Posted by: markfender | December 11, 2013

V:tR – Mythologies

Okay, this book is awesome.

mythologiesOne of my complaints about Requiem over Masquerade was the lack of history behind the game. With the toolkit approach of the new line, it couldn’t really build in a sense of time or place. This book goes a long way towards fixing that by doing what the line does best, presenting options. That’s right, it’s a toolkit for creating vampiric mythology.

The first section of the book is entitled Damnation. Where did vampires come from? In other words, origin stories. With the death of the Caine myth in Masquerade, the new game has been playing coy about where exactly vampires came from. This section presents a whole host of origins. Blood of the Bull is the first one, which states that vampires emerged from Mithras. This is, of course, awesome since mystery cults are awesome. It even presents a modern-day mystery cult who have rediscovered some of the secrets lost. Unfortunately, its signature Discipline is not written up in the manner that Disciplines are written in Requiem. Editing fail.

The next origin is Sons of the Serpent, which paints pretty close to Biblical stories of temptation. It narrowly avoids mentioning Caine (but does throw out a mention of 15 generations of vampires). It might be the closest to your old school Masquerade games, except for the game changes it suggests (like all vampires being able to mesmerize people with their gaze).

Embraced by Fear suggests that vampires spontaneously emerged from those who, in ancient times, held a certain fear. The Corpse Afraid to Rot, the Heart Afraid to Bleed, etc. This is kind of a neat idea, but it doesn’t build up much mythology behind it. There’s certainly a lot of psychology there, but very little old fashioned world building. I mean, with some of these other ideas, you’ve got some ideas for relics or ancient enemies that can rear their ugly heads in modern nights, but not this one.

Next up are Blood Gods, which present, well, some blood gods. These are divorced from any real-world religions, which might limit them in a game ostensibly about the real world slightly twisted (which is what the WoD usually claims to be). However, the modern day cults and new Merits more than make up for this lack. This one has a lot of potential.

Emperors of Blood posits that the first vampires emerged from the Emperors of Rome. It’s enough in antiquity that this can provide some interesting ideas for modern day games. And it certainly throws a new light on the Camarilla. Unfortunately, later books in the line directly contradict this one so you’ve got to pick and choose which books and their ideas are canon (which, granted, should be done with most of these toolkit books).

The next section is Modern Legendry, which is mostly about food. Okay, it’s really about weird vampire myths that may or may not be true that might make for some interesting games. But most of them are about food. The first one, for instance, is that vampires are actually Sin Eaters. It’s even got a Discipline. The second one is Breath-Drinkers and Liver-Eaters. Basically, it’s playing off myths of other cultures and how their particular versions of vampires feed. It also includes a Breath Drinking Discipline, but only a single Merit for Liver-Eating.

The next idea is a drug that can affect vampires called Solace. This could lead to some interesting stories. It’s kind of disturbing where the drug comes from, though – the blood of cutters.

The Sleep of Reason is another food-related idea – vampires can eat dreams.

Understanding the Fog of Eternity started off with a decent idea: what happens to vampires in torpor? Unfortunately, it’s really more of an origin story of one particular vampire and their weird visions. And it evokes Plato a lot. So enjoy. The Second Death is the next section and it actually talks about what I thought the previous section was going to talk about. It presents a potential thing that happens to vampires while in torpor – they wander the Underworld.

Art in the Blood is the last idea in this section and it details Imago, which are ghostly beings who live in paintings painted from Kindred blood. I don’t really know what to do with that one.

What Monsters Fear is the last section and it details various bugaboos you can sic on your vampire characters. The Thing in the Mirror is the first, which is basically the Bloody Mary myth but with someone named Red Jack. That seems like an odd idea for a group of creatures that can’t actually see themselves in mirrors.

The Just Angel is an angel hunting vampires. That’s pretty cool, but it directly ties into the Lancae Sanctum’s beliefs, which eliminates any faith involved in that particular interpretation of scripture. So, if you’re okay with the Testament of Longinus being fact, then I guess this is a good monster.

The next section feels like it should maybe go in the last section, Blood Curses. This is the many mythological beliefs about what stops vampires. Being unable to cross running water, having to pick up every grain of dropped rice, etc. This section covers various ways that vampires could be effected by these curses, from spells of mages to things passed on in the blood, as well as rules on how to enact them.

My Ghoul, My Master: The Phanariot is the story of a spirit/disease that gets passed on into ghouls. This disease thing then lets the ghoul gain control over their master. It’s a pretty cool idea for some vampire/mortal interactions.

The Frenzy Plague posits the idea of frenzies that spread. Since riots tend to do that as well, I think this one works pretty well and could lead to some interesting scenarios.

The Black Hounds is basically the Wild Hunt, but for vampires. So there’s that. The Hunter is essentially the Bogeyman, but for vampires. And the last one, Dread Night of the City, introduces the idea of an ancient god eating your city. So that’s a thing.

I thought this book was pretty cool. I like origin stuff, so that I can introduce wacky ideas into the modern world, whether that be strange relics or mad cults. So a lot of those ideas are cool. The second section was a little less interesting to me, but that’s because I’m not really looking to change how vampires actually work in my games. If you are, though, this section should have you covered. The last section was pretty decent, too, for potential antagonists that aren’t mortals or other vampires. I probably wouldn’t use more than one of these in a campaign, but, hey, there’s lots of options to choose from. So that’s cool.


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