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  • Mortals Who Know

    I was recently re-reading the 2e rulebook and noticed there are a fair few mortal characters who know about vampires. One fiction piece has a vampire regularly feeding from her mortal brother. A prince lets a mortal he intends to be Embrace flit around Elysium. A poly household has one member who's a vampire. Blood dolls know vampires feed on them and seek it out. The Masquerade isn't gone, but it's looser than was presented in VtM and 1e. It doesn't feel taboo for vampires to tell the truth around mortals they consider trustworthy.

    It's an interesting take on the setting. I've played around with this kind of looser Masquerade to a limited degree in my own games, and found that having some (non-hunter) mortals who know the truth can lead to pretty fun interactions. It shuts down a lot of storytelling possibilities when PCs feel like their only options with clued-in mortals are to ghoul/Embrace them, kill them, or Dominate into forgetting.

    Has this "looser Masquerade" concept been expanded on in any other books? What thoughts and play experiences do people have with it?


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

  • #2
    I dunno if it's been expanded on, but I know that I've often heard the concept phrased like this: "It's impossible to hide that vampires are out there. Instead, the Masquerade obscures that you are a vampire."

    Basically, the Requiem Masquerade is personal. Most people kinda know on some level that their coworker's anemia-induced collapse yesterday was probably vampire related. But what can you do? They hide among us and we don't want to hurt innocent people, like my old buddy Dave. Sure he's a night owl with a clubbing addiction, and maybe he doesn't like taking photos. But he can't be a vampire, right?

    While it is not at all a perfect metaphor, you could say the Masquerade is kind of like going about your job and then spending off time indulging a majorly non-mainstream fetish. People close to you may or may not know, but you all are not going to be screaming it from the rooftops.
    Last edited by Master Aquatosic; 03-17-2021, 11:49 AM.


    A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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    • #3
      Connections to mortals are an integral element of maintaining Humanity, aren't they? What's the term, Keystones?


      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
      Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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      • #4
        VTR 2e is the book to reenvision the "Masquerade" as a personal rather than a collective endeavor. While it's inconvenient for some of the herd to believe vampires might be real, ultimately all a vampire truly cares about is whether the herd believes he, personally, is a vampire. So long as the actual vampires retain control of who gets to learn of their individual existences, they don't really care if a cell of hunters goes out to the graveyard because they think they can get footage of ghosts or something. As a matter of fact, it benefits vampires to a degree that the herd suspects something is out there. They're intimidated, cowed by it.

        The nWoD has from the very beginning flirted with the idea that the supernatural and strange is prolific, that there isn't some kind of airtight conspiracy quashing any belief in or evidence of the supernatural. Second Edition materials ran this idea more explicitly by introducing the five questions players of mortal characters answer to contextualize their Integrity. One of the questions is, to paraphrase for clarity, "what supernatural encounter have you buried in your mind?"

        The idea is that nearly every human being in the Chronicles of Darkness has at least once directly encountered a supernatural phenomenon. For most, it's brief and frightening, and may not have anything to do with specific types of gameline monsters: glimpse somebody else's face instead of yours in a mirror, find a door that's not supposed to be there which opens to a hallway that doesn't exist, hear the whispers of a lake that hates. The average person shuts that knowledge away, closes the door and backs away, convinces themselves that they just misheard the voice of somebody else passing by or that it just falls within the reasonable bounds of auditory hallucinations caused by stress. But they can't really fully convince themselves, and they start to notice that the people around them can't, either. Certain topics are avoided. People look away. Everybody knows that something is actually out there, something dangerous. They know that the safest thing to do is not to draw attention to it. Not to get its attention.

        When a human has the unusual resolve to instead directly confront the unknown and face those dangers head on? That's when you pick up Hunter: The Vigil. Those characters tend to find the people around them won't join mobs to burn down the witch's house or help them spread articles exposing the vampire menace. But a lot of them do start to look the other way about certain things. No questions asked about where you disappeared last Wednesday. A package of food and bandages from a neighbor.

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        • #5
          Awesome description, Stupid Loserman.

          In many ways, CofD 2e's "most people have encountered the supernatural and stuck their head in the sand" was a reaction to the increasing proliferation of supernatural splats in the CWoD. When Vampire was the only gameline in '91, it felt believable that most people wouldn't know about the supernatural or cross paths with it. The Kindred were the only monsters out there big enough to have their own society. Then as the years rolled on and White Wolf introduced more gamelines, it felt like the supernatural was lurking under every nook and cranny. So CofD just said "screw it, it actually is everywhere, most people have run across it, here's why it doesn't break the setting."

