Deathly Evocative Domains [V20: Dark Ages Companion]

Open Development, Vampire: The Masquerade

I recently returned from New Orleans and the Grand Masquerade with my writing and development batteries rejuvenated! Though I’m busy working on the stretch goals for Beckett’s Jyhad Diary (about to tackle The Way of Three Eyes), I thought I would stop by and talk a little about the upcoming V20 Dark Ages Companion.

Prince Mithras, still "alive" and kicking

Prince Mithras, still “alive” and kicking

The V20 Dark Ages Companion is currently at Art Direction stage. Writers have written, our editor has edited, and for the time being, I’ve developed all that I can. With that in mind, a subject I wanted to discuss with you is one of domains.

City sourcebooks are a type of supplement I routinely get asked about. In the last month alone I’ve had several enquiries about an update to Chicago by Night for Masquerade. Sinceย V20 Dark Ages’ release, I’ve received many enquiring messages about a potential Dark Ages atlas, an update for Constantinople or Jerusalem by Night, or something more broad along the lines of Iberia by Night. I love many of those by Night books for the ideas they gave me for my chronicles, the characters I pulled for my own stories, and the setting information I could transpose with ease.

Something I want to achieve with V20 Dark Ages Companion is the provision of multiple domains, all filled with evocative themes, moods, characters, and plots. I want this to be the go-to book for a new group looking to play in the Dark Ages for the first time, as the Storyteller will be able to flick open the book to any of the first six chapters and discover a domain for exploration in a chronicle. Which domains do we cover in the Companion? Allow me to copy in our table of contents:

Chapter One: The Domain of Rome – This chapter introduces the magnificent domain of Rome, fallen to the tyranny of Prince Camilla. The chapter concludes with apocrypha for Clans Nosferatu and Brujah.

Chapter Two: The Domain of Bath – This chapter offers coverage for the small peace town of Bath, as it struggles to cope with an influx of hopeful Cainites seeking sanctuary. The chapter contains the sinister black dog as a folklore antagonist, and apocrypha for Clans Cappadocian and Ventrue.

Chapter Three: The Domain of Bjarkarey – This chapter introduces the isolated island domain of Bjarkarey, off the coast of Norway, as its savage Gangrel ruler seeks to reap the blood of all who oppose her reign. The chapter contains statistics for the fossegrim, an enemy to Cainite and mortal alike, and apocrypha for Clans Gangrel and Malkavian.

Chapter Four: The Domain of Constantinople – This chapter reintroduces the metropolis of Constantinople, in the wake of a Methuselah’s failed ambition to make it a vampire utopia. The chapter also introduces the goblinoid kallikantzaroi, and apocrypha for Clans Lasombra, Toreador, and Tzimisce.

Chapter Five: The Domain of Mogadishu – This chapter covers the East African domain of Mogadishu, as its Cainite rulers vie for power over the split city and use faith as a weapon. The chapter contains apocrypha for Clan Assamite and the Ramanga.

Chapter Six: The Domain of Mangaluru – This chapter introduces the bustling domain of Mangaluru on India’s west coast, as it struggles to resist the War of Princes and the fall of Clan Salubri. The flesh-eating pishacha are profiled within, and Clans Salubri and Ravnos receive apocrypha.

As you can see, we range far and wide between domains. I want players to want to explore this Dark Ages World of Darkness and feel the difference between the horrors of Mangaluru, and the terrors of Bjarkarey. I want Storytellers to explore the fundamental differences between the Ventrue Prince of Rome and the Ventrue Consul of Bath. I want characters to get embroiled in the mania of Constantinople, and embark on a pilgrimage from that mighty city to the contested domain of Mogadishu. What myself and the writers have attempted to achieve with this book is to make each of the domains completely different in flavour.

 

Middle Ages Rome

Middle Ages Rome

 

Here are the Theme and Mood guidelines for each from the book’s introduction:

In Rome the Church is strong, yet the Prince is one of the greatest sinners alive. The domain’s theme is one of fallen greatness, with its ruler driving it as far beneath holiness as he is able, unless stopped. The domain is afflicted with the mood of grandeur, despite its obvious faults, its Cainites proud and willingly oblivious to their Prince’s unmitigated evil.

The theme in the domain of Bath is one of blood loyalty to an historic ideal, one that may no longer hold true. As the Consul bonds his domain’s populace and ensures their loyalty to the god emperor Mithras, he suffers a crisis of faith, leaving the utopia of Bath on the edge of civil war. The mood is desperation, as increasing numbers of Cainites flock to its walls in search of a sanctuary that may soon collapse.

