Friday, July 3, 2015

Transylvania Chronicles Redux -- Transylvania by Night Chapters 5 through the Appendix

So, we come to the end of this initial “read through” of Transylvania by Night, the setting background for the Transylvania Chronicles. It seems odd to be covering so much information in one post, but honestly, it’s in these chapters that the book really takes off, and I was just too engaged to parse them out.


Chapter 5 is all about the Tzimisce. Not only are various iconic and key clan members detailed, but the clan as a whole is given a good once over. The philosophy, mysticism, and politics of these monsters are explained, and it was incredibly inspiring. I’m sure many of the audience for Transylvania by Night are fans of the Tzimisce, and probably read the various novels and own the Clanbooks and everything. So, for them, this information might be old hat. But not for me.


They do have a pretty metal symbol.
To be honest, I never found the Fiends terribly interesting. Oh, sure, they made wonderful villains and NPCs, but I never saw or heard of anyone playing them as anything but cartoonish idiots high on their own brand of Chaotic Stupid. I was fascinated by the Transylvania Chronicles despite the Tzimisce, not because of them. But now? Now I’m thinking how interesting it would be to run a solo Tzimisce player through the Chronicle, and I really can’t give out much higher praise than that.


Chapter 6, unfortunately, is all about the Tremere. As I’ve mentioned before, Tremere are one of the Clans I could just never get around to investing much interest in. And the characters listed aren’t particularly compelling, and it seems to focus greatly on the Goratrix and Etrius conflict, which just does nothing for me. Now, it’s possible that this is ruined for me due to my knowledge of future “canon,” and this all might have been more gripping when the books first came out. All in all, though it was a bit of a disappointment. I don’t really care about what’s going on in Ceoris, or the power plays among the elites. I want to hear about the “street level” Tremere. What are they up to, and how are they surviving and getting by in the cutthroat, brutal world of Transylvania? I vaguely recall something about the Clan when I played the Chronicles years ago, but hopefully it’s a minor point.


Chapter 7 is Storytelling. It’s a relatively brief chapter, but still contains a solid amount of info for running a game in the East. It also finally gives us a bit more real information on the Religious issues that divide the land, and has a number of brief one-off adventures for various regions. I’m sure I’ll be stealing these as filler/other adventures as I run the Transylvania Chronicles.


Chapter 8 is really a crossover chapter, focusing on what other supernatural denizens are up to. It’s fine, though I tend to be one of those Storytellers that maintains “Lupines are NOT Garou. The games are separate.” But that’s pretty unusual, from what I understand, and so this Chapter is fine. Kind of interesting, but nothing to wow me.


The Appendix is details on some Ghoul families, as well as Kupala demons.


After reading through the book, I am left with a few questions, however.


  1. What the hell is Kupala? I get that he is something of a demonic, alien entity, far beyond the ken of mortal man, or even most immortal vampires. But still, it’d be nice to have a better sense of what the damn thing is, what kind of history it has with the Tzimisce, and what kind of influence it could have on the coterie.
  2. What’s the deal with Becket, Anatole, and Lucita? I understand that they are Signature Characters, but it seems like there’s a bit more to them. Were they the first group of PC’s to play through Transylvania Chronicles? They have that vibe to them, and there are numerous references to them and the the shenanigans they got up to. But honestly, they always struck me as Canon Sues more than anything else, and never felt that they added much to the story. Of course, this could be a “your mileage may vary.” If you have read the books and comics and know who these characters are, then, yeah, it might be awesome to run into them. I have a good friend who loves the Drizzt Do’urden books, and whenever the character shows up, he really digs it. It adds a lot to his enjoyment of the game/book/what have you. For me, when a character like that shows up, it always takes me out of the story.
  3. I do wish Transylvania by Night had spent some time focusing on the Roads, and their place in these lands. The various character all have their Roads, of course, but I want a broader sense of how they all interact, how others view the various Roads, and what the various “Destinies” are for these off mystical paths. Well, maybe it’s for the best--I do wish to make Roads a dominant force in my run of Transylvania Chronicles, and this leaves me with a nice blank slate to do with as I will.


So, that’s it. Thanks for following along as I get the necessary background for my “remix” of Transylvania Chronicles. Despite any criticisms or ill-informed rants, I did enjoy this book, and I’m eager to explore this blasted land with some players. Mr. Campbell and Ms. Rea have done an excellent job with the setting, and I can’t wait to see what they provided us with in part 1, Dark Tides Rising.

(Transylvania by Night, written by Brian Campbell and Nicky Rea. Published by White Wolf Publishing, Inc. 1997. Available for purchase at drivethrurpg.)

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