World Of Darkness: Old Vs. New
Currently, I have looked at Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse, and Mage the Ascension, the three games that make up the “big three” of the original World of Darkness created by White Wolf Publishing. All three of these are great games, but they are also out of print. Once the original World of Darkness had its big finish, the literal end of the world, those games came to an end in terms of story and materials to be released for them. In short, they were done. Yet they live on. White Wolf was not done with these games. They just wanted to give them an overhaul. Enter Vampire the Requiem, Werewolf the Forsaken, and Mage the Awakening. All great games. All games I have played, and plan on looking at the crunch and fluff of, but wanted to look at the originals first. So, what is the difference? What makes Requiem all that much better than Masquerade, Forsaken better than Apocalypse, or Awakening better than Ascension?
Well, to be honest, nothing. Now, I say that because I used the word “better.” These games are not better, but they certainly are different, and it is in their differences that they are defined.
Mechanically, the new World of Darkness uses a much more unified system. The Storytelling System has been refined and streamlined thanks to well more than two decades of use, and all of the new games use the now uniform mechanics. While this was similar in the older games, each of them had a more varied base mechanic that made cross-gaming between the different settings difficult. While I still do not recommend cross-gaming within the World of Darkness, it is now much more feasible. Each individual game is also more refined. Rather than having your character defined by a singular choice, such as your clan in Vampire or your tradition in Mage, all characters have multiple archetypes they fall within. For example, in Werewolf the Forsaken, a character is (in part) a summary of their auspice (moon phase) and their tribe. Later they are also given the option of entering a Lodge that fits with their personal ideals and interests. In Vampire the Requiem it is the same, only players select clan (the type of vampire you are) and covenant (ideological organizations within the greater vampire society) with the option of later becoming a part of a vampire bloodline. Mage the Awakening follows this same pattern.
In my opinion, the crunch of the new World of Darkness far outshines the old. Mechanically, they are just better games, hands down. However, what I still struggle with is the change in fluff. Only in Werewolf the Forsaken do I actually like the new fluff more than I did the old. In Requiem and Awakening, I always find myself missing the old story behind the game. I miss the conflict between the Camarilla, the Anarchs, and the Sabbat, the story of Kain, the conflict with the Technocracy, and so much more.
Overall, though, I find myself having more fun with the new World of Darkness. Again, this is only a personal preference. These are all very fine games that all great to roll dice to and tell dark and creepy stories. Whatever your preference, so long as you are having a good time, that is what is always important.
Image Credit: White Wolf Publishing