"Why're y'all so picky about were-thing infection?"
Well, a few reasons. One of which being that if it was -that- easy to get infected, most of the world's population would be were-things. Obviously, since that's not the case, something as simple as a were-thing biting their lip, drinking from a glass, and someone else drinking from that glass isn't going to be any risk at all. Most were-thing infections take place due to the infector shifting and tearing folks and things apart due to the general stress and hunger brought about by the shift. Now, most folks who run into a frenzying were-thing aren't going to survive the encounter if the were-thing can even touch them. So, this tends to lead to the were-thing being killed by "something" before they can do more than half-maul the infectee if the infectee is to survive the encounter.
The books mention another way is to have it be blood-borne due to screwy transfusions. Now, I'm pretty sure that the doctors and nurses in the AnitaVerse aren't utter fools, so they must test 100% of the blood and treat it with silver to snuff any active lycanthropy viruses that might be within. It's pretty darn rare something would slip by, and when it -does- slip by the standards it's pretty much "headline news" (often leading to the hospital being closed, doctors being sued, etc..). It'd take about half a pint of blood or so to work over, and even then one might get offed if it's not the right blood-type. Drinking half a pint of infected blood (and somehow not vomiting it up) is another way, but rather icky (and good luck finding a were-thing willing to donate that much blood just so someone can get their DogBoy kicks).
"I don't want my vampire/were-thing character to be a push-over and a sex-slave for the alphas and masters, so why are you still trying to get me to take a normal one?"
Alpha were-things and master vampires aren't very common. Estimates peg them at around 10%-15% of their populations. Now, most all of the preter main characters in the books are masters or alphas, but well.. they're main characters. Given the genre of the books, it wouldn't make for a solid story to have Richard and/or JC get kicked out of office by some upstart a couple of books later. So, Richard and JC are pretty much "off the charts" when it comes to playable characters. Even Jason's rather pushing it for someone who could "play well with others" in terms of relative power (noting that there really should be non-preter others who can kill the preter with some good planning and supplies).
Also because of this Main Character Syndrome, it stands to reason that the alpha/master main characters shouldn't be pushed around by the secondary characters. Thus, the master/alpha preters in the books are pretty solid about the normal preters (if you'll pardon the oxymoron) being below them and not doing much. This might make for a good book, but it makes for a lousy game. It's like if it were a military-based RPG -- Although the non-officers have to listen to what they're told by the officers, that doesn't mean they can't get out and do things on their own (both productive things and anarchical things). If one feels that an alpha/master preter is the only way to be productive in-game, then well.. I suggest you find another game.
"Now that a Belle vampire has brought my character over, do I have to get all freaky and randy?"
Not really, no. Vampires tend to pick folks who'd do well as the same Bloodline that they are, since a bad match often leads to the new vampire killing themselves out of self-loathing. So, Belle vampires tend to go for folks who're pretty, or sultry, or are painters, etc.. folks whose natural aptitudes help out what innate knacks come with the particular bloodline. So, just because one can gain powers as a Belle vampire (be it a normal one or a master one) that will help out acting skanky, it doesn't mean that one suddenly has to start sleazing around the place like a sailor on shore-leave.
Yes, there's that whole Ardeur thing going on in the books, but that was more a device to have Anita be presented with a slew of things that go against her typical character. It may have helped that story along (or not, depending on the reader's tastes), but it really would get pretty tiresome if every single Belle vampire ended up needing saltpeter and cold showers for the first few months of undeath. As such, no; No PC Belle vampire "has" to go with that Ardeur affair. If one wants to feed off randy emotions, there's the Alternate Feeding power, but no-one really "has" to have their vampire character end up all randy and weird.
"Now that a were-thing has infected me, do I have to make out with them to 'follow tradition'?"
As above (with how normal preters can and should actually try go get somewhere in-game, and the Belle-bit), no. Not really. Some were-things like the fact that they became a were-thing so they lapse in a lot of their normal human instincts. Many were-things find the whole "critter instinct" thing that comes with the package pretty darn creepy and avoid it all they can. As with vampires, there are many suicides due to someone hating the thing they've become. The trouble is, those who tend to rise in office are those who tend to get carried away by their critter-instincts, so a number of odd critter-habits carry through into "formal ceremony". Just note that although there are often a few "formal ceremony" things that can be touchy-feely, it's not about sex or anything along those lines - no more than a handshake or the European "kiss around the face" thing. It's far more about scent than anything else, so it should appease the person if you rub your fingers behind your ear and let them smell your fingers if you don't ICly care for having near-strangers snuffle around your neck.
