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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition $29.99
Average Rating:4.9 / 5
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Rasmus N. W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/10/2012 03:08:25
A good return to the real vampire. It is a good companion to the real book - PDF's are just faster when you have to look something up or for when you are away from home.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by William W. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 11:37:25
The classic gothic punk RPG that spawned an extended line of horror and urban fantasy RPGs (and even its own television show) celebrates its 20th anniversary with this special edition.

This 500+ page volume begins with a few pages of testimony from devoted fans, then dives into the dark and brooding world of the kindred - classic V:tM art pieces from previous books are mixed with new illustrations and beautiful photo art (one quibble, I would have liked to see some of the very early art from first edition included, just as a nod to the roots of the game - but I'm probably part of a very small minority here). This book merges material from 20 years of supplements, giving a massive amount of character options - the discipline and bloodline sections are quite staggeringly huge, possibly even TOO huge for gamers who have a hard enough time making character choices.

The revised rules have made a few changes to the way the rules work - skills, for example, have been modified slightly. As with any change, fans will squabble over the decisions that were made - why was this kept, why wasn't this included, etc. It's impossible to keep everyone happy, but I reading through this gives me the general feeling that everything decision was made with an eye on preserving a classic RPG while maintaining a playable ruleset.

I see this primarily as a collector's piece - devoted fans who have continued to play the original edition since the early 90s will already have most of the material here, and would likely only purchase this edition to keep their collection up to date, or possibly even to use it as a convenient one-volume compilation for future campaigns.

Conversely, someone who is curious about V:tM and would like to give it a try would find that this is an excellent alternative to scouring eBay for a stack of dog-eared original editions. There is certainly enough material here to fuel many, many RPG sessions. While the dead-tree edition may be a bit cost restrictive to that sort of gamer, the PDF is priced a lot more reasonably.

The PDF is very well done - it's fully searchable and uses bookmarks. Included with the main PDF are a couple of interactive character sheets (elder and neonate) that can be filled out and printed right on your computer. Ah, how far we have come...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Erathoniel W. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/09/2012 11:06:19
For many, the fame and age of Vampire: The Masquerade speaks for itself, and for good reason.

This was my first real experience with Vampire: The Masquerade as a game (I'd heard people talk of it, but never actually read the rules), and I have to say that I see a lot of things in it that represent, to me, the perfect game. I can't speak for previous editions, since I lack any real knowledge of them, but the 20th Anniversary Edition seems to me as good a time as any to start.

It's not for all audiences-it's gritty and violent in the World of Darkness, but I think that it adds to stories a great deal. While I probably wouldn't play it (as is written, at least) with children, the setting is compelling and inviting for adventures and penance. Add in a lot of lore that satiates the book-learning side of my reading and it's great, especially given that it provides both a strong framework to work stories within and a lot of freedom for Storytellers to decide the details.

I probably don't have to say all the things I like about this book's art and typesetting, since it is from a prestigious publisher, but if there's any doubts about it, I'd say don't worry. The art is great in quality, and there's no gripes with the way the text flows and stands out against its background. Of course, not all of the art is for kids, but neither is the setting. My only gripe is that the art didn't all seem to be the same style, alternating between color and black-and-white and between photorealistic and illustrated styles, though its consistently high quality makes up for this.

All in all, I'm surprised by how much I'd been missing out on; I knew that a lot of people swore by V:tM, but I'd never seen for myself just why. For its price, you get a lot of content and a game that just seems to come together in a way that few other games can. If you have any friends interested in playing this with you, get it and I can guarantee you'll get your money's worth.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Steven C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/23/2011 18:15:56
I wasnt a fan of the WoD until about 6 months ago. Decided to pick up this PDF. Now that I have read and used this I really would like the POD to come into effect. Looking to pick up a hard copy for the group.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2011 06:22:20
This summer I had a constant debate with myself over whether or not I was going to order the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. On one hand, it was $99 dollars and I hadn’t played V:TM in roughly a decade as third edition’s changes and metaplot turned me off the game almost entirely. On the other hand, the most fun I ever had with either a tabletop RPG or a LARP was via V:TM. It was a huge book that would just take up space in my home but it was a pretty book with fabulous art and nostalgic memories too. In the end, I decided not to buy the thing due to my desire to go paperless and the rationale that eventually, White Wolf would put a PDF version of the book up on Drivethrurpg.com for me to purchase for less.

Then in late September, the PDF went live, and I still didn’t buy it. Why? Because the page for the PDF had a comment about a print on demand version coming. So I waited. And waited. Then I waited some more as the release date for the pod version kept getting pushed back. Eventually I didn’t have to purchase it as White Wolf sent me a free copy of the pdf a few weeks back. I’m guessing it was due to either my previous stint with them back in the day or because a few people over there read, liked, and commented on my review of Dust to Dust, the first published adventure for V:TM 20th. So after a few weeks of reading the book from cover to cover and comparing it to my complete run of 2nd Edition V:TM books to see what has changed, it’s time to review this puppy.

