Tabletop Game: Old World of Darkness
A Tabletop RPG
set in a world much like our own, albeit darker. Shadows run deeper, mysteries exist in every corner, and humanity is not quite the master of the world or
Humans share the Earth with various supernatural creepy crawlies that prey on them like cattle, use them as pawns, and kill them when convenient (or at whim). In an interesting tightrope walk, individual humans have little power, and human history is a series of manipulations
by disguised supernaturals; but a tenet of most of the supernatural groups is that humanity
as a force is dangerous and must remain ignorant. The original game was called Vampire: The Masquerade
, after all...
The first game of the original or "Old" World of Darkness was first published in 1991, and expanded to a half a dozen or more game lines; the world ended in 2004 with the Time Of Judgment.
In its place a new game line, the New World of Darkness
, was created and is ongoing.
The World of Darkness, both old and new, is a setting where several Supernatural Creatures exist. Each has a unique niche, theme, and Back Story
. The Old setting had conflicting backgrounds
for them (crossovers were theoretically meant to be optional, and mostly were, but during the second edition of the old World of Darkness too many books used crossovers actively, creating much confusion due to incompatible cosmologies and histories), and what crossovers did happen
had problems with the relative strengths
of each participant.
The Old setting had a grand overarching Back Story
and an ongoing Metaplot
, though the latter tended to Railroad games at times, if you wanted to follow it, of course. The new setting is much more modular; there's no metaplot
, but there is a (mostly) unified cosmology. Some see the new setting as a Retcon
of the old, to fix mistakes and imbalances; while no wholesale plot is lifted several themes, clans, institutions and other things are ported over. Many key themes and features of the old games were lost and in the case of Changeling the new game is entirely different from the old. The new games also are much more mutually compatible rules-wise, which is important for those who care about crossovers.
It also leaves more room for homebrew expansions and games, though most of them aren't really worth the trouble
. The ones listed here are decent, detailed and balanced enough to be worth consideration. Although particularly featherbrained homebrew
may be worth noting.
CCP Games, the folks behind EVE Online
and owners of White Wolf
before its transformation into Onyx Path Publishing, announced a World of Darkness MMORPG in November 2006, but the project was cancelled
In 2010 White Wolf published their last book using the traditional methods, "World of Darkness: Mirrors
". While books will still be created, CCP Games and White Wolf shifted towards releasing books as PDFs, as well as investing in Print-on-Demand (commonly used by most small RPG publishers). However the first benefit of this approach was realised in June 2011 when after six years of being out of print White Wolf put up a selection of their Masquerade books back into production, and then four months later began creating new "anniversary" editions of the old WoD gamebooks
, rebranding the line Classic World of Darkness, with Vampire: The Masquerade
, Werewolf: The Apocalypse
, Mage: The Ascension
and Wraith The Oblivion
all getting 20th Anniversary corebooks and additional supplements.
This RPG provides examples of:
Video games set in the World of Darkness:
Shows set in the World of Darkness:
- And I Must Scream: Clan Tzimisce is particularly notorious for this, thanks to their body-sculpting powers, that allow them to reshape victims into house furniture, while keeping them alive and aware of their condition.
- Animorphism: Werewolves, vampire Clan Gangrel (and others), and Changelings of the Pooka Kith.
- Apocalypse How: The Time of Judgement.
- Arcadia: The home of the fae in Changeling: The Dreaming.
- The Artifact: Too many to count in the old World of Darkness. The Revised Edition books attempted to counter this, but it was too little, too late.
- Ascended Demon: Golconda for vampires, zero torment for demons.
- Astral Projection
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Well, the vast majority of roleplaying games use this trope at least sometimes, to reign in possible sociopathic behavior of Player Characters, but in the World of Darkness it is particularly prominent. Movers and shakers of the setting tend to be on a completely different level of power than normal starting characters and the main reason this is less noticeable in the new WOD is general downgrading of supernatural abilities, which makes the scale of abilities less steep.
- Badass Normal: Non-Imbued hunters in the old WOD. At least those few of them who weren't using some form of magic or the True Faith.
- Beast Man: There are a lot of these, but generally this is the stereotype held against the vampire clan of Gangrel, the Pooka Kith of Changelings, and basically every Werewolf.
- Beauty, Brains and Brawn: This is how the various statistics are organized in the new world of darkness: Social (beauty), Mental (brains), and Physical (brawn).
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: It got to the point where virtually every historical figure was some sort of supernatural creature. Of particular note was Rasputin, who was claimed by about five vampire clans, a Mage Tradition and a Werewolf tribe. They ultimately explained that Rasputin was all of the above and the ultimate Big Bad of Vampire: The Masquerade. Instead, he's eventually revealed to be a bodyriding Wraith. The revised editions clamped down hard on this sort of thing, making it very clear that most human things happened for human reasons with the supernaturals at most altering details.
