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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition €18,62 €4,66
Average Rating:4.6 / 5
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Markus W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/06/2014 15:45:47

(This review can also be found on my blog with a lengthier introduction.)

I am going to do a chapter by chapter review of the content and will give an overall summary at the end. So fasten your seat-belts this is going to be a long ride.

Table of Content & Introduction

Compared to the sparse table of content I am used to from vampire rpg books, this one rather talkative and three pages long. It contains chapter headers down to the third level which is really very detailed. But apparently this also serves as the substitute for an index that is not contained in the PDF currently. The headers are hyperlinked, making navigation from the TOC easy.

The introductory chapter is concise and to the point. It gives a run down of various myths about vampires and how they relate to the vampires in this game, gives a kick-ass intro what means to be Kindred (the word vampires use to designate themselves), explains the chapter breakdown of the book and gives you the shortest ever (at least in a storytelling game corebook) run down of the duties of the gamesmaster and the players. The chapter is rounded out by some inspirational sources from books to movies and White Wolf books.

My Impression: I would have prefered an index to a lengthier table of contents. The short chapter "An Introduction to Storytelling Games" is very deceptive. Because, as you'll see later, this is the only chapter directly adressing what a storyteller and the players actually do to play the game. Seems to be a bit inspired by the principles from Apocalypse World/Dungeon World, but here I could be wrong. By putting this into the introduction, the designers make it easy to miss this vital stuff.

Chapter 1: Who We Are Tonight

Continuing with the concise writing, this chapter introduces us to the clans and covenants of Requiem. There are five clans: Daeva (seductive vampires), Gangrel (feral vampires), Mekhet (secretive vampires), Nosferatu (hideous vampires) and Ventrue (lordly vampires). Each vampire belongs to one of the five clans depending on the blood of his or her maker. Each clan entry describes the members of the clan, tells the reader why he wants to play them, why others fear them and what they should fear about themselves. Then each clan is given a section of various possible clan origins, advice on building a character from that clan and how members of that clan relate to the covenant. The clan spreads run three pages each, which is a nice change from the two-page spread used to very often in the storytelling games.

The five covenants get a similar three-page spread that tells the reader about the covenants, the secret societes the vampires belong to. The five covenants are: Circle of Crone (pagan vampires), Carthian Movement (revolutionary vampires), Invictus (noble vampires), Lancea et Sanctum (Roman-catholic vampires turned-up to 11) and the Ordo Dracul (vampiric researchers). Each covenants gets a short first-person intro, tells the reader why to join a particular covenant, their place in the big picture of vampire society, some character concepts, how the covenant behaves when it is in power and how if it is not.

Additionally, the chapter shortly describes lost clans and broken covenants, thus hinting at an evolution of the vampiric species. Also, the mysterious covenant VII is described, a covenant that seems to target other vampires for execution and might be allied with or a tool of the Strix.

My Impression: Very neat. Since Vampire: The Requiem the interpretation of the clans and covenants has shifted a bit, especially with the clanbook series. The new descriptions are based in that material. The text paints a vivid picture of the different clans and covenants, and actually makes you want to play them all. The writing really shines. The chapter contains no rules systems. For old Requiem fans, the chapter finally gives the correct Latin name Lancea et Sanctum to that covenant. This easily the best chapter of the book.

Chapter 2: The All Night Society

This chapter explains the wants and needs of being a vampire, why cities are important for them and what a vampire can do in a city. Also, the structure of vampiric society is explained and how they rank themselves within that society. Some in-game documents serve to further illustrate the points made in this chapter. A short glossary of in-game terms rounds out the chapter and hints at some things not explained in the first chapters.

My Impression: Again excellent writing, no rules. The chapter isn't as brief as my summary makes it appear. It is very informative and can be a source of inspiration for the players.

Chapter 3: Laws of the Dead

This is a big chapter and contains a lot of rules. Basically, it explains how vampires operate in the terms of the rules. If you've read Vampire: The Requiem, then you'll find lots of small and large differences in the rules here.

The chapter starts out with character creation. Basically a system where you distribute a set number of points in different categories like attributes, skills, merits and disciplines. Then you calculate some derived values, and you are ready to go. Your first character will probably take a bit longer to construct, but with growing familiarity the time will shrink to about half an hour, if you have a clear concept of who you want to be.

The rest of the chapter then goes on to explain what the vampire-related traits mean and how to use them in game play. The things a vampire can do are broken down into rules terms and the curses (fire & sunlight) and their effect is explained. You learn how a vampire slowly loses his humanity and how to prevent that from happening.

Then merits are explained and their game effects given. A merit is something extra that character has, like a stunt in Fate or a feat in OGL games. Some merits can be taken by anyone, some only by vampires belonging to certain clans and covenants. Invictus oaths of fealty and Carthian Law, a sort of "will of the people" are codified as merits for members of those covenants.

Then the special powers called disciplines that each clan of vampires possesses are described. There are ten disciplines: Animalism (influencing beasts and sometimes men), Auspex (extra-sensory perception), Celerity (supernatural speed), Dominate (commanding men with your voice), Majesty (seductive powers), Nightmare (creating terror), Obfuscate (incredible stealth), Protean (shape-shifting), Resilience (supernatural toughness) and Vigor (supernatural strength). Each discipline contains five powers that have to be learned in the correct order from one to five.

