I have always been a huge fan of the Wold of Darkness and Vampire has a special place it my heart. My first two experiences in gaming was Vampire 2nd Edition and AD&D second edition. I then spent a lot of time playing Vampire (and other World of Darkness games) including Live Action Roleplay experiences. After my enjoyment of the iterations of Requiem and Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary edition, I was stoked to learn about a new edition continuing The Masquerade game. The game was suppose to overhaul the mechanics and update the metaplot into the Modern Nights. Well, my excitement as dampened due to some situations that arose during the play testing and my dying excitement was further murdered how Modiphius handled the release (as Modiphius was put in charge of the shipping and distribution). The lack of funds at the release did not help my attitude either. Though, a few years later I was able to acquire the books, read through them, interact with the community, and play in some games.
Presentation: You get a full color 400+ book that has been printed on high quality paper. The quality is equivalent to the rest of Modiphius RPG releases. Once you start giving it a through look/read through is when the glitter starts to fall off. There seems to be multiple layout styles that is not organized. It feels like the design team had multiple layout ideas/templates, could not decide, and then went with all of the ideas. So you end up with light typing on dark pages, dark writing on light pages, various letter/report pages, different picture and type mixes, etc. It does not flow at all.
Then, there is the art. Most of the art that is used is model art mixes in with digital art. Before I go further, I know a lot of people are going to try to accuse me of not liking the art because I do not like model art. That is not true because my critique of the art comes from the quality/set choices of it and how it fits in with the layout and the rest of the non model art. Most of the model art is high quality but the set/design choices do not seem to match their placement and the tone of what is trying to be conveyed seems off. Once again I feel like there was a bunch of different directions pitched and they decided to go with all of them. The model art also does not mix with digital art and the digital art is of dubious quality. It appears to be taken direct from a video game where they were testing new engines on how to make hair move and things like that. I think the video game art is does not fit the tone, theme, and it breaks immersion. On the flip side, the book is pretty organized and the layouts are clean.
Just so there is not any confusion, Paradox handled all of the writing, art, and layout. Modiphius was the distributor.
Character Creation: Character creation follows the below steps:
- Core Concept: Think of a core concept and what your characters mortal life and unlife like? When where the embraced? Etc.
- Choose Clan and Sire Information
- Attributes: Take one attribute at 4, three attributes at 3, four attributes at 2, and one attribute at 1. The attribute options are Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Charisma, Manipulation, Composure, Intelligence, Wits, and Resolve. Health = Stamina +3; Willpower = Composure + Resolve.
- Pick one skill distribution: Jack of All Trades (One skill at 3, eight Skills at 2, and ten Skills at 1), Balanced ) Three Skills at 3, five Skills at 2, seven skills at 1), and Specialist (one skill at 4, three Skills at 3, three Skills at 2, and three Skills at 1). There are 27 skills to choose from. Add free specialties to Academics, Craft, Performance, and Science skills. Take one more free specialty.
- Disciplines: Choose two of your clan disciplines. Put two dots in one and one dot in the other. Caitiff characters choose any two disciplines and put two dots in one and two dots in the other. Thin-Blooded characters have no intrinsic disciplines.
- Predator: Choose your predator type and apply one of the listed specialties, and one dot to one of the listed Disciplines, and apply any associated Advantages or Flaws.
- Advantages: Spend 7 points on Advantages and take 2 points of flaws in addition to any gained from your Predator Type.
Resolution: Vampire the Masquerade 5th edition uses a modified Storyteller System which uses a dice pool system with d10s. Attributes, Skills, and Disciplines are rated 1-5. The player can create a dice pool in one of the following ways:
- Attribute + Skill (most common)
- Attribute + Discipline (common)
- Attribute + Attribute (uncommon)
Once the pool is determined, the player rolls all the dice vs. a target number of successes or against a contested roll. Difficulty is scaled by the number of successes that is needed and in some cases certain situations will (such as called shots) will subtract the number of success achieved in the dice pool.
Each result of 6+ is considered a success. Each pair of 10s is considered a critical success and counts as 4 successes instead of two. If there are more successes then the target number of successes then the action happens as the character wants or if the character has more successes then their opponent.
The book then goes on to advise that rolls should be kept to a minimum and conflicts should last a maximum of three rounds.
Speaking of conflict, conflict is split into rounds and initiative is considered to follow the narrative. All the characters declare their action and follow this basic order:
- Existing Close Combat
- New Close Combat
- Other Actions (this includes disciplines)
Conflict happens has contested rolls simultaneously and depending on the narrative, the winner of the roll deals damage. Some exceptions to this is if a character is shooting at a target that is to far away to close into melee range and other situations like that. For a character to take two actions, they must split their dice pools. A character who is acting purely on the defensive does not have to split their dice pools to avoid multiple attacks.
Damage is split into two forms. Superficial damage and Aggravated damage. Superficial damage is things like being being punching in the face, falling from a small height, etc. Aggravated damage is things like knives, firearms, car accidents, explosions, claws, swords, etc. Now everything does Superficial damage to vampires (except sunlight, fire, and various supernatural effects) and vampires half all superficial damage. Humans also half superficial damage as well. Damaged is calculated by the damage bonus of the weapon and the number of successes achieved over the opponent on the contested roll.
- Rouse: A rouse check happens when the kindred calls upon the power of their vitae for mending (healing), blush of life (to appear and feel human), boost (adding a bonus dice to a discipline for an action), using a discipline that requires a rouse check, and waking up for the evening. When a Rouse check is required or called on by the ST, a single Hunger die is rolled (a d10) and on a success the kindred's hunger does not increase. On a failure their hunger increases.
- Hunger: The classic blood pool has been replaced by hunger dice. The dice are different colored d10s that replace one of the dice in the players dice pool. All characters start with one hunger die and when their hunger increases, they replace another normal die with an additional hunger die. Hunger dice ranges from 1 to 5 and the only way to truly get rid of the hunger is to drain a mortal dry (killing them). At hunger 4 or 5 things get really edgy with the kindred and frenzy. Hunger dice can also cause bestial failures and messy criticals.
- Bestial Failure: These happens when a "1" (or skull on the themed dice) show up on a hunger dice at the same time the roll failed. The beast is able to take heavy influence over the kindred and they suffer a compulsion that needs to be role played until the conditions are met. Each clan as their own clan compulsion, there is also a list of generic compulsions for different situations, and the ST can create a thematic appropriate compulsion.
- Messy Critical: This happens when a "10" (or a fanged ankh on the themed dice) is part of the critical and the hunger dice is always counted first. The result is still considered a critical but the beast takes a hand in it. Like if the kindred is trying to open a door quietly but after a messy critical, the kindred ends up ripping off of the door, etc.
- Frenzy: When it is required for a kindred to resist Frenzy, the player rolls their characters current Willpower + 1/3 (round down) of humanity rating vs. a difficulty set by the ST.
- Willpower: Willpower can be spent to re-roll three normal dice. Hunger dice can never be re-rolled.
- Advanced Combat: There is a section on advanced combat that provides a Dungeons and Dragons like initiative system.
- Blood Potency: How effective the the power of the blood is.
- Succeed at a Cost: The ST can offer an option to the player to succeed at a cost.