- Being Good Sucks: Unless you're a Mummy.
- Beneath the Earth: Where you'll find Nosferatu warrens and Black Spiral Dancer hives.
- Beware the Superman: A common theme in several games. Several factions, such as Mages and Garou, are dealing with the far-reaching effects of their ancestors lording over humans.
- Blessed with Suck: It is not fun to be a supernatural being in many gamelines of the old WOD (in particular, in Wraith and often in Vampire, in other lines becoming a supernatural is more of a mixed blessing). In theory. Again, unless you're a Mummy.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The various alternate morality systems in Masquerade.
- Body Horror: A large part of the Tzimisces' hat in Vampire: the Masquerade is inflicting And I Must Scream-style changes on their victims.
- Born-Again Immortality: The Reborn are effectively human in every way that matters - but every time they die, they're reincarnated as babies, and have to grow up all over again. As they mature, each new incarnation recalls the memories of all their previous incarnations.
- The Caligula: Plenty of princes fulfil this role. Also the actual Caligula was apparently a Setite plot, as revenge for the whole "Subjugation of Egypt" thing.
- Church Militant; The Inquisition.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe:
- In Mage: the Ascension, Paradox, the backlash created by the subconscious disbelief of non-mage humans, can be the strongest force against mages.
- In Vampire: the Masquerade, vampires are only affected by crosses/stars of David/credit cards of the truly faithful, who are rare.
- This is actually a matter of life or death for changelings in Changeling: the Dreaming, as the central premise rests on the fae being driven into human forms by the growing unwillingness to believe in the fantastic amongst humanity. This tendency, referred to as "Banality," can drive a changeling to an early grave, and must be overcome if they wish to work magic on a target.
- And, of course, in Hunter: The Reckoning, their powers worked on their willingness to stand against monsters and belief in themselves.
- Competitive Balance: A problem with the Old World.
- Every combination of splats had issues of mismatched mechanics, but the real highlight of the "just don't ever cross-over, ever" rule was a Mage landing in a Vampire game, or vice versa. Vampire is based around casing out your enemy and playing politics, then turning on him with combat only once the mandatory dramatic bristling is done; all against a background of having to conserve a consumable substance (blood) as the core mechanic. So even the most combat oriented vampire can kill a wimpy mortal mage in about a round if the mage is unsupecting, but takes a few minutes to meet him, identify him as a hazard, decide to attack, and spend points into his abilities. A mage in most cases _automatically_ notes that that guy across the room isn't alive instantly, establishes that it's a vampire and a threat in one round with a no-cost spell, and then engages, usually half an hour before the vampire has even noticed anything weird is up.
- This was exacerbated by the primary defense against magic being "being alive", since it limited the amount of effects that the Mage could pile on and they had to put a point in Life to even affect someone. This makes mortals and werewolves, etc reasonably resistant to awakened magic. The defining characteristic of the undead, however...
- Further, pretty much the first thing that a player does with any sphere is work out how to use it to set things on fire— more than half the spheres are pretty amenable to this. Fire doesn't quite auto-kill vampires, but it's significantly more dangerous to them than traditional anti-vampire things like, say, being staked through the heart, sunlight, or decapitation.
- And the best Vampire detection and concealment abilities are negated with one and two-point sphere abilities...
- Cosmic Horror Story: Most game lines offer their own brand of this.
- Mage stands out a bit by the players themselves frequently being the big bad threat to the stability of reality itself. Usually by accident. "Reality has enough of your bullshit and erases you" was actually the setting's primary _antagonist_, and being a walking madness-inducing eldritch abomination was often one of your _better_ qualities once paradigms started combining with Avatar.
- The Cracker: Virtual Adepts.
- Crapsack World: The oppressive helplessness of the setting is what appeals to many. However, the old World of Darkness features some exceptions. There is Changeling: The Dreaming, where the object is to prevent the world from becoming a Crapsack World. There is Mage: The Ascension, where the characters strive to remake the world so that it stops being a Crapsack World. And while in Werewolf: The Apocalypse the titular Apocalypse is inevitable, you can win the Last Battle.
- Mummy: The Resurrection was primarily written as a direct subversion of this trend. The main tagline for the game is 'Where there is life, there is Hope', the NPCs are folks who lived crappy lives in the crappy world and returned with the mandate to change the world for the better, and the entire setting treats the idea of changing the world as something more than the seeming impossible.
