I recently ran my first session of Vampire the Requiem as a one-shot for my usual gaming group. We were taking a break from this for a night and I had an idea for a game. Overall, I think it went ok. Not great, but ok.
I generally don’t like the dice-mechanic for the New World of Darkness as much as I liked the mechanic for the Old World of Darkness. I like having two variables, number of dice and difficulty, to manipulate in a game in different situations. In the NWoD, everything is difficulty 8, and the only variable is number of dice.
WW also took a turn toward D20 with the NWoD that I don’t like. They added Merits that are obviously based on Feats, even to the point of replicating some Feats almost exactly. Maybe this is what other gamers are looking for who knows?
I think that, in general, to enjoy Vampire you have to want to play a vampire. There has to be something about you that likes when you finally frenzy and tear into people, doing things that you know you’ll regret later. There’s a particularity about vampires that isn’t always there in other games. Even in Mage, there are a lot of kinds of Mage games, but Vampire is a little more limited, especially in tone.
As for me, I really like Vampire – both manifestations. I remember my first game, feeling sort of contemptuous of these stupid Goth kids and their Vampire game, hoping I could talk them into something else after this game was over. Turns out, Vampire is awesome. It does what it does very, very well. It also has the cool effect of combining the potential for severe, visceral violence, while still making it difficult to actually kill a PC. For modern games especially, this is very difficult to do in a way that makes sense.
Requiem works well, I thought. Its pretty intuitive. The dice mechanic is a step backwards from the last editions, but the rest of the game is a step forward. Five major Clans representing five archetypes of vampires themselves: sexy and dangerous (Daeva), bestial (Gangrel), intelligent and arcane (Mekhet), terrifying (Nosferatu) and manipulative (Ventrue). Under each Clan are a multitude of Bloodlines – I think there are four listed in the main book, and they have a lot of others in other expansions as usual.
Disciplines are a little more streamlined and a bit more logically laid out, and there are also multiple kinds of blood magic which I think is an excellent move. Making that available to any Clan, usually through their faction, means that you don’t have to play a Tremere to use blood magic.
I also like that there are five major political factions, with other minor factions listed as well. It makes the political intrigues potentially richer and more interesting, since you have Clan politics going on, faction politics, and also the city’s overall political structure. This makes it easier to involve player-characters at multiple levels.
One hallmark of the NWoD is the incredible production values in the core rulebooks. The paper stock, artwork, graphic design, and especially the incredible covers are all beautiful and evocative. The expansions move to a lower quality paper stock and no shiny foil in the covers, but that’s ok. They’re expansions. I think that when VtR came out, the cover especially was as embarrassingly better than other games as the original VtM cover was back in the early 90’s.
Basically, its an awesome game if you like violence, political intrigue, and night-time. Having run it, I’d give it 4 stars – and I’d give Vampire the Masquerade 4.5 stars. The change in rules makes a difference.