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Developer Diary #12: Developing Ventrue

Picture a group of stylish, ambitious vampires, each with a hunger for authority that matches their thirst for blood. That's Clan Ventrue for you - vampires with a taste for power, prestige, and opulence. Our team had a blast bringing their aristocratic grandeur and ambition to life in the game. Equally at home in the corridors of corporate power and the halls of high society, the Ventrue embody leadership, strategy, and a refined decadence. Whether they're making deals in the boardroom or dominating the nightlife scene, the Blue Bloods always maintain their iron grip on power.

Designing modern Ventrue for Tabletop​

Just like the Brujah, the Ventrue are a foundational archetype both in Vampire: The Masquerade’s clan assembly as well as in wider vampire fiction. They represent the vampire as the aristocratic leader — classy, regal, and inhumanly majestic. Many silver screen depictions of Dracula would fit well in this clan, as would any number of his derivatives. Before Anne Rice, the Ventrue represented what most people would consider a classical vampire.
Taking the Blue Bloods into the fifth edition was therefore comparatively easy, as the clan has had a solid identity from its first appearance in 1991, never relying on gimmick powers or tangled setting elements. Their arsenal of Disciplines paint a clear picture of the kind of ruler they represent: Presence to incite awe, Dominate to enforce obedience, and — if the previous would fail — Fortitude to withstand retaliation. A true Ventrue commands from the front, but that is also their weakness.
While Ventrue vampires are no strangers to hierarchies, their tradition of Embracing mortals already used to being obeyed often creates brittle power structures with too many leaders and not enough followers. To many Blue Bloods the throne is more important than what it represents, and more than one Ventrue Prince has met final death because they would rather lead in defeat than triumph as a lackey.
– Karim Muammar, Designer of Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition and Brand Editor for the World of Darkness

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“I have two rules: no sneakers, and if you must rip someone to pieces, do it outside. These are original floorboards, you understand.”

You’ll find Fletcher to be extremely polite and well-mannered - as ruthless sociopaths go. He owns several venues throughout Seattle, but you're most likely to run into him in the Makom Bar, tickling the ivories and rubbing shoulders with the other Blue-Bloods.
Educated, intelligent and congenial, you might enjoy Fletcher’s lively conversation, but you’d be wise not to let his affable veneer fool you. He's a Great White amongst lesser sharks, an old hand at vampire politics, and has survived more than one Prince of Seattle.

Writing the Ventrue​

“Our design process for Fletcher was to start with the role we needed him to play in the story, in Seattle and in Kindred Society, and shape his personality accordingly. We already knew that the Ventrue would have a deep and long-running grasp on the city, and it takes more players than a Prince to achieve that - Fletcher is neither a king nor a pawn; he’s more of a rook. We always know he is being maneuvered by higher-ranking Kindred, but he also gives us opportunities to explore the history and lore of Seattle and the Camarilla– all wrapped up in a smarmy bastard who’s a hell of a lot of fun to write.”
– Cherish Goldstraw, Writer

Combat Discipline Design​

For Ventrue’s approach to combat, we wanted to lean into a feeling of superiority and domination. It means nothing to always be superior, though, so you start off at a disadvantage. Ventrue's capabilities in combat aren’t as strong as some other clans, and so you’ll likely need to start out on the lower end of the food chain, staying out of sight and using spoken commands to keep your hands clean. As they feed, their fortitude strengthens- Ventrue's passive turns their skin to marble, so the more blood they have the more resistant to damage they become. This lets you take much nastier opponents head on and allows the use of Ventrue’s more devastating Dominate powers- where once you were skulking in the shadows, now you are an unstoppable god who can kill with words alone! This rise-and-fall fight mechanic is the main draw of the Ventrue’s playstyle, and should be well suited to players who want to keep things varied, or maybe just seek an absurd level of power...
– Max Bottomley, Senior Game Designer

What do Ventrue sound like?​

In creating the Audio landscape for the Ventrue, our team did ponder for a while what sound would emit that power and domination that are central to this clan’s identity. So to sonically portray that commanding presence, we decided it'd be cool to incorporate the resonant, authoritative tones of steel and metal. The sharp, unsettling screeches of dragging metal, the entire spectrum of the available sounds there, they reflect the Ventrue’s manipulative prowess, control, and rule. The players can almost feel the weight of the Ventrue’s influence as they navigate the game.
– Marcus Bagshawe, Sound Designer


What do Ventrue look like?​

Commanding influence and timeless elegance – these were the key aspects to reflect in our visualisation of the Ventrue clan. The haunting presence of Hannibal Lecter – the entrapment of his eyes; the ethereal, almost unnatural grace of Tolkien’s Galadriel; characters and quiet luxury from HBO’s Succession – these all were hung on our mood boards for the clan.

The portrayal of Ventrue involved us merging influences from ancient nobility fused with modern high-end fashion. The Ventrue's attire features large, intricate overcoats and contemporary styles, all crafted from lush materials that reflect their elevated status, their longstanding heritage of command. These become more than just garments, but a real declaration – one must know who’s in charge here.

Their mere body language, the way they hold themselves – the player can sense their reputation of honour precedes them. What make Ventrue stand out from many other clans is their ability to rule by their voice and presence alone. You can affect singular or multiple people with one full command of your voice or a look.
The Ventrue's power wear is designed not only for impact, but for functionality, too, be it a corporate boardroom or a clandestine gathering. Emphasising their role as the aristocrats of the vampire society, our visual representations marry traditional high nobility with the cutthroat nature of corporate power structures. The Ventrue stand out as both a beacon of old-world aristocracy and modern-day leadership, dominating any room they enter, whether through the subtle art of persuasion or good ol’ physical power.
- Ben Matthews, Associate Art Director

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Unless this game is coming out in something like 2028, I'm pretty baffled by the marketing strategy. This forum is a place for die-hard Paradox fans, where the most popular posts are niche technical discussions or other minutiae.

Those generic "what's a vampire?" posts are for who? Casual gamers are well aware in avoiding brand forums and genre fans want more "meat" from their posts.

In the end, the only "technical" information we had so far was a lackluster trailer about "Dishonored Light for Mobile Devices", so you can understand such level of hostility.
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These outfit designs are very bland and generic and I don't like that ALL outfits released so far are unisex. Where is that famous World of Darkness variety?

And I agree with opellulo regarding marketing strategy.

Is this game still aimed for 2024? Looks like it's years away.
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Im happy to finally get some info on the Ventrue!
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The outfits are definitely uninspired, but I'm not sure if anything would look good on Phyre anyways. Her face in the concept art makes her look like one of the "spooky kids" from those early 2000's ghost films.
Banu Haqim: “This vase belonged to a man who promised to visit his mother in hospital but did not. So I ripped out his spleen. Some people really do not know how to behave!”
Ventrue: “I have two rules: no sneakers, and if you must rip someone to pieces, do it outside. These are original floorboards, you understand.”
Tremere: “There is an order and protocol to things around here, my dear. One must conduct oneself with proper decorum if one doesn’t want to get fucked over.”

Brujah: "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven, right? Name's Silky. This is my place, these are my people."

3 out of 4 times so far the "iconic clan quote" is literally the literal device of juxtaposition of the mundane against the extraordinary, ie violence or swearing. Kinda hilarious; we can probably make a game of it.

Nosferatu: "Knowledge is power, as they say. And if they don't, fuck them, murder their cat!"
Malkavian: "Life's about going full throttle. Don't ever let anyone stop you. 'cept stop signs. Those are great conversationalists."

Yeah, that feels sufficiently bad. Good fun.