At GenCon 2018 in Indianapolis, White Wolf Entertainment has just released the fifth edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. It marks the return of an iconic tabletop role-playing game, roughly seven years since the 20th anniversary edition hit the market.
For most of us here, Vampire: The Masquerade was mostly known through the videogame adaptations that came out back in 2000 and 2004 – around the time that the Blade series of movies came out and the Underworld series started – two very adult interpretations of Vampires and the intrigue and strife that exists among their ranks.
Vampire: The Masquerade did the same, only much earlier – with the original version of the game harking back to 1991. But even though we’re seen a lot of tabletop crossovers between videogames and various Games Workshop titles, Vampire is much more focused on players assuming a role and interacting with each other – consider it a form of live action role playing rather than a traditional game with players gathered around a table and moving pieces along a board.
The new version, just released at GenCon, promises an update to modern times – not just in terms of game mechanics that are more streamlined but also with a core rulebook that reflects the times we live in today. The political climate, the social climate – we’ve seen major changes since 1991 and Vampire: The Masquerade V5 reflects this.
That’s not meant to say that it’s any less Vampire-centric because of it – and there are plenty of other roles as well. The “masquerade” is all about needing to appear human, which is a big part of Vampire life (or is ‘not life’?) – which is something that’s even made it into the VR realm with Ubisoft’s Werewolves Within.
We’ve had access to the brand new rule book, though we didn’t get a chance to actually play yet. You only really need a set of dice to do so, but there’s a time commitment as well – the rule book is over 400 pages long and players can’t casually join a table and start playing. If they did, without at least a basic understanding of the World of Darkness, it also wouldn’t be as much fun.
Surprisingly though, despite its length, the rule book is a joy to read. It looks absolutely gorgeous when compared to nearly all other tabletop rule books we’ve seen so far, and at times reads like a riveting Vampire encyclopedia rather than a set of rules for a game. Let’s see how the players react now that the game’s been unleashed at GenCon, a few weeks ahead of the widespread launch. White Wolf is planning more Vampire-related productions down the road, but the new version of the tabletop game is here and ready to provide the ground work.