World of Darkness
|World of Darkness|
|RPG published by
White Wolf / Onyx Path
|Rule System||Storyteller System / Storytelling System|
|First Publication||1991 / 2004|
The World of Darkness is two different lines of RPGs published by White Wolf and later Onyx Path (and later still by both of them at once, it's complicated) that focus on deep role-playing and, depending on the specific sub-game, the horror genre. The setting can only be described as the modern world, but worse in every aspect. Every creeping suspicion you have is probably true, and the world is as dirty and corrupt as it often seems to be. In the old World of Darkness, each game was meant to be played separately; as a result the games often had conflicting metaplots and, despite using the same basic "Storyteller System", were incompatible when it came to various supernatural powers. The release of a new World of Darkness (with an updated ruleset, the "Storytelling System") features a core book that contains the basic rules for all the games, and focuses on normal human beings in horrific situations that may or may not be supernatural in nature. The new games interact in a modular fashion and also have little established fluff, making it more malleable for Storytellers (the in-game term for GM; abbreviated as ST). The new line has also been trying to avoid the old Gothic feel for which it was known (specifically with Vampire: The Masquerade) in favor of a slightly more traditional form of horror. As of December 2015 it has been renamed Chronicles of Darkness to allow its setting to exist separately from that of the setting of the relaunched oWoD (which is itself now called Classic World of Darkness or cWoD).
- 1 The System
- 2 Old World of Darkness/Classic World of Darkness (oWoD/cWoD)
- 3 New World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness (nWoD/CoD)
- 4 Notable Differences
- 5 Video Games
- 6 See Also
The basic system in both the new and old World of Darkness revolves around a dicepool of d10's. Your dice pool consists of a number of dice equal to your relevant ability score plus your skill and other relevant modifiers.
In oWoD/cWoD, the Storyteller sets the difficulty for each roll depending on the circumstances, with the default being a difficulty of 7. A success is a roll of that difficulty or higher (7 or above, on most rolls). A roll of 1 is called a botch. If any number of 1's are rolled, they cancel out a single success. No more than one success can be cancelled out in this way, so critical failures (A botch with zero successes) are relatively rare. The net number of successes determines how well you succeed, with one success meaning that you are barely able and a greater number indicating better achievement. When you get zero net successes (if you get no successes or if your 1s cancel out your successes, or if you get at least one success and more ones than successes), you fail the roll. When you get zero successes and at least one 1, you botch-- a critical and spectacular failure. If you have a specialty in either your attribute or ability that is relevant on the roll, you may reroll all 10s to gain extra successes, and rolls of 1 on these rerolls do not count.
In nWoD/CoD, a success is an 8, 9, or 10, and 10s explode. A critical success is made when you get five or more successes. Instead of altering the target number of the roll, difficulty and circumstances increase or reduce the number of dice in the pool. When your dice pool is reduced to zero or less, you get a chance die. You roll the die normally, but only succeed on a ten (which still explodes) and if you get a one you get a critical failure. All other rolls are called simple failures, although any simple failure can be turned into a critical failure by the player in return for bonus Beats (basically XP).
Short Summary of Old Game Lines
- Vampire: You're the bad guy. Your friends are also villains.
- Werewolf: You're fighting a war, and you're losing.
- Mage: You're fighting a war you already lost.
- Wraith: You lost, you died, and now you're trying to avoid a fate worse than death.
- Changeling: You're fighting a war you already lost and nobody is taking you seriously.
- Hunter: You're fighting a war where everyone's bigger than you and trying to kill you.
- Mummy: You're immortal... that's it.
- Demon: You're fighting a cold war with mixed results.
- Orpheus: You're mortal and dying temporarily is part of your job.
Short Summary of New Game Lines
- Vampire: You're still the bad guy. But there are even worse guys out there.
- Werewolf: You're with border patrol on the shores of animistic hell because of your ancestors' divine fratricide. Your distant cousins skipped out and now try to kill you, and the spirits aren't a big fan of your work either.
- Mage: You lost the first war, but are planning to win the second.
- Promethean: You're Frankenstein's monster on a journey to become Pinocchio.
- Changeling: You got kidnapped, but escaped, only to find someone stole your life and your god-like kidnapper wants you back.
- Hunter: You try to kill a few monsters, then you die. Your light gets snuffed out, only to light two more.
- Geist: You died and a ghost brought you back, and that ghost now shares your body.
