Is the World of Darkness ruleset suited for some wasteland adventures or am I on thin ice?

The scenario I have in mind is along the lines of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R setting, implementing the supernatural elements of WoD and adding aditional rules for things such as radiation, CBRN protection and so on.

My question relates to the fact that I have little to no material suited for this kind of setting, D&D lacking in the assault rifle department and Götterdämmerung being a little to heavy on flintlocks and sabres. So my train of thought was as follows:

"Hey, I've only got one solid RPG set in the modern world, and I've always wanted to do some post-apo roleplaying. Wonder if this would work?"

  • \$\begingroup\$ The only thing I can think for 'Wastedland adventures' of is in oWoD the Wild West setting from Werewolf. Also from oWoD one of the endings of Ascension creates an apocaliptic world but doesn't give rules or any insight on how to play it. \$\endgroup\$ – Random Jul 10 '13 at 6:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, Marcus, welcome. I think responses could be more helpful if you provide a little more information or what kind of campaign you are thinking. \$\endgroup\$ – Flamma Jul 10 '13 at 10:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ oWod should work quite well, as the oWoD was a post-apocalyptic/mid-apocalyptic setting. \$\endgroup\$ – acolyte Jul 10 '13 at 15:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @acolyte Not in the sense that "post-apocalyptic" is being used here, what with the focus on environmental devastation, mutation, and chem/radiation hazards that are fixtures of the genre. As a genre, oWoD doesn't match, event if apocalyptic events are involved. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 10 '13 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ the Alternity system was used in Gamma World for a time, and that was a post-apoc game. I think the most recent edition uses DnD 4e as a system, so you'll want to avoid that. Sixth edition uses d20 Modern, which is very similar to Alternity in my experience. I think it would work well. \$\endgroup\$ – acolyte Jul 10 '13 at 19:26

Certainly, both iterations of the WoD ruleset (Storyteller for the old WoD and Storytelling for the new WoD) would work extremely well with a post-apocalyptic setting. After all, the (n)WoD is a darker, more desolate and more gothic version of our real world, which, in turn, already - and unfortunately - has several areas and periods that can be considered "post-apocalyptic": just think of Chernobyl, or the recent tsunami in Japan and so on. All you have to do is develop these catastrophe-stricken areas in the WoD and extrapolate from them for larger areas.

Sorry for stating the obvious, but your question in its current form is rather vague - you might want to specify it a bit, pointing out the areas you're most concerned about. Eg.: How would radiation work in the system? How would you handle mutations? And so on.

Btw, by running a simple google search (;)), you'll find quite a number of sites and forums discussing the hows of running a post-apoc (n)WoD game. An example, and another. Note, for example, that both point out that World of Darkness: Mirrors for the new WoD has official guidelines for setting up and running a post-apocalyptic campaign.

Also, welcome to rpg.SE. :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wonderful answer, thank you for the input! I will read up before asking any further questions in the future. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Wigert Jul 10 '13 at 6:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarcusWigert Thanks, Marcus. As a side-note: Even though I'm obviously glad you accepted my answer, in the long run it's more practical (and kind of recommended) to wait at least a few hours or a day before you accept an answer, as others may post even better, more thorough and more relevant answers. :) \$\endgroup\$ – OpaCitiZen Jul 10 '13 at 7:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OpaCitiZen I'll keep that in mind. \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Wigert Jul 10 '13 at 7:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ oWoD was a post-apocalyptic/mid-apocalyptic setting in itself, i'd like to point out. \$\endgroup\$ – acolyte Jul 10 '13 at 15:40

I think I can be a big help to you with this, Marcus. I in fact just got done with a post-apoc setting using the WoD system.

The book you want to look for is in fact very new, entitled "Mirrors". The book is in fact a compendium of alternatre rule systems used for different types of story you might want to play. The Apocalypse settings invovle almost a dozen different ways the world as we know it can come to an end, from an act of god to economic collapse. The book covers things like CBRN and exposure, hunger and foraging for food and water. Its basically everything you need.

They give tidbits of information as to how that would impact each branch of WoD, but if you want to make a mortal player group, a couple of things you will have to watch out for that were pitfalls in my own game.

Survival in a post apocalyptic world is a matter of course, and its very easy for a group to settle into a rather not fun rut of scavenge-sell-scavenge-sell. Try to avoid this by instituting a more passive search system for scavenging. I recommend a single roll of Wits+Suvival/Investigation (Wilderness or Urban respectively) to represent them finding anything of use or value in a single location or storyline. It streamlines the process and you don't spend half of your game time with your players looking through garbage.

The post apocalyptic society can be a hard one for goals as well. I tried giving my own group more freedom in what they could become or what they wanted to accomplish and in retrospect, that was a big mistake. I would recommend giving them some kind of ultimate goal in mind. Possibly a safe haven on the opposite side of the country, or let them settle down eventually, build a compound of their own, making a city and a community and protecting it from outside sources.

