I promised around the time of my last entry in this series that the next few would be a bit different. Mainly, I wanted to focus on successful campaigns I've run that were set in genres, or settings that may seem atypical for me. While I'd like to say I cover a wide range of RPG topics, I can't deny that I swing back to my favorites fairly often. Star Trek, Star Wars, General Sci-Fi, Superheroes, Anime and Manga related games, and comedic games certainly get more attention than anything else.
I am complex however. A many layered renaissance man as it were. OK, maybe just a guy who likes to stretch his creative muscles, and try new games. Either way, I've run some campaigns that certainly don't fit the genres listed above, and some may even use games you wouldn't think I'd like.
One such example is...
Campaigns I Have Known
WORLD OF DARKNESS - THE LIGHT BRINGER
The key element to this campaign was that I didn't want to run Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, or Wraith: The Oblivion*, nor did any of my players want to play in a campaign limited to any one of those titles. We wanted to run and play 'The World of Darkness'.
As such, I made some minor adjustments to both the established settings canon, and the rules to allow all of the various supernatural types to coexist without any one type having an unfair advantage in all situations.
True, Mages eventually had the upper hand in terms of rare power, but even they were held in check somewhat by the laws of the universe (not the laws of nature, or the law of physics mind you. They could slap those around if they wanted to), and by the collective conscious of Humanity.
Title: WORLD OF DARKNESS - THE LIGHT BRINGER
System: World of Darkness (White Wolf), 1st Edition - Some House Rules.
Circa: 1993-1994. There were roughly a dozen sessions, each lasting 6-12 hours. The game took a hiatus in the middle due to the December-January Holiday to New Year season.
Player Base: There were five players, four male and one female, ages 22-25. All the players were present for all the sessions, and unlike a lot of my other games, there were no guest players, or characters.
Characters: Sadly, I don't recall the characters' names. I don't know why I don't remember them, since it wasn't that long ago. It's possible the relatively short 'run time' of the series, only about twelve episodes, made it more challenging for me to imprint the names into my noggin. As with other campaigns I've posted in the past, I do remember the characters themselves quite well, as well as who played them.
If any of the original players read this and can remember the names of the characters, please let me know, and I'll update this post.
Human Mage - Non-Traditional (played by Adam T.)
Our story begins, and largely centers on, a young man trying to find himself in the world. A brilliant dreamer, an artist, a poet, and an unconventional thinker, he parties too hard, and thinks too much in a desperate attempt to make sense out of our senseless existances.
After a particularly wild night at an exclusive underground party in New York City, he wakes up on the roof of Saint Patrick's Cathedral, not know how he got there.
Following this bizarre occurrence, he begins to stumble upon, and be confronted by increasingly strange people, and events that lead him to discover he is part of a fantastic legacy. He is a Mage, gifted with the innate ability to alter the vary fabric of time, and space.
Numerous forces wish to sway him to their cause, as the end of the world is coming, and what follows is really up to him. If he can be convinced to see things the way a given faction sees them, he could make them the masters of the Earth, and beyond.
Werewolf of The Get of Fenris (play by Aris)
A Werewolf of mixed Scandinavian descent, this character is hinted as being the last of the Get of Fenris, or at least the last of his particular pack, and its extended family. He is acutely aware of the coming Apocalypse as he, and his tribe have been charged since the dawn of time with protecting the Avatar of the Ascension, the person who will bring about the new, post End-of-Days world.
Opponents of the PCs claimed the Get of Fenris Werewolf was lying. The Get is descended from the Fenris Wolf and as such, are charged with bringing about the destruction of all things according to some. They are said to be the ushers of Ragnarok.
Vampire of the Clan Tremere (played by Jason N.)
Vampire and Blood Sorceror of the Clan Tremere, this fellow claimed to be an ancestral blood relative of our young Mage. He tried to sway the newly emerging Avatar towards the world view of the Tremere, and their ruling Elders until he found out more about his own origins, and what the Tremere truly intended to do with the 'World After'.
Turning on his own Clan, he sought allies in the Magus community, but found very few willing to trust him. Luckily, our Tremere finally found an ally in the most unlikely of people - the ghost of a former mortal lover who knew a few things about the young Mage and his destiny.
Ghost/Angel* (played by Angie)
*Perhaps the most unusual of the characters, our Ghost was born from our utter disappointment with Wraith: The Oblivion.
When Wraith was first announced, it had another subtitle instead of 'The Oblivion'. Rumors from convention playtests described a very different game from what we eventually got, and a far superior concept IMHO.
Wraith suffered from being separated from the World of Darkness, taking place in a bizarre, extremely esoteric Afterlife dimension. What it didn't do was give us what we all imagined it would, tragic characters caught between the mortal world, and an afterlife. We didn't wanted to be Ghosts in Ghost Land. We wanted to be Ghosts haunting the world of the living - The World of Darkness.
