One of my favorite RPGs is Vampire: The Masquerade, and I have lots of company among my fellow gamers. In the 20 years the game has been on the market, it has gathered thousands of passionate and devoted fans who still continue to play even though it’s been close to a decade since any new material was released. So when word got out that White Wolf was publishing Vampire: The Masquerade – 20th Anniversary Edition, the collective cheer of VtM fans was deafening.
The collector’s print edition – leather-bound with silver gilt pages – was only available in a special pre-order, and thanks to a generous friend (thank you so much, Kevin!) my husband and I were lucky enough to get one. Our copy just arrived a few weeks ago and it’s definitely the most beautiful game book I’ve ever laid hands upon. But beauty means little compared to content. Is this 500-page monster – affectionately called “V20” – everything it’s cracked up to be?
Yes, precious. Yes, it is.
What’s In It?
V20 is a compilation of all the best material that’s been released for VtM, revised and edited to perfection. The book’s introduction reiterates the basics of how vampires work in the World of Darkness. Chapter One further details the members of the Kindred and describes the setting itself (which has been updated to match up with the modern day). The 13 original clans all get the love and attention they deserve in Chapter 2, as well as the various sects they belong to.
Chapter Three gets you into character creation, telling you step by step how to go about building your awesome vampire character. The various and marvelous vampire disciplines are described in full detail (from level one to level nine) in the fourth chapter. Chapter Five lays out the rules – the rules from the VtM revised edition (the classic rules that so many of us VtM fans still use and love). Chapter Six, entitled “Systems and Drama”, expands on those rules to help players and Storytellers alike in roleplaying situations. Chapter Seven deals with vampire morality and the slippery slope all vampires must try to climb in terms of their humanity.
Chapter Eight is for the Storyteller, that wonderful person who runs the game for us, giving them hints and pointers to make the game as magical as it should be. Chapter Nine is about the Others roaming the World of Darkness –the Witch-Hunters, the Werewolves, the Magi, ghosts, demons, and even critters. Chapter Ten at last compiles most of the numerous vampire bloodlines and variations that have come out over the years.
The Appendix contains those last few things that didn’t fit earlier in the book: Merits and Flaws, ghoul creation, and the Sabbat Ritae. Not sure where to find exactly what you’re looking for? Not to worry, the tome concludes with a lengthy and detailed index. And of course, there’s a character sheet at the back, waiting to be copied and turned into something amazing.
Why’s It So Great?
I love one-stop shopping, and in this massive tome, I have all the information I need to play VtM at my fingertips. In past VtM games, there’s always been a little chaos and frustration at the table as we’d try to remember what information was in what book, and it would sometimes slow the game down as we struggled to look up the details on a discipline or a merit, flipping page after page only to finally realize the information we needed was in a clan book, which another player was trying to use at the same time. With V20, everything you need is in one spot.
All that information is also laid out in a better format. One of my major gripes with the old VtM books (and older White Wolf products, in general) was that things weren’t laid out in what I thought was a logical order. While I know that’s a matter of personal preference (I have friends who think the Pathfinder layout is confusing, and to me it’s the most logical layout there could be), I’m much happier with the presentation in V20.
And frankly, it’s just plain gorgeous. Full-color glossy pages, with a blinding silver gilt edge, decorated with beautiful artwork, bound with that incredible black embossed cover – if there’s such a thing as a bookgasm, I had one when I first saw it. Even if I hadn’t received a copy as a gift, I wouldn’t have hesitated to buy one.
(White Wolf has already announced plans for 20th anniversary edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. After seeing how great V20 is, I’m saving my pennies now for W20!)
Great, But How Am I Supposed To Get One?
Alas, the ship has sailed on the gorgeous leather-bound edition (unless you’re feeling lucky on eBay). But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get the content! You can get a PDF version of the book through DriveThruRPG.com for a mere $29.99 – and that price for a full-color, 500-page PDF is an absolute steal. (And what a great last-minute gift for a VtM fan on your list!) DriveThru is also diligently working away on getting a print-on-demand option set up for V20. True, you won’t get the silver gilt pages, but if you want a paper copy, it will be a great affordable alternative.
Whether you’re a long-time VtM player or Storyteller, or just getting into the game, V20 is an essential book to have. If you have the 30 bucks to spare, I encourage you to purchase the PDF for your collection. Just be prepared to lose yourself in reading – it’s taken me forever to write this article because the book is just so distracting! – and have a notebook handy for all the game inspiration you’re sure to get.
Did you get a copy of V20? Are you as happy with it as I am?