D.C. By Night

WW 2211 $18.00 31-Mar-95


[$18.00] [31-Mar-95]

Washington DC, a cityfueled by corruption and intrigue, offers vampires a treasure beyond all measure: power on a glabal scale. In this place where even mortals have undreamt of might, the undead strive for influence that their peers can only envy. The best try, but only the gifted succeed. A new city sourcebook for Vampire.

Review by Timothy Toner (2 May 95)

Capsule Review: "Thanks for looking out for the little guy."

In Depth review: At last, an adequate successor to Chicago by Night, v 1.0. Yes, I didn't like CbN 2.0, but that's another review entirely. D.C. by Night (DCbN) is an excellent sourcebook for the World of Darkness, detailing Washington, capital of the USA, and the surrounding area, which is intrinsic for the true enjoyment of the area.

I got DCbN as part of the autoship deal I get with WW. I get the Mage and Vamp books, fresh from the presses, a week before everyone else. The problem is that I have no idea what's coming out. I still have yet to get a lemon that I wouldn't have picked up anyway, so I'm doing well so far. My serial dislike for the Vampire city books make me dread the arrival of DCbN. Frankly, I never though that they could recapture the fresh, nervous energy found in Chicago by Night, where they portrayed a three dimensional, multilayered city, that not only had something for every type of player, but was consistent with the "feel" of the city.

The greatest obstacle to this was, of course, the mad desire to make EVERY FREEKING CITY run by a Ventrue prince. BOOOOOOORING! Sure, it's the norm. But we already KNOW the norm! Making the prince a non-Ventrue suddenly gives every Ventrue PC an automatic goal: become the prince! (Not really, but you get the idea). Besides, there are some cities, like New Orleans, that screams for a Toreador or Tremere Prince. And you can bet your ass that this hypothetical prince's assistants are Ventrue. That's how they fit in. They're good at running things. The only problem with the Ventrue is that they want to run everything.

Here there be SPOILERS!!!!

Of course, DC is a major political city. Having a non- Ventrue prince would be silly, nay stupid. And of course, the prince isn't a Ventrue.

He's cooler.

It's a wonderful set-up, with something for everyone. There's a lot of high-powered vampires in this city to run into, including a delightful Ventrue who's a lapsed Malkavian, and a Gangrel Justicar wannabe with Archons to boot! I used my standard test to see if I liked the city book. I picked a vampire from each clan at random, and imagined a plot that would make the players run into each. The more twisted, the more evocative it was, the more I liked it. And I liked the one I came up with a lot.

The explaination of Washington and its environs was also excellent, with a brief run down of the reasons why you should run a Chronicle in Washington. There's a lot of stuff that the average ST wouldn't think of, and the author nicely detailed the specific problems and perks of being a vampire in DC. It's the little things like this that really make me like a book. It shows the author was thoughtful enough to throw a few bones, not only to the beginning storyteller, but also to the experienced ST who doesn't know how to insert a major plot point without it seeming forced. Right there, it says, "Parking is hard to come by...Most people park a few blocks away and then walk a short distance to restaurants and clubs." Right there, we have all the reasons we need for a clandestine meeting. Fodor's wouldn't tell you these things, but they fit perfectly in a campaign setting.

The thing I love MOST about this book, besides a good setting that, if not authentic, feels "real" enough to be okay in my book, great characters, and an interesting history, is the Story Seeds. Oh, how I loved these things from CbN v 1.0! Instant night's plot. The best part was that the plot was driven 100% by the characters. Something happens. What do you do? Great stuff! The specific storyseeds here are very good, but not enough are specific to Washington. I can "dummy down" most story seeds to any location. Let me see what the setting can do! Something along the lines of, "A group passing by Lincoln's Memorial hears someone talking, ostensibly to himself. He's asking Mr. Lincoln for advice on how to handle corruption in a senator's office. The players get a few tidbits. Then, a second later THE STATUE ANSWERS! After the stranger leaves, a second approaches, and the scene is repeated. In fact, the force here is a Malkavian who's a little too fond of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He's obsessed with repeating the circumstances of the movie, actually remaking the film on C-SPAN. He's managed to dominate several senatorial aides, and is setting up the senators to do the parts of Claude Rains and Jimmy Stewart, live, and on television. A definite breach of the Masquerade, but a damn funny one.

My only real, substantial problem with this is the ATROCIOUS editing job. Typos galore! This shuld be passed out in editing school as a workbook. It's too bad it had to mar a book of this quality.

I did have a piffle about the price. I'm used to getting a lot for my $18.00, and although this is a good book, it's not worth $18.00. $15.00, yes, but not $18.00. If you have the extra three bucks, by all means, get it, and be entertained. I doubt that you'll be disappointed.