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Chronicles of Darkness
by Samuel W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2019 17:39:24

Filled with stuff that would inflate wordcount in every 2e WoD game, the blue book serves as a good book to give to those scum called players so they don't peek when you're not looking..



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chronicles of Darkness
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M20 Gods & Monsters
by Terry R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2019 17:27:09

Gods and Monsters fills a number of gaps left in the line up for M20 like Companions, Familiars, spirit-forms, god-heads, and a fair number of Bygones. There are still considerable holes not yet filled but Technocracy Reloaded and Book of the Fallen but a book they have to come out in some

Good parts:

  • Every creature is illustrated
  • The rules for roll-your-own entities are remarkably thorough and cover "sentient cell phone" through "embodiment of an island in the form of a dragon". Which says something.
  • The crossover rules are exceptional and do a remarkably good job of allowing a storyteller to introduce other lines very quickly without buying a 600 page X20 book.
  • Entities are introduced along either a theme or in a family. The section on Yaruba through Afro-Caribbean through Louisianna voodoo is reasonably fleshed out and doesn't have just one example for a given idea.
  • Stats for "normies" are given such as for kids and the old. Sometimes it's useful to know how many health levels a teenager has and such.
  • Areas undercovered by other urban fantasy games are well covered. Characters break most forms of normativity in relationship types, identities, and such.
  • Some of the points of view are very angry and the points of that rage are easy for for an ST to incorporate.
  • Soe vague prior systems are really tightened up or explained. God-forms were often presented as being whatever a viewer's culture expected, but this can get super messy when items don't quite line up.

Bad parts:

  • The art just doesn't pop like other books. None of the illustrations besides the cover and some of the chapter openers are on par with the quality and imagination in other books. They feel like rough drafts. This may be due to budget and I get that but the bar is high and I don't think that bar is met.
  • The points of view are confusing. Mage usually has say three voices. The "systems" voice which explains systems and maybe behind the scenes stuff, the "book author" voice which explains the setting in a somewhat clinical or impersonal way, and "character" voices which bring the emotion to the party. And those parts blur like when describing djinn. In Lost Traditions, djinni are described as cruel and lazy where in this book humans are blamed for everything. Likewise, the hatred of outsiders for some of the Pac Rim entities is either racism or xenophobia in a modern gaming context. If the justification is "colonialism", sure, but I feel that opens the door to a lot of things, again, which is fine, but it felt messy in many points.
  • Some of the descriptions simply went on too long. One avatar type got an entire page where others were a 1/3rd of a page and just if not moreso interesting.
  • No advice is given to the storyteller as to how to run stories with cultures outside their own. There's some explanation in the core rule book but I really think it'd make sense to re-iterate it here.
  • There are errors and some holes. Some things are simply not explained like the Size, Rage, and Gnosis traits. There are some typographic errors. It's a lot of stuff and almost impossible to get right. It's sad that revisions would be so hard so thanks White Wolf.

Overall: Get it. It's $15 and it's 225 pages of rules, entities, and art. That's less than ten cents a page and that's at full price. If somehow that's not good enough, wait for it to go on sale. It's way better than what you could get for $15 on the ST Vault or a used book store.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
M20 Gods & Monsters
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M20 Gods & Monsters
by Akaki K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2019 03:38:39

It's okay.

Book is interesting, but not outstanding. To me, book splits into two part - human characters 17-77pg (why are these in book called Gods and Monster I'll never know), and actual gods and monsters. The human part of the book is garbage. Aiming to please the current guardians of social fashion, a book supposedly about Traditions drives SJW meter over 9000. Why is such a theme central in Gods and Monsters fantasy book I'll never know. I paid to see see Gods and Monsters, not page upon page of short bio's.

The monster part is incomparably better, the creators finally diverged from the standard European variety that is already famous enough. Still feel the book missed a lot for greater censorship and lack of space (due staffing half of it with bio's). But still, this part of the book is pretty good, especially if you're not into reading side material on myth and folklore.

My greatest beef is with the art. The art has lost cartoony, glossy feeling of the M20, but went in different direction with illustrations that look like unedited drawings. Yeah, it's in color but most of the painitngs are just not high quality and lack details. though, there are some hidden gems like 196 or 167 (loved it). In understand the want to give it a gloomy, serious look. But if you want to show a charcater, please do so - half formed blob is not enough.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
M20 Gods & Monsters
by Van W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2019 22:15:04

Gods and Monsters: originally a stretch goal for the M20 kickstarter, this book is a giant collection of nearly every kind of non-mage NPC you could want for a Mage game.