- Mummy: You keep coming back from the dead and are forced by your bosses to find their stuff.
- Demon: You escaped from the Matrix and are now in a cold war with God, who is the Matrix.
- Beast: You're a colossal asshole who feeds by scaring people into psychological trauma.
Old World of Darkness/Classic World of Darkness (oWoD/cWoD)
- The original World of Darkness game. Covers playing vampire characters in the modern day World of Darkness. It gains its title from "The Masquerade", an in-game set of rules and guidelines dictated by the Camarilla sect in an attempt to keep the mortal populace unaware of vampires and their influence on society. This is also basically the only thing you can get more than one sect of vampires to agree on, and a lot of the game revolves around the resulting political intrigue.
- It is heavily influenced by gothic imagery and by a variety of different vampire mythos, including the romanticized version of the vampire popularized by Anne Rice.
- Second game to be released set in the World of Darkness. The game covers playing werewolf characters known as Garou. It gains its title from one of the major antagonistic themes in the game where supernatural forces of corruption are attempting to bring about the Apocalypse. The game tended to degenerate into hack-and-slash, mainly as it is an author tract whose authors had conflicting messages.
- Player characters in this game come from a variety of backgrounds, both mortal and immortal and are unified by the fact that they all practice magic of one form or another. Magic is defined by the game as a force that can shape reality with the willpower, belief or special magical techniques of the user. Had a pretty sweet metaplot/setting, but was hamstrung by the extreme clumsiness of its mechanical system.
- You died, and now you're a ghost. Either move on by severing what anchors you have to this world, or stay and have a good time making scary noises. And oh, try not to fall into hell. Lots of ideas that sound good on paper but tear apart groups and ruin friendships in execution, like making each player also roleplay another player's manifested personal demons.
- The characters are fairy souls 'trapped' in human bodies to survive in the cold banal world. The game's theme centered heavily on the concept of Chimera, where things weren't magical or mundane, but both at once. So the real world would see an old butterknife, and it would be - but in the realm of faerie, it would also be a mystical longsword. The concept of Banality is unfortunately somewhat awkwardly implemented and requires some work by the Storyteller to appropriately function. The series was cut short and a number of expansions that were announced were never released, like the supplement for the Middle-East in the Year of the Scarab. This game was and is massively popular with otherkin since its premise is their delusion, and any people who play it likely believe themselves to be elves.
- Based on hong-kong legends, the "Kindred of the east", internally called Cathayans or Kuei-Jin, are vampire-like in appearance and in certain behaviors, but instead of being a mortal inflicted with a curse that make them thirst for blood and burn in the sun, the Kuei-Jin are mortal-ish descendants of god-like heroes who betrayed the mandate of heaven and was cursed to thirst for blood and rot in the sun. The game was built more as an extension to Vampire: The Masquerade rather than its own game and was meant to be played specifically in the Far East, in the same way that Mummy: The Resurrection was made to specifically be played in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
- Mortals are imbued with weird powers by mysterious forces in a last-ditch effort to keep the world from circling the drain. Played according to the writing, it's Call of Cthulhu in the World of Darkness: a bunch of scared people who are going to die very horribly unless they're very cautious and paranoid. Played according to the art it's, well, the licensed video games.
- You play a Mummy. Who has been Resurrected. And has access to a third-level power (out of five) that levels the town you're in. Mummies are people with unusual qualities who died too soon but were given a second chance at life. This compelled them to travel to the Middle East where they underwent a ritual that combined their spirit with that of an ancient Egyptian. Now they are the servants of Ma'at, the concept of divine justice and seek to destroy those who challenge Ma'at. Yes, this makes Mummies a lot like the Garou from Werewolf, but they don't walk around with bandages (unless they run out of Sekhem, the fuel for thier powers, and want to slow the ensuing degredation of their bodies). Mummies are the closest thing to good guys in the World of Darkness, and have a very strict Morality track called Balance that can see a Mummy destroyed by the Judges of Ma'at if they violate it at a low level. There are only two books in the Mummy line: the core book and the Players Guide which adds new powers, as well as options for Mummies from middle and south America and China. Infamous for its vague goals and antagonists.
