Darker Days Radio Episode #22
The Wrath of Mark
Mark and Mike hit it off with some White Wolf news and the triumphant return of the Secret Frequncy, discussing the Dyatlov Pass incident.
We take a look back at the Old World of Darkness and talk about everything. Absolutely everything.
Vampire? Obviously. Werewolf? Totes. Mage? Duh. Wraith? Heck yeah! Changeling? Sure. Dark Ages? Got it.
We'd go on with Hunter, Kindred of the East, Mummy, Demon and Orpheus but our vocabulary ran out and you get the picture.
Can not wait!!!
Vampire the Masquerade Submission by Beckett
The initial setting for the World of Darkness, Vampire is a game of personal horror that pits the dwindling parts of the human spirit against he degenerative ravages of the inner demon. Only amplified and fed by darkness and savagery beyond human endurance. As a vampire, you must survive the politics and intrigues that the Kindred partake in to pass their immortal time, but at the same time hold onto the things that make them human.
Said to have been derived from the Biblical Caine, his vampiric children spread through out the world, but manipulating and dominating the humans they must live amongst. As they spread and passed on their curse, they developed into unique families, called Clans. While the Clans are not always unified towards any specific goal, they do tend to steer individuals to certain areas of power or influence.
In the dark ages, when humans had had enough and rose up against the children of the night, many Kindred came together in a rare unity to agree to exist by certain universal rules, allowing vampires as a whole to slink back into the shadows, that he mortals might forget that they really existed. Called the Traditions, they are six laws that govern different aspects of vampire nature, such as disallowing a vampire from freely passing on the Curse so as to keep their numbers low. Forbidding the outright slaying of another vampire without permission, so that outright immortal war will not alert the mortals tat there are monsters amongst them, and finally, the most important law, that of Masquerade.
Of the 13 Clans, 7 agreed to these Traditions, and as they form a semi-unified organization, working together for the continued existence of all vampires, they have also developed the most numerous base of power world wide, and are also the most numerous. This organization, the Camarilla is comprised of:
The Brujah, once warrior-philosophers and devil’s advocate amongst the nobles of their kind, they have since fallen into a form of disgrace, as brutes and thugs.
The Gangrel, wild and savage, in touch with the inner Beast and able to call upon it to physically change themselves according tem the powers of the traditional vampire. Perhaps the most feared of all kindred as individuals, they not only endure, but thrive in the wilds where no other Kindred would dear travel.
The Malkavians, insane to a one, push the bounds of reality and some few develop an oracle’s insight or a prophet’s wisdom. Other are righteous pranksters and others are simply crazy. They are the clan ruled by chaos.
The Nosferatu are maybe the most cursed of all Kindred. Each is inhumanly hideous, many deformed, and most are if not reviled, treated poorly by most others. They have developed a powerful ability to hide and to appear as others, and are the most unified of all clans, as spies and sellers of information. The Toreador are the beautiful ones. The popular ones. They are the artists, celebrities, and socialites of the Kindred able to easily sway the emotions of others and seduce on a whim.
The Tremere are among the newest of the Clans, and least trusted of the Camarilla. Once human wizards attempting to escape some coming doom, they experimented on vampiric blood then transformed themselves into vampires. The second most unified of the Clans, they wield unique blood sorcery and universal step towards being bound to the Clan makes them extremely powerful, but with more enemies than any other.
Finally, the Ventrue. Traditionally the rulers, nobles, and leaders of vampire kind, thy have since switched to a more administrative role as leaders of the Camarilla. They hold the power to both dominate a mortal’s thoughts and to manipulate their emotions and desires as well, meaning that each Ventrue is an army unto themselves.
When he Camarilla was formed, not all where pleased with the idea. Two Clans in particular actively opposed it, while four Clans remained in a sense. Neutral. The two that believed vampires should not hide from humanity, but rather enslave it, formed the Sabbat, and they revel in their inhumanity.
The Lasombra are cruel manipulators and masters of shadow magic. Able to both destroy an opponents will and to call shadows to terrify or attack, they lead the Sabbat on crusade against all they see as unworthy of their damnation.
Beside them stand the Tzimisce, hailing from the lands attributed to Dracula and modern vampire myth, they hold to strange foreign traditions and are able mold flesh and bone as easily as soft clay. The Tzimisce study all aspects of the body and typically enjoy torture, both physically and mentally, through their powers.
But not all Clans took a side, and in fact, in some cases where disallowed from joining one. These 4, all fairly small groups exist, and thrive in between the cracks of the Camarilla and the Sabbat. Like the Sabbat, they sometimes follow very inhuman philosophies, but typically do not thrive on it for it’s own inhuman sake.
