Exploring the World… OF DARKNESS!

Time for my rambling thoughts on a new game, or rather, one that’s new to me.


I’ve recently, for the first time since high school, joined a gaming group that has managed to survive more than two sessions.

All other groups I’ve joined have either fizzled out or dramatically fallen apart very quickly.  Perhaps that’s because, in my experience, every gaming group tends to have at least one person that makes everyone else want to either punch them in the face or run away screaming.  Or perhaps it’s just me, maybe I don’t like people.

In any case, the newest group has managed to last and appears that it will continue to do so for some time.  So yay, socialization!

The game we’ve been playing so far is World of Darkness which, with my fairly limited role playing game experience, I have never played before.  I figure I might as well share my impressions of the game so far.

Quick clarification for those of you who know to ask: We are playing NEW World of Darkness.

For those who have no idea what I just said, let me explain.  World of Darkness is a fairly longstanding game which started back in the 90s.  However, as with everything this decade, it has recently been rebooted and redesigned in order to remain fresh and relevant (and of course, improve sales.)  The different versions are known in the roleplaying community as Old World of Darkness (oWoD) and New World of Darkness. (nWoD)

In the case of both iterations of World of Darkness, it’s really just an umbrella encompassing many smaller games, most of which based around some sort of European folklore.  They include things such as werewolves, ghosts, golems, Shakespearean style changelings and, of course, vampires.

The most famous game line in the system is of course Vampire.  Because everyone loves vampires, or at least has very strongly held opinions of them (I could go on, but that’s another post in and of itself).  The difference between the two versions of Vampire are a good example of the differences between the larger World of Darkness games.  In New World of Darkness the vampire game is called “Vampire: the Requiem” while in Old World of Darkness it is called “Vampire: the Masquerade.”

Yes, that Vampire: the Masquerade, the thing all the cool elitist kids in high school talked about (is it some new band?) until you realized they were talking about a role playing game and they’re just geeks like everyone else.  But that’s high school, and everyone’s a geek to someone, just depends on the viewpoint.

So, how are the games different?  Let’s look at the general story concept behind both game.

“Vampire: the Masquerade”: legions of vampire clans, hidden among society, are aware of an apocalyptic prophesy foretelling the end of the world but are too busy competing between themselves to determine who is the most pretty.  Occasionally, rival clans will team up to face their mutual emeny: ennui.

“Vampire: the Requiem”: There are vampires.  They’re sad.  Go!

The older game had a labyrinthine backstory that was continuously updated, and God help you if you deviated from it and one of your players got upset.  The newer game is taking the more modern approach that it’s up to you to write your own damn story.

Which is better?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  Fans of Old World of Darkness tend to think it’s the best game ever and that fans of New World of Darkness are intolerable and douchey while fans of New World of Darkness think it’s the best game ever and that fans of Old World of Darkness are intolerable and douchey.  Of course, this is not limited to World of Darkness, fans of any RPG tend to think fans of all other RPG are intolerable and douchey.  With the advent of the internet, now everyone who thinks anything tends to think anyone who disagrees with them is, in fact, intolerable and douchey.

If you’ve read the above paragraph and thought: “Hey wait a minute, that’s not me!” congratulations! You’re actually in the majority!  But this being the internet you have no loudly visible presence and therefore you don’t matter.  Sorry to break it to you.

Now that I’ve deviated all over the place, crossing at least three state boundries along the way, back to my original topic.  What did I think of the game?


The fiction elements in the rule books are a very fun read, but in play I find the setting just too damn dour.  I like a bit of whimsy in my fiction, I’m of the camp that all of these recent dark, gritty re-imaginings of Alice and Wonderland and Wizard of Oz are largely missing the point.

Luckily the game I’ve been in doesn’t hew particularly close to the setting as written, we’re all just a bit too goofy for that, so I’ve still been enjoying myself.  But that said, it’s not a game that I would eagerly jump up and say “Ooo!  Me!” if someone is recruiting for players.

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