Backgrounds

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.

General Backgrounds

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.

Alternate Identity

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.

Armory (Restricted)

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.

Artifact (Restricted)

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

Backup (Restricted)

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/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.

Cult

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.

Equipment

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/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 RL 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.

Library

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

Mentor

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

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.

ResourcesDescription
0You are either homeless or living on a friend’s couch, or being completely taken care of by someone else. Like a child.
1Working poor. You make minimum wage.
2Mid-Upper working class. Maybe you’re the manager of a Starbucks. You can afford a small apartment, a cheap car, or to take an Uber when you really need to.
3Lower middle class. 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.
4Upper 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). 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 young, married professionals who both make about this much separately.
5Rich 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 becomes a significant expense. You’re essentially a ‘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 roughly model the paycheck of many professional athletes (far) below the superstar level (with some narrative handwaving for short-term liquidity vs assets). This is roughly where the 1% begins in most of America: Your illiquid net worth could be as high as $10 million.
6Rich 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% begins in a city like Los Angeles, New York or London, and when you don’t really do anything for yourself anymore. Your net worth is probably 50-125 million (with greater liquidity towards the lower end).
7This 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.
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. You probably own homes in 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.
Note: Every WoD book contains a different chart and scale for Resources. It should be no surprise that we’re handling it a bit differently here, too. It’s also a scale that is solely adapted to Los Angeles as a setting.

  • 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) allows you to have a supernatural Retainer, such as a Vampire’s childe or a Garou’s Cliath packmate. 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.

Spies

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

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.

Changeling Backgrounds

Changelings use Backgrounds taken from page 168-172 of Changeling the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition. Some Changeling variants, such as the Hsien, have a few other special Backgrounds which are noted in the Changeling character creation guide. In addition to all the general Backgrounds described above, all Changelings have access to the following unique Backgrounds:

  • Chimera: Items or companions of yours that only exist in the chimerical world.
  • Dreamers: Inspired mortals whom you patronize for Glamour.
  • Holdings: A faerie freehold that you claim as your own.
  • Remembrance: Your intuitive link to the Dreaming and the collective knowledge possessed by all fae, possibly even your own past lives.
  • Retinue: Enchanted mortals who assist you in your endeavors.
  • Title: Your rank in the Kithain nobility.
  • Treasure: An item of yours that has magical powers of its own.

Mage Backgrounds

Mages use Backgrounds taken from page 301-328 of Mage 20th Anniversary Edition. In addition to all the general Backgrounds described above, they have access to the following unique Backgrounds:

BackgroundDescription
Arcane / CloakingMysterious ability to remain unrecognized.
Avatar / GeniusEmbodiment of the Awakened/ Enlightened Self.
BlessingStrange powers gave you an uncanny gift.
Chantry / ConstructMystic or Technocratic stronghold.
CultGroup of dedicated believers.
DemesnePersonal inner dream-space.
DestinyInspiring sense of great purpose.
Dream / HypercramAbility to tap into Abilities you don’t normally possess.
Enhancement $Cybernetic or biotech improvements to your body.
Familiar / CompanionNon-human helper with special abilities.
LegendA potent archetype connected to you.
NodeA place of power that’s more or less in your possession.
Past LivesHelpful memories from prior incarnations.
Requisitions *Access to Technocratic hardware.
Sanctum / Laboratory $Special place to work your arts.
Secret Weapons *Guinea-pig status with Technocratic inventors.
StatusFavored position among your peers.
Totem $A powerful spirit ally. (Shamanic and Medicine Worker characters only.)
WonderA Talisman, Fetish, or Device that contains its own reality-bending power.
*Available only to Technocratic Union characters.
$ Costs double the usual amount of points.

Shifter Backgrounds

These Traits describe special advantages that are granted to a character by birth, opportunity, or circumstance. When choosing Backgrounds, make sure to flesh out the what, why, and how. Ask yourself questions such as: What Ancestors have come before whose heroic accomplishments in life might inspire you with their memory and mystical counsel? Why did you inherit a fetish rather than someone else? How does your Pure Breed manifest? What relation are your Kinfolk?

Some tribes have restrictions on which Backgrounds a character can take at character creation. These restrictions fall into two categories: discouraged Backgrounds — like Contacts and Resources for the Wendigo, or Mentor for the Glass Walkers — and restricted Backgrounds, like Ancestors and Pure Breed for Glass Walkers, or the Silver Fangs’ required purchase of three dots of Pure Breed.

Usually, discouraged Backgrounds are social in nature and restricted Backgrounds are supernatural. Discouraged Backgrounds are essentially very rare: while most Bone Gnawers start with no Resources, anyone who buys a ticket can win the lottery.

Restricted Backgrounds have a closer tie to the nature of a tribe — a Bone Gnawer with Pure Breed, for instance, is going to be the focus of a lot of attention from the Garou Nation. (If none of his ancestors had it, where did it come from?) They are explicitly not attainable without Director permission.