The Assamites, mostly middle eastern in origin are assassins, on a unholy quest to rid the world of the unworthy, or o steal their power for themselves. Armed with both a special ability to turn their blood into a poison that even affects the undead, they are universally feared by all others for their prowess.
The Followers of Set, a Clan that originates not from a mortal, but the Egyptian god of storm and discord. They use vice and corruption to build their strength and weaken others in their goal of resurrecting their lost founder and plunging the world into a true darkness. Their powers of temptation and seduction are well know, but that does little to limit it’s power.
The Giovanni are the youngest of the Clans, having actually stolen their immortality and damnation from a now extinct parent Clan. They have wealth beyond measure and even as mortals, fallen into such depravity that they began to delve into the dark arts of necromancy for fun. A gift that has only gotten stronger as they themselves joined the ranks of the undead.
And finally the last Clan, or no longer a Clan, depending on the period of time you play the game. The Ravnos, are Clan with the powers of illusion and well known as thieves, charlatans, con artists, rogues, and entertainers. They roots with the Gypsies, and generally the world, only staying in one place long enough to cause others a lot of trouble and then move on.
But others exist as well. Rare bloodlines, remnants of former Clans, the mysterious Inconnu, and a thousand other creatures with no love for the Kindred. Outside the cities that vampires nominally claim as their domain are the Lupines. Werewolves easily able to destroy a group of vampires, or the spirits of past victims might return from the grave for vengeance or to simply help the vampires moral struggle against the east go down hill that much quicker. Eve within the cities, there are those humans that do know, either born with a special occult understanding or those rare few that have survived a monsters attack and now know that they are there. And hunt them.
But maybe the worst enemy each vampire must face besides the Beast within them, is simply time. Their own immortality begins to cause the vampire to seek more defiled and vicious forms of entertainment. Long term rivalries to pass the time, playing emotional and mental games with those weaker than themselves, just to see what will happen, and the oldest game, that of the Jyhad. At their heart, each vampire is a lone predator, and they want to be the only one. The last one. The one that not only survives, but rules. This is the heart of the Jyhad, the eternal struggle for dominance, that each vampire attempts to gain power, allies, influence, and pawns to achieve. It is said that the most ancient of ancients still play the Jyhad, even in their sleep able to manipulate nations, Clans, and Sects through dreams and carefully laid plans that play out through the centuries. One day they will rise, and when they do, only the blood of other vampires will sate them. They will come seeking the blood of all who can not stand against them, as mortal blood no longer sates them. That is their Jyhad, and they have a head start.
Wraith Submission by Alan Smithee
I have read several reviews for Wraith: The Oblivion and am rather perplexed; the reviewers just don’t seem to get the point of the game. This is precisely what kept Wraith sales down and led to the early cancellation of the series. In order to run a Wraith game you need players, and more importantly a storyteller, who really GET the point of Wraith. Let’s break it down by the main complaints. I have heard it say that the characters are underpowered, compared to other World of Darkness creatures, and that is it not fun because you can’t interact with the physical world. I believe this is the ghost of old-school hack-n’-slash gaming rearing its ugly head again. Sure, you can have a lot of fun with a Vampire: The Masquerade game where you ruthlessly gain power, vanquish your enemies, and size control over a city’s assets. But you also could have a game where you explore the personal horror of becoming an undead thing, struggling with the beast within, the hunger, having to feed off of life to sustain your horrid semi-life. Wraith serves the latter style. The point is to explore the metaphor and meaning of the ghost story, not to crawl through dungeons with your +12 broadsword looking for gold pieces. Of course your character will have little interaction with the physical world, their dead. That really puts a serious hamper on your social life. As one Amazon reviewer put it “Imagine the frustration, pain, and tragedy of being able to see and feel and hear the world you left behind… but being unable to move or manipulate that world. Imagine seeing your ex-wife grow old and die… or feeling the impotent rage of watching the bastard who raped and murdered you stalking his next target.” Most of the conflict is internal; your own worst enemy is yourself, or rather the shadow of your nature (according to Jungian philosophy, if I remember correctly). Your Shadow is played by another player, which is an interesting twist. The ideal Wraith game is played with at least three players and a Storyteller, so that no two players play their opposite’s Shadow. The internal conflict, the pathos at being separated from loved ones, from whatever your player loved when he or she was alive (or things he/she hated, such as your murderer?), the struggle to hold on to your being while Oblivion pulls at you, THAT is the core of Wraith, and if that doesn’t sound like fun you should really look elsewhere. If it does sound like fun, well then being dead isn’t the handicap it used to be in the olden days. It doesn’t screw up your career like it used to.
