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Is it possible to play a human in VtM (any edition)? Or would they be woefully under-powered and out of their depth? I was interested in playing as a mercenary vampire-hunter (who is hired by vampires to hunt other vampires).

I don't mind playing an under-powered character, in fact I liked the idea of being an underdog who has to get by with skill and planning. But if I was just dead weight to the rest of the party, or if it'd require so much houseruling it'd be a pain for my GM, I'll have to give up on the concept.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jadasc Been years since I played VTM, so I'm pretty out of the loop. People can answer with whatever editions they like, I'll look into the ones that make my character premise more practical. (And thanks!) \$\endgroup\$ – Stakehouse Oct 26 '19 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey, @Rorp . I would prefer kyne, but I had some ideas for a ghoul character if that wasn't possible. My thought was he'd actually capture and butcher vampires, harvesting their blood like a pig's, then use the blood to empower himself without becoming subservient (since the vampires are dead). That premise could be pretty fun, and work as a bit of mystery where they assume he's a ghoul to some secret vampire master. \$\endgroup\$ – Stakehouse Oct 27 '19 at 10:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Stakehouse I vaguely remember a source book or chapter on vampire hunting ghoul gang. So 1) are such materials what you're looking for and 2) if it's 3rx party does it still count? And please, edit "any edition" into your question directly. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Oct 27 '19 at 10:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi @Mołot . If the 3rd party content is good, I don't think there's any problem in referencing it. It would be preferable if I could achieve it without getting extra sourcebooks, but an answer including such is fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Stakehouse Oct 27 '19 at 11:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Stakehouse well that technically make him a ghoul (since he drink vampire blood, and that what I was asking). But ok. I'll make an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Rorp Oct 27 '19 at 12:36
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The answer to the main question is a solid yes, but we need to be careful of how we're defining effective


What situations will this character be encountering?

The first and most important element in thinking about this is about your campaign. If it's a very plot-heavy, on-rails scenario which brings PCs into contact with vampires under vampire-friendly conditions, a rootstock human isn't going to seem very good.

Even a weak vampire gets huge advantages over kine, most immediately including spending blood to pump physical Attributes, resistance to bludgeoning and lethal damage, and various supernatural powers with a huge variety of effects and often few counter-strategies. Dropping some generic guy into a room with some generic Kindred for a direct, 1-on-1 competition of any kind is a situation in which it would be unwise to bet on the human.

But

That's not how Kindred operate in V:tM. No vampire with middling physical Attributes is going to blithely walk into a confrontation with a vampire that has high Potence, Fortitude, and Celerity ratings. Kindred always try to play to their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses, and so avoid situations where there is an imbalance of capability which is not in their favor.

Good strategies for a human character could involve things like operating during the day, or exploiting a vampire's instinctive fear of fire, their (sometimes) better understanding of current social and political environments, or their better connection with Humanity (owing to a weaker Beast) to expose vampires to weaknesses that the human doesn't share. Allowing themselves to come into a 1-on-1 confrontation with a vampire without extensive preparation to "level the playing field" is behavior of a human character that isn't going to survive.

In short, a human character could possibly be effective in a campaign with vampires as allies and enemies. But that character will almost certainly not be successful if played very much like a character that has been Embraced.

The Revised-edition sourcebook Ghouls: Fatal Addiction has some great sections on why vampires might rely on non-Embraced servants and assistants (which can give some inspiration for things your human character might be focused on, and how they benefit the group). It also has great sections peppered throughout about how humans (ghouled, particularly, but with some general insights applicable to mundanes as well) interact with the schemes of the Kindred. V20 has carried much of that material forward with Ghouls and Revenants, but I recommend looking through Fatal Addiction as well; I thought it was one of the better-written and more useful sourcebooks released across all of Revised.