After the disciplines, devotions are described. Devotions require knowledge about certain discipline levels before they can be studied and used.

The chapter is rounded out by the description blood sorcery, strange powers wielded by the Circle of the Crone and the Lancea et Sanctum. Where Crúac of the Circle of the Crone concerns itself with bloody sacrifice and bestial powers, the Theban Sorcery of the Lancea et Sanctum takes the form of dark miracles inspired by the Old Testament. Finally, the Ordo Dracul gains so called Coils & Scales that allow its members to transcend parts of the vampiric curse.

My Impression: This chapter is the most important for actual game play and I feel it's a mixed bag, especially when compared with the original corebook. The vampire-only merits is an area where the book shines. Some we have seen before in other books like the Invictus and Carthian Movement covenant books. They have been updated to the current rules and in some cases lost their covenant-specific tie. All in all, it really upgrades Requiem. Including Invictus oaths and Carthian Law (originally from the respective covenant books) in the corebook significantly serves to make those two covenants equal to the other three. All in all, the merit section is a good one, because it gives some long existing merits like Mentor, Allies and Retainers defined rules benefits that they were often lacking. That's a good thing.

Also, the disciplines are changed from the original corebook. Back then they often were a direct translation of the old Masquerade disciplines of the same name to Requiem. Now, they still carry the same names, but their powers have been upgraded and changed. Some rarely used levels of the disciplines were turned into devotions and replaced with more immediately useful stuff. Though I feel that Nightmare has become a weaker discipline with less mechanical bite than the previous version. Most of the other disciplines now have more mechanical weight. Protean has changed nicely and will allow me to finally accurately portray my favorite Gangrel character.

The selection of devotions is also larger than in the original book. Also a good thing. Some might be of questionable usefulness, but you don't have to buy them, if you don't want to.

On to Blood Sorcery: The casting mechanism has improved. Each roll now takes 30 minutes instead of a combat turn. Using sorcery on a target at range induced or enhances a connection between the caster and the victim. Good changes.

The rituals given for blood sorcery are the same ones from the original book, but they were build with the blood sorcery system introduced in supplement Blood Sorcery. Thus, the levels of the rituals have changed and leave Crúac without a level 5 ritual in the corebook. Bad changes.

Up until now, the Requiem line has followed the principle that each book is stand-alone and doesn't require any other books to use a particular supplement. So, except for the corebook, the Storyteller can pick and choose which supplements to add to his or her game. Now, Blood & Smoke replaces the original corebook, but seems to require Blood Sorcery to make full use of blood sorcery. But that supplement already failed to adress the rituals from the old Lancea Sanctum and Circle of the Crone covenant books. All in all not played nicely by the designers.

I am also not sure about the new Coils of the Dragon. The system was changed substantially and I am not sure that this will pay off. It basically invalidates the stuff in the Ordo Dracul covenant book (not only the additional coils published but also the cypher names). Some of the original powers are gone completely, others are extended over five instead of three levels. Not sure, if this is really an improvement or was simply done for the sake of changing it. I didn't follow the playtest on them too closely.

Chapter 4: Rules of the Night

Blood & Smoke: The Strix Chronicles is an updated version of Vampire: The Requiem. There is also an update version of the basic World of Darkness rulebook called God Machine Chronicles. The God Machine Chronicles aren't stand-alone. You still need the original book, because some basic stuff isn't explained in it. Late into the design process it was decided that Blood & Smoke should stand on its own. Otherwise, it'd have ended up requiring three books to play: Blood & Smoke, World of Darkness and God Machine Chronicles. Chapter 4 is the reason why Blood & Smoke can stand on its own. It contains a condensed version of all the necessary rules from the other two books.

The chapter explains each attribute, each skill, how to roll dice, how to resolve social and physical conflicts, and how conditions work. Combat has had some minor changes how defense is calculated and damage is applied. Social maneuvering is a completely new mechanic first introduced in GMC and works by slowly opening "doors" over time to reflect how to bring around a person to your point of view or having him do favors for you. Conditions are a way to express lasting consequences of an action that go beyond damage. Also, equipment and services are expressed in game terms.

My Impression: Whew. This is a tough one. None of the changes would have really been necessary. The social maneuvering mechanic takes a lot of in-game time play out and probably requires some book-keeping. For my own group this mechanic will probably even fail, since we mostly play 2-3 nights per game session and then fast forward about a month. Also, I think that the toolbox Danse Macabre offered a way to resolve social conflicts much more suited to the Kindred condition.

Chapter 5: Parliament of Owls

This chapter explains the primary antagonists for the Strix Chronicles: the birds of Dis. The shadowy owls that serve to make Kindred even more paranoid. They get an introduction, very cool rules and almost 20 ready-to-run Strix to insert into your chronicle. I won't go into much depth here, because I don't want to spoil anything. Let's just say: the owls are a mysterious force from beyond this world and increase in power analogous to vampires... oh, and they possess bodies. They especially like dead bodies preserved unto eternity - like a vampire's.

My impression: A good update of the Strix. Now you can choose between the ones in Requiem for Rome, Night Horrors: The Wicked Dead and Blood & Smoke. I think Blood & Smoke offers the best implementation of the Strix. Including pregenerated Strix with their agendas is also a good move. All in all a solid chapter.

