"I am immortal, I have inside me blood of kings..." - Queen
It may seem appealing to run an immortal in a Storyteller Chronicle, especially as it is, in ways, an extremely powerful character type. However, in my opinion, it is more difficult to create an immortal character than any of the others created so far. When you are generating a Mage, Garou or Vampire character, there are plenty of traits such as gifts, backgrounds, disciplines, spheres and so on to play with, and the mythos is already set out in the rule-book. In effect, the whole thing is presented to the player in a neat little package, and all they have to do is follow the rules, write down a few figures and they can play their character.
Immortals are different. Each one is unique. There is no pre-designed background for immortal characters. Their very nature prohibits the type of society that holds so much of the role-playing potential for Garou, Mages and Kindred. Like these characters, the immortal is a normal person who discovers that he has a special destiny. However, unlike Garou and Kindred, they can see no reason why they and not someone else, have been chosen to be immortal. In some ways, they are similar to Mages in this respect, but the one major difference between immortals and other characters is time - often, immortals discovered their heritage hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Deciding how this character spent those years, and working out the beliefs, knowledge and outlook that he has brought with him from this time.
One might argue that this has already been explored with Vampire and Mummy. In Vampire, however, one is encouraged to begin with a young vampire, so as not to unbalance the game: elder vampires, while a curiosity, do not often "adventure" with their younger brethren, but instead are embroiled in the politics of the Camarilla. They also tend to be much more powerful, and less human than their younger Kin. Likewise, although Mummies are in many ways human, their thoughts and desires are nothing like the mortals around them.
Storytellers should make it a condition that, for an immortal character to be accepted as a character in a Chronicle, their background and past should be at least summarily documented, an their character should be developed. This will often deter players who wish to play an immortal simply because he is immortal. Immortals are a very unique character class, due to their humanity: despite the centuries behind them, they are still human... alone among the mortals, hidden, but still human in mind and soul. This humanity makes them unique and interesting characters to explore.
To begin the creation process, settle on the concept for the immortal. Why have they survived? When were they born, where have they been and what have they seen throughout the centuries? Pick a strong nature, something that drives them and makes them cling to life, rather than just let go. They do not age, but without a will to survive they most certainly will lose their head...
Immortals are shown to be in superhuman health, strong and fast, and also intelligent and perceptive. They are almost always fit, attractive, and charismatic... so, in the World of Darkness, they are far superior to the mortals in all their attributes. Give them 7 Primary, 6 Secondary, and 5 Tertiary attribute points, instead of the "normal" 7/5/3 split that Garou, Kindred and Mages all receive.
Immortals start with 13 Primary, 9 Secondary, and 5 Tertiary abilities provided they are "young" (less than 100 years). Older immortals will have more abilities; fighting this to achieve "play balance" is a wasted effort in the Storyteller system. The storyteller is the ultimate judge; if he doesn't want 2000 year old immortals overpowering his game, then he shouldn't allow 2000 year old immortals at all: allowing them but restricting them to 13/9/5 is ludicrous. Also, as they age, their maximum ability score (5 for mortals) will increase, allowing scores of 6+ for various abilities. Players should be allowed to choose Abilities from any of the games, but obviously, there are restrictions. For example, it seems unlikely that an immortal would have the Primal-Urge or Rituals Abilities from Werewolf.
Players should be encouraged to think up their own abilities, thus helping make their character unique. For example, the Knowledge History might be a common one among immortals (and is in fact included on the character sheet) - remember Connor relating the significant events of 1798 to Brenda?
Use the chart below for a reasonable split of abilities based on age.
Age Primary Secondary Tertiary Max 0-100 13 9 5 5 100-250 18 13 8 5 250-500 23 17 11 6 500-1000 28 21 14 7 1000-1500 33 25 17 8 and so on...
"You cannot die, MacLeod... Accept it!" - Ramirez
The Quickening characteristic is the most important to an immortal... it defines their power, and is very useful in battles with other immortals. Beginning immortals begin with 1 Quickening; this may be increased by spending Freebie points, as discussed below.
Immortals have no "virtues" in the Vampire/Werewolf sense. Like Mages, their only characteristic is Willpower, and like Mages, they start with a base Willpower of 5.
Immortals begin the game with points in Backgrounds, according to the chart below. See the section on Abilities to see the arguments regarding age vs. play balance.
Age Background Points 0-100 7 100-250 9 250-500 10 500-1000 11 1000-1500 12
The following backgrounds are possibilities for immortal characters. See Vampire for explanations of most of these backgrounds (except for Arcane, which comes from Mage).
Allies: Friends who can be counted on to help the character out. They probably know of his immortality.
Contacts: The number of information sources the character possesses.
Fame: The character's renown in the mortal world.
Influence: The character's political or social sway or power in the mortal world.
