This is an article that appeared in White Wolf’s MET Journal number 2. It is written by our (then) Head Coordinator Duncan Wyley. A lot has changed in the Org since those early days, but much has remained the same. There is much to be learned and reflected upon, it is our hope that everyone will enjoy the venture in to our history.
Article was used with permission from White Wolf Publishing, check out their page for news and updates on what they have been up to in the World of Darkness.
One World by Night (OWbN) is just that – one world.
One World of volunteers who form a grassroots not-for-profit organization of loosely knit chronicles spanning the entire globe.
One World of opportunities for our members to play their home-chronicle characters at games just a few hours away, in many of our neighboring cities or in far-flung exotic places like New Zealand or Brazil!
One World of emphasis on a story that is meant for the enjoyment of the players, giving them whatever pleasures it might.
Overall, One World by Night is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating links between Mind’s Eye Theatre games around the world. By combining the various stories of its member chronicles, OWbN hopes to enhance its members’ enjoyment by expanding local plots to the global level, truly creating a World of Darkness.
Well, so much for the glib introduction ripped straight from out website. Allow me now to sit back, sip at my glass and tell you a little bit more about us than you might find on the Internet.
First, allow me to introduce myself. My given name is Duncan Wyley (although most of my friends call me Dunx), and I’m the Head Coordinator of OWbN (strangely, often pronounced “Obi-Wan” – just don’t tell Lucas). I have been in this position for about a year by the time you read this. Before that, I spend about two-and-a-half years Storytelling in my local chronicle, during which time I discovered the pack that I now lead. And before that were about 17 long years of gaming.
Over the course of this year or so, I have met, via the Internet, some of the sharpest minds and finest gamers it has been my privilege to know. During my involvement in the development of an organization of this scale and scope, these people have taught me many things. Primarily, they have shown me that there is a large number of enthusiastic people who believe in the development of our hobby on a grand scale. No longer content to restrict themselves to one city, these people wish to encompass the world in their passion.
We’re trying… no, we are fostering and encouraging relationships between MET games internationally. We’re working to encourage and develop the skills of roleplaying and live theater in the people involved in our hobby. And we’re having some fun along the way!
OWbN would like to grow, and we are still accepting and processing membership applications at present. Our website at http://www.owbn.com has more information for the readers who might be interested… c’mon, you know you want to. [Transcription Note: The URL listed is incorrect, however it is a hyperlink to the currently correct address]
Bwa-hah-haaa! Soon ve shall rule za verlt!
No, seriously … We’re working toward becoming an expansive community of camaraderie and roleplaying. In some small way, we are contributing both to ourselves, in terms of fostering plots and friendships, and to the gaming community as a whole, in terms of growing awareness and acceptance by a number of social groups. Many of our players are involved in the business and social communities in our respective towns and countries, and the friends we make in these organizations come to accept that what we do is a harmless pastime. In both ways, our hobby is fostered. This is, in my opinion, a Good Thing.
To ensure our enjoyment, we’ve constructed an organization that is easy to join and participate in, with only a few restrictions to keep things comparatively sane.
One World isn’t a hierarchy that costs our chronicles anything to join or stay with. The main thing we ask is that our chronicles emphasize stories that are meant for the enjoyment of our players – we hope that any players who may travel from around the world will be enraptured by and entrapped within the intricacies of another shadowy corner of our One World.
We’re not a small group of individuals that changes your chronicles to suit it’s whims. OWbN’s founding idea is that all games have a great degree of autonomy – essentially, as we put it, “your game is your game.” This philosophy has yielded us a veritable melting pot of styles and personalities. With no central overriding theme and no dominant personality other than trying to be generally receptive to all styles of games, we appeal to all types of gamers.
When we encounter situations that involve crossover interaction between chronicles, we encourage the Storytellers of those chronicles to communicate and elaborate the plots for the enrichment of both (or all) the games involved.
We are not some industrial bureaucracy that forges and legislates its chronicles into carbon copies of one another; chronicle-diversity is essential. We all build upon one another – good ideas spread, and bad experiences are shared in order to keep other chronicles from facing similar problems. Individuality is the heart of our organization.
One World isn’t limited. The only limitations are the ones we place upon ourselves and the ones required to administer the organization. With the addition of each new chronicle, we add to the experience, wisdom and ccreativity necessary to expand and enhance the ever-unfolding story that is One World by Night.
