Posted on September 20, 2004 by Flames
written by Chris Bjork, Matthew Hooper, Alan I. Kravit, Edward Montclair, and Duncan Wyley, White Wolf Publishing (WW5038), January 2003, 326 pgs, $19.95US
Dank stone halls and flickering candlelight set the stage for Mind Eye’s Theatre Faith and Fire. The medieval Vampire struggles in a life or death plight for power.
Upon opening the book, you find yourself immersed in a storyline that continues throughout the book at the beginning of every chapter. This sets the tone for the entire book. Using a short story as a chapter heading is extremely challenging. There are, in essence, two requirements that would allow a continuous piece of fiction to work in this manner. The first requirement, is that it would have to stand alone as its own story. The second requirement, is that elements of the story would have to be repeated so the reader does not get distracted. While it is admirable that MET stretches the layout of its book using a creative tool of this manner, the fiction does not stand alone nor does it repeat. You will find yourself rereading the chapter headings once you’ve read the book.
Faith and Fire also brings to the reader a sense of character through its writing. MET’s writers did a tremendous job clearly expressing how to play in the Dark Ages by using a second person voice. You will feel drawn into the medieval world as a player, before you have the chance to pick up your character sheet. While the Clan text was extremely intriguing and well-written, you will find yourself distracted by the artwork. However, the writing is straightforward, and definitely worthy of a careful read. Overall, Faith and Fire’s text was edited well, and intriguing throughout.
To further illustrate the Dark Ages world, MET utilizes photography as its primary choice of artwork. The Clan Vampire photography did not appear as professional quality due to the picture’s cutout nature. Perhaps an error due to printing, perhaps a failed attempt to publish too much on one page, the grey-screened clan shields make the splats difficult to read.
Due to the nature of Dark Ages Vampire, it is difficult to say what is the best and most efficient way to layout the extraordinary amount of minute information the game has to offer. Gargoyles, other supernaturals, medieval history, the Church, and other bloodlines add to the setting. An alternate way to organize this book might have been to emphasize game mechanics prior to introducing the different Clans and Disciplines. A powerful game, in order to direct inexperienced players to focus on the resulting storylines from playing Dark Ages Vampire, a book should centralize on how to play the game. Without discussing how game mechanics work, an inexperienced player may create a character that may appear great on paper, but poorly in live action. Regardless of how the book was organized, one thing will become very clear to you as you begin creating your character. Be sure to read the section on “Disciplines” prior to choosing which Clan or bloodline you wish to play. There is a lot of information in the Discipline section that sheds light on how the different Clans work.
True to the existence of any role-play gaming book, there is always the relationship between player and Storyteller. Faith and Fire attempts to address the difference between the two very carefully. In this edition of a LARP text, MET has the potential to cross the boundaries of its traditional layouts. The book begged to be split in two; one section for the traditional player, the other for the experienced Storyteller. Organized in this manner, Faith and Fire would have had a much better presentation that what was offered. While the chapter headings were clear, the material that followed did not necessarily match what the heading was. For example, the chapter on Storytelling address the novice Storyteller briefly and then launches into complex storylines that only an experienced Storyteller would be familiar with. A better way to organize this would have been to have written it to the inexperienced player audience throughout the structure of the book. For example, separate out key points for the novice in a reverse box so that highlights are easily identified.
Overall, the book was enjoyable and extremely informative to read. Superbly written, the language of the book stands as a model for any LARP book. While, the formatting could have been layed out in a better fashion, Faith and Fire is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to play in Dark Ages Vampire.
Reviewer: Monica Valentinelli
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