Backgrounds

Backgrounds (Not to be confused with your background story) are Traits that represent your accumulated material power. Things such as information contacts, confederates, and financial earnings that are gathered over time are considered Backgrounds. While other Traits represent the internal aptitudes of your character, Backgrounds represent external power that your character has gained. In many ways, Backgrounds are a numeric reflection of your background story.

You are given five Background points that can be used in your application. Any extra Backgrounds are purchased using Freebies (At a cost of 1 Freebie per extra Background). After Creating a Character, you may gain additional Backgrounds through roleplay. Simply send a request explaining what your character has done that will allow him to gain additional Background points. (Example: After being fired at your old job, you're hired at a higher-paying place, and thus gain a point in Resources.)

Tabbed are lists of Backgrounds that you may take.

Allies

Your Allies are mortals who help and support you - they could be family or friends, or even an organization to which you are friendly. Allies have their own lives, so they are not at your beck and call, but they often have Influence in the community and access to Contacts or Resources. An Ally is ultimately a mortal whom you have befriended, and who protects and aids you out of love or common interest.

For each point of Allies that you have, you have one Ally. This individual is a person or influence in the city where she lives. An Ally could be a police sergant, an advisor to the mayor, or even (if your rating is a 4 or 5) the mayor herself.

Allies are generally very trustworthy and loyal. However, it requires time and energy to maintain the alliance, for the friends expect the aid of the character to return in time of need. Though they likely do not know you are a vampire, they may know of some of your powers and thus may come to you for favors. This is often a means by which a story can begin.

• One ally of moderate influence and power
•• Two allies, both of them of moderate power
••• Three allies, one of them quite influential
•••• Four allies, one of them very influential
••••• Five allies, one of them extremely influential

Contacts

You know people from many different walks of life, and they comprise a system of information and help that could come in very handy some day.

Your Contacts are the people you can manipulate or bribe to get information, (in their areas of expertise). You should describe your Major Contacts as complete characters, either as the chronicle progresses or beforehand. You also have a number of Minor Contacts spread throughout the city. When you wish to get in touch with a Minor Contact, make a roll using your Contacts rating against a difficulty of seven. Each success means you have gotten in touch with on of your Minor Contacts; of course, you will need to bribe or charm her into giving you needed information. Contacts can be split up into minor contacts too.

• One major contact
•• Two major contacts
••• Three major contacts
•••• Four major contacts
••••• Five major contacts

Influence

Influence reflects your ability to produce results when attempting to sway or control the political and social processes of the mortal community. It is the ability to compel a mortal to take action on your behalf, perhaps because of some hold you have over him. This could mean that you have a prestigious family, control the police chief, or simply that you have gained political office. In short, Influence is how much political power you exert upon society, particularly among the police and bureaucrats.

Some rolls might use Influence in place of an Ability, especially when you start to interact with any sort of minor bureaucrat.

• Moderately influential: a factor in local politics.
•• Well-connected: a factor in city politics.
••• Position of influence: a factor in state politics.
•••• Broad personal power: a factor in regional politics.
••••• Vastly influential: a factor in national politics.

Fame

You are widely known among the mortals, perhaps as a movie star or writer. This gives you great privileges when you travel among the mortals, but it can also attract just a bit too much attention. Fame can grant a lot of pull in the mass media, allowing you to attempt to manipulate the thoughts of the populace.

Sometimes Fame can seem like more trouble than it is worth, causing you to be recognized when you don't wish to be seen. However, there are many circumstances where it can come in handy, like getting you into clubs, parties and appointments that you otherwise would not have been able to attend. You are also harder for your enemies ot physically dispose of, as you cannot just "disappear." Sometimes Fame will be used with Manipulation in order to make a roll ("See if you can convince the doorman to let you in - difficulty of 8"), but more often it is simply used as a measure of how well-known you are. Each level of Fame subtracts one from the difficulty of hunting rolls in heavily populated areas (people tend to flock around you).

• You are known by a select subculture of society in the city: among the elite.
•• Your face is recognized by a majority of the populace: local celebrity.
••• You are fairly famous: your name and face are known by many.
•••• You are quite renowned: everybody knows something about you.
••••• You are a nationally famous individual - a movie star, politician, or performer.

Mentor

This Trait describes one or more elders (your sire?) who look after you. Each rating point of Mentor you possess describes how powerful your Mentor is in the community of the Kindred. Your Mentor could simply be a vampire who has learned her way around the city, or an Ancient who has garnered huge amounts of power in both the mortal and immortal worlds. Your Mentor can advise you, protect you from other elders, speak for you to the prince, caution you when you intrude on the affairs of other elders, and inform you of opportunities for power and advancement.

