Now this is a first for me as this is perhaps the first ever Matthew Dawkins project i have read, which i have not immediately loved. This might also be the biggest indicator of my shifting priorities as a gamer. As i used to love pure lore write ups like these, but now i am more a fan of seing new mechanics combined with fluff rather than pure fluff itself. So i have spent a lot of time pondering what my opinion is regarding this book.
So first the positives: The Writing is good as per the standard that we have come to expect from Onyx Path. They help collect and in many ways salvage the burn shipwreck that is the lore of Vampire the Masquerade. It provides many excellent campaign ideas and guides for how to run these ideas or scenarios. They finally adress Mesoamerican vampires in a proper manner, as the Tlacique weren't quite enough to cover the potential goldmine of splat ideas that you could pull from that region. We get an established continuity between the three Laibon Legacies introduced in V20 Dark Ages and the rest of the Laibon community...and we get more Laibon mentions so yaaay. And yes with the mesoamerican vampires there were new splats introduce which always= yay in my book. It was good we got some of the Thin Blood stuff to be updated at least the mechanical portion of it.
Now for the negatives, and do keep in mind that this is my opinion and i might be a huge dumbfuck childling who is ruining the business. que angry Jim Cornette Rant: There are too few new mechanical additions to this book. This is most noteable when it comes to the Drowned Legacies, and i know that it would probably have been very difficult to do them justice considering there are word constraints and such. But i still have to point out that when some of them even have unique disciplines and they don't get a write up i have to tsk that. Hopefully we get to see the Drowned Legacies in a future book, either in V20 or Fifth Edition. Secondly i find that the inclusion of the 16th gen and the rewrite of dhampirs was largely pointless and i still do not see why dhampirs exists...as mechanically speaking they are just revenants except they suck. I think the 15th generation was a nice and round number to stop things, and we could have made Dhampirs with the abillity to reach max 2 disciplines and such, so to make them distinct from Revenants. Anyway lastly i would have tried to murder the whole Rasputin issue in the crib, rather than trying to make sense out of the like 50 different supernatural splats who claimed him as one of them. However the way they went about it was still well written so this is a tiny negative overall.
Now for my biggest criticism of this book i might earn quite a few angry glares from my fellow readers, but i think this has to be said. And sorry for my angry outburst..I HATE, HATE, HATE! When roleplaying books changes the font, page and even writing style several times throughout the book. In this book we go from standard vtm source book, to chat logs, ancient tomes written in cursive, and ripped out notebook pages that have been written on and so on. To me it makes the book very hard and distracting to read, and i have a hard time absorbing the content. I know it is done both for aesthetic and in character reasons as this is Beckett's Jyhad diary after all, but i would have prefered it if we could have just stuck to one type of font and page background. This very same issue is what made me stop reading another Onyx Path book(Secret of the Covenants for vtr by the way). Now as i said i might just be a dumbfuck, but i still think that this complaint is at least noteworthy.
Now that i have presented my positives and negatives, we have to discuss if they actually matter. Maybe i am just coming at this book from the wrong perspective, i should have perhaps lowered my expectations in regards to new mechanical additions. Or just had the point of view that this isn't that kind of book. However i am coming with that particular line of Criticism since there actually were new mechanical additions to the book, few as they were mind you. Anyway now despite the fact that i have used two sections to list of what i perceive as negatives in this book, i do not think the negatives outnumber the positives in the terms of value. The thing about criticism is that it is much easier to specifically define what you don't like and why you don't like it, as opposed to define why something is good. So i will not hide that i can have a bit of a motormouth when it comes to ranting about what i do not like. However for any potential readers of this review, do not misunderstand my stance regarding this book.
It is quite clear to me that this is a labor of love and hard work on account of the many people involved in this major project, and i think that overall this is a positive addition to the long list of Vampire the Masquerade books. In many ways this is actually the most necessary books of them all, as somebody had to salavage and make some sense out of the huge mess that is the lore of the past editions of VTM. A lore i have come to appreciate less and less over the years as i have re-examined the various editions. Like how the survival of the Tremere makes veeeery little sense in Universe when you look at their history, but that is a rant for another day. So anyway i don't want to discount the tremendous effort that must have been put in to make something salvageable out of the lore and collecting it into one massive compendium.
We will need that compendium more than ever as we move into the new era of the World of Darkness, and the games are going to be taken in a very bold and new direction by the new White Wolf. que fist shaking at those diabolical swedes. So my conclusion is that while i appreciate this book and think that everybody should buy it, i don't think this one is quite for me as it doesn't quite align with my tastes. However that is not to say that the book is not good, it just didn't match all of my criterias. We can only hope that the many great ideas and splats mentioned/presented in this book get mechanical and lore follow ups in the future.
-Karl Erik L. Hoftaniska