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V20 Beckett's Jyhad Diary
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Karl E. L. H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/13/2018 10:20:01

Now this is a first for me as this is perhaps the first ever Matthew Dawkins project i have read, which i have not immediately loved. This might also be the biggest indicator of my shifting priorities as a gamer. As i used to love pure lore write ups like these, but now i am more a fan of seing new mechanics combined with fluff rather than pure fluff itself. So i have spent a lot of time pondering what my opinion is regarding this book.

So first the positives: The Writing is good as per the standard that we have come to expect from Onyx Path. They help collect and in many ways salvage the burn shipwreck that is the lore of Vampire the Masquerade. It provides many excellent campaign ideas and guides for how to run these ideas or scenarios. They finally adress Mesoamerican vampires in a proper manner, as the Tlacique weren't quite enough to cover the potential goldmine of splat ideas that you could pull from that region. We get an established continuity between the three Laibon Legacies introduced in V20 Dark Ages and the rest of the Laibon community...and we get more Laibon mentions so yaaay. And yes with the mesoamerican vampires there were new splats introduce which always= yay in my book. It was good we got some of the Thin Blood stuff to be updated at least the mechanical portion of it.

Now for the negatives, and do keep in mind that this is my opinion and i might be a huge dumbfuck childling who is ruining the business. que angry Jim Cornette Rant: There are too few new mechanical additions to this book. This is most noteable when it comes to the Drowned Legacies, and i know that it would probably have been very difficult to do them justice considering there are word constraints and such. But i still have to point out that when some of them even have unique disciplines and they don't get a write up i have to tsk that. Hopefully we get to see the Drowned Legacies in a future book, either in V20 or Fifth Edition. Secondly i find that the inclusion of the 16th gen and the rewrite of dhampirs was largely pointless and i still do not see why dhampirs exists...as mechanically speaking they are just revenants except they suck. I think the 15th generation was a nice and round number to stop things, and we could have made Dhampirs with the abillity to reach max 2 disciplines and such, so to make them distinct from Revenants. Anyway lastly i would have tried to murder the whole Rasputin issue in the crib, rather than trying to make sense out of the like 50 different supernatural splats who claimed him as one of them. However the way they went about it was still well written so this is a tiny negative overall.

Now for my biggest criticism of this book i might earn quite a few angry glares from my fellow readers, but i think this has to be said. And sorry for my angry outburst..I HATE, HATE, HATE! When roleplaying books changes the font, page and even writing style several times throughout the book. In this book we go from standard vtm source book, to chat logs, ancient tomes written in cursive, and ripped out notebook pages that have been written on and so on. To me it makes the book very hard and distracting to read, and i have a hard time absorbing the content. I know it is done both for aesthetic and in character reasons as this is Beckett's Jyhad diary after all, but i would have prefered it if we could have just stuck to one type of font and page background. This very same issue is what made me stop reading another Onyx Path book(Secret of the Covenants for vtr by the way). Now as i said i might just be a dumbfuck, but i still think that this complaint is at least noteworthy.

Now that i have presented my positives and negatives, we have to discuss if they actually matter. Maybe i am just coming at this book from the wrong perspective, i should have perhaps lowered my expectations in regards to new mechanical additions. Or just had the point of view that this isn't that kind of book. However i am coming with that particular line of Criticism since there actually were new mechanical additions to the book, few as they were mind you. Anyway now despite the fact that i have used two sections to list of what i perceive as negatives in this book, i do not think the negatives outnumber the positives in the terms of value. The thing about criticism is that it is much easier to specifically define what you don't like and why you don't like it, as opposed to define why something is good. So i will not hide that i can have a bit of a motormouth when it comes to ranting about what i do not like. However for any potential readers of this review, do not misunderstand my stance regarding this book.

It is quite clear to me that this is a labor of love and hard work on account of the many people involved in this major project, and i think that overall this is a positive addition to the long list of Vampire the Masquerade books. In many ways this is actually the most necessary books of them all, as somebody had to salavage and make some sense out of the huge mess that is the lore of the past editions of VTM. A lore i have come to appreciate less and less over the years as i have re-examined the various editions. Like how the survival of the Tremere makes veeeery little sense in Universe when you look at their history, but that is a rant for another day. So anyway i don't want to discount the tremendous effort that must have been put in to make something salvageable out of the lore and collecting it into one massive compendium.

We will need that compendium more than ever as we move into the new era of the World of Darkness, and the games are going to be taken in a very bold and new direction by the new White Wolf. que fist shaking at those diabolical swedes. So my conclusion is that while i appreciate this book and think that everybody should buy it, i don't think this one is quite for me as it doesn't quite align with my tastes. However that is not to say that the book is not good, it just didn't match all of my criterias. We can only hope that the many great ideas and splats mentioned/presented in this book get mechanical and lore follow ups in the future.

