Vampire: Renaissance of Darkness is something that I have been working on for some time, in context of 12+ years of running vampire games, and watching the progression of the canon game through the Masquerade, Jihad, and it so Goth it bleeds crude oil manifestation in Requiem. Vampire was my third foray into gaming, after a fairly stale generic fantasy Dungeons and Dragons setting and the war torn carnage of Battletech. I love Vampire, and the way it is put together. I love the conflict, and the entire idea of generations of vampires spanning back to the beginning of human culture and the mythos that it created. Then the game designers brought on the storied Gehenna (or at least a pick your own of four endings version) and ended Masquerade. It honestly needed to be done, the clans and bloodlines and disciplines had run rampant and something had to prune the bush back. And their answer was a steaming pile of angst, emo self loathing, and Goth poseuring that I am still embarrassed to admit to owning the one core book. Renaissance of Darkness emerged after this because Requiem, under the black mascara and arm cutting had some neat ideas. I borrowed a few things from popular vampire culture as well, with True Blood and the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse novels adding some nice material. i hope you enjoy this work in progress.
The Renaissance of Darkness:
Vampire is a game of personal horror. Renaissance of Darkness is an effort at bringing the element of horror back into the game. The problem with angst and suffering is that such an emotional state cannot be held for prolonged periods of time. Any creature as emotionally tortured as the typical vampire goth is not going to survive moping and weeping blood tears for centuries. Such wastrel creatures are going to last a few years before something stronger and nastier takes them out, they accept what they are and emotionally evolve, or they give up their damned existence and commit some sort of vampire suicide. That being said, the primary 'goal' of the game is survival. In the movie Fight Club, Ed Norton's character Jack says, "That on a long enough timeline, everybody's chance of survival reaches zero," In Vampire this is not the case. The player characters are immortal, save for the fangs and claws of their peers and their ability to stave off the slow decay into madness and inhumanity.
On the other hand, vampires are not superheroes with fangs. Many of their abilities are impressive. But in the Renaissance of Darkness, these powers change, and take on a new form and a sinister cost. Exotic disciplines tax the mind and shred sanity, while the more mundane powers have hidden and unexpected costs of their own. A vampire might have the supernatural strength to lift a car and throw it into the front of a building, but what degree of control do they retain when exhibiting such monsterous strength. These are things that will be explored as we work our way through this rewrite.
Additional Ideas (7)
Introduction to Damnation
Where do vampires come from? A vampire is created when another vampire drains a mortal of all of their blood, leaving them on the cusp of death. At this precipice, the vampire returns a portion of this stolen blood, from their own veins back to the victim. Many people do not rise from this embrace and remain entirely dead. The embrace is a dramatic moment, and the transition from living to undead is not a sure thing. Thusly, vampires are going to be less inclined to embrace mortals they care deeply about, as they may only kill the victim in question.
Two factors govern an embrace, the willpower of the victim and the potency of the vampire's blood. Elder vampires have stronger blood that is better suited for creating new vampires. Likewise, a person with a weak will or faint spirit is not going to survive long enough to gain the vampire's blood. This generally keeps unsuitable victims from being embraced, and also prevents three day old vampires from going out and embracing all of their friends and parents and whatnot. Such ventures typically end in a string of dead bodies, a dead vampire, and stories of a serial killer on the news
Vampires are predators, and scavengers. The typical strength, speed, and enhanced senses associated with vampires are all blood adaptations to make them better hunters of men. A vampire has a much keener sense of smell than a human. While not bloodhounds they are able to track people by scent if a trail is fresh. Using the discipline Auspex does allow a vampire to hunt old cold trails just like a bloodhound. But without disciplines, a vampire will not have a problem sniffing a person out in a crowd, or following them in a foot chase. The same goes for low light vision and sharper hearing. These abilities are amplified, but not to superhuman levels without using disciplines. This attunement allows vampires to sniff out fear, sickness, and other emotional triggers.
Vampires use the Skill: Hunting when they seek prey to feed upon. This is a comprehensive skill that includes selecting prey, shadowing them, setting up the ambush/encounter, and feeding. Not every hunt need be played out, and this skill is the shortcut to feeding. When a vampire feeds they need not kill their victim. Dead bodies need to be disposed off, whereas a bled but still standing victim can be influenced to forget they were fed on, terrified into silence, or otherwise quietly dealt with. Vampires that routinely kill their victims are on a fast track to becoming monsters without redemption. There is a corollary, in that hunting and killing 'evil' prey as opposed to innocent prey, is less taxing on the spirit of the vampire.
