White Wolf, the company which created the Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing franchise, is handing content creation over to an outside company. The transition follows a series of unforced errors that led to accusations of homophobia and neo-Nazi sympathies among the role-playing game’s core development team, which was purchased by Paradox Interactive in 2015.
“White Wolf is moving away from internal development and publishing,” wrote Paradox’s vice president of business development, Shams Jorjani in a statement. “This is part of that process.”
Modiphius Entertainment previously handled pre-orders and distribution of physical products for Vampire’s latest edition, which was released in August. The game developer and publisher already has a wide portfolio, which includes Tales From The Loop, an RPG based on Star Trek, and a Fallout-themed miniatures game.
The tumult at White Wolf began last year when an early beta version of Vampire’s fifth edition tabletop RPG was released to eager fans. In addition one of its non-player characters appearing to be a pedophile, it also included what many read as coded references to neo-Nazi symbology. Later, on the eve of the new edition’s release at the Gen Con tabletop gaming convention, White Wolf was forced to make a video statement condemning Nazism in all its forms.
Later, Polygon played an early version of the game with one of its creators. Our early impressions were clouded by themes of sexual assault, while the product itself contained no clear guidance for players or game masters (called Storytellers in the system) to mitigate traumas at the table. When the book was finally handed over to consumers, both physical and digital copies were amended with an elaborate content warning and a chapter on enhanced safety strategies.
As if that weren’t enough, later sourcebooks spawned an entirely new controversy. From our November article:
Unfortunately, those books made reference to the murder of gay Chechens in a context that used the ongoing human right violations in that country as fodder for their in-fiction narrative.
“In the Chechnya chapter of the V5 Camarilla book, we lost sight of this,” wrote Paradox’s vice president of business development, Shams Jorjani in a statement. “The result was a chapter that dealt with a real-world, ongoing tragedy in a crude and disrespectful way. We should have identified this either during the creative process or in editing. This did not happen, and for this we apologize.”
Jorjani said that the offensive content will be removed, pre-orders will be fulfilled, and then the products in question will no longer be sold.
“The creation and sale of these books would not happen under the incarnation of White Wolf that we are building,” Jorjani said. “The creation, production, and editorial oversight of such products is now entirely run by Modiphius Entertainment and their partners.”
Jorjani ended on a hopeful note for the classic role-playing franchise.
“I see White Wolf in the future as a company that will continue steering the World of Darkness,” Jorjani said, referring to the larger role-playing universe of which Vampire is merely a part, “but with strong editorial leadership, and more guidance and input from a broader set of voices. There needs to be new leadership for this new direction, and we believe Modiphius will be an integral part of this process with regards to Vampire, but there are more steps still to be taken for the World of Darkness and White Wolf as a whole.”