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Building Characters

Building an Effective Character

by Peter Brownlow AU2006080014
This is a slightly tricky one.

There are lots of ways to go about doing this, but if you stick by these four guidelines you stand a good chance of having a character that can actually, successfully, pleasingly do things despite the low power level of new characters of new players.

  1. Choose your niche.
    • All the well-remembered characters have that one thing that they're really good at. The other players will remember you and your character faster, which is fun. This may result in you being included in more in-character action.
    • Look at what stats are used for being good at what you want your character to be good at. Ask experienced players who know that area. Read from the appropriate book.
    • It's nice to be truly effective in at least one area - you will have more fun than with a character who's only moderately competent at his/her greatest skill because, let's face it, most people out there have more XP than you do and seriously affecting them is going to be hard if your character is only mildly competent.
    • Assuming that you stay with the cam, in the coming months you're going to probably double the amount of XP on your character sheet. It's more XP efficient if your character is already quite good in at least one area, because you can use some of that XP to buy low level stats (cheap) instead of buying all high level stats (expensive).
    • Your niche could be one particular skill or discipline, a combination of two or a combination of several. Talk to your VST and your friends about funky niches that match your ideas for your character. Don't pick the funky powers and then work out what you want your character to be doing - do it the other way around for maximum effect.
    • Ask the VST to check your sheet to make sure that you haven't wasted XP. If you don't ask this then he/she may assume that your sheet is exactly the way that you want it.
  2. Round out your character a little.
    • Take a few XP that you've got left over and make your character somewhat good at a few things other than his/her main niche.
    • This gives you something that you can do when your big niche hasn't got anything to do with the current scene, which happens frequently.
    • Playing characters that are good at only one thing and bad at everything else gets boring after a while. Their stories aren't that interesting.
    • Try to pick extra skills, disciplines or attributes that are slightly different to your niche, for an interesting character - for example, a mighty combatant with a very respectable amount of skill in the occult. If you get bored, you can chant weird incantations at people.
    • VSTs won't approve one-dimensional characters anyway. :)
    • Don't round out to the point where you have no niche anymore.
  3. There are some stats that you should almost always try to incorporate into a character.
    • Not always, but almost always.
    • You won't be able to raise them all to high levels, unfortunately, but do keep them in mind. Try to get some high - which ones will depend on the personality of your character and on your niche.
    • The lower of your Wits and Dexterity is your defense against melee attacks. It's often a good idea to not have either one of them low.
    • Dexterity plus Composure is your Initiative. When action starts the order in which characters take actions is determined by their Initiative - highest goes first and lowest goes last. Going first rocks. Going last sucks. This is *very* important.
    • Composure is used to calculate your resistence to many supernatural attacks, so having a low Composure leaves you vulnerable to being affected by other characters.
    • When something unexpectedly happens in your character's immediate environment a Wits + Composure draw is often made to see whether or not your character notices. This can give you a chance to escape a bad situation.
    • Strength plus Dexterity is your base running speed.
    • Resolve plus Composure equals your Willpower. You need Willpower for many actions such as temporarily increasing your defense against an incoming attack and using supernatural powers.
    • You will notice that I mentioned Wits, Dexterity and Composure multiple times. These are stats that you will frequently use in many different ways.
  4. Stack your creation and free dots.
    • A dot is a dot is a dot is a dot, whether you place it on a level 2 stat or a level 5 stat.
    • Getting level 5 dots for free gives you more bang for your buck than getting level 2 dots for free.
    • Try to spend XP on low level stats and creation or free dots on high level stats.
    • If you're not sure what to sacrifice, refer back to you character concept and your chosen niche.

The Common Sense merit is very useful for new players because it means that storytellers will point out to you some flaws in your gameplay decisions. This can make play less confusing while new players are trying to remember how everything works.