With a bit of work, and some creative GMing and playing, I think we got what we wanted. Later supplements to Wraith would come close, but the game never really did the job we were hoping it would do. Wraith's failure to be a game about playing spirits of the dead walking among the non-departed was a major contributing factor to my development of my own game Unfinished Business.
Sometime in the late 1930's, or early forties, our Tremere Vampire had been romantically involved with an African American nightclub singing who packed the halls wherever, and whenever she crooned in New York's various Harlem hotspots.
Sadly, the lovely lady met an unfortunate end when caught in the crossfire of organized crime gangs. In truth, these 'gangs' were agents of the Technocracy, an authoritarian organization of Magi looking to rule the world by suppressing the understanding and belief in magic among normal, mundane Humans, and introducing it through technology and science that they alone would have domain over.
Learning many secrets that lie in the lands beyond this mortal coil, our haunting heroine discovered much about the prophesized Apocalypse, and what could be done about it. She lent her unique knowledge, and abilities to our group in hopes of saving the world, finding peace, and passing on once and for all.
Human Hunter of The Supernatural** (played by Keith)
**So here's another example of wrestling something out of a system it wasn't really designed to accommodate.
Hunter: The Reckoning, the World of Darkness game that enables you to play a 'normal' person fighting the supernatural beings of the setting, wouldn't be out for another five years or so when we began this campaign. We had to make this character up from scratch, developing a number of different concepts and rules to enable him to stand up to the obviously far superior physical abilities, and superhuman powers of his would-be opponents.
What we ended up with would be woefully weak compared to the Hunter: The Reckoning PCs you would later be able to build in that game. As such, I think Keith's character was infinitely cooler. He was a normal person. He had reasonable gear, and weapons. He was considerably out of his league. He was therefore far more interesting than the Buffy-like super soldiers one plays in Hunter.
Keith couldn't decide what to play at first, then envisioned a CIA, or FBI agent who had learned that the World of Darkness actually existed. With no proof, and well on his way to being fired, if not committed to a mental institution, the agent went rogue.
He became a one man army, protecting the oblivious mortal world from the darker denizens of the supernatural. However, it was clear early on that the character had no real understanding of the World of Darkness, it's exact make up, or it's politics. The true nature of the various groups (Mages, Vampires, Werewolves) were unknown to him.
Eventually hooking up with the group, and learning that not all supernatural beings exist simply to prey on Humanity, the Agent/Hunter lent his much needed expertise, intelligence, firepower, not to mention his pure willpower, and guts to the cause.
Like many of Keith's characters, a personal favorite PC of mine. The normal person, in the World of Darkness, on the eve of Armageddon. Awesome.
Synopsis: As noted, the campaign mainly revolved around a young man discovering both he, and the world he lived in, were not what they seemed. Almost overnight he goes from hedonistic, philosophical drifter to the driven, responsible Chosen One, and really the transition isn't all that smooth.
Rebelling against fate at first, he soon decides to grab the reigns of destiny tightly with both hands, and find out how to steer the thing so he can make the best possible choice for the people of the Earth.
A multitude of factions seek to gain control of the young man and his power. Their goal is to place themselves in the role of deciding factor for what the world after the Apocalypse will be like.
Interestingly, many of the other PCs start with their own ideas, and agendas, but eventually back the Mage on his play, whatever it's going to be. Turning on their own kind, and even their own ideals to some extent, the group realizes that in the end, the world is not here solely for their supernatural minorities. The greater good is what is good for all Humanity. Each of them is, in a fashion, still Human whether they are cursed with feeding on the blood of the living, charged with protecting the Earth as shapeshifters, or gifted with the powers, and responsibilities of magic.
The world they end up choosing, is a world without their kind. A world in balance.
After twelve sessions of The World of Darkness, the darkness was removed. The world of White Wolf's setting was no more.
Appendix N: Aside from the multitude of books in the World of Darkness line, other contributing inspirations included The Lost Boys, Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire and related books, comic books such as I, Vampire, Swamp Thing, Hellraiser, Books of Magic (All DC Comics), and a variety of comics and short stories in the modern, gothic horror genre.
I owned all of the main books, and dozens of supplements for World of Darkness across all the various lines. This campaign was created before Changeling: The Dreaming was released, which is actually my favorite White Wolf game. It is my favorite for the exact same reason I dislike Wraith - it doesn't really deal with the World of Darkness.
For Changeling that makes sense. For Wraith it doesn't.
This was one of only three World of Darkness campaigns I ever ran (not including Changeling campaigns). It was the longest, and definitely the most successful (other than ones for Changeling). I eventually sold all my World of Darkness stuff (except Changeling of course).
This particular gaming group is what I sometimes refer to as a transitional group. Some of the players were new friends, or were friends I had not yet gamed with who later became part of a long term group. Some were friends who came and went, thanks to the universe's strange way of moving people through your life.
Next time...Something medieval fantasy I think...Heheh