- Unfortunately, Mummy wasn't especially well written. Since mummy powers are fairly weak (except for their ability to come Back from the Dead, of course - but while that one certainly ensures that you will always live to fight another day, it doesn't really help you to win) and mummy organisations are described in only the most sketchy way, it's very unclear just how mummies are supposed to go about saving the world. And since they have barely any identified antagonists, only references to some general "spawn of Apophis," it's also a bit unclear just what they're supposed to save the world from...
- And when the second edition of Mage: The Ascension specifically mentioned in the Storyteller notes that Crapsack World needn't be the default, some players actually rebelled against it, claiming it was pandering to a more mainstream audience. And it probably wasn't merely one group, seeing that the third edition scrapped all the hopeful bits.
- The Hengeyokai (and possibly also the Kuei-Jin) believe that the crappiness of the world is cyclical and that, so long as the coming 6th age (the ultimate in crappiness) is finite and temporary, the universe will eventually become a better place to live.
- Creative Sterility: Vampires and assorted others.
- Cross-Melting Aura: Powerful Baali vampires can do this.
- Crossover Cosmology: Each game line in the Old WoD had a long, intricate Back Story, which was notoriously full of (intentional, in all likelihood) internal inconsistencies, and an independent cosmology. Needless to say, they did not play well together. This was a reason for several Ret Cons and probably a contributing factor for ending the world with a bang — although, in some people's opinion, it was more of a whimper.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Compared to the rest of the playable creatures in this setting, the Mages are this. They aren't immortal manipulators, they aren't unstoppable killing machines... but they are each a walking, talking Reality Warper and they know it. If the Mage is prepared, there is absolutely nothing any of the other creature types can do should he wish to twist them all like pretzels. (One page of the Mage core rulebook literally describes how easy it is for a Mage to turn a two thousand year old powerhouse vampire into a piece of lawn furniture... permanently...)
- Cursed with Awesome: At least frankly that's how most groups play it. Creators of the new WOD attempted to tune this down by downgrading powers and installing Karma Meters in every game line.
- The Morality systems hilariously backfired in this regard: they were supposed to punish the character for committing certain evils, but what actually ended up happening was players having a mechanical point at which their characters stop caring about committing mass murder.
- Discussed often in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines: A number of other vampires you meet are convinced that their condition really is a pretty sweet deal, what with having a good chance at an eternal or at least really long life of doing whatever the hell they want. A low humanity character in particular can cheerfully talk about they like their new power.
- Darker and Edgier: Being this, by comparison with DnD and its clones, became one of the main marketing points for World of Darkness games, when they first came out in the beginning of 1990s.
- This essentially caused it to be the Tabletop version of Rated M for Money, where people insisted the game was good on basis of being Darker and Edgier, and were many fan made campaigns included blood, gore, sex, and "mature" themes for the hell of it.
- The Dark Side: Vampires in the old WOD were like this. Played for Drama as the degeneration carries nothing but severe penalties. Other beings in the old WOD had their own ways of falling to The Dark Side - wraiths turn into spectres by giving in to their shadows (sentient embodiments of their negative emotions), mages can turn themselves into Nephandi by inverting their Avatars, werewolves can be turned against their will by forcing them into the Black Spiral Labyrinth, changelings who get particularly bent by Banality can become Dauntain, etc. ... And of course, there is good old getting drunk on power.
- Dark World: Several in both settings.
- Deadly Decadent Court: Most of them, though the Masquerade's Camarilla fit the stereotype best.
- Demonic Possession: Used in the Old WOD in Demon: The Fallen as a means for them to come into existence and in Werewolf: The Apocalypse by malevolent spirits.
- Depending on the Writer: Storytellers and writers generally painted the other types of supernaturals with different colors than their "home" books when they showed up in other continuities, especially in the Old World. Hunter: The Reckoning is a particularly sharp victim/benefactor of this, as many of their books encouraged STs to make sure that the players saw the hunted as monsters.
- Dhampyr: The dhampir and revenant.
- Earth Is Young
- Empty Shell: Soul loss turns a person into this over a period of time.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Imminent throughout the Old World of Darkness... and then in Time of Judgment, it happened.
- In at least five different apocalypses. All at once. Each race got 3-5 different apocalypses for a story teller to choose from, with the results ranging from bittersweet to incredibly depressing. Only one of the Mage endings was totally unambiguously happy. Sadly, WW did not write a comprehensive end of the world featuring all of the lines's shits hitting the fans simultaneously, because that would have been epic, and one has to applaud any GMs who tried to sort through that on their own.
- That's because crossovers were optional for most of oWOD books, and the Revised edition emphasized this more than ever, so unified end of the world made absolutely no sense.
