Bruce Damien “I Am Not the Prince of Darkness!” De La Vega

English: A 18th century engraving depicting a ...

How not to make friends and influence people.

   Here we have a curious character from Editorial-0, who was recently digging through some of his old books and ran across Werewolf the Apocalypse… Given his fondness for misfit characters, it is no surprise that this particular character probably won’t be able to fit in anywhere at all.

   Bruce Damien I.A.N.T.P.O.D. De La Vega

Built as 2nd Edition Werewolf: The Apocalypse character

  • Character Type: Werewolf (kinda sorta not-really)
  • Breed: Homid
  • Auspice: None
  • Tribe: None
  • Nature:
  • Demeanor:
  • Totem:
  • Age 37 (15 physically)
  • Sex: Male
  • Ethnicity: Caucasian
Physical   Mental   Social
Strength 1 Intelligence 4 Charisma 3
Dexterity 2 Wits 5 Manipulation 4
Stamina 3 Perception 1 Appearance 1
Talents   Skills   Knowledges
Alertness Animal Ken Computer
Athletics Drive 3 Enigmas 4
Brawl Etiquette 3 Investigation
Dodge Firearms Law
Empathy 3 Melee Linguistics
Expression Leadership Medicine 1
Intimidation Performance 3 Occult 5
Primal-Urge Repair Politics
Streetwise 2 Stealth Rituals 3
Subterfuge Survival Science

   Special Traits

  • Gnosis ** (Starting at 1 for a base)
  • Willpower **** (Starting at 1 for a base)
  • Gifts
    • Has access to Homid, Ragabash, and Black Fury lists
      • Persuasion (1) Cha+Subterfuge DC 6, reduces Social DC’s by 1, no cost
      • Sense of the Prey (2) Perception + Enigmas if target is actively hiding, no cost
      • Thieving Talons of the Magpie (5) Wits + Stealth DC Willpower, 1 Gnosis/turn to use

   Backgrounds

  • Ally *
  • Contacts **
  • Resources *
  • Totem ***:

   Ally: Local Camarilla Kindred generally. They are considered friendly to Bruce, although he has no claim on their services and cannot get in touch directly. They would well-disposed if he needed to make a trade or contact someone, but that’s the limits of his association. This is a 1-point background because the benefit is small and diffuse, offering limited help, and liable to vanish.

   Contacts

  • Richard Duggan, Children of Gaia Elder. As the most important Children of Gaia leader around (though he doesn’t control the Caern), Richard has been a handy person to know for Bruce. They don’t really owe each other anything, but Richard has asked Bruce to help on many an occasion, and Bruce does so eagerly. Oddly, it’s easier for Bruce to get in touch with him than many werewolves, and Richard lets everyone know Bruce can be trusted if the Garou need something done.
  • Erin Larimore, shop owner. Erin deals in the usual weird occult supplies: candles, tarot decks, and other conveniences for the New Age crowd or Wiccans. But she has the real thing in the back: animal blood for “people with iron deficiency”, quality ritual supplies for people who use them, custom orders an other special items for those who ask. She doesn’t own a great deal, but it’s real enough. The prices are high, but she closes long after midnight. Bruce is one of her infrequent customers, and if he needed something rare or even a place to hide, he might go see her.

   Freebies

  • +2 Gifts (14)
  • +2 Backgrounds (2)
  • +1 Gnosis (2)
  • +3 Willpower (3)

