Some useful terms.
Previously: “Next Time: I’ll briefly chat about our current chronicle, Orpheus: Project Flatline, and share some thoughts on running a game that deals with darker or heavier issues.”
Change of plans! Before we dive into Orpheus: Project Flatline, I figured some explanations might be useful for some of you who came from Dracula Daily to Poe Daily to here, or for folks who might know D&D but are unfamiliar with games like Vampire or Orpheus.
TTRPG: Tabletop Role-Playing Game, a game like D&D where you sit around a table with your friends, or on voice chat etc, and tell stories and pretend to be elves or monsters or whatever. Sometimes pronounced “titterpig” because it’s funny.
WoD: the World of Darkness, a setting for various TTRPGs. The first WoD game was Vampire: the Masquerade which came out in 1991. Followed by Werewolf: the Apocalypse, Mage: the Ascension, Wraith: the Oblivion, Changeling: the Dreaming, and various other games. WoD games are typically abbreviated like VtM, WtA, MtA, etc.
CofD: the Chronicles of Darkness. In 2004, White Wolf, the original publishers of the WoD games, blew up the World of Darkness. They’d been teasing a looming apocalypse for over a decade, and sensing flagging sales and creative stagnation, decided to finally pull the trigger on that. They then made a new continuity of slightly different horror games that was also called the World of Darkness, generally called the New World of Darkness by fans. In 2015 Paradox Interactive bought the rights to the WoD, and brought back the original continuity. To avoid confusion (too late) the nWoD was rebranded the Chronicles of Darkness. To avoid confusion with Call of Duty, it’s generally abbreviated as CofD instead of CoD.
Storyteller: the WoD term for Dungeon Master or Game Master. The players in a game like Vampire each typically have one character, while the Storyteller describes the world and plays everyone else. I am almost always the Storyteller for our group. (Or GM/DM/Keeper/etc if we’re playing some other game that has a different title.)
Chronicle: the WoD/CofD term for what would be called a campaign in D&D. A chronicle is a longer form game featuring generally the same characters every session, like a season of TV (or maybe the entire run of a TV show).
Chapter: one session of a chronicle. “On Wednesday night we got together to play Chapter 07 of Orpheus: Project Flatline!”
Cycle: a collection of chronicles. “LA by Night and NY by Night are a cycle of Vampire: the Masquerade chronicles.”
The Chicago Chronicles: the Cycle of WoD (and CofD) chronicles that I and my friends have been playing since 2016, either in person or mostly on Discord since 2020.
PbtA: Powered by the Apocalypse. In 2010, Vincent Baker published Apocalypse World, a sort of Mad Max inspired TTRPG. He opened up the rules to others to create their own games based on the Apocalypse World system. PbtA games are a whole subgenre of TTRPGs now, and include games like Monster of the Week, Urban Shadows, Monsterhearts, City of Mists, and many, many more. For the Chicago Chronicles, I have adapted the VtM rules to a custom PbtA hack, which I will be finalizing and sharing here in chunks as I actually write it all down into a coherent whole.
InaWoD: “In a World… of Darkness…”, the name for this mailing list/blog, taken from my standard phrase at the start of every one of our WoD chapters, said in dramatic movie trailer announcer guy voice. Pronounced “eyenawahd” because I think it’s funny.
I think that’s enough to get you started. If you’ve never played a TTRPG, in the last five or six years actual play livestreams and podcasts have exploded in popularity, led by shows like Critical Role and Adventure Zone.
This Call of Cthulhu game is I think a perfect introduction to TTRPGs, a one shot adventure that shows how these games can be fun and silly and scary:
If you’d like a intro to the World of Darkness, your best bet is probably episode 1 of New York by Night.
Most TTRPGs are much closer in tone to The Auction than NY by Night, and we almost never dress up as our characters (or perform live on camera for an audience). But both of those are good introductions if this is all strange and new to you.
And I think that’s everything to get you started.
Okay, for real this time, Next Time: an intro to our current chronicle, Orpheus: Project Flatline, and a brief discussion of running a TTRPG chronicle that deals with heavier themes or elements.
Enjoy In a World… of Darkness…? Want to help feed the guy who writes it?