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.
All General Backgrounds are theoretically acquirable by any character belonging to any sphere. In practice, some are greatly restricted (such as Artifacts), or demonstrate slightly different mechanics if there is a supernatural version (Such as Cult or Status) which supersedes it. Some Background (such as Influence) are not being used here, yet have been given an entry for those who wish to know why. Some common Backgrounds (Such as Allies, Contacts and Retainers who replace Influence) are treated very differently here at Liberation MUSH.
Allies (Influence Background)
Allies: Allies are mortals who support and help you — family, friends, trusted business associates, or even a group of mortals (such as a gang) that owes you some informal loyalty. Unlike Retainers, they have their own concerns and agendas, and can’t always prioritize doing you one favor after another. Allies are rarely aware of your character’s supernatural affiliations, if any. Allies that are considered meaningful enough to mechanically represent with a dot rating are typically persons of influence and power in your home city.
HOUSE RULE: Every Ally is given their own dot rating and rated from 1-5, which determines their relative power to each other. As such, your actual Allies rating can exceed 1-5 on your sheet.
- +note/Backgrounds me/Ally <rating> – <name>=<description>
- Describe your relationship to them, and then define these two things:
- Is your Ally (or their interests) primarily located in the Westside or Central Los Angeles?
- Is your Ally primarily relevant to the Academia, Business, Community, Crime, Government or Security influence sector? A Professor or Occult Researcher might be Academia. A Detective or Private Security Company would be Security. A City Rep would be Government. A street gang would be Crime, and so forth.
HOUSE RULE: The Powerful Ally Merit (3-7 variable cost) can be used to represent an Ally who doubles as a supernatural group of some kind, such as a pack of Glass Walkers instead of just your average downtown Business Advocacy Association. Although it won’t affect the Influence mechanics, you still reap all the narrative benefits of having supernatural allies. It will require collaboration with your Director to best realize every possible form or angle this might take.
Sometimes you’ve gotta be ready to disappear. Especially for people in dangerous professions such as spies, informers or assassins, the ability to adopt alternate identities can mean the difference between a new life and an unmarked grave. With this Background, you can duck behind a fake identity; the higher the rating, the more support you have for that identity’s existence. Each dot in Alternate Identity provides a certain level of official recognition that stands up to increasing degrees of scrutiny. A cheap fake ID could get you past a bouncer, but it won’t fool the Highway Patrol!
By itself, an alternate identity is useful but not extremely so. You can use a new ID for a short time, but that’ll leave you starting fresh unless you’re planning to rebuild your life from scratch. Other Background Traits, however, can be linked to an alternate identity; You might have Allies, Resources, Spies, and so on that are connected to that new you. You’ll still need to pay points for those Backgrounds, of course – they don’t come free with this Trait. Still, if and when you need to ditch your previous identity, you could have new resources waiting for you.
Strong IDs stand up to close observation. To penetrate an alternate identity, a character would need to roll a Mental Trait + Investigation against a difficulty of your Alternate Identity + 3. You can purchase this Trait several times in order to reflect a set of alternate IDs. Even so, you should use some form of magick or disguise to provide distinct appearances for your different identities. Sure, your driver’s license might read “Jane Palmer,” but if you still look, act, and sound like Eva Morrissey, you’ll probably be recognized as the latter.
• A fake driver’s license that kinda looks like you.
•• A passable fake ID, plus a few supporting documents.
••• Respectable identification papers and support documents that’ll pass casual inspection.
•••• An established alternative identity.
••••• A fully supported identity with complete history, support documents, witnesses, fake family photos, alternate homes and so on.
This Background is currently restricted to NPCs and PCs with Rank in large mortal organizations.
A character with Firearms can perform simple tasks with weapons, such as cleaning a gun, but without a stocked armory, it’s difficult to keep weapons in fire-ready condition. 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 the resources to properly maintain and clean them, and proper ammunition.
The scope of this Background varies a bit by region, as weapons-control laws that exist in various locations around the world differ. What an American can get away with in Texas, for example, might be the sole domain of the LAPD in DTLA, and players who wish to invest dots in Armory should consult with their Director to determine the specifics of how it will work in their character’s intended locality. The Director may require you to invest a few points in another Background (such as certain types of 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, particularly if its curator is prone to rants about blood-sucking monsters and corruption that goes all the way to the top.
