Backgrounds

Link Back: Character Creation

Backgrounds describe advantages of relationship, circumstance, and opportunity: Material possessions, social networks, and the like. Backgrounds are external, not internal, Traits, and you should always rationalize how you came to possess them, as well as what they represent. Who are your contacts? Why do your allies support you? Where did you meet your retainers? What investments do you possess that yield your four dots in Resources? If you’ve put enough detail into your character concept, selecting appropriate Backgrounds should be easy.

Although it’s uncommon to make rolls involving Background Traits, your Storyteller might have you do so to see if you can obtain information, goods, or favors. For example, you might have to roll Wits + Resources to keep your stock portfolio healthy, or Manipulation + Contacts to wheedle that extra favor from your smuggler “associate.”

DOT RATINGS CHART

This chart may be used to determine the level of skill a character has based on the dot rating for a Trait.

Dots Description
0 Abysmal
1 Poor
2 Average
3 Good
4 Exceptional
5 Superb

Pooling Backgrounds

Some Backgrounds lend themselves to joint ownership. Specifically, the members of a coterie may choose to pool their individual stores of Allies, Contacts, Domain, Herd, Influence, Resources, and Retainers.

The Anchor

You and the other players choose one Background as the anchor that holds the shared assets together. For example, this Background might be Domain, with the physical place the characters claim as their haven and for hunting, which also acts as a meeting ground for the mortals they deal with, a repository for their wealth, and so on. Any of the poolable Backgrounds can serve in this role, however: Herd might be this coterie’s key to sustenance and stability.

No Background pool can have more dots assigned to it than the Anchor Background does at any time. If the Background is damaged by events during play or between sessions, other assets drift away from the characters’ control, and it takes effort to win them back. Any character contributing to the pool may pull his stake out at any time. The dislocations guarantee some damage: The character gets back one dot less than he put in.

As the Anchor Background rating rises again, so do the ratings of those anchored to it, as a result of storytelling directed toward the goals of improving lost Backgrounds.

Under normal circumstances, a coterie can’t change its Anchor Background, nor can it acquire a new Anchor Background. While it may choose to abandon a certain Background asset over the course of a chronicle (and thus free itself of the limitations of the pooled Backgrounds in question), the fact that Backgrounds change value only as a result of the story’s events means that the coterie must acquire new Backgrounds in that manner, rather than through freebie or experience points.

In the end, most vampires end up following personal goals over the course of their unlives. Pooled Backgrounds are a great way for young Kindred to gain an initial advantage as neonates in the World of Darkness, but they quickly become outdated or even liabilities as the Kindred formerly attached to them pursue their own, private agendas.

Using Pooled Backgrounds

Pooled Backgrounds are shared resources; essentially the coterie’s communal property. Anyone who contributes to the pool (no matter how much he contributes) has equal access to it. Even if the character donates to only one of the pool’s associated Backgrounds, he still has equal access to it. Not everyone can use the pool simultaneously, though. A Herd pool of seven dots can grant access only to the same, finite number of vessels. Just how those points are split up depends on the circumstances and agreements between the characters.

At the Storyteller’s discretion, players can agree to place individual access limits on shared Backgrounds, to reflect any agreements their characters have made with one another. Sometimes being the Kindred who contributed fewer Backgrounds than the others comes with its own considerations.

Upper Limits

By pooling points, a coterie can get Backgrounds that surpass the normal five-dot limit. This arrangement is normal, and it reflects the advantages of cooperation. A group can secure a larger domain or maintain a larger network of allies and contacts than a single vampire can. There is no absolute upper limit on the level to which a pooled Background can rise, but things can get downright ludicrous if you aren’t careful. It’s usually best for the Storyteller to impose a 10-dot limit on the Anchor Background (and thus on all others).

