What factors led to the poor reception and early cancellation of Wraith: The Oblivion?


Wraith: The Oblivion was published by White Wolf Games in 1994, but cancelled in 1999. Many of the books during the run show signs of being compressed together. While White Wolf typically published one book for each clan, bloodline, creed, etc., for Wraith two guilds were often smashed into one book. Wikipedia says that more books were planned, but never published.

Why was Wraith cancelled early? Wikipedia also mentions it was nominated for some awards, and it seems like a fairly novel game in some regards. It has a unique character that really sets it apart. I haven’t played it, but reading the books doesn’t reveal anything telling – it seems to use the same system as other White Wolf games with some reskinning.

Things I’ve tried:

  • I’ve tried asking the proprieters of my local game stores. They either don’t know anything, or remember that it sold poorly with no real explanation.
  • I’ve asked around my local World of Darkness tables. Many of the oldbies were playing in the 1990’s, but none admit to having played the game. Their responses mostly came down to "everyone knows this game sucks", with no explanation of why.
  • White Wolf advertised some listservs in its game books, but I haven’t been able to find archives of them.
  • I’ve read some reviews of Wraith. Most of them are rather artistic or critical in nature, rather than something that I suspect reflects the real played experience of actual tables. Additionally, none of them describe the game’s failure or why it was cancelled.

So what happened? Why was Wraith cancelled?