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Ten Cent Maps - The Spires of Chimney Cove
Publisher: Roan Studio
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/27/2017 10:45:07

Here's what you NEED to know: This is the best dollar I've spent in a long time! I belive you will agree.

Not only do you get a wonderful map of a crazy-awesome site, but you get maps of locations within this spire, ideas about what happens there (including a menu for the inn in town), AND blank versions of all maps for YOU to fill in as you may. Look, this is the BEST dollar you'll spend today. Seriously.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ten Cent Maps - The Spires of Chimney Cove
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Mage The Awakening Tarot
Publisher: White Wolf
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2017 12:38:55

What can I say about this? The deck is lovely at all levels. Gorgeous art, well printed, presented in a fine tuck box, a fantastic deal for a very nice tarot, whether you use it for Mage: The Awakening or not, it is worth the money.

Two criticisms: First is that the 'insert' for the rules isn't available to buy in PoD, but know that I do understand the limitations of such. Second is that the insert only covers the major arcana, which makes the fact that I already own the Keys to the Supernal Tarot (available separately from this same site) all the more important. Note that you WILL want that book, too, in order to get the most out of this deck in a game, but it's not necessary by any means.

The above notwithstanding, I cannot say enough about how great this deck is. Very pleased.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage The Awakening Tarot
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V20 Dark Ages Companion
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2017 12:18:41

The one thing I found wanting from V20 Dark Ages was world building, and this book offers a good deal of that, as well as some wonderful additions to stories begun in the previous interations of Vampire in the Dark Medieval era. Know that I give this five stars, but I'm rounding up from, like, a four-and-a-half stars rating? I'd knock off a little for some of the art (there's one piece in particular that looks straight up lifted out of Poser), and I think that the Clan Apocrypha bits are a tad hit-and-miss. However, there is WAAAY more to love than hate here!

We receive not only updates to domains like Constantinople and Rome, but we get a look at places well outside of Europe such as Mogadishu and Mangalore ('Mangaluru' in the old form here) in Africa and India, respectively. The domain descriptions fall short of a full 'by Night' book coverage, but they are far more than we'd see in a brief blurb within a core rule book. You mileage may vary on how well each finds the right balance – I found that nearly ALL of the informaion on the domain of Bjarkarey strained credulity, for example – but you shall find plenty here to help you flesh out your version of the Dark Medieval era.

Beyond the domains themselves, though, there are tools for making your chronicle better, and this starts in the Introduction that reminds you that all of this information is here for YOU to do with as YOU please. Mix-and-match elements? Yeah, that's cool. Ignore stuff you don't like? Oh sure, no harm in that. All throughout I found myself alternately thinking 'Oh that's good!' and 'Huh uh, bullocks to that!' The book is wonderful for this, from the 'fluff' to the 'crunch' in it.

Is this book vital for the game? No. Is it a great addition? Oh yes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Dark Ages Companion
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V20 Lore of the Bloodlines
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/12/2017 12:59:27

Okay, anyone whose read many reviews for these books probably thinks I'm a shill for Onyx Path or something, but I do quite love these books... Well, I WAS fairly disappointed in that V20 Ghouls book. Anyway, this one is kinda amazing.

First off, the CONCEPT of Lore of the Bloodlines has been, like, over twenty-five years coming. The first of these vamires I remember seeing was the 'blood line' Salubri from the Players Guide back in '91, and then came the Gargoyles, Blood Brothers (sadly not in THIS book) and Baali from the '92 The Storytellers Handbook. After that, an explosion of bloodlines came, each with lovely hints and mysteries to explore. Not until now, though, have we received a proper look at these Kindred and Cainites – and even stranger identifiers to listen to these monsters – in a single book.

Know that ALL of the bloodlilnes are not in here. As a 'stretch goal' for the V20 Lore of the Clans Kickstarter, this book was funded in stages. The bloodlines that appear here are those that the backers were able to achieve, so the above-mentioned Blood Brothers, alas, didn't make the cut. However, the nine bloodlines we DID get are a very nice spread of posibilities from the entire run of Vampire: The Masquerade. I don't see the limited scope as a ding against the book so much as the ever-present 'wish I could'a had' chance to winge.

