For someone who is already moderately familiar with the World of Darkness (not Chronicles of Darkness) setting and its lore, what are, if any, rationales for jumping ship to Dresden Files instead? Now, before someone misreads this as an invitation to start a subjective 'my favourite game is best' contest, I would like to add a few clarifications and scope-narrowers to my question:

  • Of course being fully familiar with more settings gives one more options and is better than knowing only few or one, but getting deeply acquainted with settings takes investment, whether one is a GM or player, and so it's best to know what one is signing up for.
  • I'm looking for comparisons specifically about setting/lore, not cruch/systems.
  • I'm looking at advantages that while may contain an element of subjectivity, are generally observable and rationally explainable, and likely to be applicable to many people. For example, being better suited for certain types of plots, or enabling certain types of character concepts (that WoD doesn't support as well), or having rich and deep characterisation of setting elements (that are bland in WoD). That sort of stuff.
  • WoD is something of a default go-to Wainscot Fantasy setting for RPGs, while DF seems to be a newcomer trying to fight for the same niche, so I'm treating the former as an incumbent and the latter that may need 'selling points'. Thus I'm asking primarily about the merits of DF and not about its downsides. But if someone wants to includes downsides for completeness, that's not useless information, just less important than merits.
  • While right now I'm looking at this from the PoV of my own investments, I suspect if I end up acquainting myself with DF, I may end up in a position where I'm the one 'selling' people onto it from WoD circles.
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    \$\begingroup\$ This really seems opinion-based. How folks view the lore of each seems inherently subjective, but maybe i'm missing something? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 28 at 13:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that this might be an objectively answerable question if it was "what are the differences between the lore of the World of Darkness and the Dresden Files RPG"? That is, what are the differences between each setting's vampires, werewolves, mages, et cetera, rather than "what are the reasons someone might prefer one over the other" which would be opinion-based. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Apr 28 at 14:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000 That's a good point, but that also seems really broad to cover all of the differences. But we've done similar things with editions of games... If OP has specific things they'd like to compare, that may work, though. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 28 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Yeah, it'd be pretty broad, but it'd be answerable by going through each of the splats and discussing their lore in each of the systems. "In the Dresden Files, there are multiple Courts of vampires, and they are.... In the World of Darkness, there are two types of Vampires, the Cainites and the Kindred of the East, and they are...." sort of thing. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 Apr 28 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it would be too broad unless the scope was defined to a list of types of creatures. I'm positive there are edge cases about creatures that exist in Dresden or WoD lore that would be missed on any given answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Apr 28 at 14:58

The biggest commonality is 'The Veil'. In both WoD and Dresden, vanilla mortals either shut down or go crazy and explain away anything supernatural that happens to them except for the occasional sturdy individual who can handle it, or people who are trained or otherwise have extended experience dealing with it. Below is a baseline comparison, especially with the extensive universes for both franchises.

Spoilers for Dresden Below


WOD: All werewolves (garou) are born that way. Some people, Kinfolk, are mixed blood and are "Human+".

Dresden: Werewolves have different sources. Someone might be cursed and forced to polymorph (re: full moon), they might willingly cast magic on themselves (expanding on bearsark lore), and some might be born that way (for example, fae folk with extra forms).


WOD: Powers are widely varied, but except for a clan weakness, generally all the same vulnerabilities.

Dresden: Three courts - Red, White, and Black. WOD Kindred tend to all fall in the "Black Court" category for baseline abilities because they fit the undead template. Red Court are more monstrous bat creatures that hide behind magic to appear human. Red Court vampires share the narcotic/addictive spit of Kindred. White Court are emotional vampires - feeding on psyche, trust, and passion instead of blood.


WOD: Based on spheres for what the magic affects rather than where it comes from. Can be driven by the Mage's knowledge and determination but ultimately comes from a command of metaphysics. They have plenty of reflexive magic that takes no toll on them. Can easily tap into magical areas around them as a battery. The magic itself takes a toll for how "vulgar" the magic is - or how obvious that what's going on is unnatural - and the caster is more bound by getting a backlash from reality itself.

Dresden: All magic feeds off of the caster's spirit, most commonly their will and belief in the magic itself which leads to elemental affinities as talents. With exception of limited and very specific magic, the cost is the wizard in question growing physically and mentally tired. Magic from humans destroys technology, called "Hexing", in direct proportion to the amount of magic (sometimes merely an aura) and the complexity of the technology (anything from before the 1940s is safe). Inherently magical creatures do not suffer this, and apparently this comes from a human's doubt in their magic causing chaos.

Intersection: Both rely heavily on focus items to channel their magic and the scale varies greatly. It can just be an all purpose focus to cast, or something super specific like a potion or a wand for lightning bolts.

Fae Folk

WOD: Fair folk in WOD have a variety of abilities. The standard player character is a half breed so they don't have limitless power. There are a few courts, several breeds, and a dozen or so houses to make character creation more varied. Fae culture tends to be one large overarching society with factions/clans/communities rather than starkly divided nations, despite territories.

Dresden: Fae are sort of a catch all for everything. Red and White Court vampires are technically a variant of fae; Demons, monsters, and deities seem to live by fae rules in most regards as sort of a universal system for how the power works. However, "half breeds" must choose to either go fully human or fully fae around puberty. Most of the balance goes between Summer and Winter courts, with subfactions and limited independent "courts".

Intersection: This area has the strongest overlap. Pocket dimensions, time dilation, Summer and Winter courts, humans getting sponsored for powers, all-purpose-MacGuffin, etc. Powers are generally inherited and/or granted versus study or practice.


I will do my best to edit this post as comments come up, but as asserted above, we're looking at over twenty years for either fandom to assemble. It's nice because it removes a lot of the ambiguity, but it's limiting because there is quite a lot to encapsulate in an answer. I understand the risk of getting dinged for even including this section.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your effort. This is a good answer... however not to this question, but to a hypothetical other question people suggested in the comments. \$\endgroup\$ – vicky_molokh- unsilence Monica Apr 28 at 15:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh-unsilenceMonica : This was targeting your bulletpoint about setting/lore comparisons. With more time I could add on about the difference between WoD being more of a hyperbolic social commentary and Dresden more of a spiritual exploration if that helps. \$\endgroup\$ – CatLord Apr 28 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Dresden “faeries” are very much a separate thing from “vampires” and “demons,” and all manner of other supernatural beings that are none of the above. Are you conflating Unseelie Accord signatories with faeries? While the Unseelie Accords are named after certain faeries, since they were drafted by the queen of the Unseelie, signing them doesn’t make someone a faerie any more than signing the Geneva Convention made people Swiss. Also, the Unseelie Accords are pretty independent of “fae rules” insofar as faeries in general and sidhe in particular have tons of rules not present in the Accords. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 28 at 19:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Angels/demons' "home base" is still kind of nebulous. Vampires following accords has more to do with tradition than geas, whereas fae are compelled not to directly lie or go against their word \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Apr 28 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also notable, it is not necessarily true that Dresden magic is linked to the greek elements. Dresden himself sees that, but there are references to eastern magic (such as metal and wood "domain" spellcasting) in a couple places; magic is more of an extension of the spellcaster's psyche than directly sourced from elements. Elements is just what we 'know" \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Apr 28 at 20:16

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