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Big Changes At White Wolf Following Controversy

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Following an online backlash regarding the content of their recent publications, White Wolf Publishing has just announced some big changes, including the suspension of the Vampire 5th Edition Camarilla and Anarch books, and a restructuring of management.


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White Wolf's Shams Jorjani made the following announcement about an hour ago:

"Hello everyone,

My name is Shams Jorjani, VP of Business Development at Paradox Interactive and interim manager at White Wolf Publishing. I wanted to inform you of some changes that will be implemented at White Wolf, starting immediately.

Sales and printing of the V5 Camarilla and Anarch books will be temporarily suspended. The section on Chechnya will be removed in both the print and PDF versions of the Camarilla book. We anticipate that this will require about three weeks. This means shipping will be delayed; if you have pre-ordered a copy of Camarilla or Anarchs, further information will follow via e-mail.

In practical terms, White Wolf will no longer function as a separate entity. The White Wolf team will be restructured and integrated directly into Paradox Interactive, and I will be temporarily managing things during this process. We are recruiting new leadership to guide White Wolf both creatively and commercially into the future, a process that has been ongoing since September.

Going forward, White Wolf will focus on brand management. This means White Wolf will develop the guiding principles for its vision of the World of Darkness, and give licensees the tools they need to create new, excellent products in this story world. White Wolf will no longer develop and publish these products internally. This has always been the intended goal for White Wolf as a company, and it is now time to enact it.

The World of Darkness has always been about horror, and horror is about exploring the darkest parts of our society, our culture, and ourselves. Horror should not be afraid to explore difficult or sensitive topics, but it should never do so without understanding who those topics are about and what it means to them. Real evil does exist in the world, and we can’t ever excuse its real perpetrators or cheapen the suffering of its real victims.

In the Chechnya chapter of the V5 Camarilla book, we lost sight of this. The result was a chapter that dealt with a real-world, ongoing tragedy in a crude and disrespectful way. We should have identified this either during the creative process or in editing. This did not happen, and for this we apologize.

We ask for your patience while we implement these changes. In the meantime, let’s keep talking. I’m available for any and all thoughts, comments and feedback, on shams.jorjani@paradoxinteractive.com."


White Wolf is currently own by Paradox Interactive, who acquired the World of Darkness rights in 2015 from previous owner CCP (who you might know from Eve Online) whose plans for a WoD MMO failed to bear fruit.

The recent Camarilla and Anarch books have met widespread criticism. The former, Camarilla, includes a section which appears to trivialise current real-life events in Chechnya, where the LGBTQ community is being persecuted, tortured, and murdered and uses that current tragedy as a backdrop for the setting. This comes after the company was forced to deny links to neo-Nazi ideology. White Wolf recently announced that "White Wolf is currently undergoing some significant transitions up to and including a change in leadership. The team needs a short time to understand what this means, so we ask for your patience as we figure out our next steps" and this appears to be the result of that decision.
 
Russ Morrissey

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TrippyHippy

Villager
Back on topic slightly.

So... Chechnya itself is super not impressed:
https://en.crimerussia.com/gromkie-dela/chechens-hate-vampire-the-masquerade-game-for-sultan-ramzan-character/

And there are reports that Russian RPG distributors are being called to courts in Chechnya.

This is really not good.
The Chechnyan government that actually created a purge of the LGBT community are offended by a book that highlights this?

Who'd have thought that?

Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov, in the article, has presided over forced disappearances, torture and whole range of human rights abuses. He has campaigned for a mass detention of LGBT people in Chechnya. He actually denies that gay people exist in Chechnya.

I'm not surprised he is offended by a book that uses a metaphor of vampires to explain his motivations. I am surprised that people think his offense is somehow justified, or that the people criticising White Wolf are actually in agreement with these persecuters.
 
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Jester David

Villager
That is precisely what is going on, but the impact of which is that Vampire is now a dead duck as far as what happens next. The two supplements, Camarilla and Anarchs, will be adjusted, and reprinted, but a number of fans who preordered are already asking for refunds because they've simply been waiting too long. There will be no more books made by Paradox or White Wolf.