• You have a collection that includes either legal hunting/historical weapons, or that readily available on the street, as relevant to the regional culture.
•• You have access to basic weapons to outfit a small gang or crew. There’s a significant degree of ‘quality vs quantity’ correlation that goes into determining the exact nature of your armory.
••• You could start your own small militia. In addition, you can outfit five individuals with both body armor and weaponry that exists in a legal gray area for the region, which most civilians would have a difficult time obtaining.
•••• 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 weaponry that exists outside the realm of the strictly legal.
••••• You have an armory appropriate to a LAPD SWAT team as kept in one of their major division stations, including military-grade hardware. 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 definitely illegal for private hands to possess in Los Angeles, and enough of them to field either an elite team (with spares) or a less well equipped platoon. If discovered, expect to be plastered all over the evening news.
Note: This is a very rarely approved Background.
Artifacts are items strong in supernatural potency. This Background allows you to begin play with such an artifact in your possession. Either it was a family heirloom, or someone such as a mentor in the Arcanum bequeathed it to you, or you found it early in your career and no authorities have taken it away yet for “further study.”
If approved, the Director should create something suitable for you based on the dots in this Background. Talk about what you want with the Director. Truly legendary artifacts (such as Roland’s sword Durandal, or the chalice of Kai Khusrau) are objects of great quests and cannot be purchased with this Trait. Some examples of potential artifacts are presented on p. 123 of The Hunters Hunted II.
• A minor artifact
•• A useful artifact
••• An artifact of significant power
•••• A much-sought artifact
••••• An artifact of incredible power
You can call in the cavalry and expect help when needed… in a limited capacity, anyhow. Thanks to your membership in some organization, you’re able to request Backup and have a small team of useful folks swoop in and take care of business. Unlike Allies, these people are largely faceless, have limited skills, and are more or less expendable. Essentially, they come in to handle simple tasks, then disperse back to the organization to which you all belong.
Backup characters come from a large pool of skilled yet usually non-supernatural personnel (this Background is inappropriate for representing creatures like Mages, Shifters or Vampire). Their relationship to the player characters is pretty much a matter of convenience, with no special loyalty attached. Though they might risk their lives on the character’s behalf, the help’s not personal. These folks are just doing their job.
Backup tends to arrive as a pack of gun-wielding grunts who rush in to cover a character’s escape. Any major tasks (or sacrifices) are not their responsibility – the backup’s not there to handle much heavy lifting. In other situations, the Background can represent other types of support personnel: receptionists, students, roadies, drivers, medics, even prostitutes. A King or Queen of the Jungle might be able to holler for assistance and attract an appropriate group of animals, assuming that character has a story-based reason for such loyalty. The type of aid will depend on the organization, the situation, and the mage’s role within that group. An Ecstatic rock star could call in hookers and roadies, whereas a Black Suit might bring in cops, reporters, or a cleanup crew. And though it’s easy to dismiss the importance of students, receptionists, or bloggers, it’s also worth remembering that society at large depends more upon information than upon violence.
Typical Backup personnel have Traits in the 1-3 range, with one or two notable Skills. Animals are small (birds, rats, bats, domestic dogs or cats, etc.), and spirits are minor single-purpose entities (fetch spirits, breeze elementals, and so forth). More elite Backup agents – mercenaries, ninja, cyborgs, minor spirits, or large predatory animals, for example – cost twice as much as typical agents but have Traits in the 3-5 range, unusual abilities, or serious combat potential. Essentially, these elite “temp” agents become Allies for the course of a single mission and then disappear back to wherever it is they came from.
In order to get this Background, a character must be part of a larger organization – a gang, the police, an armed services division, the Technocracy, and so forth. Whatever his connection to that group might be, the character needs to fulfill occasional duties on behalf of the group that sends assistance. If he doesn’t keep his end of the bargain, if his Backup tends to suffer heavy casualties, or if he otherwise abuses the agents and their group, this Background may be reduced or withdrawn.
Base of Operations
A base of operations is a secure location controlled and owned by your character. This place is a headquarters in which your character can rest, train, and plan his next attacks. A character’s base could be as simple as an unfurnished apartment, as grand as a senator’s mansion, or as complex as a military base. Players who elect to purchase this Background must divide their points among three different categories, described below (thus requiring 15 points to be invested in this Background to completely maximize its potential).
