• Roleplaying games have always leaned heavily on their literary sources. System mechanics and character creation options have been tooled toward evoking genre types and aesthetics ever since the first “Vancian wizard” memorised a spell before setting out to adventure.

    Naturally, when RPGs turned toward the Gothic, they did the same thing: riffing off the assembled archetypes and stereotypes of myth, film and literature to create an infrastructure of characters for players to occupy and navigate.

    This paper explores the most overtly Gothic RPG yet designed, analysing two different approaches to establishing a framework of archetypes that will be familiar to players while also curating a particular aesthetic mood.

    Vampire: the Masquerade​ bakes literary references into its heavily stereotyped clans and sects, strongly associating the two and extending the game experience step by step into new and broader territories.

    Vampire: the Requiem presents five recognisable archetypes, more clearly derived from particular mythic, filmic or literary concepts of the vampire, and five thematic political groups that interact with them in a way offering greater variety.

    This paper will establish the Gothic credentials and objectives of the two games in their own terms, explore how the playable character options embody and serve the games’ vision of the Gothic, and proceed toward a classic ‘compare and contrast’ conclusion, looking at how successive editions of the games have modernised these archetypes to meet evolving perceptions of what exactly Gothic roleplaying should be.