There are three supplements scheduled by The Onyx Path, based on a current Kickstarter than is currently raised just over $80,000 - which is not a big total at all. The situation is not good. The game is essentially dead.
It’s certainly going to hurt the line for a while, as they have to farm out to licence to other studios.
Even if they can pick up on partially written manuscripts, that’s still going to delay future books as everything is re-edited and new writers hired.

It’s somewhat of a shame. Mechanically, the new game was quite good. I loved a lot of the changes and thought it did a decent job of moving forward from the late ‘90s metaplot. I was rather impressed with how it handled hunger.

But the books were structurally a mess. So much wasted page space, and limited information. It struggled so much while trying to introduce so much lore while also updating existing lore that it was muddled. And so many clans saved for later splatbooks rather than be detailed from the start.
The uproar is actually emblematic of this. In a book dedicated to the Camarilla they apparently wasted eight pages on Chechnya, despite it not being part of that sect/ faction. It didn’t need to be there, it wasn’t expected content, and it didn’t add much. And now it got them all fired...
 

TrippyHippy

Villager
It’s certainly going to hurt the line for a while, as they have to farm out to licence to other studios.
Even if they can pick up on partially written manuscripts, that’s still going to delay future books as everything is re-edited and new writers hired.

It’s somewhat of a shame. Mechanically, the new game was quite good. I loved a lot of the changes and thought it did a decent job of moving forward from the late ‘90s metaplot. I was rather impressed with how it handled hunger.

But the books were structurally a mess. So much wasted page space, and limited information. It struggled so much while trying to introduce so much lore while also updating existing lore that it was muddled. And so many clans saved for later splatbooks rather than be detailed from the start.
The uproar is actually emblematic of this. In a book dedicated to the Camarilla they apparently wasted eight pages on Chechnya, despite it not being part of that sect/ faction. It didn’t need to be there, it wasn’t expected content, and it didn’t add much. And now it got them all fired...
The way I read it, they were trying to illustrate the monstrous aspects of the Banu Haqim using contemporary events in the telling - and in all good faith, were using the text to genuinely try and highlight the horror of the real world situation to their reading audience.

While your criticism is interesting, and I could have a worthwhile debate on the things you raise, but at this stage it's all by the by. For me, Vampire was the best single RPG release of 2018. But now it's done.
 

Jester David

Villager
The way I read it, they were trying to illustrate the monstrous aspects of the Banu Haqim using contemporary events in the telling - and in all good faith, were using the text to genuinely try and highlight the horror of the real world situation to their reading audience.

While your criticism is interesting, and I could have a worthwhile debate on the things you raise, but at this stage it's all by the by. For me, Vampire was the best single RPG release of 2018. But now it's done.
I liked it a lot more than I expected. But having not looked at my VtM books in a decade, I really felt lost in terms of lore with the new core rulebook. And I still knew a lot of the nouns.
I can’t imagine how hard it would have been for a straight newcomer.
 

TrippyHippy

Villager
I liked it a lot more than I expected. But having not looked at my VtM books in a decade, I really felt lost in terms of lore with the new core rulebook. And I still knew a lot of the nouns.
I can’t imagine how hard it would have been for a straight newcomer.
I'm actually the same. Regardless of controversy, when I read some of the playtest stuff I basically thought meh to a lot of it. Ditto to Vampire 20th, Vampire: the Requiem and Vampire Revised before then. But the final V5 product - particularly the gameplay in the system - was brilliant and it's tone was reminiscent of the original editions of Vampire, but set in the 21st century.

I remember a reviewer of Wraith: The Oblivion, in the Interactive Fiction journal (of about the mid 1990s), being highly skeptical about White Wolf games generally but as he read through the game being won over by it's qualities. He ended up decrying that the game wasn't commercial enough for White Wolf (he was proved right) and how he wished it had just been produced by a smaller company with integrity, that could develop the game without all the pressures of maintaining sales and a large fanbase.

