How different is the World of Darkness from our world?
For the most part - that is, in the non-supernatural elements - the World of Darkness is basically the same as our world. Most gamelines even have a specific city they’re affiliated with in their core book, and sometimes a couple of extras. (Hex, of course, is a slightly different story, being as it’s not of our world at all.) Though most if not all varieties of horror share the screen at some point, nWoD is mostly describable as “the horror of the unknown that might be right beside you.” So, for most people, life isn’t that much different.
How much does the average human know about the supernatural? How much do the supernaturals know about each other?
As a general rule: Not much.
Humans are constantly having close-calls with the supernatural, but for most of them, it remains as just that - close calls. There’s always the feeling of something being a little bit off in the world, but it’s a rare person who dares to pursue it (and those usually wind up leading the short lives of Hunters, if they don’t wind up as something else). There’s all sorts of stories and urban legends, of course, but most people put little stock in them, and they’re just at least likely to get things wrong as not. There’s a few people who interact with the supernatural on the regular and have some idea what they’re talking about, but those are almost as rare as the supernaturals themselves.
As for the various groups of supernaturals, for the most part, they don’t know too much about each other, either. You get the rare expert, just like with humans - a old changeling who hangs out with werewolves, a mage who goes to Sin-Eater parties - but for the most part, any given supernatural doesn’t know much more than a human in their position might about the others. Yeah, vampires exist, but they’re not really relevant to a Promthean’s quest to become human. The exception, seemingly, is Beasts, who tend to get their noses in everything, but even they have plenty of wrong ideas.
How much of what the supernaturals know is true? Is [x] a real thing?
Well, that depends on who you ask! Certainly these things are all real in some capacity, if they have an effect on the world - the Supernal Realms might not be exactly as mages describe, but there’s something there. Beasts may not really be descended from a Dark Mother, or werewolves from the Wolf and the Moon, but there’s at least enough to back up the tales that gives them a little truth.
Sooner or later, though, no matter how much you find out, there’s a big, God-Machine shaped roadblock in the way. Even for those who manage to find out about it, it doesn’t seem to have an origin, challenging the supposed history of near every supernatural group. There’s other holes in the story, too, if you look outside the city - or rather, to what isn’t outside the city. Where could Atlantis have been to sink under the ocean, when there’s no ocean to hold it? Where were the Promethean lineages really born, when their places of legend are nowhere to be found?
To new arrivals, the answer might seem obvious. But good luck getting the locals to believe it.
How much do our characters know when they arrive in Hex?
Only what their own eyes and eyes can tell them. There’s no welcome booklet or digital encyclopedia. Fortunately, there are the native characters to give them at least some information on the city...
What is the God-Machine?
The name is quite literal - it is an endless machine that seemingly possesses the powers of a god, which works through various occult means towards some goal or another. What its goal is, we don't know; what we do know is that the entire city is a piece of its Infrastructure, clicking and turning with gears that are invisible to the normal populace. The whole city is linked together by this unknowable entity, but it’s not as though you can just go up to it and ask what the plan is; even acknowledging the machine is a good way to get cut down by an angel or simply to disappear, as though you were never there at all.
Infrastructure is the various parts of the God-Machine; each piece of Infrastructure handles a specific process or task. Infrastructure is the most visible part of the God-Machine, for those who can see it, and while it takes many different forms, it’s always mechanical in some way and invisible to the average person. Exactly what a given piece of Infrastructure does varies, but they all ultimately contribute to expanding the God-Machine and furthering its goal... Whatever that is.
What are angels?
Pieces of Infrastructure, or the creation of Infrastructure, depending on how you look at it, angels are self-aware pieces of the machine created for tasks that require the oversight of an actual mind rather than simply the turning of the gears. Just because they have minds, however, doesn’t mean that they’re any less a part of the God-Machine than another piece of machinery - angels are emotionless, unquestioning, and so loyal that the idea of violating their missions doesn’t even occur to them. If it does, well... That’s how demons are born.