The Storyteller should also take into consideration the scaling of Backgrounds, increasing their reliability rather than their quantitative value as the ratings escalate among the coterie. For example, if an average player group of four players each contributes a single dot or two to a shared Resources pool of 6, the effect shouldn’t be that they’re collectively the world’s secret Kindred billionaires, but rather that they’re of more modest means, and that those means are more difficult to wrest from them by other jealous vampires. This is a question of balancing player expectations with elements of the story, so be sure to set some guidelines for what the shared Backgrounds actually represent before the chronicle begins.

The Backgrounds

Age

You have survived for many, many years as a vampire. You have seen much of the ever-changing, never-changing dance of politics and pain that forms the worlds of both Kindred and kine alike. This Background does not necessarily reflect your actual age, however. Instead, it reflects the number of years you have been conscious throughout your long existence. If you have fallen into torpor, time passes you by, as does the experience and knowledge you could have gained by participating in the events of that period. Players are free to determine how many times their characters have fallen into torpor, and for how long each time. This enables players to create characters born in truly ancient times.

Every dot in this Background gains a number of freebie points to use in character creation but also costs Humanity. This can be repurchased, but elders must spend five Freebies per extra point of Humanity. Amounts given reflect cumulative totals. Note that each dot in Age grants slightly less of an experience advantage than the one before (reflected in freebie points), reflecting the difficulty an elder has in gaining new abilities as she becomes more and more set in her ways. Storytellers have the final say in deciding how old characters in their chronicles may be, and should feel free to limit elders to one or two dots in this Background.

Dots Description
1 51-200 years active: + 30 Freebie points, – 1 Humanity.
2 201-350 years active: + 55 Freebie points, – 2 Humanity.
3 351-500 years active: + 75 Freebie points, – 3 Humanity.
4 501-750 years active: + 90 Freebie points, – 4 Humanity.
5 751-1,000 years active: + 100 Freebie points, – 5 Humanity.

Allies ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 111 )

Allies are mortals who support and help you — family, friends, or even a mortal organization that owes you some loyalty. Although 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 for the sake of your relationship. However, they might have some useful Background Traits of their own, and could 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, depending on what your Storyteller will allow. You may have friends in the precinct morgue, at a prominent blog, among the high society of local celebrities, or at a construction site. Your Allies might be a clan of nomads who move their mobile home camp around the area, or they might be a family of generations of police officers. You may even count the mayor himself among your friends, depending on how many dots you spend on this Trait. Your Allies are generally trustworthy (though 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. Allies may be pooled among a coterie of characters.

Dots Description
1 One ally of moderate influence and power
2 Two allies, both of moderate power
3 Three allies, one of whom is quite influential
4 Four allies, one of whom is very influential
5 Five allies, one of whom is extremely influential

Alternate Identity ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 111 )

You maintain an alternate identity, complete with papers, birth certificates, or any other documentation you desire. Only a few may know your real name or identity. Your alternate persona may be highly involved in organized crime, a member of the opposite Sect, a con artist who uses alternate identities for her game, or you may simply gather information about the enemy. Indeed, some vampires may know you as one individual while others believe you to be someone else entirely.

Dots Description
1 You are new at this identity game. Sometimes you slip and forget your other persona.
2 You are well grounded in your alternate identity. You are convincing enough to play the part of a doctor, lawyer, funeral salesman, drug-smuggler, or a capable spy.
3 You have a fair reputation as your alternate persona and get name recognition in the area where you have infiltrated.
4 Your alternate identity has respect and trust within your area of infiltration.
5 You command respect in your area of infiltration, and you may even have accumulated a bit of influence. You have the trust (or at least the recognition) of many powerful individuals within your area.

Ancestor Spirit

“Not that one,” Haath said in Agru’s head. Agru glanced through the parking lot marketplace again, looking over women with watermelons, children fighting with sticks, men loading a truck. Agru lingered on a man near the edge of the market, trying to light a cigarette. “Him,” Agru stated. “No,” Haath’s voice was a remembered sound. For some reason, Agru thought of burnt squash when he heard it. Haath had been dead for nearly 70 years.

“Why not?” Agru said. “Her,” Haath thought. Agru looked to his right, saw her at a stall and remembered the smell of cooked steak. Under-cooked steak. He walked up next to her, plucked up a gourd and pretended to smell it. When he smiled at her, she smiled back.