Good points: Well-written in character and out of character bits; evocative as well as informative art that fits the V20 aesthetic; and very consistent, polished presentation all combine to make this book a worthy addition to the line. These are the easiest to quantify, but there's more to love here.

My favourite part is how the presented information offers more new and myeterious content than even the gigantic Lore of the Clans did. Since there was no previous edition, the amount of apparent cut-and-paste (of ideas rather than literal, mind you) that we've seen in some other V20 books is very small here. Further, the book isn't afraid to contradict what we already know... or THINK we know. Bits from older books are as often called out as lies as they are mentioned as fact (Kiasyd with Necromancy, anyone?), and while oddities like those presented in, say, The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal'Mahe'Ra aren't mentioned for the Harbingers of Skulls, nor are they outright contradicted. It's all presented more as the POSSIBLE than as anything required. Like when I first discovered the idea of bloodlines, this whole book feels novel., but the format like that of the Lore of the Clans makes it easy to use at the talbe and elsewhere. It's a familiar presentation of something new.

In all, I find this book a wonderful expansion of the World of Darkness that my vampires inhabit.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Lore of the Bloodlines
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Promethean the Created 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Paul B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/31/2016 16:56:15

I love this book. I love this game. I was a playtester for this Second Edition version, in fact. All that said, I appreciate and acknowledge that everyone may not share these feelings. Promethean: the Created offers experiences that run the gamut from extremely personal journeys to over-the-top transhuman craziness, and while my goals tend towards the former, I understand that mileage varies. So, what about the book? I think that it tends towards catering more to that personal side, but it does not negate any other options. I’ll go into more detail below… The book is a true new edition of the game, with some heavy revisions, big additions, and refinements (not just the ten philosophies of the Created) that shift some of the game’s base assumptions. Much of it is based on focusing and enhancing the experience of the Pilgrimage, the journey towards the New Dawn of becoming truly mortal. You see this right away with the ten Refinements – divided into Basic and Complex, where the former are ‘intuitive’ to follow while the latter require some teacher – and the addition of Roles that are tied to Transmutations that are no longer the one-to-five dot buffet of First Edition, but now nested sets of effects that tie strongly to Roles and their Refinements, all of which are somewhat based on your character’s Elpis and Torment archetypes (think along the lines of Virtue and Vice), but they lead to one of three forms of milestones that add to your Pilgrimage score (kinda like Humanity), leading to Vitriol and the eventual New Dawn. Does all of that sound complex? Yeah, it kinda is until you play it. At that point, you see just how many OPTIONS this game offers! Getting to that point, though, may prove difficult for some of us. New players may feel that entering the game is a bit like a trial by fire, and even seasoned veterans of Promethean can find the additions and changes jarring. That’s when taken as a whole, but when broken down to the individual character, it’s far more manageable. There are seven Lineages (adding the Unfleshed and Extempore from First Edition supplements) and a whopping ten Refinements (double the First Edition’s), but each is distinctive and well presented. The chapter on the Promethean experience – what some would call ‘fluff’ – is a wonderful introduction to the perspective of the Created, and it segues well to the chapter on mechanics. Here you’ll find character creation, new Merits, and all fifteen of the Transmutations, as well as mechanics for Azoth and the Pilgrimage. Again, it is a lot, for sure. Again, too, it doesn’t need to scare you off. The chapter on antagonists isn’t as robust as maybe I’d like, feeling like it only skims over Pandorans and Qashmallim, and the view of the Alchemists focuses more on what they DO than why they’re to feared. What this chapter does, however, is offer more options, which is good. I’m not a big fan of the ‘location splats’ that have appeared in each of these Second Edition books, but this one has a reasonably good one. Where the book truly shines is the last chapter, on Storytelling, where we find a bunch of great advice on how the game works, what may not work, and ways to let it work without fighting the basic concepts of Promethean. I could have given this a four-star rating for the steep learning-curve or the added complexities, but I choose to see those as wonderful reminders of how nothing in the Promethean experience is easy, and anything worth having is worth working for. Uh, also just on account of how much I LOVE this game! Five stars, and worth every cent I paid.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Promethean the Created 2nd Edition
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V20 Ready Made Characters
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/07/2016 12:57:59