Chapter 6: The World We Die In

The chapter presents eight mini-settings around the world. Short write-ups of cities that serve as vampire domains. The settings are Athens, Berlin, Swansea, Montreal, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, San Francisco, Beijing and Tokyo. All are given around three to five pages and tell the reader what the vampire society in those cities look like. Not all follow the traditional model of five clans and five covenants. Some have an additional clan or a different covenant structure. Some have princes, some don't.

My impression: It is very much a show don't tell chapter that can serve as inspiration for building your own cities. This is a chapter I feel earlier corebooks for vampire rpgs should have included. The cities are very interesting. I am going to call out eerie Montreal, the working-class Swansea and the religious fervor of San Francisco. But all the mini settings are good.

Chapter 7: Storytelling

This is a completely new way to do a Storytelling chapter. This chapter doesn't tell you how to tell stories. That's what the short paragraph in the introductory chapter does. It tells you instead how to take the various aspects of the game and use them to shape the gaming experience. Not the story, but the experience of the game. Also, it offers alternate systems and twists much like Danse Macabre did. The real gem of the chapter is tucked away at the end. It is called "Climbing the Ladder" and at first glance seems to be a system for gaining pre-game experiences for a character. But in reality it is about collaborative city building. Take any of the mini-settings from chapter 6 as a basis and go through the steps of climbing the ladder. You'll end up with interconnected player characters and non-player character, both mortal and vampire.

My Impression: A strangely different storytelling chapter, but it really enhances the game. And honestly, for those of us who've read other storytelling chapters: they always re-hashed the same stuff. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, but essentially nothing new. Chapter 7 is different. In a good way. It is also one of the chapters I consider to be excellent. And again the designers to manage to hide the awesome instead of calling it out. Somebody on that design team is too modest.

The Appendices

We finally made it. Only two appendices left. One is about mortal characters and more specifically ghouls, the other lists more than 40 conditions. The ghoul chapter gives in-game accounts of ghouls, the blood-addicted servants of the Kindred. The get their own merits and are examined in good detail.

My Impression: The appendix on ghouls is great and does a lot to shine the spotlight on an important part of the Kindred existence: their daywalking servants, and hands you the tools of turning them into fully fleshed-out characters instead of just dots on the character sheet.

My biggest beef with the rules update are the conditions. Conditions suffer from their implementation. The intent to express lasting consequences of the story is a good idea, but the execution is terrible. The book lists over 40 conditions! Some cannot be easily resolved and stay with the character, some go away on their own, others need a specific action to resolve them. Some give beats (part of the new experience system: five beats equal one experience), some don't. Some give a +2 or -2 modifier to your dice pool, some cause an exceptional success to happen with three instead of five successes on your roll. Some of the mental disciplines like Majesty and Dominate grant conditions, while Nightmare doesn't. There is no rhyme nor reason to them. In short, it's a big poorly thought-out mess. Currently, you are left with over 40 different conditions that you constantly need to look up or have a reference handy for. In GMC there are over 20 conditions. Blood & Smoke added another 20. If the trend continues, we will be left with close to 200 conditions when all the new chronicle books are finished, unless someone goes back and tightens the design on the conditions. It feels as if the designers have tried to tack on mechanisms from narrative games either without fully understanding what they are doing or how to do a consistent game design. Conditions are good idea that could have used lot more unification in the mechanism.

Overall Impression

You're still with me? This review has gotten a lot longer than I thought. The book really shines brilliantly in some places (Who We Are Tonight, The All Night Society, The World We Die In and Storytelling). It is of above average quality in others (Parliament of Owls, The Living Appendix), is sometimes solidly written (Laws of the Dead, Rules of the Night) and utterly sucks in one place (Conditions).

Also, for a vampire corebook I am missing Tim Bradstreet. They brought him on V20 and Vampire: The Requiem, but not here. Huge disappointment. Also, the original illustrations for the clan splats in Vampire: The Requiem by Brom looked way cooler than the colored ones you are getting with Blood & Smoke. All in all, the artwork is solid but not spectacular.

Another important issue with a book called Blood & Smoke: The Strix Chronicles. The book gives you Strix, settings, a way to populate the settings, but it doesn't give you a chronicle. You have to do that yourself. "Play to find out", to quote Dungeon World. Maybe some chronicle ideas like in Danse Macabre would have been a nice addition.

My final verdict is three out of five blood bags. Usually I'd give the book four blood bags, but I am deducting one for Conditions. Major goof-up in my opinion.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Søren P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/04/2014 07:10:45

I've been playing both the old Masquarade game and when the Requiem game came out I was thrilled to see what they had done with the rules, the world and clans. However, we always had a hard time getting to play it. We think it was because we had a hard time getting a grasp off how to run this highly political game.

--- Setting --- With this book, I feel I have a better idea of wat each clan and covenant wants, how they do things and how the world generally react to the a dead corpse walking in through the door. The whole setting seems more "alive" in Blood & Smoke.

--- Artwork --- The artwork is generally quite nice. However, I am not a big fan of having colored pictures. I felt that the black & white artwork really supplemented the red borders of the book.