Ancestors

Ancestral memory in humans is no more than pseudo-scientific nonsense. To the Garou, who can contact the spirits of their ancestors, it’s a fact of life. Many werewolves carry some of the memories of a distant ancestor; some even allow their forebears to take over their bodies.

Once per game session, the player of a Garou with this Background may roll his Ancestors Background (difficulty 8, or 10 if he’s trying to contact the spirit of a specific ancestor). Each success allows the character to increase any Ability by one for the purposes of a single narrative encounter, even if he has no dots in the Ability — and he doesn’t suffer the penalty for not having the Ability.

For example, young Emil, a pure flatlander, must scale an immense cliff to come to the aid f his embattled pack. Emil has an Ancestors rating of 4 and Athletics 0. He calls on his forebears to guide him, and Emil’s player rolls four dice at difficulty 8. He scores three successes. Emil contacts his great-great-great granduncle Cragtamer, who guides him over the sheer face and over the top. Now the player has an effective Athletics rating of 3 to make his climbing roll. If the Garou had an Athletics rating of 2, then his effective dice pool would be 5. The effect lasts until the successful completion of the challenge that Emil called upon his ancestor Cragtamer to overcome. In this case, scaling an immense cliff. It wouldn’t persist as a blanket bonus to enable him to better dodge attacks.

While it is more difficult to contact a specific ancestor, successful contact provides either useful advice or precognitive visions at the discretion of the Director. Botching an Ancestors roll may indicate that the character becomes confused, deranged or even catatonic for the remainder of the scene as he’s overwhelmed by the memories of thousands of lives. Alternatively, the ancestral spirit refuses to relinquish the body. How long the ancestor stays depends on the Director.

• You have brief, hazy visions from the distant past.
•• You remember faces and places from past lives just as you remember those of your early childhood.
••• You put names to faces among your ancestors.
•••• Ancestors converse with you on a regular basis.
••••• Your ancestors watch your adventures with interest, and they often come to counsel you.

Fate

The Fate Background represents a prophecy that accompanied your birth or the creation of your pack. A Fate is always something significant, but it’s as likely to be dark and infamous as it is to be full of glory. In these times of Apocalypse, the Garou cannot afford to sacrifice even one warrior, no matter how dark the portents surrounding them are. However, even those with terrible fates often prove to be some of the greatest Garou, perhaps because they try so hard to defy their fate. Some even succeed.

Packs tend to garner prophecies of greater proportions than individuals. This is not only because of the greater weight a pack can swing compared to a single werewolf, but also because the Garou tend to see a pack’s accomplishments as more legitimate than those of just one person.

Once per game session you may use this Background to add successes to any roll that either failed or achieved fewer successes than were required. The player rolls his rating in this Background (difficulty 8) and adds any successes to those that were achieved in the original failed roll. If this means the action succeeds, the player should describe what fortuitous events caused him to succeed.

When Fate is pooled among the pack, each member may call on this Background once per game session. If the action failed involves the entire pack in some way, then the player may draw on an amount of Fate up to the highest individual Fate in the pack. If the character is acting on her own, the player can only draw on an amount of Fate up to the lowest individual Fate in the pack (to a minimum of one).

Fetish

You possess a fetish — a physical object into which a werewolf has bound a spirit. The spirit grants a number of powers to a fetish, so they are very significant to the Garou. Such things are valuable, and other Garou (or other supernatural beings) may covet them. A number of sample fetishes are presented on W20 p. 221.

There are four ways to acquire a Fetish on Liberation MUSH:

  • You can spend points on the Fetish Background in Chargen. Whether the Fetish is approved or not, will depend on how logically it integrates with your character’s backstory and purpose.
  • You can acquire a Fetish as part of an on-grid plot. There might be circumstances that allow you to ‘snatch one up’ so to speak, such as taking it from the body of a dead combatant, or some cache. If you want to keep the Fetish, you will need to buy the Background points for it, paying 5 XP per dot level of the Fetish. If you don’t wish to pay it, then some other fate will befall the Fetish (perhaps taken by an NPC or sent to its next living kin, or something broken during the struggle). There is a payment involved so that players can still acquire Fetishes at roughly the same cost of what it would have taken to devote Freebies to it in chargen, but in a way that precludes abuse.
  • You can use the Rite of the Fetish to try and create one. This will take time and effort. You will still need to pay half the usual cost of the Fetish (rounded down), but the cost may be borne by multiple characters, provided they assisted in the questing, forging or summoning. It might only take 1-2 RL weeks to create a Level One Fetish. It could take several RL months to create a Level Five Fetish.
  • An already created, existing and paid for Fetish may be passed on to other PCs without incurring additional costs. Be warned: Any incidence suggesting a ‘Conflict of Interest’, such as passing a Fetish to your friend who passes it to your alt at a later date will be dealt with severely.

