V5 – A Week Later – Review

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V5 – A Week Later – Review

I’ve had the Vampire 5th PDF for a little over a week at this point, and I’ve poked through it quite a bit. I’ll be honest and say that I have selectively read about 50-60% of the actual material in the PDF and I have not yet run a session.

I’m sharing my initial impressions of what I think is good, the ‘meh’ and the bad (so far). I’ll close with my recommendation.

The Good

General written content

Okay, folks, this isn’t Vampire: The Masquerade 1st, 2nd, Revised, or V20. It is most certainly related to them, and the family resemblance is there, but it’s a distinct game that is just similar enough to share the title. Nonetheless, it is a well-written game, but certainly different.

The Crunchy Bits

As I said, I haven’t run a session of V5 yet, and for full disclosure, I was pissed off with how ‘un-vampire’ the Alpha rules were. After a few reads through the major systems (Humanity, Hunger, Crits, and Blood Potency) I’m on-board with the rules changes. Bonus: Thin-bloods are viable characters that don’t destroy a Chronicle.

The Narrative

Players from my lore-heavy V20 games will likely be surprised to hear that I love what they have done by calling prior lore into question.

Some of my favourite narrative points:

  • There is a plausible (enough) reason for why the story has changed so much.
  • Gehenna never arrived (or did it?).
  • The Beckoning is drawing away the Elders so Neonates have a chance to flex a little.
  • The Sabbat have returned to being the fearsome bogeymen in the dark (much like 1st Edition), instead of a weekly reoccurring villain.

The Meh

The Effort on Making sure that everyone is ‘OK’

This is likely my own interpretation, but Vampire has always been a mature game for mature players to me. In my experience, the easily offended were typically happier playing other games. Vampire scenes sometimes got hot and heavy, frightening or even disgusting (looking at you Clans Tzimisce and Giovanni). So, I’m somewhat apathetic (at best) to the effort that went into ‘Appendix III: Advice for Considerate Play’. Really, while I don’t find it useful, its’ inclusion doesn’t hurt me.

Some of the Artwork

I’m going to call out a few pieces of art from the book that I feel are nothing but half-hearted fillers. Art is subjective though, so I acknowledge that others may like it.

  • ‘Nosferatu in spectacles’ (pg 80)
  • ‘The older woman holding a leash’ (pg 103)
  • ‘Neonates in Rubble’ (pg 112)
  • ‘Combat montage’ (pg 124)
  • ‘Limited colour pallet bus ride’ (pg 309)
  • What looks like alternative takes on the cover art (pgs 191)

The Bad

The Price & Shipping

I get that ‘Big’ books are expensive to make and to ship. Also, I get that not every publisher has the clout to sell their core book at the sub-30 price point (in fact, only D&D 5E gets away with it), but as someone who has spent over 100.00 on an Onyx Path book (the 20th anniversary editions) my friends don’t consider me to be a cheap bastard. So I was willing to accept the £124.99 GBP (over 210 Canadian Dollars) for the “Vampire: The Masquerade, Elder Bundle”. The part that I objected to (fairly vocally on the publishers Facebook thread) was the £40.50 GBP (about $68 CDN) in shipping. It’s more than double what I’m paying through DriveThruRPG to have a comparable weight of books, shipped.
Furthermore, aside from shipping, I feel like I was taken to the cleaners for pre-ordering from the publisher. The “VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE, SLIPCASE SET” is $166.99 CAD on modiphius.net, while I could pre-order the same damn thing here in Canada from 401games.ca for $109.95 CAD. Of course, the resellers only brought their stuff online, after the ‘Preorder Sale’ which wasn’t a sale, and didn’t seem to actually end. So, I am a fool for ordering it direct.

The PDF is well below standard

OnyxPath and DrivethruRPG have spoiled me for the proper bookmarking of chapters, inconsistency and completeness. Their PDF’s are a pleasure to navigate, and they run until the end of the book. I can’t say that about V5. The bookmarks end on page 381 of 430, omitting the Loresheets, Index (seriously WTF, why would you omit the index?), three Appendices (again, why omit them?), and the Character sheet.

(The Clan) Art

Initially, when it was announced that V5 would rely heavily upon photographic manipulation, I rolled my eyes. I get that the artwork of Bradstreet and Jones isn’t what they were going for, it’s >25 years later (though I personally still love your art Tim and Leif), but I was really disappointed with the representations of the Clans. Regardless of the Clan, everyone has a (near) model’s build, and all of their clothing looks like a take on a different runway fashion. Folks, Clan Nosferatu looks like a runway take of Mad Max Fury Road mixed with a little makeup.

The continued Money Grab

“V5 core book early shipping to bundle customers! To thank our dedicated community who have gone all in for the big Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition bundles in spite of being aware the bundles would not reach them until the Fall, we’re creating a code to help you get the V5 core book shipped in advance of the slipcases and other items. This code will be sent in an email on Monday 27th August to all those who purchased bundles and will let you claim the core book free and just pay for the shipping. If you use the code, the core book will be removed from your subsequent shipping. Please, bear in mind the code will be active only until the 2nd of September. V5 corebooks shipped in this fashion should get to customers’ hands in September for the majority, depending on where you are located. Please contact support@modiphius.com for any questions.” that’s straight from White-Wolf’s facebook page. So, I paid a ridiculous amount for shipping, only to be told that I can pay MORE to get my (overpriced) core book sooner. What a money-grab.

Do I recommend it?

The fanboy in me thinks that this is an interesting take on V:tM. The guy who is nearly 40 years old and has spent a small fortune collecting every V:TM book ever published (except for the leatherbound V20 edition), thinks that this should have been put out by a different publisher. I’ve heard great things about the books/settings that Modiphius releases, but I think that they cocked up the logistics, pricing and release of this beloved game. If I could go back and cancel my pre-order through Modiphius, I would. Had I known how much cheaper it’d be, I’d have waited until a Canadian store stocked it.