As is usual for Mage: the Ascension supplements, there are tantalizing hints of forking metaplot paths (The Enlightened Shock Corps has been canceled!), new material expanding concepts that haven't been explored since 1991 (Avatar types, new paradox spirits), new story expansions and concepts to disagree thoroughly with, and some lovely art here and there.

I'm specifically pleased to see a mention (though not a full writeup) of the alien Zigg as well as a character creation engine for companion/bygone/familiar characters.

There were a few things that I wish weren't in the book however. The more horrific monsters can be pretty grotesque, and I wish this book didn't have long passages discussing mages who were slavers. Besides mundane slavery, the book also depicts Djinns as a people broken by colonial exploitation by a Persian faction of mages. I thought this was a pretty weird choice that wasn't necessary. Djinn-binding humans could have been portrayed as having found a way to fight back against envious blaspheming spirits oppressing humanity instead of portraying Islam's prophet as the instigator of a exploitative war against a fully sapient people.

In summary, although this book has the kind of flaws and controversies that any and all Mage: the Ascension books would have, this is the kind of book every world of darkness line should have specifically so Storytellers don't have to write-up every NPC themselves. Any book that cuts down on the extensive prep time that White Wolf/Onyx Path games tend to need is worth its weight in tass.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cavaliers of Mars Core Rulebook
by Matias B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2019 15:51:09

I backed the game for a physical copy. I was excited with the setting and given the experience of Rose Bailey I was confident to get a good swashbuckler game in Mars.

I received the book and when I was ready to test the game with friends a week ago I started to read the rules with more detail.

I liked the ideas of the combat when I read the jumpstart but I was expecting some tweaks in the corebook. Having three Motivations and three Methods, I felt the combat was a game of chance and the only attribute valid was Speed beside some talents.

I decided to give it a chance and see how it works but when I was reading the talent Pistoleer I trigger a chain-reaction of frustration. Let me explain:

The talent gives you the change of reducing the Reload cost in Stunt dice. Sounds interesting but the problem is the Ranged Weapon section says reloading is automatic in the Break phase (the end of the round). So why I need stunt dice? May I be losing something?

Let's see the Weapons... searching in the index: Weapons is an appendix and just a table with ~8 weapons. The text surrounding the table doesn't say nothing useful and you end with more questions like: what those columns mean? why the bow does 3 damage at distance but no other weapon, neither flintlaser do so much?

Then I found there's a section with ordinary weapons like Spider Rifle or something like that. Great! But nooo... its a description of the weapon with Benefits and Drawback but no Damage information and is not even present in the table. At this point my frustration level was high. I posted two questions in Onyx forum and search for a community online to ask more questions: I didn’t find any facebook group and google plus recently die. In OP forum, no one answer.

I kept reading the book with the idea of trying to fill with homebrew rules the missing parts so I continued with the book. When I was reading through Skarruts, this frog-like guys, I saw the text talks about how good they're using slings and how the elite use pole slings. And I made the mistake of checking the table again to see if slings were there. It weren't.

My last try was to use the index by words. I was desperate. And then I found the index is hell. It has two level of indendation but no one edited it so its all mess. And if you try to follow it alphabetically as expected you found its all scrambled because the indentation was never completed.

The final chapter of this is me: frustrated, desperate and anger going to every place I could think to ask questions still politely. In the forum, the blog of Rose Bailey (https://blog.fantasyheartbreaker.com...liers-of-mars/), kickstarter comments (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...-game/comments) and facebook (https://www.facebook.com/cavaliersofmars/). I found out more things in the game before I stop reading it like: the cavaliers (the career that provides the name of the game) has a talent named Footwork that provide an advantage if you're standing. Every career has only 3 talents and one of cavalier is about footwork when the career is about riding animals. The following problem is the text provides names about the possible mounts but I couldn't find a clear reference of how this animals are, not even the minimum description. The same for sky ships, another main item of the game.

Finally, defeated I drop the idea of gamemastering this game.

Today I went back to the forum to see if I was lucky and got answers. I found my posts were removed. I posted this story in the forum and I was banned. That's why I decided to go to every place and share this story. After this, my questions in Rose Bailey blog were removed too.

