V20 Ghouls: An Outline & Inspirations

Back in September I shared the V20 Ghouls Outline Panel Recap, and since then I’ve hired a team of writers. This post gives you a quick version of the outline that we hashed out from the Outlining Panel, and what we’ve been working on since then:

Prologue: Opening Fiction

5,000 Words
– Monica Valentinelli


1,500 Words
– Matthew Sanderson

Chapter One (Ghouls Origins & Overview)

10,000 Words
– Andrew Peregrine

Chapter Two (Ghoul Duties, Blood Bonds & Mechanics)

12,000 Words
– Dhaunae De Vir
– David Hill

Chapter Three (Clans & Sects)

14,500 Words
– Matthew Sanderson (Camarilla, Anarchs, Brujah, Gangrel, Malkavians, Nosferatu, Toreador, Tremere, Ventrue)
– Jason Needham (Tal’mahe’Ra/Black Hand, Assamites, Followers of Set, Giovanni, Ravnos)
– Dhauna De Vir (Sabbat, Lasombra & Tzimisce)

Chapter Four (Revenants)

12,800 Words

– Jason Needham (Origins, Modern Revenants, Enrathi, Rafastio, Giovanni, Servants of Anushin Rawan)
– Jennifer Coy (Bratovich, D’Habi, Ducheski, Grimaldi)
– Matt M McElroy (Obertus, Oprichniki, Zantosa, Kairouan Brotherhood)

Chapter Five (Character Creation)

20,000 Words
– Bill Bodden

Chapter Six (Storytelling)

15,000 Words
– Jason Andrew

Chapter Seven (“Famous” Ghouls & Ghoul Orgs)

10,000 Words
– Matt M McElroy
– Monica Valentinelli

Appendix I (Template Characters)

5,000 Words
– Bill Bodden

As I mentioned above, this is the quick hit list version of the outline. My team has a more fleshed out version that they are diving into, and the chapters are really coming together. A few of the books we’ve been referencing include:

  • Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Hunters Hunted II
  • Ghouls: Fatal Addiction
  • Liber des Ghouls/The Book of Ghouls (Mind’s Eye Theatre)
  • Liege, Lord and Lackey
  • Guide to the Camarilla
  • Guide to the Sabbat
  • Transylvania by Night
  • The Revised Clanbooks, especially Giovanni, Ventrue, Assamite, Tzimisce

At first glance, this book is an expansion of the ghouls entry in the V20 core to offer more options for both Storytellers and Players. It can also be seen as an update to the material presented in Ghouls: Fatal Addiction and modernizes Revenant family lore presented in Guide to the Sabbat and Transylvania by Night.

I want this book to provide more than just a modern take and update on previously published material. Ghouls are an integral part of Vampire society. Not only do they help protect the Masquerade, they also guard their undead masters, acquire other mortals to feed their masters’ hunger, spy, hunt, and fight battles in the Jyhad…and yet? Ghouls often fade into the background of a story. Either they’re represented by a single dot of the Retainer Background or become an obstacle as the PC Kindred make their way to the “boss battle” in this week’s game night.

Inspirations from other media:

  • Reinfeld from Dracula
  • Blade and the various vampire Familiars from the Blade Films
  • Lindsey MacDonald, Eve, and Marcus Hamilton from Angel
  • Karl Ruprecht Kroenen from the Hellboy film
  • Caleb from the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Jacopo in the Count of Monte Cristo film

Several of these are flawed characters, but they have their own agendas, personalities and are important to the story they are in. They may not exactly be “ghouls” but we can look to them for ideas for theme/mood/style for this project. Lindsey MacDonald is at first a loyal participant in the goals and methods of the Senior Partners and wants very much to be promoted within their ranks, but eventually chooses his own path. Kroenen is highly skilled and instrumental in Rasputin’s plans. Caleb is an example of a servant to an immense power (I’m imagining an ancient Ghoul who serves a Methuselah or even one of the Antediluvians). Jacopo acts as both a bodyguard and occasionally a conscience for Edmund in the film.

I’ve got a great team on this book, and I’ll be sharing some rough draft sections in upcoming blog posts. I’ll also be using the Open Development process to get feedback on some new Merits & Flaws, and a few other bits in the coming weeks.


34 responses to “V20 Ghouls: An Outline & Inspirations”

  1. Brendan W Avatar
    Brendan W

    What, no Talons of Black Rage?


