19
\$\begingroup\$

I just got my kick-starter copy of Changeling the Lost 2nd Ed and I am starting to dip my toe back into the World of Darkness after a long absent.
And I found out that it is confusing as hell trying to figure out which versions and editions of the different versions goes with which.

You have old World of Darkness, new World of Darkness or Chronicles of Darkness. A couple of editions of Vampire the Masquerade, a couple of editions of Vampire Gehenna, a Vampire the Masquerade 20th years anniversary edition and a 5th edition VtM that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of World of Darkness besides the White Wolf logo on the back.

Same thing with my favourite game of Changeling. My 2nd edition should technically be the 4th edition if you count number of Changeling RPG core books instead of numbering after settings. I think.

Seriously, it feels like you'd need some sort of flowchart just to figure out which games are connected and which are compatible with each other from a rules and from a meta plot perspective.

And that's not even counting all the different historical spin-offs.

So can someone please explain which versions and editions of the different World of Darkness core settings are connected?
(Gold star if you use an actual flowchart.)

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Vampire: The Masquerade - Gehenna is a supplement to Vampire the masquerade Reviesed edition, not a game in itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Jan 31 '19 at 18:13
28
\$\begingroup\$

Connections and Lack Thereof

World of Darkness (Classic) and Chronicles of Darkness (formerly unofficially known as 'new' World of Darkness) are a spiritual predecessor/successor pair, not part of the same setting.

Changeling the Lost 2nd edition is not a 4th edition because is only connected with its namesake through the very broad theme of dealing with fae. They have radically different cosmologies, design philosophies etc.

The original World of Darkness was implicitly a shared setting, but each game line had some discrepancies that could not be fully reconciled with other game lines, particularly in terms of cosmology. Ultimately experienced GMs tend to prefer not even trying to make a single unified variant of the world. Also, the game mechanics of various Storyteller system flavours are not necessarily mutually compatible, even when comparing, say, VtM 1e and WtA 1e, or VtM Revised and MtA Revised. World of Darkness is famous or infamous (depending on who you listen to) for its metaplots and grand conspiracies.

The Chronicles of Darkness were originally published as World of Darkness by the company, which caused a degree of confusion. As a result, fans usually referred to it as the 'new' or less commonly 'rebooted' World of Darkness, despite the official branding not carrying such a qualifier. This naming collision caused a lot of problems, and the rebranding to CoD is one of the very few cases where I grudgingly accept that the Orwellian retroactive editing was warranted. It uses a unified system core, the Storytelling system, sold separately from all the 'splats' (game lines dedicated to specific types of supernatural entities). However, CoD as a setting tones down the metaplots and grandiose statements about the world, and is much more modular in design from the very beginning. That is, there's no reason to try figuring out the truth behind the contradiction between splat A and splat B because what the truth is even within a single splat is meant to vary drastically from GM to GM and from campaign to campaign.

Historically, the change between the two editions of nWoD/CoD was precipitated by the introduction of the God-Machine Chronicle. This highlighted a metaplot that was subtle in other sourcebooks but prominent in Demon the Descent.


Sorting the Game Lines

As for the flowchart or other scheme, here's a division of the main game lines:

World of Darkness (Classic), using an assortment of Storyteller system variants:

  • Vampire the Masquerade (1st, 2nd, Revised, V20 and V5 editions). Elder vampires weave centuries-long plots, while their neonates are pawns.
  • Mage the Ascension (1st, 2nd, Revised and M20 editions). Belief defines reality; fight to shape it!
  • Werewolf the Apocalypse (1st, 2nd, Revised and W20 editions). Gaia is under attack; fight for nature and spirituality against corruption and pollution.
  • Changeling the Dreaming (1st, 2nd, and C20 editions). You are a fae soul born to human parents and into a human body; defend the fairy-tales, magic and imagination against a stagnating world of grey banality. Fae and fairy-tale portrayal leans towards the positive.
  • Wraith the Oblivion (1st, 2nd, Great War [a quasi-"2.5"] and Wr20 editions). You died; find your way to transcend into whatever follows the afterlife, while fighting against angst and bleakness, and against your own dark side.
  • Demon the Fallen (Revised only). You are an Angel cast out by God from heaven into prison for rebelling with Lucifer. Now you escaped as a changed creature. Make your own cult and restore your glory in the shadows.

