Fri
Nov 30 2012 11:00am
The World of Darkness Shines When It Abandons Canon

The World of Darkness shines when it abandons canonThe World of Darkness is best when it abandons objective truth. Luckily, the new World of Darkness is built on the kind of book where the “Abandon All Canon Ye Who Enter Here” logic creeps in, and the game is vastly the better for it. Whether you play an out of the box World of Darkness game, a modern horror game using the Storyteller mechanics, flip through the books to find system neutral ideas for another game entirely, or if like me you use bits and pieces to run a dark fantasy game, we all win when the World of Darkness plays fast and loose with canon.

The World of Darkness shines when it abandons canon

The old World of Darkness—the world of Vampire: the Masquerade and Werewolf: the Apocalypse—gave way to the new World of Darkness, where the Masquerade was replaced by the Requiem, the Apocalypse by the Forsaken. A big part of the shift was mechanical, replacing some core rules that resulted in statistical anomalies, and another part was streamlining, winnowing the wheat from the chaff, going from thirteen vampire clans and werewolf tribes to five for each, with the same logic carried through to Mage, as it went from the Ascension to the Awakening. Still, that wasn’t the part that caught everyone’s attention; what people were talking about was how the new World of Darkness was getting rid of the metaplot.

Personally, I never minded the metaplot because…well, because I ignored it most of the time. I saw the metaplot as sort of “White Wolf’s story,” and while at points I was charmed by it—Ends of Empire was a great book, and the onrushing armageddon created a tense atmosphere—I felt free not to pay any attention to it when running my own game. A much bigger problem for me was the philosophy of “filling in the nooks,” where every tiny corner of the world and era of history was labeled and accounted for, sometimes in overlapping and contradictory ways. The old World of Darkness was crowded, and because of the “escalating mystery” where each book tried to one-up the last in terms of even more secret even more magical back story, it just didn’t feel like there was a lot of room left to tell new stories.

All that is blissfully gone in the new World of Darkness. From a default position the game assumes that everything in a sourcebook is something you might use. That little ontological gem is something that carries through the entire publishing line, making it all the stronger. As I mentioned before, when that attitude reaches its apotheosis, the World of Darkness really soars, both in the broad context of the entire line, the narrower context of a single game line, or in the most specific of contexts, in a single book that provides an optional tweak, critter, or paradigm.

The World of Darkness shines when it abandons canonBooks like Armory Reloaded, Second Sight and Reliquary are great examples of the first sort (as is previously mentioned Mirrors). Armory Reloaded provides dozens of optional combat mechanics that you can feel free to house rule into your game, or even just use for a single session. Want grittier combat? More cinematic combat? Less lethal combat? You can pick and choose, which is exactly the kind of “tool box” approach that I want from a sourcebook. Reliquary provides rules for “magic items” in a horror context, from crystal skulls to Shakespeare’s lost play about witches, along with rules for making your own artifacts. Second Sight has rules to add psychics and non-Mage magicians to your game by using Merits. You don’t need these books to play the game, but they provide options, which makes them invaluable.

The World of Darkness shines when it abandons canonWithin a game line, the ideology of presenting non-canon options and letting the Storyteller take their pick flourishes. Take Vampire: the Requiem for example. There are groups like VII that are presented as essentially enigmatic in the bulk of the published material. They are the killers of killers, the vampires who assassinate other vampires…but what is their deal, man? Well, their sourcebook, VII doesn’t so much tell you as provide three different possible answers to that question. Take your pick, or cannibalize them for your own take, or…well, do whatever you want, it is your game! Other books are even more extreme; Mythologies—another personal favorite—presents possible origins of the vampire condition, various alternate modes of vampirism and new spins on the vampiric myth, and a host of strange antagonists and curses.

The World of Darkness shines when it abandons canonDanse Macabre similarly provides new takes on old organizations, like the pseudoscientific Ordo Dracul reimagined as a 1%er motorcycle club called the Brides of Dracula, brand new organizations—the Holy Engineers read like insane rantings, receiving messages from the Angel of Death via the God Machine in Orion’s Belt—and a bunch of new rules for replacing Humanity with Atrocity, or anchors to loved ones, or as a system for developing new vampiric weaknesses. Magnificent. Requiem Chronicler’s Guide has a lot of the same stuff, as well. Use them if you want, ignore them if you don’t, or more likely than either bust the ideas apart like Legos and use them to build something new.

The World of Darkness shines when it abandons canonI know I’m talking about Vampire a lot, but that is just because it is my particular poison. The other lines are the same way; heck, Promethean: the Created with it’s “alchemy and hobo signs” flair,is one of the limited lines, with only five books, and three of those books—Magnum Opus, Strange Alchemies, and Saturnine Night—are all collections of possible rules, of theoretical new types of animated undead, previously unknown subtypes of the existing lineages, strange nuclear creatures, and science-fiction Frankenstein Monsters. Personally, I ignore the monsters and give powers out of them to any kind of science fantasy monster that I feel like. Heck, if you squint at the Hunter: the Vigil rules on Dread Powers and the supernatural, that whole game is built to use all the other books as optional, which is an ethos I can get behind.

The World of Darkness shines when it abandons canonThen there are books like Innocents. Big idea books that exist untethered to the core setting or any particular game. Innocents is a rule set for how to play children in the World of Darkness, giving you the tools to build campaigns that vary in tone from The Goonies to The Exorcist or Let the Right One In. Similarly, Inferno has unique rules for playing mortals touched by the diabolical. From infernal pacts to demonic possession, Inferno has suggestions how it can be run stand-alone or integrated with one or all of the other game lines. Book of the Dead has rules on the Underworld—as a big fan of the old World of Darkness game Wraith: the Oblivion’s grim afterlife, I picked this one right up—and how it can be integrated into the cosmology of your game…if you want to. Which really is the point, at the end of the day. It is our game, the Game Master and the Player’s. Providing a modular world lets your customer use the product in the way most effective for them. To tell the story we want to tell.


Mordicai Knode is a big fan of using the new World of Darkness for things like zombie survival or escape the slasher, rather than the typical “you play the monster” game. His Tumblr is usually filled with pictures to nap as props for those games, and you can hit him up on Twitter to tell him about your game.

98 comments
Mordicai Knode
1. mordicai
To nab as props, not nab, but you get what I mean.
Jack Flynn
2. JackofMidworld
Intriguing. It's been years since I sold off my stack of WoD books but I loved the way they tried to create an overarcing world where you could be, well, anything. Heck, even without a gaming group, I kept buying books for a while, just to read the histories they made up (I wrote off the contradictions to the Obi-Wan Theory - as in, "...from a certain point of view"). I wonder if they're going to come out with a new set of novels to go along with the new system.

If nothing else, I'm more excited about this than the new D&D system.
Mordicai Knode
3. mordicai
2. JackofMidworld

I'm a huge booster of the Do-It-Yourself World of Darkness community, not least because it is what I actually use. The big difference between the old World of Darkness & the new is that the old was an enumeration of all the things you could be...& the new is a list of all the things there might be. A small tonal shift with huge ripples.

I believe there are at least SOME novels?

Anyhow, if you try running a tool box World of Darkness game, make sure you fill me in, I'm curious how it goes for you.
Kate Keith-Fitzgerald
4. ceitfianna
This is always how I've played World of Darkness, treating their canon as completely optional. I've only played a little of the new WoD, one werewolf game set in New Zealand that was a lot of fun. What I've done instead is take a oWoD character and made them work in a journaling RP setting, a pooka character. I found that I was able to make her work by doing what I would do in running a game, take what I like and leave the rest. I mainly play in panfandom games and its great to have that kind of character interacting with people like Dracula.

What I've always loved most about WoD is the world ideas and then wondering how the creatures and everyone reacts together. I think its why I like Marvel as well, it and WoD share some of the same ways of approaching the unusual, look at it through the lens of story and emotion. Now I want to go poke around in WoD stuff.
Dr Ether
5. Dr Ether
Perfectly sums up my view of the nwod. The do it your self approach to new wod is one of the highlights. I will make sure to cross post this to the Darker Days Radio communit, a wod podcast I cohost
Cain Latrani
6. CainS.Latrani
This is pretty much what I did with the old WoD.

I loved the games, but have never really been able to adjust to the new ones. I'm probably too invested in the old WoD to ever really adjust. That aside, I never paid any heed to their metaplot, and just used whatever I needed to run my games anyway.

Fun times, those.
Mordicai Knode
7. mordicai
4. ceitfianna

This is true; I'm not a pangenre gamer, but I remember the days of (ugh, I am old) AOL chat rooms, where basically all the roleplaying was pangenre...well, & every vampire was like a 4th generation half-fey abombination, but that is another issue entirely. As I've grown older, I actually REALLY want to mix & match my games; have vampires taking bat-themed powers from the Changing Breeds book, have menehune who are fey with Spirit Gifts, whatever. Yes! Also, the fact that an open-ended setting like the new WoD creates a more cogent framework for crossovers.

