So, I picked up a copy of Requiem 2nd Edition, hoping to give it a second chance. A lot of people speak very highly of the game, and a Vampire game with a murkier back story, no metaplot, and a stronger Humanity focus sounded perfect.
Unfortunately, I don't think this game is for me. I still can't get into it. I've read maybe half of the core book, and I can't bring my self to finish it, not even to do a few "Let's Compare" posts, let along to run it. This pains me, because it's not the ideas of the game itself that are turning me off. I mean, there are some really awesome ideas in there, that occasionally make the whole thing tolerable.
It's the art, and the writing. Most of the art is just boring. There's no passion or anything interesting going on, and the bulk of it looks like clip art or something like that. There's no depth of field or tension in it. I don't think I can adequately express why the art is bad, since I do not have sufficient knowledge of artistic terms to describe where they fail. But there are major pages of art that look like they were intended to be the rough draft or "idea" of the drawing, and the publishers just threw them in.
But the writing. Oh my god, the writing is painful. Now, I'm not a good writer. I'm not even a fan of good writing. I appreciate passionate, quirky, arrogant, and engaged writing. I've been gaming for years, and there is some BAD writing out there. I'm fine with bad writing in game books, but never before have I wanted to reach into a book and slap an author and yell "STOP TRYING TO BE CLEVER AND JUST SAY WHAT YOU MEAN."
Well, ok, I did that a few times in some of the later Masquerade books, but at least in those I would say "this guy would write an awesome novel, but they are terribly at writing a game supplement."
And then Exalted 2nd was pretty bad. Ok, look, White Wolf/Onyx Path writers, STOP WRITING BAD. START WRITING GOOD.
Ahem, anyway, I hope to be able to get through the core book, eventually, but I need to put it aside for now.
Oh, one other thing. A number of people described Requiem as a "sandbox" game. I think they're confusing the "tool kit" nature of the game for "sandbox." It's a tool kit, because it has all kinds of cool switches and options that Storytellers can use to customize the game and make it their own. The best is the Chroniclers Guide, but Damnation City is also a wonderful resource. The XP rules and the "condition" rules pretty clear paint this as a narrative game, not one that is inherently a sandbox.
Can it be used to run a sandbox game? Sure! Sandbox style games are about the GM and the group, not necessarily about the rules. Of course, some games are easier to run Sandbox style--original D&D (I'd say up through AD&D) is almost perfect for it, Traveler, and, more contemporary, Silent Legions. Hell, most of my Masquerade games would fall under the "sandbox" style. But, Requiem, if anything, would be harder to run this way, primarily because of how it handles XP and development. In Requiem, these are based on how well you respond to prompts from the Chronicler, which goes against the Sandbox style of letting the players drive the story.
Anyway, that's my initial review of Requiem. Some cool ideas buried under sub-par art and truly atrocious writing. Obviously, this is subjective, and other people might find the writing to be beautiful and poetic and clever, and truly help to make the gothic world of Vampire to come to life. For, it was just painful, and I think I need to take break from vampires for a while. Heck, maybe I'll go grab Rifts and pretend to kill vampires for a while...
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