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Roleplay / Shadows over the South

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"Take it from somebody who has actually been to hell, Altair. The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Shadows over the South is a Living World of Darkness game. Primarily set in the small town of Starke, Florida, the game centers around the sudden, massive influx of numerous supernaturals all at once, isolated from the larger supernatural community at first. In time, a fragile peace was set up between the various, disparate factions. Of course, those who prefer the status quo quickly took notice... and peace has a nasty habit of never being able to last.


With multiple pains being taken to ensure balance between the various types of characters and a plot that evolves by the week, the game itself is still very much in its early stages, approaching half a year old as of this writing. The game's website can be found here. The game's wiki can be found here. The game's Discord server can be found here, where the vast majority of the roleplaying is done.

Shadows over the South provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Starke Catacombs, which obviously don't exist in real life. Indeed, it wouldn't be possible in real life, due to the water table in the Real Life city, which was lampshaded in the game. Of course, A Wizard Did It in the game. And by wizard, of course, we mean a Mage.
  • Aerith and Bob: You have ordinary names like Thomas, Ivan, Vivian and Gabriel, then the unusual such as Sinestrae, Szarik and Veruka.
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  • All Myths Are True: All the gods are one flavor or another of either spirit, ex-mage, angel or something far worse... The problem is deciding which of them is true, which has at one time stated that there are actually several versions of Odin.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Another point of the alliance, as the diversity of powers among all the splats offers them all a much bigger chance of surviving a much stronger force than a single splat might be able to tackle.
    "Way I see it, if the Amenti and a Corax can't find it, it can't be found."
  • Always Someone Better: Even if you're the most badass, high-XP character in the game, there's always someone or something out there bigger, badder, and scarier than you, and if you make too much noise, it will take notice.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Vampires do not automatically fall asleep during the daylight hours, but they do need to avoid sunlight.
    • Mages also recover from Paradox much faster to account for the possibility of casting spells constantly, and no longer need months in order to read a grimoire.
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    • Changelings have a far bigger buffer against banality, and do not have to roll it within any RP scene.
    • Amenti have a much more relaxed balance in order to not be forced to be assholes to the others for just existing as long as they do not intentionally go against the balance.
    • As of March 2019, Demons lose one point of Temporary Torment (but not Permanent Torment) per month, so long as they don't gain any for that month.
  • Anyone Can Die: There's a "No Stomping" rule for newbies (meaning, you can't just go around hunting new characters for sport; they're immune from PVP for a month unless they do something to bring it upon themselves), but that only applies to PVP. At one point, even the character with the highest XP was killed in action, so it's generally a good idea not to get too attached to anyone in this game.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: More or less the entire premise of the game. You have the Garou and Fera fighting anything Wyrm-tainted, the Amenti forcibly enforcing the Balance at gunpoint, Vampires and Demons trying to hoard power for themselves, the Imbued trying to keep all of the above from growing too powerful as to protect normal humans, and Mages, Changelings, and Wraiths just trying to live while keeping (almost) everyone else at arm's length. But the moment shit hits the fan, Enemy Mine takes full affect, status quos are upended, and relationships are formed. Whether or not this can actually last is another matter entirely.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Despite one of the game's admins actually living in the area, all of the Storytellers are upfront about the fact that the game's take on the locations in the story are not based on their Real Life equivalents. Only a few historical landmarks are used, though if somebody knows of a Real Life location in the area and wants to feature in a plot, go for it.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Sometimes a Storyteller will drop a YouTube link to music before a particularly epic fight scene, to set the mood. Sometimes it will even be playing in-character, such as from an overturned car's blaring radio.
  • Badass Crew: The characters who have been in the longest have developed a reputation for this, having taken down enemies way above their weight class like elder vampires, mages just below The Archmage, even an Earthbound. Other characters are taking notice, however, and are starting to view this group as a threat...
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Particularly prevalent with Mage: The Ascension, with Keith Richards having been shown to be an Ecstatic, and Elon Musk having been implied to be a Void Engineer.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: One of the core reasons why the supernaturals teamed up is because they realized that the bad things from every Splat do not discriminate, and will hunt them all equally. Then it got worse as Apophis and the Wyrm teamed up.
