Monday, October 7, 2013

VtM 30 Day Challenge: Day Seven – Favorite Edition

I started playing Vampire the Masquerade at about the same time that the game switched from Second Edition to Revised.  I did play one or two games under the Second Edition rules, but most of the sessions that I ran or played in used the Revised rules.  However, many of my favorite supplements are from Second Edition.  Thankfully, the developers kept each subsequent edition largely compatible with the previous.  The original clanbooks and city supplements are still just as useful under the most recent rule set.  This is a marked difference from TSR/WOTC and their publication of Dungeons & Dragons.  Since the release of Vampire the Masquerade First Edition, D&D has gone through several editions that are completely incompatible.  Material available for AD&D 2E cannot be used in D&D 3.0, D&D 3.5, Fourth Edition or the upcoming D&D Next.  Because of the lack of compatibility between new and old editions, D&D fans are becoming more and more fragmented and the civil war known as Edition Wars has ravaged many message boards, forums, and game store tables as fans argue for the “best edition.”  Vampire the Masquerade has been largely free of these arguments because of the inter-edition compatibility.  Unfortunately, the ending of the original World of Darkness and the publishing of the New World of Darkness line (Vampire the Requiem, Werewolf the Forsaken, etc.) did fracture the community. 
Nevertheless, I think that Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition is the best version of the rules, if for no other reason than V20 includes a huge amount of Disciplines, Clans, and rules all in one book.  Players can buy one book, and they will have everything they need to play any clan or bloodline with any Discipline.  If a player wants to play a Mariner Gangrel or a still surviving Lamia, the rules and disciplines are available in the main rule book.  V20 is also helped by the fact that the developers had a chance to go through all of the previous rule books and clean up and fix rules.  The physical Disciplines, Celerity, Fortitude, and Potence, are not only better balanced but are also improved.  Although cost to activate Celerity has been increased to one blood point per extra action, Celerity now gives an inherent bonus to Dexterity and thus initiative.  Other improvements include the removal of the impractically long list of Secondary Abilities and condensing them into the standard Abilities on the character sheet.  Demolitions is now covered by Crafts.  Body Crafts is now a specialty of Medicine.  The overall potency of each point in Abilities are now more valuable, and Storytellers no longer have to worry about adjudicating long lists of Secondary Skills spread across a huge number of sourcebooks. 
Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition is not a perfect book.  Because the book is intended for existing fans much of the mythology and history of the Kindred is not present.  In my review of the book, I suggested that the section on Bloodlines could have been replaced by a more complete history.  (Yes, I did praise the completeness of including all the clans and bloodlines in the previous paragraph, but if the choice is between obscure bloodlines or a more detailed history, I would choose the history.)  Like most other editions of VtM, some of the rules are not well written or could use some further explanation.    For example, the Gangrel weakness doesn’t include the duration for how long a temporary bestial feature lasts after a Gangrel frenzies.
The reason that I love V20 as much as I do, despite its flaws, is that it symbolizes the rebirth of the Classic World of Darkness.  Since the change to the New World of Darkness line and Vampire the Requiem, I was upset along with many of the fans of Vampire the Masquerade because our favorite game was gone.  V20 marked the return of our favorite game and more importantly, new books have been published with many more on the way.  The developers have opened up the development process; fans can contribute ideas, offer suggestions, and read books in development.  It’s an exciting time, and Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition is the reason this blog exists.  So, thank you White Wolf and the Onyx Path Publishing!
What’s your favorite edition of Vampire the Masquerade?  Leave a comment below and tell me!

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