Publisher: White Wolf Publishing
Authors: Justin Achilli, Rose Bailey, Matthew McFarland, and Eddy Webb
Pages: 529 pages
Retail Price: Hardcover in color $64.99; Softcover in B&W $44.99; PDF $29.99 – currently on sale for $20.68
Long time roleplayers like myself seemingly have a love/hate relationship with Vampire: The Masquerade. Many of us love the game because when it originally arrived it was no only an excellent setting which, while liberally borrowing from the Anne Rice school of vampire lore, brought a slew of new concepts to horror roleplaying. Not only was there an excellent backstory in the core book but also an incredibly simple set of rules and mechanics which freed players to focus on storytelling. Some feel the rules were bare bones at best (for a game about vampires the combat was especially weak) but newcomers to the hobby gobbled V:tM up.
The hate rears its head as White Wolf eventually released a stunning glut of sourcebooks and intertwined roleplaying games that the original gothic horror, which brought so many to the system in the first place, was completely lost in the shuffle. Truthfully the huge volume of clan book, sourcebooks, meta plotlines, related and intertwined RPGs which eventually flooded the market made the game a mess and practically unplayable. It also didn’t help that so many White Wolf products were hitting stores they were pushing other lesser known RPGs off the limited shelf space. There are plenty of other rumblings and gripes which I won’t go into here but suffice to say just mention Vampire to anyone with more than a few years of roleplaying under their belt and they’ll likely have a strong reaction, either positive or negative.
A fifth edition of V:tM is scheduled for a 2018 release and the game should be in good hands with Ken Hite (boy we sure do see Mr. Hite’s name popping up a lot in my recommendations) as lead designer. Yet the upcoming release will be hard pressed to duplicate the freshness and simple elegance gamers saw in the 1991 edition. Love or hate what V:tM eventually became but there’s no doubt a lot of credit has to be given to the original game. This is why Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition still deserves attention. While the 2011 release has been revised and updated, the core still holds all the appeal and interesting themes we saw back in the early 90’s. That is before RPG expanded beyond recognition by sourcebook after sourcebook. Of course, with all that additional published material, someone coming to V:tM for the first time won’t have a problem expanding upon the base game but be warned you should really take it easy on the supplements.