True confessions time: I didn't want any V20 ready-made character nonsense when I saw it as a stretch goal during the V20 Lore of the Clans Kickstarter. I got the PDF when they sent out the link to backers, but I thought the book wouldn't be worth looking at... And then I DID look, and oh my GOODNESS is it great! This is waaaaaay more than I'd expected when I heard the announcement, both in terms of showing us what's great about Vampire: the Masquerade AND in terms of showing us what's possible within the game. Is it perfect? Nah, but that's what makes it kind of perfect. Yes, I've said that about a LOT of V20 products (e.g. The Hunters Hunted II, V20 Black Hand, Rites of the Blood), but this one is really neat for it's ability to offer more than just another supplement. Rather, it offers seeds for your chronicles, whether as something new or as something to grow in the fertile ground of an existing chronicle. These characters come with enough detail to act as starting points, OR they can be picked up for players in a more advanced game. Each has a 'neonate' set of traits as well as a second, 'ancilla' set of traits to give you plenty of options. They present just enough back story to hook you without forcing your hand in what shall become of any of these characters in your chronicles. There is also a very nice set of ready-made coteries of various Sects and outlooks using these character, and finally a helpful bevy of story ideas for these vampires. For the price, it's a STEAL, but don't let that be your only reason you pick this up. This book's something that will help you love Vampire, even if you already love the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Ready Made Characters
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V20 Ghouls & Revenants
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/22/2016 22:47:53

This book answers a demand that I'm not sure many fans had. Right in the credits, there is a thank you to a group at 'L.A. by Night' whose enthusiasm led to the creation of this book, a book that seems written for a VERY specific audience. If you weren't at the L.A. event, you'll find this adds very little of substance to Vampire: the Masquerade twenty or so years after the still preferable Ghouls: Fatal Addiction.

There is some good here. The fiction and art look great for the most part, and the attempts to get inside the head of a ghoul Bound to a vampire is nicely done, but there is little recommend this book otherwise.

Discussion of running or playing a ghoul-centric chronicle lacks much in terms of persuasive reasoning beyond saying it's a challenge. The mechanics for doing so bog-down in pages and pages of Merits and Flaws that do not really fit in World of Darkness. The ghouls themselves are presented as 'splats' for the respective Clans of vampires that make ghouls, but there is prescious little in the text offer differences between a Gangrel ghoul and a Lasombra ghoul beyond what you'd find as differences between those two Clans. The revenant 'splats' fair little better in presenting dry history and sterile description of fashion. Somehow the D'habi and Bratovich are wrung of anything scary in their write-ups, and the newly elevated Rossellini and shiny new Kairouan Brotherhood come across as, frankly, a little boring. This lack of feeling carries throughout the book.

V20 Ghouls and Revenants is a nearly bloodless stab at making the mortals who accept the blood of Caine into something valuable, but its lack of passion leaves the book difficult to justify. I'd expected more from Onyx Path and the V20 line.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Ghouls & Revenants
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V20 The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal’Mahe’Ra
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/11/2016 18:50:17

I've been a fan of Vampire: the Masquerade for, well, a long time. I think of it as THE game of personal horror that I love to share with my friends. The thing is, there is a LOT of this game that falls a bit outside the 'personal horror' milieu, into realms of fantasy, historical revision, even absurdist ideas. The most 'gonzo' examples of what Vampire could be can be found in the original Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand, a book that offered a look at a shadowy, cultish, end-of-times vampire club called the Tal'mahe'Ra or the Manus Nigrum or the True Black Hand... And it was, to put it mildly, a very interesting book.

This is not the same book.

...Oh sure, there is revisions for the Black Hand here, but this tome gives us much more than a simple revised take on the group. Here we find new agendas, new power players, new locations and interpretations of history, but we also get classics polished and trotted out anew, as well as some of what we already knew, insomuch as anything is actually know-able about the True Black Hand.