- Given that one of the first books of the Revised line, Time of Thin Blood, was a crazy mega-crossover that culminated in one of the big bads of one game literally NUKING one of the big bads of another game, this argument is pretty much entirely invalid. White Wolf only trotted out the 'crossovers are optional' line when people pointed out how terrible the game mechanics were. Revised actually featured MORE crossovers than the 2E line did, what with To TB, Blood Treachery, The Red Sign, etc...
- There was a full-on semi-officially sanctioned ending for all the game lines used in the official New Bremen Digi Chat online text-based game run off of the White Wolf website, since it catered to all the game lines together and crossover (while discouraged) was frequent and inevitable. In the end, the Antediluvians rose up to devour their vampiric progeny, werewolves had their final battle with the Wyrm, Lucifer's Black Cathedral rose out of Los Angeles as a base from which to fight his Earthbound former captains, the changelings headed off to Arcadia, mages found their powers overflowing now that humanity's belief in the supernatural was restored and either killed each other or Ascended, the sun went out, untainted humans disappeared to some unknowable reward or destination, and the Metatron showed up to collect all the Fallen who were willing to come with him to take another crack at this whole "Creation" thing before the world simply collapsed. It was, in fact, fairly epic.
- Oh, and to expand a little bit: The final scenes for the game were for Werewolf and Demon and happened simultaneously. At the same time as the Metatron took the Fallen off to get involved in Creation, the Wyrm was released (by Player Character efforts, no less) from the Pattern Web and shattered the material universe, restoring itself and the Weaver to balance so that a whole new and better creation could happen. They way that it was run left room for both groups of beings to witness the destruction of the universe at the same time, and for each to understand the very same obliteration from within their own lens. As said above, it was epic and it ended on a very bittersweet and hopeful note. Plus the good guys got to go out in style.
- Enemy Within: All vampires suffer from The Beast, animalistic, id-like force with a hint of supernatural malice, that attempts to compel them into immediately satisfying their instinctive urges, such as craving for blood, fear of sunlight or anger at a slightest provocation, no matter the circumstances. The Shadow from Wraith: the Oblivion, and the P'o from Kindred of the East, fit this trope even better; in both cases, it is intelligent and consciously attempts to turn you to The Dark Side. (In case it's not obvious, the Shadow and P'o are the same thing.)
- Enlightenment Superpowers
- Everyone Is Bi: While not outright stated or heavily enforced, it was implied in a lot of places that most of the Fae were bisexual in Changeling: The Dreaming. Especially since a husband and wife could reincarnate as two men or two women, among other reasons.
- Evil Counterpart: Sabbat, Black Spiral Dancers, Nephandi, Spectres...
- Evil Feels Good: Morality, in gamelines with Karma Meter, is lost by not showing remorse for misdeeds. You also can lose it anyway, if the dice screw you.
- Evil Tastes Good: Vampires and blood.
- Eviler Than Thou: Default playable factions in both Worlds of Darkness tend to be morally dubious at best and outright evil at worst. Then there are guys like the Sabbat, the Technocracy and the Pure, who are firmly lodged in the "outright evil" camp, despite their rhetorics. But even they pale before the crazy, dog-raping, demon-worshiping, apocalypse-mongerers that usually serve as each game's worst faction.
- The Technocracy certainly started out as "outright evil", but this was ameliorated steadily over time; when they actually became player characters with the Guide to the Technocracy book, the designers made it very clear that as world-straddlingly huge a conspiracy as the Technocracy must contain multiple factions, and that your players were intended to be firmly in one of the better-natured ones (Friends of Courage, Harbingers of Avalon or Project Invictus).
- Indeed, what may be interesting is that, since Guide to the Technocracy, the Technocracy may be "antagonists" but by no means are they the "bad guys." The difference between the Traditions and the Technocracy is that the Traditions tend to want a better world (though better for whom?) and the Technocrats tend to want a safer world (though safer for whom?). The Technocracy's often over-stifling control might even be downright necessary in a world where reality itself is based on consensus - a world where anything is possible and the laws of physics are constantly in flux is downright horrific. If you end up playing Technocratic PCs, they tend to be Reality Cops.
- And it cannot be stressed enough that the Technocrats are NOT a hivemind! Whatever you think about the overarching goals and actions of the order, it's extremely silly to think each and every agent is "outright evil" (White Wolf themselves even coined the term "Soulless Technocratitis" for that kind of one-dimensional portrayal and mocked it repeatedly). The Technocracy is home to countless different ethosesnote and philosophies, and features people from every Character Alignment. The book gives many examples of good Technocrats and the like ...
