The Ruin of the “World of Darkness”?

TL;DR: Yes, this is Clickbait, but not entirely.

I have been a huge fan of many “World of Darkness” games, since the very beginning. I own multiple editions of “Vampire: The Masquerade”, “Werewolf: The Apocalypse”, and “Mage: The Ascension”, as well as the first editions of “Changeling: The Dreaming”, Wraith: The Oblivion”, and “Hunter: The Whatever”. I also own many supplements and related books, such as some of the WoD games set in the past (the Dark Ages books, for example).

In short, I have a whole mess of WoD books, and – unlike many of the tabletop roleplaying games I own – I have played every single one of these.

Every. Single. One.

That said, I basically just replaced my entire WoD collection with one game, being “Urban Shadows”.

As you may know, in the last few months, I have become quite the fan of games that use the design philosophy, “Powered by the Apocalypse”. At their core, they use mechanics similar to those found in the TTRPG, “Apocalypse World” (thus “Powered by the Apocalypse”), but each are left to twist and form the rules as needed for their game. Many PbtA games have rules very different than others, but their design philosophy is basically the same: Keep the rules light, use scaling success checks (Failure, Partial Success, Full Success), and the Narrative always comes first.

Well, “Urban Shadows” is one such PbtA game. It is Urban Fantasy, with a Political twist, as mortals and supernatural forces vie against each other for control of a city. Sound a lot like “Vampire: The Masquerade”? It should, because they are very similar…

… Except that you aren’t tied to just playing Vampires. You can play Vamps, sure, but also Werewolves, Ghosts, Wizards, Faeries, and so on. Basically, you can play most everything you can in the entire WoD, in “Urban Shadows”.

That’s just one book. With one, unified ruleset.

You see, while the “World of Darkness” games are similar, playing crossover games can be… difficult, to say the least. The games are not exactly balanced against each other, which can make for some seriously annoying gameplay. That’s why having all of these choices for character types in one book, with one set of rules for all of them, makes such a huge difference.

“Urban Shadows” isn’t a direct clone of the “World of Darkness”, mind you. It isn’t even like the PbtA game “Dungeon World”, which is basically “Dungeons & Dragons” with PbtA mechanics. If anything, US is more like “The Dresden Files” book series, actually. Some might argue that WoD is also much like Dresden Files, but US is basically Dresden Files!

Note: Yes, I know there already is a FATE-based tabletop roleplaying game called “Dresden Files RPG”. I own all of the core books, as well as Dresden Files Accelerated, which uses the FATE Accelerated rules. It is a quite fine game, actually.

“Urban Shadows” is still my preferred game for Urban Fantasy, now. The PbtA philosophy is simply better, and the rules look to be simple-yet-fun.

Obviously, I haven’t played this game yet, as I just got it recently. But I have played other PbtA games, and having read US, I’m confident it is better than WoD, and – despite my love for Dresden Files RPG – PbtA is way better than FATE.

Full stop.

Anyway, no, I don’t think this is the end for the “World of Darkness”. But do I feel people should really bother throwing hundreds and hundreds of dollars into WoD, when they can just play “Urban Shadows”?

Nope. Buy “Urban Shadows”. It’s “World of Darkness”, only better.

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