Changeling : the Dreaming Submission by Alan Smithee
This book holds a lot of nostalgia for me; it takes me right back to 1995. Marketed as the last of the five White Wolf core game lines (before Hunter: The Reckoning and Mummy: The Resurrection, and [Noun: The Evocative Verb] proved them wrong, it was by far the brightest of the five lines. Many people say it is the lightest, this is misleading. It is the brightest, the most colorful and evocative. The other games like Vampire, and Wraith in particular can get bogged down in the dreary weeds of the World of Darkness; Changeling offers an alternative, a game where you play a character half mortal and half immortal fairie (a creature native to the realm of Dreams). You are literally awash in the dreaming life of mortals, their fantasies, idle fancy and darkest nightmares. This means that Changeling can be as dark as you wish it too, or as light-hearted as well. In fact, it is the only core game that has rules for playing children (and believe me after four years of playing angst-ridden Kindred or brutal Garou that was a revolutionary change).
Not everything is light, like the other WoD games there is an apocalypse built in, that involving the death of creativity in light of the cynical nature of our postmodern world. For a changeling, this means the terrifying prospect of the permanent loss of their fairie soul.
As much as I love the game in theory, it is a challenge in practice. First is the challenge of finding players and storytellers who really grok the game. Many gamers just can’t wrap their mind around it. Secondly is the magic system: Hopelessly Broken. Changelings are also underpowered compared to other WoD characters, but this doesn’t really matter as the game is a nightmare to crossover anyhow, as the Changeling characters exist halfway in their own separate reality of the Dreaming. As time went by, I also found the character creation to be rather restrictive, but back in 1995 it was still new and fresh.
The design of the book is top notch, particularly the first chapter where the authors take a playful break from the “opening fiction” of previous material. The artwork by Tony DiTerlizzi and others is top notch, and really helps you grasp the theme and feel of the game.
Changeling: the Dreaming is a game with few but passionate fans. I hope if you find it you enjoy it as much as I did the spring of 1995.
Changeling : the Dreaming 2nd ed.
I bring to the table very mixed feelings when I set out to review Changeling: The Dreaming Second Edition. This is one of my favorite games of the World of Darkness lines, but it has its share of problems. There are some things that could be improved upon, but wrinkles aside my core gut reaction is fondness and excitement.
Changeling is the brightest of the WoD games, not the most cheerful. Many people make that mistake. It has the shine of colors and fantasy that Vampire, Werewolf, perhaps even Mage cannot hope to match but being that is a game about dreams it can also be about the most frightening nightmares as well. Also, a core theme of the game is the loss of dreams, loss of imagination as the world steadily becomes cynical, cruel and grinding, full of ennui. That is as frightening as any monster, indeed.
Literally anything can happen in the half/world Changelings inhabit. They are mortal humans that share an immortal soul with a Fairie of Legend, so they have one foot in the real world and one in the imaginary world of dreams. So, while a changelings mortal half may be dodging traffic on his way to work his Fey self may be hunting down quarry on an imaginary steed. Comedy ensues.
The biggest problem about the game is finding players and storytellers who really understand this esoteric notion. It isn’t a game everyone can grasp. The second problem is based in irony. While the Dreaming is a place where anything can happen; Changeling: The Dreaming offers frustratingly limited character creation options. If you don’t want to be any of the “Kith” archetypes listed in the main book, there isn’t a mechanic to create just the kind of Fey you want to be without house rules. Also, the magic system is… lets not mice words. It’s broken, badly. Fans of the series deny or overlook these flaws, however. If you can, than it is a very enjoyable game. Plus, the artwork is luxuriant and beautiful.
Dark Ages Submission by Mike
The World of Darkness Dark Ages game line has an extremely broad purview, from the release of Vampire: the Dark Ages in 1996 to the release of Dark Ages Fae in 2004. Not only does this mean the product line supports a wide variety of supernatural archetypes, but the Dark Ages covers many themes from Gothic Horror in Vampire: the Dark Ages to Epic Horror in the revised Dark Ages: Vampire.
Most importantly, these are not rehashes of other World of Darkness games - for example there are astounding differences in mechanics and setting between Mage: the Ascension and Dark Ages: Mage. The Dark Ages games were also notable for their very mature take of medieval history, adding in supernaturals but doing so respectfully. In particular, Dark Ages is highly regarded for its well researched sourcebooks, portraying historical locations and themes accurately.
The Dark Ages line began with Vampire: the Dark Ages, released in 1996, with some origins in Giovanni Chronicles I: The Last Supper. Set in the year of our lord 1197, Vampire: the Dark Ages portrays a time when Cainites walked freely among mortals, surviving with intimidation and their disciplines rather than secrecy and coercion. Vampires did not belong to sects, but a few belonged formed loose ideologies and organizations found throughout Europe, such as the Furoires and the Order of Bitter Ashes. Additionally, not all kindred follow humanity. Instead, there are Roads of Morality - Humanity, Heaven, Kings, Sin, and Beast - that Vampires use to stave off the harrowing beast.