Other, 'minor' splats that fall under WoD, regardless of the edition, while exhibiting varied degrees of connection to one of the 'major' splats: Changing Breeds (various shapeshifters, such as the Ananasi werespiders), Demon Hunter X, Freak Legion (Fomori), Gypsies, Hengeyokai: Shapeshifters of the East, Hunter: The Reckoning, Hunters Hunted, Inquisition, Kindred of the East, Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom, Mummy (1st edition, 2nd edition, and Resurrection), Orpheus, Project Twilight (psionicists, hedge mages and investigators), Risen (wraiths possessing their corpses), Sorcerers.

Watch out: Mummy and Hunter have CoD analogues that can be partially distinguished by the subtitles (but still prone to confusion); some other splats might have those too!

In general, as of 2020-05-29, anything published as 20th or 5th edition is relatively new as far as WoD goes, i.e. it postdates the hiatus WoD took throughout approximately 2004-2010 (a period when CoD de facto reigned the book pipeline).

Chronicles of Darkness ('New'), using the Storytelling system base (1e or 2e):

  • Vampire the Requiem (1st and 2nd edition, also known as Blood and Smoke). Like VtM, but elders are more on the senile side, and the metaplots have been drastically cut back.
  • Mage the Awakening (1st and 2nd edition). Reality is not what it seems; find the secrets of Atlantis, and fight against those who try to keep humanity imprisoned in an illusion.
  • Werewolf the Forsaken (1st and 2nd edition). Spiritual hunters in a more shades-of-grey world.
  • Promethean the Created. (1st and 2nd edition). You're a brand-new being made from the detritus of the world, trying to become human in a world that hates or fears you.
  • Changeling the Lost (1st and 2nd edition). You, a human mortal, got kidnapped by a fae, then escaped, but were changed by the experience; now you live a life of hiding or fighting against the fae's servants. Fae and fairy-tale portrayal leans towards the negative.
  • Geist the Sin-Eaters (1st and 2nd edition; the least connected to its spiritual predecessor, and arguably not part of the 'main' list even). You died, but you got into a pact with an otherworldly entity and been given a second chance at life.
  • Demon the Descent. You are a former angel that was dropped out of the God-Machine because you developed free will. And now the God-Machine wants you back as an unthinking piece.

Other, 'minor' splats that fall under CoD, regardless of the edition, while exhibiting varied degrees of connection to one of the 'major' splats: Hunter the Vigil, Mummy the Curse, Beast the Primordial, Deviant the Renegades. Watch out: Mummy the Curse has three books worth of WoD predecessors; Hunter apparently has about five!

In general, as of 2020-05-29, if you encounter something published as '2nd edition' recently, it probably belongs to Chronicles and had a 1e counterpart before the God-Machine Chronicle update hit the shelves (April 2013).

Bonus source of confusion: Monte Cook's World of Darkness is a very loosely related spiritual cousin which has some of the same creature types as Chronicles of Darkness, but handled differently, in a very different system, and in a setting where a big supernatural cataclysm happened recently and significantly changed the world from how we know it. The White Wolf community generally doesn't even talk about it.

BONUS Bonus book confusion: The book named A World of Darkness has no relation to the similarly-named World of Darkness book, nor is it a corebook. It is an oWoD book detailing a bunch of locations in the setting and focusing on vampires.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ The last "Big One" would be Hunter... which is somewhat an odd thing as in classic there are 5 different Hunter types out there! Hunter: the reckoning (Revised, 1999+), VTM: The Hunters Hunted (1st ed, 1992), WTA: Project Twilight (1995) VTM: The Inquisition (1995), VTM: Demon Hunter X (1998). It stands opposite of Hunter: The Vigil \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Jan 31 '19 at 12:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is a line of Hunter books. Based on this answer, I can't tell how they fit in. They aren't just a single splat book - there's a whole line of them. \$\endgroup\$ – indigochild May 30 at 3:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @indigochild the different hunter books are incidentally not connected, they show different hunter types in the WoD: Hunters Hunted 1&2 (20th century, 2013) are mortals, at times powered by Numina (the same powers that Sorcerers use), they represent groups like FBI or the Inquisition - they are Tochwoodesque; Hunter: The Reckoning uses a system called Creed, they are often dishinged Joe Normals that went 'got to kill supernaturals' from meeting them; Project Twilight is Specific to a group of werewolf hunting US-governement cells and is part of the Year of the Hunter. \$\endgroup\$ – Trish May 30 at 10:18
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh-unsilenceMonica you’re welcome! As for deciding what to add... Reckoning is the only hunter themed book to get a hardcover core book and splat supplements, and they are a group united by the same supernatural transformation (if a more subtle one than Kindred etc). The other WoD monster hunter themed books like Hunters Hunted, Inquisition and Demon Hunter X were mostly one-off sourcebooks focused on organisations and lore, primarily using (if sometimes reprinting) the existing rules for mortals with some extra stuff. \$\endgroup\$ – Guybrush McKenzie May 30 at 12:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You might mention/briefly explain the concept of The GodMachine, since it is not obvious to a WoD player. \$\endgroup\$ – Kieran Mullen May 30 at 16:17
12
\$\begingroup\$

