Vampire and Mortal Society Compared

There is a basic difference between the vampire world the characters inhabit and the mortal world we live in. To those of us that are advocates of historical understanding and are well-versed in past systems of social and governmental conduct, this game and its internal structure seems to be child's play to understand - but for the average denizen of our modern world, it may be a completely foreign concept. The following file draws parallels and contradictions between the two systems that will alleviate some of the misunderstanding and aid players in managing characters within the game environment.


Misconception 1: It is a free country.
For all but a very few people that may be exposed to this game - personal freedoms and rights are a matter of course. As we march boldly into the new millennium, this basic concept has become so ingrained in our global and national consciousness that most of us don't even think about it. The right to speak freely, be counted as a unique and valuable individual, and have the freedom to make decisions for ourselves is taken for granted as inalienable.

Vampire Truth: It is a fascist monarchical dictatorship.
Fascism: a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control and extreme pride in country and race, and in which political opposition is not allowed.
Monarchy: A monarchy is a country which has a king or queen.
Dictator: A dictator is someone with complete power in a country, esp. when the power is achieved by force.
There are NO inalienable rights in vampire society save those granted by a liberal interpretation of the Six Traditions. Even those can be taken away by your superiors at their whim. The entire system is created by and supports the oppression of the weak by the power of the strong.



Misconception 2: Etiquette is optional.
In modern mortal society, the ability to be rude and socially unacceptable is a byproduct of the first misconception detailed above. People can do or say what they want to whomever they want - within the limits of laws that have virtually nothing to do with social convention. Our society does not dictate behavior or performance by law or any conventions of thought.

Vampire Truth: Etiquette is mandatory.
When adherence to the laws of the Traditions is a first, a wise Neonate that wants to advance, adds the practice of etiquette and decorum to his survival strategy. Yes, vampires are monsters and those who are older realize this more than most. Still, Camarilla vampires strive to remain more or less human at least, and it is culture and manners that sets man apart from the beast.

Among vampire, etiquette is the ONLY convention that keeps the entire system from degenerating into a chaotic miasma of demigods battling it out tooth and claw for dominance, and laying waste to the entire system in the process. Etiquette is the drum to which the entire system marches, and it is expected of virtually every member of the society. The conventions of this etiquette are dictated by the old - so naturally those conventions reflect an older or seemingly archaic system of values as well. 'Period' fiction and movies that portray eras prior to 1850 are perfect examples of the sort of etiquette we speak of in action.

Revering to a superior by means of bows, curtsies and titles is not uncommon, often required. Dress-code too, may be applicable during special events. Indeed, walking and talking between Elders resembles walking on ice that may crack anytime. Yes, an elder might, at their leisure instruct a neonate to relax and adapt a more modern stance. But failure to pay respect where it is due may quickly result in fallout, denounces and disfavor. Vampires remain very status-conscious creatures.

In a way one could say that the Camarilla arena is a social rather than a physical one; A dance of ever so charming and refined creatures with proverbial daggers behind their back. There is no room for weakness or doubt, lest your rivals within or the enemies outside the Domain take advantage. Rumors and gossip can be like poisonous arrows assassinating a character over a tiny misstep. Many Camarilla vampires certainly behave as if they consider themselves Gods gift to the world; infinitely better than the anarch rabble, more sparkling and dazzling than the stuffy oh so boring mortals of this world.

LAmush provides an 'Etiquette Lore' to those with relevant stats. This lore offers guidelines on what you can expect to encounter, and basic tips on how to stay on the safe side of what is considered 'polite vampire society' and its various subcultures; and when you cross the line. What are the do's and don'ts in what situation? Who should you pay respect to and how? What you understand about appropriate behavior in what situation is locked to your etiquette level and the lore of the various factions.


Misconception 3: There are no consequences.
In our modern mortal society, one can expect to live a fairly consequence-ridden life if one chooses to ignore what conventions there are. If you are a rude bastard, that is your right - but you won't have any friends. If you break the law, you will (probably) be caught and punished. If you don't work, you will probably go hungry. This is something almost every sane member of society understands. In role playing systems, many of them HAVE no such consequences. The characters may do largely as they please, and all consequences are reduced to an 'Us versus Them' circumstance. Social convention is ignored in favor of personal pursuit and gain, and you can get away with anything if the dice favor you.

Vampire Truth: There are ALWAYS consequences.
In the vampire world, consequences for everything the character does hinge on the mood and opinion of those immediately above them on the social ladder - and those dictators of custom and providence are NOT nice people concerned about the welfare of every individual. Everything your character does will have a consequence of some kind, and in this system it is determined moment by moment by those above and around you - NOT by an impersonal and static system of laws.