I kinda wish the same had happened for this version of Vampire too. I think the commercial pressures and the underlying issues within the existing fanbase has prematurely killed it, sadly. But it's a brilliant game.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
what did i do. i attacked no one foe their race, gender, nationality, ethnic group, sexual orientation. i even support gay marriage. my group was slandered by calling us fascists which we are not.
Remember how I said “don’t post in this thread again”? And reacquaint yourself with the rules of use, here?

I even provided a link.

But you:

1) posted in the thread again

2) challenged moderation in thread.

BOTH no-no’s.

Plus, your profile says you’ve been here since 2004, so you should really know better. Therefore, the slack I was going to cut you before I noticed that fact will not be given. Have a week off.
 
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Keefe the Thief

Adventurer
The hysteric internet mob strikes again...
I though ENworld was a place for discussion, not for drive-by posting. This is a serious problem - marginalizing an ongoing, murderous campaign in such a way. Especially when you know the history of the authors of the book.

Blaming it on "outrage" is sad and nonsensical.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I though ENworld was a place for discussion, not for drive-by posting. This is a serious problem - marginalizing an ongoing, murderous campaign in such a way. Especially when you know the history of the authors of the book.

Blaming it on "outrage" is sad and nonsensical.
Folks, Morrus already asked Darren not to post here again. Please don’t continue responding to his posts in here. Thanks!
 

barasawa

Explorer
Can't say I've got those particular books yet, and will hold off making my own judgment before reading them. (If I ever get to see the controversial versions.)

However, what's a conflict in the story without a villain to struggle against?

Of course, Vampires, even in the WW games, aren't exactly paragons of heroics, and at best usually only qualify as antiheroes, or at least not the worst thing out there.
After all, they regularly assault and even murder people.
As such, the even worse evils that make them seem to be the lesser evils isn't going to be some jaywalker or even a bank robber.

But again, I haven't read the actual relevant paragraphs or chapters, just some people giving vague descriptions and saying it's bad for some reason.

To be honest though, I'm a bit jaded regarding corporate apologies, as well as skeptical when people start screaming about something and I haven't been able to check it out myself. Too many corporations just treat "apologies" as a way to reduce dissent and outrage. While the furor some people create over events has been many times based on false, or at least misleading and incomplete information. (Like a particular dev I won't name that got fired for going ballistic on a polite poster that had a differing opinion and politely asked her a question.)
Since I can't tell from the incomplete and third hand information that's been doled out to us, I'm going to remain neutral at this time, and I'd advise others to do so as well.

If anyone has the actual pages from those books relevant to the discussion, I'm sure myself and others would appreciate seeing them so we can judge for ourselves. Please do not break any copyright laws, but there is a fair use clause in many countries that may apply. (Just the relevant pages if you can, not the whole book. The whole book would definitely violate copyright laws anywhere.)
To be honest, I doubt anyone will, and they'd probably be hit with a DMCA even if it's legally fair use where ever they are, and fighting that would be a HUGE and expensive pain.

Well, thanks for reading my late night ramblings.
 

Morrus

Administrator
Staff member
Well, it looks like the political correctness warriors have captured another scalp.
"Political correctness warriors" is a clear way to sneak in the term "social justice warriors", which is a derogatory term prohibited on these boards. Rules lawyering your way around insults isn't going to work. Don't post in this thread again, please.
 

TrippyHippy

Villager
This has been an emotional thread, and I certainly don't want to add to this more than my final comment.

If people want to know how this news story has been recieved in Russia, correspondence from a guy called Dmytro Smirnov on the White Wolf facebook page, has it as this, sadly:

I'm not sure what was the intended message or how it was perceived in the West, but Russian community got those two messages:
1. "Russian community is heard. " And it is a good one, the one people in the region struggled to hear for so long.
2. "WW is afraid of Kadyrov". One word about a lawsuit and few online threats made company to step back. Did you think that local LGBT thought that you care for them? Well it's vice versa, now they got that Kadyrov can silence everyone, even game company and noone will ever speak about their problems ever.
Please don't argue that this wasn't censorship.
 

