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  • New to CofD; Which books to get first?

    Hello! I'm Gellydog and I recently became totally obsessed with the Chronicles of Darkness setting. Specifically, the streamlined 2nd Edition that started in Vampire: The Requiem 2ed. (my first book!) The mechanics are smooth, the setting immersive and compelling and I love the idea that each corebook (and its associated supernatural whosits) can both stand on its own and be integrated into a larger mélange. "Shared universes" are a particular vice of mine (if not a Vice), and CofD appeals to that part of me like a hemophiliac to a thirsty Kindred with low Humanity.

    Right now, I'm kinda look to buy my way through the various updated books, expanding my knowledge of the setting(s) and getting to taste each flavor one-by-one. As I said, I own VtR 2ed. already, as well as the 1ed. clanbooks for the Mekhet, Nosferatu and Ventrue. (I'll probably pick up the Gangrel and Daeva eventually out of completeness) I'm wondering where the best place to start is with the rest of the books. I don't actually have a group right now, nor am well-positioned to find one quickly (._.), so it's not a question of what I need the most - just what might be the most fun to read first or be the best bang for my buck.

    My understanding is that VtR, Werewolf: The Forsaken and Mage: The Awakening form the central triad, and stuff like Changeling: The Lost is secondary? I also know there's the Chronicles of Darkness corebook; how necessary is that if I'm mostly looking to read for fun? I think I saw somewhere that the "limited" lines like Changeling or Promethean might need that corebook to work... Also, what's been updated to Second Edition, and what's outdated? I'd basically like to stick to the improved stuff.

    Thank you very much! Sorry if this is, like, not the place to ask this.

  • #2
    Damnation City.

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    • #3
      If you enjoy the clan books I'd give a shout out to the very recent Secrets of the Covenents, it's a book that is mostly in Setting material adding to the lore and atmosphere of Vampire the Requiem (with a focus on the Covenants).

      Currently Chronicles of Darkness, Vampire the Requiem, Secrets of the Covenants, Werewolf the Forsaken, The Pack, Mage the Awakening, Promethean the Created, all of Demon the Descent, Hurt Locker and the Beast the Promordial books are in second edition.

      Personally I really like Mage the Awakening with its dense setting, spell casting system that allows you to customise your spells and ability to reward imaginative players (via the afore mentioned casting system). It's not as gothic as Vampire or as visceral as Werewolf in the horror department but lends itself to themes of hubris, corruption and Lovecraftian ennui.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Gellydog View Post
        ..I'm wondering where the best place to start is with the rest of the books. I don't actually have a group right now, nor am well-positioned to find one quickly (._.), so it's not a question of what I need the most - just what might be the most fun to read first or be the best bang for my buck.
        Secrets of the Covenants is the first big 2e supplement to VtR. If you're enjoying the 1e Clanbooks, you'll probably enjoy it as it's basically like those but for the Covenants (as opposed to the 1e Covenant books which are more traditional gaming supplements in design).

        Blood Sorcery is a 1e book, but you can get a lot of mileage out of it in regards to creating Cruac and Theban rituals; the 2e rules are designed to be roughly backwards compatible with this book.

        As WHW mentioned, Damnation City is one of the best CofD books ever. It's an incredibly useful RPG book in general for building your own cities.

        There's plenty of good in the VtR 1e backlog, but probably not that valuable as 2e material continues, and would drag you away from other 2e game lines since you seem interested in them.

        From the wider CofD 1e stuff, if you're interested there's a bunch of books for hacking the system which are still useful. There are also the Night Horrors books (though not all are 1e anyway). Each one is nominally tied towards a specific game line, but frequent includes crossover material. Hunter the Vigil's supplements also frequently contain a lot of discussion of crossover with how the different Hunter groups respond to (or even ally with) different kinds of supernaturals; though we might see some updating of this as HtV 2e gets further a long.

        There's a number of good "blue book" (this is a reference to the CofD mortal oriented material based on the color of the core book) stuff that's pretty useful/interesting even if some of the mechanics might take some work to port to 2e. Any of the blue book setting books (like Chicago) are crossover oriented, and a lot of them are about incorporating various elements into the CofD (Innocents deals with children, Dogs of War with soldiers, Asylum with institutions, etc.) with plenty of advice that doesn't matter with edition you're using. A lot of these are "to taste" in terms of where or not they're worth prioritizing. If you already know a lot about the criminal justice system, Precinct 13 probably isn't a high priority even if it's a decent book.

