" All the grandeur and mystery of these gas-lit nights are available in this detailed setting sourcebook, as are the seedier elements that make a Vampire game, well… a Vampire game. "
Title: Victorian Age Vampire by White Wolf
Format: Vampire Setting Rulebook
Reviewing Monkey: Genghis Kong
The Hype: Fans of Vampire, the Masquerade have long been heard to say that of all the periods in time White Wolf could elaborate upon as a setting, the Victorian era is the one best-suited to a Vampire chronicle. After many years of fan feedback and conversation on the subject, they have put forth a setting sourcebook detailing the time and society, and lo, the fans wanted to buy it. So is it a brilliant adaptation of the game that was simply meant to be, or is it just two hundred pages of steam-powered suckitude? The Conqueror Ape simply had to know.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Drama: Victorian Age Vampire has taken the style and flair of the Victorian era and brought it down to the darkest depths in a way that fans of the film "From Hell" will easily recognize. Present are the top hats and horse-drawn carriages that give the setting its flair and panache, but also present are the darker truths of the age and the eerie shadows that accompany them in this, the World of Darkness. All the grandeur and mystery of these gas-lit nights are available in this detailed setting sourcebook, as are the seedier elements that make a Vampire game, well… a Vampire game. Unfortunately, while this sourcebook offers detailed information on the setting and period, it does not offer any particularly grand plot hooks for a chronicle--it will take a creative Storyteller to figure out a grand purpose for his coterie to strive toward. So Drama is high, and Story is average--this is fairly normal for a setting supplement. 3.5 out of 5.
Layout and Presentation: Victorian Age Vampire is pretty, there's no doubt about that. Hardcover, with a soft green background and iconic lettering set in the appearance of a wrought iron gate, this supplement is among the better-looking of White Wolf's materials, neither gaudy nor likely to grow less pleasant from continued exposure. The interior layout is smart and clean, following White Wolf's usual Table of Contents, which is only a bad thing inasmuch as it's an unusually large supplement. It does have an index, however, which is useful for important topics but unlikely to find you specific detailed information. There is so much artwork and so many artists that I hardly know where to begin for critiques, but it's easy to say that the art is good overall and certainly an excellent depiction of the period and mood. Christopher Shy's work is, as usual, somewhat odd and jarring and not always sensible, but it's less absurd in this supplement than in most of the books he's done work for. The most eye-catching and interesting works tend to be by Rebecca Guay and Matt Mitchell, with familiar styles by Vince Locke, Mike Danza, and Guy Davis also appearing on many a page. Andy Trabbold and Richard Thomas submit some fairly good works, themselves, contributing to one of the most aesthetically pleasing books White Wolf has printed in years. 4.5 out of 5.
Playability: The supplement is a crash course in Victorian style, politics, technology, culture, and philosophy, and a perceptive reader will come away with all the tools necessary to play an accurate and interesting character within the period provided. Victorian aficionados among the Vampire masses will be quite pleased with what's been put to print, having gotten their heart's desire at last. The setting could do with more story hooks and metaplot information (a la Dark Ages' War of Princes), but perhaps such information is left to future supplements--this is, after all, not a core book but rather a setting, and thus doesn't contain all of the Storyteller information that a core rulebook would. 4 out of 5.
Desired Content: You wanted Victorian, you got Victorian--lots of it. This book is one big wish fulfilled for a great number of Vampire players, and will likely draw in a cult following that will spur on further supplements and reference materials to flesh out the setting. The only thing missing, as I have stated before, is a collection of plot hooks and intrigue for the characters to take part in, and I feel that's an important oversight (or more likely something saved for later supplements that should have at least been touched upon in this book). It's enough to keep you in silk petticoats and long-tailed tuxedo jackets for extended tea times. 4 out of 5.
|White Wolf has delivered the goods on a new period setting for its flagship game line, and this monkey highly doubts there will be much complaint from the players. For those with an eye for these halcyon days, I recommend you take a look.|
The Good: Beautiful artwork, excellent wealth of information, and a long-requested setting delivered.
The Bad: Lack of plot hooks and storylines.
The Overall Ugly: Could have been a core rulebook, but instead became a setting sourcebook--bear this in mind at all times.
What it's Worth: Market at $26.95. Do remember that it's hardbound.