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Minireview: V20 Companion (Vampire: the Masquerade)

V20 Companion is an add-on book for the (fantastic) Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary edition (V20 for short), consisting of add-on material which didn’t fit in that already huge tome. While intentions were good here, the end result leaves something to be desired. The biggest problem is: there’s simply not much here. At 80 pages it’s a very thin book, and to add insult to injury only some of the material is new and interesting. Furthermore, there are way too many wasted pages here, reducing the actual content even further. Looking at price per content ratio, this book isn’t really a “recommended buy”.

That’s not to say it’s a total waste. The layout and are is very nice, and the content is competently written as such. The first half of the book is a re-examination of the title and boon system in the Vampire world – all fine and good, but much of this was already familiar to GMs and players, and while having it in one place is nice, it doesn’t really warrant taking up half of this book. Additionally, the new details (being able to buy titles with experience, for example) do not sound like awesome ideas considering how this game is usually played.

The second half of the book is better. First off there’s an examination of (high) technology and the Kindred, which is a subject that tends to come up in games quite a bit. A lot of interesting discussion here, including various reasons why older vampires do not use high tech to any great capacity (beyond just “they are stuck in their ways”, though that is a big part of it). This section is easily the best part of the book. After that we get a section on international (read: non-US) interesting locations in the game world. While a nice idea, the allowed page count only gives room for a couple of paragraphs per location, much too little to really do more than mention major details. This section is something that would work much better as a standalone book, with enough room to examine the various locales in detail.

Last off, there’s a short appendix consisting of things that were cut from the book (in general detail) and the reasons why. Now, this section simply makes no sense. In a book already starved for page count, we get multiple things dedicated to stuff that, while interesting, would be better served as a blog post? Meh.

In the end, while it’s a pretty book and is does have some interesting discussion in it, I cannot really recommend this. It’s very, very light on actual content, and is a bit of a rip-off when you consider the price and the page count. Pity.

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