    1. Matt-M-McElroy Avatar

      The Talons will be in Chapter 7 along with the Unmastered, The Disciples of Set and a few other groups.

  2. Doug Atkinson Avatar
    Doug Atkinson

    Will there be material on animal ghouls?

    1. Matt-M-McElroy Avatar

      Yep, that will be part of what David is writing for Chapter 2, along with Szlachta and Vozhd.

      1. Zakariya Ali Sher Avatar
        Zakariya Ali Sher

        Sweet! Animal ghouls never seem to have gotten enough love. Looking forward to that.

  3. Bragdus Avatar

    What? No Marijava?

  4. Bragdus Avatar

    What, no Marijava?

    1. Matt-M-McElroy Avatar

      The Marijava and a couple others will get short write-ups after the 2 page spreads of the listed families.

      1. Zakariya Ali Sher Avatar
        Zakariya Ali Sher

        A pity. The Marijava are my favourite family. Ah well, at least they are getting mentioned, though I would have preferred to have them get a full write-up. I suppose they can be discussed more at length under the Tal’mahe’ra section, along with the sections on specific Clans. The non-Black Hand members of the family have been variously said to have served the Assamites, Ravnos and Daitya.

  5. Tyler Avatar

    I love the Revanant families and always thought it strange that the Giovanni, Folloers of Set and Assamites had references to Revanants but I never found rules for them.
    Will there be a complete list of all families including historic ones? It would also.be cool if there were some new ones too.
    I even heard of a Gargoyle based revenant family in a game I played in when I first began playing vampire but I was never sure if it was cannon or something created by the storyteller.

    1. Matt-M-McElroy Avatar

      The Giovanni, Ventrue and Assamites will have Revenant families in this book.

      I’ve not found any reference to Revenants related to Gargoyles. Sounds like an interesting House Rule/Setting that a Storyteller came up with.

      1. Ignytezero Avatar

        Will Baali revenants like the Dhabi be covered?

        1. Matt-M-McElroy Avatar

          They are listed above in Chapter 4. They will be getting a full spread like the other listed families.

          1. Ignytezero Avatar

            Ah, indeed they were. Thx.

      2. Zakariya Ali Sher Avatar
        Zakariya Ali Sher

        As an Assamite fan, that excites me!

    2. Zakariya Ali Sher Avatar
      Zakariya Ali Sher

      Well, the Marijava (or at least the branch of the family not affiliated with the Black Hand) have been said to serve the Assamites and Daitya for what it’s worth. Indeed, the second edition Assamite Clanbook even had a Merit representing this.

  6. Ignytezero Avatar

    Good sources for inspiration. Was sceptical to the use of another ghoul book. But now I feel a little bit excited again. Thanks for renewing my faith.

  7. Unsilent Majority Avatar
    Unsilent Majority

    This is going to be good. Very happy with the writers that will be working on this.

  8. Karl Avatar

    Shut up and take my money.

  9. Jim Avatar

    So I don’t suppose you’re going to be referencing what happens when you ghoul someone who isn’t a mortal? Such as a kinfolk, mage, or other supernatural?

    1. Matt-M-McElroy Avatar

      If we have the wordcount I may be able to squeeze in a small sidebar, but we’ll have to see how the final drafts look.

      1. tau neutrino Avatar
        tau neutrino

        Please don’t use Blood Treachery as a guide.

  10. amaterasu Avatar

    I don’t have any V20 stuff, but this I might get. Revenants looks awesome. Giovanni always should have had one for obvious reasons, but it seemed in CWOD they were artificially limited to the Sabbat via Tzimisce.

    So yeah. This looks totally awesome.

    1. Zakariya Ali Sher Avatar
      Zakariya Ali Sher

      Nah, not just Sabbat. The Enrathi, Rafastio and Marijava were associated with the True Black Hand. One branch of the Marijava were unaffiliated with the Hand, though, and were loyal to the Assamites (and perhaps Ravnos or Daitya Setites). After the fall of the Black Hand, the Rafastio were said to have courted the Tremere, Tzimisce and Assamite sorcerers. The D’Habi were Baali, and the Ducheski were Tremere. Even the Grimaldi were mentioned as secretly considering defecting from the Sabbat to either the Giovanni or Ventrue. And then you undoubtedly had some independent Tzimisce who still cultivated Revenant families (the Oprichniki were explicitly mentioned as belonging to the Russian Tzimisce, for example, and were only becoming known in the West after the death of Baba Yaga).

