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Creating a Persona

by: Benedira A Legacy Article from Sanguinus Curae

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The first and foremost element of character creation is the creation of a persona. While stats and ratings are the things that will aid in the technical aspect of the game, there is much more to a character that is never reflected in any stat. These are the things that define personality. This particular creation tutorial is designed to aid in the construction of a personality, a set of guidelines to follow when determining the persona of your character.


Where and when were you born and raised?

This will affect your character's name, and their young life. If you were born in Saudi Arabia in 1906 to Saudi parents, it's very unlikely your birth name will be 'Candy Johnson'. All time periods and cultures have an intrinsic set of social protocols and standards, and these will be your character's earliest influences. If you were born a Moorish commoner in the time of the crusades, you may well have been raised to be extremely spiritual and devout, and harbor a deep-seated hatred for Christians. If you were born a French courtier under the reign of Louis XIV, it is likely you could have a carefree attitude and enjoy political intrigue as a parlor game. The period and place you were reared in will affect you at the most basic levels, as is true of every person. How this affects the character when they grow older depends on the character.

Did you honor your early teachings throughout your life? Did you rebel against your culture and society? Did you come to see the errors of your teachings? No matter what the long term effect, the formative years of your life will play a major roll in who you become later. Do a little research into the time and place your character is born. Find out the basic social issues and influences that your character would have grown up with. All of this information is available on the internet.

What were your parents and family like?

  • Were you an only child, or did you have brothers and sisters?
  • Was yours a loving household where you were raised to be a well-adjusted adult, or was there something hellishly wrong with your parents or family?
  • Or perhaps you had neither of these, and were raised in an orphanage where you were but one needy child in a sea of many.

The people that figure prominently in your formative years as a child will have considerable bearing on how you come to treat people later, and what and how you think of them. Decide who the people that played a role in your character's childhood were and what effect they had on your character's life. This may play a large part in the later nature and demeanor of your character.

What were some significant events of your young life?

Everyone has them - your character should. too. These significant events are what shape people and partially determine who and what they will be later. A girl who lost her entire family to a plague or disease might become a doctor later in life, or she may become emotionally isolated out of fear of losing loved ones again. A man who suffered under the oppression of slavery may become a valiant freedom fighter when he matures, or he may become a hate-driven rebel who will take out his aggression on anyone. A child who was abused might grow up to be a protector of children, or they might turn out to be just as abusive as their guardians.

Almost everyone can look back to their young life and pick out a few vital or significant moments that changed them in some way. Detail a few major events in your characters young life, and the long-term effects they had. If these things are positive aspects of the character, it will help you understand where they draw their strengths from. If they are negative aspects, it will help you understand what they must overcome to free themselves of it.

What happened when you became a young adult?

  • Were you forced to learn a skill or trade to make your way in the world?
  • Was your family wealthy enough to send you to an institution of higher learning?
  • Did you join or get drafted into the military?
  • Did you strike out on your own as a wanderer?
  • Did you have to stay at home and care for your family?

These kind of events shape the adult values a person is likely to have, and possibly a few of the prejudices. Figuring out what your character intended to do with the rest of their life may play a large part in long term goals and views. Decide what path your character decided to take when they reached adulthood. This will likely have at least some part in how they came to be embraced into the clan they later became. This will also determine proficiency at certain abilities and special abilities, and possibly some merits and flaws.

Were you married in your mortal life? Were you in love?

That first great romance is another aspect that shapes a person's life. Perhaps your love was unrequited, and you have since longed for something you could never have. Perhaps your true love betrayed you and embittered you towards love and romance, or created a wound that has never healed. Perhaps you were happily married and had a family, and the embrace took you away from those things you valued so much.

Whatever happened with your first true love - if you ever even had one - it likely was one of the more defining experiences of your emotional life. For most, the events and outcome of this experience dictate how they view and deal with other people later in life. Decide what your character's love life was like, and what impact it had on their personality. This may affect character nature, demeanor, or both.

What drew your sire to you?

Most of those chosen for the embrace are very carefully chosen, after extensive observation and research. Sires usually choose their childer very meticulously, making sure that they will be an asset to the clan and a credit to the sire. No Kindred wishes to embrace a childe that will only be a burden or an embarrassment. Though, not every Kindred is a well adjusted and rational being, and sometimes childer are embraced for all the wrong reasons.

If you were embraced Toreador, what set you apart from all the other starving artists around you? Or were you just a beautiful trophy, intended to decorate your sire's haven for a while?

If you were embraced Brujah, what about you impressed your sire enough to convince them to embrace you? Or were you embraced in a heated moment or a fit of passion?

If you were embraced Nosferatu, what reason did your sire come up with to embrace you? Were you one of the beautiful people who abused their good fortune, or were you quick-witted and sharp of mind with a nose for news?