Hot Blood, Cold Blood
Vampires are hunters, but can also be scavengers. A victim need not be alive to provide sustainence for a vampire. Feeding on the blood from corpses, blood bags, and other blood taken from artificial or deceased victims is called cold blood. This blood remains nourishing to the vampire in question, but there are side effects to feeding from the dead. Vampires who feed on just cold blood are corpselike in their appearance, and their flesh is cold. These are the vampires with hands like ice and chalk white skin. This makes them fairly obvious to vampire hunters, but as they are not hunting live prey, they are less of a target for hunters and other vampires defending their territories. Cold Blood vampires are very much corpses that feed on blood, they are not hot, sexy, or seductive.
Benefits of Cold Blood:
1. Decreased animalistic urges
2. Enhanced self control
3. +1 bonus to resist damage
4. Using only cold blood, a vampire only needs to feed half as often
Drawbacks of Cold Blood
1. Corpse like appearance (penalty to social rolls)
2. Physical discipline are harder to activate
3. Sunlight deals extra damage
4. Hot blood makes them twice as likely to lose control
A typical vampire will either predominantly feed on hot blood, or have a mix of hot and cold. This mix generally comes from consuming harvested blood like from blood banks, synthetic blood, or feeding from a corpse in a moment of need, or a loss of self control. Hot blood feeders generally cannot stand the taste of cold blood, and have to force themselves to consume it. Cold blood feeders generally dislike hunting, or cannot control themselves when feeding on hot blood.
Its like drugs man, feeding on a live one is good, its like a good mescalin trip, you feel what they feel, you take part of that person into you. Its the most intimate thing ever. You feed on this chick and all of a sudden you know what single mother tastes like, or that guy at the club, you can taste the violence and anger in the blood. Some vampires can't handle that shit. They lose it. They will drain the person, then start tearing them apart and howling like a demon shot full of speed and crack. Then there is blood baggin' it. Cold blood is gross, its dead and raw and nasty. Like a cold coppery nosebleed milkshake. It'll do, but its like the afternoon after thanksgiving dinner when all you can do is lay around and sleep and scratch yourself. Too much of the cold stuff and your lips turn blue and your fingernails turn yellow and your eyes get bloody and jaundiced. Its not pretty.
Seize the night. Vampires are repelled, weakened, and burned by sunlight, and by virtue of this are creatures of the night. This aversion to light means that anything a vampire does will have to be done in the dark, or in the confines of a sunlight proof room. Vampires who feed on hot blood are able to withstand a small amount of sunlight with moderate discomfort, such as light through drapes, or a heavily overcast day. Strong sunlight causes them pain, building up until they start to physically burn. To deal with this handicap, vampires have a long tradition of maintaining mortal servants, pawns and slaves to handle their daytime and day to day affairs. A vampire worth his fangs isn't going to be caught washing his cape in a 24 laudromat.
Blood and Madness
One of the concepts of the Masquerade was that of humanity, or how well a vampire retains their sense of self and morality in the face of being an undead monster that fed on blood. In practice it generally fell to the wayside and was overshadowed by super powers, back stabbing, and generally scumbag morality. The stirrings of the inhuman beast were either a bonus in combat or a hinderance when the character flew into a panicked terror and fled. Then there came book after book expounding the benefits of different philosophical roads of ethos and morality, ranging from a Vulcan like annihilation of emotion to literally IMAVAMPIREBLARGIMGONNAEATYOU!!!! It becomes rather silly.
The Humanity trait is gone, and in its place resides Sanity.
10 - Typical human
9 - starting vampire (becoming undead = -1 sanity) or typical human with a mild mental disorder, such as Aspergers, Internet Dissasociative Disorder, PTSD, or softcore drug addiction
8-7 Fairly disturbed people, but still capable of interacting with society on a basic level, this range has severe mental disorders, violent mental disorders, and severe drug addictions. This is the range of Alcoholics, hard drug users, and paranoid schizophrenics. With counciling and medication, these people can retain a semblance of a normal life
6-4 The criminally insane live here, the Hannibal Lechters and the heroin users who would knife a family member for more smack. These people do not live in the same world as everyone else, and it is fairly obvious that they are not well. Typical humans at this level are incarcerated in mental care hospitals and insane asylums.
