Review – Clanbook: Giovanni, 1st Edition (Vampire: the Masquerade)

              You may have noticed me doing reviews of random old White Wolf (mostly V:tM) stuff. I was in the process of gradually buying up the pre-Revised Vampire catalogue (it’s no longer so gradual, thanks to a couple of “lucky” visits to Half-Price Books), and I grabbed the first edition of Clanbook: Giovanni because it’s the one old Vampire book with Justin Achilli as the author, and I rather liked what he did with Vampire Revised.

And that’s where this succeeds in getting me a good read, but fails in my goal of getting an “old” Vampire supplement. The first edition of Clanbook: Giovanni was the last of the original 13 to be released, came out right before the Revised core book, and was written by the guy who took Vampire to new heights (well, I liked it, anyway). So it doesn’t exactly have that “old” supplement feel.

Quick take: Reasonably well-written, and informative about the subject. Basically no crunch, but who would actually run a Vampire game using the old rules anyway? Be advised: this book is not for the easily offended. First, the Giovanni are seriously messed up in ways involving sex and/or the dead. Second, almost the entire book is written from the in-character perspective of one of those Giovanni, and he’s a bigot in about every way you could think of. Oh, and lots of swearing, of course.

The Basics

The first edition of Clanbook: Giovanni checks in at a slim 68 pages, and is a black & white softcover. I say “first edition,” but this isn’t like Chicago by Night where they actually revised the first edition to make the second edition. The later Revised editions of the Clanbooks are completely new.

The Giovanni are one of the four “independent” clans and, as usual for the setting, this means they have a much narrower schtick than the more generic Camarilla clans. The Giovanni are Italian businessmen/necromancers turned into incestuous vampires, and the mortal family still exists, with the Kindred calling the shots. The clan splatbook gives the usual history overview, a look at life in the clan today, a few of their more prominent vampires, and a set of character concepts.

I’ll repeat that it’s reasonably well-written. It’s an old White Wolf book, so I didn’t really even bother paying attention to the editing (although I just finished reading an old, old White Wolf book, and there is a difference). The art was OK, but didn’t really tickle my fancy – I was surprised to see that one of the two interior artists (the cover is Bradstreet, of course) was Christopher Shy, because I usually really like his stuff (the other is Jason Felix, who isn’t exactly shabby either). Maybe that’s because their best stuff isn’t in B&W ink drawings, or maybe I’m just in an odd mood, but there it is.

Contents

After an intro fiction (no time spent on a “what is this book” section), Clanbook Giovanni jumps into:

The Giovanni Revealed (~10 pages) – The history lesson – Augustus Giovanni diablerizes Cappadocius, Lamia curses Giovanni’s bloodline, Augustus Giovanni’s plan to tear the Shroud, the Giovanni choose to stay out of the Camarilla and out of their way, the Giovanni make sure to stay on top of the business world, and the Giovanni go after so objects of mystical significance.

More Than We Seem (~25 pages) – Most Giovanni vampires start out as Giovanni mortals and then spend time as Giovanni ghouls before “getting made,” and this chapter kicks off talking about that process. There’s a brief look at Giovanni “morality.” The Giovanni have a number of subsidiary families who are part of the vampiric clan but not the family itself, and they are covered here – the Dunsirn (Scottish cannibal bankers), Pisanob (descendants of Aztec priests), Milliners (New England crime family), and a handful of minor ones. The Giovanni’s limited ties to the mafia are discussed, along with a “what they think about everyone else in the World of Darkness” rundown. This includes quite a bit on wraiths, if you wanted to know what the Giovanni think of all of the different Wraith Guilds (pretty silly to me – maybe there is still some “old” White Wolf in here after all). This chapter is still written in-character, but has the oddity of a character explicitly talking about game systems (e.g., “this family tends to have Mental as its Primary”). The limited mechanics in the book are here – the Inbred Flaw and a couple of Necromancy tidbits.

Cousins Once Removed (~15 pages) – Here you can find the usual White Wolf splatbook character concepts, including full character sheets. There are seven in there – Ingenue, Degenerate, Tomb Robber, Goodfella, Cynical Jerk, Doom Seer, and Corporate Lick.

Giovanni of Note (~5 pages) – Notable NPCs (no stats): Ambrogino Giovanni (see the Giovanni Chronicles), Augustus Giovanni (ditto), Pochtli (father of the Pisanob family), Isabel Giovanni (spy on the Camarilla), Enzo Giovanni (corporate red herring), The Capuchin (mystical guy; don’t really know what he is).

Judgments

Well, I don’t really have any more than the ones I gave above. But I always have a section after the Contents in my reviews, so here it is. Just scroll back up and read the quick take.

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