At the beginning of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Core Rulebook," writer and designer C. J. Carella acknowledges that the reader of this volume could just as easily be a Buffy fanatic as a veteran of role playing games. Indeed, Carella considers it a safe assumption that anyone who gets to page 194 of this volume is a fan of the show (but he sees advantages for those who are not). Of course, I am the former, although I do remember an evening with college friends trying unsuccessfully to get me hooked on Dungeon & Dragons and my daughter and I have attempted the Buffy the Vampire CCG game a few times (I am happy just to collect the cards). Certainly, Carella has put together a gorgeous volume. On top of that, the role playing game, part of the Unisystem, might actually prove to be fun as well.
The "BtVS RPG" covers a lot of ground (by its own admission), from rules to stats to descriptions to backgrounds. There are eight chapters and an appendix: (1) "It's the Slayer's World, We Just Play Here" contains introductory sections, notes about role playing, a list of conventions, and a brief recap of Seasons One through Five of the television series (note, breakdown is by season rather than episode specific); (2) "Some Assembly Required" covers character creation and provides the game stats for the main characters as well as a gallery of Archetypes (e.g., New Slayer, Demon Hunter, and Former Vampire Groupie); (3) "Rules, Borders, and an End Zone" provides the rules of the game, teaching you how to play the game, when to use dice, detailing character development, and explaining the importance of Drama Points; (4) "Playing With Primal Forces" explains the upside and the downside of magic in the Buffyverse; (5) "Sunnydale After Dark" goes over both the favorite hotspots in and around the home of the Hell Mouth and the major Guest Stars of the show such as Joyce, Amy, Jonathan, etc.; (6) "Children of the Night" covers all of the vamps, demons, and other Big Bads from the show's first five seasons, providing such great details as character motivation (e.g., Glorificus wants to go home but Drusilla is just a "Whimsical nutjob"); (7) "Episodes, Seasons and Drama" is for the Director of the game and provides guidelines on how to create storylines and run games; and (8) "Sweeps Week" provides an actual adventure for the "BtVS RG" game, to be played with the Archetypes. Finally, the "Appendix" helps you hone your Buffyspeak and also provides useful charts and tables, a glossary, an index and conversion notes from other Unisystem games.
Christopher Golden, who has written some of the best "BtVS" novels along with the comic book and "The Watcher's Guides," writes the Foreword to this volume, which is basically a teaser for a role playing game. My son, who has considerably more experience with role playing games than I do, assures me this is fairly basic stuff and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is a natural for this sort of fun. It is well established that "BtVS" is my favorite television show and I am fascinated by the details for the role playing game Carella has developed (e.g., the idea that guidelines are providing for "Breaking Things" tickles me). I also like the idea that playing the game can be developed in terms of Episodes and Seasons as well, providing a grand narrative structure to the fighting and biting. For those who love both "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and role playing games, this Core Rulebook as to be a treat.