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     " Since you know you're going to buy it eventually take solace in the fact that it's hardbound and pretty so people will think you're being intellectual while you're reading it on the subway. "

      Title: Dark Ages: Vampire by White Wolf

      Format: Dark Gothic Role Playing

      Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters

      The Hype: Essentially in the second edition run of Vampire, Dark Ages sets the tone and gives you all the info you need for playing the eternal undead in the middle ages. Which is all fine and good, but it's worth noting that we've now had two sets of books about pointy teethed knights while the count of Caveman Vampire suppliments still sits at zero (despite all my letters of protest). Oh well, now's not the time to be bitter...

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Story and Drama: Wow. That's it- wow. White Wolf set the tone for story in gaming some 15 years ago and haven't let up since. While Dark Ages isn't as story rich as some of the other true story line driven properties in the World of Darkness universe, Dark Ages still manages to devote no less then a full third of its 315 page core rules to background, history, and society. From the presence of the Clans and their roles in historical society to the activities of the church and nobility, Dark Ages has you covered. 4 out of 5

      Layout and Presentation: Again as with their other books, White Wolf established a standard many years ago and has followed it since. This is both good and bad. On the up side is the incredible artwork, beautiful design, and award winning presentation they've been famous for. They include all the information you need in a logical order and spruce it up nicely with anecdotes and illustrations. That's the good news. The bad is that they are still using that same half-assed table of contents they've always had that's written in abstracts that are as vague as possible and have an index that only includes about half the words it should. Still, by the time you've read through it once or twice you'll know your way around…Just never go looking for anything in a hurry. 4 out of 5

      Playability: Hands down the Storyteller system is one of the most solid games ever seen and it's running full force here. Though not as combatingly refined as Werewolf Second Edition or Hunter, Dark Ages does give you the full list of Disciplines and abilities you'd expect with some sorely needed balancing from earlier versions. A core book on its own, Dark Ages gives you everything you need to get started playing the system and is completely capable of standing on its own. It includes rules for almost any type of playing you'd like to do- from royalty to peasantry and anywhere in between plus ideas for interactions with long-term campaigns. On a sick and twisted note it also includes rules for some great medieval concerns like drowning, the plague, and leprosy. Keen. My only gripe, in addition to the combat, is some of the rules discrepancies that exist between Dark Ages and other World of Darkness books, but a bit is to be expected. 4 out of 5

      Desired Content: Politics, society, rules, Disciplines…What more do you want? Really, my only gripe is about the rather lackluster combat rules and some of the grave imbalances in the weapons and armor- but then Vampire has never been about combat. Still, in the time of knights and chivalry I think the sword should play a bigger role. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       The middle ages have always had an exceptional appeal to our society and now you've got a chance to play a child of Cain within it. Whether you want the setting but need a break from the traditional fantasy games or just want to take your favorite vamp back in time Dark Ages is a great addition to the World of Darkness. I can't wait to see where they go with it.

      The Good: Great setting and full core rules.

      The Bad: Light on combat and with that lame table of contents all these books have.

      The Overall Ugly: Since you know you're going to buy it eventually take solace in the fact that it's hardbound and pretty so people will think you're being intellectual while you're reading it on the subway. Always a plus.

      What it's Worth: Market

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