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Renegade Game Studios Takes Over World of Darkness

Renegade Game Studio is taking over the World of Darkness! They will be publishing books produced in-house by owner Paradox, starting in December with the free (digital) Vampire: The Masquerade Companion, which has rules for playing humans and ghouls, as well as the clans Tzimisce, Ravnos, and Salubri.

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Modiphius took over the line in December 2018; there's no mention of whether that is continuing. Renegade Game Studios, which brought us Kids on Bikes, recently announced that it was producing D&D 5E-powered lines for various Hasbro properties, including Power Rangers, and possibly Transformers, G.I. Joe, and My Little Pony.

The new World of Darkness books are to be produced in-house at Paradox, under the leadership of Justin Achilli, from White Wolf. They won't only be making RPGs -- they're also creating video games, comics, and more.

The Vampire Companion is coming free in December.

The Vampire: The Masquerade Companion book brings three highly-anticipated Vampire clans into V5, and gives Storytellers more tools to enhance their chronicles, including:
  • Three vampire clans: Tzimisce, Ravnos, Salubri
  • Discipline powers representing each of the new clans
  • Expanded rules and roleplaying information for ghouls and mortals
  • Details on each clan’s view on vampire coteries
  • New Merits for players characters
  • Rules errata to Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

MGibster

Legend
Can they please abandon the cheap and badly 'shopped fashion magazine look full of what look like actual cosplayers (?), and get back to a more appropriate, traditional and readable and usable design aesthetic? Yeah, that would be great. (The look of v5 played a rather significant part in me skipping the 5th edition of the game entirely.)
I like V5 a lot, but that's in spite of the art not because of it. I much prefer the artwork they were using in 1st end 2nd edition.
 

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Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
I'm surprised Modiphius lost the license . . . or, I'm assuming they have, not that the situation isn't already complicated. Modiphius is a stellar game company, but perhaps they simply had too much on their plate to do justice to the World of Darkness?

Anyway, wake me up when Paradox, or one of their partners, does a new edition of Mage: The Ascension. I'll start paying more attention then!
 

steeldrac

Explorer
Maybe Modiphius was always meant to be something “until we solve this mess”... aren’t Conan and John Carter also owned by Paradox?
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
My feeling was that when White Wolf, as it was, was dissolved in 2018, their publishing partner, Modiphius, just felt that V5 was too much of a sales success to let it be dropped as a product. There is strong evidence that V5 was their strongest selling product for at least three quarters (based on retail figures from ICv2).

So, they decided to take on the license themselves, and made up a list of products to supplement it. However, after a couple of years, they only really delivered on re-releases of the Camarilla and Anarchs books and the Fall of London chronicle. The starter set went straight to PDF-only, and it looks like the Player’s Handbook is going to end up as the PDF-only Vampire Companion now.

I think the writing was on the wall when they let the Werewolf: The Apocalypse license pass (on to Hunters Entertainment). As a cash cow, the WoD works by having multiple games in one shared setting - where fans can collect a load of supplementary gamebooks, and the base remains interested with strategic, periodic releases. On it’s own, V5 without many supplements to support it, will only have a limited lifespan like any other game.

While Modiphius possibly lost interest because of this, and they do have lots of other games they manage, Paradox Entertainment still have lots invested in the WoD brand. One suspects, the value of the brand lies mainly in the video games, however they do need to maintain development with their tabletop games for the IP to remain recognisable to its roots. So, by licensing out the IP to smaller publishers, who can enjoy increased exposure themselves, they can keep their IP development alive and focus on the video game profits themselves.
 
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Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
Modiphius took over the line in December 2018; there's no mention of whether that is continuing.

It is implied that they aren’t, considering that the content of the Vampire Companion book was mooted to be in Modiphius’ Vampire's Player’s Handbook which never materialized. It doesn’t appear that Modiphius is writing new material for Vampire.

Maybe Modiphius will continue to distribute?

Justin Achilli’s experience of directing Vampire development will be valuable, although it does seem a bit disjointed to have multiple companies running different sub-lines for the WoD. Seems odd that the supplements seem to add up the Clans to 14 rather than 13 (with Banu Haqim, The Ministry, Lasombra, Hecata already added in supplements, along with Ravnos, Tzimisce and Salubri Clans in Companion along with the seven in the core).
I see the Hecata as a new clan all its own, based on the lore of what I know of it so far, which isn't a whole lot I confess. They sound cool as hell and lots of fun to try out.
 


