Review – Dread Names, Red List (Vampire: the Masquerade)

Not that long ago, I wrote a review of Kindred Most Wanted, an early Vampire: the Masquerade supplement about the Red List, the 13 individuals singled out by the Camarilla as in need of immediate destruction. Dread Names, Red List, for the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire: the Masquerade, covers exactly the same topic, but does it a lot better. Dread Names, Red List, is 128 pages, available in PDF or hardcover format from DriveThruRPG (this review is based on the PDF, which I believe I got for backing one of the V20 Kickstarters, Children of the Revolution).

Each of the people on the list (not all vampires) is detailed with a four-page entry, one of which is  nice full-color art of the Anathema in question. The meta-plot of Vampire continues to move, so about half of the members of the list have changed from Kindred Most Wanted (other aspects of the meta-plot, such as the identity of the Justicars, are also reflected).

  • Rabbat: An ancient Nosferatu who has been come a plague carrier. A somewhat sympathetic figure in her history and her present, as her crimes are entirely unintentional. Rabbat is making a repeat appearance from Kindred Most Wanted.
  • Raymond Narcisse: A priest who was forced to become a vampire and now hunts other vampires, believing he is a weapon of God.
  • kyoko-shinsegawaKyoko Shinsegawa: Kyoko previously appeared in Children of the Night, when she was still the Scourge of San Francisco (given her history, it seems like she should have been around for the events of the novel Prince of the City, but I don’t recall her and I must admit that I’m not going to re-read it to find out). Kyoko was first added to the Red List when she was discovered as a deep cover spy, but has since fallen to her Beast.
  • Christopher Barrow: A mortal occultist, Barrow has somehow made thralls of several vampires and other supernatural creatures.
  • Alex Swift: Sabbat field commander with a track record of success.
  • Germaine: The second repeat appearance from Kindred Most Wanted, Germaine remains now what he was then – an anarch who does not follow the rules, but really earned his place on the Red List because he had earned the personal ire of a Justicar.
  • Francisca Santos Dos Rodrigues: A mysterious infernalist who has confounded her hunters in Central and South America.
  • Ayisha Jocastian: In a bit of fourth-wall breaking, Ayisha is the vampire responsible for the widespread publication of The Book of Nod (possibly my favorite RPG supplement ever; could not recommend it more if you’re a fan of Vampire and somehow haven’t read it).
  • Karen Anatos: A vampiric actress who has little, if any, knowledge of vampiric society, but has created a decades-long film career by “retiring” and then reappearing as someone else. Then she created a ghoul on live television.
  • Valerius Maior: The third repeat entry and second infernalist to appear on the List this time, Valerius Maior is an ancient wizard who currently inhabits the body of one of his victims from millennia ago,  one who went on to become a Tremere. Eventually Maior took over, and it was downhill from there.
  • Dylan Bruce: A fourth Anathema to make his second appearance, Dylan is also an infernalist, and has been tweaked to be a more significant threat than last time around. In addition to a backstory where he has a bit more volition, Dylan has subverted the Mark of the Trophy borne by all Alastors.
  • Petaniqua: There have already been several infernalists on the Red List – Petaniqua is a hunter of the infernal. Petaniqua is also making a second appearance, but is barely recognizable from her turn in Kindred Most Wanted, where she was the mother of Alexander the Great and a servant of the Wyrm. Elements of her prior story are still there, but it is clear that Petaniqua (a Malkavian antitribu) has no idea who she once was.
  • Kemintiri: The original Anathema, and the inspiration for the creation of the Red List in the first place, Kemintiri remains the Camarilla’s #1 target (and gets six pages, instead of four). A Settite herself, Kemintiri is an implacable enemy of her own Clan and the Camarilla.

dreadnamesredlistcoverIn addition to the Anathema themselves, Red Names, Dread List, includes about 25 pages on the history and current status of the Red List and the Alastors who hunt the Anathema. It also contains about 20 pages of advice for creating characters for a campaign involving the Anathema, and another 20 pages or so on running such a campaign. Finally, the Path of Evil Revelations is discussed.

As one might guess from the presence of the Path of Evil Revelations, three infernalists on the List (and one infernalist hunter), infernalism is a significant subtheme in Dread Names, Red List, and information on the Camarilla’s anti-infernalist group (the Josians) is also included in the book.

I find it really interesting to compare and contrast Kindred Most Wanted and Dread Names, Red List. In my review of Kindred Most Wanted, I opined that the book was a fun read, but not really useful as a roleplaying supplement – the Anathema were just too powerful. To be sure, these individuals are supposed to be serious threats, but the vampires of Kindred Most Wanted had these massive dice pools and really went with the old-era Vampire vibe where elders (including Methuselah) were really much more present and characters could accomplish little.

Dread Names, Red List, does still contain multiple Methuselah who could crush any normal sort of party, so that part of the setting is still represented. But there are a lot of different levels and types of threats. War with the Sabbat, mortal mystery, difficult-to-handle masquerade threat, investigations into mysterious plots, and a moderately powerful Vampire who nevertheless poses an existential threat to the Alastors? It’s all there, with advice for the Storyteller on how to use it.

On top of that, the presentation of how being an Alastor works is a lot more functional. Dread Names, Red List is an easy demonstration in how far roleplaying content has come since the last 20 years.

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