The World of Darkness books are filled with great NPC ideas. Sometimes though, you want just the shard of a concept to help build your own. Here is a list of concepts for you to flesh out. Some are serious, some are ridiculous. Run with what works for you.
1) Clinton Perry: Ragabash Red Talon
Clinton was born in the National Zoo. He was freed by a pack of Bone Gnawers. His deed name is “Breaks All the Shit.” Clinton wants to travel far away from home. Something is calling to him.
2) Jung-Ho Park: Ventrue 13th Gen
Madame Park was embraced during the Korean War by a Ventrue who had attached himself to the US military operation. Park is frustrated by her lack of blood power (generation).
3) Miles Morales: Ananasi Hatar
Miles is from Queens. He ate his parents during his change and now struggles with a reduced emotional connection to that act of horror. He pretends to be a superhero to assuage his dwindling conscience.
4) Professor Jazz: Troll
Prof. Jazz is a blues man by nature, and a jazz drummer because it pays the bills. He gets his glamour from watching people watching his videos on their phones.
5) Keshia Jackson: Salubri Antitribu
Keshia was embraced less than a year ago, but she's made the most out of that time. She is encouraging the Salubri to drop the anti label and declare themselves the 3rd Sabbat pillar Clan. Both the clan, and the Panders are listening.
6) Mary Tandy Moore: Unknown
Mary finds themself caught dealing with drug dealers and college professors fighting over a plot of land which holds value to each side. They want nothing to do with it, but they can't stop being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are looking for help from multiple sources.
7) Joaquin Scheder: Sidhe
Joaquin is way out of his element. He doesn't understand why he can see the world the way it is. A dragon is stalking him, and he doesn't know if it is friend or foe.
8) Casper: Haunter
Casper was killed as a child. He really wants to play with the other children, but they run when he shows up. He is particularly fond of Little Mike.
9) Lupus: Black Fury Gangrel Abomination
She doesn't remember who or what she is. She knows she needs blood, and she cries when she sees the moon. A pack of Sabbat and a pack of Werewolves are stalking her.
10) Charles Maddox: Arcanum Scholar:
Maddox is a strange character. He's been a member of the Arcanum for 10 years, and he claims he's onto a major breakthrough related to the Disparate Alliance. Whatever that is…
So there you are 10 basic character sketches that can get you started. What would you like to add?
With 18 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He recently launched,www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a player in Underground Theatre LARPs and is running a Mage game and a D&D 5th Edition campaign. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C.
Image Source: John van Fleet
A few months back, I reviewed Vampire: The Masquerade 1st Edition for my website, Keep on the Heathlands. One of the most fascinating elements of this original edition of VtM, at least to me, was the concept of The Rebirth. What was this? Why did it exist and moreover, why was it removed in Revised and Vampire 20th Anniversary Edition? Will we see it again in 5th edition when it is released from White Wolf’s crypt? In 1st Edition and 2nd Edition Vampire, The Rebirth was this idea that it was possible to somehow escape the Curse of Caine. Or more succinctly, to become human again. Such an idea is anathema to almost everything I thought I knew about White Wolf’s flagship game, and I’ve never heard of any group using the plotline in their games. The idea of becoming human once more was the bailiwick of high level rare disciplines of the most rare of bloodlines. That being said, I think The Rebirth deserves a place at the Blood Feast.
1) The Rebirth is Human
Vampire: The Masquerade is a game about humanity. I don’t mean Humanity, the statistic on your character sheet. I mean people. VtM and vampires in the World of Darkness need humans. They must live among them to feed and survive. Imagine being a person living among pigs. Now, imagine being the type of person who randomly kills, eats, and or tortures pigs when the mood strikes you. You don’t hide it, you do it in front of the other pigs. You think those pigs are going to like you, or trust you? Not likely. Now imagine being a Vampire, you used to be like the humans around you. You are told that being humane is the most important thing, that doing so prevents you from becoming a beast. Yet, you must feed. You hunger. Without the blood of your fellow man you will die; even animal blood only sustains weakly, and not at all for elder Vampires. The Rebirth is a way for you to rejoin those you feed upon. The Rebirth is a hope, ever so infinitesimal, that you can cease being a monster.
