Fix: Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines Crash on Startup

Some Windows users are reporting that always experience a crash when they attempt to run the legacy ‘Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines’ game on a Windows computer. In most cases, this issue is reported to occur on Windows 10.

Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines crash on startup

After investigating this issue, it turns out that there are several different potential causes that might be the underlying cause of the issue. Here’s a shortlist of potential culprits:

  • Missing admin access – According to a lot of affected users, this problem can very well occur in situations where the game doesn’t have the necessary permissions to access a couple of required dependencies. In this case, you can fix the issuer by forcing the main executable (vampire.exe) to run with admin access.
  • Incompatibility with Windows 10 – If you’re seeing this error on Windows 10 and you haven’t installed the unofficial patch from the modding community, the game won’t start because it was not designed to run on this newer infrastructure. In this case, you can fix the issue by forcing the game to run in compatibility mode with Windows 10.
  • The game is not patched for Windows 10 – Keep in mind that if the game is not patched with the files from the modding community, you have little chance of getting it to work on a Windows 10 installation. The best course of action is to install the unofficial patch from the official channels.
  • Missing DLL files – In order to get the game to work, you need to ensure that the dlls subfolder contains 2 custom made Dynamic Library files that help the game run on Windows 10. Without them, the game will not boot up. If you don’t want to install these files via the unofficial fan-made patch, you can copy them manually from an archive.
  • Safedisc is disabled by Windows Update KB3086255 – Keep in mind that Microsoft has effectively disabled the main SafeDisc service via the security update KB3086255 in order to patch a security vulnerability. Since this is a requirement for the legacy version of the game to run, you can fix the issue by uninstalling the update and hiding it in order to prevent it from getting installed again.
  • SafeDisc service is Disabled – It’s also possible to encounter this issue in instances where the service is disabled by default, even though the security update is not installed. In this case, you can get the issue fixed by starting the SafeDisc service from an elevated command prompt.

Now that you know every potential culprit, here’s a list of methods that other affected users have successfully used to fix this problem and play the game without it crashing at every attempted startup.:

Method 1: Running vampire.exe with Admin Access

According to some affected users that were also encountering this issue, you can also expect to see this error in a situation where the game doesn’t have the necessary permissions in order to access every required dependency.

This is only reported to occur with users that are launching the game via Steam.

If this scenario is applicable, go-ahead and right-click on the main executable of Steam and click on Run as Administrator from the context menu that just appeared. Next, when prompted by the UAC (User Account Control) prompt, click Yes to grant admin access.

Running Steam as Admin

Once you have successfully opened Steam with Admin access, open ‘Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines’ game via Steam and see if the game is now launching normally.

If this method was successful, you should consider forcing the Steam executable to always open with admin access in the future to avoid issues of this kind. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Navigate to the location of Steam’s executable (or the shortcut) and choose Properties from the context menu.
    Accessing the Properties screen of Steam
  2. Once you’re inside the Properties screen of Steam, click on the Compatibility tab from the menu at the top, then scroll down to the Settings section and check the box associated with Run this program as administrator.
    Forcing the program to run as an administrator
  3. Click Apply to save the changes, then launch the game again via steam and see if the issue is now fixed.

If you are still encountering the same kind of startup error when launching Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 2: Running vampire.exe in Compatibility Mode

As some affected users have reported, you can also experience this issue due to a compatibility issue. This is very likely if you’re seeing this problem on Windows 10 and you haven’t installed the Unofficial patch yet.

If this scenario is applicable, follow the instructions below to force the main game’s executable (vampire.exe) to run in compatibility mode with Windows XP (an older OS version that the game is optimized for):

  1. Navigate to the location where you installed vampire.exe and right-click on it. Next, from the context menu that just appeared click on Properties.
    Accessing the Properties screen
  2. Inside the Properties screen, click on the Compatibility tab from the context menu at the top.
  3. Next, check the box associated with Run this program in compatibility mode for, then select Windows XP (Service Pack 2) from the drop-down menu that just appeared.
    Running in compatibility mode
  4. Run the game once again and see if the problem is now fixed.

In case the same problem is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 3: Installing the latest Unofficial Patch Version

Keep in mind that this is a legacy game that was originally released in 2004. Even though the game is not actively being supported by Troika Games (the original developer), the game is constantly improved and updated via the modding community around it.

At the time of writing this article, most compatibility issues caused by the new iteration of Windows (Windows 10) have been resolved via the Unofficial Patch – Keep in mind that this should not be considered a mod since it only fixes bugs and compatibility issues.

Note: The modding community also created a separate patch called Plus Patch that can be chosen at the installation. This is more like a restoration project that adds missing content, new quests, levels, weapons, characters, dialogue, sounds, music, and new graphics.

If you’re encountering this issue on Windows 10, installing this fan-made patch should allow you to fix the issue entirely and prevent the game from crashing at startup ever again.

If you’re unsure of how to install this patch, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open your default browser and navigate to the ModdDB page listing for the VTMB Unofficial Patch.
  2. Once you arrive at the correct page, scroll down to the Files category and click on the hyperlink associated with the latest version of the Unofficial patch.
    Accessing the Unofficial Patch

    Note: At the time of writing this article, the latest version of the unofficial patch available was 10.8.

  3. Inside the download page of the latest version of the Unofficial Patch for VMB, click on the Download button and wait for the operation to complete.
    Downloading the unofficial patch

    Note: The download should start automatically, but in case it doesn’t click on the hyperlink that just appeared at the top of the prompt.

