Yeah, it’s another Vampire post.
On starting to put together a game, I noticed that some of the backgrounds had explicit benefits, while others were entirely based on fiat (how useful is a dot of Retainer vs. a dot of Resources?). This is an attempt to make every background at least have some explicit system effect that can’t be produced from another source. I don’t know if they’re actually balanced against one another, but they should each generally give some kind of predictable mechanical benefit.
Three backgrounds are removed from the standard list because they are subsumed into group generation or other city systems (Allies, Generation, and Influence), and because Generation is too desirable of a buy to be left to a cheap background. Three others are newly added to address certain elements that lost their position as skills in my game (Linguistics) or were Merits not easily reproducible with Distinctions (Arcane and Touched). I also drastically reduced Resources, as being a millionaire always drastically changed the game too much for a very cheap buy.
- Arcane: You have a subtle supernatural field that makes you hard to find, follow, or even remember. Your dots in this background are added to any Stealth rolls to blend into a crowd. They are a dice penalty to anyone attempting to track you or research information about you (trails and records go missing). Recordings of you tend to blur or have static and lose one identifying feature per dot. You cannot buy Fame if you have any dots in this background.
- Contacts: You have contacts throughout the city not directly tied to your Influence structure that feed you information and help you out when possible. Once per night, you may ask a question and roll Contacts to find out information about it (the difficulty and required successes depend on the obscurity and relevance of the information). You can use Contacts to gain Influence favor points.
- Fame: You are a local celebrity within the city. You can add your dots in this background to any social rolls against targets impressed by your renown and who recognize you. You can use Fame to gain Influence favor points. It is difficult for opponents to try to marginalize you or remove you secretly, and you can add your dots to your defense against Status loss.
- Herd: You have a safe hunting area, dedicated blood dolls, access to a blood bank, or some other easy way of finding blood. Your dots are added as extra blood points to whatever number the GM tells you to start at for a session and added as bonus dice to any rolls to hunt in the city.
- Linguistics: You fluently speak one additional language per dot in this background. You may roll the background (plus Charisma) to make yourself understood in related languages in which you are not fluent (difficulty depending on how closely related your fluent languages are). Dead languages are generally covered by Academics unless you want to be conversationally fluent in them.
- Mentor: Your sire or another elder has decided to be especially helpful to your education and passage into Camarilla society. You can learn any traits your Mentor surpasses you at faster: your dots count as additional “weeks” each month that you can dedicate toward improving such traits. You may add your dots as a bonus to any social rolls against your mentor. If your mentor is present at a social gathering, you may add your dots to your defense against Status loss.
- Resources: You have wealth and the capability to make more. You generally have your rating in this background squared times $100 in free cash at any given time (resetting the next week if spent). Similarly, your rating squared times $10,000 roughly indicates your yearly gross salary and general lifestyle. All numbers are in 2012 dollars. You can temporarily expend dots to make larger purchases by taking on credit or mortgages. You can use Resources to gain Influence favor points.
- Retainers: You have several loyal mortal assistants: friends, employees, or ghouls. Each dot represents one relatively complicated (but not dangerous) errand you can have accomplished which would otherwise take your full attention (or require going out in daylight) and a significant fraction of your time. You can use Retainers to gain Influence favor points.
- Status: You have a rank within a large organization (and this background can be purchased multiple times to represent different organizations). One dot indicates entry level, while five indicates the highest rank possible that is not in direct control of the organization (these titles vary from status to status). You can use your status in mortal organizations to improve your Influence. Status within the Camarilla cannot be purchased, but must be earned and defended in play, and indicates your social clout among Kindred in the city.
- Touched:You have one or more strange abilities that are holdovers from your mortal life. Spend the dots in this background to select from the following abilities (and you cannot buy more than five points worth of abilities representing five dots in this background):
- Magic Resistant (X): You increase your resistance pool to Thaumaturgy and mortal magic by the number of dots invested in this power. You cannot learn magic.
- Medium (1): You can sense the presence of ghosts and communicate with them.
- Prescient (2): You sometimes receive premonitions of the future and can enter a trance to deliberately invoke such a vision. You add +1 to your Initiative rolls and have a minimum of 1 success on Perception rolls to detect danger.
- Lucky (2): You gain an additional Distinction, “Lucky,” that can be used on any task heavily controlled by chance.
- Unbondable (3): You cannot be blood bound, no matter how much vitae you drink.
- Neutral (4): You are mysteriously immune to Dominate or other direct mind-control effects. Presence still affects you normally.
- True Faith (5): You can manifest your faith through a holy symbol to drive back or harm other Kindred. You can invoke minor miracles in especially appropriate situations. You are not harmed by the true faith of others.
- Former Ghoul (5): You were granted the Embrace after service as a ghoul. You gain a dot of Potence but start play blood bound to your sire.