- A third of the heavenly host rebelled against God out of their love for humanity and warred against Him and His angels. The rebels lost and were cast into Hell for their trouble, minus their leader Lucifer. Their stay in Hell made them all go just the tiniest bit completely, murderously insane. After thousands of years the events of the metaplot caused the gates of the Hell that the fallen angels have been trapped in to crack open, allowing the Fallen to slip back to the world and find human hosts to inhabit to avoid falling into Hell again that, as a wonderful bonus also help them regain a bit of their lost sanity. Now the Fallen quarrel amongst themselves to figure out what to do next in the perversion of their creation that is the modern world where God and His angels are absent, as well as the dread Earthbound who were once like them but were bound to unfeeling objects instead of humans and became amoral monsters. Frequently derided for its meddling with the metaplots of other game lines like Vampire, Werewolf and Wraith, as well as its prominent Abrahamic trappings.
- It's like Flatliners meets Ghostbusters; focusing on teams that use cryogenics and astral projection to become semi-ghosts, all funded by a corporation called the Orpheus Group. And if you thought The Underworld from Wraith couldn't get more grimdark...
- A crossover with the cartoon Gargoyles, there's work underway to convert it to GMC nWoD rules here.
- A short fan-expansion from 1997, has three different types of aliens.
- Holy shit this is a fan-made supplement where life doesn't suck! You're immortal and extremely powerful, but still human. It's kill or be killed, though. So once The Gathering comes around you have to kill most of the friends you've made through the ages. Also has a neat custom sword fight system. If you've seen Highlander, you'll love it. If not, see Highlander 2 and The Source. There's also a LARP version called Highlander: The Quickening made by different authors exists.
- A fan-game from the 90's that is a parody of Sailor Moon and the old WoD. Remember how Mages can bend reality to their whim? Well, now imagine a bunch of 90s anime nerds Ascending... "The Technocracy is STILL trying to cover up the 'Tokyo-3' disaster."
- oWoD meets Starship Troopers, has some parallels in the Mirrors: Infinite Macabre supplement for the nWoD.
- A Fan-made expansion from 2001. Brai-i-ins and grimderp ensue.
New World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness (nWoD/CoD)
- The Storytelling System Rulebook
- The core rulebook unifies the rule systems of the other game lines, as well as provides a basic system with which to play as mortal humans, and some barebones ghosts rules that are added onto in nearly every publication where ghosts are relevant. The second edition update is available as a free pdf online and it replaces the old "Victorian" morality system with one that's more modern, and also includes most of the improvements from the God Machine Chronicle (see below).
- God Machine Chronicle
- Essentially the second edition of the core rulebook. Brings in a new morality system, "Integrity", with breaking points instead of the hierarchy of sins. Along with systems of conditions and "beats". If you don't mind the notion of God being a celestial laptop or the increased micro-management of the system, it's worth looking at as it's a big update over the old version. For better or worse depends on how you look at it.
Expanding on the core rules, White Wolf decided to release a bunch of books expanding on the core rules to make the basic NWoD/CoD system a viable game in its own right. These books are, in order of release:
- A whole slew of antagonists for the core game, but could also theoretically be used in the main games (especially Hunter). Includes a whole bunch of zombies including the regular kind, the primitive Prometheans called the Imbued (no relation to Hunter: The Reckoning) and those ghosts who have reentered their bodies and became Revenants in order to enact revenge. Others include a basic version of Hunters (best used as antagonists), cults of all kind and a variety of other monsters.
- Guns, a whole lot of them. Also armor, vehicles and of course swords and such. A good book to have when playing any NWoD game that relies heavily on equipment. The book takes a very responsible and mature look at weaponry without disrespecting the player's intelligence.
- Second Sight
- Psychic powers, Low Magic and magical monsters for those games where using Mage: The Awakening is too high power.
- Yep, skinwalkers. Not all as evil as you'd think, just... don't piss them off.
- Book of Spirits
- Geist of those of you who don't want to use Geist. A good book for those who fall victim to the realm of spirits as well as those who try to conquer it.
- Horror stories set in insane asylums are very common, so it's logical that the World of Darkness jumps that bandwagon. Also includes an in-depth look at an example asylum: Bishopgate.
- Everybody knows that magical items are the Good Shit, even if they're cursed. There's a ton of premade items here as well as easy rules to make your own.
- Changing Breeds
- You know how Forsaken removed all the bad things from Apocalypse? Now imagine if you take all those bad things, slap them together, double, triple and quadruple down on them and have "Satyros" Phil Brucato write it. One of the worst core WoD books.