3-1 There are glimpses of sanity behind the shards and continents of madness. A sanity of 1 can barely remember normality, but by this point most have embraced their delusions and psychoses as being more real than reality.
0 There is nothing left by the mind of an animal.
Losing Your Mind, One Dot at a Time
Sanity is not a static attribute, though it is going to be hemmoraged away quite as fast as in a Cthulu setting. Generally it is going to be easier to lose it than to gain it back. Sanity is important because if nothing else, it is a limiting cap on social and artistic skills. In mechanical terms, social skill, performance, expression, and other skill checks dealing with people cannot excede sanity in number of dice. An elder vampire might be able to pool together 10 dice for a stirring emotional performance in front of a crowd, but with a fractured psyche and sanity of 6, those last 4 dice cannot be used. But sanity can be divided between permanent and temporary points. The above vampire could burn a few points of temporary sanity to get his extra dice for his check. This is literally drawing up yourself before going out on stage, putting on the mask and acting as mightily as you can. As sanity becomes weaker and weaker, the mask is used more and more often and soon, the former Shakespearian actor must don his mask to even leave the confines of his sanctuary. Is it a wonder that older vampires are reclusive and avoid the common company of humans? It is simply too taxing to be anything other than what they are. Undead.
There are three things that erode a vampire's grip on reality, loss of control, discipline use, and time. The Loss of Control is when a vampire's instinct overrules their reason. The most common loss of control is in a time of hunger turning on mortal friends and family, and killing them in a fit of cannibalistic frenzy. Once the beast, sated with blood, retreats and rests, the vampire is left with the fact that they have done something horrible. This is much more common for young vampires as they are much closer to the mortal world and are still new to the thirst for blood. Older vampires, calloused by the number of deaths they have caused and insulated from the mortal world by simple time, seldom lose sanity from accidental killing.
Disciplines have a cost, beyond expending blood and experience points. The most common discplines are merely taxing to use, expending temporary sanity to fuel them, such as mesmerizing a victim, causing someone to flee in white hot terror, and such. Excessive use of said discplines can cause permanent loss, but this is habitual use that constantly puts the vampire at 0 temp sanity. Exotic discplines have a completely different cost, learning thaumaturgy, vampiric blood magic, or the madness inducing discpline Dementation automatically cost a permanent sanity point. Power has a steep cost. So it is entirely possible to have a vampire warlock that knows thaumaturgy, obtenebration, and chimeristry, that vampire is also sitting on an at best Sanity of 6. This does not include the inevitable decline that is going to rapidly follow with such sanity warping powers being used regularly.
Finally, there is the inexorable march of time. A vampire will sit and see their mortal spouses and children grow and wither into the grave, as well as everyone they knew in life. Just as most people cling to the music and dress of their highschool days, vampires cling to the elements of their mortal life even past that time period. As the years become decades, and decades centuries more things die. Political ideologies die, entire paradigms of rational thought and morality pass away. And almost impossible for many people to imagine, nations and countries rise, bloom, wither and die. A vampire will, if they live long enough, see the passing of everything they at one point identified themselves as. These passings, and the sheer weight of years tax even the most sure footed of minds. Certain milestones come with a sanity test. The death of the mortal family, the definitive end of a cultural generation (such as the passing of the last WWI survivor, or the last man who actually fought in the civil war). The passage of a century of unlife and each century after that also induces a check. The demise of something multigenerational, such as a major political party, or similar entity, as well as the end of their parent country.
Why Don't You Tell Me About your Mother?
Sanity can be regained as well as lost. It would be possible for a vampire to sit and talk it out with a therapist on a leather couch while taking sedative laced blood. But that is rather mundane and a tad like watching the Sopranos with Fangs. Sanity can be regained through long rest, quickening through childer, and by regular interaction with the world.