How is Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition? Well it’s not perfect as the book sports a few pieces of Revised/third that I wish had been staked along with the rest of that version, but as a whole it’s one of the best products White Wolf has put out in a long time – and easily one of the most cost effective. A big complaint with V:TM back in the day was that the game almost forced its metaplot on you all why saying “you don’t have to go this route.” The latter is nice, but with every published book being interconnecting and mostly talking about the ever approaching Gehenna and what WILL happen rather than what COULD happen, and it came off as mostly hot air being blown in a gamer’s face. There was also the problem that the books were published in a way that you needed to pick up most of the supplements (although not the campaign settings aka By Night books) in order to piece the game’s overall picture together. This strategy helped 2nd Edition and White Wolf to become the juggernaut tabletop game of the 1990s, but it also is was caused the downfall of the product with Revised and the reprinting of pretty much everything with the “you know need to own THIS VERSION” attitude. With V:TM 20th however, all that is pretty much gone. This books contains the most important bits of the Core Rulebook, the Player’s Handbook, the Storyteller’s Handbook, the Player’s Guide to the Sabbat, The Storyteller’s Guide to the Sabbat and tiny bits from other publications that were 90% padding and 10% important content everyone should have access to. This is wonderful as it gives V:TM fans most of the important stuff and all at a very reasonable price. Had V:TM gone this route with Revised, I honestly think a lot of the gamers that abandoned the product would have actually embraced it all the more instead.

Now that’s not to say that the book makes the best use of the 529 pages allotted. I would have liked a little more of an in-depth look at things like the True Black Hand, the Inconnu, the various clans and perhaps even some bits on variation locations. In return the could have excised a lot of the padding like “How to run a Chronicle (game)” and basic rpg fluff that everyone knows. The book definitely did this in the first half of things, even commenting that anyone who picks this up already known how to roleplay or is well versed in the ways of Vampire: The Masquerade, so it’s not worth wasting everyone’s time rehashing all that crap. So I’m not sure why they went back on that statement in the second half of the book. There’s so much more than could have been done there. Now this is a VERY MINOR quibble on my part and it’s only in regards to a few dozen pages, but again, I’d have rather seen those pages go to more specific V:TM based content than general RPG stuff.

Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition is divided into ten chapters. The book is laid out a little funny as the thirteen clans and the sects they belong to encompass chapter two starting with page 37. Chapter three covers building a character and chapter four covers the various Disciplines (vampiric powers). For some reason the book then goes into various rules before hitting chapter 10 which covers bloodlines (minor vampiric races) and the other disciplines they are known for. After that the book goes into Merits and Flaws, which many consider an integral part of character creation, and finally ghoul character creation. It would have made for a much better flow to have all of these in one area, say the clans, then the bloodlines, then all of the Disciplines in the game in one section and then character creation rules (with merits and flaws included) instead of scattering all these things across the book. The way V:TM 20th is laid out is very unfriendly, even to a long time V:TM player. The book comes across very sloppy in this regard. I’m sure the layout was done with some reason that makes sense to the people that put it together, but it’s going to be a bitch for a Storyteller to keep flipping back and forth instead of having everything of one aspect of the game in a unified spot. I can’t even imagine the wear and tear a physical copy of this book is going to go through because of the layout and it makes me all the more glad I didn’t drop a c-note on one. Someone really should have suggested a better grouping for this thing. Instead someone is going to be looking in the section on the Sabbat for information only to discover that a lot of that content is thrown into the last few pages of the book (hundreds of pages away from the other Sabbat info). It’s as if right before the book went to publication, someone said, “Holy crap! We forgot to put in XYZ!!!” and so it was shoved in at the end rather than placed in the areas that would have made sense. This is easily the most disappointing aspect of the book.

V:TM 20th starts and ends with letters from “V.T.” to “W.H.” Anyone reading this should instantly get who those initials are. I’ve always loved that about the core rulebooks and this is no exception. These two pages represent exactly what V:TM 20th is perfect: an intermingled love letter to fans showcasing the best the game has to offer whilst also being a repentant apology to those felt slighted, abandoned (or worse) when White Wolf ended the original World of Darkness and moved to Vampire: The Requiem. I admit, V:TR was never for me and that its popularity and sales are a fraction of what V:TM had, but it’s not a bad game and V:TM 20th proves both can co-exist simultaneously. I like that.

The interior art for V:TM 20th is jaw droppingly gorgeous. It mixes some of the best art from previous V:TM publications with all new work. My favorites are new new clan portraits that are interspersed throughout the book but honestly, who wouldn’t love these. Even people who don’t like V:TM or tabletop games in general will be impressed by the art in this massive tome. Just choosing what pieces to include in this review took a lot of thought. V:TM 20th is a wonderful to look at as it is to read, and that’s saying something.

So let’s talk changes. The changes are primarily in character creation, although the book also seems to wipe most of the previous canon metaplot of Revised out of existence. The Gangrel are back in the Camarilla, the Assamites are fully independents, and so on. The only things from Revised (Storywise) that seem to have survived are the Assamites freeing themselves from the curse the Tremere placed upon them and the horrible “Week of Nightmares” storyline. The former is optional and both versions of the Assamites are included for the sake of being able to use this book as a Dark Ages campaign. The latter…well, I have no idea why White Wolf would even remotely want to bring up what is almost universally considered the lowest point in V:TM history as well as the stupidest piece in the entire canon story of the game, but they did. Thankfully it’s optional but even the fact that it’s brought up has sent a shudder through anyone I know who has read it. For those unaware of what I am talking about you can boil WoN down to this, “The creator of the Ravnos vampires rose from slumber, killing tons of things left and right and even though it was basically a god, evil tecnomages ended up saving the day with a tactical strike of magical nukes. Yes, is it does sound like something a bunch of fourteen year olds would come up with while sitting around drinking Mountain Dew and getting buzzed on Pixie Stix. It’s considered the “jump the shark” moment for the game and where a lot of people gave up on V:TM entirely. Again, this is optional in V:TM 20 but why they didn’t wipe this bit out completely doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like the writers of the book wanted to say, “Thanks for coming back and giving us your money. Here’s some salt for those wounds.”