NOTE: For now, we are only approving Fetishes whose mechanic effects have been described in either a W20 or in some cases, a Revised Werewolf resource. Although the latter will be subjected to closer scrutiny and potential revisions. You are free to tweak the nature of their appearance, name or background – but no custom mechanic effects for now, except for occasionally swapping out one Ability for another. I am not going to be approving Fetishes who lower Combat-related difficulties for the time being, even though one or two of these are valid and may be permitted in the future.

Kinfolk

Kinfolk are otherwise normal humans and wolves who descended from Garou without inheriting their spiritual duty. Through this Background you are in contact with a number of Kinfolk. While Kinfolk are normal members of their species in most respects, they are immune to the Delirium, giving them the dubious advantage of looking upon a Crinos-form werewolf. They know that you are Garou, and they are willing to help you however they can, although most are not in positions of power (such people are considered Allies). Networks of Kinfolk are a valuable way for werewolves to deal with the human world without risking frenzy or discovery. Some Kinfolk may be related to you directly, while others are contacts you have made through your sept.

HOUSE RULE: In addition to their other benefits and for the purposes of roleplaying, the Kinfolk 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 Kinfolk dots as Contacts, they must be set up as such in your +notes.

• Two Kinfolk
•• Five Kinfolk
••• 10 Kinfolk
•••• 20 Kinfolk
••••• 50 Kinfolk

Pure Breed

Garou take great stock in ancestry, and the werewolf who is descended from renowned forbears has a definite advantage in Garou society. This Background represents your lineage, markings, bearing and other features of birth. Other Garou revere werewolves with high ranks in Pure Breed as heroes of yore come to life — and such werewolves are expected to act the part. The higher your Pure Breed score is, the more likely you are to impress elder councils or receive hospitality from foreign tribes. Each point of Pure Breed adds an extra die to formal challenges (such as Rank challenges) and to Social rolls involving other Garou (even Ronin or Black Spiral Dancers).

Pure Breed is a nebulous combination of bloodline and spiritual inheritance. A character with high Pure Breed looks and carries himself like an archetypal member of his tribe — however, if he does not join that tribe, any benefits of Pure Breed are removed by the tribe’s totem. Many werewolves with Pure Breed can trace their ancestry directly, while others resemble distant ancestors who cannot be connected without a degree of genealogical exactitude that is lost to the Garou.

Some tribes place more value on good breeding than others, but Pure Breed is almost universally respected. It’s a mystical trait, and werewolves can tell instinctively whose blood is particularly pure. Of course, Garou expect those of pure blood to live up to the standards set by their noble ancestors. They frown on those who can’t or won’t accept the challenge.

• You have your father’s eyes.
•• Your grandfather made a name for himself and you carry that name with pride.
••• Your pedigree is blessed with pillars of the Garou Nation, and the blood tells.
•••• You could be dressed as a beggar and still command respect.
••••• The greatest of heroes live on in you.

Rites

Rituals are an important part of Garou life. This Trait denotes how many rites the character knows at the beginning of the game. Remember that to learn a rite the character needs a Rituals Knowledge rating at least equal to the level of a given rite. While Rank is not necessarily a factor, many Theurges would need a pretty convincing reason to teach a Level Five rite to a Rank 1 Garou (which makes it equally unlikely to be approved in chargen). Note that two minor rites can be purchased in place of one Level One rite.

HOUSE RULE: You may learn Minor, Level 1 and 2 Rites from PCs and NPC Mentors for free, although it requires a certain duration of teaching. This won’t be obsessively enforced, but I am wanting something like an average of three days per Minor Rite, a week per Level 1 Rite, and two weeks per Level 2 Rite. While I don’t require logs of the teaching sessions, the roleplaying does need to happen.

Levels 3-5 Rites still need to be taught by a PC or NPC Mentor, but they cost 5 XP each (per Rite, not per level of the Rite). Again, higher level Rites are unlikely to be taught to lower ranked Garou outside extreme situations.

  • PC teachers must have an Instruction Ability equal to the level of the Rite they are hoping to teach.
  • PC teachers may teach one concurrent Rite for every dot of the Instruction Ability that they possess.

Spirit Heritage

The Garou are creatures of duality — torn between man and wolf, and between flesh and spirit. The Garou share a kinship with inhabitants of the spirit world, but some have a stronger connection than others. For some reason, perhaps an ancestral tie to a household of spirits, certain types of spirits react more positively to you than others. This doesn’t need to be a friendly relationship — spirits may be fearful and respectful of you, in awe of you, or feel a sense of duty to you. No matter what the relationship, one group of spirits is more likely to cooperate with you.

When you select this background, choose one type of spirits. Examples of possible groups are animal spirits, plant spirits, elementals, urban spirits, and even Banes. When dealing with spirits of this type, the player may add his Spirit Heritage rating to any Social rolls, or rolls involved in challenges. Spirits whom you are attuned to view you, to some degree, as one of their own — a daunting prospect for those attuned to Banes, when other Garou discover their heritage. If you act against such spirits or ignore their plights, you may be seen as betraying them.

