on July 24, 2000
This helpful book includes information on elders and their society (from ELYSIUM mostly), mechanics for century-spanning chronicles (scattered and without as much detail as in other sources, unfortunately), an informative FAQ section, a section on how vampires interact with other World of Darkness creatures, advice on creating short (tournament size) games and possible alternative settings. There is a discussion about bloodlines including the modern Baali and the Daimonion discipline and material salvaged from SECRETS OF THE BLACK HAND- True Brujah, Nagaraja and their unique disciplines. A chapter covers the Hand's secret history and recent demise as an independent sect. The book offers suggestions for using free-form techniques to make the chronicle less numbers driven and more story driven- alternatives to merits and flaws, game balance treated as giving player characters equal story attention rather than equal powers, etc.
Unfortunately, some material seemed organized in a haphazard way. For example, elder society was in the chapter on vampiric existence but vampiric authority structures and power wielding techniques were over in the storytelling chapter. Things like this made it difficult to get an overall sense of where things were without reference to the index.
In places, it seemed overly long on theory and short on specifics. After reading the section on theme, concept and mood I was thankful that there wasn't going to be a quiz and wondered if this is really something you can learn from a book- especially with only broad suggestions about using music, props and (what'll they think of next!) descriptions. Specific suggetions for darkening a chronicle that seems too "nice" (and the reverse) might also have been more helpful than all the sidebar reminders to keep it cynical.
Until many other role playing games, "The Worlds of Darkness" are story based. Thus the storyteller is the single most important person in the group and players will often join or leave a group based on the personality of the storyteller and their ability to create an intriquing journey. But it is also very challenging to be a storyteller, especially if you are used to the less story-focused role-playing games where the DM or guide focuses on technical matters over characters or plot. This is a great book because it makes a lot of good suggestions, gives some needed guidelines, and also spends a good deal of time being honest about the storyteller's role, power, authority and the dynamics of players in this system. Does it answer every question? No, but it will help you become a better storyteller and everyone in your group will benefit.
on June 10, 2003
If you like to play vampire and like to play often you will eventually run into the problem of the GM and other veteran players getting into fights, moving, getting bored with the game, or getting married. This leads to the break up of groups and then it is necessary to find another group.... or make your own. Some times its hard enough to find other experienced players, much less match up everyones schedule. I think the next best thing to do is teach new people. This is more true to the game anyways. When first embraced the vampires know nothing about kindred society and the powers that vampires wield. This sets you up for a very realistic game.
You know all the times you were playing in someone elses game and thought "I could have done that so much better" here is your chance. BTW Its harder than you ever imagined, but also rewarding when you do a good job. If you just want hack-and-slash vampire campaigns, though, the players handbook has all the info you need. This book is almost too much information but if you want a very complex and detailed story it is highly recommended.
on March 16, 2000
Welp, this book is like a combination of the dirty secrets of the blackhand and the elysium. I found it really helpful in making elder vampires and dealing with the new changes produced ever since the 3rd edition came out. They had little detail ruling, e.g. does a vampire have fingerprints? Plus some inside information on the changes happening. It describe _a lot_ of the bloodlines and what happened to them, including Baali, True Brujah and Nagaraja. I recommend this book to storytellers, not players.
on February 2, 2003
I have been reading gaming books since I was nine and gaming and gamemastering since I was in Junior High School (I am now a senior in college). In that time, I have read dozens of gamemaster guides for different sci-fi and fantasy worlds. The Vampire guide is the best of all of them, and it is one that everyone running a campaign, Vampire or otherwise, should read. Most gamemaster guides are the same thing as all of the others: they have the same campaign generation and adventure writing advice, the same NPC advice, just with the flavor text appropriate to the game in question added in. The Vampire guide is different. In addition to providing all of the behind-the-shield knowledge relevant to Vampire and its storylines, it also has sections on topics like 'How to deal with Problem Players.' It touches on the interpersonal aspects of gaming in a very blunt manner that all other gaming guides seem too squeamish to handle. Included herein are sereotypical 'problem players' that most of us have seen (or been) at some point and advice on how to deal with each of them. Three clans new to this edition (the Baali, Nagaraja and True Brujah), new advantages (age, military force, arcane) and new disciplines related to the new clans (all with powers detailed up to ten dots) are provided, as well as Vampire history and the like. In the history section, there are tips for gaming in any era from prehistoric to the present. In true White Wolf spirit, there is a good bit of humor in the book. The 'Problem Player' section in particular provided great entertainment.