Character sheets are somewhat different. Some of the changes makes a lot of sense like folding “Body Alternation” into “Medicine. Only Tzimisce used the former and it kind of wasted Ability Points. Putting it into medicine was an awesome and far more useful move. On the other hand Linguistics has been moved from a Knowledge to a Merit. Remember me mentioning earlier how Merits are an optional part of character creation and kind of shoved to the very end of this book, far away from character creation? Well V:TM 20th has no other way to show how many languages a character knows which is poorly conceived in every way you can possibly think of. Thankfully any V:TM player or Storyteller worth their salt will ignore this change and write in linguistics on the character sheet.

In terms of Talents, Acting and Dodge are off the character sheet and are replaced by Awareness and Expression. This seemed really weird to me at first, but I can understand the changes. Dodging is now part of Athletics, which has always been there and Acting is part of the new Talent, Expression. Expression allows for things like writing, singing and other bits that were missing in previous character sheets. It’s a catch-all for Torreador types basically. Awareness however, is just plain odd. It’s kind of a combination of Alertness and Occult and honestly, it would have been smarter to just make this a Perception + Occult roll instead of its own Talent. It’s just a terrible idea across the board and like a lot of the changes in V:TM 20th, will just be ignored due to poor design.

Skills have several changes to them too. Security is replaced with Larceny, Repair is now Crafts and Music has become Performance. These are all changes for the better as they encompass more. You’re getting a more diverse Skill here than in previous editions. The “Knowledges” category has its share of changes too, and unfortunately they are all for the worse. Besides the terrible blunder that is moving Linguistics to Merits, Bureaucracy is gone completely, having been replaced by Academics. Academics is a catch all “liberal arts” category which is an interesting idea but Bureaucracy was a terribly important skill and it isn’t folded in anywhere else. Meanwhile they add Technology as a Knowledge while retaining Computers as its own Knowledge. This just boggles my mind. Many of the Ability changes involving creating larger, more diverse skills and yet Computer is separate from Technology for some reason. Just one of the many changes that are definitely for the worse and which will have me using V20th as more of a nostalgia piece than something I would actually run a game with. Too many bad decisions here.

Backgrounds however are as well done as Abilities are a hodge podge of ill thought design. It’s nice to see Alternative Identity get a place in the Core Rulebook as it’s a big thing in V:TM. Black Hand Membership (Sabbat Version) is here too. They’ve added a lovely Domain background and I especially enjoyed how it could be used as a collective Background, where players pool their points together.

Another great thing about the book is how it collects most of the Paths of Enlightenment along with the standard “Humanity” trait. Before, these paths were scattered all across various rule books and it would have cost you well over $100 (back in the day that is) to have all the books they were contained in. As oddly laid out as the book is, it’s nice to see all the Paths here and that the book is as useful to Sabbat players as it is to Independent or Camarilla players.

Then there are the Disciplines. This is a mixed bag. Some of the changes are flat out terrible and alone will keep me from being able to honestly recommend V:TM 20th as something to actually play rather than flip through. It’s like they kept the worst bits of Revised and continued to flush them down the crapper. Some of the other changes however, are quite nice and it’s also great to see ALL the Thaumaturgy paths in a single book. Well not all. A few are missing, but those had balance issues to being with (like Secrets) and they are gone for good reason. Unfortunately, for the most part, White Wolf went with the terrible decisions from Revised for Disciplines which again has me wondering who they made this book for as they’ve kept all the bits of Revised people I know disliked greatly, especially when compared to Second Edition.

Basically, a lot of powers are changed, the selection of abilities for Elder level abilities are nerfed and the choices are greatly reduced and they’ve stuck with only listing the first nine levels of each Discipline compared to ten in 1st and 2nd Edition. For the most part ALL the Disciplines in V:TM 20th are weakened or nowhere as well done as in 1st or 2nd. There are some exceptions where changes are for the better, like Vicissitude, but those are definitely in the minority. Disciplines that have been turned into shadows of their former selves include Potence, Celerity, Presence, and Serpentis while Fortitude has some really bad wording attached to it which if interpreted literally (rather than how it was meant) weakens it dramatically too. Mortis is gone completely, and Kindred that would have had that Discipline are forced into the version of Revised Necromancy which I always thought was a dreadful choice in the first place. The good news is that Necromancy is the one Discipline that has been expanded instead of trunicated. I’m still in shock they went with the Revised versions of the Disciplines. Why would you go with what brought you down rather than what brought you to the dance? This is like saying I’ll take Batman right after Bane broke his back instead of in his prime Batman. This is just bad balancing and design around and as much as I love this book. The Disciplines basically being worse versions of the mistakes made with Revised has me unable to recommend it except as a nostalgia piece to V:TM fans, or a curios to people still actively playing the game. What I would have liked to have seen were all the powers for each Discipline from each Edition of the game. This would have made this version of this game the definitive one rather than 3.5. If it’s an anniversary celebration, let gamers have the ability to see all the versions of the Disciplines. let them choose between Skin of the Adder and Mummify for Serpentis ***. Let Storytellers have all the options and choose which works best for them. There was definitely room for this and it would have made the book so much better.

