Also, all these fucking Russians playing games with the friending system can go cut their knackers off with a bandsaw. I don't know quite why it irritates me so much, but it does.
The Game: Vampire: The Requiem
The Publisher: White Wolf Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: None. I bought it and read through it once, but that was at the point of release. I've not looked at it since then.
Books Required: The World of Darkness Rulebook and Vampire: The Requiem.
I never got along well with Vampire: The Masquerade. Between good games gone bad because occult horror and supernatural action were two tastes that really need to be mixed right, and games featuring players who actually shocked me with their reprehensible attitudes, I turned my back on it for a long time. With the release of Vampire: The Requiem, I told myself that that had changed. I bought it in a bundle with the World of Darkness Rulebook while I was working on Lore of the Forsaken. I thought that after Lore, I could get into a Vampire game that wasn't Masquerade. I read Requiem, but lack of players stymied me. And that's all she said. I've actually not cracked the covers since. In many respects, I'm coming into this one cold.
A lot of my trouble with vampires as player characters, at least the semi-sensual approach taken by Rice et al., is that they're blatant rape metaphors. They have a need that they slake by force, but it's somehow okay because the victim enjoys it and probably won't remember it. Which is about as good a justification as "I'm a great shag, and besides, I slipped her a Rohypnol." The semi-feudal politics and backstabbing among the undead just serves to highlight that they're bastards: any good vampire would have watched one last dawn rather than inflict his continuing existence upon humanity.
I want to make a character who addresses that without being shallow or one-note, someone who can engage with that aspect of the game without forcing it to be a focus—but providing hooks if the group decides to tackle the issue.
Step 1: Concept
I want a pragmatic character, someone who's pretty much seen it all, and isn't scared of monsters because she's seen the dark side of the human psyche. Dipping into my pool of default inspiration flashes back to Law & Order: SVU, and it fits. She was, when she was fully alive, a special victims detective. In addition to handling sex crimes, she dealt with cases of child abuse and crimes against the elderly—in all cases, victims who didn't have the power to meet their attackers on an even footing.
At the point of her Embrace, she'd almost lost herself in her work. Seeing just how vile people could be toward each other had taken it's toll; she'd sworn off any friendships beyond those necessary at work, and slept with an unlicensed pistol beside her bed. She'd started to think of herself as something else, something that wasn't the same species as the people she arrested—or their victims. She got sloppy one night, driving home from visiting her parents. She was on her guard, but the only other person anywhere near the gas station was the attendant. She didn't expect him to attack her—or to Embrace her.
Despite being more than a little aloof, she's very grounded in the present. Rather than going all "woe is me" or watching the dawn, she's the sort of person who experiments with her new-found state in order to determine what works and what doesn't, and then how best to practically apply herself.
Step 2: Attributes
Mental primary, Physical secondary, Social tertiary. She's plenty good as a cop, but not exactly great as a human being.
Mentally, I put a point into Intelligence, two into Wits, and two into Resolve. She's sharp, and years of practice help her to keep it together no matter what happens.
Physically, two points into Stamina and one into everything else. She's pushed herself from the day she graduated the academy, and only rarely feels the burn.
Socially, I put one point into Manipulation, and two into Composure. Nothing shocks her, but she's not particularly nice.
Step 3: Skills
I stick with the same distribution of priorities.
Mentally, three points go straight into Investigation. Two more each go into Academics and Politics. A point in Computer and one in Medicine round up the Skills that come from her time served as a cop. The remaining two points go into Occult, as she's spent a lot of time experimenting and learning about her new condition.
Physically, two points into Firearms and Athletics—she was a gym regular, and made sure to keep up to date at the range. Two points in Stealth as well, and one in Brawl rounds everything out.
Socially, I drop two points in Subterfuge, one in Streetwise, and one in Persuasion. While Empathy would seem obvious, she's lost the internal understanding of people, instead replacing it with an external, book-learned understanding that runs off Investigation.
Step 4: Specialties
Here, we start to put shape to the mechanical bones. Academics gets "Law", Firearms gets "Service Pistol", and Subterfuge gets "Everyday Lies".
Step 5: Add Supernatural Template
First up, choose Clan. I like the potential for irony in making her a Ventrue, given her general self-loathing and interest in forging legal precedent for vampiric offenses. That just doesn't swing; the Lords of the Damned wouldn't allow a wayward child to go quite that wayward. Mekhet, on the other hand... the Shadows are all about mastering the potential of vampiric existence. Yeah. I like that. Clan Disciplines are Auspex, Celerity, and Obfuscate. I get to add one dot to either of the favoured Attributes(Intelligence or Wits), so I boost Wits to 4.
