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How much darker is the World of Darkness from the Real World?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Mister_Dunpeal View Post
    But even then you want at least some 'positives' to offset the negatives to create hope (or the illusion thereof), to generate dynamic tension, and to reinforce the contrasts. If everything is unremitting gloom and darkness and decay then it just gets repetitive and boring and it loses it's impact. There has to be a sense that something can be tangibly lost I feel to really maximize the impact of 'dark'.
    This part here is what I feel a lot of writers (and even the fans of those writers' stories) forget all too often. If there's nothing to contrast against the darkness, then it's all just black and uninteresting.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by The Dreamweaver View Post
      This part here is what I feel a lot of writers (and even the fans of those writers' stories) forget all too often. If there's nothing to contrast against the darkness, then it's all just black and uninteresting.
      To be fair the Warhammer 40K universe makes WoD setting look positively care bear inspired by comparison and it doesn't loose impact or become uninteresting. Though I freely admit the 40k fandom is the only fandom that knows it wouldn't want to live in their setting of choice. In the WoD yes the world is a horrible place, but at least you can be one of monsters rather than the sheep.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Thoth View Post

        To be fair the Warhammer 40K universe makes WoD setting look positively care bear inspired by comparison and it doesn't loose impact or become uninteresting. Though I freely admit the 40k fandom is the only fandom that knows it wouldn't want to live in their setting of choice. In the WoD yes the world is a horrible place, but at least you can be one of monsters rather than the sheep.
        There's a kind of existentialism with Warhammer 40K, though, that doesn't quite match the WOD in the fact that the world is doomed but you can at least heroically go down fighting.

        The WOD will die by degrees.


        Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

          There's a kind of existentialism with Warhammer 40K, though, that doesn't quite match the WOD in the fact that the world is doomed but you can at least heroically go down fighting.

          The WOD will die by degrees.
          I don't know if this is still being carried over from the Kuei-Jin section of the setting or not, but WoD has a cyclical pattern of destruction and rebirth. The sixth age is the very worst of the spiritual degeneration on the cycle but after that things start getting better. So the WoD holds the promise of better times, if you only can survive long enough to enjoy it, which oddly enough means that vampires are one of the few corporeal splats that could survive long enough to see such a broad scope of change play out.

          It would be kind of funny if all the sleeping Elders are actually just trying to wait out the sixth age and enjoy the benefits of the age the follows, rather than being sleeping time bombs that herald the end of our world.

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          • #35
            I think the biggest factor is going to be people's personal 'headcanon' and how mutable their suspension of disbelief is. There are some things that will break one person's SoD but not another's because of how they have envisioned something to work out, especially if they've had a long time to build up expectations. This can be especially true when you have a span of years (the ideas of 'dark' in the 90s and early 2000s likely have changed compared to how they are in 2019, much the same way that science fictional attitudes have changed from the 1940s to the 1980s and into the 2000s.)

            I think the main difference between 40K and WoD might be seen in scale. 40K's backdrop is an entire galaxy most of the time, whereas World of Darkness is largely confined to our solar system (multiple realities/dimensions can expand that scope some, but you could make the same case that expanding 40K beyond the milky way might do the same.)

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            • #36
              Visually I tend to think WoD in my head looks like the original Burton Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Though sometimes when I ST I describe it looking just like our world, but that is usually for games where I want a starker contrast for the horrific events about to unfold.

              Of actual WoD sources I agree with Heavy Arms earlier statement about the opening comic in Freak Legion being quite excellent portrayal of how dark WoD should be. But then again I always quite liked the book itself aswell as the Fomori are perhaps my favourite part of WtA.

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              • #37
                About 40k. I agree with Thoth about it being black enough that WoD seems like a paradise world in comparison. There is no heroism there, only futile struggles of races destined to be extinguished. Humanity has fallen and become monsters equal to any vampire and most Xenos aren’t any better.

