Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

My review of Beckett's Jyhad Diary (discuss anything within!)

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • My review of Beckett's Jyhad Diary (discuss anything within!)



    http://booknest.eu/reviews/charles/1...ettsjyhaddiary

    VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE remains the most influential of all tabletop roleplaying games in my life and is pretty much under DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS for influence on the world as a whole. The Blade Trilogy, Underworld, True Blood, Dark, Vampyr, and a huge number of other works were all influenced by it. Recently, 5th Edition Vampire: The Masquerade came out and electrified the fanbase. However, 5E didn't cover what a lot of people most remember about the game: the metaplot.

    Metaplot for those unfamiliar with it is basically an ongoing story carried from book supplement to book supplement. In, say, Book 1# you'd meet a character called Lucita who is a vampire assassin and in Book 2# she'd show up again, only to be on the run from her sire and in Book 15# we'd find out she'd killed her sire. The metaplot of the vampire books covered everything from the oncoming vampire apocalypse, a war between vampire secret societies, conflict with Asian vampires, and who ruled what cities.

    The problem with metaplot was that it often disrupted people's games. If you were playing your home game, the sudden discovery 1/13th of the vampire race was destroyed by a magical order to kill yourself was kind of a big deal. At least if you cared about fitting in with official material (and if you didn't then future supplements would be worthless). It also often set up huge dramatic plot points then completely dropped them. A 6000 year old vampire wakes up in the Middle East, declares jihad on all non-believers in the Blood God, and then is never heard from again.

    BECKETT'S JYHAD DIARY is a chronicle of virtually every single metaplot raised by the gameline from the conflicts in Milwaukee (yes, seriously) to the attempt to unearth the tomb of a 2nd generation vampire (that's a big deal). For about a decade, V:TM was a dead line in publication and all of these plots were put on hold. This basically brings them to the present and gives the Storyteller some idea how to use them. It also uses an excellent framing device in Beckett to tell the story of how all these things may go down.

    One of the most endearing characters about the V:TM setting was Beckett. Beckett was a sarcastic vampire archaeologist who traveled around the world, looking in dark tombs and crumbling castles for the secrets of vampire history. I'd always felt he was a better signature character for the Gangrel clan than the somewhat generic Ramona but I suppose we needed a Neonate somewhere. Basically, vampire Indiana Jones, Beckett was used by supplements to talk about vampire stuff in-universe. This book is a chronicle of his year-long traversal around the globe, finding out absolutely everything there is to know about these plots.

    Beckett's journey is hilarious as he goes from meeting one angry godlike elder vampire to another and never fails to tick them off with his attitude. He's completely fearless and more than a little stupid in the way he snarks at beings who could crush him with a single fist. Beckett gets nearly killed more than a dozen times and inexplicably always gets rescued, only to plunge into another insane situation. At one point, he's possessed by the Antediluvian (big deal vampire) underneath Jerusalem and another, he's made into Dracula's bride (yes, seriously). Only a few chapters aren't entertaining just for the ridiculousness of his situation.

    There's one serious downside, though. This book is going to be completely incomprehensible for anyone who is not a Rhodes Scholar of Vampire: The Masquerade. I'm talking 5 Dots of Occult: Vampire: The Masquerade specialization with maybe a few dots of Lore as well. If that doesn't make any sense to you, then you should stop reading because you're already well outside of this book's target audience. I'm pretty incredibly well-versed in V:TM trivia and know the setting only slightly less than I know Star Wars' Expanded Universe--which I could get a doctorate in. Here, there were chapters I was going, "Who, what, when, where, how? Is this a new character? Who is making these annotations? What book was this in?"

    My knowledge of setting trivia actually worked against me in some places because the book wasn't afraid to retcon and change things at will. Ur-Shulgi didn't awaken in 1999, no, he might be awakening now. The Anarch Free States are back after being apparently destroyed, conquered, and restored with nary a Cathayan in sight. Again, if you have no idea what that's about then this isn't the book for you because this is a story which includes references to books I think sold like 30 copies as major plot points.

    It is a grand guginol of fanservice with people I never expected to show up, showing up again and references ranging from Necropolis: Atlanta's vampires to city supplements on Carthage (destroyed millennia before any edition of the game is set) and Constantinople. I loved the heavy focus on fan-favorites like Lucita, Jan Pieterzoon, Anatole, and others, though. It also canonizes video games Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines and Redemption as part of the mainstream universes.