• Spirits can smell their scent on you, though no one else can
•• The spirits note your arrival. You bring your chosen spirits to mind in others when they look at you, though few understand why.
••• In the Umbra, you emanate an intangible, though noticeable, sense of your aligned spirit type.
•••• In the Umbra, you have visible hints of your aligned spirit type. Those attuned to nature spirits may have tiny twigs emerge from their fur, for example.
••••• Some question if you really are only half spirit

Totem

Totem is a Background that applies directly to the character’s pack, rather than the individual. Unlike other pooled Backgrounds, the pack spends all of the points that members have invested in this Trait to determine their totem’s power.

Each totem has a Background cost rating; the pack must spend that amount to ally with that totem. Some totems are willing to lend great powers to their adherents; their point costs are correspondingly greater. See Pack Totems (W20 Core p. 373) for a list of possible totems. In addition to their Totem bonuses, all beginning totems have a base of eight points to divide among Rage, Willpower, and Gnosis. The totem also begins with the Airt Sense and Re-form Charms. Apart from bestowing power, totems start out somewhat aloof from the pack, and they have little influence among spirits, unless the players buy a closer connection with Background points. With time, roleplaying, and experience points, pack totems can grow in power as their pack grows in Rank and influence. Some totems can eventually even become the totems of whole septs.

Most of the powers that totems bestow are available to only one pack member at a time. At the end of each turn, the Garou with the power declares who the power may be given to next turn (assuming that she doesn’t keep it). After spending the initial cost of the totem, the players can spend any remaining Background points to add to the totem’s strength and abilities.

CostPower
1Per point to spend on Willpower, Rage, or Gnosis.
2Totem can speak to the pack without the benefit of the Gift: Spirit Speech.
2Totem can always find the pack members.
3Totem is nearly always with the pack members.
3Totem is respected by other spirits.
3Per charm possessed.
3Per extra pack member who can use the totem’s powers in the same turn.
6Totem is connected mystically to all pack members, allowing communication among them even at great distance.
9Totem is feared by agents of the Wyrm. Either minions of the Wyrm flee from the pack, or they do their best to kill the pack.
The listed cost is in Totem Background points, which can be bought through experience at the reduced rate of two experience points per Totem Background point. There is no limit to the number of Totem Background points a pack may purchase.

House Rule: Garou PCs are not allowed Personal Totems on Liberation MUSH.

Learn more about Pack Totems here.

Fera Backgrounds

No Ananasi may have Ancestors or Pure Breed; Ananasa doesn’t want her children dwelling on the past. Queen Ananasa also serves as the totem for all werespiders, granting Occult +3 and Enigmas +2 while the werespider meditates in his Sylie. In return, they must obey her laws.

Bastet use most of the same Backgrounds as Garou, eschewing only Ancestors (with the exception of Swara). They use personal rather than pack totems, however (calling such patrons “Jamak”). Bastet make additional use of two Backgrounds unknown to the Garou: Secrets, which they share with the Corax, and Den-Realm.

Corax rarely stick with any single Mentor for an appreciable length of time, and dismiss Pure Breed as elitist nonsense. They have no pack or personal Totems, either; Raven claims each Corax for his own, granting them one free dot of Athletics, Enigmas, and Subterfuge. In return he asks only that they whisper each secret they learn into the air, that he might hear it as well. Corax can, of course, purchase the Secrets and Umbral Maps Backgrounds

Owing to their rarity, Gurahl rarely amass much in the way of Resources. All Gurahl have an aspect of Bear as their personal Totem. They also use a unique Background: Umbral Glade.

Nuwisha use the same Backgrounds as Garou, as well as Umbral Maps. Virtually all Nuwisha have a personal totem, inevitably a trickster spirit of some sort. Rarely, a Nuwisha will bind herself into a pack of other Fera — but only if the pack is united under a trickster totem.

Ratkin generally don’t have much in the way of Resources or Allies, and don’t have Ancestors or Pure Breed at all. Some wererats establish themselves under a permanent Totem, while others use a special rite to temporarily assume a Totem for the duration of only a single mission or quest, dissolving their bond to the spirit once their task is done.

Den-Realm

The Bastet has built or acquired (either by inheritance or duel) her own Den-Realm, a sanctuary where she and the land have become one. In the Umbra, a Den-Realm resembles a Domain, one which other travelers cannot pass through without permission. The appearance of this Domain is up to the Bastet who owns the Den-Realm — a proud Khan’s Den-Realm may resemble a maharaja’s fortress, while a Balam’s might resemble an impenetrable forest.

A difficulty 8 Perception + Occult roll is necessary to recognize a Den-Realm for what it is, and penetrating its walls uninvited requires a roll as though the intruder were stepping sideways (difficulty 9). This automatically alerts the Bastet that an intruder is coming in.