Something about you attracts the attention of your ancestors from beyond the grave. You have earned their favor of fear or even reverence. The ancestor spirit who watches over you grants you the benefit of the insight and experience it had in life, if you will just learn to listen.
No conduit or heirloom is needed to make this Background work for you. Once per story you may roll your Ancestor Spirit trait against a difficulty of 8. Every success you achieve grants you a temporary dot in an Ability of your choice, representative of subtle guidance and warnings from your ancestor spirit. This bonus lasts just one scene. Alternatively, you may attempt to contact your ancestor spirit directly for advice, warnings or research. The difficulty is 10 for this purpose, but only a single success is required. Your ancestor spirit is the psychic remnant of a real person, so he or she will be only as helpful in a dialogue as any other overseeing relative with a lifetime of experience to hold over you.
At the Storyteller’s discretion, this Background might not apply to certain situations. It is unlikely, for example, that an ancestor spirit would know enough about nuclear physics or macrobiology to be of much help (though certain humbler, “hedge” wisdom might apply, again, at the Storyteller’s discretion).

• You probably don’t know where your insight comes from.
•• You have a rare, vague connection. You wouldn’t call it “contact.”
••• The signals — such as faint whispers, urges in your muscles and tingling in your dead flesh — are yours to interpret
•••• The connection is strong but somewhat impersonal. Whose voice is that?
••••• Your spirit has a name and attitude — and maybe an agenda.

Armory

Your character has managed to amass a functional armory along with the ability to maintain all of the weapons within it. Each level of the Armory Background yields access to more potent weapons (along with proper ammunition) and the resources to properly maintain and clean them. The scope of this Background varies a bit by region, as weapons-control laws differ. What an American can buy in a department store, for example, might be the sole domain of the military in Eastern Europe and available only via the black market in Brazil; players who wish to invest dots in Armory should consult with their Storytellers to determine how it will work in the chronicle’s locality. The Storyteller may require you to invest a few points in another Background (such as certain types of Influence or legal or military Allies) to prevent the Armory’s confiscation by the authorities. An Armory can vanish in a fraction of the time it took to amass it, especially if it ends up on the news or video-sharing sites with footage of a VAMPIRE BLOOD GANG MASSACRE down by the warehouses.

Players may opt to pool Background points for a shared Armory.

• You have an excellent starter armory that includes many legal weapons commonly available on the street, as relevant to your regional culture.

•• You have access to enough legal weaponry to outfit a street gang of 10.

••• You could start your own small militia. In addition, you can outfit five individuals with weaponry that exists in a legal gray area for the region, which most civilians would have a difficult time obtaining.

•••• You have an armory appropriate to a SWAT team in a major city, including some military-grade hardware. You have enough gear to outfit a 10-man team with advanced weaponry, which is a cut above that provided by the lesser levels of this Background. Be careful where you use it, because without other appropriate Backgrounds, you may find yourself under official scrutiny for possessing illegal weaponry.

••••• Your armory is the envy of paramilitary forces around the world. You have the tools to clean and repair almost any personal weapon manufactured in the world. You have access to a significant quantity of weapons that are illegal in most countries, and enough of them to field your own platoon. If this Armory were discovered by authorities, your Anarch would be a pile of greasy ash.

Black Hand Membership ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 111 )

This Background is for Sabbat characters only. You are a member of the feared Black Hand, the body of soldiers and assassins that serves the Sabbat fervently. Having this Background indicates that you are a full-fledged member of the organization, and you have all the responsibilities and benefits that accompany membership. You may call upon members of the Black Hand to aid you, should you ever need it. Of course, this ability is a two-way street, and other Hand members may call upon you to aid them. Thus, you may find yourself assigned to perform assassinations, lend martial aid, or even further the political ends of the Hand as a diplomat or spy. You may also be required to attend crusades that take you away from your pack. All members of the Black Hand must heed the call of another Hand member, especially the superiors of the faction. Being a member of the Black Hand is a prestigious matter, and other members of the Sabbat respect the you choose to reveal your affiliation with the Hand, you may add your rating in this Background to any Social dice pools, even after Status or other Abilities have been taken into account. Most Hand members, however, choose not to reveal their allegiance. The Black Hand is also remarkably adept at hunting down Sabbat who claim membership in the Sect but do not truly belong — liars, beware.