"How is this different from World of Darkness RPG?"
Other than the fact that were-things are a disease and not a half-spirit sub-species of humanity and that there are different types of vampires than WoD has? Well, the biggie is that the Masquerade started to crumble a few centuries ago, was shattered when the Pope publicly denounced vampires in 1809 or so, and finally vampires residing in America were given citizenship status in 1993.
Pretty much take WoD but imagine that they never did a good job with the Masquerade. Things like the Camarilla and Sabbat may've existed at one point, but they've been rendered moot for the last two hundred years since everyone knows about vampires and folks are more than happy to hunt them down if they start to tear into the general population. Since our were-things don't have the spiritual aspect that Garou and Bete shifters do, there's no "Tribes" or "Nations" or "Courts" like WoD Shapeshifters have (although most every shifter-type has a variation on the Ratkin "Blood Memory", which is pretty nifty). It's usually not even passed genetically, and rarely does the person passing it on survive the encounter of passing, so there's a lot more clueless were-things trying to make it on their own in this world than in WoD's setting.
"Why do the game mechanics work with 'poses' instead of something normal like rounds or turns or segments?"
You wouldn't believe how many folks we have playing at Windy City who've never touched a d12 or consulted a To-Hit chart. So many of them are used to the modern invention of Statless Free-Form RP that it's like pulling teeth to get them to do anything like the normal RPG that've been around since the 1970s. To that end, the common convention of in-game time-quanta just doesn't seem to fly and a more easier benchmark is to use poses. Since it's pretty much agreed what's "too much action" for a pose (answering a phone? Sure. Making an entire phone call? No), it makes a handy unit.
"These Fae are nothing like the Merry Gentry folks; What's up with that?"
Could be because we're mostly AnitaVerse and not MerryVerse?
Long ago and far away, Atropos asked if Urania and I could work up a Fae-thing (since they exist in AnitaVerse according to "Bloody Bones" and other books) and it seemed best to use the "Common Fae" from the MerryVerse books as the template. Even if we were to have MerryVerse and not AnitaVerse, we'd probably still have the "No Sidhe" rule since to allow Sidhe is just to make the normal fae look useless. So, your dreams of a Sidhe Princess who was the basis of the Goddess Athena are right out until someone opens a MerryVerse MU*.
"I never see any sphere-staff on when I'm around, it's just code or building staff. Can I run plots of my own? Even ones that might affect unsuspecting other characters?"
Yes! Oh my, yes! All we ask is that you +bbpost to 10 beforehand if you want to enlist random folks from the player-base, and that you ask staff beforehand if there's anything that might violate our canon (EG: If your player-run-plot depends on vampires being killed by a sunlight-frequency artificial light, that goes against the IC reality we've established.. ..and no-one likes having to work up retroactive continuity), and that you make any +bbposts to Media concerning things other folks could notice (and/or +rumors, and/or posts to the Rumours +bboard), and that you let staff know how it turned out (so we can do the XP thing, and to make sure it was all on the up and up).
"Aren't we a consent MU*? Aren't we a no-consent MU*?"
I always get what either of these terms mean mixed up. One has it so you can walk into a bar and shoot another player in the head, one has it so you can't get anything done that isn't all happy and fuzzy and rainbows and sunbeams.
The way we have it is that you can start to do just about anything your character wants to do. If it could prompt mental/physical trauma for another character, toss a +warn their way. If they don't pose something that shows their character is trying to avoid that situation, feel free to take the white kid gloves off and get cracking.
But! If they've already been ICly warned not to do something, and they do that something anyway? It's as if they've been +warned. The cop-characters aren't going to +warn everyone on-grid that IC murder can get them arrested -- it's a given that such illegal things can lead to bad results. Sticking around a were-thing that's in critter form is another "You -know- this can't be good!" situation. Violating a simple and legal order given by the MotC is a quick trip to seeing the bottom of Lake Michigan with some fresh new cement shoes.
It really helps to check folks' +finger information every so often, and even more helpful when it's done before wandering over to where-ever they are on-grid.
"What's up with pregnancy and interspecies relations?"
Well, when a mommy vampire and a daddy vampire love each other verrrry much..