Unlike the Resources Background (a subtly different concept than that covered by this Background), multiple characters may pool their Base of Operation Backgrounds together for one truly impressive location. Most major starting organizations in Liberation MUSH already possess a headquarters such as represented by this Background.
Luxury is a measure of the quality of appointments inside the base. The level of Luxury ranges from spare to opulent, corresponding closely to a Resources Background of equal value.
• You bought your furniture at a thrift store or other low-cost vendor.
•• Your base has been decorated and outfitted modestly. You have the basics covered of a modern lifestyle.
••• Your base is one of relative comfort, with a host of amenities.
•••• Your base offers a luxurious respite from stress and danger – truly unique in both design and appearance.
•••••Your base exhibits a degree of ostentation that only the extremely wealthy or celebrities usually enjoy.
Size represents the volume of the base of operations and the amount of space that it comprises. While the following breakdown gives suggested sizes and room counts, players are encouraged to be creative if they so wish — imagine an open temple layout of no true “rooms,” or a converted service hallway that’s long and narrow but has multiple access points to various locations inside the city center.
• 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 represents how tough it is to break into the base. Each dot of Security adds one to the difficulty of any roll made to penetrate the base or adds one to the number of successes required to gain access. (Players and Storytellers should agree on this function before the story begins.)
• You have locks on the doors to the base, but not much else.
•• The doors have deadbolts, and the windows have strong bars, or you may have a dog that barks to warn you when someone comes too close to the base. Your HQ is relatively secure from ordinary threats.
••• The base 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.
•••• Your base 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 base of operations 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 a remote location, a geographical boundary like a waterfall or mountain pass, and/or possible occult protections, like being visible only by moonlight. (Players and Directors should come to an agreement on the nature of such daunting and one-of-a-kind protections.)
Influence System: A shared Base of Operations is typically a prerequisite for two or more PCs to meaningfully cooperate in planning, coordinating Influence actions and receiving a mutual benefit from them. Although any character can hire out their services in a more limited and subordinate fashion. Some of the major starting factions will have unique systems already in place that supersede this Background.
Certification (NOT USED)
We don’t use the Certification Background on Liberation MUSH. Your character’s certifications will be either largely in line with the concept they were approved with during chargen, or else acquired via the Influence System during play.
Contacts (Influence Background)
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. A particularly high level Contact (with a rating of 3+) is likely an associate who can give you useful and accurate information in their field of expertise. A 4-5 dot Contact rating might represent an important city official such as the District Attorney (or someone in their office!), whereas a 1-2 dot Contact rating might be a bouncer, DMV clerk, beat cop or homeless weirdo.
The greatest help that a high level Contact provides is allowing you to pierce cover-ups that would otherwise be beyond your means. If the information isn’t particularly sensitive, or no one has taken the effort to occlude it, then even a 1 dot Contact might perfectly suffice. With a Director’s permission, the Backgrounds of Herd, Kinfolk and Cult can also substitute for individual Contacts.
HOUSE RULE: Every Contact is given their own dot rating and rated from 1-5, which determines their relative power to each other. As such, your actual Contacts rating can exceed 1-5 on your sheet.
- You do not have to exhaustively describe and name a specific NPC with the Contacts merit. Instead, set your Contacts using:
- +note/Backgrounds me/Contact <region> <rating>=<description>
- Include the Contact’s Influence sector (Academia, Business, Community, Crime, Government, Security).
- Briefly describe a hook or network that vaguely justifies having say, a Contacts of 3 dedicated to Central LA Business or Government. This could be an alumni network, bribed official or what have you. For example:
- +note/Backgrounds me/Contact <region> <rating>=<description>
+note/backgrounds me/Con: Westside Security 2= PlayerName has blackmailed a Beverly Hills PD desk clerk to pass along information, such as about break-ins or domestic disturbances, that would usually be kept under wraps.
Any character with charisma can have friends; this Cult, however, goes beyond mere friendship. These devotees trust and revere you so deeply that, when gathered and directed, they can lend their beliefs to your rituals (if a Mage).
The nature of your cult isn’t important. You might be a religious figure with a congregation, an artist with especially devoted fans, a professor whose students literally revere him, or any other similar arrangement. What matters is the belief: your cult accepts you as someone who works wonders, and they want to be part of that magic… and so they are.
This Background is typically only appropriate for a Mage (who are the only ones to derive a real mechanic benefit from it). A Vampire for example, such as a Follower of Set, would more likely classify their followers as a Herd.