- An add-on for the core book, you're just a kid who has to deal with the realities of the world revealing themselves to you. If you survive you'll most likely either be institutionalized, a Hunter, or a serial killer. Or more than one. Or a monster, that works too. The book you'll want if you want to play a Stranger Things game.
- Dogs of War
- The stories of black ops military units dealing with the supernatural. Perfect for those times you want to go all Delta Green, including how normal soldiers deal with the supernatural, how armies work as well as the more... irregular units.
- Rules for old-fashioned demons (or angels) almost completely different from the fallen angels of both God himself and the God Machine. As it was one of the earlier supplements, it is horribly incompatible with the GMC rules update, being focused on one half of the old morality system. Contains rules for both demons themselves and the Possessed, those unfortunates possessed by a demon and now have to deal with the perverse being living inside their head.
- Despite being a Hunter book in all but name, Slasher can still be used on its own to create a whole bunch of serial killers to use as antagonists in a core WoD game. Also contains rules for their use in Hunter games, including a gentleman's club for serial killers and those who hunt them: the FBI's Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit (VASCU) and its psychic operatives.
- Armory Reloaded
- How do you stop a grisly tentacled horror from tearing you apart? Use a gun. And if that don't work? Use more gun. Contains rules for fighting styles, high-tech weapons, blessed and cursed weapons and alternate rules for combat. Infamous for allowing the creation of some of the most powerful mortals the World of Darkness has ever seen.
- A supplement that was released for immortal characters that follow different ideas of immortality. Except out of the 3 Immortals in the book, the first jumps off the karma meter so fast its unplayable, primarily because its Immortality is powered by bathing in a LOT of blood, preferably virgin but any human will do. The second, the Body Thief, is almost playable but again the karma meter gets in the way of anything involving the whole body swapping thing, resulting in the character becoming unplayable again. The third Immortal lives off some sort of mystic Chi/Kai stuff and is basically powered by Feng Shui. It's the only one that could be considered playable, and the authors must have realized this because its much better worked then the others which seem to have been intended as pure NPCs initially and then left as they are now.
- Book of the Dead
- Think the Book of Spirits mixed with Geist and the result is poured into a sourcebook. Good for Geist games (and also its ONLY sourcebook), but if you want to use this for a core WoD game you might as well play Geist instead.
- The Mirrors supplements and Translation Guides
- Modifications for the Storytelling System itself as well as hints on adapting it for different genres (the former) while the latter guides allowed mix-and-match rules from the three main game-lines of oWoD and nWoD. It's notable that the Guides not only go through the crunch but also have chapters with suggestions of how you might fluffwise justify having one nWoD Mage order here or an cWoD tribe of Werewolves there for both New and Classic World of Darkness games. So if you for example really miss Clan Tzimisce in Vampire: The Requiem or think Requiem did the Nosferatu better but you still wanna run Vampire: The Masquerade, have a look in the Vampire Translation Guide and you'll get separate chapters covering both the fluff and the crunch for porting them over from Masquerade into Requiem or vice versa.
- Dudes of Legend: How To Be Fucking Awesome
- A joke supplement released on April 1st 2010, Dudes of Legend relentlessly pokes fun at both itself, White Wolf and the conventions of the RPG genre as a whole. Expect lesbian stripper ninjas, katanas and trenchcoats, magical gays, a more traditional XP system and loot drops from everyone you kill. It's a good laugh and might make for the ideal supplement if you're into that sort of game. Unfortunately White Wolf started to take itself way too seriously since and we'll never see a supplement like this one again.
Since the advent of Chronicles of Darkness only a few core books have been released specifically for that ruleset:
- Dark Eras
- A 600 page behemoth of a tome detailing a variety of historical settings in which you can play Chronicles of Darkness. From the advent of the world where you play werewolves babysitting humanity so that it won't get eaten by the monsters of the wild, all the way up to to werewolves in the New York of the 70s. Contains settings for every gameline out there, but they are rather fixed: so if you want to play a Hunter during the Great War or a Mage during the fall of Constantinople you're out of luck. Also infamous for being very expensive: the standard hardcover book is $65 while the deluxe hardcover clocks in at $100, which many people feel is way too fucking expensive for a single book that you won't even use all the content of.
- Dark Eras Companion
- The same as Dark Eras but more. A Kickstarter goal turned into a 300 page book ($40 regular hardcover $60 premium hardcore) that does the same but more and for a higher price.
