The Second Inquisition (Vampire: The Masquerade) by Renegade Game Studios Book Review

Write on: Sat, 19 Mar 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 3135


THE SECOND INQUISITION is the latest official product for VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE FIFTH EDITION. As the title implies, it is a book detailing the in's and out's of the hunter organization that has defined the entirety of the latest incarnation of White Wolf's classic Gothic Punk RPG. This is a make or break product for the company and whether they can pull it off will determine the future of the line.

Reception has been mixed for the 5E's "main books" with the main book, THE ANARCH, THE CAMARILLA, and SABBAT: THE BLACK HAND. Things like the Cleavers, Chechnya controversy, lack of playable Sabbat, lack of stats, and other matters caused some traditional fans to be turned away. The Second Inquisition benefits from the fact it is an entirely new creation of Fifth Edition versus something that was being adapted for modern audiences.

The Second Inquisition has been somewhat badly described before and just how powerful, widespread, influential, or effective the organization was has varied tremendously across supplements. In the main book, it seemed an ever-present danger that was potentially capable of destroying all vampires everywhere. The Second Inquisition successfully eliminated all the vampires in London in THE FALL OF LONDON. Except in follow-up material like COTERIES OF NEW YORK and NEW YORK BY NIGHT, the Second Inquisition behaves like Keystone cops that are easily killed off by our heroes breaking necks. Other books split the difference with CHICAGO BY NIGHT having the Kindred functionally more or less as before but the Second Inquisition having a secret prison and laboratory right out of town. So who and what is the "real" Second Inquisition?

So, after that lengthy opening, what does this book present the SI as? Honestly, I'm pleased to say they did an excellent job establishing the bonafides of the organization as well as how powerful it is in comparison to the rest of the world's supernatural factions. Part of the problem of the Second Inquisition is if it's too powerful then the social glamorous aspects of V:TM no longer work and if it's too weak then what's the point of it?

This book does a decent job of establishing the Second Inquisition is a loose alliance of numerous hunting organizations only loosely aligned against Kindred society. Furthermore, the organization actually is less interested in doing direct assaults on vampires than playing Kindred against one another. The SI is less likely to have SWAT break down your door and more likely to kidnap your ghoul before leaving evidence it was your long-time enemy who did it. Which I think is brilliant and does a good job of making the SI much more useful. V:TM is primarily a social and intrigue game so having the SI be "players" rather than kicking over the gameboard dramatically increases their versatility.

Indeed, the book emphasizes the fracturedness of the organization with some being okay with Thin Bloods, some being okay with ghouls, some wanting to kill all vampire associates everywhere, and others wanting to use undead. The Papal Inquisition doesn't get along with the secular hunters, the Russian hunters don't get along with the American hunters, and the Inquisitors would happily burn the magic-using hunters from the Arcanum. That's not even addressing the undead members of the Second Inquisition who include people promised a cure for undeath and those just happy to sell out their own kind for protection.

The book also makes it clear the Second Inquisition is a particularly scummy authoritarian organization that has almost no regard for collateral damage. It funds itself by dealing drugs, weapons, real estate scams, and feathering its nest with stolen Kindred assets. The group engages in torture of not just vampires but vampire victims and complete innocents despite how, in-universe, it is acknowledged this is pointless. Plus, it engages in large amounts of human experimentation in hopes of unlocking the secrets of undeath. It's very Technocracy-lite and I mean the First Edition union before all the apologists but not to the point of being unbelievable. The only thing a RL anti-terrorist organization hasn't done is release captured Tzimisce monsters on Elysium, which felt like something the Sabbat would do.

The book contains sample hunters, equipment, descriptions of the various groups, and plenty of actual information-information on how the group works. We don't have the excessive amounts of in-character text that dominated The Camarilla and The Anarch. There's also none of the lecturing about the Sabbat being unsuitable for player characters that was in The Sabbat. It's easily the best of the releases so far and I would say the book has significant utility to "classic" V:TM fans who want to incorporate the Second Inquisition even if all the stats are for 5E.

I probably would have given this book a 4.5 out of 5 as I liked it more than Sabbat: The Black Hand by a significant degree but I have to take off half a point for the fact the PDF copies have been disfigured by an ugly set of lettering at the bottom of each page that said, "Downloaded by CT Phipps on 3/16/2022. Unauthorized distribution prohibited." Which covers art and is an insult to the buyer on every page. Renegade Studios should remove this immediately as it implies they think all of their customers are thieves and pirates. Plus, 166 pages for forty dollars seems ridiculous to me and these books should be at least two hundred pages long even with all of the color art and being a hardback.

Available here

Last modified on Thursday, 14 April 2022 22:26
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.