                In both WoD and 40k the world is on the brink of destruction, yes 40k has a bigger scale and WoD has all these modern cyclical things going for it so that in it he world isn’t actually about to be destroyed, but while waiting for the end to come 40k is a much bleaker darker and horrifying place to do so. In WoD most people do not have a clue about the coming end, in 40k there is a constant war in a futile effort to stave of that fate. In WoD humans may be prey for supernatural beings but mostly they are unaware prey where as humanity of 40k is painfully aware of their worlds horrors. They know that the Xenos threathen their existence, they know that the heretic threathen their existence as do Demons and other things out there in the cold void of space and in the Chaos of the Warp.

                In WoD there is still some hope left. I cannot say the same about 40k with a straight face.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Possessed View Post
                  Visually I tend to think WoD in my head looks like the original Burton Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Though sometimes when I ST I describe it looking just like our world, but that is usually for games where I want a starker contrast for the horrific events about to unfold.
                  Perhaps I am showing my age a bit, but I always had the WoD being like a visual mix between the setting of Blade: House of Cthon, Friday the 13th tv series (different than the movies), and the original Crow movie with Branden Lee.

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                  • #39
                    I think its fair to say that WoD can borrow elements from every facet of 'serious' fiction. Like before it turned into outright (instead of implied) supernatural porn the Anite blake series (the early novels mainly) had a flavor that closely meshed the World of Darkness too (much better than say, Anne Rice's stuff did, which was more autobiographical/historical. And pornographic)
                    Although WoD has its share of 'pornographic' as well, so its probably not that distant even now except perhaps by degree lol. In the past tho alot of the tone was drastically different than what would be understood/tolerated today ('gothic/punk' as the Redemption manual put it - something I still enjoy reading because it was still in an era where some games put as much effort into writing the novels as the games themselves. Nowadays I'm not sure you can afford to stay quite so 'niche', even in a vampire-centric chronicle.)

                    I still consider Stephen King's Dark Tower mythology to be a strong parallel (in terms of theme) to World of Darkness. elements of decline (sometimes in the middle of seeming progress), the supernatural and horrific blending in with the mundane, themes of cyclic patterns and godlike evils trying to trigger apocalypses and tear down society (or reality, or both), etc. I could totally see the Crimson King as heing some sort of metaphysical threat that meshes nicely with anything you find in the Wold of Darkness settings. Any of them.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Mister_Dunpeal View Post
                      I think its fair to say that WoD can borrow elements from every facet of 'serious' fiction. Like before it turned into outright (instead of implied) supernatural porn the Anite blake series (the early novels mainly) had a flavor that closely meshed the World of Darkness too (much better than say, Anne Rice's stuff did, which was more autobiographical/historical. And pornographic)
                      I haven't read any of the Anita Blake books in well over a decade at this point, but if I recall correctly there was almost a direct ratio to the amounts of technical details to porn without plot value. By technical details I am referring to things where the character focuses on things like weapon load outs, mortal vs supernatural tactics, and psychological profiling. In short how everything works and interacts with each other. The less of that was featured in the stories, the more pornographic the books became.

                      While WoD doesn't feature the pornographic as heavily as the Anita Blake series ended up becoming after a certain point, it doesn't always choose to focus on technical aspects either. It's kind of weird to think about, but WoD was designed with things like the Lost Boys as a key inspiration, but that predates things like cell phones smaller than bricks or digital camera technology for civilians. Yet in the first bloodlines game you have smiling jack directly telling the player that "we live the age of cell phone cameras, fuck ups ain't tolerated". But the roving vampire biker gangs some how don't attract attention in the modern age of mass surveillance and facial recognition databases.

                      I guess too much focus on technical stuff also messes with some peoples head canon. Though when ever I try to figure out how it could work, it usually makes the setting even darker so I am not sure why it would be avoided in the writing.

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                      • #41
                        Some people like Gothic Punk, some people just like horror I guess.


