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  • Many WoDs vs. Single WoD

    This is an argument that has a way of derailing threads, I thought I'd give it its own thread. Of course, this thread already addressed the "how" of treating the WoD as a single setting:

    http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...ng-in-the-cwod

    The current thread is for the "whys" and "why nots".

    See, I've always felt that treating each gameline as a separate universe was one canonical way to run a game. I'll call this the Many WoDs Model (MWM).

    Likewise, treating the whole thing as a "Rashomon" in which each perspective is half true and the goal for any given play group is to decide which half is another interpretation that's contradicted an supported about as much. I'll call this the Single WoD Model (SWM).

    Conversely, I keep finding myself in conversations with WoD players on- and offline where we're going around comparing notes and brainstorming about how to run a certain aspect of the setting, and someone (often I) will propose some interpretation that cross-references things from two different games. Most often, this involves bringing up Consensus or the Triat outside of Mage or Werewolf, respectively.

    This will prompt someone to explain that this sort of cross-referencing is simply not the correct way to read canon. Instead, the bits where, say, a werewolf shows up in a Mage book and something about the Wyrm are to be taken as some sort of authorial wink and nothing more. If a mage shows up in a Werewolf: the Apocalypse game, he's a Werewolf-style mage whose powers rely entirely on Werewolf metaphysics.

    The given reasoning is typically that questioning the cosmology of the gameline that the players think they're playing is an ST bait-and-switch. A player who sits down for a Mage game isn't expecting some Triat to be more important than Consensus.

    Therefore, it's claimed, the correct way to include werewolves in a Mage game is to come up with some simplified versions of werewolves who follow Mage rules and are probably subject to Paradox and know nothing the Triat or Pentex.

    My response to this is that is that (for an extreme example) if I'm starting a Mage game and a player hands me a character sheet with "Werewolf Lore OOOOO" on it, and I allow it, I should see that player hold up a flag that says "I'm a fan of Werewolf: the Apocalypse, and I want you to incorporate themes and elements from Werewolf: the Apocalypse into your Mage game, so my character can shine by having access to most of my OOC knowledge about werewolves."

    That "Werewolf Lore OOOOO" flag does not say "I want you to take me aside and explain to me your homebrew Mage-style-werewolves, which my fan-obsession tells me almost nothing about."

    The latter seems much more like a bait-and-switch to me than the former.

    Amber the worst part is that these denouncements tend to occur in discussions that are already explicitly about crossovers. This makes the very notion of discussing crossovers confusing for me. It seems like in order to be coherent we would have to make very clear from the beginning whether, for instance, we were discussing a Vampire/Demon crossover from a vampire's point of view or from a demon's point of view. If we have to adhere to the MWM there is no general World of Darkness to discuss in this forum. There are seven Worlds of Darkness, each of which may contain its own vague theme park versions of any combination of the others.

    I'd like to know what actual experiences people have had in-game that have turned them on or off to either model, and what evidence there is that either is significantly more canonical.

  • #2
    I always use a one cWoD world because that is how it is written in the books, especially in 2nd edition and Revised. It gives me, the ST, enormous resources for my games and it prevents my players from getting bored because they will never know what I will be throwing against them. Anyway, that is how I have been playing cWoD since 1993, so I have no reason to change.

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    • #3
      I've always used the "Many WoD in one WoD" model when I run a game. When I run Mage, Mage cosmology is correct. When I run Werewolf, Werewolf cosmology is correct. When I run Demon, Demon cosmology is correct. When I run Kindred of the East, KotE cosmology is correct.

      So a player in a Mage game takes Werewolf Lore at 5 dots or whatever. His character knows what those Werewolves believe, but he also knows that tall their myths about Gaia and everything are just mistakes, reality doesn't work like that. Likewise, if I'm running a Werewolf game and someone has, Awakened Lore at 5 dots, they know Mages believes in consensual reality, but obviously those guys are completely wrong - Gaia and werewolves were around long before humans.

