From WoD Gotham
This particular article covers suggestions on what things to pay particular attention to when designing your Garou character, what sort of complexities to expect (we are hosting a very mature venue, so fully rounded characters are expected), and what sorts of common trends we warn against (as they've crept up sufficient frequency for us to go out and address them).
Key Werewolf: The Apocalypse Themes in World of Darkness: Gotham
Caught Between Worlds
Garou in many ways are about "not belonging". It's a very specific sort of angst.
This extends to family, where their Rage is always a very real, constant risk to their relatives, lovers, offspring, and friends. Life for those closest to the Garou is always spent walking on eggshells as at any time their Garou loved one could be set off at the slightest provocation to tragic and often fatal consequences.
They are part spirit, but not really at home among spirits either. Gaian spirits are allied with them, but little ever comes for free. Chiminage is very much an important aspect to Garou life. Whilst spirits are very much friends and allies to the Garou, they do have their demands as well. Sometimes, cooperation ("please empower this new talen or fetish I made...") is not easily come by. Most often, the very nature and motives of spirits are alien to the Garou.
Garou walk the harsh path of being only a home unto themselves. A part of two worlds, but never will they truly belong to either. They are all conflicted, tragic heroes.
The only beings most likely to truly understand them are other Garou. But here too solace is limited as Garou are limited in the ways to express intimacy among their own kind. Thus, their closest allies - their packmates - are also the most distant loves. And therein lies one of their greatest tragedies, as seeking close companionship in a fellow Garou is courting social ostracism and breaking with the Litany. For a creature so heavily reliant on social ties, this prospect is terrifying and heartwrenching.
Emotions run very strong with Garou. This doesn't mean that they should be played as suffering from bi-polar disorder. Just remember that Garou are much more likely to throw in everything including the kitchen sink when they feel. Everything is amplified. This can be a blessing at times, but remember that this is truly a World of Darkness and Harano is something that is a very real danger to Garou. Whilst few can measure up to the raw passion a Garou is capable of, so is their anger equally the stuff of legend.
Garou are arrogant. Arrogance is perhaps the most important theme and obstacle the Garou face and one that you will see over and over again in the Chronicle. The greatest blunders in the legends of the Garou are due to their arrogance: The War of Rage, Impergium, Croatan, Bunyip, White Howlers, etc. The list is long. Their arrogance leads to extreme stubbornness as many Garou cling to outmoded traditions, cultural practices, and laws. They are so fervent in their beliefs that most tribes refuse to adapt or learn from past mistakes. This is an ever present theme in WtA and it's one of the great sources of conflict that makes RPing Werewolf: The Apocalypse so fun.
These Garou see themselves as heroes. And they are, or rather, they can be. Most fight the good fight as they see it and each tribe has their own view. One man's hero is the next man's terrorist, to paraphrase the saying.
There are many views among the Garou Nation as to what is "the right way", and few agree with each other. Some are so firm in their views and so certain of their own authority, that they become obsessed with subjugating other Garou and tell themselves that they do it to protect Gaia. Burdened with this sort of discord, the greater Garou Nation often enough finds its members at each others throats more often than it is united against an enemy.
Is there such a thing as one "true way"? One "true answer"? Does your character have (or does he believe he has) such? This is a valid question to be asking yourself while creating your character and throughout its lifespan in game.
Keep in mind, to call Garou fanatics would not be wrong. Few things any Garou does are half-hearted and they have more in common with religious and political extremists than what many players like to admit.
In World of Darkness: Gotham, our Werewolf: The Apocalypse campaign seeks to turn preconceived notions of the game on its head. We are about core principles, rather than assumptions, metaplot, and exceptions found in splats. Garou cosmology is not set in stone. Player characters will have to work out their own theories and their own take on the nature of the Triat, the Mother, and the Umbra. Keep in mind that no Garou has seen the Triat or the Mother. What they feel they feel deeply and instinctively. However, at the end of the day the nature of these things is a matter of oral tradition, culture, tribe, belief, etc. and all based heavily on opinions rather than on proven certitudes.
For a complete guide to role playing Rage see: Rage
For a complete guide to role playing Gnosis see: Gnosis
Long has the time passed that Garou could "just go Crinos" and sort things out. This is the time of 24/7 CCTV in one of the most heavily CCTV saturated cities in the world. This is the time of mobile phone cameras and viral videos. Now, more than ever, Garou have to be inventive and rely on subtlety. No longer can they "just fur up" and sort out whatever they face in the most brutal way possible and let the Delirium take care of the rest.