Cavaliers of Mars is an incomplete game, not tested enough (or at all). The rules are inconsistent and contradictory. And OP and Rose Bailey cheated the backers with this game. There's not a even a community to try to figure out the game and do something with the good parts (I guess they're but I lost the hope and patience to find them). I would like to time travel to don’t support this game. I made the mistake of trusting OP. This won’t happen again.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Cavaliers of Mars Core Rulebook
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Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought
by Randford B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2019 18:34:36

Exalted returns to the Scarlet Dynasty with the Dragon-Blooded hardback for Third Edition. This book gives all the material needed to play a scion of the Realm and the mechanics needed for the Dragon-Blooded, while also brushing alongside a few smaller Terrestrial nations, including old favorites the Forest Witches and the new hotness, the Indian-inspired nation of Prasad. (Fuller details on these groups should appear in the companion book, Heirs to the Shogunate.)

All in all, I was impressed with this book, in large part because it has no major flaws. What Fire Has Wrought has much better art than the last book Exalted released, having apparently worked out some of the kinks in their process and gotten a much higher average quality out of their partner studio. The mechanics are usable and solid. Most importantly the Realm now seems like a real place and a real matriarchy, with a culture and mores that aren't just our own repeated in a place where they don't belong.

I'm prepared to call this book a spectactular success.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought
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Exalted 3rd Edition
by jb a. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/27/2019 12:21:30
4 stars, and if the passionate fan in me had his way, it would be a five. I'm gonna start with the great things. The setting is awesome, it's awesome in it's scale and in it's diversity. It's a world were the divine is everywhere, and yet most people cannot fathom the will of those divine being. Guess what you are not a normal human, exalted is a game of epic, it is not made to emulate the common man surviving in a gritty world, it was built for players to trick river gods, to fight titanic and nightmarish beasts, to walk in a whirlwind of intrigue. It's a system you could use to play Cuchulainn, the irish demi god with his magical spear, or to tell the story of Odysseus wandering for years upon the sea, or the journey to the west from chinese mythos. And for this the system work well, it's unique, it's unsettling at first, it can be be a bit crunchy, but when you get in the system my god does it flow well. One of the best part in combat is the gambit mechanic, made to allow the player to do pretty much any action not planned for by the devs in a simple fashion, it's also very good to create special boss mechanics. I've hear complaint about the social system and the craft system, the social system being to complex, which i do not agree with considering you are not obligated to use the full system for every interaction, and works very well in a game of intrigues, and for the craft...well i'm ok with it but understand why people don't like it, you have to generate "lesser" by doing menial tasks allowing you can spend to accomplish harder projet that will net you "greater" xp you can spend for trully awesome artefact or construct. IMO it mostly depend on how leniant the gm is and how interested in RP this kind of thing players are. If they aren't and just want to craft stuff that gives bonus, they gonna be bored quickly, if they like it, it's an heroes journey by itself (also you can find house rules online for alternative system, haven't used them tho).

Now we come to the problem the system poses. It is NOT a game quicly learned and played, you need to invest yourself in the game for it to run smoothly, and for GM you lack certains tools like a true bestiary, which is hard for a new GM to balance your foes. Its take on fights can be puzzling for player because it is so different. Most GM will have to change the way they describe fights. I had difficulties at first but now use this style of describing the ebbs and flow of a fight instead of describing hit or misse for every attacks for pretty much every system i run. In the end it made me a better storyteller, but it took time and effort. The fact they used kickstarter to finance some of additional content tend to stretch the time between books, and the pace for release is sloooooooow, and we still don't have a fucking bestiary (you can find homebrew tho), and if i'm not mistaken the terrestrial exalted is pretty much done but still not available for purchase for non backer, and the lunar exalted book is in beta for backer so who guess when customers will be able to buy it. Also the art of the book is meh, some arts are good some are barely acceptable (the cover is awesome tho).

To conclude, if you take the time, and you understand what kind of story it's made for, you'll find a unique and very good system. Me i've become an addict.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Exalted 3rd Edition
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Demon Translation Guide
by Anton G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2019 15:34:51

If you're a die-hard fan of Demon: the Fallen like I am, and practically had a heart attack when you saw that this was getting made, then let my words spare you the coronary: this thing's a bust. What we have here is a valiant, but ultimately slap-dash attempt to construct a translation guide that instead comes across as an incredibly one-sided and imbalanaced. It pains me to write this, as there are some solid things going on in the book, and some neat ideas in play, but Onyx Path simply didn't put in the effort necessary to make this what it needed to be. There is a lot to say, but I'll keep my critique to three main points.

