Original SA post
WORLD OF DARKNESS: INNOCENTS
So after rereading all of Innocents, I can’t lie: it’s gonna be a bit tough to cover this one. Not for the content or subject matter; it’s leaps and bounds above KidWorld. No, the issue I have with it is an issue of heavy redundancy.
The idea of the book is solid enough. Innocents is all about letting the Storyteller run a very
thematically different game than your average nWoD adventure by letting you play as children. And I liked Innocents a lot when I first read it years ago, I really did. The fiction in the book is pretty on point (though a touch repetitive) and it’s sprinkled liberally through the entire book. The premade adventures are interesting choices and fit the themes of the fact that you’re all children and you’re not going to solve this problem by becoming a Hunter (maybe). I quite enjoy the representatives of vampires, werewolves, etc. that are selected to be characters you can introduce the kids to. And, this is crucial, I like that the game establishes that these are about supernatural
horrors or horrors related to the World of Darkness, explicitly says this at one point and commits
to that. This entire book is refreshingly free of sexual menace and there's less emphasis on mundane menaces like child abuse. Which, admittedly, is not to say that it’s entirely
bereft of the latter (it absolutely is clear of the former though). One of the sample fictions is about police looking over the cases of an abused girl who set her vampire father on fire because he threatened to prey on her younger sister. This is abuse of an 11-year-old girl but she’s not abused for reasons of power or sadism or carnal reasons. She was abused because this is what a vampire does as a predator that hungers for the Vitae of the mortal. Her abuse was entirely supernatural in nature. If vampires weren’t real, this never would have happened. And that’s…legitimately good. Innocents goes out of its way to say “look: bad things happen to kids but that’s not something we really want to make a game about because it’s not fun and that’s also not really the WoD so this is explicitly a game about kids dealing with actual monsters” and that’s one of its strong points.
But there’s a pretty glaring weakness to Innocents and that’s mostly that Innocents is 266 pages long when it really could just be a slimmer 130 or so. I didn’t entirely comprehend this when I was reading it years ago and was less familiar with the whole Storyteller system and hadn’t yet acquired the core book for nWoD. Innocents reprints a lot
of the core book’s rules and that’s kind of to its detriment because then it skimps on the ideas. There’s a lot of fiction but it’s attached to skill descriptions and dice roll examples. There are premade NPCs but there really could stand to be more. There are some example adventures but they could really stand to have a bit more depth (also there’s photomanipulated art which…isn’t great). There are eight chapters, a prologue (which is just fiction) and an appendix (which has content). Let’s lay it out a bit:
- Fragile Innocence: what this book is and what it’s about, your bog-standard first chapter in a WoD product that normally serves as a few pages of introduction. 14ish pages.
- Attributes: what your attributes are and what they do. 20ish pages.
- Skills: what your skills are and what they do. 32ish pages.
- Advantages: defense, health, morality, etc. Worth noting is this game’s equivalent of Virtues and Vices which I completely believe they adapted from here for use in later 2e products. 22 pages.
- Merits: what your merits are and what they do. 14ish pages.
- Dramatic Systems: how to roll dice, actions, etc. 52ish pages.
- Storytelling: how to make characters, how to run the game, how to specifically run adventures focusing on children based on their general ages, sample enemies. 56ish pages.
- Stories: five sample adventures of children seeing the horror beneath the surface of the world around them. 28ish pages.
- Appendix: basically providing monster splats for use in games. The monsters in Stories have hints of settings or core lines but can be (and probably should be) used agnostically (something that looks like a spin on a Bather Ritual, something that looks like a Slasher, something that looks like a Spirit from the Twilight, etc). 18ish pages.
As a pretty good connoisseur of reading these side WoD books to keep myself entertained at work, your average nWoD book is around 130-160 pages and broken down into four or so pages, not counting introductory fluff. They’re formulaic and if you’ve read a few you get the formula down pat for each chapter: fiction at beginning of chapter, brief overview, look at the mechanics, adventure ideas, sample NPCs. Innocents isn’t like your average side book because, well, they took a player’s guide and then put the Book About Playing Children template on top of it. It’s kind of weak for that because like I already said, so much of the book is dedicated to regurgitating the rules that the Original Content suffers for it.
Which kinda puts me in a weird position about how to cover this book exactly. I thought KidWorld would be the faster one to go through but, well, I’m not going to sit here and repeat rules for nWoD. Others have done that better than I have. So I’m going to focus on what’s different about playing as children in regards to the mechanics. I’m not going to be covering this on a chapter-to-chapter basis like I normally would. From there we’ll look at the sample adventures and all that and then just wrap the book up.
So yeah, we’ll get started on that NEXT TIME
. I felt like addressing the main shortcoming of this book was important enough to warrant its own post.