World of Darkness and Disappointment

It was before GenCon that White Wolf (maker of table-top RPGs and upcoming MMOs, owned by EVE’s CCP) was alleged to have told a friend of a friend that some people would be happy and some people would be upset by a coming announcement. This was refuted by White Wolf, and GenCon passed with very little big news from White Wolf. Later at the Grand Masquerade, which is an officially sanctioned World of Darkness convention, White Wolf released their first teaser bit about the World of Darkness. Our blogger in arms, Ardwulf, posted some pretty breaking news and the video of the teaser over at his site. The news hit the floor, and I realized that the alleged statement rang pretty true for me.

The quick news run down is that it will be launched at the earliest in 2012, and it has been in production for about 3 years so far (with 1.5 years of design/planning prior to that). The game will be called World of Darkness Online (WoDO), and it’s first iteration will be based on Vampire: the Masquerade (Masquerade). Later on, it is hoped that the other splats like werewolves and changelings will become playable characters, but for now it will be vampires and possibly human characters, such as hunters (vampire killers) or ghouls (Blood-addicted humans).

CCP is also making “official” some playstyles, which WoDO will contain in an interconnected manner. They are coffee house (Second-Life chatroom), theme-park (World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online), and sandbox (EVE, A Tale in the Desert). However, the game is going to have a very mature slant with little room for immaturity, some sort of self-policing, and inclusiveness to the LGBT audience. There will be combat, but it won’t be the core of the game. So that’s what we know so far. My thoughts after the break.

My first reaction was extreme dislike at the thought of Masquerade being the vehicle rather than the more elegant successor Vampire: the Requiem (Requiem). Masquerade feels more like Blade, Underworld, or even Twilight in comparison. Yes, Twilight because Masquerade is about the power and beauty of vampires first with some alleged horror second. Mockingly, the theme of Masquerade is “trenchcoats, sunglasses, and katanas.” Requiem is about exploring the personal horror of being a vampire first with the power and beauty second. In my humble opinion, Requiem creates magnificently better tabletop stories than Masquerade (which often devolve to vampire superheroes).

However, I do agree with a few that Masquerade makes for a better video game, especially in lore and popularity. Yet, with White Wolf’s already lessened release schedules for their tabletop RPG books, this makes me more afraid that the end of the “new” World of Darkness is going down with the Mayan Apocalypse (or rise of WoDO, whichever you want). A successful MMO is a magnificent powerful beast that can push forward a whole slew of intellectual property, such as novels, posters, and even tabletop roleplaying games. Is White Wolf really going to be supporting a tabletop RPG that does not reflect its millions-of-dollars MMO? 8-Ball says “unlikely.”

My other disappointment was the fact that my favorite roleplaying “universe,” the anthropomorphic, animistic Werewolf (the Apocalypse or preferably the Forsaken), was not going to be included. It was far easier to recognize the extreme difficulty in presenting an excellent Vampire MMO experience and one for Werewolf when the themes often grate against one another. Vampire is about romance, subtlety, and Machiavellian power.  Werewolf is about rage. Perhaps in 2015 we might get a peek at a Werewolf expansion for WoDO.

With all the disappointment, I am still excited. Unlike many of the subscription theme-park MMOs (namely World of Warcraft), WoDO seems like a service I would want to subscribe to. I imagine that with 1.5 years of planning, White Wolf/CCP are doing their absolute best in trying to get as much of the tabletop RPG experience as they can to an MMO. Plus with all the great stories of power and betrayal we see coming out of EVE, I know the MMO version of Masquerade is in the best hands. I doubt we will hear much more until next year, but I will stay tuned if we do.

caine who was cast out

19 thoughts on “World of Darkness and Disappointment”

  1. I strongly suspect that CCP is going to borrow things from nWoD in WoDO’s design – I think the basic setup (clans, the Camarilla, et al,) will come from V:tM, but that some tonal elements will come from V:tR, which is less thematically dated. I don’t expect a purist treatment of V:tM, but of the two properties, it’s the easier one to pitch to players because of much greater recognition – and the LARP community, to which the presentation was made (The Grand Masquerade is primarily a LARP event, although some tabletop stuff occurs there as well,) never really embraced (ha, ha!) the nWoD.

    For what it’s worth, my favorite oWoD title was Mage. So I’m a bit disappointed as well that this game will be Vampire-only, at least at first. Let’s hope that other supernatural types are in CCP’s long-range plans. Even so, I agree with you that WoDO is one of the few (perhaps the only,) title in the works that I think I’d be willing to pay for a subscription to. I have very high hopes for it, due largely to the set of hand that it’s in.

    1. I could definitely do with a Masquerade in view of Requiem instead of a spirit nuke, Cainite, vampires own everything everywhere Masquerade. :)

  2. It’s not true that the theme of Masquerade is all about katanas and trenchcoats. That may be how some groups played it, but they’ll play Requiem that way too.