  1. Poor organization: The TG attempts to give fluid rules for porting characters between systems, but unfortunately ends up creating a slurry of information, where Descent info blends together with Fallen info, making it hard to keep the two separarate. In addition, there are some strange redundancies with some things, particularly Merits (Pacts are still listed as a Merit, but that Merit has been replaced by the Thrall Merit, which is itself difficult to find). Further, none of the Lores have explicitly spelled-out dice pools, and attempting to decipher which Attributes and Skills are needed for each is tedious and inefficient. Overall, the book shoud have been organized with greater distinction.

  2. A lot of missing data: the TG covers character conversion and basic powers, but says nothing about some of the most critical systems from the old game, such as empowering Thralls, rituals from the old Player's Guide, or rules for exorcism and the devouring of demons by their peers post mortem. These missing pieces of info make attempting to run D:tF with the new rules incredily frustrating, as players have fewer rescources to give their characters, and STs will be left struggling to help their players complete common demon-related tasks.

  3. The Apocalyptic Powers: possibly the most infurating part of the whole book, instead of going through the Demon Player's Guide and methodically converting each power for the sake of clarity and conciseness, and perhaps altering or trimming some away to keep things clean and efficient, OP instead opted to simply convert some powers and treat the rest as rebranded versions of powers from D:tD. This causes a host of redundancies as well as some bizarre alterations to the designs of some powers that in no way mirrors their orginal function or intent, and can potentially derail a character concept. This is the most egregious sin, for not only does it make porting a character over incredibly messy, but it undermines Fallen in favor of keeping Descent at the fore, and makes it seem as though OP is putting Fallen in the backseat in favor of highlighting Descent.

In conclusion, the Demon Translation Guide is a competent work, and the rule conversions therein are a fitting update for bringing Fallen into the CoD system, but its glaring flaws and poor organization make it difficult to use at best, and an absolute nightmare at worst. I leave here an open statement to the staff at Onyx Path:

Dear Mss. and Messrs.,

I understand that creating works like this is a monumental undertaking, and your efforts must not be overlooked, but if you want to create something that fans will appreciate, and more importantly buy, you must ensure that the necessary effort is put into it. If this means putting more writers on the project, prolonging development, or even making a Kickstarter page for it, then do it, because I guarantee that a legion of loyal patrons and fans like myself are ready and willing to contribute to see the game we love so much be reborn, and you will enjoy both critical praise and financial success in the long-run.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Translation Guide
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
by Michael L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/08/2019 16:05:18

I got the wrong version - twice!

First of all, the website is so bad when trying to check out, it actually double charged me! I decided to keep both copies because my group needed two anyway - but it wasn't intentional and was an unwelcome charge on my card!

Secondly, BOTH copies are the wrong version! I ordered the premium printing, but both are definitely not that version. I have a premium version of another Onyx Path book, Changeling: The Lost, and it's GORGEOUS. Glossy pages, popping color, the characteristic holo-effect covers.

Both of these books came in the wrong quality that I paid for, and I'm very disappointed.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
by James M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2019 11:52:26

I received my physical book in the mail today. I ordered the Standard heavyweight and I am pleased with the qulity for the price paid. I have been reading the PDF for the past week. As for the content; it was through sheer ignorance and contempt that I ignored New World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness for so long. I am a huge fan of VtM and was not very willing to give Requiem a try. I, like others, was enthralled by the meta plot of VtM and was not willing to stay the course. Then I started listening to Mathew Dawkins, "Gentlemans Guide to Gaming" reviews of VtR, and now I wish I had given it a chance during its original release. The emphasis on personal horror is paramount, and something that I feel may have been lost over the years in VtM (re-explored in V5 however). I really do like that fact that You, as the ST, and your troupe of players are writing the plot as you go. There is no overarching Meta plot to adhere to. Now before I come off as bashing the old, I will state that I love VtM. The game literaly changed my life. But Requiem is a different beast all its own, and it definetly deserves your attention, especially the 2nd edition iteration. The only misgivings I have about this book is what I feel is very uninspired art. Most of the pictures fail to draw any attention, and the few that are descent are very overshadowed by the bad. I especially don't like the the clan pictures. Art is not a deal breaker for me though, by any stretch. The book is fantastic and Im anxious to start develpoing my chronicle. 5/5 from me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Dread Names, Red List
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2019 07:06:58

The following review was originally published in Mephisto 62 and translated from German (find orignal German review below).

Dread Names Red List

Dread Names Red List is a new edition of The Kindred Most Wanted for V20. The source book revolves around the most feared vampires on the Red List as enemies of the Camarilla. The so-called alastors devote all their attention to the hunting of these 13 vampires.