Honestly, I’m really confused why White Wolf went with Revised rules, which is considered the low point of V:TM instead of going fully back to the extremely popular 2nd or 1st Edition. This book is meant to be a celebration of what made the game great after all. Instead it takes a few things from the older versions and instead sticks with the “too many cooks” 3rd Edition that many would say brought Final Death to the Masquerade in the first place. V:TM 20th has extremely high production values, wonderful art and is obviously a labour of love, but there are too many issues with the actual content, especially If you’ve played a lot of V:TM in the past or are even currently playing it now. If you’re brand new to Vampire: The Masquerade and aren’t bogged down with past history of the game you’ll love it. It’s also MUCH cheaper buying this PDF than going for the better quality 2nd Edition books. Everything is in one piece here and it’s all you’ll need to play a highly detailed campaign. Compare that to 2nd Edition where the core rulebook is almost seventeen dollars in pdf form and it only contains a fraction of the content that V:TM 20th holds. Now you could buy the actual 2nd Ed books en masse on Amazon for as much as this PDF (not including shipping) but then you have a lot of very heavy physical product you have to store somewhere and which is by no means as portable. All things considered, you get what you pay for. For $29.99, you’re getting a very pretty book and with all the rules you could want in one PDF, but you’re also getting sub-par rules and game design compared to earlier versions of the game.

Which is worth getting? Well, if you’re new to V:TM, I’d actually recommend this for the price and convenience. Even though the book itself espouses that it’s for long time fans, that’s actually the audience that will be the most critical of what’s here – especially those that left en masse due to the weirdness around Revised. If you already own a ton of V:TM books, there’s no real reason to invest in this, especially as you already have all the content this contains. If you want to support White Wolf or V:TM in general, then yes, by all means purchase this. If you’re looking for something to actually PLAY however, I can’t recommend V:TM 20th. There’s just too many issues plaguing this thing – from layout flow to inferior versions of Disciplines. I’m glad I have this and the V:TM fanboy in me is thrilled this exists and enjoyed reading every page, but the actual reviewer part of me that had to be critical in his analysis of the book sees too many flaws in the actual content.

At the end of the day, Kindred abilities and character creation have taken a notable nose dive here in terms of options and playability, but the core of Vampire: The Masquerade still shows off its greatness here. The history of the World of Darkness ,the information of the clans and the STORY are as wonderful as they ever were. It’s that story, rather than the actual mechanics of the game, that made V:TM so popular. It’s how the game captures the imagination and stirs the passions that drew in so many gamers. It certainly wasn’t the tedious combat rules. If you ever had fun with a troupe of players or can still remember events from a V:TM based LARP years after it has ended, Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition will no doubt fan the fires of those memories and fill you with nostalgic giddiness as you peruse its pages. That’s all I wanted/needed from it. I’m so glad I didn’t buy the $99 physical copy of this as I would have been extremely disappointed or even angry. But as a $29.99 pdf, it was wonderful to read even if I had a lot of issues with the rules and changes. Is it as good as the products White Wolf was churning out around 2nd Edition? No, it’s not. That’s the honest truth, but it is still a nice love letter to V:TM and its fans. Recommended for reading if you’ve ever been a fan of V:TM in any form – but not something I’d actually recommend for playing. I know I’ll happily pick the rest of the “Onyx Path” White Wolf is putting out. Hopefully the other things (like Dust To Dust) will be things I’d actually want to play rather than just read.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Benoist P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/03/2011 14:18:34
I did some speed-blogging while reading my physical copy of the V20 book, and commented on the PDF on Google+. I will copy and paste these entries here. If you want the TL;DR version, this is it : V20 is a compilation of most of the game elements that made the success of Vampire: the Masquerade. It uses the Revised (3rd edition) rules set for the most part, and brings in a lot of stuff from various supplements including Sabbat game elements, Dark Ages and True Black Hand bloodlines and disciplines, and a whole lot of stuff besides, tweaking it as needed so the whole works as a sort of metaplot-and-fiction-free toolbox from which you can pick and choose to build your Chronicles.

The PDF is good, and up to "industry" standards, optimized, searchable with bookmarks and all. The $29.99 price tag for a 520-page, all-in-one document like this one pertaining to one of the greatest RPGs of all time is worth it for those who are fans of the game.

Now for my G+ entry (wall of text warning) :

Well, I just received my copy of the 20th anniversary Vampire: the Masquerade edition. It is quite simply one the most gorgeous TRPG books I have ever seen. Brings back memories of the moment I first laid eyes on my copy of Ptolus.

This is a thick, black leather bound volume with a silver trim, cloth bookmarks, full color... the works. It lies flat when you open it on the table. Binding looks durable. No gripes come to mind. From a physical value standpoint, it was well worth the price.

Opinion on contents are pending since I kept myself from looking too deeply into the PDF to get maximum pleasure from reading through this tome when I would receive it.
_______

Read all the preliminary setting information of V20. The description of the world of darkness is actually pretty well done in the sense that it is metaplot neutral without being adverse to what came before. It is set in a sort of Year 0 but does mention the True Black Hand, the possibilities regarding the Assamites and their relationship with the Tremere Curse, or the Week of Nightmares and how it would affect the Ravnos. It basically lays out all these elements as options for the GM to pick and choose from, rather than some sort of script one would have to follow throughout the Chronicle, step by step. All for the better IMO since it places this responsibility back in the hands of the GM and the game table, where it should have remained all along.

