Harsh Light of Day
A Note on Concepts: Remember that you are creating a person who has not only volunteered to spend a great deal of time around mortals in order to make Kindred seem less monstrous, but you have been selected by your elders by this task, which means at least one other Kindred believes you to be capable of it or has some reason to put you there.
The Kindred Nation is not going to send vampires who can't play nice or don't know their fangs from a pair of tic-tacs, so this is not the game for 'how-do-I-vampire' or blood-spattered, cackling evil.
Which isn't to say you can't play a relatively young Kindred or a truly horrific monster, you just have to be able to act like a decent person while the mortals are watching. The Ambassadors are all volunteers, so spend some time thinking about why your character decided to put their name in: What do they hope to accomplish by being at the Embassy? What are their goals and motivations in doing so? These don't have to be super deep or political, though they certainly can be! 'Making the cover of People magazine' is just as valid as 'to undermine my sire's power and authority with a series of deeply complex social machinations'. There will be survey sent out to help those ideas take shape.
With Kindred being known to the world, there are entire avenues open to vampires that never have been before. Want to be the first Kindred pop sensation? Go for it. Want to try and reconnect with your estranged family now that you can tell them you're only mostly dead? Excellent.
That being said, not every game session will take place at the Embassy, and the schemes of the Kindred are hardly going to stop just because humans know about them now. There are still too-sharp smiles and knives in the dark a-plenty when the cameras are off and the humans have gone to bed.
Ghoul Characters: Not every Kindred who wants to be a part of the Embassy is able to be there in person. Whether they're too monstrous or inhuman for mortal company, or just don't have the time required to attend themselves, some influential Kindred have managed to secure their ghouls positions as Ambassadors. Ghouls are playable in Harsh Light, with the following caveats:
- Few in number: We will only be accepting a small number (three or less) of ghoul concepts, so if you pitch a ghoul make sure to have a vampire concept as a back-up.
- No PC domitors. We don't want one PC to have this much power over another right off the bat, so all domitors of ghoul PCs will be NPCs played by one of the STs. Feel free to outline the type of character you would like to see as your ghoul's vampiric master, and we will take that into consideration when designing them. Keep in mind that domitors will not be on the floor often (if they could be, they wouldn't need you) but will most likely be a fixture of your downtime.
- Power Discrepancy: Ghouls may not have the same supernatural weaknesses as vampires, but they also are absent the undead's many advantages. Ghouls take damage as humans from weapons, and have only a precious few points of donated Vitae to fuel their meager amount of Disciplines. Make sure you are okay with playing a character with much less personal power than most other PCs before submitting a ghoul concept.
Mechanics of Character Creation:
Harsh Light will use the character creation rules printed on pg. 90-98 of the V:tR core book for Kindred characters. Note that Bloodlines are not an option at character creation, and all Fighting Style Merits are banned. For your convenience, the rules are summarized below:
1. Character Concept
The basic idea behind your character. This can be as little as a two word description like disillusioned policeman, committed journalist, paranoid survivalist, but enough to give ideas about your character's motives, his relation with his environment etc. and also to inform your choices in following steps. Of course your character concept can be a bit more elaborate: "My character was an investigative journalist, always on the track of corruption in the city government and services. Then he got embraced and discovers that the corruption goes even deeper then he thought. He now struggles to reconcile his vampiric nature and his commitment to the causes he championed before."
2. Select attributes
Attributes represent your character's innate abilities and are divided in three categories: mental, physical and social.
Mental attributes: Intelligence, Wits, Resolve
Physical attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina
Social attributes: Presence, Manipulation, Composure
You start with a minimum of one dot in each attribute (max.: 5)
When creating your character you have to prioritize these three categories. Ie you choose in which category he excels (primary), in which he is only average (secondary) and what his weakest area is (tertiary).
For your primary category you can use 5 points to buy dots in those attributes. Each dot costs 1 point except for the fifth (and last) dot which costs 2 points.
For your secondary category you have 4 points and for your tertiary category 3 points.
3. Select skills
Skills reflect what your character has learned or has trained to do. As attributes they are divided in three categories, counting 8 skills each.
Mental Skills: Academics, Computer, Crafts, Investigation, Medicine, Occult, Politics, Science
Physical Skills: Athletics, Brawl, Drive, Firearms, Larceny, Stealth, Survival, Weaponry
Social Skills: Animal Ken, Empathy, Expression, Intimidation, Persuasion, Socialize, Streetwise, Subterfuge
Unlike attributes you do not start with an automatic dot in each.
