Wednesday, December 6, 2023

World of Darkness Team Apologizes For Unauthorized Likeness Of Māori Activist In Upcoming Rulebook

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World of Darkness, the team behind games like Vampire the Masquerade and Hunter The Reckoning, have apologized for a piece of art included in the upcoming Core Rulebook for Werewolf The Apocalypse, which is set to be published by Renegade Game Studios later this year.

The art, which was shared in a now-deleted tweet on the official World of Darkness account, depicted a group of Werewolf characters known as Glass Walkers, including a Māori man wearing full Tā moko face tattoos. Players pointed out that this character looked like Māori artist and activist Tāme Wairere Iti, and that depiction of Iti and his moko was cultural appropriation.

This led to a call from many in the TTRPG community, particularly members of Indigenous and First Nations groups, to remove the art or compensate Tāme Iti.

Tā moko or simply moko are a closely held religious and cultural practice, used to mark one’s passage into manhood as well as one’s social status and mana. It was outlawed under colonial rule, criminalized in 1907 by colonial authority alongside other Māori cultural practices and language. The use or even reproduction of moko by non-Maori is thus controversial within the community, with one German artist threatened with a lawsuit by Māori leader Rangi McLean in 2022 for unauthorized use of McClean’s likeness and moko in a commercial art piece.

This is not the first time the World of Darkness books have dealt with controversy around their use of real-world figures and issues. The team posted their apology tweet yesterday afternoon, promising to remove the image from the release before it publishes in August.

So far there has been no comment from publisher Renegade Game Studios or White Wolf owner Paradox Interactive, but they have been reached out to for comment.

Images via Paradox Interactive/Renegade Games Studios

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  • Dan Arndt

    Fiction writer, board game fanatic, DM. Has an MFA and isn't quite sure what to do now. If you have a dog, I'd very much like to pet it. Operating out of Indianapolis.

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