BRayne

Explorer
My feeling was that when White Wolf, as it was, was dissolved in 2018, their publishing partner, Modiphius, just felt that V5 was too much of a sales success to let it be dropped as a product. There is strong evidence that V5 was their strongest selling product for at least three quarters (based on retail figures from ICv2).

So, they decided to take on the license themselves, and made up a list of products to supplement it. However, after a couple of years, they only really delivered on re-releases of the Camarilla and Anarchs books and the Fall of London chronicle. The starter set went straight to PDF-only, and it looks like the Player’s Handbook is going to end up as the PDF-only Vampire Companion now.

I think the writing was on the wall when they let the Werewolf: The Apocalypse license pass (on to Hunters Entertainment). As a cash cow, the WoD works by having multiple games in one shared setting - where fans can collect a load of supplementary gamebooks, and the base remains interested with strategic, periodic releases. On it’s own, V5 without many supplements to support it, will only have a limited lifespan like any other game.

While Modiphius possibly lost interest because of this, and they do have lots of other games they manage, Paradox Entertainment still have lots invested in the WoD brand. One suspects, the value of the brand lies mainly in the video games, however they do need to maintain development with their tabletop games for the IP to remain recognisable to its roots. So, by licensing out the IP to smaller publishers, who can enjoy increased exposure themselves, they can keep their IP development alive and focus on the video game profits themselves.

Cam and Anarch books were in house at White Wolf before they got shut down and arguably were the reason for it what with the whole Chechnya thing. Modiphius only ever did the erratas and Fall of London, both of which were pretty criticized, large amounts of the corebook errata having been taken without credit from community playtesters and Fall of London being a disaster. Plus the apparent mishandling of the Ravnos and Tzimisce in the Player's Guide
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
Cam and Anarch books were in house at White Wolf before they got shut down and arguably were the reason for it what with the whole Chechnya thing. Modiphius only ever did the erratas and Fall of London, both of which were pretty criticized, large amounts of the corebook errata having been taken without credit from community playtesters and Fall of London being a disaster. Plus the apparent mishandling of the Ravnos and Tzimisce in the Player's Guide
Nobody is arguing that the Camarilla and Anarch books were not written by White Wolf before they were dissolved. Modiphius did essentially just republish them after editing them. Errata is errata - it isn’t something that gets credited, unless it is done by a professional editor. Lots of games have forum threads where fans can cite issues. Fall of London wasn’t a disaster - not sure what you are citing here. Whatever mishandling of Ravnos/Tzimisce could have been remains entirely speculative because the Player’s Guide was never released.
 

zhivik

Explorer
A few more notes on events and timeline. The CCP-White Wolf merger (effectively a buyout by CCP) took place in late 2006. At that time, White Wolf had completed their classic World of Darkness lines, with the final books released in 2003, and had launched New World of Darkness in 2004. While CCP claimed the deal wouldn’t affect White Wolf’s tabletop products, what happened is that they were increasingly pulling White Wolf staff into development of a World of Darkness MMO, thus bleeding tabletop products dry. It reflected into fewer tabletop releases. In the meantime, there were growing rumours that White Wolf writers were used to write for Eve Online and adjacent products, rather than the new MMO.

After a few years, CCP had increasing trouble, as it tried to launch a first-person shooter in the Eve Online universe that didn’t work out, it had controversy with micro transactions and developers favouring certain players, which led to big financial loss. There was no news about the World of Darkness MMO, either, so many suspected something bad was going on. In the end, CCP announced massive layoffs in late 2011, a lot of them from White Wolf.

It is when Richard Thomas, creative director for White Wolf, founded Onyx Path Publishing. You should have in mind that it was a weird time, as tabletop books were still printed mostly in North America at the time (mainly in Canada), as Chinese printers were not that good yet. All this made print publishing a very expensive business, which forced Onyx Path embrace digital publishing. Also, in February 2012, Double Fine Productions, a video game studio headed by Tim Schafer, did its now historic Kickstarter campaign, which showed everyone crowdfunding was a viable way to secure funding for a game - any kind of game, as it turned out.

So that’s how it started. It was rough at first, though Onyx Path did the right thing and decided to start with 20th anniversary editions of classic World of Darkness lines. By the way, if you are looking to play these classic games, don’t look further. The 20th anniversary editions are a consolidated and cleaned-up version of the books released for Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling and Wraith, with rules revision and clarification, where necessary - I very strongly recommend these versions.

Anyway, Onyx Path became the only source of new World of Darkness products, whether classic or New World of Darkness. Things at CCP kept going poorly for White Wolf, or what was left of it, until the World of Darkness MMO was axed in 2014 and White Wolf became effectively defunct.