      Everyone lives in the same world, and everyone has their own beliefs. Everyone can also prove their own beliefs in their own way and the world operates differently for different groups. The world is, in essence, less like a single tapestry and more like a quilt sewn together by many different people, and so in some way they are all equally right and wrong. When I'm running a game for a specific group, then that group is obviously going to be "more right" when it comes to cosmology than everyone else.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Aya Tari View Post
        I always use a one cWoD world because that is how it is written in the books, especially in 2nd edition and Revised.
        No
        it
        is
        not.


        I've posted this before, but let me do it again: The Revised Storyteller's Guide literally writes
        Originally posted by pg. 174, under "Drawing Distinctions
        In its design, Vampire is intended to be played as a stand-alone game. The various factions, groups and subcultures prevalent in other games from the Storyteller series quite simply do not exist if you’re playing Vampire exclusively. Vampire has no Silent Striders, no Technocracy and no Unseelie Court
        Underlined emphasis mine.


        If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
        'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nothing View Post

          No
          it
          is
          not.


          I've posted this before, but let me do it again: The Revised Storyteller's Guide literally writesUnderlined emphasis mine.
          ...

          See what I mean?

          Originally posted by Vampire Revised Storyteller's Guide, pg. 174
          In its design, Vampire is intended to be played as a stand-alone game. The various factions, groups and subcultures prevalent in other games from the Storyteller series quite simply do not exist if you’re playing Vampire exclusively. Vampire has no Silent Striders, no Technocracy and no Unseelie Court
          Emphasis mine.

          There are crossover sections in every corebook except Demon, as well as many sourcebooks. There are crossover references in most books. There are crossover rules. There are sample NPCs in books that aren't of their home gameline. Every game has at least one splat associated with fae and one associated with wraiths. Vampire has the Thaumaturgy path of Spirit Manipulation and the Ahrimane bloodline, even though Vampire generally doesn't address the Umbra. There are numerous major metaplot points that involve crossovers, particularly the Week of Nightmares, which had repercussions for every game that were given no other explanation.

          The option to keep them separate is given, but it doesn't involve disregarding any less of canon than the alternatives do.

          This is my problem: I read a bunch of WoD books, and I thought the contradictions were supposed to be mysteries for groups to answer for themselves in-game. But every time I sit down to play a game, I feel bored, because we're just supposed to decide from the start that one version of one cosmology is true and anyone who contradicts it must accept out of game that their character is ultimately wrong, or they're breaking the fourth wall.

          Even within individual games, so many basic things make so little sense that it breaks my suspension of disbelief if my character is automatically wrong for questioning them.

          Out of all the vampires in the world, no bloodline got to 14th gen until the 20th century?

          The Black Spiral Dancers are universally nihilistic degenerate delusional drug addicted sociopaths, and yet they're the most successful tribe there is?

          Consensus rules all, but physics and technological advancement seem to proceed basically like they do IRL, at least superficially? And my Mage character is wrong not to believe that, even if he's been to the Dreaming (which is specifically canon in Mage without reference to Changeling if you go by the Book of Worlds) and seen what absolute consensus reality would actually looks like?

          I guess if I had to pick one cosmology, I'd rather play in, for instance, a game where the PCs are all werewolves who gradually discover to their horror that they're in a Mage game, and their hateful little religion is just that, the BSDS aren't actually much worse than the other tribes (not that that's saying much), and future Garou will remember the current "apocalypse" as just another War of Rage.

          I feel like that Werewolf game would have more Lovecraftian appeal than any tentacled Wyrm beastie.

          These are supposed to be games about monsters. That doesn't work if you have to take all their excuses for thinking they're not monsters at face value.
          Last edited by Mr. Sluagh; 02-19-2017, 04:16 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
            I've always used the "Many WoD in one WoD" model when I run a game. When I run Mage, Mage cosmology is correct. When I run Werewolf, Werewolf cosmology is correct. When I run Demon, Demon cosmology is correct. When I run Kindred of the East, KotE cosmology is correct.
            This is how I run it.