Faced by constant death, both mortal and societal, it is tempting for a vampire to take the long rest. This is the years long deep sleep of the dead. In this time the vampire is passive, and not using disciplines, not being tested by the beast, and not witnessing the constant roiling change of society. They can regain all temorary sanity, and make appropriate checks to restore lost sanity (usually 1-2 points at most) before returning to the land of the living. The slumbering vampire has to face what has changed in the world, but this can often be overcome with their restored mental vitality. An elder vampire that went to the long sleep before the first telegraph might not have a single problem with using a cellphone, he is unburdened by the long progress of technology. (spending experience points at a 50% discount)
Quickening is a long held tradition, after sequestering themselves from the outside world, older vampires tend to become isolated from it, the constant intrusion and change slowly unhinge them. Rather than take the long rest, they will seek out a person to make into a new vampire, to bring them into the new age from the old. As the mentor teaches the fledgeling vampire to be undead, the fledgeling is teaching the mentor on what the world is and has become. This can restore a vampire's sanity (spending experience points at a 20% discount)
Finally regular interaction with the world keeps a vampire connected to it, they avoid the detachement and continually find new things to become interested in. These are the vampires who follow their mortal descendents and care for them from the shadows and such. These vampires tend to throw themselves headfirst into mortal fads and cultural movements, shedding the old and adopting the new like a snake sheds its skin. Yesterdays prohibition flapper moll is tomorrow's peace sign hippie chick. (spending experience points, no discount)
Families of Blood, Clan, Bloodline and Brood
All vampires are connected by blood and it is their defining trait. It is easy to say that there are X many clans, all founded by X many nigh omnipotent sires. But that lacks the organic quality of humanity. The first step of the blood family is the brood. The brood is the collected offspring of a single vampire. Mortality rates for vampires is surprisingly high, as there is a certain fortitude required to be a successful vampire. Many lose their minds, others commit suicide, driven by religious implications to their souls, others fall victim to accident or the predation of other supernatural entities. Some cross the vampire lines of authority, and are punished with the final death. A brood that survives the test of time, and spreads to create new broods of their own are on their way to creating a Bloodline. Once there are several generations of viable broods, the group can fully be expected to be recognized as a bloodline. To become a capital B Bloodline, the group must find something that sets them above and beyond their peers. Often this is in the form of a unique and exotic discpline, or not adopting the basic discplines as would be expected of them. Once several bloodlines form (the lower b bloodlines) it can be inferred that they have become a clan, as by this point they would have expanded to multiple cities, and will have been in existance for at least a century or more.
There is one major thing that has kept a massive wave of new unique clans from forming as the population of the planet has grown: the Old Clans. The Old Clans have members who measure their age in centuries, and beyond, some remember the glory of Rome and more. These venerable ancients and their surviving spawn are the vast majority of vampires, and while Bloodlines have grown off of them, many more have budded off and been exterminated, or withered, or fallen prey to outside forces.
Hailing largely from North Africa and the Middle East, the Brujah are a large and easily provoked clan. Saying all Brujah are... is as misleading as saying all people of one race, or nationality are... Generalities are misleading. A few largely accurate generalities are that the Brujah recruit their members typically young, in the early twenties, and have no preference for men or women. They generally embrace mortals of strong ideological stances, favoring dynamic individuals and strong personalities. This has given the Brujah a reputation as anarchs, rebels, and trouble makers, and most embraces from the 60s to the 90s pretty much match that.
Most Brujah suffer from self control and anger issues, they are fairly easy to provoke, be it into discussion or actual fighting. As Brujah lose sanity, they go from being short tempered, to fiery iconoclasts, to simply uncontrolled masses of anger. Most Brujah will choose the Long Rest.
The animalistic clan of vampires, most at home far from civilization. The Gangrel are hardy, reject society on a basic level, and are more at home in nature than in society. They choose their next generation from outdoorsmen, conservationists, hunters, fishermen, and other people who live by their wits and not by the grace of a double skinny soy latte before commuting to work. They help no one, and expect no help for themselves, and this has made them rather periphreal in vampire affairs. They do work as a solid buffer between urban vampires and the shapeshifters that live in the wilds.
Most Gangrel lose connection to their human mentality and begin adopting animal behaviors as they slide down the sanity scale. Among vampires they are the most territorial, and will mark their territory as off limits to trespassers. Young Gangrel may only circle a few times before laying down to rest, while older Gangrel will blend animal cunning and ferocity with human intelligence. Gangrel also possess a unique discipline that allows them to manifest the beast within them, literally turning into monsterous versions of themselves. Claws, fur, wings, and other horrific features are not unheard of. Gangrel that reach 0 sanity assume the monsterous form permanently, and as such are typically hunted down and killed by werewolves and other supernaturals.
