World of Darkness
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World of Darkness
The most recent version of the World of Darkness line was released on August 21, 2004. Many players refer to this version as nWoD or new World of Darkness (where as the previous version came to be referred to as "oWoD" or "old World of Darkness"). These abbreviations were adopted so that players can refer specifically to each line and not confuse one with the other. While the rebooted setting is superficially very similar, the overall theme is one of "dark mystery", with an emphasis on the unknown and the personal. The apocalyptic theme present in oWoD has been removed from nWoD, as have the gothic and punk aspects of the world setting.
Many details of the setting, especially in regards to its history, are left vague or otherwise have multiple explanations.
Instead of reprinting a full ruleset with each major title, tweaked and modified for each game, the new setting uses one core system for all games, a streamlined and redesigned version of the old rule system renamed the "Storytelling System". A core rule book, simply titled The World of Darkness, has full rules for human characters and ghosts; though it has no specific setting material, it establishes a tone and mood for games featuring human protagonists. This is another contrast to the old games, where so many different types of supernatural creature had been defined that normal humans often seemed unimportant. The old setting also made humans a minor threat to the supernatural races, but the new rules make it possible for humans to be powerful opponents to the things in the night. The World of Darkness core book was well received, and won the Origins Gamers' Choice Award for 2004.
New rule system
The new WoD rules are much more streamlined than the previous system. The Failure rules have changed and the "10-again" rule has been added, in that a "10" indicates a re-roll and the "10" still counts as a success (this rule was present in the original WoD only for Traits ranked at least 4 out of the usual maximum of 5, and then only for a "specialty" or particular sub-field of the trait's application). If another "10" is rolled, this step is repeated until anything but a "10" is rolled. Exceptional Successes are indicated by having five or more successes on the action, and can be regulated by the Storyteller. Dramatic Failures are now only possible on "chance" die rolls; when a dice pool is reduced by penalties to zero or less, a single chance die is rolled. If a 10 is rolled, it is a success (and as before, rerolled), if the result is less than 10 but not 1, then it is a simple failure. On a chance die, if the roll is a 1, then it is a Dramatic Failure, which is usually worse than a normal failure of the action, and is regulated by the Storyteller (although examples of Dramatic Failures in certain situations are occasionally given).
The game also features a much simplified combat system. In the old system each attack made during a combat scene could easily involve 4 separate rolls and in many cases required more due to supernatural abilities possessed by the characters. Combat scenes involving large numbers of combatants could take a very long time to resolve. The new system requires only one roll which is adjusted by the defensive abilities of the person being attacked and represents both the success and failure of the attack and the damage inflicted because of it, (indicated by number of successes).
The nature and demeanor rules which represented the personality of the characters and were common in the old games have also been removed. In the new system characters have a virtue and a vice trait which not only represents the personality of the characters, depending on how well a role player the person playing that trait is, but also represents actions that the character can take in order to regain willpower points that have been spent during the course of play. The vices are the same as the deadly sins, while the virtues resemble the heavenly virtues. (Charity, Faith, Justice, etc, for Virtues, and Envy, Wrath, Lust, etc., for Vices). Storytellers and Players are encouraged to invent new ones as seen fit.
The morality stat represents the moral outlook of the character and the notion that as a character takes more and more morally questionable actions she or he will eventually stop feeling bad about it. A character with a high morality would be more moral and saintly while a person with a low morality would be able to take more questionable actions. As a person’s morality falls they run the increasing risk of becoming mentally unstable.
For example, a vampire kills a mortal cultist who has been trying to kill him. Since she attacked him, it's not murder, it's manslaughter, which is represented as "4" on morality. The vampire's current morality stat is "6". He fails his roll and thus drops to morality "5". In addition, he must now make a second roll to resist gaining a derangement (a trait that affects characters' rolls & actions).
There is some version of morality in each of the game lines which represent internal struggles of the characters.
There are also specific action bonuses which can be attached to the Skills. These give modifiers to whatever the person is doing. There is also a "no dice chance" rule, where the person attempts to do something he wouldn't normally be able to do, they have to roll a "10" to succeed.
The core setting
Each new game setting now consists of a rule book which includes only those rules specific to the type of protagonist portrayed, leaving more room for specifics of that aspect of the World of Darkness. This has also vastly improved compatibility between games, particularly as all characters are created as normal humans and thus have the same basic traits. Supernatural traits still vary for each character type, but their interactions with each other are governed largely by a single, simple mechanic. The playable supernatural types generally follow similar rules in terms of game mechanics, including:
- 5-6 inherent "sub-races," to which every character belongs based on the circumstances of his/her transformation into a supernatural being (5 Clans; 5 Werewolf Auspices; 5 Mage Paths; 5 Promethean Lineages; 6 Changeling Seemings; 5 Sin-Eater Thresholds).
- 4-7 chosen "factions," to which a character may belong based on his/her beliefs; a character does not usually need to belong to any of these groups (5 Vampire Covenants; 5 Werewolf Tribes; 5 Mage Orders; 5 Promethean Refinements; 4 Changeling Courts; 7 Sin-Eater Archetypes).
- Power level trait (often generically referred to as "Supernatural Advantage"), rated 1-10 (Vampires = Blood Potency; Werewolves = Primal Urge; Mages = Gnosis; Prometheans = Azoth; Changelings = Wyrd; Sin-Eaters = Psyche). High levels of this trait often limit the character's ability to interact with the world.
- Energy trait, consisting of temporary "points" used to fuel various powers with capacity and spending ability based on the "power level trait" (Vampire = Vitae; Werewolf = Essence; Mage = Mana; Promethean = Pyros; Changeling = Glamour; Sin-Eaters = Plasm).
- Learned powers arranged in traits rated 1-5, capable of rising higher when "power level trait" exceeds 5 (Vampire = Disciplines; Werewolf = Gifts; Mage = Arcana; Promethean = Transmutations; Changeling = Contracts; Sin-Eaters = Manifestations. Hunters (if part of a conspiracy)have access to similar powers/technologies known as endowments).
The three core games are as follows:
- Vampire The Requiem Sourcebook (released August 21, 2004 alongside The World of Darkness core book)
- Werewolf The Forsaken Sourcebook (released March 14, 2005)
- Mage The Awakening Sourcebook (released August 29, 2005)
Limited series setting
In addition to the main three games, there is an additional game each year. Like Orpheus for the old World of Darkness, each of these "fourth games" will have a limited series of approximately six books, including the core rulebook. The first such game is Promethean: The Created for August, 2006, based largely on Frankenstein and similar stories of giving the unliving life through alchemy. The second game is Changeling: The Lost, and was released in August, 2007. It is a game based around characters that were taken and enslaved by Fairies similar to those of European folk tales, who managed to escape to find they were no longer human themselves, and must find a new place in life. Due to overwhelming positive response to Changeling, White Wolf has continued publishing material for it, although it is not recognized as a Core series. The third game, Hunter: The Vigil, was released in 2008. At the end of Hunter is an ad showing blurred human skulls and the text "GEIST: Summer 2009". Geist's full name, Geist: The Sin-Eaters, was revealed on 2 March 2009.
- Promethean The Created Sourcebook (released August 11, 2006)
- Changeling The Lost Sourcebook (released August 16, 2007)
- Hunter The Vigil Sourcebook (released August 15, 2008)
- Geist The Sin-Eaters Sourcebook (released August 19, 2009)