            Adding to that: if I am running a crossover game, then I will decide in advance specifics on the cosmology. But I don't worry about informing the players. There is a very decent chance though that it never comes up in game since that would require the characters end up in a spot where the metaphysics of the different games would clash. And stuff like that usually doesn't come up without having sufficiently advanced characters.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Mr. Sluagh View Post

              I guess if I had to pick one cosmology, I'd rather play in, for instance, a game where the PCs are all werewolves who gradually discover to their horror that they're in a Mage game, and their hateful little religion is just that
              It's not a religion. It's a pact with beings left over from the dawn of time who were cut off from the solid, physical world, many of whom had a hand in the genesis of werewolves to begin with. Even Mage wouldn't go so far as to cut that out, most likely.

              the BSDS aren't actually much worse than the other tribes (not that that's saying much)
              Mage would probably treat the Spiral Labyrinth as a kind of caul, which means that they're "Nephandic" werewolves, which is substantially worse since they might drag mages back and try to convert them into barabbi instead of just tearing them apart and letting their Avatars reincarnate normally.

              and future Garou will remember the current "apocalypse" as just another War of Rage.
              Technically where the game is already headed, except that the Wars of Rage were between shapeshifters. Mokole, as witnesses to a prior struggle, would describe it as a WonderWork of the Dissolver, and might be the only ones left over to give it any kind of name to begin with. Just a little bit of history repeating...

              I feel like that Werewolf game would have more Lovecraftian appeal than any tentacled Wyrm beastie.
              Have you read the Rokea book, or the material on the Chulorviah? It already has quite a great deal of that, especially since the monsters aren't affected by human belief in the least. Thunderwyrms may seem absurd to the logic of humanity, but it doesn't keep them from pulling a Tremors on isolated towns in the western US. Which is probably why there are fewer small human settlements in the WoD, come to think of it; it's not just the Impergium's long-standing effects on stress and the psyche.

              These are supposed to be games about monsters. That doesn't work if you have to take all their excuses for thinking they're not monsters at face value.
              The thing is, it's not that they're saying they aren't monsters, it's that they're saying being a monster can be alright.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post

                It's not a religion. It's a pact with beings left over from the dawn of time who were cut off from the solid, physical world, many of whom had a hand in the genesis of werewolves to begin with. Even Mage wouldn't go so far as to cut that out, most likely.
                Yeah, but don't a lot of religions IRL make some convoluted argument that they're not really religions because their gods are real?

                It's understandable to think that the reality of spirits in Werewolf lends legitimacy to Garou ideology. But on the contrary, it seems to me that if the totems are literal, finite, fallible beings whom Garou are actually in touch with, that reduces Garou beliefs to just another political ideology, more than it elevates them to a "true religion".

                The only entities I would really call "gods" in the religious sense in Werewolf are Gaia and the Triat, and I think I'd have about as much trouble proving, from within the CWoD, that Gaia and the Triad literally exist, as I would have proving the Christian God exists IRL.

                Mage would probably treat the Spiral Labyrinth as a kind of caul, which means that they're "Nephandic" werewolves, which is substantially worse since they might drag mages back and try to convert them into barabbi instead of just tearing them apart and letting their Avatars reincarnate normally.
                Okay, bad example, though I'd hazard that going with any of the other games' cosmologies would work better for what I said.

                Have you read the Rokea book, or the material on the Chulorviah? It already has quite a great deal of that, especially since the monsters aren't affected by human belief in the least. Thunderwyrms may seem absurd to the logic of humanity, but it doesn't keep them from pulling a Tremors on isolated towns in the western US. Which is probably why there are fewer small human settlements in the WoD, come to think of it; it's not just the Impergium's long-standing effects on stress and the psyche.
                Yes, like I said, Consensus clearly isn't everything, even in Mage. Mages are wrong, too.

                The thing is, it's not that they're saying they aren't monsters, it's that they're saying being a monster can be alright.
                And that, right there, is exactly my problem.

                It's just a matter of taste, but know what show I really hate? Friends. It's a show about six awful people who constantly hurt each other and everyone around them. (If you don't believe me, watch this Cracked.com video: https://youtu.be/n1BQ3bbJO_kh)

                And yet, it's played as if you're supposed to like these people. You're supposed to sympathize with Ross' narcissistic self-pity, and believe that Joey is just a harmless player and Phoebe is just a loveable goofball, and laugh at Gunther along with the six "friends".

