Is it worth getting back into World of Darkness 2.0? Part 2 (of 2): A Review of the Vampire: Requiem book!

I’ve looked at the World of Darkness 2.0 Core Book already, now I have a look at the first “full” game based on the new World of Darkness, Vampire: Requiem and offer an opinion to the question: Is it worth getting back into World of Darkness 2.0?

Okay, to quickly summarize:

If you like Vampire: the Masquerade, you’ll like Vampire: Requiem (probably in equal measures).

The saying; “the more things change, the more things stay the same” is very apt to the new Vampire. Many aspects of the setting have been changed such as the powers are all substantially reduced but it is still the same game.

Yes there are only five clans, but between Clans, Covenants and Bloodlines you haven’t lost any (in fact you’ve probably gained). The only thing that has truly been removed is the impending doom of Gehenna from Vampire: Masquerade.

As always, the art and layout is exceptional.

I have two complaints. The first is the use of the barely-readable font they used for most of the sub sections. This red font that attempts to look like over-stylized hand-writing. While it looks good, it is going to be a pain when you are flicking through the pages trying to find “that section about that thing”.

The second is that the artwork failed to inspire me. I flicked through Vampire the Masquerade (revised edition) in comparison and preferred its artwork as it made me think of characters I wanted to play. There either wasn’t enough originality ( there was two pictures that were very similar but just done differently by two artists — a woman with a man on a leash or chain or whatever) or it was trying to emphasize the game and setting which is meant to be about “personal horror”.

Still the book is easy to access and mostly easy to read. I did get the impression it was written for those already familiar with Vampire (constant references to things like Torpor, long before they go about explaining it for example) but it should be easy for a FNG (“F*cking New Guy”) to get to grips with it.

I had read a little of the hype from worldofdarkness.com but really didn’t know what to expect. The World of Darkness 2.0 Core Book gave me some impressions alright but still, a vampire game in WOD (World of Darkness) could be done so many ways.

Well, I was blown out of the water straight away when I read the introduction. Compared with World of Darkness 2.0 Core Book it was a breath of fresh air. It states that Vampire the Requiem is about Vampires but World of Darkness Vampires. It even mentions the word “game” (god forbid that a Storyteller role-play is a game too!), how Vampires were modified for the sake of the game. It even states the deviations from classic vampire myths. So first initial impressions are much more positive then World of Darkness 2.0 Core Book.

What’s changed?

Everything and nothing. The fundamentals of the setting have been reworked and updated but not lost. There is nothing truly new either.

There are only five Clans. But then there are Covenants which are political, social and religious groupings. And if that is not enough there is Bloodlines (sub groupings of the Clans). So the Tremere is gone, but you have the Circle of Crone or the Ordo Dracula Covenants. There is no Ravnos, well play a Bloodline of the Gangrel. You get the idea. There is even a nice guide to how to create your own Bloodlines.

The Disciplines have also been reworked. If you want powerful characters, your gonna have to specialize. They also have Devotions, which are combinations of different disciplines to create special effects (you have to buy them with experience point). Along with the guide to create Bloodlines, there is a good deal of advice on creating your own disciplines, which is nice.

The Traditions of the Camarilla are reduced to only three and are now supernaturally enforced. By and by, the Camarilla is mentioned but only that it was a failed attempt to unite the Vampires across the world.

Humanity, Torpor, Vitae, Frenzy, etc. have been reworked and for the better. I like the way Generation has been replaced with Blood Potency which can get too high and so a Vampire must willing go into Torpor.

The Jihad is now called the Danse Macabre (though it also incorporates social and religious aspects) and the Requiem is a reference to the existence as a member of the Undead.

All these changes on the whole are good.

The only really big change is the idea of the “Final Nights” that was prevalent in Vampire up to the End of Time series is missing. It is not even mentioned except as some passing rumor. This is a good thing in my humble opinion.

And, that useless trait, Morality, from World of Darkness 2.0 Core Book actually serves a good purpose here. Mortals addicted to Vampiric Vitae, Ghouls, subjects of the Vinculum (the new word for the Blood Bond), etc. may be forced to do terrible things… This enforces my point that the core book is only what is common between Mortal and Vampire.

The roleplaying section was surprisingly large seeing we already have a lot of similar advice given in the core book. I expected only Vampire the Requiem specific advice but instead several chunks are duplicated or re-worded here. But other then that it is mostly harmless.

I did have two, small-ish, gripes with it though. One paragraph states: “Some players might not want to role-play frenzy, but the Beast is part of being Vampire. Storytellers should encourage players to portray the frenzy in its full, brutal horror. If they cannot, the Storyteller should take control of a character and decided on her actions until the frenzy ends.”

I completely and utterly disagree with sentiment behind this paragraph. No-one should be forced (and I know it doesn’t say forced but peer pressure or “encouraged” is crossing that line in my humble opinion) to role-play something they do not want to, particularly something as terrible as a frenzy, or just something they are not comfortable with or something they don’t find enjoyable. Some might find this advice a little worrying.

My second gripe is a certain misconception. They discourage people from playing Vampires as “Dark Superheroes” but then say, hey you bought the book you can do what you like. Instead they talk about playing the humanity, the “gothic horror”, element of Vampire.

In my experience from Vampire the Masquerade, there are two types of Vampire games. The first is the powerful vampires type of game/story, what they call “Dark Superheroes”. It often has combat, complex politics and conspiracies, etc. The second is when characters play mortals who are vampires, humanity is important and other vampires are just plain scary. Both types of games are possible in Vampire the Requiem yet the first type is considered “bad”. Well why then have clans and so much emphasis on politics within vampire society? Why give us pictures of cool vampires (though on that count there is much less then in Vampire the Masquerade)?

Vampire the Requiem still has its “secrets”. The Sabbat has been reduced to “Belial’s Blood”, a Covenant. They describe it as just some rabble but then suggested unanswered questions that hint at conspiracies. Why? Just say their mad rabble. They also have another Covenant called VII who nobody knows anything about. I can just imagine the army of fans making up vast conspiracies but I don’t see the need for it. I didn’t like the first meta-plot at all and, personally, I am capable of coming up with the weird mysteries to confound my players on my own. The setting is solid enough to give enough scope without having to create these silly mysterious elements.

Also, they talk about Mage and Werewolf in many of the mechanics sections. Yet they never summaries what mages or werewolves are or give possible examples.

They also talk about the Dead as being very different from the Ghosts in the core book. Perhaps a new Wraith is on the cards.

They also give a rather weak cross-over mechanic to resisting other supernatural powers. A disappointment carried on from the core book.

And finally, the whole point of this review: is it worth getting back into WOD?

Erm. Probably. If you liked WOD 1.0, you’ll probably like WOD 2.0. Everything has been reworked (so far) but hasn’t been drastically changed.

Personally I won’t bother buying or using any supplements though I may buy Mage when it comes out. But that is just me.

I originally posted this on moc but I think it’s kinda lost there so I’m posting it here on my own personal site.

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