Bjarkarey represents the theme of savagery, as its Gangrel ruler leads frequent raids on neighboring Scandinavian domains, and pursues crusades whenever the desire for blood takes her. The vampires of Bjarkarey must embrace violence to survive in this arduous, small domain. Yet, the mood of Bjarkarey is one of isolation. No hope will reach the distant island of Bjarkarey, forcing it into a perpetual cycle of bloodshed.

The theme in Constantinople is one of faith, as its Cainites strive to believe in something greater than their own petty politicking, and attempt to move on from the failure of a Methuselah’s shattered dream. As the world’s greatest metropolis fractures under the weight of repeated crusades, the domain exudes the mood of hopeful expectation. Its vampires are determined to reject failure, and embrace greatness once more.

Mogadishu’s theme is shadow war, as rival tyrants don masks of piety to claim the greatest domain on East Africa’s coast, and find the faith working against them. Arrayed against the Clans and bloodlines roving the bazaars and alleys are hidden forces and an ancient monster, who on a whim could destroy all that Mogadishu’s usurpers hope to build. The domain’s mood is sweltering tension, as opportunities in Mogadishu abound, but the hot-blooded Cainites within violently compete for the richest treasures.

In Mangaluru, the theme is that of resolve, and the old ways inexorably passing into the new. In this domain, the Long Night never ended. Old alliances hold firm, and new bloodlines find the seizing of power difficult. Yet, the mood is amor fati. The domain’s millennia-old hierarchy is on a path to destruction – their fate – and they cannot help but embrace it.

There is even more besides exploration of domains in the V20 Dark Ages Companion, including a further two chapters that I’ll aim to tease in a future blog post. In the meantime, I would like you to comment regarding the domain and apocrypha you’d like to see teased the most. You’ll be seeing me again very soon…

Oh, and here’s a portion of the Ventrue Apocrypha before I go:

To my blood elder Cretheus, First Senator of Rome

It is with humility I write, and trust this letter reaches you seal unbroken. The messenger is a most honored Leo. Please return her unharmed.

Not long after my Embrace, my sire remarked our line is one of titans. I retorted that surely all Ventrue must be gods, foolishly believing flattery might endear him. For the affront, I became subject to his chastisement. As thrall, he forced me to humiliation and education. He willed it so, and I learned. After five decades in slavery, he took me in arms once more. The titans fought the gods, said he. Those who call themselves Ventrue fight their masters. We fight gods, and wrest power from their grasp. There is only one god worthy of the titans’ worship, and he is Mithras.

Until now, our Clan’s pact of titans against gods remained in place despite Arakur’s chaos. The new wars between our lineages imply an awakening. The gods rise. Antasians battle the Gaul’s dreamers. We war with Alexander’s Triumvirate. The rival lineages of Tinia, Artemis Orthia, and Medon grow in strength. We believed Hardestadt free, but activity within the Fiefdoms of the Black Cross implies the influence of his sire, who we believed destroyed. Our power was through unification. I fear the Clan is provoked to war from beyond.

Mithras gives guidance. He commands all must look to him, if we are to survive his fellow gods’ wrath. We must protect the titans from themselves, and force the gods into the Unconquered Sun’s light. It is the path with which I tutor the loyal Praetorians, and it is how I urge you to stabilize Rome before Camillus places it in Veddartha’s grip. Mithras sees the master’s hand, and wishes it cut off.

We start in Rome, and in Avalon, and from there take Mithras’ word to our fellow titans. Unified under Mithras we might stave off the gods.

With sincerest respect,

Arcadius Pater, Consul of Aquae Sulis

Childe of Marcus Verus, Baron of Deva Victrix

Grand-childe of the God-Emperor Mithras, Unconquered Sun, Prince of Londinium and the Baronies of Avalon, Progenitor of our Line

Ventrue exalt in the glory of their lineage. A Ventrue in a Toreador court may bore the Queen of Love with recitation of ancestry, but that same Patrician in a Ventrue court will be expected to recount not only the names of her forebears, but their achievements and misdeeds. Woe betide the Power Monger who misremembers.

In truth, there is little to do but take many Ventrue proclamations of lineage at face value. When summoning a vampire of the Eleventh Generation to recite her great, great grand-sire’s domain name and deeds, it is more a test of the Cainite’s ability to tell a convincing tale than a memory exam. Presentation only becomes a factor when naming notable Ventrue. If a Patrician claims their sire as “Francis the Woodsman, murdered by Lupines one night following my Embrace,” few Ventrue would shift in their seats. If instead she names an ancestor such as “Titus Venturus Camillus, Prince of Rome,” the claim will draw questions, interest, and where the declarations are believed, approval and hospitality. Even rogues are acclaimed, if their legends are known.