By the books a vampire can knock someone up if they're recently dead due to 'stored fluids'. This is, quite frankly, absurd. We're fine with a little biological processing going on here and there as the body gets used to undeath, but it's pretty silly to think it could maintain such living cells. If one is attempting to have a male vampire impregnate another character, it'd be best to check with staff since it's awfully unlikely to happen (and expect "no" to be the answer). Female vampires are effectively infertile due to their bodies having no real bloodflow between dawn and dusk.
Male were-things have a lower fertility rate than normal folks due to the increased body temperature. This is further complicated by orgasm often prompting a shift (which means they'll tear apart the nearest living thing, which means the date's over). Other than the impotence and potential murder, sex is mostly the same for them. For female were-things, there's the same orgasm complication, and their bodies really can't support a growing fetus due to the preternatural healing and occasional shifting. So again, males have issues and females won't produce accidental kids (funny, see a trend?).
Fae can pretty much get it on like anyone else; fae really annoy biologists since they're blatantly not homo sapiens, yet they can produce viable offspring with humans (which spoils the definition of "species"). If a fae isn't close enough to human to produce kids, they're also not human enough to catch diseases (like lycanthropy) nor to feed vampires.
Ghouls, ghosts, and zombies can't get it on with anything since they're, well.. really dead. Trolls, gargoyles, dragons, and lake monsters? They're like normal critters (other than being darn weird).
"Does someone have to be submissive pre-attack to make a Non-Alpha werething?"
No. Actually, not at all. In talking with some folks about the idea, this came up as an example:
Let's say you have Private Pete and Officer Oscar, both in the same company of some armed forces division. A were-thing breaks in while Oscar is overseeing PFC Pete peeling onions, and mauls them before they can shoot it dead. Both catch lycanthropy, Pete comes through as an alpha were-thing, Oscar comes through as a normal were-thing. Can Oscar no longer order Pete around?
Answer is.. yes Oscar can order him around! Very much so. It's pretty much the same situation as if you had some weak scrawny 4'6" tall Officer and a burly muscle-bound 6'6" tall Private. The private is rather intimidating, but that doesn't mean the officer can't still order them around. Just like with vampires, what they were like before things went screwy has nothing to do with the amount of preternatural oomph that they have (IE: Power) nor if they're an Uber-Preter or a normal non-weird preter (IE: Alpha/Master or Normal).
An object lesson to point to for this is that some preters out there think they're better than humans. If they could tell who'd make a powerful preter beforehand, wouldn't they be chomping/mauling folks who will produce masters/alphas so they could gather forces and take over the world? And even if it wasn't to take over the world, most of the uber-types have a wider range of abilities than the normal types, so wouldn't a pack of all alphas set up in various ranks make more sense than a pack of 90% normal were-things and 10% alpha were-things? Since alphas are in the distinct minority, it's a safe assumption that it's random (but the milquetoast uber-types tend to be killed by the go-getter normal-types, so it just seems like the uber-types have 'dominant' personalities).
"I'm the leader of a group of were-things and I'd like my main squeeze to be my Lupa/Regina/Nimir-thing. Will they just get upgraded to an alpha once they're appointed?"
To paint a metaphorical picture, if a rat marries a mouse, does that suddenly make the mouse a rat?
As is pointed out by Anita when dealing with the biker-bar thugs in Obsidian Butterfly, "Lupa" usually means the female alpha lukoi under the Ulfric, often 2nd in command of the pack. But that's just "usually" -- It can also just be whomever the Ulfric is dating (be they an alpha shifter, a non-alpha shifter, a regular non-shifter, or whatever). Much the same way as in the United States government, the Lupa is rather comparable to the First Lady in terms of power; the First Lady is really just the president's wife so she doesn't have any formal authority, but it's a bad idea to not show her a ton of respect as if she were in an authority position.
Oh, and as per killing the Lupa so you can take her position? Imagine if you had the hots for some person in charge, so you killed their spouse. Might work when living in the woods with sticks in your hair and mud between your toes, but constitutes pre-meditated murder when in the city (and even a failed bid might result in both the Ulfric and the Lupa having you arrested for assault with deadly preternatural force) .
And another thing...if you made a normal vampire/shifter in CharGen and didn't work out if they could possibly become a master/alpha in the future? Don't count on it. Even if you hit Power:35/25, that won't do it unless you had staff approve it before you were on-grid (and got a note about it, in case your +approving staff has been replaced in the months/years between your approval and the power-level attainment). It's not a race with the non-master/alphas as the also-rans. If you feel you can't get anywhere as a normal preter, we can suggest many other MU* you might rather play on.
