Tuesday, August 08, 2006
from New Orleans, LA USA
Review: This is the core rulebook for White Wolf's new World of Darkness game line. As such, it can function as a stand-alone game wherein mortal characters face supernatural threats and conspiracies, and it can also serve as the basic game rules to which the various supernatural titles can be seen as expansions, allowing players to take on the roles of supernatural characters. As of 2006, these include _Vampire: The Requiem_, _Werewolf: The Forsaken_ and _Mage: The Awakening_, all of which are quality products in their own right. _Promethean: The Created_ is also soon to be released, but I cannot comment on it at this time except to note its similarly high production values.
Having played my share of games set in White Wolf's original World of Darkness, I can attest that this new product is superior in just about every way. The following points in particular explain why I rate it so highly:
1) The rules are cleaner, faster, and more coherent. They are also 100% consistent among all the new supernatural lines. Some complain that they are *too* clean and that the various supernatural templates' sharing the same basic mechanics makes them too similar, but this way there is certainly less of a burden on the Storyteller (GM), and it makes crossover games *much* easier. Likewise, some complain that the one-roll combat mechanics are over-simplified, but I find that the system is plenty tactical for my tastes. At the very least, it's a fine simulation of the genre, in which combat should be fast, frantic and ugly.
2) Even more importantly, there is a *much* bigger emphasis on mystery in this game than in the previous incarnation. The focus is more local than global, there is no world-spanning metaplot to keep track of, and even the supernatural denizens of this World of Darkness are in the dark about a lot of the things going on out there. In general, there is less of an attempt to define and quantify the Things That Lurk in the Shadows(tm), and instead the Storyteller is encouraged to surprise the players with horrors that defy their expectations.
To this end, this product and its supplements tend toward a toolkit approach, offering options that can be cobbled together into a cohesive story without too much effort on the part of the Storyteller, but which keep the players guessing and help to ensure that the threats don't become predictable (a big problem with the old World of Darkness, where it seemed everything was laid out in a sourcebook somewhere).
In summary, I would describe this product as being what the World of Darkness was always *supposed* to be, but this time the sense of horror and mystery stays with you, so I guess they finally got it right. I would also recommend it to new players looking for a game that specializes in everything from Cthulhu-style investigation to zombie survival horror, all with a rules-medium system that provides plenty of options and is painless to run.