Review – New Wave Requiem (Vampire: the Requiem)

               New Wave Requiem is a supplement for Vampire: The Requiem, the lead in White Wolf’s still-hanging-on New World of Darkness line.  Released way back in 2009, New Wave Requiem is available only as a PDF download (about $9) or print-on-demand (about $13).  The PDF is full color; the POD is black-and-white. Either way, the book clocks in at a slim 80 pages.

The Basics

It’s Vampire (if you don’t know what Vampire is, I can’t help you).  It’s set in the 1980s.  Pretty simple, eh?  Vampire: the Masquerade was too soon to revisit the 80s, I guess, so that task was saved for Requiem.  Despite what we all may think sometimes, the 1980s weren’t really all that long ago, so the vampires of then are largely the same as the vampires of today, and New Wave Requiem is almost entirely a fluff book (even more so than your typical WoD/nWoD supplement).  You get a New Wave Requiem-specific character sheet as well.

The Cover

I wouldn’t usually take an entire section to mention a cover, but I wanted to drop a mention for Erik Jones (the cover artist) and Craig Grant (the guy who tapped him for the job), because it’s amazing.  Neon and black, blood and cocaine, mesh and bangles – it’s dead sexy, and you’d need some ankle warmers to make it feel more 80s/vampire.  It might be one of the most fitting pieces of cover art I’ve seen.

Layout/Graphics/Editing/Writing

All are pretty run-of-the-mill – nothing too special, nothing wrong.  Unsurprisingly, it looks substantially better in the full-color PDF than in the B&W hardcopy.  There’s less art than usual for a Requiem book; mostly just the chapter leads and the character pics for the sample coterie at the end of the book.  The section heading font is a nice touch, like an old school electronic/calculator display.

Contents

The Intro Story (4 pages) – Every White Wolf book has to have one, and this is no exception.  The story lingers on wardrobe, just to make sure you catch what decade you’re in, and lacks an actual plot, instead seeming to serve as an introduction to the sample coterie at the end of the book.

Introduction (2 pages) – Normally, I wouldn’t take the time to note the existence of this section, except that there’s a delicious “mix tape” included in the Inspirations for the book, with the A- and B-side designations and everything (with Bauhaus, Siouxsie, Dead Can Dance, and so forth, the mix tape is heavy into the goth side of life – but also includes more “mainstream” tunes from Bowie, New Order, Public Enemy, etc.).

Decade of Excess (7 pages) – A mini-capsule overview of the U.S. in the 80s, this chapter does its best with the semi-impossible task of trying to sum up a decade in little more than half-a-dozen pages.  The chapter blasts through blurbs on major cities, the news (cold war, HIV/AIDS, Iran-Contra, the wedding of Charles & Diana, pop culture/technology (the rise of Japan, the videotape, the cordless phone, beepers, computers, BBS, allegations of Satanism – and, of course, music).

Nights of the Modern Kindred (3 pages) – Vampiric themes for the decade – the fast pace of change, “greed is good,” optimism, and how the rising popularity of vampire fiction (Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire was published in the 70s, but the series took off in the 80s) might affect the Masquerade.

Lean and Hungry Types (13 pages) – Although it’s only a baker’s dozen pages in length, this chapter is probably the heart of the book, getting into the specifics of how the various clans and covenants reacted to the 80s.  It also includes some mechanics, many of the 80s-cute – whether Daeva stare at themselves in all that chrome, an Auspex bower that reads magnetic tapes, the mechanical effects of doing lines of cocaine, and a Devotion to help you Dress to Impress.

Telling Stories of Sin (5 pages) – The obligatory storyteller chapter to help you make your game feel like the 80s – make everything intense (color is neon, rock is heavy metal, and business is war), the price of greed, HIV/AIDs, clichéd 80s happy endings and, of course The Montage.

A Good Man Bad (19 pages) – It’s a story you can run.  Yes, it’s a quarter of the book.  Clever scene titles though, such as The Night is Young (and So Am I) and A Club If You’d Like To Go.

Sample Coterie (15 pages) – Five characters, three pages each – one character sheet, one page of description with a pic, and one half-page with some stat bumps to make them more experienced (the other half of each of those pages is blank).

Conclusion

It’s the 80s, there are Vampires, and the books about them are short.  Real short.  If you like the 80s, and you like vampires (and/or Vampire), then you’ll find this book an entertaining, if quick, read.  As always with the 80s, the music references are a particular delight (well, they are to me, anyway).  If you aren’t fans of those things, then you’re probably going to focus most on the fact that 80 pages is way on the light side, and the fact that half of that space is taken up with the sample coterie and the “adventure,” leaving even less for the meat of the book.  I fall into the former camp, so I liked it just fine.

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