Then, Paradox stepped in, taking over White Wolf in 2015, which was only the IP at the time, as all staff was let go. It was Paradox that decided to rename “new World of Darkness” to “Chronicles of Darkness”, leaving it entirely to Onyx Path to develop those lines, of which they have done an admirable job, in my opinion. I still wish they weren’t making the CoD game world so crowded, though.

Meanwhile, Paradox started development of their own, fifth edition of Vampire: the Masquerade - it’s fifth because you have first, second, revised and 20th anniversary editions before. Back then, they said they would make all the major game lines compatible for cross-play, as the Chronicle of Darkness books allow, though nothing other than Masquerade books have been released since.

The big controversies came mostly from adjacent products, like adventures, rather than the core book, which is mostly lucklustre, though it does have some good ideas (I like hunger dice a lot, for instance). The biggest issue with the core book is that there is simply not a lot there regarding lore and available clans, and many argued, deservedly, in my opinion, that they could have cut on art in favour of more actual content.

Paradox decided to end in-house development after the controversies and contracted other developers like Modiphius in late 2018 or Hunters Entertainment in 2019 to produce Vampire and Werewolf books, respectively, but nothing seems to have come out of that, either. I am kind of sceptical that a new Werewolf book will arrive soon, after Ivan van Norman from Hunters Entertainment went to run Critical Role’s Darrington Press. For Paradox, getting someone like Justin Achilli is a good thing, but who knows what will happen. Hopefully, the upcoming video games in that universe will do well, which will likely boost tabletop products. I myself went into World of Darkness after playing the original Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines game back in 2003 or 2004, so it makes a difference.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
So that’s how it started. It was rough at first, though Onyx Path did the right thing and decided to start with 20th anniversary editions of classic World of Darkness lines. By the way, if you are looking to play these classic games, don’t look further. The 20th anniversary editions are a consolidated and cleaned-up version of the books released for Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Changeling and Wraith, with rules revision and clarification, where necessary - I very strongly recommend these versions.
It is probably worth noting that Onyx Path were already in the process, and had already started promoting the development of a 5th Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade even before Paradox stepped in. Although they were pleased with the 20th Anniversary editions there were problems. Namely, the books were all very large (between 500 and 700 pages each) and, as such, difficult to market to new players of the game who could be overwhelmed by the lore.

Personally, I also felt that the rules and systems presented in these games were only really tweaked from the original games rather than streamlined or developed in any meaningful way. Some of the systems, for me at least, carried a legacy of clunky mechanics that were never properly addressed. When Vampire 5th came about, it felt like the first time for a long time that any developer had really looked at creating a set of rules that were genuinely tied to the themes of the setting.
 

We also have to remember the metaplot was very important but in the age of internet fandom didn't need spending lot of money to know the lore. WotC is mainly lore, blackground, fluff. Players loved the crunch, the new disciplines and some magic item, but the roleplayers who want more crunch would rather to buy D&D.

And the lore had got an indirect rival, the genre of supernatural romance, and not only Twilight saga but other titles with their own mythologies.

Other weak point or Aquiles talon was to add too many supernatural creatures. Not only about the troubles of an "ecosystem with too many predators" but different factions fight each other and the ordinary humans never noticed nothing at all. The idea of "monsters hidden among us" was harder to keep.

And WoD as urban fantasy is too linked with the real world, and this may cause serious controversies. I guess we need to say no example.

I guess not even they are sure about future plans. Maybe talking with Netflix about a kid-friendly version of Changeling: the Dreaming, for example.
 

The original anniversary edition V20 was the last published book by CCP/White Wolf, before OPP licensed the WoD brand from CCP. The effort was headed by Justin Achilli. One of the reasons why I am confident in V5 again. Justin Achilli to me is basically THE authority on Vampire: The Masquerade.

It is probably worth noting that Onyx Path were already in the process, and had already started promoting the development of a 5th Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade even before Paradox stepped in. Although they were pleased with the 20th Anniversary editions there were problems. Namely, the books were all very large (between 500 and 700 pages each) and, as such, difficult to market to new players of the game who could be overwhelmed by the lore.

Personally, I also felt that the rules and systems presented in these games were only really tweaked from the original games rather than streamlined or developed in any meaningful way. Some of the systems, for me at least, carried a legacy of clunky mechanics that were never properly addressed. When Vampire 5th came about, it felt like the first time for a long time that any developer had really looked at creating a set of rules that were genuinely tied to the themes of the setting.