_______

Vampire 20th anniversary reading: Clan descriptions feel like their Revised counterparts minus metaplot. Subtle changes, as in Clan weaknesses, where the Nosferatu still have 0 Appearance but do not automatically fail rolls involving the attribute, or Assamites getting the Curse back without having the blood payments ratios explained as in 2nd edition.
_______

Vampire 20th anniversary reading: some new skills (hobby talents, professional skills), sharply defined Backgrounds, including Domain. Possibility to pool background dots within the same coterie. Black Hand Membership lands assistance from other BH members per story. Lots of subtle changes like this.
_______

Vampire 20th anniversary reading: reaching the Disciplines. I have seen no trace of the Elysium rules in this book. The only option to play starting characters other than neonates is to create them as neonates and then allocate in the dozens or hundreds of XP to bring them to the desired level of power. Ever tried to do that? I did in the past. It's a nightmare. So, no alternate chargen to play Ancillae and Elders in the game in that huge tome? That's a bummer.
_______

V20 reading: Ooooh. Out of clan Disciplines development requires a teacher (as Revised). The student must drink vitae from the teacher (1 BP worth). That is new! You want to learn a new discipline? You are one step closer to a blood bond, mister. Harsh!
_______

V20 reading: Animalism and Auspex are pretty much un changed compared to their Revised equivalents. Nice to see dots beyond 5 included as per 2nd ed player's guide (some changes probably, but I do not notice them outright). Celerity is changed : adds to Dexterity pools, spend 1 BP per extra action (expenditure may go beyond normal maximum BP per turn), dot(s) used for extra actions may not be used to add to Dexterity pools. MUCH less powerful. Can't say I disagree with the change IF Potence and Fortitude remain the same. Will see...
_______

V20 reading: Chimerstry, Dementation a priori unchanged. Dominate is the same as Revised, which is to say, really powerful vs. mortals, fairly useful against Kindred of weaker blood/higher gen, and useless against vampires of a lower gen than yourself. Includes some new rules about eye contact and how to avoid it with a bunch of rolls.
_______

V20 reading: Fortitude works as Revised. Wording was changed at the end of the "system" paragraph, making it sound like Fortitude is useless against Vampire bites, Werewolf claws, True Magic and the like, while it actually is. An instance of editing/rewording that confuses an issue instead of clarifying it.
_______

V20 reading: Necromancy works using various paths and rituals, as Revised, but seems to have been greatly expanded upon. Seeing stuff I've never read about before, like a Path of the Five Humors and the like. The discipline's description stretches over 25 pages of the book! Apparently Mortis has been incorporated into Necromancy. Awesome. But I'm not seeing any power or ritual beyond 5 dots, contrarily to all the other disciplines mentioned before. That is weird.
_______

V20 reading: Obfuscate and Obtenebration work as Revised, plus powers of 6-9 dots, as for nearly all the other disciplines. Potence has been gimped: it is not a sum of automatic successes, but instead dice added to Strength pools with the opportunity to spend blood to convert dice into automatic successes on a 1:1 basis, except that unlike Celerity and extra actions, you still are limited in the number of BP you spend per turn as per generation chart, which still makes Celerity the obviously better choice, as far as physical (Celerity, Fortitude, Potence) disciplines are concerned.

There's really something to be said about this, in that WW has consistently failed to address the issue of balance between these disciplines throughout the editions of the game ... and beyond (Vampire: the Requiem, I am looking at you).

I would say that the balance in this edition is better, probably the best, actually (though Potence could have done without the cap on BP spent per turn implied while Celerity does not, again, play by those rules). Still, I am wondering what the hell the designers are thinking, sometimes.
_______

V20 reading: Presence is the same as Revised (targets avoid being affected with the expenditure and roll of Willpower, vampires of significantly lower gen than your own being basically immune), which itself is gimped compared to 2nd ed's version.

I'm still not sure I like this. Ever since the publication of Revised actually.

I understand the awesome power of pre-Revised Presence, but I'm not sure the gimped version is really that useful against vampires, while part of the point of Presence was to have some sort of mental power that worked on them compared to the useless-on-Kindred-but-so-awesome-on-mortals Dominate.

Now Presence seems more balanced, sure, I guess, but it also seems to suck in all cases as a result. Meh.
_______

V20 reading: Protean, Quietus and Serpentis like their Revised versions.

Thaumaturgy has a huge section collecting paths and rituals from across the supplements. Paths include stuff like Neptune's Might, the Green Path, Path of Technomancy, Path of Mars and much, much more. Path of Corruption has bee fixed*. Thaumaturgy is like Necromancy in that rituals only go to level 5. Lots of them. Too many to name individually.

* In 2nd ed, Path of Corruption 1 (Evil Eye) and Serpentis 1 formed a killing combo: give 1 botch for each success you score on your Evil Eye roll, then activate Eyes of the Serpent and automatically win the Willpower v Willpower contested roll. Target is frozen into place, no matter the generation. Diablerize. Rince. Repeat. Here in V20, Evil Eye no longer exists, and the Eyes of the Serpent no longer work the same. Thank God.
_______

V20 reading: Vicissitude works like Revised as well, except that Body Crafts rolls (a specialty of the Crafts skill in Revised) have been replaced with Medicine rolls, with Body Crafts now a specialty of that skill instead.