What’s an occult matrix?
These odd locuses of power take many forms, and the God-Machine taps into many of them to power Infrastructure. No two are quite alike, and the conditions for triggering them vary widely as well, but most all of them are associated in some way with human activity. That’s why the God-Machine has angels that interact with humans - so that the angels can prod the humans into position to trigger the matrix, which in turn triggers the next piece of Infrastructure in whatever the God-Machine is doing.
Can our characters see the God-Machine?
All newly arrived characters are stigmatics - people touched by the God-Machine in some way, and thus capable of seeing its Infrastructure. They also bear a mark somewhere on their bodies that is evidence of the glitch in reality that marks them as stigmatic - this might take the form of a circuitboard tattoo, a constant aroma of freshly ground coffee, or anything else that just seems a little bit off. These marks - and the characters' stigmatic sight - fade at around the same pace as the characters' memories and powers.
Additionally, all demons, whether they be Hex natives or corrupted visitors, are aware of the God-Machine in an even more intimate way than stigmatics. They were once part of it, after all, or perhaps just believe they were. They can not only see the machine, but can also sense it at work as it produces Aether - the runoff waste that demons use to fuel their abilities.
How much do the various supernaturals know about the God-Machine?
Most of them are pretty much ignorant of it, with the obvious exception of demons. Sure, a few stumble upon a piece of Infrastructure now and then - they might even figure out what that piece does, or wreck it somehow. But for that group of supernaturals, it’s a pretty much isolated incident; they have no idea how deep the Machine goes into the bowels of the city.
What are Vampires?
Blood-sucking creatures of the night - everyone’s familiar with them. But being a vampire is a little more complicated than simply being bitten by one; the Embrace is death, then being dragged back by the call of blood. All the Kindred (as the much prefer to be called) hunger for it, and can eat nothing else, and within them, the Beast of their hunger is waiting to be unleashed if it isn’t fed. They form a society stretching back centuries, with the eldest at the top - until someone else can finally manage to topple them and make their way up. Of course, being at the bottom of the bin is even riskier; when politics won’t do, Kindred problems tend to be solved in a bloody mess.
What are Werewolves?
These are beings of balance - or rather, a delicate balancing act. An Uratha (as they call themselves) has one foot in the human world and one foot in the spirit world. They are children of Wolf and Luna, and are capable of fluidly changing their form to best suit their greatest purpose: the Hunt. Whatever the Uratha’s designated prey may be, it cannot escape them forever - the Uratha will chase them through the boundaries between worlds to finally bring it down. The extremely strong predatory instinct, unfortunately, leaves many Uratha struggling to fit into human society the way they used to as they fight with the curse of rage.
What are Mages?
There is a world beyond ours, above it - or so claim mages, who have Awakened to that Supernal World. There’s something to their claims, at least if their ability to manipulate reality with magic is any guide. Mages are people who were normal until they journeyed deep into their own dreams and found within them a Watchtower into which they carved their names. But these relics of the civilization called Atlantis call out only to a few, all of whom guard their secrets close to their chests. The Abyss that separates Sleepers from their Awakenings grows ever wider, fed by wrongly used magic - for all their claims of enlightenment, mages aren’t really better than the rest of us, and some of them are worse. After all, the Exarchs were once human, before they sought the thrones of gods.
What are Prometheans?
Prometheans aren’t human at all - but oh, how they wish they were. Created beings with lineages stretching back into legend, Prometheans are lit by a spark of Divine Fire and are constantly on the move, learning about humanity in hopes of someday joining it. Humans and nature itself instinctively know that there is something wrong with them. Almost everyone reacts negatively to a Promethean - animals hate them on sight - the land rots if they stay upon it too long. Disquiet touches everything in a Promethean’s unenviable existence, until they become human or are destroyed. But a part of their Pilgrimage involves making a new Promethean - and so there will always be a few of the Created shuffling through Hex’s districts, never staying long.
What are Changelings?