-Karl Erik L. Hoftaniska



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Beckett's Jyhad Diary
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Beast Player's Guide
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Karl E. L. H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/08/2018 08:03:15

This book is everything you could ever want out of a player's guide. It expands the understanding of Beast Psychology and it even reveals societies of Begotten, which to many fans of the Chronicles of Darkness or the World of Darkness is a known and beloved aspect of their games. I find them to be diverse and well written so that is something, and i like how the different societies can be grouped into larger categories. Cults of Incarnate Beasts, Societies devoted to the Dark Mother and more are to be found in this book.

It helps us with understanding the inhuman and primordial mindsets of the Begotten and how they react to various things, like being subjected to a Hero's Anathema. They help us with understanding the world view of each family and each hunger, from everything to other supernaturals to the pursuit of inheritance. 3 new Inheritances are added to the game, and i personally think that this ends the circle as each inheritance has now a contrasting one.

There is not only fluff however there are many new mechanical additions to the game. We have merits related to every notable aspect of the game; General Merits, Kinship Merits and Lair Merits. These merits introduce many new potential ideas to the game(like making a chamber in your lair into a small colony for humans and supernatural creatures). New lair traits are introduced to help further customizing your lair and several new avatisms and nightmares as well. And a nice helpful guide to create kinship nightmares.

However there are not just expansions to already existing mechanics that are introduced, there are entirely new mechanics introduced as well. Horrorspawn are perhaps the most extensive of the new mechanics introduced save one other. Horrorspawn are lesser children of the character's horror, but at the same time they are an extension of the character. They serve as the physical monsters that many have clamored for in beast. And afterall who wouldn't want to have a few children ;). The other major new mechanic that has been introduced are Obacus Rites, which i for one am a major fan of. They serve as a great storytelling tool and a way to make Beasts more religiously oriented. I could see a Brood of the Begotten and a Coven of Vampires join together over their shared faith in the dark mother and their shared magic of Obacus Rites and Cruac. My only complaint about the book comes here however, as i do think that there should have been added more rites to the book.

Lastly i have to talk about the two new families and hungers. We have the Inguma who are the Nightmares of the Other. They are the most human of the Begotten and they are the youngest as they came about at the dawn of civilization. They are the representation of the fear of Outsiders, the living result of Xenophobia. Honestly this makes them perhaps the most interesting family to me, as their horrors are usually Human in shape. They are the ones who do not fit in and see society from an outsider's perspective. The other family are the Talassi the fear of Confinement. They were cursed long ago to become Kidnappers and Jailers. They are the constrictor snakes, the horror which snatches your child out of bed or the warden kobold in the mountain. They are not bad, but i didn't connect much to them. As for the two new hungers: The Whispers and the Enablers. They are both nice new additions to the game and it helps clear up Collectors once and for all. Whispers are the hunger for secrets, they collect and expose the secrets of other people. The Enablers are the hunger for transgressions, they are the seductors and tempters of the Begotten Community. They feed on making other people go against their beliefs, cheating spouses, breaking a vow or a fast and so on are what they want.

Anyway so yeah this book is filled with great stuff both from a fluff and a mechanics perspective and it is a must buy for any potential Beast Player.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beast Player's Guide
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V20 Dark Ages Companion
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Karl E. L. H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/20/2017 11:45:23

Onyx Path yet again comes with another good entry to the V20 Dark Ages line. This type of book in the terms of it's location focus is not really my thing. However i have to say this book did do a lot of needed things, as it for one helped build a lot of regions that have been written either sloppily or not given a proper write up at all. India finally got a proper write up and we revisit Africa once more to see the Laibon. That i could also see Bjarkøy get it's own setting write up in the world of darkness amuses me as a Norwegian to no end.

Now where the book really hits it's stride is in the Apocrypha sections at the end of the chapters along with the domain building chapter. It is here that we can finally see more cultural systematic add ons to various clans and bloodlines. The Ramanga get a very interesting expansion of their true nature, their strange variant discipline Aizia and how it differs from Obtenebration. We finally get some updated insight into the role of House Tremere before it became Clan Tremere, and a nice set of war related rituals. There are introduced several new paths to the various Roads that the Cainites of the Dark Medieval World traverse, and even a new bloodline in the Nephilim. Combo disciplines, blood sorcery and other such things are also found in addition to lore bits about the various clans covered here. I also loved that with the Ramanga they once again are stepping away from making the Cainite myth confirmed as there are vampires who have come into being independently from the clans and bloodlines of the world.

The domain building system was a very much needed element in the dark ages and to be honest the vampre lisence as a whole. Considering that Vampires are all about empire building in the long term, this system helps with such things as city creation projects. Which i have personal experience with when it comes to running Dark Ages, some pcs want to create their own cities and there is nothing wrong with that if it fits the scope of the game. So having a proper system to help build cities and smaller holdings along with storyhook ideas reflected mechanically are all very welcome additions to the game.

I also did appreciate the various non vampire supernatural creatures that are introduced in the book. Like the Fossegrim for example, as it not only helps with generating antagonists but it also helps expand the supernatural world as a whole. As we all know players of world of darkness games, can sometimes become too jaded and prepared for everything. So it is nice having the abillity to throw them an unknown curveball here and there.

