Categorized | Reviews, RPGs

Vampire Week: Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus Review

Posted on June 25, 2010 by Billzilla

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    Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus
    Published by White Wolf Publishing
    Written by Russell Bailey and Benjamin Baugh

    More than any other vampire clan in the World of Darkness, the Daeva are all about appearances: vanity, thy name is Daeva. Of course, most vampires have to put on a good show to avoid detection, but Daeva have mastered the art like no other. In Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus White Wolf Publishing gives the kiss of life to the most outwardly self-centered of the vampire clans.

    From their beginnings in ancient Sumeria, the Daeva have specialized at blending in with human society. In game terms, Gangrel may be the most overtly kick-ass clan due to their mastery of the Protean powers of shape-changing — able to sink into any patch of earth at sunrise, or to instantly grow claws and throw down. Daeva, on the other hand, have mastery over social skills, and the most efficient character builds tend to reflect this and play to that strength. Daeva may not be quite the combat powerhouse that a Gangrel can be, but they excel at manipulating others, inspiring desire, devotion and need. On a lonely patch of country road Gangrel rule, but put that road in the middle of any city – with people around – and you’d have a tough time finding the equal of a Daeva.

    A large chunk of the early book is taken up by a diary of sorts – a patchwork monologue written by a former vampire’s lover. He hungers still for the lady who both victimized him and drove him to heights of ecstasy, after which she abandoned him and left town. A pathetic creature now, he bounces from job to job, his former wealth and skills (and lover) abandoned. He fears the vampires he finds easier to spot these days, yet he documents them as a means to understanding them. He hopes by solving the riddle they represent he will find this woman with which he is obsessed and fall into her arms again – even if only for the last time. As a reader I both envy and despise him; it’s clear from the writing he feels the same way. Later sections are culled from the journals, letters, and notes of several Daeva. As with the other clan books, Daeva includes new Merits, Devotions and Bloodlines, plus two sample Daeva characters to whet the appetite.

    Like the other clan books, Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus provides useful insight into the character of a Daeva vampire. Sensual, hedonistic and often of an artistic bent, Daeva are found wherever the any of arts flourish – music, writing, painting, sculpting and even architecture – frequently as both patrons and artists themselves. A useful discussion of in-game sexual situations is included; GMs are encouraged to choose their own path regarding whether sexual situations will be emphasized, glossed over, or something in-between. Because of their very nature, Daeva will encounter such situations in-game practically on a nightly basis; being clear regarding how much or how little the adult-aged players wish to explore this eventuality with their characters and within the framework of the game is strongly recommended.

    A very clever touch consists of two Jack Chick-style tracts on life as a vampire, found by the author and included in the packet of materials sent to a collector of information regarding the clan. The first challenges Daeva to find their prey in less auspicious locales (supermarkets or all-night copy shops, for instance) rather than the local club scene, decrying the ease and certainty of club hunting as worthy mainly of last resort. The second encourages proper hunting behavior; creating desire for the vampire within the mind of the intended victim rather than ambushing a random drunk in an alley. The message is that of course twisting someone’s soul is despicable, but at least it offers the prey some pleasure before the end. When a vampire stops hating that aspect of their unlife, they’ve become one more soulless monster.

    The art in this clan book – like the others – is of varying styles, though the quality is largely first-rate. I was particularly smitten by pieces on pages 9 (a geek-Daeva, holding court with a toothy grin over her computer game-obsessed flock) and page 120 (a satisfied-looking woman leaning against her unconscious partner), though I feel I must also mention the excellent execution of the pin-up style on page 46.

    Daeva: Kiss of the Succubus could easily have stooped to the lowest common denominator and wallowed in a sex-crazed orgy of blood. Instead, it takes the higher road, challenging players to consider more deeply what makes Daevas tick, and how close to their beast they wish to venture. It’s well worth reading even by non-gamers for it’s in-depth treatment of the psychology and grit of playing a vampire character.

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