Sunday, June 8, 2014

Jaquaying the Vampire, Part III

(I'm creating a new vampire character for a game I'm about to join. I've decided to embrace a bit of randomness and use Jennell Jaquay's Central Casting: Heroes Now  to come up with the background. Part I covered the initial ideas, Part II the roles. )

Alright, now that I have the background rolls and random results, it's time for me to make this character into a real, life (er...undead) person. As with any random system, you need to be willing to keep, throw out, modify, and add to the results of the Central Casting series--this is a feature of the system, not a bug. First, let's go over some initial ideas I have about this character based on what I got.

Two things strike me about this character--first, that he's a collector. Second, that he's "Energetic." It's the second one that strikes me more than anything. He's not the kind of Vampire to sit around in Elysium plotting and scheming, he's someone who is going to be out there, taking care of business for himself. Secondly, the Collector trait. Sure, he's ridiculously wealthy, and so many items can be purchased at his whim.  But many other items are lost, stolen, undiscovered or otherwise so valuable that no amount of money can procure them--and that's where the energetic idea comes in. He's a scholar who wants ancient artifacts and is willing to go as far as he needs to in order to acquire them. It's like someone mixed up Indiana Jones and Diabolik!

Given that, I'll keep most of the background--noble Dutchman, raised by his grandfather in far off Indonesia. He discovered dark and forbidden secrets while over there. The book he's obsessed with I'll say is the personal journal of a Portuguese priest named Otávio António Helder Medeiros, who first came to those lands in an attempt to colonize them, but discovered ancient and blasphemous things while there. The book "Medeiros Codex" is a hodgepodge of Latin, Greek, Portuguese, and other languages, written in odd codes and bizarre symbols which my character is still trying to figure out.

As a robust scholar (remember, he's mastered an odd weapon for his time, served in the navy, and was raised in distant colonies by a self-proclaimed "adventurer"), a Brujah or Tremere seems the most appropriate. However, neither really interests me, and neither plays up the "monstrous" creature I initially wanted to play. Instead, and something on a whim, I'm going to stick with my gut and go Nosferatu.

Now, this helps me explain my sire--the final "random event" was a villain being unmasked, whom I thought was a friend. So, I'm going to say that my sire was part of my life from the moment my character arrived in Jakarta. Wearing many faces, she's always been there, probably associated with the Medeiros Codex. Supposedly, hidden within it's pages is the resting place of an Antediluvian, but none have ever been able to find this information. My character was embraced when my sire launched a final bid to seize control of Jakarta from the European vampires who were flocking to it. Her attempts failed, and my character was forced to flee the flames of the city before being put out for the sun.

Actually, no, that's nearly awesome enough. Ok, so my character was embraced to take over Jakarta. The plan worked, and my sire took over. Working together, my sire, my character, and, eh, let' say some Tremere guy thought they figured out where the Antediluvian was sleeping. In August, 1883 the three Kindred, numerous followers, and over two dozen ghouls carrying the finest weapons that man had yet made descended onto the site--a distant, quiet island called Krakatoa.

What they found there was like nothing they ever expected. It wasn't an Antediluvian--whatever it was could never be described as having once been human. It was power--not powerful, but raw, naked power itself. It had slept for a very, very long time and had no interest in being awoken. It's vague turning killed half the assembled army, drove many of the others mad, and launched an explosion so powerful that the world would not see its equal until 1945.

He, and the few battered survivors barely escaped with their lives. He eventually made his was back to the Netherlands, where his ancestral lands have served as his base of operations for the past century, and he obsessively sought any information he could about what that thing was, and what the truth of the Jyhad was really about.

So, ok, I have a bad ass, exploring, wealthy investigator into ancient mysteries and secrets. But, one other random even rarely got to me. He was married, and had children. Now, he also had numerous siblings, but he was the one who inherited the lands back home. It could just be the result of a divided inheritance, but what if he actually was the last surviving child? The rest all died of various tropical diseases--or so everyone thought. In truth, his sire was behind his "elevation"--a horror that still haunts my character with guilt. As such, he is equally obsessed with his surviving family in a way to somehow make up for the tragedies inflicted upon his brothers and sisters.

