Review : Children of the Night

A book of antagonists for Vampire: The Masquerade.

Well it’s nice to see another of White Wolf‘s NPC tomes. This book, like Children of the Inquisition and Camarilla’s Most Wanted before it, is an grouping together of important NPCs in the world of V:TM, together with backgrounds and stats. It’s not quite a sequel, as some of the information is duplicated from previous books (World of Darkness 2nd EdChildren of the Inquisition and various others) but with nice updates to the timelines and the occasional restating.

Unlike it’s forefathers this book has more than just a smattering of vampires, we get a huge number of NPCs for our money from the lowly caitiff, through Primogen to the Justicars and Inconnu Monitors. It’s divided up into sections dedicated to the various sects and the independants. We get the dominions of the black hand, all the justicars and some of the ex-justicars and lots of nice background to use as story hooks..

Some of the stats are, well, a tad weaker than you might expect. Which in a way is good, because it proves that personality and influence is what counts. But in a way is bad, as I can see many PCs going “but I could give X a good thrashing”. The stats are however not the main emphasis, the background of the chracters is and we do get some nice stories here. There’s Monty Coven, the assamite who diablerised Mithras (and is slowly turning into him), a dominion of the Black Hand who is so old and close to the beast that even his fellow sabbat are afraid to enter a room alone with him, the leader of the Harbingers of Skulls, a Lasombra who turned his back on the sabbat and became a camarilla prince, and a caitiff with a crecent moon birthmark…………..

All of which will mean little to you if you don’t play Vampire, in fact this book is wasted on you if you don’t intend to run a chronicle for Vampire. These NPCs are purely vampire in plot, they won’t really fit into any of the other storyteller games, not if you’re using them to their full extent. It’s also definitely a book for the storyteller only, as too many of the characters secrets will change your players perceptions of the world of darkness. Players will get much more fun discovering these during play, and then worrying about them a great deal.

The book also gives a nice guide to the overall feel of the World of Darkness. No character given in this book is without some piece of tragedy in their history and the scale of the various plots and intrigues is nicely portrayed. You have everything from global conspiracy to minor vendetta. Some of these NPC’s actions will influence your players lives from far off, and so it’s more a book about the way the world of darkness is evolving than anything else.

The artwork is improved from the earlier Vampire sourcebooks, you at least get a good feeling of how the character looks, and for a change appearance stats are conveyed in the portraits. Some portraits, like those of Elimelech and Sasha Vycos really give across the feel of the characters. Presentation in general is as we would expect from White Wolf, with each chracter set out with it’s background, a portrait and it’s stats.

Overall: Definitely useful if you want to run a wideranging Vampire: The Masquerade game, there are NPCs here of all levels of power and prestige. It is unfortunately a tad lacking in consistent stating (some characters have lost powers they used to possess), but then that’s hardly the point of vampire. It’s full of quality story hooks, and definitely a good read. Oh and check out pages 9 and 67 for an interesting surprise.

Review : Clanbook Salubri

A vampire darkages clanbook.

By Cynthia Summers, White Wolf

Clanbook Salubri is the third of the clanbooks series to be produced specifically for Vampire : The Dark Ages. It gives an in depth view on the Salubri bloodline, from it’s history as healers and holy warriors, to it’s present nights, being hunted down by the Tremere.

It’s nice to finally see a book dedicated to the Salubri. Their tragic tale is one of the more compelling parts of the World of Darkness and they have long been deserving of greater coverage. Now we finally get some insight into how the bloodline operated before they were all but wiped out. The book adds to the background considerably, and avoids repetition from too many earlier supplements.

The book details the clans history, from it’s early wars with the Baali to the dark medieval times. We also get some gorgeous descriptions of the three Salubri factions, the healers, the warriors and the watchers. The healers are wandering helpers of man and vampire, as per modern day vampire.The warriors make an interesting alternative, being mystic crusaders against the infernal. The watchers are incredibly interesting, they keep an eye on the Tremere, but don’t do anything, as if they are waiting for something….

There’s some good quality background history here. Along with the standard space wasters of too lurid prose and concept suggestions, you get some very nice alternate powers, a good bit of detail on the organisation of the clan, and some very tasty pieces of info on the world of darkness “backplot”. The book is written as a report on a dwindling bloodline by one of it’s few remaining friends, which gives it a nice feel, without detracting too much. Scattered throughout are some very nice pieces of flavour text, which add to the atmosphere of the book (for a change).

Overall:This is a well written sourcebook, which puts many of the older clanbooks (Ventrue and Brujah, we are looking in your direction) to shame.