Posted on the White Wolf forums by Pete Woodworth 13/12/04
It’s Only a Game:
Never forget that it’s all a game. Other players and Storytellers can’t be held responsible for their characters’ in-game actions. If you froth at the mouth over a rules dispute or get so heated that you have trouble separating your feelings from your character’s, take a time-out until you can continue with a clear head.
Don’t be a Jerk:
If you’re tempted to do something because the rules technically permit it, but you know it isn’t what they really intend, don’t do it. If you feel like upsetting another player and then hiding behind your character to justify those actions, don’t do it. If you feel the urge to initiate a mass combat just because you can, don’t do it. If you feel the need to steal the spotlight and leave everyone else in the dark, don’t do it. The game will be better for your restraint.
Trust Your Storyteller:
It’s the nature of a grim place like the World of Darkness for bad things to happen to your character, sometimes even things that may seem inexplicable or outright unfair at first. Remember that the Storyteller is not “out to get you,” but trying to craft a tale that frightens, excites, intrigues and surprises you. That means you must sometimes take it on faith that the he has good reasons for what happens, even if all you can see are the repercussions for your character.
A significant amount of live-action activity occurs outside of the immediate supervision of the Storytelling staff. That means an honour system is in place to keep the game running smoothly. If you fe:el compelled to cheat in a fictional world being created for your amusement, why play at all?
Stay In-Character in a Game Session:
You’re at work or school all week and you have long periods of downtime between sessions. Why bring reality into the limited time of the chapter? Try to use every possible moment of a game session to remain in character. It’s entertaining for you and it motivates other players to do the same.
Take an Active Role:
Don’t wait for the Storyteller to lead you into a new plotline. Each character has her own ways to get into the action. Don’t hesitate to track down leads, dig up dirt, shake down informants, conduct research, crash parties, tail suspects, grease palms, pick locks, play politics, hack mainframes, jump fences, analyze evidence, seduce strangers, translate texts, take chances, play hunches and otherwise have your character do whatever it is she does best to get involved. You won’t regret it.
Avoid “Perfect” Characters:
You wouldn’t want to watch a movie or read a book about a character who never failed, had everything she ever wanted and wasn’t afraid of anything. So why try to create that character for yourself? “Perfect” characters are really rather boring. They lack for nothing, and so lack motivation to do much. Instead, invest your character with shortcoming and needs, and set goals in each session to resolve or overcome those challenges. Doing so not only ensures you never lack for something to do, but provides the Storyteller with story hooks involving your character.
Embrace the Mystery:
The World of Darkness doesn’t play by the same rules as the real world. There are mysterious forces at work that ordinary people — and supernatural beings — simply cannot comprehend. Don’t quibble over “right” and “wrong,” but enjoy the chance to learn about this shadowy reality through a completely new pair of eyes. It’s hard to top the drama and tension of having your character perform actions that you wouldn’t, or that you know to be patently dangerous.
Make sure you have your costume, character sheet, cards, Health counters/tokens, rulebooks and any relevant props or makeup that you need for a session.
Make the Game Fun for Everyone:
Remember the “Only Rules That Matter,” and portray your character in a way that not only entertains you, but other players as well. If other players love your character even as he screws theirs over, he and you are a hit. Play to build the overall story, not just your own personal glory.
Hints & Suggestions for better character interaction and more fun. Note: these are ideas, not rules.
One of the most fulfilling challenges in the Camarilla can be creating your characters. For each character you create, you can choose the creature type you wish to portray. It is best to create characters you can play in sanctioned games, but it is not required. Your characters can be for tabletop games, live-action (LARP) games, or for fictional portrayals in the organisation’s publications and newsletters. When you are naming your character, do not name it after a historical or known fictitious figure. Historical figures are often woven into the World of Darkness and may be the basis for White Wolf personae in the World of Darkness. Not only are fictitious characters created by other authors, playwrights, and artists are often copyrighted to the artist, publishing house or other entity, but playing someone else’s character is never as fun as playing your own. Instead of copying what has been done in the past, The Camarilla strongly encourages you to create new fictitious characters. While creating these new characters, you should consider contacting other members and together creating fictional relationships between your characters. This will help you become more connected and meet new friends. It can also build relationships between geographic Regions and countries.
For vampire characters, find your character's sire or childer among the existing characters. For Garou, find a sibling, mentor, or a long-lost relative. Any character can have historical relationships with any other character. Be creative and use resources such as your fellow members and Storytellers. Developing such ties is not a requirement, but it adds colour to the fabric of the game and enhances your personal enjoyment. Many storytellers recommend that members begin by designing a human who is untouched by the supernatural. Begin by imagining the framework of your character. When you first develop a character, leave room for modifications; build a basic construct. Then let the fun begin! Contact a storyteller in your area and ask them to help you find a way into the game. Build relations for your character. Be willing to meet new people and link with their characters. When you've found a possible connection, contact that player and ask if they would like to make a link between characters. If so, begin an in-character dialogue. Prepare your character's introduction to the Camarilla's sanctioned game together, and then begin play. Enjoy the stories you create together.
