Vampire-The Masquerade: Second Edition<
Author: Mark Rein-Hagen
Company/Publisher: White Wolf Game Studio
Cost: $25 (US)
Page count: 272 pages
Capsule Review by Bradford C. Walker on 05/28/98. Genre tags: none
This is it- the game that started it all.
Rein-Hagen's vision remains in the rulebook, even if that vision gets shunted aside by many players. We all know the premise by now: you play a young vampire, one that's less than a hundred years old. Your PC must cope with the Byzantine politics of his fellow Kindred while struggling with the struggle between his Humanity and the Beast.
When it's done right, it makes for a gripping drama. When it's done wrong, it quickly descends into "Vampire 90210" or worse. This game is about horror, especially the personal horrors everyone deals with. Without that horror, there isn't any reason- beyond the thirst for power- to play one of these characters.
The book is a wonderful piece of work. It looks good, reads well and the artwork compliments the text beautifully. Rein-Hagen wrote the text competantly, and everything flows smoothly from beginning to end. The mechanics work, despite the flaws in the probabilities that they cause. (By adopting Trinity's mechanics, this problem is solved.) The Disciplines are wonderful in their explaination for many legends of vampiric prowess, and the Generation system does the same for how bloodlines factor into power and prestige.
It's not perfect, but we can all hope that the Revised Edition does a better job of that. I recommend the game, but only to those that like the setting and the premise. If you're looking for splatter, take a look at Nightlife instead.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)