The Perfect Session Zero! How Werewolf the Apocalypse Heart of the Forest became the model for White Wolf’s perfect introductory game.
Before we get into our exploration of why the game is the perfect session zero, let’s visit our previous reviews of this outstanding game.
We have explored, discussed and reviewed Werewolf the Apocalypse Heart of The Forest for months! Our demo review can be found here, and our full game review can be found here! You can join the conversation on Twitter and let us know what you think of the game!
Now that the game is out, trending, getting all the love it deserves, it is time to address what I have been saying, what others are saying, and what WHITE WOLF NEEDS TO LISTENS TO!
This is your model for the perfect session zero! This is your model for your version of D and D Beyond! This is how you take Mage, Changeling, Fallen, and your other IPs into the future!
“But oh great and powerful vampire lord Vachmiel” you are asking, “how can a $15.00 game do all that?”
Simple, my Darklings! They did everything right!
Let’s get into it!
Perfect session zero – making the complex simple!
Different Tales is the developer that deserves the credit here. Passionate about White Wolf Mythos and Lore even beyond some of White Wolf’s sometimes botched initial offerings, they broke down the lore and terminology of Werewolf so that everyone could understand it.
Through dynamic writing, pop up boxes that gave more details, they gave enough information where a long term player such as myself could nod in agreement with a fangy grin. They also kept it short, as not to exposition bomb a new player. They got the balance perfect. Give enough information to play, keep the 5 dots (white wolf skill ranks) in lore for further reading!
Build the character as you go! Simplifying character creation!
Character creation in any RPG is difficult! Character creation in White Wolf is daunting! Two decades of books, magazines, LARPS (Live Action Role Playing), and supplements! That is hundreds of books! I know, I own a near complete collection!
So, when someone who may have heard about Vampire, Werewolf, or Mage, and wants to play, and the game books come out to the point the poor Storyteller can get a hernia form the volume of material they are digging out, the intimidation on behalf of the new player can go through the ceiling!
Heart of the Forest creates your main character as you play. Each choice updates their version of the White Wolf character sheet. Act angry – you get rage. Act thoughtful, your moon sign may be a Thurge, a wise person. Tired of being alone and join a group? That’s your family called a Tribe.
Heart of the Forest does not simply give pop up boxes of more information. They reinforce the information through imservie role playing so players are taught and reminded the how and whys of their character.
While any application version of a character generator must include a straightforward generator, this unique and organic way of “filling out a character sheet” is just brilliant!
Respecting sensitive material! Allowing players to process the difficult in private!
Heart of the Forest handles mature subjects in a professional and thoughtful way. LGBTQ community is shown the greatest care and respect in the game. Subjects such as extreme violence are carefully written, showing the full range of possible emotional possibilities. Complex emotions are handled well, such of being from a broken family, loss of people, and gaining of friendships. The game does not shy away from the difficult one bit!
Of all the points as to why Heart of the Forest is the perfect session zero this is the most vital! Allowing each player to get a taste of different themes allows them to come to the game table with the experience of facing a variety of intense emotional situations privately! They will already know to some extent what they enjoy and what they are not comfortable with.
With Heart of the Forest behind us, what can be learned?
Character Creation and learning the rules can be both fun, organic and simple. You don’t have to be a 20 year veteran of White Wolf to create a compelling character. You don’t have to memorize a ton of game mechanics, you character sheet can be electronically filled out for you and you can have in game, built in support for your character.
You can make a complex character. You can accept or reject as much drama, trauma, complexity as you are seeking for that character and still have that character 100% viable, acceptable, and respectable with in the scope of the White Wolf universe.
Will White Wolf follow Different Tales foundation and use this as the model for future games and applications to bring a 21st century, tech savvy, and socially aware gaming consumer in to the hobby we all love?
Let’s hope so!
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