Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

I have loved playing World of Darkness (or I guess it is Chronicles of Darkness now), so when I noticed this 2000’s video game on sale from Steam, I could not resist picking it up. Although it has its share of bugs and issues, it is still a pretty great game; just make sure you go get the unofficial patch before you start.

It will likely come as little surprise that I like vampires – well, real ones at least – the sensual and terrifying predators that prowl the night in a world all their own. The first game of World of Darkness [WoD] I played was Vampire: The Requiem, and now I know that although it was run in the new setting (technically Chronicles of Darkness version 1.0), a lot of the inspiration the Storyteller used (WoD’s term for Dungeon Master or Game Master) was drawn from the older version of the game – the one that this video game is based on.

It is really nice seeing something I have such a passion for adapted so marvelously, even though the end product was buggy because of strange circumstances that led producers to push the game out as they were cleaning out their desks. Poor White Wolf always seems to be getting the short end of the stick. I had the misfortune of trying to play the game vanilla right away after I downloaded it, and I think I lost 20 or so hours of gameplay since pre-patch saves are not compatible with the post-patch game.

So, if any of you are tempted to go out and buy the game (It should be fairly cheap.) because of my mentioning it, take a look at this Steam Community Discussion about the Unofficial Patch. The person in charge of the thread keeps an eye out for changes, viruses, bugs, and more as well as lists off some helpful hints as to which parts of the patch to install. I really cannot recommend installing the patch before you start more; the game works a lot better with the patch than without.

Anyway, I am on my first run through of the game, and I absolutely love it. It makes me really want to get my World of Darkness Chronicle up and running again because this game emulates the roleplaying so well. There are no arrows pointing you to where you need to go, which might be annoying for some people, but the directions that are given in game are pretty easy to follow. Your stats are on a character sheet that looks quite similar to a somewhat simplified version of even the modern game sheet.

Tips

If you want to get the most out of the game, you can get about three characters out of it before you start memorizing.

  • First Playthrough: Tremere, Gangrel, or Ventrue – the story is a little more limitted for these clans since they have standoff-ish tendencies.
  • Second Playthrough: do any clan not from the first or third sets, unless you are feeling up for a challenge, in which case Nosferatu is ok as well.
  • Third Playthrough: Malkavian or Nosferatu – these two clans have some very odd play styles that make them relatively difficult. Nosferatu break Masquerade if they are seen by humans and must sneak around the sewers; meanwhile, Malkavians are all insane and have dialogue options that are either gibberish or riddles, meaning you have to guess what speech option will turn out the best most of the time.

When you build your character sheet at the beginning, avoid being balanced. Ability and Skill Dots cost less at the first two levels and then get progressively more expensive. By min-maxing your scores at the start, you get more power from the amount of experience you learn in game. Yes, this sounds a bit like a power-gamer move, but even in the roleplaying game, the amount of experience that is given out is very limitted. It is easier to build up what you really want to do and then fill in what you need later.

Make sure your vampire has at least one functional combat score. While you can talk your way out of most situations, you will get put into places where you will need to fight. Shooting things is not so bad, but vampires take less damage to guns, meaning  when you fight them, it will be much more difficult. Unarmed is useful if you pick one of the clans with the ability to get claws but otherwise does limitted damage to everyone. Melee is what I found the most useful since it deals consistent damage to pretty much everything. At the moment, I am running around with an fireman’s axe looking like a kook but hacking people to bits.

Anyway, I hope you have as much fun with this blast from the past as I did.


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