23 Sep 2010

Welcome to the Masquerade

White Wolf Games is holding their Grand Masquerade in New Orleans this weekend and promises to reveal something momentous about the future of their World of Darkness Roleplaying game.

I first came across WoD about 15 years ago when the Magic: the Gathering craze swept through our local Wargaming/RPG club. One of our number twigged on to Rage, the CCG spun from the Werewolf RPG. This led me to Vampire, Mage, Wraith and all the other White Wolf Games. I never found the opportunity to play with the Storyteller rules in the WoD setting, I did however play an adaptation of the Cthullu Mythos using the Storyteller rules.

I kind of lost touch with the WoD setting over the last few years (I still have my original Mage and Wraith rulebooks though and dip into them occasionally) but the news a few years ago that CCP, the makers of EVE Online, and White Wolf were merging made me think of the possibilities.

I Imagined an open, sandbox style, socially driven MMO based on the WoD setting. A virtual world with the economic and political depth of EVE but with a 'modern gothic' setting. Is this what will be announced at the Masquerade?

The original WoD ruleset (I've not really read the new one) was less about heavy number crunching than about telling a good story. Gone were DnD's heavy reliance on tables and statistics and instead the GM was and players were given more freedom in order to build compelling narratives. Whether this free form style of gameplay will translate well to an MMO is something that is yet to be seen. Judging from CCP's record with EVE, where a lot of the gameplay and narrative is not hard-coded in but exists in a flexible social gamespace where there literally are no hard and fast rules, they are the company to bring the Storyteller system to the often numbers heavy realm of the MMO.

Its been a few years since the first hints of a WoD MMO were dropped at CCP's annual EVE Online Fanfest in 2006 and only 18 months since full scale development of the WoD MMO started (according to wikipedia that is, information about the game from CCP/White Wolf has been very thin on the ground) and its about time something was announced.

WoD has a huge fanbase worldwide, with Vampire: The Requiem being the most popular of the three core rulesets (the others being Werewolf: The Forsaken and Mage: The Awakening) and includes a large LARPing community. This fanbase, however, is not the same as those who follow the twinkly teen fiction of Twilight. I have faith that CCP/White Wolf will not succumb to the easy road of twinklifying their IP to appeal to this new flock of vampire fanatics, and will also keep the intrigues and social engineering aspects of the WoD setting intact. Anything less may very well be seen as a kind of betrayal by the existing fans of the WoD setting.

The future of WoD will be revealed to all at the Grand Masquerade in less than 36 hours. I for one can't wait, and personally wish I was there.

M out

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