HOUSE RULE: In addition to their other benefits and for the purposes of roleplaying, the Cult Background interacts with the Influence System on Liberation MUSH in an identical fashion to the Contacts Background. Which means that if you want to use your Cult dots as Contacts, they must be set up as such in your +notes.
Either through some illicit connection, or through your own cleverness, you have access to highly specialized equipment not available through standard channels. Unlike Armory (which represents a collection of more mundane weaponry), your character’s highly individualized Equipment can range from the relatively simple (silver bullets) or rare and hard to get (Pentex prototypes). You begin the game with this equipment, but when it’s gone, whether used up, lost, stolen, or destroyed, you cannot replace it except through roleplaying as determined by your Director. (You will not have to spend experience points to raise Equipment again, but how long it takes to re-supply is entirely the Director’s prerogative.)
Body armor and unlicensed weapons always cost Equipment dots.
There is no limit on the number of Equipment dots you can purchase. Provided you have the relevant Abilities or the right connections, Equipment might be used to represent standard pieces of equipment with slightly better stats, such as an extra dice of damage or better range.
• A simple item: Equipment may include two or three silver bullets, healing herbs, pepper spray, a sword, Kevlar vests, street-level drugs, gas mask, an unlicensed firearm, etc.
•• A less simple item: These can include laser sights, quality armor, military-grade gas masks, an assault rifle, restricted machines (such as for forging IDs or wiretaps), or a custom car.
••• One major item: These include a magazine of silver ammunition, or specialized ammunition, advanced surveillance equipment, advanced pharmaceuticals, surgical field kits, scientific lap equipment, small private aircraft, and other items of similar quality.
•••• A rare item: More major items include specialized vehicles, A heavier, military-grade weapon, rarer and more restrictive machinery, etc.
••••• One unique item: High-tech experimental firearms, Pentex prototypes and untraceable poisons fatal to supernatural creatures such as Garou are possible.
Fame (Influence Background)
Are you particularly famous for something? Then you’re almost certainly likely to be considered influential to some degree or another.
Note that in greater scope of the universe, Fame actually goes all the way up to 10. It’s in the Fame 6-10 range that you’ll find people like US Presidents, Elon Musk, Taylor Swift, Tom Cruise or Lebron James. These are people who are so famous, that they essentially inhabit their own bubble of reality. More importantly, they’re famous in a way that transcends geography, nationality and even generation. It’s not something that can be expressed well on a MUSH.
On Liberation MUSH, PCs are restricted to Fame 1-5 – and this Fame must be relevant to the greater Los Angeles area, because that is what it is mechanically measuring in terms of relation to other systems we have here, like hunting or influence. At Fame 5, you’re someone that almost anyone in Los Angeles would know, but it’s still conceivable that you can go get your own Starbucks or get wild in a club, even if you end up in the tabloids.
Your average successful (B-Tier) Hollywood celebrity is Fame 5. The average first string professional athlete is Fame 4 in the city they grew up in or played in. Fame 1-3 are usually more niche subcultures, or an up-and-comer.
- +note/Backgrounds me/Fame=<description>
- Describe what you are famous for and then define these three things:
- Is your Fame primarily associated with the Westside or Central Los Angeles? If irrelevant, default to where you live on grid.
- Is your Fame primarily relevant to the Academia, Business, Community, Crime, Government or Security influence sector? The default answer is usually ‘Community’.
- Your ‘home’ grid room. Your Fame-related Influence will be useful for anything related to your home neighborhood.
Influence System: Once per chapter (which roughly correlates to a week), you may use your Fame as if it were an equivalently rated Ally, Contact or Retainer, to undertake any Influence action that such can be used for (owing to the many people who know, admire or want to impress you. However, it can only apply to the grid room where your PC spends the majority of his or her time that week. I’m willing to handwave the exact details of how this favor transpires, but it must correlate with your chosen sector of Fame.
Influence (NOT USED)
The Influence Background isn’t used on Liberation MUSH except as a placeholder taken during chargen. The Influence System here can be a bit much to immediately grapple with when making a character for the first time. This Background exists so that you can store any dots you wish here, and it won’t impede your approval process. You can allocate them later, once you’re on the grid and have a better feel for things.