A werecat inside of his Den-Realm enjoys several benefits: He may step sideways at any time within his Den-Realm, against a Gauntlet of 3. A number of times per scene equal to his Gnosis rating, the Bastet may make a Gnosis roll (difficulty 6) to blink between two points in his Den-Realm without crossing the intervening space. Any attack on the Den-Realm (whether by banes in the Umbra or bulldozers in the Gaia Realm) registers as a cold bolt of pain in the werecat’s heart. The Bastet can freely peer through the Gauntlet from either side within her Den-Realm. Finally, the Bastet can lead any others she chooses across the Gauntlet while in her Den-Realm as though they were packmates.

A Den-Realm’s rating determines how big it is. The first rating is for urban Den-Realms, while the second is for the much larger Den-Realms possible in the wilderness.

• The size of a house/one square mile.
•• The size of a mansion/two square miles.
••• A city block/five square miles.
•••• Two city blocks/10 square miles.
••••• Five city blocks/20 square miles.

HOUSE RULE: Den-Realms are rare in Los Angeles – and nearly the entirety of the gameplay takes place in urban areas. No Bastet may begin with a Den-Realm, though they may eventually claim one with the Level Three Rite of Claiming (Bastet Breedbook, page 121), if they can find someone willing to teach it. A Bastet may not have a Den-Realm of greater size than her Rank.

Rite of Claiming (Level Three Moon Rite): This mystic secret proclaims the foundation, or transferal of a Den-Realm. To do this, a Bastet travels across her territory on foot, marking the boundaries with scratches, urine and other forms (graffiti, incantations, blood, etc.) When the circuit is completed, the werecat performs the rite in the place where she began, and binds herself to the essence of the place. From then on, the area is her Den-Realm. Although it may be expanded by performing this rite again, no werecat can keep more than one separate Realm.

Umbral Glade

A Gurahl with this Background possesses a Den which opens into a Glade in the Umbra, serving as a “mini-caern” or wellspring of Gnosis. The size and location of the Umbral Glade determines how much Gnosis is available for the resident Gurahl. If more than one Gurahl remains within the Glade in order to regain Gnosis, the total Gnosis available must be shared among those wishing to partake of it.

In addition to providing Gnosis for the Gurahl, an Umbral Glade gives the werebear an instantaneous doorway into the Umbra without the need for a rite.

• A 20 x 20 foot area, supplying one Gnosis per day.
•• A 50 x 50 foot area, supplying two Gnosis per day.
••• A 100 x 100 foot area, supplying three Gnosis per day.
•••• A 500 x 500 foot area, supplying four Gnosis per day.
••••• A 1,000 x 1,000 foot area, supplying five Gnosis per day.

HOUSE RULES: Speak with Sundance before pinning your heart on this Background.

Umbral Maps

The character possesses a wealth of experience and received information about Umbral navigation. These “Umbral maps” are not physical objects, but rather the collected lore of symbolic navigation among spirit paths, the entry methods for safe havens and refuges, the cycles of natural spirit paths, and reliable methods to bypass various obstacles along the way. This Background is normally the province of Corax and Nuwisha, though other Changing Breeds occasionally pick it up as well.

• A few safe paths and refuges. The character enjoys –1 difficulty to rolls to navigate the Umbra.
•• Several routes to common destinations. As Level One, plus once per story the character can re-roll a failed attempt to navigate through the Umbra.
••• Safe zones, routes to virtually any place, and knowledge of where not to go. –2 difficulty to rolls to navigate the Umbra, plus one re-roll per story.
•••• Several safe places and refuges, extensive knowledge of Umbral paths and dwellers in those areas. –2 difficulty to rolls to navigate the Umbra, plus two re-rolls per story.
••••• No one knows the Near Umbra like the character. –3 difficulty to rolls to navigate the Umbra, plus three re-rolls per story.

Secrets

The character possesses information that would be considered desirable — or damaging — by someone else. While such knowledge can sometimes place the character in danger, mostly it gives her leverage and advantages. What the character does with these secrets (bartering them for favors or cash, using them to take down minions of the Wyrm, or something else entirely) is up to her.

The player and Director should work together to determine what sort of secrets the character possesses. The Background’s rating determines the value and number of secrets the character knows. This Background is normally the province of Corax and Bastet, though other Changing Breeds (and even the odd Shadow Lord!) occasionally pick it up as well.

• A small but noteworthy secret — a secret affair, a hidden sexual orientation, a minor crime.
•• A moderate secret. The human identities of a Garou pack, the whereabouts of a criminal on the run, a significant crime, or evidence of two Garou sleeping together. Alternately, a few minor secrets.
••• A substantial secret, or equivalent amount of lesser secrets. A matter of life and death or utter ruination for someone. The location of a lost fetish that someone needs to stay lost. The identity of a murderer of one or more Fera.
•••• A heavy secret, or equivalent amount of lesser secrets. The location of a national fugitive, a vampire’s “little black book” of contacts, the location of a Gurahl.
••••• An enormous secret, or equivalent amount of lesser secrets. A high-level Pentex plot. The location of a legendary cursed fetish. The secret weakness of an Incarna.

