The setting is this: On March 6, 2000, the entire planet was shrouded in unnatural darkness for three days. This was due to The Nightlords, a secret cabal of supernatural beings from another dimension, and their shapeshifting minions, who then quietly seized control of the world's governments and corporate powers. It was also during this darkness that thousands of people learned that they could become inhuman monsters with strange powers and often terrifying visages. These shapechanging beings are called the Nightbane, for it was at night that they become monsters. It is now up to the Nightbane to save the Earth from the Nightlords with the rest of humanity unaware of their secret war.
The game uses Palladium's "Megaversal" system, which is also used by the multi-genre game Rifts and the horror game Beyond the Supernatural, among others. Players don't have to be just Nightbane, however, they can also be human, vampires and even mysterious angelic beings known as The Guardians.
There are several factions that the players can encounter, or even join: The Resistance, made of up Nightbane who oppose the Nightlords; The Underground Railroad, who just wants Nightbane to keep hiding from humanity; The Warlords, Nightbane who used their powers to take over gangs and organized crime; The Nocturne, an alliance of supernatural beings (including vampires, whom most Nightbane do not trust); The Seekers, a group (mainly of humans) who investigate magic and the supernatural; The Spook Squad, an organization made up of (former) government agents who survived the Nightlord takeover and are trying to retake control (but are underpowered and barely understand what's going on); and The Lightbringers, all-around do-gooders led by The Guardians.
Tropes in Nightbane:
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Nightlords and most of their minions. Also most vampires.
- Body Horror: The Stigmata Table has plenty of stomach-churning possibilities for a Nightbane's Morphus. Issue #1 of The Rifter included the Gross Stigmata Table for those who thought the regular Stigmata Table wasn't gross enough.
- Cute Monster Girl: Though there's no hard data to back it, it's widely believed in-universe that Nightbane possessing a Morphus with unearthly beauty are disproportionately female.
- Crapsack World: Evil rules the world, most people just don't realize it.
- Changeling Fantasy: Of sorts, if a pretty dark take.
- Cursed With Awesome: Nightbanes may have some Freakiness Shame inducing powers... except they are in complete control of them, and may do with them as they will.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Many Nightbane powers are shadow-based, and they belong to people who have the same rate of good and bad as everyone else.
- Dark World: The Nightlands, where the Nightlords come from (and possibly the Nightbane's original homeworld.)
- Devil, but No God: Subverted, despite appearances, with the Baal (the Nightlords) being the 'devils' and a mysterious being creating The Guardians as their counterparts.
- Dimension Lord: The Nightlords.
- Fantastic Racism: Plenty among the various races.
- Government Conspiracy: Twice. First, there was the "War Room", a secret faction that carried out "black ops" without the public's knowledge; now that the government has been taken over by "aliens" this group became the Spook Squad.
- Historical Domain Character: Attila the Hun's Doppelganger is Warlord of the Hell Riders. The book defies the usual Historical Villain Upgrade, and instead presents him as a highly intelligent and relatively well-educated Cultured Badass instead of an insane berserker, though it also depicts his cruelty and delusions of grandeur.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The Shadow Mantis monsters.
- Identity Amnesia: The Guardians *might* be dying humans revived to serve the light. They don't remember.
- Layered World: Has multiple realms in the form of the Nightlands, the Astral Plane, and the Dream Stream.
- Light Is Good: The Guardians, who are always good, have light-based powers.
- The Masquerade: The Nightbane existed for thousand of years on Earth, hiding from humans. Most of the current ones had no idea they weren't even human!
- Meta Origin: Dark Day, sort of. (While many Nightbane already existed on Earth, it 'awoke' many more.) Also, magic has become stronger since then.
- Muggles: Most humans.
- My Horse Is a Motorbike: The Hell Riders are Born in the Saddle Doppelgangers who've upgraded to motorcycles, and are led by the Doppelganger of Attila the Hun.
- Name's the Same: The Baal use the names of famous devils (such as Lilith) but they are not those beings (who exist in other parts of The Megaverse.)
- Our Vampires Are Different: There's the classical kind, and the Wampyrs (free-willed vampires).
- The Nightlords are psychic vampires.
- Psychic Powers: Nightbane cannot have them, but humans, guardians and vampires do.
- Recurring Element: Darkness, both literal and metaphorical.
- Ride the Lightning: One of the obtainable Nightbane Talents allows this.
- Shout-Out: To William Hope Hodgson's work The Night Land.
- Superpowered Evil Side: Subverted; while most Nightbane's true form (the "Morphus") is often hideous, they usually retain control of themselves, and it provides most of their powers.
- The Unreveal: Many facts are left ambiguous, such as: Are the Nightbane originally from the Nightlands? Were the Nightlords once human? What exactly are the Guardians?
- Urban Fantasy: The game's genre.
- The 'Verse: The Nightbane's Earth is part of the larger Palladium Megaverse.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Many examples: The Nightbane, The Vampires, The Nightlords etc.