When Shadows Cross: Hybrid Settings in the World of Darkness

Some of my favorite White Wolf products are the ones that buck tradition. Mirrors is an excellent example in the new World of Darkness but the setting-crossing Book of the Dead, with story hooks for every game line as well as some which cross over, is just as revolutionary. In the classic World of Darkness, there are also cross-over books like Gypsie and Outcasts which provided ready excuses to play multiple types of supernatural characters in the same group.

The really evocative cross-over books, however, were ones which focused on just one interaction and the implications of mixing two game lines. Dark Alliance: Vancouver was a setting where vampires and werewolves observed an uneasy alliance, complete with a chronicle outline which explored a crisis that threatened to unravel it all. Necropolis: Atlanta similarly explored a city where vampires and wraiths lived intertwined existences and the fierce traditions of both groups melded into a Byzantine puzzle of court intrigue and lurking danger. Shadows of the U.K. continues this tradition by including significant vampire information in an otherwise werewolf-heavy book, but things could get a little more heavy.

Joint Settings

The following settings focus on a pair of supernatural worlds and explores how they could come into contact and stick that way. It's up to you whether this means that the whole world is different, or just one region or city. The design of these hybrids is that all the original materials should still apply since the foundational elements of each component game line is still existent, it's just been given a face lift and some new twists.

Werewolf: The Forsaken Mage: The Awakening Changeling: The Lost Promethean: The Created Geist: The Sin-Eater Hunter: The Vigil Mummy: The Curse Demon: The Descent Beast: The Primordial
Vampire: The Requiem Red In Tooth and Claw A Light in the Dark Blood and Thorns Civilized Monsters The Tatters The Betrayed cell-content cell-content All Night Society
Werewolf: The Forsaken cell-content cell-content The Gardeners cell-content cell-content cell-content cell-content Hunting Party
Mage: The Awakening cell-content cell-content cell-content cell-content cell-content cell-content Forbidden Wisdom
Changeling: The Lost cell-content cell-content cell-content cell-content cell-content Shared Nightmares
Promethean: The Created Walkers on the Path cell-content cell-content cell-content Strange Bedfellows
Geist: The Sin-Eater cell-content cell-content cell-content For Tomorrow We Die
Hunter: The Vigil cell-content cell-content No More Heroes
Mummy: The Curse cell-content Ancient Nightmares
Demon: The Descent All of Us Against the Stranger

All Night Society

All of Use Against the Stranger

Ancient Nightmares

The Betrayed

Europe is overrun with monsters in human form and both the Hunter compacts and the Seven Houses are hunting them.

  • Hunter: The Vigil. In this setting, it's best to use the more fringe groups of Hunters. Occult groups like Ashwood Abbey and Aegis Kai Doru, antiheroes like the Loyalists of Thule and the Lucifuge, and religious hunters like the Long Night and the Malleus Maleficarum all work well alongside the Betrayed. In some cases, the zero-tolerance policy of hunters must be reassessed (you don't want your Long Night priest killing your teammates) but working with the Seven Houses might be something that splits that community. Some compacts or conspiracies, or maybe even groups within an organization, might refuse to work with vampires of any kind which creates the opportunity for hunter vs. hunter plots to mirror the Betrayed vampires hunting other bloodsuckers. When mixing compacts and conspiracies in this way, Storytellers should definitely make use of the compact Endowments in the Compacts and Conspiracies sourcebook.
  • Vampire: The Requiem. The most straightforward way to run this setting is to simply keep all the vampiric lore and have players create vampires using the normal vampire creation rules and the Betrayed template (VII sourcebook, p. 104-107). The Seven Houses have joined forces with human Hunters in order to better kill their foes, perhaps causing rifts within houses between those who favor this alliance and those who despise it. With a little modification, though, you might associate different houses and compacts/conspiracies together and consider the Hunter organization the traditional mortal expression of the house in the world. The vampires of House Semeonovic, for example, may have their hand in the church through the secret order of the Malleus Maleficarum, while the rich House Alexander is known collectively by the social club of Ashwood Abbey. In this way, Hunters can buy Status and other Merits from the house associated with their compact/conspiracy.

Blood and Thorns

Shadows in the corner of your eyes and unseen presences behind your back. These are the Ancient Nobles, alien creatures who have existed for centuries ruling their fiefdoms in an otherworld of slashing thorns and clutching madness. Their servants, shadowed owl-things that hunt on silent wings, hunt for escaped servants and those who owe a blood depth for the power in their veins. These two groups, clinging to the shadows and living in paranoia, exist amidst a sea of humanity who knows nothing of their struggle or the monsters that hide behind their masks.

