The vampires of our RPG show, Vampire the Masquerade: L.A. By Night, are exploring the mysteries that surround their existence. Their intrigues take place in a world like ours…only darker. Long time fans of White Wolf’s World of Darkness know that while vampires may have been the first creatures of the night to reveal themselves in a tabletop RPG, they weren’t the only ones. The World of Darkness expanded year by year within the 1990s to incorporate all sorts of strange creatures, each with their own factions, drama and big stories to tell.
All of their stories ended in 2004 in the Time of Judgment crossover, but White Wolf Entertainment has hinted that, much like Vampire: The Masquerade, these other games of the World of Darkness will soon reborn with updated twists to bring their scope in line with modern audiences. This look at the other parts of the setting offers tantalizing glimpses in the future of the World of Darkness, but fans impatient to return should check out the excellent 20th Anniversary Editions of these games from Onyx Path Publishing. These editions go into far greater depth on each setting than we can and also offer a chance for new and returning players a chance to play a version of these games that focus on the strongest parts of their game line.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse
The Garou are sworn enemies of the Kindred and the second game of the World of Darkness set out to be everything Masquerade was not. Under the tagline “When Will You Rage?” the game featured several tribes of werewolves scattered throughout the globe fighting a losing battle against one of the biggest bads out there: the Wyrm. This sentient master of darkness has infected the setting to its core and has been slowly but surely winning the war against werewolves for centuries.
The modern setting focused on the last ditch attempt of the Garou to turn the tide even though nearly everyone thinks the end is near. Characters are each able to shift into several forms to best discover how to defeat the legions of the Wyrm fueled by rage against the terrible things humans have done to the Earth. Later books introduced the Changing Breeds, shapeshifting animal-human hybrids including everything from werespiders to weresharks as additional allies and antagonists for the werewolves.
Mage: The Ascension
What do you believe? Mage has a reputation for being the headiest of the World of Darkness games as it goes beyond modern day spellcasters into a game about belief, reality and how humanity shapes the truth through both. The players are set up as members of the Traditions, factions of will workers hoping to guide humanity to enlightenment though different paradigns ranging from witchy blood magic to Victorian steampunk pseudo-science. They are surrounded by three antagonist factions: the Mauruders who were driven mad by the power they tried to harness, the Nephandi who were corrupted by the same forces that power the Wyrm, and the Technocracy who are currently in power and look to suppress humanity until it can awaken on their timetable.
The philosophy of the game doesn’t render it boring; there’s still a lot of room for tense chases with Technocracy-backed terminator-style assassins and wrestling with Paradox in sessions that can be as twisty as an episode of Twilight Zone or Black Mirror. The Technocracy, much like the Sabbat, has also transformed from a one-note antagonist faction to something far more nuanced and difficult to demonize. Under their watch, we’ve gotten things like smartphones and livestreams, so maybe the price we’ve paid to be weighed down by their yoke of ignorance might be worth it?
Wraith: The Oblivion
White Wolf brought forth its darkest game when it decided to bring ghosts to the forefront. Characters die at the beginning of every Wraith game and that’s the least of their worries. Players define their characters through the Passions through which they gain emotional sustenance and the Fetters that still link them to the mortal world. The game also pushed aside the traditional factional squabbles in between players for larger organizations that put pressure on the players to do things besides resolve the reasons why they ended up ghosts in the first place.
Defining a character through emotions and the hooks they need to settle to pass on was already a radical notion for a tabletop RPG, but White Wolf pushed things even further by giving each player a Shadow to wrestle with. Rather than the fury of the vampire’s Beast, these Shadows are the personification of each player’s dark side and they are played by either the Storyteller or by one of the other players in a dual role. This feature marked Wraith as one of the most unique games in a setting full of dark stories to tell.
Changeling: The Dreaming
It’s hard to think something called the World of Darkness tried to end on a high note, but it did. The final entry of the original five games is the closest the series gets to optimism. Changelings try to protect the wonder in the world from the forces of banality. Most people grow up, get hard and cynically forget to notice the magic that’s everywhere. Changelings protect and spread that magic as much as they can, even when it means it gets out of hand and makes the world a bit scarier. They are also trying to rebuild their society rather than keep it from falling or being crushed; humanity is on the edge of so many wondrous things and can be so much better if the Changelings can just push the right people at the right time.
Changeling: The Dreaming marked the last World of Darkness game of the original five announced after the success of the original Vampire: The Masquerade. A few other lines followed, but these main lines are the most likely not just to show up in the latest edition of Vampire but get fleshed out into their own reboots after Vampire: Fifth Edition. Each provides a different perspective on the world and we can’t wait to see if one of their denizens shows up to antagonize our Kindred in LA By Night!
What World of Darkness game would you like to see from us next? Let us know in the comments!
Are you ready to jump into the World of Darkness? Be sure to join us for Vampire: The Masquerade – L.A. By Night at 8 PM Pacific this Friday, September 14th for the premiere airing on Twitch and Alpha! Not an Alpha member? Get a free 60-day trial at projectalpha.com with code BITTEN!
Explore More World of Darkness Goodness!
- More Powers of The Embraced in VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE, Explained
- A look back at the previous incarnations of VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE
- VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE’s World of Darkness, Briefly Explained
Images Credits: Onyx Path Publishing
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. His Twitter is here. You can watch him livestream RPGs with the Theatre of the Mind Players here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.