    Masquerade was always a more gothic, more romantic (in the literary sense of the term), and more melodramatic setting. Think of it as a Victorian type of vampire as opposed to Requiem’s more modern take.

    The paradox is that it’s hard to really love Requiem in the way that people got attached to Masquerade. I agree completely that the rules are streamlined and it’s the setting I’d use for running tabletop. But Masq is the romantic/ grim gothic/ beautiful dead/ secret controllers of the universe setting and it’s the one people want when they want to play at being vampires.

    1. And for their next trick, they will sparkle in the sunlight. :P

      I don’t disagree though. oWoD was as to being superheroes as nWoD was to being a worthless grunt in the dead-filled trenches. I guess nWoD was just too “grimdark.”

      1. Oh good, I thought that might just have been the Requiem campaign I am in. “Hmm, I am a powerless neonate surrounded by monstrous NPCs for whom I have no sympathy.” Angst Induced Apathy. I miss my slightly ridiculous vampire supervillain.

        And if I get my pick, Mage. Though how you do that as a CRPG…

        1. That’s really interesting. When I ran Requiem, I was inspired by modern british gangster films (I took The Limey and Face as big inspirations) … and one of the things they have in common is that you end up working for lots of monstrous thuggish people for whom no one has any sympathy (although they are well ‘ard.)

      2. My group played a lot of Werewolf. I think the beauty of that game is that it was so versatile. You could get involved in some (potentially brutal) politics, you could go exploring the far reaches of the Umbra, or you could just go to Crinos form and bash some heads in. I always summarized Werewolf as “meaningful supernatural eco-terrorists” and that was fun.

        The new setting, however, took away a lot of that fun. The PCs seemed to be reduced to “spirit beat cops”, which just didn’t grab me (or the rest of my group) very much. The whole concept of more isolated packs might be more “wolf-like”, but it cut off a lot of what could get thrown in from the outside.

        Mechanics-wise, I didn’t like the extreme simplification. Yes, the variable difficulty numbers could lead to some EXTREME MUNCHKINISM(tm), but I believe that’s not the system’s job to restrict that, rather it’s the GM that should put restrictions in place. The one thing I really did enjoy about the new system was how you created a human character before applying a template. That encouraged you to think a bit more about the human background before you got thrown into the supernatural world. That’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing applied back to the original setting.

        We’ll see. I do take this as an indication that the new setting isn’t living up to expectations. Not surprising, as the love for the old stuff took years to build up. As MMO players know, trying to change something radically after launch often leads to crying.

        Anyway, something I’ll be keeping an eye on.

        1. Totally agree regarding the flexibility of the old Werewolf setting.

          I browsed through the new book, looked over the changes and decided that thematically it was far more limited in scope so passed on it.

  3. We used to refer to oWoD as “supers with fangs.” Given how broken the v1 rules were, I still think it would have played well with “Champions” rules.

    I could be wrong here. I hope I am. But I am expecting to see World of Warcraft with “clans” = classes, talent points, levels (bet you go to being a level 60 Ventrue, and does anyone have a level 60 Gangrel or Brujah, ’cause we need a tank?) Vampire clan leaders with glowing “!” will hurt my head, but honestly I think they are more likely than not.

    World of Vampcraft.

      1. Vampire accountants with spreadsheets? Those that join first will always have more skills/powers?

        I enjoyed WoD tabletop, but god did EvE not agree with me, and they are going to have to have some amazing gameplay to make me feel anything other than “meh” about this.

        1. “Those that join first will always have more skills/powers?”

          Well, age = power is a common trope in vampire fiction, is it not? :-D

  4. Some of my favorite RP moments are in Masquerade.

    I can ignore Requiem as easily as I can ignore Paranoia 3rd Edition, and for the same reasons.

  5. Originally, Vampire: the Masquerade was supposed to be about the exploration of personal horror and pushing the limits of your own comfort zone.

    However, it wasn’t until a few books in that we started getting a bit of power creep (the True Brujah immediately spring to mind) and the whole superheroes with fangs schtick really took hold.

    The original game is fine if handled well. That being said, few Storytellers ever really managed to reign all the goofiness in.

  6. So does this mean that the powers will be more like the first edt of masquerade where powers were more universal or will it be like the second edt where powers were shuffled around. I liked having a brujah with potence. Never got around to finding a new group for vampire once I moved away from the people I knew.

  7. I agree. As a Storyteller my games never turned into a power circus. It was all about politics, hubris and the weight of their decisions. Of course I had to draw a line some were no Temporis for example.

    I’m so glad VTM comes back, to my distaste is in a MMO, but I guess RPG books will follow. The sick part is that I will buy the MMO, but won’t get to play due to my case load and frenzied clients.

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