The source book begins with a brief overview of the vampire traditions and the Red List, as well as how they interact with the Camarilla. The reader learns how the Red List was created and how vampires are added to it. The interaction between inner circle, justiciars and alastors is also described.

The second part of the book is dedicated to the Red List itself: The Anathema - the most wanted enemies of the Camarilla - are each described extensively with their biography, but also with their game stats. The spectrum ranges from Karen Anatos, an actress who threatens the masquerade, to Keminitiri, the ancient vampire of the Followers of Sets who threatens her own clan as well as the Camarilla. The spectrum of these vampires is broad, and actually the portrayal also considers the development of the past years, because some vampires of the previous version are no longer on the Red List, but there are some new additions.

The third part of the book consists of specific playing advice. Here alastors are presented as player characters and possibilities are shown how to integrate the Red List and the Anathema into the game. There are a handful of new discipline powers, and the final chapter introduces a missing path: the Path of Evil Revelations. Also some rituals of the Dark Thaumaturgy are added.

Dread Names Red List is the exciting source book to read, and the presentation of the anathema gives a lot of background to the game. However, you can only use this book if you want to play alastors - which is a very special game background.

(Deutsche Version)

Dread Names Red List ist eine Neuauflage von The Kindred Most Wanted für V20. Das Quellenbuch dreht sich um die gefürchtetsten Vampire, die als Feinde der Camarilla auf der Roten Liste stehen. Der Jagd dieser 13 Vampiren widmen die sogenannten Alastoren ihre ganze Aufmerksamkeit.

Der Quellenband gibt zunächst eine kurze Übersicht über die Traditionen der Vampire und die Rote Liste, und wie diese mit der Camarilla zusammenspielen. Der Leser erfährt, wie die Rote Liste entstanden ist und wie Vampire auf diese Liste gesetzt werden. Hierbei wird auch das Zusammenspiel zwischen Innerem Zirkel, Justiziaren und Alastoren beschrieben.

Den zweiten Teil des Buches macht die Rote Liste selbst auf: Die Anathema – die meistgesuchten Gegner der Camarilla – werden jeweils umfangreich mit ihrem Lebenslauf, aber auch mit ihren Spielwerten beschrieben. Das Spektrum reicht von Karen Anatos, einer Schauspielerin, die die Maskerade bedroht, bis hin zu Keminitiri, die als uralte Vampirin der Jünger Sets ihren eigenen Clan aber auch die Camarilla bedroht. Das Spektrum dieser Vampire ist breit, und tatsächlich berücksichtigt die Darstellung auch die Entwicklung der letzten Jahre, denn einige Vampire der vorherigen Version finden sich nicht mehr auf der Roten Liste, dafür gibt es einige Neuzugänge.

Der dritte Teil des Buches besteht aus konkreten Spieltipps. Hier werden Alastoren als Spielercharaktere vorgestellt und Möglichkeiten aufgezeigt, die Rote Liste und die Anathema in eine Spielrunde einzubauen. Es gibt eine Handvoll neuer Disziplinkräfte, und das letzte Kapitel stellt einen bisher fehlenden Pfad vor: den Path of Evil Revelations. Zudem werden noch ein paar Rituale der Dark Thaumaturgy ergänzt.

Dread Names Red List ist als Quellenbuch spannend zu lesen, und die Vorstellung der Anathema vermittelt viel Hintergrund zum Spiel. Konkret einsetzen kann man dieses Buch jedoch eigentlich nur dann, wenn die Spielrunde Alastoren spielen soll – was ein sehr spezieller Spielhintergrund ist.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Dread Names, Red List
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Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition: The Dark Ages
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2019 07:02:39

The following review was originally published in Mephisto 64 and translated from German (find orignal German review below).

Vampires: The Dark Ages Twentieth Anniversary Edition

It is now more than 20 years ago that the vampires of the role-playing game of the same name were not only allowed to frighten the modern age, but were also able to cause trouble in the dark nights of the Dark Ages. Vampire: The Dark Ages is a new edition for the 20th anniversary, which as a thick hardcover volume compiles a lot of material from old source books anew. The structure is that of the classic rulebook, in which the setting, but above all the clans and character creation as well as the disciplines of the vampires are presented in detail.

The new edition tries to put together a lot of clan material. Instead of the 13 classic clans there are 28 clans and bloodlines in this book, which also include the African vampires, the Laibon. Also clans, which were introduced as esoteric groups by the regular Vampire, can be found here. Some clans are redefined, which still works well with the Kyasid, but in the case of the Niktuku, it compresses a great vampire secret into (too) simple rules. Beside the clans also the different paths (Roads), thus the ethical systems, of the vampires are explained and provided with differentiated variants. For example, the Via Caeli exists in Christian, Jewish and Islamic forms. The chapter on the disciplines, with its 130 pages, is also very detailed, and here, too, you will find some changes to the rules in addition to well-known powers.

