There is one enemy that strikes fear into every unbeating heart—regardless of clan, age, generation or abilities. So long as the terrible adversary casts its shadow over your characters’ present (and their uncertain future), they will walk the night with at least some degree of nervousness and hyper-vigilance. They will travel in packs, they will be constantly on guard when in public places, even Elysium—and will sleep uneasily in their havens, particularly if they fear this enemy might know where that haven is.
What is this terrible, terrifying adversary? What frightens an elder in his mansion, or a Sabbat pack in their basement lair? Mages? Lupines? Wights? Angry elders with a blood vendetta? The Society of Leopold?
No, none of those. Do you give up? Admit you don’t KNOW?
That’s it. You don’t know.
That’s the secret, the most worrisome enemy the characters will ever face.
The enemy whose identity is UNKNOWN.
Nothing freaks player characters out more than realizing that SOMETHING is watching them, interfering in their plans, infiltrating their haven, or actually taking some kind of hostile action against them—and not knowing who or what that something is. The closer that something can get to them without being recognized or detected, the more it appears to KNOW about them and their business, the more frightening it is.
Once an enemy or rival is identified—even if said enemy is quite powerful and dangerous—some level of the fear is actually reduced. Once the characters know who or what is behind their problems, they can (at least in theory) start to plan on what they can DO about it. They will (probably) have a better idea of said enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, connections, and motivations. They may be outgunned and have to do some fast thinking, but at least at that point they know who or what they’re up against, and that makes a difference in one’s outlook, even if the actual threat level has not changed. Knowing helps.
Not knowing… then it could be anyone. Anything. How do they know so much? How did they find us? How did they break into our haven and leave no trace except the grisly remains of exactly six rats… exactly the number of Kindred living there? Who did we piss off this time? What do they WANT?
And it doesn’t matter how old the characters are, or how powerful – if you can make their unknown adversary SEEM more powerful, better informed, able to move undetected, and After THEM.
The enemy doesn’t have to be super-powerful – just one step ahead, and make sure that enemy has sufficient resources and motivation to do that. They’ll APPEAR much more dangerous than they are. (And maybe they ARE just as dangerous as they appear. There’s always that, too. Sometimes paranoia is in fact justified….)
But it’s the not knowing that’s scariest, and that makes it fun.