   Merits and Flaws

  • Flaw: No Transformation: Cannot shapeshift out of human form and cannot revert from another form if externally altered. The character has no regeneration and will die from normal damage. Of course, life’s not all bad: he doesn’t have to fear aggravated damage more than usual. Then again, anything likely to cause aggro damage would kill him faster than the plague. (-8)
    • >>> This is not only a bigger flaw than the Jedi-Garou’s version, it effectively makes him far weaker than any other werewolf or Vampire character. Granted, most enemies are not going to worry about Bruce when a werewolf shows up, but still.
  • Flaw: No Place in Society: The character has no natural place in his “normal” society and cannot really advance in status among them. He may be loved or hated, but is always an outsider. He isn’t automatically invited to gatherings, and cannot gain social status. (-5)
    • >>> This would be -3 for most characters, but as a “werewolf” (ha!) he normally needs ranks to advance. Even worse, this would cripple his magical abilities since he could never buy advanced Gifts. This Flaw doesn’t normaly apply to Sabbat or Anarch vampires, because they could still haul off and join the Camarilla if they chose, and most Camarilla rejects would be able to hang with Anarchs or prove themselves to the Sabbat, etc. It might apply to a Thin-Blood character, but they don’t get the additional bonus because they’re not dependent on social standing for power.
  • Flaw: Moonblind: The character has no lunar auspice, gifts, auspice gift list, and no inherent Rage. On the upside, he has no Rage and no associated problems. (-7)
    • >>> While the value of the Rage would vary by the specific chosen auspice, we can use the Philodox as an average. That’s 3 Rage (6), a gift list (1), and a Gift (7). Getting only 7 points from it is extremely conservative.
  • Flaw: Tribeless: The character has no tribe and no free Willpower, gifts, or tribal gift list. But life’s not all bad: he has no background limitations. (-5)
    • >>> Again, there’s no easy answers here. We’ll take an average of 3 Willpower (3), a gift list (1), Gift (7). As with Moonblind, getting only 5 points is the conservative option – but this isn’t a godlike master of magic, but a hardworking neophyte character.
  • Merit: Gifted Path: You have access to a whole gift list (breed, auspice, or tribe) or your choice. This may be taken multiple times. (+1) [Taken twice]
    • >>> This could cost much more, but it’s possible to learn gifts directly from spirits, or change tribe or auspice, and you still have to find someone to teach you the gift. If you absolutely must have a certain gift, you can always jsut grab that, and with no more difficulty than otherwise. This is really a favor owed by a spirit, Garou, and represents your investment of time and energy into that path.
  • Merit: Bargainer: You can access Gifts one rank higher than usual, but must stack up bribes for the spirits to do so. This may be taken multiple times. (+5 for the first rank, +3 thereafter) [Taken five times]
    • >>> This is a biggie, but you have to buy the more expensive first rank, which gets you nothing at character creation, and then find the points to invest elsewhere. If that still seems overpowered, rememebr that buying two ranks of this nets you access to second-rank Gifts but you still have to buy them out of freebie points or experience and it costs as much as losing access to all shapeshifting! Plus, high-rank disciplines are often much more expensive in terms of Gnosis and Willpower – which you can’t easily afford. The spirits will ask for anything they like to let you use your magic, and in a fight you don’t have time to argue, either. They allow you to pay later, if only because they recognize that a battle to the death isn’t the place for burning incense offerings. And you don’t have to bargain for any Gift your rank allows you access to normally.

   Because Bruce is built as a Werewolf (even without their normal abilities), he does not need to pay for Immunity to Delirium, or purchase a Kinfolk background. Presumably his spirit interactions no doubt greatly eased the normal Delirium, so he is not subject to it. He can also bind fetishes or talens and step into the Umbra, although his experience there is limited.

   He has a total of 25 extra backgrounds from flaws. He has taken merits worth 19 points, leaving 6 points free for freebies.

———————————————————————————————-

   Bruce is a student of the spirits, studying how to bargain and cajole them into doing what he desires. This is roughly the same as tribal shamanism, but unlike shaman, Bruce lacks any kind of ongoing credit or codified rituals to get the job done. He can’t get a dozen tribal warriors to routinely offer their kills to the gods or carry on elaborate dances to please the wind.

   Fortunately, his ambitions lie less in controlling the weather or altering the fertility of the earth and more in personal amusement and wealth. This isn’t to say he’s selfish: to him, bargaining with the spirits is a job, and he expects to get paid. He delivers things they want, and he in return obtains magic from them. He uses this to get wealth to live on.

   Bruce wants to learn, but he treasures the knowledge more than the actual power. While he loves to use his abilities, it’s a matter of enjoying the fruits of the skills he worked long and hard to learn, not reveling in his personal might. He’s like an engineer, who loves the creation more than the fact he created it, but always crafting with a purpose.

   Of course, the magic is fun as well as useful. Bruce is well-known around local circles of occultists and hedge wizards. With time, he can contact the Camarilla, make contact with a Mage, or find a skilled Sorcerer. He has rough but accurate ideas of what any given creature or spellcaster can do, although he can’t easily tell the differences between the various clans, traditions, and or similar organizations. He works with Garou whenever possible, since they are among the few who could teach him more Gifts.

   He certainly envies other supernatural manipulators. To some local occultists dabbling with Oijia boards and Tarot cards, Bruce might sound powerful, but to a professional Sorcerer, he’s a pitiful child. And a Mage or Tremere would laugh at him for even calling himself a magician. The Garou certainly do, and most of them aren’t half as good as he.

   However, Garou also recognize that he’s very useful and pay him off in various (non-financial) ways. They are deeply disturbed by the fact that he’s mastered Gifts far beyond almost any werewolf, but for this very reason don’t feel like they can afford to dismiss him. A Homid he might be, but he’s painfully eager to help and apparently commands the respect of powerful spirits. The Garou keep him from any deep lore or their Rituals, but they hand him a few tidbits now and then. This has led Bruce to writing down a great deal of Garou knowledge, including things they’d rather not let anyone else learn.