These are the "base disciplines". All the Bloodlines and their specific disciplines have been gathered in another part of this huge tome. Next up: Chapter Five, Rules.
_______

V20 reading: Chapter Five, Rules basically lays out the type rolls and actions which may be undertaken in the game. It seems to have been completely rewritten from Revised. It contains pretty much the same type of information as before, but in a way that is much clearer to the reader, or so it seems, anyway.
_______

V20 reading: Chapter Six, Systems and Drama, makes a laundry list of sample activities and associated systems, explains the uses of Willpower and Blood Points, Combat (systems, maneuvers, charts), states of being (blood bonds, vaulderie, derangements, deterioration, diablerie, disease, electrocution, faith, falling, fire and burns, frenzy and rötschreck, poisons and drugs, Golconda, sunlight, temperature extremes ... LOUD Breath...) and an Example of Play. Pretty similar treatment than Revised.
_______

V20 reading: Chapter Seven, Morality, features all the rules and systems regarding Humanity, Degeneration, alternate virtues and Paths of Enlightenment. Paths included are (Path of...) Blood, Bones, Caine, Cathari, Feral Heart (Harmony), Honorable Accord, Lilith, Metamorphosis, Night, Paradox, Power and the Inner Voice, Typhon. Each Path is throroughly described, including tenets, history, practices etc.
_______

V20 reading: Chapter Eight, Storytelling, is one of those things I could describe as a laundry list, but that wouldn't tell you much about it, would it? It stretches over 25 pages, covers story structures, working with the players, chronicle starting points and various techniques (flashbacks, dream sequences and the like).

The real question should be: is the advice any good? Well. Let me put it this way: ask anyone, I'm not too sympathetic when it comes to the idea of conceptualizing an RPG session or campaign as "a story being told between players and GM." I run my "by Night" as a "sandbox", old school and all. I don't think of the game in terms of narratives, never have.

And yet, once I get past this initial reaction of mine, inherited from my return to the roots of our hobby with the Original D&D game a few years back, I see a lot of advice here I really like, and will surely use in my games.

There is not much dividing us in the end. We are all gamers. And this game, well... is as good as it gets.

Anyway. This Chapter is good stuff. Next up: Antagonists.
_______

V20 reading: Chapter Nine, The Others, is really about giving amunition to the GM besides vampires. It covers the Inquisition, the US government, the Arcanum, criminals, werewolves, magi, demons and provides a bestiary of sorts including all manners of animals, including packs and swarms.

Well organized, this is strangely the chapter which reminds me the most of the original Vampire game, back when all these game elements were still mysterious and open to whatever your imagination would make of them.

Next: Bloodlines.
_______

V20 reading: Chapter Ten, Bloodlines, gathers their detailed descriptions, their unique disciplines as well as the antitribu and similar subjects surrounding the variations of the Blood.

Bloodlines included: Baali, Blood Brothers, Daughters of Cacophony, Gargoyles, Harbingers of Skulls, Kiasyd, Nagaraja, Salubri, Samedi, True Brujah, Ahrimanes, Anda, Cappadocians, Children of Osiris, Lamia, Lhiannan and Noiad.

Discussion of their backgrounds include what happened to them throughout the ages. One piece of advice I really like is that they encourage players to play the characters they really want, like if you want to play the last of the Lamia in the modern nights, by all means, as long as the character makes sense, GMs and players should totally go for it. This emphasizes the "Year 0 sans metaplot toolbox stuff you build your chronicle with however you see fit," and boy, do I like to read this.

There are variations and minor changes compared to previous rules sets of course, but too many to enumerate. It's well done though. Really well done.

The presence of the Dark Ages bloodlines and disciplines, as well as their general presentation suggest to me that various "Dark Ages Anniversary" tomes like this one are really, really unlikely to happen in the future. This tome is it, folks. Let it be known.

Next: the Appendix.
_______

V20 reading: the Appendix lays out the system of Merits and Flaws which works the same way as Revised (that is, Merits are bought with freebies, and Flaws, up to 7 points, add to your total amount of freebies).

Laundry list of said Merits and Flaws follows.

Then we have rules to create and play Ghouls, including their own XP development chart and the like. Information about the various, numerous Revenant families follows.

The Appendix closes with details about the various Sabbat Ritae, which are front and center in the social gatherings and Pack protocoles of the sect.

And this is it, folks.

The book ends with a short Game Terms Glossary, a very detailed Index, and a (five dots) Character Sheet, plus advertisement schedule for the Onyx Path products, which brings us to a round total of 520 pages for Vampire: the Masquerade, 20th Anniversary Edition.

Next: some last thoughts about this book.
_______

Last thoughts about Vampire: the Masquerade, 20th anniversary edition.

Have a look at my previous entries on G+ to see the detail of the various aspects of the game explained as I was speed-blogging about the reading itself. Now, having read the game, I can answer a few questions that have been popping up on the internet here and there.

What is this V20 thing? Is it Revised in another name? Is it Masquerade with Requiem rules? Etc.