Is it a perfect book? No. The biggest issue that I find here is that the contents are not linear in presentation, and as a matter of fact, they cannot be. What I mean is that the chapters do not build on one another so much as they interlock with each other. There is information in Chapter 1 that won't make sense until after you've read Chapter 4, and much of it is like this. For a reader like myself, it makes reading on my tablet or computer frustrating when I'd flip back-and-forth with a physical book. However, that's why I shall buy the physical book when it's available.

Is it an easy book? No. The whole notion challenges what we have seen in the rest of the V20 line, but that's totally what the Tal'Mahe'Ra is good for. These monsters are different – in their own estimation as well as when seen by outsiders – and to be different as a monster so iconic as a vampire is... difficult. It's difficult to express, AND it's difficult to maintain. However, this book does a wonderful job of 'going with the crazy' that it embodies without getting too hung up on its own angles.

Is it a worthwhile book? Yes. Vampire doesn't offer us a LOT of 'toolbox' approach books, but I have always seen Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand as just that; you take what you want and like from the book and ditch the rest until you need it. V20 The Black Hand: a Guide to the Tal'Mahe'Ra continues this approach, I think. Everything in here is kinda briliant, but NONE of it is necessary for YOUR game... Unless you want it to be. That's exactly what I wanted from this book, and it delivers splendidly!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
V20 The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal’Mahe’Ra
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Infinite Trinkets
Publisher: Inkwell Ideas
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/15/2016 11:09:18

This is a really neat bit of work for anyone running a game. The charts are well organized and work for those who like the random dice angle as well as those who want to find fast ideas (I'm in that latter category).

Coupled with the Infinite Tomes (from the same publisher), this allows for filling dungeons, laboratories, and libraries of all kinds!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Infinite Trinkets
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Chronicles of Darkness
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/13/2015 15:01:17

What the heck IS Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook, you ask? Well, it's what WAS going to be The World of Darkness Second Edition, but because of, you know, REASONS (do a quick Google search for 'paradox white wolf' to get a notion of what those might entail, OR check out the Onyx Path website), the title became ‘Chronicles of Darkness’ now. So how is it? I like it, but as anyone who reads reviews can see, mileage varies. Below are my reasons that are a tad long-winded. First, you may read my ‘on the tram’ review in two lines, and then see more if you like.

This self-contained rulebook for playing mortals in The Chronicles of Darkness gives you all that you need for supernatural roleplay experience in a well-designed, well written, well imagined single sourcebook, and it looks pretty too!

I’m calling that two lines, but enough of that, what about the details of the book?

Overall, the most jarring – but maybe most wonderful – change is that name: Chronicles of Darkness. It’s not just the title of the book and the new brand for the various game lines (Vampire: the Requiem, Werewolf: the Forsaken, Mage: the Maging, Promethean: the What-have-you), but it’s ALSO the mantra behind everything in this book. Rules, setting, artwork, fiction and 'fluff' (a term I kinda detest, but what can I do?), ALL of it subtly shifts the attention of gameplay towards the narrative element as being key. The WORLD is still a vital thread here, but we get more focus on the STORIES we tell. It's a path we've been on for a while, and we see it more clearly now than ever before.

Please note, while the REASONS I mentioned before (intellectual property, licensing, Scandinavian game companies, etc.) remain facts important here, I endourse the name change for my own reasons, stated above. Anyway, what about the book itself? Having actually READ it rather than 'skimmed over it' as other reviewers might – not judging, as we are all different – I'll share my observations.

The layout and content, as far as using the rules parts of the book, are very well done. The fiction is just enough (something that got a little over-done in the original World of Darkness book, I thought), and the changes/ revisions are handled very well. Tabs in the outside margins help with finding rules or subsections while ‘thumbing-through’ the book – or the virtual equivalent for the PDF – and there are plenty of easy to read charts. In the back, a full appendix has these ready for quick reference, which will be helpful for the hard-copy book and can be printed out from the PDF for a DIY Storyteller screen if you bought the PDF. It keeps that ‘world of darkness’ heading font that we know and love (the ‘scratched letters’), but it’s not a difficult font to read, unlike say, the one that was used in the first edition Vampire: the Requiem.