No ancestor is as important in the Ventrue lineage as the Fourth Generation Methuselah. Each of the Fourth Generations’ lines habitually manifest certain traits, fuelling claims they possess blood more potent than other Clans. Scholars of the vitae postulate each Methuselah spawns a new bloodline, but learned Ventrue refute such speculation. “Ventrue vitae is pure and never spawns a bastard line,” they say, “but the Ventrue progenitors’ minds are strong, and leave impressions on all but the most thin of blood.”

 

 

  38 comments for “Deathly Evocative Domains [V20: Dark Ages Companion]

  1. Unsilent Majority
    September 18, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Ahhhhhh I can’t wait for this! So much good stuff coming down the pipeline, and I’m glad you’re front and center for the majority of it, TGG.

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 3:30 am

      I’m glad you’re looking forward to it! I can’t wait to see the response from Storytellers and players once it’s out ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Vermilion
    September 18, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Constantinople and Bjarkarey stick out for me, albeit for different reasons. I’m also certainly always game for more Brujah lore!

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 3:30 am

      Oh? What are the different reasons?

      And duly noted on the Brujah!

      • Vermilion
        September 19, 2016 at 2:22 pm

        Bjarkarey is a setting that seems like it deals with the inherently feral nature of the Kindred, the personal horror that comes with trying to survive just one more night in some other monster’s power game. (A very cool theme indeed) Constantinople seems to me like it explores Kindred trying to find meaning in their unlives outside of just screwing each other over all the time. (Something I like to focus on when I run VtM) After all, hope for the future is probably about as pure as the world of the Kindred can even get most days. There’s also of course that bit of tragedy to it, since it’s a bit of a foregone conclusion that Constantinople falls and it all ends terribly.

        • Matthew Dawkins
          September 19, 2016 at 3:41 pm

          Fantastic comment! I think you’re really going to love what we’ve done with those two chapters.

          • Vermilion
            September 19, 2016 at 8:49 pm

            Thanks, glad to hear it! I’m always excited to see more Vampire: The Masquerade stuff released being released! And by the Gentleman Gamer himself!

  3. Atavist
    September 18, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Cool to see a setting book, but I couldn’t help but notice the best clan doesn’t seem to have an apocrypha entry. Is there nothing about the Followers of Set?

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 3:32 am

      The Setites and Tremere appear as apocrypha attached to a further two chapters, not previewed above ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Atavist
        September 19, 2016 at 8:37 pm

        Awesome! Thank you. I’ve been a fan of your YouTube for a long time and it really helped me get into the Masquerade mindset.

        • Matthew Dawkins
          September 20, 2016 at 3:42 pm

          I’m glad you like the channel! Thanks for the support!

  4. Romero
    September 19, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Can we hope to see this on Wednesday perhaps?

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      The art isn’t yet completed, so it’ll be a few months yet.

  5. Mosli
    September 19, 2016 at 9:24 am

    This sounds really promising. As I have written before I really like how you are going deeper with the different settings. It is much more immersive and useful that way. And much, much better than a superficial list of all the domains of Europe. I mean, one could always move your setting of Bath to York if one wanted. Or take elements from it. I am very excited. And will end all my posts on Dark Ages saying that Damnation City for Dark Ages simply must be made…

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Exactly! I want people to play the domains as written, bรปt also take features from them and apply them to other towns and cities.

      I would love to work on a Dark Ages Damnation City…

      • Murder of Crows
        September 19, 2016 at 2:53 pm

        A Dark Ages Damnation City would be a dream come true. I just love the Dark Ages gameline, and even though I am still a bit disappointed with the V20 Dark Ages, the Companion seems to be putting the line back on track to excellence.

        • Matthew Dawkins
          September 19, 2016 at 3:44 pm

          Let Rich know in the Monday Meeting notes comments! The more people who ask, the more resonance the request!

  6. Bob
    September 19, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Will there be rules for the Keening in this.

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      We don’t have any Saudi Arabian domains in this book, so no, I’m afraid not. Plenty of other Assamite material, however!

      • Bob
        September 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm

        Ah, I see.
        Will there ever be rules for the Keening?

        • Matthew Dawkins
          September 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

          Maybe! If we ever do a book with a focus on the Ashirra again.