I should also mention that it works for totally abandoning the frame of vampires & werewolves (& bears, oh my!) as well; my personal campaign, as I mentioned, is a High Weird Low Magic Science Fantasy game...

5. Dr Ether

Hey, thanks for the signal boost! I'll take a look at your podcast; I admit I'm not really a podcast listener, but maybe I can change my ways? I want to see a thriving DIY WoD community!
Dr Ether
8. Dr. No
The "New" World of Darkness is great for "gamers" who want a rules heavy soulless experience with none of the engaging mythology that the original had to offer. The music refrences and significant goth/punk rebel may care attitude are all but jettisoned in this lackluster version. It you loved the Star Wars prequels, New Coke and/or your favorite band
without any of it's original members then this "version" of White Wolf's franchise is for you. It may be a better "game" but for everyone that loved the original being a cultural force of nature then by comparison it's sorely lacking.
Mordicai Knode
9. mordicai
8. Dr. No

I'm not sure I entirely grasp your point, since the premise of the argument that in fact stripping the game of it's mythology & doing whatever you want is a great idea. That is...a type of soda you don't like? I'm unclear.
Dr Ether
10. Dr. No
There was a time in the 1990's where White Wolf's Vampire: The
Masquerade was arguably the third largest Vampire franchise in the world behind Bram Stoker's Dracula and Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. This was in spite of the fact that it was a role playing game. Not because of it. The mythology as created under this moniker of the franchise was unique, genre defining and litterally changed the face of not only role playing games but the greater Vampire mythology worldwide from that point forward. (Blade, Underworld, Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, etc.)

Simply put, there were vampire myths and culture before Vampire: The Masquerade and then there was the world after. Not since Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles that was originally written in the 1970's had something so drastically changed the very fabric of vampires as a part of the ongoing modern mythology. Vampire: The Masquerade quite litterally redefined the Vampire myth as we know it today and that had
NOTHING to do with it being a role playing game or how good the "rules" were. Stripping the classic mythology out of the World of Darkness to "do whatever you want" is akin to turning Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat into a pop-up choose your own adventure book.
Mordicai Knode
11. mordicai
10. Dr. No

Oh! I'm still not sure I understand your point; are you saying that someone else playing the game a different way hampers your ability to enjoy the worldbuilding of the old World of Darkness? Because for me, even though I enjoy using the new World of Darkness as a mechanical system-- because I am a roleplayer, & I enjoy roleplaying games, but often want to tell my own story-- it doesn't detract from the fact that I still have an entire book shelf of old Vampire: the Masquerade, Wraith: the Oblivion & Changling the Dreaming (I've got 'em all except that dang Dark Ages: Fae) books.

I sort of feel like there is some dogmatic line in the sand here but I'm not sure...what it is? Even your example-- a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure The Vampire Lestat-- sounds pretty cool. You don't think that would be fun? You could choose whether you want to embrace your mom or your friend right at the outset, try to rescue Magnus from the fire, deal with Those Who Must Be Kept in all sorts of different ways...yeah, that sounds neat.

Do you only play classic World of Darkness? I mean, I play a lot of different RPGs. I don't even play just one big World of Darkness game-- we recently played a WoD zombie survival horror game, I had a guest spot in a V:tR game that was mostly a "vampires & mages" campaign, & like I said, I run my Weird Fantasy campaign on the World of Darkness system, but that is hyper stripped down, shedding most of the worldbuilding so that I can do my own. I like worldbuilding; that is the kind of Storyteller I am. Then again, I play AD&D on the weekends, too, & that is even less the World of Darkness.

I guess the disconnect here is...why are you upset that someone might...do something different with the game than you? If you want to play using old World of Darkness...well, you're in luck? Since they are publishing content for the "classic" WoD again? I do think that a lot of the oddity of the old WoD-- the tangle of 13 clans versus the simplicity of 5 clans-- is missing, sometimes. Then again, if I wanted to...I could use the fact that the nWoD is built for Storyteller customization to just pop the 13 clans into my game. I'd probably keep the V:tR rules on bloodlines though, since they are much more flexible & better designed. I like the Camarilla & the Sabbat, too; maybe I'd keep them & keep the things like the Invictus & the Ordo Dracul around as conspiracies within those sects? & see, that is my point, I guess, in a nutshell-- that using it as a toolbox is a lot of fun.
Dr Ether
12. Dr. No
Lord of the Rings and Star Wars shine when they abandon cannon. Guns ‘N Roses better without the band! Forgotten Realms more compelling without Drizzt and Dark Elves!

Do these things sound completely ridiculous to you? Well that’s because they are. The very premise that the World of Darkness franchise is better, and “best” served when it abandons any of the core value propositions and unique mythology that originally set it apart from any other role-playing game or Vampire/horror mythology isn’t just wrong, it’s dead wrong and absolutely rubbish.

Let’s take Lord of the Rings and Star Wars as franchises by way of comparison. Would these franchises mean much of anything without the compelling mythology and stories that brought them to life? The stories and the mythology are what made these originally and iconic. They became a cultural phenomenon’s because they offered a compelling rich mythology that also tapped into a cultural identity. Can you imagine these iconic franchises as “just a set of rules” with no real backbone or cultural relevance? If you are thinking well that’s what the Star Wars prequels descended into then you would be correct. The concept that the World of Darkness franchise is better because White Wolf gutted the original mythology and just made the “game rules better” is akin to making an argument that the Star Wars prequels are better because they had better special effects. Or that the current Axl Rose “version” of Gun’s and Roses’ (without any of the original band) is better because he’s hired a bunch of “technically superior” studio session musicians.

The World of Darkness and Vampire in specific was a franchise built on the very premise that “the rules don’t matter”. The rules are only a necessary evil if you must to help the story along. The World of Darkness built its very identity on its mythology, cultural relevance and being a compelling franchise by NOT being a D&D type “rules first” RPG. There are many flaws with this “New” version but the single biggest flaw is the blatant betrayal of the core values that the franchise was built upon.

The “New” World of Darkness’ strongest selling point (being this is a toolbox RPG first and foremost) is and of itself the very antithesis of what made the franchise a global phenomenon in the first place.

The New World of Darkness does nothing to aspire to be anything more than what it is, that being simply a role play game about supernatural creatures. Wizards of the Coast have suffered a similar fate with their 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons as it suffered many of the same flaws as the New World of Darkness. Those being that in the end these games were lackluster “in name only” versions compared to what came before.

There is a reason True Blood, Underworld and Blade are arguably bigger and better franchises despite the fact that like the New World of Darkness they are all obvious rip offs of it. They at least had the common sense to rip off the best parts of the franchise, those being the story and the mythology. The New World of Darkness is little better than a photocopy of a photocopy. It feels flat and as was said before aspires to little beyond what it is. As a “toolbox” RPG if it wasn’t named World of Darkness it would be OK. Not great and not terrible. It’s better than GURPS, but far less than D20 by a wide margin.

As a franchise called “World of Darkness” there is a reason this version doesn’t have comics, cards, toys, video games or a TV series based upon it. This version may have better "rules” but that’s not what the World of Darkness Frachinse was ever about in the first place.

The World of Darkness is absolutely NOT best when it abandons objective truth. It completely loses the soul that it had and is little more than the very games it once defined itself against.

We do NOT win when the World of Darkness plays fast and loose with canon.

Call this version whatever you like but give is back a "World of Darkness" franchise that had heart and defined itself by not by its “game rules” but by its culture and its social relevance!
Mordicai Knode
13. mordicai
Lord of the Rings and Star Wars shine when they abandon cannon. Guns ‘N Roses better without the band! Forgotten Realms more compelling without Drizzt and Dark Elves!
What, Forgotten Realms without canon, like...some sort of...open license for gaming? Some kind of...story neutral framework that would allow people to use the d20 system in order to tell a story according to their own campaign setting? Shoot, that...sounds like it could...create a renaissance in the industry & a flourishing of interesting third party products? Actually...when you say it like that it sounds pretty great! & the OGL was pretty great. Now that you mention it, I should write a post about how I want the World of Darkness to come out with something similar. Good idea! Thanks

You seem pretty dogmatically opposed to the new World of Darkness. That sounds exhausting. Me? I like Lord of the Rings. I like Star Wars. I like Vampire: the Masquerade. Heck, sometimes I want to have an elf vampire with a lightsaber, even. I like all kinds of different things. Pluralism is great.
Dr Ether
14. Dr. No
I have no problem with the Storyteller System game rules. They have been used on multiple franchises ranging from Street Fighter to Abberant (a super hero game). I have no issue with the D20 open gaming license or the like for any other type of toolbox gaming system.

I and many, many people like me have a huge issue with the combination of ruining a intellectual franchise and diluting its core value proposition in favor of a type of game system.

