Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
“The only way he could truly stick out in New Orleans was if he were walking down the street on fire. A businessman in suit and tie would stick out more than the characters Jackson passed on those old streets.”
Hunter Murphy, Imogene in New Orleans
Any player who’s joined the game has already gone through a fairly extensive character creation process with the GM. This page isn’t about that. It’s strictly game mechanics, as well as the technical aspects of getting a page for your character posted on Obsidian Portal.
If you haven’t already, read the Gameplay Basics page to learn how to play the game.
Step One: Make a Character Page
Scroll your cursor over the “+ New” option on Obsidian Portal’s menu and click “Character Page”. Fill out the following fields.
Character Name: You can probably figure out what to put here.
Quick Description: Write a brief summary of your character concept. Some examples might be, “Hot-tempered rebel without a cause,” “Trouble-prone gambler & philandering cheat,” “Sinner with a smile,” “Relentless Mafia hitman,” “Vision-plagued surrealist painter,” etc. Keep it short and sweet.
Description: Copy the contents of this link and paste it under the “Description” field of your character’s page.
Biography: Copy the contents of this link and paste it under the “Biography” field of your character’s page.
“Change Character Image”: Upload a picture of your character here.
If you have the Photoshop/GIMP know-how, you can earn some XP by desaturating it and adding a black border that makes the picture 110% its original size. If you add a border, make sure the picture’s dimensions are evenly matched (e.g., 400×400 px). Also make the picture a close-up of your character’s face: just below the top of their head, and just above the the top of a necktie’s knot. Here’s a sample.
If you don’t have the Photoshop/GIMP know-how or inclination, no big. Upload the picture as-is and the GM will make those visual tweaks.
Step Two: Mortal Character Sheet
Now you fill out your PC’s character sheet. Players store their sheets over the game’s Discord server rather than Obsidian Portal. All the same, a full sheet is reposted here to better help players conceptualize the process.
Your character’s Attributes, Skills, and other traits quantify how good they are at various things. One dot is poor, two dots is okay, three dots is good, four dots is great, and five dots is incredible. Consult the Attributes & Skills Guide for an in-depth description of the various Attributes and Skills and what characters use them for. Players familiar with previous World of Darkness or Chronicles of Darkness experience will be familiar with these.
Also remember: your character’s traits can go up over time! These are just the ones you want them to start the game with.
Now you set your character’s basic capabilities. Attributes are fundamental traits, defining how strong, smart, or charismatic a character is. One dot represents someone who is below average in that capability, while two dots represent someone average. A character with three dots is above average, four dots is extremely talented, and five dots represents the peak of human ability.
It’s worth taking a moment to consider the Attributes and how they connect to your character concept. While picking some Attributes is often easy (an Olympic athlete probably has high Strength or Dexterity), sometimes picking a less obvious category can make for a more interesting character.
Distribution: You have one Attribute at 4 dots; three Attributes at 3 dots; four Attributes at 2 dots; and one Attribute at 1 dot.
Next, you’ll select your character’s Skills. These have the same categories: Mental, Physical, and Social. Skills represent applications of your abilities. These are things you have learned from training, books, or teachers. Having no dots in a Skill means that you have no training with it, and are barely capable. One dot means you have cursory training or dabble in the Skill, while two dots means that you can use the Skill at a professional level. Three dots represents excellent training or experience, four is outstanding, and five dots means you are one of the best in the world.
When choosing Skills, think about your character’s background. Does your socialite have three dots of Crafts because she spent a lot of time in her father’s custom car shop? Does your gangster have two dots of Socialize because he had to navigate the cliques of a private school as a child?
Choose one of these distributions for your character’s Skills.
• Jack of All Trades: One Skill at 3 dots; eight Skills at 2 dots; ten Skills at 1 dots. 29 total dots. Your character can do more things, but is less good at them.
• Balanced: Three Skills at 3 dots; five Skills at 2 dots; seven Skills at 1 dot. 26 total dots. Your character strikes a balance between breadth and depth of skill.
• Specialist: One Skill at 4 dots; three Skills at 3 dots; three Skills at 2 dots; three Skills at 1 dot. 22 total dots. Your character is very good at one thing, but is less well-rounded.
