Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The trials and tribulations of World of Darkness

It is one of the rules of the great and mighty internetz that whenever someone mentions Vampire: Bloodlines (by the now defunct Troika Games), someone out there must immediately reinstall it and play it through to the end. Lo and behold, someone mentioned it, and it was my ticket number, so off I went, in search of various patches and altered .dll files so that I could play Bloodlines in Vista. Long story short, I got it up and running and currently fulfilling my life-long dream to play a Malkavian all the way through (no, really, even before I was cognizant of existence of video games, World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, and life-long dreams, I probably had a seed of this dream planted somewhere in the deep and dark cockles of my heart - probably the same part of me that plants three mercenaries with automatic weapons set on overwatch just around the corner from a hapless PC with two HP left on a giant speeding train, but I digress).

Of course it is an ancillary of the above-mentioned law that whosoever shall install and play a World of Darkness-themed video game will soon after develop a craving for the real thing. Having recently bought "Book of the dead" (a supplement for the supremely juicy, but somewhat flawed Geist: The Sin Eaters), it would be a no brainer, except I don't really have any good adventure ideas, let along campaign ideas. Which led me naturally to consider possibly the best World of Darkness product line (either old WoD or new WoD) - Changeling: The Lost. I really can't remember any other RPG product that instantly gave me so much inspiration in so short a time. I haven't even finished reading through all the C:tL supplements I have (and I have them all! Mwahahaha!) and I was already planning multiple adventures and campaigns. There are, however, three chief obstacles: time, intimidation factor, and players.

Time: I have very little. Enough to actually run it, but little to actually prep it, and prepping for a WoD game is a separate story, which leads me to...

Intimidation factor. I haven't ever ran a new World of Darkness game. My knowledge of the new rules is shaky, and my knowledge of Changeling rules is even more shaky (Changeling is very complex compared to - say - Vampire or the old Changeling: The Dreaming). Thus, I couldn't just run the game freestyle like I usually do. Running a freestyle game is something I'm rather good at, without being too boastful, but this is C:tL we're talking about! I highly suspect that for some reason C:tL will be the Magnum Opus of my tabletop gaming career. More so than the epic Planescape game, or the slightly less epic Planescape game, or the awesome Ravenloft horror campaign, or even Ptolus. So thinking about actually running Changeling gives me cold feet. Cold like the graaaaaaaaaaaaave...

Players. Alright, look, no way to beat around the bush. My usual large pool of players has fractured into two camps (or perhaps even three), several members of which are at odds with each other. Even if I had the time to prep and run the game I could only do it for one of the groups. The question is - which one? And do I pick the group for personal reasons, or out of consideration for which group will work best in a Changeling game? This isn't a standard hack-and-slash D&D we're talking about here, this is a much more sophisticated and scary beast. Like most WoD games it requires a level of maturity, involvement, creativity and commitment from players. From previous experiences (running old WoD), games set in World of Darkness are much more player centric and require more player input. So there is a lot of responsibility not just for the Storyteller (i.e. pretentious term for Game Master), but for players as well. So, it's a tough call.

P.S. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's everyone! Almost forgot. :)