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on July 22, 2003
I'm not looking to have an African story but I want to take my players there. For this sort of "vacation" into the continent, "The Ebony Kingdom" is a bit too complicated and too complex. Understanding the Kindred of the continent requires some shifting in how you understand Kindred at all. But if you and your players want to spend time (your players will need to spend hours reading and thinking before trying to create a character for this part of the world) it could be challenging and scary. It would also allow for some neat political and social commentaries. I really wish it had more sample characters included to help me figure things out a bit better -- also give storytellers who just want to visit a helping hand.
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on May 31, 2003
I have to admit, I was nervously looking forward to this book. WW has had a mixed history when doing "non-western" cultures (for instance, Mummy and Year of the Scarab did a good job covering Mid-Eastern culture, but then there were travesties like WoD: Gypsy). The outline that leaked out was good, and when the book final came in I was astonished. This book gives you everything you need to run an African Vampire game. Unlike Kindred of the East, which introduced a whole new supernatural being, this book focuses instead on African cainites known as Laibon. However, the spiritual and cultural beliefs of Africa have worked their own effects on the blood of Caine. The book introduces us to the Laibon's society, a series of Kingdoms ruled over by the Guruhi (one of the clans). There is no Camarilla, Sabbat or Anarchs. Either your with the Guruhi or against them. We also get to see other African "clans", like the shamanistic Shango, the mercenary Kinyonyi and the wise Akunanse. And, of course, the Setites are there as well. Each "clan" is descendant of a western Clan (look at their discipines and weakness to try and figure out if you want), but changed. The disciplines are also changed. Auspex deals more with spirits, Dur-An-Ki (Assamite Sorcery) replaces Thaumaturgy and Vicissitude is... ick. And instead of Humanity or Paths of Enlightenment, you have a whole new system more attuned to African religions.
This aside, theres a wealth of material on African society in general. The book focuses primarily on sub-Saharan Africa (for more on North African areas like Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and such, check out Veil of Night, Cairo by Night and the Assamite and Setite Clan Books) and provides a whole IC journey across West, Cenral and East Africa. Game wise, you also get some new traits, backgrounds and even magical items. Theres also a lot of rituals for incorporating Sangoma and Inyanga, African shaman and healers, along with guidelines for storytelling both in the Ebony Kingdoms and abroad. Stats in the back are also given for a vast array of wild animals, as well as shape-shifters (were-hyenas, jackals, crocodiles, spiders, sharks, etc), nature spirits, ghosts, zombies, African mages (shaman, witch-doctors, healers, witches, priests, etc) and such.
Over all, if you plan on using African material with vampire game, or even just running a general World of Darkness game set in Africa, you should definately check this book out. Its well worth your while. I've already run it in cross-overs with my Mummy game with good results.
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