Once, they were normal people. But somehow, they attracted the attention of one of the True Fae, creatures beyond reality and beyond mortal understanding. The True Fae took the human into the Hedge to become its servant; after an unknowable time in that place, full of magic and nameless horrors, they were able to escape, and come home again. But they’re changed, now, the magic of the Fae too deep in them to remove, and no one even missed them, for the Fae left a double called a Fetch in their place. Thus, most changelings have had to make new lives for themselves in the city, always looking over their shoulders for fear of their True Fae master coming to seek them and snatch them back.
What are Hunters?
Hunters are people who uncovered the supernatural and felt the urge to take up the pursuit of it; whether it’s from curiosity or the desire to protect what’s important to them, every Hunter has some reason to stay on their Vigil. They usually organize into small groups, though Hex plays host to a small handful of larger Hunter organizations.
Of course, those who deal with monsters often become monsters themselves... Few Hunters can function quite normally in society, and the Vigil often leaves them paranoid, traumatized, or drained. But once you know what’s out there, it’s almost impossible to go back. Once you take up the Vigil, almost always, it’s yours until you die.
What are Sin-Eaters?
Most people die, and that’s that. There’s no second shot. But for a rare few people, as they feel their soul drifting away from their corpse, they will meet a being that is as desperate for life as they feel… and they’ll make a deal. A Sin-Eater is that person, with the entity called a Geist living inside of them and helping them survive. But they’re certainly a step closer to death than most people… they can still see ghosts, still interact with them, and the Geists are giving them extraordinary powers. They are a magnet for death and dead things, one way or another.
What are Demons?
The fallen angels of the God-Machine, demons (or the Unchained, as they prefer to be known) are unique on this list as not being truly a part of humanity at all; they were not born from it and do not seek it as Prometheans do. Instead, they hide within it, as since their Fall, the God-Machine has hunted them. They wear human Covers that exist somewhat independently of their true mechanical forms; as such, a demon has absolute control over their portrayal of emotion, and cannot be detected lying.
Being the closest to the God-Machine, demons encounter the most oddities when their true nature is that they’re a person from another universe. PC demons will have difficulty remembering the events of their Fall, which is unheard of in the “normal” demon population, though they otherwise possess the perfect recall common to demons.
What are Beasts?
Though they appear human, the souls of Beasts are fundamentally something else - what that is varies by individual, but all have a common element of embodying a primordial fear of humanity. They gave up their humanity in a final nightmare called the Devouring, and so became the stuff of nightmares themselves, and now seek to fulfill their Hungers by teaching lessons of fear to humanity. As a group, Beasts are unusually social with other supernaturals, considering almost all other supernaturals (save demons) to be a part of their extended “family.” Because of this, they often pick up powers similar to those of other supernaturals, depending on who they’ve been hanging out with.
Do I have to play a World of Darkness creature?
Nope! There’s plenty of room for normal humans in Hex, otherwise it’d get kind of crowded with all the supernatural creatures bumping up against each other. Probably 85%-90% of Hex is fairly normal humans, though you do sometimes get people with a sense of the supernatural without being supernatural themselves, such as people who can see ghosts, have prophetic dreams, or just a really good intuition for the weird. Unfortunately for them, these people tend to get drawn into the supernatural one way or another.
What about people marked by the supernatural, or minor supernaturals? What about things that aren’t the focus of the lines?
Pretty much all of these exist in Hex as well; vampires need their ghouls, humans still come in contact with the God-Machine and become stigmatics through normal means, and True Fae still leave Fetches behind when they take changelings. If you’re interested in playing one of these, please contact a mod so we can work something out!
Are there any things we can't have our characters become?
At this time, the only restriction is that characters cannot become angels - unfallen agents of the God-Machine. Strangely, although it seems that the God-Machine seems capable of rewriting a character's entire history and memory, it can't force them to come under its direct control.
All development into a creature of the World of Darkness requires moderator approval, however. This applies both to characters becoming something new as they lose their memories, and to other forms of change (for example, a character dying and becoming a Sin-Eater).