I'm planning on starting a full-on mixed nWoD game, but I don't know how to avoid having it feel like a fantasy kitchen sink, since that can easily destroy the feel of a game. What are scenarios or starting adventures that could bring together every class of supernatural being in a natural feeling way? More importantly, what would I need to watch out for in terms of preventing intra-party conflict? I'd like to have the group together for as long as the campaign lasts.

I'm not terribly worried about mechanically balancing a mixed game of New World of Darkness: I'm of the opinion that balance is an illusion in the sense that characters of vastly different power levels can get equal "screen-time", and that D&D 3.5 wizards and fighters can not only both be played in the same campaign, they were intended to be played that way. So balance issues with this campaign isn't my concern.


6 Answers 6


Use a very strong central theme and mood. Think of your campaign as if it was a TV series held together by these things, as well returning props, characters, places etc.

Use a strong, universal antagonist, possibly an organization that has agents from all the various supernatural factions as well. Even better if your party are members / helpers of the same organization, and there's an internal power struggle between the few "good guys" and the powerful "bad guys". Wait, I mean between the "lighter gray guys" and the "darker gray guys". :)

An example: Two of your characters, Mully and Sculder are Mages of the Pentacle working within the FBI. They have a group of outsider "friendlies" to rely on: The Gone Loonmen, made up of a Vampire, a Werewolf and a Changeling (who are, by some weird twist of fate, are blood relatives of one another. Half-siblings or something.) Together, they're up against a powerful conspiracy within and above the FBI that tries to use the organization to further its own needs: a conspiracy of powerful Vampires, Seers of the Throne, etc.

Keep the focus on the human side of the characters. If possible, start and run the campaign for a while (a few stories) for the mortal PCs only, previous to their turning supernatural. Even after their turning, give more screen time to humanity, human motifs etc. Keep the power level low as long as you can. Have your players grow to love the human side of your characters, have them be happy they're playing a well developed, dramatically important Mully and Sculder with their gripping, deep human background and the issues they have to deal with because of it (lost sister, family trouble etc.)

Allow / introduce the transformation into supernatural creatures only gradually, when the templates to be applied will be mere additions to the strongly developed and strongly bonded human characters only, not what define them primarily. ("Sculder is a guy who's become best friends with Mully and great mates with the Loonmen by sticking together through X, Y and Z adventures. Sculder does everything to find his still lost sister whom he believes now to have been taken by the Fae (not the Atlantean Demon, that was a red herring.) Sculder loves to pour half his coffee off his balcony in the morning on foggy days, and is afraid the Smoking Cigarette Woman might in fact be his own true mother", etc etc. Not "Sculder is a Silver Ladder Mastigos with •••• Gnosis, this and that merit who can raise the dead in a minute with this and this spell." I guess you get my drift. :))

This gradual introduction technique, which you may consider and call an extended prelude, seems strongly supported and recommended by the authors of the nWoD, especially for those troupes (of, optimally, 3-5 players) who prefer a more personal, gothic/psychological horror Storytelling--in the vein of movies and series like Twin Peaks, the X-Files, Interview with the Vampire etc--instead of action, slasher or splatter horror. See Character Creation, nWoD p34. and Preliminary Story, nWoD p196. Of course, your mileage may strongly vary when deciding which subgenre of horror you like to play.

Make true supernatural enemies and NPCs scarce, use them rarely for direct interaction and confrontation. Have them rely on mortal or semi-mortal (ghoul etc) pawns, possibly aided by magic and other similar powers. Have them use spirits and ghosts - creatures more PC "factions" are familiar with.

Well, this is it for now... I may expand on it all later, but I need to get a coffee now. Not to pour it off our balcony, mind you, but to properly start my brain. :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ That doesn't sound very much like it would capture the feel of WoD... especially with "Allow / introduce the transformation into supernatural creatures only gradually" and in fact seems pretty much directly opposite the feel of the standard WoD tropes. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 11:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @aramis We've played a number of moderate length campaigns using these guidelines, and they worked for us. As for what's standard and what isn't, and what the "feel" of the WoD, especially the nWoD is like... your mileage may seriously vary. (As for the gradual introduction: it's simply an extended prelude, which is quite an official recommendation, see Character Creation, nWoD p34. and Preliminary Story, nWoD p196.) To me, for example, the suggestion in your own answer that nWoD could work well with troupes of 6-8 players seems rather extreme, as I think the ideal is 3, with a max. of 5. \$\endgroup\$
    – OpaCitiZen
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 11:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know groups of 8 players using nWoD... the system mechanics are not all that different from later oWoD, and it's no slower by all accounts I've read and heard. The differences in setting are severe enough to not make viable examples. I do know that an extended group prelude would be rejected by my friends into WoD - they don't want to play normals, they want to play the supernaturals from the get go. (They often ignore the prelude entirely.) I certainly wouldn't play a WoD game other than Hunters or Gypsies where the template wasn't applied from session 1 on. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 12:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @aramis: If it's power and consequences, it almost seems like your group would be better suited to Unknown Armies. That seems to be entirely the theme that game runs with. OpaCitiZen: I'm a huge fan of this suggestion, particularly the universal antagonist. If the game is straight up horror, it could be some overwhelmingly powerful antagonist (such as the angels from the core nWoD book). I actually have a friend using a prelude in his mixed game, and it seems to be a huge success. \$\endgroup\$
    – user5834
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 23:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @aramis Talking about the feeling, I personally think that a horror story does capture the feeling of WoD much more than "action adventure with supernatural horror monsters as protagonists". That's why OpaCitiZen told you that was very subjective. I understand that the gradual supernatural exposition don't work for your game style. But for horror stories, or stories that are more like Interview with the Vampire than Blade can work really well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Flamma
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 10:41

