I just happened to notice a quick blip on the radar this week that White Wolf has released the Vampire Translation Guide pdf which was available for a measly 99 cents!
The guide is targeted at players of either Vampire: The Masquerade or Vampire: The Requiem who wish to convert elements of one or the other into each other. This is sort of a big selling point to me: that it allows 2-way conversions, and wasn’t simply the old game brought to the new system. Personally, I’m a fan of the new rules, but offering the alternative is handy. At first I was put off that it was a premium PDF purchase and not just a freebie handed out on their site, but the product is actually well worth the buck as they put in more than just quick conversions and a pat on the back. The document is 52 pages, including front and back covers that mix the book styles of Masquerade and Requiem together quite nicely. This meshing of the flavors continues in the interior design and artwork, which seems to blend the visual aesthetics of both the old and the new together nicely.
Overview of the Guide:
- Masquerade to Requiem: Introduces a break down on the major differences between the two games, both system and setting wise, and serves as a nice starting point for Storytellers to consider what exactly they’re wanting to bring over to their chronicle. Masquerade was a game heavily driven on Metaplot, with global conspiracies and a unified creation myth that was the center of an ages old jyhad between powerful Immortals. Requiem, on the other hand, is described as a “Year Zero” game where the back story is purposefully kept vague and riddled with conflicting mythos and kept the “power drama” to a smaller scale than the shadow wars of its predecessor. Also, Requiem streamlined things by having vampires all originate from 5 clans, whereas the original had 13 plus strange bloodlines. Quite a bit of difference to go around and to consider, but maintains the new game’s philosophy that it’s to be up to the type of game and setting the Storyteller will want to run.
- Clans: Diving in to the Clans section, they start off by bringing the 13 original clans into Requiem. What’s cool about this section is that they provide guide lines for two separate approaches: Bringing the Clans over in their entirety, or maintaining Requiem’s structure and introducing them as Bloodlines. The later option would probably work best for those who are trying to maintain the design philosophy of Requiem (where every vampire originated from one of the core 5 clans, and then can tap into a potential bloodline to further expand their nature.) The tricky part here is that a lot of Clans from the old game could swing to a couple different Requiem origins. For example: my personal favorite, the Lasombra, could easily be a Mekhet bloodline (shadowy, manipulative aspect.) But they can also be treated as a Ventrue blood line (nobility, authority, “brother’s keeper” mentality.) Still, I’m happy they acknowledged this and presented their guidelines for each approach. Personally, I don’t feel bound by NWoD’s “Rule of 5” splat design, but if I wanted to bring an old character concept into an existing Requiem game with little shoe-horning, I have my choices. The chapter then goes on discussing the inverse, bringing Requiem clan concepts into Masquerade. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of taking existing Masquerade clans and approaching them with a particular background or philosophy. The chapter ends with a straightforward guideline of converting Requiem bloodlines back to Masquerade.
- Sects and Covenants: Deals with converting the governing structures of both games to the other. It kicks off discussing methods of fitting Masquerade’s Camarilla and Sabbat into the Requiem world. I was most impressed with their handling of the Sabbat (which, I must confess, was my favorite sect in Masquerade.) The idea of this well organized, ritual driven cult-like society of vampires who openly contest the First Tradition and even maintain the mythology of Caine makes them a great opponent to the existing Covenants. What really impressed me with the chapter, though, was the amount of information provided for each Requiem convenant and how to bring them over to Masquerade, and fitting them into the lore. If I haven’t stressed it enough yet, I was really pleased that this guide is like an open 2-way street.
- Disciplines: The big meat and potatoes, in my opinion, that’s probably what most purchasers are wanting to sink their teeth into (pun intended.) Starts with a brief discussion of common Disciplines between the two systems (even the ones that are renamed, but we know they’re essentially the same) and then dives straight into the Masquerade to Requiem conversions, followed by Requiem to Masquerade. I’m very pleased with this section, since they didn’t wuss out like I was afraid they would and actually stayed true to the original content. Being a die-hard Lasombra fan, I was very happy to see Obtenebration converted over perfectly and I wasn’t just told to use the Khaibit’s bloodline discipline (which was cool, but, yeah I miss the shadow tentacles.) Everything from the core books of both games appears accounted for….however, I don’t believe this covers any disciplines that may have shown up in other source books for either. It’s not a big deal to me since we didn’t stray far from the core (much), but it might be a deal breaker to some.
- Traits and Systems: Also what I call The Big “Oh Yeah!” The little differences between the two systems that players dreaming of conversion sometimes forget to think about. Stuff like Nature & Demeanor, Backgrounds, Merits and the like. The big topics tackled here is stuff like Generation vs. Blood Potency. Masquerade was all about Generation (how far your vampire was descended from the original, the higher the effectively weaker.) Requiem, on the other hand, had Blood Potency which effectively works the same way, but in reverse (you start off young, with little power, and then as your grow more experienced you rise in potency.) The other biggie topic addressed is Humanity and Paths of Enlightenment. A lot of this is just a question of preference, with minimal system conversion necessary. It was still a cool read to me, since I’ve always been a fan of Blood Potency over Generation (we even came up with a house-ruled version before Requiem came out that was essentially the same idea.) I know lots of other folks didn’t care for alternate morality paths, but they were a concept my group loved and I’d be happy to see them back. Any Masquerade players who’d like some alternate or expanded takes on Vampiric existence might enjoy this chapter for adding Blood Potency, the Predator’s Taint and Blood Sympathy to their games.
- Character Conversion: The final chapter provides the Step-by-Step guidelines for a Masquerade to Requiem, and then Requiem to Masquerade character, including a follow-along example character being made with each step. The chapter finishes off with the two example character sheets. I admit I just glanced over, but did like that it was two separate characters for the example just so the reading didn’t feel redundant. From what I read through, though, it was written in the same familiar tone any WoD fan of either edition will recognize.
The World of Darkness line, in both incarnations, make up a huge bulk of my gaming book collection, rivaled only by my D&D collection. The Vampire line in particular I have had a few years worth of successful chronicles under my belt with, both as a player and a Storyteller, for both systems. The new WoD rules in particular is one of my favorite toolkit systems, and the fan community for it has demonstrated that outside of the “Modern Horror” genre it easily adapts itself to many different genres and styles. The new Vampire, in particular, has been a game that I’ve enjoyed overall but have always found myself longing for the old game’s flavor and history. Matter of fact, my online persona Rev. Lazaro came from my old vampire character, who to this day was one of my favorite roles. But the truth is, for me and a few of my players, trying to go back to Masquerade rules felt clunky and cumbersome.
The Vampire Translation Guide is like a dream come true for me and some of my players. It’s a chance to update and revisit some old chronicles left unfinished, but still fresh on our minds years down the road. It’s opened up a lot of exciting avenues for us to expand and build our chronicles in ways that, I’ll be honest, absolutely frighten me. In a good way. And I’m hoping that this is a sign of White Wolf showing support for their fans, both new and old, as well as us who never really left in the first place.
So is it wrong that now I want to see a Mage Translation Guide?