- Similarly, the Sabbat got this treatment in the Revised Guide to the Sabbat. The book presented the idea that the Sabbat isn't just a howling mad group of nutcases who want to murder humans 'cause it feels good, but rather they want to destroy the Camarilla due to feeling that it is a pawn of the Antediluvians. And because they think they're better than humanity. There are plenty of examples of Knight Templar Sabbat.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Pentex in Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the trappings of this trope, but is actually run by outright evil cultists. Developmental Neogenetics Amalgamated is a straight example. Progenitors and Etherites in Mage: The Ascension could be this.
- Extra-Strength Masquerade: Depending on the game, you're sometimes left wondering "okay, how the hell can they cover that up?"
- Fantastic Fragility: Most supernaturals can get all the new powers they want, and more cheaply and quickly than working honestly would bring... at the downside of getting loaded down with (usually permanent) potentially crippling weaknesses. Have we mentioned being a supernatural is Blessed with Suck?
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Each game line in the original was incredibly insular, Vampires could go centuries never meeting a werewolf.
- For a vampire, meeting a werewolf is the best way to NOT go any more centuries.
- AND vice versa.
- Final Death: Possibly the Trope Namer.
- Five Races
- It could be argued that this applied to the old World of Darkness on a broader scale - Vampires, Were Beasts, Mages, Faeries, and Muggles since Jiang-Shi, Wraiths, Mummies, and Demons were relatively rare and less influential than the others.
- A stronger case can be made for Wraiths as the fifth race, who were an incredibly common 'species', one of the five 'core' races introduced for the original gameline, and whose metaplot ending was used as the springboard for numerous later games- among them Hunter, Mummy, and Demon.
- From Bad to Worse: The entire point of the Time of Judgement line. Plus you can mix and match.
- Functional Magic: Usually used by Sorcerers or Mages, but almost all have their own supernatural powers. Some mortals even get True Faith.
- Game Face
- Genius Bruiser:
- Glamour: Many supernaturals can make themselves seem beautiful, trustworthy, desirable and invincible to onlookers.
- Gollum Made Me Do It: Shadows and Spectres, in Wraith: the Oblivion.
- Gothic Punk: The old World of Darkness defined this trope.
- Growing Up Sucks: In Changeling: the Dreaming, changelings tended to lose their fae side as they grew up, succumbing to banality and becoming dull adults.
- The worst thing about the game was that all of your abilities could be duplicated if you were playing insane psychics. This puts a different spin on the whole thing.
- Arguably inverted in the new Changeling, in which the focus is no longer on keeping your innocence and naivete in a harsh and dark world but rather about finding the way back from the loss of innocence and the pains of life and learning how to put yourself back together and discover what comes next.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Every game has at least one sub-class of mortals who have some of the parent supernaturals' strengths, but none of their weaknesses. It's worth noting that most of the following examples are not exlusive of each other or even the main supernaturals (Mages can be ghouls, Changelings can be Kinfolk, etc., though too much crossing over is frowned upon):
- Werewolf: the Apocalypse has Kinfolk, relatives of werecreatures who inherited a whisper of the spiritual nature but not the ability to shapeshift. They're immune to the Delerium/Lunacy effect that befalls most humans who see shifters in their war form. They sometimes have access to Gifts. At best they're treasured allies, family members, and lovers of the Garou; at worst they're treated as brood mares to make make more werewolf babies.
- On a side note, some Werewolves are the offspring of a Spirit and another Garou, and will have some spiritual boon from the ethereal parent's side and improved relations with other spirits of that type.
- Mage: the Ascension has Sorcerers, humans who lack the "spark" of mages, instead practicing linear paths of magic like tarot cards or weathercraft. They can't rewrite reality and their spells tend to require more preparation, but they're immune to Paradox backlash. Mages who scoff at their perceived weakness sometimes don't live to make that mistake twice.
- Mage also had an entertaining inversion in the form of Sleepwalkers, mages that hadn't actually "awakened" and disbelieved in magic even while using it. Actually a substantially more annoying, and potentially terrifying, foe for a mage to fight than another mage, because they usually specialized in counter-magic (making them walking null-zones with disbelief piled on top) and just existing was enough for a mage to challenge their paradigm ("magic's not real, I'm just really lucky"), which is a free pass to homicidal rage town.
- Changeling: the Dreaming has Kinain, people of True Fey blood (diluted now, but the True Fey were horny bastards when they were still around) who have the ability to interact with fae existence to a degree without experiencing the risk of Banality.
- Vampire: the Masquerade has Ghouls (mortals who gained a portion of supernatural power and longevity by feeding on vampire blood) and Dhampyrs (the offspring of Vampires conceived under very specific conditions, which vary depending on whether they're the Eastern or the Western variety).
- Demon: the Fallen has the Nephilim, offspring of Angels and humans, considered an aberration by both.
- Demon also had Thralls - humans who had made pacts with Demons in return for (sometimes supernatural) gifts.
