In the mad scramble to find the next big film or TV franchise, Hollywood has come back to the table … top.
Variety reports that the World of Darkness (WoD) may be coming to TV and film soon, under a new deal struck between parent company Paradox Interactive and production company Hivemind and being headed by writer-producers Christine Boylan and Eric Heisserer.
Few TTRPGs have as much worldbuilding and franchise potential as White Wolf’s World of Darkness. Starting with Vampire: The Masquerade in 1991 and growing with Werewolf: the Apocalypse in 1992, the dark, moody franchise featured supernatural forces lurking in the shadows of the modern world, manipulating mankind … and each other. Just about any creature from folklore or fiction could show up, from the previously mentioned vampires and werewolves to the Fae Folk to mummies to even the suddenly empowered humans who could either fight back or embrace the new world rising. That’s not even counting the fan content!
The World of Darkness was a massive influence on the ’90s, both inside and outside of the gaming world. One of the progenitors of the “urban fantasy” genre, pretty much anything involving supernatural creatures in a modern setting owed a wee bit of debt to WoD. You may even recall when White Wolf tangled with Sony over 2003’s Kate Beckinsale vehicle Underworld over infringement of their IP right before release. Both parties settled privately, which is why, a whole trilogy later, we now have this glorious scene burned into our synapses.
Considering the names attached, it certainly appears that they have the experience needed to handle a lore-heavy, special effects-driven high concept project like World of Darkness. Hivemind produces The Witcher and The Expanse; Boylan has worked on The Punisher, Constantine, and Once Upon a Time, as well as writing for both DC and Marvel. And Heisserer is currently the showrunner on Shadow and Bone and developing spinoffs of The Witcher for Netflix, as well as having written Bird Box and won an Oscar in 2016 for the screenplay for Arrival. While no distribution deal has been set yet, it’s a safe bet which platform will try for dibs on this. From Variety:
“The World of Darkness story universe is deliberately and unapologetically inclusive and diverse,” Boylan said in a statement. “It has always made a point of including equal gendered characters, protagonists and antagonists of every race, and representation of all creeds — bringing a female and diverse audience to gaming like nothing prior. Its games and fandom are a place where women, POC, and the LGBTQI community feel welcome and we are very proud to bring these stories to life.”
“The legacy of these stories is way ahead of its time, inviting issues and perspectives other games ignored,” Heisserer added. “This feels like the next step for genre.”
Ironically, White Wolf itself probably won’t be involved in any more than name, since they were disbanded and absorbed into Paradox in 2018 after a string of controversies involving their then-recent output treading in some really messed up waters.
Anyway, be on the lookout for more fangs and tight leather pants in the future. While I expect a fairly serious interpretation of the material, everyone who has ever played WoD (especially VtM and the LARPs associated with it) knows that a certain layer of cheesiness is critical.
Just maybe don’t go full Aaron Spelling (yes, this was a real show):