The Masquerade, Chapter 7

This chapter is suddenly huge compared to the previous ones. It is not to say there is more content, just more pointless details.

The chapter opens with the heads of Brujah and Nosferatu clans sitting at a train station waiting for Vinzarra (who is a head of Gangrel clan, by the way) to arrive. To pass some time they play a purely verbal game of chess. I think it’s intended to be a sign of how much better they are mentally than humans, but verbal chess game is something actual chess enthusiasts do, so it’s hardly above human capabilities.

Oh, and also the Nosferatu leader drinks vodka like there is no tomorrow, while the Brujah leader smokes weed. I get that the joke is the contrast between their high positions and crude behavior, but come on, a little dignity? They are surrounded by their underlings currently, they should be projecting an aura of authority instead of dicking around. Plus, you know, they are leaders of the vampire society, which is supposed to be brutal and cutthroat. How did they even survive for so long with that attitude?

Speaking of dicking around, Vinzarra arrives, and they play a juvenile prank on her by loudly greeting her while pretending to be her brother (Nosferatu) and her son (Brujah). The point of it escapes me. It’s not particularly funny, it attracts unneeded attention (they cloud minds of humans around so they don’t pay attention to Nosferatu’s hideous appearance or Brujah smoking weed, but people do notice their antics) and it projects a bad image to their underlings.

Vinzarra doesn’t appreciate the joke, but her response is cut short by three wild but powerful vampires attacking and easily killing the underlings. Three leaders enter the fight (what a coincidence that they are matched one-on-one with the enemies, right?), which involves transforming their everyday clothes into “battle outfits” and conjuring “blood weapons” – indestructible artifacts.

Brujah uses hand blades, Nosferatu has a costume full of extendable spikes and Gnagrel uses battle fans. Those are supposed to be signature weapons of respective clans…

Yeah, OK, so VtM is actually constructed in a way that makes using melee weapons a viable choice compared to the firearms. Firearms deal bashing damage, which is halved for vampires, while melee weapons deal lethal damage (well, as long as they have an edge, anyway). So firearms are better against humans and animals, while melee weapons are better against vampires.

But those specific weapons… Their prime advantage over other types of weapons is the ease of concealment, which is not an issue when you can magically hide them away anyway. They are kinda shit when it comes to keeping your distance from the enemy or utilizing your vampire powers. I mean, Brujah are the brutes of the vampire society. They are super-strong, super-fast and super-tough. They would benefit the most from heavy weapons like axes or something: super-speed would mitigate the disadvantage of such a weapon, while super-strength would ensure each successful strike will be utterly devastating. Gangrels don’t actually need weapons. They are the most animalistic vampires, with their powers revolving around transforming into animals and controlling them. Among other things, even a starting Gangrel character can conjure claws that deal aggravated damage, which can’t be soaked normally and is a pain in the ass to heal. If you really want to give them a signature weapon, knife is the best choice: they typically spend a long time on the road, and knife is always useful. Unlike, you know, a fan.

I begrudgingly give the author the spiked suit. It’s magic, so the problems you would normally expect from going around spouting spikes aren’t the issue, and it does suit Nosferatu. They are the silent assassins of vampires, with powers revolving around being unseen. So, the best weapon for them is something that can kill with one strike, and nothing is more deadly than grapple rules. Striking from shadows and grappling enemies in a way that would prevent them from counterattacking, then just squishing them with spikes may actually be a good strategy for Nosferatu, especially since they have super-strength. But the book insists that Nosferatu fight brutally, and don’t mind taking a few hits, which is, nope, they aren’t super-tough.

Anyway, their opponents are armed with steel armature, though also enchanted to make it indestructible. Despite that and the fact they are described as being powerful, the clan leaders relatively easily kill them, lamenting later that they should have taken them alive. They go to the Ventrue leader to inform him of what happened.

Next scene is about young vampires practicing with firearms. The process is very similar to Equilibrium movie, which is acknowledged by the book. Their teacher calls the movie plagiarism because the author is immune to irony.

