• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[V:TM] Let's Read Vampire: the Dark Ages - 20th anniversary edition

Cassander

Armless Tiger Man
Vampire: the Dark Ages was an important product in the history of White Wolf. As a book it kicked off a new wave of releases, answering the question of which direction the company would take after the establishment of the five core lines of the World of Darkness. The Dark Ages line, moreover, helped to flesh out the historical lore of Vampire, creating some depth and character to a game which had hitherto been focused primarily on the gothic-punk conflicts of the contemporary world. The core rulebook, first released in 1996, was one of the most well-written and intellectually cohesive books released by what was at the time a relatively young company, and is remembered with fondness today. You can read more about it in a thread here.

Nineteen years on the game is receiving a new lease of life with the Vampire: the Dark Ages twentieth anniversary edition. Yes, strictly speaking it’s a year early, but the subtitle apparently refers to the fact that it’s part of the Vampire: the Masquerade twentieth anniversary product cycle. I have my pdf copy now, so I think it’s an appropriate time to start this thread.

So, lets read Vampire: the Dark Ages twentieth anniversary edition.
 

Susanoo Orbatos

Social Justice Huckster
Validated User
Vampire: the Dark Ages was an important product in the history of White Wolf. As a book it kicked off a new wave of releases, answering the question of which direction the company would take after the establishment of the five core lines of the World of Darkness. The Dark Ages line, moreover, helped to flesh out the historical lore of Vampire, creating some depth and character to a game which had hitherto been focused primarily on the gothic-punk conflicts of the contemporary world. The core rulebook, first released in 1996, was one of the most well-written and intellectually cohesive books released by what was at the time a relatively young company, and is remembered with fondness today. You can read more about it in a thread here.

Nineteen years on the game is receiving a new lease of life with the Vampire: the Dark Ages twentieth anniversary edition. Yes, strictly speaking it’s a year early, but the subtitle apparently refers to the fact that it’s part of the Vampire: the Masquerade twentieth anniversary product cycle. I have my pdf copy now, so I think it’s an appropriate time to start this thread.

So, lets read Vampire: the Dark Ages twentieth anniversary edition.
If the physical copy isn't out yet its not early!
 

Cassander

Armless Tiger Man
First impressions: the appearance of the book.

It’s quite clear that the visual design of Vampire: the Dark Ages twentieth anniversary edition is designed to deliberately echo the original Vampire: the Dark Ages core rulebook. The cover is a purple-black marble with a silver ankh and a bit of vegetation. Opening the book, the page borders are a coloured version of the borders from Vampire: the Dark Ages, whilst the typefaces are, for the most part, the beautiful ones introduced in the original rulebook. There are also some nice subtle touches. The opening pages of each section have, as part of their background, the floral embroidery from the endpapers of Vampire: the Dark Ages. It’s something which the reader might not pay much attention to, but it is clear that a large amount of care and attention has gone into this book’s design.

The art here is generally of a fairly high standard. There are some black and white illustrations taken from the original game line, accompanied by a reasonable amount of newly commissioned colour art. The quality here varies a little, though it is all of a professional quality, with the best being the full page illustrations opening each chapter. The colour is a little garish in places, though I assume that this is because I’m reading the book as a pdf, and it will be interesting to see how the physical copy turns out.

The visual standards are, overall, very high and, whilst a few more illustrations wouldn’t have gone amiss, the visual presentation of Vampire: the Dark Ages twentieth anniversary edition is extremely strong.
 

KingNeon777

Registered User
Validated User
I've got my PDF copy today but haven't had a chance to read it yet so look to this thread with interest.

I decided not to read much in the way of the open source material until it was finished, so I'll be very interested in how they handle the tonal differences between VtDA and DA:V, I hope it's more the former than the latter personally
 

IanWatson

Pharos
Validated User
Nineteen years on the game is receiving a new lease of life with the Vampire: the Dark Ages twentieth anniversary edition. Yes, strictly speaking it’s a year early, but the subtitle apparently refers to the fact that it’s part of the Vampire: the Masquerade twentieth anniversary product cycle. I have my pdf copy now, so I think it’s an appropriate time to start this thread.
Although the title logo indicates otherwise, this product is V20 Dark Ages. It's specifically a Dark Ages book for the V20 line, rather than being a 20th anniversary of Vampire: The Dark Ages. It's a subtle difference, but perhaps an important one, depending on your point of view.
 

zcthu3

Registered User
Validated User
Although the title logo indicates otherwise, this product is V20 Dark Ages. It's specifically a Dark Ages book for the V20 line, rather than being a 20th anniversary of Vampire: The Dark Ages. It's a subtle difference, but perhaps an important one, depending on your point of view.
For those of us not in on the kickstarter, when does this hit DrivethruRPG?
 