Dots Description
1 You are a grunt; you may call upon one Black Hand member once per story.
2 You are known and respected in the Black Hand; you may call upon two Black Hand members once per story.
3 You are held in the Black Hand’s regard; you may call upon five Black Hand members once per story.
4 You are a hero among members of the Black Hand; you may call upon seven Black Hand members twice per story (but you’d better have just cause — if it seems you’re becoming soft, you may lose points in this Background). You may also lead large numbers of Hand members into action should it ever become necessary.
5 You are part of Black Hand legend; you may call upon 12 Black Hand members twice per story (but see the preceding caution). You may also lead large numbers of Hand members into action should it ever become necessary. The Seraphim may even seek your counsel on matters of import.

Communal Haven

Elders are often too selfish to consider the benefits of “cohabitation”; centuries of betrayal naturally generate a certain suspicious nature as it pertains to other vampires. Anarch packs that have learned the value of mutual cooperation and enlightened self-interest, however, sometimes establish Communal Havens for mutual security and comfort.

A Communal Haven is a secure location controlled and owned by the coterie. This is a place an Anarch who invests Background dots in it can lie low, train, and plan her next move. A Communal Haven could be as simple as an unfurnished apartment, as flashy as a mafioso’s penthouse, or as complex as a military base.

Of course, social conventions for the shared space might be complex or simple, depending on the personalities of the Kindred involved. Vampires sharing a Communal Haven can easily come into conflict unless some custom exists. Is it cool for Licks sharing the Communal Haven to offer it as crash space for others? Is it okay to bring blood dolls there? If something goes wrong, who’s in charge of disposing of the bodies or cleaning up the mess? Who takes care of keeping the location secret in the event that someone opens her goddamn mouth?

Note that this Background is different from the Domain and Resources Backgrounds. Typically, Domain is “turf,” while this is an actual Haven (which may well stand on contested domain…).

Players who elect to purchase this Background must divide their points among three different categories, described below.The purchase of this Background may be pooled as per the Background pooling systems.

Luxury

Luxury is a measure of the quality of appointments inside the haven. The level of Luxury ranges from spare to opulent, corresponding closely to a Resources Background of equal value.

• What passes for furniture probably fell off the back of a truck or was liberated from a dumpster.

•• The place has been decorated and outfitted modestly. It has the basics expected of modern First World lifestyles (where appropriate).

••• The haven offers relative comfort, with a host of amenities.

•••• The haven is a luxurious oasis in the midst of the Jyhad, unique in both design and appearance.

••••• Only the extremely wealthy or celebrities usually enjoy the opulence of a place like this.

Size

Size represents the amount of living space in the Communal. While the following breakdown gives suggested sizes and room counts, players are encouraged to be creative if they so wish — imagine an open warehouse layout of no true “rooms,” or a network of “under repair” blacked-out skywalks that have access points to various locations downtown.

• A small apartment or underground chamber: 1 to 2 rooms.

•• A large apartment or small family home; 3 to 4 rooms.

••• A warehouse, church, or large home; 5 to 8 rooms, or a large enclosure.

•••• A mansion or network of tunnels; 9-15 rooms or chambers.

••••• A sprawling estate or vast network of subway tunnels; 20+ rooms.

Security

Security represents how tough it is to breach the haven. Each dot of Security either adds one to the difficulty of any roll made to penetrate the haven or adds one to the number of successes required to gain access. (Players and Storytellers should agree on this function before the story begins.)

• Cheap locks on the doors, but not much else.

•• You’ve reinforced every door and barred the windows, or you may have a dog that barks to warn you when someone comes too close to the haven. The place is relatively secure from commonplace threats.