Cameras are just the tip of the iceberg. At even the genetic level, they are different from humans. A Crime Scene Investigator and forensic labs are a ever present threats to the Veil. For homids, even simple every day errands like trips to the doctor's or dentist's office need to be managed with care. Drilling out a cavity is a precarious proposition when the stress from the ordeal can cause a Garou to go ballistic. It also illustrates the critical role kin must play in supporting the True Born in delivering services to them and aiding in keeping the Veil safe on a daily basis.
More often than not, these mundane concerns and difficulties are trickier to navigate for Garou and the Veil than it is to combat Banes, Fomori and Black Spirals. Tread carefully!
Whilst each venue has "their" version of the Veil (a.k.a. "the Masquerade" / "The Rule of Shade"), it's so much easier for Garou to slip up. After all, it's not just conscious use of powers that bite them in the ass. Potentially, all it would take is a really bad day (and a Rage roll). In this age, more than ever, Garou need to figure out a way to control that power that makes them such great warriors.
Since our chronicle is set in the middle of NYC, the Veil and how your Garou relates to human society and navigates it is another key factor that should be considered while working on your character concept. The city is densely populated and there are few places in Manhattan which are completely free of witnesses.
Given to Extremes
Garou do not have "faith". They have certainty. They interact with spirits on a regular basis. They commune with their totems be it pack, sept or tribal and interact with them. They are granted strength and power by them. They feel Rage and their deep connection to Mother. All these experiences and feelings are real. More than that, they are an integral part of their daily lives.
This explains why Garou are so easily seen to be fanatical about their cause (be it for Gaia or for the Wyrm). And fanatical is not a word used loosely here. As far as Garou are concerned, they know and they can see the impact of their actions and the actions of others upon the material and spiritual world. Whether or not they understand the true nature of what they see and feel is up for debate as they all have their separate theories, folklore, legends, and tales among Garou tribes and septs. Not all of them can be right and indeed none of them have to be. They could all be very wrong.
As far as Garou are concerned, their struggle bears very real results and consequences. They do not (usually) fight for obscure concepts. They do not attack with fang and claw over a different definition of "how one should love one's neighbour", or other abstract constructs. No. They will fight, and often do - to the death, for something that has proven itself to be a true interpretation of the state of the physical and spiritual world.
Of course, certain elements might argue that the Garou have no way of knowing the truth and may be misinterpreting everything, but that way lies a very quick and painful beating. Which doesn't change the potential validity of the point any, but there you go - life isn't fair. Like most very fervent believers, any evidence to the contrary will be met with stiff and often violent resistance, rejected out of hand, or rationalized in a way that it fits within the existing Gaian framework of beliefs.
But at the end of the day, the Garou don't allow for those possibilities. This is why it is an apt analogy to equate them with fanaticism and religious extremism. The parallels are striking.
As players, it may be very hard to swallow this particular concept. Sympathizing with one's own character and seeing things from his eyes is very critical for a player. Some of these views on the face of them in this light might be very unsympathetic. No one wants to think of their character as a religious fanatic. However, Garou are not paper cutout heroes painted either black or white. There are so many shades of grey to each and every Garou. To ignore the unpleasant facts in favor of a more sterile and less conflicted set of heroes is to deny what is most interesting about the venue - the hard and tough questions for which there are no easy answers. It is contrary to the entire point of Werewolf: The Apocalypse which is and of itself is riddled with as many conflicts as the writers could possibly shove into it. This segways into our next item nicely.
At Odds With Everything
Garou are about conflict and the conflicts a Garou is exposed to are legion. They form some of the most heart wrenching and memorable moments among the many stories and legends of the Garou.
On the one hand, they love their mate above everything. Yet they have to tread carefully around them, as one single Rage filled episode can lead to a very dead spouse (not that a mauled one is much better).
A Garou's packmates are his closest loves, friends, and companions. Nothing binds as closely as a pack's ties. Even at the worst of times of internal strife, a pack's members can rely on each other. But for all of this, any strong sentiment cannot be easily expressed. Love between Garou is forbidden and Garou are some of the most primal and passionate creatures on the face of Gaia. Thus there is intense friction among those where one would naturally expect to be the easiest of unions.