   He adds to his mystical talents a willingness to allow any peaceful traveler a brief stay in his home. He declared it Neutral Ground where any magical being or magic-user is welcome. Thus far the local Children of Gaia have chosen to pretend the place doesn’t exist and therefore can’t be harboring unholy Wyrm-tainted Vampires or filthy magic-stealing Mages. Bruce assumes they’ve just opted to ignore the issue, but they place a deeper game: it’s damn useful to observe such travelers. Watchful visitors might note an oddly observant and wild-looking ‘dog’ hanging around the woods facing the house. Bruce is oblivious, as usual.

   Bruce has also been very ill lately, a sickness he recently came down with. He’s pale and shivers all the time, and hasn’t been able to focus as easily. He feels weak all the time, particularly in the day, and tires more quickly than normal.

    The following is for bog-standard WoD games, where the world sucks and everyone is a dick, endlessly moaning about their miserable fate. It would be greatly muted in most games.

   Bruce isn’t very perceptive. But he’s not socially reclusive and knows he’s not respected. He’s surrendered a great deal of time and hard work to get his magical powers, and yet they are still very limited. Everyone seems to treat him as either a fool, a tool, or an object, not worthy of any recognition in his own right. So far, he’s not realized, and would be crushed to learn, that supernaturals consider him a nuisance even when well-disposed towards him. He tries to maintain his ongoing enthusiasm and helpfulness, as his deep-seated loneliness slowly emerges.

   What Bruce thinks of…

   Werewolves: He really admires them (they are very skilled in spiritualism), but fears them at the same time. Despite their Rage, they could live a reasonably normal life, but they actively encourage it to boil over. He recognizes that the Children of Gaia do so less often and tolerate him much more. He’s learning the differences between the breeds, auspices, tribes, and wants to collect their history and wisdom (such as it is) into a single volume. It never occurred to him that the Garou might not want such a thing, and may be surprised (fatally) when he finally finishes it and triumphantly gifts them back copies.

  • Children of Gaia: These are the closest thing to friends Bruce has among the Garou. They at least don’t automatically hold their noses at his presence, and even invite him to help at times. They’re the most willing to exchange lore, and have fewer problems with Rage. While Bruce isn’t sure if he can trust them, he’s always willing to hear them out on anything they need.
  • Red Talons: Bruce’s one meeting with a traveling Red Talon was not pleasant. He got the (correct) impression that the Talon wanted desperately to kill someone. This proved very much correct. He’d very much prefer not to meet another. Ever.
  • Get of Fenris: Bruce thinks they are much friendlier than they really are, mostly because his interactions with them have taken place mostly while both parties are drunk. They’ve had some wild hangovers together even if the Get considers him a freak who should be ignored.
  • Silent Striders: These uncommon guests cause no trouble and always thank him. He’s very pleased to have them, and they always leave swiftly in the morning.
  • Stargazers: The lone local Stargazer Bruce met was very friendly and shared a great deal of lore. Though withdrawn, he was gentle and seemed much more controlled than other Garou. That said, Bruce didn’t understand half of what he was saying and felt rather inadequate next to the werewolf’s considerable spiritual might.

 Vampires: Bruce realizes intellectually they are predatory no less than Garou, but that’s not what bothers him (they avoid killing as much as possible). Instead, his major problem is that nearly every vampire he’s met is a callous jackass for no reason. This partly the nature of the ones he’s met, but not entirely.

  • Brujah: The Brujah don’t come around as often as the Gangrel, but the have caused trouble and are the only Kindred he’s had to ask to leave. They were sufficiently rowdy as to attract police attention on a nuisance charge. They had all the manners of a rabid pit bull, but only about half the charm.
  • Gangrel: The Gangrel are Bruce’s most common visitor. He rolls out a welcome, with hot showers and a nice basement bedroom protected from the sun. They, in fact, are the ones responsible for bringing him to the attention of the Camarilla. They seem very unpleasant and hardly talk to him. Instead they simply show up unannounced (often at very late or very early hours) and expect a stay.
  • Toreador: The one Toreador Bruce met was very odd, and could not shut up about ballet the entire night. Bruce doesn’t entirely understand the clan divisions, but has a vague idea they are the “artist” clan or something. He’s rather leery of meeting any more, because the idea of blood-crazed art majors disturbs him greatly.
  • Ventrue: Bruce met a Ventrue investigating his home and person. This one at least didn’t remotely hide his reasons for coming and approached in a very businesslike manner, and gave the general impression it was a very bad idea to cross him. There was some honesty and surprising straightforwardness in that. Bruce didn’t trust the vampire, but he did feel safer around that one than any other supernatural. And it was only partly the result of Presence.

