- This article is about the setting formerly known as the "new" World of Darkness. For other settings by the World of Darkness name, see World of Darkness or Monte Cook's World of Darkness.
The Chronicles of Darkness (CofD), formerly known as the World of Darkness or (informally) the New World of Darkness ("nWOD"), is a modern gothic horror setting and storytelling game that uses the Storytelling System. It presents an image of the modern world "through a looking glass darkly": more dangerous, less caring, and filled with monsters of both human and inhuman varieties.
Designed to be flexible and allow for a multitude of horror stories, the World of Darkness is (intentionally) somewhat vague. Flavor text in thepresents possibilities for stories that clearly tie into traditional werewolf and vampire stories, and includes a lengthy section on ghosts and ghost stories.
However, other pieces of fiction present the possibilities of demonic antagonists, occult storylines and inexplicable oddity. For the most part, there is no over-riding mythos as there is in games such as Call of Cthulhu or Unknown Armies. While the setting is described as one of "dark mystery", "dread" and "threatening symbolism", it is ultimately left open for the Storyteller to construct stories within.
Differences from the Classic WOD
The Vampire: The Masquerade in 1991, the old World of Darkness acted as the shared setting for White Wolf Game Studio's horror roleplaying games. While the basic setting is similar, there are some important differences between the two settings.was the first book of a re-launch for the World of Darkness setting. Premiering in
- "Gothic-Punk" vs. "Modern Gothic" — The World of Darkness setting was described as "Gothic-Punk", blending decaying gothic visuals and mood with brash punk attitude and energy. The new setting has instead been described as modern gothic, focusing instead on the dark gothic images and mood, pushing aside the "punk" in the description to an optional element rather than the focus.
- Codified vs. Undefined — As discussed above, the new World of Darkness is assumed to be incomplete, with a Storyteller expected to create new content and explanations for the events within their games. By contrast, the previous setting assumed greater uniformity, with any events being attributed to an existing force.
- Global vs. Local — The old World of Darkness frequently presented creatures and groups of global power, capable of pursuing characters across the world and affecting change worldwide. The new World of Darkness tends instead to localize power, assuming creatures and groups who can affect cities powerfully, with less influence to affect countries and international events. This approach was dropped in Second Edition, with Tiers allowing personal, city, global, or cosmic level play. Various lines tend to focus on certain tiers.
- One Game, One Book vs. Core Rulebook plus Setting — Games set in the old World of Darkness were self-contained, presenting enough information to describe the World of Darkness along with the entire ruleset. By contrast, games set in the new setting refer back to the for the basic setting and the core ruleset. This approach is no longer the case in Second Edition, with the corebooks containing the full set of rules.
- Player Choice vs. Character Choice - In the original World of Darkness, player choice at character creation was sometimes overwhelming, with an ever-growing selection of splats (e.g. Masquerade's clans, bloodlines and legacies). The new games generally simplify this to a "5 x 5" system: five inherent supernatural types (e.g. Requiem's clans) and five voluntarily joined (or rejected) groups (e.g. covenants). These are the only choices available at character creation. Specific refinements or alterations for splat types (e.g. bloodlines) may be joined or even created by characters, but only after they have sufficiently grown in power and often involving some personal sacrifice, putting the focus on character choice. This approach is no longer the case in Second Edition (and was not the case for Changeling the Lost), with all specific types now available at character creation.
- One World, Many Games vs. One World, One Game - In the original it was difficult for players and storytellers to have more than one type of supernatural in a game as there were different rule sets for each supernatural. In the new setting there is one core set of game mechanics that applies to everything and the rules for the abilities of different supernaturals are built off of this core rule set. In other words while it was difficult to have vampire and werewolf players in the same game in the original without a skilled storyteller, it is easy to do this in the new setting. This approach is optional in the Section Edition, with a world reference to a defined and specific Chronicle at the end of every core book covering a variety of locations, with all games overlapping in Tokyo.
Chronicles of Darkness Scenarios
In addition to being a game line in its own right, featuring mortal humans who explore the unknown, the New World of Darkness is the shared setting for a number of additional game lines.
The 'Big Three' game lines, all of which have open-ended runs, are:
- Vampire: The Requiem - A game of personal horror, wherein players take on the role of vampires. Released in August 2004.
- Werewolf: The Forsaken - A game of savage fury, wherein players take on the role of werewolves. Released in February 2005.
- Mage: The Awakening - A game of modern sorcery, wherein players take on the role of mages — modern day practitioners of magic. Released in August 2005.
In addition to the above lines, further games are released semi-annually in a more limited-run format, with one core rulebook and a set number of supplements (similar to Orpheus for the World of Darkness). So far six such games have been released:
- Promethean: The Created - A game of stolen lives, wherein players take the role of Prometheans, constructs assembled from human body parts and animated by the Divine Fire. Released August 2006.
- Changeling: The Lost - A game of beautiful madness in which players take the role of Changelings, people who have escaped captivity in Faerie, but have been transformed by its power into something other than human. Released August 2007.
- Hunter: The Vigil - A game of light and shadows, in which players take the role of hunters, mortals who have seen what lurks in the shadows of the World of Darkness, and have decided to take action. Released August 2008.
- Geist: The Sin-Eaters - A game of second chances, in which players take the role of Sin-Eaters, people who have come back from the dead by bonding with the strange entities known as Geists. Released August 2009.
- Mummy: The Curse - A game of immortal souls, where players play the roles of the Arisen, beings who long ago were subjected to the Rite of Return and had their souls bound to their earthly remains. Released in March 2013.
The second edition of the World of Darkness was released with the The God-Machine Chronicle in 2013. Several rules were overhauled, and old game lines were updated. New game lines, like Demon: The Descent, will be made with the new ruleset from The God-Machine Chronicle in mind.
While initially containing an unique naming scheme to identify the new versions, it was announced at GenCon 2014 that the games would be renamed, including the ones already released. Instead of "The [X] Chronicle" the games will merely retain the original name with "Second Edition" affixed to the end. Ex: Vampire: The Requiem Second Edition
- Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle - The second edition of Vampire: The Requiem. Released in December 2013.
- Demon: The Descent - A game of techgnostic espionage, where players take the role of Unchained, angels who have fallen from their service to the God-Machine and become demons as a result. Released in March 2014.
- Mortal Remains - A game book that updates Hunter: The Vigil to include the rules updates from The God-Machine Chronicles as well as the other supernatural races (Prometheans, Changelings, Geists, Mummies, and Demons). Released in April 2014.
- Beast: The Primordial - A game of Endless Hunger, where players take the role of the Begotten, humans born with the soul of a monster who have to sate inhuman urges in order to exist. Released in March 2016.
- The Huntsmen Chronicle - The second edition of Changeling: The Lost. A game of bittersweet truth. Released in January 2019.
- Mummy the Curse Second edition - The second edition of Mummy: The Curse. Released in September 2021.
Chronicles of Darkness
Following the purchase of White Wolf and the World of Darkness by Paradox Interactive in 2015, Paradox unveiled their plans to create "One World of Darkness", unifying all fans and versions of the World of Darkness under one umbrella. In December of that year, the "new" World of Darkness saw its name changed to "Chronicles of Darkness" to more fully distinguish it from the "classic" World of Darkness. Onyx Path will continue to produce new material for the CoD setting (including the aforementioned second editions and new game lines), and Paradox's reestablished White Wolf studio will develop new editions of the World of Darkness setting in-house.