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Scenes of the Embrace $2.99
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
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Scenes of the Embrace
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Scenes of the Embrace
Publisher: White Wolf
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2011 07:13:04

Preludes. Some of my best memories of Storyteller games circle around Preludes. I could sequester away a player for perhaps an evening and, for a session, really get into that particular character’s head. Dice rarely hit the table. It was about motivations and character. I mention this because this eBook flirts with being a look at preludes. Let me clear that it isn’t, but even the author allows that some Storytellers will use it for exactly that purpose.

The PDF’s artwork is mostly good. In fact, there are some pieces within the file that are damned good (no pun intended. Really.). I personally liked Shane Coppage’s art the best (the cover belongs to this artist). The artwork proved a little distracting in that some pieces look like Hollywood was tapped for character inspiration. Is that William H. Macy preparing to get amorous on page 19? Why is Robert Patterson getting fed on by two vampires on page 16? Some is a scratchy piece that has been done in one way or another several times before (page 10).

Valentinelli’s writing, crisp and direct, has a super-specific focus that she mostly stays focused upon throughout the book. Each scene (fourteen in all) takes a look at the Seven Deadlies (two scenes per Vice). Mechanics for these scenes are light, but present. After all, during an Embrace things can go wrong and you might need dice to best arbitrate the outcome.

For such a short book, I’d have to say it isn’t one to start out with. The depth of information contained within is impressive. The author looks at the Covenants while approaching the Vices in order to best see how they would react to each of the fourteen Embraces.

This PDF is 99.99% for Storytellers. From a player’s standpoint, I don’t think I would get very much from the read. A Storyteller could use these scenes directly either as a Prelude, piece of an existing campaign, or simple inspiration as found in Engine Publishing’s Eureka.

Raw unforgiving emotion is a vast playground for monsters to play within; this PDF exploits that. My scores for Scenes of the Embrace are:

Artwork: Three out of Five Dice (The grade would be quite different if I ran artist-by-artist) Writing: Four out of Five Dice (I like the concepts, but wished the mechanics had been fully thrown out . . . even though I understand why they couldn’t be) Overall: Four out of Five Dice (Put on your mining hat; there are some good ideas here)

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Scenes of the Embrace
Publisher: White Wolf
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2011 23:26:38

Scenes of the Embrace isn't a title that I find particularly useful at all. The product sets out an anthology of fourteen scenes (two per sin), which has an Embrace as the centre piece. Whilst it mit work for some groups, I simply can't see any character in either of my two gaming groups following along with some of the actions.

The sevens could be best used as story hooks or as drivers for NPCs, but I don't see any worth from a PC angle.

Also, there is a Covenant Reaction to each type of Embrace that is a simple two-line statement about how the Covenant as a whole (that right - the homogenous mass effect again) would react to the actions in the scene. They are deplorably shallow and almost completely useless; in fact they feel as though they have been hastily tacked on. Are the Carthian Movement honestly that dull? If the Covenant can be summed up by the reactions in most of the scenes, I don't see why anyone would play them. This homogenization of the Covenants makes no real sense and very few of the suggested reactions easily translate into engaging role-playing.

To be honest, I'd be investing in a copy of 'The Last Supper' instead which offers far richer, and well-thought-out material covering scenes for the Embrace.

[2 of 5 Stars!]
Scenes of the Embrace
Publisher: White Wolf
by Scott R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/06/2011 11:03:57

Scenes of the Embrace is an anthology product put out by White Wolf as part of their Storyteller Adventure System which seeks to reduce prep time needed to pull together a World of Darkness story. Each SAS product is presented in landscape format and contains hyperlinks for ease of browseability with a laptop or eBook reader screen. Besides laying out each scene in the main text there are scene cards in the back giving you the shorthand of what happens, the motivations of the players, and difficulty modifiers to consider as well as room to add your own notes.

