I have a hit or miss relationship with tie-in materials. On the one hand, Dragonlance was my first fantasy series before Lord of the Rings and because of that I am unbelievably excited for the new books coming out this year. On the other hand, as much as I love Vampire The Masquerade, I found the Clan Novel saga left me very cold. My vision of Vampire is personal and focused. I didn’t care about jet-setting around the world or what the heads of the Tremere were doing in Vienna. So why am I reviewing the two trade collections of the recent comic book series? In short: I came for the game material and stayed for the comic.
Winter’s Teeth continues Vampire The Masquerade Fifth Edition’s awkward policy of scattering game material across multiple media. Hopeful, the recently announced Player’s Guide for this edition collects some of these wayward elements, but until then, the only place to find these elements are in the back pages of this comic. The two trade collections pull all of them together, collecting the loresheets, coteries, disciplines and character write ups all together after the story arc is over.
Most of the game material is specific to the storylines of the comic book. There are write ups of various characters and loresheets that connect characters to backstory from the book. At first I was disappointed they only wrote up the main character and several minor characters who don’t last long in the narrative. But then my Storyteller instincts took over and I realized how easy it would be to drop these characters into a different storyline. Several have interesting hooks, like a Gangrel Primogen who turns into a tiger instead of a wolf, or a band of ex-ghouls that have turned their dependency on vitae into a weapon. I also enjoyed the thin-blood alchemy recipes which were presented in the style of menu entries from the brewery featured as a central hub of duskborn in the main story.
The comic is split up into two major storylines. The first follows Cecily Bain, a Brujah Anarch turned enforcer for the Prince of Minneapolis. She takes in a Caitiff in the first issue while navigating the tricky politics of the Camarilla court. The second storyline centers around a coterie of nomad Anarchs. Both stories eventually cross paths but I ultimately preferred the Bain storyline. It had more of what I want out of a Vampire: The Masquerade story: hard choices, unexpected loyalty, sudden betrayals and brutal violence. It also illustrated how a newer game concept could be used in a story. Cecily’s Touchstone is her elderly sister. She visits her from time to time for a quiet moment or reflection. The sister was never in danger but still proved to be a good source of character moments for the lead. I also have to call out the covers from Aaron Campbell and David Mack. They are some of my favorite art for the setting since the original Timothy Bradstreet pieces.
I liked both arcs of Winter’s Teeth and look forward to using elements from the books in my upcoming Vampire chronicle. The next arc is complete but I’m a trade reader, so I’ll have to wait until Vault Comics collects the story of Garou attacking the Twin Cities and see what clues I can pull out for the new edition of Werewolf.