Q: So can I start your game as a Vampire?
A: No. All player-characters in Walpurgis begin as ordinary mortals.
Q: Why? That's dumb.
A: No, letting everyone start out as a Vampire is dumb, because it will lead to a city totally saturated by vampires with no living, breathing mortals to actually feed on, manipulate, use as proxies in their schemes, etc. The end result of this is a stagnant game of all predators and no prey. Players who design their characters as Vampires often design them around specific Clans, Disciplines, etc., which leads to flat and uninteresting characters with no personality.
Mortals have much more interesting lives, by the way.
Q: Wait, what? You think regular humans are more interesting? But this is a Vampire game!
A: Yeah. Consider the way the Danse Macabre works. Elder Vampires have survived for centuries by being supremely cautious. They don't want to risk their Requiems on rivalries, so they use intermediaries to do their bidding. They're like chess players sitting at the board, directing their assets against each another, and for self-preservation's sake they keep themselves as far away from the action (i.e. risk of destruction) as they can. So on a night to night basis, their lives are pretty boring.
Q: I guess that makes sense, but…
A: But when a slight verbal barb between Elders in Elysium translates to an explosive multiple homicide and an Embrace two weeks later, who do you think is on the front lines?
Q: Mortals and ghouls, I guess.
A: Yup. They're the ones who get to see all the interesting stuff!
Q: Okay. I still want to start out as a Vampire, though.
A: Too bad. Letting you start out as a Vampire is actually depriving you of the most interesting aspects of the system. You don't get to experience the wonder and horror of the Embrace. You don't get to have a close, personal, organic relationship to your Sire. You don't get to learn the ins and outs of Vampire politics (which are difficult and complicated) while you're on your way up. Those are literally the best parts of Vampire, and you're asking me if you're allowed to skip them. The answer is no—for your own good!
Q: Well, can I start with Professional Training / Pyrokinesis / Unseen Sense / Other Banned Merit?
Q: What the hell? Are you just trying to make every character into some boring human who can't do anything special? This is stupid.
A: What's stupid is a game full of psychic superheroes with trenchcoats full of katanas and sawn-off shotguns using their min-maxed combat stats to do backflips off of motorcycles while throwing mystical fireballs. If everyone is a unique snowflake, then nobody is. Allowing supernatural Merits causes people to base their entire character concepts around them, leaving them little more than boring two-dimensional cut-outs who behave nothing like real people. And don't even get me started on Professional Training, which is the most poorly designed Merit in the entire Chronicles of Darkness system.
Q: Fine. Can I play a werewolf?
A: You can't start the game as one, but if you're a Patron at the Wolf Tier, you can begin the game as a Wolf-Blooded character who has a chance (but not a guarantee) to First Change.
Q: Can I sub to your Patreon for a month, get my werewolf character, and then cancel my subscription?
A: Yeah, that's fine. You can keep your wolf-blooded or werewolf character, and you can still play them just like before. But keep in mind two things.
First, what you're actually paying for with your donation is access to a persistent storyline which is tailored uniquely to the werewolf pack. I won't exclude you from storylines just because you dropped your sub, but I won't be putting in the time to design anything new for you, or to cater to your character, either. So, since you're part of a more exclusive group, you might have a hard time getting involved with other players and you might end up bored.
Second, if your PC dies (all PCs have a high likelihood of death here), you won't be able to create another wolf-blooded unless you sub again.
Q: What about Mages?
A: Same thing, but you need to sub on the Patreon as Awakened Tier. All the same considerations apply.
Q: And there's a "Blood Tier" to increase your chances of getting Embraced too? This all seems a bit "pay to win."
A: First of all, if you think of having sweet supernatural powers as "winning," you are probably not going to enjoy playing here. Second, while the Blood Tier does give PCs more of a priority for the Embrace, they are still not guaranteed, and it is very much still possible to get Embraced without paying a cent.
This is a Vampire-centric game, so Vampire and mortal characters get the most opportunity for interaction with other players. The Werewolf and Mage options are designed for people who want a more close-knit, intimate experience with a handful of other players and the ST. Werewolves and Mages have their own unique strengths, obviously, but they're not straight upgrades over Vampire characters.
Q: Seems greedy. You should just let people play what they want to play without having to pay for it.
A: My goal here is to provide deep and interesting storylines which are tailored to my players. Crafting those storylines takes a lot of time and effort on my part, and I really can't justify doing all that I'd like to do for free. I could cut all the Werewolf and Mage content, and just run a pure Vampire game while only investing spare time to run things when I feel like it, but that's essentially what you're getting if you don't become a Patron. The extras are just that—extras. If you don't like them, ignore them. Please hold on to your money until you decide you're happy with the game and want to support it!
Q: Okay, but it still seems like you're just trying to limit everyone's options and powers so you can have your NPCs walk all over everyone while claiming the game is "difficult" and then charge people money to get strong enough to handle themselves.
A: Not at all. When I say this game is difficult, I am not talking about enemies all having maxed out combat stats. In fact, remember what I said before about intermediaries? Most often, when PCs come into conflict with an NPC Kindred, it's not the actual vampire they face: it's that vampire's servants. That means mortals, ghouls, and the occasional neonate. In other words, combat-wise, everyone's on more or less equal footing.
The only NPCs who really have great traits are the vampires who have been ruling the city for hundreds of years and to whom your average mortal or neonate poses no meaningful threat. This is as it should be. It's not impossible for a PC to take over the entire city, but such an effort would require months, if not years, of scheming and preparation. And you'd have to be really, really clever to usurp the Prince and get away with it.
Q: So what do you mean by "difficult," then?
A: I mean that storylines in Walpurgis involve making genuinely difficult decisions and enduring legitimately challenging trials. Things aren't black and white here. Encounters aren't amusement-park rides. There are no "trash mobs" that are served up as easy kills for experience points. NPCs have their own goals, behave like real people, and don't exist purely to help you. PCs are not babied with kid gloves, and are not given any special treatment.
What this means is that if you earned something here, you fought for it, and you'll have to keep fighting to hang on to it. If a PC here is a veteran badass, it's because she has survived long enough to become one. She has probably endured terrible hardships which have shaped her, damaged her, and left her with scars that won't ever heal. Most characters won't make it that far, but the few who do will be truly unique and memorable.
Q: I'm still not sure what you mean. Can you give me an example?
A: Sure. Let's say you're a newly-Embraced vampire. You've spent the past weeks and months hanging out with other players in the game, interacting with NPCs, and developing a circle of friends. When you were finally picked for the Embrace, you were chosen over another PC, but you promised that character that you'd look out for him and try to get him admitted to the new inner circle to which you are now privy.
Your new Sire has other ideas, though. As it turns out, your friend is being vetted by another Kindred for the Embrace—and that Kindred is your Sire's rival. As such, you're now tasked with finding some way to make sure this Embrace doesn't happen. But your friend is already keen, and really likes the Kindred NPC who is eyeing him.
So, what do you do? Do you betray your friend to increase your reputation with your Sire? Do you turn your back on your Sire and risk his wrath? Or do you try to find some third solution, such as taking your friend on as a ghoul, or trying to find a different Sire for him? None of these choices is "correct." No matter what you decide, you're going to make an enemy of someone. But that's the point: such a storyline forces you to decide what's important to your character. Do you value Status, or friendship? That's what real conflict is—and conflict is the essence of all good storytelling.
Hope you learn to enjoy it.