Now in its sixteenth year, Free RPG Day for 2023 took place on Saturday, June 24th. As per usual, Free RPG Day consisted of an array of new and interesting little releases, which are traditionally tasters for forthcoming games to be released at GenCon the following August, but others are support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera or a quick-start. Thanks to the generosity of David Salisbury of Fan Boy 3, Fil Baldowski at All Rolled Up, and others, Reviews from R’lyeh was able to get hold of many of the titles released for Free RPG Day, both in the USA and elsewhere.
Saturday 2 December 2023
[Free RPG Day 2023] A Taste of the Moon
A Taste of the Moon is a story for Vampire: The Masquerade, Fifth Edition suitable for a coterie of four to six neonate Anarchs. It is the second title to be released for Free RPG Day by Renegade Game Studios after Cobra/Con Fusion for use with its G.I. JOE Roleplaying Game and its Transformers Roleplaying Game. It can be played through in a single session as a one-shot or worked into the Storyteller’s own chronicle. It is set in a city large enough to have had a meat-packing district, nominally an American one—but could easily be adjusted to the city of the Storyteller’s choice, whether that is in the USA or elsewhere. The scenario requires some set-up in determining the Sires of the particular Player Characters, but beyond that, nothing extra is required other normal preparation upon the part of the Storyteller. The core rules for Vampire: The Masquerade, Fifth Edition are required to play A Taste of the Moon.
A Taste of the Moon opens en media res. The Player Characters are together, waking to find themselves in a night club, the Velveteen Bunny, felling slightly strung out, the body of a ghoul in the same room with them. Did one of them kill the ghoul? Well yes, and which of their vampires exactly it was, is for the players to decide between themselves. Worse, the ghoul belonged to the sire of one of the Player Characters, so they have to go before the sire and seek absolution. The sire will forgive them in return undertaking a task for him, and that is finding samples of Cherry Moon, a new type of blood that does not spoil and gives the imbiber a fantastic rush. Blood spoils a few hours after being drawn from the source, so having a type which does not is huge advantage. The investigation will lead the Player Characters back to the scene of their crime, the Velveteen Bunny. The problem is that finding a source is difficult, but finding the actual source is a whole lot more difficult.
A Taste of the Moon is primarily set-up. There is good advice on how to set the scenario up and how to use it in play, and there is not one opening scene, but several. There are four alternate opening scenes which could be used instead of the given one, plus there are hooks which the Storyteller can develop if she wants to use the scenario as part of her Chronicle. These are followed by numerable complications, ranging from the various Player Characters’ sire wanting a sample of Cherry Moon, and as word spreads of the Player Characters’ interest, more and more local Kindred come out of the woodwork wanting some too. With the addition of a complication or three and a handful of further adventures, along with the stats for the antagonists, and what A Taste of the Moon actually is, is a toolkit to run the adventure. The plot kept short and simple, a couple of locations are described, and the bulk of the text is dedicated to NPCs that the Player Characters will run into and have to deal with as their investigation proceeds.
Rounding out A Taste of the Moon is the coterie of pre-generated Player Characters. There are six, a mix of thirteenth and twelfth generation vampires, consisting of two Brujah, a Caitiff, a Malkavian, a Gangrel, and a Toreador. Unfortunately, this is where A Taste of the Moon is disappointing. There are points where the dots in a Player Character’s skills does not match his description. For example, Melika Red is described as charming and brutally honest, but has no Persuasion skill and does have the Subterfuge skill. Then she has a single level in Presence, but it is attached to ‘Lingering Kiss’, a power not available at just the single level. Cassandra Barrantes has the roleplay hook of “Use Obfuscate to leave an awkward situation you don’t want to be part of.” but no dots in Obfuscate. The problem is that the mechanical design of the characters has been rushed and so they are full of inaccuracies. Now, this is not difficult for the Storyteller to fix—indeed, Renegade Games Studies has done exactly that with the PDF version of the scenario—but she should not have to.
Physically, A Taste of the Moon is well presented. It is clean, bright, and tidy. The artwork is excellent. Barring the issues with the pre-generated Player Characters, A Taste of the Moon is a good set-up for a scenario—in fact, several good set-ups for a scenario—which are followed through with the plot. Once past the set-up, the plot itself is quite straightforward. Overall, A Taste of the Moon is solid support for Vampire: The Masquerade, Fifth Edition.