--- Mechanics --- However, that said about the descriptions, its mostly the descriptions I'll be using from the book in future Requiem games. Many of the rules, I feel, is unnecessary. Like the concept of having a Touchstone, something in the world of men that the vampire feels a strong connection to (and old stadium he spend his living days in, his best friend, ect..). This is some of the things that should be implemented with good roleplaying and a detailed background. Not a mechanic.

The Disciplines in the book also seem like they for some reason have gotten a nudge up in power. First dot Disciplines are no longer simple tricks you can do which aids you in small ways, and some of the higher up powers are indeed powerful. One of the reason I like the nWoD, is that the whole power level (both for vampires, werewolves, ect...) had been taken down to a level where a mortal actually might be a threat to a new vampire or werewolf.

BUT, there are some of things in the rules I like, and will be using. Or actually, some of them I was already using.

So overall, I am not to happy about the book, since I only will be using 2/5 the content in the book, being disappointed about the direction they had taken with some of the mechanics.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Josh M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/03/2014 01:23:15

Content

The first two chapters of Blood and Smoke cover all the setting material through a narrative lens. Each of clans and covenants are covered in great detail. While all the clans from Vampire: The Requiem are covered, they have all been tweaked just a little to emphasize different themes. The covenants have been given a similar treatment. The rest of the setting material covers Kindred (i.e. vampire) history, customs, and an overview of night to night existence.

The first part of chapter three covers character creation. The char gen system is basically the same as the the previous version of the game, with specific changes for the rules from the God Machine Chronicle. Virtue and Vice are gone, replaced by Mask and Dirge. These are similar to Nature and Demeanor from Vampire: The Masquerade; the Mask is the facade that a vampire presents to the world while the Dirge is the vampire’s true self. Integrity is replaced by Humanity, and Humanity is supported by Touchstones. The Touchstones themselves connect a vampire to his or her Humanity and provide a mechanical bonus in maintaining Humanity.

Chapter three continues with rules surrounding a vampire’s advantages and weaknesses, then finishes up with Merits and Disciplines. The advantages and weaknesses are very similar to the previous edition, through there are couple important tweaks regarding vampiric senses and a the Beast. Merits and Disciplines have been overhauled completely. There are now pages and pages of vampire specific Merits covering everything from social merits to vampiric combat forms. The Disciplines resemble those found in the previous edition, but each Discipline is much more versatile. Most Disciplines have at least once power that utilized for more than one effect. All and all I was quite impressed with the changes, particularly to Merits and Disciplines.

Chapter four covers the general rules update from The God Machine Chronicle. I am not going to review them here (though I may review The God Machine Chronicle in the future).

The fifth chapter covers a new antagonist: the Strix. The short version is that they are another type of vampire. The long version is that they are body snatchers who feed on both the living and the undead…and they might even be the creators of the Kindred. In any case, these guys are the real monsters in Blood and Smoke. The book provides ample rules for creating your own Strix but, more importantly, also provides a parliament worth of examples. Each is well written and is scary in it’s own, unique way.

Chapter six attempts to take a turn for the meta by providing outlines of several Kindred domains. In my opinion this is the weakest portion of the book. Each write up is interesting enough, but there really isn’t enough there to be really useful. Instead what is presented is a bunch of jumping off points for fleshing out a setting on your own. This section of the book feels more like 30 pages of filler to me than usable content.

The next chapter is a storytelling toolkit. It is full of ideas on how to to use narrative traits like the Mask, Dirge, and Touchstones to enhance your game. The chapter provides both ‘base’ rules as well as Twists (a la World of Darkness: Mirrors) on those rules. What I found most interesting was a section titled Climbing The Ladder that awards starting Experience Points for linking characters to each other and the setting. The process strikes me as amalgamation of city building from the Dresden Files RPG and relationships from the Smallville Roleplaying Game. That is a good thing in my opinion.

The book finishes up with two appendices. The first covers kindred relationships with mortals as well as rules for creating and playing ghouls. The second appendix is a list of Conditions (remember, this part of the God Machine Chronicle rule set) including several kindred specific conditions.

Now for my largest criticism of Blood and Smoke. There has always been some sexuality in World of Darkness supplements, but it has never been quite so overt outside of books published under the Black Dog Game Factory label. Blood and Smoke uses graphic sexuality as sledgehammer throughout the book, in the form of both writing and artwork. This is a departure from previous iterations of Vampire (both Masquerade and Requiem), and the lack of subtlety strikes me as out of place.

Production

If you are at all familiar with White Wolf and Onyx Path then you already know editing has never been a strong suit for their World of Darkness titles. Blood and Smoke does not rise above expectations in this regard. Typos start in the first section of the book, and continue throughout. Given the narrative style of the writing these typos can be quite jarring.

The artwork is generally high quality, but some of it seems unfinished. This may be due to the style of the artwork rather than anything actually being unfinished. Additionally the headers for some portions of the book, particularly in the Covenant section, do not scale well. The fonts break when zooming on my laptop (17″ monitor) and on my Nexus 7, losing all anti-aliasing.

Overall there is nothing in the production value of the book that really blows me away.

Organization

Blood and Smoke is organized a similar manner to previous New World of Darkness splatbooks, so readers familiar with the series should find navigating the book second nature. The PDF version of the book is well bookmarked and features a fully hyperlinked table of contents. The table of contents is so exhaustive that you won’t even notice the lack of an index when the hard copy version of the book becomes available.

