Episode 105: The World of Darkness

We’re back and we’re sharpening our fangs, picking the nits out of our fur and preparing for some paradox. Born in 1991 out of Vampire: the Masquerade, the World of Darkness has grown, changed and completely reinvented itself many times since. As a result, our discussion covers only the very basics of its history. Simply cataloguing the different game lines, editions and even publishers that make up the different iterations would take more time than we have.

None of us are getting any younger here.

We give most of our discussion over to understanding the appeal of these games. While all three of us have played at least some of the lines, only Matt knows them well, so most of the episode is Paul and Scott asking him questions. Matt’s collection of the books covers his library like gothic wallpaper. Just as importantly, he has written for Onyx Path, one of the current publishers of World of Darkness material, so he speaks with some authority.

Although this authority may not always be respected.

As well as talking about the tabletop gaming world, we also discuss LARPs. No other RPG game line has made quite the same jump to live-action gaming. World of Darkness LARPs have brought many people into our hobby who may never have encountered it otherwise. Again, this is a foreign world to Paul and Scott, so Matt serves as our guide.

Although his tours usually only make it as far as the nearest cocktail bar.

This is the first episode in months to be free of the taint of singing. We did actually have a last-minute $5 Patreon backer, but they came in just too late to make the mix. As regular listeners know to their cost, we thank those generous people who give us $5 an episode with a personalised aural assault that twists their name into the stuff of nightmares. You can look forward to just such an abomination next episode.

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5 comments on “The World of Darkness

  1. Hello Friends!

    A word about the word ‘monstrous’: the original Latin ‘monstrous’ was connected to ‘demonstro’, to ‘show forth’, which was similar to a revelation…but with a forbidding context. Classical Latin monstrum indicated an ‘evil omen or portent’…and a ‘monster’ was often suggestive of a hideous wonder, a creature who was so marvelous (i.e., hideous OR tremendous) that it was suggestive of God’s omnipotence.

    In HPL’s case, one might well replace God with cosmos, but the result is about the same—there are things in this world that suggest powerful Forces, if not a Demiurge.

    Also—there is an Old English word, ‘æglæca’, which means monster; interestingly, it is used of both Beowulf AND Grendel in the poem (this is not my insight—credit Andy Orchard, U Oxford prof.


    • I should add, æglæca means monster, but also ‘impressive’. Perhaps the best comparison is ‘awesome’. The key point with the Beowulf comparison is that both there hero AND the monster are referred to that way…later, even the Venerable Bede is called æglæca, for his immense learning, surely, as much as his fangs and claws.

  2. Also…

    I find myself in almost exactly the same position as Scott. I had stopped role-playing for a while, in college (university), and when I started noticing it again in the mid-90s, I was struck by the World of Darkness phenomenon, and also immensely confused by it. Like Scott, I found the intellectual ‘entry fee’ forbidding…and although I found the setting and system intriguing, I never felt as if I would EVEr be able to catch up.

    When ‘Requiem’ started, I had a glimmer of hopefulness, but it was shattered within a year.

    The more Matt talks about his groaning bookshelves, the more I feel it was an inevitable conclusion!

    Nevertheless, I also agree with Scott (and Paul) that the game system changed the feeling of role-playing forever…and probably for the better, in my opinion.


  3. Andreas Davour Jun 1, 2017


    You own 90% of the WoD books!? Impressive.


    I have never before thought about the fact that there are no numbers on the Vampire sheet! It’s an illusion, but I have never thought of how that can change your impression of a game. Damn. That probably is more significant that I have ever imagined..

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