by L. Scott Johnson
The premise: There is no Jyhad. The Methuselahs are all dead or in hiding. The vampires in the game really are operating under their own free will.
The main points of this variant are listed below. The corresponding numbered sections explain each point in detail.
The players take the roles of Justicars or Cardinals, each choosing an appropriate vampire card (e.g., Democritus or Angelica, the Canonicus). The players reveal their chosen vampires simultaneously. Each player then puts his or her chosen vampire into the ready region, tapped and empty, to start the game.
These Justicars and Cardinals are called Master Vampires and are not unique, so even if two players select the same vampire, they do not contest. However, Justicar titles are still unique. Contesting a Master Vampire's Justicar title is different from contesting other titles (see subsection I.D below).
Master Vampires untap at the end of the turn, not at the beginning.
While the master phase still follows the untap phase, players do not receive any master phase actions then. Other effects that occur during the master phase are handled normally.
To play a master card, the player simply taps his or her Master Vampire during the minion phase to take an action (called a master card action). This action is unblockable and instantaneous, and gives the player one master phase action, which must be used immediately to play a master card or an effect called for by card text). Master card actions are not subject to the "no repeat action" rule.
Similarly, out-of-turn master cards are treated as reaction cards that a Master Vampire can play at the appropriate times. Note: the Master Vampire must tap to play these cards (unlike normal reaction cards).
Without a Methuselah around to meddle in the works, most master cards cannot be played. Exceptions to this rule are locations; master cards that require control of a ready member of a certain clan (including Contract from Ancient Hearts ); or "clan hosers" that target only members of certain clans (such as Malkavian Dementia or Brujah Frenzy).
Discipline cards are allowed, but their use is restricted. A player can play a Discipine card only if that player's Master Vampire possesses that Discipline or if the card is played on the player's Master Vampire.
Certain other master cards have been modified for purposes of this variant, as explained in section V below, and are allowable in their changed form.
Lesser vampires cannot contest Master Vampires' titles. Only other Master Vampires can contest these.
Master Vampires are immune to the effects of other players' master cards and votes. A vote cannot name other players' Master Vampires, nor can a master card select other players' Master Vampires as targets (unless the vote or card specifies "players" or "Methuselahs").
Note 1: A player's own Master Vampire is affected by cards and effects that he or she plays. If an effect requires any player to choose a vampire, the player is free to choose his or her Master Vampire if desired (e.g., during an Ancient Influence vote).
Note 2: Master vampires are counted--even if not affected--by political actions like Ancilla Empowerment, whose effects depend on the number of vampires in play.
A Master Vampire cannot be the target of another player's (D) action as long as the Master Vampire is ready and the controller has at least one other ready minion.
Exception: A Master Vampire can target other ready Master Vampires with (D) actions regardless of the number of other ready minions. Such (D) actions are at -2 stealth, and the cost of the action is increased by 1 pool. The controller of the Master Vampire targeted by such an action can burn a ready minion he or she controls to cause the action to fail.
A Master Vampire who goes to torpor (whether through normal means or as described in subsection II.B below) loses the protection of the attendants. Any vampire can attempt to rescue or diablerize a Master Vampire in torpor. As usual, these actions are (D) if the acting vampire is controlled by another player, and at +1 stealth if the acting vampire is controlled by the same player. No other effects, whether from votes or master cards, can affect another player's Master Vampire, as per paragraph I.C.2 above, even when the Master Vampire is in torpor.
A Master Vampire's Justicar title can only be contested by another Master Vampire. While contesting a title, a Master Vampire has the status of a Prince. Once the title is yielded, the losing Master Vampire becomes a Primogen.
Contesting a Justicar title in this way differs from the normal rules for contesting titles. Neither the player's pool nor the Master Vampire's blood is burned. Winning the contest results from showing the unworthiness of the other contestants or from calling a vote.
A Master Vampire contesting title can undermine a rival's claim by placing an unworthiness counter on the other Master Vampire. This is a (D) action at +1 stealth, and incurs neither the -2 stealth penalty nor the extra pool cost described in paragraph I.C.3 above. A Master Vampire who has accumulated five unworthiness counters immediately yields claim to the title. A Master Vampire can burn unworthiness counters placed on it by burning 1 blood during the controller's minion phase for each counter burned.
Any lesser vampire (non-Master Vampire) of the clan whose Justicar title is being contested can call a vote to end the contest and name the winner of the title. This is a +1 stealth action. Only the Master Vampire with the fewest unworthiness counters can be chosen (or one of them, if there is a tie). Ready members of that clan get an additional vote, as usual.
Pool represents the strength and influence of the Master Vampire. The player may move blood from his or her pool to the Master Vampire at any time except during combat. This can be done as often as the player wishes.