- Hurt Locker
- A book on pain and violence, as well as a half-dozen templates to make normal mortals a bit more attuned to violence. It takes a rather mature take on violence and injury... until you reach the Plain template; normal people who deal with violence by using radical pacifism. You can defuse a violent situation by getting punched in the face then telling your attacker that he just hurt a fellow human being and that he must feel terrible about it. Think if Wimp Lo was played 100% straight.
The Contagion Chronicle
Formerly referred to as The Crossover Chronicle, this series will add a new set of chronicle hooks, potential settings, and cross-template factions geared specifically around allowing parties composed of multiple types of supernatural beings to cooperate without killing each other. Details on the metaplot are fuzzy right now, but the basic premise seems to revolve around the various supernatural being forced to form new alliances with each other in the hope of fighting against the mysterious force known only as the Contagion, which is threatening to destroy the fabric of reality itself.
- 13 Clans with fleshed out, restricting histories become 5 clans with vague, open-ended histories and multiple Bloodlines (sub-clans). The Camarilla becomes 5 Covenants with mutually exclusive goals. The Sabbat becomes VII, the Infernalists become the more sporadic, less-organized Belial's Brood. Arguably the biggest difference is that you can't just make someone a Vampire by draining them and feeding them your blood, now you have to permanently spend a dot of Willpower to do it. An alternate setting in ancient Rome also exists, which contains a history of the Carmarilla (and how it collapsed with the rest of the Roman Empire). Additionally, a new set of antagonists in the form of the Strix, which are demonic owl-like creatures bent on purging every last trace of Humanity from vampire society (to the point where even a Humanity 0 vampire is too human for them) and can possess corpses and vampires to lash out at mortals and undead alike.
- A slightly more "balanced" version of Werewolf. You can't run around in 8-foot tall invincible war-form all the time, and you see humans as a flock of idiotic sheep that you have to protect from malicious spirits due to a vow sworn by your ancient ancestors as punishment for divine patricide. The "adjustments" resulted, possibly intentionally, in the average werewolf no longer being a match for the average vampire, a criticism invariably met with statements regarding the relative level of coordination between werewolf packs and vampire coteries. An example of a well run Werewolf: the Forsaken game is Detroit Rock City. It is written in novel format for ease of reading, played over Skype.
- Mechanically simplified and involving more magic usage than M:tAsc, M:tA's biggest criticism is that it doesn't have as compelling a plot — specifically, the revised political landscape is the most frequent target of attack.
Limited Release Games
- Frankenstein: The RPG. You're a scorned mockery of humanity, most likely abandoned by your creator, left to fend for yourself in a world that wants you dead. You're perpetually dazed and confused, always trying to pick up the ways of humans, but that's not happening because you have a disquieting aura that makes every sentient being in the world eventually hate you and the places you stay in will turn into an uninhabitable hellhole if you linger too long, so you can never make real friends and have to live as a nomad. Only five books long, but it pretty much covers all the bases. Surprisingly, it's actually rather optimistic since in theory you can make like Pinocchio and become a true human under the right circumstances.
- No longer are the Changelings faeries, but humans kidnapped by the True Fae and twisted into something not quite mortal. Managed to do the exact opposite of its predecessor and sell enough copies that they extended the series instead of cutting it short. It completed its run with nine books and a long-awaited web enhancement.
- Hunter, without the ridiculously overpowered gifts. You're just an average Joe with more information than other people, and on occasion ties to people with some special toys that let you use powers that can border on the supernatural themselves. For instance, you might channel the power of your demonic heritage to smite people with hellfire, you might have bullets that are extra-effective against vampires, or you might have access to religious rites that bless your weapons with the power to hurt ghosts. That, and you can break every conceivable human moral code without going insane, provided you can justify it in light of your "Vigil." Though, of course, this slowly makes you inhuman. Well-known for its antagonists - Slashers - who are the World of Darkness take on serial killers. Once again had "lite" versions of all the other supernaturals, which tended to be more singularly powerful than the real thing, but not as versatile (or player-character-friendly). See what happens when Hunter: The Vigil meets Harry Potter here.