The Verdict

Blood and Smoke takes a giant step forward in moving the best known World of Darkness game into the new world of story games, without dropping the crunchy bits that traditional gamers love. The book does not have the greatest production value, but is very well organized. Ultimately I recommend the book to other World of Darkness, horror, and vampire enthusiasts. This recommendation comes with the condition that this latest iteration of Vampire is VERY mature compared to previous versions. I would only recommend it for adult gamers.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Joseph M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/02/2014 09:54:30

Light, fast, punchy, and useful. It's Vampire 2.0 of the nWOD crowd and it shows. They cut away a lot of the fluff narration of the previous books to focus on a wider 'what is a vampire', here are the rules updates, and enjoy a wider selection of worldy venues. All good things. The Stryix are...interesting as foes and work as a great new problem for your PC blood suckers.

The book is stand alone. I miss that of the old WOD books so it's a nice touch. The big catch? A lot of the fluff that really fleshes out the clans is in the clanbooks which thankfull are still mostly viable buys. Consider picking up those down the line to really make this product sing.

I'd say this was an excellent revamp of the nWOD line. Now I can only hope these updates make their way to Mummy the last of the pre-Chronicle update books.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Stuart H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/27/2013 07:12:26

Blood and Smoke features lots of little improvements over the old Requiem book – the Clan and Covenants sections are written from their own perspective and try to encourage you to choose them. The wealth of merits let you customise your character to an incredible degree. The Coils of the Dragon were always overly expensive and with one or two amazing and lots of fairly minor powers scattered through them. They’ve been overhauled entirely and given Devotion-like Scales (and the XP costs, as with all of the post-God-Machine stuff, are linear). These include the power to remove hearts, to become immune to staking, and regrow one’s destroyed body from said heart, the ability to make blood bonds leap to the third stage from one drink… Sadly, it does leave the relatively unchanged Cruac and Theban flagging a bit, but boost them with older and newer books and they can compete (whereas the Mysteries of the Dragon don’t play so well with older Coil material). The Disciplines have been generally buffed and made much more powerful, too

Humanity has been fully overhauled. Long-gone are the days of madness as you fall in humanity – instead, your Clan Curse becomes more of a problem. In B&S, the Nosferatu become more physical monstrous as humanity falls, for example. And humanity is not just a hierarchy of sins – it models how distant you are humanity. Aging to a hundred is a breaking point, for example, and isolating oneself from humans will lead to Humanity loss…. But the new Touchstones mechanic gives you bonus dice for the places, people and things that remind you of your human life – you visit your grave regularly. You stalk your mortal niece and maybe watch out for her. It’s a great touch that also helps breed drama when something threatens a Touchstone… And you can lose them when your Humanity falls too low and your vampire stops bothering to care.

Then there are Banes. Let’s say you keep having to roll for harming mortals because you’re a messy feeder and you hate potentially losing Humanity every session as a result. So you take a Bane and never worry about that particular sin instead. Now, though, you have to hide your glowing red eyes. Or you hate garlic, or feel a compulsion to count things, or animals instinctively shun you... It’s a mechanic that lets you customise your vampire as well as removing a sin (and providing a weakness…). To avoid abuse you have a maximum of three Banes.

A huge, huge change is that vampires no longer burn up in the sun right away. Now your Humanity determines how much damage you take, your Blood Potency how often. So elders and low-Humanity vampires still need to avoid a tan, but neonates suddenly have a role in Kindred society as daylight-faces. And it gives them one slight edge over the elders, should it come to it...

Also, the bodies of vampire victims sometimes rise as ‘revenants’, lesser vampires that are weak, vicious and without Clan but can be uplifted to full Kindred. They risk the masquerade and can be used to track and punish their sire…

Vice and Virtue have become Masks and Dirges – your masquerade and ‘true nature’, basically. I gain Willpower by acting in accordance with either. For example, I have a Competitive Dirge, so I gain Willpower for accepting challenges. My Mask, however, is something like Guardian so I get my Willpower for protecting people.

A general tweak I like is how the rulebook offers lots of variant rules for simplified or generally varied play. The New World of Darkness was always very much about letting you customise things into the game you wanted and this has been taken further. That leads me very neatly into…

The Strix. When B&S was announced, a lot of people were very vocal about fears that the Strix would become the ‘new metaplot’ and take over the game. People also argued they were somewhat dull, going by their previous appearances in Requiem for Rome and The Wicked Dead. Though they get a chapter to themselves and mentions are scattered throughout, you can remove them from the setting entirely with no difficulty whatsoever. Though it’s a shame to do that, as they’re a varied and horrific bunch. What I like about them is how, being an individual bunch, they can cater to different playstyles…

So there are, according to the devs, four main playstyles in B&S. The default game contains aspects of them all but you can easily tweak the dials to increase one or decrease another.

