The annual White Wolf Grand Masquerade convention in New Orleans just wrapped up over the weekend. As with other conventions for fans of a particular RPG company, there are panels, announcements, exclusives, and gaming. Unlike most other company cons though, there is much partying and pageantry to be had, especially given the New Orleans backdrop.
OchBad, our former server admin, attended last year and agreed to be our correspondant for the show this year, taking notes on many of the panels. Below is my edited compilation of his coverage of the panels.
World of Darkness 2.0 Seminar
With White Wolf having gone through a number of changes as a company in the past few years, the WoD 2.0 panel was a chance to talk about what products are coming down the line and how they’re going to be published. With Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition (V20) coming out at the Grand Masquerade, there was certainly a lot to cover. Eddy Webb, Senior Developer, moderated the seminar.
- The release schedule initially announced at Gen Con was discussed. Promotion materials are also available online for the schedule.
- V20 will be available in PDF in October, with a Print-On-Demand version to follow. Includes updates to the rules, disciplines from 1 to 10, advancement rules from neonate all the way through Methuselah. POD version will be split into two volumes due to POD limitations, making it distinct from the limited edition hardcover.
- There are more books on the schedule then previous years, but not as much as in WW”s hayday.
- Dust to Dust is a supplement for v20 being demoed at the Grand Masquerade, which will be released in PDF later. Set in Gary, IN and takes place after the War for Chicago.
- Strange, Dead Love is a “world shard” supplement for Vampire: The Requiem that focuses on vampire romance with a new setting and rules. Not a “how to play Twilight” manual but options for stories focusing on love while remaining true to Requiem. There will probably be more world shard products in the future as well.
- Mage Archmastery book releases in December for Mage: The Awakening and focuses on Mages who transcend the highest levels of power, and provides rules for arcana levels 6+
- House Divided is a Storyteller Adventure System set of 4 adventures for all nWoD lines that is each a self-contained story, but has ties if you play all four of them, written by Chuck Wendig.
- Masters of Jade details The Guild in Exalted updated for 2nd edition coming in February 2012.
- Also that month, the Werewolf Translation Guide (similar to the Vampire product) for converting Werewolf: The Apocalypse to Werewolf: the Forsaken and vice versa.
- Victorian Lost is a supplement that details playing Changeling: The Lost in the Victorian era.
- Shards of the Exalted Dream is a “Book of Mirrors” (alternate setting book) for Exalted, including sci-fi and modern Exalted.
- Following that will be a Werewolf product for the Storyteller Adventure System.
- August 2012 will see a new game for nWoD, which will be “Mummy: the ???” (either the ??? is still a secret or they haven’t decided what it will be yet.) It will have open development, like V20 did. There will be multiple books available, as well as virtual boxed sets for PDFs, and supplements coming out for it over the year after.
- November 2012 will have the release of the Mage Translation Guide for going between Mage: The Ascension (my favorite!) and Mage: The Awakening, and will complete the “big 3” translation guides.
Some specific points about publishing were then discussed:
- Many Print on Demand products will become simply “In Print” products. Once a product has been released in PoD, it is never really “out of print” and the more popular products will get traditional print runs.
- They’re doing their best to release the entire back catalog of more than 1000 books in electronic/PoD formats, however, not all of these products have electronic versions so have to be scanned with an eye on maintaining quality. In some cases, editors will make some corrections to older products if the errors bother them.
- They don’t believe that releasing products is competing with themselves because PDFs have unlimited shelf space.
- Eventually, they want all back catalog products available online, including Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand.
- Bringing new players into stores isn’t as much of a priority because of the way stores are going. However, there are options for stores to acquire PoD products.
- Getting White Wolf books to look their best on the iPad is a big goal, but hard.
Next up was a discussion of the products that make up “The Onyx Path”, which are new products for the Old World of Darkness that will be published alongside nWoD products and Exalted, making three different game lines. There was also the statement of “What is the Onyx Path? The full answer will be discovered” which might lead to a bigger metaplot in the oWoD. Products discussed include:
- v20 Companion written by Justin Achilli in winter 2011-early 2012. Will continue with the open development process like v20 had.
- Children of the Revolution is the first new Vampire: The Masquerade book in 7 years, which will cover what happens when kindred are embraced during revolutions.
- Mage: The Ascension will get its final two Technocracy convention books: New World Order and Progenitors.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition (W20, I suppose) will be released in Fall of 2012.
- Hunters Hunted 2 will come out late 2012/early 2013.
Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition was discussed, with the strong suggestion that fans buy their other books so they can keep making money to make it happen. A few more questions were answered as well:
- With piracy of their PDFs, they tried to fight it, but they couldn’t beat it, so decided it was wrong to treat your customers as criminals. At the same time, they said it screwed everybody (the company and fans both) to simply give everything away.
- There’s no more pressure to churn out books and make products they’re not invested in.
- At the same time, PDF/PoD makes niche products a lot more viable.
The Making of V20
A seminar discussed the development of the new edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. A few of the points:
- They felt vampiric powers should feel powerful and amazing. However, just spending a bloodpoint doesn’t make it balanced. They wanted to make the powers feel both powerful and balanced against each other.
- It was important to make the game that everyone feels like they remember. It was important to capture the feeling of the game and make it work the way people remembered playing it.
World of Darkness MMO Q&A
One of the bigger topics of the convention was the upcoming WoD MMO being released by White Wolf’s parent company. A seminar fielded questions about the upcoming game as much as they could reveal.
- Players can embrace other players, but they have to give consent.
- Vampires, and in fact everyone, can die permanently in the game.
- The game will appeal to casual players and hardcore players alike depending on how far a player wants to get into it.
- A web interface is important, and will have some element of microtransactions.
- There may be some kind of day/night cycle, but it was joked that any time the server was down was the day and the rest of the time was night.
- Powers like dementation can affect a player’s perception of the world.
- There are mechanics to deal with griefers. Attacking other players lowers humanity and makes it easier for others to attack you.
- They have thought a lot about keeping the roleplaying in MMORPG. When your goals align with your character’s goals, roleplaying is emergent. Making the goal “LARP-like” is an explicit goal.
- Very dark, but about doing it tastefully. For example, no nudity.
- Designed to be a very sandbox game. All the positions of power will be player-run. (Primogen, Prince, etc.)
- PvP is based around the community punishing you for getting out of line.
- Characters will all look unique (as was demonstrated with a fashion show later in the convention) but won’t require a powerful computer to render.
- People who haven’t tried MMOs before will give it a try.
- The metaplot is there but tangential, more about the relationships of players.
- They emphasized that characters can die permanently.
- Initially it will focus entirely on Vampires, otherwise, it dilutes everything too much.
- The character sheet actually looks like the RPG’s character sheet.
- There will be less need for names over the heads of characters because each character looks different.
- Rather than try to keep up with players with new content, will let the players drive new developments. “Politics with an NPC isn’t politics at all.”
- They’re going to try to avoid “Go to the woods and kill two gangbangers” ala WoW-quests.
- There will be different city “shards” that can be traveled between.
- There will be multiple versions of the same city, but the players will make it feel different.
That was it for seminars. They showed off some concept art of the MMO in progress, and also brought out a number of dancers in costumes to show off the costume designs they are working on for the MMO as well. While there weren’t any big reveals, there was plenty of partying, which should not be a surprise to White Wolf fans. Thanks again to OchBad for providing all these notes for us.