If you don’t have any dots in a Skill that requires formal training (most Mental Skills and some Physical ones), you take Disadvantage (roll twice and use the worse result) on rolls with it.
Skills represent broad categories of training. Someone with the Science Skill is equally familiar with particle physics, basic chemistry, and genetics. Skill Specialties allow you to differentiate more, focusing on a specific area of a Skill that your character is more knowledgeable or proficient in. You define your own Skill Specialties. They reflect a narrow focus and expertise in a given Skill. For example, your character may have an Interrogation Specialty for Intimidation, or a History Specialty for Academics.
Specialties let your character roll an extra die for specific applications of a Skill. For example, a character with Academics (History) 3 rolls four dice when dealing with history, while a character with Animal Ken (Dogs) 2 rolls three dice when dealing with dogs. A character’s Specialties say a lot about them. For example, a character with a Socialize Specialty in Formal Events is very different from one with a Specialty in Dive Bars. Again, use this as an opportunity to better understand who your character is.
You have three Skill Specialties to assign across three separate Skills. The Skill descriptions all have some suggested Specialties.
Edges are important facets of your character that do not fall under other traits. An Edge can represent a knack, special training, people your character knows, or even things that they own. Edges add unique capabilities to your character beyond Attributes and Skills. They’re divided into the three categories shown on the above character sheets: Backgrounds (social connections), Merits (innate powers and capabilities), and Flaws (weaknesses and vulnerabilities).
You have ten dots to distribute between any combination of Edges chosen from this list.
If you want to spend any of your dots on vampire-related Edges, you can save them to spend later.
Corruption measures how much darkness has corrupted your PC’s soul. It’s 2 for starting characters. Corruption is explained in more detail here.
Virtue and Vice
For your character’s Virtue and Vice, choose a one-word description of a major personality trait or motivation for your character: something like Ambition, Honesty, Kindness, or Greed.
For your character’s Virtue, you’ll want to pick a trait reflective of the best parts of your character’s personality. Your character’s Virtue should be hard to act on or easy to ignore, but it should makes the character feel proud when they make the effort. Some example Virtues can include Brave, Generous, Diligent, Loyal, Merciful, etc.
Your character’s Vice, on the other hand, is the dark side to your character’s personality. It represents their moral failings and the worst part of who they are. Your character’s Vice probably brings them short-term comfort or satisfaction, but at the cost of being a worse person. Some example Vices can include Cowardly, Bullying, Jealous, Vain, Wrathful, etc.
Whenever you spend Story Points to boost a dice roll, it’s cheaper if your PC is also acting on their Virtue or Vice. This is explained on the Roll Bonus section of Story Points.
You’re Done (If You’re New)
If you’re a new player in the game, this is where the character creation process ends for now. The below step only applies once your character is Embraced.
Step Three: Add Vampire Template
We have the flesh and blood. Now, we add the fangs.
Here is where your character sloughs off their mortal coil and becomes a creature of the night. The Embrace changes a character into something no longer mortal, endowing them with special abilities and unique advantages unimagined in their previous existence. Aside from entering a new world based on clan and covenant, supernatural changes affect their Attributes and allow them access to the powers of the Blood.
Read the Vampire Character Rules to learn how game mechanics work for vampires. Vampire characters use the following modified sheet. Again, it’s included as a reference for players: you’ll fill out your sheet over Discord.
A character’s clan serves as a sort of extended family of the night, bound by lineage and responsible for certain similarities among its members. Vampires are always of the same clan as the sires that Embrace them, though it is possible to later join or start a bloodline that deviates from other close blood relations.
You’ll have either already submitted your preferred clans as part of your PC application to the game. What clan your character is ultimately Embraced into will be determined during their prelude.
Covenants are groups of vampires that can serve as combination political parties, secret societies, and religious orders. A covenant is more social than familial, concerned with a character’s worldview and relationship to other Kindred rather than their blood ties to an extended family. Each of these societies seeks different goals using (sometimes dramatically) diverse methods, all sure in the knowledge that their way is “right,” or at least more right than all the others. Covenant is not governed by clan or sire, though childer often begin their Requiems in the covenants of their sires, either out of familiarity or promise of status.