Stealing a page from Anne Rice, he has been overseeing his family for the past century. Always seeking to protect and advance them, and always appearing as Great Uncle "Jan" (or whatever, he changes his ID every decade or so, depending on which elderly relative has passed away recently and whose identity he can take over), and keeping the family safe. This family is a source of strength--contacts, information, access, wealth, and loyal servants, but also a critical weakness. Any threat to his mortal descendants is sure to provoke a ill-thought out response.

Finally, why is this character in London? The background of the game says that the previous ruling faction vanished mysteriously and a new Prince has taken over. I decide that my character had created a childe years ago. She was a young member of the family, and her husband was an abusive animal. One night his rage almost killed her, and my character was too late to stop him. She would have died, but my character ended up embracing her and kept him alive just along enough for him to be her first meal.

She truly loved her husband, though, and what my character did disgusted and enraged her. She never forgave him for siring her or making her murder the man she loved. But, she not only survived the transition, but positively thrived--she teamed up with a group of young Kindred and traveled Europe getting involved in all sorts of high-octane adventures. She was basically a typical table top Vampire PC. She made her way to London where, while not an "officer" of the court, she made her home and was one of the Sheriff's top enforcers. When she disappeared, my character was compelled to find out what happened, and why. After all, not only was she family, but, despite their differences, she was probably the most capable Kindred he had ever known--if something could take her out, it is a threat to everyone.

At this point, I'm pretty happy with the character. All I need now is to stat him up, enter the information on the website, and see if he's approved.

Oh, wait, he needs a name. A bit of the old Wikipedia leads me to Dutch nobility, and I go with Severin Van Hoensbroeck. He is "Severin" among the Kindred. He has three major mortal identities.

1) Constantine Van Hoensbroeek--the "Great Uncle" of the family, a retired financier who now keeps a tab on the family. In this identity he is served by Maarten Van Hoensbroeek--a ghouled "cousin" who handles most of the day-to-day work of keeping the Family together.

2) Laars Bakker--a plain looking average young man, who is his typical appearance and demeanor. He is assisted by Luca, a tough and street smart thug who helps him find various things that need to be found.

3) Sarah--a plain but innocent looking young woman, who is his typical appearance for hunting. A "helpless" young woman often brings the prey to him.

All right! Let's see if this character works!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Jaquaying the Vampire, Part II

(I’m joining a new Vampire game. Having no specific ideas for a character, I’m going to try and create one using Jennell Jaquay’s “Here’s Now” book. It is long out of print, but used copies are available via Amazon. Part 1 can be found here).

Ok, now let’s get to the meat of character creation. Right now, I only know a few things I want for this character.
  1. I want to play a male character. I’ve “gender swapped” before, and it can be quite a bit of fun, and a play by post game might be ideal for such a situation. But, right now, I feel like playing a male character.
  2. He’s going to be a Vampire
  3. He will probably be around 150 years old. Most of other PC’s seems to be Ancillas or Elders and I’ve never tried playing on of these, so we’ll follow the herd in this situation.
  4. I lean towards the monstrous side of things.
  5. Heroes Now! is designed for the 20th Century characters, so I’ll need to be a bit more liberal in my interpretations than I otherwise would. I am totally fine with this.

That’s it. I have no idea for archetype, clan, demeanor, nature or anything. I want to leave myself open to where fate may take me. Let’s see what the dice say.

First up--Country of Origin. I know I don’t really want to play an American--I am one, and I play American’s a lot. Otherwise, I have no preference.  Now assuming that I want to play a character who’s around 30 at the time of the Embrace (random guess, we’ll determine actual age later), I’ll have to have been born sometime around the 1820’s The map wasn’t nearly as filled it at that point, so...well, let’s see what we get when we roll.

First up, I roll an American. NOPE! Second roll, and I get “Small Polynesian Island.” Huh, well that is a bit interesting. As a roll further I find out that I’m not Polynesian--my parents emigrated to the island before I was born, and that they are from the Netherlands. Interesting, for now I’m assuming I’ll my home to somewhere around Indonesia, and my parents were colonists and/or administrators. But, let’s move on before deciding anything for certain.

I move onto culture and and the like, and so far it tracks with the Dutch Empire at the end of the Napoleonic Era. I then start checking out my social status and...huh. I roll REALLY well--Nobility. Looks like my parents weren’t just simple colonists!

Rolling some more, and it appears that my family held the rank of Marquis and were extremely wealthy. If they were in the colonies, they were here as large land owners or as the governor, that’s for certain! However, it appears that my character was the last of 4 children, and they were raised by their grandparents. Rolling for their occupation, it looks like Grandad was an “adventurer”--he certainly wasn’t in the South Pacific “working.”