IanWatson

Pharos
Validated User
For those of us not in on the kickstarter, when does this hit DrivethruRPG?
We haven't done release dates for anything in five years now.

What comes next: we collect errors and corrections from backers, then we incorporate them into the file, then we complete the index (the preview PDF doesn't have one), then we order a print proof from the updated file and check it for inconsistencies, and then if everything checks out we post the final PDF/PoD to the public.
 

Cassander

Armless Tiger Man
Front matter: the bits at the start of the book.

So, opening the (notional) front cover of the book, we have a title page, a credits page, and a table of contents. The credits page lists 20 authors of this book, which, despite the fact it is 476 pages in length, seems a little excessive. We have five pages of contents, listing chapters and subheadings, and then launch into the substantial content of the book with a story, in the broadest sense of the word.

The role of fiction in game books is what might be politely termed an interesting problem. Over the last twenty years or thereabouts it has become relatively standard to include pieces of fiction within game supplements, yet their existence is often a cause for complaint amongst gamers. The story here is not likely to win anyone over who is unconvinced about the value of such stories. It begins with a vampire named Dominique killing a couple of inquisitors and stealing a book, before cutting to a courtly scene in which a snidely-whiplash-type vampire elder, named the Duke, lays forth a scheme for a taxation scheme involving blood. I’m not quite sure what the elders are going to do with the said blood tax; use it for some creative modern art installation in the manner of Marc Quinn, perhaps? Blood is, of course, a readily available renewable resource with limited value as a medium of exchange unlike, for instance, money. It would be like the US government disdaining all those handy greenbacks, and requesting that US citizens pay their taxes in leaves.

(If it seems like I’m overthinking this story, remember that this is the very first page of material relating to the game in the book. This is my first impression of the text, and I’m hitting something which I’m struggling to understand.)

So a Cainite named Grandmother Penne objects to the tax, and is given the beat-down for her pains. The Duke is described as the Prince’s favourite childe, and it is heavily implied that the city in question is London. He’s probably the Duke of Amber, then, who appeared in the second part of the Giovanni Chronicles, Blood & Fire, where he was a complete combat monster. There he was the type of vampire who could knock a neonate into torpor with a single blow. This is four hundred years earlier, but he’s still an elder who has been around for half a millennium. I will discuss why this matters later.

The beat-down continues for a bit and eventually Dominique turns up, and she takes off with Grandmother Penne, leaving Duke Snidely Whiplash to rage and shake his fist in the air. Finally, this is followed by a scene in which Dominique drinks some of Grandmother Penne’s blood, and it is revealed that the book was stolen and delivered by request from the latter, and the whole fight scene was just a distraction. And then the story ends.

There isn’t actually much of a story here; there’s no real beginning or end, no explanation of what the Cainites in question are up to and, more fatally, no attempt to create any sympathy for these characters. I feel sorry for the inquisitors; they see Dominique as some kind of monster and, on the basis of the information provided in this story, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that they are right.

One problem is that this story would be quite hard to represent within the Vampire: the Dark Ages game system. The combat scene with the inquisitors should go on for longer, whilst the beat-down on Grandmother Penne should be very short indeed (the Duke of Amber is a combat monster, after all). And it’s all very well using Obfuscate to disappear from a scene, but that’s not going to work in a room full of elders when at least someone will have a reasonable level of Auspex.

There is another issue which is that this story doesn’t introduce the game to the reader. Compare this with, for instance, the letters that were at the beginning of the first couple of editions of Vampire: the Masquerade, or the comic inside the cover of the second edition of Werewolf: the Apocalypse or the fiction which began the first edition of Vampire: the Dark Ages. In each case the purpose was to introduce the game, and its key concepts, through the medium of fiction. Whilst there may be some debate as to whether these sections successfully achieve their objective, they do have a clear aim and function. Here, I’m not quite sure what this story is attempting to do, other than give me sympathy for the inquisition.

Coming next: the introduction.
 

Yellow Signatory

Formerly 'Lord Stilt-Man'
Validated User
Very subscribed. Looking forward to seeing if this will be worth getting as V20 already took on the DA innovations I loved.
 
Top Bottom