1) Action. Kicking asses and taking names. Staking your enemies to burn in the sun. With new Fighting styles, Merits and much-improved Physical Disciplines, your action-heavy games can be much improved. 2) Tragedy. With the overhaul of Humanity, Touchstones and the Mask/Dirge dichotomy the tragedy elements of being a vampire are very, very easy to play up. 3) Investigation. The book is just full of amazing little hooks. Lost Clans. Dead Covenants (including one of child-vampires who made deals with the Strix and were exterminated). Oddities like the Pijavica, Slavic liquid vampires. The Jiang Shi ‘clan’ of North Carolina. Want a game about learning the secret origins of vampires? The antediluvian terrors of their pasts that might threaten their future? Oh, there’s material for you here. And lots of overlap with horror, too. 4) Politics. Of course. The default Masquerade/Requiem game is all about corrupt, power-grabbing immortals in unending pissing contests and Blood and Smoke hasn’t undone this at all.

Now let’s talk about how the Strix fit into these categories.

1) Needless to say, the Strix are dangerous and badass. Immune to most forms of damage, though their Banes give them exploitable weakness, and able to body-hop into vampire hosts. One Strix can fight you for months, wearing body after body, wearing you down (perhaps so they can wear your body like a coat). Some Strix really are just in it for wrecking things and having fun, too. 2) The Strix can take the body of your ghoul. Your mortal relative. The corpse of your friend. The body of your ally or superior. And they might well taunt you, or pretend to be them.. or they take your body by day and destroy your life, systemically, brick by brick... The can diablerise in your body and let you deal with the consequences, too. 3) Some Strix claim they created vampires. Or they gave them the Beast. Or they’re the origin of a given clan. And what’s this about Rome and the dead Juli clan? Or all this buzz about a war in Transylvania? Strix can learn Cruac… did they teach it to the Acolytes? And they might be connected to VII? There are so many hook you can take for this and there are Strix tailor-made for these roles. And you can make deals with the Strix for information. Just remember they’re not True Fae and bound to keep their deals… 4) Strix adore dismantling and destroying vampire society. Slowly, quickly, subtly, overtly… It’s something a lot of them devote their time to. They’re a catalyst for change, for paranoia and violence. But some of them actually get caught up in it, caught up in their cover personas as they nestle inside vampire hosts.

The book also has some sample locations. Now, the real joy of them isn’t just picking them to set up your game. They’re examples. They’re unusual. They don’t fit into the classic mould of a powerful Prince’s court- Tokyo has three corporate power blocs and a new human one that the vampires can’t afford to ignore. Montreal is ruled by a terrifying monster that represses vampires, refusing to let them meet in large groups and generally leaving them to struggle in the fringes. Berlin's vampires are being killed off at an alarming rate and they don't know what's behind it. Swansea exists in a state of siege between werewolves and... something... and is a place where Clan is far more important than covenant. North Carolina has a whole extra clan. The Mission, a Lancea domain, harbours a deep heresy at its core. Bejing is ruled, quietly, by the Mekhet clan. And Athens is a democracy of sorts complete with actual political parties. All of them have complex political situations, mysteries to explore… And are far from Maxwell's Chicago or Vidal's New Orleans. Literally, in many cases - we're finally seeing cities outside of North America.

The book contains complete rules of post-GMC nWoD, which is nice to have all in one book. It’s entirely standalone. That’s pretty useful even if you have the books, since it’s easier to carry one around than two.

Let’s talk negatives. The book has no Belial’s Brood or Bloodlines. Both were cut for time. Blood Sorcery hasn’t been boosted while Disciplines and Coils have. Some of the GM Merits weren’t included, along with vehicle rules, for space. Some of the changes, like no sunlight damage or revenants, might not be appreciate by everyone. The fix to that is to tweak the rules, which the books encourages. Belial’s Brood will likely be appearing in the future, likewise Bloodlines, but both are easy enough to hack into the new system. The Blood Sorcery book makes it very powerful indeed, and the old covenant books have lots of extra rituals too. I’d advise all fans of Requiem buy it, even if you don’t like the sound of it, because there are some very compelling changes here. Even if you don’t like the whole package there’s bound to be something you like.

Oh, and a final huge positive? A contents and index that's in a sensible place and is damn useful.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Thomas L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/20/2013 14:46:05

This is not a perfect book, but it very nicely brings VtR into line with the God-Machine Chronicles. While one of the previous reviewers complains about the inclusion of sex in the rules, but I feel he greatly overstates how often this occurs. On the whole, this is a solid rewrite that improves on many of the weaknesses of the original VtR while adding points of interest, more places for campaigns and more chronicle ideas.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Joseph A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/20/2013 13:39:13

This book has entirely rekindled my love for requiem. The original book was almost apologetic about not being Masquerade. This book makes no apologies and it knows what it is. I love the subtle shifts in focus that have really made the various clans and covenants feel like their own thing. It's a more mature game for grown up roleplayers, though. If that's not your speed, there are plenty of games out there that will gladly hamstring the mechanics to stop your kid brother from spoiling everyone's fun without forcing you to talk to him like a real person. Fortunately, this game is not that. it's all fun and options. the world of darkness has never been this visceral and alive.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Chris s. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/20/2013 12:08:27

So many reasons to love this book!

1) It doesn't 'reboot' the series. But it does UPDATE it... like D&D 3 to 3.5. Not a perfect comparison, but similar.

2) It touches upon almost all the previous Requiem releases in its rules. The Covenant and Clanbooks, the fun little splats like Blood & Sorcery and all the rest.

3) Instead of flooding us with a billion disciplines, the core disciplines got some great updates and changes. Even sweeter, though, is the inclusion of tons of merits that allow for customization without powergaming.