Next, we look at the random events of my life up until my embrace. At 9, I found a mysterious and ancient book full of dark and forbidden knowledge. At 10, I inherited my own Estate. At 12, my Family encouraged my hobby--that’s nice of them. I’m assuming Grandpa liked that I was becoming a little scholar, thanks to my obsession with the ancient tome. In fact, at 15 I became “obsessed” with collecting things. Heck, at 16 I developed an “Exotic Personality Trait” (which actually was Obsessed with Collection). At 17, I was forced to serve briefly in the Dutch Navy--don’t worry, the young noble was certainly an officer. In my early twenties I learned an unusual weapon, and got married in my mid twenties, having a few children of my own. Finally, at the age of 30 a horrible villain revealed himself--he was a totally depraved individual who had been concealing himself as a friend of mine, and was obsessed not only with dominating the entire area, but was himself a collector.

Personality wise, I end up with the following traits--Energetic, Clean, Dependent, Sexual Perversion (the book is rather judgemental about anything outside of male/female married relations, so I’m taking this to mean NOT that, rather than as an actual “negative trait”), Collector (naturally) and a mild case of Pyromania. Not a good thing for a Vampire to have.

Alright, next time I’ll try and make all this make sense and come with an actual character!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Jaquaying the Vampire, Part 1

With apologies to Justin Alexander

I’m about to join a new Play-by-Post Vampire game, and I am incredibly excited about it. Vampire: The Masquerade is one of my favorite games of all time; and, while I still run it on a fairly regular basis, I almost never get to play in it. So, finally being able to try the fangs out for myself will be a treat!

I was able to get a preview of some of the action on it (Located at Bound By Night, hopefully I won’t get in trouble for mentioning it)  and I was immediately impressed by the talent and passion of the writers/gamers who are already involved. I don’t have a lot of experience with Play by Post games, and most
of the ones I have done have focused more on “frequent brief posts” than anything else. Bound By Night seems more like a collaborative novel than emulating the table top experience--which sound ideal for Vampire. Though I will admit, I feel a tad intimidated by the volume, creativity, and talent they already have display. Hm, maybe I’d be better off playing a mute character?

So, I have a cool opportunity to join what looks like a very neat game, all I need is a character. And this is where I’m stumped. I have NO idea of what I want to play. Sure, I've run and played Vampire for years, and I can come up with a bad ass anarch Brujah or a mysterious and cryptic Tremere at the drop of a hat. But this game seems far more character focused, so I want to play someone with a bit more personality and nuance.

Now, the way I normally create characters is by collaborating with the GM and other players. Asking about the game, it’s theme and concept, talking about what we all want to see and do in the game, etc. Then I filter this information through the various characters I like playing and/or types of characters I haven’t played yet but always wanted to. As the conversation progresses, I generally end up with a pretty decent idea of who I want to play and all that’s left is the math.

That kind of back and forth isn't REALLY an option, and that’s fine. I have a brief overview of the setting and the basics of some of the characters already in game. They are, in general, the beautiful, powerful, and fearsome Kindred which is awesome. Based on what I’ve seen, the players seem really dedicated to exploring the politics, social interactions, and sensuality and passion of the undead. But, part of my wants to play something a tad more monstrous.

Unfortunately, other than that, I have nothing. So, I want to do what I often do when I am looking for inspiration--I turn to random tables. They've rather fallen out of favor nowadays, but as an old school Vampire fan, I can site the 1st. Edition Storyteller’s Guide and Chicago By Night and say “SEE! Random tables ARE part of Vampire.”
This is a seriously awesome book!

Now, I was fortunate a few years ago to get my hands on some old copies of Jennell Jacquay’s “Central Casting” series--an AMAZING resource for generating characters. Specifically, the “Heroes NOW!” book (used copies available through Amazon here, it's Out of Print, and I think BEGGING for a Kickstarter/reprinting). This book will guide me through a character's life from birth and parents to “now,” right before the game begins. I’ll need to modify it quite a bit, naturally, as it wasn’t really designed to fit Vampire, and like any random tables, sometimes things won’t fit or be interesting. Of course, often trying to make incongruent things work together can be the best part of the process. So, the results are a guideline only as I try to come up with a new character.

Part II can be found here. Part III here.

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