A recent discussion about the merits of the Black Dog products (the adult division of White Wolf during the old World of Darkness era) reminded me of how much I enjoyed the potential subtleties of a Sabbat vampire game. Sure at first blush the Sabbat is about splatterpunk violence and gore and doing everything you can’t do in the Camarilla, but the revised Sabbat guide as well as the excellent material in Montreal By Night can change the feel of a Sabbat game to something far more horror-oriented and deeply, darkly alien.
While I prefer the ability score distribution in the new World of Darkness games, I absolutely love the setting and material for the revised edition of the classic Vampire RPG.
So in the spirit of Montreal by Night, I’m going to make a Sabbat vampire.
My intent for this character is akin to a dark paladin – someone of deep faith and conviction, waging a quiet war against the elders while secretly in their thrall. He only vaguely understands that he is part of the eternal Jyhad between the elders and their own offspring, but that in itself is more than most members of the Sabbat would be willing to admit to themselves let alone to others.
One of my favourite clans of course are the Salubri because most players feel that they are the “ultimate good guy vampires” and that they are misunderstood and misrepresented by the bad press they get from the inheritors of their bloodline – the Tremere. I’ve always seen them as exactly what the Tremere talk about – a fallen clan that has the ability to strip the very soul out of a vampire even against his will. A clan that believes themselves superior and just but who are at least as monstrous as those they hold themselves above.
So, for my Montreal Sabbat kindred, I’m going to go with a Salubri antitribu, the fallen bloodline of the Salubri who have joined the Sabbat. The antitribu are violent paladins of their kin, out for vengeance against the Tremere and their helpers, the Camarilla. For this character (Jerome Ranger), I’m going for someone a little less gung-ho against the Camarilla, not completely indoctrinated by his sire and bloodline, but who is seeking a spiritual release to understand the strange powers that only his clan has.
Jerome remains a slave to his passions however, as the weakness of the clan is that blood consumed outside of the heat of passion, and blood given freely, does not feed his hunger. While he would like to be a man of faith and put a distance between himself and his world, he is forced by his biology into being a beast of passion and murder.
Before his embrace and becoming a vampire, Jerome was a regular church-goer, but also always questioning his faith and the faith of his leaders. He worked as a salesperson for a military supply company, travelling and selling death (and occasionally protection from such), returning home to his nearly empty apartment in Montreal to wonder what it was for, and always finding himself back at the cathedral, praying for his redemption.
He was groomed for his embrace by one of the priests in the church, a Salubri antitribu himself who saw the conflict of faith and spirituality within Jerome. The grooming took about five years prior to the embrace, and now Jerome is teetering between the natural path of human ethics (the path of Humanity) and his sire’s alien chivalry of the Path of Honourable Accord. As such, I’ll use the character creation rules for a follower of a path of enlightenment, which means he’ll have lower starting virtues and must have a high Willpower as he steels his soul to the alien mindset of this strange chivalric code. (On a second read-through, I discover that the path in question uses the standard human virtues, so he doesn’t suffer the penalty of starting with alien virtues).
For his demeanor, I go with the Celebrant – he likes to hide his lack of faith in his own faith behind a mask of purpose. He celebrates his faith, his activities and his undead state. In reality, however, he is a martyr, suffering for his faith, suffering through his lack of it, suffering every night among the undead, and suffering the strange mark and powers of his lineage. As a martyr, he regains Willpower whenever he sacrifices himself or his comfort for his ideals or for another’s immediate gain.
For his ability scores (Attributes), he prioritizes his Social stats first (after all, he’s a salesman), then physical and finally mental. All Attributes start at 1 point, and he gets 7 points to spend on social, 5 on physical and 3 on mental. I go with a higher manipulation & appearance, and his physical emphasis being away from Strength. Not a typical Salubri antitribu, but then again most of them are chosen to be soldiers, not arms dealers.
He then gets 4 points to spend on clan disciplines, the “super powers” of vampires. His clan disciplines are Auspex (superior senses and extra-sensory perception), Fortitude (toughness) and Valeren (the clan-specific power – using the third eye of the Salubri not for healing, but for war). I want Auspex at level 2 to be able to see auras, so that leaves 1 point each for the other two disciplines (and I don’t want to miss either of them, otherwise I could put all 4 points in Auspex, or 2 points into 2 different disciplines, leaving none for the third). The level 1 power allows him to determine the creature type of someone touched (human, ghoul, vampire, or other), and with additional successes on the roll he can tell how much damage they have suffered, and how much blood they have left. It can also be used forensically to determine how a subject came to be damaged, drugged or so on.
For skills, talents and knowledges (abilities), he puts his emphasis on Talents, then Knowledges, and finally Skills. His highest talents are Expression and Subterfuge – those that help him sell and get his point across. He also has a fairly high Empathy, which has always haunted him. His skills (etiquette, firearms and security) are all the results of his on-the-job training to sell firearms and security equipment. He has 2 levels of linguistics so he can speak both French and English as well as Russian (as he moves a lot of Russian hardware in the post cold-war marketplace).
As a Sabbat kindred, Jerome starts with no background points resulting from his long and abusive indoctrination into the sect. He starts with 7 dots to go into his virtues, and knowing that he needs a high Willpower and can’t have his path rating over 5, he puts most of them into Courage, and decides on Self-Control over Conscience when spending the remaining points.
Finally, for the first time in this process, I get to roll a die to determine his starting blood pool (6 points in this case).
And then it’s time to spend “freebie points” to increase things I want… increased. The first thing is buying some backgrounds. While this is unusual for a Sabbat vampire, he was embraced exactly because of his connections and skills in the mortal world, so I need to bring some of those back. Also, as a Salubri antitribu, he has to spend at least a few points on the Generation background (making him of a bloodline that is closer to the founding father of all vampire kind). So I spend two points on Generation, three on gun-running Contacts, one point on Fame (he’s known to the law enforcement community because he sells vests and nightvision gear to the local police force), two points of resources (making him middle class, and having his own place – something the rest of his pack probably doesn’t trust about him as he acts too damned human) and one point of Mentor to represent his Salubri antitribu sire who is still very interested in his welfare and connections.
That leaves him six points to spend elsewhere… I bring it up to seven by picking up a one-point flaw of Prey Exclusion – he won’t feed from the clergy because he is still so torn about his faith that he’s truly afraid to damn himself forever. Seven points is enough for either another discipline level or an attribute and ability increase. I bring his Charisma up to 3, and his Empathy also.
Name: Jerome Ranger
Clan: Salubri antitribu
Generation 2 (11th Generation – Max bloodpool of 12)
Fame 1 (Law enforcement)
Mentor 1 (Sire)
Merits & Flaws
Prey Exclusion (Clergy)
Auspex 1 – Heightened Senses – can use his senses when it otherwise seems impossible. Can occasionally sense danger. Can see through Obfuscate of his Auspex level or lower.
Auspex 2 – Aura Perception – Perception + Empathy, Dif 8.
Fortitude 1 – +1 Stamina on all soak rolls, can roll 1 die to soak aggravated damage.
Valeren 1 – Sense Vitality – touch target, Perception + Empathy Dif 7.
Path of Enlightenment: Honourable Accord
Path Rating: 5
Blood Pool: 6 (max 12)