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

Second Inquisition
The Second Inquisition is a Storyteller’s supplement for the gothic horror RPG Vampire: The Masquerade, written by Cat Evans, Kenneth Hite, and Khaldoun Khelil and published by Renegade Game Studios.
By Aaron T. Huss

Learn more about Second Inquisition here
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Remember above all that the Second Inquisition isn’t a hammer to punish or frustrate players. It’s a toolbox to add tension and drama to a story and compel Kindred to rethink complacent attitudes towards mortal threats. In game terms, it’s not interesting or fair to throw in antagonists characters have no hope of opposing.

– Second Inquisition, Dangerous Games

Keep that quote above in mind, which comes directly from the book, when reading through this review.

***CAUTION! This review contains spoilers. If you are a Vampire: The Masquerade player, it as advised that you not continue to avoid potentially damaging the excitement of your game!***

Second Inquisition is a supplement for Vampire: The Masquerade. But it’s not just any supplement… While the Inquisition has been a part of Vampire: The Masquerade for years, this new iteration brings the concepts into the 2020s (really and beyond), taking into consideration the availability of technology, progression of weapons, ease of communication, and other contemporary luxuries that weren’t around when the Inquisition was first birthed for Vampire RPGs. Even better than that is the fact Second Inquisition is the ultimate guide for Storytellers to make their games more interesting and exciting by giving them the tools necessary to increase the horror factors of the game without turning it into an over-dramatic blood bath of gothic influence. This is the type of horror that builds in the background, creating suspense and possibly some paranoia. After all, how else do you counteract the Kindred without just throwing more kindred and gothic beasts at them?

I’m going to throw this out and state that Vampire: The Masquerade, and some of the other World of Darkness games, is one of those role-playing games that always made me wonder how a storyteller would make the game exciting without the use of supernatural beings (or gods, goddesses, demons, devils, and other really badass stuff). How would humankind really become a threat if they could be so easily overpowered in the heat of the moment? Second Inquisition answers that question in a way that goes back to that opening quote from the book – adding tension and drama! It’s not an in-your-face type of response to characters; it’s a formidable global effort of like-minded individuals and organizations opposing the Kindred, or blankbodies as they call them. It’s not there to kill the characters, although maybe in the end one of them makes the wrong decisions and has to be taken out, but it does give the Storyteller the tools he or she needs to keep the game going.

Enough of that opening line stuff, let’s get into the guts of the book!

Second Inquisition is not a campaign but rather a sourcebook for building campaigns. It is the Storyteller’s ultimate guide to what it means to run the Second Inquisition either in the foreground or background of your games. In other words, are they the main antagonists harassing the Kindred or are they a force looming overhead to increase the overall tension of the game? Both are possible and this book provides all the tools you need to not only run either type of game, but to incorporate the source material in a number of ways.

When you think about what kind of tools Second Inquisition provides, it is an NPC, weapon, tactics, organizational, and element guide all wrapped into one. It starts with an introduction that helps you understand not only what the book is for but how the Second Inquisition fits into the overall canon of the setting. Then it moves to an NPC guide called Hunter Killers. These aren’t supernatural beings but rather humans specially equipped (mostly as a team) to deal with the Kindred in a number of ways – social, mental, physical, and magical. Third is a cool weapons guide that lists what types of weapons those who participate in the Second Inquisition may bring in force. These aren’t meant to start World War III pitting humans versus Kindred but rather strategic methods of keeping the humans alive and make the Kindred think twice about their actions. Fourth is this incredible tactical guide about different methods of using the Second Inquisition and how it may play out in your games. Fifth is a delve into the different organizations that comprise the movement known as the Second Inquisition including each one’s place in the canon. And finally are all the hooks and ladders the Storyteller needs to bring all this source material into their games (foreground or background, depending on if you sprinkle it throughout or make it a staple of the game).

For a game like Vampire: The Masquerade, this is the perfect sourcebook to guide the Storyteller through building a campaign world that creates tension to increase drama and horror without taking the spotlight off the PCs. All this without throwing supernatural beings in the mix (not that you can’t…). It’s a definite must-have for Storytellers, but players need to keep their eyes out lest they spoil their games and KNOW TOO MUCH!!

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