    Favorite moments of the book that will make sense only to fans of the series:

    * A return to Chicago to find out what the hell has been going on there for 20 years after Chicago by Night 2nd Edition.
    * Lucita stealing Beckett's plane for an emergency trip to Montreal.
    * Beckett getting a car ride from the "tutorial on how to make a character" Malcolm the drug addicted vampire vigilante.
    * An Anarch Tremere faction led by a feminist revolutionary.
    * An obnoxious stenographer rewriting an angry meeting with Beckett and Jan Pieterzoon as yaoi fanfiction.
    * The return to life of Marcus Vitel, one of the setting's most over-the-top brilliant villains.
    * Lucita getting her character fixed after the hatchet job of the Clan Novel: Lasombra trilogy. I am uncomfortably obsessed with this character.
    * The aforementioned canonizing of the video games.
    * The fact they actually manage to replicate Cristof the vampire knight's incredibly obnoxious Shakespearian speech patterns.
    * Ecaterina the Wise getting back some of her mojo.
    * Acknowledging that Carthage was simultaneously a center of ancient glory and kind of a horrible bunch of child burners.
    * The appearance of Helene (of Troy) in all her horrific ancient glory.
    * Victoria Ash managing the Succubus Club. It's so brilliant, I'm surprised I didn't think of it.
    * The Ravnos are no longer extinct but aren't Romani stereotypes anymore either.
    * Rebekah the Chicago Monitor explaining the Inconnu and Golconda are not nearly as weird as people think, making them actually usable in-game.
    * The whole Dracula section where Beckett drops all his usual snark because he's genuinely unsettled.
    * Anatole! Back alive and as crazy-sane as ever.
    * Mithras possessing Coven and actually making some interesting twists on it.
    * The True Hand are nicely re-imagined as those crazy cult guys from Indiana Jones protecting all the torporous elders.
    * The Setites joining the Camarilla.
    * The Cappadochians back on their feet.
    * The Laibon (African vampires) getting a seat at the big boy's table. Ditto the Ashirra (Middle Eastern vampires).
    * Vykos and Beckett being forced to work together.
    * The great analysis of how to use Signature Characters in game.
    * The also great analysis of how the various editions were themed, including how each treated sex and sensuality. Revised being, "Eww." Hehe.

    There are some mistakes in the book, like the fact Cristof is reported as dying during the events of V:TM:R despite the fact he's alive and talking to Beckett throughout the chapter. The fact they name Kevin Jackson as Prince of Chicago when we know he's not in 5E Chicago by Night (it may not be a mistake depending on how they write him up). There's also the fact the book is already outdated by 5E with major events of that book's opening completely uncovered by this despite the book having some allusions to it. I really wish they'd managed to insert a scene about the Second Inquisition, the Anarch takeover of Berlin, and the assassination of Hardestadt the Younger by Theo Bell at the end. Then again, the book is already a mind-numbing 500 pages so I understand why they didn't. Still, we needed like a metaplot update for what's already a metaplot update.

    Which is a shame.

    The book is beautiful with fantastic art and many wonderful hidden homages, winks, nudges, and excellent game advice. It's extremely well-written but I actually think, in retrospect, it's many met Kickstarter goals may have hurt it a bit. The book has some bloat in it that I think might have benefited from splitting it into two products (say, Beckett's Jyhad Diary Volume 1# and Beckett's Jyhad Diary Volume 2#). I found the whole, "The Sabbat try to take credit for 9/11" plotline to be in horrendously poor taste despite it being less than one chapter and the fact it's stated to be an overt lie by Archbishop Polonia. I also had difficulty reading the handwriting of some of these Elders, which is problematic in a supplement. Still, it's probably my second favorite of all time supplement after Chicago by Night 1st Edition.

    9/10

    The Gentleman Gamer
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 09-29-2018, 01:37 PM.

  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by Vendrin View Post

    I don't see how two unaffected elders translates into a majority being unaffected, especially when V5 seems to insinuate the opposite. And that's part of the problem, the beckonings effects haven't been explained so we don't know who it effects or why.
    Technically, many more than the three elders in Rusted Veins (don't forget Modius).

    The following elders are confirmed to be active and running around in V5 already due to Loresheets.

    Critias
    Annabelle
    Modius
    Theo Bell
    Lucita
    Calhoun
    Patricia Bolingbrook
    Carna

    We also have mention of elders making the Camarilla much more exclusive and doing things by carrier pigeon and exiling all Anarchs. I doubt they will be explained actually. I imagine, however. they amount to, "Get rid of any Elder you don't like."

    Leave a comment:


  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

    On the other hand, Vykos is one of the iconic monsters of the game. Making him the poster boy for anything but EVIL seems like a losing proposition.

