Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Dark World

I think I've talked about the World of Darkness here before, and I thought I'd go over a few things. Specifically, how I view the games in the new World of Darkness, and what they seem to hold in store. This is, of course, only my opinion, and there are two games I won't talk about here (Mage: The Awakening and Vampire: The Requiem, not because I don't like them, but because I haven't read enough about them to really get a handle on them.

First for me is Werewolf: The Forsaken. Forsaken is the spiritual successor to Werewolf: The Apocalypse, from the old World of Darkness line, and that was always my favorite. In this one, you still play werewolves, but the road is nowhere near as clear. Where in Apocalypse the werewolves were righteous warriors fighting off the encroachment of insidious evil, in Forsaken, the PCs have a lot more to learn. First, the Forsaken are only one half of the werewolf equation - the other half, the Pure, are driven by the very forces the Forsaken are supposed to protect against. Then there is the duty of the Forsaken - they are essentially interplanar enforcers, trying to ensure that the spirit world and the physical world don't mix too much. They seem outnumbered and outgunned, each pack controlling its own territory to protect it from evils both physical and spiritual, and the only people a Forsaken can really, truly trust are his fellow pack members. He doesn't have to like them, but they are family, brothers in arms, and an adventuring group all rolled into one. You take your territory, and hold it against all comers, and hope that one day you succeed. It is savage, dark, and at times disturbing, especially reading about some of their enemies, and I love reading about it.

Next up is Changeling: The Lost. A far cry from its predecessor, the lighthearted Changeling: The Dreaming, Lost is about loss. PCs are changleings, normal people abducted, tricked, or voluntarily brought to the realms of the true faeries, who are beings our minsds can't comprehend. They are tortured, molded, and changed, and eventually they manage to escape - or are let go - only to come back to a world that has gone on without them. They find in their place a being called a fetch, living their former life as if nothing went wrong, and so they become strangers in their own lives. They band together for safety and camaraderie, and try not to give in to the urge to become like their tormentors. Lost is a game about suffering from, recovering from, and hopefully overcoming abuse, both physical and mental, and about what you will do and how far you will go to get revenge or relief. Are the powers you gained in your change enough to outweigh what was done to you?

Third on my list is Hunter: The Vigil. I'm currently running a small game of this, though we play only every couple of months. In hunter, you are one of the normal people in the World of Darkness until something strange happens. Maybe a child is abducted, or a relative killed, or you just see something terrible, and you decide that finding and killing whatever you saw is what you must do. You band together with other like-minded souls, and without supernatural powers or an action-hero arsenal, you go hunting the creatures of the night. Some become conspiracy nuts; some go rogue and start fighting their fellow hunters. Some join larger compacts and conspiracies and begin to get a bigger picture of the world they live in. They are the bulwark of humanity against the forces of the night, the candle lit to drive back the darkness. The only problem is, candles go out. How long can a hunter hunt the unknowable before it comes back to haunt him? Will you be irrevocably changed, or die a grisly death - or somehow manage to live to retire in old age? How long can you keep the vigil in a war where you don't even know the other side?

Finally, and most recently, is Geist: The Sin-Eaters. This game is still petty new to me, so I'm not sure I have everything down, but bear with me. In Geist, PCs are people who suffered near-death or actual death, but who were chosen by a kind of ghost - a Geist- as a partner, and brought back from the edge. The Geist inhabits your body, and while it may once have been a human ghost, it has been around for so long that it has lost who it was and now seeks only one thing, different for every Geist - though if you have seen or read The Crow, the spirit is not unlike that. Your revived character can help his or her Geist out, but you can also see the spirits of the world now, those who have died and yet not moved on, and you can become a part of that, eaither by helping ghost along, or by destroying them and feasting on their substance. You can even visit the Underworld to find ghosts in between the physical world and their final resting place, but be careful of the guardians, unknowable things that despise Geists. Essentially, your character has been given a second chance at life, and even though you are different, the question is the same - what do you do with a second chance?

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