        My understanding is that VtR, Werewolf: The Forsaken and Mage: The Awakening form the central triad, and stuff like Changeling: The Lost is secondary?
        This is sort of a carry-over from the WoD days. In the original classic WoD Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage were the top sellers (Changeling and Wraith were part of the original five game lines, but performed poorly and were cancelled). When the new WoD that would become the CofD started the equivalent games were given more supplements and support, and other game lines were treated more as "experiments" where they would get a few books approved at the beginning and then if they sold well they'd get more later. This is were the "limited line" concept came in. After Changeling: the Lost in particular was a huge success and got expanded repeatedly, there was less stress put on the idea of the "big 3."

        The one place you tend to see the remnants of this is that the books beyond the big 3 tend to get more experimental. The big 3 tend to be a bit more accessible because even with the big improvements in 2e a lot more about them follows familiar patterns and is laid out for you. Meanwhile Prometheans don't start as humans, and have a more specific "win" state. Changelings are super customizable (including in 2e the book will have the rules to build your own Courts for each city rather than assuming everyone will use the Seasonal Courts) to help realize the fantastical nature of the fae world. Hunters don't have "splats" like Clans and Covenants, and simply belong to organizations of various size/influence/access to toys. Sin-Eaters are decidedly optimistic in the face of the CofD in rather stark contrast to the bleakness of the setting, and was one of the first 1e books that really started to play around with new approaches to powers. Mummy plays around with presentation, purposefully diving books into player and ST sections for groups that want to maintain mysteries about what's really going on with them and does some crazy stuff (Mummies start with their Power Stat - their equivalent to Blood Potency - at 10 and it goes down the longer they stay awake until they have to go back to sleep). Demon and Beast, the first two 2e game lines, start really exploring different ways the rules can be put to use. Deviant seems to be following that trend (though it's still in the works).

        I also know there's the Chronicles of Darkness corebook; how necessary is that if I'm mostly looking to read for fun?
        It's not really. Most of what's in there is mechanics, though the GodMachine stuff is worth a look since the G-M has a lot of crossover potential and is a central part of Demon if you decide to pick that up. The CofD 2e corebook also has some neat expanded sub-systems (Investigations, Chases, and Crafting) which can be pretty interesting reads if you're looking for rules inspirations instead of fiction inspirations, has Tilts (which are included in some of the other cores, but not Vampire) and more Conditions.

        I think I saw somewhere that the "limited" lines like Changeling or Promethean might need that corebook to work...
        None of the 2e core books besides Demon (which was released before it was officially 2e) will require the CofD 2e core book. They're all going to be like VtR 2e and have the core systems included.

        Also, what's been updated to Second Edition, and what's outdated?
        VtR, WtF, MtA, and PtC have all been updated to 2e. DtD and BtP were written after the move to the 2e mechanics, and are up to date in that sense. CtL, and HtV are currently in the pipe-line for their updates, with CtL getting close. DtR is going to be a new game coming out soon and is going to be 2e by default.

        There haven't been a lot of supplements for 2e, and very few have retread stuff from 1e. The Pack is a very cool Forsaken supplement for looking at how to build the pack as more than just the group the PCs all belong to, and gets into some interesting territory building elements. Hurt Locker is the 2e book that continues where the 1e Armory books left off. It's got a lot of neat idea for looking at violence beyond the combat systems, and a lot of optional improvements on those as well.

        At the moment, you're in a pretty good time to get in on 2e, because there's a lot more focus on getting out the updated core books and 1-2 supplements per game line to address some of the stuff that changed significantly but didn't have a lot of coverage in the core books. The only downside is that this means there's a bunch of interesting 1e books that could be interesting for reading, but run the risk of being out-dated when 2e moves more towards supplements.

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        • #5
          How important is the "Book" part in all this? As someone who likes the real thing rather than a PDF I'm waiting for a lot of books to come out.

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          • #6
            If you like the idea of a shared universe featuring many or even all of the monster types Beast the Primordial would be a good book to purchase. Beast is the most directly crossover friendly line, and is a good starting point if you want to experiment with running multisplat games because many of their abilities facilitate cooperation.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Gellydog View Post

              Right now, I'm kinda look to buy my way through the various updated books, expanding my knowledge of the setting(s) and getting to taste each flavor one-by-one. As I said, I own VtR 2ed. already, as well as the 1ed. clanbooks for the Mekhet, Nosferatu and Ventrue. (I'll probably pick up the Gangrel and Daeva eventually out of completeness) I'm wondering where the best place to start is with the rest of the books. I don't actually have a group right now, nor am well-positioned to find one quickly (._.), so it's not a question of what I need the most - just what might be the most fun to read first or be the best bang for my buck.

