The World of Darkness — the gaming universe created by White Wolf publishing for the cult-favorite tabletop RPG series Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and many others — might be stepping out into the light of TV and movies again at some point in the future.
According to Variety, White Wolf’s parent company, Paradox Interactive, has struck a deal with writer-producers Eric Heisserer and Christine Boylan and the production studio Hivemind (which produces Netflix’s The Witcher) to “develop the World of Darkness story universe for film and television.”
As Variety notes, this is a deal in the earliest stages — no individual shows or movies have been announced, nor are there currently any distribution partners. But given the gold rush for intellectual property with lots of spinoff potential, and Heisserer’s recent success as creator and showrunner of Netflix’s Shadow and Bone — another adaptation of a sprawling fantasy universe, in this case based on the Grishaverse novels by Leigh Bardugo — the odds of something happening with this property aren’t bad.
Longtime World of Darkness fans likely know that this wouldn’t be the first effort to bring its horror setting to screens. That distinction goes to Kindred: The Embraced, a short-lived 1996 drama that aired on Fox and was canceled after eight episodes.
A successful World of Darkness film or TV franchise could be incredibly interesting, given that the role-playing games that birthed it are adult-oriented affairs that resist mainstream appeal. Vampire: The Masquerade is an urban horror fantasy where you role-play as a member of an elaborate vampire society, wrestling with intrigue and politics and your character’s vampiric urges. The games can go to some pretty dark places, and among consenting players, that’s part of the appeal.
But the edgy nature of the World of Darkness has also lead to significant controversy, most notably in 2018. Paradox disbanded White Wolf due to the backlash against some of its content, which was perceived as having links to white supremacist ideology, as well as exploiting real-world tragedies involving the oppression of LGBTQ inhabitants of Chechnya.
For their part, Boylan and Heisserer are emphasizing the World of Darkness as an inclusive and diverse fictional setting. The version they eventually produce may live up to that description, even if the tabletop games haven’t done the best job of fostering the environment they’re hoping for. It’s unlikely we’ll see any show announcements out of this deal for at least another year or two, but it’ll be interesting to see which game, which setting, and which era of the World of Darkness they decide to explore.