Of course, the book also contains material for the game master, both on the basic structure of the campaign and concrete game material in the form of character profiles. A relatively short chapter examines the specific setting in more detail and focuses on the Italian states, which become the standard setting here. The rest of Europe is also briefly presented, whereby in many places the focus is more on human history than on vampire influences. The fact that the new edition takes place in 1242 means that the invasion of the Mongols also plays a role, and some events from the classical timeline are already part of history here.

Some clan secrets provide the conclusion of the book, where besides pure background information also variants of clans and their paths can be discovered. and find it again. In the case of the Salubri, for example, an alternative course of history is formulated as a what-if scenario.

Vampires: The Dark Ages is a beautifully made, summarizing set of rules for playing vampires in the Dark Ages. With regard to the clans and their discipline, information from all possible sources has been meticulously compiled and adjusted. In some cases these adaptations bring more consistency, in other cases the inclined reader may ask himself the question why of all things the Niktiku have to be freed from their mysterious fascination in this way or how the Nagaraja got lost into medieval Europe.

If you want to immerse yourself in the world of vampires in the Dark Ages, you will find all the rules here. In order to get more background to the ( vampiric ) Dark Ages, however, you will not be able to avoid some history or rule books. Vampire: The Dark Ages is an excellent summary for collectors who want to revel in old memories.

(Deutsche Version)

Nun ist es inzwischen mehr als 20 Jahre her, dass die Vampire des gleichnamigen Rollenspiels nicht nur die Moderne unsicher machen durften, sondern auch in den finsteren Mächten des Mittelalters ihr Unwesen treiben konnten. Vampire: The Dark Ages ist eine Neuauflage zum 20. Jubiläum, die als dicker Hardcoverband viel Material aus alten Quellenbüchern neu zusammenstellt. Der Aufbau ist dabei der des klassischen Regelwerks, in dem das Setting, vor allen Dingen aber die Clans und die Charaktererschaffung sowie die Disziplin der Vampire ausführlich vorgestellt werden.

Hier zeigt sich, dass die Neuauflage vor allen Dingen versucht, viel Clan-Material zusammenzustellen. Statt der 13 klassischen Clans finden sich hier in diesem Buch insgesamt 28 Clans und Blutlinien, die auch die afrikanischen Vampire, die Laibon, umfassen. Auch Clans, die beim regulären Vampire als Exoten eingeführt wurden, finden sich hier wieder. Dabei werden einige Clans durchaus umdefiniert, was bei den Kyasid noch stimmig wirkt, im Falle der Niktuku aber ein großes Vampirgeheimnis in (zu) einfache Regeln presst. Neben den Clans werden auch die verschiedenen Pfade (Roads), also die ethischen Systemen, der Vampire erläutert und mit differenzierten Varianten versehen. So gibt es die Via Caeli in christlicher, jüdischer und islamischer Ausprägung. Auch das Kapitel zu den Disziplinen ist mit seinen gut 130 Seiten sehr ausführlich, und auch hier findet man neben altbekannten Kräften einige Änderungen an den Regeln.

Natürlich gibt es in dem Buch auch Material für den Spielleiter, sowohl zum grundsätzlichen Kampagnenaufbau als auch konkretes Spielmaterial in Form von Charakterprofilen. Ein relativ kurzes Kapitel beleuchtet das konkrete Setting etwas genauer und stellt die Staaten Italiens in den Vordergrund, die hier zum Standardsetting werden. Der Rest Europas wird auch kurz vorgestellt wobei an vielen Stellen der Fokus eher auf der menschlichen Geschichte als auf den vampirischen Einflüssen liegt. Dadurch, dass die Neuauflage im Jahr 1242 spielt, spielt auch die Invasion der Mongolen eine Rolle und einige Ereignisse aus der klassischen Zeitlinie, sind hier bereits Geschichte.

Den Abschluss des Buches bieten einige Clangeheimnisse, wobei sich neben reinen Hintergrundinformationen auch noch Varianten von Clans und deren Pfaden wiederfinden. Im Falle der Salubri wird jedoch beispielweise ein alternativer Geschichtsverlauf als Was-wärewenn-Szenario formuliert.

