In previous updates, we’ve mentioned Kinship and the fact that the Children feel that the other creatures in the World of Darkness are their little brothers and sisters. That’s brought out some reaction, some of it receptive, some not, and I want to take a little time to talk about my intent in designing the game that way.

Crossover? Are you nuts?

Full disclosure: I love crossing the game lines. Always have. When I ran the classic World of Darkness and I started up a new chronicle, I’d also at least throw some consideration to what the “splats” from the other game lines were doing. If I was running Werewolf, the characters might never see a vampire, but I’d know who the Prince was (if any). If I was running Mage, I’d give a thought to the local Necropolis. When we started working on the new World of Darkness, I’ll state without any shame at all that I really pushed for a modular system whose core mechanics could port between game lines. After all, if a power is resisted by Resolve + Composure, well, everybody has that. Likewise, one of the original design principles of the new World of Darkness was that nothing was “canon.” We could establish a Bishop of Albuquerque in Rage Across the Southwest and then state that Albuquerque has been vampire-free for centuries in World of Darkness: Arizona, but because we weren’t building a huge interconnected world where things had to stay consistent, that was fine. Troupes could pick the version that worked for them.

Now, these principles haven’t been strictly adhered to, but so what. The core idea is still in place – the systems mesh, for the most part, but writers and developers have a bit more freedom to screw with the core assumptions. That allows us to have things like the Ocean of Fragments in Book of the Dead. That allows Mummy to present a view of ghosts that doesn’t quite mesh with much of the rest of the World of Darkness. That allows Arcadia to be different things in different games – or, if I’m the Storyteller, different things in the same game.

It all goes back to something that’s always been true about the World of Darkness and that I’m highlighting in Beast: There are no neat little boxes. The World of Darkness is a big, messy, complicated, weird place, and the Children embrace that. But, like every other character type, they do it from their own paradigm.

Children of the Dark Mother

Specifically, the Children feel that all (well, most) monsters are descended from the same parent they are – that vampires, werewolves, changelings and the rest are all descendants of the Dark Mother. Maybe “cousins” is more appropriate than “siblings,” but who wants to quibble genealogy? The way the Beasts see it, another monster is family, and that entitles them to at least roll up and say hi.

How do other creatures feel about that? It very much depends on the creature. Take werewolves, for example. They know the value of family – they’re divided into family units (pack, tribe, lodge). So if an Eshmaki comes up out of the shadows and approaches a pack of werewolves, do they have some common ground? Or are they immediately going to be suspicious of this shadowy thing, perhaps murderously so?

The mistake that we sometimes make as players and fans (and sometimes even writers and developers) of these games is thinking that any one particular thing “would” happen. The truth is, any number of things can happen, and it’s all down to what this pack is about, which, in turn, is subservient to what this game is about. You – your troupe – is in control of the assumptions that happen at your table. If you want to include a Beast in your Werewolf game, you can. It’s just a good idea to bring all the players on board with that idea, and make sure no one is playing an Uratha who would immediately try to throat the Beast character.

But Are the Beasts Right?

Who cares?

That’s more flip than I mean to be, but seriously, why does it matter? Those kinds of high-concept, heavy spiritual questions don’t get answered. No one in the World of Darkness knows. Lots of them believe, but then people believe things in the real world (sometimes hard enough to fight and kill over them) with less empirical evidence than anyone in the World of Darkness has.

So, are vampires distant cousins of the Begotten? Do the Principle and the God-Machine share some kind of weird common ancestry? Is Changeling-Arcadia the same place as Mage-Arcadia? Some of these questions seem to have “canon” answers, but those answers are only relevant insofar as they inform your World of Darkness (in mine, the answers are “maybe,” “yes,” and “yes”, respectively, but there’s a lot of nuance).

In designing Beast, I wanted to make a game that’s explicitly crossover-friendly. Yes, crossover isn’t for everyone, but the kind of sci-fi feel to Demon wasn’t for everyone, either. Ditto the kind of odd structure to Mummy, the humanity-focus of Promethean, the survivor focus of Changeling… all of the World of Darkness games have their particular focuses, and not all of them (not one of them, really) appeal universally. I’ve been doing this for a long time, though, and I can say with absolute certainty that I am not the only Storyteller out there who likes a little cross-pollination.

So, with that in mind, and in celebration of Werewolf: The Forsaken 2nd Edition now being available in hardcover POD, here’s an excerpt from Beast, in which we talk about crossing it with Werewolf. Enjoy.