Scholars (and more specialized arcanists) often devote their entire lives to research, and build up tremendous libraries over the course of their careers; those who live near Chapter Houses or Chantries with long established and well-developed libraries do even better.
You must decide which particular subject your personal library is built around. You may have multiple libraries devoted to different subjects. Scholars who have to research a particular fact that is relevant to one of their libraries have the difficulty number of research rolls reduced by this Background.
HOUSE RULE: Multiple players can contribute to the Library Background and mutually benefit from it, provided they share a Base of Operations.
• Difficulty reduced by 1
•• Difficulty reduced by 2
••• Difficulty reduced by 3
•••• Difficulty reduced by 4
••••• Difficulty reduced by 5
The Mentor Background is typically used to represent the (vaguely positive) interest that an older or more powerful creature has taken in a younger. Such as a Vampire’s Sire, a Garou’s Elder or a Mage’s teacher or guide. In most cases, the Mentor Background represents a source of potential instruction (especially in the absence of willing PCs) who may in turn require the occasional task from their ‘student’. In extreme cases, a Mentor can sometimes even be looked to as a potential savior of last resort – provided the Director agrees they would have the motive and opportunity to intervene – although the character is unlikely to ever hear the end of it.
Mortal characters will get less out of the Mentor Background, simply because they (typically) don’t live in a society where older, more powerful supernatural creatures hold the keys to secret knowledge. There are exceptions, such as a Kinfolk’s Garou family member or a Ghoul’s Domitor, yet a Mortal is more likely to have a Patron than a Mentor.
Patron simply reflects a powerful party (usually an influential professional or social superior) who’s watching out for your character’s interests. Only the Director knows what this party’s plans are, what their interest in your character might be and how open they are about it.
In a more cloak and dagger setting, you might have no idea who this patron is, what they want, or what the final bill for services rendered will be; even if you think you know who’s behind that goodwill, the truth remains uncertain. This person is no Mentor or Ally but a secretive benefactor whose true goals remain hidden.
A truly Machiavellian benefactor exerts force in mysterious ways: orders get reversed, contracts issued or terminated, gifts delivered, hints dropped, and strings pulled. Magick will not reveal the reason for these indulgences – the patron’s far too clever to get caught that easily. There’s clearly some alliance or common ground involved, but the nature of that connection remains elusive. Especially in paranoid labyrinths like the Hermetic and Technocratic Orders, or a den of intrigue like the Camarilla, this mysterious generosity can be deeply disconcerting. Someday, you know, the patron will call in his markers…
Game wise, determining a Patron is a deeply collaborative process between the Director and the player. Beyond the obvious as described above: A Toreador debutante might have a wealthy industrialist wrapped around her finger and happily paying for her penthouse in the Arts District. A humble Iteration X programmer might be the subject of a shadowy and terrifying artificial intelligence who seems obsessed with analyzing his every move…and dealing accordingly with any that threaten to upset its ‘experiment’. Only the Director can determine the exact points value for a Patron relationship while taking into account its ability to both help and to hurt.
Rank (Influence Background)
There are some characters that hold an official rank in an important mortal institution. This could be a business advocacy organization (such as the CCA), LAPD, City Government, or high level criminal cartel (mere street or biker gangs usually don’t qualify by themselves). This Background is never relevant to supernatural factions. It must correlate with a systematized hierarchy that is agreed to be significantly powerful in Los Angeles.
- +note/Backgrounds me/Rank=<description>
- Describe the nature of your role within the organization you belong to, and then define two things:
- Is your Rank primarily associated with the Westside or Central Los Angeles? A LASD Detective that works WeHo will be associated with the Westside. An LAPD Captain or Koreatown boss with Central Los Angeles, etc. In general, anything involving LA City government will be Central LA. Beverly Hills or Santa Monica City government will be associated with the Westside.
- Is your Rank primarily relevant to the Academia, Business, Community, Crime, Government or Security influence sector? The default answer is usually ‘Government’ or ‘Security’.
Influence System: Once per RL week, you may use your Rank as if it were an equivalently rated Ally, Contact or Retainer, to undertake any action that such Backgrounds could ordinarily be used for. However, it is restricted to what makes sense within the context of the organization that you belong to. A good example would be a City Councilperson getting an extra patrol car assigned to watch over his neighborhood.