                        Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                        • #42
                          I always played it as a sort of negative zero version of reality. Ie Most cases things are roughly the same barring that people are just more on the douchebag side. So real world you bump into someone on the street you two either keep walking or someone reflexivly goes, "Excuse me" or "Sorry". WoD the same event happens and you either get the brush off or they go, "Watch it" or "douche."
                          A lot of the supernatural stuff tends to fall into categories of like the real world on paper, not the real world in events. So you end with roughly the same amount of missing people on paper, but some of the cases that real world were just unfortunate accidents like drowning in a river and the body washing away, the number flipped over and their cause of disappearance was becoming vampire chow. Person joins a cult real world, vampire thrall another. Fifteen dead in tragic gang related shooting, well there were actually a few bodies that didn't marked as casualties but the bone gnawer in the group cleared away those since they were just going to drag bane out in droves, and the changeling and is insisting four of them only looked human, and everyone is a bit concerned because not counting themselves there were only nine people in that particular shoot out once you subtract the bane magnets.
                          Last edited by nalak42; 08-28-2019, 01:58 PM.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                            Some people like Gothic Punk, some people just like horror I guess.
                            It's safe to say I like Gothic Punk, but I LOVE horror.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Thoth View Post

                              I haven't read any of the Anita Blake books in well over a decade at this point, but if I recall correctly there was almost a direct ratio to the amounts of technical details to porn without plot value. By technical details I am referring to things where the character focuses on things like weapon load outs, mortal vs supernatural tactics, and psychological profiling. In short how everything works and interacts with each other. The less of that was featured in the stories, the more pornographic the books became.

                              While WoD doesn't feature the pornographic as heavily as the Anita Blake series ended up becoming after a certain point, it doesn't always choose to focus on technical aspects either. It's kind of weird to think about, but WoD was designed with things like the Lost Boys as a key inspiration, but that predates things like cell phones smaller than bricks or digital camera technology for civilians. Yet in the first bloodlines game you have smiling jack directly telling the player that "we live the age of cell phone cameras, fuck ups ain't tolerated". But the roving vampire biker gangs some how don't attract attention in the modern age of mass surveillance and facial recognition databases.

                              I guess too much focus on technical stuff also messes with some peoples head canon. Though when ever I try to figure out how it could work, it usually makes the setting even darker so I am not sure why it would be avoided in the writing.
                              Yeah. I suspect the cutoff point will be different for everyone (I know I got much much further into it) but I don't think it was just technical details. It was plot, non-Anita character development (and not involving her adding yet another lover) - it got bad enough that some plot points (like the tension between her and the police) really never went anywhere for multiple books because the sex was really eclipsing everything else that really drove the series. Although I admit the technical details were a part of it too, whether hardware, conflict, or metaphysical.

                              And its not as if the sex itself bothered me either. Alot of that ACTUALLY followed a logical progression and the graphicness was fine as well since it followed Anita's growth as a character. But when it starts pushing out other plot elements, then you start getting storytelling problems.

                              It's interesting because I think its a great cautionary tale for a prospective storyteller about what to do and what not to do in addition to alot of interesting overlaps you could draw upon to incorporate into WoD.

                              Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                              Some people like Gothic Punk, some people just like horror I guess.
                              That's a very interesting distinction to make, I think. Gothic Punk isn't just horror per se but even atmosphere (sort of like how some cyberpunk could have elements of punk AND sometimes gothic. Or just sci fi 'gothic' like the other settings I've mentioend before.) Horror is by its nature multifaceted and there's obviously alot of ways you can go about it. Some is more graphical than others (like a slasher film, or body horror) whilst others might be more subtle (psychological horror) and that is going to be highly subjective.

                              It makes me wonder how much of this nuance might be affecting reception of more recent iterations of VtM like V5. It can still do 'Horror' in multiple ways (and thus appeal to a broader base of people) but I'm not sure 'gothic punk' flavor horror is necessarily as relevant now as it was back then to the kind of wider audience the internet allows nowadays. But at the same time, any setting takes risks if you try to be TOO different or 'relevant' - and thats especially tricky nowadays. And trying to develop some other 'flavor' that is more relevant carries its own risks (misinterpretation and misunderstanding provoking conflicts, for one.)

                              I do admit one thing that has won me over with V20 is that it felt like it was a more 'gradual' updating in terms of aesthetics and feel and that makes it safer to 'test the waters' so to speak. As opposed to just jumping into the deep end all at once (much riskier, but sometimes for something to grow it HAS to take risks if it isn't going to stagnate. That's why its a double-edged sword.)

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