Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: Actual Factual: Dracula - A Compendium of Vampires

Actual Factual: Dracula - A Compendium of Vampires is an unassuming book. The cover is stock art (I am guessing, not sure) and the preview is text with a small amount of art.  That and the $40 price tag (sale price $18) might scare some people off.

That would be a mistake.

Inside are 472 pages of detailed vampire types from all over the world.

In this book we are given a basic overview of vampires (aka the stuff everyone knows) and then we move quickly into the relationship between Vlad the Impaler and Vampires.  I will honestly say that this section, while entertaining seems tacked on.  The book would have been fine without it, but is likely better with it.

Next we get into the heart of this book.  The Compendium of Vampires.
The A to Z section detail vampires from around the world and not only represents the bulk of the book (340+ pages), but also the bulk of the research.

Each entry contains the name of the vampire, pronunciation and translation of the name. Also listed are it's country or area of origin, type of creature (creature, spirit, demon...), how it appears, prefered prey, how often it attacks or feeds, Modus Operandi, abilities, defenses against it and how to kill it.  Not every creature has everything listed, this is not a Monster Manual, but there are enough. In some cases the author has used her own imagination to fill in the blanks.  This is fine really, given that the author is Theresa Bane.
But I guess if you want something purer you can go to her pages of resources.

There is a bibliography, which is almost as interesting to read as the entries themselves.

What follows next really puts this book into a different category of usefulness, the indexes.
First is a more common index of words, names and other things you might want to find in the book.

Next is an index of Abilities.  So if you need a vampire that is Beautiful (as an ability) then you have GREEN OGRESS 124 and SUCCUBUS 274.

There is an index of Appearance.  So "barbed tongue" gives you:
ASWANG MANDURUGO 23
BICHOHINDU 44
GROBNIK 125
KRVOIJAC 164
UPIER 294
WIESZCZY 330 (one of my favorite barbed tongue vampires).

An Index on Creation.  Indexes of How Often it Attacks, How to Find, Origins, Prey, Types, and finally Weaknesses.

Now what would have been a nice touch would be to hyper link all these indexes to the main document.  But I am not complaining.

What the book lacks in art, there are only a few pieces, it makes up for in research and utility.
You can debate on whether or not Creature Y is a vampire or not, but I can't fault the authors for doing all this work.

All in all a great book.  A must have if you are at all a fan of vampires or use them in your games.

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