" None of this slinking around trying to avoid human contact, none of this 'guns' bullcrap, and none of this 'people looking at you funny when you mark your territory'. No, what you've got here is just a bunch of furry killing machines fighting tooth and nail with the Wyrm…just the way Gaia intended. "
Title: Dark Ages: Werewolf by White Wolf Publishing
Format: Tabletop role-playing supplement…
Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A
The Hype: As modern nights speed on the apocalypse draws ever closer. And who wants to be looking over their shoulder every minute for the apocalypse? It's like looking out for cops when your tabs have expired…so take a breather from the tense world of tonight's darkness and head into the darkness of yesteryear. In this edition, you'll find out what it was like for those fur-bearing killing machines of the early 13th century. Back when wolves were the feared beasts of death and destruction that their lycanthropic forebears deserved to be. The only thing to remember? It's actually a supplement for Dark Ages Vampire… Now, to get on with ye olde review!
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Drama: Seriously, has White Wolf ever really let you down? I could use this space to talk about the time I got my head caught in the sewer lines down at the PUD and you could still leave assured that there is an awesome story setting here. However, since several lawsuits prevent me from ever speaking of that event again (I may be in breach already), how about we talk story anyway? As I said at the top, we're talking about the early 13th century, while the Vampires rule the cities and all the vast expanses of forest and trees are ruled by the Werewolves. The apocalypse is just a story used to scare children and make old Garou start waving their sticks around at the young whippersnappers (you know, just before they kill them for being old). Lest you think that everything is candy canes and spiced wine for the Garou, though, it seems there's a bit of a prophecy going about. A prophecy of doom and foreboding… like any good prophecy. This is the main driving force behind the story of the time for the werewolves. Each of the tribes has their own verse of prophecy and their own way of dealing with it. And of course, all the normal annoyances that were happening around this time… Political strife, Vampires, The Inquisition, The Wyrm, people who say "thou" all the damned time…it's horrible, but overall the story lacks some of the urgency that we feel in modern nights, though it's no less conducive to vivid roleplaying. 4 out of 5
Layout and Presentation: Standard layout applies. It's a rather goofy thing to point out, but I rather like the fonts and scripts of the book and it capture the feel rather well. The artwork throughout is good to great with only a few disappointing pieces in here and of special note are Steve Prescot's chapter title pieces which are amazingly well done. The book essentially reads a lot like the actual Werewolf's core book although with half the pertinent information torn out. More on that in a bit. 3.5 out of 5
Playability: Here's the thing about this
supplement-and I use the word supplement poignantly here: This is a off-shoot
of the Vampire Dark Ages book. That means that you need to have the Dark Ages:
Vampire book in order to play this game. All right, fine. Not my favorite thing
ever, but it's certainly not the first time it's been done. Though, as you'd
expect, it can get quite annoying when you're looking for your skills to make
your character and you have to go fish out the Vampire book or constantly have
it on hand for core rules issues.
As far as the actual werewolves for playing, fans of the Native Americans had best sit this one out (although my group was discussing a possible dual campaign. Where one group adventures through Europe, while the Wendigo sits back and contemplates what it would be like if he had something to be really bitter about). The rules are a little bit different from the main werewolf game, and the inclusion of things like "Gnosis" makes it a lot different from the Dark Ages Vamp game. Which means players of both games will be a little confused at first (perfect, neh?). However, werewolf players looking to hop into some medieval action will certainly be the more at home of the two. Just make sure you've got that dirty leech book handy. 3.5 out of 5
Desired Content: Here's what weird me
out. White Wolf has this game, maybe you've heard of it, called Werewolf: the
Apocalypse? It sets up all these rules for playing a werewolf. So why in the
world is this book here based on the idea of playing a Werewolf as a vampire?
For anybody who's played Werewolf: the Apocalypse, this book spends most of
its time re-explaining that game to you but from a perspective based on Vampire
knowledge. It's tedious at best, ludicrous at worst, and constantly annoying….especially
since, on a lot of levels, Vampire and Werewolf are very different games.
Everything else you need to play the game is spread between this book and the Vamp Dark Ages book. You'll find the dummies guide to being a beastie in the Werewolf book, and all the actual skills and things in the Vamp book. As previously indicated, the back and forth flip rate is rather annoying. Especially because you should really have multiples of both books to help a table full of surly gamers make characters. 3 out of 5
|: Playing in the middle ages is fun-I'll say that right off the bat, and the things that annoy about this book really have nothing to do with the game itself. What's more, werewolves belong in this era. None of this slinking around trying to avoid human contact, none of this 'guns' bullcrap, and none of this 'people looking at you funny when you mark your territory'. No, what you've got here is just a bunch of furry killing machines fighting tooth and nail with the Wyrm…just the way Gaia intended. Now if you're already a werewolf player, just know that maybe White Wolf wanted to bring some of your leech friends over to the light. To do that, they had to repeat a bunch of stuff you already know. Just grin and bear it, and soon your Silver Fang will be riding down the highways in his shining Full Plate. Just make sure to have that Vampire book handy.|
The Good: A good old-fashioned romp in the medieval world… with WEREWOLVES!
The Bad: "For more information see Vampire: Dark Ages"
The Overall Ugly: It's like two books for the price of two books…
What it's Worth: Pay the man his money.