You will likely be told what it was that won you admittance to the blood of your clan and thus the ranks of the undead, and it is likely something you will be expected to maintain once you are Kindred. Decide what made your sire choose you for the embrace. This will play a large part in the early days of your life as Kindred, as well as in how you are treated by your sire and the rest of your clan. It may even affect how you are treated by other Kindred in your city. It will also likely affect what your character believes their role in Kindred society to be.

Were you a ghoul before you were a vampire?

It is rare that ghouls become vampires, since being a ghoul is often an experience that twists a person beyond psychological redemption. Still, it does happen, and those who were thralls before they were vampires have a slightly different take on the experience of the embrace than those who were not. Ghouls have their emotions manipulated by the bond, often to extreme and maddening ends. Usually those who are ghouls for any amount of time become subservient and broken by their masters, though other possibilities exist.

Some clans, such as the Assamites, require a period of ghouldom before the embrace. For some ghouls the embrace might seem like a promotion, a deserved graduation into the true ranks of Kindred society. For some ghouls the embrace might be the next step in a terrible cycle of pain and nightmares, a terrible transformation that assures the length of a life they were hoping would end. For some ghouls the embrace might be a release from torture, so they can become the torturer now.

If your character was ghouled before the embrace, decide for how long and what life as a ghoul was like for your character. Determine what the lasting psychological effects of being a ghoul were, and how that affects your character now that they are a vampire.

What was your embrace like?

For most, this will be the single most defining moment in their early kindred years. The embrace is a major experience and a major change - how it comes about is bound to have a lasting effect.

Perhaps your sire seduced you like a lover, and the embrace was one of the most ecstatic experiences you ever had. You were enthralled with a beautiful creature that gave you the most intimate gift you had ever received, a sublime transformation that took you to the very heights of self-realization. It is likely an experience like this would leave you with romantic notions about your new existence; notions that may be fed or rent asunder by your sire in the nights that follow.

Perhaps your embrace was a religious experience in which your sire was your savior and uplifter. Your body was prepared for eternity: you were given a haircut, shaved, bathed, and had all the other physical details attended to so they would not be a hindrance in the many nights to come. Your embrace was highly ritualistic and ceremonial, and you viewed your sire as your mentor and spiritual guide in the new life you were embracing. An experience like this may have left you with romantic notions of another kind, that again your sire may have nurtured or destroyed.

Perhaps your embrace was a terrible and frightening experience. Your sire was a horrible monster that subdued you through the chase, and when you were caught they took your life and made you a monster like them. Your embrace was a fantastic experience in personal horror that has left you with no illusions as to the evil that you have become.

Whatever the mechanics and mood of your embrace, it is bound to leave a psychological mark that stays with you for quite some time. The embrace is your first real experience in being Kindred, and will help to shape your views of what it means to be Kindred. Map out the details of your embrace, and the effect they had on your character. This experience may help decide your character's demeanor, and it will definitely lay the groundwork for how your character will view other vampires.

What were some significant events of your early days as Kindred?

The first few intense experiences as Kindred are bound to shape you later in unlife. Whether positive or negative, these experiences have lasting effects. Perhaps you were required to kill your mortal family and close friends, and the harrowing experience left you with guilt that you still have not managed to dispel. Or, perhaps you were surprised at the relative ease with which you took their lives. Perhaps you were introduced to the Prince, and for some unrevealed reason the city's ruler took a special interest in you. This favoritism was very useful, but you had to work to keep it - perhaps even do things you didn't really want to. Perhaps you trusted another, older Kindred and had that trust brutally betrayed. Or, perhaps you were the one that did the betraying.

There are millions of possibilities, but you are bound to have a few defining moments in your early days as a vampire. Detail a few of the early experiences of your character's Kindred life, and the effect they had. While this may not help determine any qualities listed on a character sheet, it will help determine how the character treats other vampires. It may also be the place a few prejudices against other clans were developed.

How do you view the others around you?

No matter what, Kindred rub elbows with Kindred. Over the years, you've had plenty of time to develop an opinion on other clans and sects, even if it is a misinformed one. You have had time to develop opinions about the other clans in your sect - what are they, and why? Do you hate the Tremere because you think they are vile usurpers, or did a Tremere help you out along the way and leave you with a slightly kinder vision of the clan? Do you loathe the Toreador for their careless and shallow lifestyle, or do you respect them for their artistic vision and pursuit of beauty? Do you revere the Nosferatu for their diligence and intelligence, or are you repulsed by their foul scent and twisted visage?

Furthermore, how did you develop these opinions? Were they the ideas of your sire that transferred to you? Did particular incidents with singular Kindred color your views of another clan? Perhaps you are enlightened enough to judge each vampire on their own merit, but it is unlikely you have escaped having any preconceptions or stereotypes about the other groups in your society.

List all the other clans that your character is aware of. Then decide what prejudice your character holds for that clan and why. This gives you greater insight into how your character is likely to treat other vampires, and what means can be used to manipulate them.