Badvoc

Villager
This makes me sad. Although I've not played any WoD since its 90's heyday, it's tough to see how far White Wolf have fallen in the years since.


Games and Politics - rarely, if ever, a happy combination. Whether it's instances of games trying to tackle thorny real world problems, or people trying to push their own political agenda into how others play games, the results are usually predictable. As much as I'd love to go off on a tangent here about how the RPG community has become increasingly political, and politically polarised, over the last few years - it doesn't serve this discussion particularly well. There's no justification for ret-conning ongoing, real world atrocities in your game.


I've not read the problematic sections that have sparked this, but "tone deaf" seems an understatement from how the content has been described. I assume the intent of the writers was to draw attention to atrocities being perpetrated in Chechnya, rather than merely use the situation for shock value. In that case, they would have been better to include a factual account of the current situation, ascribe it to the real offenders (which is far more horrific than any fictional alternative) and then detail what this means for the vampires in the region.
 

TrippyHippy

Villager
There's no justification for ret-conning ongoing, real world atrocities in your game.
It's not ret-conning. Ret-conning means changing a fictional story in a way that breaks continuity.

What White Wolf did was to interpret real life events through the lens of a fictional world, specifically as seen by a particular fictional character, as a form of metaphor. It's an important distinction.

I let slide other comments you make, although I'm beginning to find the term 'tone deaf' as vapid as 'sjw' or 'politically correct' these days, I have to say.
 

ASchmidt

Villager
I'm going to jump back in and first, apologize if what I said way back in the beginning of this thread started a politicization of this discussion. I merely meant that the words that were being thrown at White Wolf (alt-right, fascist, bigoted, etc...) whether they belong together or not, didn't match with what I knew of the people I worked with just a few years ago.

Over the course of this discussion, I've been reading up on some of the people I knew there and what they're up to these days and funny thing, I can't find any of the people I knew that are currently involved with White Wolf's production of V5. Pretty much everybody at Onyx Path is someone I worked with directly but I'm not recognizing names at White Wolf. In fact looking at my LinkedIn, not one of the people I worked with in 2010 and 2011 is at White Wolf. Which is really weird because a lot of the people I worked with were writers and artists for both old World of Darkness and new World of Darkness.

In an odd way I feel better. There's still a lot to discuss here about fiction intersecting with real life events but I'm glad that the people I remember aren't part of this.
 

epithet

Explorer
Back on topic slightly.

So... Chechnya itself is super not impressed:
https://en.crimerussia.com/gromkie-dela/chechens-hate-vampire-the-masquerade-game-for-sultan-ramzan-character/

And there are reports that Russian RPG distributors are being called to courts in Chechnya.

This is really not good.
I suppose there's something to be said for pissing off both sides of the conflict.

I'm reminded of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which was a popular book that became a move based on the (obviously fictional) premise that the Confederacy was a cover for vampires. There is also a movie in theaters now (Overlord?) that is about Nazis creating zombies. I think it is perfectly natural to look at real-world villainy and associate it with horror genre supernatural elements, it makes for a good story. Games and other fiction have to set up Capital-E-Evil so that the heroes can fight against it, because you can't have Bellerophon with the chimaera. Still, it seems like the fallout from using an ongoing, current real-world issue was predictable. We are living in times of elevated sensitivity and maximum scrutiny, where if something could possibly offend it will definitely offend, and there is a cultural inclination to pillory the offender immediately and without reservation or consideration of other factors. It seems like White Wolf should have known better.
 