Between WoD and CoD: Not at all

WoD and CoD are not connected in any canon way. CoD is merely a spiritual successor of the WoD in many regards and at times shares names - which lead to some of the worst Edition Wars ever fought when CoD 1st Edition still claimed to be the (new) World of Darkness and many diehard fans refused to even look at the new products...

In the background, there was a huge rights kerfuffle, White Wolf died & got sold several times, and the Pen&Paper rights ended up at Onyx Path.timeline fuzzy The Time of Judgement books were widely ignored by many fans and they fueled Kickstarters to bring back their old games of the WoD as the 20th century reprint/update. To distinguish the two systems, the (new) World of Darkness got rebranded to Chronicles of Darkness in 2015, a short time after the God Machine Chronicle update to the 2nd Edition... and it's technically retroactive.

The Game Engines

Likewise, the Storytelling system is a spiritual successor of the Storyteller system. On a side note, the Storyteller system is a spiritual successor of Shadowrun, altering its d6 to d10 and removing the exploding dice from normal rolls.

Inside the WoD/CoD

WoD

Inside the WoD, all the splats inhabit the same world, and conflict between them is commonly referenced in all the splats books. The scope of the game is much wider: There is a global conspiracy from each splat, the wars are global, conflicts are aeons old and many cornerstones are set deep in the canon of the game. Each Splat comes with either a line it is tied to or it is a fully splat with a core book of its own. Crossplay compatibility is somewhat low, as systems are largely incompatible, but the backdrop of the world is completely shared.

The vast power-level differences though lead to huge fanboy-fights about which was the best Splat to wipe out all the others. Demons and Mummies always won for they came back.

As in cross-referencing, the three main lines (Vampire, Werewolf and Mage) regularly made referencing to one another, and starting 2nd edition even contained stats for these splats when used as adversaries ported to the relative system.

Wraith's end was referenced heavily in Mage revised and became the start point for both Demon the Fallen as well as the last iteration of Mummy: the great Avatar Storm was what destroyed the Wraiths, released the Fallen and came right before the new life spell for the Amite.

Changeling is only passingly noted in Werewolf publications, usually when Arcadia is described.

Expansions into previously nondescript areas or times came somewhat close together: the "Hengeyokai - Shapeshifters of the East" came together with "Kindred of the East", both detailing those splats that are at home in eastern Asia in 1998 under the label of the "Year of the Lotus". They included inter-splat Metaplots.

These Metaplots of the WoD also had often larger impact like the Year of the Reckoning (1999) ending the Wraith line and introducing the Hunter: the reckoning. The Year of the Scarab (2001) was focussing on the Middle East and brought Mummy the Resurrection as a semi-standalone splat (some basic rules had to be taken from either a Vampire, Werewolf or Mage core book). Year of the Damned (2002) introduced the Fallen Demons/Demons. In these plots, the places and plots are detailed from several sides and the stance of the new elements was brought in.

The end result of these Metaplots was meant to be the Time of Judgement (2003/4), which brought the canonical end of the WoD. Following the plot, the WoD is destroyed but how exactly is dependant on the players.1

20th Anniversary

As the game aged, the 20th-Anniversary edition was made as a fix-up of the game system with a mix of 2nd and revised edition fluff. A lot of edition inconsistencies of the crunch were smoothed out. The general tone stayed, but at times it was modernized for a world that had aged and became considerably more technologically advanced.

The different splats are not really compatible with one another still, as each splat follows vastly different systems for their splat-specific systems, but it has become somewhat less of a headache.

5th Edition

The 5th edition is a rather recent upcoming. It is meant to bring a new system that still has the old roots, but so far only Vampire has made the release and I have not taken an in-depth look at that. So I can just say "it exists and critics are divide about it". It is probably more of a Darker-and-Edgier Reboot.

