(I wrote this for my LARP group - if you feel it may have value, then by all means do with it as you wish. --J. )
The choice of Path is the most important choice you will ever make for your character. Any idiotic concept can be attached to any clan with the simple 'well, not all _______'s are like ________' argument. One's Path, however, WILL preclude and include certain concepts. For instance, no Necronomist (The path of Death and the Soul) will EVER be seen as a kind-hearted, bumbling clown filled with good-will for mankind. The choice of path is not at all like the choice of concepts or clothing. It is, instead, more like a choice of religion. And the higher one's rating, the greater one believes in the correctness of one's 'god'.
Correct portrayal of path can be amazingly difficult. MUCH more difficult than the simple portrayal of Humanity. It is, after all, a completely alien viewpoint. Think of that for a moment. Completely alien. There is NO common frame of reference for it. It can't be based on past experiences in life, or on research in books. One's character is not only divorced from Humanity, but, indeed, works diligently to alienate it's self even further.
One of the most important things to remember when portraying a path is consistency. Remember, this isn't just a general set of guiding ideas. This
is an entire world-view. That means that one's character doesn't occasionally make some odd morbid reference to its path. Rather the opposite... every thought, every decision, every turn of phrase is guided by the tenets and ethos of one's path.
To illustrate, here's a common scenario:
A Sabbat is out prowling the city, when he comes across a simple vagrant, stumbling through a back alley. Each path will view the situation differently, and will react in completely different ways...
1. The common Necronomist will see the vagrant, and will immediately notice the sallow, sagging skin, and dull luster of the eyes. How close to Death this abandoned soul is... how lost and outside of human kin... barely alive, shambling around like a mindless automaton, more dead than alive... What a perfect specimen to take home and study...
2. The Noddist, on the other hand, will see only a source of blood. Why waste time with a mortal? Feed, then, and get back to your studies quickly!
3. Of course, there is also the Catharist's view: Look at this mortal. How low he has fallen! surely, his soul is stained black with sin? But... should he be killed, and thusly, re-incarnated as an even worse mortal... or should he be tested, to see how wicked he is... and... if he is wicked enough... should he be granted immortality?
4. The Beasts who encounter this vagrant will be given a moment's pause... this one is separated from the herd... do we kill it, and feed... or... is it sick, and thus, tainted by drug, drink, or disease that may affect our ability to hunt? Best to play with it a little, feel it out, sniff it over. If it is clean and free of taint, then, will there be enough to bring back to the pack, or do we fill our bellies here, alone?
5. Similarly, Unifiers will make short shrift of this one. Obviously, its blood is filled with drugs, alcohol, and possibly even disease. Drinking from this one would hamper vital decision-making processes, would weaken one too much to risk. Imagine the pack seeing one staggering about the communal haven, drunk on a wino's blood? Is this the choice of a leader, some random wretch staggering in a back-alley? One thinks not, indeed!
6. The heretical Lillins would take an entirely different approach. Only a life of pain and suffering could bring one so low... but... this fool has fallen asleep, forgotten the lessons he has learned... his mind and senses are dulled by drink... best to take that drink away from him. In fact, best to take him altogether, harry him through the streets, until his blood flows through his veins filled with terror. What choices will he make? Will he use his suffering to grow, to become stronger, or will he choose to hide inside the next bottle?
7. The Knights, on the other hand, will see only a fallen Man, without worth or value. No hard decision here: This vessel is not worth feeding from. Ride on.
But it's not just method of hunting and feeding that one's path affects. It's everything. That cannot be stressed enough. From choice of phrase in conversation, to choice of clothing, one's path will not-at-all-gently push one into certain areas, and away from others. Appearance, demeanor, attitude, possibly even nature and essence will all be profoundly altered by choice of path, and, over time, as one grows further into one's path, and the choices grow to be less and less, these alterations will become more and more difficult to keep concealed... IF, that is, one ever bothered trying to conceal them in the first place.
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Thank you, and happy gaming!