I would say that this isn't really a multi-splatbook problem. Sure, it seems more difficult when you have vampires and changelings and whatnot in the same group, but you get the same problem in games with just multiple tribes of vampires (usually the Malkavians do it to the rest) or even when characters are allegedly more homogeneous. A group of 5 Brujah doesn't mean that the players have the same expectation of the game's tone and themes - the most common WoD playstyles I've seen mean that potentially one is into the dark and gritty roleplay of an outcast vampire, and another plays it like it's D&D in the modern day. A group of allegedly similar characters doesn't mean you'll have a coherent play experience without some additional discussion first.

You should proactively work with the players before play starts in this or any other situation. Give them guidance on the desired tone and theme (and get their input into it) and put the onus on them to jointly craft their characters to NOT make it a thematic mess.


All WoD games have their own themes and ambients, just how it is explained on the respective Storytelling chapters.

Now, just imagine that they did a single RPG in which players could choose which supernatural to play. What would be the themes? What would they write in the Storytelling chapters?

If you've read the games, you have enough Storytelling chapters to figure out how to write/imagine one.

I think this can work better than trying to actually mix the themes.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Now, just imagine that they did a single RPG in which players could choose which supernatural to play." You mean Dresden Files (as the RPG with the best mash up without race-specific drama)? \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 22:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I like this as a meta-answer to these sorts of problems. Set your own theme as opposed to putting a few in a blender. \$\endgroup\$
    – user5834
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 22:52

There are as many right ways to do this as there are campaigns.

For one thing, the New World of Darkness was designed without so much of an over-riding myth-arch.

The factions are weaker and have less overall control over the world of mortals. The past is less well known in many cases. Faction rivalries are no longer consistent. In fact, most factions have their own troubles and rarely deal with each other. The doom of a soon-to-come apocalypse is no longer a given. The idea of pervasive moral decay is optional.

A lot of people thinks this gives the game less bite than Classic World of Darkness.

However, the grimdark nature of CWoD is still easily doable with NWoD.

All that above is fluff, and easily changeable.

The first question is what sort of theme do you want for your game.

If you want an out and out horror theme, then you might want to cut closer to CWoD. Horror is not about Good and Evil. It's about how much knowledge your characters have of the way the world actually works. Take a look at the Chinese horror movie, the Eye, the original, not the American adaptation. There is not one single evil entity in that story, there is one hostile entity, but I doubt that one was truly evil. Despite a lack of anything evil, the story remains one of the most terrifying movies I've seen. Elevator scene...gah! Anyway, the whole point of the terror there is that the character is faced with knowledge of something that she can't do much of anything about. (The American version ruins this by making what were silent dark figures escorting dead souls onward into snarling figures snapping at people interfering with them...us Americans, have to have our discernible bad guys...rolls eyes)

For another comparison look to Cthulhu and Morgoth or even Sauron. In the beginning, before his power begins to wane, Morgoth's power was easily superior to that of most of Lovecraft's critters, and Sauron was likely more dangerous personally than Cthulhu specifically. And yet, the setting they're part of is fantasy, not horror. The reason for this is because the natures of Morgoth and Sauron are well known within the world setting, at least by the educated. Their existence is considered common knowledge. (that said, direct observation by the Eye of Sauron still drives things mad....and even the Nazghul have effects on sanity nearby similar to that caused by some of Lovecraft's entities.) Meanwhile, Cthulhu is not well known and considered superstition by most who hear of it.

For a more direct comparison, the Deep Ones in Lovecraft compared to the Sahaugin in D&D. Similar designs (I think the Sahaugin are based on the Deep Ones, actually) and cultures. Now, when a character in Lovecraft's universe stumbles onto the Deep Ones, he's not likely armed for conflict and finds a hidden community. The community hunts him down to keep their secret. So he has to deal with the mental stress of combat and running for his life while woefully and piled on top of that is the discovery that "hey, these people aren't exactly human". The inhuman discovery is more the straw on the camel's back than the cause of the break....the trauma of running for your life and being hunted by a mob is enough to cause mental distress to lots of people. On the other hand, Sahaugin are known to exist in D&D areas and in those places, people consider it foolish to travel without some means of defense. So the stress of danger and the stress of discovery are both lessened.