Madness burns like fire in the blood of this clan. Ancient and twisted, the Malkavians trace themselves back through oracles and seers, madmen and prophets. They posses the gift and curse of Madness. Through this shattered lense they have sharpened senses, and can see into people, into things and into both the future and the past. Most of them are just nuts though. Becoming a Vampire incurs a loss of one point of permanent sanity (congrats, you're a cannibal corpse!) but becoming a Malkavian costs a second point of permanent sanity (congrats, you're an insane cannibal corpse). The Blood of Malkav seeks out those people who are already damaged goods, be is disgruntled and disillusioned priests, soldiers broken by war, and the like. Criminals also find their way into this clan.
The curse of Malkav's blood is madness. As they slide down the sanity chart (or do they dive?) they collect mental disorders and psychoses like a hoarder. As their madness deepens, their power of insight increases, though by the time most can see usable facts from their visions, they are far beyond relaying them in a coherent fashion. A Malkavian who believes that everything is a massive hallucination induced by powerful drugs administered by nefarious aliens intent on harvesting the vampire in question's brain, it really doesnt matter that he could tell you the year the United States will fall, or the winners of the next 40 super bowls.
United by a common aura, the Nosferatu are the most distrusted and dispized of the clans. Most look perfectly normal but there is something monsterous about all of them. Most animals will go out of their way to avoid a Nosferatu, children cry or become terrified in their presence, and even the most callous of mortals is made uncomfortable by them. As society avoids them, the Nosferatu avoid society, and they live in hidden places. They chose their offspring from the cast offs of society, the pariahs and outsiders and the unwanteds.
Nosferatu become more and more inhuman as their psyches detach from what it is to be human. Some are icily cold, and others become cauldrons of hatred and self loathing, but they all become monsters on the inside. The eldest become afflicted with a rotting that manifests across their bodies, turning their appearances into that of corpses. As their sanity falls this becomes more and more manifest until the bestial Nosferatu looks like little more than a dry stringy zombie animated by hate and hunger for blood.
Considering itself a high clan, the clan of the Rose, the clan of beauty and eternal youth, the Toreador are many, and are strong. The clan has a reputation for being shallow, and superficial. This has a root of truth, most Toreador are embraced for their personal appearance, or for their artistic ability. This just means that the most obvious vampires are models, fashionistas and the like. This generally overlooks the brilliant architects, or engineers who have found the ultimate expression of sophistication is simplicity. Surprisingly, assassins have come into this clan from the simple beauty of a perfect, clean kill.
The Toreador have enhanced sense, similar to the Malkavians, but rather than see into prophecy they become enraptured in the material world. This attention disorder can manifest into full blown ADD to a manic depression where the vampire has frantic bursts of creativity and action followed by long lulls. In the old setting, a vampire could be distracted by, I kid you not, the artful construction of a brick wall. New Toreador can still be enthralled by objects intended to beautiful such as sculpture and displays of light and such, but they are not distracted by menial details like masonry. They are also likely to become very deeply involved in a personal project, often to the exclusion of even hunting for blood. They are also very likely to become afflicted with hoarding behaviors.
The Clan of Kings, the Venture cleave to leadership, power and privelage. This clan has been deeply involved in politics since its inception somewhere in Mesopotamia. The Ventrue chose their next kin from the circles of the elite and the affluent. Money can change, power can change, and when it does, the Ventrue change as well. In older days, the Ventrue were blue bloods, feeding from nobles and royalty, cultivating rarified palates and keeping palatial estates. In the modern age, kings and queens are figureheads, and presidents and elected officials are temporary fixtures. In western countries, they are the hunters of the rich, industrialists and moguls. They control vast fortunes, vaster companies, and sit on thrones of gold and play the puppetmaster. In other countries they support dictators and tyrants, feasting on blood of dissidents and sitting in the lap of luxury.
After centuries of elitism and being chosy about their prey, Ventrue become more and more selective about their prey as they slid down the scale of sanity. Each step adds another dimension that has to be met. The fledgeling Ventrue might only feed from women, while the almost bestial Ventrue elder can only feed from redheaded women of Italian blood during their period, who regularly drink, wear a certain perfume, like the opera, and a few other things. To drink something other than their preferred prey, they have to enter a hunger driven frenzy.
These six represent the vast majority of all vampires.
Sects and Factions
One of the things taken for granted in the old World of Darkness was the monolithic nature of the power players, the Camarilla on one side, and the Sabbat on the other. All the vampires in the world all kowtow to a single governing body in Italy? I think not. As such, there are more factions and power players in the Renaissance of Darkness than there were in the Masquerade.