Right to life

Misconception 4: The right to life.
It is illegal to murder someone in almost every social system that exists - but even murderers are still considered to have a right to life by many conventions of law. Thou shalt not kill is as ingrained and taken for granted by (at least) North American society, that death by violent means comes as a horrible and debilitating shock. Consider the horror and outrage that follows any example of murder, mass murder, mass suicide, or even sanctioned killing such as warfare. There is the depth of pervasiveness of this convention of thought.

Vampire Truth: Death and murder are a way of life.
Life is a cheap commodity that comes and goes as easily as a cloud on a spring day. No one and nothing has a right to life in the vampire world. While one of the Traditions does seem to state that vampire cannot randomly kill one another - what it really says is that murder is the right of the elder, and who that elder is changes depending on the region and circumstance. The easiest way to understand this is to simply think of it like this - YOU cannot kill your people indiscriminately, but WE can. Mortals do not even enter into the equation - THEY can be killed as often and readily as you can get away with without endangering the Masquerade.


Misconception 5: All people are created equal.
The rights mentioned above are largely reinforced by the conception that 'equality' is another inherent facet of simply being alive. Even though people (men and woman, intelligent and stupid, old and young) may not, in fact, be created equal - it is still ingrained in our social consciousness as the way things SHOULD be.

Vampire Truth: There is NO SUCH thing as 'equality'.
The older you are, the better you are - in every measurable way. The more respected and connected you are, the better you are. The more cunning and devious you are - able to twist situations and circumstances to your advantage - the better you are. The entire social system of vampire is BASED on the inherent understanding and reinforcement of inequality. If you are not old, respected, well-connected, cunning, and devious - or some advantageous combination of those factors - you are NOTHING, and no one cares.

Bad Attitude

Misconception 6: A bad attitude is a social merit.
The entire concept of the anti-hero is another popular theme in our modern culture. Bad attitudes, belligerence, and poor social graces are often seen as the marks of the admirable 'rugged individualist' - and with so many heroes of modern entertainment displaying exactly those sort of characteristics, it is no wonder. This has become such a pervasive sentiment in our society that those with proper manners, acceptable social graces, and respectful attitudes are belittled and demeaned as being weak, homosexual, tight-assed, or worse appellations of social degradation.

Vampire Truth: A bad attitude will get you killed.
In a system where etiquette rules everything, being disrespectful of your superiors is the highest form of social crime. In a system where you can kill as often as you can get away with it (like the popular conception of the wild west where you could shoot anyone you could out-draw, for any reason you chose) - giving someone attitude is tantamount to putting your life at risk.



Misconception 7: Violence is wrong.
People can be brutally violent. Husbands and wives assault their spouses, gangs shoot each other and innocents in the street, and police occasionally beat suspects down into bloody pulps. Still, it is a universally recognized rule among modern humans living in the United States that unjustified violence is wrong, something to be scorned and punished. Humanity is, generally speaking, given to working out their problems socially.

Vampire Truth: Vampires aren't quite as nice.
Vampires make a great show of working out their differences politically. Image is everything, particularly in a city like Los Angeles. Civilized creatures don't brawl, and violence can hurt or destroy your status. When you live forever, the last thing you want to do is have a bad reputation. But vampires are also bestial creatures, monsters given to great passion and anger. Their tempers are quick, and their very natures are attuned to violence.

Fights happen, and it can even be a sanctioned way to settle differences. The Princes tend to look mostly aside at casual violence so long as it does not infringe the Traditions, for the undead will recover from many wounds that would kill a mortal. Do you wish something from an Elder who refuses to speak with you? Challenge him or his champion. You may be beaten, torpored, crushed to a pulp, but unless your insolence is a threat to the Traditions, you are unlikely to be killed. And if you win, and do not succumb to the Beast in the process, you may find you've gained more than talking could ever get you.

Vampires are, however, extremely hard to kill. It is virtually impossible to kill a vampire accidentally, and the Princes hold their power of Destruction dear and will call down the Lextalionis on any who would seek to usurp it: kill at your own peril. As violent as the vampire's existence may be, vampires rarely fear ritual combat or border skirmishes over territory. No, vampires fear carelessness: being caught in the sun in a traffic jam, or leaving a telltale sign for hunters. They fear falling afoul of a vengeful Prince. They fear assassination. On this MUSH, players should not need to worry about their character dying in a random combat. They should fear their character dying because their character did something ICly stupid.

There are numerous other misconceptions that exist more on a case by case basis - but these are the most glaring errors that seem to dictate ninety percent of the mistakes that players in this setting tend to make. We hope that by reading and absorbing these comparisons and refutations, you might begin to understand just a little bit more about what makes the vampire world so alien, terrifying, depressing, and glorious as it is.

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Original Work is licensed under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 US License.