So I wrote that headline as a way to get you to click the link. Who admits to click-bait? To be honest though, I don't actually have a major issue with either the classic World of Darkness or the newer Chronicles of Darkness. For me, both gaming worlds have awesome things to offer a good storyteller and in some ways, both have their drawbacks.
1) Both have great worlds:
One of the things that I love most about the classic World of Darkness was the meta-plot. The meta-plot was amazing, it was deep, engaging and excited and there's always a sense of impending doom. The problem with the meta-plot in the classic World of Darkness is that there's always a sense of impending doom and after a while you kind of think, isn’t it about time for the end of the world already?
Though I don't think that's the only reason that White Wolf decided that they weren't going to continue the classic World of Darkness it certainly seems to have been a big part of it. They wanted to provide an opportunity to tell a great story without always having to have the apocalypse or the end of the world in some form always on the horizon. Now for a moment let's contrast that with the Chronicles of Darkness. The awesome thing about the Chronicles of Darkness was it created an open world where players and storytellers could experience a sense of personal horror and play vampires and werewolves and all the different groups without feeling like the world was going to end any moment.
That being said, they left things a little too open-ended in the original versions of the book. So what had the possibility of being a really engaging opportunity for storytellers actually ended up turning a lot of folks off. Now what some of us, (including me) didn't realize was they would eventually release books that addressed that concern. I also think they actually created a fantastic story which made things deeper and engaged people. Things like the God-Machine Chronicles and some of the other great supplements provided a lot of cool story options for all the game lines. I'm tempted to pick a bunch up from DriveThruRPG one of these days.
2) Crunchy mechanics:
White Wolf went through a lot of edition adjustment through the years for various reasons. In all of them they would adjust, tweak, and update rules. The 20th anniversary rules are so far some of the best Classic WoD rules I've played. That being said, the rules in the Chronicles of Darkness are great. The mechanics work well, and if they had been supplemented with great story from the beginning I would have probably latched onto them and never left. (Maybe not, I joined the Army not long after the Chronicles came out so I probably would still have been on hiatus.) To me, there is no competition here. The games both have mechanics that work for them, they are similar and the golden rule allows you to use what rules works for you and your game.
3) Mage versus Mage:
I love Mage: The Ascension, there is a reason my first article on this site was Mage related. That game drove me deep into philosophy, and science, and theology, and supported a brain that already loved those things. Mage, even with its dense rules was a game that I would go-to time and time again just to read the books. Mage: The Awakening initially pissed me off. I hated it, I detested that it was NOT Mage. Recently though, I listened to a great podcast by Midnight Express and they mentioned some of the plot that has been created over the years for Awakening and I started to come around. I've been peeking back at the first edition Awakening book and its supplements and I see A LOT of cool story potential. It might not be Ascension, but it IS Mage and you should check it out.
4) Vampire: The Requiem is awesome:
VtR was my favorite of the Chronicles lines from the beginning, but I wasn't playing with a group that liked Vampire so I didn't pick it up. I regret that decision. I love the mechanic of aging that doesn't require generation. I love the use of signature progenitors and the easy way to make and support bloodlines. I like the clan and covenants idea. This creates a lot more drama and potential alliances in and around territory. That being said, it isn't my beloved Vampire: The Masquerade and it never will be. Again, like Mage, that's ok. I love VtM for its religious tones, even if I disagree with them in real life. I love VtM for the impending possibility of Gehenna and the soul-crushing Jyhad. I like the Clans, Tzimisce are one of my favorites, but the Nosferatu and the Brujah get a lot of love from me. They are all excellent. So, are the Daeva and the Mekhet.
Play World of Darkness games and I’ll be interested in talking about them. Enjoy the Chronicles of Darkness or enjoy the Classic WoD. Both are great and I think we should recognize that!
With 17 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He recently launched,www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a player in Underground Theatre’s and One World By Nights Vampire LARPs and is running both a Mage game and a Dark Ages: Vampire game. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a recent graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.