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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition $29.99
Publisher: White Wolf
by Brian L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2022 15:54:55

I got my copy as a Black & White Softcover (bring back this option!) and it's held up for many years, despite heavy use and frequent abuse.

I missed out on the Kickstarter, but I grabbed my print-on-demand as soon as I learned of it and I couldn't be happier. The rules have been updated, the setting adjusted to account for geograpical borders shifting, major world events, technology, and minor tweaks have been made to clarify wording that more squeamish and sensitive payers (why are you playing a horror game, btw?) uncomfortable. It's not preachy of full of itself like Fifth Edition, the layout is straight-forward and it provides everything you need to run a game without relying on hard-baked setting and plot like the latest vers- bastardization of the game nearly forces you to do.

Old players and new will see a mixture of artwork that encompasses the whole of the franchise history scattered throughout the pages, providing a sense of nostalgia and inspiring ideas for various characters, story seeds, dramatic elements, and styles of gameplay, all of which are highly encouraged by the book itself. Examples of rules and systems are placed within the proper sections, along with quick-reference "cheat sheets" that are easy to scan and print to avoid excessive page-turning, while the thoroughness and detail ensures that you can (and will) find exactly what you're looking for, as well as an example that will not only say "this is what it does" but "this is how to adust as needed." Guesswork is kept to a minimum and rules that feel unwieldy or convoluted are easily altered or omitted. Unlike Fifth Edition, this is even encouraged in order to make sure the game flows as intended. Where Fith Edition feels like a "rulebook," this feels more like a traveler's guide of suggested sights and activities.

The font size is perfect for extended reading in most situations, though it does make the book a bit large and clunky. However, what they manage to pack into this single tome is more than enough to expand greatly upon the average game. Using the only basic Camarilla Clans and the standard tropes referenced throughout the book, one doesn't even need to worry about playing other Clans or Bloodlines for quite a while, but all of the information for doing so is easily available. There's even information on long-dead groups of vampires that seems to merely bulk the page count until you realize the potential for flashbacks and historical settings that previously required whole other source books. When you take that into consideration, you have to wonder how they managed to get it all in the book without using fine print and magnifying glasses.

There are references to characters and settings from the older books but the lore isn't as firmly-entrenched in the writing as it used to be. There's no sense of "well, the Final Nights are here, so I guess the game's gonna be short." There's no pressure to inclue the likes of Theo Bell, Sascha Vikos, Lucita, or Jan Pieterzoon because they appear in every chapter. In fact, most of the Kindred that older fans know and love is given a loving nod in a love letter to long nights in the past with good friends (and better rivals!) around a table where the sunrise came too soon and the intrigues never ceased. You won't find the encouragement and pressure to use a version of Atlanta that has been ransacked by the Sabbat, or to include a shotgun-toting Brujah Archon in a ball cap for any of your stories... but the writers leave it wholly open to do so.

Where older versions and the abomination of Fifth Edition have plotlines hammered into many facets of the game, "V20" is a set of tools and a traveler's guide that flashes you a fanged smile and bids you to explore the World of Darkness as you choose.

It doesn't ask you to subscribe to it's ways, but merely Embraces you and welcomes you the extended family.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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