January 23rd, 2001

Game Night Tonight --

Tonight is our regular Tuesday Night game. We play a table-top Vampire game. Right now, we are playing in The Du Lac Campaign.
Our group plays a family who was embraced, father, mother, and all five brothers, plus a couple of cousins and such, depending on who's been in the group. Father's dead, and Mother probably is too -- hasn't been heard from in decades. This leaves the Du Lac brothers. Robeirre, Lasombre Antitribue; Marcos, Ventrue; Antione, Gangrel; and Marcos' wife and childe, my character, Marie. MIA is Jon Luc, Ravnos, and Phillipe, Brujah. (Jon Luc has been retired by the player, and Phillipe's player isn't gaming with us right now.) New joiners are Gwen, Toreador, rumored to be Jon Luc's little girl, and Marcelli, Giovanni, who is Marcos' grandson.
Why so "all-in-the-family"? We were, for the first chapter of the chronicle, geas-bound by the Lady of the Lake (a Setite named Nekbet) to serve in King Arthur's stead. The Chronicle is running very heavily on the old Arthurian legends. We polished of that chapter last time we played this chronicle, thus freeing ourselves of the geas.
Now we just work together out of habit.
Currently, we're serving as bait for Mithras. He's using us to draw out a nasty 6th gen Gangrel who's gone bad and wants to take down Mithras and gain London. Meanwhile, we're also still working for the Obsidian Dream, a kind of little group that manages some mystical affairs in the supernatural world. There are five members of the Obsidian Dream -- a Mage, a Kindred, a Garou, a Changeling, and some representitive of the Spirit World, known as the Librarian. We were acting as the Kindred representitives until we saved Nekbet. Right now, the Obsidian Dream has us working on the murder of one of their operatives, Darkenheim.
You may scoff at the idea of us acting as bait for Mithras, but we're a pretty fat group. In fact, we're planning on taking this 6th gen Gangrel out for him, as a kind of slap in the face to Mithras, because this Gangrel has Mithras running scared. (He's a fat Gangrel. Very powerful.) Scary part is, we can do it. Between Marcos's high level Auspex and Antione's Abombwe, he can't sneak up on us. Marie has Serpentis (from a diablorie quite awhile ago), so she can hold him. Robeirre and Antione can take him out, and if they can't, Marcos can with Viscisitude. Now, if we can just get our Storyteller to allow us into combat, we may actually have some fun tonight!
This game has been one damn intrigue after another. Which is not necessarily bad, but you can only politic so much. Sometimes, you just wanna kill something. Especially after so much intrigue and politics, because when you get into a battle, you know who won. The dead one lost, the live ones win. No shades of grey, no screwing around.
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This issue came up in the responses to dreamdancer's post, and I thought I'd post my thoughts on the issue. It specifically has to deal with Vampire, but it applies to all WW games, and any other game with a similar set-up.

Are there set guidelines for characters? How much, in terms of personality and abilities, is defined by your clan? Some people prefer to be creative with their characters; others take a more rigid stance.

Here's my thing. It's just my personal rule, no one else has to like it. It's this: do what you like, but have a damn good reason. The clans are not homogenous entities; except for the Tremere and the Giovanni, they're not even really organized. It doesn't matter if every other Ventrue in the world matches the stereotype; if Winston Pryce III decides to embrace some gutterpunk trash, then that gutterpunk trash is a Ventrue. But again, you have to have a reason. Why would he do this? What does he have to gain? Is he stupid in love? Does he want a pawn? What? Technically, you're supposed to have the Prince's permission to embrace. Did he ask? Did he get it? Why or why not? All of this, I think, goes in to making a better character.

That said, there are reasons vampires tend to embrace kine. A Toreador is not likely to embrace someone with no aesthetic sense or ability, unless they have something else to gain by it. Yes, many many many vampires fit the mold of their clans in some way. That doesn't mean it's all carved in stone. The reasons for an embrace are, except in the tightly-knit clans, individual. The question to answer is, "why did my character's sire embrace her?" not "why is she a Gangrel?"

I can't underscore enough how important I think it is to think these things through. I had a Brujah once, totally non-typical. She hated violence, she hated getting too involved in things. Basically, she wanted to curl up and read a book. Not because she couldn't fight; she could. She was afraid of her own strength, and what she could do to people. She was embraced by a stereotypical Brujah who read her completely wrong. When he found out what she was really like, he turned his back on her. Background, to me, makes the characters more real, and makes playing them both easier and more fun.

There are still good things about playing stereotypical characters; it doesn't have to limit your creativity at all. The trick is to see what you can do with your character within the bounds you have set. My first vamp ever was a Brujah named Lillith. Quintessentially Brujah. What made things interesting was finding out how I could still make her her own person, without being trite.

I think it's probably a good idea for beginner players not to get too wild; stick with the traditional types, it'll give you a good feel for the characteristics of the clan. But once you've got that down, once you've got the structure, go to town. See what you can come up with. But keep in mind that the really unusual characters will probably also be pretty rare. And again, have a damn good reason. You want your character to have an obscure discipline? Fine, but don't just say "he befriended a Salubri." Wanting a cool, far-out character is not, in my opinion, sufficient reason to have one. Be creative in the background, not just the attributes.

One of the neat things about the World of Darkness is that it is, as the name says, a fully created world. It has internal logic. That doesn't mean that you have to follow every word and implication in the books. But I think it helps to follow some kind of order, some kind of rationale, because it keeps the richness of the game. Saying "I want it, so I have it" just leaves things in kind of a mess.

But ultimately, it's your game, and as long as the ST and the players are in accord, and enjoying themselves, who gives a fig?