The New World of Darkness is emotionally flat and not at all culturally relevant in the same way the original IP was by any stretch of the imagination. The d20 phenomenon was very much a phenomenon because it understood the core value proposition of D&D but at the same time didn’t fuck with things that the fans loved like Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance and the like.

Most everyone who’s in and around the games industry knows that Pathfinder has completely kicked the crap out of D&D 4E. The reason primarily being that D&D isn’t “D&D”, Pathfinder is. D&D 4E doesn’t “feel” like D&D where Pathfinder does. Wizards of the Coast changed the value proposition without thinking, knowing or even perhaps caring what mattered to their fans. Wizards of the Coast is in a pretty bad spot right now, they are desperate to get their audience back. Think of how bad a spot they would be in if they had chosen to gut all of their game worlds and simply “reimagine” them? The fact that they didn’t mess with their IP’s when they messed with their game rules might be their only saving grace going into D&D 5th Edition.

The aforementioned franchises didn’t lose what made them special and unique because of a gaming rules change. Star Wars fundamentally didn’t change when it was done by West End Games or Wizards of the Coast because it at heart was still Star Wars.

The New World of Darkness fails primarily because it’s called “World of Darkness”. White Wolf, the World of Darkness and their associated brands were “the rebels”, he “anti D&D”, the “anti-rules” etc. Would I be so harsh on this set of games if it were calling something else? Not in the slightest. Nor would I be as hard on D&D 4E if it was called something else. I might even listen to an Axl Rose solo record as long as he didn’t try and sell it as Guns and Roses.

My main point to this is that value proposition and staying true to what you claim to be matters. This version of the World of Darkness by claiming said name and invoking said legacy does not do that in the slightest.
Mordicai Knode
15. mordicai
14. Dr. No
I have no problem with the Storyteller System game rules. They have been used on multiple franchises ranging from Street Fighter to Abberant (a super hero game). I have no issue with the D20 open gaming license or the like for any other type of toolbox gaming system.
...super unclear on how we're disagreeing now. Since that is...what I'm advocating. Like I said, I'm pretty sure you are arguing with a straw man of some kind of new World of Darkness partisan? You seem to be hitting points of dogma that I'm just...well, I'm not really interested in that. I feel like you are saying that Vampire: the Masquerade is better than Vampire: the Requiem which...is a fine opinion to have? I don't get why you are so upset about it, though. Especially since they seem to be publishing more classic WoD stuff than new WoD material. I'm advocating toolbox gaming with the World of Darkness...which you just said you were fine with. The disconnect is fundamentally mysterious to me!
Mike Marino
16. MinkyUrungus
I appreciate this article - it actually got me interested in nWOD - but please...the ellipses are killing me.
Mordicai Knode
17. mordicai
16. MinkyUrungus

I confess; guilty as charged! That & the em-dash & hey I should point out that when I'm not writing to Tor.com's style guide, I even use ampersands. I'm mad with punctuation! HA HA HA! & I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for you pesky kids!
Mike Marino
18. MinkyUrungus
I'm just as guilty though so...hey.

But, yeah, the article certainly warmed me to the setting and has started my quest to instill the same appreciation into some oWoD-er friends. Thanks again.
Mordicai Knode
19. mordicai
18. MinkyUrungus

Always super glad to know there are more of us out there.
Dr Ether
20. Jan Papparazzi
I think I get what Dr. No means. I have the same. I like the new rules. I like the split between race and organisation (clan and covenant etc.) I don't mind the metaplot being gone. But ... I like canon. I like organisations having a fixed place in the universe (like the Sith coming from Korriban for example). I like a fixed history with build in conflicts (for example the Delta Green leader being killed by Majestic 12). I like detailed timelines. All of which the new wod doesn't have.

I tried to like it, but I find it a bit of a clinical, sterile setting. It doesn't suck me in. I don't find it that immersive. Now I am certainly not a grognard. It often goes the same way as old Metallica fans being accused of not liking change when they say they don't like the new Metallica stuff. They are just expressing their taste of course.

I play and read a ton of different RPG's. Unfortunately there are a lot of RPG's with better setting material than the new wod. On the other hand the toolkit books that I appreciate are books like Mutants and Masterminds. They don't do storyseeds, they just provide you with a list of powers. I find that easier to use. More a system toolkit then a setting toolkit, I guess. And there are canonical settings for the people who like that. Just like D&D. The basic D&D books are toolkit, but there is Dark Sun and Forgotten Realms for people who are into fleshed out settings.

When I show other gamers the new wod books, then the general consensus seems to be: "It has some neat ideas, but I have no idea what to do with it.". I don't get why they just didn't follow the same route as Traveller for example. Build your own universe books, but also a fixed setting called The Third Imperium books.

I like the Requiem for Rome books though, because the clans and wings are tied to specific cultures, there is more (specific) backstory and there seems to be a lot going on with the fall of the Roman empire, the rise of Christianity, the Strix menacing the vampires etc.

I wondered a bit off. To get back to the point I think Dr. No means the most important part of a setting is the canon. That is what draws people into the playing the game. It is what makes it interesting in the first place. It is essential.

Now new wod does have some backstory, but it isn't specific and it doesn't seem to be designed to drive the game. It seems to be designed to let the GM fill in the gaps.
Dr Ether
21. Jan Papparazzi
Just wanted to add the old wod wasn't perfect either. It was way too detailed encouring setting lawyers and the main conflicts were quite monolithic and often overshadowed other conflicts.

That being said I still like it better because it feels more like a living and breathing world to me. A world in which things have happened and are happening.
Mordicai Knode
22. mordicai
21. Jan Papparazzi

Ah, see, this conversation just got interesting. Mostly because...I totally personally disagree with you, but I also see where you are coming from. A setting with details, that hangs together, that does have merit! I mean, for me, part of the craft of how I run a game is to fill in the nooks & crannies of a setting, so I like...well, gaps! (& for the record, I don't like the Expanded Universe; I like to mine it for details-- Thrawn is obviously awesome, Dathomir is a cool place-- but I don't like to consider it "true.")

Actually, what you propose is exactly what I'd propose! I want game companies to make a generic setting neutral book-- which obviously can still have some flavour, I don't need it to be bland!-- & then make rule neutral setting books. Or okay, they don't need to be rule neutral, but I think that should be kept in mind when you make "Spelljammer" or "The Camarilla versus the Sabbat"-- that even if I played nWoD or AD&D, I would still find those books useful, tantalizing.

Did you see my review of the God-Machine Chronicle? It actually seems that the World of Darkness is going in that way, in the way you want & the way I want, both; win/win!
Dr Ether
23. Jan Papparazzi
Funny, I did a review of the God Machine Chronicle myself. It's in Dutch so it's not of much use for you. In the end it was a dissapointing book for because it didn't gave me what I wanted, but it gave me more of the same only on a bigger scale.

I expected a fleshed out setting book. Or maybe even a pick and choose fleshed out setting book like VII (with three fleshed out options) or maybe even a pick and choose fleshed out campaign book like the Gehenna book (with five different scenarios).

Conclusion, it's not a setting book, it's a toolkit campaign book. It's designed to take the player by the hand in creating stories. Giving them story seeds intented to be fleshed out by the GM himself. What's new is that it gives the entire new wod setting a context, namely the God Machine itself. This could serve as an explanation for all the supernatural stuff in the new wod. It could be used to tie several individual stories (ghost stories, serial killers, dark cults etc.) together.

That's cool. But it stops where it gets interesting. All the storyteller's advice is mostly superfluous info for me. Most of the story seeds are ideas I could have made up myself when I use my brain for five minutes. I got that with all the new wod books by the way. And the part that would make it interesting (TGM itself) is really short. The pages dedicated to what the God Machine is and what it wants, consist out of one and a half page of story seeds.

I would have liked it if they had picked their top five (or top three or four) ideas and fleshed them out. Cover on it ... done. Now it's just more of the same.

Btw, are you the same guy as on Shadownessence?
Dr Ether
24. Dr Yes Oh YES!
NWOD requires imagination and creative input from the ST and playerbase to create their own myths and stories. It is empowering.

OWoD is just regurgitating the same old dank tedious stories, oh sorry 'mythologies' ad infinitium because it's oh so better to be the same as everyone else.

Someone above tried to use New Coke and the same old tiresome crap that gets doled out everytime they pine to try to stop change. Me I like to think of OWoD as the old pesticides that we knew little about and only later discovered gave everyone cancer or caused their reproductive system to fail. While the NWOD is like that clean green enrgy and organic food that is so great for the world as a whole!

I hear there are people who still believe the world is only 6000 years old too!
Mordicai Knode
25. mordicai
23. Jan Papparazzi

See, then I guess we don't overlap too much; personally, I think Strix will be more of what you want & less of what I want, but that is fine with me; not every book is the perfect book for me, you know? Anyhow, not for nothing, but if I ran a modern Vampire game I would probably drop all of the covenants & replace them with some of the weirder ones from Danse Macbre.