CoD

The basic idea of all splats inhabiting the same world is also true for the CoD, but now the fanboy fights were dulled a lot as the system was much more streamlined. It was designed from the mortal up, not the supernatural down, and tried to even the playing field between Splats. The mechanics for a similar effect are often similar among different splats making cross-splat play easier.

The scope of the game is much narrower: instead of a global conflict with cornerstone figures and an ages old history, the game is set much more local, the backdrop is often fuzzier, and it goes much more to modern punk.

CoD 1e & 2e

CoD 1e and 2e are connected via the God Machine Chronicle plot, which somehow reminds of the Metaplots of the WoD, but is mostly meant to explain the changes to the background between the two editions and to gloss over the mechanics changes.

Do you want to know more?

If you are interested in the history of one specific game, that'd be an excellent question.

2020 Update

Even with the new products, the WoD stays not connected in game or easily compatible with the CoD but for how it was explained here.


1 - In a nutshell, the games refused to die in the player heads and transitioning to the new World of Darkness (later rebranded Chronicles of Darkness) didn't happen as planned. Some Authors pulled their IP rights from White Wolf and sat on them till they banded together with others and Onyx Path and did the Kickstarter for 20th century.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

vicky_molokh- unsilence Monica has an excellent answer. I second everything said there. However, it is incomplete in context because you also ask which are compatible. Vicky's answer touches on that, but I think the answer in that area is incomplete.

In a sense, none of them are. In another sense, all of them are.

Summary and a bit of history

Chronicles of Darkness (CoD, sometimes called nWod for historical reasons) is meant to be a spiritual successor to World of Darkness (WoD or sometimes oWod to more strongly differentiate from Chronicles of Darkness). In fact CoD was originally meant to be a complete replacement for WoD, but WoD survived due to, at the risk of oversimplifying, fan demand. That is part of why there is so much name confusion. For a while, CoD was called "World of Darkness" and the "old" line was meant to die out.

The WoD splats are meant to be loosely compatible, but I do mean loosely. As discussed in a little more detail below, playing any of them together gets complicated quickly, requires a lot of storyteller judgment calls, and involves difficulty in having anything like a consistent cosmology.

The CoD splats are meant to be loosely compatible with each other. In my opinion, they are more mutually compatible than the WoD splats were with each other, but even there you will run into a lot of situations that require judgment calls and the cosmologies do not mesh well (though they do not necessarily clash as much as the various WoD cosmologies do.)

CoD and WoD were not meant to be compatible with each other, at least not explicitly. However, they are not necessarily incompatible either with a bit of work. Translation guides are even available that help somewhat. I personally play mixed games with Vampire:The Masquerade and Mage:The Awakening often. It requires a lot of judgment calls and house rules, but it actually works better in my opinion than mixing Vampire:The Masquerade and Mage:The Ascension does.

So, none of them are really compatible out of the box, but any of them can be made to work with each other with enough house-rules and player buy-in.

A bit more analysis backed by personal experience.

Playing any of the different splats together can take a tremendous amount of houseruling and storyteller work. I have tried multiple times and while you can absolutely make it work, it does not work out of the box. As Vicky said, the cosmologies are very different in a way that is nearly impossible to reconcile other than perhaps by saying that consensus reality is weird and more than one thing that is actually contradictory can be true in the World of Darkness.

Even on a rules level, it requires a lot of storyteller calls to make the systems work together. The plots are awkward too. In the World of Darkness (oWoD) Vampire and Werewolf work decently together, but an average werewolf is dramatically, amazingly better at combat than the average vampire. Vampires have other advantages that let them even things out, but it takes quite a lot work by the storytellers and the players to let that show through and it means that you often have different characters sidelined for long stretches. Mages tend to be much more powerful than vampires or werewolves, and wraiths are very hard to fit in.

In that sense, none of the splats work well together. The examples I gave all came for oWoD, but I have tried it in CoD/nWod and found that roughly the same thing applies, though it is slightly easier to get those to play well together.

On the other side, with enough storyteller work and player buy-in, you can make them work together across the lines reasonably well. I have run mixed campaigns between Mage:The Awakening (from CoD/nWod) and Vampire:The Masquerade (from WoD/oWod) and had it work well, albiet with lots of judgment calls and house rules. In fact, I would argue that Mage:The Awakening is more compatible with Vampire:The Masquerade than Mage:The Ascension is. Awakening somewhat tones down the power level and has a cosmology that is easier to fit the Masquerade cosomology into.

In that sense, with enough house-rules and buy-in from all involved, they are all compatible in whatever way your table wants them to be.

| improve this answer | |
\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.