Werewolf: The Forsaken

Creatures born of instinct, children of two worlds driven by an instinctual need to hunt, werewolves understand the Bestial mindset all too well. At the same time, they’re largely ill-equipped to understand Beasts themselves: perhaps driven by the concept of Harmony, the Uratha tend to see the world in terms of the dichotomy between “flesh” and “spirit.” While Beasts have a spiritual component to their existence, it’s not the same spirituality as the Shadow. A werewolf pack first encountering a Beast might well mistake her for one of the Claimed — a human overwhelmed and transformed by a spirit from the Shadow — and react accordingly. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially if the Beast is suffering from Hero-imposed weaknesses, which are easy to mistake for spirit bans or banes at first.

Family in the form of the pack is a strong theme running through Werewolf: The Forsaken, and one it shares with Beast. In an Uratha pack, a Beast finds the closest expression of Kinship outside her own kind. While a brood lacks the purity of purpose of the family she knows, a lone Uratha might find solace there. Individual characters in a crossover chronicle can build powerful stories about surrogate families and finding a place of acceptance.

Though they aren’t connected to the Shadow in the same way werewolves are, Beasts cannot help but warp the world on the other side of the Gauntlet by their mere presence. In sating their Hungers, Beasts spawn innumerable spirits: things of greed and destruction, dominance and submission, and fear. Always fear. Just by existing, Beasts create ripples in the Shadow; as their Souls run wild through the Primordial Dream, the nightmares they leave in their wake seem to follow no vector the Uratha understand. A pack’s first encounter with a Beast is likely to be fraught with misunderstanding and violence; just as a Beast’s Lair resembles some strange incursion from the Shadow, a pack’s assault is easy to mistake for the arrival of a band of Heroes — at least until the fur and the claws come out.





32 responses to “[Beast]Crossover”

  1. BigDamnHero Avatar

    Ooooh, I also love me some crossover. And werewolves! If the players in my troupe weren’t all completely new to WoD in general already, I’d consider throwing a Beast in as a cameo, but I think I need to edge them into the “default” setting first.

  2. Michael Stein Avatar
    Michael Stein

    Its been said before here and elsewhere, but now that the new world of darkness has going on ten game lines there are a lot of dials to work the setting and lenses to view it through.

    What has been so good with these new editions is that each gameline has been given the freedom to reiterate the others within its theme. There’s plenty of room angles and spooks among spirit courts or (by the way things are shaping up) Changeling seemings, Even Vampire now has a better rational for particularly nasty iterations.

    When I ask about beasts under mage sign it’s only partially because as a Mage fan I am a Supernal chauvinist who tries to fit everything into the sexiest cosmology devised by human minds, but more to sound out the tenor of Beast, so to speak. It may be only one theory but its still a useful theory.

    So with all these questions about design that have been coming up recently – What about a little on the art direction of the cover (color, shapes, font) since this is probably one of the first things that give that tenor of a game for me.

  3. Arcane Avatar

    I’ve been doing the entire “try edging them into crossover” for ages. I’m beginning to think that after my next game I’m just going to start tossing the players into the deep end.

  4. Peter Avatar

    Can’t wait, when will the kickstarter be coming out?

    1. Nicolas milioni Avatar
      Nicolas milioni


    2. Matthew McFarland Avatar

      The plan is next Tuesday, 6/2.

  5. Full Time GM Avatar
    Full Time GM

    Crossover friendliness is important for me since I like to run cosmopolitian games. Glad to know that Beasts will have some easy possibly motivations for interacting with others.

  6. Gullinbursti Avatar

    You know whats weird, I always thought of a crossover game as a game where the party had more than one splat in it and just naturally had Vampires, Mages, Werewolves, Hunters etc in every game, doing their own things, but with a rough idea of who was who and who was doing what.

  7. Falco1029 Avatar

    This is awesome, and shows me just how similarly Beast’s design philosophy meshes with my own tendencies. I love crossover, even in single-splat games, and tend to be the Vampire character that wants to make a deal with the local werewolves, or the Mage that tries to get assistance from Sin-Eaters in dealing with the Underworld.

    Also, Mage and Changeling Arcadia are more or less the same and nobody will tell me otherwise (unless they’re running the game, I guess…)

    Regardless, I like the Werewolf writeup here. I’ve always been a fan of “Everyone’s suspicious, and a wrong step can mean violence, but you can make it work” as the tendency for how the different splats react to each other.

  8. Y0rrick Avatar

    I like crossover if it falls into one of two ways:

    1) Fuck it! League of super friends it is.
    In which everyone is and can be whatever they like, Deava carthian in love with an Autumn Ogre who’s best friend is a Mastigos Mystrium. Cool, whatever.

    2) It’s a big weird scary world.
    basically this means that the pcs are aware of other supers, and occaionally have interactions, but try to avoid direct confrontation or dealings, because those other guys are freaky and ws have our own shit to deal with.