- People who die and have ghosts decide to resurrect them, getting stuck with said ghost riding shotgun to said person's body and giving them all manner of powers depending on the way the first party died, all to accomplish the ghost's goals. Instead of humanity, you have "synergy" which is how in sync you are with your spirit. When you die, someone else is forced to die in your place and you lose 1/5 of your maximum possible synergy, stunting your abilities permanently and ultimately making you a slave to your spirit "partner", who often has some rather unusual ideas about what to do with its new body. The Underworld is finally fleshed out, but somehow far more foreboding than expected.
- You're a slave of Irem of the Pillars (Yes, the one in the Rub-Al Khali). But the city is dead and gone, and the Sorcerers who made you into what you are now live in the lands of the dead and tell you what to do. A reversal of normal "You're young and weak, they're old and powerful", Mummies wake up with a power trait of *10*...and lose it quickly, because it drops over time as the magic animating your undying body begins to fade. Most Arisen remain active for about four months, at best. And then they have to come back to life and do it all over again.
- Remember the God Machine? From the God Machine Chronicle, and the start of the core book? Yeah, turns out it has robo-angels. Sometimes, one of them decides it doesn't particularly enjoy its function. Or it fails to perform. Or ends up getting saddled with an order it can't actually carry out. Instead of returning they go on the lam, becoming 'demons'. The God Machine sends its angels looking. You don't want to go back, so you become a robot secret agent, pretending as hard as you can to be human while ruining the occult plans of the Divine Calculator; luckily, you retain the ability to hack reality thanks to your former connection to the God Machine. The angels are still Cthulhu-robots in service to the...thing that is in total control of the World of Darkness, and they would really like you to come back so they can erase your personality and replace it with a new, more compliant one. Fortunately Demons are very good at hiding their true identities- so good that even supernatural beings (and other demons, at that matter) can't see through their disguises if they don't want to reveal themselves.
- The most recently published game, and another one with absolutely no tie to the Old World of Darkness. You play as a Beast, a living embodiment of primal fear running around in a meat-suit, and driven by the need to feed on fear, either passively by hanging out with your "kinfolk" (most every other monster in the WoD) or actively by going out and terrorizing folks. Pretty strongly panned, many consider it the absolute worst gameline in the New World of Darkness because it combines CtD's "otherkin" appeal with some rather hazy moral trappings that make readers wonder if the authors got beat up in school a lot.
- The next announced gameline, not much is known other than that its themes are basically "low-power tier" and "body horror". You play as a Deviant, some poor sap caught by a mad scientist or a black ops bio-corp or a twisted cult or somesuch and twisted into something not wholely human.
- A fan-built WoD set, Genius allows players to gorge themselves on Venture Brothers level superscience while drinking deep from the cup of mundane failure. While Inspiration allows a mad scientist to channel Mania into impossible inventions, their Obligation to humanity gradually gives way to that alien brilliance. If a scientist falls too far off the straight and narrow, they become Unmada, unable or unwilling to accept that they are crazy, that their ideas are true regardless of Mania. Without help or restraint, they become Illuminated. Think Hannibal Lecter in a lab coat and a fascination with altering the DNA of pregnant women. (Also don't even think of trying to get rich off your mad science; your inventions basically break the laws of physics through sheer force of will on your part and tend to malfunction explosively if the mundanes get their grubby hands on them.)
- Another fan-made WoD gameline, in which you are a Giant.
- A mutant is you.
- Sailor Moon? ha ha no, try Sailor Nothing, or late-season Madoka Magica. Pretty dresses won't help you fight despair, but sometimes that's all you got.
- An AI is you. Do you try to go full Reign of Steel, manipulate humans into making you a physical body, or just fuck with people on the Internet?
Even without getting into the specifics of each game's interpretation of one archetype (say, Masquerade vs. Requiem for vampires), the two games are very different beasts.
World of Darkness takes place in a "Gothic Earth". Which basically amounts to an 80s-style (at least in 1e) grimdark interpretation of the world; monstrous conspiracies are involved in most major events (except World War 2, for some reason), the "Neo-Gothic" art style is popular so there's lots of gargoyles and stuff everywhere, all forms of crimes are up, and the world is just generally a very shitty sort of place to live. Humans are generally unimportant; sheep to be fed on by vampires, slaughtered by werewolves, pushed around by mages... generally, if you don't have powers, you're pretty much everybody's bitch. Even Hunters are only viable as a threat because they have some supernatural patron giving them all kinds of nifty powers specifically to fight monsters. Lore is generally very detailed and fleshed out, but not exactly crossover compatible, at least on the meta level; one of the more prominent examples is that, in Masquerade, vampires owe their origins explicitly to a Judaeo-Christian metaphysicality (being spiritual children of Caine), whilst in Apocalypse, the world is controlled by (totally not Hindu Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) Paganistic/Animistic spirit-gods, with the most powerful being the Wyld (Creation), Weaver (Order) and Wyrm (Destruction) and werewolves have every reason to believe that the Abrahamic "God" is just some bullshit that humanity came up with and has swallowed. Or probably was a powerful Celestine with influence around Middle-East.