••• The haven is secure but not impenetrable, relying on a modern set of locks, physical protection such as bars over the windows, electronic security measures such as alarm systems, and standard electronic monitoring such as security cameras. It may be remote or accessed only by protected routes, such as a high-rise with a security guard who watches the elevator.

•••• Your haven is protected by all of the security features for the previous level and then some. On par with restricted governmental buildings or even prisons, your haven has reinforced walls, sectionalized access throttles, and perhaps even several panic rooms or hidden chambers. You have invested a considerable about of time and effort to keep people out of your base.

••••• Your base is protected by all of the security features offered by the previous levels. Additionally, it is protected by one or more unique features, such as being far off the beaten path, incorporating a geographical boundary like being built on an island, and/or possible occult protections, like being visible only to Kindred. (Players and Storytellers should come to an agreement on the nature of such one-of-a-kind protections.)

Contacts ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 112 )

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 impressive. Rather than friends you can rely on to help you, like Allies, Contacts are largely people whom you can bribe, manipulate, or coerce into offering information. You also have a few major Contacts — associates who can 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 members of an online social network. You don’t need to 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 convince them to give you the information you need, assuming they can get it. Contacts may be pooled within the characters’ coterie.

Dots Description
1 One major contact
2 Two major contacts
3 Three major contacts
4 Four major contacts
5 Five major contacts

Domain ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 112 )

Domain is physical territory (usually within the chronicle’s central city) to which your character controls access for the purpose of feeding. Some Kindred refer to their domain as hunting grounds, and most jealously guard their domains, even invoking the Tradition of the same name to protect their claims. As part of this Background, the character’s claim to the domain is recognized by the Prince or some other Kindred authority in the city where it is located. The Kindred who claims the domain can’t keep the living inhabitants from going about their business, nor does she exercise any direct influence over them, but she can keep watch herself and mind their comings and goings. She can also have Allies or Retainers specifically look for unfamiliar vampires and alert her when they find some. Domain refers specifically to the geography (in most cases a neighborhood or street) and properties on it, as opposed to the people who may dwell there (which is the emphasis of Herd). Domain plays an important part in Kindred society — vampires who lack significant Domain seldom earn respect — but it isn’t an automatic entitlement to status among the Damned. Characters in a coterie can share their domain resources for better results. Six to eight dots secure all of a small town or a distinct city region as a domain. Ten to 15 dots secure an important but not geographically huge city sector, such as “the docks,” or “Highland Park.” A large city itself might be a hundred-plus Domain points, as with Atlanta, Dallas, Geneva, or Baghdad. A city such as New York, London, Paris, Rome, Sao Paolo, or Shanghai would require many hundreds of Domain points.

You may designate one or more dots in Domain to increase the security of your character’s territory rather than its size. Each dot so assigned to security provides a +1 difficulty penalty to efforts to intrude into the domain by anyone your character hasn’t specifically allowed in, and a -1 difficulty bonus to efforts by your character to identify and track intruders in the domain. A Domain of one dot’s size and two dots’ security, for instance, is small but quite resistant to intrusion, as opposed to a Domain rating of three dots’ size with no extraordinary security.

Each level of Domain reduces the difficulty of hunting checks by one for your character and those whom the character allows in. It also adds to your starting (not maximum) blood pool. If you use the domain security option, each dot of domain security raises the difficulty of hunting checks by one for uninvited vampires.

Dots Description
1 A single small building, such as a single-family home or a social establishment — enough for a basic haven.
2 A church, factory, warehouse, mid-rise, or other large structure — a location with ready but easily controllable access to the outside world.
3 A high-rise, city block, or an important intersection — a location or area that offers areas for concealment as well as controlled access.
4 A sewer subsection, a network of service tunnels, the enclave of homes on a hill overlooking the city — a place with inherently protective features, such as an isolated mountain road, bridge-only access, or vigilant private security force.
5 An entire neighborhood, an ethnic subdivision like “Chinatown” or “Little Italy,” or a whole suburb.