Combat in the Storyteller system favors luck, and a human can be just as lucky as a vampire

The second important element to consider is how skill checks, particularly in combat, work. Combat in V:tM is very brittle and swing-y, and while that holds at least as true for a mortal character as an immortal one it's worth bearing in mind that vampires have farther to fall when it comes to injury-based dice penalties. It doesn't matter as much if an enemy has blood-buffed their Strength to 7 dots when enough hit boxes are marked off that they have a -3 or -4 penalty. Even a small penalty can convert likely successes to marginal failures, and for skills that's a big deal.

A couple of bad rolls when defending, or an overwhelming attack, imposes some pretty severe dice pool penalties, and those penalties can set in pretty quickly. One of my players in a V:tM game had a modest number of dots in Firearms and had a shotgun as his main weapon. A shotgun blast can deal a huge amount of damage in a single attack, and doesn't rely on superhuman abilities to use that way. Something like a flamethrower, or Molotov cocktails, could be even more effective.

Being able to deal heavy damage won't necessarily help your human survive, perhaps not even helping enough to let them get off a single attack, but if they are able to attack they can contribute Kindred-level damage in many cases, and the injury penalties to dice pools can remove a lot of the advantages a vampire would have in combat (from a game-mechanical perspective).


Special abilities favoring humans and/or frustrating Kindred exist

A third consideration is that there are some, though not a large number, of options a human character might take to give them unusual resistance or immunity to Kindred powers. The most direct such trait I can think of offhand is the True Faith merit.

It's expensive, but gives options to deal aggravated damage and resist some Discipline powers like Presence or Dominate. It was explained in one of the core sourcebooks for the Revised edition that regular people with True Faith were a serious, existential threat to vampires of any level of power or influence in the early days of the Common Era.

Some other traits exist, with variable efficacy. To give a human character a slight extra boost, a Storyteller might allow them to take other Merits like Unbondable or False Aura, among others, which can frustrate vampires' efforts to interfere with the human supernaturally.

The Revised-edition sourcebook Hunter X gives some extra options for making a human character that can offer some meaningful opposition to the Undead, but also underscores that even with the best advantages available a human who regularly contends against vampires is leading an extremely dangerous life.


Groups succeed where individuals fail

The final consideration I recommend is one any coterie should consider: what is the human's role in the group? If the human and vampires are working together, there must be some contribution that the human makes (or can make) to their efforts that would justify flirting with the edges of the Masquerade. And even the most powerful and influential vampires tend to build organizations (including informal collections of dupes) to pursue their goals. Your human can contribute to the success of your group, and can also help in dismantling an enemy's organizations.

The exact niche the human fills in your coterie is something I can't describe very well, not knowing any of the details, but as above vampires that survive for long (and humans interacting with vampires that survive for long) will tend to understand where they're strongest and where they're most vulnerable, and seek to account for those. If an enemy vampire's major advantage is wealth, or Contacts in the police department, those are threats that a human can face which will not offer the same kind of dangerous resistance as the vampire controlling those things would.

A coterie with a human member is extremely unlikely to have that human charge forward as the vanguard in a battle against a vampire. That's simply something that even the least combat-oriented vampire in the group is likely to be able to do better than the human. Figuring out what special advantages the human member does offer will define what things that character does and does not do.