              Thank you very much! Sorry if this is, like, not the place to ask this.
              If you're a fan of the setting, Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras is a great book. Each chapter is a different time period focused on one or two specific gamelines. Unfortunately not very much vampire content and it necessarily assumes you're familiar with the modern-day versions of the games. Still, it's one of those books that becomes more valuable the more other stuff you have and it's just a fun read by itself. If you want Vampire-specific setting stuff to explore, Requiem for Rome and Fall of the Camarilla are fantastic and should be more-or-less fine for 2E Vampire (2E heavily features the Strix, which were originally fleshed out in RfR, and you'll notice that 2E mentions the Julii, who were active during RfR).

              For the other games, I recommend getting Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd Edition. It has the largest explanation about the Spirit World in 2E so far in addition to being a "natural" progression from vampires. It's also one of my favorite books to read because of its energy.

              As other people have mentioned, Vampire's Secret of the Covenants is great, especially if you're a fan of the style of the vampire clanbooks.

              Werewolf and Beast each have 1 supplement so far: The Pack for Werewolf and Night Horrors: Conquering Heroes for Beast. They're both fantastic.

              Demon warrants special mention: you can play it just fine since you already have Vampire, but it has the most complete 2E gameline thus far, with a Player's Guide, expansion to the Player's Guide, Storyteller's Guide, and a city book for Seattle. I heartily recommend picking it up.


              "Nihhina kalekal-zidu kal masun, kal manudanadu. Nihhina kalekal-zidu nukal shaghu-desasudu — nihhina kalekal-zidu kal innu-desasudu udhkal samm." Arthur Ashe
              Check out my tumblr for Chronicles of Darkness-related musings
              He/him pronouns, please

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              • #8
                For Vampire, I would also recommend picking up Ancient Bloodlines and Ancient Mysteries, especially if you like the idea of Dark Eras, but want something more focused on Vampires or less expensive. That said, get Dark Eras if you are planning on picking up other gamelines. That was the project that finally sold me once and for all on the central conceits of Mage and Hunter, both of which now rank as beloved gamelines for me. Book of the Dead is another good pick up for pretty much any gameline, as is Immortals, especially if you want to contrast Kindred with other immortals that are not vampires. If you want to feature vampire hunters as antagonists, Hunter: The Vigil and Night Stalkers are both worthwhile.

                I have some links in my signature about the booklists for Beast, Geist, Hunter, and Mummy. You may want to check those out too.


                CofD booklists:
                Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean

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                • #9
                  Thank you all for your answers! I've got a much better handle on what's what, now. My interest right now is definitely centered on the 2e core books, so I'll probably get WtF first and work through the others. I really want to check out CtL...so I'll be keeping an eye on the 2e version of that one!

                  In terms of supplemental stuff, Damnation City sounds like a great addition for VtR. I'm actually going to be running a short Chronicle for some friends next week (my first-ever attempt at ST/DM/GMing), so it should be helpful getting ideas. Dark Eras also sounds like a great read, for the background. It's funny, because I'm actually less interested in direct prose-fiction than the more RPG-ese stuff. (It's been commented that I'd rather read an encyclopedia than a novel) Which is one reason why I like tabletop games so much, in how they build a world within and around the mechanics. Definitely a lot to sink my teeth into, here.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gellydog View Post
                    I think I saw somewhere that the "limited" lines like Changeling or Promethean might need that corebook to work...
                    Quick note: Promethean doesn't require the CofD core, and Changeling, Geist, and Hunter won't, either.


                    Rose Bailey
                    Onyx Path Development Producer
                    Cavaliers of Mars Creator | Chronicles of Darkness Lead Developer

                    Retired as forum administrator. Please direct inquiries to the Contact Us link.

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                    • #11
                      Them needing the core book was a first edition thing. As was possibly their being 'limited' lines but who could say.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rose Bailey View Post
                        Quick note: Promethean doesn't require the CofD core, and Changeling, Geist, and Hunter won't, either.
                        Excellent, thank you!

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                        • #13
                          Definitely get Dark Eras. It's kind of the magnum opus of 2e. Only thing sad about it is that Vampire only has 1 Era.

                          (Pick up Requiem for Rome, too. It's 1e, but it really laid the framework for a lot of what 2e is, so it still works.)

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                          • #14
                            Dark Eras is a massive book and expensive to boot. You might look at an early draft before some of the Kickstarted eras were written, it's still up on the Kickstarter site and available here.

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                            • #15
                              My understanding of the definition of a "limited line" was that there was a predetermined intention to stop publishing supplements for it. I don't know if that's correct, but if it is, then functionally, there's really no such thing: the line will continue if the sales will support it and writers are lined up to write it.

                              As far as I know, it never referred to "needs another book to play".

                              In payment for the almost derail, I will ...fifth the recommendation of Dark Eras: it is fantastic if you're psyched about setting materials; they seem to be breaking it apart and slowly making the various chapters purchasable individually, which kinda impresses me from a business standpoint.


                              I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
                              An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
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