Mentor: An older immortal who advises and, to a certain extent, looks after the character:
* Mentor is less than a hundred years older than you. ** Mentor is between 100 and 300 years older than you. *** Mentor is between 300 and 600 years older than you. **** Mentor is between 600 and 1000 years older than you. ***** Mentor is between 1000 and 1200 years older than you. ****** Mentor is over 1500 years older than you.
Storytellers should bear in mind the possibility that an immortal character's mentor might be killed, unless they have "retired".
Resources: Wealth, belongings, and monthly income.
Arcane: ( See Mage: the Ascension ) Immortals tend to have a tendency to scatter headless bodies around them, yet they don't seem to draw attention to this fact: hence the Arcane. Also, isn't it strange how they manage to hide such large swords inside those trenchcoats of theirs?
Immortals get 18 freebie points to spend. Again, this gives them more points in attributes and abilities than their fellow players, but this is balanced by their inability to raise Quickening except through killing other immortals. Also, their very nature makes them hunted by the Technocracy, fellow Immortals, and of course the Watchers/Hunters (these are outlined in Chapter Five).
Quickening - 7 points per dot Attributes - 5 points per dot Abilities - 2 points per dot Willpower - 1 point per dot Backgrounds - 1 point per dot
"Ya talk funny, Nash... where ya from?" "Lots of different places..." - Garfield & Nash
This is a very important part of character creation, and, unfortunately, one that is skipped over far too often. This is a role-playing game, and the Storyteller system is designed so that players can immerse themselves in their character. However, you cannot do this if you don't know your character.
Background & History: Where was you character born? What was his childhood like? How did he "die"? What was the reaction to his miraculous revival? How did he find out about his immortality - Did a mentor (like Ramirez) tell him about it, or did he gradually find out for himself? Did he leave his home and family, or did he stay around and watch them grow old and die? If so, how did it affect him? Where has he been in the intervening years? Was he involved in any famous historical incidents? In the present day, where does your character live? Or is he a wanderer, moving around continuously?
"Who cut your hair?" "I am in disguise... this way, no one will recognize me." - Connor MacLeod and Kurgan
What does your immortal look like? How does he dress? Is he a classic member of the "trenchcoat brigade", or has he settled on another method of carrying his weapon (like the Kurgan and his briefcase)? These sort of decisions help determine a look, and also are useful for game play later.
"Hi, Brenda. I did what you asked. I spent all night going through the old deeds to Nash's house on Hudson Street, right back to the original owner, Montague, in 1798..." - Rick
How long has your character been in his current home? What friends has he made? Unlike Vampires, Garou, or Magi, immortals live amongst the humans and (for the most part) treat them as equals. Hence, they make connections with the human race, which will come up during game play (either for help or for hostages, depending on Storyteller mood).
"Love is for poets." - Connor MacLeod
What kind of personality does your immortal have? Is he dark, moody and unfriendly, or bright and extrovert? What drives them, keeps them going? Is the ambition to win the Prize the thing which consumes their lives, or do they revel in life generally? The things that have happened to an immortal down through the years can often affect his outlook on life - love and war are probably the most common ones, but other things can greatly influence the way a person views life.
"I have something to say... It's better to burn out, than to fade away!" - Kurgan
Immortals are often unusual individuals. Note from the series: Gregor's tendency to put mortals into danger to get a secondary rush from it, or Amanda's tendency to doublecross her partners. These things help define the character, and yet aren't shown in the characteristics above. Perhaps your character has a phobia or a hatred of some particular thing. Perhaps your character is afraid of heights, and has a hatred of Vampires... Pick interesting quirks, and write them down; they will add greatly to the role-playing experience. See also the Merits and Flaws section below.
One of the most important things to remember when writing up your character's background is that, unlike the Garou and the Kindred, (and the Mages, to a certain extent), immortals are human. They may live for extraordinary lengths of time, but they are still very human, with the very same feelings and thoughts as us.
Vampire introduced Personality Archetypes to help define characters' personalities. A character has two archetypes - his Nature and his Demeanor, and the key to using Archetypes effectively is understanding the difference between the two.
A character's Nature is her true personality - that which she is, but will not necessarily reveal to other characters in the Story. People do not bare their soul to everyone they meet, and thus they develop false fronts.
A character's Demeanor is this false front. While a character's Nature would only change in exceptional circumstances, her Demeanor can be as consistent as their Nature, or it may change frequently. Also, if the player so chooses, a character's Nature and Demeanor may be the same.
Personality archetypes are also a method of (re)gaining Willpower, as the Storyteller will award Willpower when a character lives up to their Nature/Demeanor.
Vampire also introduced the Merits and Flaws system, which is a method of really making your character seem alive and individual. Merits and Flaws are purchased just before you spend your freebie points. They cost or give between one and five freebie points - ie. purchasing a five point merit would mean you had five less freebie points to spend, while taking a five point flaw would mean that you had an extra five freebie points to spend. Merits and Flaws are also tied to Willpower, but less so than the Natures and Demeanors.
The full rules for Personality Archetypes, and Merits and Flaws can be found in the Vampire and Werewolf Players Guides.