I tend to feel that human characters (ghouled or not) offer unique advantages in maneuvering around outside of combat. At least, that's been my experience with human NPCs used as Retainers, Contacts, or Allies in V:tM games. A vampire will go to some trouble to protect such a character in a fight not because the fight is where the human matters most, but because the human is in some way a resource worth the effort to protect. That's not being a drag on the coterie, it's a fun in-game constraint which allows the other PCs access to the human's unique and valuable capabilities (whatever those specifically may be in your campaign).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Very good answer, thank you. It makes me excited to work out the character. I was thinking shotguns, katanas, and grenades might be my best friend, for the reason of high damage you mention. If I could get bonus dice for working out clever plans and ambushes, that might increase my chances of being useful. True Faith could be an interesting power, and I'll be interested to see what the Hunter book has. Thanks again for the terrific answer! \$\endgroup\$ – Stakehouse Oct 28 '19 at 20:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like and second most of this answer, but I would be careful with the assumption that a human is more in tune with the social situation than a vampire. A neonate was a human recently and is likely still very in tune with human society. An elder won't have those advantages, but many of them put time and work into staying in touch and may have significant experience in manipulation to say nothing of the social disciplines. Vampires often do very well in Social Situations. \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Oct 28 '19 at 20:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TimothyAWiseman That's an excellent point, and would make for an interesting wrinkle in a game-- a human character would have very few absolute advantages over a vampire, and even in a case where a human might have a relative advantage an attentive vampire could outstrip the human's capabilities with less effort than the human might expect. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Oct 28 '19 at 20:49
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It is possible to play a human in VtM by the rules (I played V20 and V5 and in both there are rules to play one), but whether or not they are woefully underpowered or just a little bit underpowered depends on the context:

1) Ghoul or "true" kine ?

The first thing to think about is "will my human use vampire blood (and become a ghoul) or not?"

If not, then the character has to be over-statted to the point they almost are superheroes, be a mage, or have the super-powers found in supplements to play hunters (Hunters Hunted II for V20) to have any chance of shining.

If the character is powered with vampire blood, depending on the edition of VtM, you might be as strong as a poorly-statted thin-blood or just slightly better than a human being.

2) The edition

As I said beforehand, the edition matters. For example, in V5, ghouls are really not so strong:

  • They heal 2 times faster than humans
  • They know the first point of the strongest discipline of their master/source of blood

On the other hand, in V20, ghouls:

  • Heal like vampires, just with less blood, and can make a roll to regenerate cut limbs
  • Can learn first level of all disciplines (or more if they drink blood of 7th and less generation), they just have to keep vampiric blood in their system or they will forget them rapidly.
  • They have Potence 1 whatever they do

(I don't know for other editions, but you get the point.)

3) The story

If the game is action-oriented with vampiric fights, your character will have a hard time. On the other hand, if the GM makes an investigation story, you might have a chance to be more than "just another human."

4) The party

If your party is full of elders, you will be so underpowered that it will change nothing whatever option you are playing. If your party is full of neonates, you have your chance. (And if they all are thin-bloods, you may sometimes be better than them, because you don't have their weaknesses and they don't have most of a vampire's strengths.) Also, if the game is investigation oriented, and the party doesn't have Auspex and/or Obfuscate, you are as strong as they are in this scenario.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the answer! A low-level RP-heavy game sounds right up my alley, so I can start there. Maybe I could have my character transition into a ghoul to make him a bit stronger, if the campaign keeps going? Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Stakehouse Oct 27 '19 at 13:45
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Consult Hunter: The Vigil

I understand that the original post is about VtM. In the new editions (Chronicles of Darkness and Vampire: The Requiem), there is an explicitly human game line Hunter: The Vigil. In it are rules for groups that hunt vampires, so humans are, with adequate preparation, powerful enough to be consequential to game play. You'd have to come up with a reason for them to do so within your story.

If you are leery of all of the God-Machine business in some of the new CoD lore, that's not at all necessary. Keep to the core CoD book and just don't include the God-Machine Chronicle bits.

You might want to look into the detailed descriptions of weapons in The Hurt Locker supplement as well

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    \$\begingroup\$ You’re confusing the Chronicles of Darkness and the World of Darkness. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Oct 28 '19 at 4:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answer. I was considering if I should try out CoD and VtR, but what I've heard about it has turned me off in regards to the lore. If the systems are good, I could potentially use VtR's mechanics and VtM's lore? I think there's a translation guide I could check out. Thanks again. \$\endgroup\$ – Stakehouse Oct 28 '19 at 7:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited my answer to answer your question. \$\endgroup\$ – Kieran Mullen Oct 28 '19 at 23:42

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