Jester David

Villager
I'm reminded of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which was a popular book that became a move based on the (obviously fictional) premise that the Confederacy was a cover for vampires. There is also a movie in theaters now (Overlord?) that is about Nazis creating zombies. I think it is perfectly natural to look at real-world villainy and associate it with horror genre supernatural elements, it makes for a good story. Games and other fiction have to set up Capital-E-Evil so that the heroes can fight against it, because you can't have Bellerophon with the chimaera.
Yes and no.
Yeah, it helps ground things in the real world to use real world evils and factions. Absolutely. But casting the Nazis and Confederacy as evil works because both wars are old now. It'd be like having the Bosnian War (also associated with genocide) being the result of vampires. Enough time has past that it feels less offensive/ tasteless.

On the other hand, this crisis is STILL ongoing. Right now, as I type this, there is someone being tortured because he had insolence to fall in love with another man. Tortured and likely killed. Making a contemporary crime against humanity part of an escapist fantasy horror game is a little much. It's too soon.

Even then... if you did a movie that implied the Holocaust wasn't really ethnic cleansing but a cover for Nazi vampires draining a populace to feed their army of undead stormtroopers... that would likely also catch ire. Because it runs a little too parallel to Holocaust denial, which remains a real thing.
Making that real war crime/crime against humanity the act of monsters... almost makes it less horrible. Because vampires do horrible things. They're monsters. Its not "Nazis did horrible things, like making monsters, because they're evil" and instead "Nazis did horrible things because they were literal inhuman monsters". It's almost forgiving. Which crosses a line.

Still, it seems like the fallout from using an ongoing, current real-world issue was predictable. We are living in times of elevated sensitivity and maximum scrutiny, where if something could possibly offend it will definitely offend, and there is a cultural inclination to pillory the offender immediately and without reservation or consideration of other factors.
LoL. No.
People getting upset over offensive things is old hat. Calling that a modern problem just tells me you need to read more history. Go back to Victorian England for a start.
And pushback against "over political correctness" is a generational thing.Every 15-20 years. Heck, Neil Gaiman's response to seeing the “In these days of political correctness…” is over five years old now.

The Internet just makes it faster. World-of-mouth is just that bit swifter. And we have more expose to other ideas and stuff beyond out immediate circle of life.

That said:
It seems like White Wolf should have known better.
They were already in the spotlight. They likely had been warned. This very much seemed careless.
 

epithet

Explorer
...
People getting upset over offensive things is old hat. Calling that a modern problem just tells me you need to read more history. Go back to Victorian England for a start.
And pushback against "over political correctness" is a generational thing.Every 15-20 years. Heck, Neil Gaiman's response to seeing the “In these days of political correctness…” is over five years old now.
...
All of that is true, and yet there is a heightened element to "political correctness" now that has not been present for most of my lifetime. It's not even political correctness any more, at least not in the way the term was applied in the 1990s. On issues ranging from school bullying to asking someone out on a date, modern society has taken it upon itself to protect us from ourselves in a way that is more energized and vehement than before. No doubt a big factor in that was the presence of entrenched societal ills that resisted for generations any kind of progress or correction, but having broken through on some of those issues I think we have yet to find a new equilibrium point.

The raw nerves and general oversensitivity can be easily seen in the tribalism of American politics, where adherents of each party have demonstrated a willingness to vote for candidates under criminal indictment, or even recently convicted felons, instead of the candidate from the other party. We've been conditioned to regard anything we don't agree with as a threat to our safety or our way of life, requiring immediate and uncompromising political action in opposition to it. It is a cynically effective strategy, as evidenced by the mind-boggling amount of money, most of which came from individual donations, that was spent in the recent election cycle. We, as a society, have been made to fear. If we are secure and comfortable, we're made to fear for other people.

Gay Chechens are worried about survival, not vampire related RPGs. Compared to the reality of their day-to-day existence, a small section in a sourcebook for a relatively obscure game is completely trivial, but we can't easily effect that reality, so we get feisty over the sourcebook. Everyone is looking around them and seeing the decline and fall of Western Civilization packaged into easily consumable media segments. Whenever an outlet presents itself for the venting of that anxiety, proportionality is the last thing anyone's thinking about.
 
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