HOUSE RULES: Forthcoming. Expect a significant revision to this Background to make it something more interesting and useful, and less something that should simply be derived from roleplaying.

Vampire Backgrounds

Communal Haven

This Background is for Anarch and Sabbat characters only.

Elders are often too selfish to consider the benefits of “cohabitation”; centuries of betrayal naturally generate a certain suspicious nature as it pertains to other vampires. Anarch gangs and Sabbat packs that have learned the value of mutual cooperation and enlightened self-interest, however, sometimes establish Communal Havens for mutual security and comfort.

A Communal Haven is a secure location controlled and owned by the coterie. This is a place a vampire who invests Background dots in it can lie low, train, and plan her next move. A Communal Haven could be as simple as an unfurnished apartment, as flashy as a mafioso’s penthouse, or as complex as a military base.

Of course, social conventions for the shared space might be complex or simple, depending on the personalities of the Kindred involved. Vampires sharing a Communal Haven can easily come into conflict unless some custom exists. Is it cool for Licks sharing the Communal Haven to offer it as crash space for others? Is it okay to bring blood dolls there? If something goes wrong, who’s in charge of disposing of the bodies or cleaning up the mess? Who takes care of keeping the location secret in the event that someone opens her goddamn mouth?

Note that this Background is different from the Domain and Resources Backgrounds. Typically, Domain is “turf,” while this is an actual Haven (which may well stand on contested domain…).

Domain

Domain is physical territory to which your character controls access for the purpose of feeding. Some Kindred refer to their domain as hunting grounds, and most jealously guard their domains, even invoking the Tradition of the same name to protect their claims. As part of this Background, the character’s claim to the domain is recognized by the Prince or some other Kindred authority in the city where it is located.

The Kindred who claims the domain can’t keep the living inhabitants from going about their business, nor does she exercise any direct influence over them, but she can keep watch herself and mind their comings and goings. She can also have Allies or Retainers specifically look for unfamiliar vampires and alert her when they find some.

Domain refers specifically to the geography (in most cases a neighborhood or street) and properties on it, as opposed to the people who may dwell there (which is the emphasis of Herd). Domain plays an important part in Kindred society — vampires who lack significant Domain seldom earn respect — but it isn’t an automatic entitlement to status among the Damned.

(WIP)

Herd

You have built a group of mortals from whom you can feed without fear. A herd may take many forms, from circles of kinky clubgoers to actual cults built around you as a god-figure. In addition to providing nourishment, your herd might come in handy for minor tasks, though they are typically not very controllable, closely connected to you, or particularly skilled (for more effective pawns, purchase Allies or Retainers).

Alternatively, this could represent any particularly easy and safe access to a readily available source of blood, such as a blood bank managed by your ghoul.

(WIP)

Information Exchange

Young vampires (especially Anarchs, if only because Camarilla fledglings are too harshly discouraged by their Sires and Sabbat fledglings too busy getting hit by shovels) have learned to coordinate their efforts, owing largely to the technological advantages of computers and social networking with which they are proficient. Most of them are aware of the dangers of being electronically eavesdropped on, and as such, have developed an online subculture that ranges from something as complex as blockchain formulas to memes and emojis. If you’re not in the know, much of it often looks like silly nonsense. By contrast, more ‘traditional’ vampires typically rely on Mentors, Retainers and Contacts to know things for them.

Such a decentralized network of fledgling vampires has nothing on the decades of obsessively maintained databases that the Nosferatu Clan has managed to accumulate with SchreckNET. But it also might in the end, prove more resilient to being compromised (the prospect of which has given Nosferatu computer techs many sleepless days.)

Characters with this Background may use this network to contact others in order to learn information about specific vampires, local secrets, domain politics, or general rumors about the movements of other sects. This isn’t a simple process – it can take many nights and require parsing and putting together quite a bit on your own. This Background helps show just how much effort you have put into establishing yourself as a presence in this sub-culture.

Each dot of this Background allows you to ask a single question once per week and expect a reasonable response. The Director determines what amount and quality of information the Exchange can offer at a given time. In some cases, the Kindred who make up the Information Exchange may not possess a given bit of information, or may not know it immediately. For example: the Exchange might know about the Prince of a domain, a number of rumors about her past, and even how to contact her, but it’s unlikely to have a detailed schematic of her haven.

Extremely rare tidbits of lore or information might be known by a member of the Exchange, but could be considered to be too valuable to simply share. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and brotherhood and reputation can take you only so far. Under such circumstances, vampires may attempt various social rolls or bribes to mediate a deal for desired information. Alternatively, the Director may allow you to spend two of your per-week usages of this Background for such rare or sensitive information.