Fame ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 114 )

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. Fame isn’t always tied to entertainment: A heinous criminal in a high-profile trial probably has a certain amount of fame, as do a lawmaker and a scientist who has made a popularized discovery. 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 sometimes 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 certain Social rolls against particularly star-struck or impressionable people.

Dots Description
1 You’re known to a select subculture — local club-goers, industry bloggers, or the Park Avenue set, for instance.
2 Random people start to recognize your face; you’re a minor celebrity such as a small-time criminal or a local news anchor.
3 You have greater renown; perhaps you’re a senator or an entertainer who regularly gets hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits.
4 A full-blown celebrity; your name is often recognized by the average person on the street.
5 You’re a household word. People name their children after you.

Generation ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 114 )

This Background represents your Generation: The purity of your blood, and your proximity to the First Vampire. A high Generation rating may represent a powerful sire or a decidedly dangerous taste for diablerie. If you don’t take any dots in this Trait, you begin play as a Thirteenth Generation vampire.

Dots Description
1 Twelfth Generation: 11 blood pool, can spend 1 blood point per turn
2 Eleventh Generation: 12 blood pool, can spend 1 blood point per turn
3 Tenth Generation: 13 blood pool, can spend 1 blood point per turn
4 Ninth Generation: 14 blood pool, can spend 2 blood points per turn
5 Eighth Generation: 15 blood pool, can spend 3 blood points per turn

Herd ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 114 )

You have built a group of mortals from whom you can feed without fear. A herd may take many forms, from circles of kinky clubgoers to actual cults built around you as a god-figure. In addition to providing nourishment, your herd might come in handy for minor tasks, though they are typically not very controllable, closely connected to you, or particularly skilled (for more effective pawns, purchase Allies or Retainers). Your Herd rating adds dice to your rolls for hunting. Players may purchase pooled Herd with Background points.

Dots Description
1 Three vessel
2 Seven vessel
3 15 vessel
4 30 vessel
5 60 vessel

Influence ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 114 )

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 opinion- or policy-swaying power in your community, particularly among the police and bureaucracy. In some cases, cultivating Influence is a path to generating Resources. Some rolls may require you to use Influence in place of an Ability, particularly when attempting to sway minor bureaucrats. It’s 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). Influence can be used with pooled Background points.

Dots Description
1 Moderately influential; a factor in city politics
2 Well-connected; a force in state politics
3 Position of influence; a factor in regional politics
4 Broad personal power; a force in national politics
5 Vastly influential; a factor in global politics

Mentor ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 115 )

This Trait represents a Kindred or group of Kindred who looks out for you, offering guidance or aid once in a while. 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 an interest in your wellbeing. A high Mentor rating could even represent a group of like-minded vampires, such as the elders of the city’s Tremere chantry or a Black Hand cell. Bear in mind that this Trait isn’t a “Get out of Jail Free” card. Your mentor won’t necessarily arrive like the cavalry whenever you’re endangered (and if she does, you’re likely to lose a dot or more in this Background after rousing her ire). 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 protégé.

Arcanum Mentor: Your mentor — your Elder Brother or Sister — is the person who initiated you into the Arcanum. The higher rating, the more influence your mentor has among other Arcanists, and the better your initial reputation. A low rating could mean that your mentor is not well respected, but it could also mean you have a powerful mentor who isn’t often available. ( Hunters Hunted II — Page 140 )

Dots Description
1 Mentor is an ancilla of little influence, or a Ductus or Pack Priest.
2 Mentor is respected: An elder or highly-decorated veteran, for instance.
3 Mentor is heavily influential, such as a member of the Primogen or a Bishop.
4 Mentor has a great deal of power over the city: a Prince or Archbishop, for example.
5 Mentor is extraordinarily powerful, perhaps even a Justicar or Cardinal.