You’ll have either already submitted your preferred covenants as part of your PC application to the game. What covenant your character ultimately joins will be determined during their prelude. While your character’s sire and other Kindred may influence their covenant choice, ultimately the choice is theirs. Also, it may change with time. Some Kindred leave one covenant to join another for any number of potential reasons.
Your Predator Type is your preferred means of obtaining blood, whether it’s picking people up in nightclubs, feeding from them in their sleep, or jumping them in dark alleyways. Choose a Predator Type from this page. This step is listed out of order with where it on the character sheet, since your Predator Type impacts earlier items on your sheet. Non-siren Predator Types are preferred, as we’ve had a lot of earlier PCs feed via seduction.
The Embrace forces drastic changes upon the human body, altering its aspects to that of a vampiric predator. While all vampires possess the same vulnerability to fire and the need to consume blood, their bodies adapt more subtly based on the blood of their sires and the unique circumstances of their Embrace, refining them into a superior predator.
Assign one extra dot to any of your Attributes, up to a maximum of five dots.
Since PCs in this game do not belong to a coterie, gain two free dots of Status (Coterie) with a coterie of NPCs. Two dots is enough to be an established, moderately respected member in a coterie of mostly neonates, or a less respected member in a coterie of mostly older vampires. You can spend your own XP or Background dots if you want to have higher Status than this.
Look over the characters on The Factions and let the GM know which ones most interest you. Some may be better fits for a coterie than others. If you’d prefer your PC not to belong to a coterie, they don’t have to, but the two dots aren’t usable on anything else.
A vampire’s Beast score represents how strongly their Beast influences their actions. It’s how well they still understand humankid and reconcile their existence with it. Players with previous World of Darkness experience may recognize this trait as Humanity by another name. Beast is explained in more detail on the Corruption page.
By default, Beast begins at two dots. Your character’s Predator Type may cause it to go up or down.
Your character’s Touchstone is a person that reminds them of their humanity, and helps keep them grounded. Choose up to several mortals who your PC is most emotionally invested in to be their Touchstones. Family members, friends, romantic partners, and work associates are classic Touchstones, but they can be anyone your PC feels a connection to (positive or negative). See the Touchstones page for more information about what Touchstones are and what mechanical effects they have.
Blood Potency is the Curse of Caine’s raw, unbridled power in your character. It’s how strong the vitae coursing through their dead veins in. Blood Potency determines how much blood it costs to use vampiric powers, makes your character resistant to supernatural powers used against them, and has a variety of other game effects. Blood Potency’s effects are explained in more detail here.
All Kindred start play with one free dot of Blood Potency.
Disciplines are extensions of the Blood. They are ways the Beast’s tendrils creep out into the world to manipulate, to pervert, and to destroy. These unholy tricks can accomplish all manner of mysterious and terrifying feats: changing the vampire into an animal, bending steel with superhuman strength, forcing a victim into an artificial love, and far more. There are ten Disciplines, which include:
• Animalism: The power to command and speak with animals.
• Auspex: Preternaturally acute senses and psychic insights.
• Blood Sorcery: Magical spells and rituals.
• Celerity: Impossible speed.
• Dominate: Powers of mind control.
• Fortitude: Immense toughness.
• Obfuscate: Powers of stealth, distraction, and illusion.
• Potence: Inhuman strength.
• Presence: The power to manipulate trust, adoration, and fear.
• Protean: Powers of shapechanging and transformation.
Choose three dots in Disciplines. At least two must be from your character’s in-clan Disciplines. The third dot may be from any Discipline. If you choose a third Discipline dot from a non-clan Discipline, consider how your character learned it. Did they have a mentor? Did they steal the blood of another clan?
If your character starts with Covenant Status in the Circle of the Crone or Lancea et Sanctum, they may use this dot to begin play with Blood Sorcery (Crúac or Theban Sorcery), respectively. Blood Sorcery that is not in-clan for your character or a result of their Covenant Status requires GM permission and a supporting background explanation (e.g., “my sire’s lover was a Lasombra antitribu and taught me something of his clan’s art").
For more information about Disciplines, including which Disciplines are in-clan for which clans, consult this page.