  7. dj
    September 19, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    a bit disappointed, is there nothing specific for playing in France or Germany?

    • Victor J Kinzer
      September 19, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Matt did mention there were other chapters still to be leaked. So there might still be German content waiting in the wings.

      • Matthew Dawkins
        September 19, 2016 at 3:49 pm

        Tragically not. No German domains this time around.

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      Sorry to hear you’re disappointed! We only had room for six domains, and to space them out broadly, we couldn’t do more than a few in Central and Western Europe. I’m confident the domains we do feature will be of interest, however.

      • dj
        September 20, 2016 at 3:44 am

        Thank you. I understand and am sure i will still enjoy it. It just means I will be getting more use out of my copy of DA Europe. And hoping for more later ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Matthew Dawkins
          September 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

          You just reminded me of what a good book that one is ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Matt
    September 19, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Love it! The best thing about city sourcebooks is that they are timeless. Rules changes don’t render them obsolete like some other books. I’m about to embark on the Transylvania Chronicles soon with a new troupe of players.

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      I agree, when talking about Dark Ages city sourcebooks. The history, geography and so on is historic, and therefore as accurate as we can make it (while ensuring it’s interesting). Masquerade city sourcebooks are a little more awkward. As they’re set in the modern era, geographical information (such as the city layout, names of buildings, popular clubs vampires attend from the real world, etc.) run the risk of becoming obsolete information.

  9. Phaolan
    September 19, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I look forward to seeing Rome for Dark Ages! The little ‘tease’ we got for it in Giovanni Chronicles (as nonsensical as it was for Venetian Necromancers) led me to delve more deeply into the city’s history. That led to Camilla becoming a BIG BAD in my troupe’s chronicle of the ages. Rome grew and grew in my imagination from then onward…

    I’m especially curious to see how and why Camilla is there. I played him as faking his own demise back at the end of Rome’s Eternal Senate (circa CE 10) as a means of tricking other, younger vampires to accomplish the goal of achieving something like apotheosis for himself. Of course, even a Elder such as he is ever the puppet of another, a fact he learnt too late to help him.

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 19, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      I’d forgotten that Rome appears in the Giovanni Chronicles! Doesn’t it say Cappadocius has access to the Vatican library? Those crazy Antediluvians with their immunity to True Faith…

      If you like the corrupted Prince Camilla, you’ll like this chapter ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Nicolas Milioni Gravina
        September 19, 2016 at 4:10 pm

        Since you Mentioned Antediluvians i got curious. What do Ventrue think of Their Antedivluvian? Do they try to find out more About him? do they dismiss the Antediluvian as a legend? Do any of them claim to be a drect sire of the original Ventrue?

        • Matthew Dawkins
          September 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

          Well those are questions with a lot of answers. For the most part, Ventrue probably don’t give much thought to their Antediluvian.

          His childer seem to have a healthy amount of respect / fear / awe for him, however. Whether they attempt to discover more of Ventrue / Veddartha is down to the individual Ventrue, though there may be a reason none of his childer outwardly serve him, preferring to style themselves as god kings rather than revering their founder.

          I play Mithras as dismissing the idea of a Ventrue Antediluvian. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the eldest vampire and anyone else is beneath him. He doesn’t genuinely think this (one would assume), but his followers do, and that’s enough.

          • Nicolas Milioni Gravina
            September 20, 2016 at 3:58 pm

            Oh,thanks Matthew

          • Khanwulf
            September 22, 2016 at 9:59 am

            Interesting take on Mithras, though the apocrypha included above makes explicit reference to Veddartha as being a concern of Mithras, so your view is a surprise really.

            Related aside: DA Europe is was good, but what I’d really like to see is a DA20 British Isles that focuses in on the Cainites there and their power/survival machinations over the centuries. We know quite a bit about the history of the Isles, and it’s a knife-fight in a phone booth the whole way.

            You could easily approach the Isles with an Iberia by Night treatment and trace some truly compelling stories. (And, ancient horror: Britain is where things go to get away!)

  10. Matthew Dawkins
    September 22, 2016 at 10:05 am

    @Khanwulf – there does exist a Dark Ages: British Isles for the previous iteration of the Dark Ages line. It covers vampires, mages, werewolves, and inquisitors rather than just vampires, but is a particularly good book. I refer to it often when running Britain-based games.

  11. Jakob Haley
    September 24, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I finally got around to reading this and I can’t wait for this to drop.
    Thanks for making this happen, mate.

    • Matthew Dawkins
      September 25, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      My pleasure! I hope you enjoy it!

Comments are closed.