It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a random review of an old White Wolf book, but I’m not done yet, and so today’s review is for The Kindred Most Wanted, the original catalogue of the members of the Red List (I have a pdf copy of the V20 successor – Dread Names, Red List – metaphorically sitting here, so once I’ve had the chance to read that maybe there will even be a comparative review). Kindred Most Wanted, published in 1994 (Second Edition era), is a 100-page black and white softcover, but is printed on higher-quality paper than was standard for White Wolf books of the time. The book is also of unusual size, with its extra 2 inches so of height vexing some bookshelves.
The Red List functions as the eponymous kindred most wanted, consisting of individual vampires who the Camarilla has singled out for worldwide Blood Hunt. There is some introduction to the concept of the Red List, and an adventure, but the lion’s share of Kindred Most Wanted is given over to profiles of the 13 vampires on the list. Each is allotted six pages – one full-page illustration, one half-page illustration, and up to 4.5 pages of text, including a stat block (however, up to 1.5 pages of that text ends up being whitespace, with on average about one blank page between entries).
The vampires on the list range from the horrifically wicked to the noble victim, with varying degrees of misunderstanding and politics mixed in to determine which vampires actually end up on the list (the Camarilla, after all, is largely composed of monsters of one sort or another). The vampires described are:
- Angelo: a Blood Brother who has been further augmented with magic;
- Rabbat: an ancient Nosferatu who has become a Typhoid Mary, bring disease and plagues with her wherever she goes;
- Genina: a child-vampire from the Samedi, who has committed very gruesome and very visible murders, strewing hints about the existence of vampires;
- Enkidu: a Gangrel Methuselah;
- Ossian: a werewolf ghoul who is also cursed by the fae (just writing that sentence is giving me flashbacks to crossover nightmares);
- Dylan: a younger Sabbat/Black Hand infernalist, who has certainly committed plenty of crimes but landed on the Red List because of the political pull of the London Tremere, who have an interest in him;
- Ferox: one of the leaders of the Gargoyle revolt, Ferox also burns with the light of True Faith;
- Alexis/Danya: a master thief and impersonator, Alexis/Danya finally stole too much from the wrong people;
- Germaine: a French Revolutionary turned anarch, who has done little to justify his position on the Red List, unless you count having an old enemy who went on to become a Justicar;
- Tariq: the Assamite who was made the scapegoat for his clan when peace was made with the Camarilla;
- Valerius Maior: a potent infernalist who now possesses the body of one of his victims;
- Petaniqua: the mother of Alexander the Great, now an insane servant of the Wyrm;
- Kemintiri: a Follower of Set who became a follower of Isis and Osiris, what was noble in Kemintiri was shattered two millennia ago by Set; Kemintiri’s impersonation of the Ventrue Justicar in the 1930s, when discovered, was the impetus for the creation of the Red List.
Although their backgrounds are varied, most of the members of the Red List are incredibly powerful. This makes sense, as any vampire who was not potent and clever would have a hard time surviving long with a Camarilla bullseye on their back. But it means that most groups of younger vampires (aka, the typical group of player characters) will get shredded in any sort of conflict with one of the Anathema (even most social ones). The adventure in Kindred Most Wanted, which puts the characters in the sticky situation of being asked to help hunt Ferox (for maximum angst, you can’t ask the characters to help hunt down someone who actually deserves it, after all), pretty freely admits that if the characters actually try to fight him, they don’t have a chance (the challenge then becomes to both avoid a physical conflict with Ferox and avoid having a Blood Hunt called on the characters for not following orders). This is, to be honest, a somewhat common theme of early Vampire: the Masquerade, with characters inhabiting a world of NPCs who toss lots and lots of dice, sometimes leaving them with relatively little agency. In general, I think it would be pretty difficult actually using most of these characters in a campaign, and the reader of this paragraph will likely not be surprised that I personally prefer the NPC design of a later time, when Methuselahs getting directly involved is rare, rather than an everyday occurrence.
But, despite that, I really enjoyed just reading The Kindred Most Wanted. Which, to be honest, is probably what the primary use for a book like this probably is at this point. Whether they would work well in a campaign or not, the characters were interesting and varied. And if one of the characters strikes a GM’s fancy, they can always be reworked to be less over-the-top before being inserted into a campaign.