World of Darkness Books by David Chart

The World of Darkness is currently in a new incarnation, a major revision of its previous version. I did, in fact, write a couple of short stories for the old World of Darkness, but most of my work has been for the new version. I got back into it because someone I had worked with at Atlas was appointed Line Editor for Vampire: the Requiem, and asked me to work on some of the books. There's a lot of that in publishing, which is why I run Open Calls for Ars Magica every so often; I feel it's very important to create ways in for new talent. White Wolf does the same sort of thing, and I imagine they do it for exactly the same reason.

The Invictus

White Wolf, 2005. ISBN 1-58846-259-5

For this book I wrote the History chapter, the Lynx, Sotoha, and Spina Bloodlines, Blood Oaths, and the Courtoisie, Kamen, and Web Disciplines.

This was the first book I wrote for Vampire: the Requiem, so I had to get up to speed on the rules and setting quite quickly. I was still more familiar with the old version, so there were some slips. One particular slip was due to the new line using "Vitae" as a singular noun. It's a Latin plural, dammit, and it took me a couple of books to get used to it.

Writing for this book was somewhat reminiscent of writing about the Rosicrucians for WitchCraft; both groups are rather aristocratic, but not as noble or superior as they would like to think.

There are a couple of points of Japanese influence in what I wrote. The Sotoha are a Japanese-inspired bloodline, pure and simple. The Spina, however, were partially inspired by jokes about using keigo (Japanese polite language) in wildly inappropriate contexts. "I should be profoundly grateful if you would do me the honour of dying," for example. Thus, the Spina are excruciatingly polite while killing people.

Requiem Chronicler's Guide

White Wolf, 2006. ISBN 1-58846-261-7

This book is the Storyteller's Guide for Vampire: the Requiem. It contains advice on lots of different ways to run Chronicles, and I wrote two: the Hunters Hunted, and Transcendence.

This book was enjoyable to write, but the need to keep a balance between providing useful information and being over-specific made it a bit trickier. We were supposed to start from fairly basic things, but also to include ideas that most readers of the book probably wouldn't have for themselves.

In Hunters Hunted, that largely consisted of pointing out what is important about being hunted: you cannot confront the hunter. If you can do that, you have an opponent, possibly even a dangerous one, but you are not hunted. Obviously, vampires normally hunt humans, so quite a bit of this section is concerned with ways to turn the tables. It's also important that the hunter can't just walk up to the hunted, so there's also a discussion of why the hunter might be more subtle.

For Transcendence, there are more suggestions for rule changes. This sort of chronicle only works if the players want their characters to stop being vampires. However, vampires are cool. That's why the game in popular. In the core rules, the benefits quite deliberately outweigh the downsides, at least from the player's perspective. (The character might disagree.) The section also contains a concrete suggestion for how transcendence might be achieved, and the sorts of stories that could make the transformation truly satisfying.

This book got an Outie from Ken Hite as the best supplement of 2006.

Circle of the Crone

White Wolf, 2006. ISBN 1-58846-263-3

This book details the pagan vampires of the new World of Darkness. Once again, I wrote the history. I also did Philosophy in Action, the Amanotsukai, Daughters of the Goddess, and Semioticians, the general discussion of Cruac, and some of the rituals, including all the spirit-related ones. I also created some of the sample characters in the back.

I think this is, overall, a successful book. When I re-read my copy, the Circle managed to be both intriguing and frightening, which is what a faction in a horror game ought to be. There was quite a bit of discussion between the authors while the book was being written, so the various parts hang together well.

OK, enough self-congratulation.

The Amanotsukai are Japanese-inspired; vampires who worship the Sun. (Other vampires think they're bonkers, with some reason.) The Children of the Goddess were inspired by one of the books I read while doing research for this; it was extreme feminist neo-paganism, with little resemblance to reality. Darkened somewhat, they made a good faction.

My goal in writing the cruac section was to make blood magic somewhat frightening even for the characters wielding it. So, the characters learn it by being tortured in specific ways until the knowledge is burned into their souls. Visions that allow a character to learn a new ritual might drive him to ruin his life. And the vampires who deal with spirits are completely wrong about how their rituals work. (That was made into an optional rule in editing, alas, but at least the idea is still there. The rituals do normally do what the vampire expects, just not for the reasons he thinks.)

The "Philosophy in Action" section is about how to include creation and tribulation in a chronicle. The Crucible, an artistically-crafted ordeal that these vampires inflict on others, is my favourite part of this section. It would make a great background for a story, or set of stories, for mortal characters.

The Free Council

White Wolf, 2007. ISBN 978-1-58846-432-3

This was my first book for Mage: The Awakening, and I had more fun writing it than on most projects I can remember. This may be because I got to write the history and philosophy sections, that is, the first chapter. (I also wrote the opening fiction, based on a small JPEG of the cover image, barely larger than the image Amazon provides to the left. This is why the mage who can be seen on the big screen does not appear in the story; I couldn't see him.)

Before I worked on this book, the Free Council were not my favourite of the Mage Orders; I preferred the Mysterium. After working on it, though, I changed my mind, and decided that I really liked the Free Council. That may, of course, have been because I got to define what they thought was important. They are the mages in favour of the new, and of democracy. They tend to be fans of science and technology, but more because it's new rather than because they like science particularly. They also try to push back the boundaries of magic.

History is often difficult to make relevant to role-playing. It's rather easier in this case, because the Free Council only has a hundred years or so of history, and mages can live that long. Thus, there's always the possibility the old feuds are still alive. Still, I kept the history short, in keeping with the Order's emphasis on the future.

For the philosophy section, I put a lot of effort into converting each point into concrete character concepts, actions, and campaign ideas, and showing how each ideal could be corrupted, both to provide temptations for player characters and to provide a framework for Free Council mages as villains. This is one reason I came to like the Order; the campaign and character ideas are appealing. (Gee, I like my own stuff. What a surprise.)

Overall, I really liked working on this book, and I'd very definitely like to do more work for Mage.

Requiem for Rome

White Wolf, 2007. ISBN 978-1-58846-270-1

I was recruited onto this book largely because of my experience in writing historically-based supplements. Never mind that my experience is with a period a thousand years later. Actually, there are quite a lot of transferrable skills, so it really wasn't an unreasonable choice on White Wolf's part. However, I did have to do some rather intensive research to get myself up to speed. Fortunately, one of the other authors has several degrees on the period, and was able to point me at good books and websites to do research on.

I wrote the locations part of the Rome and Necropolis chapter, and the first part of Storytelling and Antagonists, up to, but not including, the section on Outer Lands. I also kibbitized on some other parts of the book, but they aren't my work.

The deadline on this book was rather tight, and I'm pleased with the way it turned out. The fans seemed to have liked it, and the other authors were good to work with. In my sections, I was trying to provide concrete places and story ideas that could be used instantly to make a game feel like it was set in Imperial Rome; I hope it works, but without more feedback from people using it, it's impossible to tell. I know it works in general terms, but did I choose the right locations and give the right details? That's a bit more difficult.