"So what's up with silver and various preter-types?
As pointed out before, this isn't WoD. As such, silver has a marked effectiveness against both were-things and vampires. For both, their normal boosted strength and stamina really doesn't help against silver, with silver-coated weapons being just as effective as solid silver ones. Even silvered chains hold them as well as chains would hold a normal being, demonstrating that it involves magic and not a form of mundane physics. Although simple contact with silver doesn't cause vampires any undue physical stress, were-things often find it slightly disturbing; it isn't painful (like it is with were-things in WoD) but instead just is constantly reminding them of its presence, not unlike having an electric toothbrush in contact with yourself.
Damage done with silver (or silvered) weapons heals at the same rate that it would've if the target were mortal instead of preternatural. Due to this, piercings are often left to just be "attached" as the skin heals itself around them, locking them in place. Normally this could lead to infection, but given that vampires and were-things are beyond such things, it's rarely a problem.
Interestingly, silver has almost the opposite effect on the fae, assisting their abilities. If a fae has any sort've aggressive magics, a shot with s silver bullet can easily multiply and compliment their powers (to the surprise and dismay of the shooter). This has led many preternatural researchers to theorize that the initial curses of lycanthropy and vampirism were products of the fae, the silver siphoning out a touch of the curse and allowing the original mortal aspects to come into play (thus, normal healing and damage resistance instead of preternatural healing and stamina).
"I've heard someone say that "X" does "Y", but the books say otherwise. This means they're wrong, right?"
Wrong, maybe. Long ago and far away, the game was opened by Atropos and pals in late August of 2002. Since then, events have happened in-game and new books have been released in the series. Obviously, sometimes the in-game events might contradict what turned up in those later books. When faced with that sort've situation it's best to go with what's been established in-game instead of tossing previously established RP out the window.
Case in point would be a person who sustained an injury that severed their spine, costing them mobility and sensation in their legs and lower body. After infection with Lycanthropy, the first shift brought about a repair of that damage, which is hard to say if canon would agree or not. This degree of repair might not happen for everyone in that situation, but it nevertheless can happen.
Another example would be a non-master vampire who remained unoathed to any master vampires for at least 4 years (perhaps far longer) in-game without negative effects. In a post-2002 book, LKH had characters concerned about unoathed Church of Eternal Life vampires going wild, but since there is an in-game example that proves that concern wrong, we go with what we have established (although a newly brought over vampire still often needs to have an oath made to prevent them from getting out of hand).
Yet another example would be Animators and Necromancers raising murder victims as zombies? Post 2002 books claim it shouldn't be done since the zombie will go on a rampage, trying to avenge its death. Earlier books say that a zombie can't even remember its own death, though. For this, we go with the pre-2002 setup.
In fact, many game details about vampires are interpretations of what might be the "in book fact" that the in-book characters may or may not know -- Although master vampires tend to be the ones who bring other folks over, non-master vampires do have a chance of doing the same. The basis of the "Master-Only" rumor is that a normal vampire runs a risk of making a new vampire too powerful to keep from running amok as well as the risk of just having the target up and die instead of being made vampiric. Due to that risk, many master vampires brainwash those that they bring over to make them believe that it is impossible (instead of just unwise).
If you're not sure about it, please feel free to ask staff. If you know what book you're getting your information from? That's always handy. Being able to cite Book and Chapter will help sort things out (for both you and for when staff are asked about it by someone else).
"Aren't Master Vampires necessary for non-Master Vampires to wake?"
Nope for three reasons:
1) If that were the case, someone killing the MotC and not assuming the office (either due to refusing, or due to not being a vampire) would wipe out the entire MotC-aligned vampire population for that area. Pretty sure that would've made headlines in Vampire Hunter Weekly and it would have become standard practice to just gun for the MotC instead of picking off vampires one by one.
2) If that were the case, vampire staff would have to send all the vampire PCs a @mail, "Oh, the MotC's dead, so your character's effectively dead. Have fun in CharGen!" Pretty sure that wouldn't be too fun.
3) We've had a few instances over the years of the MotC being dead and/or gone, and the vampire PCs weren't sent the above-imagined @mail.
...that said, it wouldn't be surprising if a number of MotCs in the past had put the hoodoo on those blood-sworn to them, making it seem like they couldn't rise until the MotC gave the go-ahead, thus extending the myth.