Nope, that guy isn't me. Used to be that there was a good chance any Mordicai online was me, but now there is that cartoon with the bird guy & a professional wrestler, so other people use the name. I'm hoping it is just a phase though!

24. Dr Yes Oh YES!

I think your argument is a little bit heavy on the false equivilancy & ad hom. I play nWoD now, but I used to play oWoD & I didn't feel like I was regurgitating anything. The game is what you make it, after all. It isn't cancer versus solar, or some straw man about a Young Earth.

I'm confused by your jab about "Mythologies" though; you know all of these books are nWod books, right? Your comment is fairly aggressive but I can't tell who you are arguing with.
Dr Ether
26. Jan Papparazzi
24. Dr Yes Oh Yes

I always thought nerds were laidback and relaxed, but since I started posting on fora in 2008 I got these kind of reactions. Apparently I am oldfashioned and I don't have any imagination. Strange thing is that I am always on the lookout for new exiting stuff. I watch gamegeeks on a regular basis and I find out about new exiting games all the time, like for example The Day After Ragnarok, Hollow Earth Expidition or Wild Talents. It's not that I hang on to old wod. I didn't even play old wod at that time. The only RPG I played in the 90's was Warhammer Fantasy RPG and a shitload of Magic the Gathering. I just prefer a lot of other RPG's like Unisystem or some Savage Worlds settings to the new wod.
Dr Ether
27. Jan Papparazzi
25. Mordecai

I see it now. Your name is Mordecai. His name is Mortekai. He's Swedish. My name on Shadownessence is Red Devil btw. My WW name is Jan Papparazzi.

I hope the Strix book will be for me. I was hugely dissapointed in the God Machine book. Actually I was trying to like new wod since 2007/2008 when I started playing/GM'ing. The God Machine book was the book when I gave up on the setting. I had high hopes for it. It isn't a bad book (Objectively I would rate it 4/5 stars), but it isn't for me. Subjectively I would rate it 1/5 stars, because my mileage will be very low on this book.
Mordicai Knode
28. mordicai
27. Jan Papparazzi

Are you more looking for worldbuilding? That is the thing I am least looking for, or if I am looking for it, what I like is when it is very piecemeal, where it is flexible enough that it can inspire me or I can steal it, since I don't run a modern WoD game, I run a...totally different game in which I use the Storyteller system.
Dr Ether
29. Jan Papparazzi
Yep, worldbuilding. When I told people about the backstory I missed on WW or SnE forum, they usually said that wasn't true. And then they started pointing at books like Ancient Mysteries, saying it had backstory only not canonical. To me canon is worldbuilding, right? Damn it, it always comes down to confusion about RPG terms. Usually that leads to endless discussions because no one really understands it.

Is canon the same as worldbuilding?
Dr Ether
30. Jan Papparazzi
What we did till now btw is making up canon as it comes along while telling a story. Just like a tv-series. I think RPG settings need established canon from which stories are drawn.
Dr Ether
31. Jan Papparazzi
I might be a little spoiled, but I still didn't get an answer. So I did some google research.

Question was: Is canon the same as worldbuilding?

I think canon is official worldbuilding. Canon is always worldbuilding, but worldbuilding doesn't always have to be canon. It can be unofficial or a divergence.

Is this assumption correct? If so people can make their own worldbuilding in new wod. There's no need for canon diverge, because there isn't any offical worldbuilding aka canon.
Dr Ether
32. Jan Papparazzi
I think I get it.

Star Wars canon is for example: The existence of the Force and the Jedi and the Sith.

Star Wars worldbuilding is for example: The Sith orginate from Korriban.

Well in that case I miss worldbuilding. I don't really care about what is canon or not. Of course you can always go too far by having Sith Lords appear in an X-Files RPG for example. But yeah ... to me a setting without worldbuilding is pretty much a non-setting. That's how I always felt about it. Somethings missing.
Mordicai Knode
33. mordicai
31. Jan Papparazzi

Hi! Sorry, I didn't see your replies till now. Anyhow, canon is "official." Worldbuilding can include canon, but it can also include...well, alternatives to canon. Which is to say, "Sith are from Korriban" is canon but "What if in your campaign the Sith were from the dark places between the stars, rather than Korriban?" is a fun worldbuilding exercise. "The Jedi are cops for the Senate" is canon, but "what if the Jedi were an independent order of wandering ronin?" would be worldbuilding (the canon answer is also worldbuilding, too).

(For the record, I discount anything from the Expanded Universe, & only use the original trilogy as "canon." That said, I AM willing to cherry pick the EU for ideas-- Dathomir rules, Thrawn is obviously awesome, even if the ysalamir are the WORD-- so I look at it as optional worldbuilding.)

There is canon in the nWoD. There is, however, also a lot of "alternate" canon. Which suits me; frankly I don't really "believe" in canon. The only real game is the game at the table, the game you & your players are playing, you know?
Dr Ether
34. Jan Papparazzi
I get it. I also don't believe in canon, because you can always make non-canon material official in your world or ignore canon material if yo don't like it.

So if I understand it correctly canon can be worldbuilding, but it doesn't have to be. It can also be canon "history" or canon "mythology". For example aliens and conspiracies are canon in the X-files. Demons, angels, vampires and werewolves are canon in Supernatural. It would be weird if a Grey aliens would turn up in Supernatural. It would be against the canon.

On the other hand worldbuilding (combination of the world, it's history and it's mythology) doesn't have to be canon. Depends on the fact if the writes make it official or not. So the Expended Universe has way more worldbuilding than the Star Wars movies, but it isn't canonical because George Lucas thinks the rule of the Sith ended with the death of the Emperor.

Ok, I like worldbuilding. And new wod never really resonated with me, because of a lack of worldbuilding.
Dr Ether
35. Jan Papparazzi
I have to add that I am not only talking about the new wod core. I kinda like the blue book for Silent Hill style adventures. I am also and mostly talking about the supernatural setting books like Vampire, Werewolf and Mage. When I bought Requiem I thought "Where is the setting?". There are clans, covenants and some city titels, but seriously it's just a collection of loose elements. I never got the hang of it. A shame actually, because the split between clan and ideology is a good idea.
Mordicai Knode
36. mordicai
34. Jan Papparazzi

Well I mean, canon is the word with the strictest definition, meaning the official rule or judgement-- see also, the Catholic church. Worldbuilding is a broader heading, a more descriptive term, which is where the confusion is coming into. Anyhow! I don't know what you mean by lack of worldbuilding in the nWoD; I think Promethean: the Created & Wraith: the Oblivion are the two WoD games-- new & classic-- with the best worldbuilding of the whole bunch.

Also yeah-- it IS a collection of loose elements. I guess that is just a pro for some-- like me-- & a con for others-- like you.
Dr Ether
37. Jan Papparazzi
Well, I think I get what canon is. Official setting material. You pinpointed it well enough for me. Thanks for that.

Still got a little bit confusion about worldbuilding. You mentioned the worldbuilding earlier. I can't really figure it out what it was I said that lead you to that conclusion. It is a correct conclusion btw. I don't want to run around in circles.

"I don't know what you mean by lack of worldbuilding in the nWoD."
You know it. Just look at your next sentence.

"Also yeah-- it IS a collection of loose elements. I guess that is just a pro for some-- like me-- & a con for others-- like you."
I realize some people prefer this and see it as a boon. To me this is why I don't see a lot of worldbuilding in the new wod settings. To me worldbuilding means per definition a setting which isn't a collection of loose ellements. I thought btw this was why you brought the worldbuilding up a few posts ago.

To me a fictional vampire world would be more something like: "The Invictus controls the eastcoast of the USA and has been in a war with the Carthians who control the westcoast of the USA. This war originated since a Carthian assassin murdered the Invictus Prince of Chicago Joe Black in 1776. This murder started a period in vampire history known as the Cold Blooded War .... etc. etc. etc."

That's what I consider worldbuilding.
Dr Ether
38. Jan Papparazzi
I was rambling a little bit.

I always found the mythology part of worldbuilding present in new wod settings, but the history and geography parts of worldbuilding were either absent or fragmented.
Mordicai Knode
39. mordicai
37. Jan Papparazzi

Ah, see; when I would run Vampire: the Masquerade I had to do the work of stripping out & ignoring all of those elements. "Oh but the card game says the Camarilla control this city & the prince is a Nosferatu!" "Oh well too bad because I don't pay attention to canon except insofar as I'll read it for inspiration." Books like YourCity By Night were not useful game aids for me, what I'd rather are the pieces. Give me the tools in the worldbuilding kit, not just a spoon to be fed with! Which, okay, I'm teasing with that last sentence, but I guess the moral of the story is-- different strokes for different folks.
Dr Ether
41. Jan Papparazzi
Well, I actually agree with you. I don't like canon as well. If I want LA to be a Camarilla or Sabbat city than I just make it so. I agree with you that I read it for inspiration. But the way the old wod was setup gave me a lot more inspiration. The combination of pinpointing clans and sects to certain locations and giving them all a history with each other is RPG gold for me. Build in conflicts between sects and clan vendetta's inspire me and immerse me in the setting. New wod doesn't inspire me a lot.

