Review – The Danse Macabre

17 May, 2012

The Danse Macabre opens a wide vista of options for Vampire and to a lesser extent other World of Darkness games.  If you wish to expand your campaign in any of a variety of directions, this book is full of useful tools and inspiration to do so.

The Danse Macabre is a 266-page PDF (260-pages if you remove the covers and ads) for Vampire: the Requiem (and the World of Darkness in general) RPG written by Russell Bailey, Benjamin Baugh, David Brookshaw, Christopher Cowger, Bethany Culp, Matthew McFarland, Greg Stolze, and Chuck Wendig and published by White Wolf Publishing.

Danse Macabre has a mix of single and double column layout, depending on what is being conveyed and is easily readable.  The art is full color cover with black and white interior pieces.  It is nicely book-marked but lacks an index.

Danse Macabre begins with an introduction to this book which is designed to open up the possibilities of playing a Vampire/World of Darkness campaign and to provide the tools for doing so.  Inter-spaced between the various resource filled chapters are fiction pieces (A Season of Secrets by Greg Stolze) which indirectly help with visualizing the ideas discussed.

As a framing way to look at things, it breaks the game down into three tiers of play: the bottom tier of newcomers and scut work, rarely played but the people that support the higher tiers.  The middle tier, the usual level of Vampire play, where people have power, status and allies.  And the top tier of elders and power players, where everyone wants to be.  How each of the groups within the game look at the power structure and how to use (and abuse it) and various ways to play the masquerade and a wide set of example masks that can be used to do so.

The Bounds of Covenant looks at conspiracies of vampires, in twelve flavors, are presented for use as allies, enemies or rivals with complete and intriguing description.  There is a smattering of new abilities, rules and merits here along with suggestions for making some of the conspiracies totally gonzo if that is your taste.

The Bloody Business chapter is full of new rules providing: detailed social combat rules with new tactics, use of talents and merits.  Expanded mental combat rules and new ways to expand physical combat and make the scenes more interesting.  Anchors and setting up social/emotional ties for characters.  Rule for creating beings such as gargoyles and other toys that vampires can build for their use are provided.

The final chapter, Dead, Dread Chronicles give a set of campaign ideas such as the Dark metropolis (urban noir), When the World Ends (post apocalyptic), and Blood Mark (getting the band back together . . . after a century apart).  Some fun and intriguing ideas here, a good source of inspiration for starting a new campaign or changing the direction of an existing one.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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