Ira is shit at it, while Pavel does the exercise almost perfectly. Big surprise here.

After the training Pavel and Ira walk together. She refuses to talk to him, and soon ditches him in a crowd. He pouts and goes to the apartment given to him by Sergei. There he is met by his neighbor, an old lady who suspects him of being a criminal who killed the previous owner of the apartment and moved in. Pavel scares her half to death, taking a lot of pleasure in the act, and leaves her behind. At least no corpse this time around.

In the apartment he flashbacks to the funeral of that vampire killed by the hunter. During the funeral Pavel touched the ash that remained of the vampire and got a feeling that the hunter is far away. Maharnen took him aside to test that ability, and Pavel managed to pinpoint a rough direction of the hunter. Maharnen told him he has a natural talent in magical searching and should consider a career in hunter hunting.

After flashback ends, Pavel resolves to follow the advice and make Alexei his first victim among the hunters. The book says he wants to do it to get rid of his own fear.

Next scene is the continuation of the first one, with three clan leaders telling the Ventrue leader about what happened. He decided to send a strike team at the base of wild vampires discovered by Vinzarra, though everyone thinks it won’t do much good: the base is most likely either abandoned already, or was intended as a distraction from the start, and the strike from the enemy would come from another direction.

The scene is filled with “amusing” antics by Brujah leader, but otherwise it moves the plot along and is short enough not to be too annoying.

Then we jump to Alexei, who is training in sword fighting under Maxim – the leader of Tver hunters. We are informed that a massive raid on Moscow is planned. Alexei is pleased, and daydreams about his own crusade against vampires.

On that cheerful note the chapter ends.

8 Comments

  1. Savanah says:
    if you are going to enchant any weapon, why the hell are you enchanting steel armature?!
  2. SpoonyViking says:
    Sorry, illhousen, but it’s “Brujah”, not “Bruja”.

    Oh, and also the Nosferatu leader drinks vodka like there is no tomorrow, while the Bruja leader smokes weed.

    Let’s set aside how VtM vampires can’t eat or drink anything other than blood: vampires being unable to eat regular food is a piece of vampire lore even older than them being unable to have sex. I know it’s a minor thing to complain about whem the author has basically already turned vampires from walking corpses into super-“heroes” with different nutritional needs, but that still irks me greatly.

    1. illhousen says:
      Yeah, I translate VtM terms back to English from memory mostly. Fixed.

      As for the food thing, my position is that it’s fine to change vampire traits – at this point we have a lot of different types of vampires only somewhat related to folklore roots – but you need to have an actual narrative purpose for it.

      Nothing in this book is really gained by giving vampires an ability to eat and drink. Well, I guess the author can insert “jokes” this way

      1. SpoonyViking says:
        Oh, the clan’s names were different in the Russian edition?
        1. illhousen says:
          There are only fan translations since commercial TRPG market in Russia is sometimes galvanized but mostly dead on account of established culture of piracy.

          Translations are not consistent with each other because clan names are written as they are pronounced, which in some cases is unclear in the original (I am looking at you, Tzimisce).

          In particular, Russian language doesn’t have a silent “h,” so it’s typically dropped in translations, especially since ‘a’ is pronounced the same in open and closed syllables.

          1. SpoonyViking says:
            Hm, I see. Interesting! To be fair, bruja actually does mean something (it’s “witch” in Spanish), as opposed to “Brujah”. :-)

            I think the Revised corebook gives a pronunciation for “Tzimisce” (though whether it’s appropriate for a name of Eastern European origin, I couldn’t say). I don’t have the book anymore, but the Internet tells me it’s “Zhi-MEE-see”. Does that sound appropriate?

            1. illhousen says:
              Well, it’s certainly not how it’s normally translated (that would be Тзимитцу – pronounced T-zee-MEET-csoo). Whether or not it’s appropriate for Eastern Europe, I can’t say for certain. It’s certainly not a Slavic name, but something more European? Could be.
              Reply

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