  • Canon Welding: Needs to be done sometimes as the books directly contradict each other often when not keeping to the same splat. And sometimes they do it in the same splat as well. And sometimes in the same sentence.
  • Can't Catch Up: Steps were taken to avert this, such as Floor XP and the Catchup XP mechanics, in order to prevent the game from being completely dominated by characters who have been in the game for months as opposed to fresh-off-the-boat newbies.
  • Cap: On how much XP one can earn in a month, to ensure that the hyperactive players do not outrun everyone by jumping into every possible scene, or that an ST does not abuse ST XP to quickly power up their characters.
  • Competitive Balance: Several House Rules were put in place to ensure one splat cannot dominate every other splat. If they weren't in place, vampires and hunters would be extinct, demons, wraiths, and changelings would be hiding in a corner, and the rest of the game would be a free-for-all between the Werewolves, Mummies, and Mages.
    "The houserules seem daunting, but they're not. It's a few things here and there to make multi-splat less of a giant pain in the ass." - An admin
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Often used for plot purposes, both for player characters and NPCs alike. One particularly notable case was with Gabriel Martinez during "Blood, Drugs, and Magick," built up as a monstrously powerful Ravnos Elder... and then his now-legendarily funny boss fight happened.
  • Enemy Mine: The reason why groups such as the Gainesville Camarilla have been willing to at least try cooperating with other supernaturals. In Demeskin's case, it's because the Sabbat pretty much make enemies everywhere they go, and that groups such as the Technocratic Union and Pentex pose every bit as much of a threat to the Camarilla as they do to anyone else. This was also seemingly the rationale behind the Study Continuum Chantry throwing in their lot with Starke, until the Ranger's true identity was revealed.
  • Energy Economy: In order to give a more monetary incentive, the council splats officially trades in Tass, the mage currency, and the other Splats have been given abilities in order to obtain it from their own energy sources. Or you can just get it as loot.
  • Experience Points: As per the source material. Of note is that players receive 2 XP every week (as long as they are at least semi-active) and a Storyteller can assign one of their characters just as much XP as they gave to any characters in a scene they ran, to encourage the running of said scenes, as well as admin XP, to offer a payback for managing the extensive structure the game uses in running such as the forum, site and discord server.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: Those who do notice weird things going on in Starke just shrug their shoulders and realize that they live in Florida.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Vampires? They're real. Werewolves? They're real. Ghosts? They're real. Wizards? They're real. The Egyptian Gods, demons and angels, even fairies and goblins? Noticing a pattern here?
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Every storyteller is encouraged to have their own plots, and while attempts are made to make them tie into each other, sometimes that just isn't possible, and given timezone differences and the real-time nature of Living World of Darkness games, the different plots can give this feeling.
  • Genre Shift: Experienced one when the previous administration was removed, which also changed the location of the story. The previous owner was much more strict.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: While most bosses are rather well statted to prove a challenge to even the diversity of powers in the game, and the STs try to make them a challenge without resorting to straight-up railroading, certain characters, like Altair, were designed to survive in a much more difficult setting and can usually stomp them hard. Thus, this trope applies even when it isn't intentional, especially in cases such as the Blood, Drugs, and Magick and The Lady of Discord plotlines, where actually getting into a fight with the bosses was hard, but they did not last longer than a turn.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. Other swords were brought to be in-line with katanas stat-wise, which, in the books, really are just better for... some reason.
  • Lighter and Softer: When compared to the usual World of Darkness game, and often called out as such, which has in turn averted what becomes of the servers who keep the original recipe.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Especially the NPCs.
  • Mauve Shirt: Several NPCs such as the vampires' ghouls, demons' thralls, or the staff at the Chantry. Some of them become so well-liked that they become a Breakout Character, as was the case with Ada Hendricks.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: Several of the Limited character types are this. Examples include the Baali for Vampire: The Masquerade, Void Engineers for Mage: The Ascension, Risen for Wraith: The Oblivion, and Earthbound for Demon: The Fallen. The storytellers who allow characters like this straight-up warn players that attempting to play them is effectively playing on hard mode for one reason or another, including being kill-on-sight for other characters, specifically to deter Special Snowflake Syndrome.
  • Mega Crossover: The entire World of Darkness. Bring some books or have a wiki handy, you're going to need them.