What are your long term goals?

Everyone has them, and vampires are no exception. What do you want out of unlife? What are you striving for? Perhaps you aspire to be a Prince, or a Harpy. Perhaps you work to control the mortal population of your city. Maybe you seek the fragments of the Book of Nod, or some other legendary piece of Kindred History. Perhaps you seek redemption for your damned soul. Maybe you work to possess occult knowledge to bring you further power. Perhaps your pursuits are far more simple, and you seek to provide yourself with creature comfort and enjoyment.

Whatever it is, long term goals are always a motivation - perhaps more so for Kindred than anyone else. You have eternity at your fingertips - what do you want to do with it?
Kindred often lack the humdrum pressures of mortal life. They do not work nine to five, have no family to feed, don't have insurance policies to pay on time. They must invent goals for themselves, things to bring value to their existence to stave off the horrible boredom of Ennui.

Decide what your characters long term pursuits are, and how they go about achieving them. This will determine a great deal about what your character does on a nightly basis, and may determine what kind of relationships they are looking to form with other Kindred and to what end.

What are your short term goals?

These goals differ from long term goals because they are most likely short-lived, and not a constant motivation. Maybe they are just a passing fancy, maybe it is something that can be accomplished in a timely fashion, maybe it is something that you will tire of quickly. Perhaps another Kindred embarrassed you and now you seek to return the favor. Maybe you are obsessed with a mortal that will eventually become a bore but for now is an intriguing pursuit. It could be that you have a new found love of throwing parties - and while it will pass soon enough, for the moment you will go to any length to be the best host or hostess in kindred history. Perhaps you seek friends in your city, or perhaps you are trying to dig up as much information on one of your fellow kindred as you can at the moment. Perhaps you are expanding your interests into a new facet of mortal society.

Decide what your characters short term pursuits are, and how they go about achieving them. Again, this will determine a great deal about what your character does on a nightly basis, and may determine what kind of relationships they are looking to form with other Kindred.

What are you good at, and how do you use it to your advantage?

Talents are wasted if not used. What are you talented at, and what do you do with it?
A skilled fighter may employ himself with the local Sheriff, helping to hunt down those who breach the Masquerade or anger the Prince. This comes with a certain amount of prestige. A talented schemer may seek to ingratiate themselves with the local controlling body to help further their own goals and gain recognition and favor. A savvy manipulator may find favor with the Harpies and exert their influence that way. Inversely, a good investigator may find himself the object of harassment in a deceitful kindred's preemptive strike to discredit him.

Whatever you are good at, from assassination to animal training, rest assured that your talents have not gone unnoticed. Some kindred may see you as useful while others may see you as a threat or liability to their plans. The things your character is good at affect more than just their abilities - it also affects their standing in society. Decide what use your character has made of the things they excel at, and what those talents have cost or granted them among their own kind.

Why are you where you are now?

If you were embraced in your city and just never left, that's a good reason to be where you are. But, if you have traveled - why did you go where you went? Perhaps your travel was an escape, fleeing those who would harm you. Perhaps you traveled in search of something: a person, information, or a tangible object. Perhaps you are a wanderer, just passing through. Perhaps you just ended up there by chance and found a reason to stay. Determine why your character is in the place they are in. This is very important, since this also determines nightly activities, as well as their attitude towards their environment.

How do you view your existence now?

Self-image is vital to personality. How you view yourself will affect your every behavior and decision.

  • Do you see yourself as superior to humans and neonates? If so, are you a benevolent god or a ruthless dictator? Are you above human laws and morals, or are you guilty of breaking them?
  • Do you see yourself as a damned soul? If so, do you seek redemption or have you accepted your fate and lived up to it?
  • Do you see yourself as a monster? If so, are you horrified by your existence or have you embraced your vile nature with open and willing arms?
  • Do you see yourself as just a superhuman with an unusual diet? And if so, how do you reconcile your lack of humanity with your beliefs?

Decide how your character views his or herself, and how that plays out in their behavior. This will help determine how your character is inclined to treat other Kindred, and what he or she respects, loves, and loathes.

Is there more?

  • Are there other influences in your characters unlife?
  • Does a savvy elder have you in their employ, and if so what are you expected to do?
  • Does your employment benefit you, or are you being tricked?
  • Have you made a mistake that you must do your best to hide or run from, lest it cost you your unlife?
  • Have you stumbled on to some piece of information or an object that has suddenly made you more valuable to some and more dangerous to others? If so, did you come upon this gem by dumb luck, or have you sought it out?
  • Have you recently had an epiphany about your existence? If you did, was it for better or for worse?

The conflicts - internal or external - that your character faces will be a large factor in personal development. Decide what these conflicts are, and how they have affected your character thus far.

If you have followed this tutorial, your character persona should now be well developed enough that they are easy for you to play and understand.

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