Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Grammar in Vampire
“Grammar is to a writer what anatomy is to a sculptor, or the scales to a musician. You may loathe it, it may bore you, but nothing will replace it, and once mastered it will support you like a rock.”
Grammar has been a problem for almost every Vampire: The Masquerade player I’ve encountered. The game makes grammar such a problem by needlessly capitalizing tons of words that aren’t proper nouns (Prince, Final Death, Disciplines, etc.). This confuses players and makes them capitalize other words that not even the game does, because there is no apparent standard for what words should be in upper case or lower case. This page aims to clear that up. We are now going to enforce some modicum of grammatical order and de-capitalize words that should have been in lower case a long time ago.
What is a Proper Noun? Some players have been unclear over this. The quick definition is that a proper noun is a unique person, place, object, group, or other entity. “The White House” is capitalized because there is only one White House. “The house where you live” is not capitalized, because it can refer to more than one house depending on the person addressed. See the Wikipedia page on proper nouns for more information.
amaranth: Never capitalized.
ancilla (plural ancillae): Never capitalized.
autarkis: Never capitalized.
blood bond: Never capitalized.
blood doll: Never capitalized.
chantry: Never capitalized unless ‘chantry’ is part of a singular chantry’s name, making it a proper noun. Usage: 1. The Tremere have a chantry in New Orleans. 2. The New Orleans chantry has seen some unusual happenings of late. 3. The Tremere chantry in New York is called the Chantry of the Five Boroughs.
childe: Never capitalized.
clan: Only capitalized when it precedes the clan’s name. Usage: 1. My clan is Giovannini. 2. May I introduce Cletus Lee Boggs, the inviato for Clan Giovannini.
clan nicknames (rabble, degenerates, warlocks, etc.): Never capitalized. Comparable real-world examples: cossacks, rednecks, polacks, dagoes.
covenant: Never capitalized.
diablerie: Never capitalized.
disciplines: Never capitalized as an in-character term. Capitalized when it refers to the out-of-character game mechanic. Usage: 1. My sire has taught me a number of unorthodox disciplines. 2. Okay, Jeff, what Discipline are you having your PC use here?
domain: Never capitalized.
elder: Never capitalized.
final death: Never capitalized.
frenzy: Never capitalized.
generation: Never capitalized. Hyphenated when it immediately precedes a vampire’s clan. Usage: 1. Caroline is a seventh-generation Ventrue. 2. The seventh generation of Cainites are more numerous than the sixth generation.
ghoul: Never capitalized.
haven: Never capitalized.
kine: Never capitalized.
methuselah: Never capitalized, because it is a common noun that does not denote a group of unique entities in the sense that “Antediluvian” does. “Antediluvian” refers to (approximately) thirteen specific Kindred. Not all methuselahs are known and referred to by name, so one speaks of “methuselahs” rather than “the Methuselahs.”
neonate: Never capitalized.
sect: Never capitalized.
sire: Never capitalized.
titles (archon, prince, sheriff, primogen, etc.): Only capitalized when they immediately precede a character’s name. Usage: 1. Jonathan North used to be an archon. 2. Be welcome in my domain, Hound Agnello. May I interest you in refreshments?
vitae: Never capitalized.
Antediluvian: Capitalized because it is a proper noun that denotes a group of unique entities. Comparable real-world examples: the Fates, the Argonauts, the Twelve Apostles.
Astors: Capitalized when it references the organization as a whole. Non-capitalized when referring to individual astors. Comparable real-world examples: “the United States Marshals Service” vs. “a U.S. marshal.” Usage: 1. Jonathan North is an astor. 2. Jonathan North works for the Astors.
Cainite: Capitalized. This one is a bit funny. When referring to vampires (which denotes all vampires, “real” and nonexistent), “vampires” is a common noun and non-capitalized. When referring to the Cainite race as a specific whole (as embodied by their history, customs, and traditions), “Cainite” is a proper noun and capitalized. The word “vampires” includes all Cainites, but “Cainites” does not include all vampires. Comparable real-world examples: Irish, Italians, Mexicans, Latinos.
Camarilla: Capitalized because it is a proper noun that denotes a unique organization.
clan names (Assamite, Brujah, Gangrel, etc.): Also a unique organization/extended family.
covenant names (Invictus, Lancea et Sanctum, etc.): “Covenants” is not capitalized, but the names of the covenants themselves are. Comparable real-world example: the Democratic Party and Republican Party have their names capitalized, but “political parties” by itself does not._
covenant members (Anarchs, Crones, Sanctified, etc.): Capitalized because it denotes members of a unique organization (however decentralized the Anarchs may be as a covenant). Comparable real-world examples: Democrats, Republicans, Freemasons, Knights of Columbus.
Damned, the: Capitalized for the same reasons as “Cainite” and “Kindred.” It’s more than just a nickname to them.
Elysium: Capitalized as it designates a definite location.
Gehenna: Capitalized because it is a unique event.
Golconda: Capitalized. Comparable real-world examples: Ātman, Brahman (the state, not the caste).
Inquisition: Capitalized because it is a unique organization.
Jyhad: Capitalized because it is a unique event. Comparable real-world examples: the First World War, the Great Depression.
Kindred: Capitalized for the same reasons as “Cainite.” It should be noted that “Kindred” refers to an even more specific subset of vampires than the former word does—the Sabbat and most of the independent clans reject “Kindred” as a label.
Masquerade, the: Capitalized because it denotes a unique bill, law, or act. Comparable real-world examples: the First Amendment, the Gettysburg Address, the No Child Left Behind Act.
Traditions, the: Capitalized for the same reasons as “Masquerade.”
Vampire (the gameline): One can abbreviate Vampire: The Masquerade as simply Vampire. When referring to actual vampires, “vampire” is lower case. Comparable real-world example: shortening Star Wars: A New Hope to Star Wars.
Vodoun/Vodouisant: Capitalized because Vodoun is a proper religion.
Capitalized Words that are not Proper Nouns
The normal rules of grammar hold that these two words should be lower case. Kindred capitalize them because of the profound significance they ascribe to each.
Beast, the: The importance of this one goes without saying. The struggle against the Beast is the heart of the game.
Embrace, the: This one goes without saying too.