52/52 New RPGs: Vampire: the Masquerade Companion

I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.

The cover of Vampire: the Masquerade Companion

Vampire: the Masquerade Companion is a sourcebook for Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition released as a free download. It expands the options of the base game by including information on the last three Clans that hadn’t received the 5th edition treatment and also on playing human and ghoul characters. The new Clans are Ravnos, Tzimisce and Salubri.

The Ravnos have been a difficult Clan for a long time because many past treatments have been racist towards the Roma. There have been attempts to make them less racist but so far the efforts have been wobbly. With this history in mind, I was very positively impressed with the new Ravnos as presented here.

Uncoupled from specific real-life ethnic groups, the Ravnos as presented here have a distinct space in the World of Darkness of the 5th edition. Their history draws from the excesses of the turn-of-the-millennium Vampire metaplot without requiring any understanding of it. What matters is that the Ravnos are scarce, young, left to make their own destinies.

Many roleplaying game companies are struggling to modernize games that have sexist or racist elements, Wizards of the Coast and D&D the most famous among them. It’s nice to see what looks like a success.

At the end of the Companion, there are minor changes to the 5th edition rules, the result of feedback from a couple of years of play. Each change is accompanied by a short designer note. I really like this detail. It explains why a specific change has been made, making it easier for people to understand the effect of game mechanical changes.

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