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Originally published at Umbral Echoes Blog. You can comment here or there.

The folks at White Wolf are going to be releasing a 20th anniversary edition of Vampire: the Masquerade Revised at The Grand Masquerade this year.  It will be a self-contained tome on the order of 400 pages, including a ton of stuff. But what’s interesting to me is what is going to be different in this version, and the fact that it is open development.

Also, as a note, this product has nothing to do with the MMO. It’s simply something they’re doing to give back to the fans.

What’s Open Development?

Basically, as they are developing, they are making their first drafts of each section available via Google Docs, and seeking feedback from the fans. So you can playtest before it’s out, theorycraft, and overall you can have a say in what will be in the final product. There is already a lot of discussion going on via Twitter (hashtag #V20), their design blog, RPG.net, and their own forums. Some people have also been blogging about it, like this great post from Malcolm Sheppard.

I like this open design process. In addition to giving insights into the development process, it’s a great way to interact with the Vampire community. I would be interested to see how it’s organized behind the scenes, though — that is a lot of data and fan feedback to go through. Do they skim it, and only really pay attention when several fans have the same thought? Is it at the developers’ whim? Or is there some more formalized process of integrating fan feedback?

What’s Different in This Version?

It’s not really a whole new edition, you see. But at the same time, it’s not an exact copy of Vampire Revised, either. It’s sort of like Vampire 3.5 — well, really more like Vampire 3.1. The setting will be updated to reflect current times. There will be a few rules tweaks here and there[1]. But there will be no meaningful metaplot advancement, and the rules will for the most part be the same.

Also, it will be most things combined into one book. All of the clans, clan variants, (playable) bloodlines, and Disciplines. This thing is going to be large.

And it will have new art, by Tim Bradstreet and others. I’m interested to see what happens here. I’d like to see new version of old artwork done as homage, combined with some more modern-themed stuff.

My Thoughts

I’m excited about this.  I like that it’s not a completely new edition — it’s a slight update and compilation of something the fans know and love.  Malcolm Sheppard did a pretty good job of saying what I would like to say in his blog post, though I disagree on a few points.

I will give the caveat here that I was honestly never a huge Vampire fan. Blasphemy, I know! I had fun playing it, and more fun with it in LARP (though I hated the paper-rock-scissors mechanic), but Mage: the Ascension was really the game that spoke most to me.  The optimist in me would like to hope that they might do something like this for Mage, but the realist in me knows that White Wolf made its name on Vampire (see how I avoided saying “cut its teeth on” there?), and they are about to make a Vampire MMO, so the odds of anything like this for Mage are slim to none. But here’s to keeping hope alive.

1. For example, they’re thinking about getting rid of dodge as an Ability, and also (currently) you can only botch if you roll 1s and no successes (used to be that if you rolled 10, 1, 1, it was a botch) (as Ian points out, botching is the same as Revised) a few other minor things.

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