Five Covenants. Of the set, I can see the character having to think long and hard between the Carthian Movement and the unaligned. In the end, the Carthians and their attempts to modernise the feudal social structure that vampires adhere to work best. She adjudicates disputes as an investigator, and is working on a legal framework that takes into account the realities of vampiric existence. That nets me XP discounts in the future, but nothing now.
Three dots of Disciplines, at least two of which must come from the favoured. Two dots of Obfuscate allow her to appear totally human, and to hide small things on her person. The remaining dot goes into Auspex, because that's heightened senses and hyperperception is a hallmark of vampires mastering their own senses.
Step 6: Merits
I need at least one dot of Status (Carthian). I drop three in, just to be certain: the other Carthians know about her, and she's got a reputation for mastering herself and expecting the same from others. One dot of Contacts (Police), as she keeps in touch with some people from before her change. Two more dots of Status as a Private Investigator, covering her current occupation. Finally, one dot of Retainer represents her human (and non-bloodbag) secretary.
Step 7: Determine Advantages
Maths first. Size is 5, Speed is 9, Health is 8, Initiative is 5, and Willpower is 6. Humanity is 7, but I can drop that for XP... I think that I will, all told. In some ways, she's putting off the point where she really confronts what she has become and what that really means, burying herself in politics and dealing with her new identity, and that's eroded some of her own sense of herself, which couples with her detachment. I drop Morality to 5, and perversely spend the bonus XP on the second dot of Auspex. Nothing like hating yourself for being a vampire to give you vampiric power.
I also note that she's got Depression as a Flaw, linked to her detachment from normal society.
Finally, Virtue and Vice. Virtue is easy: Justice. I could see Pride as a Vice, but Wrath also seems to fit, and fit better.
Finally, a name. Kate Alexander.
Step Eight: Spark of Life
I don't usually do these bits, as I front-load most of the thinking in the Concept stage. But here, the concept only lead as far as the Embrace, and there's some questions that I do think need addressing.
First off, she didn't kill herself upon discovering what she was. She also didn't kill herself the first time she fed. Hypocritical much? Well, only partly. Partly, the fact that her Sire didn't hang around—or even make himself known—pretty much meant that Kate was left to self-experiment in order to determine her limits. She had no idea what feeding would entail until she did it. And even then, her desire for self-preservation, her selfish urge to go on living for just that little bit longer over-rode her nobler impulses. These days, she claims that she's waiting to make a lasting change in the local population, but in the cold light of the real world, that's just another excuse.
When it comes to feeding, consuming the blood of animals is no different to drinking from a human; both are living creatures that a vampire is stealing the life from. Kate especially despises those "humanitarian" vampires who claim that they're somehow better for feeding only on animal blood, because they're not getting to grips with the ongoing reality of their situation. In her own mind, her ongoing depression validates her existence in a way that other vampires don't have. Her "at least I feel guilty" attitude wins her no friends, but she has earned a measure of respect nontheless, based on her skill as an investigator and for the uncompromising nature of her beliefs.
Many vampires turn to crime in order to afford a place to stay, else they squat in abandoned warehouses and sewers. Kate maintains a more human lifestyle through a combination of appearing perfectly human and having a PI license. Her old partners in the police department don't know precisely why she left, only that she's occasionally in touch and seems to do a decent enough job. All of her contact with the daylight world occurs through her secretary, Lydia Gordon, who works a strict 10-6 with Sundays off. While other vampires would have turned Lydia into a Ghoul or used a Blood Bond to enforce her loyalty, Kate instead treats her fairly and pays her well. Feeding from Lydia, or tampering with her will would be a real blow to Kate's sense of self, and if she ever did either then the guilt would push her over the edge.
Name: Kate Alexander
Concept: Guilt-Ridden PI
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 2, Wits 4, Resolve 3
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 3
Social Attributes: Presence 1, Manipulation 2, Composure 3
Mental Skills: Academics (Law) 2, Computer 1, Investigation 3, Medicine 1, Occult 2, Politics 2
Physical Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 1, Firearms (Service Pistol) 2, Stealth 2
Social Skills: Persuasion 1, Streetwise 1, Subterfuge (Everyday Lies) 2
Merits: Contacts (Police), Retainer 1, Status (Carthian) 3, Status (Private Investigator) 2
Disciplines: Auspex 2, Obfuscate 2