Hmm… Perhaps a little background is in order.
One World by Night started in Chicago, Illinois, USA in March of 1994 at a local roleplaying convention by the name of Concentric.
Hey, neat! We’re five years old this year. Maybe we should throw a worldwide party or something.
Anyway, a game was held between a local gaming group in Chicago and another group from Indianapolis, IN know as The Beautiful and the Damned. After the convention, the game never ended. The convention’s plots were incorporated into the new Chicago game (started by Mario Bonassin), and the original storyline for One World by Night was born.
The Chicago game grew quickly as the players played within the Excalibur nightclub, the actual model for the Succubus Club of White Wolf’s Chicago by Night. In additiona to the Chicago players like Dave Gill, and other non-Chicagoans joined the game. John Flournoy was running the Lafayette game at Purdue University, IN, and among his players were two students from the East Coast, Bill Hyatt and Rich Devine, two of our first Head Coordinators. When some of these players left for their respective home cities, the idea of an intertwined World of Darkness arose.
One night at a Chicago game in the top floor of a bar called the Morseland, Dave Gill and Bill Hyatt put forward their ideas for a shared game, though it would be unlike either the Camarilla or the Shared Universe system. The focus would be a shared story, not shared rules. Bill had the exact same idea and even had a name for the concept. The first Midwest shared game was created between Lafayette, IN and Chicago, IL.
After about three months, Bill and Rich went to NVA and we thought the game would end. On the contrary, our little experiment proved that a shared game was possible but that it needed work. It needed a charter so that all the Storytellers would know what they were getting into. The charter needed to outline clearly that your game would remain in your game and that no one would stop you if you wanted to go through the entire rulebook and rewrite it (as we all did several times over). But goofy-ray-gun-wielding Mummies were not in any way to have part in the shared story.
Bill, who had named One World by Night, became the Coordinator, creating a web site and acting as a contact for other games. He talked to people about our project and marketed to the organization’s focus – “your game is your game.”
We soon recruited Jake Holub and the San Francisco delegation, both of whom are with us still. We became a national, spanning coast to coast, in a matter of a few months.
Concentric ’95, in March, was the first OWbN Conclave, at which we discovered how different our rules really were and polled the players to find out if they wanted some universal rulings. The answer was an overwhelming affirmative. Not only were they telling us that they enjoyed being a part of the game but also that they were confident and comfortable with us making these universal decisions.
GenCon ’95 was the organization’s first officially sanctioned event (although it was not officially part of the convention) and the first meeting of the chronicle representatives. This was the first occasion upon which we firly decided on some of the articles that now comprise most of the chartger rules. No chronicle would be allowed to act against or outside of these rules, for we believe that we had the plan for creating a successful network of LARP chronicles. From these Articles came written hints and models for starting a successful chronicle, optimum conditions and where to look for renting sites. OWbN had created a kind of manual for running your own game and keeping it afloat.
Since then, OWbN has grown to encompass over 60 chronicles, mostly in the USA and Brazil. Other countries, such as Spain, Brussels and New Zealand, also have member chronicles.
We recently ran another convention LARP at GenCon ’98, the world’s largest gaming convention, held annually in Milwaukee, WI. The attendance was phenomenal, exceeding 240 players.
The latest event was the Mid-Atlantic Conclave, held in Baltimore at the end of October. It involved the cooperation of three different games in the area, a monumental feat of organization that was pulled off flawlessly. Characters and Storytellers from 13 different chronicles from California to Chicago to New Zealand attended.
That’s right – New Zealand. That little agricultural country. That’s where I live. I had a great time.
But I digress.
OWbN is administered primarily through a series of coordinators and council members drawn from the various chronicles. Each chronicle has a voice on the Council through its council member, who is responsible for representing his chronicle’s interests, keeping the Council apprised of any situations of regional or international significance that may arise, and voting on any matters that may come up in council, such as the admission of new chronicles to OWbN.
Council Members are also primary contact points (alongside the Storytellers) for other chronicles wanting information or updates on current plots in their local chronicles. In most cases, council members are also Storytellers (although this is not always the case) and can give immediate answers – otherwise they direct the querent to the appropriate person or ask the question on the person’s behalf.