For 'crunch' (not MY way of describing rules, mind), the changes from ‘first edition’ are not actually grand and sweeping. However, they do make sense, and after about ten years, it's nice to see the revision of things like computer technology and other bits-and-bobs that have changed in a decade or so. More than that, the addition of many new Merits, the whole new system for Tilts and Conditions, changes to Anchors (our Virtue and Vice), and the shift from 'Morality' to 'Integrity' – much of which debuted in the World of Darkness: the God-Machine Chronicle – makes this far more than just a revision. Of course, that brings up the 800 kilo gorilla in the room, and I'll digress a moment to discuss that.

Yes, the God-Machine Chronicle IS about half of this book. Here's the thing about that, though: It is NOT a mandatory part of the Chronicles of Darkness. All of the Second Edition titles for the World of Darkness – oops, Chronicles of Darkness! – have a chronicle in them. Vampire’s Strix Chronicle, Werewolf’s Igdam Chronicle, the soon-to-arrive Mage’s Fallen World Chronicle, perhaps you see a pattern? The God-Machine Chronicle is a tad more involved and intensive than what I've seen from Vampire and Werewolf, but really? It's also very flexible. You are not told exactly WHAT the God-Machine is or must be, and the stories, characters, settings in there can ALL be used for any number of things with just a little work. Again, yes you mileage may vary, but as a Storyteller with less time that I had as a kid, I find those ready-made helps to be, well, a LOT of help! On that note, I want to address the world-building piece outside of the God-Machine thingus.

The rules for making 'monsters' and 'ookie places' ARE stripped-down from The World of Darkness Rulebook, but I see that a serving the overall direction of Chronicles of Darkness. The rules serve the narrative, and I kind of see that as the 'golden rule' of Chronicles of Darkness and its related lines. We tell stories, and the rules should not get in the way of that. Want to build a ghost for the haunted house? The rules let you do that to as much detail as you’ll likely want. Need to have a skinless dog-thing guarding the crypt of someone's necromancer great-grand dad? Oh, you need it on the fly? Yeah, the rules will help you with that, too. Look, if you NEED a ton of info on ghosts or vampires or bogeymen, there are resources out there – heck, the book gives you a wonderful list of them right in the Introduction – but THIS book has all you need to make a solid approximation that four out of five players won't think twice about.

(Note, I have NO research to back up the last claim, but I think that it's terribly conservative if MY troupe of over-educated writers and creative types are any indication... They want the STORY, not the mechanics!)

All of the above notwithstanding, The Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook is not perfect, but nothing is in this world. It is not all-things-to-all-gamers, but it IS a wonderful tool AND a proper game in its own right. That's my last point here, actually – and thanks for reading this far!

The World of Darkness Rulebook was just that, a book of rules to set up all of the following games. Yes, it COULD be a self-contained game, but even the authors and developer didn't MEAN that to happen [insert citation here...]. THIS book, this Chronicles of Darkness book, it IS made to be a game in its own right. That makes it a wonder in and of itself, something well worth the investment, I think. You do not have to agree with me, but now you know why I say that.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chronicles of Darkness
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Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/23/2015 14:33:30

Before we get into this, know that this is a HUGE book! It's crazy-huge. It can cause structural damage when dropped (I assume, since I haven't actually SEEN the physical version, but best not to risk it I think). It is ALSO brilliant for all sorts of reasons.

Mage: the Ascension came out at a time when magic (or 'magick' as we say in the biz) seemed to be failing as a concept. Sure, we had D&D and some stuff from Star Wars or what-have-you. The thing is that Mage brought magick to OUR world, or to the World of Darkness as it is within the game. More than that, though, this form of 'magic' felt real, with requirements and societies and responsibilities – not to mention a LOT of rules – in a way that made it more wondrous, scarier, and ultimately just mad-compelling in a world that didn't know how truly miraculous its very existence is.

