New World of Darkness - Board Game Box Shot

New World of Darkness

, | Published: 2004
20 4 2

The world is not what you think. Beneath skyscrapers’ leering gargoyles, factories belching smoke and streets packed with the human throng lurk things we are not meant to see. Creatures dwell in the shadows and hidden places.They watch you, stalk you and prey upon your body and soul. The life you lead is a lie. Your darkest fears aren’t make-believe.

They’re real.

We can’t know when humans first started telling stories, or why. But it’s a safe bet that the first tale tellers used their craft to explain the mysteries going on around them. Indeed, some of the most ancient stories that are still told today grapple with the biggest mysteries of all — life, death, creation, redemption and the ongoing struggle of good versus evil. The World of Darkness is a Storytelling game, because it’s an opportunity for you to participate in the deeply human endeavor of telling stories.

The stories told in this game are set in the World of Darkness. It’s a place very much like our world, sharing the same history, culture and geography. Superficially, most people in this fictional world live the same lives we do. They eat the same food, wear the same clothes, and waste time watching the same stupid TV shows. And yet, in the World of Darkness, shadows are deeper, nights are darker, fog is thicker. If, in our world, a neighborhood has a rundown house that gives people the creeps, in the World of Darkness, that house emits strange sighs on certain nights of the year, and seems to have a human face when seen from the corner of one’s eye. Or so some neighbors say. In our world, there are urban legends. In the World of Darkness, there are urban legends whispered into the ears of autistic children by invisible spiders.

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“The most creative of the mainstream RPGs!”

Cold alleys lit by buzzing neon signs, ancient conspiracies, gators in the sewers… The World of Darkness has so many things that go bump in the night that all the closets and beds in the world couldn’t hide them. And yet, it manages to facilitate the telling of some truly compelling stories.

This review is based on having run two long Changeling campaigns and playing in one mortal campaign. I own the core book, several core source books, all of the Changeling line, plus the core books for Mage and Hunter.

How does it look?: The New World of Darkness books are beautiful. All of the books I own are hardbound and look as good now as they did when I picked them up. The binding is all intact and the pages are crisp.

The artwork gracing the pages is a mixed bag sourced from many artists. Some of the artwork in the Changeling core book looks smudgy, while other pieces in the same book are downright stunning. Even with the bad apples, any one of the books paints a horrifying picture of the world the players will be interacting with.

How does it play?: With many core books and extra source material available, all kinds of stories can be told in the World of Darkness. I have incorporated organ theft, Lovecraftian creeping dread, body horror and the very adult fears that come with parenthood into my games. I found that as time went on, my players became more than content with sessions that didn’t involve a single combat because they were so interested in the friendships and rivalries growing within their own team and the supporting cast, with only the occasional nudge from the Storyteller to keep some pressure on them.

The New World of Darkness is a d10-based system in line with White Wolf’s other products. When faced with a task, the player takes a number of 10-sided dice equal to the character’s relevant Attribute (innate capabilities like Strength, Manipulation or Wits)and Skill rating related to the task, plus some other modifiers to account of Specialties in the skill and situational modifiers (good luck picking a lock in the dark without a flashlight!).

The resolution is quick. After rolling the dice and comparing the result to the difficulty set by the Storyteller, you wind up with a simple yes or no and the story can move on. It’s infrequent for any one issue to eat into game time. This also translates over to combat. Although a bit more fiddly due to Armor, I have found combat to usually be quick and brutal. Recovery takes a long, long time in-game, so players are best off picking their fights carefully.

Overall Impression: With a generally easy to use system, a very rich setting and room for players to grow and develop their characters in interesting and meaningful ways, I believe that the New World of Darkness will stay with me for a long time. While not as light or intuitive as some small-press storytelling games, it may be the single most creative mainstream game out there.

 

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