"I want to be a were-panther! Or a white were-tiger! Can I?"
For those of you who were not aware of it, there actually is no such species of creature as a "panther". Panther is a general term for great-cats with a high enough level of melanin that they have black coloration, often applied to leopards with this arrangement. The traditional Jungle Book style panther would be more accurately called a "black leopard", but for the purposes of this discussion, we'll just call them panthers.
As mentioned, panthers aren't a type of critter. And were-things are able to turn into various types of critters. Just like how a were-dingo couldn't turn into a giant albino dingo unless their normal human form was already an albino, technically someone can't turn into a melanin-heavy leopard unless their human form was already melanin-heavy (That is to say, "black").
The trouble is, we have a character of Caucasian European heritage who turns into a panther in-game who has been +approved for over one thousand days, and there is a character in the books who has a similar arrangement. In light of this, the staff have reached a compromise.
Most (if not all) of the instances of lycanthropy can be traced back from maulee to mauler until you reach someone who was cursed to turn into a critter by the light of the full moon. Our theory is that long ago and far away, some curser pointed at a cursee and stated, "By the light of the full moon, you shall turn into...a panther!!" Technically, the curse was to not only turn into a leopard but also a leopard with high-melanin levels. Most were-leopard curse-target folks were cursed to turn into a leopard though, and it just happened that since it wasn't specified as "non-panther-looking leopard", then they might turn into common spotted-leopards or black-leopards, depending on what they were like pre-curse (and their victims, pre-infection).
What this means is that there can be Caucasian folks who turn into were-panthers, but they cannot produce non-black were-leopards by mauling folks -- they shall continue the "panther" curse (which both Caucasians and non-Caucasians could have going on). If someone who already had high melanin levels is mauled by a normal were-leopard though, they shall appear to become a were-panther (and if they maul any Caucasian folks, those folks would appear to become a were-leopard). Don't be surprised if you're one of the folks in the first group and your +sheet suddenly switches to "panther" instead of "leopard" at some point in the near future.
And before anyone asks? Were-ligers and were-tigrons, although nifty, are right out. Same for were-mules, were-zonkeys, were-zorses, etc..
"There's some were-things talking about 'their beast' doing things; What beast?"
It comes up a few times in the books where a shifter talks about 'their beast' doing things with other shifters; generally, 'their beast' is either placating someone or trying to stomp someone down. Our take on this is that it's basically a matter of shifters having low-level Empathy between each other. For example, if one shifter thinks heavy "sit down and shut up" thoughts towards another, the target'll pick up on it (but might not act on it, unless cowed by Dominate).
Some folks who run things in the AnitaVerse setting have it more metaphysical than metaphorical, going so far as to have shifters' beasts chase each other's tails and roll around in fields of daisies making "Yiff! Yiff!" sounds. We instead take it far more metaphorical than metaphysical, chalking it up to just being able to broadcast an emotional subtext, lacking any real information or imagery.
If one ever wanted to cross the Anita Blake setting with either World of Darkness RPG, the 'Hollows' series of books, or the 'Harry Dresden' series of books, then one could easily have shifters' spirit forms traipsing about in the Penumbra or the EverAfter or the NeverNever. For better or for worse, we don't.
"Doesn't a stake in the heart just incapacitate a vampire?"
No. It incapacitates them about as much as it would if you did it to a normal human person (IE: It's deadly. Dead-dead deadly). Some modern supernatural RPGs (like World of Darkness, and maybe NightLife) and books and comics have it so a stake through a vampire's heart just makes them cache out for a while until the stake is removed, but in our setting it will up and kill a vampire due to interrupting the blood flow, unless the staked vampire can somehow quickly heal the damage before they die-die.
If you need a retroactive 'cop out' to cover why your character might have thought it'd just incapacitate a vampire? Let's say a number of high-ranking vampires have made a practice of not just telling an ill-behaved vampire to stay in a coffin for a few weeks/months/years/decades, but have gone so far as to nail the incarcerated vampire into the coffin with a long spike through each lung. That way, if the pegged vampire tries to talk or otherwise move about, it'll tear open a sucking wound in each lung, preventing them from vocalizing. Some people who were aware of this practice related it as "they run stakes through bad vampires' chests", which was corrupted into the idea of one stake per vampire, which was corrupted into the idea of that one stake going right through the heart-center of the chest.