Did you think being a vampire was all about having others be afraid of you? Think again: this book centres around those that many vampires fear... some seek to eliminate them, others - through fear, conviction or for other reasons - support these Anathema and seek to keep them from harm. Whether the Anathema or the hunt for them play a central role in your chronicle or are just peripheral, this book presents a wealth of background information and other details to help them come to unlife in your game.
Chapter 1: History and Tradition dives straight in to show how the Anathema are interwoven with the Camarilla as a whole. The Camarilla have always striven to impose order on the night, to establish rules and guidelines whereby vampires can operate in relative safety. As part of this, they established the traditions, the laws that bind the kindred together with a set of commonly-accepted beliefs. Now, when a vampire transgresses, it is up to the Prince whom they serve to decide what to do with them - but it can lead to a call for a blood hunt to find the offender and subject them to final death. Some lucky vampires are given an ultimatum to leave that Prince's territory or else, but generally a call to a blood hunt involves everyone who owes allegiance to that Prince joining in the hunt. Those who appear on the Red List, however, have not just broken the odd tradition or stepped over the line once too often: they are persistant offenders deemed liable to endanger the entire Camarilla by their actions - and the Red List is maintained outwith individual Princes' jurisdictions (which annoys many of them, of course!) by the Justicars on behalf of the Inner Circle. Needless to say, it's all very political, with each clan nominating a Justicar to act on their behalf. A legalistic process is used to add a name to the Red List, one which does not give the accused any chance to dispute the process. There's plenty of history here, although younger vampire often never hear about it.
Next, Chapter 2: 13 Anathema presents the worst, the 'Most Wanted' of the vampire world. Each is listed in considerable detail, complete with a portrait and full stats, as well as their backstory and even role-playing hints should the party happen upon them in person. Surprisingly, one of them is a mortal, an occultist and book-seller whose hobby of turning supernatural beings into his personal slaves is what has led to his inclusion. The stories are rich and compelling, standing ready to be mined for snippets to weave into your game... although it is at times hard to discern just what makes these vampires so much worse than all the other kindred. Artefacts and rules snippets as appropriate are also included.
Then, Chapter 3: Role of the Alastor details those who hunt Anathema. Many younger vampires are barely aware of what an Alastor is and does, let alone who actually is one, as it is only recently that they have become a little more open after operating in the shadows since their inception. To become an Alastor one must either kill an Anathema or be spotted as a likely candidate by a Justicar. There are different ranks and roles, plus duties and responsibilities, for the would-be Alastor to understand. There's also plenty of advice on how to carry out this role, the ways in which to become an effective Alastor. Useful for the would-be Alastor amidst the party, or for the Storyteller who wants the coterie to interact with an Alastor at some point in the plot.
Chapter 4: Character and Traits then covers what a character will need if they wish to take upon themselves the mantle of an Alastor, retooling material from the core rulebook and adding more specialised details. It's written from the standpoint of creating an Alastor character from scratch, although it might make an interesting plot twist to have appointment to their ranks actually occur during play. There's plenty of advice as to which traits, disciplines, merits and flaws would make good choices, as well as some new ones to make available to your would-be Alastor.
Then comes Chapter 5: Storyteller's Toolkit, which proffers advice on running a chronicle involving the material in this book, including plenty of plot seeds to involve the Anathema in whatever you have going on. It examines appropriate moods and themes for your chronicle, and suggests that the most suitable styles of play are action or investigation (or indeed a bit of both) and discusses how to use these styles to best effect. There are also ideas for how to introduce the stuff of this book into an existing chronicle rather than starting over with a new one just because you'd like to use some of the material and ideas here. If you do not like the 13 Anathema presented earlier (or if one is dealt with permanently during the course of your game), there are notes about creating alternate ones of your own.
Finally, there's an Appendix: Path of Evil Revelations. Here we learn of a path followed by infernalists in all its dark glory, as well as dark thaumaturgic rituals.
This work adds a new level of complexity to vampire politics, taking the normal squabbling to a wholly-new level. Many players (and Storytellers) will revel in it, whilst those who prefer a more physical game can relish the challenge of taking on some really Big Bads... and doing so without attracting the ire of other Camarilla notables. There's a lot to think about here, but it could add a whole new depth to your game.
[5 of 5 Stars!]