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Vampire: The Masquerade V20: Ghouls and Revenants

Ghouls and Revenants

The Introduction begins by running through some basic definitions. A ghoul is a servant to a vampire, who has given said loyal servant some of his blood - thus giving the ghoul increased life and strength, access to Disciplines and all in a being who can still go out in the daytime (possibly the most useful thing!). Revenants are members of a family who has been magically altered and bred to naturally produce vitae for themselves. Opinions in vampire society differ about the creation of ghouls, from outright condemnation to fears that they threaten the Masquerade, but they are just so darn useful that many vampires make use of them even if they don't really want to admit to it. Above all they are loyal: perhaps through fear or addiction, but often out of self-interest - they like the powers they can attain or even hope one day to become vampires themselves - and many develop a blood bond with their masters.

This book sets out to spotlight ghouls and revenants, although they have already appeared in earlier books, and contain rules for creating player character ghouls and revenants as well as NPC sidekicks for vampire characters. Pre-generated ones are supplied (use them if you're in a rush or want an NPC one), and there's a wealth of detail about how to use them in your game and even how to centre your game around ghouls rather than vampires... it's an intriguing thought, perhaps a party of ghouls vying for their NPC master's attention or collaborating to keep him safe. There's also a lot of deep background about how various grouping of vampires view ghouls and revenants, and on the history of revenants and their families.

Chapter 1: Blood is Life details what it's like to be a ghoul. There is plenty of deep background for those who wish to delve into the history and philosophy of this state - and plenty of ideas spring out as you read for how you can use ghouls in your game, or build an entire chronicle around them. Roles for ghouls include servant, concierge, protector or bodyguard and even driver, or a trusted one may even be a confidante, someone to whom the vampire can unburden themselves. This chapter also covers the recruitment of ghouls and their day-to-day life and relationship with 'their' vampire.

Chapter 2: Ghouldom, Blood Bonds and Systems blurs in character detail with game mechanical information as it looks at how the ghoul's relationship with the vampire who created him grows and develops. It also discusses what happens to the ghoul physically as his new condition takes hold. There is also information on the inherent dangers involved...

Next, Chapter 3: Clan Ghouls and Organisations surveys how ghouls and revenants are viewed by other members of the undead community. Of course, the 'party line' and how individual vampires actually behave are often vastly different, something worth playing up. This background material may come in useful when selecting the sect and clan of the vampire to whom a player-character ghoul is bound, or building intrigue once your game is up and running. And, of course, ghouls form their own organisations too, and you can find out about them here.

Then, Chapter 4: Revenants and their Families goes into detail about these strange mutated bloodlines, how they operate and what they are like. It seems they've been around a long time, if the histories are to be believed. Sample families are provided, ready to weave into your own chronicles. Once your appetite is whetted by all this material, Chapter 5: Character Creation provides you with the tools to dive in and begin to create your own ghouls and revenants ready for play. It's similar to the standed Vampire system with its own specific quirks and choices.

Moving on to Storyteller territory, Chapter 6: Storytelling is jam-packed with ideas for ghoul-based games, replete with plot devices and storytelling seeds and covering everything from getting started to creating the right mood and managing a whole bunch of ghouls and revenants. And of course, you can use ghouls as antagonists in a more traditional vampire-centred game. There's plenty on the different types of chroncile you might run, bursting with ideas that just about make you want to grab some dice and go in search of some players... and the book then winds up with appendices covering a Gallery of Ghouls, ready-made for you to use, and a selection of Animal Ghouls and Monstrous Creations.

This work forms a useful expansion to the Vampire world and can be used in so many different ways, from running a game based around ghouls and revenants rather than their vampire masters to embuing your vampires' servitors with a wealth of rich detail. Definitely worth adding to your library!

Return to Ghouls and Revenants page.

Reviewed: 6 June 2016