As with attributes you have to prioritize these three categories. Ie you choose in which category he excels (primary), in which he is only average (secondary) and what his weakest area is (tertiary). This can be the same as for attributes but doesn’t need to be. You can have Social attributes as primary, but you can than choose Mental skills as primary.
For your primary category you can use 11 points to buy dots in those skills. Each dot costs 1 point except for the fifth (and last) dot which costs 2 points.
For your secondary category you have 7 points and for your tertiary category 4 points.
4. Select skill specialties
Skill specialties are domains within a skill in which your character excels. If the skill to which they pertain is part of a dice pool and the specialty might apply, you add one die to that dice pool.
You can choose three skill specialties. Specialties can be chosen for any skill in which you have dots, and you can chose more than one specialty for any such skill.
5. Add vampire template
In some cases, this is left to the Storyteller and you start out with a prelude, human, character and choice of clan and covenant is determined by what vampire you get embraced with. In this campaign we’ll let you choose the clan by which you will be embraced and the covenant in which you have found a place.
The following are acquired upon your embrace.
Choose one of the two favored attributes of that clan and add one dot to that attribute for your character.
Disciplines are the special blood-based mystical powers to which vampires have access. You start with three dots for your disciplines. At least two of these dots must be devoted to your clan’s disciplines. Clan descriptions include the disciplines practiced by that clan (three disciplines for each Clan).
This reflects how strong the vampiric power runs through you. As a neonate you normally start with a Blood Potency of one. You can raise this at character creation by spending 3 merit points for extra point of Blood Potency.
6. Select Merits
You start with seven points for Merits. Merits, even more than other traits, should fit the character’s concept. Merits are also divided in three categories (Mental, Physical and Social) but unlike Attributes and Skills there is no prioritizing and dots can be freely distributed among the three categories.
Merits are resources, special capabilities or knacks that add individuality to your character. More on merits later. Some merits are specific to vampires: Haven (your resting place for the day and how big, secure and well located it is) and Herd (a group of mortals that serves as a reliable blood source). All vampire characters in Harsh Light receive one point of Haven: Location for free. This bonus represents the abundance of housing within the Red District and the relative ease of feeding within its boundaries.
As for Skills and Attributes, the fifth dot in any merit costs 2 points.
7. Determine advantages
These are mainly traits derived from your attributes (as noted on the character sheet):
Defense: lowest of Dexterity and Wits
Health: Stamina + Size
Initiative: Dexterity + Composure
Speed: Strength + Dexterity + 5 (for normal humans, but also for vampires)
Willpower: Resolve + Composure
And some that have more or less fixed scores (at least at the start):
Morality (Humanity for vampires): 7 (for starting characters)
Size: 5 (for normal humans, but also for vampires)
And further you’d have to choose a virtue and a vice. Both come from the classical lists of Cardinal Virtues (Charity, Faith, Fortitude, Justice, Hope, Prudence, Temperance) and Deadly Sins (Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sloth, Wrath).
8. Flesh out background
Take a look back at your character concept, the point you have in different scores and start to fit them in one whole and give meaning to them.
You might also ask some guiding questions about your character:
What is your age? How was your life up until now? What kind of person were you before your embrace? How do you look? How did you get in contact with the supernatural? What changed in you after your Embrace? Why were you embraced (and do you even know)? Who might be your Sire? What drives you?
9. Spend starting XP. You have 20 xp (25 if you've turned in your survey) to spend on your character in addition to basic character creation dots. Use this bit of extra to round out your character's abilities, shore up a weakness, or add some traits that are more about flavor or fun than raw power. Enjoy!
For Ghouls, use the same rules, but skip the 'Vampire Template' step. Instead, ghouls get a single dot of a Discipline that is considered 'in-clan' to their domitor. Ghouls purchase Disciplines with xp at the following rates:
Discipline is 'in-clan' to their domitor: 7 x new rating
Discipline is known to their domitor, but is not 'in-clan': 10 x new rating.
Ghouls require a teacher for any non-physical Discipline, and cannot learn a Discipline that their domitor does not possess.
Ghouls will start the game with a number of Vitae in their system equal to their Stamina score.
Players are asked to restrict themselves to only material printed in Vampire: The Requiem and the World of Darkness core book for character creation. Material from other books may be made available in the future, as the game progresses.
We will be giving out 4xp per session attended, with the option for 2xp if you miss a session but still send us downtime actions for that week.