Now my big criticism of this game that keeps it from 5 stars, has to be that i miss more of the system and clan additions. I would have loved to see the Telyavellic Tremere get a proper Dark Ages V20 write up, as they have been perhaps next to only the Lhiannan as the most prolific of all the Dark Ages bloodlines in the past. More system additions to various Clans that only got lore and vice versa would have been nice. And more new bloodlines to help cover the regions that do not share the very euro centric culture of main stream vampire society or expansions to some of the new dark ages bloodlines beyond the Ramanga. Maybe even a new discipline or two beyond the Sadhana updates.

However beyond that criticism i think this is a very good and worthwhile book and i will certainly poach ideas from it, as i do from many media sources. As the great man Jim Cornette once said: "stealing from one place is plagiarism, stealing from many is research".



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Dark Ages Companion
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New Gods of Mankind Fate's Guidebook 1st Edition
Publisher: Dark Skull Studios
by Karl E. L. H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/09/2016 09:56:49

Fate's guidebook may perhaps be the most needed supplement to the New Gods of Mankind franchise as the first book while introducing an excellent premise and doing a lot for the world building left a lot to be desired when it comes to ideas for what to run as a storyteller. Thankfully this book helps with making it simpler to ponder plot ideas for the game. It adds more to the world building and helps exploring different things one can do with the player pantheon so this book is definately a necessary reed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Gods of Mankind Fate's Guidebook 1st Edition
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V20 The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal’Mahe’Ra
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Karl E. L. H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/09/2016 08:51:58

It is a well written book, but it has a few problems in relation to overstuffing the game. They reference bloodlines that do not get proper write ups in the book beyond a few sentences like the resurfaced Lamia that was granted a new name. The tlacique are also a bloodline that i would have welcomed a write up about.

The book introduces several new paths of koldunic sorcery and thaumaturgy, old paths of necromancy, rituals and several merits and flaws. They rework the rules for abominations, ghoul mages, fae, mummies and ghosts as player characters using V20 as their basis rather than their own books. These elements might i add are positive since i am biased towards supernatural additions to vtm since unlike it's more esoteric siblings: werewolf and mage it can end up being less supernaturally involved unless you are playing a tremere or a similar clan.

They take the old dark ages mage system to apply it to mages serving the Tel Mahe Ra named the Intarajara. Now this could have been given an even larger section to be honest. Because since they took the time to introduce so much of them anyway it would have been nice to have been given some more information on their duties, views and culture after all these years.

They also reworked the ghoul mage rules which is nice since being a mage ghoul is a 5 point merit in mage and having a 5 point merit that screws you over is bad game design considering that you in the revised write up of ghoul mages you slowly lost your avatar and later arete rating...this is dumb considering you spend 5 freebie points on a merit that has enough problems as it is. Therefor seeing this very welcome rule change is a very good addition to not only vampire, but also to mage the ascension for future reference which i am grateful for. It also ties up inconsistencies in past write ups in ironically the original dirty secrets of the black hand and the rafastio family having mage members while also being revenants.

The sect also has had an excellent write up for the Harbingers of Skulls along with several cults that are fronts for the Tel Mahe Ra's true designs. The Harbingers of Skulls in this write up are less driven by a need for revenge than their Sabbat siblings and they take a more long term and enlightened view which is only natural considering their age. The mystery of the famous Capuchin character gets some interesting hints, but i will reveal nothing more here about that. The different cults/organizations presented as the different fingers of the hand is a lovely collection of original creations and new write ups of already existing groups like Terrell & Squib from Orpheus and the Midnight Circus. These groups functions as tools for distraction, infiltration, recruitment, information gathering and more so that the true hand is not revealed to main stream vampire society, but they still have ways to keep the upperhand in the Jyhad.

Some fans of VTM might come to dislike how many supernatural and to put in other words fluff based elements you find in the game. Abominations, Mage cults using a different variant of true magic than the one in mage the ascension, mummies, fae, ghosts, demons and more is being mentioned as either potenitial antagonists or player characters or both. Still keep in mind that VTM is not an island and it is in a world ladden with supernatural creatures, places, time periods, objects and groups. Elders who have chosen to find allies among some of these or thralls is only natural and this book makes it easier to have crossover chronicles from a systematic perspective. There is a system for mages now in stead of just copy pasting a discipline. Rules for stepping side ways for werewolves is properly introduced as is rules for how to make abominations, ancilla and elder characters and other things that don't fit the norm without the st having to buy 3 to 5 different gamelines so he can use them properly in a cross over game.

Note that some of these flaws can be rectified with later books. Lore of the Bloodlines being the one that springs to mind, but for now i have to say i am disappointed by all the avenues they open, but that they don't properly explore. As I said beyond that this is a very well written book that is worth a read, but might have attempted to eat more than it could chew. Now I hope to see the writers involved with this project and the other 20th anniversary content continue to produce great material, but please be careful with what you promise so you don't over extend yourself. As much as i would like to see a Tlacique write up or a new bloodline with a new discipline ((HINT HINT)). It is more important that you get in the basics of the sect like you know The True Brujah who are conspiciously absent in any proper way here in stead of having promised so much, but only get it in vague mentions.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
V20 The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal’Mahe’Ra
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