As mentioned previously, the non-Camarilla clans in Vampire: The Masquerade often feel like afterthoughts, odd ideas who all have unique Disciplines that don’t always feel very “vampire” to me, not helped by their rarity in Camarilla (and/or anarch) games which were the norm back in the day, before the Sabbat were brought on stage.
The Sabbat clans, Lasombra and Tzimisce, didn’t do much for me, a mix of classic vampire weaknesses with not-very vampire powers, with attitudes that looked a lot like the Sabbat’s Ventrue and Tremere.
I didn’t mind the Assamites, because a cult of assassins seems like a perfectly reasonable thing for a bunch of vampires to be doing, and they aren’t ninja. Their particular Discipline allowing them to be silent at level one and then being about poisons seems a bit odd, but never mind.
The Ravnos... eh, they’re illusionists. I only really got to like them as of their Revised Clanbook, when they became refugees from the clan’s collapse and the desperation and anger made them more interesting. The Sabbat member who noticed that the Lasombra and Tzimisce didn’t go into a cannibalistic frenzy when they “killed” their Antediluvians is possibly my favourite sample character of the entire Clanbook series.
I’ve never liked powers that take control away from a PC and the Followers of Set are all about that. Sure, Presence and Dominate aren’t uncommon, but the Setites go on at length about mind control and moral corruption and a bunch of other stuff that says “NPC” in a game about the struggle to remain in some way human. And that’s on top of being a bit Thulsa Doom and a bit G.I. Joe.
And finally, I get to my favourite non-Camarilla clan, and one of my five favourite clans overall: Clan Giovanni.
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.
Necromancy can get a bit crossover for a vampire-only game with a lower Weird Level because it brings ghosts on stage, but it seems apt for the undead. And they’re generally either rich elite banker weirdoes, or gangsters.
Sure, vampire necromancer gangsters is basically three previously unrelated things, but they mesh reasonably well, and you can always play one side of the clan up and skip the other. You can focus on the family’s show of manners and studied neutrality in sectarian conflicts, the semi-legit business like the Ventrue but not on the Camarilla’s side, the mysticism, or, as I will happily admit, just run with the sheer fun of vampire gangsters.
And they get a pretty good Chronicle book series, including the final book in which you play Giovanni and associates, which can be cut away from the previous three quite easily to make a great little stand-alone chronicle.
The Cappadocians (and their modern spinoffs) are pretty nice too, especially the angry desiccated Harbingers of Skulls. Even if their name is kinda funny.
And here’s a thought, the Giovanni are probably the most centralised clan in the setting - even the Tremere come second, and the Assamites are a very distant third after their Revised Clanbook. So I like the least and most defining clans. Of course, there’s still plenty of room for outcasts, alliances with other groups, and betrayal.
The clan started in betrayal...
Vampire: The Requiem, meanwhile, has only the five archetypal clans (give or take...) but optional Bloodlines by the dozen, in the original core rulebook, in the Clanbooks and in collections of their own. I haven’t read half of them, so I’ll stick to what I know.
I like the Morbus.
As a foulness shall ye know Them.
H.P. Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror
You can find them in the original core book, and they pop up in the Mekhet clanbook and Requiem For Rome as well. Vampires that spread disease just work. I might have made them an offshoot of the Nosferatu rather than the Mekhet, but what the hey.