Vampire: The Dark Ages ist ein schön gemachtes, zusammenfassendes Regelwerk, um Vampire im Mittelalter zu spielen. Bezüglich der Clans und ihrer Disziplin wurden hier akribisch Infos aus allen möglichen Quellen zusammengetragen und abgeglichen bzw. teilweise angepasst. In einigen Fällen bringen diese Anpassungen mehr Konsistenz, in anderen Fällen stellt sich der geneigte Leser eventuell die Frage, warum ausgerechnet die Niktiku in dieser Form von ihrem geheimnisvollen Zauber befreit werden müssen oder wie sich die Nagaraja bis ins mittelalterliche Europa verirren.

Wer in die Welt der Vampire im Mittelalter eintauchen will, findet hier alle regeltechnischen Informationen. Um mehr Hintergrund zum (vampirischen) Mittelalter zu bekommen, wird man aber um einige Geschichts- oder Regelbücher nicht herumkommen. Für Sammler, die in alten Erinnerungen schwelgen wollen, ist Vampire: The Dark Ages auf jeden Fall eine hervorragende Zusammenfassung.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition: The Dark Ages
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The Cainite Conspiracies Anthology
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2019 12:18:46

The following review was originally published in Mephisto 64 and translated from German (find orignal German review below).

The Cainite Conspiracies

The Cainite Conspiracies is an anthology of short stories from the world of Vampire: The Dark Ages. Not surprisingly, each clan gets its own short story, which illuminates the atmosphere of a clan, its secrets or even the intrigues and conflicts of the medieval nights with the help of a well-chosen character.

The stories are as different as the clans themselves, and the way the story is told also varies considerably. Thus some examples illustrate vividly the conflicts between the clans and the intrigues at the medieval courts, while others refer to great events in the past and in the future. In the case of the Assamites, there is even a tale of an event that has serious implications for the entire clan.

As different as the themes and the narrative styles are, as different is the quality of the stories from my point of view. Some of the short stories immediately captivate the reader and build up suspense, others don't really make a connection to the protagonist. The portrayal of the medieval world of vampires is also varied. Sometimes the setting seems comparatively generic, sometimes historical elements and places are deliberately included.

The Cainite Conspiracies manages to provide a pretty good insight into the world of vampires in the Middle Ages and is an entertaining reading, but not essential for the game.

(Deutsche Version)

The Cainite Conspiracies ist ein Anthologieband mit Kurzgeschichten aus der Welt von Vampire: The Dark Ages. Wenig überraschend bekommt hier jeder Clan seine eigene kurze Geschichte, die anhand eines ausgewählten Vertreters das Flair eines Clans, seine Geheimnisse oder auch nur die Intrigen und Konflikte der mittelalterlichen Nächte beleuchtet. Die Geschichten sind dabei so unterschiedlich wie die Clans selbst, und auch die Art der Erzählung variiert deutlich. So illustrieren einige Beispiele sehr schön die Konflikte zwischen den Clans und die Intrigen an den mittelalterlichen Höfen, während andere Geschichten Bezug auf große Ereignisse in der Vergangenheit und in der Zukunft nehmen. Im Falle der Assamiten wird sogar ein Ereignis erzählt, das schwere Auswirkungen für den gesamten Clan hat.

So unterschiedlich wie die Themen und die Erzählstile sind, so unterschiedlich ist aus meiner Sicht auch die Qualität der Geschichten. Einige der Kurzgeschichten ziehen den Leser sofort in den Bann und bauen Spannung auf, andere plätschern gefühlt ein wenig dahin und schaffen es auch nicht, einen wirklichen Bezug zum Protagonisten zu schaffen. Auch das Bild, das sie von der mittelalterlichen Welt der Vampire vermitteln, ist unterschiedlich. Mal wirkt das Setting vergleichsweise generisch, mal werden sehr gezielt historische Elemente und Orte mit einbezogen.

The Cainite Conspiracies schafft es einen ganz guten Einblick in die Welt der Vampire im Mittelalter zu geben und ist eine durchaus unterhaltsame, aber für das Spiel nicht notwendige Lektüre.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
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V20 Ghouls & Revenants
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2019 01:35:41

The following review was originally published in Mephisto 62 and translated from German (find orignal German review below).

Ghouls & Revenants

Ghouls & Revenants is the source book about ghouls and revenants for Vampire. The source book begins by describing the themes and moods used when playing with ghouls. Then there follows a long chapter describing the different roles of ghouls but also of the revenant families. The chapter explores the origins of the ghouls and gives some hints on the bigger background story of Vampire. The fact that ghouls are given a more important role can be seen, for example, in the four age groups, because ancient ghouls are also mentioned, which are very powerful and initiated into many secrets.