...Then came the other editions of Mage. I won't say that any one of them was better or worse than the rest (however, know that I DO have my own preferences), and even with the various improvements and tweaks, changes always brought controversy. After the third – excuse me, REVISED – Edition, old White Wolf packed it in for the World of Darkness, bringing us the Reckoning that finished their game lines and allowed for the 'new' World of Darkness to come along. So all of the worlds ended, and end of Mage came with a bunch of unresolved feelings for me. I wanted more of the lore, more of the Otherworlds, more of the magick that I found in Mage: the Ascension. I didn't want it to end...

It turns out that it never did end, not really, and in true fashion of what I loved at first sight in Mage, this book is a little (irony intended) piece of magick in its own right.

This book, 'Mage 20' or just M20 to some of us, is labelled and presented along the same lines as Vampire: the Masquerade Twentieth Anniversary Edition (or V20 in our 'gamer' shorthand), but this is NOT the same kind of book. The V20 is a dolled-up compilation with some 'spit-shine' on rules and new art. It's lovely, no doubt, but from the outset, the Developer Satyros Phil Brucato (his real name... now) wanted to do more with M20 than simply compile two decades of Mage titles into a single volume. What he and his team did is nothing short of a physical and notional manifestation of the same willworking that Mage planted into my mind so long ago. It's all that came before BUT nothing like its predecessors. It remembers the past (even those what may not have ever happened!) WHILE keeping an eye locked on the future (even those futures that may never come about... Trust me, it's a magick thing that makes sense in the game). It gives you everything that you need to play just about any form of Mage: the Ascension, and YET it straight up TELLS you that nothing presented needs to limit your experience.

All of the factions are here, updated and shiny. All of the Spheres (including those of the Technocracy and their ilk) are here with crisp and clear presentation. All of the histories – up to and beyond the Avatar Storm of Revised Edition – are here. So too are polished mechanics for travel outside of our mortal realms, for magick casting, for wonders and bygones and more. Also here is advice to players and Storytellers for Mage games, along with so many charts and tools that you'll feel like you ought to have paid tuition along with the purchase price (that's a joke... but just). Oh, and don't forget the fiction, the art, and the gorgeous presentation. It's not just magickal, it's a work of art made of love, ink, and paper!

Speaking of paper (or virtual pages, such as the case may be), it is HUGE. I mentioned that before, but it bears repeating. You don't likely need all nine Traditions, all five Conventions, all ten Disparate Sects, but it's wonderful that they're all there. Your game may not include the Otherworlds – or it may only include SOME of them – but it's all there. The nine Spheres (the mechanics of how magick works if you don't know) maybe don't need the three 'technomagick' variants, but those add plenty to the game. It's daunting, as mentioned by other reviews, but that's the nature of magick, I reckon. If you want to explore this world – or get reacquainted if you already know Mage – this is a great product for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition
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Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition: The Dark Ages
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/29/2015 12:35:50

This book is everything that I wished for when it was announced by Onyx Path Publishing, and that is to say it is a proper new edition of a beloved classic! For the PDF, the price-per-page is a steal, and the quality of the contents quite makes that price almost embarrassingly low. That's all you NEED to know, but there's more I'll tell...

First, know that I've played Vampire since Second Edition came out in '92 (I was too much of a 'vampire snob' to even look at the First Edition... thanks Anne Rice!), and when Vampire: the Masquerade Twentieth Anniversary Edition was announced, I jumped on the opportunity to support it. The result was lovely, but in comparison to later Twentieth Anniversary releases (e.g. for Werewolf: the Apocalypse and the as-yet-to-be widely available Mage: the Ascension), the V20 wound up looking less like a 'new' edition than a polished omnibus collection with gorgeous new art. I do so love that book, no doubt, but V20 does not QUITE live up to what it could have been as a new edition.