          But the setting's general attitude is that most mortals keep their heads buried in the sand. They subconsciously recognize how horrible the world is, but they can't or don't want to openly acknowledge it. The mortal character creation question is, "What have you forgotten?"

          VtR 2e introduces mortals who flat-out know about vampires. They haven't forgotten anything. They aren't hunters. They're just people who know the truth and go on about their lives. The 2e "It's okay if the ranting crazy guy believes in vampires, so long as he doesn't believe you're a vampire" updated Masquerade has failed around these people. But that seems to be okay now.

          That's what I'm curious about. Has this "acceptable holes in the updated Masquerade" concept been expanded on anywhere? What thoughts and experiences do people have about it/with it?


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

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          • #6
            Some pretty good questions that i have no idea of how i would tackle in my own games, since use some corners of the CofD far more in my games than others (no Uratha at all, Awakened exist but the witches from HtV and blood magicians like the Sons of Phobos are far more common, a number of more obscure/niche supernatural beings grouped in compact or conspiracy-like groups, other beings beside the Strix spawning vampiric beings, among other small things), so kind of unsure how any of that would affect or not relations with "the public".

            I guess that the answer might be that my own games already have more of those, either as individuals or as neutral parts & occasional business partners than antagonists like hunters tend to be.

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            • #7
              I think it also reflects a really interesting divide between articles of faith, and practice. Like, yeah most vampires still probably teach their Childer "tell nobody. Everybody is a threat. Anyone could lead the torches to your haven," whether that's a religious dictate or the mission of the Invictus. But in practice, this is more nuanced. "Tell nobody" turns into "you're responsible for who you tell, and if you let it slide you'll pay the consequences either at their hands or ours." It becomes less bright line, and more nuanced common-sense secretiveness.

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              • #8
                I saw a conversation once in which Rose Bailey said that Requiem ultimately presented the relationship between vampires and mortals as dysfunctional more than strictly predatory. Apart from all the other insight it conveys, I think it provides a framework for the nature of vampiric secrecy; that behind all the ritual, it comes down to the matter that there's something ultimately fraught (if not a touch shameful) about their kind and how they need to relate to people, and that's how the people on the other side are getting it as well, and there's a tacit agreement on all sides not to air dirty laundry in the open.


                I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                • #9
                  I had a thought on this topic that doesn't really consist of anything new but articulates the details in a form that amuses me.

                  That vampires as a collective might make a big show of the values of secrecy for allowing them to exert power from the shadows or feed from an unknowing and docile herd and even occasionally in forms talking about the need for protection from dangerous humanity at large. And it's not even completely inaccurate, and some of those perspectives matter more to the occasional big picture vampire.

                  But that for most of them operating on the ground, it really comes down to how you don't want to be totally alienated by people treating you too much like they definitively know you're a vampire. There's the preservation of Humanity and struggle with the Beast, but a lot is concerned with just being able to get through a conversation without people being too weird about it, because that's emotionally hurtful all on its own.

                  I'm picturing how there are some big deal elders who, if they're honest about it, don't think a mass exposure would cause a sudden and dramatic change in much of the world. More of a True Blood situation, where societies grapple with the ethical ramifications and try to navigate questions about how to adapt to them rather than getting up for pogroms. But that itself is a level of scrutiny they don't want, and it could present real dangers on a pragmatic and moral level if a lot of them become more prone to Frenzy.

                  In the past I tended to argue more for vampires being non-human on technical details, and while I don't think that's yet totally untrue, the elements of Second Edition and some of Rose's other statements have won me over to an idea that vampires are basically people who are trying to avoid emphasis of the qualities that might encourage them to convince themselves that they're monsters.

                  Or at least somewhat. Turning into mist or a bat is still pretty cool, it can be fun to emphasize that. Within reasonable boundaries.


                  I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                  Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
                    One fiction piece has a vampire regularly feeding from her mortal brother.
                    I was not prepared for how this would actually play out!


                    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                    Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                    • #11
                      While she was a bloodthirsty parasite, don't think Cersei Lannister was a literal vampire.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tsusasi View Post
                        While she was a bloodthirsty parasite, don't think Cersei Lannister was a literal vampire.

                        Come now; Cersei never had any shame or awkwardness about what she was doing.


                        I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                        Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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