Allies - Human confederates, usually family or friends.
Arcane A mystical ability to move about unnoticed by the masses
Contacts - The number of information sources the character possesses.
Chole - your mind and body are open gateways for spirits in the spirit world
Fame - How well-known the character is among mortals
Guide - Simular to a mages familer
Influence - The character's political power within mortal society.
Library - Access to metaphysical knowledge
Mana - a pool of power
Mentor - The Kindred patron who advises and supports the character.
Node - A place of magical power
Resources - Wealth, belongings and monthly income.
Status - The character's standing in undead society
Wonder - A magical Talisman or Device
Though allies aid you willingly, without coaxing or coercion, they are not always available to offer assistance; they have their own concerns and can do only so much in the name of friendship. However, they might have some useful Background Traits of their own, and might provide you with indirect access to their contacts, influence or resources.
Allies are typically persons of influence and power in your home city. They can be of almost any sort, pending your Storyteller's permission; you may have friends in the precinct morgue, or perhaps even the mayor's ear, depending on how many dots you spend on this Trait. Your allies are generally trustworthy (although they probably don't know that you're a vampire, or even that vampires exist). However, nothing comes for free; if you wind up drawing favors from your friend in the Cosa Nostra, he'll probably ask you to do him a favor in kind in the future. This often leads to the beginning of a story....
One ally of moderate influence and power
Two allies, both of moderate power
Three allies, one of whom is quite influential
Four allies, one of whom is very influential
Five allies, one of whom is extremely influential
Mages walk the edge of what normal people consider reality. Because of their magical nature, they sometimes escape the notice of Sleepers. Their very existence is an anomaly, and some of them just evade notice. This effect manifests differently for different mages. Although the Arcane Background doesn't make mages invisible, it makes them less noteworthy. An Arcane mage seems nondescript and not particularly noticeable. Features just seem to slip away from memory, and the mage just never seems to get caught on film. Records disappear, people forget the mage's name or even assume that discussions are about someone different, and witnesses can't garner more than "That guy. Girl. Whatever." The mage doesn't trigger these effects actively; they just happen. The mage can, however, consciously dampen the effect and allow others to see her as she truly is.
You add your character's Arcane score to any Stealth rolls you make, and your opponents reduce their Perception or Investigation dice pools by a number of dice equal to your score in Arcane. Note that Arcane only helps when the mage is inconspicuous or absent; if the character is screaming, waving around a sword or otherwise drawing attention to herself, Arcane doesn't help. Of course, people might give conflicting descriptions later or be hard-pressed to remember her name. When your character is directly involved in combat, this Trait gives her no benefits.
Note also that a character with specific, extremely unusual traits like purple hair, a peg leg or huge size will not be able to conceal those traits; they stand out too much in peoples' minds. Still, "that one-armed guy with... uh... hair... of some color" is a start.
x You're just as noticeable as anybody else.
You blend in with the crowd.
You're easy to forget.
You're difficult to follow.
There are scant photos, papers or records of you, and people can't even agree on what you look like.
In other people's minds, you don't even exist.
You know people all over the city. When you start making phone calls around your network, the amount of information you can dig up is almost terrifying. Contacts are largely people whom you can bribe, manipulate or coerce into offering information, but you also have a few major contacts - friends whom you can rely on to give you accurate information in their fields of expertise. You should describe each major contact in some detail before the game begins.
In addition to your major contacts, you also have a number of minor contacts spread throughout the city; your major contact might be in the district attorney's office, while your minor contacts might include beat cops, DMV clerks, club bouncers or even hot-dog vendors. You need not detail these various "passing acquaintances" before play; instead, to successfully get in touch with a minor contact, you should roll your Contacts rating (difficulty 7). You can reach one minor contact for each success; of course, you still have to coerce them into telling you what you need to hear.
One major contact
Two major contacts
Three major contacts
Four major contacts
Five major contacts
You are a medium in the voodoo sense, originally known amongst the Bata'a and other similar practitioners as chole or Godflowers. That is, your body and mind are open gateways to the spirit world. Ghosts, nature spirits and the mighty loa ride you like a fine horse. Today called Les Chevaux, literally The Horses, amongst the Bata'a and other voodoo practitioners, sorcerers and mages with a strong connection to the spirit world are suitably respected. The sacrifice intrinsic to acting as the open door between the realms is a sacred duty and gamers immense attention from otherworldly powers and deep honor among spiritual cultures. The power you represent is demonstrated in the ease with which spirits may possess you and channel their magical charms through you into the material world. The higher your rating in this Background, the more easily spirits can use you, for good or ill. This is the ultimate sacrifice, however, and at least some of the loa will truly appreciate and reward you.
