On April 22:nd, after four years as Lead Storyteller, brand designer and creative director of World of Darkness and White Wolf Entertainment, I worked my last day at Paradox.
My departure is a complex affair, but I think it’s fair to say it’s a consequence of the decision to dissolve and restructure White Wolf as a part of Paradox internal Brand Management and Licensing unit in November of 2018. Organizations evolve, intentions are misunderstood, goals change, drama happens and that’s life I guess.
I’m immensely proud of what we achieved in three years. When I took the job I promised myself to spend 5 years on WoD if it turned out to be constant struggle and drama, 10 to life if it went smoothly.
Needless to say it was not an easy or quietly creative job. New obstacles appeared every week and friends tell me I’ve aged ten years. I still wish I had 10 more years to develop every WoD line as intended.
According to my own plans I should feel satisfied with my part in building the base for a transmedia future for WoD and move on. But as hard as it was I started to see the extent of what we could achieve, and how it could change gaming culture for the better.
White Wolf Entertainment was created as a separate company from Paradox. It was a small, well- funded, independent startup that allowed us to take the kind of creative risks we needed to take, at least if we were going to do it the way I was planning to.
Launched in 1991, Vampire was a one-of-a-kind game. It created its own pop cultural myth, cultlike groups of fans, inspired a really intense take on roleplaying and new forms of play (Minds Eye Theatre) and it reached audiences that wouldn’t touch D&D with a pole. It had women and clubbers and smart people in black playing it. It was different and wether you loved it or hated it, you had an opinion about it.
I wanted to make something as different and real as the punk visions of the original creation.
I’m kind of surprised that despite having my reign cut after the restructuring of WW, I still don’t feel like I’m done with telling stories inside the WoD.
I’m slowly returning to my existence as an active freelance writer and designer. I suspect Paradox may need some help on the further development of the bibles at some point, licencees may need someone who can write for WoD5 in his sleep, and since the creative center of WW is now with the developers of individual projects, that’s where I think I’ll be the most useful. I think I’ll try to be a Consulting Storyteller for a while. Hit me up if you think I could add something to your WoD5 product, or invite me over and I’ll hold an updated development workshop like the ones I ran before the books ate all my energy and focus.
But before I start the next WoD projects I’m taking some much needed time off to enjoy a Swedish summer fully, for the first time in years. Maybe help out a bit at the Bronx Sauna Club; we’ve talked about running a “End of the Line”- style V5 larp there sometime during late summer. I want to try reading things other than WW books and I hope to be able to share some cut material and design thinking from V5 and the two setting books Camarilla and Anarch and maybe the work of other writers right here.
This will be my humble new home on the webs for a Wolfless future.
I’m calling it Black Dog Blues.
If you want to know how I run the Word on Darkness and who I am as a Storyteller, please check out the podcast V5 Chronicle “No Man Is An Island” that I currently run with Red Moon and my old writer-designer friend Anna – Karin Linder as players. The prelude where three very different London cops are screened and selected by the Second Inquisition, begins today with Francis, a forensics scientist about to learn just how little the light of reason has revealed over the course of a domestic terror investigation in London a decade ago. Before the fall of London.
In future posts I hope to share some insight into the thinking and choices I made during my time on the throne of darkness. For now, allow me to just say that my brand work and subject matter choices always intended to bring WoD uncomfortably close to reality, letting us explore the worst parts of our world by mixing real horrors with metaphorical ones. I wanted to use WoD as a vehicle for awareness building and human rights advocacy. I wanted to show real evils by placing them next to fictitious ones. I wanted to weave myth and history so tightly that it becomes difficult to know where one ends and the other begins, make players untangle them for themselves, learning in the process. I wanted to transcend the genre with fresh darkness drawn from the filthiest wells of the commercialized internet menacing zeitgeist.
I wanted to become known for making the darkest shit using the best tricks for playing on serious subjects from the progressive Nordic larp scene and as opposed to censoring, ignoring, simplifying or romanticizing our real world material. I wanted us to be known as the company that treated our players as competent adult individuals, fully capable of enjoying a satirical vision of our own world, where everything is tainted and nothing is what it seems.
But for all my sorrow for leaving, I’m happy that almost all of the amazing work that Karim and I did with the V5 team is intact. I’m glad to have had Freja look at every text and idea with fresh eyes, and the biz dev and licensing teams skills, the Paradox Producers and employees know their shit, as well as the new stars of the show, the licencees did continues to evolve. V5 and Bloodlines 2 is quickly gathering recognition and exposure on the epic scale I always dreamed of. I’m confident that the courage and passion we tried to instill in everyone that worked alongside us (even if it sometimes scared the hell out of them) will be evident in the projects that were developed during my time as Lead Storyteller and for a long time to come.
It’s been real.
Blood and Souls!
P.S. If you want to do something small to help my transition to freelancer, please consider writing some supportive words about me and what you like about WoD5 and the return of the World of Darkness. Writing here is nice for me and all that, but please do it where you discuss Vampire or gamer culture. D.S.