Types of information that can be found via the Information Exchange include:

• General information or rumors about a Kindred, such as contact information, general age, known clan and notable lineage, how long said Kindred has dwelled in a city, political affiliations, general reputation, and generation (or a general estimate, such as neonate, ancilla, or elder).
• Information about specific topics, such as basic and brief overviews on a subject relating to Kindred (What is Thaumaturgy? Who are the Setites? What happens when you diablerize? What does a black crescent moon mean?) or personal characteristics of certain Kindred (Why does Regent Strauss never take his gloves off?).
• Significant status or events in sect politics (What’s happening with the Movement in in San Jose? What is the Sabbat interest in Tijuana? What are the Giovanni doing in Las Vegas? Who has the Prince of San Diego placed under blood hunt?)

RESTRICTED: This Background is restricted to young vampires (typically Anarchs born later than 1980) and Nosferatu. At the Director’s discretion, young Camarilla characters with unusual nightlives their Sires would disapprove of, a Harpy or a Keeper might qualify for a dot or two, depending. In the case of the Nosferatu, it represents SchreckNET. In the case of Harpies or a Keeper, it represents how many Kindred NPCs spend time seeking them out in purely social, offline situations, and the gossip they’re subsequently immersed in.

Generation

This Background represents your Generation: the purity of your blood, and your proximity to the First Vampire. A high Generation rating may represent a powerful sire or a decidedly dangerous taste for diablerie. If you don’t take any dots in this Trait, you begin play as a Thirteenth Generation vampire.

• Twelfth Generation: 11 blood pool, can spend 1 blood point per turn
•• Eleventh Generation: 12 blood pool, can spend 1 blood point per turn
••• Tenth Generation: 13 blood pool, can spend 1 blood point per turn
•••• Ninth Generation: 14 blood pool, can spend 2 blood points per turn
••••• Eighth Generation: 15 blood pool, can spend 3 blood points per turn

The cost of Generation during character creation has been House Ruled here.

Rare Vampire Backgrounds

Black Hand Membership

This Background is for Sabbat characters only.

You are a member of the feared Black Hand, the body of soldiers and assassins that serves the Sabbat fervently. Having this Background indicates that you are a full-fledged member of the organization, and you have all the responsibilities and benefits that accompany membership

Blasphemous Shrine

This Background is for Setite characters only.

Lector Priests must have desecrated the corpse of someone buried according to traditional ancient Egyptian practice. These corpses are kept as offerings to Set and are the means by which these sorcerers channel his power into the world. As such,
they are usually placed in shrines dedicated to Set and adorned with his iconography. Within this Blasphemous Shrine, the Lector Priest can perform powerful Akhu rituals, amplified by the proximity to the source of their power.

The more dots in the background, the greater the connection the desecrated corpse has to Set. Mechanically, this background grants a number of bonus dice to the casting of Akhu rituals equal to the number points in Blasphemous Shrine. However, this only applies to rituals cast in the shrine itself.

Memento de Morte

This Background is for Giovanni and specially approved necromancer characters only.

Death leaves its mark on the world around it. Cold spots, places where the light seems too pale, the colors washed out and faded. Sometimes, something seeps into the items surrounding a death in such a way that it taints them forever. The fainting couch in a Victorian serial killer’s parlor, or the portrait that hung on the wall of his abattoir, for example. The blackened wood floorboards at uncle Vittorio’s estate, reclaimed from a plague ship lit aflame to cleanse its still-living passengers. Books wrapped in the flesh of the monk who inscribed them, carved from his still living body, and bound by him in his last moments of life. But the most common mementos of death are murder weapons. The scalpels of serial killers and the sabers of war criminals. Bludgeons and .38 Bulldogs, nooses and punchbowls. The more death that has drenched the item, the more power it absorbs.

This Background gives you one or more of these mementos of death, allowing you to benefit from the ambient energies when using Necromancy. You must have the relic (or relics) with you to receive the bonus. Many necromancers have a special sanctum set aside for their ritual work for this reason.

• You have one minor relic. +1 bonus die to Necromancy rolls.
•• You have a relic of middling power or two minor ones. +2 bonus dice to Necromancy rolls.
••• You have a few reasonably powerful relics. +3 bonus dice to Necromancy rolls.
•••• You have a very powerful relic, or a couple of less powerful items. +4 bonus dice to Necromancy rolls.
••••• You have an incredibly powerful relic, or a couple of powerful items. +5 bonus dice to Necromancy rolls.

Ritae

This Background is for Sabbat characters only.

You know the ritae and rituals of the Sabbat, and you can enact many of them. This Background is vital to being a Pack Priest — without this Background, ritae will not function. This Background is actually a supernatural investment, drawing on the magic of the eldest Tzimisce sorcerers. Sabbat vampires who are not their pack‘s priests should have an outstanding reason for acquiring this Background, as Pack Priests are loath to share their secrets with more secular members of the Sect.