Civilized Monsters

There are terrible things in the night, things that hunt the innocent and corrupt the world. Not all monsters are created equal, though, and some resist their natures. There are those among the vampires who fight their inner Beasts and they work with tolerant mortal hunters to rid the world of there more savage brethren.

For Tomorrow We Die

Forbidden Wisdom

The Gardeners

The werewolves, spirits given flesh, and the Prometheans, flesh given spirit, work to achieve the goal of the indigam/qashmalim: to restore the harmony between the material world and the Shadow.

Hunting Party

A Light in the Dark

The Scelesti and Belial's Brood are everywhere, foul monsters pushing the world closer to war and chaos. It is up to the vampire courts and the mage orders to heal it.

No More Heroes

Shared Nightmares

Strange Bedfellows

Red In Tooth and Claw

With the Hosts and the Spirit-Claimed rising in disturbing numbers, vampires and werewolves enter a pact. Vampires will feed on no human but the claimed, sucking the spirits out of them along with vitae to fuel Discipline and Numina alike. The werewolves, meanwhile, bring the Covenants of the Damned into the hunts and together the two groups exist as prey and predator both.

The Tatters

When the gates of death are torn open, the hungry ghosts descend upon the Damned with a vengeance. Desperately they seek the alliance of the Sin-Eaters to carve out havens protected from the hordes of the dead.

Walkers on the Path

The Sin-Eaters are the once-living the Prometheans are the never-alive but both wish to restore the balance between life and death when the Deeper Mysteries bubble up into the world and threaten existence itself.

Mood Settings

Instead of combining gamelines into a hybrid setting, Storytellers can create a fusion campaign by concentrating on the mood. Evoking the right atmosphere is very important to a World of Darkness campaign and encouraging a mixed group of characters who all embody this mood.

Death

The Book of the Dead sourcebook goes a long way to establishing the Underworld in the various gamelines. Campaigns with a mood of "Death" can focus on keeping the realms of the dead distant, recovering ghosts from the black, and pushing lingering spirits on to their final rest. The overarching societal structure of most settings can be abandoned to concentrate on the relationship between mortal realm and Underworld, replacing these politics with the more nebulous society of the Sin-Eaters (see below). It is best to have a single-goal campaign of this sort instead of an episodic one; the group is searching to save or destroy a single ghost or a small group in order to rebalance the world. In the process, they might run across other spooks, but the weight of death is best maintained if finding and banishing a ghost is a difficult endeavor.

  • Changeling: The Lost. Out of the seemings, Darklings are the most fitting, of course. Others might also be driven by a desire to know death, such as some of the Wizened, or have a desire to find a lost love, as one of the Fairest. In this setting, Courts are best left out of the equation and all changelings characters can have status with the spirits of Winter and the grim reapers of Autumn in order to get those Courts' contracts. The Hedge and its trods can still be in the picture but it is primarily used as a means to travel between the mortal world and the Underworld by stepping through the goblin-lands and then traveling through their caves to the lands of the dead. The realms of the Gentry are, as always, a mystery and lie somewhere beyond, above, or out-of-phase-with the Underworld.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters. Little needs to be done to change the Sin-Eaters in this settings, to no one's surprise. The major change for this line is actually in bringing other groups into in. The krewes of the Dead are a good way to bind a group together for the campaign and the rites for doing so should be extended to all types of creatures: a Sin-Eater may need to lead the ritual, but once this is done the binding gives all members some death-related powers.
  • Hunter: The Vigil. As mortals without a supernatural excuse, Hunters might be the least-suited to this setting. However, the need to overcome death is a very human thing so Hunters have the most reason to go along with supernatural companions. In order to stop a ghostly warlord from raising a phantom army to scour Boston, who cares if you have to work with a werewolf or a faerie creature? Out of the compacts and conspiracies, the spiritually-minded Long Night and Malleus Maleficarum have enough gravitas to thrive in this setting as do the mystical Aegis Kai Doru and the occult-obsessed Ashwood Abbey.
  • Mage: The Awakening. The Moros of the Leaden Coin, obviously have a good calling along this path but their counterparts on the Path of Ecstasy, the Thyrsus, are also a good choice since they are excellent exorcists. The Supernal Realm of Stygia might be an area within the Underworld where the Necromancers' Watchtower holds sway instead of some kerberos guardian, giving the group a good base of operations in the depths. The Thyrsus are unlikely to be welcome there, but they might use the same Hedge pathways as Changelings to travel below and share the goblintowns with the Lost.
  • Promethean: The Created.
  • Vampire: The Requiem.
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken.

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