V20 is basically a compilation of most of the game elements that made the success of Vampire: the Masquerade. It uses the Revised (3rd edition) rules set for the most part, and brings in a lot of stuff from various supplements including Sabbat game elements, Dark Ages and True Black Hand bloodlines and disciplines, and a whole lot of stuff besides, tweaking it as needed so the whole works as a sort of metaplot-and-fiction-free toolbox from which you can pick and choose to build your Chronicles.

What this book is definitely not is a throwback to the first or second editions of the game, nor is it Masquerade updated to Requiem/WoD mechanics. It is celebratory in nature, in that it brings back some of the elements of these games into its tweaked-Revised frame, but it is basically is the game you know by nature, more than anything else.

Is this book worth the price?

If you're not a fan of the Masquerade to begin with... probably not, though the production values themselves are very high: this is a very nice book, after all. Physically speaking, it's worth it, yes, but is it worth it for you in terms of contents? Maybe not. If you hated the game before, chances are you'll still hate it after reading this book.

If you are a fan of Vampire, still play Masquerade, or play Requiem while seeing some stuff from Masquerade you'd like to use in your Requiem chronicle, and that the prospect of having an encyclopedia, all-in-one huge tome is appealing to you, this is certainly it (get yourself the Vampire Conversion Guide on PDF or POD in the latter case and you're good to go). Go get yourself a copy if you can find one (good luck).

What about the PDF?

The PDF itself is extremely well done, in the sense that it is up to "industry" standards. It is optimized for its size, gorgeous to look at, fully searchable, includes bookmarks and all.

At the moment of this writing you can purchase the V20 PDF on OneBookShelf/RPGnow/DriveThruRPG for $29.99 USD. For an all-in-one game including 520 pages of contents in a format on par with current PDF standards, that's a good price.

If you're a fan, you can invest and are likely to be pleased - if you can stand reading on a computer (printing this baby would be a huge, ink-sucking undertaking, that's for sure).

If you're worrying about the quality of the contents, don't. It's really cool.

Any last words regarding your boring little self?

Well, since you mention it, I'm going to talk a little bit about myself here so that hopefully all this commentary, speed-blooging and everything is put into perspective for you. You'll know then how that relates to your own experience with the game, and decide from there if all this writing is worth anything to you.

I started playing the game in 1992, I think, with the first edition of the game. I went through all the editions of the game and had a very long "Paris by Night" chronicle running throughout this whole time period. Vampire is basically the game I know the absolute most, besides D&D. I kind of lost interest gradually, becoming jaded about the whole thing mostly after Kindred of the East, which I did not like, but kept playing and running games for a while after that.

I had then a pause with RPGs for about a year, and came back to RPGs with the publication of 3rd edition D&D. I was not interested at all in Requiem when it came out. I already had Masquerade, so I didn't see the point of buying the same game all over again at the time. I burnt out on d20 mechanics (mostly the rules lawyery arguments over the web, the insane focus on game mechanics all the time for everything over and over again) and gradually made my way back to the original edition of the game, to then come back to my first love, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition.

Around the same time, maybe a little earlier, I was interested in Promethean: the Created, because this was a NWoD game that had NOT been done before in OWoD, and the basic themes of Frankenstein, Golems and the like mixed with Alchemical themes really appealed to me. So I purchased a copy of the WoD rules, the PtC game, read all this... and fell in love with the whole thing, prompting me to get Requiem and the other games to then look at them with a changed perspective that made me appreciate them for what they were, instead of what I thought they were a few years back. I rebooted my Paris by Night chronicle using NWoD rules and it is still running to this day.

Now, when I look at Masquerade, I see a sort of parallel universe I can use along side my NWoD chronicle. Two by Nights which exist in the same multiverse so to speak, with huge correspondances between the two. I look at the V20 game and see the toolbox with renewed interest. There is still a lot of cool stuff I could do with this game, and I'm loving it to pieces, just like I love my AD&D game.

If this story sounds remotely familiar to you, by changing the games' names, the dates and whatnot, then do yourself a favor and check out V20. If all this sounds like a bunch of nonsense to you, then sorry to have wasted your time. I just hope all this made you more aware about what the game is and isn't, and what it could bring to your game table, if anything.

Over and out.

Benoist Poiré, December 3rd, 2011.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by emmanuelle u. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/13/2011 11:40:33
Good points :
If you want a recap of what has been written in a lot of books between 1st ed and ~1999. All bloodlines, offshots, old bloodlines, current bloodlines, and disciplines until your eyes bleed out. Awesome !
The content is good, Time of judgement never happened, it's well written (well, it's readable !), the paging is fine, the index is good, content was spread in good chapters.
System reworked : still a couple of loose random points that, in the end, always end up to the ST's discretion, but now, the clan weaknesses, the disciplines.. they work better together.
No setting whatsoever, no metaplot, freedom to the ST to say that LA is not under any Anarch Influence, Mexico and Canada under Sabbat (the good vs the evil ?). It is only a book full of the rules, the systems and else. For me, this is a huge plus.
Ken Meyer Jr's arts. They look beautiful, eerie, odd, dark and sad. The ambiance of those drawings (despite a horrible mix of christmas colors sometimes) is worth everything. If only the rest of the book's art could match that one blasphemy priest, or that party with the man tied up to his bed !


