Each character in Mind’s Eye Society is created with a certain vision, a driving purpose that will help enrich the player’s experience in the global chronicle. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to read the purpose of a character, or to find the role they might fulfill in the local game. Every character has a niche, but those niches may not be apparent from the outset. While many character sheets have a “Concept” slot, there may be more to the story than a few words can provide. These notes, however, will help you to read between the lines on a sheet, and guide the character to their best possible role.
The Character Class Routes
While every player has their own route they want to walk, many follow similar paths. Some players will want a little insurance for the various perils they may focus – in combat, in intellectual matters, and in the social arena – while others will be focused like a knife on one area. In any case, there are several “general” areas that players gravitate towards when creating a character:
– Investigator: This is the sort of player that seeks to engage with plot hooks focused on unsolved mysteries and potential threats. They may most commonly deal with “physical” opponents (Sabbat cells, fomori, the Hosts, the Seers of the Throne, Privateers, etc.) and mysteries that worm their way into the mundane corners of existence.
WoD layout: Wits- and Perception-based Mental Traits, as well as Charisma-based Social Traits; Investigation, Computers, Law, Security, Science, possibly Academics; Allies, Contacts, Influences (Police/Law/Street/Underworld).
CoD layout: Wits and Presence; Computers, Investigation, Science, Intimidation, Empathy; Allies, Contacts, Status (Police, Professional), Eidetic Memory, Encyclopedic Knowledge
-Enigmatic: Whereas the Investigator focuses on physical treats that often leave footprints and a paper trail, the Enigmatic focuses on more metaphysical issues. They often deal with “spiritual” and “arcane” threats (ghosts, spirits, Abyssal Intruders, Incubi, etc.) and focus on disturbances whose origins can’t be easily traced.
WoD layout: Intelligence- and Wits-based Mental Traits; Occult, Academics, Awareness, Enigmas, Lores with an arcane bent; Influences (Church/Occult/Street); Oracular Ability, Medium, Loremaster (BNS)
CoD layout: Intelligence and Wits; Academics, Investigation, Occult, Streetwise; Allies and Contacts in “mystic” areas (Occultists, Ghosts, Spirits, etc.), Encyclopedic Knowledge, oracular and medium-based Merits
-Combatant: Sometimes, you just want to break stuff. This player wants to deal with combat, game in and game out. They’ll be on the front line to put threats down – or possibly pose a threat to other players. There isn’t much of a way to distinguish between PvE and PvP focused Combatants, as the same powers that give an edge over NPC badasses also give an edge over PC badasses. But rest assured – one way or another, they’ll be in the fray.
WoD layout: Physical Traits; Athletics, Brawl, Dodge, Intimidation, Firearms, Melee, Survival; Influences (Street or Underworld, better to obtain weapons and armor); Huge Size, Daredevil, Slippery Customer (BNS), Rugged (BNS)
CoD layout: Physical Attributes; Athletics, Brawl, Firearms, Survival, Weaponry, Intimidation; Fighting Styles, Fast Reflexes, Fleet of Foot, Iron Stamina, Gunslinger, Quick Healer, Danger Sense.
-Infiltrator: Some people want to get into the mess without necessarily getting their hands dirty. This player wants to make a physical presence on the plot, but not the one that leaves imprints. This is the character class of ninjas, thieves, and the would-be Batman, focused on getting in and out without being seen.
WoD layout: Wits-focused Mental Traits, Dexterity-focused Physical; Athletics, Stealth, Security, Computer, Investigation, Dodge, Brawl/Melee (for close combat), Streetwise; Contacts, Influences (Finance, High Society, Street, Underworld); Acute Sense, Daredevil, Slippery Customer (BNS)
CoD layout: Wits, Dexterity; Athletics, Brawl/Weaponry, Larceny, Stealth Computer, Investigation, Streetwise; Danger Sense, Trained Observer, Fighting Finesse.
-Manipulator: Every group of supernatural creatures needs somebody to put on their best face. The Manipulator handles social interaction, whether it be PvE or PvP. Whether there’s a cult that needs to be discredited, a breach of the Masquerade that needs to be covered up now, or a rival who needs their face ground into the concrete, they’ll be there to pull the strings, put on a smile, and bring the full force of social kung fu to bear.