So conclusion: Is it worldbuilding or canon that I miss?

Btw, the city by night books also exist in new wod. New Orleans, Chicago, Shadows of Mexico. I prefer to make my own city. It's the cores that need more worldbuilding.

I would certainly buy a Requiem core book which focuses for example on a world where Western vampires are fighting of an invasion of Eastern European Communistic Carthians vampires. Or where Europe consists of multiple ethnic Noble Houses (Spanish, English, French) based on the Invictus. Or a world where different faith based vampire groups are searching for mystical artifacts. Meanwhile they are being threatened by a group of pagan vampire who summoned a few blood gods. You know, something like that would give it some character.
Dr Ether
42. Jan Papparazzi
In other words a game you can pitch easily if people ask what's it about.
Mordicai Knode
43. mordicai
41. Jan Papparazzi

See but...I don't need that to be core! You just pitched those ideas, in your last paragraph, & they are great! Done! Anyhow, these sorts of ideas are what I like about the optional realities of Danse Macabre & Mirrors & Mythologies. Maybe you'd find the nWoD Rome book, their "Camarilla" book, to be good? Or the 80s one?
Dr Ether
44. Jan Papparazzi
Requiem for Rome and Fall of the Camarilla are great. I wish the modern core was like this one. There seems to be a lot going on in the Rome book. Fall of the Roman Empire, barbarians knocking at the gates, fall of the Camarilla, the Strix, the rise of Christianity etc. I also like the fact all the clans coming from a certain region. Daeva from Persia, Gangrel from Gaul etc.

The optional realities in Dance Macabre and Mirrors stop when it becomes interesting. They suffer from the same problems as the God Machine. Too undefined for me. Woundgate is good, but stops way too early. Books like Mythologies and Ancient Mysteries are way too fragmatic for me. A few neat ideas, but no idea what to do with it. 80's Requiem? Hahahaha! God, that was dreadful. Cocaine, bad music, bad fashion and haircuts, Walstreet yuppies and AIDS. I don't need a book for those open doors.
Dr Ether
45. Jan Papparazzi
After reading all this we can safely asume it is worldbuilding I miss, right?
Mordicai Knode
46. mordicai
44. Jan Papparazzi

Well then we'll have to see what the new Strix Chronicle is, right? Whether it bends more towards my preferences or yours...or walks a middle line.

See, I have my own optional reality, so ideas that stop before they get interesting are okay with me; all I'm looking for is inspiration anyhow! I can take it & twist it from there. As for the 80s book...yeah, I never picked it up myself, for much the reason you mention...I can figure out what to do with the undead in the 80s all on my own.

Do you know Onyx Path is putting more & more of the old, "classic" World of Darkness books up, making them available electronically or print-on-demand?

45. Jan Papparazzi

Eh, or we can assume that I toss around the term worldbuilding with a great degree of flexibility. I think it is different kinds of worldbuilding; I think what you want is a more cohesive canon...that you can then ignore or repurpose. What I want is just building blocks, rather than whole blueprints. Both are worldbuilding, just two different styles.
Dr Ether
47. Jan Papparazzi
Yes I know Onyx Path is doing more owod books now. They are probably more up my alley.

Btw everyone tosses around rpg terms with flexibility. That's why it confuses the hell out of me. I already started struggling with new wod since 2007. Most annoying are the people who are nwod evangelics. They never want to answer my questions of pinpointing what I miss in the nwod. They always want to convert me to their cause. Try to make me like it, instead of trying to help me and respect my taste. I never have a problem with people with different taste.

Interesting what you say about canon and worldbuilding. So it is canon then. You say both are worldbuilding. But isn't the cohesive canon worldbuilding done by the writers and blueprints worldbuilding done by the players and/or GM's?
Mordicai Knode
48. mordicai
47. Jan Papparazzi

Well at the very least you will be making your own NPCs & PCs, right? But yeah it is a spectrum, not just two opposites.
Dr Ether
49. Lsana
I just found this discussion, and I hope no one minds if I stick in my 2 cents worth here...

For me, the fundamental question that any RPG in this day and age is, "Why? Why should I spend all this money buying your books when I could just make vampires in the Hero or GURPS or some other generic system and play with those?" After all, my gaming group already owns several copies of the main book of the generics, they give me a bunch of mechanics that can be as detailed or broad as I wish, everything has been rules-lawyered to death to play nicely together (or at least warn you if it doesn't), and everything's very convenient.

For the old World of Darkness, think it's answer was found in the mythology. I tend to agree that they went too far in trying to fill everything in (painting themselves into a lot of corners and contradicting themselves as they did), but overall they created a detailed and interesting world that individual Storytellers would have been unlikely to be able to build on their own.

For the New WoD...I don't know. After having read through the post and discussion, I don't really see an answer to why I should buy into this system. At best, it seems to provide "inspiration," but surely Dracula, Nosferatu, Lestat, Sookie Stackhouse, even Edward and Bella, can do that just as well if not better.
Mordicai Knode
50. mordicai
49. Lsana

Well, I mean, one powerful reason is...mechanics. The "old" World of Darkness was famously flawed, statistically, after all. I very much am a fan of "story before rules," so let me say that first, but what rules you use do influence the story. If you play with d20, the act of leveling & the existence of hit points will change how your characters react to threats & dangers. If you play with Call of Cthulhu's SAN mechanics, there is that to influence the story.

I use nWoD because it is elegant, lo-fi, easy to make up rules on the fly, has some weird math tricks you can use to "spice up" a monster or a magic item or power-- roll all failures, 9-again, add an extra attribute, etc-- & beccause it is...better balanced than the oWoD. If you pick up the better nWoD books, like Vampire: the Reqiuem, all the powers are...pretty well balanced, whereas I...don't really feel like that is true about most oWoD books. Now, balance isn't the be all end all, but from a "book buyer" point of view, knowing the mechanics are robust enough to be adapted has value.

That said, "Mythology versus Inspiration" is a pretty succinct distillation of classic & new WoD worldbuilding, I think.
Dr Ether
51. Jan Papparazzi
48. Mordicai

:)
Yeah I do make them. The reason I like cohesive canon is that it has build in conflicts. That makes it easier for me to come up with stories. If you know the High Elves and the Wood Elves used to be allies until they got into a civil war 300 years and they made peace only 10 years ago, well that makes it easy to come up with stories and campaign ideas.

It's better than, here you go High Elves and Wood Elves. They are like this and they believe in that. Good luck. The fact they have a common history makes them more interesting. Mass Effect is quite a generic setting, but the Geth Wars and the Rachni Wars/Genophage make it more interesting.

49. Lsana

Got the same. Owod had the settings, although they did paint themselves into a corner. Nwod has better rules, but isn't as flexible as GURPS/Hero or (one of my favorites) Unisystem. It provides with a lot of story seeds. Most of them are pretty predictable and lackluster. Some of them are really neat and makes me wish they written more about it.

All in all I often find myself looking for other sources outside of the new wod for inspiration. For example the God Machine book could serve as a good setting book for a Fringe type of setting. But then again why not just play Fringe with a generic RPG ruleset? Hunter the Vigil could be used to play a game similar to Supernatural or maybe the X-files or even Millenium. Other sources again. You could also use Task Force Valkyrie hunting spirits and ghosts, but then I found out there used to be a game called Orpheus.

50. mordicai

Agreed about the flawed rules. What do you mean with Cthulhu sans mechanics? Don't you mean Cthulhu sans setting? A modern urban alternative to Cthulhu? Agreed also about the balance. Nothing is really overpowered.
Jack Flynn
52. JackofMidworld
Random insertion of $.02? I lived in a player-free world for about 9 years but still bought a whole schlew* of WoD books (Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, several books of Wyrm and Pentex stuff, the old Hunters book) and a metric (INSERT ADJECTIVE OF CHOICE HERE)-ton of Rifts** material just to follow along with the storylines.

*schlew: a measure of mass fitting somewhere between a bunch and a metric (INSERT ADJECTIVE OF CHOICE HERE)-ton
**talk about famously broken rules systems, boy-howdy!

Gods, how I miss those books...

...sigh...

...damn yard sales...
Mordicai Knode
53. mordicai
51. Jan Papparazzi

See, yeah, & all I want is "elves" & I'll even take care of their cultural devisions, your Moon Elves & your Throne Elves or whatever. Anyhow, about Call of Cthulhu, I meant the Sanity mechanics, SAN as shorthand.

52. JackofMidworld

You know, I talk about "rule books as post-modern literature" every so often, about reading books that you have no intention of USING. For me, my pitch? Promethean. There are only a couple but it is a really ingenious setting & story & there is a campaign in the back which might scratch the itch. I "read it without planning to run it" but ended up running it a little; the last "straight" WoD I ran!
Dr Ether
54. Jan Papparazzi
52. JackofMidworld

I don't know Rifts. I will check it out. You aren't "Skeloric"? He also talked about Rifts before he got kicked off some fora.