- Hunter: the Reckoning has Bystanders, humans who were given the ability to perceive the supernatural by the angelic Messengers but "refused the Call", gaining none of the anti-supernatural powers of the various Hunter Creeds but also not having their lives steadily taken over by the life of the Hunt. A major theme of Reckoning was that you only get one chance at the Call and Bystanders can never "awaken" into true Hunters, serving as NPCs and sidekicks — but that you could play a particularly tragic game by having a Bystander try to take on the supernaturals without any Hunter powers and doom himself to a tragic end (albeit the same end most Hunters head to eventually). Interesting note: the gameline recommended that while "normal" Hunters come from typical, everyday backgrounds and have no special occult knowledge, combat training or other unusual resources, that it would be appropriate to have such a character introduced into the game as a Bystander for the sake of "balance". Think Buffy and Giles.
- Wraith: the Oblivion has Mediums, who are not hybrids but follow the theme: humans who can speak to the dead and often give them a hand on the other side.
- Hermetic Magic
- Technically, all magic is a result of pure enlightened will, but the Order of Hermes explicitly advocates this (obviously) along with some of the sons of ether who've implanted themselves with their gadgets or quaffed some mutagens to gain "psychic powers" instead of more traditional paradigms.
- Historical Rap Sheet: Explicitly averted in one specific instance. Almost anything else is allowed to have been a vampire/werewolf/mage plot, but the Holocaust is required to remain a purely human atrocity.
- Horror Hunger: Vampires and blood
- Hypnotic Eyes: The vampire discipline of Dominate works entirely via eye contact.
- Unless you are allowed to use Dominate 6, then you can use Dominate Disciplines via touch. Granted you have to be 7th Gen to even do that.
- Eyes of the serpent allow you to hold a mortal, or kindred to a limited degree, in place. Also overlaps with Supernatural Gold Eyes.
- I Know Your True Name: One of the power branches in Mummy: The Resurrection is called "Nomenclature," where knowing anything's True Name (which requires varying amounts of time invested in study to learn - it's easier to learn the Names of simple things like plants and animals than, say, the Name for humans, which is even less complex than an individual human's personal True Name, and so on) allows for varying effects, culminating in (at the highest level) total erasure from existence. Of course, that last one automatically costs the Mummy a permanent dot on the Karma Meter, no matter who you do it to.
- Also shows up in Mage (where knowing someone's true name makes magic easier to use on them) and Changeling: the Lost (where swearing Pledges on your True Name has specific effects, and many Storytellers expand the concept considerably in keeping with its importance in fairy tales)
- True Names play a very important part in Demon: The Fallen. Certain rituals, invocations and evocations require knowledge of the target's True Name to work properly (granted, you are able to try and use a target's Celestial Name — their "common" angelic name — if the target is another fallen and you don't know their True Name, but it's far less reliable and generally much more difficult to do so); the fallen's Abyssal Lords can use their subjects' True Names to contact them even from inside the Pit; knowing a target's True Name makes many rolls you can make against them substantially easier; and a demon's True Name can be invoked to have them hear what you're saying (and possibly who you're saying it to and where you're doing it, given enough successes on their roll) from anywhere in the world, regardless of their distance to you — in fact, invoking a demon's True Name will very likely send shivers down their spine and make their extremities tingle, regardless of whether you want them to notice you speaking of them or not. And this is just to mention but a few of True Names applications in Demon. The sourcebooks are crawling with other fun and interesting uses for them ("fun and interesting" for the user, not the target, obviously).
- In Demon, a True Name isn't even really a name per se. Rather, it is the metaphysical representation of something or someone: you don't have a True Name, you are your True Name. Before the Fall, when the angels still had access to the full breadth of their power, they could use True Names as the targets of any evocation or invocation, instead of having to be in the presence of the actual being or thing — this was, in fact, the preferred/official method of relaying God's orders across the cosmos, and even of transporting oneself across the cosmos, depending on which House the angel was from (e.g. if you knew Earth's True Name, you could teleport yourself from wherever you were in the whole Universe directly to Earth, by using the appropriate evocation with its True Name as the target).
- Immortality Immorality: Oh, where to begin:
- Firstly, vampires. While it is possible to live by drinking the blood of animals and to only drain humans of minute amounts, Frenzy is a bitch and most vampires come out of it with a dead human or three on their hands. Killing humans while feeding is strongly frowned on by the Camarilla, for one it brings you closer to the beast and the last thing you want is a Vampire frenzying in Elysium, for another, there are only so many corpses you can make vanish before the Masquerade is at risk.