      Granted, most of those weren’t things that were going to see play in a standard game, but the option was there if you wanted to work them in. The second edition Assamite Clanbook even had a Merit for purchasing Marijava Revenants, and the Ducheski and Rafastio got full page spreads in Blood Magic.

  11. Possessed Avatar

    So exited about this, we truly need an update on the awesomeness that was Ghouls Fatal Addiction. Also I’m very happy to hear we get a good amount of wordcount devoted to the Revenants.

  12. David Felt Avatar
    David Felt

    Is it still too late to find Ronni Radner and Ethan Skemp and grab them from whatever they are currently working on to include some fiction fluff from Dr. Douglas Netchurch?

    Heck, having a PDF only collection of setting material much like The Book of Nod would be fantastic given how it could show a progression from Dr. Netchurch’s older scanned notes to his more recent digital recording of information.

  13. Zakariya Ali Sher Avatar
    Zakariya Ali Sher

    Kairouan Brotherhood, huh? Sounds intriguing. I wonder if they’re the Assamite Matt mentioned in an earlier post or if they’re something else. Maybe Brujah (or True Brujah) affiliated? Kairouan was a major centre of Islamic scholarship, and its not too far from Carthage either. Then again, the Assamites have been just as active in North Africa as the Brujah, and I am more of an Assamite fan. Be kind of cool if their ashipu created a Revenant family (or two, if you count the Marijava :-D).

  14. Lydia Avatar

    I’m curious about the role of word count in light of the move to the PDF/PoD model, presuming that the new way of producing books is no longer held fast to the requirements of page count. Are these just guidelines for the desired size of a section, hard limits, or something else? If the opening fiction is a better piece at 4,000 words, or 6,200, does the new publishing model allow for much flexibility in the size of a chapter?

    If possible, I’d like to see some information on ghouls and mortal servants for Kindred that reside in areas that have extended periods of day and night. This has been mentioned before but never detailed (AFAIK), and while there are probably only 12 or so vampires in Alaska, there’s still Scandinavia and a handful of places that I would imagine rely on their ghouls more than normal due to environmental factors, and that relationship would be interesting to read about. I mean, someone’s gotta help keep the Masquerade when a Sabbat pack completely slaughters a small town, 30 Days of Night-style.

    1. Possessed Avatar

      Generally though you don’t need to go to Alaska or northern Scandinavia for hte Ghouls role to be pronounced noticeably as even in the southern parts of Scandinavia and northern Europe are rahter lightfilled during summer and dark in the winter. That is during summer there may be only a few scant hours of dark during night time, and these may not hit the opening hours of night clubs, while in the winter it’s dark from 16-18 till noon.

      This is long before entering the arctic circle and it’s 30 days of night (or 30 nights of day) scenario’s.

      In these conditions Ghouls are vital to the Kindred, both for feeding, Masquerade handling and other nightly matters.

    2. Matt-M-McElroy Avatar

      Onyx Path still has plan for wordcount to budget a book.

      Freelancers, including writers, artists, editors, layout/design, and developers get paid so, wordcount helps plot for how much a book is going to cost to produce. So, as developer I’m less than thrilled when a writer doesn’t follow the outline and goes way over their assigned wordcount. That means someone has to trim that work down to fit the planned book structure.

  15. Jiima Arunsone Avatar
    Jiima Arunsone

    Is it planned to put some info about Dhampir (these from ToTB, not Kindred of East)?

  16. Grace Liu Avatar
    Grace Liu

    Approximately how long would this take? I guess what I’m asking is, when do we come back and buy this?

  17. Sutekh Avatar

    Will it include the Bimas? They were a revenant family created by Laibon Followers of Set, feeded by vampires in order to get monstrous soldiers -literally- for the Dark God. They appeared in Kindred of Ebony Kingdom and VTES game.

  18. Jami Avatar

    I’m so excited for this book!

    My table top group was wondering if there could be Szlachta creation rules? We’re having trouble figuring out how to fairly let our Tzimisce create crazy modified ghouls. We would love some kind of system that lets her play out these creative ideas, but with some reasonable limitations.

    Thanks so much.