    Still, I suppose a more reasonable character like he was in the Giovanni Chronicles or early Transylvania seems like a good way to broaden his use as an NPC.
    At least in my TC game, post-Dracon Vykos will grow into using its monstrous nature and less-humane plays to lure others into underestimating it, and misinterpreting its intent and goals. The reality will be, it's just as cold, ruthless, and calculating as any other major player in the Jyhad; unlike others who prefer to operate entirely in the shadows, it hides its scheming in plain view and behind a facade of being a mentally scarred and broken vampire caught in a never-ending cycle of lashing out against those it perceives as responsible for its condition. It'll be an interesting juxtaposition with Rustovich, who ends up Vykos' opposite in this regard, and ended up earning himself a bigger role in TC than I originally intended due to the events of the third and fourth story I ran.

    What makes this interesting, is Vykos has backstabbed the party two or three times already and exploited them to make gains for itself, but remains on nominally-friendly terms, but Rustovich has given them one or two good, hard punches to the face, and was so impressed by their ability to get back up and punch back that he's actually grooming them, so that when they get older and more powerful, putting them down for good will be all the more satisfying.

    I don't see how two unaffected elders translates into a majority being unaffected, especially when V5 seems to insinuate the opposite. And that's part of the problem, the beckonings effects haven't been explained so we don't know who it effects or why.
    I'm not sure what's going on with Menele during the 5th Edition metaplot advancement, but if Critias is still in Chicago it's possible Menele simply hasn't summoned him, or has other plans. I vaguely remember in BJD that Troile and Moloch had been freed, or their release was imminent, and I can only imagine the only thing that would sway Menele from his war against Helena, was knowledge of the truth of Carthage and Troile's own role in it -- in which case, I would assume Menele would do whatever is in his power to stop Troile and Moloch. I really want to say it's established Menele was among the many from whom the city's true nature had been deliberately and painstakingly hidden, and that deception was ultimately the foundation of his hatred for Helena even if the immediate cause was her betrayal of the city to the Ventrue.

    But, that's just my take on it as someone who believes a poetic, ironic, and fitting end for the story of Helena and Menele is for both of them to realize they had been deceived and manipulated by Troile and the Baali, and at the end set aside their mutual hatred to ally against their true, mutual, enemies, and meet Final Death side-by-side avenging themselves.
    Last edited by Theodrim; 10-07-2018, 05:46 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Vendrin
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

    Well Critias and Annabelle are fine so we know the Beckoning doesn't affect all elders or even the majority.
    I don't see how two unaffected elders translates into a majority being unaffected, especially when V5 seems to insinuate the opposite. And that's part of the problem, the beckonings effects haven't been explained so we don't know who it effects or why.

    Leave a comment:


  • Iceblade44
    replied
    On the topic of Beckett's Jyhad diary and Cristoff, an interview with Neall was just released on the onyx podcast and he discusses his intentions he had for the book and his design philosophy for the metaphor which influenced the descions he made. I'm just sharing this here because I found it to be interesting and thought as this is a thread discussing the good and bad about the book it would be nice to see what was the ideas behind it.
    anyway here's a link to podbean for anyone who wishes to take a listen to, timestamps 31:00 for anyone who just wishes to skip and listen to what he has to say about the book.
    here you go for anyone curious

    Leave a comment:


  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by Vendrin View Post

    Off the top of my head:
    Jan prepping for Gehenna - dead
    Anything involving an elder - beckoning cancels that
    Sabbat Civil War - Welp that's solved, everyone's in the middle east and aren't big enough to bother with a civil war.
    House Carna - Potential split off, hunt for the book of the grave war, investigate breaking of the blood bond, who cares? Inner council is dead and now no tremere can blood bond.
    Mithras/Monty Coven - Dead or in hiding

    I think the only ones untouched by V5 are maybe Los Angeles and New Orleans? Might be a few others but the majority have either been cancelled or prematurely solved by V5s "cannon".
    Well Critias and Annabelle are fine so we know the Beckoning doesn't affect all elders or even the majority.

    Leave a comment:


  • Vendrin
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

    How do you figure?

    The book sets up a bunch of them.
    Off the top of my head:
    Jan prepping for Gehenna - dead
    Anything involving an elder - beckoning cancels that
    Sabbat Civil War - Welp that's solved, everyone's in the middle east and aren't big enough to bother with a civil war.
    House Carna - Potential split off, hunt for the book of the grave war, investigate breaking of the blood bond, who cares? Inner council is dead and now no tremere can blood bond.
    Mithras/Monty Coven - Dead or in hiding

    I think the only ones untouched by V5 are maybe Los Angeles and New Orleans? Might be a few others but the majority have either been cancelled or prematurely solved by V5s "cannon".

