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Vampire: The Masquerade Hardcover – August 12, 1998
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Ok, on the mechanics. A storyteller, and even players, need to know the White Wolf D10 system pretty well to run any of their Storyteller games properly. This becomes more true with Vampire, because this is one of the few games with huge amounts of social powers to listen in on distant conversations, dominate another person's mind or make them love you, or even drive them mad with a glance. With perhaps the exception of Changling, no other White Wolf game requires so many rolls in non-combat situations. I do consider this a weakness to some extent since it really does slow down game sessions considerably while the two parties roll, and inevitably counter-attack, and so forth. Frankly, it does seem like there is a roll for everything in Vampire, which is not really the case for many of White Wolf's other storyteller system games. This is further complicated by the slight adversarial nature many players seem to have in the game.
On the plus side, this game has an amazing back story. From the fall of man, and more specifically Cain, to modern nights, the history is great. It ties in things from actual history that make this stuff seem almost believable. The only problem I have with this is, to get most of that history you need to shell out some hard cash to get the supplement material. You can easily find yourself lost or just relying on another player on points of Vampire history and society most of the time. Some more development in the base book on this deep history and culture would be appreciated. That said, as long as the ST of your home game is aware of this information, you should be fine.
A comment on the players of this game is needed. A number of reviews have been blasted because they discussed the players being goths or just in general complained about the players. It is a valid point, however. You can't play Vampire by yourself. That is called day-dreaming. Many of the players are devoted fans with deep knowledge of their clans' histories and can tell you all didn't want to know about them. This is not a real problem, but for a new player it can be very daunting. I was fortunate that my first game only had two such people, and one was the ST. If you are the only new player in the game, however, be afraid.
I should also point out, since most of the negative reviews complain about LARPing, this is NOT the Vampire: the Masquerade LARP manual. Go look for Minds Eye Theatre stuff. This is the table top version. If you are more comfortable sitting around a table with your friends with chips and pizza somewhere, this is the version for you.
Please keep in mind the V:tM has suffered bad publicity because of a group of people who played Vampire murdered a family several years ago. The Rod Ferrell Case has been used against Vampire the Masquerade and gaming in general by a few, but remember there is a disclaimer in the very front of every White Wolf book. If you think any of this stuff is real, please put the book down and walk away. Otherwise, there is a fair amount of fun to be had.
This game is part of a larger world created by White Wolf. The meta-plot of the World of Darkness has many other games in it. If Vampire isn't your cup of suspiciously red and thick tea, but you enjoy the world or the system, try looking into the other games. Werewolf: the Apocalypse is great for combat oriented folk in defense of nature. Mage: the Ascension is a deep thinking look at subjective reality. Changling: the Dreaming is a call to return imagination to the world. The list goes on. White Wolf's games are not like D&D or some other RPGs. What game you play gives your character preset goals. There are stereotypes, especially in Vampire, to play with. If you haven't tried one of these games yet, Vampire is a good starting place, but if pseudo-political drama-queen blood-suckers ain't your style, move on down the list until you find something you love.