Dark New England Regional Sourcebook is a misnomer.
Dark New England is part history lesson in the geography, cultures, history textbook (indigenous, colonial and current) for the entirety of the area, and also a sourcebook that gives you a nearly overwhelming amount of data to incorporate into your own Vampire: the Masquerade Chronicle.
Now, being relatively new to the Storytellers Vault, I must state from the outset that I was both surprised and unprepared for the sheer size of this thing. The book comes in at 250 pages, which by anyone’s count represents a respectable sourcebook for any game, much less a “setting book.” But see, that’s the thing: this is where Dark New England Regional Sourcebook primarily succeeds. It is not just a “setting book.” Dark New England Regional Sourcebook handles geography from Maine down to Connecticut, sure, and there are most definitely important places and landmarks expressed within its pages, but there is also so much more. There are internal politics within the Camarilla, the Independent Clans, and Sabbat that are at work within New England. Very special attention-to-detail is paid to the Native American peoples who inhabited New England during the early settlement of the Europeans within the colonies, and this is an important benchmark for the book.
My first concern was “Man... this seems like a LOT of vampires to have running around New England for such a small geographical area and for a population that isn’t all that massive, doesn’t it?” but when you take into acound the dynamics of the vampires’ movement throughout New England, and how they don’t just stick to one place all of the time or forever, but more to the point, they rotate through the area, it all becomes a little “cleaner.” My second concern was the LACK OF SALEM. “Aw come on, Shannon! Salem is a tourist trap outside Boston.”
Yeah... but that makes it fun.
BUT, there is a FANTASTIC opportunity use the information provided within this book to work up Salem as a Verbena or Euthanatos-held strongpoint. So there is most definitely that.
Three Chronicle “Jumpstarts” are included that were previously released – with the same generalized settings – as those collected in Dark New England. While these were previously released on the Storytellers Vault before Dark New England, they are gathered here all together WITH the setting information and with a ton of background information on the entirety of the setting itself, which more than justifies the double-dip.
PROS: I have seen MANY “community-generated Sourcebooks/Settingbooks” in my time. None of them – not even those I helped to write (I worked on a thing a decade-and-a-half ago for Ex Libris Nocturnis called “World of Darkness: Bergen” that WISHES it had been this book) are half as impressive. The sheer amount of research and care that went into the histories of the states, the colonies that came before the states, the beauty of the photographs that are used within the pages of the book... it’s all top-notch stuff. It is a truly INSPIRING book for anyone endeavoring to do something “big” for the Storytellers Vault to look at, and for a Vampire: the Masquerade Storyteller, it is a SOLID resource that, in my opinion, beats the pants off of “Dark Colony.”
CONS: There’s almost too much information for one book. Seriously. If such a thing is possible, the author is running real close to critical mass. My suggestion would be to take this book and digest it one state at a time rather than trying to devour all New England altogether as one, huge meal. If you focus on say, Boston first and then move outwards from there, you’ll be golden.
INTERESTING BITS: Achinkxat, Maxinkwelësëwakàn and Lëpweokàn “Clans,” for one, make the top of this list. Now, were it me, I probably would have set them up as Bloodlines rather than Clans. But that’s just me, and I didn’t write the book. I understand completely. These three Clans are the Descendants of the Three Sisters. Now... if you’re a Werewolf: the Apocalypse player or Storyteller who also likes or wants to dabble in Vampire: the Masquerade? This book presents the best interpretation of Native American/Spiritually-preoccupied vampires that I have ever seen. In a lot of ways, when you’re reading it, it almost falls into a HYBRID of the Kindred and the Keui-Jin in regard to the spirituality aspect that I really dug a whole lot. I thought it was a very interesting approach to World of Darkness vampires that isn’t just “more of the same.”
The sheer volume of NPC templates that this book provides is absolutely staggering. Trust me.
At the end of the day? If you're looking for a comprehensive, well-developed, attractive Source/Settingbook for Vampire: the Masquerade that you're bound to get a ton of miles out of? Then Dark New England Regional Sourcebook is a must have.