4) The update to the theme and the mood. No longer are Vampires the apex predator. There are things that go bump in the night that everyone from elders to neonates are scared of... and with good reason.

5) All-in-one: So, you can buy just this book and start a campaign. Yes the mortal book, the GM update and some other source books add depth and clarity but are not essential.

6) The Strix.

7) So many story teases- wonderful gems like 'The Children's Crusades' and 'The Akhud' and all the city examples. It feels as if there needs to be about 50 more books to explore all of the teasers.

8) While this is VERY untested... Vampires look like they might be able to give Demons a run for their money now:)

9) Overall, the depth of this book and the breadth is just stunning.

So, why not a perfect score? Much of this is subjective, but:

1) Bloodmagic: Historically, bloodmagic seems to be on a pendulum... either crazy powerful or weak and watered down. Without playtesting it, Theban and Cruac seem pretty weak this time around... especially compared to the power levels of regular discipline and the other Covenant-specific updates. I just don't feel like they have hit the sweetspot in regards to power level. This might be a too subjective, as I have always been partial to the Lancea et Sanctum.

2) This new release is a little under-edited. This is coming from a guy with about a thousand grammar issues in this reviewalone, so take that with a grain of salt. With that said, already they have made fixes and will continue to do so. I prefer that they released it sooner than later, so the trade off is fine with me!

3) I have always been a little slow. Some of these rule updates like Touchstones, Masquerade and Requiem, Humanity and Banes as condition seem slightly over complicated. With that said, I can see the benefit of all of the mention rules as they do seem to add depth and customization.

There are also a few things I am torn on... not sure if I like, but I can see the benefit of the changes:

1) Neonates can almost become Daywalkers. Their humanity and weakness keep them close to their humanity, and hence can avoid some of the harsher banes a slight bit. Makes sense, but I always have a kneejerk reaction to Vampires surviving a walk through the park.

2) This is purely subjective, but I would have loved some 'meta' content. This is NOT something that the NWOD or even the GM updates are moving towards, so I understand I an am probably a rare breed wanting it. I would have love to seen something 'in 2013 the Strix rose, slew all the Ventru and are now the Fifth Clan...' (You know, like Ravnos rising back in the old days)

I could write a dozen more paragraphs going over the book in detail... but, in short:

Would I buy it again?

HELL yeah. What a fun, exciting and sexy update. Thank Onyx Path! Now hurry up and release some more Requiem books like this one!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Kevin O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/20/2013 11:48:33

I can't imagine someone who likes Vampire: the Requiem not liking this. In many ways, it's a more faithful realization of the original premise, which is still more or less the same. The rules do a good job of matching the fiction and facilitating the kinds of play that are suggested in the text. There are even several optional variants for people who like to customize their experience, and the basic dice-system modifiers and Conditions are modular enough that an experienced Storyteller can use the ones here as a starting point for coming up with anything they need on the fly. In fact, stylistic preferences aside, I'd say the rules are just objectively better than before, more coherent, and more evocative of the right kind of creepiness.

The main difference between Blood & Smoke and the original core Requiem book is that B&S presents a much more vivid setting and makes it clear that vampires have a lot of things to do with their time, as do their enemies. There's a real sense of urgency to it all, and emotive imagery practically bleeds off the page. Also, new things like Touchstones and the social maneuvering system make it clear that this is a game about relationships. They may be dysfunctional or disturbing or even genuine, but characters' relationships define them and drive play at all levels. Players are encouraged to involve their characters in webs of connections that tie them to the setting, and to collaboratively create aspects of that setting with the Storyteller. Refreshingly, this is not a game of lone wolves with no ties to anyone or anything.

The Strix are presented as antagonists in their own chapter, and much of the setting information makes reference to them, but they're just one of many plot hooks available. Despite the title, this book is a toolbox that provides the framework for a chronicle (whether it involves the Strix or not), rather than an actual series of scenes or scenarios to run characters through. There's a metric ton of hooks and inspirational bits in here, though, so it's hard to imagine anyone would come away without an idea of what to do with it.

It's also a very good value. It's stand-alone, so you can just get this one book and start playing. Also, the use of page count is very efficient—it's hard to believe how much useful material they got to fit in just 300 pages. Lastly, the book is pretty, if you like this sort of thing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Christopher M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/19/2013 22:28:34

You can sum this up with this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywQsrHyI_DM&feature=youtu.be). Requiem was a bit grim, sure but this reads like something from Aberrant. The themes are all over the place, the rules have little or no balance, and every page has to talk about sex in some way. Don't get me wrong, sex is great but vampire has never needed it explicitly written out on every page. The themes of the game have been badly muddled, I'm not even sure what this game is about. I think it is a dark heroes game where the demon Strix are the villains but I cannot tell. Seriously this is the worst book I've seen in a long time from any game company. I thought it might have been a joke at first! They say they tested this? It took us about 10 minutes to create a 42 dice pool frenzy'ing juggernaut that could tear down whole blocks! They encourage frenzying for some reason!

