This is a conversion of White Wolfs Vampire: The Masquerade RPG to Steve Jacksons GURPS system. White Wolf is using the Story Telling game mechanics and in order the conversion to be successful certain sacrifices had to be made.
Since, there might be readers out there that have no clue what an RPG is allow me to do a small introduction. Generally a typical Role Play Game would be an activity satisfying most of the following:
1. It involves persons consciously playing fiction roles (either medieval, contemporary or sci-fi roles)
2. It involves the collective creation of a story
3. Usually one of the participants is responsible for guiding the activity
4. There is no audience besides the participants themselves (unless there is a demonstration of course).
5. The main purpose of the activity is to entertain the participants.
There are published books, often referred to as Rulebooks, containing unique rules regarding how to create a character (role) or how to resolve specific actions. Generally the success of an action is determined with by rolling one or more dice (dice can be funny in RPGs since they tend to have more than 6 surfaces). Besides the rulebooks, there are books describing settings in which characters can role play. Settings are very diverse and include high or low fantasy worlds, dystopian worlds, contemporary worlds, or alternate reality worlds.
Now, the GURPS: Vampire rulebook starts out with some 'mood-setting' stuff. Letters from vampire hunters and vampires. More interesting is the last entry which is apparently a computer printout of a mortal's attempts to infiltrate a vampire run BBS! (Good stuff, here!)
Chapter 1: The World of Darkness
A good portion of the book will be old hat to Vampire players and storyguides. It explains the Gothic-Punk world, vampire society, the Masquerade, etc.
Chapter 2: Characters
As per usual in a GURPS worldbook, this section includes how to use old advantage/disads/skills in this world's setting and new stuff that is unique to the specific worldbook. New advantages include Ally Group, Blood Healing, Fashion Sense(!), Generation (vampiric, of course) Vampiric Invulnerability. New disads include Blood Bonded, The Draining (blood loss per day), and Unhealing. New skills include Appreciate Beauty and Intimidation. A thumbnail sketch of discipline is given in this Chapter (so you can make your character without flipping all over the book for costs!) and is described in much more detail in a later Chapter . Some hunter advantages are listed here for PC-hunters or those nasty hunter-of-PC's! Short rules for creating and using sacred objects are given also.
Chapter 3: Permutations
The new mechanics to GURPS are described here. Blood points and how to use them, frenzies, vampiric injuries and death, torpor, and some concise questions to smooth character conception generation and prelude handling.
Chapter 4: Disciplines
To incorporate Disciplines into GURPS, the author has taken an odd route to make conversion easier. To wit, buying levels in most disciplines allows one to purchase the relevant powers as if they were skills. Certain disciplines (Celerity, Fortitude, Potence) are treated differently. These have a cost based on a sliding scale (4,8,16,24,48) and give you a set bonus without having to buy a skill to go with them. Thaumaturgy (a weak point in the original VtM) is integrated into the GURPS system fairly smoothly. A new college is formed (the blood college, naturally!) and the rituals given in VtM are translated into GURPS terms. Tremeres should be *much* more fun if the GM allows spells from GURPS Basic or Magic to be used! I would warn storyguides who allow this to SEVERELY limit which spells are allowed in the campaign. Aspiring mages should remember that Magery normally *cannot* be raised after the campaign starts, so should plan accordingly. Vampires use fatigue points (2 per level) to power their disciplines, or one HT point per fatigue point, or 1 blood point per 2 fatigue points. There are also optional rules in the back on purchasing a discipline's duration and effect seperately, rather than as a package.
Chapter 5: Clans
Not much new here. I did notice that the Ventrue didn't get a picture (just a rose at the top of the page.) Maybe they figure we've ALL seen the traditional vampire movies? =)
Chapter 6: Campaigns
Many ideas for campaigns and adventures are given here PLUS a very good adventure! I would heartily recommend that non-GURPS VtM players buy or borrow this supplement, if only for this adventure.
Chapter 7: Conversion
If you've been on Illuminati, you know that Jeff literally sweated blood over this section. And (despite some disagreements) he's done a marvelous job. Attributes - convert to GURPS attributes, advantages and skills (some even become disadvantages! A Wits of 1 becomes Gullible in GURPS) Most abilities convert to skills, some convert to various advantages. In VtM the 'dots' in an ability adds to an attribute (but not necessarily the SAME attribute every time), while in GURPS each skill modifies one attribute only. So the dots in Vampire translate into a fixed GURPS skill level. Because this is a conversion between two disparate systems, the point costs don't come out the same for every character. Two sample characters are converted according to the rules and suggestions on how to handle the imbalance are given.
Vampire slang. Fortunately it comes right before the index, where it can be easily looked up by new players and forgetful Storyguides.
The charts for celerity in the Disciplines section and the character section don't match. My guess is the one in the Disciplines section is right. Watch out for characters that use stuff from other rulebooks. Especially with magic and Psi. That darn glossy black ink holds fingerprints like a vice. (Ok, so this a silly point. I have to complain about *something*!) Some characters will translate very oddly into GURPS. Mostly munchkin sorts or character that had a high intelligence or dexterity in VtM. Nearly NOTHING from any other Vampire supplement is included in the core rules or the conversion notes. So don't expect stuff from the Player's Book to be included here. Of course, given this book as a guideline, coming up with your own rules should be pretty easy. One of my complains is that a new character sheet should have been included. In fact it would have been a god-send.
All in all this is a fine addition to the GURPS line, but because it IS a conversion and several new structures/rules had to be invented to make conversion easier, it doesn't flow with perfect ease. All in all I'd give it an overall A with a warning to those who prefer to take their GURPS black, without extra rules.
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