As much as Garou don't belong to any one world, effectively every aspect of a Garou is fractious.
Conflict can be found in dealing with other auspices and even disagreements within the same auspice on how something should be done. There are pack-internal conflicts, inter-pack conflicts (be it due to a grudge, a perceived slight, or even just competition for Glory, Honour or a plethora of other reasons), conflicts among tribes, septs, breeds. The list goes on and on.
One could rightly say that Garou very much are manifestations of conflict.
Considering Tribe, Auspice, and Breed
Your character will have been raised by kinfolk and/or Garou of his tribe most likely -- and thus grown up with their particular tribe's customs, traditions, stories, likes and dislikes. Even if your character would've been effectively an orphan, by the time they've become Cliath (which you can guesstimate to take some 5+ years, from First Change to adulthood and the Rite of Passage), your character would've been taught not only what being Garou is about (as well as their Auspice), but also about their own tribe.
Remember that free Tribal Lore 2 you get to start isn't just there for needlessly making your character sheet appear more dot-filled. It's there to represent stuff that your character (and ideally - the player) should know about their own tribe.
Go read the tribe book for your intended tribe. There's no excuse not to and the revised tribe books are very good at getting across what each tribe is about. Just remember to toss out the metaplot crap and don't get too mired in the details. What you want to keep in mind is the main ideas behind the tribe and its culture and customs. Memorizing what famous tribe member killed X Wyrm minion back in the Middle Ages is not nearly as helpful as understanding that a tribe's members believe it is not only perfectly fine to attack other septs, but that it is their duty to do so and why.
So about stereotypes...
Your tribe will colour your character's psyche - it will not utterly define it. There aren't simply 5 carbon copies of Get Of Fenris - one for each auspice (or "1 carbon copy" for the entire tribe). The same is true for each tribe.
There are certain things that most (if not all) tribal members will have in common. That doesn't mean that two members of the same tribe (and heck - even the same tribe and auspice) can't be as different from each other as night and day.
Tribe does not overrule personality, but it will heavily influence it. No matter what, any Get of Fenris will respect strength. Just what form of strength is valued, is up to each individual Get. Any Black Fury (including male metis) are more likely to get pissed off about some off-colour sexual remark concerning women from a male sept/pack member (or even a member of the public) than they would about some sexist remark about the male half of the population.
No Red Talon is ever going to become enchanted with technology and have some cybertech implanted. That's just not what the tribe is about.
There are strong influences among each tribe - and you should be aware of those. This doesn't mean however that your character should be a cardboard cutout of their tribe. This means that not every Shadow Lord out there is just waiting for the first opportunity to stab the running Alpha in the back with a secret silver teaspoon. Stereotypes have their place - and do often hold a grain of truth within them. But a grain does not a whole make.
Auspice does matter a lot. Read the Book of Auspices if you haven't. It is one of the best books that White Wolf has published for Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and it will answer a lot of questions you may have had, as it will clarify a lot of common misconceptions about auspices.
There's depth to each auspice. An Ahroun isn't just the pack's combat wombat with 5 dots in brawl (or whatever). You think that your Ahroun would be the obvious choice to be the owner of a Klaive your pack has recovered? Think again! (Go read Hammer and Klaive to get a better understanding on fetishes too!)
You think that being a Ragabash is easy? After all, it's just a matter of being a nuisance and pissing everyone off and egging them on, right? Very, very wrong.
Much like the tribes are multi-dimensional, auspices are as well. The personal philosophy a Garou has relating to his auspice is crucial - an auspice is not just "a trait" or "a job" that a character carries around. It's a profound part of the character's nature. A Ragabash doesn't question the ways and decisions of others out of a conscious effort to be a nuisance - he does it because he follows a deep, personal need to ensure that his pack/sept does the things it does for good reasons.
Members of the same auspice, just like tribes, come in many different flavours. As a player, you need to consider how it shapes your character.
You can have the benevolent judge on the one hand, who is mainly interested in unity and stability in their sept. On the other hand, you can have the "harsh" judge, whose punishments are the stuff of legends (or nightmares) who is motivated by keeping the Garou on the straight and narrow (not because he's a sadist, but because he's well aware of how seductive the Wyrm can be).
