I feel kinda bad about giving Vampire: The Requiem such a bad review but honestly the quality of the book is not at all what I would expect from an organization as storied and acclaimed as White Wolf/Onyx Path. Especially compared against the beautiful V20 core-rulebook people insisted I check out to redeem my opinion of Chronicles/World of Darkness, VtR's 2nd Edition core rulebook is.... I don't wish to use expletives but it is just subpar. The quality of the prose is about what I would write in my teens on my PBEM groups, jumpy and scattered in an attempt to build mystery and flair but failing, terribly. I mean god-bless them for trying and I'm not necessarily saying I could do better I'm just saying I expected a little better from a company and its flagship game that places such a premium on atmosphere which is what finally made me bite the bullet and buy this to begin with. The book fails to deliver on the very well-written atmospheric section in the introduction and the artwork cements its sort of cartoon-y place in my mind. I mean honestly why haven't companies just sourced art from Deviant-Art? My elder friends on the interwebs remember Vampire: The Masquerade's heyday and I'm familiar with it by their proxy and the second edition to the follow-up Vampire: The Requiem doesn't even come close to their description.
The Vampire Clans (god I hope I'm using that right...) or the bloodlines (incase I'm not) do not compare favorably to the ones my friends described and looking at the V20 rulebook I see very large differences that go beyond the simplification I was forewarned of. While the thinning of the herd of bloodlines from fourteen to five is a good change I think, the descriptions of these bloodlines, while claiming to be "archetypal", are about as nuanced as a buzzfeed description of the houses of Hogwarts. Sure, expanding, adapting and modifying rulebook characterizations is our job but the book itself doesn't seem to encourage it.
The organizations are a completely different matter. With the exception of the Carthian Movement, all feel incredibly vibrant and cool organizations though the way they are integrated in to the different cities and character profiles in the following sections leave a "meh" quality to them. The Ordo Dracul especially is a prettty complex and multi-dimensional assortment that was a pleasant shock from the very flat and colorless descriptors I had spent the previous 40 pages on.
The following sections describing the eponymous Requiem Vampires participate in during the World of Darkness. While it mostly describes game mechanics and in this regard is incredibly interesting and provocative in the White Wolf Storytelling system way, when it tries to go deeper into the core concepts of "Requiem", "Masquerade", and wider Vampire society the low caliber of the book's prose rears its ugly head again. The concepts of "anchors", "vitae", "the beast", recieve pitiable elucidations and is one of the few times I can remember reading lore, thinking of a question, seeing the answer in the next few paragraphs and being dissapointed with my attempt at edification.
When we finally arrive at the VtR's additions and contributions to the Storytelling system I was really prepared to say "nope I'm good" since I knew this would mean putting all of those rules and mechanics into a narrative and while this 20 page seventh section of the book is short in length it does not spare the reader from the shoddy prose and ocular muscle strain incurred by the rolling of one's eyebrows as the writers try to sell you on this world. Now that's not exactly gracious of me and I'm not a cynical person, I can see beauty in kitsch-y things but that's because they usually have other redeeming qualities or some other value and Vampire: the Requiem doesn't provide either to me and left me with a very bad taste in my mouth and an odd feeling in my head when I finished reading.
I realize of course that my 2-Star review is a minority and a lot of people obviously love this book but as someone who just picked it up as their first intoduction to the WoD I was profoundly disapointed. Now as I said that's not a write-off of all the hype we've heard about White Wolf and Onyx Path, I've seen at least one astounding example of their work that jusitifes the phenomena their games have been elevated to, but VtR 2nd edition is not one of them.
[2 of 5 Stars!]