RPG Reviews – Vampire: The Requiem – Night Horrors: Spilled Blood

Vampire: The Requiem – Night Horrors: Spilled Blood

Night Horrors: Spilled Blood reminds me why I like Vampire: The Requiem so much. I have a great fondness and nostalgia for its ancestor game, the newest edition of which is probably the best incarnation, but it will always be tied to its setting and metaplot. Requiem, having not attached itself to any metaplot or any major firm setting conceits, allows itself to be anything you want. To me, this means it allows writers to explore anything and everything they want on the subject of vampirism without having to necessarily connect it to a strict setting, or even connect any of the material with other material. This means a book of antagonists can run wild with imagination. Spilled Blood definitely plays to Requiem‘s strengths, hosting a cornucopia of nightmares that act as everything from dark reflections of the games protagonists to existential threats to their existence.

Disclaimer: This title has been provided for purpose of review.

To keep some of the mystery in the shadows I’m only going to highlight some of my favorites of the bunch. All the entries are rich and well-written, with plenty of plot hooks to build stories and Chronicles around.

Chapter 1, Twists of the Blood collects a number of bloodlines – deviations on Clans that exhibit a thematic specialty. The layout of each entry is great as the descriptions include why one would want to join the bloodline, why others should fear them, and why they should fear themselves. Besides being a creative way to present the information, those are all important elements to be considered when using the bloodline in a Chronicle.

Like the Clans in the corebook, a variety of potential origins are presented, as well as how the bloodline fits into, or views, each Covenant. You’re also given rumors/plot hooks and a sample character. New mechanics are present for some of the bloodlines, from Merits, to Conditions, or even rare Disciplines that allow them special powers. One of the interesting things this book introduces are “Covenant Bloodlines” – variations of the blood that require membership in a Covenant, but can come from any Clan. It’s a neat twist on how vampirism mutates, suggesting environment is as important as nature.

A few of the bloodlines that struck a chord with me are the:

  • Ankou: Loner vampires who hunt other vampires in order to keep check on the Kindred population. A bloodline of the Mekhet clan, they see vampires as a violation of the natural order and would prefer to kill humans rather than give them the Embrace. In a world of darkness, are they one of the closest groups we’ll get to being “the good guys”?
  • Penumbrae: Ill-trusted, even by their parent Covenant of the Circle of the Crone, the Penumbrae read the signs and use their oracular ability to forge some order of the chaos of their existence. They use their Cruac rites to delve the dreams of other Kindred, unveiling their deepest secrets. I like using surreal elements and omens and can also see introducing the Penumbrae to a Chronicle as a very powerful ally or enemy.
  • Scions of the First City: This Invictus bloodline is probably my favorite of the lot. Scions are the epitome of urban vampire, to the extent that they have a mystic connection to the city itself. Their unique Devotions reflect that, allowing them to locate people by “listening” to the pulse of the city itself. The downside is that they severely suffer outside a city environment. What I like about the Scions is they aren’t specifically “city protectors” – they’re just as likely to cause damage to the City if it is required to preserve it. “Remove the limb to save the body” and all that.
  • Vardyvle: This Ventrue-derived bloodline embodies the sins of greed and envy. They obsess over successful humans to the point where they want to become those humans, adopting major trends as they arise. This is made easier because the Vardyvle are Doppelgangers, using a unique power to adopt a physical feature of someone on whom they’ve fed. Spooky superfans who would be perfect for Chronicles of intrigue or deception.

Chapter 2, Those Who Are Us, presents Kindred threats and antagonists. In this chapter, Spilled Blood welcomes Belial’s Brood back to the game in all it’s monstrous glory. Introduced in Vampire: The Requiem [First Edition] as a minor Covenant of unleashed, unhinged and demonic Kindred, this is their reappearance in the Second Edition.

Belial’s Brood are Kindred who fell to the Beast, becoming draugr, then pulled themselves back again after finding a harmonious balance with their monstrous side. This balance, however, does not involve tempering the urges inside as other Kindred do, but merging with them and becoming a conscious, active predator with no hangups about who they are. The Brood has abandoned all that made them human, and cast off the mechanics of such – they make no use of Masks, Dirges, or Touchstones. They receive a Ritual Discipline, Triadic Evolution, allowing them the use of Manifestations to enhance their predatory ability. A sample group is attached, showcasing some of the different paths a Kindred may take to become one of Belial’s Brood. They’re a great dark reflection of the Kindred, showcasing them at their most predatory and amoral, and rewarding that fall to the dark side. I can definitely see myself using them as antagonists in a Chronicle as they make great foils for more…inhibited Kindred. The downside to the Brood as they are currently presented, is that in having no Anchors they have no way to regain Willpower, which relegates them more to NPCs than PCs. There’s no reason to assume that’s a bug rather than a feature, but if you decide you want to use them as your protagonists you might need to introduce another way to refresh Willpower. As it stands they’re excellent antagonists.

