When the World of Darkness died …

A couple of years back I played in a lot of World of Darkness games. Everything started with “Vampire – The Masquerade”. The game was pretty new (at least to us) and in the beginning we had a small group of excellent roleplayers that enjoyed exploring the vampiric nature of their characters. We took great care in building atmosphere and everyone had a blast. When our GM opened the group for new players things started to go downhill. Especially when we had approx. 10 people sitting around the gaming table and when the player I always got in trouble with became Co-GM, I knew that the campaign had jumped the shark (at least for me).

Since I still enjoyed playing Vampire, I joined another gaming group and soon noticed that I jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. In my experience the old WoD games has always been prone to severe cases of Munchkinism but things get worse when the GM itself is a Munchkin. When every second NPC you meet is at least a couple of generations above you and either looks like the GM’s wet dream and/or what he/she would love to look herself, things get boring fast.
But the worst thing by far was, that in some campaigns I played in, there were more vampires in any given city than normal humans. *sigh*
Intrigue and politicking can be fun, but it definitely hurts the game when the party doesn’t get anything done because of the constant fighting between the group’s members.

I also played in a couple of Werewolf campaigns and a short-lived Mage campaign. But in the end I stopped playing World of Darkness games. It’s not that I didn’t like the premise of the world or the rules (although I think the current Storyteller rules are much better). Slowly I turned my back from World of Darkness games. In a way the WoD died for me a long time before White Wolf’s Time of Judgement.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

5 thoughts on “When the World of Darkness died …”

  1. Thankfully we never really suffered to badly from that when we played WOD. We eventually got the to munchkin point in one campaign but we had been playing our characters for several years by that point so it was generally excepted that our characters would have been min-maxed by then. Thankfully the only time they seemed overpowered was when someone else played them in our absence. My vamp-blood loving 4th gen brujah was normally a geeky no friends computer hacker so it was very rare that his world ending combat skills got a run out. I miss that charater… It was always a good game when we helped out a vamp on a blood hunt and when he'd killed our target he didn't realise I'd already munched down on the target. I was really hard to kill thanks to some lucky lucky dice in those early games. 😉

    I always found the Werewolf games I played in to be very munchkiny though. Very little in the way of roleplay and a lot of combat junkies bent on getting the best attack dice pools.

    <abbr><abbr>Bobs last blog post..March RPG Bloggers Carnival Roundup!</abbr></abbr>

  2. I find it weird that your WOD games suffered from munchkinism. Everyone I knew who played WOD in the early 90s were heavy role players and not rules lawyers. Hell, the supplements were over half flavor text and supplementary fiction. It was the appeal to this market that made WOD one of the first breakout LARP systems. Rules lawyers during this time were moving into the generic systems like GURPS or HERO.

    The issue that I remember from playing WOD (at least the 1.0 versions in the 90s) was that the rules were just so arbitrary. No set guidelines on difficulty rating adjustment versus number of successes. Mage 1.0 had almost no structure; you could do absolutely anything for no cost by making it look like a coincidence. Maybe that is what leads to munckinism in your groups — the only way to make a challenge is to have the enemy clearly and significantly more powerful than the party.

  3. I think your experience clearly illustrates how dependent a campaign is on the people playing and running it. I think it also is proof of how difficult it is to find a group that has the same interests and intent.

    <abbr><abbr>Michaels last blog post..Songs of Inspiration</abbr></abbr>

  4. I feel for you man. That's a real shame because Vampire had a lot to offer, and Mage was a thing of beauty. Still my favorite game of all time Mage is. One thing I've found is that playing over IM chats lends it's self to really heavy role playing over munchkinism, I think if you ever find an IM community that aren't all pretentious losers, try it out.

    <abbr><abbr>Helmsmans last blog post..The Endless Frustrations of Writing a Game</abbr></abbr>

  5. Yeah, when I listen to people talk about their old vampire games, 80% of them are talking about their power-gaming and munchkin fun, while the remaining 20% usually talk about how the city worked, how the prince wasn't really that powerful in person, but he made life hell on anyone he didn't like through his web of connections and so on.

    Fortunately, I mostly played in groups like the latter.

    <abbr><abbr>Dyson Logoss last blog post..[Moldvay] Temple of Illhan – Second Expedition</abbr></abbr>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.