hung up over exact numbers of Kindred. When it comes to the question "how many vampires are there in the world", the only relevant and helpful answer is "as many as the storyteller needs".

      Everything else is relative.

      For the Kindred powers that be, numbers of vampires is compared relative to what's convenient for them. "There are too many vampires vying for the same quantity of vessels". "There's too many vampires vying for the same resources, influence, etc". "There are too many vampires around that could Diablerize me, personally".

      The War of Ages is, in part, a war between Kindred who have power and those who want it, and the idea that "this World of Darkness isn't big enough for both of us". The Camarilla enforces tight controls over Embrace rights, because they simultaneously want to limit how many rivals to their power come into existence, and to wring as much value from allowing the Embrace as possible through the exchange of Boons. All of the Traditions (and local edicts) are enforced so harshly for the purposes of giving those in charge excuses to cull Kindred numbers. Setting aside any fears of Gehenna, it's open season on Thin Bloods and Caitiff because they are a massive "demographic" of vampires who are also individually very weak. Meaning few would weep bloody tears for their loss, or come to their defense. They are both inconvenient and vulnerable, making them ideal scapegoats and targets for those in power to curb vampire populations.

      Be not mistaken. If any given Kindred had their way, the only vampires that would exist would be themselves and whoever they happen to care about at the time. It would just be simpler and more personally convenient, to unlive with rivals. Easier to maintain the Masquerade, too, since there'd be much fewer chances for it to break. Since vampires cannot simply be rid of their rivals, they have to deal with them in a manner approximating civility, and that means playing politics. It means being patient, and culling one's competition where one can. And it means making alliances and social groups based on some shared qualities (like lines of descent), that separates "Us" from "Them".

      So long as you understand this mentality, tracking exact numbers becomes unnecessary. As far as Kindred (or Cainites) are concerned, there will ALWAYS be too many mouths to feed, and too little resources and influence to go around. There will ALWAYS be too many vampires running around for the Masquerade to "be stable", because every vampire sees every other vampire as being "the problem" in that regard. There will ALWAYS be a class of vampires who is designated "trash" or "expendable", who can (and indeed "must") be culled.

      To paraphrase the Sniper from Team Fortress 2, "So long as there's two vampires left on the planet, someone is gonna want someone dead."


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      • #18
        That's true enough from an in-game perspective, but the purpose of a "census" giving at least a rough idea of how many vampires are in the world is as out-of-character information for players and storytellers to have common ground in understanding the setting. Which is completely essential to any RPG because otherwise mismatched expectations can and will ruin the game.

        If we say that there are "a lot" of vampires in London, does that mean 50? Or 500?

        Obviously regardless of how many vampires there are in the world, there will be far more than 500 so it could be either, but those numbers will be understood in very different ways depending on the context of the wider setting.

        And when it comes to Storytellers writing up their own cities, even though they can always do their own thing and deviate from any baseline, having a baseline in the first place is very useful so they can do that purposefully and aren't stuck making up effectively the whole worldwide Masquerade from scratch.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
          Talking about an hypothetical vampiric census is glorified fanwank.
          Isn't that essentially all fluff/lore discussions on a the forum?

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          • #20
            I'd imagine that it would be quite easy for most youngster vampires that don't want to play Politician: The Backstabbing with his fellow Kindred to just go to some other place. Easier still if you're some powerful old vampire that can just fly to a new city in the middle of nowhere and declare yourself the new ruler of Eerie, Indiana. The problem comes from misinformation from elders, his/her own sire, their own preconceived notions of undead existence, the fear of bumping into something bigger and badder out there while on their own, and just the general uncertainty of the unknown itself. As real life mortals, we can fear the unknown when by ourselves more than any other time. Now, imagine one night you get turned into a vampire and discover a whole new society of undead that you once firmly knew was fairy tale nonsense. You're going to suddenly and understandably start questioning if ghosts, demons, aliens, werewolves, and a whole host of other creatures are real. Do you really want to go wandering off by yourself when you've got a sire and other possibly friendly Neonates, thin-bloods, etc. offering you protection and wisdom from several lifetimes?

            Let's not forget that while some are entirely loners and generally anti-social, most of us have at least one person in our lives that we love and want to know is safe. Just because you're no longer supposed to really interact with them doesn't change that. You'd want to stay at least somewhat close, maybe closer still just because now you know there are creatures of the night that roam the earth and could do them harm.

            The way I see it, the number of vampires is hilariously small that resources shouldn't really be that big of a problem. There's plenty of room for more Kindred. The problem is, in a bizarre way, you're trapped with them because of so many other factors. Think of the allies and knowledge you could gain from hanging around Mr. Barlow the Nosferatu. You want to know how he commands the animals, hides in plain sight, and can punch through steel doors. You're dying to learn the secrets Loew the Malkavian has. How he bends people to his twisted will or learns things just by handling objects or looking at people. Why not hang around for a while? Your family still lives in town and you're worried that the Sabbat you've been told so much about could come after them. Your sire's kinda hot too, you must admit. Why else would you have let yourself be seduced by them? Or maybe that's just implanted memories or perverted emotions you've been given due to this "Blood Bond" you've been hearing about...

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            • #21
              This is part of the reason why I am clear that it is a World of Darkness in my games. It's part of my efforts to underscore that he WOD is overpopulated with supernaturals, monsters, killers, freaks, and psychopaths. It's a place where you can't move around very much without tripping over conspiracies, corruption, cruelty, and more. Holding capacity is a concept that isn't true in RL and is the sort of logic that Thanos studies but it's something that's true in my RPG, at least in terms of vampirism. The World of Darkness is dying little by little and there's not a lot of room to freely hunt.

              Yes, there's plenty of people but the vampires of the World of Darkness don't want to feed on the weakest of the herd. There's no one breaking into random homes in the suburbs to drink from the people there and its the rare vampire who feeds on the sick or dying. Vampires compete for the healthy, young, and frequently beautiful. Also, those who won't be missed so people in social situations, the destitute, and more.

              So, it's not a case of there being no problem with you moving to Jacksonville, Florida and setting yourself up as a god. There's going to be something there that's already established itself. Werewolves, Other Shifters, Fae, Kuei-Jin, Technocrats, or whatever are things that make non-established territory dangerous.

              I feel like making the WOD "crowded" works better to the games themes. Something like Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines where you wake up and everything is pure chaos and you only survive if you weather the storm.


              Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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