I do not know what the goal here was. To lighten up Requiem? It is called Requiem guys. It is supposed to be a little bleak. You've re-invented it as some sort of sex-soaked (they bring up lubrication in the mechanics) super-hero video game trying to fight itself. If old MET Masquerade had a child with Blade, Twilight and Aberrant it might be this game. Which is some ways might be fun as a lark, but it is terrible as the most popular game in a genre. A horror genre especially.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by william p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/18/2013 20:13:56

I will admit, Vampire the Requiem had a tone issue in its first edition. Everything had a shade of bleak to it, and some of my players were turned off by the pretentious tone of the core book and many of its early supplements. However, Blood & Smoke has been received with great approval all around so far. The tone draws in that one player in my group who normally loathed reading the setting sections of these books due to the passion and style to be found.

The mechanics and small touches are a universal improvement to the original set, and more accurately reflect Requiem as a game in its own right rather than a poor successor to Masquerade. It has its own identity now, and it revels in it in a way I see in few other RPGs.

Buy this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2013 07:19:03

Blood & Smoke marks the beginning of a new cycle of World of Darkness supplements from the people of Onyx Path, one that updates their earlier work to the rules as first introduced in The God-Machine Chronicle.

Though labelled as a sourcebook, Blood & Smoke is a stand-alone product that allows Storytellers to run campaigns of Vampire: the Requiem without the need to buy the World of Darkness Corebook or Vampire: the Requiem. This is a good thing, as the last thing I wan tto be doing is to be referencing multiple books when I’m running a game.

I have to admit that I found my initial impressions of Vampire: the Requiem to be a little less than stellar in my first round of Let’s Study articles on the game. The groups felt artificial, and while the Clans were neat, I felt that the game lacked a certain edge, a passion that was present in the classic World of Darkness’ Vampire: the Masquerade.

Because of this, I’m happy to report that Blood & Smoke was an absolute surprise to me. Written in a much more interesting and engaging voice, Blood & Smoke reimagines Vampire: the Requiem and drags the reader along to witness the glory and depravity of the Kindred.

Right from the start, Blood & Smoke wastes no time reintroducing us to the Vampire Clans. The new writeups are much more visceral, and take a stronger show, don’t tell angle that does a great job in relaying the feel of the various Clans. Rather than get caught up in jargon and terminology, each writeup paints a sketch of the Clan by use of examples and a small section of “Why you want to be us” is perfect for cementing the motivations of each Clan.

The Covenants were given a similarly drastic change in tone, with a short bit of fiction to show just how they operate, and again motivations and methodologies are called out and communicated in a way that is best suited to getting players to get a strong grasp of their characters.

The vampiric condition is given a thorough treatment as well, though again the tone of the book is one dedicated to teaching by example rather than the less engaging recital of facts.

The Character Creation rules are similar to that of the God-Machine Chronicle, with the use of Experiences, Aspirations and a few interesting new systems.

Masks and Dirges are similar to the Classic World of Darkness’ Nature and Demeanors, but take over the place of a mortal character’s Virtue and Vice.

Touchstones are persons, places or things that remind a character of her humanity and keeps her grounded. Think of them as a memento or sorts that help anchor a Vampire by reminding him of his time as a human.

I won’t go too much into these mechanics but each one is a bit of genius when it comes to managing life as a vampire. I’ve been in too many games where players end up more callous than their characters ought to be. These systems give the vampires something to care for, and a reason to care for them.

I’m not too familiar with the already existing systems for Disciplines in Vampire: the Requiem, but what I’ve read from Blood & Smoke are promising. The Disciplines themselves are flavorful and some are downright creepy, as they ought to be in a game like this.

It’s only after these that the book presents the basic rules of the game, and after the God-Machine rules update, this is pretty much already well ironed out.

The Strix have their own section, talking about what they’re like and their history, but the best part of the section aside from Strix creation rules, are the various sample Strix provided. Each one would make an interesting opponent for the Kindred, with a canny ST being able to maneuver them to become recurring antagonists.

Another remarkable section in the book is the one that deals with the Kindred of other locations from around the world. From Athens to Beijing and Tokyo each one is a mini-setting in itself. Though without the same depth as the treatment of New Orleans in the original Vampire: the Requiem book, there’s more than enough material here to get a long term campaign going.

The book finishes off with an extensive Storytelling chapter, and a list of common conditions to a Vampire campaign.

Blood & Smoke is a beautiful nightmare of a book. It’s taken Vampire: the Requiem and exposed it’s horrifying and alluring nature and made it even more streamlined and accessible with the God-Machine rules update and a re-imagined take on the game itself.

Anyone who has ever felt that Requiem was a less impressive game than Masquerade owes themselves to get a copy of this game. Those who loved Requiem needs to check out the improvements made on it by the new rules.

If this is the new standard of the Chronicle books, then consider me addicted. This has gotten me stoked to actually run a campaign of it and I’m already earmarking funds to pay for the Werewolf and Mage Chonicle books if this is the kind of quality I’ll be getting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Aaron D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/16/2013 20:44:58

Absolutely fantastic and refreshing redesign/streamlining of a well-established gameline. Everything in the book either dives further into established areas or changes things for a much smoother, easier ride. The Touchstone system and revamping of Humanity are two of the biggest changes to the game and help flesh out what kind of monster you're going to be playing. Changes to Predator's Taint, the Disciplines and clans/covenants with additional rules and advantages for vampires helps in the creation of broader stories and characters that aren't so easily bound by in-game stereotypes. Well worth a buy for anyone interested in getting back into Vampire or already neck deep in it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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