I don’t know how well you follow Old World of Darkness publication information, dear reader, but I can tell you that Drive Thru RPG has been doing some pretty amazing work making old White Wolf books available to the general public. Click on the link and give them a view if you’re at all interested in older books of any genre, or small, no-name publishers that have some pretty great merchandise just waiting to be discovered. Anyway, if you go to the link, you’ll find a 20th anniversary edition of Mage, The Ascension, which I will be purchasing as soon as I can convince my wife that I need it to live.
I only bring this up, because the book I received as a gift from my wonderful wife on my birthday last year was the 20th Anniversary edition of Werewolf, The Apocalypse. And ever since then, I’ve been dying to run it, but with so much going on, the baby, other existing games that needed to be finished, and my place in the running schedule of who will GM next, I have yet to get the chance to use that magnificent, full-color, quadrabizillion page tome to the betterment of myself and all of my friends!
Well that is no longer the case! My turn in the old rotation is coming back around fast, and I have quite a lot of work to do! As an experimental post, I thought I’d let you in on my process . . . the things I do to get a game ready to go for my group. I can’t go into too much detail about the actual story, because my players read this blog, but I can tell you about . . .
So first, a word about building the old world of darkness into something that’s still relevant today. Luckily, the new 20th anniversary edition has actually added a fair amount of content to help with this, but if you’re not familiar with the setting . . . well, it’s not called “The Apocalypse” for nothing. If you re familiar, then you’ll likely remember that the great bloodbath in defense of the Wyld was supposed to take place in . . . you guessed it, the year 2000. Obviously, it never happened, so they had to do a little ret-conning to fix the problems present in playing fifteen years into a world that has not been apocolypsed. The themes of Werewolf were always a kinda “save the cheerleader, save the world” deal, except instead of the cheerleader, it was Gaia, and instead of the world as it is, it was the world before the three competing deities went mad and fell out of balance. The setting itself was a reaction to growing fears in the 90’s that the environment was on its way down fast and hard, and that if we didn’t change something quickly, then we were going to choke on our own befoulment before the changing of the millennium. Especially since the main antagonists were part of a corporation that looked fine on the surface, but was actively seeking to destroy the world behind the scenes, the setting made for some awesome, desperate stories about downtrodden, alienated heroes fighting against overwhelming odds to save humankind from itself . . .
At least, that’s what I think now that I’m an adult. At the time, it was probably more like, “I get to be a 14 foot tall murder machine? Awesome!”
How, then, do you make the story relevant in a time when the population is much more conscious of the importance of preserving our environment? My idea is fairly simple. If the antagonist has gone to ground, then I’m going to bring the focus on the characters themselves, because mostly, Werewolf was always a story about growing up, and all those terrifying changes that happen as one gets older, only in this world, those changes are very much personified in the player character’s sometimes monstrous abilities. I’m going to attempt to make the game more about what my characters are going through, and less about the epic struggle to defend the world against Pentex. And to do that, I have to actually do the one thing we always ignored in all the old White Wolf games we played; run the prelude to the story my characters will eventually play.
To do this, I will be starting my players as vanilla humans . . . or wolves, or metis, depending on their preference . . . you get the idea. They will not have auspice gifts (the ones granted from the phase of the moon they were born under), nor will they have tribe gifts (the ones granted by the werewolf tribe that eventually accepts them into their midst), but they will have the ability to turn into a 14 foot tall killing machine lurking just beneath the surface . . . they just won’t know what it is. I’m basically going to have them create basic humans, and play through that first dramatic event that forces them to make the change, and instead of making it all about saving mother earth, I’m going to make it about saving themselves. I don’t know how it’ll work out, but I do know that if I don’t do something with my last 100 dollar book, there is no way in hell my wife will ever let me get the next one! She stands to benefit . . . she’s one of my players!
Anyway, one way or the other, I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on starting a new game. If I get positive feedback on this post, I might continue on the vein of how I write my games, so if you liked the entry, please click like, leave a comment, reblog or share this post on your media . . . literally anything to let me know you enjoyed what you read! Otherwise, it’s back to the Borderkeep, to talk about some more traditional (at least, for this blog) topics. Check out my partner blog, Tales from the Borderkeep, and as always, don’t fall for the kobold pit trap!