Bad points :
The art ;
Old art was reused (which is fine, buty WW would have colored it all ; all colored books with awesome art exists in the oWoD, like any Changeling the Dreaming corebook, and even new and non pdf, they are not expensive !).
New art can be questionable up to a certain point. Clanspreads are just odd, no new Christopher Shy, no new Rebecca Guay, and Tim Bradstreet's full pages work are, sometimes, way under his capacities (his 2nd edition works, like that Brujah woman on the first page, are just exceptional, but what he did for V20..). I see no "masquerade" to the Vampires they portray. And I don't mean the Nosferatu.
There is absolutely no visual identity, it's an artistic mess, it changes from everything to everything, and there are only few drawings that I can show to my players to make them feel the ambiance of what they witness or live. I would have loved to be able to do it like I do for Wraith, Changeling, Scion, L5R, Cthulhu... Why can't Masquerade do it ? Some art in v20 just make my players laugh.
The technology : the book mentions absolutely no Tremere/Malkie/Nossie conspiracy to steal Steve Jobs and Embrace him ! I am a sad panda :D. I mean that they do not mention the advances in technology since 1998, their control and their means (schrecknet ++ ?)

The price : 30$ for an item that was already made profit off by the pre-sales, is, for me, pure "greediness", but the debate of the fact that virtual items should have a price or not is another debate that has nothing to do with. I do not think 30$ is a fair price (considering that 25$ was the price of any good, colored corebook a few years ago), considering it doesn't cost more to sell 10.000 or just one. I have it because I pre-ordered the hard copy, which I hope to receive before the end of the world.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by apostolis c. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2011 01:11:21
I was amazed of how white wolf managed to print an organized and player friendly book such as this.
At last you have all you need to start a good game in one book with order and clear explanations.
I can't wait for the rest of the old world of darkness reprints especially the dark ages reprints and the novels.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by nathaniel h. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/22/2011 17:12:56
White Wolf clearly poured a lot of effort into this pdf, and it shows. I have nothing but praise but their efforts. The system is still fiddly, and combat is a chore, but just ignore the arbitrarily complex, shifting probabilities in the mechanics and focus on the rest, which is pure awesome. The setting is so rich and evocative that complaining feels silly.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/13/2011 00:23:43
Where's the Red Rose? It seems odd to me that a 20th Anniversary edition would miss out on such an iconic image of the original game. Moreover, I'm not convinced that this really does capture the feel of the original game as much as allow for a further development of the "Revised" edition that came out in 1998. It's more like an "Ultimate Edition" than the expressed intention of recapturing the intent of the original game.

This, in itself is not a bad thing and it certainly tidies up certain rules (whilst curiously keeping some other dysfunctional rules systems in tact eg the clunky combat system) while providing an overview of the complex world envisioned through 10+ years of game development. I was unimpressed by a lack of more explicit credit to Mark Rein-Hagenhowever, and I personally tire of having to read through 500+ pages of content - especially when a whole bulk of it is just catalogues of vampiric powers.

The artwork is a mixture of old and new, good and bad, black and white and colour (I was amused by the choice of Lief Jones to do the splats - don't the developers ever listen to fans!?). The writing is very accessible, and the layout extends to 'splatting' out the Sects as well as the Clans, which does make the various political relationships easy to follow. It is clear that, as an all inclusive book, the game remains as immersive and atmospheric as ever. It just wasn't quite enough to persuade me to buy into a hardcopy, this time. Maybe a new edition of Mage might do more for me...

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Jeremy M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/11/2011 17:56:38
I bought Masquerade 2nd edition back in '92 and collected the entire Masquerade and DA line in the years since. To me, this book is basically that 2nd edition, redone with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and the background material in 13 years of sourcebooks to draw on, with sidebar 3rd edition metaplot elements to use or discard as you please. It has beautiful production values, some stunning colour art, and some long-overdue rules tweaks, but it also reminded me of why I got hooked on that 2nd edition rulebook back in '92. It's a wonderful celebration of Masquerade's history, but it's not just a piece of nostalgia, it's a terrific game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Chris L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/08/2011 08:41:06
By far, this is the best looking Vampire the Masquerade book ever created. It takes everything great from all the previous editions and combines it with TONS of material from Vampire books to create the ultimate edition of Vampire.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Ian W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/07/2011 19:26:28
I contributed to V20, so I may be a little biased, but this book is simply amazing. Graphic design straight out of 2e, with a Revised touch. Revised-era rules brushed up to make them work tighter. Gorgeous new colour art. Bloodlines we haven't seen in upwards of 19 years, and all-new symbols for a bunch that never had them before.

The setting material very much "feels" like 2e, but acknowledges all the depth created and explored since then for Dark Ages and Revised. Metaplot agnostic, so you can decide for yourself what events in the leadup to Gehenna have actually happened.

This is truly the ultimate VTM rulebook, perfect as a capstone for any longtime VTM player, or as a supreme all-in-one introductory book for fans brand new to the game. I'm honoured to have contributed, and can't wait for future 20th Anniversary projects.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by thomas b. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/07/2011 13:55:22
this is a very good book. i feel it captured the essence of vampire the masquerade without being slow and tedious in its delivery of 20 years of content. i strongly recommend this for anyone to read, be you an old hand at masquerade or new to the world it offers, it has everything you need to start playing just add imagination.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Carmin C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/07/2011 13:30:57
Coming from a mostly Vampire: the Requiem background, I must say that the nostalgia is a little lost on me, however this is an objectively great product, and worth it for anyone who's a fan of not only the Vampire mythos, but White Wolf's games in general.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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