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Mind's Eye Theatre: Werewolf The Apocalypse
Publisher: By Night Studios
by Ivan . [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/25/2016 17:36:58

I liked the book, it's 200 pages more than the Vampire book at the same price, and the base mechanics, downtime system etc. have been polished in the meantime. Plenty of setting info, but a lot of it has been changed since tabletop version.

Very compatible with Vampire book, unlike previous WtA offerings - it has a nice chapter about mechanical interaction of both creatures, and a huge NPC section including even more World of Darkness creatures. Excellent status/political system, and plenty of additional info in the core book (like Fera) which would usually be found in some supplements. Great buy.

I wrote a more comprehensive review on my blog: http://www.crolarper.com/2016/10/minds-eye-theatre-werewolf-apocalypse.html



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mind's Eye Theatre: Werewolf The Apocalypse
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Mind's Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade
Publisher: By Night Studios
by Ivan . [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/18/2013 18:18:28

The sales pitch is basically true. This book really provides everything. Compared to most other role-playing systems, it's like core books and half a dozen most popular supplements rolled into one book. The basic mechanics are simple (e.g. challenge and fight mechanic fits on two pages). The character sheet has been streamlined - having less stuff on it than the tabletop version, simplifying character creation which is really streamlined (and there are hints about it on the character sheet) and consists of simply following the steps. The system seems more differentiated from tabletop than in nWoD books (and in a good way), while also being more tabletop-like than the original system (again in a good way, as it avoids trait tracking). The basic mechanic involves both rock-paper-scissors (in limited numbers) and a test pool. This is compared to tabletop's handful of d10s, original rules' rock-paper-scissors (it looks like it from a distance, but the bomb symbol is not there anymore, and trait bidding and tracking system is replaced by a simple number), and nWoD MET's card draw system.

In Croatia, we tested the rules in three games and they work very well for their intended purposes and playstyle - just don't try running the combat with a lot of unprepared people... without using the mass combat rules. We'll be running them regularly starting January 2014 as part of the Camarilla Agram chronicle in Zagreb, so if you're around you can try it with us.

Apart from the rules, the rest of the book's content is pretty much stunning. The number of mechanically different characters is astounding. Different clans and bloodlines not only provide what is similar to "classes" in some other games, but they also provide some hints on role-playing that character. And in a way, lot of things do. Hints and suggestions on role-play and character goals are pretty much all over the place. The clan and bloodline characterization, tons of available lore (both general, for your faction of vampires, and for your clan), the political system that's included, the boon economy, how XP system works and some very high-quality storyteller advice (which is if you ask me one of the best parts of this book, covering starting from scratch, how to organize stuff, how to write scenarios and plot, impact on players, tips, pitfalls, dealing with problem players, better involving other players, set dressing... an awesome section). If you simply run it by the book, you'll provide a lot of hooks for both players and characters to keep them engaged.

Art-wise, the book is impressive. The layout is awesome. The full-page photos are fine, though I liked those in V20 more. However, there will also be the Deluxe version featuring art by Tim Bradstreet - that should solve the problem. The print version will be in a leatherette cover, with sewn bookmarks and silver edged pages - it's a limited collector's edition, and the price is such. It's still available on the preorder page at the time of writing. But even the standard version feels rich and professional due to its' art - a huge step up from Laws of the Night.

The stock NPC creation system is fast, and will allow you to build an appropriate NPC (whatever the manner of creature it is) in a few seconds, saving you the trouble of building a full character. It also features the rules on building the creatures from other World of Darkness settings - hunters, werewolves, mages, fae, wraiths, demons - though they're not mechanically the most faithful renditions from their original systems, as here they're approximated with Vampire rules - but it's a decent approximation for most. The section also includes the rules for building vampires which were not included in the PC section (Methuselahs, Blood Brothers, Lhiannan, Nagaraja).

The lore was moved forward a few years, which brought it to an interesting point - it's familiar to previous Masquerade players, continued the storyline and keeping the richness of the setting in a slightly evolved form while removing the emphasis from the original meta-plot. And it's not just lore, layout or full-page art - the wording itself is often full of adjectives and describes things in such a way that the book oozes atmosphere. Intertwined between lore, mechanics and art are also a total of four short stories, written by Jason Andrew and Ree Soesbee. But that's always been the standard deal with White Wolf books. Plenty of lore and atmosphere. The PDF form has hyperlinked table of contents, index and several other places in text which works well for finding stuff quickly - though there are players who'd appreciate a shorter summary. There's a Quick Start Guide coming early in 2014, but I don't know how it will be organized in content. The page count of the PDF is also increased by sample equipment cards, included character sheet and a substantial listing of all the Kickstarter backers (I'm on page 529 :)).

Final conclusion? Well, a larp can be many things. Many good larps rely on no or minimal mechanical rules - simply on a good plot and setup. I wrote some of them. Larps like this one are simply another type of the event, and they have an appeal of its' own. And Vampire larps can be very influential - not only that they're played in many countries across both Americas and Europe (and perhaps wider - that's the power of distribution), but there were also games like "Helsingin Camarilla", played in Helsinki in 90's (described in the Nordic Larp book), which set quite a few standards.

This book is a new chapter in the Vampire larp tradition. In my opinion, it's made better than any of the core Vampire larp books before it - simpler and more streamlined in way how it works, richer in its' options and better looking, an upgrade in almost every conceivable way. It's clear that a lot of research and effort has been put into it - it's not a "let's get some money quickly" scheme, a lot of stuff has been carefully rewritten for a reason. Additionally, during the development process the folks from the By Night Studios have shown themselves to be communicative, serious about the feedback and supporting their players, and displaying a good sense of humor. A plus in my book, and I hope they continue doing that.

If what I described sounds like a larp you want to play, than get the book. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good - and as advertised, it's all you need to start larping or join an existing game. If you're interested in Vampire, you'll get it anyway. If you're a tabletop RPG player who'd like to try larping, this is a style that you'll find familiar and non-threatening (and you can probably use it for tabletop play as well). For $25 in PDF, it's an excellent value, providing not only mechanics but also plentiful lore, good advice and cool stories in a wholesome, visually attractive package.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mind's Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade
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