WoD layout: Social Traits; Empathy, Intimidation, Investigation, Leadership, Politics, Streetwise, Subterfuge; Allies, Contacts, Fame, Influences (Bureaucracy, High Society, Law, Media, Police, etc.), Resources, Retainer; Monopoly (BNS Camarilla), Master of Puppets (BNS Camarilla)
CoD layout: Social Attributes; Investigation, Politics, Empathy, Intimidation, Persuasion, Socialize, Streetwise, Subterfuge; Allies, Barfly, Contacts, Fame, Status
Watch for Cross Pollination
Some players do just want to play straight-up murder machines, or Machiavellian masterminds who can’t throw a punch to save their lives. But more often than not, concepts cross-pollinate, as some players want a little insurance for whatever scenario they find themselves in. While the character classes above are good guideposts, some players will often pick from two or even three of them while assembling a character. A player who wants to cover their bases will likely pick and choose amongst the three Skill/Ability categories – a few dots of Investigation paired with one of the “brainier” Skills (Academics, Occult, Science, etc.), at least one combat Skill (Brawl, Melee/Weaponry, Firearms), and Empathy paired with a social Skill that allows them to make an impact (Intimidation, Leadership/Persuasion, Subterfuge, etc).
Even if the character aims to be a jack-of-all-trades, though, there will still be a few groups that attract particular attention. Watch for where the Merits are grouped, as well as Attributes and Abilities/Skills greater than 3. These groupings can point the way towards certain character classes, and give a better idea of what the fields are in which the character wants to excel.
Keep the Axes in Mind
Not the blades, but the plural of “axis.” All advice thus far has been focused on characters independent of the splats (Attribute/Skill/Merit) of their associated venue, but those splats are often the first step towards a concept – and, once the non-supernatural dots have been applied, can refine it towards a certain end. Pay attention to how a character’s splat distribution plays into their splats – or plays against it.
- A Brujah or Daeva will often have a short temper and powers focused on Physical or Social means – are they a Combatant, a Manipulator, or some combination or both?
- Does the Ragabash or Irraka prefer to walk the path of Investigator, Infiltrator, or Manipulator?
- Some splats are more well-suited for certain character classes than others – a Theurge/Ithaeur will make a strong Enigmatic, an Obrimos has the makings of a Combatant, and a Darkling would make a prime Infiltrator. But what does it mean when that Darkling seems to favor combat Skills more than infiltration and knowledge Skills? Perhaps the player’s trying to tell the story of an assassin rather than a thief.
Keep the Powers in Mind
Each venue has its own suite of merits and powers, all of which help to color and emphasize a particular character class, as well as add its own twists. But then again, not every power or Merit is going to fit the concept perfectly. The ones that stand out should draw special scrutiny, because they can help to inform what particular spin the player wants to put on their character.
- Focusing Example: A vampire with heavy combat Skills high levels of Celerity and Potence/Vigor clearly indicates he wants to be on the front lines.
- Defocusing Example: The Manipulator has the Inspiring Merit, or powers that raise his comrades’ spirits? Perhaps he wants to fight from the rear, but ensure those on the frontlines can give it their all.
- Defocusing Example: A Combatant is built to be an absolute killing machine, but also has healing powers. He’s a combat medic – he wants to keep himself and his fellow fighters alive so that they can dole out more harshness.
In the End
By paying attention the elements that don’t quite fit, the ST can get a better idea of exactly what kind of story the player wants to tell with his character. They can also look at the ones that do fit to get a better idea of how to bring characters into existing plots.
Players tend to have a particular area they want their character to focus on, be it investigation, combat, or social expertise. Many of these players however like to cover two or more areas, and may use venue-specific Merits or powers to either shore a concept up or expand it into new areas.
Use the various character classes as a road map for the character, keep in mind how the venue’s “splats” may play into the role, and see how Merits and powers either refine or go against a concept. And if all else fails, don’t feel afraid to talk to your players about what they want out of the game – it shows that you’re interested.