At the end of a player's turn, when the Master Vampire untaps (or remains untapped), the player can move 1 blood from the Master Vampire to his or her pool. If a Master Vampire has no blood at the start of its controller's turn (before the untap phase), that player must move at least 1 blood to the Master Vampire from his or her pool. If he or she cannot, the Master Vampire goes to torpor.
Pool and blood are distinct except when counting the pool amount. Any cards or effects that would count a Methuselah's pool instead count the combined total of that player's pool and the amount of blood on his or her Master Vampire. For all other purposes (like making transfers or paying card costs), pool is separate from the Master Vampire's blood, as normal.
If some effect other than card cost causes a player to burn more pool than he or she has, the difference is made up from the Master Vampire's blood. If there is insufficient blood to cover the difference, then the Master Vampire is sent to torpor, empty.
In this variant, the object is to burn your prey's Master Vampire rather than to deplete your prey's pool. Removing pool will help a great deal, however, since it is closely linked to the Master Vampire's blood.
A Master Vampire cannot be burned in combat. If a combat result would burn that vampire, it instead burns all of its blood and goes to torpor. This applies to aggravated damage, Decapitate, Amaranth, etc.
Diablerie is the only way to burn a Master Vampire. If the diabolist is itself a Master Vampire, then the act carries no penalty (no Blood Hunt can be called, The Sixth Tradition cannot be invoked, etc.). Otherwise, all of the usual penalties apply, such as the Blood Hunt.
When a Master Vampire is diablerized, its controller's predator gets a victory point and 6 pool. The diabolist can keep any blood and/or equipment that the victim had, as usual.
Note: If a Master Vampire diablerizes a lesser (non-Master) vampire, a Blood Hunt can be called.
Interacting with vampires of rival clans or sects is more difficult in this variant. Independent vampires (Giovanni, Ravnos, Assamites, and Followers of Set) are considered neutral and are not affected by this rule.
Vampires belonging to the clan opposing that of the Master Vampire (see subsection IV.A below) are harder to influence. Such vampires effectively have +1 blood capacity while in the uncontrolled region, and require the transfer of 1 additional blood (which will "drain off" when the vampire becomes controlled).
Vampires of the opposing sect (Camarilla or Sabbat) effectively have +2 blood capacity while in the uncontrolled region, and thus require the transfer of 2 additional blood to bring into play.
Brujah - Ventrue
Malkavian - Tremere
Nosferatu - Toreador
Brujah antitribu - Ventrue antitribu
Malkavian antitribu - Tremere antitribu
Nosferatu antitribu - Toreador antitribu
Gangrel antitribu : None
Certain master cards are not allowed (see subsection I.B above), while the effects of other cards have been modified for the purposes of this variant.
Anson: Read Anson's special ability instead as "If Anson is ready during your master phase, your Master Vampire can untap once during the minion phase, either at the start of the minion phase or immediately after a master card action."
Parthenon, The: Replace the card text with "Tap to untap your Master Vampire. Only usable at the start of the minion phase, or immediately after a master card action."
Rumors of Gehenna: Replace the card text with "Name a set of Master Vampires. Successful vote means that those vampires may untap once during their minion phase, either at the start of the minion phase or immediately after a master card action."
Blood Doll: Replace the card text with "Put this card on a vampire you control. During his or her master phase, the controller of this vampire can move 1 blood from the vampire to his or her Master Vampire or from his or her Master Vampire to the vampire."
Hunt Club, The [DS]: This card cannot be played on a Master Vampire.
Nosferatu Hosting [DS]: Replace the card text with "During your master phase, you can look at one vampire in another player's inactive region. This card may be burned by any minion who is not Toreador as a (D) action."
Secure Haven [DS]: This card does not prevent Master Vampires from taking (D) actions against the vampire with Secure Haven played on it.
Tribute to the Master [SAB]: Replace the card text with "Move 1 blood from each of your ready vampires to your Master Vampire."
This section presents more options for use with this variant, once players are familiar with its basic rules.
Some players find the variant too combat-oriented. To remedy this somewhat, this optional rule allows Master Vampires an alternative to torpor.
When a Master Vampire is sent to torpor in combat, its controller can burn 2 pool (not blood) to save it, keeping it in the Ready region. The time to invoke Sanctuary is the same as for Minor Boon--after combat ends but before the vampire goes to torpor.
With this optional rule, Master Vampires can attempt to gain control of other players' lesser (non-Master) vampires. The other Master Vampires can take measures to retain control of these vampires.
Each Master Vampire can take a (D) action against another player's lesser vampire to place an influence counter on the target vampire. This action costs 1 pool (not blood). Each player's influence counters are distinct from the others' influence counters.
When the total of a player's influence counters equals or exceeds the target's capacity, that player's Master Vampire can take a (D) action to take control of the vampire. Each Master Vampire may also take an undirected action at +1 stealth to remove one influence counter. This action costs 1 pool.
Try out these options, or feel free to come up with some of your own. Do let us know how they work for you.
©1999 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.