Saturday, August 25, 2007

Update on the World of Darkness

I really did have to get the world straight again, after all, it's a matter of life or death. (Well, joking here, sort of.)

The "World of Darkness" was created by White Wolf Publishing as a background for various role-playing games dealing with monsters and magic. Currently, after quite some redesign, it's four different types of 'monsters' the player can be: Mage, werewolf, construct (like Frankenstein's creature) or vampire. All of them are to be found in the "World of Darkness" which is basically like our world, just more brutal, more corrupt and a lot darker.

After some serious reforming, the role-playing games have been renamed. The new games are called "Mage: The Awakening", "Werewolf: The Forsaken", "Vampire: The Requiem" and (new) "Promethean: The Created" (Promethean comes from Prometheus, a figure of Greek Mythology that's supposed to have created the first artificial life-form - man). I am partial to "Vampire: The Requiem" or - as I knew it until yesterday - "Vampire: The Masquerade". (The Masquerade is the most important rule among the vampires in the World of Darkness: Never let a mortal see what you are - unless, of course, you plan on killing him anyway.)

There are quite some changes in the game: different clans (13 down to 5, two of which are new), different organisation (not just 2 fractions, but 5 covenants) and an overall change in the vampire world.

The old "Vampire"-system sparked two computer games: "Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption" and "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines".

While "Redemption" had a rather soggy story about a young crusader who falls in love with the woman taking care of him after an injury, kills a vampire who has been threatening her and the town she lives in and is subsequently turned into a vampire by one of the other clan elders, "Bloodlines" is much more free in the whole storyline. In "Redemption" the character is given to the player by the game, a young fighter named Christophe who gets turned into a Bruhja (that's one of the 13 clans of "Masquerade"). As all clans have different special abilities (known as disciplines), game-play is, to a certain degree, limited by this. On the very positive side is that the whole story starts out in medieval times (in Prague) and ends in modern-day New York. After about half the story (and a trip to Vienna), Christophe gets trapped in a crashing castle after a fight against a boss enemy. In the basements of a society hunting down vampires, he returns to life about thousand years later. (As, in the role-playing game staking doesn't kill a vampire, they just fall into a trance.) The good thing about this is that the player gets the chance to play a vampire both in medieval times (with swords and so on) and in modern times (with guns and suchlike). For the time the graphics were great, too, so playing the game was really fun.

"Bloodlines" on the other hand - created shortly before the role-playing game was changed into "The Requiem" - features the clans usually associated with the Carmarilla (one of the two fractions in "Masquerade") and turned the player into a newly changed vampire whose Sire (the vampire who made him) was executed for creating a new vampire without being allowed to do so. Nevertheless the player was allowed to live, just to prove he was worth living. So he was sent from L.A. to Santa Monica first - and that's where playing started in the game. As "Bloodlines" was based on the "Half Life 2" engine, the surrounding was great, there were a lot of different jobs to do, there were 7 different clans to come from (and the player could either answer questions to find the right one or just choose) and the whole starting point was different. It was far more role-playing like. The story wasn't that soppy either ... well, apart from the execution right in the beginning, of course. Imagine: You don't even know you're a vampire and suddenly people storm into the hotel suit, stake the woman/man you've been spending the last night with and pull both you and him/her out of it. A short time later you're in a desolate theatre and a guy you don't know starts talking about how sorry he is to be forced to do that and has his gorilla behead the woman/man. And the only reason why you get out of this alive (well, sort of) seems to be the rather angry comments of one of the people in the audience.

But back to "Vampire: The Requiem". I have to admit that the new basics are rather interesting. There's more fractions (and the five clans are split up in some more) and there's a few rather interesting new ideas. So I'll have a new source book to draw information from ... especially for writing my own stories, but for other things as well. (And writing the post has made me consider reinstalling "Bloodlines" on my computer.)

Although I'm glad not to live in the "World of Darkness", it's an interesting place to visit.

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