Resources (Influence Background)
For better or worse, Los Angeles is often included on various lists as to which cities contain the most super-rich. It remains for example – even in the World of Darkness – an extremely popular practice to buy expensive homes here, since the value of real estate appears to be ever increasing. What this ultimately means is that it is slightly more narratively plausible for PCs to possess a high Resources Background here than in other game settings. You should still supply a good reason for being so rich.
HOUSE RULE: Provided your Director agrees with your rationale: The 5 point version of Wealthy allows you to buy Resources to 6. The 10 point version of Wealthy allows you to buy Resources to 7. This does make Merit points tight for Supernatural PCs, who are limited to 10 pts of Merits, total.
Warning: Liberation MUSH treats your Resources as primarily indicative of the socio-economic caste that you belong to for roleplaying purposes. A sudden windfall in cash, such as robbing a bank, or seducing an easy mark, won’t necessarily increase your long-term socioeconomic caste – even though your Director will work with you to ensure that you narratively enjoy the short-term benefits. It can be a difficult and lengthy process to raise your Resources Background on the grid, since it will require a plausible rationale.
|0||You are either homeless or living on a friend’s couch, or being completely taken care of by someone else. Like a child.|
In some cases it might make better sense to go with the Patron Background to represent an arrangement wherein you effectively exist in one of the higher socio-economic strata but aren’t actually self-sufficient.
|1||Working poor. You make the equivalent of minimum wage – some way or another.|
|2||Working class. There’s still traditional blue collar work to be found in Los Angeles. You might also be the manager of a Starbucks. You can afford a small apartment, a cheap car, or to take an Uber when you really need to.|
There are still places to be found in America where the working class own homes – but not in LA – unless it’s an entire family all pitching in. Which is what you often see among Hispanic immigrants.
|3||Middle class-ish. You’ve got a condo or a slightly nicer apartment, a slightly nicer vehicle, some savings. You could run your own small business or shop, provided you’re willing to work like a dog. |
In most other parts of the country you would be a proud homeowner. In Los Angeles, you’ll need to take on quite a bit of debt. Yet many do.
Many government jobs such as police, firefighters the military, or other administrative officials can eventually reach a six digit salary with enough seniority and overtime – although in the World of Darkness, these people tend to be kept within around this Resources range. Instead, they might be represented with one or two dots of Property (instead of debt) to show better access to pensions, health care and loans.
|4||Upper middle class. You could be a successful, recent UCLA graduate in a white collar job or tech startup, or business owner (with however many employees is normal for your industry). |
You could just as easily be a D-list actor or a successful social media influencer. This is when you begin to possess decent equity in properties, possessions and various investment or insurance plans. This is also when you start to pay more attention to Homeowner Associations and the quality of local schools.
It’s common in Los Angeles to find two married professionals who both make about this much separately, and yet still find themselves struggling to pay bills owing to outrageous ‘Keep up with the Jones-esque’ lifestyle expenses. Although these people almost certainly possess $1-2 million in assets (most of which is tied up in their homes), they often do not feel like millionaires.
(Imagine a couple who bring in roughly $250-275k together, but they insist on dropping $50k a year for their two children to go to the best private school, and then another $20k for HOA fees or club memberships, and that’s before car, house payments or vacations. There are relatively few NPCs in this socio-economic caste who are lone wolfing it debt-free as most PCs tend to be.)
|5||Rich by ‘Middle America’ standards. You could own a large house if you wanted to, or one of the best penthouse apartments in the city. You probably own at least 2-3 vehicles & paying others to manage your savings and investments has now become a significant expense. You’re a legit ‘multi-millionaire’, although such wealth comes in all shapes and sizes. A middle-aged Armenian-American USC graduate who owns four strip clubs is likely to lead a very different lifestyle from an Ivy League chai tea drinking investment analyst who works remotely. |
A Resources of 5 would also model the paycheck of many professional athletes below the superstar level (with some narrative handwaving for short-term liquidity vs assets). This is roughly where the fabled 1% begins in the minds of Americans (although it’s more like .001%): Your illiquid net worth could be as high as $10 million.
|6||Rich by Los Angeles standards. You’re a multi-millionaire with everything that implies. There are many CEOs, elite athletes and celebrities that hover around a Resources 6. You likely live in a neighborhood where you own a $10 to $30 million house. |
You definitely have several full-time assistants, possibly even a bodyguard or driver. Managing your wealth is a full time job for someone out there.