  4. Wait until the download is complete. Keep in mind that they’re using a free mirror, so expect the download to take up several hours regardless of how fast your internet connection is.
  5. Once the download is complete, double-click on the installer and follow the on-screen prompts to install the unofficial patch over the existing installation of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. Ensure that you are installing in the correct location.
    Note:
     At one point you will get asked if you’re willing to install the Plus patch as well. If you want to preserve the exact state of the game when it was originally released, do not install this patch.

In case this issue is still occurring as the game crashes when you attempt to launch it, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 4: Copying over the missing DLL files

If you’re not comfortable with installing the unofficial patch released by the modding community of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, you should also be able to get the game to work by manually copying over 2 Dynamic Link Library files that are actually preventing the game from running (vampire.dll.12 and vampire.dll).

These 2 files are automatically added by the Unofficial patch, but some affected users have managed to fix the issue by copying the two files manually inside the dlls subfolder.

We’ve managed to finds a dropbox archive that a lot of affected users have used in order to fix this issue. We’ve scanned it for malware and adware and it’s completely clean.

Note: If the link no longer works when you get to read this article, report the issue in the comment section and we will try to replace the broken link as soon as possible.

If you’re looking for step by step instructions on how to do this, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open your default browser and navigate to this download link. Once inside, click on the Download button and wait for the operation to complete.
    Downloading the necessary DLL files
  2. Once the download is complete, use a utility like 7zip, WinZip, or WinRar to extract the contents of the archive.
  3. After the files have been extracted, copy them both to your clipboard and paste them in the following location:
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines\Vampire\dlls

    Note: If you installed the game in a custom location, paste the 2 DLLs there instead.

  4. Once the 2 DDL’s are successfully added to the game installation folder, double-click on the main executable and see if the issue is now fixed.

In case this method didn’t allow you to fix the issue as the game still crashes while attempting to launch it, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 5: Uninstalling Windows Update KB3086255

Keep in mind that Windows Update KB3086255 is the update that effectively turned off the secdrv service – This is the main service of SafeDisc, which is a legacy compy protection scheme that is no longer used by modern games due to some security vulnerabilities.

However, if this service is disabled, every SafeDisc game that was designed to use this service (including Vampire the Masquerade) will not start properly.

So one way of fixing the startup error with Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines is to uninstall this update and hide it from the queue of pending updates in order to ensure that it doesn’t get reinstalled again at a later date.

Important: Following the instructions below will effectively re-enable the SafeDisc service which might expose your system to a security vulnerability. If you don’t play a lot of legacy games that make use of the SafeDisc service, maybe stay away from this procedure and go for Method 4 instead.

If you’re willing to uninstall the Windows Update (KB3086255) iteration that’s causing this issue and you understand the consequences, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open up a Run dialog box by pressing Windows key + R. Next, type ‘ms-settings:windowsupdate’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the Windows Update screen of the Settings app.
  2. Inside the Windows Update screen, click on View Update history from the menu on the left-hand side.
  3. Next, once the list of recently installed Windows updates loads up fully, click on Uninstall updates (at the top of the screen).
  4. Scroll down through the list of installed updates and locate the KB3086255 update.
  5. When you see the correct update, right-click on it and choose Uninstall from the context menu that just appeared. At the confirmation prompt, click Yes to start the uninstallation.
  6. Once the operation is finally complete, open your browser of choice and navigate to the download page of the Microsoft Show or Hide troubleshooter package.
  7. When the download is complete, go ahead and open the .diagcab file. When the utility is opened, start by clicking on the Advanced menu, then check the box associated with Apply Repairs Automatically.
  8. Next, click on Next to begin the scan of your current lineup of installed updates.
  9. From the next prompt, click on Hide Updates from the list of available options.
  10. Next, check the box associated with the KB3086255 and click Next to effectively hide it from the scope of Windows Update.
  11. Wait until the change is enforced, then restart your computer and launch the Vampire the Masquerade game once again and see if you’re still encountering the same kind of crash.
Uninstalling and hiding the KB3086255 Windows Update

In case you are still encountering the same problem or you’re not comfortable with hiding security updates, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 6: Starting the SafeDisc service

In case the methods above didn’t work in your case or you’re not willing to uninstall the KB3086255 Windows Update, one workaround that will still allow you to launch the game is to use an elevated Command Prompt to manually re-enable the main service of SafeDisc (secdrv).

 There are a lot of affected users that we’re able to finally launch the Vampire the Masquerade game after they ran the sc start secdrv command inside an elevated CMD prompt.

Important: After you’re done playing the game, it’s essential to run a command that will disable this SafeDisc service in order to close off a security vulnerability that might leave your system exposed.

Here’s a quick step by step guide that will show you how to start the SafeDisc service from an elevated Command Prompt:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘cmd’ inside the text box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up an elevated Command Prompt. When you’re prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant admin access.
    Accessing the CMD prompt
  2. When you’re inside the elevated CMD, type the following command and press Enter to re-enable the SafeDisc service:
    sc start secdrv
  3. Launch Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines and see if the game is now running without the same type of crash.
    Note: Once you are downplaying the game, run the following command in an elevated CMD prompt to disable the service:

    sc stop secdrv
Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Fix: Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines Crash on Startup

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