Monday, 5 July 2010

Masquerade to Requiem

???? ?? ??So the third rpg that I ever bought and ran was Vampire: the Masquerade 2nd Edition Revised. It was a revelation to me. Buffy was on TV and Angel had also just started to be shown. I had also just seen the first Blade film. So really the right mix for a geeky 16 year old with goth inclination. Previously I had run Star Wars 2nd Edition revised and D&D Classic 18th edition.

???? ?? ??Vampire blew my mind. First up the ease of the system, compared to D&D, and the similarity to West End Games D6 system. But really it was the setting. Centuries old conspiracies, various variations of undead, and of course all this wrapped up in a dark modern setting. I was hooked.

???? ?? Now lets be honest here. The first Vampire chronicle I ran was filled with cliches. Oh man where to begin. It was set in San Francisco, it played up to every clan stereotype going. There was some Mayan temple. Some form of blood demon. Hey I was 16! I'm allowed blood demons froma Mayan temple near the Golden Gate Bridge!

???? ?? When I finished playing Vampire I started on Mage: the Ascension, and by this point I had gotten out of my system all the typical tropes. Thank the gods! But that is not to say that I forgot about Vampire. I now wanted to run the game set in the UK. And I was also battling the issue of Clan vs Camarilla. I was trying to figure out why the hell a vampire would really always follow the line set by the Clan. Surely the needs of the Camarilla were more important. I was really beginning the question the very heart and soul of the political setup of the game, and the way it had been presented. I wanted more conflict, but my understanding of these things was limited. I guess that is where mage came in with the Traditions and sub Traditions and crafts. I realised that this type of political landscape is what I need in Vampire.

???? ?? ??Then I picked up the Player's Handbook and in there was absolute gold. A section dealt with Clans and it started along the lines of 'You can choose your friends, and not your family'. I think it even gave an example. Such as 'It is the will of Clan Brujah' and the response being 'Yeah what ever. Fuck off!'

???? ?? ??So while I cooked the setting for Vampire Manchester (my Mage chronicle taking place in that setting), and started to think more and more about factions, and factions within factions.

???? ?? ??And then something happened. Gehenna and Vampire: the Requiem.

???? ?? Requiem had me sold with just four things. More factions, less clans, clan bloodlines, no more generation. Finally a setting could be a balance of all these Covenants, and without any being considered the bad guys (something I love hate about Mage: the Ascension by the way). With less Clans clan actually becomes more important as they become larger power blocks, and well formed bloodline rules made bloodlines respected, and feared, rarities.

???? ?? So without much effort my Vampire: Masquerade Manchester setting became a Requiem setting.

???? ??I'm now going to summarise what I like about what Requiem changed.

  • Gothic Punk no more - It was fun to begin with but after a while there is only so much you can take. The mood of the game becomes too much of a joke. Requiem's Modern Gothic better reflects the world we live in now. It's like the difference between watching Batman (Tim Burton), and The Dark Knight (Chris Nolan). Both great but one is more relevant to our times.
  • Covenants - OK I love the Camarilla. I love the Sabbat. But there comes a time where being on one side or the other becomes tiring. The way Requiem did away with that and allowed for cities to be a fine balance of power between 5 (or more) groups, while removing the idea of cities being constantly under siege/at war, made the issues for each city individual. So what if two cities have both got Invictus Princes. The problems facing each are different. One may have a Carthian uprising to deal with while the other in fact needs his Carthian allies, and Lancea Sanctum allies, and Crone allies, and Ordo Dracul allies, to defeat an incursion of VII. In one fell swoop Covenants redrew the scale of the game to local politics, where being a member of a Covenant doesn't mean you have immediate allies half a world away.
  • Clans - Choosing clans was a bitch. So many choices made character generation tiresome. Now you know what you are getting when a player says, 'I'm a Gangrel', is a particular type of vampire. Unlike when a player would being choosing between the quite similar Brujah and Gangrel of Masquerade. But with small numbers of clans comes better roleplaying. Now you cannot just assume all Gangrel are exactly the same. You are encouraged to break the mould and bring something new to the Clan.
  • ??Bloodline rules - Bloodlines are something a player can in fact create or join. Plus a Bloodline is something that can be emphasized in game as part of a character's heritage. In Masquerade the amount of Clans would make Bloodlines seem unimportant.
  • Generation gone - Generation was great. It gave a sense of lineage (some thing that the importance of bloodlines reinstalls). But it also made players slide to the inevitable hungry hippos game of munching on elders, just to score more power. The blood potency rules still allow this, but of course now that you can increase in power without going that route, munching on elders is now a major faux pas, and a wonderful short cut to power, rather than a necessity.
  • Theban Sorcery + Cruac and Coils - I love these things since it adds another layer to Vampiric power. It means you can play character like the old school Tremere with out actually all being the same fucking clan. Once more it removes the need to diablerize just to get the kewl powerz! Instead just join the Covenant you like (or steal from them!)

???? ?? ??Things I miss. The original Vampire: the Dark Ages setting but really, all things considered, you just have to deal with the Crone, Invictus and Lancea Sanctum and their associated internal factions and heresies and pretty much all the clans from Dark Ages can be represented as a Clan/Covenant/Bloodline combo.So there are the things that sold me Requiem. Hope it is of interest.

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