Monday Eric sent me a text with a meme from a DnD group on Facebook (I think it was Facebook) with a cat sitting in front of a character sheet. The DM is saying that the adventurers have encountered a wizard, who has placed a chalice of some bubbling, smoking liquid on the table. And of course the cat says “I knock it over.”
Obviously I laughed about that for a half hour.
And then I got a little fixated on something: the character sheet in the picture. It was not a DnD character sheet. It was a White Wolf character sheet (or World of Darkness, I suppose – look, I can barely keep up).
This led to a day of hyper-fixating on WHAT FREAKING GAME IS THIS FROM.
It’s been YEARS, I mean over a decade, since I played any White Wolf game that wasn’t VtMB.
Things I remembered very vividly, right off the bat:
- The different games had different borders – Vampire had a sort of gothic, wrought-iron looking border; Mage had a sort of geometric fade-out thing with the various symbols associated with the types of magic floating around; Werewolf was a relatively simple border with slashes through it.
- Mr. Gone’s website was THE resource for character sheets
- The character sheets and systems changed after I stopped playing
- Every detail of some of my longest-played characters, playing their stories in my head like a movie,
- Dr. Pepper
- Faygo for a while there
- The Combat Mix
- Some other things that I’m not about to unpack for a bunch of people on the internet
Could not remember the specifics of this sheet, however. So I let it go.
For a couple of hours, during which I was still chugging the waters of Mnemosyne.
Obviously I love video games, and that love springs from my origins with pen, paper, and ten-sided dice. I love stories – hearing them, watching them, reading them, telling them – and it doesn’t get much better than building a story with friends.
What I liked (and still like) about the
White Wolf World of Darkness games was that they always felt so character-driven to me. It was ridiculously easy to play a game with only one storyteller and one player or a very small group. The stakes always felt personal in some way, or if they weren’t, there was usually (with a good storyteller anyway) a very compelling, personal reason that your character was in the midst of whatever was happening.
DnD lacks some of that to me.
DnD also lacks the epic dice rolls. Listen, I like the simplicity of the D20. But there was something about putting points into my attributes and abilities and then rolling some crazy number of D10s that was just very satisfying. It’s like playing Warhammer and getting like 15 attacks and just chucking dice all over the table while laughing maniacally. It just feels good.
I spent years playing White Wolf, collecting lore about my characters, carefully taking notes, and organizing all of the matériel that came with lovingly playing those roles.
And it took me years before I was able to really start playing again. I play DnD now on Monday nights with a small group; we play online, and we have two people who are new to the game, and I find that the, let’s call it practice, that I got all those years ago comes in handy.
I still miss White Wolf sometimes. I still miss some of my old game group. But like anything else in life, I find that change is good, and while the mechanics may have changed, and the faces around the table, the core of it is still there, and that’s what matters.
It was an Exalted character sheet – a White Wolf system I never played, but boy was it fun to fall into the rabbit hole because of something so familiar.
And to solidify this as a week of thinkin’ ’bout old times, I later saw an internet friend post a picture of their OWN Exalted character sheet just before starting a game.
It all comes full circle. Play on, friends.