Posted by: markfender | November 20, 2013

V:tR – VII

Mysterious vampires are mysterious.

VIIVII are one of the new ideas introduced in Requiem so it’s potentially interesting to see a sourcebook on them. All we know from the main book is that they’re vampires who hunt vampires, can’t be mindread/interrogated, and have some sort of motif around the roman numeral seven. In true toolbox fashion, this book doesn’t tell you what VII are. Instead, it offers three possible explanations of what VII is, allowing you to use whichever version you want for your game. Or, hell, combining several of them. Whatever.

In the spirit of that, the introduction includes a list of “sevens” that can inspire VII in your game. Things like the Seven Directions, the Seven from Thebes, etc. etc. Just in case you needed some more mythological overtones to toss into your game.

The first interpretation of VII is written by Greg Stolze. This makes it the best. No, seriously. In this version, the VII are the Ahranites, a lost Clan from the fallen city of Gomorrah (so as to avoid Sodomite jokes, I’m sure). Their blood has a demonic taint as well, since they made a deal with a demon to get back at their hated enemies – vampires. In game terms, this is written up like a new Clan, complete with Weakness and Clan Discipline. They also get a lot of other benefits due to their demon blood, such as an inability to diablerize or be diablerized, the aforementioned mind shield, and an inability to create ghouls. This creates some interesting ideas as they must recruit from outside the Clan if they wish to have any servants that operate during the day. They also have a pretty terrible Discipline in Praestantia, which allows them to add their dots in it to most physical actions. Combine this with their Celerity and they become crazy dodge monkeys that are going to be annoying to deal with in combat. They also have access to Ahranite Sorcery, which helps them in infiltrating Kindred domains.

There’s two interesting things to note about the Ahranites. First, due to their origins, they have some of the ancient Levantine mythology that Masquerade did so well and that Requiem has been lacking. Second, Greg Stolze spends most of his page count in discussing the ways that VII destroys the vampires in a city. This is easily genericized for the other versions of VII in the rest of the book, making this first section useful overall.

The next group has somewhat similar origins. They’re the remnants of a kingdom that lost their ruler to vampire predations. Like the Tremere of old, they have transformed themselves into vampires to wreak vengeance upon those that destroyed them. In an interesting twist, they’re actually made up of seven different Bloodlines (well, six. In typical White Wolf fashion, one of the Bloodlines has been lost to the mists of time). Initially, I thought this was a cool idea. If you give each Bloodline a unique Discipline, you’ve got fertile territory for always keeping your players guessing about what VII is actually capable of. That seemed like a pretty cool additional mystery for VII…except that’s not what they did. Instead, each Bloodline has the typical Disciplines that all vampires have access to. Instead, these vampires have Specters which haunt their blood. These grant various minor benefits. A few of them have odd powers that vampires wouldn’t normally display, but it’s not to the extent that I was expecting. Their Beast operates slightly differently as well, called the Burning. This is where they manifest the typical VII abilities. The tying of that to their Beast makes them operate differently than the other VII variations in this book and it’s an interesting idea. Ultimately, however, that’s all it is – interesting. I felt that this variation was less interesting than the others. It basically postulates an alternate Covenant with alternate Clans. While I can certainly see some stories emerge from this sort of set-up, it ultimately felt unsatisfying, as if it wasn’t pushing the boundaries enough.

The last idea is a Manchurian Candidate one – ordinary vampires can be members of VII and not even know it. This one involves a history of mesmerism, spiritualism, and mixing that with psychic powers with blood-based powers. Unfortunately, the history section cuts off just as the group evolves into VII. So, now I have a lot of useless background information about how the group formed, but not much about triumphs/losses since becoming VII. Missed opportunity. That being said, it’s an interesting group. Basically, you’ve got an eschatological cult about purifying sin and transcending, all with a viral hidden multiple personality disorder vibe. So now you can tell stories about the Final Five.

Overall, this is a pretty cool book. As mentioned, the first variation has lots of useful information for all the variations, even your own variation if you so desire it. All of the ideas could inspire a campaign bad guy, from a resistance front, to adding an additional Covenant into vampire politics, to hidden insurgents. These obviously touch upon each other, and I think each variation has its own merits as well as areas where cross-over between ideas could happen. I’m less enthused by the second variation, if only because it didn’t move in a direction that I thought would have been more interesting. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for some cool Requiem stories.

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