White Wolf’s World of Darkness offers players the chance to play mortals peeling back the layers of shadows as they discover that the world they live in is not as rose-coloured as they first imagined it to be. Sometimes they find themselves discovering the truth about who controls the city. Undead monsters – vampires – are in charge and the characters have gotten mixed up enough that the Kindred of the city are considering them as new recruits.

Thanks to the rules of the ‘new’ World of Darkness, the basic statistics make it easy for a mortal character to become a vampire without too many semantic problems. The vampire template is added and with a few changes a mortal is a damned creature of the night. But what about the story side of the change? Becoming a vampire creature is a life-altering experience. It’s not something that just happens.

A vampire Embraces a mortal and damns him to the night. It’s a relatively simple thing that doesn’t require any predisposition on the mortal’s part, but what about the after? No intelligent sire is just going to let his newest childe out into the world a night after the Embrace. Months, if not years, pass before a sire let’s his childe out of his sight. What does this mean for your game? It means that there has to be some downtime between the Embrace and the next game. A character may be mortal one night and a vampire the next, but that doesn’t mean he’s free to run around the city testing out his fangs.

The Vampire: The Requiem rulebook mentions that sires tend to keep their childe with them for a time. They spend their time teaching them the laws, introducing them to the Kindred in charge, instructing them in their disciplines and helping them come to grips with drinking the living blood of mortals. No matter how staunch or macho a character, going from a living, breathing person to an undead monster of the night takes some getting used to.

Characters that start off as vampires have a considerable advantage. They are already members of a covenant (if they wish to be), they have their disciplines, they know what they are, and have (for the most part) come to terms with it. These characters are ready to be thrown into the Danse Macabre without any problems. Not so with the newly Embraced. Even after their sires let them go they might still be uncertain about their place in this new world they’ve been thrust into.

Disciplines are the vampire super powers that players love to have. Dishing out the thing that makes up for the damned existence and blood drinking in little tit-bits is going to annoy a lot of players. While it makes sense, dramatically, that a character’s disciplines evolve over time after they are embraced, not having access to your vampiric powers is irksome – especially since vampires can be rather vulnerable without them. Rather than go through the whole process of ‘learning’ let it take place in downtime. Explain to each character what happened or how they were taught their powers and just let them have it. It may be amusing to see how a character first realises they can turn invisible but having to wait for it can be a real pain.

Joining a covenant can take a considerable amount of game time as the character weighs the offers and the player tries to reconcile his character’s personality with the ideals of the covenants. While it may be fun for the player and the storyteller – the other players may find it less so and even boring. There are few things more boring than listening for hours to the storyteller and a single player discuss the finer points of covenant ideals while your character sits in stasis until it’s your turn.

Unless you are planning on having the entire group join the same covenant (or if there is no real choice) then it is better to let covenant recruitment happen in downtime. If you really want to go through the process with each character then arrange for personal sessions where you can take as much time as you, and the player, need.

Being Embraced is no small matter and shouldn’t be glossed over. Dramatically speaking it is important for the characters to work through their feelings regarding their new existence and is important for them to make believable characters. But don’t bog down the story with semantic details and needless repetition of covenant dogma. Focus on the main story and keep the background where it belongs. After all, your players are itching to go try out their new fangs.

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