The oldest and the largest vampire 'nation' the Camarilla dominates most of the European nations, and has a major foothold in the Eastern United States. This is the ancient aristocracy of the undead, ruled by vampires who are 1000+ years in age surrounded by their undead courts almost in a mockery of the splendor of the age of European Kings. The Camarilla has the most wealth and political power of the 'nations' and it uses it to maintain the status quo. In the long term, this has caused a great deal of stagnation around the continent. The Ventrue and the Toreador dominate the Camarilla.
Far younger than the Camarilla, the Invictus operates largely out of Africa, and is centered in South Africa. It has a strong colonial feel to it, and the Ventrue dominate, with a smattering of Brujah and Gangrel support.
The Children of Assam
Also known as Assamites, the children of Assam are predominantly Islamic faith vampires who have rejected the power of the Camarilla and in the decades since WWII have consolidated their power back to a level it was at during the time of the Prophet. Assam the Vampire supposedly rode with the Prophet and was blessed by him for slaying infidels. The Children of Assam are commonly called assassins, but there is no greater concentration of assassins among the Children of Assam than of any other clan or sect. The Children of Assam work to keep non-Assamite vampires away from the Holy Lands. The Toreador, Malkavian, Brujah, and Nosferatu proliferate in this Sect.
Daityadom of India
The Vampires of India and surrounding hinterlands pay no lip to the courts of the Kuei Jin, the Vampires of the Far East. These vampires, arrayed under their Demon King, an ancient Vampire 'Ravnos' rules the subcontinent with fear and magic. Toreador, Nosferatu, and Ventrue are easily found here, and Gangrel are common as well. The vampires of the Daityadom display the exotic discpline of Chimeristry, the discpline of Blood Illusions.
Dominating South and Central America, the Sabbat espouses a mixture of Native American spiritualism, endemic violence, and an embracing of the vampiric condition as something to revel in, rather than try to subvert or make human. Where Camarilla interests clash with Sabbat interests in the green continent, bloodshed follows. Other supernaturals tend to side with the Sabbat, such as the indigenous shapeshifters of the continent, as do shamanistic magi.
The Anarch States
Much of the United States of America exists as a series of often warring vampire states. The Camarilla holds the East Coast, New England states, and such, but the South, great Plains, and the west are simply a wild west of vampire kingdoms, states, and alliances. The states vary, with the California and North mexico being the largest, and the rest shrinking down to often city to city changes. There is no one dominant clan, and one state might be in cooperation with the local supernaturals, while the next one down route 66 is in open war with the same creatures.
The Crimson Curia
The Crimson Curia is the overriding body of openly Christian Vampires. The Curia is supported by the Camarilla, and it's blood missionaries spread the Gospels of Caine the first Vampire. The Curia is closely modeled on the Catholic Church and for a time was indistinguishable from the Church. As the power of the church waned, the Curia split and went its own way, making sure to remain entrenched in England and then in the Americas. The Crimson Curia practices a secretive form of Blood magic that emulates the curses and blessings of the Old Testament.
The Order of the Dragon
Entrenched in Eastern Europe, the Order of the Dragon harkens back to the black days of the dark ages when the Vampires lived as gods among the mortals. The order of the Dragon is predominantly old vampires with access to strange pagan magics, ancient blood servants and beasts forgotten by the light of day. The Camarilla is on good terms with them, rather like having a very wealthy powerful crazy uncle that you dont want people to meet. The Order of the Dragon practices Koldunic sorcery.
The Courts of the Kuei Jin
The Vampires of the Middle Kingdom have few dealings with outsiders, and they almost all seem to command some understanding of magic. They are best left alone (that's a whole different game there)
Disciplines and the Blood
The Basics: These disciplines are fairly common and compared to the exotic stuff, easy to learn: Animalism, Auspex, Celerity, Dominate, Fortitude, Obfuscate, Potence, and Presence. These can be learned without serious fear of imposing sanity loss. And it is not going to raise any eyebrows if a vampire has one of these disciplines and it is not considered to be one of their clans default disciplines.
Chimeristry: The blood art of illusion and phantasm, learning it costs a permanent point of sanity, and powering the illusions can as often entail spending sanity points (instead of willpower) and blood to fuel the powers. If you dont in part believe the veil of your own illusion, why will a observer? Limited by the fact that learning it requires finding a vampire from India or the Rom to teach it. Difficult in the least.