    Leave a comment:


  • Rand Brittain
    replied
    I mean, they're still an awful person; they're just less "I have attached tentacles to my head; truly, I have achieved a state greater than mere humanity."

    Leave a comment:


  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by Rand Brittain View Post
    The Cristoff being dead thing isn't actually a mistake. The encyclopedia notes him as having been dead, but he was really only in torpor until he awoke recently. The note from Aristotle underneath that entry mentions that it "hasn't been updated" since he got back on his feet.

    Also, yeah, Neall tells me the changes to Sascha Vykos were deliberate, so that Vampire's most prominent trans character isn't just a murder-psycho and is a little less ridiculous.
    I'm of two minds on the subject.

    I feel like the Tzimisce have been grotesques for a very long time they have had minimal value at my table save as Ted Bundy-esque monsters for a while now. Vykos being less overtly a Grant Morrison-esque supervillain seems like a good idea.

    On the other hand, Vykos is one of the iconic monsters of the game. Making him the poster boy for anything but EVIL seems like a losing proposition.

    Still, I suppose a more reasonable character like he was in the Giovanni Chronicles or early Transylvania seems like a good way to broaden his use as an NPC.

    Leave a comment:


  • Rand Brittain
    replied
    The Cristoff being dead thing isn't actually a mistake. The encyclopedia notes him as having been dead, but he was really only in torpor until he awoke recently. The note from Aristotle underneath that entry mentions that it "hasn't been updated" since he got back on his feet.

    Also, yeah, Neall tells me the changes to Sascha Vykos were deliberate, so that Vampire's most prominent trans character isn't just a murder-psycho and is a little less ridiculous.

    Leave a comment:


  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by Ideon View Post
    Amusingly, French didn't rise as Europe's major lingua franca until the 1600's, roughly. A singular continental one didn't really exist for most of the medieval period at all; Latin or Low Greek depending on which half of the Roman empire you used to be a part of, and later on forms of German in northern-central areas and a hybrid of several Romance languages along the Mediterranean. Italian dominated the courts of the Renaissance era too.

    (also the franca part of that meant Franks, but who's counting)
    Take note also the people I assumed Cristoff was speaking with in French were the MODERN characters.


    Leave a comment:


  • Ideon
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

    Weirdly, I didn't think he was French, I just assumed it was a lingula...franca...that he spoke.

    Amusingly, French didn't rise as Europe's major lingua franca until the 1600's, roughly. A singular continental one didn't really exist for most of the medieval period at all; Latin or Low Greek depending on which half of the Roman empire you used to be a part of, and later on forms of German in northern-central areas and a hybrid of several Romance languages along the Mediterranean. Italian dominated the courts of the Renaissance era too.

    (also the franca part of that meant Franks, but who's counting)

    Leave a comment:


  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by Frontline989 View Post
    I'm rereading it now.

    So what did Helena do to Beckett in the Succubus Club? Just feed on him?
    Helene spent their entire evening royally fucking with Beckett then screwing up. Basically, she made him eat his own fingers. She also Dominated him to believe the Succubus Club was active and he was partying there despite it being a ruin. Then she dominated him to never speek of anything he'd done or write it down.

    So, Beckett had Anatole read his mind then write it down instead.

    Now the whole world knows Helene is a methuselah.


    Leave a comment:


  • Frontline989
    replied
    I'm rereading it now.

    So what did Helena do to Beckett in the Succubus Club? Just feed on him?

    Leave a comment:


  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

    Weirdly, I didn't think he was French, I just assumed it was a lingula...franca...that he spoke.

    Yeah, he French. I think the VtMR guide specifies it because the game doesn't as far as I remember.

    In the TC game I'm currently running, it's something I'm going to take and run with by toying with Christof's history and place in the VtM timeline. My plan for him is to have been a squire present at the fall of Acre, who survived to become a Saracen slave. Eventually got out of captivity and made his way to Prague, and his search for Anezka will take decades as opposed to a matter of months in the computer game...in fact, I plan for him to have struck out on his own to find Anezka, didn't find anything, and returned to Ecaterina to dedicate himself fully to the Promethean cause to prevent other innocents from falling as Anezka did. It won't be until 1420 that he picks up on hints Anezka is still alive, just in time for the sacking of the castle by the Hussites.

    Leave a comment:

Working...
X