53. mordicai

Yep, I guessed you would like just elves. To me that isn't that interesting. If I already know about a rivalry or maybe a conquered city, than I can make a quest about one group trying to conquer the city back. Maybe by infiltration for example. Then you could play the infiltrators/spies or you could play the other side/mercenaries.

Sanity rules. I thought "sans" as in without. I always like sanity rules better than morality rules. A bit too winey for me.

Anyway, I respect your taste and I am happy to have this civil discussion. On WW forum and on Shadownessence (to a lesser extend) you always end up in flame wars or people who try to convince you you are wrong. In my country we have a saying "You can't argue about taste.". I appreciate this thread.
Mordicai Knode
55. mordicai
54. Jan Papparazzi

Yeah, if we just accept that we have different tastes...I can just recommend you the books I didn't really find all that great, & then you can recommend me all the books you didn't like. Symbiosis! I also find people who look for diffent things from a game can work really well at a game table; like if say the DM doesn't really care about the underworld of his setting, the thief player can sort of sketch in those details, as she plays the character, or if the player just wants to be a fighter, with some lord, come on, whatever, just give me an NPC already...& the DM has a perchant for wide spread world building, then...boom, symbiosis!
Jack Flynn
56. JackofMidworld
54. Jan Papparazzi Nope, not Skeloric. Believe it or not, there is more than one person out there who played Rifts ;-) I'll be the first to admit that rules were haphazard, complicated, and not in a very 'user friendly' layout, nor what I'd call "balanced" - especially since each new book tried to up the ante from the last one (the classes & races you could play from the later rule books were completely overpowered compared to the ones in the core book) - but the books came out more or less in chronological order. In addition to adding the aforementioned new races and classes, there would be history and news and storylines that added on to the one that came before.

I love it when my players add detailed backstories and NPCs in their character histories. When I'm running a game, I try to engage the players in creating the world we're playing in. If they come up with a better storyline than the one I've planned out, I'll happily follow it along and see where it goes.

On the one hand, my DMing style does mean that the players know that I'm less likely to kill off their characters due to random die rolls, but it also means they'll take more risks and make the game more exciting. Sure, there are the occasional "I am a leaf on the wind" moments, but people used to tune in to watch Scully and Mulder (or Buffy and the Scoobies, or Stefan and Damon, or whichever group you tuned in for) explore their world and tell a story, not to see if they'd die in the next episode, and I run my games the same way.
Dr Ether
57. Jan Papparazzi
55. mordicai

I don't mind new wod as a player. Just as a GM or DM or ST.

56. JackofMidworld

So you also miss the canon or worldbuilding (I usually call it backstory) from the older games?

Mordicai want High Elves and Wood Elves without much other info about them. He likes to fill in the blanks. I like them to have a cohesive backstory (some would call it metaplot, or canon, or worldbuilding). Now some people might argue with me the new wod having a lot of backstory. Well, it has some blurps and bleeps, but it certainly isn't cohesive. It's meant to be filled in the blanks by the GM.

For example I like Fading Suns. It has tons of backstory (or metaplot, canon, worldbuilding etc. etc. etc. arrgg it drives me mad). Now I am not a setting lawyer. I don't know the entire history at the back of my head.

But I like it when it connects the groups (factions like noble houses, merchant leagues, religious orders) with certain places (planets, systems) and certain times in history. Or connect them with each other. In one moment in time the noble house Li Halan converts to the Universal Church. From that moment in time they are really religious. But what if they would be slowly growing apart? Conflicts? War maybe? Maybe another group is secretly behind it? And ... a campaign idea is born.

So that's how inspiration works with me. Mostly reactive to what happens in the setting history. New wod never gives me a starting point to get inspired from.
Dr Ether
58. Jan Papparazzi
I always want to add something.

The factions in nwod are ideological. Not that I mind that. A group needs idealogy. But they are only that. You know what they believe in, but you don't know what they did in the past. And what people do tells more about them than what they believe in. Plus every action in the past leads to a reaction. And those reaction are mostly my campaign ideas in which I put multiple quests.
Jack Flynn
59. JackofMidworld
I actually like to take what's already there and then, well, a lot of times, I end up breaking it.

Example - ran a Pathfinder campaign and used all of the baseline info that the publishers had come up with, dropped a meteor into a major metropolitan area and had the PCs prevent the meteor (actually a sliver of divinity from a long-assumed-deceased god) from accidentally opening a massive rift in space/time. I then handed off the campaign to a guy who had us create a power vaccum in the northern barbarian lands. When I took over again, I had the power vacuum create a domino effect that resulted in the creation of two giant nations (as in Jack's Giants/monstrous humanoids, not just "really big nations"), a new orc nation, cut two existing nations in half, and put an infernally-aligned failing nation into the most powerful nation on the continent.

I love detailed backstory/history/world-building in games, if only because it gives me something to toy with. Mutants & Masterminds is a great game and I love playing it, but the main book didn't come with any backstory, essentially leaving it to the GM to create the world. Sure, I can do that, and I have done it, but it's a lot of work.

Sad fact is that I've got a friend who's afraid to run a game because the other players know the system or the game worlds better than he does.
Mordicai Knode
60. mordicai
59. JackofMidworld

I ran Shadowrun for a guy who used to write for the game; he was exactly the sort of person who'd try to "correct" the Storyteller, so I just was like: "So here is the deal. Normally Shadowrun is up to like, what, 2060-something? Well this is 2052. No other sourcebooks but the mainbook exist, & if they do later come into play, you'll find out via the story, like you'll fight a guy with bioware or work for a bioware Mister Johnson. Got it?"

Which is to say-- it sounds to me like your friend should use the nWoD; that way there isn't a long involved setting & metaplot for them to run into. Like I said; I like involved settings & metaplot too, but as someone running a game, that is less helpful to me, personally; I tend to want to do the hard work.

On a related note to everyone in the thread: did you see my post about just this topic on Legend of the Five Rings? That game system is much, much, much more "deep histories, detailed setting" than even oWoD.
Dr Ether
61. Jan Papparazzi
59. JackofMidworld

"I love detailed backstory/history/world-building in games, if only because it gives me something to toy with. Mutants & Masterminds is a great game and I love playing it, but the main book didn't come with any backstory, essentially leaving it to the GM to create the world. Sure, I can do that, and I have done it, but it's a lot of work."

I totally get you. You use the backstory to give a spin on the setting. But in order to do so, you need something to begin with in the first place. I like to do that too. As for Mutant & Masterminds: great game, lots of powers, lots of flexibility, but no setting. And that's why M&M has Freedom City, Noir, Nocturnals, Meta-4, Lockdown and George Martin's Wild Cards. Speaking of Wild "Cards", do you know Wild "Talents"? That's a cool setting. Wild Talents/Godlike. Rambling again. :)

60. mordicai

I always cherry pick out of the setting backstory*. I take something and either use it or give it a spin. I like that whole kitchen sink approach. It's just pick and choose. It's an entire buffet. You just take what you like. Instead of new wod. New wod is more like an empty plate and you have to make your own meal. I check out Legend of the Five Rings btw. I already checked out Rifts. And ... it's cool. Another good setting. You don't get that much depth from a computer game or movie. Tabletop RPG's are the best!


* In Shadowrun the backstory is usually the Metaplot of the previous edition of Shadowrun. So it's both.
Jack Flynn
62. JackofMidworld
60. mordicai "So here is the deal. Normally Shadowrun is up to like, what, 2060-something? Well this is 2052. No other sourcebooks but the mainbook exist, & if they do later come into play, you'll find out via the story, like you'll fight a guy with bioware or work for a bioware Mister Johnson. Got it?"

Love it! Plus then you can play it up as a prequel and the stuff that the players know about from the 2060s, suddenly it turns out that they helped design/find/release it! Perfect!

61. Jan Papparazzi
No, I don't know of Wild Talents, I'll have to take a look for it.
Mordicai Knode
63. mordicai
61. Jan Papparazzi

Rifts is, fair warning, utterly crazy. The mechanics & the "power creep" sort of undercut it but there is good stuff there.

To use your analogy, personally what I'm looking for is just...a kitchen! Yeah, all I want is a bunch of empty pots & pans, & I'll whip up something from scratch! To me, all I want are a few ingrediants, in the form of mechanics for special powers, & the appliances in the form of an elegent rule set that focuses on story over math!