This doesn't mean that this setting, old World of Darkness, shortened as "oWoD", didn't have its merits. The struggle between Technocracy and Traditions had amazing locations, technologies and ways to make a game session fun, vampires themselves had a long and rich history and full scale war between sects, and bloodlines themselves granted an exotic and diverse Fluff.
However, said separate games, like Vampire and Mage, overlap each other's territories so badly it's illogical not to clash with each other. We have Technocracy on one hand, that has a mission to root out "Reality Deviants", and have technologies that border (and cross to) supernatural, yet Technocracy protected the world from the vampires' depradations ONCE, yes, just ONCE around the 90's. We have wars of Tzimisce and Tremere across the streets of Medieval Europe like its the Lord of the Rings on crack cocaine with a cast of freaks, yet mages and their ilk, plus mortal rulers SOMEHOW ignore the supernatural conflict, which is even funnier in modern era with insane levels of Sabbat atrocities across the world ignored by virtually every non-vampire organization which number in the millions and have missions that concern the welfare of the people.
For example, with the power Technocracy is wielding (and that's not even saying Traditions by themselves are weak), how can Sabbat conduct horrid festivals in EVERY major city named La Palle Grande, kidnapping hundreds of girls and conducting snuff festivals on open techno parties with elaborate torture theatre without alerting the Technocrats, Mages, Werewolves, one of the millions of Hunter organisations, Celestines, some random Spirit, a sympathetic fairy, the President and Your Mom? How can Camarilla apply mass blackouts and buyouts of presidents without the NWO coming down on a bunch of bloodsuckers? Every year? Unless the readers liked to fap to Hostel 2 bloodbath faggotry, it simply doesn't make sense to put it. And that's just about the consistent Fluff, not the conflicting ones. Here is an example concerning Gilgamesh, a Sumerian king.:
- In Vampire: The Masquerade, Gilgamesh is a fourth generation Gangrel Vampire, fighting against Toreador Methuselah, Ishtar. The epic is shaped into supporting this claim.
- However, According to Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Gilgamesh was offered unlife by vampires, but was talked out of it by a Child of Gaia named Siduri Sabitu. It is said that Gilgamesh was the first human to organize resistance against vampiric rule and the Garou tell that the inborn suspicion against the undead stems from his early influence.
- It hits Titan-sized degrees of Derp when you add Mage: The Ascension. There, the Celestial Chorus Tradition calls Gilgamesh as one of the First Singers, Exarchs (Masters) of great power that existed during the First Age and represent an inspiration for their Tradition. Using the original myth as a basis, it is said that Gilgamesh was a man who performed many wondrous acts and sought out immortality in a quest. He was flawed like any other man, but nevertheless he is considered a hero. It is also said that the First Singers ultimately passed away or were corrupted, so both previous interpretations can be valid too. Other eminent experts in supernatural ancient history, like the Hermetic Winston Brown, believe that Gilgamesh was a mortal man who was later deified by the population of Uruk, who ruled before the Babylonian Infernalists spread.
See it now?
And that's without even mentioning the End Times chronicles, which are impossible to play out without fucking the lore in the ass concerning a neighboring setting. Mage's End Times Scenario Hell on Earth simply ignores every other gadzillions of lore and creatures with one Nephandus (Nephandi are Mages who are edginess incarnate) destroying everything. That's it. No Antediluvian or hordes of vampires and werewolves even have an ounce of effect on the strange, omnipotent monstrosity that shifts in and out of reality and turns the Earth into Mordor. Same goes for Crucible of God, where Antediluvians turn the Earth into a post-apocalyptic fiefdom where humans are their slaves. Technocracy with Aurora bomber aircraft and space stations in other solar systems, Werewolves, GOD-DAMN Kuei-jin (who are massive armies of Asian Chi-vampires) who could wipe out the get of Caine are not even mentioned once, presumably rolling over and dying when Caine rips a fart. Then there are the three stories of Demon, which can be summed up as a world-wide war against the Greater Demons, a world-wide war against the Earthbound and a world-wide war against the Earthbound but Lucifer's there.