Voting itself is a simple matter – in most cases, a proposal to the Council is presented and (hopefully) seconded. A period of discussion is allowed and then a vote is called. Each chronicle is allowed one vote, as are the HC and AHC. Generally, a majority of the received votes will indicate the proposal’s success.
The Council also votes on applications for chronicle membership, and the Admissions Coordinator may cast a vote in the case of a tie in these situations.
With the continued expansion of OWbN, we slowly refine our internal management processes. This year should see some very progressive steps in this direction. The improvement of our operations should streamline a number of issues.
A set of coordinators is elected each November to hold positions of specific responsibility in OWbN.
The Head Coordinator (HC – me) oversees the entire operation of OWbN and is assisted in the task by, naturally, an Assistant HC. Alongside these two, and Admissions Coordinator tracks the new applications to OWbN and keeps tally of the membership. These three people form the core of OWbN’s administrative team for out-of-character issues.
The HC is primarily responsible for overseeing the progress of OWbN as an organization, for dealing with matters arising in regard to the OWbN Charter and for maintaining some sort of order amid the chaos. The HC also assesses disciplinary situations that may require OWbN’s attention and dispenses advice to chronicles as requested. If he’s a good boy, he gets a pat on the back occasionally.
He (or she- although we are yet to see a woman be insane enough to stand for the position, I believe, so please forgive the male pronoun) is also responsible for supervising the other coordinators as a group. He selects the coordinators each year (subject to a verifying vote of confidence for each by the Council) and thus hopefully assembles a team that can work together for the betterment of the games in general.
The Assistant Head Coordinator (Joyce Summers) is responsible for maintaining the sanity of the Head Coordinator by dealing with the administrative minutiae of OWbN, such as voting and procedures. This year will see the further expansion of the scope of this position to encompass maintenance of and regular contact with our more distant chronicles and assistance with the redevelopment of a number of our organizational systems.
Matt Giezentaner, our Admissions Coordinator, and I will continue to receive and assess the initial admissions applications to assist new and existing chronicles in their applications to One World by Night. Matt is available for consultation with anyone considering joining OWbN and can answer most questions you may have or direct you to someone who can. His contact information can be found at our website.
Speaking of which, OWbN is strongly tied to the Internet as a primary mode of communication. There’s no way I’d be running it if I had to pay for all those toll calls to the States every time I needed to see what was going on.
So if you’re interested in joining up, please bear in mind that you will need people in your group who have regular access to the Internet – at the very least, your council member must be able to receive Council mail.
OWbN has a number of e-mail lists that allow for quick and eas7y communication between our members, in or out of character. This system provides another level of interaction, a challenging and informative method for players to share in the loves and lives of each online character’s shadowy existence.
Many players access these lists daily, and there are some people we just can’t shake off the Web.
We’ve found that this sort of international interaction has really helped character in their recognition of each other and encourage cross-chronicle interaction – even if it’s just traveling across the entire country to give a rowdy Ravnos a Puissance wedgie.
All chronicles are also strongly advised to have a website and to (try to) keep it updated with the latest news and game information so that others in the area can check out when they can attend their neighbor’s games. Keep a copy of your house rules there are well so potential visitors can read up on the local variances to reduce interruption in the flow of the game.
As OWbN has grown, the need for specific clan coordinators has developed. At present, OWbN has coordinators for the more specifically structured clans – Assamite, Giovanni, and Tremere. This concept may soon be expanded to encompass other clans. Additionally, we have a coordinator for Sabbat activities and another for the Garou players. As OWbN continues to grow and different types of chronicles join in, the structure of OWbN will adjust appropriately.
Additionally, to the centralize and control the flow of information and call activities, we have coordinators for each of the seven Storyteller-controlled justicars. These people act as clearinghouses for the various and nefarious wheelings and dealings of the ancients, and they give many of OWbN’s players a focus for their gameplay – and they instill appropriate fear in the character. The “JustiCoords” maintain regular contact with the Storytellers of OWbN as required and assist in resolving plot issues and involving their offices.
We generally keep the justicars’ actual appearances at games limited to conclaves. Archo9ns or secretariats to the justicars are preferred forms of Camarilla enforcement if intervention or contact is required. Recent events in the OWbN continuum have seen a marked increase in the number and caliber of archons appearing in the Camarilla domains. The death of Xavier, until recently the justicar for Clan Gangrel, has obviously shaken the heretofore impervious justicarate, and there is visible evidence of its unease.
