Born from Fire

A play-by-email game for the new World of Darkness

Characters from the game. From left to right - Nathaniel Donatein, Stella Gtey, Caspar Van Lutyens, Thomas Wyncham, Celeste Wilcox, and August Podin, with Abbe Francois in the distance. Image copyright (c) Sarah Evans 2009

Welcome to London by Night: Born from Fire, a play-by-email game using White Wolf Game Studios’ new World of Darkness setting and set in modern-day London, England.

London by Night is a crossover chronicle featuring Kindred, Uratha, Mages, and sometimes stranger things as well. The three major supernatural factions keep to their own societies for the most part, but since the middle of the seventeenth century, an organization known as the Temple has served as a forum where they can meet and devise a common approach to shared problems – and also allows players of different character types to interact.

The game is played on a private Google group, which is rated “adult”. It doesn’t contain explicit depictions of sex or violence, but it doesn’t make any bones about acknowledging that both exist, so the game is definitely adult-themed.

“Default” player characters will be either Kindred, Uratha, or Mages. Other character types are fine provided that they have some reason to interact with Mages, Kindred or Uratha PCs in a fairly non-antagonistic way. A Hunter whose motivation is learning about the supernatural is fine, for instance; a Hunter who wants to annihilate it isn’t.

Character creation is initially via the standard rules for each character type. There aren’t a “standard” number of freebie points. Instead, I take the approach, “Tell me what else you’d like to have to make your character’s dots fit the concept you’ve come up with”, and we haggle. Combat monsters need not apply, but I take a fairly liberal approach to anything that supports an interesting and multi-faceted character. Each PC has an entry on the web site which reflects what’s publically known about them; I ask players to write their sections as part of the character creation process.

The game is driven by character and story rather then die-rolling, and although I use the dice “behind the scenes” to determine what the PCs can see and do, I try to keep the process as invisible as possible. The idea is to make the game as much of a collaborative story-writing exercise as possible.

XP is awarded at a rate of one dot per week, with bonuses at “chapter break” points which can consist of additional XP or new / improved attributes or backgrounds. You can improve your character stats any time you have enough XP.

In terms of the Morality system, the game is a fairly high Morality/Humanity/Wisdom setting. In 1666, the Great Fire wiped out a vicious and corrupt Lancea Sanctum regime and left the Mages the dominant supernatural faction for a couple of centuries. The other supernatural factions, especially the Kindred, adapted to this reality and tended to adopt behaviour which would avoid provoking the Mages to outrage and violent retribution. The Mages are still capable of arrogance bordering on – if not crossing over into – megalomania, the Kindred are still vicious predators, and the Uratha are still supernaturally gifted killing machines, but all three have reached a rough-and-ready consensus to limit their worst excesses. In the past few years, with the prevalence of CCTV and phone cameras leaving the supernatural walking a razor’s edge of discovery, such restraint has become even more important.