[World of Darkness] Working with WoD: Innocents

Posted: February 7, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Advice, Articles, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness

The World of Darkness is a harsh place, and one of the places where this is most apparent would be through the eyes of the children in the setting.  Playing children in the World of Darkness presents a unique sort of experience (and challenge) to most players.

That said, the book goes into a lot of detail on the unique nature of horror stories that feature children as protagonists.  A GM would do well to understand that child protagonists require a slightly different approach to horror than in most other games.

Here’s a short list of tips on running a game of Innocents:

  • Violence is Rarely the Answer – Kids, even ones who take karate classes, aren’t going to fight unless backed into a corner. And even then, they’ll only fight until they see a chance to run away. Kids in innocents have to use their wits more often given that they have a clear physical disadvantage to an adult or a monster.
  • Limited Scope – Kids tend to not have an easy means of getting around.  Public transportation is useful up to a point, but none of the kids is going to have a car.  At most they’ll have bikes that they can use.  What this means is that in most games the horror has to come in places that are nearby or familiar. One caveat with regards to having horror end up in places nearby would be to make sure that the kids have some sort of haven to run to where they can be certain they’re safe.
  • Mix It Up – There’s plenty to be afraid of in an Innocents game, an it would be a disservice to reserve all the scares for the supernatural. Cruel teachers, abusive guardians, bullies and other characters can be equally frightening to kids.
  • Give Them Room to Breathe – Kids can’t be harassed by a barrage of threats 24/7.  Horror works best when there’s room for a denouement of some other means by which the players can relax and just let loose.  Contrast is a great way to highlight horror.

Playing up themes of the unknown, isolation, alienation and helplessness are all good ways to spin off all sorts of stories relating to kids. WoD: Innocents presents a unique opportunity to run games that don’t end with the player characters blasting the bad guy away with a shotgun, and with a careful GM, an Innocents game has a lot of potential to be an awesome campaign.

  1. Jess Hartley says:

    Seeing folks bring back up Innocents is like running into a friend from high school at the post office and realizing how much you miss them. I love this book for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the developer, Matthew McFarland, insisted on only hiring writers who were parents ourselves. So the experience is much more “real” than it might have been without his (also parental) oversight. Thanks for taking another look at this book!

    • Hi Jess!

      WoD: Innocents is easily one of the best books to come out for vanilla WoD. The fact that all the writers involved were parents was a stroke of genius, and did wonders for being able to communicate the issues that matter to children. I’d definitely put it up there as one of the must have books for the WoD line.

  2. Karoline says:

    just curious, love the Innocents and what not…but where would teenagers fit in? can they fit into Innocents as well? sort of?

    • Hi Karoline!

      WoD Innocents primarily focuses on children, but it does have a few rules that are relevant to playing teens. I went through some of these in an earlier post but in a nutshell, the number of skills and specialties are reduced, and I felt that the alternate system for Virtues and Vices still worked with teenaged players.

  3. Jess Hartley says:

    I think that it depends on the age, social status, maturity level and the like of the teens in question. Part of the conceit of Innocents is that certain things that adults take for granted (potential income/resources, freedom of movement/transportation, freedom from observation/supervision, access to various materials (alcohol, weapons, vehicles, credit cards), etc is simply not available to children.

    If the teens in question are, say, late teens (16-19) then chances are they’re more suited for a traditional adult WoD game with a slightly modified teen focus. They can do most of the things that post-teen adults can do, may even pass for post-teen adults in many situations. They are likely to drive (or have someone in their group who does), may have jobs (or at least a regular stipend of income from parents, student loans (if they have graduated) or other sources) and may well no longer live with their parents.

    If they’re younger teens (13-15) without jobs, driver’s licenses, and still dealing with curfews, parental supervision, high school, etc – they’re probably better suited for an Innocents game with a slightly modified focus.

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