Therefore, OWbN has an infrastgructure that exists to support all the people and characters associated within. Storytellers have access to many other Storytellers to be inspired by and inspire. Players have access to thousands of other players to interact with, plot with and generally breathe life into what we call our On World by Night.
Well, that’s pretty much how ww run the organization, but you’d probably prefer to hear about the chronicles.
OWbN is dominated at present by Camarilla-based vampire games. There are exceptions to this – a few games are primarily Sabbat or Garou in focus, a couple are Anarch in nature, and some games mix’n’match genres.
The primary rulebooks we use are The Masquerade Second Edition and Laws of the Night. Other books see inclusion as the Storytellers see fit and as discussed by the Council – for example, some aspects of Laws of Elysium are generally considered in OWbN to be restricted to Storyteller characters rather than open to players. OWbN’s vampire games are directed primarily at the younger Kindred. There are restrictions on the lay of true elders and on some of the types of Kindred permissible in any chronicle – for example, True Brujah or Salubri. Similar rules will apply to other super naturals as they’re developed and enter OWbN.
Variants on the White Wolf MET rulebooks are permitted within reason. We recommend that chronicles stick fairly closely to the White Wolf products so that there is some internal consistency in the way the game is played. It was very pleasant to find that most of the rules I encountered in Chicago and Baltimore worked much the way they work way over here in Hamilton. Variations in the interpretations of the rules also open my eyes to the possibilities of other interpretations that I hadn’t considered. I never claimed to be a rules lawyer, but I found some of the ways the systems were played very educational.
Never discount a learning experience. Most of our people are happy to share their ideas, and though we have our fair share of squabbles over some things, any idea that might enrich your game or your gameplay is important. Many of our chronicles adopt systems from others in OWbN.
We hope to expand our horizons beyond Vampire. With the release in 1998 of a number of White Wolf’s MET products, we now have a considerably greater scope with which to work, play and flourish. This will involve some changes in our internal structure, but we bid Flexible on that matter.
Our Garou coordinator, Krissy Ryan, is working busily on further integration of Garou chronicles into the fold. As I write this, we’ve recently welcomed another Garou game. The Kenosha: Bad Moon Rising game had been playing alongside Kenosha: The Eternal Aria for some time and was gladly given admittance, as the players had played by OWbN rules for some time and had remained in regular contact with OWbN both in and out of character. This put them in good stead when their game’s number came up.
At present, Matt and I are discussing the possibility of adding a Changeling game. We’re not averse to a Wraith game joining in, but we foresee some difficulties with character interaction because of the Shroud. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess.
In numbers, our games range wildly and widely. Some chronicles have less than a dozen people; others number around a hundreds regulars, including visitors from nearby games. We don’t have an accurate count of our total membership, but estimates place us at over 2,000 players in over 50 games in six different countries.
At present, OWbN is slightly fractured because of language barriers between some of our chronicles. With the advent of translation sites on the Internet – my personal favorite is http://babelfish.altavista.com – I hope to see much of that barrier crumble over the next year, and it should encourage a broader scope of interaction all around.
OWbN tries to hold at least one conclave a year. In 1998, we held two fairly large conclaves (Chicago and Baltimore) and ran a huge game at GenCon in August. These games are organized by enthusiastic teams of Storytellers with too much time on their hands and too much caffeine in their systems. More large gatherings of this nature are in the cards for 1999, although details are still being worked out. We’ll post all upcoming major events on our website.
In between such events, players are often road-tripping to other cities just for the hell of it. Just traveling between OWbN cities is an experience in itself – meeting new people both in and out of character and experiencing the unique flavor of a new game can often prove a refreshing and eye-opening experience. Travel the world, see the sights, play a little Vampire and make a lot of new friends.
And you don’t necessarily have to travel to other games to affect them – email communications and expenditure of Influence or use of city contacts through the Storytellers can have as much of an impact as being there would.
It has been my personal pleasure to attend the two American conclaves this year, and I am proud of the efforts of all concerned in the organization and execution of the events. I would like at this time to formally thank all of you who invited me and forked over for the plane tickets… twice….
I’m still humbled by that experience.
Some of our chronicles are also in contact with various independent games in their areas. Though our official stance is that these games don’t necessarily exist in our continuity (at least, until they join OWbN, he smiles), we in no way discourage our people form talking with other games and other groups. After all, we don’t have all the answers to all the questions – why limit our opportunities to learn?
