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Minireview: Under a Blood Red Moon (Werewolf: the Apocalypse / Vampire: the Masquerade)

Under a Blood Red Moon is a strange bird, a Vampire/Werewolf crossover campaign from the early days of both games. It details the “War of Chicago”, in which (by canon) Prince Lodin gets killed. It’s a bit gonzo and silly in places, but overall it’s surprisingly decent, especially if you’re going more for “action movie” than “Gothic-Punk horror”. Which, arguably, much of both games are/were in practice.

The book is mostly meant as a Werewolf book, for Garou PCs, but each section of the adventure contains two extra parts: one for Camarilla (vampire) PCs, and one for Sabbat PCs. While it does increase the page count (or decrease the content, seen another way), it’s not a bad structure; it gives GMs insight into what the different factions are doing at different points in the sequence. There’s also a fourth faction involved, the Black Spiral Dancers, but they are kept strictly as NPCs here. Probably wise. The book also introduces Abominations for the first time, with Pariah (familiar to VTES players).

The plot concerns a Garou attack on a certain building in Chicago, which draws a counter-attack from Prince Lodin, which quickly escalates both sides into all-out war. Of course, all of this is carefully goaded by outside parties, and neither the Camarilla or the Garou have any real understanding of why the other side is doing what they do. It’s a pretty good setup, in that it gives understandable motivations for the different factions, without giving a simple way to quickly solve things. The PCs are (mostly) given important tasks, though they are expected to be part of an army (on whichever side) and take orders from their superiors. This may not go down well with all PCs (or their players), but that grumbling can also make for good plot material. The PCs won’t be singlehandedly solving everything here, but they are given opportunities to be in on most key events and make a real difference. It’s not ideal in the “PC empowerment” department, but it’s not too bad, at least not on the general White Wolf scale.

As for silly… well, there’s a bit too much overt supernatural warfare on the streets of Chicago to really be believable. We get a huge bunch of werewolves rampaging around, vampires firing back with full-auto weapons and Disciplines, and all sorts of additional mayhem. All this not breaking the Masquerade (or the Werewolf equivalent) isn’t really believable. Also, there’s everything from Abominations to Nexus Crawlers running around, making it a gonzo (if quite fun) ride.

The book begins with a good backstory description of what is really going on, and has a proper timeline for events split between the different factions. Overall, the whole thing was frankly better than I was expecting, it reads like it would be a fun game (via either Werewolf or Vampire), given some GM tweaking of the more over-the-top bits. Unless the players love that stuff, in which case just add more Nexus Crawlers.

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