                The antidote to Friends is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It's in many ways similar to Friends, except it's up front about the fact that all characters are bad people. For instance, Dennis, the closest Joey analog, is heavily implied to a full-blown serial rapist. You're supposed to laugh at the way he and the other characters rationalize this, rather than laughing with him for being such a loveable rogue.

                When I try to play World of Darkness games, I usually feel like all the other players think their characters are Friends characters, and I keep wanting to break it to them that,

                No, I'm sorry:

                Your vampire character is secretly Dennis.
                Your werewolf character is secretly Mac.
                Your mage character is secretly Frank.
                Your wraith character is secretly Dee.
                Your changeling character is secretly Charlie.
                Last edited by Mr. Sluagh; 02-19-2017, 06:13 PM. Reason: Wow, that was sure the wrong YouTube link. How did that happen?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mr. Sluagh View Post

                  Yeah, but don't a lot of religions IRL make some convoluted argument that they're not really religions because their gods are real?
                  Well, yes. They're of the same substance as those beings. They're kin supporting kin stranded in another world.

                  It's understandable to think that the reality of spirits in Werewolf lends legitimacy to Garou ideology. But on the contrary, it seems to me that if the totems are literal, finite, fallible beings whom Garou are actually in touch with, that reduces Garou beliefs to just another political ideology, more than it elevates them to a "true religion".
                  That's not wholly inaccurate, but misses a lot of the essence of a fundamental divide between spirit and flesh. Spirits are finite, but much larger than humans, especially when you get to powerful Jagglings. Totems, which are Incarnae, are barely able to express their transcendent world view with beings of human like. Spirits are also typically operating as parts of a much larger whole, and know it, so they're somewhat less likely to engage in power plays than humans.

                  The only entities I would really call "gods" in the religious sense in Werewolf are Gaia and the Triat, and I think I'd have about as much trouble proving, from within the CWoD, that Gaia and the Triad literally exist, as I would have proving the Christian God exists IRL.
                  That's what the Gnosis trait is about. If you have it, you can feel the soul of the world and communicate with it. If you don't have it, all of this will seem very strange and unrelatable, and you won't be a part of that world.

                  Okay, bad example, though I'd hazard that going with any of the other games' cosmologies would work better for what I said.
                  Certainly not Vampire or Wraith. Vampire bothers even less with questions about layers of reality, and Wraith has an Underworld shaped primarily by an attempt to make everything as horrible as possible, with any paradises promised in human belief a distant, potentially false hope. Also, there are things in the Labyrinth undreamt of by humanity's wildest imaginations; whole worlds passed into it with enough death and destruction.

                  Yes, like I said, Consensus clearly isn't everything, even in Mage. Mages are wrong, too.
                  That seems like it would completely undermine your position in an argument.

                  And that, right there, is exactly my problem.

                  It's just a matter of taste, but know what show I really hate? Friends. It's a show about s...
                  I'm not following your pop culture references. I'll just be over with the Gene Wilder Wonka punishing sinners in hilariously, if viciously, ironic fashion.

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                  • #10
                    Werewolves are dark and tragic heroes that are more angry and more spiritually aware that any other major supernatural creature. Fera (or Kinfolk) with Gnosis 1 are more connected to Gaia (and Nature) than any Changeling, Kindred, KJ, Mage, Wraith, etc could ever hope to be.

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                    • #11
                      In first edition, it is very apparent that everything is supposed to be the one world and one game line. Crossover was not a dirty word and it was expected. Each game line has all these crossover hooks embedded into it (Malkavians with Fae, Giovanni with Wraith, Tremere with Mage, Silent Striders with Wraith, Fianna with Fae, Dreamspeakers with Garou, etc.) However, very quickly it became apparent that 1) game mechanics were not compatible as each game line used its own attributes, and 2) increasingly different editorial visions produced more and more buffer between the various games. The second problem was probably more crucial than the first.

