The Guide To Vampire Backgrounds

Ah, background stories. The very flesh of a character. Solid. You can role-play for ten years with the same character and it will change. It will get better, and worse, and then better again. It will ebb and it will flow, but your background story will always remain the same. It's stable. Once you write it out, it cannot be changed and you're stuck with it. It's often the first impression that a Storyteller will ever get of your character. The past of your character is completely based on whatever words you choose to put into it. What good is his past, though? You're role-playing in his present and that's the important part! I beg to differ. If you have the right Storyteller, you might very well find that your past does affect your present and even your future. Trust me, you have the right Storyteller(s) here. The act of telling a story is a fire and if you don't feed it, you're going to be very cold. You feed it with your role-play, but also with your background story. Believe me! I'm not just making this stuff up. Honestly. Being as this section is for vampire backgrounds, allow me to first hand you a list of details that could come in handy when writing the background for your characters.

How old are you?
When were you born? How old were you when you were embraced? How long have you existed as a vampire? How old do you look to others? Are you more or less mature than you seem?

What was unique about your childhood?
What do you remember about your early years? What forged your basic motivations and attitudes? Where did you go to school? Were you a good student? Who were your immediate family members? What is your clearest childhood memory? Did you go to high school? College? Did you have a hometown, or did your family move often? Ever run away from home? Did you play sports? Did any of your childhood friendships last until adulthood?

What kind of person were you?
Were you a kind and gentle person, or an arrogant bastard? Were you popular, or a social outcast? Did you have a family? How did you earn a living? Did you have any real friends? Or just acquaintances? What kept you going from day to day? Did anyone miss you when you were gone?

What was your first brush with the supernatural?
Did your sire stalk you? Did you dabble in the occult at all before your embrace? Did you ever meet a vampire before your sire? Did you even believe in them? When you met one, were you scared? Curious? Disbelieving? Angry?

How did the embrace end up changing you?
How did your sire catch you? Was the embrace painful? Did you get perverse pleasure from it? Did the Hunger tear at you? Were you frightened? Did it somehow feel right? Were you grateful to your sire? Or do you want to kill them for what they did to you?

Who was your sire, and how did they treat you?
What do you know of your sire? Were they seductive, forceful, abusive, cryptic or open? Why do you think they chose you? Did you even know your sire? How long did you remain with them? Did they teach you anything at all? Where did you stay when you were released? Where did you go? Did you meet any other vampires while with your sire? Did your sire embrace anyone else? Do you often judge other vampires by the opinions that your sire carried?

Were you presented to vampire society?
Did the Prince welcome you? Was he reluctant to accept you? Did prominent vampires need to be bribed or threatened before accepting you? Did your sire have permission to create you? Are you on the run from any sort of vampire authority? Were you bullied, threatened or beaten? Were you somehow special?

How did you meet those you associate with?
Were you brought together by chance, or design? Are you united in purpose, working toward the same goal? How long have you been together? Did you know them before the embrace? Do your sires cooperate? Or are they rivals? Do any of you share the same sire? What keeps you together when things are at their worst?

Where is your haven?
Where do you sleep during the day? Do you have a permanent home, or do you migrate from day to day? Do you stay in or near the place you inhabited during your mortal life? Do you have anyone to protect you during the day?

Do you retain any connections to your mortal life?
Have you been presumed dead? Do you still watch over mortal relatives or friends from afar? Do you pretend to still be alive? Have you abandoned your mortal existence entirely?

What are your habitual feeding practices?
Do you fancy a particular sort of place to hunt? What is your preferred prey? Will you risk hunger to find this type of prey? Do you ever kill when you feed? Do you seduce your prey? Kidnap them? Intimidate or beat them? Or do they come to you?

What motivates you?
Are you bent on revenge? Do you long for a mortal life, and to look upon the sun once again? Do you have ambitions among vampire society? Do you just want to be left alone? Do you wish to embrace any childer? Are you involved with inter-vampire conflict? If you could have any one thing in the world, what would it be?

The last set on that list, I believe to be the most important of them all. Most vampires, when choosing the embrace, don't just do it for the fun. Some do, of course, but after the first century or so you really need some motivation to keep going. If not, immortality can begin to become a real burden. Hence Ennui, for those who are familiar with the term. For those who are not, it is basically vampire depression from being world-weary and having done all of the exciting stuff. No new surprises. Those without motivation are not likely to do well after the embrace, struggling with their new existence. Although a vampire's values often differ greatly from those of a human, they still must have something worth existing for, or they would likely just watch the next sunrise and be done with the whole dreadful ordeal.

I hope that this helps those who read it to create better, more rich and full backgrounds for their vampires. My only other advice is to think outside of the box! Don't be afraid just because a particular concept might not have been well-received elsewhere. My only other other advice is this: DETAILS GALORE. I want you to use this guide to help build a better vampire so that I can use those delicious backgrounds to torture you and/or to help you torture those around you during storylines! And if you're reading this sometime in 2015 and I'm no longer a Storyteller, let's hope that there is another out there who wants to do the same thing for you, right?

Dramatically Yours,
Aetherwild

P.S. - One more piece of advice, since I'm just chock full of the damned stuff. When you finish your background, let it set for a night. The game isn't going anywhere. Go do something else. Mix a stiff drink. Watch the sun rise or set for the last time before role-play consumes your real life. Come back the next day and read it over again. I can guarantee that you'll find something that you want to fix or change entirely.