Dark Ages: Vampire is the revised edition of the game line, providing the final rendition of the Storyteller System. Dark Ages: Vampire shifted the game’s themes from a lonely, frightful jyhad in the Long Night to the war torn europe in an age known as The War of Princes. The games story was also shifted to the year 1230, one year before the Catholic Church officially created the inquisition.
Dark Ages: Vampire also had four sourcebook released with rules for other supernaturals. Each requires the basic rules provided in the Dark Ages: Vampire corebook, and all the games are suitably different from their modern counterpart.
Dark Ages: Mage is describes a mythic age before the Ascension Wars began. Characters belong to a Fellowship, a precursor to the traditions based on a common faith - from the Christian Messianic Voices to the Nordic Vaelderman. Unlike the politics and war of Dark Ages Vampire, Mage takes a close look at spirituality and the conflicts surrounding it.
Dark Ages: Inquisitor introduces the shadow inquisition, an organization within the Catholic Church to root out monsters and corruption. Characters aren’t just monks, however, they range from scholar scientists to warriors of God participating in one of the Shadow Inquisition’s Orders. Inquisitor focuses on an almost call of cthulhu style exploration of the unknown in a medieval backdrop.
Dark Ages: Werewolf portrays the Garou in the year 1230. Unlike the modern nights, Werewolves are not fighting a losing war against the Wyrm and Weaver, with the Tribes’ worst enemies being themselves. Characters belong to one of the fourteen werewolf tribes, fighting for territory and their spirituality in the dark ages.
Dark Ages: Fae is perhaps the most radical departure of all the dark ages games. Your character is a fae who has returned to the mortal world, only to find humanity has broken their ancient oaths and truces. Upon finding the failed stewardship of man, the fae’s four seasonal courts have ceased hostilities in an effort to take back their world.
So there you have it, Dark Ages: Vampire and its four games. A rather intriguing romp through one of Europe’s most desperate times.
Demon Submission by Mike
While infernal entities have remained subtly in the background of all Old World of Darkness games - with the Baali in Vampire, the Nephandi in Mage, and perhaps the Neverborn in Wraith - Demon: the Fallen took a dive into the deep end and introduced playable Fallen Angels.
Demon: the Fallen has a backstory so grand and sweeping that it puts Vampire: the Masquerade to shame. Our story begins with creation, when one of the Elohim, Ahrimal, foresaw a disaster that God would orchestrate. He confided this vision to Lucifer, who was the first angel to rebel against God and the heavenly host. This rebellion grew and came to a head when Caine murdered his brother Abel and then angels learned how to kill.
This rebellion failed and God banished all the fallen angels to the abyss - a prison known as hell. All but Lucifer. The firebrand and charismatic leader was able to escape the abyss and wandered the earth for eternity.
During this time the Earthbound were summoned from the abyss and bound to items and places - supremely powerful demons trapped to watch the mortals they fought for walk freely. For millennia this was the only presence of fallen angels in the world.
That is, until the abyssal prison broke. And through the cracks the smallest demons escaped, returning to the mortal world. Driven made by millennia of torture and imprisonment, these demons are forced to find suitably broken hosts to survive in. With their memories broken and living in a strange new world, the demons try to rebuild their community and plan for the final nights.
Now, Demon: the Fallen is especially notable for using a splat and faction set up similar to that found in the New World of Darkness. Elohim first belong to a house which they belonged to in the early days of creation. Demons also join factions which represent their ideology in the modern day.
The Fallen Houses are as follows:
The Defilers or Lammasu have control over water and once loved humans, but were the first house to fall and be trapped in the abyss. In the modern setting, Defilers seek to destroy people and organizations for their own purposes.
The Devils or Namaru have control over flame and light. In the modern setting many of these angels join the Luciferian faction.
The Devourers or Rabisu control plants animals and nature.
The Malefactors or Anunnaki control the earth and knew the mysteries of tools and crafting. In the modern day, Malefactors hate humanity for corrupting and slowly destroying the earth.
Scourges or Asharu were the guardian angels and can now heal and harm in equal measure.
Slayers of Halaku were once the angels of death and now have the ability to enter the shadowlands found in Wraith the Oblivion.
Finally, Demons typically join one of five factions to according to their own beliefs following their escape from hell. Cryptics gather knowledge to discover what really happened millennia ago, Faustians want revenge against God, Luciferians seek to defend humanity and battle heaven as the morningstar taught them, the Raveners want to destroy humanity, and the Reconcilers seek to atone for their past sins.
Awesome episode and it was nice to hear Mark (”Old Mark?” “Mark 1?”) again. Thank you for all of your hard work!
Great episode! Check your email. Kimberly sent you something that might be helpful.