Now we have V20 Dark Ages, and THIS book takes what started in V20 to create something both familiar and brand new. The whole experience of the Dark Medieval (a/k/a classic World of Darkness circa AD 1200-1300) comes across in vivid (un)living detail, and the overall LOOK is quite wonderfully vitalised with full-colour borders, art, and Clan heraldry. Rules have been added and revised for Disciplines and schools of blood magic (oh yes, the Koldunic Sorcery and Thaumaturgy rules ARE fantastic!), and new Bloodlines appear with some wider view of the Dark Medieval beyond western Europe. Additional information on the Roads of morality and antagonists handily round out the rules. For all of this, though, the CORE of what I adore about Vampire remains: the ability to take what's here and make it your own.

...It seems like a small thing, that so-called 'Golden Rule' that White Wolf introduced in Mark Rein•Hagen's first Vampire core book in 1991, but the idea that all of these rules are here as a guide, for you to interpret or disregard to change as you will, it suffuses this V20 Dark Ages book. Indeed, the chapter on Storytelling is far more of a love letter to the entire hobby of roleplaying games than dry directions on what to do. Yes, there are a LOT of directions, but what David A. Hill, Jr (Developer) and crew have created here is less a book of rules than an ideal jumping-off point for your games, for your world (of medieval darkness).

I could list all of the things that I do NOT love about this book (and yeah, there's plenty), but in light of the above, that's not necessary. What is here is all quite lovely, and even the parts that are not perfect are easily dismissed or changed. Even if you're only looking for the bits you remember from the first Vampire: the Dark Ages, you ought to enjoy this title enough to make it worth your while.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition: The Dark Ages
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Encounter Decks 1
Publisher: Inkwell Ideas
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2015 14:41:06

This is a really wonderful product for ANY GM who has players of a, shall we say... 'creative nature' when it comes to following a planned adventure. Each card is chock-full of help for any number of situations, and even though it has a definite 'high fantasy' bias, I have found applications in many different kinds of RPG situations.

While I do give a 5-star ratings, there is one thing that would make this a lot better. A higher level contrast on the PDF file would make it easier to read these when printed out in black and white, and the text is difficult for my old-person eyes to read in B+W. In full-colour they look glorious, of course, and despite that I still love these cards! Well worth buying!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Encounter Decks 1
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Gothic Icons
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/02/2015 16:16:16

Last year's 'Overly Specific Condition Cards' prank was cute, to be sure, but THIS one is just brilliant on many levels! The characters are actually well crafted (but yeah, silly). The narratives are fun to read (again, silly). The presentation is lovely, too, especially the 'Gothic Skull' icon for this product!

For the price, YOU would be a fool not to grab this! Thank you all at Onyx Path Publishing for this very fun bit of foolery.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gothic Icons
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V20 Anarchs Unbound
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by P. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/17/2014 11:55:47

Don't get me wrong; I like this book. I really do, but...

The thing with the Anarchs in Vampire is that they have received a LOT of words, but they haven't ever fully received the ATTENTION they deserve. This book continues that trend, and for every piece of brilliance in here, there is a hint that ought to had more done AND a lie that needed a bigger implication attached. Sure, the history, the mechanics, the notion of how technology has changed the very core of the Movement, these remain interesting if not brilliant, but the book adds very little to the 'sect' that I didn't see in previous edition books like Anarchs Cookbook, LA by Night, or the Guide to the Anarchs. We don't get any bombshells like we found in Rites of the Blood, and we don't get anything shiny new like we did in The Hunters Hunted II. We get updates and great presentation for sure, but I wanted more.

Okay, I fully admit that this is my opinion, and mileage varies and all that. However, I'd hoped that for V20, we'd see a text for a complete sect. There IS a lot of wonderful in here, but things like the Red Question, the technological innovations, the very IDEA of the Anarchs' agenda(s) beyond the here and now, none of those came with as much possibility as they had in straight up reporting. My take is simply this: Buy the book for what's in it, but don't expect to have it spin a lot of mad ideas that go beyond what's between the covers.

P.S. Oh, but DEFINITELY check out the 'Kickstarter Backers' pages in back! I think that it ALMOST makes it to a full FIVE star rating with that wonderful, wonderful presentation!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Anarchs Unbound
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