Often a Mentor is your sire, though it can be any vampire who has taken an interest in you. If our Mentor is powerful, it might not be a single person, but a group. Thus, a brood could be a Mentor, as could the ruling council of a clan. Tremere often have the Mentor Background Trait because of the aid they receive from their elders.

A Mentor may expect to receive something in return for the aid she provides. Though she may simply enjoy your company, in time of need she may call upon her "apprentice." This may begin a number of excellent stories. In general, however, you do receive more than you need to give out.

• Mentor is an ancilla, and of little influence.
•• Mentor is an elder and is well respected.
••• Mentor is a member of the primogen.
•••• Mentor is a prince and has much power over the city.
••••• Mentor is a Justicar and is extraordinarily powerful.

Resources

This trait describes your personal financial resources, or your access to such. A high Resources rating doesn’t necessarily reflect your liquid assets; this Background describes your standard of “living,” your possessions and your buying power. No dots in Resources is just that: You have no permanent haven and no possessions save a few clothes and possibly a weapon or a pocketful of coins.

You receive a basic allowance each month based on your rating; be certain to detail exactly where this money comes from, be it a job, trust fund or dividends. After all, your fortune may well run out over the course of the chronicle, depending on how well you maintain it. You can also sell your less liquid resources if you need the cash, but this can take weeks or even months, depending on what exactly you’re trying to sell. Art buyers don’t just pop out of the woodwork, after all.

• Tiny savings: a small flophouse room. If liquidated, you would have about $100 in cash. Allowance of $20 a month.
•• Small savings: an apartment or small rented house. If liquidated, you would have at least $200 in cash. Allowance of $50 a month.
••• Large savings: a homeowner or someone with some equity. If liquidated, you would have at least $1,000 in cash. Allowance of $200 a month.
•••• Well-off: a member of the upper class. You own a very large house, or perhaps a dilapidated mansion. If liquidated, you would have at least $5,000 in cash. Allowance of $800 a month.
••••• Ridiculously affluent. Your haven is limited by little save your imagination. If liquidated, you would have at least $500,000 in cash. Allowance of $2,000 a month.

Retainers

You have one or more servants and assistants who are your loyal and steadfast companions. Retainers may be ghouls who are Blood Bound to you, individuals whom you have so Dominated over the years that they are incapable of independent action, or individuals whom you have so overwhelmed with your Presence that they would do anything for you.

Retainters must always be controlled in some way, either through a salary, through the donation of your blood, or through the direct control of their minds. They may not always be loyal, though they typically are. If given the chance, they may betray you, depending on how well they have been treated.

Retainers should not be supermen, even if they are ghouls. Each should have a weakness. For instance, one Retainer might be very loyal, but not very skilled. Another Retainer might be very powerful, but have a very independent mind. No retainer should ever be the perfect bodyguard; nothing is that easy in Vampire. Retainers are meant to be characters in and of themselves - something to add flavor to the chronicle. Do not let them be abused.

• One retainer.
•• Two retainers.
••• Three retainers.
•••• Four retainers.
••••• Five retainers.

When dealing with swarms, Retainers 1 is 50 of whatever swarm creature, 2 is 150, 3 is 500, 4 is 1000 and 5 is 5000.

Occult Library

Some Kindred have accumulated vast stores of mystical knowledge over their many years. Such resources may have been inherited from a character's sire, treasures gleaned from previous journeys, gifts from a mentor or even stolen from rivals. In fact, a library need not even be printed - a contact who knows occult lore may be considered a library for the purposes of this Background.

Whatever form it takes, an Occult Library aids the character in certain cases involving knowledge of the mystical or magical. Whenever the player needs to make a roll involving the Occult Knowledge and the character has the opportunity to consult the books, she may call upon this Background to help her. While this won't be of much aid if the character is held prisoner by another Kindred or visiting a foreign city, if the character is in her own library or laboratory, the information may prove invaluable.

• A few books: +1 die to Occult dice pools.
•• A modest collection: + 1 die to Occult dice pools, -1 to Occult difficulties.
••• Many noteworthy titles: +2 dice to Occult dice pools, -1 to Occult difficulties.
•••• A wide variety of lore: +2 dice to Occult dice pools, -2 to Occult difficulties.
••••• A veritable magical encyclopedia: +3 dice to Occult dice pools, -2 to Occult difficulties.

Alternate Identity

Players can take this Background multiple times at multiple levels for multiple identities. Other relevant Backgrounds (Allies, Contacts, Influence, Resource, Status) can also be appended to an Alternate Identity but they may be lost were the false identity be exposed – some backlash may even be expected if the false identity was used to deceive the appended Allies. Storytellers are expected to demand comprehensive explanation before allowing this background. False identities also often require the help of allies to establish.

