Werewolf: The Apocalypse 5th Edition Review

World of Darkness is back!

Published By:
Renegade Games
World of Darkness Tabletop RPG

Let us bow our heads in silence for the World of Darkness 20th Anniversary… Thank you. It’s challenging to bring up anything in the World of Darkness without people stopping to worship at the altar of what once was. Admittedly, these were supposed to be the final days in the fight for humanity, the last hurrah for White Wolf Publishing—and indeed, it was true…until it wasn’t. Purchased by Paradox Interactive, World of Darkness was revived through a partnership with Renegade Games, and one by one, the major Splats are being resurrected, the most recent of which is Werewolf: The Apocalypse, currently in its Fifth Edition.

I am a humble novice when it comes to the World of Darkness. Still, after being enamored with Vampire: The Masquerade (those around me may say obsessed, but I digress), I leaped at the opportunity to do a playtest for Werewolf 5th edition and started building my character. Unlike other fantasy TTRPGs where there are races or ancestries and patrons, Werewolf has Tribes and Auspices. Tribes, which determine your character’s favors and bans, can be chosen canonically. While in lore, Auspices cannot. That’s an interesting distinction since Auspices impact your gifts, representing that you don’t always have complete control over what is given. However, during character creation, you do choose both your Tribe and your Auspice. I prefer a roll chart to randomize Auspice selection to better align with the lore, enhancing immersion for later storytelling.

As this was not my first venture into the World of Darkness, I was somewhat familiar with the character-creation process regarding Attributes and Skills. For those unfamiliar, think of Attributes as primary abilities (i.e., strength, charisma, and intelligence) and Skills as specific proficiencies such as brawl, insight, and technology. Your Attributes will always follow the same spread, similar to the standard array in D&D 5e. In contrast, your Skills allow you to choose from three different configurations: Jack of all Trades (you can do a lot though none of it particularly well), Balanced (You will have things that you’re good at and things you’re not, but for the most part it will feel standard) and then you will have my personal favorite, Specialist (You will be Godlike in one thing but at the expense of having fewer skills as a whole). Things like this are excellent for GMs because they make it easier to review sheets, balance encounters, and walk newer players through missteps. The bonus is that if you can build a character in one World of Darkness splat, you can make them in another WOD campaign, as this is pretty standard across the system. For those who feel like this isn’t nearly enough customization, fear not, as this is when your backgrounds, gifts, and rites come into play. Backgrounds help flesh out your concept while also having the potential to give you mechanical and roleplaying benefits. Gifts and rites, on the other hand, grant mechanical benefits and further connect you to the lore. A word of advice: be very careful when picking gifts; as one of my tablemates realized, many can only be used in your supernatural form, which may not always be convenient.

This brings me to gameplay. Werewolf is a D10 system, much like the rest of World of Darkness… Most dice pools are comprised of an attribute and a skill. They can be modified by using applicable backgrounds to get several successes equal to or greater than the DC (difficulty class). I’ve always enjoyed the ability to customize tests using the skills and attributes to make completing tasks more realistic. The downside is that sometimes there just isn’t a combination that will fit what you’re trying to achieve. A portion of the gameplay time is spent trying to figure out the dice pool and it can distract from the storytelling, which is the main draw of the World of Darkness system.

One thing I enjoyed was the rage system. Rage is used for gifts and shapeshifting, which can be gained through gameplay or increased by using certain rites. If you’re a video gamer, this is similar to a gauge. You want to increase it and spend it, but you never want to go down to zero, and you don’t want to over-cap. At times, managing rage felt almost like its own minigame, and nothing made me sweat more than when I was almost filled with rage. With little use or outlet, I knew I was heading into a situation where I had the potential to gain even more.

As I stated, World of Darkness games seem to be heavily roleplay-based, but what I liked about Werewolf 5e is that it seemed to do an excellent job of supporting physical combat. You have four forms other than your human form: Glabro, Crinos, Hispo, and Lupus. While you take hits to social combat in some forms, the physical benefits far exceed what you’ll lose. Let’s be frank: if you’re ready to shapeshift, you’re past the point of talking. Your bite gains the ability to deal aggravated damage (which is like gold in combat, as supernatural beings are resistant to superficial damage) and additional dice on your physical tests. It also gives you regenerative properties, and each form has its benefits. All of this is up to you, the player, to weigh the pros and cons of each form based on your current encounter and your Rage.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Well, Tiara, what didn’t you like?” The main issue I had with Werewolf 5e is the same issue I have with most of Renegade’s content: the layout of the resources. Having played Vampire: The Masquerade and Power Rangers, I knew what awaited me beyond the covers. However, my tablemates did not. We perused through the book for simple answers, which took up much of our table time. I can only be thankful that we had PDFs. If we had only physical copies, the frustration might have been overwhelming. Hopefully, this will be resolved with the announcement of the storyteller (Dungeon Master) screen is set to release in August 2024). This will allow storytellers to have a quick reference and share those with their players for easier access to information and smoother play.

I cannot judge whether Werewolf: The Apocalypse 5e will live up to its predecessor, and I don’t know if it’s even fair to compare the two. However, on its own, Werewolf 5e is enjoyable enough to play. Since this is relatively new compared to other Renegade releases, you won’t feel as behind in lore, content, and knowledge as you would with other content, such as Vampire: The Masquerade. Based on Character Creation, Gameplay, and Resources,  I look forward to the releases in August and can’t wait to see how Werewolf grows from here.


Check out our initial Game Session on CFG Tabletop on Youtube! Subscribe


Werewolf: The Apocalypse 5th Edition Review
Werewolf: The Apocalypse 5E
Dive into "Werewolf: The Apocalypse 5e," where deep character customization and a clever rage mechanic inject fresh excitement into the iconic World of Darkness series, reborn through Paradox Interactive and Renegade Games.
Immersive Character Customization
Strategic Rage System
Strong Support for Physical Combat
Complex Resource Layout
Potentially Slow Gameplay
Limited Utility of Some Gifts