    Best example of the later came from the Beyond the Sunset LARP (Formerly Camarilla Australia). Vampire Mafioso PC from the vampire game wanted to expand his criminal empire. He asks whats out their and gets told about some bikies who have control of meth distribution.

    So he hits them when they’re having thier meeting and the next month I turn up to our Mage game (shared world) and my vietnam veteran mastigos bikie finds out a dozen of his friends have been iced. Cue seven month long war of drive byes, shipmemt hijackings, assassinations and so on, with each using thier vanilla humans as pawns.

    Mean while the changelings have to deal with increased police activity in response and the forsaken are freaking our because of all the fear and violence spirits.

    Ah… good times.

  9. Molybd Avatar

    When Beast was first announced I was absolutely enthralled by the idea of fitting them into my Changeling Freehold. With the nature of Changelings, Meins, Masks, and Hobs, it’s a nearly seamless fit.

    I’ve been planning a Hunter run, and think my players might find a Tyrant mafia kingpin quite a bit of fun indeed.

  10. wyrdhamster Avatar

    I love idea of crossovers and I’m very glad the Beast will be crosses-friendly. However, this particular Werewolf section is leaving with a bit of deficiency – we see how Beasts and Uratha could compete and react as “next threat in the neighberhood”. We do not see how Wolves can greet the Child in to their pack, how they can share the huntings and what Beasts get of it, beside Kinship powers. In other words – we have reasons why Uratha and Beasts would be affraid about each other on first meet, but we do not ave things that could benefit on their collaboration. Second draft could point to this more, I think. 🙂

    1. Matthew McFarland Avatar

      Constrained by word count, I’m afraid (there’s more in the book, but not a lot more). Players Guide and/or Storyteller’s Guide is going to get into this more.

  11. Sean Avatar

    To me, doing a cross-over is all about finding thematic resonance between the splats in question. Obviously, this is easiest with just two splats, but you could probably do it with any and all splats, assuming the theme is “it’s a big, scary world” or something.

    Vampire and Werewolf? Play up their common themes of the PCs being hunters of humanity. They are apex predators with occasionally overlapping niches. It’s lions and hyenas duking it out in the streets of your home town.

    Vampire and Changeling? Lost Humanity and court intrigue, struggling to hold on to what you once were. It’s Hamlet and Macbeth plotting regicide and familicide while partying with Puck and Titania and Oberon.

    Vampire, Promethean, Geist, and Mummy all deal with themes of unlife, death, and immortality, all from different perspectives.

    On a separate note, anybody sat down and worked out a just-for-fun history that ties all of the gamelines together?I’ve been pondering one that uses Genesis as a basis myself.

    1. Austin Loomis Avatar
      Austin Loomis

      anybody sat down and worked out a just-for-fun history that ties all of the gamelines together?

      I’ve got some mental notes for one of those, to which Beast has added some much-needed connective tissue. My version even incorporates the Woundgate setting from World of Darkness: Mirrors. (The arrival of the God-Machine is what broke the Accord, splintered the Shatter and killed the Corpse.)

      1. Chris Handforth Avatar
        Chris Handforth

        There are a number of fan theories in terms of meta-history in the forums, and I’m compiling all of the historical data I can get my hands on into a timeline there as well.

        1. Sean Avatar

          Memo to self: join the forums!

          My theory was that Genesis could be construed as very garbled memories of early human history: Eden could be some sort of laboratory/nature preserve where the GM experimented on humans; Lilith (using the interpretation as the first wife of Adam) was the leader of a group of humans who rebelled against the God Machine and escaped/were banished from Eden; Lilith then went on to become the Dark Mother figure of Beast. The Serpent is Lucifer, as per Milton, the first Demon, who infiltrated Eden and helped humans to rebel against the God Machine; Cain was the first Vampire; Abel was resurrected by Enoch as the first Promethean; pre-Flood civilization could have been Irem, and Babel could have been the world before the Lie.

    2. Leliel Avatar

      Mage / Anything is always good; Mage is about Occult Mystery and the danger and allure of hubris, the World of Darkness in general is a mysterious place and all the supernaturals tend to have a swollen ego for some reason or another…

      Mage / Changeling is something I plan to do, focusing on the idea that home is somewhere you have to find…and often, that means you must build it. Unchained could probably fit in there too.

      1. SunlessNick Avatar

        Mage’s “map” of the cosmos is also big and vague, which lends itself to meshing with the cosmologies of other lines.

        Beast has the same thing going for it, but on a personal/social level.