Dementation: Just seriously kiss any and all sanity goodbye. But, there is power in madness, I need to dig into the rulebook for this discpline and see what i can do with it.
Necromancy: Being dead the art of necromancy comes easily to vampires instructed in its use. Finding a necromancer requires some work, or a vampire can learn to harness the innate power of the blood with research into the art (access to library, double XP cost). There are necromancer sects to be found among the Ventrue, Brujah, and Nosferatu. Necromancers tend to pick up necrotic taint, or Jhor, that makes them increasingly corpse like. Penalties to social interactions as appropriate.
Obtenebration: Touching the stuff of oblivion invites madness and damnation, powers work normally, but swap out willpower costs for temp sanity costs, as well as knocking off another point of permanent sanity. There is no Lasombra clan, and practitioners of this art take pains to keep it quiet. Obtenebrators do not have reflections.
Protean: The discpline of the Gangrel, heavily modified. Each level of protean adds +1 to a physical characteristic, and selecting a monstrous feature. This now functions like the Kuei Jin Demon Shintai art. This creates truely horrific monsters, much like human sized bat monsters, snarling vampire super rats and things that look and fight like werewolves but instead are dead creatures.
Quietus: The assassins art, rare and a secret of the sect of Islamic vampires.
Serpentis: The 'gifts' of Set to his vampire followers and similar Egytophiles. The Art is rare, and an inner mystery of the Setite vampires. The true clans of Toreador, Malkavian, and Brujah are most common here.
Thaumaturgy: The great art of Blood Magic. The old clan Tremere existed solely as a vehicle to use thaumaturgy and to prevent its abuse. The art of blood magic is not new to the vampires, and there are societies, sects, secret clubs and the like composed of vampires off ALL clans that use it. The Key of Solomon is a purely Ventrue endeavor dating back to the Crusades, while the Hellfire Club of London is an egalitarian organization of Toreador, Brujah, and other vampire rebels who dabble in the art. Each path learned costs a point of permanent sanity (buy it back over time, to limit how fast a skill set can spread).
Vicissitude: Considered a disease by some, a gift by others, this gift is actually infernal in origin, and confers an appropriate cost in both sanity and a suitable flaw, such as grave binding (soil or coffin), vulnerability to holy symbols, etc.
Wait! My Favorite Clan is GONE!!!
Assimite: Pick one of the six true clans, adopt Allah.
Cappadocian: Pick one of the six true clans, learn necromancy, gain several appearance based flaws.
Followers of Set: Pick one of the six true clans, join the Temple of Set, learn Serpentis from the High Priest.
Giovanni: Clan Ventrue, pick Necromancy as a starting discipline.
Lasombra: Pick Ventrue, Toreador or Brujah, learn Obtenebration and lose reflection.
Tremere: Join Thaumaturgic MLM organization.
Tzimisce: Pick Ventrue or Brujah, chose Koldun sorcery (Slavic Thaumaturgy) or Vicissitude, hate commoners and make deals with devils. Or hunt them.
Ravnos: Pick any clan, pick the flaw Compulsion, and insert suitable larcenous behaviour. Then, find a way to India, and get a vampire there to teach you Chimeristry.
Salubri: Go east. Enlightenment follows the path Zu Lot.
The Core Discipline:
The Old discipline of Protean contained too many entirely too useful and generic vampire abilities to be limited to just one clan. One of the reasons the Gangrel were so common in character creation was simply for access to this utility level discipline. Thus, the core discipline exists, all vampires have it, innately. It is the unspoken, automatically assumed discpline.
1 - Gleam of the red eye: very useful for nocturnal predators to be able to see in the dark.
2 - Claws: The Gangrel were considered bad-ass for the ability to deal out aggravated damage bare handed. Now everyone can do it, but the Gangrel can still do it better, they might have Bear or tiger claws, compared to human sized claws.
3 - Earth Meld: Dead things sleeping in the ground, brilliant! Only works with natural soil, not stone, rock, wood, man made surfaces, or living animals.
4 - Animal Form: no special abilities, but can turn in a medium sized predator. Wolves are the most common but hunting cats are not unheard of. Assume there is no real mass-shifting here, so no bears, tigers, etc.
5 - Mist Form: alternate, can assume a flying form such as a flock of bats, swarm of ravens or crows or the like. Moves as a group, can be found by another vampire in similar form. Vulnerable to area attacks like flamethrowers.