Spirit Slaves

This Background is for Giovanni and specially approved necromancer characters only.

This trait represents a hold you have over a ghost, or several ghosts. Usually this hold is in the form of catene, or fetters — either something that the ghost valued highly in life, or possibly a random object or place to which the spirito has been attached via a necromantic ritual. Regardless, you have a hold over the spirit and can bully it by threatening its fetter. Alternatively, you might have information about the spirit’s goals and can control it by aiding or impeding it.

All Spirit Slaves are assumed to have statistics similar to a recently deceased ghost (V20, p. 385). However, higher levels of this Background might reflect more powerful spirits at the Director’s discretion.

• You have a hold on one weak spirito.
•• You have influence over two minor ghosts, or one of greater power.
••• You’re the boss of three lesser ghosts, or fewer who can do more.
•••• Four ghosts are under your sway, or fewer who are stronger.
••••• You have mastered five weak ghosts, or fewer who are more talented.

Wraith Backgrounds

Backgrounds allowed come from Wraith: 20th Anniversary Edition and Wraith 20th Anniversary Supplements.

Artifacts

NoneLike most wraiths, the character has acquired no Artifacts. Maybe it’s lack of interest, maybe it’s lack of funds, maybe it’s lack of opportunity.
A seemingly insignificant Artifact.
••A minor Artifact, such as a compass that always points to Stygia.
•••An Artifact of some purpose, like a sword of Stygian steel.
••••A major and unique Artifact, which the Hierarchy would dearly love to possess (e.g., a gun that doesn’t need relic bullets).
•••••The most useful and powerful of objects, the envy of all other wraiths.

Eidolon

NoneLike most of the Restless, you face your Shadow alone.
You can sometimes second guess your Shadow.
••You can mount a successful resistance to one of your Shadow’s ploys.
•••Spiritually tough; your Shadow must work hard to influence you.
••••You see through all your Shadow’s stratagems, and occasionally counter them.
•••••Your Shadow must choose its moment carefully or waste all its efforts.

None:

••

•••

••••

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Haunt

NoneYou have no Haunt and probably Slumber on the run. Are you a nomad by choice or circumstance?
A small domicile, perhaps a closet or phone booth.
••A Haunt large enough for you to survive in, but hardly luxurious.
•••A fair-sized Haunt, which can accommodate you and several guests comfortably.
••••An opulent Haunt, with ample accommodation for up to four wraiths. Alternatively a special Haunt, such as a mobile or well-defended Haunt.
•••••A majestic Haunt in good repair, perhaps the haunted mansion on the hill. No doubt this Haunt is the envy of many powerful wraiths not blessed with such a home themselves.

Legacy

NoneNo trace remains that you ever lived.
A painting of yours hangs somewhere on the wall of an obscure gallery.
••You funded a building on a college campus.
•••You reseeded a devastated forest area through which people pass every day.
••••You designed the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty.
•••••An important idea in modern life is attributed to you. Perhaps you founded a religion or a political movement, or created a popular social media app.

Memoriam

NoneYou lived and died alone. Few, if any, even remember your name. Alternatively, you lived so long ago that all memories of you have faded.
One person remembers you. Perhaps you have a roadside memorial somewhere.
••A handful of people remember you on occasion.
•••A stretch of highway is named after you, or perhaps a beloved local park.
••••A community, organization, or company has you on its roll of honor — or curses your name.
•••••You have legendary status in an entire nation (or more). This level of recognition is far easier to achieve in a negative light than in a positive.

Notoriety

NoneLike most of the Restless, you are a face in the crowd. Do you deliberately keep a low profile?
You have made some impressions.
••Perhaps your Haunt is visited regularly.
•••Your name has traveled farther than you have.
••••Every wraith in the Shadowlands recognizes your name (but not necessarily your face).
•••••For whatever reason, you cannot escape being recognized everywhere you go.

Relic

NoneYou have nothing. Are you a recent escapee from Thralldom, or just not attached to material things?
A seemingly insignificant relic, like the keys to a treasured car.
••A minor relic, perhaps a small work of art.
•••A relic with some usefulness, such as a telescope or knife.
••••A major relic with moving parts, often powered by Pathos.
•••••A huge or invaluable relic, a sophisticated device or famous object.

Wraith Status

NoneNo organization recognizes you.
An initiate of some kind. You are most likely responsible for unpleasant duties, but are at least recognized as part of the group.
••After demonstrating your devotion to the group, you have been chosen for a position of some responsibility.
•••You are in the murky middle ranks. Not low enough to be pushed around or high enough to do the pushing, this is a dangerous place to be, but has many rewards.
••••This level of Status represents the level of management and privilege. You can access the resources of the group and are trusted by its leaders.
•••••Player characters are unlikely to ever rise higher than this. Having gained significant power and respect, you are a leader.