• Your identity is new and won’t stand much scrutiny. It’s fine for casual interaction, but if anyone decides to investigate your background, he’s likely to discover the truth.
•• Your identity can stand up to investigation under most conditions. If someone is determined to find the truth about your background, he will likely succeed with effort.
••• Your identity is known to a few fiefs and you actually have name recognition in those cities.
•••• You are not only known, you have a strong reputation across several fiefs.
••••• Your identity is impeccable and you are a respected member of your chosen clan. Should the truth about your true persona come to light even an elder or two will vouch for you.

Cult

You have control of a cult, that you may have founded yourself or usurped from another. A cult offers different advantages depending on its makeup, its structure and what resources it can call upon. In game terms, this translates into cult points that serve to buy various Cult Traits much like the Backgrounds of an individual character. Some Cult Traits may get negative values, giving the player more points to spend on other areas of the cult by giving it a weakness or deficient Trait.

The Traits of a cult are: Size, Influence, Loyalty, Resources, Secrecy and Arcana. Of all Backgrounds, Cult is the most dynamic one and requires constant involvement on the character's part, lest the Cult swiftly disappear.

• You have 1 cult point to spend.
•• You have 2 cult point to spend.
••• You have 3 cult point to spend.
•••• You have 4 cult point to spend.
••••• You have 5 cult point to spend.

Network

Network represents the extent of a person's web of contacts, allies and retainers. Each dot expands the reach not the number of persons within the network of contacts.

• The network covers two distinct cities.
•• The network covers three distinct cities.
••• The network covers a small geographical area or four cities.
•••• The network covers a significant geographical area or five cities.
••••• The network covers a large geographical area or six cities.

Familiar

• The familiar is a small animal, such as a cat or a stray dog, which only provides companionship and perhaps some warning of danger.
•• The character either has an impressive pet, or a smaller pet that is preternaturally intelligent. The animal communicates with your character (and him alone) through posture and facial expression. It can understand him and perform simple tasks such as fetching or knocking something over.
••• The familiar is a powerful or dangerous pet or an impressive small animal that is as intelligent as a child of eight or nine years. It can etch items and do chores, but it has no book learning and is easily distracted. The familiar can communicate with you as well as if it were speaking by it's noises, postures and expressions. When it is touching your character, it makes an additional Willpower available. This Willpower is "stored" in the familiar but is otherwise treated as personal Willpower. It regenerates only after your character has regained all his own Willpower. The character can share one of the familiar's senses (at a time) when the familiar is within 100 yards.
•••• The familiar is a larger pet that also has the increased intelligence, near-perfect communication, sharing senses and Willpower store of a Familiar 3 animal.
••••• The familiar is a powerful or dangerous pet that has the properties of a Familiar 3 animal.

True Faith (Mundane mortal only)

• A character with Faith may attempt to ward off vampires by brandishing a holy symbol or uttering prayers. (This is the Hollywood cliche of the vampire being held back by a crucifix.) The person rolls Faith against a difficulty equal to the vampire's Willpower. The number of successes indicates the number of steps back the vampire is forced to take. If no successes are scored, the vampire need not step back, but may not advance. A botch indicates that the vampire may advance unhindered. Further, if the cross, Bible or other symbol is placed against the vampire's body, each success causes an aggravated health level of damage, burning into the flesh.
•• A person with a Faith of 2 or more may resist vampiric Dominate by spending Willpower (one point typically protects for a few turns).
••• A person with a Faith of 3 more may sense the presence of a vampire. She need not consciously try to sense a vampire's presence, but must be in peaceful, quiet surroundings — perhaps alone in thought, praying, reading Torah, meditating on the Bible, etc. The person will not sense the vampire's presence if she is preoccupied (ie. arguing) or in a crowded, noisy place (jostled by a mob, in the midst of a racous banquet, etc). This ability need not be infallible; the Storyteller should let the person sense the vampire only when it is dramatically convenient. Note that the person cannot know exactly what she senses thruogh her Faith; all that she will know inherently from sheer Faith is that something unclean or evil is nearby.
•••• The mortal may not be turned into a ghoul and is unaffetced by any mind-altering Disciplines like Presence and Obfuscate.
••••• The person is so pure, so holy, that she can fill a vampire with self-loathing, disgust, terror, even physical pain. Any vampire hearing the person pray, preach or recite psalms, or being touched by the person, may be forced to flee immediately by any available means. A vampire who is unable to flee is reduced to a gibbering wreck, flailing on the floor and screaming, sobbing or begging forgiveness. To avoid fleeing, the vampire must either expend one Willpower point per turn or must make a Stamina roll each turn (Difficulty of 5+ her own intelligence). That's right — the higher the vampire's Intelligence, the higher the difficulty.