Review – Libellus Sanguinis 3: Wolves at the Door (Vampire: the Dark Ages)

Vampire: Dark Ages does have several Clanbooks (Cappadocians, Salubri, Baali), but White Wolf (wisely, I think) did not print individual splat books for the twelve vampire clans that already had modern-era Clanbooks. These clans were not without coverage, however, as they received a similar sort of attention in the Libellus Sanguinis (White Wolf says this means “Blood Diaries”) series – four books to cover the 12 clans. The first two books (Masters of the State and Keepers of the Word) were covered in prior weeks. Book 3 covers the Gangrel, Followers of Set, and Assamites.

Each clan is covered in its own section (with its own author), and each section includes the usual short flavor introduction, a two-part survey of the clan’s place in the world (this can be history, philosophy, current areas of control, thoughts on other clans, or other topics; it varies within the books and between them), a smidgen of crunch, a handful of character templates (thankfully the character sheets don’t get their own pages), and at the back a page or two of something ‘secret’ (e.g., some insight into the devolution of the Assamites into their original Vampire: the Masquerade presentation as no more than blood-hungry assassins.).

Having run out of “Clans that start with the letter T” to pick as my favorite sections of Libellus Sanguinis books, I’ll pick the Assamites for that honor here (I know the Camarilla V5 PDF just came out, but back here they aren’t the Banu Haqim yet). In this context, the Assamites benefit from a broad reach and from having a lot more concepts than the typical Clan. The Ventrue, Toreador, Tzimisce, and Lasombra rule over individual countries in Europe, but the Assamites are the dominant vampiric presence through a large majority of the Middle East and Northern Africa. While the core concept of most Clans was well-established even at this point, the Assamites have their three lineages (warrior, sorcerer, vizier) – and even the most well-known, the warriors, differ significantly from their Masquerade iteration (being more typical warriors, rather than assassins). So this section of Wolves at the Door has the luxury of getting to explain a lot of that in the first instance, which makes for a more enjoyable read. Along with the usual ‘what is the Clan’s presence in these spots’ and ‘what does this Clan think about the others,’ there’s also a history of Haqim, how the warriors were cursed by the Baali, and a relative lot of mechanical content (to include material for the sorcerers).

On the other end of my interest spectrum was the Gangrel chapter. There are only so many ways one can note that the Gangrel are outsiders in [insert part of Europe here] and tend to avoid cities. Also, the Gangrel really hate the Ravnos.

In between these are the Followers of Set. There’s a relatively lengthy origin story (pretty much a necessity for the Settites), and the usual ‘where are they’ section (although it is, unsurprisingly, focused on their status in Egypt, which Constantinople getting more space than the rest of Europe put together). But since the Followers of Set are relatively localized, that lets the section meaningfully focus in on cliques and power struggles that affect almost all of the Clan, not just one geographically distinct part of it. Similarly, because the Clan is (relatively) monolithic in its beliefs, a section on religious practices/beliefs covers a big chunk of the Clan.

See you soon for Libellus Sanguinis 4: Thieves in the Night!

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