Hello everyone, welcome. Today I am going to be sharing a review I have written for Beautiful Spiders, a sourcebook for Vampire: The Masquerade on the Storytellers Vault. For those of you new to my site, and unfamiliar with the Storytellers Vault, it is a community content portal for the tabletop roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade.
Disclaimers. I was provided a free copy for review purposes. This Product is available from the Storytellers Vault, a website that I have affiliate status with. This means that any links to this product or the Storytellers Vault (or other related products on associated sites such as Drive Thru RPG) are tagged, and if you click them and buy anything, I make a small commission. In order to give you choice, I will also include a “clean” link free of tags at the end of this article if, for any reason, you want to support the product but not necessarily this site.
Beautiful Spiders is a not quite clanbook for Vampire: The Masqerade detailing the origins, lifestyles, activities and secrets of the House DuVayne. I say not quite clanbook because House Duvayne is not a playable Vampire Clan, rather it is a revenant family created to serve the Tremere clan – the Warlocks. For clarity, Tremere are Vampires that practice Blood Magic and are referred to as Warlocks. Revenants are something else entirely. Most vampires create servitors in the form of Ghouls; humans (or sometimes animals) addicted to vampire blood, that are cursed with an unnatural love for the person whose blood they drink. The payoff is physical strength, toughness, a taste of the bloodpowers of the undead and long life for so long as they drink that blood (If they drink it long enough, stopping drinking can prove fatal). A revenant is a type of ghoul, but again, something more. A revenant is born a revenant and ages, unlike a ghoul, albeit slowly. A revenenat’s body generates a small amount of vampire like blood on a regular basis and this is enough to fuel the revenant’s powers, slow their aging (though not stop it) and give them access to the enhanced physical abilities of the Undead. Now that lecture Revenant Basics is complete, let us look toward the DuVayne.
The Duvayne are a secret project of Clan Tremere, creatures that can pass for human, walk in the daylight and have a (small) measure of the Tremere’s power. However, the DuVayne have not been created to be proxy Warlocks. The Tremere have a much more insidious plan for them. The DuVayne are brought up to be members of Society’s Elite and they are trained (indoctrinated would also be an appropriate word) to be enticing. Through the ordeals of their training, and the various arts of the Tremere, all Duvayne Revenants are beautiful. And their training in seduction and manipulation make them ideally suited to ensnaring mortal pawns in their webs of deceit and lust, all in the name of the masters. Beautiful Spiders indeed.
Warning – the next paragraph touches on material some readers may find disturbing. If you think this may be you, scroll past to the heading “The good stuff”.
Beautiful Spiders is labelled as a Black Dog book. And for those that don’t know, Black Dog is what World of Darkness uses for particularly grim and gruesome, whereas the run of the mill grim and gruesome is published under White Wolf. Consider that a second warning. I alluded to the training that Duvaynes go through to become master manipulators. Part of this seems to stem from the horrific ordeals that young DuVaynes must endure as rights of passage…and as part of everyday life. This includes incest and sexual assault. The DuVaynes do terrible things in the names of their masters, but they in turn have probably had worse done to them and many times. Vampires are not admirable people, and most things they touch tend to turn bad in some way or other. And the Tremere are probably some of the worst culprits, exploring what is possible but never asking if they should. The DuVaynes are as much their victims as their triumph.
The Good Stuff
The book was well laid out and looked very professional.
The idea of a Revenant Family serving the Tremere is really interesting and I have to admit exploring it myself from time to time. This title is useful for folks wanting to explore it with a premade Revenant family, or even Storytellers who have already started exploring the idea. After all, if the Tremere have one dirty little secret revenant family hiding in the wings, why not two?
The family history was quite good, albeit brief, too. There are also a few gaps that a storyteller can exploit.
The listed famous DuVaynes, there were only 3 of them but I liked them. Only 1 was still a revenant and it was the other 2 that were most interesting. But no spoilers here.
For all the vaunted power of the elite DuVaynes, they have some pretty horrendous weaknesses to balance them out and to be exploited by their opponents – be they player or NPC.
The Stuff you need to make your own mind up about
If this book had all the surnames redacted from it, it could have been mistaken for some faction of the Giovanni clan or rather a revenant family that serves them. There were differences but a passing glance might mistake the DuVayne for servants of the Necromancers rather than the warlocks. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing as you could certainly model a Giovanni Revenant house on them, or simply change Tremere to Giovanni in your mind…
The physical weakness of the DuVayne seemed arbitrary, and even if it isn’t, it is harsher than most of the weaknesses I have encountered. Even Nosferatu who can’t have an appearance score can overcome this with disciplines and practice. The Duvayne are not quite so fortunate (though there are ways of circumventing their weakness…just, not easy ones)
Yes, I could and probably will use this material at some point. House DuVayne can easily fit into any modern Vampire: The Masquerade or even World of Darkness setting, and would make quite effective antagonists in a chronicle. Not in raw physical terms but in terms of sitting in the centre of an elaborate scheme pulling the strings of minions and ensnaring the players in their intricate traps. They earn their moniker, Beautiful Spiders.
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Click on the following link to purchase Beautiful Spiders