It is worth noting that this Background can even exist amongst otherwise normal mortals. The will of the other world is not limited to the enlightened alone.
X The only voices you hear can be cured with psychiatric help.
Weak you are the equivalent of a lame nag; -1 to spirit difficulties through you.
Medium you have practice, and spirits appreciate this; -2 to difficulties of possession and charms.
Strong spirits favor a link such as you; -3 to difficulties to affect the world through you.
Powerfulthe loa enjoy the gateway you provide; -4 to difficulties to enact spirit powers.
Legendary even the unbelievers see the divine in you; -5 to target numbers for spirits.
You enjoy widespread recognition in mortal society, perhaps as an entertainer, writer or athlete. People may enjoy just being seen with you. This gives you all manner of privileges when moving in mortal society, but can also attract an unwanted amount of attention now that you're no longer alive. The greatest weapon fame has to offer is the ability to sway public opinion - as modern media constantly proves.
This Background is obviously a mixed blessing. You can certainly enjoy the privileges of your prestige - getting the best seats, being invited to events you'd otherwise miss, getting appointments with the elite - but you're also often recognized when you'd rather not be. However, your enemies can't just make you disappear without causing an undue stir, and you find it much easier to hunt in populated areas as people flock to you (reduce the difficulties of hunting rolls by one for each dot in Fame). Additionally, your Storyteller might permit you to reduce difficulties of Social rolls against particularly starstruck or impressionable people.
You're known to a select subculture of the city - local clubgoers or the Park Avenue set, for instance. A majority of the populace recognizes your face;
you're a local celebrity such as a news anchor.
You have statewide renown; perhaps you're a state senator or minor star of local interest.
Nationally famous; everybody knows something about you.
You're an internationally famous media icon
A mystical animal or minor spirit has chosen to help the sorcerer along her magical Path. Generally such entities are very interested in the welfare (or at least foibles) of humans but have some motive to attempt to encourage certain types of behavior in their sorcerer companions. Crafty, knowledgeable in magical concerns and possessed of inhuman senses, these beings have a lot to offer their patrons. Nothing is free, though, and this relationship is a two-way street.
Guides expect special treatment, including food, shelter, friendship and even strange supernatural necessities. In return, guides can help a sorcerer learn mythic tore, gain new Paths or discover unseen things. Take the opportunity to create an interesting, unique creature who has reason to share your sorcerer's fate and influence her behavior.
X Get a pet.
Weak guide a taIking, relatively non-combative animal with a few occult skills.
Minor guideexceptionally bright small animal or spirit with detailed occult knowledge.
Apt guide a large, intelligent animal or a smaller supernatural creature.
Strong guide an animal or spirit with a few magica! abilities of its own.
Powerful guide a creature with magical talents, vast knowledge and probably a reputation.
You have pull in the mortal community, whether through wealth, prestige, political office, blackmail or supernatural manipulation. Kindred with high Influence can sway, and in rare cases even control, the political and social processes of human society. Influence represents the sum of your political power in your community, particularly among the police and bureaucracy.
Some rolls may require you to use Influence in place of an Ability, particularly when attempting to sway minor bureaucrats. It is, of course, always easier to institute sweeping changes on a local level than a worldwide scale (e.g., having an "abandoned" building demolished is relatively easy, while starting a war is a bit more difficult).
Moderately influential; a factor in city politics
Well-connected; a force in state politics
Position of influence; a factor in regional politics
Broad personal power; a force in national politics
Vastly influential; a factor in global politics
With this Trait, your character has access to a great wealth of information. This "library" may take the form of books, old scrolls, computer databases or even of friends who have it all in their heads and who are happy to share it with you. Most importantly, your character can access this information whenever she wants and study it at will. The knowledge contained in your character's library can include both mundane and occult elements. Although it may not always prove entirely reliable, more often than not your character can take her time, cross-reference and check her information. Best of all, such a library is often a wealth of information that your particular mage considers important, so it has useful knowledgeabout magic, the supernatural and other obscure topics that wouldn't be found in a more mundane collection.
Libraries are especially useful in unearthing new lore, Sphere knowledge or specialized information. Use a Mental Attribute + Library roll to look up information regarding an arcane or obscure topic. Success helps your character in such an endeavor, possibly justifying the expenditure of experience on such Traits. Depending on the nature of the "library," your character may choose to keep it somewhere that everyone in her cabal can use it. In such a case, all players involved can pool their Library scores and benefit from the increased wealth of information (pending Storyteller approval). However, they may run into duplication of information. Thus, a pooled library is only as effective as the best Library rating in the group, plus one for each additional Library thrown in.
x You have no particular information resources.
