The World of Darkness is a modern fantasy horror brand, originally created and developed by White Wolf and its licensing partners, and now owned by Paradox Interactive. While it is typically not a full-fledged game in its own right, it is the shared "Gothic-Punk" setting for tabletop roleplaying games using the Storyteller System; as well as other mediums, including live-action roleplaying, card and board games, and video games.
The world is a reflection of our own: it's still Earth, with the same countries, the same people in power, a Starbucks on every corner. However, it is nonetheless a worse place: people care a little less, the boot on your neck grinds a little deeper. Gargoyles peer down uncaringly from nearly every edifice, even as the skeletal fingers of those skyscrapers stretch further into the heavens. This is the "Gothic" aspect.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, you fight back. The systems of power are unfair. Hell, the world itself is unfair. So you fight back. Because you can. Because you have no other choice, if you want to survive.
While published material covers centuries of history, the game material itself was originally published for a 13-year period between 1991 and 2004, resurrected in 2011 for its 20th Anniversary, and continues to be published once again since 2018.
The Original Settings
These were the three heavy-hitters of Classic World of Darkness, and served as the backbone for the game line. While it's usually left up to the storyteller whether or not the other games can cross over with each other, these three are always treated as part of the same canon.
- Vampire: The Masquerade: A game of personal horror, wherein players play vampires. (See also Dark Ages: Vampire and Victorian Age: Vampire)
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse: A game of savage horror, wherein players take on the role of werewolves. (See also Dark Ages: Werewolf and Werewolf: The Wild West)
- Mage: The Ascension: A game of reality on the brink, wherein players take on the role of modern mages. (See also Dark Ages: Mage and Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade)
Along with the above three games, the following two games were part of the originally-conceived lineup of five games set in the World of Darkness. Their popularity floundered, and so they are often treated as "rarer" installments where crossovers are concerned.
- Wraith: The Oblivion: A game of passion and horror, wherein players play wraiths, those who have died but remain due to unfinished business. (See also Wraith: The Great War and Orpheus)
- Changeling: The Dreaming: A game of modern fantasy, wherein players play changelings, the last remnants of the legendary fae. (See also Dark Ages: Fae)
These three games heralded the end of things, from three different perspectives: the dead, the fallen, and the humans who fight back against the darkness.
- Hunter: The Reckoning: A game of righteous fury, wherein players play hunters who have been imbued with the ability to see and fight the monsters in their midst (See also Dark Ages: Inquisitor). Part of the Year of the Reckoning.
- Demon: The Fallen: A game of infernal glory, wherein players assume the role of the Fallen, angels who had been consigned to the Abyss for loving humanity too much. Part of the Year of the Damned.
- Orpheus: Following in Wraith's footsteps, Orpheus is a game of ghost stories for ghosts. The theme is, "don't look back".
Games which, while they presented separate fully-playable concepts, often required one of the main games in order to have the complete rules. The first fatsplats.
- Kindred of the East: Featuring the Kuei-jin, the vampires of the Middle Kingdom. Part of the Year of the Lotus.
- Mummy: The Resurrection: Featuring the Amenti, ancient "mummies" reborn in the modern world. Part of the Year of the Scarab.
Games based off one of the above concepts, but set in a separate historical era.
- Dark Ages: Vampire: The Dark Ages (revised as Dark Ages: Vampire), Werewolf: The Dark Ages (revised as Dark Ages: Werewolf), World of Darkness: Blood & Silk, Dark Ages: Mage, Dark Ages: Inquisitor, Dark Ages: Fae, Dark Ages: Devil's Due
- Renaissance: Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade
- World War I and Great Depression: Wraith: The Great War
White Wolf provided a series of themes, one a year, which informed many of the major releases to follow that year.
- 1995-1996: The Year of the Hunter
- 1997: The Year of the Ally
- 1998: The Year of the Lotus
- 1999: The Year of the Reckoning
- 2000: The Year of Revelations
- 2001: The Year of the Scarab
- 2002: The Year of the Damned
- 2003-2004: The Time of Judgment
Since Vampire's first edition stood alone, there was no need to have a separate identity for the larger World of Darkness. Indeed, it wasn't until around the release of Mage in 1993 (when Vampire was in its 2nd Edition and Werewolf was a year into its 1st Edition) that a World of Darkness logo was finally created, based on the logo of 1992's A World of Darkness. The focus is clearly on the "world" of the title.
The globe logo didn't last long, being replaced with a text-based logo in 1994, around the time of the release of the Wraith: The Oblivion Rulebook. This version (and variants with different color schemes) was featured on a lot of the early fiction, particularly those published by HarperCollins. On those novels, the WoD logo dominated the cover, and specific game line logos (Vampire, Werewolf, etc.) were absent.
Not long after the text logo, the final logo featuring the skeletal "shrimp" figure was introduced, which lasted until the World of Darkness ended in 2004, nearly a full decade. When the line was resurrected in 2011 with the 20th Anniversary Editions, it often appeared with the additional text "Classic" above it, to differentiate it from the other extant World of Darkness setting: the "New" World of Darkness.
As part of the marketing of CCP's World of Darkness MMO, a new text-based logo was devised (as seen at the top of this page), but, at the time, was only used in regards to the MMO. The "shrimp" continued to be used on all other material.
Following the 2015 sale of the IP to Paradox Interactive and the advent of Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition and other associated properties, the shrimp was relegated to "classic" 20th Anniversary Edition material, while the new logo was to be used on any new material. Additionally, a new symbol was devised. This version maintains the color scheme of the previous shrimp, featuring a red circular border, with a black filling, and a capital W, lowercase o, and a capital D, not dissimilar to the logo used for the Chronicles of Darkness. It is currently featured on the World of Darkness website.
Brand Management Team (2018 - present)
After White Wolf folded as an independent entity in 2018, Paradox delegated control over the World of Darkness as a brand to a core management team responsible for streamlining the licensing, development and creative direction, and promotion of WoD products; as well as communicating directly with the fan community. The team's roster presently consists of:
- Sean Greaney, Brand Manager
- Justin R. Achilli, Creative Lead
- Tomas Arfert, Art Director
- Karim Muammar, Brand Editor
- Martyna "Outstar" Zych, Community Developer
- Jason Carl, Brand Marketing Manager