World of Darkness
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The World of Darkness is a collective term for the universe created by the roleplaying game publisher White Wolf. Its companion RPG system (rules, templates, etc.) are called the "Storyteller System." The World of Darkness was a dark horror setting, although unlike other horror games of the time, the World of Darkness was a 'gothicpunk' game, with characters that were powerful enough to effect change.
The World of Darkness began in 1991 with the successful RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. (Werewolf was intended to be released first, but Vampire was ready earlier.) There, the term "World of Darkness" (WoD) was born. Later, other games would be written for the other races in the setting:
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse (werewolves)
- Wraith: The Oblivion (ghosts)
- Mage: The Ascension (human mages)
- Changeling: The Dreaming (fairies)
- Hunter: The Reckoning (human witch-hunters)
- Demon: The Fallen (demons and angels)
- Mummy: The Resurrection (mummies)
- Orpheus (ghosts and spirits)
The core games were also published in "Dark Ages" editions that took place in the 13th century. Werewolf was also published in a Wild West edition.
Each new year had a theme and the books published in that year were focused on the theme. This brought about new expansion-systems with Hunters, Demons and Angels. Vampire and Werewolf were rewritten with an Eastern theme in the Year of the Lotus cycle and concerned the Asian variety of these creatures.
As all of these games were designed to stand alone, there were numerous incompatibilities between the five major game systems. New editions of rulebooks frequently included rules changes, shifts in emphasis, and errata, for the purpose of making the games thematically and mechanically more compatible, sometimes at the expense of the original games. However, at every stage, a storyteller planning to include material from more than one of the game lines was left to interpret the rules and combine the systems as he/she saw fit. After three editions, despite increased focus on game line crossovers by White Wolf marketing, there were still major incompatibilities, usually acknowledged and somtimes even affirmed by editors of the individual game lines.
The systems were discontinued in late 2003 in an event called the Time of Judgement. Each system had sourcebooks released with ideas, stories and other goodies that would enable players to roleplay the end of the world, a theme that had been hinted at since the very first edition of Vampire: The Masquerade with 'Gehenna'. Each subsequent edition of the rulebooks also made changes in the World of Darkness, pushing the timeline further towards the end of the world.
Revised World of Darkness
In August 2004 White Wolf resumed publishing with a brand new World of Darkness (usually referred to as 'nWoD' for New World of Darkness, sometimes referred to as 'rWoD' for 'revised' or 'reimagined' World of Darkness). The old Storyteller system was abandoned in favor of a similar system inspired by Exalted and the Aeon Trinity, now called the Storytelling system. A central World of Darkness corebook was created, and each type of supernatural now has its own racial splatbook.
So far, the following splatbooks have been published:
- Vampire: The Requiem
- Werewolf: The Forsaken
- Mage: The Awakening
- Promethean: The Created
- Changeling: The Lost
- Hunter: The Vigil
Furry Fandom and the New World of Darkness
Many changes were enacted after the transition to the new World of Darkness, many in response to the popularity of Werewolf: The Apocalypse among furries. Among other things, the Spirit World (and its associated animal spirits) found in Werewolf and Mage is far more hostile, with many spirits being alien, power-hungry, and corrupting. For a while, it was assumed that only werewolves were "true shapeshifters," and all other humans that could transform into animals either used a special power (Vampires with Protean, Mages with Life magic) or were posessed by (almost invariably) hostile spirits. However, in October 2007, the game supplement "Changing Breeds" was released, which detailed many other shapechanging creatures that worked similarly to the werewolves, which may once again appeal to many gamers who liked the furry aspects of Apocalypse; the furry fandom is even briefly referenced in the Introduction chapter, under the Legends and Realities section.