Vampire The Masquerade,
Some people will know this from the White Wolf books, other will know this from the video games, others know it from LARP and Pen&Paper. I personally know it from playing the LARP event, or as we rather call it in our group, Improvisation theathre.
I’m not going to spend too much time explaining all the terms in detail. If you’ve never heard of Vampire The Masquerade (VtM for short), then this blog article might not be for you today. If you have, then I encourage you to read on, as it might help you in dealing with Ghouls and their issues.
What is a Ghoul?
A Ghoul is a human being that has been drinking the blood of a Vampire. This has a few consequences for the person that drinks the blood:
- They become stronger then a normal human.
- They do not age for as long as they drink the blood. In order to keep this effect, they need to drink the blood once per moon cycle.
- After drinking three different times, they become bound to the Vampire that gave his blood three times.
- They become addicted to the blood.
Without going too much into the details, it becomes rather clear that there’s a few benefits to being a Ghoul, but there’s also a large list of disadvantages. The disadvantages that Ghouls experience are not limited to physical or mential issues that appear from drinking the blood, but also their position in the Vampire society.
Ghouls are considered the lowest standing possible in the Vampire world. They’re often open left to abuse by their Master and other Vampires. If you’re playing a Ghoul, get the following imprinted in your head as soon as possible: You are worth absolutely nothing.
And yet the above statement is not entirely true. Ghouls are also considered the most important characters for a Vampire. While being treated poorly, they are also the most trusted person by a Vampire. Why you ask? Ghouls are often tasked by guarding the lair of their masters when they are asleep during the day. They are included in the most secret of meetings to support their Master and they run errands for their Master during the day. This makes them invaluable as they are able to perform tasks that a Vampire is not able to do.
My Ghoul: Oliver Soran
I’ve been playing a Ghoul since Oktober 2013. He’s called Oliver Soran, and he’s the Ghoul from Herr Spatz, Ancilla of Clan Gangrel in München. The mere fact that I play the Ghoul of an Ancilla has both benefits and downsides.
The “benefits”Note that I surround the word benefits with quotes, because these benefits are really limited and narrow. For example, the other members of Clan Gangrel look out after me. You might think this is a good thing. Let me tell you it’s not what it looks like.
Yes, they look out for me when a Vampire that is not Clan Gangrel does something against me. Do they look out for me because I’m part of their Clan? NO! Well in a sense yes, but they look out for me because I have the blood in my body belonging to their Ancilla Herr Spatz.
Being the Ghoul of an Ancilla has some protection to it, in that most Neonate Vampires will not try to mess with you, because they fear that the Ancilla might retaliate for breaking his property. That’s right you’re considered nothing but property. Actually a quote I received during one of my plays: “A chair is more valuable then you are, the chair has a purpose and a use. You’re just food.”
- You’re worth nothing to other Vampires
- You’re open to abuse by other Vampires due the entire politcal play
- You’re food, learn to live with that fact
- Ghouls have potence, making you stronger then most Neonates during a play, but it’s advices to be on your best behavior
- You’re open to abuse from your master. Why? Because he can.
- You have no free will.
- You’re addicted to your master’s blood
Oliver was taken as ghoul for the services he could perform. Working in the Telekom industry, Oliver’s original tasks consist of securing Gangrel communications and disrupting the communications of enemies. Having been on various tasks, Oliver learned about other Ghouls, and what happens to them when their use has exceeded.
After learning this truth, Oliver took up his courage and confronted his master with the question of becoming a Vampire himself. His master, taken in by the courage said that he’d put Oliver to the test to see if he was worthy. The “test” has been going on for months now, and still no end is in sight. Oliver has been with Clan Torreador because he was handed over as a present. He’s been with Clan Nosferatur, trying to obtain information on how to impress the Gangrel, he’s been with clan Gangrel; learning their secrets and how to fit in properly.
Despite being a Ghoul, the Gangrel pack has been rather “nice” towards Oliver. Whether it’s because they actually see potential in him, or just because he has their Ancilla’s blood running through him is still a mysterie. Not all experiences have been bad for Oliver. He’s been able to talk to various other Ancilla, where some have commended him for his behavior and knowledge. Others have tried to kill him or suck out his blood, simply because they know he’s a Ghoul.
Lately, Oliver has lost his house because he can no longer pay the rent. Working for the Vampires made him neglect his normal work. The result of this, is that Oliver now lives in the woods surrounding München. One “advantage” is that Oliver posses the skill “Animalism“, which allows him to give commands to other animals. Now he lives in a Haven, surrounded by bigger animals such as a fox etc to keep him company. The downside? No social contact, making the integration in the Camarilla society not any easier. But then again, who needs human skills in a world of monsters?
((This a short version of my character’s background, explaining his behavior and history up until the point this article has been written.))
Most people however have the following impression when I tell them about my character:
Just to be clear, my character still looks human, and is human. Only my behavior represents that of an animal, and only in specific situations. You can consider the behavior of my character as someone who has been abused and traumatized, and the only social aspect he knows is that what’s found in a pack of wolves.
Tips and Tricks
In this section, I’d like to give out some tips for people playing a Ghoul. These situations are based on the practical experience that I’ve gained from our local plays as well as some inter-regional plays across Germany. Please be aware that these are based on personal experience, and might not always work in your play.
1. Always be humble and respectfull to anyone in the room. Almost anyone in the room/area you’re playing will have a higher standing then you have.
2. If you receive a mission or assignment, try to carry it out to the best of your abilities. You’re going to have to deal with monsters that have lived for hundreds of years, having way more experience then you have in a political game of life and death. But if you want to impress other Vampires, you’re going to have to deal with it.
3. This tip is a double-edged sword: Try to stand out! By standing out, you will gain attention from Vampires. However this can go both ways: Either you draw the correct attention in that Vampires will recognize you and become impressed by your abilities, eventually leading to the “Embrace”. On the other side, if you draw the wrong kind of attention, it’s going to be really simple: You will die.
4. Respect the Etikette. This is how you deal with Vampires above you. It protects you from them when talking to them in such a way that you’re respecting them:
- Child: Bow for them.
- Neonate: Bow really deep for them.
- Ancilla: Fall to your knees
- Elder: Don’t even approach them, unless they come talking to you (but why would they?). If they do, fall to your knees and only speak when spoken to.
5. This one might be a form of “game breaker”, but don’t try to look another Vampire in the eyes. There’s 2 reasons for this: If he’s a Gangrel, you’re pretty much going to piss him off with that behavior. If he turns out to be a Torreador or Ventrue, he will probably just dominate you, forcing you to do things you’d never do. From OT perspective, undergoing a Dominate can be hilarious and brings awesome play elements as well.
6. You’re a ghoul, and nobody really cares about you. This allows you to actually run around the room and evedrop on conversation. Because most Vampires think: “It’s just a ghoul”. This situation allows you to collect so much information by just listening. If you’re smart you sell this information for favors to with other Vampires. Remember, intrigue and politics make up the core of this game.
7. This more a bit of a general play tip: DO! I’ve made the mistake myself a few times that I was too passive because of my Ghoul position. But a revelation I had myself during our last play: go there and do stuff. There’s a lot of fun to be had as well as unique experiences. I was really scared in talking to one of the more powerfull Gangrel of the evening, but another Vampire just dragged me along and introduced me. It was one of the best talks ever 🙂