Populace is another thing. One of the core concepts of WoD is how people interact with one another, social combat and mental challenges instead of just physcial confrontation like you're likely to find in something like D&D. A lot of apocalpyses end up with a ton of people dead, leaving you less people to deal with. If you still decide to go with an end of the world with a high body count, it would be a good idea to advance the in game timeline by a few decades. Enough so where some comforts of society have returned, populations have begun to grow again, but not enough to where it makes a huge difference. Think the TV show "Revolution" or "Jericho".

If you plan on keeping much of the supernatural material that makes the WoD so amazing, I would recommend investing in the Hunter: the Vigil books, simply for their information about monsters. Especially the suplementals like Witch Finders, Spirit Slayers, Slashers, etc. You should also make sure you have copies of Ghost stories, mysterious places, and midnight roads, as those are all great books to pull from for a Post apoc setting.

Last, but not least, Money. Money was the bane of my existence when I was making my game. It is hard to make a barter system that has any kind of regularity, but that is probably what you will end up going with. If you wish to make things easier on yourself, you have to make some kind of Money for your game that would be recognizable between settlements and compounds, as the US dollar, the Euro, and the Yen are probably worthless after the end of days, and yes, before you even say it, bottlecaps are in fact an option.

That is all I can remember at the moment, so please ask any more questions you might have.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Very good and extensive answer! Although I've settled on a setting in which the PC's find themselves needing to travel, as the way to the target is a very good way to "stage" the curve of challenges as well as incorporating some extensive skill honing along the way. All this demands some slimming down of the aforementioned "scavenging", the way you recommended or something similar. Maybe draw some "freak" incidents from a table of some sorts(finding weapons, ammo, rare supplies etc.)? \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Wigert Jul 10 '13 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually used Table Runner (dxcontent.com/TableRunner.html) for a long time. The above gives you the ability to make your own random generators to include loot and encounters. WoD unfortunatley doesn't supply these kinds of things so we have to make our own if we want them. A good dynamic for keeping them on edge as well is the carrying capacity of any regular person. 1 dot of strength is equal to 25 pounds of equipment (the things he normally wears doesn't count towards the total). Make them choose and watch them squirm. \$\endgroup\$ – WhiteWolfDM Jul 11 '13 at 10:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another book you also want to get your hands on if you want to work in the angle of "magical items" for rewards would be the Reliquary. Lots of good rules on how to make your own relics if you don't like the kind that are included. Also take a peak at Aegis Kai Doru material from Hunter: the Vigil. Also don't forget what the apocalypse might have done to the supernatural population. If your world has devolved slightly, might be a good reason for the weirdness of the world to push forward. \$\endgroup\$ – WhiteWolfDM Jul 11 '13 at 10:29

As previously stated, WoD would work just great for post-apocalyptic settings, but depending of what you are aiming to, it may or not match your game style.

WoD games are quite light on rules. They favour simplicity and speed over a reallistic simulation. Also, the game balance is a bit sacrified on that.

WoD games are great for story driven chronicles. If story is more important that combat, treasures and powers, it may be a good system. Characters are balanced on three values: physical, social and mental. If you're chronicle is meant to be more physical (combat, physical maneuvers,...) than the other two, maybe it's not the right system.

Also keep in mind that WoD games work better for supernatural beings than humans, at least IMHO. Humans have disadvantages that make it hard to endure for a dangerous adventure:

  • They only have 7 lifepoints.
  • They cannot soak lethal damage.
  • Their healing rate is extremely slow.

So, if you're planning that your characters are humans in constant physical peril, maybe you should pick another system, or at least make changes to the rules to give players higher chances of survival or recovery.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What about adding certain healing items(aka "stimpaks") to increase the endurance of human beings? Or what other modifications do you propose? \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Wigert Jul 10 '13 at 11:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarcusWigert I don't know what "stimpaks" are, but that's one idea (though I would limit the number of healings). Other could be increasing the health levels (or make them double), allow lethal soaking (maybe at dif. 8), increase the armour protection, decrease the healing times, allow grave wounds to be decreased one level with a medicine roll (and appropriate equipment),... Depending of your game style. The limit is your imagination, but the difficult part is playtesting it. \$\endgroup\$ – Flamma Jul 10 '13 at 11:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Stimpaks are a sort of direct healing item. Maybe adding some kind of overdose to those kind of items? \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Wigert Jul 10 '13 at 11:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Flamma I think a bit of tweaking, with some house rules and house-developed equipment, could fix all these issues. Storytelling (the system) is quite capable of handling action packed stories (see any iteration of Werewolf) if the PCs get some enhancement - which a post-apoc setting can easily provide. (Stimpaks indeed, and mutations, and cyber and bioware, etc. In fact, you could simply use the templates and / or powers of the supernatural branches: it's not a "vampire", it's a mutant. Drop the wolf-head of the Gauru form (oWoD's crions) and you've got a mutant again... and so on.) :) \$\endgroup\$ – OpaCitiZen Jul 10 '13 at 11:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OpaCitiZen I agree. But Marcus must be aware of these "issues". WoD is the system I best manage, arguably, my favourite, but in a system recomendation I must alert of its "weaknesses". \$\endgroup\$ – Flamma Jul 10 '13 at 12:48

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