I am used to SAS products being standard, yet non-linear adventures segmented into scenes which can easily be shuffled around on the fly depending on what decision your roleplaying table makes but here Monica Valentinelli presents fourteen stand-alone scenes for detailing the vampiric Embrace in your Requiem chronicle. The Embrace is the act of creating a new vampire and it should not be overlooked in either a character backstory or if a character is siring a childe of her own in play. It should be the defining moment in their existence wherein they surrender their mortality, cease to be a human who eats and drinks food and enjoys the summer sun on their faces and becomes an inhuman thing who is burnt by the Sun, lives off of warm blood and has this spiritual bestial drive to struggle against that now defines their nights. There is also a mechanical component to it as well as the sire must sacrifice a Willpower point to create a new vampire, which is one of the most precious character assets. I liked the sidebar with an optional rule to risk Humanity instead. I thought it was a nice touch.

Valentinelli takes the vice in the World of Darkness Virtue/Vice morality system for as inspiration and offers two scenes for portraying the Embrace for each of the Seven Deadly Sins. This is an important moment for both of the characters involved, there is no guarantee the embraced will survive, so it is nice to get a little more attention and suggestions for creating gripping atmosphere. That is something that made Vampire special from the start, the meditations on what it must be like to become one of these monstrous yet still human creatures. It should not be glossed over in the prelude or a lost opportunity for narrative control as part of a storytelling session. Never miss a good opportunity for great storytelling.

The scenes are pretty generalized so you can adapt them to the specifics of your chronicle. I love the idea of an anthology of scenes that you can plug-and-play into your game. They're kind of like plot hooks or "bangs" as they call them in Sorcerer but a bit more detailed and planned out, with situational modifiers pre-planned and consequences for success or failure. Storytellers will still need to think on their feet when running a scene in their chronicle or adjusting to the infuriating inventiveness of their players and the capricious nature of die rolls but it’s nice to have this foundation to work on, and kind of refreshing to have just one scene to run rather than girding your loins for a whole multi-chapter adventure.

Valentinelli has really set her sights upon moral choices being key to a gripping Vampire game and gives these vices center stage. I can almost hear the Greek chorus off to the side predicting doom in each scene. Care is taken to emphasize the relationship between mortal and sire. There are consequences if the neonate is unwilling or unaware of Kindred society or if the Embrace is not sanctioned by the player's Covenant. I like the fact that consequences of a failed Embrace are not simply the death of the mortal (through an unsuccessful Embrace) but a breakdown of the situation entirely such as the mortal fighting his way out and calling the police. The master-servant dynamic is not always cut and dried. Sometimes the mortal is the one seducing the vampire into doing the deed though sex, money, or power. Sometimes she might not fully know the consequences, but merely sensed the danger and chose the wrong person to seduce.

While this supplement is not essential by any means I do see its utility. It is essentially a toolbox that helps you give a bit more gravitas to the transformation of a human being into a undead monster rather than a meek "Step Five: Apply the Supernatural Template". The only fault I see is that the scenes needed to be very general in order to apply to any situation. I would have liked a bit more color, a bit more horror but I can see where space constraints may have applied. As usual the layout is gorgeous and easy to read and artwork spectacular and up to Requiem standards. I like the fact that they tie in the Vice mechanic as a storytelling technique. From what I can see the Scenes From line are Requiem-only but as a diehard Changeling: the Lost fan I know the act of introducing a mortal to the Hedge and its dangers is one of the few unelaborated areas of the series and I would love to see Ms. Valentinelli or Jess Hartley pen a Scenes of Enchantment.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Scenes of the Embrace
Publisher: White Wolf
by Frank F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/06/2011 09:47:51

When I first got the New World of Darkness, about the only thing that I was not all that thrilled was the change from Nature/Demeanor to Virtue/Vice. While it was by no means a dealbreaker, I still preferred to older system in that respect. However, Monica Valetinelli's Scenes of the Embrace has me definetly rethinking my earlier reservations. Scenes of the Embrace is an excellent guide on how to use the Vices to motivate and drive scenes in Vampire the Requiem chronicle. In this case, the book concentrates on the intial Embrace and how it is driven by the Sires Vices. There are also guidelines for how each Covenant might react as well as some advice on using the game system to present the story. All done in an enjoyable and easy to read style. Finally, this book is more than just for VtR. These concepts can translate easily enough into the other NWoD books. Consider Scenes as a guidebook for how to use the Virtue/Vice system to add additional drama to your storytelling. At $2.99, it's an incredible bargain and a great resource for all Storytellers.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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