This is where the true ‘generational’ 1% (more like 0.001%) begins in a city like Los Angeles, New York or London, and when you don’t really do anything for yourself anymore. Your entire net worth is probably well north of $30-50 million and possibly even $100 million (with much greater liquidity towards the lower end).
|7||This isn’t Jeffrey Bezos money ($200 billion). It isn’t even George Soros ($8.6B), Steven Spielberg ($7.5B) or Kanye ($6B) money. It is however roughly equivalent to Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner, JK Rowling, Lebron James, Tom Cruise, and the Kardashians: A net worth somewhere between $500 million and $1.5 billion with greater liquidity towards the lower end and more property towards the higher. |
It also accurately represents the income stream of the biggest real estate moguls or Fortune 500 CEOs. The owner of an extremely successful Silicon Beach tech startup could potentially be worth this after only a few years. Ultimately, this is enough money that in order to socialize with other people of your same social class, it tends to require a jet setting global style. Los Angeles is one of the few cities in the world where that isn’t necessarily the case.
It is important to understand that playing a Resources 7 character requires as much of a paradigm shift, headspace wise, as approaching that of a vampire or a werewolf.
|8+||The upper stratosphere of Resources is basically when you start to have only the most tenuous connection to the reality of a street-level urban gothic horror game such as WoD represents. |
You are probably far more interested in what’s happening in D.C, London, Shanghai, Dubai or Davos than down the street. Your friends are in Monaco or the Bahamas – not down the street. You probably own a private jet, a super yacht and property in at least a dozen other cities, and are kept busy 24/7 making decisions that impact the lives of thousands of people.
As such, characters with Resources 8 are more of a NPC thing than a potential PC narrative arc.
- The more money you make, the more your opinions are taken seriously. The fortune to purchase a soapbox (or newspaper) is usually the prerequisite for most businessmen to transition into the political realm.
- +note/Backgrounds me/Resources=<description>
- Describe the main source of your income and then define these two things:
- Is your Resources primarily associated with the Westside or Central Los Angeles? It usually depends on where you live, where you work, and which you feel more strongly about.
- Is your Resources primarily relevant to the Academia, Business, Community, Crime, Government or Security influence sector? The default answer is usually ‘Business’.
Influence System: Once per RL week, you may use your Resources as if it were a equivalently rated Ally, Contact or Retainer, to undertake any Influence action that such Backgrounds could ordinarily be used for. Money can pay for many services, such as hiring a private eye, or an unscrupulous accountant. You only need to justify it insofar as telling me what kind of professional you wish to hire. If you have Resources 6, you can take two Influence actions as if both were at 5 dots. If you have Resources 7, you can take three Influence actions rated at 5 dots each.
Retainers (Influence Background)
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 whose supernatural powers and blood bond-enforced loyalty make them the archetypal examples of this Background. You must maintain some control over your retainers, whether through outstanding personal charisma, salary, the gift of your vitae, or supernatural means such as Dominate or Presence.
Retainers essentially fall into one of two narrative roles (whether or not it is acknowledged ICly): A bodyguard or an agent of influence. Not every ‘bodyguard’ Retainer is necessarily intended to protect you in combat. It could be a driver or a butler, for example. However, it is only agent Retainers that factor into the Influence system, and they typically do not follow you around like a ‘bodyguard’ type Retainer does. In both cases the dot rating of your Retainer plays a huge role in determining their competence.
HOUSE RULE: Every Retainer is given their own dot rating and rated from 1-5, which determines their relative power to each other. As such, your actual Retainers rating can exceed 1-5 on your sheet.
- Set your Retainer using:
- +note/Backgrounds me/Ret <rating> – <name>=<description>
- Please include the following:
- If the Retainer has a Bodyguard or an Agent template.
- The nature of your relationship and the primary means of ‘control’ you exercise over your Retainer.
- If your Retainer is an agent, whether they’re primarily located in the Westside or Central Los Angeles, or a sub-region if you prefer.
- If your Retainer is an agent, whether they’re primarily relevant to the (broadly speaking) Academia, Business, Community, Crime, Government or Security influence sector.
Agent Template: The agent’s Ability dice pool is considered 2 x their dot rating for all active, offensive and defensive influence actions, according to their sector of influence. Their passive Ability ratings are determined by the number of Retainer dots divided in half and rounded up. They may substitute your own passive Abilities, if your rating is higher.