                      People who claim that this was always so because of statements made in late second edition or revised should know the game's history a little bit better,

                      To me, it is one World of Darkness, and as an ST I have to figure out how it all blends together. There are lots of things I disagree with in each game line, so I'm already editing it to various degrees. This is just one more edit. Of course, if you only play one game and don't read the others, there is no reason for you to do so either.

                      Simply because in real life the various developers and editors of the 5 game lines couldn't make it work because of their egos and different visions doesn't mean I have that problem.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                        In first edition, it is very apparent that everything is supposed to be the one world and one game line. Crossover was not a dirty word and it was expected. Each game line has all these crossover hooks embedded into it (Malkavians with Fae, Giovanni with Wraith, Tremere with Mage, Silent Striders with Wraith, Fianna with Fae, Dreamspeakers with Garou, etc.) However, very quickly it became apparent that 1) game mechanics were not compatible as each game line used its own attributes, and 2) increasingly different editorial visions produced more and more buffer between the various games. The second problem was probably more crucial than the first.

                        People who claim that this was always so because of statements made in late second edition or revised should know the game's history a little bit better,
                        Did the mages that showed up in other games actually end up like the mages in Mage? Because I get the distinct impression from hearing the criticisms of Mage across the years that its earliest iteration was not particularly keen on playing well with others, and that post-modernism was never really a thing in the other games. Even if they had hooks, that's about all they practically had. Late 2nd edition to Revised is just coming to terms with the reality that they didn't mesh well.

                        To me, it is one World of Darkness, and as an ST I have to figure out how it all blends together. There are lots of things I disagree with in each game line, so I'm already editing it to various degrees. This is just one more edit. Of course, if you only play one game and don't read the others, there is no reason for you to do so either.

                        Simply because in real life the various developers and editors of the 5 game lines couldn't make it work because of their egos and different visions doesn't mean I have that problem.
                        I doubt that it was much to do with egos, and more to do with the core theses of the games, which became dramatically different, and created setting lore that was keen to roll downhill and collect more snow on its own path, away from the others. None perhaps moreso than Mage, which, as noted, has very particular ideas about what is and isn't that don't even come close to meshing at all with other games.

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                        • #13
                          It has to do with the core concept of the games(subjective reality it's a big thing in Mage), egos (the need to rewrite the world arround your game, as can be seen by the appropiation of all the cool history figures by one game or another), and the impossibility to know a canon that expands trough hundreds of books without being a full time geek (and even then it's hard).

                          Rather than make the effort of creating a crossover WoD corebook, that will not only be massive, but also will make fans of every game angry, the authors decided to never adress this kind of issues. Or at least that was, more or less, the reason that Satyros comented when he refused to do an all encompassing Book of the Crossover when it was suggested to him in facebook, back when M20 was still being written.

                          Of course, if you want to do so, there are sufficent connections to do it, but then don't go arround telling others "how WoD really works" when your view of WoD colides with that of other fans (something more than common, as each one has it's own view of how "everything makes perfect sense").

                          This it's why in 3rd edition the "others" are always shown in an antagonistic light. No more the Gangrel are friends with Garou, the relationships between Malkavian and the Fae are all but forgotten...etc. Notably, you can't see the 3 points Merit "Supernatural Friend" anywhere. This it's a buffer that discourages including PLAYER characters (the ones that care about their methaphysics being right) in the games, while alowing the ST to introduce them as npc, which are rarely so conflictive about the issue.
                          Last edited by Aleph; 02-20-2017, 09:34 AM.

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                          • #14
                            To me it's very simple: there are a ton of connections between the games, in every level, from sourcebooks to chronicles to novels etc.

                            The games are assuming a splat-only play style as default, but that's for the sake of convenience/thematic 'pureness' and as mentioned, the writers' view on the games. It was simply easier to do it this way for WW (although I firmly believe that in the meantime they missed a lot of potential).

                            However, again, the WoD itself is undoubtedly a crossover setting to me. Even the brand itself is "World of Darkness", not "Worlds of Darkness" and every game is a part of it and again, crossover is supported with story and rules.


                            If nothing worked, then let's think!

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                            • #15
                              No one is forcing anyone to play or run a crossover game, it is just that the setting supports crossover games even if the game mechanics are poor.

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