62. JackofMidworld

"No, Bug City hasn't happened. Will Bug City happen? I guess that depends on you guys..." was what I said. Yeah! That was a fun game; their cyberdoc was a ghoul who, you know, ate whatever was left over when he operated. Also a good guy to know if you need to get rid of a body...which was how they were introduced to Dreams of Murder, the mantis shaman physical adept. They had some "good times" on an oil rig haunted by a wendigo...
Dr Ether
64. Jan Papparazzi
62. JackofMidworld

Both Fading Suns and Wil Talents are settings made by people who also write for White Wolf. Fading Suns is from the writers of old and new Mage. Wild Talents and before that Godlike are alternative timeline superhero settings by Greg Stolze. I find his work on the Requiem novels very bland, but those two settings prove he can come up with awesome shit.

63. mordicai

Yep I like rules-light too. I like the wod systems, and basic RPG, Savage World and Unisystem. Quick (less) rolling and more room for telling a story.

Indeed, new wod is just basic ingredients. And you have to use the ingredients to come up with your own recipe. Exactly what I don't like about it. I want the entire buffet.
Mordicai Knode
66. mordicai
64. Jan Papparazzi

Oh man Fading Suns rullllllllles. I've never played it but it rulllllllllles.
Dr Ether
67. Jan Papparazzi
Yuuuuuup!
Dr Ether
68. Jan Papparazzi
Btw, I once spoke to a guy on a forum who thought Fading Suns was more like new wod. Toolkit like. I found it to be more similar to the old wod. Can you explain this?
Dr Ether
69. Jan Papparazzi
Can't resist to add just one thing before this topic is dead forever.

In a book about the GM I expect it to inform me about: what the GM is, what it's motivations are, where it comes from and what it's impact was on human history.

It doesn't give me any of this info in this 300 page tome. And I could make it up myself. I am capable of pitching a few ideas. But this kind of info is what makes me buy the books in the first place. It turns my crank.

I checked out some of the stuff of Blood and Smoke. It seems like they fill in some of the blanks. For example the Circle of the Crone now comes from Ireland/Scotland is only 200 years old. They basicly united and rebelled against the status quo in the UK.

That's the kind of info I need to wrap my head around it. Who? What? Where? When? And how?

Btw I visited the WW forum again and they really bite you like rabid dogs of you have an opinion that isn't mainstream amongst them. Like throwing a bloody stake in a pitbull farm. Is it me or has WW the worst fanbase ever? People behave like Tool fans. Cool band, annoying narrowminded pretentious fans.
Mordicai Knode
70. mordicai
68. Jan Papparazzi

Well, Fading Suns doesn't mostly give you like "here is X planet, here is its history" but instead gives you the guidelines..."so here are these noble houses, these guilds, these church dudes...how do they all combine?" So I could see that.

69. Jan Papparazzi

As to the fans; I used to be a big forum regular oh....like, sheesh, like almost fifteen years ago, is that really true? Dang I'm old. Anyhow, I think what happened is as the game because less of a bestseller, a lot of the casual & more diverse fans drifted away, leaving only the die hard fans, & the people like me who just think hey, this game is great, it should be a big deal again.
Dr Ether
71. Jan Papparazzi
About Fading Suns:

Yes, but ... it does have certain planets belonging to certain Houses or Guilds or Orders. And it has a very extensive timeline. Symbiote Wars and such.

About the forum population:

I guess they are hardcore. But they aren't passionate about it like you. They are very intolerant to other opinions. "You opinion is wrong!" That mentality. And then ten other dudes who give thumps up to that dude.

About Worldbuilding:

Blood and Smoke has one entire chapter (chapter 6) dedicated to worldbuilding. Should be what I missed about the setting all those years.
Dr Ether
72. Jan Papparazzi
A bit like those Dr Yes Oh Yes comments. Very ad hominem.

Anyway do you think the GMC has any setting material?
Because I found it more plot focused and hardly having any setting material at all.

Ok this was my last question.
Dr Ether
73. Jan Papparazzi
Nvm, I guess the GMC has a setting, ..... but without much ..... worldbuilding! There it is again.

Cheers.

:)
Mordicai Knode
74. mordicai
72. Jan Papparazzi

Isn't the setting for God-Machine..."our" world? No worldbuilding needed, it is already built for you, all you gotta do is throw some Halloween decorations on, spooky it up!

I'm reading the new Mummy: the Curse book now, Jan, & let me tell you-- it is too "setting heavy" for me! Which probably means you'll like it a lot; there actuall IS a backstory, there ARE right answers. (Which is fine with me, if I ran it & I wanted to do whatever I wanted, I'd do whatever I wanted to, I'm the boss of me & I'll do what I want.)
Dr Ether
75. Jan Papparazzi
Ok, I check it out.

I also give you this link to Blood & Smoke:

http://whitewolfblogs.com/blog/2013/05/10/the-red-light-at-the-end-of-the-dock/

Weird. The info is on onyxpath.com, but the previews are on whitewolfblogs.com. There are also preview covenant write ups, which are a lot better than the ones in the core. I never could get into the covenants. Maybe now I can.
Dr Ether
76. Jan Papparazzi
Coming back to Mummy: Isn't it just the mythology that's being fleshed out? I mean the creation myth. Just as Werewolf and Mage did it. Those two games also made sure were the werewolves and mages came from. They gave straight answers unlike the shady past of vampire. Mummy seems to answer the who, where and when of how they originated. And that seems to get some extra explanation in the Storyteller's part of the book.

But it isn't really the mythology I am waiting for. I think the creation myth doesn't have a lot of impact on the game. Does it matter if vampires comes from a Blood God or a talking snake? It's still all about covenant politics.

I really think I want to see the wider worldbuilding of the settings. Again chapter 6 of Blood & Smoke seems to be doing this. Fleshing out some of the domains. I guess they probably will flesh out the UK as Circle of the Crone territory, because the Cronies driven out the Invictus/Lance 200 years ago. This is the stuff I get inspiration from. What if they didn't won? What if the status quo wants the UK back? Players can side up or work for another party or maybe stay independent and get caught in the mix.

I like it if those groups are grounded in reality and not only in ideology. You can for example look at the Catholic Church and just look at what they believe in, but it's more interesting if you can also look at what they did in the past like for example the practice of indulgences to fund the building of churches and cathedrals. That tells me more about them than their ideology.

And now for something completely different. I think I find Mummy a bit too esoteric. It's meant for a special type of games who like to play for several centuries while slowly getting weaker. A bit like Promethean, just not for everyone.
Mordicai Knode
77. mordicai
76. Jan Papparazzi

Ha ha ha ha, fact: Promethean is my favorite. Alchemy & Frankensteins is my kryptonite. I'm also a huuuuuuuge fan of the cWoD game Wraith. I like the esoteric ones!
Dr Ether
78. Jan Papparazzi
I like it when I read something in the backstory (history, timeline) and I can find it on the map (geography, worldbuilding). It doesn't have to be much or very elaborate.

For example the Symbiote Wars were halted at Stigmata. That means you can actually visit that planet and find veterans of the war. Maybe you can find some ruined buildings too.

If you are a Tremere vampire you shouldn't visit the Middle East, because the Assamite live there (worldbuilding). They are still mad at you because of the curse you place upon them (backstory).

In The Day After Ragnarok you find large parts of North America, Europe and North Afrika being destroyed, because the Giant Serpent of the Asgard was summoned by the nazi's and crashed down after it was being nuked by the Americans. That's awesome. Check that setting out, btw!

In Savage World Hellfrost an entire part of the world is being cut of by massive glaciers, which orginated out of a massive blizzard 500 years ago. That part of the world is now known as the Hellfrost.

Just giving some examples. I hope I don't bore you to death. :)

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. B&S is going to have Domains. They can be either cities or regions, but they will be fleshed out. About 30.000 words, so I guess it will be 50-60 pages.

To me this is all essential to a setting. I just don't get why they didn't put something like chapter 6 in their setting earlier. It took them nine years to finally do it.
Mordicai Knode
79. mordicai
78. Jan Papparazzi

Yep, I think we can safely say we just are...well, different. 30k words on domains is all stuff I'll look at when I'm bored but never use, just like all of the "city" & sample campaign info in the last chapter of the new World of Darkness books. Personally, it just isn't useful; you obviously just respond to different things than me, & I respond to different things than you.

The Day After Ragnarok, huh? Never even heard of it. Oh, it is FATE, the hot new craze that's sweeping the nation!
Dr Ether
84. Jan Papparazzi
I don't really need all the details. I just need the bigger picture. I can fill in the details myself.

New wod in general doesn't give me the bigger picture. It gives me lots and lots of example details in the form of story seeds. I don't need a book with example hotspots and Elysia (Invite only). Or that chapter 7 in B&S with a proces to generate people and locations. I don't need that. I just want to know who lives where and who is fighting who and why.

Just like Fading Suns. You which group control which planet. You know the house Hawkwood has conflicts with the Hazzat en with house Decados. You the al-Malik has some sort of relationship with the Musters.

Or the Game of Thrones RPG. That's also a good example. I love those types of settings.
Dr Ether
86. Jan Papparazzi
Check out Gamegeeks review for the Day After Ragnarok. I am trying to post a link, but somehow it doesn't work.
Dr Ether
87. Jan Papparazzi
On second thought I don't think Blood&Smoke is gonna give me what I want.