The second chapter is dedicated to the rules and above all to the blood bond that determines the existence of many ghouls. However, other mechanisms such as the handling of disciplines, aging, healing, frenzy, clan weaknesses etc. are also dealt with. This is followed by a chapter on the role of the ghouls, which shows how the various sects deal with them. A section is dedicated to each of the established clans, describing the particularities and tasks of their ghouls. Also some organizations of the ghouls themselves are presented, which have the potential for further conspiracies.

The revenants are presented with their contradictory history and the different families. It quickly becomes clear that there are some secrets entwined around the families.

Central element is the character creation, which describes the different steps and characteristics for ghouls. This also means that new skills, backgrounds and advantages/disadvantages are introduced. The conclusion is a narrative chapter that highlights various aspects and peculiarities when using ghouls as player characters. A number of sample ghouls including animal ghouls, Szlachta and Vozhd complete the book.

Ghouls & Revenants presents the subject of ghouls and revenants very comprehensively and offers a successful mixture of rules and background information. The key question for deciding to buy is what role you want to give ghouls in the game: This book is certainly too extensive for a mere marginal appearance, but those who want to work with ghouls as player characters will not be able to ignore this book. And also those who want to get to know the complete world of darkness will find interesting approaches here.

(Deutsche Version)

Ghouls & Revenants ist der Quellenband über Ghule und Wiedergänger (Revenants) für Vampire. Der Quellenband beschreibt zunächst, welche Themen und Stimmungen beim Spielen mit Ghulen Anwendung finden. Danach folgt ein langes Inhaltskapitel, das die verschiedenen Rollen von Ghulen aber auch der Wiedergänger-Familien beleuchtet. Dabei erkundet das Kapitel die Ursprünge der Ghule und liefert einige Hinweise auf die größere Hintergrundgeschichte von Vampire. Dass Ghulen eine wichtigere Rolle beigemessen wird, sieht man z.B. an den vier Altersstufen, denn es werden auch uralte Ghule erwähnt, die sehr mächtig und in viele Geheimnisse eingeweiht sind.

Das zweite Kapitel widmet sich den Regeln und dabei vor allem dem Blutband, dass für viele Ghule die Existenz bestimmt. Aber auch andere Mechanismen, wie der Umgang mit Disziplinen, dem Altern, Heilung, Raserei, Clanschwächen usw. werden abgehandelt. Danach folgt ein Kapitel zur Rolle der Ghule, das aufzeigt, wie die verschiedenen Sekten mit ihnen umgehen. Jedem der etablierten Clans wird ein Abschnitt gewidmet, das die Besonderheiten und Aufgaben ihrer Ghule beschreibt. Auch einige Organisationen der Ghule selbst werden präsentiert, die Potenzial für weitere Verschwörungen liefern.

Die Wiedergänger werden mit ihrer widersprüchlichen Entstehungsgeschichte und den verschiedenen Familien vorgestellt. Hier wird schnell klar, dass sich um die Familien einige Geheimnisse ranken.

Zentrales Element ist die Charaktererschaffung, die die verschiedenen Schritte und Besonderheiten für Ghule beschreibt. Das bedeutet, dass auch neue Fertigkeiten, Hintergründe und Vor-/Nachteile eingeführt werden. Den Abschluss macht ein Kapitel zum Erzählen, das verschiedene Aspekte und Besonderheiten beleuchtet, wenn Ghule als Spielercharaktere benutzt werden. Eine Reihe von Beispiel-Ghulen inklusive Tier-Ghulen, Szlachta und Vozhd runden das Buch ab.

Ghouls & Revenants stellt das Thema Ghule und Wiedergänger sehr umfassend dar und bietet eine gelungene Mischung aus Regeln und Hintergrundinformationen. Die entscheidende Frage für den Kauf ist, welche Rolle man Ghulen im Spiel einräumen möchte: Für eine reine Randerscheinung ist dieses Buch sicherlich zu umfangreich, doch wer mit Ghulen als Spielercharaktere arbeiten will, der wird um dieses Buch nicht herumkommen. Und auch wer die komplette Welt der Dunkelheit kennen lernen will, findet hier interessante Ansätze.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Ghouls & Revenants
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World of Darkness 20th Anniversary Character Sheets
by Robert B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2019 16:28:03

Why, oh why, did they leave off the Dodge skill on the Character Sheet?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness 20th Anniversary Character Sheets
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