  • More Friends, More Benefits: Getting enough friends in high places, whether they be player characters or NPCs, is a possible route to power, just like in every other World of Darkness game. Of course, keeping that power is another matter entirely...
  • New Game+: The Retiring mechanic can be seen as a form of this. When you voluntarily retire a character, you are allowed to create a new character with half of the retired character's XP as Floor XP.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Played with. While some character types, such as Nephandi, Black Spiral Dancers, and Spectres are banned due to being impossible to implement into this setting without the game turning into a Player Versus Player free-for-all, other 'evil' characters are playable, on the grounds that they can either easily blend in (Sabbat spies and the Baali do it all the time), or that they're only Ambiguously Evil or are Hero Antagonists (Void Engineers, Waywards). Others are much less Ambiguously Evil, and the splat's STs are experimenting with allowing certain things to be playable (such Earthbound for Demon: The Fallen).
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: While there are a few true believers in Starke's vision, there are several characters who are just going along for the ride because they personally benefit from the protection of other characters, or they feel they can manipulate the others into serving their own interests.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Thoroughly averted with the name 'Michael.' There's at least two NPCs named 'Michael' (and that's not even counting the Archangel Michael from Demon: The Fallen's background) as well as one player character named Michael.
    • Also averted with the names 'William,' 'Daniel,' 'Madeline,' 'William,' and 'Ada.'
  • Put on a Bus: More often than not, when a character is retired. This allows for that character to come back in some way, such as when a former player returns and wants to pick that character back up, or if that character was beloved enough to become an NPC. In other, much rarer circumstances, they're Killed Offscreen, usually when the Storytellers know that that character (or their player) is for sure never coming back.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Hurricane Michael's effects on Florida were reflected in the game, much to the amusement of at least one character in the game named Michael.
  • Shout-Out: Several. Characters regularly make references to everything from Pokémon GO to Game of Thrones. When Lucifer finally appeared, he was pretty blatantly, well, Lucifer.
  • Skill Point Reset: Your first one is free. Every respec after that will shave an increasing percentage of XP from your character.
  • Storming the Castle: Twice, and both were the conclusions of major plotlines. The first was the conclusion of the 'Blood, Drugs, and Magick' plotline, and the second was 'The Once and Future Prince.'
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Almost always. Unless one of the Storytellers decides to be a jerk.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: All over the place. Werewolves and vampires in Starke, for example, have come to realize that there are greater threats out there than each other and are willing to fight together to defeat them, but that sure as hell doesn't mean they have to like it.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Starke, Florida, founded by one Amadeus Starke, is built right on top of a massive, underground magickal research facility, that has existed in temporal stasis for centuries. The Sabbat found out about it, which is why they keep attacking the city. They think that a sleeping ancient is down there, somewhere, and they want to do what what they do best. The players found out about it eventually, kicking the game's metaplot into high gear.
  • Urban Fantasy: The game's primary setting is in a small town in Florida, though other settings have included Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Amelia Island.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Aside from the mechanics found in various splats that encourage this, a notable example involved Sofia Gómez's return as a Wraith. Madeline Cooper's own Vengeance Sword appeared, and after Joy Livingstone scored a ridiculously lucky number of successess on a damage roll with it, Sofia only had a single health level remaining. Joy could have easily finished her off. What did she and Michael do, instead? Offered her mercy and then helped her pass on, allowing her Avatar another chance at reincarnation. Even the Storyteller running the scene admitted he didn't see that coming, and threw in another reward for both players afterward.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The true believers in Starke, most notably at least one Visionary Hunter, make this into an artform. They've managed a few people in high places, such as Imbued in the United States Government and a Camarilla Prince to at least give it a shot, but the rest are either skeptical at best and openly hostile to the idea at worst.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Some of the named mooks have been particularly memorable as characters for funny one-liners or being a Boss in Mook's Clothing due to particularly lucky or unlucky dice rolls. Few of them make second appearances.
  • World Half Full: The World of Darkness is one of the most notorious examples of a Crapsack World in all of tabletop. It pretty much defined the Gothic Punk subgenre. While it's still very much a Crapsack World here, Starke is a rare island in an endless sea of crap, but even those that live there question as to how long it can possibly last until the rest of the world takes notices and tries to throttle it in the crib.

Example of: