Mood and Theme
From WoD Gotham
Our aim is to take the Gothic Punk setting and internalize it by delving into personal traumas and conflicts that haunt player characters and NPCs alike. It's a game that places a great emphasis on the inner workings of a character such as character motivation, psychological make up, personality, and background. While imagery of overgrown cemeteries, decaying cities, and abandoned places infested with squatters and needles is nice and romantic...those images come a distant second or third to an emphasis on inner struggles and interactions between characters.
This is a monster story. All characters are monsters in one form or another and are haunted by it - it doesn't matter if you're setting out to play a werewolf at odds with his Beast, a vampire burdened with the horror of his existence, a mage struggling with his own hubris, or a mortal accumulating sins as he tries to make it in the big city.
From this central premise we branch out into a variety of themes depending on the story, but these are at the core:
Monsters We Are, Lest Monsters We Become
Life is full of shitty choices and compromises. In having to make them, souls are corrupted little by little each night. The World of Darkness has built in conflicts and contradictions in every venue. Beasts wreak havoc albeit in different ways for vampires and werewolves. They are constantly in conflict with them and faced with hard choices when managing their deepest and darkest drives. Often times, to do the right thing one must do something monstrous. Mages play with the fabric of reality and have the power to raise humanity to a higher existence, but at what cost? What does a mortal have to do to get their share of the pie?
As in real life, World of Darkness has an abundance of various groups with a wide variety of interests and agendas. These groups form shadow Alliances and accords regularly and break them just as quickly. It's a tangled web that is ever present and almost impossible to unravel. The question should never been "Are you paranoid?" rather it should be "Are you paranoid enough?"
With the stakes so high for all venues, it's no wonder that the movers and shakers involved play for keeps. It's not simply the Camarilla that have a license on intrigue and politics. Werewolf and Mage both have their pit vipers that are so unscrupulous they'd make George R.R. Martin look like an amateur.
We're not only talking about corruption and descent of the soul, but society as well. Real life is full of corruption. The game is rigged against all but the top 1% of the population who have done the rigging. Our characters live in a world of abundance that they are faced with every day, but they are faced with scarcity as the mighty hoard wealth, influence, and power.
With Werewolf and Vampire especially, there is an obvious duality at play. Both have Beasts to contend with and struggle with their human and monstrous sides. In the case of metis, they struggle with forever being a monster while inhabiting a world that recoils in horror at their very visage. Mages struggle with the tug of their avatars as they attempt to attain Ascension and mortals are constantly at odds with their morality and desires.
The Outsider and the Insider
The player characters are all contradictions as they are outsiders and insiders at the same time. Mainstream society is not for them. Mortals, humans, the flock, the masses are all terms designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. What's left is a secret world underneath and it's in this underbelly that the characters play their games.
Kinks and fetishes are everywhere in the World of Darkness. However, the basest of perversions are not sexual in nature. After reading the themes above, it should be quite clear that perversions come in all types. For example, the well-meaning vampire can find himself perverted by his Beast as he commits horrible acts while his Beast revels in the life blood of a victim. Werewolves can fall into Thrall and destroy loved ones in a flash of fang and claw, then do unspeakable things to the remains. Minds can be perverted and warped as the horrors of reality take hold and descend a mage into Quiet.
World of Darkness: Gotham asks players to create compelling characters and to delve into them thoughtfully and passionately. Out of this passion great relationships can be formed. Compelling rivalries are the life blood of many stories and to have them, players need to have compelling characters. Inner struggles also require an intensity that are a challenge for even the most experienced of RPers to play out. Man vs Man and Man vs Self are prime conflicts found in the moods of World of Darkness: Gotham.
From the Orwellian conspiracy to the classic who-dun-it to the spooky ghost story and everything in between, the World of Darkness thrives on mystery of all kinds. What lurks in the shadows and what connections lie in the shroud of lies and dance of shills and frontmen is anyone's guess.
- Gothic (1986)
- An American Werewolf in London (1981)
- Wolfman (1941) (2010)
- Interview with the Vampire (1994)
- Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
- Sunset Boulevard (1950)
- Elizabeth (1998)
- Memento (2000)
- The Prestige (2006)
- Identity (2003)
- Ink (2009)
- The Matrix Trilogy
- Strange Days (1995)
- The Fountain (2006)
- Children of Men (2006)
- Metropolis (1927)
- Nosferatu (1922)
- Titus (1999)
- The Hunger (1983)
- Pi (1998)
- The Addiction (1995)
- Dark City (1998)
- The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
- Penny Dreadful
- Ripper Street
- The Following
- American Horror Story
- Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me
- Game of Thrones
- Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
- Tell Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe
- The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe
- Murders in the Rue Morgue, by Edgar Allan Poe
- The Thing on the Doorstep, by H.P. Lovecraft
- Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly
- Dracula, by Bram Stoker
- The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas
- Neuromancer, by William Gibson
- A Scanner Darkly, by Phillip K. Dick
- The Vampire Chronicles, by Anne Rice
- Sacrament, by Clive Barker
- The Damnation Game, Clive Barker
- Law of the Jungle, by Rudyard Kipling
- The Coldfire Trilogy, by Ceilia S. Friedman
- Song of Ice and Fire Novels, by George R.R. Martin
You'll notice some favourites are not on the list. True Blood, Twilight, Wolf Lake, Harry Potter, the Vampire Diaries, etc are lighter fare. That is they are vapid, sophomoric, simplistic, uninspiring, and shallow. We're not looking for crap to inspire us or our community.