In the last two years, I have had the chance to play, rather than run, only a handful of times. Only one of those was a Vampire the Masquerade game, and it was a one-shot. The character that I played was a Toreador punk rock singer named Sydney. I usually play female characters. Don’t judge me! I set out to make a balanced character who lived up to the punk archetype, tough and capable in a street fight but still a musician. It was a character that represented all the lessons that I had learned about Vampire the Masquerade, role playing, and myself. That was two years ago. I’d like to revisit that character and put into practice the lessons that I’ve learned since then.
More so than just playing a character, I’d like to play a character in a long running Chronicle. That’s the first stipulation to playing “my favorite character.” Characters shouldn’t come out of character creation as a completed entity. Characters need time to grow, and players need time to explore the character and find out what direction the character will go over the course a Chronicle. In the case of my Toreador punk rock singer, over the course of a Chronicle, she could abandon her desire to be a singer as she becomes a part of Kindred society. The draw of power and influence could be overwhelming, but would she abandon her beliefs to further her place within society. Or would Sydney be drawn into the politics of the Anarchs? Would she come to hate the Elders and their games and want to tear down the Camarilla within her city? Could she join the Sabbat? What promise could tempt to her? Could the fear of an impending Gehenna push Sydney to take up the fight against the Antediluvians and their lap dogs the Camarilla? I won’t know except when I play the character and I’m presented with the opportunities to make those choices.
Most Vampire the Masquerade characters and especially Toreador start on the Path of Humanity, but the long a vampire survives the more tenuous that hold on human morality becomes. I’ve already stated that the Path of Lilith is my favorite Path of Enlightenment, so perhaps I’d like this character to transition over to that Path. Changing paths could take many sessions. In order to set up this change, I would start the character with one point in Occult and ask my Storyteller if I had heard about the Path of Lilith or some of its heretical teachings. Then, during downtime, my character would seek out information on that subject, speak to Elders, make deals and get further drawn into the spider web of Elder politics. After a while, everyone gets caught in the trap of favors given and favors received.
Disciplines are another area where a character has a chance to grow and explore possibilities that are not available at character creation. A Toreador’s in clan Disciplines are Auspex, Celerity, and Presence, and while each of those Disciplines are extraordinarily good in their own right, VtM offers dozens of other options for a character willing to learn and seek out a teacher. However, just learning a new Discipline has an extraordinary cost; a character must drink one point of blood from his/her mentor in order to activate the potential for that power. One point blood bound to another vampire is also one point closer to losing control of one’s self. Not counting the rare Disciplines from extremely rare bloodlines, a Toreador punk rock singer could make use of any of the common Disciplines. Merely having access to the other physical Disciplines, Fortitude and Potence, would be a boon.
The point of this article is not the character, but the process. Playing the character is not simply just improving the stats on a character sheet but developing the story of that character along with the Storyteller. Exploring not just what a character may want to do, but also what happens when a character loses interest in one thing and gains a new interest. Even vampires continue to grow and change. Character creation isn’t the end of creating a character. A thousand small choices over the course of Chronicle impact the character changing it from what the player had in mind to what the character is at the end of a Chronicle.