I don't need individual domains. I like it when they zoom out. Maybe to Europe or the entire world. Zoom out and show me a worldmap and move all the factions on it during a few centuries like it's a board game.

Just like Masquerade. The Ventrue moved to the UK, the Lasombra were is Spain and the Toreador was stuck in between. I wish they would do the same only now with the covenants instead of the clans.

But to be honest they will never do it, because new wod focuses on the personal instead of history and metaplot. So perhaps I should just shut up and start playing the old games and convert the rules to new wod rules. I think that's the best.
Dr Ether
88. Jan Papparazzi
It is actually very playable without clear answer in the backstory. I just don't find it that interesting, I guess.
Mordicai Knode
89. mordicai
87. Jan Papparazzi

Ha ha ha & you know what? Using the story of the classic WoD & the rules of the new WoD? Is a perfect example of what I advocate for when I say break the canon! That is, ironically, a perfect example of what I mean-- even if we took the long road to get here!
Dr Ether
90. Jan Papparazzi
I never got why they just didn't release the old setting with the new rules. Now you can play it, but you need the Masquerade book for the setting, the blue nwod book for the rules, the Requiem book for the vampire rules and powers and the translation guide for the other vampire powers.

Well, that's not really convenient, isn't it?

Even though Requiem has it's share of history (Ancient Mysteries, RfR, Clanbooks), I would still say Masquerade is more based on history than Requiem, wouldn't you? At least it's more relevant to the setting.
Mordicai Knode
91. mordicai
90. Jan Papparazzi

I really agree; it blows my mind that there wasn't a "nWoD VtM" game made, just that free downloadable packet. Seems like a perfect way to reinvigorate the classic WoD stuff & the new WoD stuff-- but instead we get V20, which for some people I guess is great, but for those of us who prefer nWoD is no help; a nWoD Masquerade would allow you to have your cake & eat it too--or if you are like me, it would let you mash it up.

I think part of the reason nWoD is less historical was that there was a perception that players were peeved that like, every single supernatual claimed to be crucial to every single moment in history. Vampire elders killed JFK, no wait, Pentex, no wait, the Technocracy did to stop the Apollo program, no wait...
Dr Ether
92. Jan Papparazzi
1. V20 is great for people already owning everything of the old game and just want all the powers of VtM in one book. It's pretty crunch heavy, which isn't the reason I like VtM.

2.Yep oWoD is contradicting. The Camarilla is the secret government, no wait isn't that Pentex or the Technocracy?

3. History ties certain groups to certain places. In VtM you can approach the setting like a grand strategy board game. The Anarchs control the West Coast. The Camarilla controls the South and the Mid-West. The Sabbat and the Cam fight over the East Coast. Same for the Clans. Lasombra in Spain, Ventrue in the UK, I believe the Toreador in France etc. This goes against the toolkit design of nWoD.

4. History also ties certain groups to dislike other groups. Of course the Camarilla Sabbat conflict over the Masquerade, but also the Anarch after the Anarch Revolt. The Assamites hate the Tremere because of the curse. The Ventrue rivalry with the Lasombra. The Tremere originally being hunted down by vampires, because of their roots as mortal mages. This also goes against the toolkit design.
Mordicai Knode
93. mordicai
92. Jan Papparazzi

Ha! I still own all my oWoD books, which I mine for ideas, so I totally agree...which is why I don't own V20. If it was nWoD VtM, crunch heavy, one big tome of powers & ideas? I absolutely would own it. I realize I'm just one customer, or well-- I guess one reviewer, since I do reviews their products, which puts me in a different category-- but yeah, it seems like easy money, to me.

As to your point 3; see, now I sort of want to play a board game, in the "German style", for Vampire! But see, my personal preference is that I don't need (or really want) the global map for the clans-- I like them not being tied to geography or ethnicity-- & while I "get" wanting the Sabbat & Camarilla & Anarch stuff figured out, I'm perfectly happy to do it on my own, as Storyteller. Point four though, there I'll agree with you; stuff like the Assamite Curse & the Tremere diabarie...I like those! But I think they go with the toolkit approach...because you could give me a dozen various ideas, contradictory ones, & let me pick.

"Assamites hate the Tremere because of the Curse. No wait, Assamites serve the Tremere & the Curse is there is ensure their service. No wait, the Curse was placed there by Cain. No wait, the Salubri. No wait, by Baba Yaga, which is why Assamites hate the Nosferatu. No, the current Old Man of the Mountain put the curse there, because the bloodlust of the clan was endangering the Masquerade on a global level. No wait, the Curse is there because when Set betrayed Osiris, the antediluvian for the clan, there was a break in the Underworld, tainting the bloodline. No wait it isn't a Curse, there was a break in the Underworld but the ritual that replaces diablarie has a tithe, 10% of the blood is lost to the underworld, & to Osisis' eventual return..."

Or whatever. I like to pick & choose, mix & match.
Dr Ether
94. Jan Papparazzi
They didn't really provide us with a lot of those juicy toolkit examples you just made up. Only thing I can remember was the VII book. That was toolkit (or more pick and choose really). Most books are toolkit, but not in that style. Mostly about smaller options. Your mom is possessed by a demon or your neighbour bought a cursed mirror. The police station is haunted. That kind of stuff.
Mordicai Knode
95. mordicai
94. Jan Papparazzi

VII, Danse Macabre, Mythologies, the bloodlines books-- most of my WoD purchases are for the vampire line, so that is what I'm most aware of, but those "buffet" style books are really the ones that hit the spot.
Dr Ether
96. Jan Papparazzi
What do you mean with buffet style books?

My opinion is that almost all books are toolkit. VII is pick and choose. Those three options are really fleshed out and reminded me about the old game. No one really uses that one, because it's completely out of tone with the rest of the game. Elaborate history, ancient vendetta's, global in scale; it doesn't fit with the rest of the game.

Toolkit is mostly not fleshed out story seeds; mostly about one or two paragraphs in size.
Dr Ether
98. Jan Papparazzi
Nice.

Btw the WW forum discussion I had almost got out of hand, but now suddenly became civilized. I told them I wasn't their enemy and I think it worked. So it isn't hopeless after all. :)
Dr Ether
99. Jan Papparazzi
Buffet means toolkit, I guess.

To me old wod was more of a walking buffet. New wod is more loose ingredients. Anyway I think I am repeating myself.
Mordicai Knode
100. mordicai
99. Jan Papparazzi

Yeah, I think we are past the ability to really define these terms too precisely; I'm just using them very descriptively.

Anyhow, you're right, I think it is just that people get defensive, but really...the fact that we all play these games differently is just an expression of the infinite options of the hobby!
Dr Ether
101. Jan Papparazzi
Right. Usually these old settings are called kitchen sink. Everything is in it. Just pick something you like. Don't use the rest.
The new setting are usually called toolkit. Pick something you like and make up the rest or add to it.
The new games additive, the old games are subtractive.

And about the factions: the old game's factions have a clear origin most of the time. They reflect the reality of the world at that time. The new game's factions are more like templates. A basic idea which you can make your own. Amen.
Dr Ether
102. Jan Papparazzi
Blood & Smoke is out. All in all a huge improvement, both rules wise and setting wise. I like the new write-ups of the clans and covenants and I like the prefab mini-settings.

I also took a look at the new Convention books from old mage. I never read the old ones, but I guess they are just more of the same. Blood & Smoke is in every aspect Requiem 2.0. While I think it's good, I like the Convention books better. Probably because of it's style (just look at the NWO and Syndicate cover) and it's metaplot/history, which makes the setting very interesting.

Having a Blood & Smoke Strix chronicles review coming up?
Mordicai Knode
103. mordicai
102. Jan Papparazzi

Oh yeah! But...probably not until the print version is released. I'm...sort of an old fuddy duddy. I read enough stuff electronically for work!
Dr Ether
104. Jan Papparazzi
I actually changed my mind.

Initially I was dissapointed the God Machine Chronicles didn't give me any info on what the God Machine was, what it wanted and where it came for. To me that's the meat and potatoes of what I want from a book. Now I think it's good. I still miss the setting explanation, but I think it's a good campaign book.

Blood & Smoke also gets more credit from me now. I already liked it, but now I reconsider playing Requiem again. The only thing that always bugged me about Requiem (and still does) are the covenants. I like their descriptions a lot better now, but it never made sense to me they could all coexist in one city. They are all so different, but somehow they all work together while forming a vampire government.

All the city titles are essentially Invictus titles so it never made sense to me why the other groups would accept that. They have their own government models. Mostly it's a thematically problem. Every group has it's own mood and trappings. It becomes a bit of a circus when you start mixing them up.

So I decided to play an Invictus only game with all the other groups as possible antagonists. It feels like doing the game a disservice, but I see no other way.

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