OWbN is developing a good relationship with White Wolf, and we are pleased to have been of assistance in the past in terms of playtesting and opinion. A few of its staff are on hand, either as friends or accomplices, and we acknowledge the help that they have given us in the past. We hope to continue this productive and convivial friendship in the future. I guess the opportunity given me to write this article means we must have some degree of respect in White Wolf’s eyes (heh).
OWbN is perhaps very reflective of the World of Darkness as given us by White Wolf. We don’t slavishly follow the books as written in terms of Storyteller characters or sourcebooks (or our Milwaukee and Chicago games would be very different if we did), but are instead working on our own continuity, using many of the White Wolf sources to fill in the gaps.
As an example, we took the opportunity in 1997 to echo the 13-year meeting of the Inner Circle to change several of the justicars. Clan Toreador kept Madame Guil, who originally appears in Diablerie: Britain and Clan Malkavian kept Justicar Lucian, a character from the card game. The Ventrue opted to choose Tai Pan Robert Pedder as their next lawmaker. Other than those characters the other justicars (Masako, Clan Brujah; Kharel, Gangrel; Ctarinov, Nosferatu; Malaphar, Tremere) were created within OWbN to fill the positions.
New concepts presented by White Wolf (such as many alterations to the WoD as presented in the revised edition of Vampire: The Masquerade) are discussed by the Council and the Storyteller teams before anything is introduced to the mainstream of the games. However, OWbN’s in-character politics do have a natural progression that is becoming very similar to a number of things that White Wolf has presented.
So what’s happening in One World by Night as the millennium approaches?
Some Kindred truly believe that the Final Nights are drawing near as the numbers of the Caitiff grow and the clans of the Camarilla become more fractious each week. The elders seem aloof and uncaring, the justicars play unknown games behind closed doors, the Sabbat is around each corner – in many cases well rooted in place among its unsuspecting opposites.
Meanwhile, the Garou struggle to preserve their heritage as their own enemies plant themselves more securely than ever in the cities and drive the werewolves from their cairns. Their war against the Wyrm continues unabated.
The Gangrel of America face desperate times as their elders are slowly stripped from them by negative forces. The loss of many of their elders in recent times has shaken the Gangrel’s dedication and loyalty to the Camarilla.
Clan Brujah struggles to remain a cohesive whole, it’s members torn between their loyalties to the Camarilla and to their clan. Browbeaten by their elders and tongue-lashed by their anarch brothers, their loyalty also sways.
Clan Tremere fights to maintain a united front while dealing with public ridicule and suspicion. The Tremere often find themselves leaned upon to provide solutions to matters of the supernatural and then discarded unceremoniously by the other clans once they are no longer useful.
Clan Ventrue endeavors to stand proud and aloof as certain elements undermine its efforts at dominance – the prevalence of Ventrue princes in the Old World is far from echoed in the New, an embarrassment at best.
The Nosferatu… well, nobody really knows what they are up to, but there is some evidence that they may be closing ranks for some reason.
The decadence of these last decades has distracted many of Clan Toreador. Has true art died with the rest of the world? Many of the ask that question in this twilight of the Muses.
And the Malkavians? What of them? They’re changing, but from what and to what? Who can tell, anyway?
OWbN is set in the modern day, very much so. Many of our chronicles utilize the real world’s activities as tie-ins for their plots. Our players are enthusiastic and energetic and many small plots spill from city to city. Mix in a little Storyteller magic and our World of Darkness comes to life. Would that I could tell you all of some of the awesome plots going on, but I think I’d get lynched.
We have our own character personalities developing – (in)famous names and coteries, such as the NOW in Baltimore, the First Family in Chicago, the dubious House Malice, the dread archon Uma Nottingham, the Legion Sisters, Maddy Zurich, Dana Stone, Archbishop Santiago, the irrepressible Malkiepoos…
The list goes on, and I could probably talk for hours, but I’m not quite up to writing the sourcebook yet.
In closing, I would like to thank Joyce Summers, Matt Giezentaner, Ross Anderson and Lance Larsen, among others, for their contributions to this article. I’d also like to thank One World by Night – though you motley lot may be a pain in the neck at times, you’re all wonderful people this side of the Masquerade.