You've got some New-Age paperbacks.
Your library is 90% pulp and 10% substance.
You have numerous useful texts.
You have an enviable collection, both occult and mundane.
You can access lore, lost secrets, common wisdom and obscure facts.
Whether they call it chi, essence, ki, pneuma, psychic energy, ionized electrolytes ot any number of other traditional names, sorcerers can tap into sources of energy that empower them in their performance of magic. Meditating or resting on ley lines, in holy places or even in supercharged chemical baths grants the magician who understands their nature a source of power. Other sorcerers ingest a diet of rare substances believed to invoke potency or engage themselves in strenuous rituals, exhausting daily regimens of practice or hypnotic empowerment.
Whatever the individual's methods, she exhibits an energy that helps her work her Art, a force described by some as being akin to breath or spirit, or, in Latin, "Mana." When performing Path or ritual magic, a sorcerer may expend Mana to lower the difficulty target number. As usual, her difficulty cannot be lowered by more than three; however, Mana may reduce threshold instead, though never below one. Recovering Mana requires the sorcerer to perform her chosen method of recharging and succeed in a Perception + Meditation roll, difficulty 7, with each success restoring one point.
X You have to get by on yout skill alone.
May store a pool of/expend one Mana
May store a pool of/expend two Mana
May store a pool of/expend three Mana
May store a pool of/expend four Mana
May store a pool of/expend five Mana
This Trait represents an elder - or possibly even more than one
- who looks out for you, offering guidance or aid once in awhile. A mentor may
be powerful, but his power need not be direct. Depending on the number of dots
in this Background, your mentor might be nothing more than a vampire with a
remarkable information network, or might be a centuries-old creature with
tremendous influence and supernatural power. He may offer advice, speak to the
prince (or archbishop) on your behalf, steer other elders clear of you or warn
you when you're walking into situations you don't understand. Most often your
mentor is your sire, but it could well be any Cainite with a passing interest in
your well-being. A high Mentor rating could even represent a group of
like-minded vampires, such as the elders of the city's Tremere chantry. Bear in
mind that this Trait isn't a "Get out of Jail Free" card; your mentor won't
arrive like the cavalry whenever you're endangered. What's more, she might
occasionally expect something in return for her patronage (which can lead to a
number of interesting stories). A mentor typically remains aloof, giving you
useful information or advice out of camaraderie, but will abandon you without a
thought if you prove an unworthy or troublesome "apprentice."
Mentor is an ancilla of little influence.
Mentor is respected; an elder, for instance.
Mentor is heavily influential, such as a member of the primogen.
Mentor has a great deal of power over the city; a prince or archbishop, for example.
Mentor is extraordinarily powerful, perhaps even a justicar or Inconnu.
One of the most hotly contested prizes in the war between mages is the possession of Nodes. A character with a Node has access to a place of power where she can replenish her Quintessence and gather Tass. Your Node can be located anywhere in a cellar, a grove, a high-rise, a glade, a crystal cave or an old church but mages protect them like the treasures they are. Quintessence thieves may attempt to overthrow the current custodians of a Node and take the location for themselves. Your character may have to fight to keep her Node.
You and your fellow players can pool your characters' Node scores to increase the value of one particular Node rather than having several small ones scattered around the area. The Node's rating determines how much Tass the place produces and how much "free" Quintessence a character can absorb from it per week. Your character can stockpile Tass, but t he magical energy may lose its potency after a short time if not used. The form this Tass takes reflects the nature of the Node. If the Node is in a cemetery, the Tass may take the form of grave moss that your character will have to boil down to remove the Tass. Or, if the Node sits in a cave by the ocean, the Tass may take the form of salt-like deposits that your character will have to gather up and sift out to separate sand and silt.
The Quintessence available from a Node counts for all uses of absorption. Thus, characters who meditate to refresh their Avatar rating must draw on the Node and deplete it, and the Node may temporarily run out of power. The exact amount of power that a Node holds is up to the Storyteller. For a game with scarce magic, a Node might only supply one point of Quintessence per week per dot, while a more generous Storyteller might give ten points per week per dot. The higher the rating of the Node, the more energy it holds and the weaker the Gauntlet in its location.
x No access to a Node: Like most mages, you only have what power you can scrape up.
A minor Node, barely worthy of mention.
A small Node, holding a useful trickle of energy.