   Mages: Bruce greatly admires Mages, especially the way they effortlessly go far beyond the powers he has, without even having to try. To him, it’s downright incredible. He’d do almost anything for Mages or Sorcerers – they’re his heroes, able to play with reality itself like modeling clay. Of course, he doesn’t realize the true difficulty and cost of such things, nor the conflicts between the wielders of true magic. The divisions between them are fairly opaque.

 What they think of Bruce

   Kindred: The Kindred nearby consider Bruce a very handy resource, and one worth protecting as long as he doesn’t talk. They know that a traveling vampire is most vulnerable, and Bruce greatly eases that risk. As such, they’d prefer to keep him an ally at arm’s length. They haven’t shared any of their lore the way the lupines have. Note that only the Camarilla really knows who he is and how to use his services. The Sabbat, Giovanni, and Setites have only a vague idea he might exist, and the Anarchs stay away from the area.

  • Brujah: The Brujah enjoyed Bruce’s help much more than they let on, and might argue in his favor if it came down to that. They think it’s funny that he asked ancient undead predators of the night to not disturb the neighbors.
  • Gangrel: They think he’s not long for this world, although they appreciate his hospitality. They don’t realize their gruff demeanor is driving him away, because he always seems very friendly. They take advantage of his openness most often. They also don’t really comprehend how interested he is in their past and knowledge, simply because nobody else cares.
  • Tremere: They certainly watch the occult community for good prospects, but decided he’s vastly too limited to be of use. His talents lie in an area they rarely touch and which doesn’t greatly affect them, so as far as they are concerned he’s a waste. They don’t even want to associate with him, paranoid as they are about anyone learning their mystic secrets.
  • Ventrue: The nearby Camarilla prince decided Bruce has his uses and suggested the local Kindred leave him alone. Any Vampire who casually or pointlessly hurt Bruce would probably be punished for wasting a resource, but could easily persuade the Prince to drop the protection if needed. It’s only a matter of convenience for traveling Camarilla.
  • The Prince even considered Embracing Bruce himself to keep the Masquerade intact since the Tremere declined, but is not sure whether Bruce would adapt well. He also knows Bruce’s useful magic would likely be lost permanently. In any case, having a friendly (if not very discrete) and willing daytime assistant is very handy. The Prince wants him kept at arm’s length and has, through intermediaries, warned him about being too public.

 Garou: The local Garou generally consider Bruce a nuisance, tolerated for his usefulness and his willingness to help. Many assume he’s Kinfolk (which might even be true) and try to ignore his incredible spiritual talent. That doesn’t stop them from asking for favors or ‘borrowing’ money they don’t intend to repay in exchange for sharing stories and tidbits of lore, and they fail to realize just how knowledgeable he’s becoming. He can probably match even the best Garou loremasters already – a fact which would shock them if they learned of it.

  • Children of Gaia: The Children’s Elder is the most favorable to Bruce of the local Garou, and wants to keep the status quo for the moment. They are displeased by his contacts with the Vampires, but don’t wish to risk provoking a confrontation. The Children of Gaia know the Prince’s protection was recently bestowed and fear that killing a vampire in Bruce’s home, or allowing another Garou to hurt Bruce, would spark a horrible fight they might well lose.
  • Get of Fenris: It’s a good thing that Bruce doesn’t realize that the Get despise him, or worse. Some of their members actively think he is a threat, though not enough to anger the Children of Gaia. They dislike him because of his involvement with Vampires and Mages, which they fear may lead to attacks on the Caern.
  • Glass Walkers: They really don’t care. He’s not their concern, and he’s not remotely important. to them. If they are even aware of his existence, it is dim at best and probably consists of a few notes on noteworthy occultists in the city.
  • Shadow Lords: If the Get worry Bruce may cause trouble, the Shadow Lords enjoy the thought. Of course, they very much want to kill Bruce – the idea of a human competing with Garou for spiritual mastery disturbs them on levels they are unwilling to admit. It’s not what he’s done, but what he is, which undermines their view of the world. And being werewolves, their first instinct upon encountering contrary evidence is to destroy it. They want to make sure any such reprisal falls entirely upon the Children of Gaia and the Get, leaving them in a position to take over. Thankfully, they don’t know how connected Bruce is to the Mages and vampires, or things would get messy, fast.
  • Silent Striders: Since a hot meal and a warm bed are always welcomed by the Striders, they politely enjoy his hospitality and don’t stretch more than a day or two. They’re used to trading entertainment for a place to live, and are always free with him.
  • Stargazers: The Stargazer living around has plans for Bruce, although he hasn’t shared it. If a human can achieve such spiritual mastery (in his own unusual fashion), then perhaps there is hope for the Garou, too. Even more importantly, He realizes that Bruce’s Gift mastery may already be above that of the local Garou. If there is any way to use this to save his people, he very much wants to do so. And perhaps if the Garou are saved from themselves, then even his dwindling tribe has hope.
  • Uktena: Though the Uktena have few members nearby, they do keep tabs on Bruce, simply because they don’t entirely understand how a human can use this magic. He has never met them, but they know all about him, and watch for whatever spirits he might inadvertently pull down from the Umbra.