I want to give a brief shoutout to the completely new minor Covenant – the Cult-of-personality/magical school of The Esoteric Order of the Golden Star. The Order is an image-obsessed society which promises enlightenment to those who keep paying. I love mystic orders and the fact that the Golden Star is one big hoax could make for a great revelation for a Coterie swindled by them or investigating them.

“Lost Clans” also make a presence in this chapter. These are vampires whose ancestry is not as specialized as a bloodline’s, so appear more as a full Clan, even if they are uncommon.

One Lost Clan, the Amari are very cool – lords of the midnight sun, they are vampires who dominated the Arctic until climate-change began to diminish their territory and allowed other Kindred to stake a claim. Likely descended from the Gangrel in the same way the Venture are said to be descended from the Julii of Rome, they have adapted to their territory and are able to preserve Vitae for much longer than other Kindred.

While not technically a Clan due to their unique creation, the Hypatians are a particular strain of vampire linked by blood, so…a Clan. Fans of Promethean: The Created will find some familiar elements here, but they stand on their own as well without any crossover. The Hypatians were born of an alchemical formula that mixed vampiric vitae and the Pyros – the divine fire that brings life. While they can’t Embrace in the same fashion as the Kindred, their Blood Chymistry can create, or self-create, a new vampire.

Kindred don’t have to be members of Covenants or Lost Clans to be compelling Antagonists or NPC foci.

“Subject 09-12: Amara” is an experiment performed by the Ordo Dracul, who attempted to find a way to subsist on the energy and vitality of mortals without requiring Vitae. She’s a successful attempt to create a Kindred who could could feed without imbibing blood, but only from other Kindred. She does this by casting our her consciousness, which siphons Vitae other Kindred have consumed. When we’re introduced to her she’s on the run and the plot hooks and personality details all focus on her desire not to be recaptured and the want of other vampires to return her to her master. She’s a great subject for storylines featuring player characters who may be sympathetic to her plight or for those who may want to harness her power for their own.

The Kenora Coterie hits one of my sensitive spots: cannibalism. Neither Kindred nor ghouls, they were a group of friends who were led into the wilderness by one of their own, who happened to be a ghoul to a Nosferatu, presenting them as a sacrifice. An accident occurred, killing the ghoul and leaving the group stranded, so they eventually turned to eating their companion. The vitae-infused flesh sustained them, gave them access to the more physical Disciplines, and left them with a craving for more. If your Chronicle takes place in a more rural area, they are perfect threats for your player’s ghouls, and terrifying opponents.

Chapter 3 “Those Who Are Not Us” introduces a number of antagonists that are neither Kindred, nor even necessarily bipedal. It’s a good creative flex to present a number of interesting non-traditional threats to a game which span a variety of horror tropes.

If you want squicky body horror there’s “The Blessing of Athena”, a vampiric disease worshipped by a cult focused around propagation outside the Embrace. Using the birth of the Greek goddess Athena as a mythology, infected vampires begin to grow teratoma, tumors that contain teeth, hair, and skin, which eventually should separate and become their own entity. There are rules for the mechanics of the disease, rumors and plot seeds, and an NPC who has been afflicted, as well as a merit for the community that centers around the “Blessing”. I like the Athenians – they’re an interesting way to introduce an outbreak scenario into a Chronicle. Personally I’d be terrified as a player to have it as a potential threat and as a Storyteller would want to ensure my players were okay with the concept since, you know, body horror.

If you miss the Vicissitude Discipline, the “Chimera Virus” is ready for you, and if you want to have a zombie story “Blood Worms” are a perfect fit.

“Rampart Logistics” is a potential human threat. They are a Private Military Company who holds a vampire hostage, synthesizing her blood to avoid the Vinculum and enhance their operatives. They’re great “ghoul” hunters and would even be an excellent basis for a human-focused Chronicle, where the players are agents of Rampart.

If you want beings predatory by nature, who have perfected their hunting skills over their entire existence, who have developed a thirst for Kindred blood that has been preserved in their bloodline and who could conceivably form a significant internet popularity, then look no further than the fearsome felines known as “The Amaranthine Cats”. The ancestors of the current brood once drank the blood of a vampire, became ghouls, and are now a ghoul bloodline of cats – with mixed reception from the various Covenants. A subtle and deceptive threat, they’re perfect to delight and terrify players.

There are lots of fun creations to work with in Spilled Blood, many horrors of the night. I’ve barely touched on half in this review and those alone could seed entire Chronicles. While it’s more of a Storyteller’s book, for obvious reasons, there is still content that would be of interest to players. Who doesn’t like discovering a weird, unique power that nobody else has, and starting to learn and develop it? Even though it’s a Vampire book, I will give a little content warning beyond what I’ve already mentioned – some of this stuff can be squicky, but no more so than a Resident Evil or Silent Hill game. It’ll definitely delight you if you’re a horror fan!

You can delve into the darkness and wipe up the blood spill by purchasing the book from DriveThruRPG (Affiliate Link)!


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