The carved doors opened, swinging on silent hinges that didn't so much as hint at the weight of the reinforced steel beneath the antique wood. Inside was a quietly lit meeting room, with thick carpet that absorbed sound, and tasteful furnishings on the walls. A ghoul sat on a piano bench in the corner, the music floating on the air as the coterie entered. A pale woman with honey hair stood at the far end, her back stiff and her eyes forward. She didn't act as if she saw the coterie, but she certainly did. The bloody cadre stopped what they hoped was a respectful distance away. Before they could say anything, a pair of fingers with manicured nails snapped, and the pianist ceased playing.
Seated in a high-backed chair, her dark hair in ringlets, was the Prince. Her skin was nearly as black as her hair, and her dress was the deep, royal blue of another era. The gem round her throat was worth more than the bank accounts of several CEOs combined, and the rubies sparkled in the dim light. She crossed one leg over another, and looked at her guests. As she watched them, the coterie felt the veil over her Beast slip slightly, and the air filled with the coppery threat of her predatory nature. They were jackals in the presence of a lioness.
"Presenting Theophania of the House of Albret-" the pale-haired bodyguard began before the Prince flicked her fingernails, and favored her guests with a smile that was not a smile.
"You may call me Tiffany," she said in a purring voice. "Once, that is, you explain to me exactly why I have had to spend capital both political and monetary to clean up the seventeen bodies you all stacked up tonight."
The coterie glanced at each other. Every, single one of them was thinking the same thought.
Also, before we get into the meat of this week's discussion, I wanted to remind folks to sign up for my weekly newsletter if you haven't done so yet. And if you're looking for more World of Darkness nonsense to inspire, check out some of the following:
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The Tiffany Problem Makes For Hilarious Vampire Moments
One of the interesting things about Vampire games (whether Masquerade or Requiem) is that they have the potential for characters to have seen history first-hand. Not only that, but they've seen our actual history from Earth (or at least the grim and grimy version we see in the World/Chronicles of Darkness), as opposed to the bygone centuries of a completely made-up fantasy setting. Whether it was someone who was embraced during the Roaring 20s, who saw the bloody fields of the American Civil War first-hand, or they existed in the days of Ancient Rome, there's just so much potential there.
However, something I see a lot of tables run into is The Tiffany Problem.
|Yeah... Hollywood is at least part of this problem.|
The short version is that The Tiffany Problem refers to how most people have a very skewed and factually incorrect version of what history was actually like, often to the point that when presented with facts about history they refuse to believe them because it doesn't jive with their preconceived notion of the past. Like how the name Tiffany actually goes all the way back to the 12th century, and isn't something from the 1960s just because that's when it got popular in America.
And I see this a lot when it comes to Vampire games where people just assume older vampires from certain eras will need to have modern ideas explained to them very gently. After all, they're very old and set in their ways, and the modern era can be very confusing and scary for someone not adjusted to it.
Take a kindred from the days of ancient Rome, for example. There will be some things that won't make sense to them, such as computers, smartphones, or the physics of the internal combustion engine. However, assuming they can make themselves understood in a modern language, there are going to be a lot of things in today's world they grasp easily, or which they'll see society as terribly backward on. A shopping mall, for instance, will feel very familiar, given that Rome had similar constructions filled with merchants and fast food thousands of years ago. They'll be able to recognize a boxing match easily enough, and the kindred might shake their head at celebrity endorsements since gladiators did much the same thing at the height of the empire (for much the same reasons). The only thing a kindred from those days might find confusing about the issue of gender and sexuality in today's world is why there are so many people who are so concerned with heteronormativity, as bisexuality was quite open during their time, and trans people were a part of everyday society. These were just standard, accepted facts, and seeing the arguments modern people have might leave them shaking their heads, asking why this of all things has become a hill people are willing to die on.
Embrace The Weirder Parts of Our World
The key for what I'll call a "Tiffany Vampire" is to take some aspect of history most people may not know about, and to make that a core part of your character's history or schtick. Playing a brujah embraced during the Victorian era? Make them a mixed martial artist who studied Bartitsu, and who is more than able to wax philosophical about the melding of unarmed combat styles. If your character is from the Viking age (easier to do in Requiem than Masquerade, but I digress), then make them someone immaculately groomed who challenges people to rap battles and uses the court system, as skaldings and legal cases were just as culturally significant in Scandinavia as piracy. At least give them a ghouled cat, since Vikings helped spread cats around the world.
And so on, and so forth.
History is a bizarre and undiscovered country. And whether your character was a female samurai, a pirate queen, an Olympic wrestler turned philosopher, or something else that sounds made up, you can find examples of all these and more in the annals of shit humanity has actually done in the past.
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That's all for this installment of Unusual Character Concepts. Hopefully this one gave you something to chew over, whether you're a player, or a game master.
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