Now, in a multifaceted campaign, which I'd love to be in, actually, you can arrange horror by starting with the characters as raw neophytes in their factions being thrown into the deep end.

As an adventure, you can have a clear bad guy and objective for the characters to accomplish, but put twists here and there.

More likely, NWoD will cut towards the intrigue and espionage storyline, which is the so-called "grey vs grey" morality. Note, you can still have "good guys" in a greyvsgrey setting. I tend to subscribe to the Granny Weatherwax idea: "There's no grey, there's just black and white that's not so clean." Or also the idea of "I may stand in the darkness, but I can look to the light".

As to fitting the characters together...the facts remain the same as for any campaign:

The characters need a reason to work together.

As such, a collective goal, or entangled goals, are needed. Otherwise it will be hard to maintain the campaign.

That said, there are several options:

perhaps you can put the city they're in under some kind of siege. People going missing (mortals and supers), spirit activity increasing, etc. Enough so that the local factions have moved from "stay out of our way, we'll stay out of yours" that they usually have into a full official truce/non-aggression pact. Now the source of the siege is up in the air.

Maybe some Pure shamans are riling up the spirits to soften the city. Maybe it's the servants of the Exarchs, or some rogue vampires. Perhaps one of the Hunter Conspiracies is running an experiment or an op. Maybe someone's pulling the strings on all of them.

Also note that each of the characters could act as representatives of their various factions. This would be analogous to something like a Vampire campaign where the party would let the Nos talk for them among Nosferatu and the Ventrue among Ventrue. In this case, you'd have the mage speak with the mages, the hunter speak with other hunters and so forth.

Even more so, however, since in a single hunter campaign there would be a status for status among all vamps, not just one group within the vamps. There isn't really a set status merit for status among all supernaturals.

There isn't a Gandalf character whose recognized by all the Free Peoples. Or in this case all the supernaturals.

In a vampire game, it could be reasonably certain that, even in the territory of another clan or covenant, that the vampire with high status in the city would be regarded seriously. But in a mixed game, that high status vamp would be ignored by the Changelings and the Werewolves. Which is when you need your spokesman for the group.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Please take a look at the tour and the help; they're a useful introduction to the site. This seems a little chattier than we're used to--not necessarily a bad thing, and I'm unfamiliar with the system so I can't speak to that. However, while we encourage in-depth answers, it might be easier to read if you made the lists of examples shorter, and added some section headings. And once you have 20+ rep, feel free to join the chat! \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 4:16

My first response is to refer to a game that I was in for a short time. The ST made it the "Outcast" game, where everyone had to play something considered a pariah to its own type (IE, Catif, Orphan, Skinwalker / Unclaimed) so the ragtag group had to watch out for each other because their own people are on their backs.

Second is the interloping party. The bigass person/organization/whatever could actually be the benefactor or contractor to the party. Because of the simple fact that this individual has their fingers in many pies, they can call in favors and put the pressure from above to the party whenever things start to get out of hand.

EDIT1: Something that just came to me is a game I rand back in '06 where the party was Changing Breeds only in a world that had everything. They ended up making a pact with the local Hunters because the Wyrm decided to manifest a little bit. This falls under the answers above about the one Big Bad, but it's esoteric enough that it doesn't have to be the focus of the campaign - it just happened, was dealt with, now there's a precedent.


The best way is to have the majority of the party of a single type. A single outlier in a group of 3-4, or a pair in a 5-8 player group, and most of the story will focus on the one theme.

Mind you, I can't get specific as to clans/traditions, as my experiences are all oWoD... but limiting the choices to compatible ones also narrows the theme.

Keep in mind as well: the choices of Clan or Tradition can drastically affect theme as well - don't be afraid to limit the choices there, as well, within the main group of the party.

In short - pick and choose the available types to make certain the groups picked from are not at odds more than their type differences engender.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem I have with this is that having only one or two different supernaturals goes against the nature of a mixed game, and building an arc around the main supernatural group leaves the others in the position of being less important characters. Limiting which group they belong to makes sense (no Lancea Sanctum with... well anyone else, really). \$\endgroup\$
    – user5834
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @shatterspike1 See this question and its answers for some additional tips on mixing and balancing various nWoD groups. Hope you'll find some points useful. :) rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/11631/… \$\endgroup\$
    – OpaCitiZen
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 23:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @shatterspike1 the biggest thing is to limit the choices from the non-main group to those that can work with the main group. in oWoD, A black spiral dancer werewolf game can easily have a gangrel or any Sabbat vampire as part of the "team"... and a mage or sorcerer can readily work with Tremere vamps. Changelings, Mummies, and Risen can readily work with any other types, but you can't really have more than one of each without pulling the party away from the main body's thematic struggle. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 1:14

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