I remember something along the line of Onyx Path not being involved in/aware of the talks by CCP to sell the license. At the time of the OPP announcement at Gen Con about VIV (as a 4th edition of the game), the presentation seemed rather rushed. But became moot only weeks later with the sale of the IP to Paradox Interactive. We will never know what a VIV by Onyx Path would have looked like. But I suspect, it would mostly have involved cleaning up the rules in accordance with some of the work for DAV20, as well as addressing some of the more problematic issues still embedded in V20.

While I like the fluff that Onyx Path put out for the V20 line, I think they are not really the company to deliver a good and solid rules/system design. They are able to build on existing mechanics. But their own inventions like the Storypath system and the updated CofD system leave me pretty cold. The designs aren't really tight, and require far too much focus on rules to suit a "Story.."-system. V5 on the other hand is quite solid and easy to grasp. The system does a good job to vanish into the background, yet is solid enough to handle crunchy aspects like combat.

One single complaint remains the rule organization. The rules would have needed a lot tighter editing and clearer presentation. But I get that VtM is always about style.
 

MGibster

Legend
When Vampire 5th came about, it felt like the first time for a long time that any developer had really looked at creating a set of rules that were genuinely tied to the themes of the setting.
I know there were some complaints that V5's rules were too specific whereas they should have been a bit more generic. But for me, I much prefer a tight set of rules designed for a specific purpose. I really, really like the concept of Hunger far more than I ever liked Blood Pool.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I see the Hecata as a new clan all its own, based on the lore of what I know of it so far, which isn't a whole lot I confess. They sound cool as hell and lots of fun to try out.
Yep, I’ve ordered Cult of The Blood Gods, which should be with us early next year. I’m just confused by the number of official ‘Clans’ now, which was always mooted to be 13. There has always been plenty of ‘Bloodlines’ - including Salubri - but they weren’t all considered Clans.
 

Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
I can agree with the above comment about how the systems that OPP have developed in house, especially the Storypath Engine, are pretty bad and much more obtuse then they need to be. It's like they wanted a more narrative system but then applied a lot of additional game mechanisms to gameify the narrative. It doesn't work for either Scion or Trinity Continuum, but it does for Dystopia Rising: Evolution surprisingly. Haven't looked at their They Came From... series of games yet that use it.
 

Yep, I’ve ordered Cult of The Blood Gods, which should be with us early next year. I’m just confused by the number of official ‘Clans’ now, which was always mooted to be 13. There has always been plenty of ‘Bloodlines’ - including Salubri - but they weren’t all considered Clans.

I can see a case for the Salubri to be a clan. Even with the new bloodline system introduced in Cults of the Blood Gods, the Salubri are hard to pin down as a bloodline using that system. So turning them into a clan won't hurt, and seems plausible. In the lore of VtM they have been a full clan once.

Other bloodlines like the Daughters of Cacophony, Kiasyd, Baali, True Brujah can comfortably fit into the new bloodline system (Clan + Loresheet). But the Salubri are kind of a separate case.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I can agree with the above comment about how the systems that OPP have developed in house, especially the Storypath Engine, are pretty bad and much more obtuse then they need to be. It's like they wanted a more narrative system but then applied a lot of additional game mechanisms to gameify the narrative. It doesn't work for either Scion or Trinity Continuum, but it does for Dystopia Rising: Evolution surprisingly. Haven't looked at their They Came From... series of games yet that use it.
I also have found the StoryPath system a bit convoluted - they’ve added in some details that comes from games like Fate or whathaveyou - although I have hopes to be able to use it sometime. This is largely because the writing and ideas in Scion, especially, are really good - its almost like a mirror image of the WoD games as a more upbeat modern fantasy setting - so the system is a bit of a barrier in a way.

The thing about the StoryPath system is that it moves away from the looser, more freeform aspects of the original Storyteller system. What I like about V5 is that it manages to tighten up these rules while simultaneously keeping and, in fact, enhancing the freeform aspects (like diceless play).
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
I can see a case for the Salubri to be a clan. Even with the new bloodline system introduced in Cults of the Blood Gods, the Salubri are hard to pin down as a bloodline using that system. So turning them into a clan won't hurt, and seems plausible. In the lore of VtM they have been a full clan once.

Other bloodlines like the Daughters of Cacophony, Kiasyd, Baali, True Brujah can comfortably fit into the new bloodline system (Clan + Loresheet). But the Salubri are kind of a separate case.
So should we now refer to 14 Clans, or dis-include the Hecata?
 

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