- Immune to Bullets: Vampires tend to take less damage from gunfire than some other forms of attack. Werewolves can easily shrug off most non-aggravated damage, including gunfire, except when faced with silver bullets. This is part of the reason that Werewolves and Vampires do not get along, Werewolves can rip a Vampire to shreds without a lot of effort due to a combination of their aforementioned damage resistance, and the fact that they deal out Aggravated Damage with their claws.
- Ironic Hell The Demon book "Days of Fire" had three different visions of the end of the world. In the first one every Clan, Tribe and Tradition gets a unique end; Ventrue's refined tastes become so refined that they can't feed off anyone, the Black Furies are enslaved and submit to men, the Cult of Ectasy reach their perfection only to realise how futile it all was, etc.
- Karma Meter: More optimistic/more action-oriented gamelines of the old WOD, including Mage and Werewolf, avoided this.
- Katanas Are Just Better: In those gamelines of the old World of Darkness where mundane weapons did matter.
- Kill It with Fire: The most surefire way to kill something in the WOD is with fire: if it isn't extra vulnerable to fire, rest assured it's probably not invulnerable to it either.
- Averted with the Devils in Demon: The Fallen, whose apocalyptic forms are completely immune to fire. Otherwise, Demon is actually the one old World of Darkness gameline that uses aggravated damage where fire isn't a source of said damage.
- Killed to Uphold the Masquerade
- Knight Templar: In Hunter: The Reckoning, even normal imbued that had Zeal as a primary virtue often leaned towards this. But they paled in comparison to Waywards, who were prepared to eradicate every last supernatural on the planet - and didn't care about humans who got in their way. In Werewolf: The Apocalypse becoming a Knight Templar is a major occupational hazard, considering that werewolves were created to defend all existence from Cosmic Horrors that are indeed every bit as cosmically horrible as werewolves believe, and also extremely good at corruption, seduction and infiltration.
- Live-Action Adaptation: Kindred: The Embraced, a short-lived 1996 series on Fox, based on Vampire: The Masquerade.
- Lord British Postulate: There are rules for fighting Cain: You lose.
- Mad Scientist: The Sons of Ether. Within the Tradition, Mad Scientist is an official designation.
- Magic Versus Science: The Traditions vs Technocracy.
- Manipulative Bastard: In some gamelines, including Vampire, being this is almost a requirement for obtaining any power within your supernatural society.
- Masquerade: Vampire: The Masquerade is the trope namer. Each supernatural enforces their own, but Vampires and mages are typically first to do clean up. Still, sometimes the ability of supernatural beings to maintain it stretches the suspension of disbelief, considering their penchant for superpowered violence.
- They don't always maintain it - storytellers were suggested to use both kinds of hunters in response to Masquerade breaches, and even then, you have the capital H Hunters that are capable of nearly ignoring it.
- Massive Race Selection: Just look at the list of games; nearly every title is named after a separate playable race (although mages, sorcerers, and hunters could all just be called humans).
- May Contain Evil (Taken to insane lengths by the Pentex Corporation in Werewolf: The Apocalypse.)
- The Men in Black: The Technocracy had them.
- Mind Control: Almost everyone can potentially do this, but vampires and mages are particularly notorious for this.
- One of the big edges of oWoD Hunters over normal people was total immunity to mind control as long as second sight was running. A sourcebook tells of a Hunter that was once Dominated while off-guard by some mid-rank vampires (who had heard about the Imbued and wanted one as a pet), then activated second sight (or had it activated by the Messengers) eight months later, used a candlestick and the Cleave edge to dust ten vamps, and got away alive.
- Not to mention that oWoD Fallen (demons) are immune to mind control at all times, period. Suck it, Ventrues.
- The Missing Faction: Just about every game line has at least one.
- Monster Lord: Vampire elders below 7th gen.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Potentially any and every player and character.
- Mundane Utility
- Omnicidal Maniac: The Giovanni want to bring about the end of life as we know it For the Lulz. Setites are also working towards Gehenna, though most of them don't know it, but they are doing so in the name of their god.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Thirteen clans worth of "Different". However, the differences between political views and origins are much more pronounced in the new WoD. All vampires share the same common weaknesses, but each clan has a unique new weakness.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Moreso in Werewolf: The Apocalypse than in Werewolf: The Forsaken.
- Personality Powers: In Hunter: The Reckoning a hunter's edges — the supernatural powers they use to fight evil — are determined by their beliefs and personality. In Mage: The Ascension the ways a true mage used his power also depended on his beliefs.
- Point Build System
- Positive Discrimination: White Wolf went far out of its way to avoid talking about ethnic minorities in the Mage sourcebook Destiny's Price, which deals with street culture. As a result, it came across as a generic reprint of the Splatbooks for the Brujah or Bone Gnawers. It'd be interesting to know if this came before or after the much-maligned Gypsies, which would explain their fear of stereotyping, though it could have been avoided if done right.