Resources ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 115 )

Resources are valuable goods whose disposition your character controls. These assets may be actual cash, but as this Background increases, they’re more likely to be investments, property, or earning capital of some sort — land, industrial assets, stocks and bonds, commercial inventories, criminal infrastructure, contraband, even taxes or tithes. Remember that vampires don’t need to arrange for any food except blood and their actual needs (as opposed to wants) for shelter are very easily accommodated. Resources for vampires go mostly to pay for luxuries and the associated expenses of developing and maintaining Status, Influence, and other Backgrounds. A character with no dots in Resources may have enough clothing and supplies to get by, or she may be destitute and squatting in a refrigerator box under an overpass. You receive a basic allowance each month based on your rating, so be certain to detail exactly where this money comes from, be it a job, trust fund or dividends. (Storytellers, decide for your locality and any relevant time period what an appropriate amount of cash this monthly allowance is.) After all, a Kindred’s fortune may well run out over the course of the chronicle, depending on how well he maintains 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. Players may purchase Resources for their characters with pooled Background points.

Dots Description
1 Sufficient. You can maintain a typical residence in the style of the working class with stability, even if spending sprees come seldom.
2 Moderate. You can display yourself as a member in good standing of the middle class, with the occasional gift and indulgence seemly for a person of even higher station. You can maintain a servant or hire specific help as necessary. A fraction of your resources are available in cash, readily portable property (like jewelry or furniture), and other valuables (such as a car or modest home) that let you maintain a standard of living at the one-dot level wherever you happen to be, for up to six months.
3 Comfortable. You are a prominent and established member of your community, with land and an owned dwelling, and you have a reputation that lets you draw on credit at very generous terms. You likely have more tied up in equity and property than you do in ready cash. You can maintain a one-dot quality of existence wherever you are without difficulty, for as long as you choose.
4 Wealthy. You rarely touch cash, as most of your assets exist in tangible forms that are themselves more valuable and stable than paper money. You hold more wealth than many of your local peers (if they can be called such a thing). When earning your Resources doesn’t enjoy your usual degree of attention, you can maintain a three-dot existence for up to a year, and a two-dot existence indefinitely.
5 Extremely Wealthy. You are the model to which others strive to achieve, at least in the popular mind. Television shows, magazine spreads, and gossip websites speculate about your clothing, the appointments of your numerous homes, and the luxury of your modes of transportation. You have vast and widely distributed assets, perhaps tied to the fates of nations, each with huge staffs and connections to every level of society through a region. You travel with a minimum of three-dot comforts, more with a little effort. Corporations and governments sometimes come to you to buy into stocks or bond programs.

Retainers ( Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition — Page 116 )

Not precisely Allies or Contacts, your retainers are servants, assistants, or other people who are your loyal and steadfast companions. Many vampires’ servants are ghouls — their supernatural powers and blood bond-enforced loyalty make them the servants of choice. Retainers may also be people whom you’ve repeatedly Dominated until they have no free will left, or followers so enthralled with your Presence that their loyalty borders on blind fanaticism. Some vampires, particularly those with the Animalism Discipline, use animal ghouls as retainers. You must maintain some control over your retainers, whether through a salary, the gift of your vitae, or the use of Disciplines. Retainers are never “blindly loyal no matter what” — if you treat them poorly without exercising strict control, they might well turn on you. Retainers may be useful, but they should never be flawless. A physically powerful ghoul might be rebellious, inconveniently dull-witted, or lacking in practical skills. A loyal manservant might be physically weak or possess no real personal initiative or creativity. This Background isn’t an excuse to craft an unstoppable bodyguard or pet assassin — it’s a method to bring more fully-developed characters into the chronicle, as well as to reflect the followers for which the Kindred are notorious. Generally, retainers are more like Renfield than Anita Blake. (If the player and Storyteller agree, a player may create a more competent single Retainer by combining more points in this Background, putting more eggs in one basket, as the saying goes.) Players can spend pooled Background points on Retainers.

Arcanum: The society may provide housing and a small allowance for its new members — typically no higher than a rating of one dot. Anything more must come from a member’s family, another job, or some other income source.

Dots Description
1 One retainer
2 Two retainers
3 Three retainers
4 Four retainers
5 Five retainers

Backgrounds

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