White Wolf Publishing, the publisher of Vampire: The Masquerade, will be absorbed by its parent company and no longer be allowed to independently publish products after a recent book depicted persecution of the LGBTQ community in Chechnya as a misdirection to mask the presence of vampires in that region.
At one point, Vampire: The Masquerade was one of the most popular tabletop games in existence. The roleplaying game was the foundation of the World of Darkness series of RPG games and was immensely appealing to those looking for a more gothic, urban alternative to Dungeons & Dragons.
White Wolf Publishing recently released the 5th edition of Vampire: The Masquerade, intended to bring the game back into pop culture and gaming relevance. And while the core game has been well-received, several excerpts from recent publications have come under scrutiny for various reasons.
The most recent and perhaps the most controversial passage was found in the soon to be released Camarilla sourcebook and references ongoing persecution of LGBTQ people in Chechnya. According to the books, Chechnya is secretly ruled by vampires who persecute homosexuals to mask their existence. Sure, LGBT folks are actually rounded up, tortured, and killed in Vampire: The Masquerade's Chechnya, but the purpose is only a clever disinformation campaign instead of systematic persecution.
While the actual LBGTQ persecution has been covered extensively by international media, Russian and Chechnyan sources deny its existence and claim that the news stories were a smear campaign by the West. Upon learning that Vampire: The Masquerade referenced the persecution in their books, they found another excuse to claim that the disappearance of hundreds of LGBT people was an example of the slander campaign against the region.
Needless to say, most people found the use of actual crimes against humanity as flavor text to be tasteless and highly insensitive and Paradox Publishing, the parent company of White Wolf, seems to agree. After much condemnation online, Paradox announced that White Wolf would be folded back into their company and would focus on "brand management," passing off the actual writing and publishing of future World of Darkness books to licensees.
"The World of Darkness has always been about horror, and horror is about exploring the darkest parts of our society, our culture, and ourselves," wrote Shams Jorjani, the interim manager at White Wolf, while explaining the changes to the company. "Horror should not be afraid to explore sensitive topics, but it should never do so without understanding who those topics are about and what it means to them. Real evil does exist in the world, and we can't ever excuse its real perpetrators or cheapen the suffering of its real victims."
In addition, the Camarilla and Anarch sourcebooks, which both reference the vampire situation in Chechnya will be temporarily suspended so that the books can be revised. Shipping will be delayed by an estimated three weeks.