76/52 New RPGs: Cults of the Blood Gods

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 Cults of the Blood Gods

The publication history of Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition is complicated. In the 5th edition era, Vampire as an IP was first owned by White Wolf as a subsidiary of the Swedish videogame company Paradox Entertainment. Then White Wolf was folded and the IP owner became Paradox directly. Neither this incarnation of White Wolf or Paradox ever intended to publish roleplaying games. Instead, the 5th edition corebook and the supplements Anarch and Camarilla were developed internally but published by the U.K. roleplaying game company Modiphius Entertainment.

For a short while, Modiphius was supposed to start publishing their own Vampire books under license from Paradox but the only one they got out of the door was the campaign Fall of London.

The current publisher of Vampire is the American Renegade Game Studios, again under license from Paradox. They have put out a Sabbat book and there’s a Second Inquisition book coming as well.

While the Vampire IP was owned by the Icelandic videogame company CCP, the American publisher Onyx Path released an entire edition of the game under license. (Known as the 20th Anniversary Edition but retroactively effectively counted as the 4th edition. To add to the confusion, the 3rd edition was known as the Revised Edition at the time of its publication.)

When the 5th edition was released, Onyx Path made the switch and continued to publish material through all the tumult and changing licenses. Unlike the other publishers, Onyx Path has a strong crowdfunding focus, with a lot of Kickstarters running for their books at any given time.

Cults of the Blood Gods is a 5th edition book for Vampire published by Onyx Path. It’s a sourcebook on vampire religion and the cults that are one of the big new 5th edition elements in Vampire’s setting. Or rather, they were cults before, but they have been given a new emphasis and role in vampire society. It’s also effectively a Hecata clanbook. The Hecata are a new vampire clan introduced in the 5th edition, comprising a whole slew of clans and bloodlines under earlier editions: the Giovanni, the Cappadocians, the Samedi, the Harbinger of Skulls, the Lamia and the Nagaraja.

This is one of the best Vampire books I’ve read recently because it focuses on the new. Setting elements such as the Church of Caine and the Hecata are interesting and add new dimensions to the World of Darkness. I particularly like the cults because I’m a larp organizer and they’re very larpable.

Religion has always been present in Vampire. Its mythology relies heavily on the Bible. Still, this is the first time vampiric religious organizations can become major parts of the game’s world.

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