- Destiny's Price was 1995; Gypsies was 1997, so not the reason.
- Power Born of Madness: The Marauder mages and the Malkavian vampire Clan.
- Power Perversion Potential: White Wolf was willing to acknowledge it sometimes. There even was at least one supernatural power specifically aimed for this. Just please don't dwell on Tzimisce body-altering powers for too long.
- Red Right Hand: All of vampire Clan Nosferatu, Tzimisce deliberately do this to themselves.
- Resurrective Immortality: The mummies are immortals who would resurrect every time they were killed. It is possible to destroy them outright, but not particularly easy (like putting them at ground zero of a nuclear explosion).
- Recycled In Space: Every game has one or two historical supplements [the Dark Ages and often one other]. Plus, The Year of the Lotus event gave Eastern counterparts for every gameline. Some, like the Kuei Jin, are a totally different type of creature but conceptually similar, while others, like the Hengeyokai, are the same creatures as before in a different setting.
- Renowned Selective Mentor: Placing four or five dots into the "Mentor" Background will give one of these to your Player Character.
- Romanticized Abuse: Common in the relation between vampires and their ghouls, among other things. Also, in the book Possessed, you can build a character with superpowers based on one of the seven deadly sins. The "lust" ones pretty much run on this trope.
- Science Is Bad: If it is not used by a fascist Ancient Conspiracy to control humanity, then it is a tool of an Eldritch Abomination that strives to eliminate free will and change.
- In the oWoD, science is generally associated with the principle of Stasis, which serves as a sort of Well-Intentioned Extremist to Entropy - it's not actually evil, but if it gets its way it will remove change from the world and steal everyone's freedom. This idea gets a bit jarring at times, since science has historically been responsible for most of the changes to human society, and those changes has resulted in the average person having far more freedom and choice than ever before. Conversely, the default heroes in the games that have this theme (mainly Mage, Werewolf and Changeling) are assumed to represent the freedom-loving, change-embracing principle of Dynamism - despite being members of extremely hierarchal societies that haven't changed for the last several thousand years.
- Stasis is less about "No change, ever" and more about "Carefully controlled, slow moving change has is essential, and no more"...Or was, until the Weaver went around the bend.
- Except Changelings, their society changed quite drastically on July 20 1969 and several times since.
- Science Is Wrong
- Serial Killer: The Wayward creed from Hunter: The Reckoning, just... focused on supernaturals.
- Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: Action by Action.
- The Soulless
- Special Snowflake Syndrome: Almost every game has several smaller splats mentioned in the various sourcebooks, for players who somehow can't create interesting characters otherwise. Vampire has Bloodlines, Mage has Crafts, Changeling has Thallain, etc.
- Splat: Essentially the Trope Namer, more or less.
- Stages of Monster Grief: Just about every splat has members who deny, love, hate, or go off the deep end after changing from mere human.
- State Sec: the Technocracy definitely has elements of this trope, what with the secret agents, cyborg and bio engineered soldiers and what-not.
- Super Loser: Many starting PCs.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky
- Unluckily Lucky: The dhampyr suffer from this. Since their birth (a child of a human and an eastern vampire) is so unlikely, it messes up their fate. As the result they gain supernatural luck, which they can learn to consciously manipulate, but at the same time they attract trouble a lot.
- Unstoppable Rage: Vampires or Werewolves in frenzy/Death Rage.
- Werewolf's crossover rules lampshade this by mentioning that mages do not quantifiably explode in Rage.
- Urban Fantasy: Authors prefer to define the genre for most World of Darkness games as Horror, but actually WOD fit this trope.
- The Usual Adversaries: Humans!
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Hunters generally don't know the difference between the good supernaturals and the bad. Can't really blame them.
- The Wall Around the World: The borders between the physical realm and the spirit worlds.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Hunters and Werewolves in general are at risk of this, but in the OWoD, Waywards especially, being willing to kill hundreds of normals just to take out -one- supernatural.
- Wolf Man: The Garou.
- Wolverine Publicity: The Gangrel Beckett, who appeared in various Sourcebooks and novels, sometimes without adding anything to the story or even advancing his own quest to uncover details about Cain. Perhaps the worst was his appearance in a Hunter/Mummy crossover trilogy of novels [forgot the title], where he never met any of the main characters and it seemed his only purpose was to artificially stretch out the story.
- World-Wrecking Wave: The Sixth Great Maelstrom, which not only was powerful enough to put an end to Wraith, but set into motion many of the events that ended the other games' story lines as well. It simultaneously managed to spawn three new gamelines.
- Your Vampires Suck