2) The Rebirth is Horrific
Sit down for this. Or not; whatever, I’m not your father. The Rebirth is personal horror at its best. I’m your Storyteller, you are playing in a small group of recently embraced Kindred. I offer you a story tidbit: you can become human again. You just have to kill your Sire. I don’t tell you how. I drop this information in a small fragment of the Book of Nod. An elder confirms, “Yes, in the old country I heard of such a thing happening. Surely you don’t want that, as such a thing steals from you all the benefits of immortality.” Now you plot, you plan, you create an entire masterpiece detailing how you are going to kill your Sire and be Reborn! Oh, did I forget to mention how you had to do it? Did I forget to mention that you need to do it within a month after being embraced? Did I forget… oh sorry… you failed your Willpower roll. You think diablerized your Sire seems like a fantastic way to ENSURE they are dead. The sun begins to set on your hope to be Reborn.
3) The Rebirth is Hope
I know, I know, the WoD is darkness on darkness with no hope or light. I think that is reductive. The darkness is only terrifying when there is light for you to retreat to. Despair is only poignant when hope still exists. Those that lose hope don’t care about Rebirth. They care about Blood, and they care about their unlife continuing for another year, or decade, or 1000 years. To have the hope Rebirth is to have the hope that one can escape the Beast, escape the hunger for blood and feel again. The emotions of humanity are stripped away from a newly embraced Vampire. Love, friendship, and empathy are things that are only memories for the Kindred. The Rebirth offers a small potential to return to true emotions once more. That is hope; that hope is something that should be cherished and cared for. Only then should it be dashed and destroyed on the altar of the Cathedral of Flesh.
Use the Rebirth in your games. It is an underused idea in Vampire and it offers all kinds of wonderful plot hooks. Let us Rebirth this torpid story idea and bring it into the new era. What harm can it do?
With 18 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He launched,www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a player in Underground Theatre LARPs and is running a Mage game and a D&D 5th Edition campaign. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C.
During the last Leveling Up Podcast I talked about some of the surveys I use for my games. I send these surveys to my players using Survey Monkey. Now, I play with all of my players in person, and you might wonder why I use surveys instead of just asking them in person. I do this for two reasons. The first is that I like to give my players a chance to think about answers to some questions. Asking at the table may get a quick response, but it might not be a very considered response and that may not be how they actually feel about something in the long-run. The second is my issue, I don’t always remember the details of my player’s sheets or elements of their character. I remember bits and pieces, but sometimes they have things that I forget about that are drastically important, but don’t come up in play frequently.
I use these surveys to check-in with my players too. If a session was rough, deep, or really awesome I want to hear about it. The table feedback is great, but using these tools helps me to be holistic. A player might think of something awesome to include in the game while they are sitting at work and want to pop that information into the survey. What follows are two survey examples I’ve used recently.
Q1: Where is your character from?
Q2: How does your character dress?
Q3: What goals does your character have that you would like me to take into account?
Q4: Are there aspects of Vampire that you would like to have addressed in our game? (example, descent into the Beast, feeding on other Vampires, Golconda)
Q5: How much combat do you want?
Q6: Is there anything you absolutely do not want to deal with in game?
Q1: Character Name
Q2: Where was your character born?
Q3: What Flaws do they have?
Q4: What are some of your character's goals?
Q5: What goals do you have as a player?
Q6: The World of Darkness can be dark, are there any elements you'd like to avoid in our game?
Q7: What is your highest level skill and why?
These surveys act as a second and third order way of communicating with my players. I want to run the games they want to play. I also want to run games that I find interesting. So these surveys act as another layer of making sure we are both having our interests met by the game. I also do regular conversation check-ins with my people, but those have their limits in social environments if people were to become uncomfortable with answering any of the various questions I have for them. That’s not common, but it has happened before and this is another way of avoiding those situations for the social conflict averse person. You can also check-out a much more in-depth survey here, which I found to be a great resource.
With 17 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He recently launched,www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s a player in Underground Theatre’s and One World By Nights Vampire LARPs and is running both a Mage game and a Dark Ages: Vampire game. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a recent graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.