OWBN is an acronym for One World By Night, a collaborative effort between upwards of 60 live-action roleplaying game
s set in White Wolf Game Studio
's World of Darkness
. Started in March of 1994 as an informal arrangement between two midwestern games, OWBN (commonly pronounced Obi-Wan
for some obscure reason
) now spans the globe with games running in North America
, South America
and even Australia
The majority of OWBN chronicles are based around the vampire genre of the World of Darkness, but there are several werewolf games, a couple of mage games and an infrequent changeling game that plays now and then. As far as sect allegiances go, most of the chronicles in OWBN are Camarilla-aligned, and that's most likely the way things will stay for quite some time to come (Most Vampire players prefer the more "civilized" Camarilla over the other sects). However, there is a slowly climbing number of Sabbat games, and even a purely Giovanni chronicle in Shakopee. So although other types of games might be hard to find, there is a wide diversity of styles and choices in OWBN.
In fact, that diversity is what keeps OWBN different from other gaming organizations, like the Camarilla Fan Club. Instead of concentrating on a worldwide rules system, OWBN's focus is that of a shared story. Although an effort is made to keep the rules similar between the various chronicles (and there is almost always some rule or another being debated on one of the various e-mail lists), individual games mainly have a free reign in designing their own house rules to fit whatever special circumstances they might have. This does have the odd side effect of causing some of the more debated powers and abilities to function differently from place to place (My character's eidetic memory merit often fails him, for example), but the suspension of disbelief still remains at manageable levels.
The homogenization that does occur is the responsibility of the OWBN Council. Each chronicle appoints one Council representative whose responsibility it is to discuss and vote upon proposals within OWBN. In addition, some positions, such as the various coordinators within OWBN, are considered to have a vote on Council matters (Although some position holders may only use their votes in case of a tie).
The most commonly seen proposals to the OWBN Council (Also known as just "Council" or more frequently "Goddamn Council") are those of the R&U type, which stands for Rare and Unique. R&U proposals are the result of several bylaws which categorize different varieties of characters into different classifications. The majority of characters can be played with little to no Council interaction. However, there exist rare and/or powerful character types and organizations (Such as the Baali, True Brujah, Rogue Thaumaturgists, etc) that could be game-unbalancing or might detract from the genre of the game as a whole. Characters of these groups need to pass by a Council vote (varies from majority to 2/3 majority, depending on the exact character type and whether it is to be used as a PC or NPC) in order to be playable, although some groups merely require a notification to Council beforehand. Although in a perfect game, these rules would not be necessary, the fact is that OWBN is run by people, however well-meaning, and keeping potentially game-disrupting characters closely watched from the start helps to limit mistakes. It's my opinion that those who have justification and a well thought-out character concept generally get approval anyways, and the amount of thought put into the process of writing up a background and such for the character seems to produce above-par concepts as well as well-played characters. After all, no one wants to go through the effort of submitting a character to Council, only to have it killed through their own foolish actions.
Other Council proposals generally consist of bylaw amendments, though there is the occasional proposal for something unusual such as a course of action for one of the game's Justicars, or the much-dreaded OWBN Strike. Currently the only disciplinary measure in OWBN, it operates on the "three strikes and you're out" principle.
More information on OWBN, including it's charter, bylaws and a list of participating chronicles may be found at www.owbn.org.