Only two End Times stories have a passable niche in other settings, the first being "Fair is Foul" where Lilith tries to kill Caine without even breaking the Masquerade or influencing other mortals, with one city of Storyteller's choosing has Kaballah runes etched under it to shift some alleys, but that's it. Second is Wormwood where the Red Star is actually the Harbinger of a second, harmless-to-nonvampires Flood to wipe out vampires only, because humanity showed resolve and used its divine spirit to stop Ravnos, impressing God to get off his ass and do something. 40 days later, the world is clear of all vampires, with the other settings untouched.
To put it short, crossovers were all but impossible unless you utterly butchered the fluff of one line or another.
Chronicles of Darkness, meanwhile take place in "Earth, but with deeper shadows". So the world is basically like it is when you look out your window or look at the news, just a little creepier and more mysterious. Humanity is special, both on a crunch level (mortals are a lot beefier than in WoD) and on a metaphysical level; Hunter: The Vigil is often held up as literally Humanity Fuck Yeah the RPG, where you can face down and, if you're doing it right, curbstomp any and every monster out there. Alright, except maybe mages if you don't one-shot them, but that's just because it's a little hard to take on some asshole who can dick around with the laws of reality. Lore is much vaguer and more nebulous, but also drastically more crossover friendly and provides more wiggle room for Storytellers to get creative without having to worry about canon. There is no immediate end of the world around the corner so much as a vague sense of dread, the supernaturals of different game lines typically have at least a vague idea of the existence of other supernatural beings and usually don't meddle too much in each other's affairs unless it furthers their own goals since no player side is a monstrous killer, the Paths of Edgelightenment consigned to dustbins, and so on.
There were a number of video games made (and cancelled) for the oWoD:
- Hunter: The Reckoning series
- A linear series on three different consoles. If you were interested in the plot, you had to own a GameCube, PS2, and Xbox in that order. But they were also all multiplayer hack-&-slash beat-em-ups so the plot probably wasn't what their target audience was looking for.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption
- Third-person RPG from Nihilistic Software with a action-focused single-player campaign that has nothing to do with conventional tabletop(vampiric discipline scroll anyone?) and oddly customizable multiplayer.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
- First-person RPG from Troika Games that used an early version of Valve's Source engine, it requires the fan-patches; but is otherwise an entertaining single-player game.
- World of Darkness: Preludes
- Two "interactive experience" non-games released by Paradox Interactive in February of 2017. Let's just let the press release speak for itself.
- Vampire The Masquerade: We Eat Blood
- In Vampire The Masquerade: We Eat Blood you’re a young artist who wakes up at night to find you’re no longer human…but exactly what are you and why are you so ravenously hungry for blood?!? Told entirely through an innovate mobile messaging perspective, We Eat Blood is a sharp, mature, and terrifying story about your first nights as unwilling predator and prey. Will you join ancient vampire conspiracies, or will you turn the tables on oppressive authority and seek your own future? The temptation is real. The game is written and illustrated by Zak Sabbath and Sarah Horrocks.
- Mage The Ascension: Refuge
- In Mage The Ascension: Refuge you play a volunteer at a European camp for Syrian refugees, and suddenly you discover that magic is real, you can use it, and you’re in the middle of a secret magical war for the fate of the world. The game lets you experience today’s social and political upheavals while learning that you can shape reality itself through sheer force of belief. Your actions and choices will have profound consequences on the world and people around you. Safety or sacrifice? Let them in or build the wall? The choice is yours. The game is written by noted Swedish author Karin Tidbeck.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse
- An RPG that is currently being made by Cyanide Studio. Little else is known of the game, only recently being projected for release in 2020.
- Vampire the Masquerade MMORPG
- Used to be in the works of CCP, the studio that made EVE Online, but it was cancelled in 2014.
- Werewolf: the Apocalypse - Heart of Gaia
- Another cancelled oWoD game, 27 minutes of it have been salvaged.
- World of Darkness website
- World of Darkness wiki
- Unmoderated WoD Chat
- Mister Gone's Character Sheets
- Template for a nWoD Character Sheet on 1d4chan
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