i am pretty stoked about running the next oubliette game using the world of darkness system. for a long time jeremiah had told me i should run a WoD fantasy game, but i was drunk on the OGL & only had stars in my eyes for the d20. & i havn't fallen out of sorts with d20, either, but after two years of running my homebrew it will be nice to put that ghost down. jeremiah & i had discovered the 11th level wall, & it still holds sort of true. WoD offers me more what i'm looking for at this point, i think partially because after you tuck enough levels under your belt in the world of darkness all you end up being good at is fighting. eventually DnD boils down to combat, most any way you cut it. you can do other things, sure, but at the end of the day, its all pluses & minuses, reflex saves & caster level checks. not to mention how after a certain point ad-libbing npcs becomes night impossible. basically i'm looking forward to stretching my legs, & to having my story grow outside the box it has been in. it isn't a bad box! certain elements of DnD's set-up have resulted in some cunning creations. prestige classes led to a balkanization of cults, secret societies, & military corps; that sort of thing.
there a number of things to sort out when it comes to turning the world of darkness into a generic fantasy setting. races being one of them, but i can dwell on that later, right? especially if everyone plays humans off the bat, or for the duration. another big one is the cosmological choices of "power source." how generic, how specific. things like azoth, primal urge, & blood potency all have good bricks to build that up. the real question bugging me right now is that of how to handle powers. mage is right out the window. that book is a mess. which leaves me with a few options.
option one: linear. you pick a "power." lets say you want to have magical enchantement powers, like some succubus shit. okay, easy enough: vampire's "majesty" power is a good example of it! so you would take one point (or "dot"); majesty (O): "awe," which lets you be all super charismatic. then you get better, & gain another dot; majesty (OO): "revelation," & now you can charm people into confessing their worst sins to you. you want more power, because you are a weird social deviant who can't imagine social skills without casting your spells on people, so you take another dot; majesty (OOO): "entrancement," which makes the subject of your powers your play-thing for an hour. not enough for you, greedy pig! you take another dot; majesty (OOOO): "summoning," & you can call people to you, no matter what distance seperates you.
the point being: you take one dot (O) & get a little power, two (OO) gets better, three (OOO) is even better, & so on. the upside of this is that it is simple. the downsides are that everyone has the same progession, & your players are going to end up making new powers (not the worst downside). simplicity is a big draw to WoD, though, so don't overlook it. this is the way vampire: the requium works. in the vampire game, part of the customization of the linear powers is by combining two different powers to make a new kind of trick. so you might make a majesty (OO) & protean (the shapeshifting power) (OOO) combo that lets you turn into, i don't know, an unearthly white hart, or some shit. practically, the level of customization is going to be my players proposing whole new powers. potential for abuse is pretty high.
option two: forks. same as before, (O)(OO)(OOO)(OOOO)(OOOO), but this time, the dots arn't all the same. you might, for instance, take majesty (O): "awe", but for your second dot you don't take majesty (OO): "revelation". you take majesty (OO): "mysterious," which makes the subject not talk about what happens when they are with you. then you take majesty (OOO): "entrancement," but for majesty (OOOO) you take some other four dot power.
the upside here is obviously more customization. the downside is that more customization equals more time in the oil & the gears, tinkering. it also means more vigilance on my behalf, making sure that the powers my players propose are in fact balanced. this is the system wraith: the oblivion used, & what i'm currently leaning towards. the customization here is obvious, right? they can propose just little "asides" from published powers. issues i'd have to address are "are things like dominate, majesty, & nightmare all the same power, just different trees?" & the sorts of abuses i'd have to look out for are, you know "i don't think obfuscate should be a seperate tree from nightmare, because (insert rationalization here)."
option three: grab-bag. instead of the players buying powers in order (O)(OO)(OOO)(OOOO)(OOOO), they buy them as they want them. if you want majesty (OOO): "entrancement," because you need loveslaves, you don't have to mess around with majesty (O) or majesty (OO) to get there. you have to save up till you have enough points, but go ahead!
a lot of customization here, right? that is the obvious strong suit. the downside is that maybe it doesn't make a lot of sense? i mean, i guess it is hard to figure out power darwinism (which is better, lots of little powers or a few big ones?) but i suspect that it is open to abuse. & wait, so characters don't have to learn the basics of their magic powers? they can just jump right to the end? yeah. suboptimal. it does have some simplicity to it, though. & while sure, taking all five dot (OOOOO) powers might break a dude, but he's only got a few tricks, to the other players tons of tricks. & while that potential for abuse is there, the wealth of available options is going to cut back on the "here, i made a new power, yay or nay?" or at the very least increase my odds of finding a power to balance it against.
option four: rituals. vampire also has magic rituals (theban sorcery & cruac). both of these use the old thaumaturgy style system of rituals. basically, if you have rituals (OO) you can learn as many level one (O) or two (OO) rituals as your heart desires. rituals are more specific & usually much less powerful than the other powers. you know, you couldn't use a ritual (OO) to make someone tell you their confession, like majesty (OO) but you could maybe make it so if they lied, flies came out of their mouth. this could concievably be tied to the "fork" option: you can take as many level two (OO) powers as you want, or whatever. also, maybe i just want the rituals to be an option? i don't know, i'm just talking. this is kind of a middle ground between two & three? unless it should be kept seperate, to make "magic spells" more possible.
which system sounds like the best starting point to you?
option one: linear
option two: forks
option three: grab-bag
option four: rituals