A significant Node, able to power several mages.
A major Node, hotly contested.
A powerful Node, one of the few sites of magic left.
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 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.
Small savings: a small apartment and maybe a motorcycle. If liquidated, you would have about $1,000 in cash.
Allowance of $500 a month.
Middle class: an apartment or condominium. If liquidated, you would have at least $8,000 in cash. Allowance of $1200 a month.
Large savings: a homeowner or someone with some equity. If liquidated, you would have at least $50,000 in cash. Allowance of $3000 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 $500,000 in cash. Allowance of $9000 a month.
Ridiculously affluent: a multimillionaire. Your haven is limited by little save your imagination. If liquidated, you would have at least $5,000,000 in cash. Allowance of $30,000 a month.
You have recognition within your occult, religious or super-scientific society. This may be due to anything from the circumstances of your birth to remarkable personal achievements. Note that this does not necessarily mean that you are powerful, but you have a reputation amongst others of your kind. This standing means associates listen to you and generally defer it does not automatically mean that you are well liked and, indeed, may even gain you enemies who are jealous of your fame. The esteem you have gained may not always translate into authority in outside organizations either. Words of wisdom spoken by the Pope seldom move even the poorest shaman. Status may be gained in different groups with points spent separately (i.e. Church Status, Bioengineer Status or UFO Experts) or the character may hope that the Storyteller will rule that it applies to the situation in question. Very high levels of Status may gamer some small recognition among mortals, but any real temporal power must be purchased with Influence. The size of the sorcerer's group also defines Status within it. High status for a small group may indicate virtual life and death influence and medium status within a very large group may still mean being unknown outside of your home turf.
X Who do you think you are?
Close associates respect you
You have great influence over your branch of the society and those attached to it
Others often seek your wisdom, sometimes from fai away
Your reputation extends far and wide, potentially even to other cultures
The Dalai Lama
Wonders are objects like Talismans and Technocratic Devices that have power and that produce magical Effects (usually when wielded by an Awakened being, such as a mage). Although they are rare, a few lucky mages have objects that carry their own power; legend holds that Masters can even manufacture their own. For the most part, only an Awakened being can use a Wonder, although your Storyteller may make exceptions to this rule. Your Storyteller may also limit the number and/ or power of the Wonders that she will allow into the game.
Any item can be a Wonder if it has somehow been imbued with magic. Tree branches, mechanical devices, jewelry, wands, bones, and stones can all suffice as magical items. When triggered, Wonders produce magical Effects just like mages do. Each Wonder has a special purpose. A Wonder's Effect comes from one of the magical Spheres, and you determine with your Storyteller exactly what occurs each time that your character triggers the item. Sometimes, it
may misfire or the Effect may not turn out exactly as your character intended, but for the most part, your character has an idea of what to expect.
When creating a Wonder, you also determine what exactly each of its Effects does. You base these effects on the magical Spheres. You may choose the Sphere that represents the Effect, but the Effect is limited to a Sphere level equal to the level of the Wonder. Note that the level in this Background docs not correspond directly to the level of the Wonder possessed. A Wonder is rated by the power of its Sp heres, but the level of this Background simply indicates a general categorization of the Wonder's powers. A Wonder may have an Arete rating that allows the holder to use the Wonder's score when rolling for its Effects, and it may store its own Quintessence. (Some Wonders, called Periapts, are little more than Quintessence batteries.) Others simply have one magical Effect that's always on, or that works automatically when called. Spirit Wonders, called fetishes, may work differently in story terms, but you purchase them the same way. These objects contain spirits who have, either by force or by choice, entered into the items and who perform a service. Some of these spirits have strong personalities, and they may cause the wielder some frustration and trouble, depending on how the mage treats the spirit. When your character uses up all the Quintessence in a fetish, the spirit departs. Your character cannot refuel a fetish, though your mage might undertake a quest or deal with a spirit to try to keep a fetish empowered.
Many mages use Wonders as foci. Although doing so may not make the magic coincidental, it usually helps the mage to focus. Any Paradox triggered by a Wonder's Effect goes directly to the item itself, possibly destroying it.
As always, the Storyteller has final say on the potencies and potentials of any Wonder.
x You haven't run across any magical items.
A Wonder with a trivial Effect, or a small stash of Quintessence.
A Wonder with a useful Effect, or a reasonable battery of Quintessence.
A Wonder with a reasonably handy Effect, or a large supply of Quintessence.
A Wonder with a very useful or commonly used Effect, or a generous helping of Quintessence.
A Wonder with an associated potent Effect, or a legendary power source.