Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Character Creation: Ghouls

I have only a few "White Wolf" games remaining on my project, so given the day of solidarity with White Wolf and Onyx Path, I'll do one of them today.

The Game: Ghouls supplement, for Vampire: The Requiem
The Publisher: White Wolf Game Studio, which has shifted to The Onyx Path
Degree of Familiarity: Very yes. I worked on Vampire and developed the Ghouls book. It may, in fact, have been the last assignment I had while still on salary?
Books Required: Ghouls, Vampire, and the World of Darkness Rulebook

A ghoul, in World of Darkness parlance, is a human being who has ingested the blood of a vampire, willingly or not, and become its servant. The blood has a strong emotional effect, twisting into a codependent need or an unhealthy hero worship or a sick version of love or lust. Ghouls are some debased fuckin' people, is what I'm saying, and the Ghouls book does a pretty good job of bringing that home. There were a few author issues on this book, as I recall, but I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out and I enjoy the NPC characters I wrote for it (a few of which have showed up in my own WoD games).

But, be that as it may, I'm gonna make my own ghoul. Blood and Smoke I'm sure has ghoul-applicable systems, but I'm gonna use the edition for which Ghouls was written (that is, pre-GMC).

Step One: Concept. The obvious question is, how much does my ghoul know? I've made characters before who know more about the occult than they think they do, and a few who think they know a lot more than they do. I think I want to make a character who's very much in the know. I was flipping through the book and there's a Merit I want, so I'm gonna build out from there. The Merit is Inherited Ghoul.

So, my character's name is Rodney Abrams. Rodney stopped aging in 1985 (fortunately he's got a haircut that isn't terrible). He was a financier, and was made into a ghoul as part of a Ventrue vampire's attempt to ride the 80s finance craziness. It worked - Rodney made his master a lot of money.

And then Rodney...wasn't useful anymore. The vampire didn't need to keep accumulating money and Rodney's tactics were reckless (also: cocaine). So his regnant pulled him off active duty, stuck him in a huge mansion somewhere with instructions to "mind" the place, and basically put him under house arrest. Fast forward 25 years. The regnant's childe unseated him (read: killed) and in going over his books, found the house and Rodney. Rodney begged for his life, and the childe, a much more modern type of guy (Embraced in 1965 and spent most his unlife abroad) figured Rodney might be useful. So he enforced the Vinculum on himself, and allowed Rodney out into the world for the first time in decades.

Step Two: Attributes. Standard 5/4/3 spread. Hrm, Mental or Social? Based on what I know about 80s high-pressure Wall Street (mostly from sources like Wolf of Wall Street and "Future Stock"), we'll go with Social. Two each into Presence and Manipulation, one into Composure. Mental's second, then. One each, and then the extra into Wits. Finally, Physical. One each across the board? Yeah, I think so.

Step Three: Skills. 11/7/4. Mental's first, then Social, then Physical.

Well, 3 into Academics, to cover math and finance and so on. Two into Computer (since being reintroduced to the world he's worked hard to get current). One into Investigation, why not. Two into Occult (lots of time, lots of books), two into Politics, one into Science.

For Social, I'll put three into Persuasion, one into Intimidation, two into Socialize (coke parties), and one into Subterfuge.

Physical: One into Athletics (you're dumb if you don't), two into Firearms (lots of time on his hands), and one into Stealth.

Step Four: Specialties. These should be easy. I want one in Academics for Finance. One in Persuasion for High-Pressure, and one in Stealth for Hiding (the mansion taught him to find hiding places quickly).

Step Five: I've already decided on my regnant's clan and covenant (Ventrue and Invictus, respectively). I get two dots of Disciplines, one of which has to be Resilience. I can take Dominate, Animalism, or a second dot of Resilience. Hmm. Well, Animalism is right out. I actually think that Resilience makes more sense than Dominate; all his interactions were over the phone.

Step Six: Merits. I get seven dots, because again, pre-GMC rules. I want Inherited Ghoul, which is two. I'll take a dot each in Regnant Favor and Regnant Trust; my regnant likes me well enough. I'll put the other three dots into Resources. I figure Rodney had some accounts that just went untouched for a while, and now he's accessed a few and has some liquid cash on hand.

Step Seven: Advantages. Willpower is 4, Health is 7, Morality starts at 6 rather than 7. Virtue and Vice, since we're going with the older rules, get chosen from the lists. I think his Vice is pretty freaking obviously Greed. But Virtue, hmm. I don't see Rodney as a good person, really. He's the embodiment of the 80s greed culture, a fiscal vampire, so hungry that even an actual vampire said, "yeah, that's enough." So what's his Virtue? Not Charity, obviously, and not Justice or Temperance. I think it's between Fortitude and Prudence, and I don't think someone who's prudent would ingest quite so much cocaine, so Fortitude it is.

Step Eight: Spark of Not-Quite-Life. So, we already figured out that Rodney's new regnant came back to the house. Did he kick him out? I think no, I figure the job hasn't really changed much, Rodney's just allowed to leave. He's doing some financial stuff for his new boss, but shit has changed in the ensuing years - if anything, the culture is more forgiving of some horrible shit that rich people do to get richer. Rodney is ready to sleaze his way to the top, 80s style.

Problem is, his regnant (Mr. Lupin) doesn't have any other ghouls, but Lupin's in the local vampire scene up to his eyeballs and needs an errand boy. So Rodney gets sent on all kinds of wacky errands (read: he's a PC), and doesn't really have time for all the blow and bimbos that he used to. That's life.