In Vampire the Masquerade, the book states that a vampire does not age and is clinically dead. The Child flaw also states the following:

You were a small child (between five and 10 years old) at the time of your Embrace, leaving your Physical Attributes underdeveloped and making it difficult to interact with some aspects of mortal society.

In my group we have had discussion about the subject and interpreted these statements in the following manner: "A vampire awakens each evening looking the same as he did when he was Embraced."

What I would like to know is: are there any sources backing or refuting this interpretation?

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Explicitly so.

As said on page 16 of the 20th Anniversary rules:

Once a vampire is Embraced, her looks are frozen in time. Her skin will be unnaturally cold to the touch and become paler as she ages, but she will look the same in a thousand years as she does on the night of her Embrace.

In fact, there's even a Tremere Thaumaturgy ritual (Rebirth of Mortal Vanity) that does nothing but cause a vampire's hair to grow.

The only things that can permanently alter the appearance of a vampire otherwise are those that result from magic, the Embrace, or the various curses of Caine, as @Flamma details in his answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there anything that covers the issue of getting your hair cut off and having it regrow every night? (Interview with the Vampire style)? \$\endgroup\$ – Cthos Sep 27 '14 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ A few things, not least of which is the Tremere ritual referenced in the answer; the source material cites it as the way one can escape a hairstyle fashionable in the Middle Ages. The depredations of the Toreador Antitribu are described as "impermanent" without Vicissitude because the Kindred body is "an ever-renewing canvas." There may be an explicit reference to hair in one of the books, but I don't have it to hand. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Sep 27 '14 at 15:54

Generally speaking, yes, but there are some exceptions

Hair, beard and other features return each dawn to the state they were when the Embrace. If a vampire cut his hair or shave himself, the next night will awake with the same appearance as the previous nights.

There are, though, some exceptions:

  • Vampires turn paler as the grow old, except Assamites that for some racist strange reason turn darker.

    An Assamite’s skin grows darker with age (as opposed to other vampires, whose skin gets paler); particularly ancient Assamites are almost ebony in complexion. V20 pg 49

  • Vampire appearance change with the Humanity rating.

    Physical changes show up at this stage; while not hideous in the sense of the Nosferatu or certain Gangrel, the vampire acquires a pallid, corpse-like, and noticeably unwholesome aspect. V20 pg 313

  • Gangrel acquire animal features each frenzy. They can be permanent, so their appearance is not immutable.

  • Nosferatu transformation takes effect a few nights after the embrace, so they don't look the same as when he was embraced.

  • Some discipline powers, mainly Vicissitude, allow permanent changes on a vampire appearance.

  • Cappadocian vampires have extremely pale skin. To many, it dries with the centuries, giving them even more corpse-like appearance.

  • In El Cairo by Night there is a character, Izzat al-Khunzir, that grows fatter with time, and it is stated that usually vampires get thinner. I don't have the original book, so I am translating back from Spanish: "While others slim down after their transition, Izzat seems to have grown with the age, and now he is a real mountain".

  • This is never explained, and as such is subject to speculation. A vampire can raise its Appearance value. Although minor variations can be explained as improvements in confidence, grace, ... a character can raise from 1 (ugly) to 5 (human perfection). My interpretation is that, as Anne Rice vampires, they are able to become more beautiful given time, smoothing their facial features. But this is not supported anywhere on the book, although it's still mechanically possible. In Lore of the Clans Nosferatu chapters, it is mentioned that except Nosferatu, the vampires becomes prettier with the passage of time.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still thinking of exceptions. I will be adding them as they come to my mind. \$\endgroup\$ – Flamma Sep 27 '14 at 16:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ No need to come up with supernatural explanations for Appearance raising; humans can do it, too. The Appearance stat is not just raw beauty, but the ability to use one's appearance to one's advantage and make good first impressions. Makeup, fashion, posture and demeanor can all help improve one's appearance. \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Sep 27 '14 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jadasc Yeah, I know. Anyway, I wouldn't let an Appearance 1 human achieve Appearance 5 even without heavy surgery, even if he spends a fortune in make up, fashion and gets an attractive personality. I know it's going to be the most controversial point, as it's a subjective opinion, not backed on any text, just common sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Flamma Sep 27 '14 at 18:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ In short, a vampire's appearance doesn't change unless altered by something. \$\endgroup\$ – El Suscriptor Justiciero Sep 30 '15 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ A longer discussion of a Vampire's Appearance can be found here. \$\endgroup\$ – FluxIX Jul 15 '17 at 19:39

As the other answers have said, it is generally static. However there is a merit in one of the V20 books (I believe Anarchs Unbound) which allows you to change haircuts, get tattoos, minor implants (such as RFID in your hand), and other small things like that. With willpower expenditure being needed to undo the changes.

I also believe that Vicissitude's changes are (except where gangrel animal features and Nosferatu features) permanent.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The merit the above poster is thinking of is the Indelible merit, which is presented as a Toreador clan merit in Lore of the Clans. 1 pt. allows you simple cosmetic alterations and minor implants, 2 pts. allow more complex implants and more utilitarian alterations. That being said, despite it being listed as a Clan merit, I never felt the need to only use these merits for that specific clan - if it fits, it fits. My Daughter of Cacophony has the Indelible merit. \$\endgroup\$ – Hannah C Nicolai Nov 5 '19 at 2:26

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