Featured image by Maggie Brauer, via Flickr and used under the Creative Commons Attribution license
In the aftermath of your Embrace and the possible tutelage of your sire, you are now ready to delve deeper into what will be the rest of your unlife. You’re now blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with new abilities and strange new habits. But while your mortal life is done with, remnants of it still linger and have become your only links to what used to be. But be careful, these links to your past can be exploited and outright taken from you at any moment, so be wary.
The tools you will use to get through the night form now on are vital to your survival. They will be used to help you feed, escape danger, defend yourself, or force your will upon others. In Vampire, these abilities are called Disciplines. Each clan has access to three different Disciplines and at character creation you get to choose two of the three.
Each Discipline has a collection of powers associated with it at different levels, up to level five. Some of these powers are free. Some require components or a ritual to complete. Others require one to rouse the blood via a Rouse Check. They also have a specific combination of dice pools associated with the power. Each power also has a duration, whether it be a scene, until a requirement is met, or indefinitely. Some are even passive and can last as long as the player wants to keep it going.
Along with your new powers comes a new habit you’re going to have to get used to. Vampires are predators by nature, but Kindred have developed ways to safely and securely get their meals without breaking The Masquerade or abandoning whatever Humanity they have left. This new habit is your Predator Type.
There are a wide range of ways you can get your blood every night. You can be a Bagger and only drink cold blood from blood banks. Sandman Predators only feed on sleeping victims. Blood Leeches only feed on other Kindred, risking a blood bond for that sweet, sweet vitae. Others are more open with their feeding, like Sirens who use seduction to lure their victims into letting them feed or Osirises who feed from the group of people who are fans of the celebrity Kindred.
Each Predator Type comes with some caveats, though. For instance, the Consensualist Predator Type can add a specialty in either Medicine (for phlebotomy, extracting blood from a willing victim) or Persuasion to talk a victim into allowing them to feed off them. Consensualists also gain a point in Humanity and a point in the Auspex or Fortitude Disciplines, even if their clan is not associated with that power.
There are some drawbacks, however. Consensualists are habitual breakers of The Masquerade and have to add that to their list of Flaws. They also cannot feed on anyone who is not consenting, adding a Feeding Flaw as well.
Even though you’re now a member of the undead, there are still ties to your mortal life that can affect your unlife. Regardless of whether you’re a Kindred, you probably still have a job, a house, a bank account, a timeshare in Boca, overdue library books, bills, and a 401k. These things can turn into Advantages for you in your new Kindred existence. They manifest as Merits, or natural, personal traits that your Kindred possesses, or Backgrounds, assets and social connections from your mortal life. However, your habits from your mortal life can also creep into your unlife as Flaws.
For character creation, each character is given seven points to spend on Merits and Backgrounds. At least two points of Flaws must be taken before the end of character creation, but they do not cost Advantage points.
Merits are inherent character traits that your Kindred can take advantage of even in unlife. Your looks, your ability to speak more languages, your ability to digest less than perfect blood, and how susceptible you are to blood bonds are all Merits you can spend points on.
Backgrounds detail your character’s assets, social circle, material possessions, and the like, that you have brought over from your old life. Any family, friends, people you influenced through any fame or influence you garnered in life, and experts in various occupations can all be counted as Allies and Contacts. Your home, office, or any real estate you’ve purchased can act as a Haven.
Because you’ll need fresh blood every night, a Background you can invest in is a Herd. A Herd is a group of people that you have curated to feed from. This usually includes the people within your coterie’s domain. Herds can vary in size depending on how many points you invest in it.
If you’re still in touch with lots of people and you want to hold up The Masquerade, you can invest in a Mask. A Mask is a reason for your character to be nocturnal. It’s basically explaining to your friends why you went from a 9-5 day job to a 3rd shift security gig overnight.
Your family and friends can also serve your unlife in another way. Kindred tend to grasp onto as much Humanity as they can, so they keep in contact with mortals they cared about when they were alive. These are called Touchstones. Touchstones keep Kindred grounded and give them purpose. However, Touchstones can be exploited and even eliminated if an enemy finds out about them. It’s also difficult to hide one’s new existence from their Touchstone, risking a Masquerade breach.
So, you’re familiar with your new powers. You’ll have to get used to feeding from cold bags of blood. Your mortal assets are re-purposed for your unlife and you’ve made sure your family is safe and they know you’re still…around. Now, it’s time to meet your new family: your coterie.