  12. Knurlurzhad Avatar

    My Storyteller has never been afraid to use crossovers. It got particularly fun when my Messenger Demon got to go full Glory of God on some Vampires. This just makes me all the more psyched for Beast, and the spooky interminging!

  13. Beekay006 Avatar

    Did I read that the plan (if all goes well) is to launch the Kickstarter next Tuesday?
    Onyx Path, yet again you have found a way for to part me from my money!

  14. SunlessNick Avatar

    Full disclosure: I love crossing the game lines. Always have.

    Back in the OWoD days, every single crossover game I was involved in was better than any of the “pure line” games.

    Specifically, the Children feel that all (well, most) monsters are descended from the same parent they are – that vampires, werewolves, changelings and the rest are all descendants of the Dark Mother.

    In the case of vampires, I could see more than a few Acolytes being fully on board with the idea that the Dark Mother and the Crone are one and the same.

    Not as many werewolves identifying with Mother Moon or Mother Wolf, maybe – but I kinda like the idea of a local society seeing a tripartite Dark Goddess with werewolves getting the Maiden, Beasts getting the Mother, and either vampires or sineaters getting the Crone.

    Either way, it’s neat to be getting a line where this stuff is part of the default theme.

  15. JDspeeder1 Avatar

    Is “brood” the official term for a group of Beasts? If so, I like it!

  16. Ephraim Avatar

    Im not a fan of crossovers. I have tried them several times and I feel they imbalance the game for the players. Most times the games feel too bland, too unfocused for my tastess.

    Changeling and Werewolf are very different creaatures. I dont feel they should be in the same game. Changeling in a pack? Pfft. For me thats just not what I want from a WoD game.

    Also Promethean has never struck me as much a group game anyways. especially with the many social issues and stigma the Prommies suffer from. Im not saying it cannot be done. Im just not feeling it.

    I do start to get intrigued by beast in genereal. But Im still very much on the fence about this game.
    Im a bit afraid this is going in a direction where there could be too many similarities between the splats.

    In either case: im going to wait and see. Im happy that the writers are adding stuff that it seems most of the forumites and fans look forward to, even if I sound like im more of aa skeptic in this one case.

    1. Leliel Avatar

      “Changelings and Werewolves are fundamentally different”

      Yeah, I’m going to put [citation needed] on that.

      A changeling is fundamentally a creature of two worlds that has the ability to dip in and out of a different dimension. They rely on mortal friends and allies to help ground their sanity and human lives, and they’re obsessed with the idea of home.

      Swap out home for territory (assuming they aren’t synonyms) and you’ve already found common ground with Uratha. Yes, changelings may be generally quarry than hunter, but they’re extremely proactive and canny quarry, one that can easily turn the tables if need be or given the slightest opportunity.

      I can already see an Iron Master asking an oneriomancer for help with hunting a particularly loathsome idea of systemic abuse by striking at its source in the dream world.

      1. Ephraim Avatar

        I dont need that. This is my opnion and not yours. I find no reason to put a Changeling and Werewolf in a pack. Im not a fan of Crossover and I said that already.

  17. Joker Avatar

    I am surprised the Werewolf part doesn’t mention that Werewolves sometimes get drawn into the Anima Mundi when they dream, which they experience as a sort of prophetic dream. Which is the part of the Astral where Beast Lairs are located, and could lead to a sleeping Werewolf unwittingly entering it.
    Seems like an interesting bit of info that would be served well to be mentioned in Beast. It introduces an interesting extra dynamic between these two races and an additional way by which they could meet. Otherwise only STs that have also read Astral Realms will know about this.

  18. Greem Avatar

    I really hope the Storyteller’s Guide provides some insight into how to run a campaign where the Beast PC/s is/are mingling with the lines that haven’t gotten a 2e yet, like Geist or Mummy. It’d be nice to know how to deal with the XP conversions (pretty much everything else can be easily ported, but I’m having trouble figuring out XP conversions from 1e to 2e).

    1. Matthew McFarland Avatar

      The core book does, actually. It’s brief, but serviceable.

    2. Austin Loomis Avatar
      Austin Loomis

      My general house rule, based on what I’ve seen in extant second editions, is that, if a trait improvement used to cost (new dots * N) XP, it now costs a flat N Experiences.

      1. Falco1029 Avatar

        A slightly more complicated but somewhat more accurate system, I’ve found, is to divide the cost of the third dot of something by 5, and it costs that much. Round appropriately if need be (For instance, Manifestations are 18xp for the third dot, divide by 5 to get 3.6, round to 4xp). Attributes don’t match that, but they already have a cost you can use in any venue, so no big deal.

        For traits that don’t have dot ratings, just do a flat division by 5. So, a Geist Key costs 2xp by this system.