You can tie your character's growth to that of your fictional relative, entwining your characters deeply, or you can make their connection sudden or traumatic. Already the storyline possibilities spin off. You are on a quest to find your relation, you hate your sire and you want to destroy her; or you need information from your childe that is critical for your survival. You help to find new victims for your sire, or you band together with others in your search for Golconda. You need to enlist an elder leader to support your call for vengeance. The possibilities are endless.
White Wolf's creatures live in a World of Darkness. Your characters destruction can occur at any moment, so act like the paranoid prey you need to be to survive. That best-friend Brujah might suddenly go into frenzy and wipe out the character you spent months creating. Always keep fiction and reality separate. The challenge and enjoyment of playing this game comes not just from growing and nurturing one character but also from building and creating new characters. Each time you create a character, you are building relationships with other members, both fictional and real. This is involvement; this is what the Camarilla can be about! You may never find the relation you wanted for a particular character and remain an orphan; but in the process of searching for a sire or other relative, you will find other players who enjoy the game. You may even learn a different way of looking at the creature type that you have chosen to play.
A few simple guidelines can help create and run an interesting and memorable character. Please note that these are simply suggestions designed to help, and it really is up to you:
1) Give your character a weakness.
Even Superman has Kryptonite, so give your character something that is their Achilles heel – a mortal relative who they need to protect, an obsession for Monet originals – that can be used by others who find their weakness. A character with no weaknesses is no fun to play, especially in the World of Darkness setting, as much of the best roleplay that you will encounter will be in establishing power relationships and personal and political manipulation.
2) Choose your character’s fear.
Give your character something that they will run from – Anarchs, Magic, Vampires, Mortal Priests, Motor Cars (for recently awoken ancient vampires?), there are many possibilities – something that will strike fear into their heart and they will flee from with all due dispatch, dropping anything in their haste to get away.
3) Choose your characters obsession.
Give your character something that they will stand and fight to the death over. Be it someone trespassing on what they consider their territory, or protecting the innocent, or even their right to diablerise, once again a good character should have something that they believe in so strongly that they will fight until they drop in order to protect or achieve it.
4) Take charge of your own destiny.
Nobody but you should ultimately control the actions of your character, and the power to change the game is firmly in your hands. If the game is dragging – you can change that, and if it’s too fast, you can change that too. The most important rule is to have something to do. What is your characters long-term goal? What – ultimately – do they want? Security? Golconda? To rule the world? If you have a goal to work towards, you’ll never be bored, and you’ll always have something to do. Even better if this goal is one which is nigh impossible to achieve – doomed endeavour, or success against overwhelming odds, makes for great stories.
If you have a plan that is likely to get your character killed, make sure that you have a death speech prepared, and make it dramatic.
5) Remember that the Camera is always upon you.
Play the game as if your character is the lead actor in a big screen movie, and remember that the camera – and your imaginary audience – really wants to know what you are going to do next. Make your actions dramatic – if you plot and scheme, make sure you do it in dark smoky corners. If you seize praxis, ensure that you strike a dramatic pose, and have a good speech ready. In combat, make your moves exciting and dramatic – swing from chandeliers, and leap from balconies! At dramatic moments of the game, imagine precisely how your pose and actions will look on the poster for the movie you’re starring in. Think of all the types of movie that you could be in – Melodrama, Film Noir, Horror, Costume Drama, Action and more, and make the game into your own starring production.
6) Use everything that you know about, that the ST gives you, and more.
If you have a special field of real world expertise, don’t be afraid to use it. If you work in a bank and know how finances work, put in practise all those plans for bank robberies that you’ve thought of. If you’ve studied politics, try to bring down the government through the actions of your minions. You may fail, but it’ll be fun trying. If the ST introduces an NPC – even if it’s just a cab driver, or passer-by – talk to them. Find out who they are, where they live, what they want, what the need. And then, whatever you get from the ST as they try and make up these background details, remember it, and try and think of ways to use this information in achieving your background goal.
7) Remember the other players.
Remember that everyone else is playing a lead character in their drama whilst you’re creating yours. Try and use them to create drama, conflict, and fun. It’s unlikely that anyone else in the room is has decided to play a character like the red- shirted Star Trek security guards, doomed to die as soon as they wander off camera. By treating others as the leads in their own movies, chances are they’ll repay the compliment, and that’s a situation in which everyone wins.