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Bill Bridges is an award-winning writer and narrative designer of numerous games. He was one of the original developers of White Wolf's World of Darkness and is the co-creator and developer of the Fading Suns science-fiction universe. He is a Fellow at Atlanta's Mythic Imagination Institute. Visit him at bill-bridges.com.
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Let me begin by saying that I have never read or played any of the World of Darkness games before now. I suppose that is a good thing, since I won't be comparing WORLD OF DARKNESS to any previous incarnations. As I understand it, this book has no analogue from the old World of Darkness; this book, the WORLD OF DARKNESS Storytelling System Rulebook, collects all of the mechanics for playing World of Darkness games so that none of the other gamebooks are cluttered with repetitions of the rules. While some people see that as a cynical marketing ploy to sell more books, I see it as a brilliant marketing ploy to sell more books. The core rules, WORLD OF DARKNESS, describes the mechanics and flavor of playing a mortal, regular human in a horror game. Judging from fan response, the "mortals" game has been a big hit, with supplements such as GHOST STORIES, MYSTERIOUS PLACES, and ANTAGONISTS to help new storytellers develop their chronicles, with other mortals books like ARMORY and SECOND SIGHT to add more depth to playing mortals. WORLD OF DARKNESS is more than just a collection of rules; it is its own game line.
In case you are new to White Wolf games (as I was a few months ago), the systems are designed around telling a story rather than war gaming. You can tell (or play in) a good story no matter what system you use; it really depends on the players and the StoryTeller (ST). WORLD OF DARKNESS is, however, designed and packaged around the concept of telling a story or acting out a drama. The book opens with a fictive narrative which helps set the mood. Each chapter opens with a short story or segment that serves to ispire the ST and players. And most interesting (to me), each attribute and skill is explained by a short horror snippet to serve as an in-character example.Read more ›
Although most of the old players of the World of Darkness settings might argue that the system is overall unimpotant to the game, my group has always been interested in the game system and its relation with the roleplaying. And I must say, unfortunately, although we always loved the Vampire setting and overall mood of the World of Darkness as a whole, we always felt that the system was not very well thought in some aspects, specially combat and characters balance. Also, it was hard to do certain things in the game, as many times there wasn't enough explanation about important actions in most roleplaying games, like the use of vehicles, social interaction and so on. And thus, we migrated to Gurps (I know, not the best for roleplaying, but still more balanced in terms of system). Three editions of Vampire the Masquerade came out, and they all felt the same.
Now, I find that the new World of Darkness brought, in this first book, a deep concern in game mechanics, as well as with mood and organization of the information available. I couldn't be more pleased.
First off, of course, the changes on the system. Relevant and necessary changes were made, making the game more realistic and controlled. It finally makes some sense! You can add situation modifiers without making it impossible or too easy to perform any task. Combat is more realistic too -- now, if you're any good, you get to actually hit your foes, not only suck because they all got Dex 4 + Dodge 4.
Still about the system, now, unlike the old editions, there IS a core rulebook with all basic system mechanics. Because so far, they always had to repeat themselves in all settings, with pages and pages of rules they should have concentrated in a single book to start with.Read more ›
When I heard that White Wolf Games was going to re-invent their classic "World of Darkness" game line after a little over a decade, I, like many others, was concerned that the new game lines and setting wouldn't measure up to the original "World of Darkness" and the classic games it produced, such as Vampire: the Masquerade, Mage: The Ascension and Werewolf: The Apocalypse.
I was pleasantly surprised with the World of Darkness core rulebook, primarily because the "Gothic-Punk" setting which was the hallmark of World of Darkness 1.0 because it so deftly summed up the mood of the world as we ended one millennium and began another, has been replaced with a more natural, interesting (imo) and realistic setting, which is much closer in spirit and context to the "ordinary" world in which Stephen King spins his supernatural stories, and in the core rulebook, there are nods to Mr. King in a couple of chapters.
Also, because there's no "metaplot" like there was with World Of Darkness 1.0, anyone who wishes to play the game can create stories which have their own unique flavor and style. With the focus on "everyday" horror, instead of a metaplot, the stories which can be told within the new World Of Darkness will be much more enjoyable.
The rules (including the use of dice) are more streamlined and comprehensive, and makes it easier to play mortals who are introduced to this "other world" through various experiences with the supernatural which are detailed in two other WoD 2.0 books which I recommend -- GHOST STORIES and MYSTERIOUS PLACES.Read more ›
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