Example: PlayerName has a level 4 Agent Retainer in the Business sector. That means his retainer’s effective Finance and Law dice pools when taking Influence-related actions is 8 dice. Additionally, the Agent’s Networking and Intrigue Abilities are rated 2 in each. PlayerName could either let his Agent use those, or substitute his own Networking or Intrigue, if they were higher.
The main reason for taking an Agent Retainer (beyond acquiring an additional weekly Influence action) is to plug the gaps in your own competence (to some degree or another), and because there are some Influence actions that require Agents to be initiated.
Bodyguard Template: ‘Bodyguard’ Retainers work much as you have come to expect on all past World of Darkness games. They generally represent a loyal individual (or even an animal in some cases) who can be relied on to put your safety and well-being above their own. They don’t necessarily have to have ‘Bodyguard’ in their job description. They could be a chauffer, butler or wingman. What’s chiefly important is that, to some extent or another, they have your back and come when you call.
You must allocate a Bodyguard’s Primary (4), Secondary (2) and Tertiary (1) priority to their Physical, Social and Mental attributes. Their final dice pools are determined by adding their Retainer dots. Their Willpower is equivalent to 2 + their Retainer dots. If a Shifter PC has the Kinfolk Background, they may choose to make their Retainer a Kinfolk as well. A Vampire PC may make their Retainer a Ghoul, provided they’re willing to meet the Vitae upkeep.
Example: PlayerName has acquired a 3 dot Bodyguard Retainer to act as a chauffer, and prioritized them as Physical (4 + 3 = 7 dice), Mental (2 + 3 = 5 dice) and Social (1 + 3 = 4 dice) with a Willpower rating of 5.
If you need a base Attribute rating for them, such as Strength or Stamina, then use half their Physical dice pool rounded down (so the Bodyguard chauffer in the example above would approximate as Strength 3 or Stamina 3.) If you need a Courage or Self-Control rating, then use their Willpower rating divided and rounded down. If you need an Initiative rating, then use the lowest of their Physical or Mental dice pools + 1.
A Bodyguard Retainer’s access to equipment is largely predicated by their employer’s (or master’s…) means, such as their Resources or Armory.
HOUSE RULE: The Powerful Ally Merit (3-9) allows you to have a supernatural Retainer, such as a Vampire’s childe or a Mage’s hedge wizard acolyte. It might also be used to represent a truly frighteningly capable, non-supernatural Retainer. You will need to work with your Director on the specifics, who may or may not approve the concept.
A collection of little birds in various nests keeps you well-informed. These informants aren’t necessarily your friends – they may, in fact, hate you with the burning intensity of a thousand fiery suns. For the moment, though, you have something they want: money, sex, drugs, magick, vitae, whatever. In return for that indulgence, they’ll tell you what they know.
Spies come in many different forms: disgruntled associates, dismayed staff, jaded groupies, desperate addicts, loyal acolytes of your cause, folks who owe you favors, people who’d be in very deep trouble without you, opportunists who like the color of your money, lovers who want to stay on your good side… Certain mad scientists, Nosferatu and Technocrats even have special critters or tiny robots who report back to them. Whatever your relationship to these spies might be, however, they could turn against you if you’re not careful. Money, magick, better drugs, the threat of torture – all these things and more might flip your spies into someone else’s service. And even if they do remain loyal to you, your spies can be misled with false data or mistaken impressions of what’s really going on. They know only what they’re able to see.
Systems-wise, this Trait lets you ferret out information (Intelligence + Spies); circulate misinformation, diversions, and lies (Manipulation + Spies); impress people from a distance (Charisma + Spies); or note potential threats before they solidify (Perception + Spies). A true spymaster can command well above five dots in this Trait, which explains the frightening influence of certain Hermetics, Technocrats, Nosferatu, vigilantes, and criminal minds.
NOTE: This Background and several others like it (such as the Vampire’s ‘Anarch Information Exchange’ are in the process of being reworked to better integrate with the Influence System, or else better demonstrate a unique function. You may take this Background, yet anticipate that this will not be its final form on Liberation MUSH.
Status on Liberation MUSH is used exclusively to refer to your status in some manner of supernatural organization. Every sphere, and every Director, has their own philosophy at this moment, as to how to approach the best way to model Status in their spheres.
Authority in all ‘mundane’ organizations, from unions to police departments to criminal cartels is represented by Rank, here.