 Mages: The general lack of organization which prevails among the Mage traditions and sorcerers mostly prevents them from having any very specific opinions. While they recognize he has some unusual talents and great enthusiasm, they sneer privately at the narrow focus and pathetic range he displays. Sure, he can do some very potent things – but even a new-born mage or a half-trained sorcerer can do much, much more. To them, he’s another monotalent with little potential. Dozens of similar people harass them for advice and training, and none of them can possibly measure up. Bruce is no different than the rest.

  • Verbena: One Verbena in particular has an unusual interest in Bruce, although he (she? it?) remains extremely subtle about it. Having heard about Bruce’s talent and wanting to investigate the Garou anyway, this shape-shifting master of life even invited Bruce to borrow his talents. Bruce did so, and with a passing wish to be younger nearly de-aged himself back into childhood. The Mage had to act quickly to keep Bruce from going back to nursery school. As it is, Bruce is twenty years younger and could easily go back to high school. The ability to copy an Avatar’s enlightenment, however temporary, is nothing to sneeze at, and the Verbena wants to see just how far Bruce can go with his talents.
  • Order of Hermes (Sorcerers): These masters of traditional magic are the majority, and probably the biggest power bloc, in the Order of Hermes. The Mages have almost entirely withdrawn to the spirit realms, leaving the real power in the hands of paradox-immune Sorcerers. They are aware of Bruce, and think of him as a sad case of what happens with a talented individual has no training or assistance. To them, he’s wasted his ability on attempting to re-invent the wheel. He did well in his own way, but the effort he invested can never produce the same results of learning from others.

 hat should be enough hooks to run a campaign on. If that’s not enough, I don’t know what could possibly be short of his own novella. Note that these notes are not character advantages: Bruce doesn’t get to use these elements at his whim. They’re just giving dozens of hundreds of ways to involve him or build stories big and small about.

   The player could easily drive hooks forward, too, focusing on magical research. After all, the major differences vampires and humans are that vampires are undead – and must face off against their own internal Rage which animates them. And isn’t it very interesting that a vampire, even a deeply spiritual and enlightened one who constantly does good, always triggers Wyrm-sensing talents by Garou? This notion might not appeal to werewolves if they realized their Rage might be a poisoned gift, tainted at its true source (and some sourcebooks support this idea).

   Major projects mostly include continuing to rebuilding his business for detective work, finding people is very easy for him. Following his rejuvenation, he lost most of his assets. It was all he could do to get a new legal ID, claiming a computer error crossed him up with an older relative with the same name. He wants his damn house back – the bank is too busy with other foreclosures to get around to claiming it, but that won’t last long.

   He’s working on creating the aforementioned book of Garou lore, and would like to continue with a vampire lore book as well. God help the world if he decides to start looking for Caine or other Antediluvians – he’d probably find them!

   Bruce is planning to contact a pack totem and attempt to to persuade it to adopt him as the whole “pack”. He’s chosen a Bear sprit. While a totem of War, its gifts are oriented more towards healing the scars of battle. The Gift of Mother’s Touch is invaluable to Garou, and the medicine bonus would help as well. Sadly, he doesn’t have sufficient backgrounds devoted to it yet, but will work hard to improve this.

   His sickness could be a hook or just a tidbit explaining his very off-balance attributes. Who knows where it might lead – perhaps he’s somehow picked up a bit of harmful Rage or lunar association from spirits confusing him with a Garou. Or, perhaps someone has been dosing him with vampire blood intermittently (to Bloodbind him?), leading him to go in and out of ghoulhood. It might be some kind of Umbral sickness a werewolf can’t contract, or an attempt by the Wyrm or some other evil spirit to harm or control him. Could the rejuvenation somehow be killing him?]

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