You can have the "somewhat stereotypical" Ragabash who does his ninja-like stuff and is a master of breaking & entering, while the next Ragabash is a master manipulator who puts his own hide on the line and (intentionally) gets beaten up to unite packs and reaffirm the dominance of an alpha.
Breed and Upbringing
Well unfortunately we get plenty of confusion from human born players who often dig their heels in on their preconceptions. The tendency is to think of their characters as humans who happen to grow fur and change into hulking death machines instead of actual Garou. The problem is that more often than not, the player does not fully consider the implications of the character's circumstances.
This isn't entirely the player's fault. Much of the blame is laid squarely at White Wolf for a lack of information. However, it's something that we intend to remedy and so we insist that players contemplate their characters' breed and upbringing. This is the crucial matter and it's usually glossed over in most White Wolf books. It explains why most people think that, "homid Garou are just like I was when I was 18 - with the exception of being able to hulk out into a death machine with superpowers!" This misconception is tragically wrong and we won't stand for it.
Let us walk you through the trauma and the difficulties of being a Garou just after the First Change.
Remember, most First Changes occur during early puberty - a traumatic time in its own right. Once the First Change has happened, that young cub is not going to go through what mere humans would consider a normal adolescence. Why is that?
Consider this combination for a moment. Mix one hormonal extremely unbalanced teen, with a helping of an urge to kill, and the capacity to shred a bunch of humans without meaning to at the slightest loss of control. For late bloomers the waking of dormant Garou traits is a very traumatic experience as it turns their world completely upside down. Welcome to the existence of a cub. There's no way that Garou or their Kinfolk proxies would raise their budding cub in normal human environments. It would really be just a matter of time before a few slasher-themed mass murders would happen. Since Garou are not keen on breaking the Veil, this is simply not an option.
Take for instance how easy it is to gain Rage from a purely mechanics standpoint. Looking at the charts relating to Rage and Frenzy should make things abundantly clear. No deep introspection is required there. Couple that with just how easy it is to humiliate a teenager? All it takes is some snide comment about the way they dress and that alone would set them off. How much more dangerous and positively fatal would it be to do toss an off-handed comment to someone who was filled with Rage and could easily lose control, shredding the party involved into ribbons? We safely consider that this would not so much threaten as utterly demolish the Veil - and be quite bad news indeed.
So what actually happens to Garou after the First Change?
First Change is a major trauma. Even if in your Garou's history his change didn't result in the death or mauling of anyone, it is still traumatic. Consider what it would be to not have control over your own thoughts. Your own mind and body betray you utterly and you experience a complete loss of control and a large amount of physical discomfort as your bones crack and your muscles twist and you become this horrid monster! Go watch a classic werewolf flick like An American Werewolf in London. Does the protagonist look like he's having a great time of it? Is it business as usual for him?
Remember all that discussion about faith vs certainty, arrogance, tribal culture earlier in this article? Where that comes from is a lengthy and very thorough indoctrination process where the tween is subjected to over 5 years of what we would call brainwashing. What youngsters experience is an unlearning of human society. They are separate from humans and for rural tribes there is a certain contempt for humans and some tribes go to extreme with these views. To say that what a Garou cub experiences is an indoctrination that would make Jonestown or Waco look mild, is not an understatement. The parallels to fanaticism and fringe religious cult practices are plain enough to understand. The only moral excuse Garou have for their activities is that Garou subject their cubs to this harsh and traumatizing period out of the certainty that they are preparing their cub to survive in a world where they are going to need certain skills to deal successfully with a life of constant battle.
All Garou go through this indoctrination. How this indoctrination is carried out is really dependent on tribe and sept.
If you're a rural Garou, your tribe nabs you and keeps you around the sept away from humans. You have to learn what it is to be Garou first and foremost and for many rural tribes, humans are to blame for much of Gaia's ills. Plus, you have to get used to having Rage.
As a result, rural Garou are at a disadvantage when it comes to urban dealings. They get access to certain things urban Garou are unlikely to have (such as the Survival skill), but many nuances of human society are alien to them. This is especially the case when dealing with complex constructs of human society such as business, industry, government, and even criminal enterprises. All these require a sophisticated understanding of not only how different segments of human society actually fit together, but how the city operates as an organism. Even simple interactions like dealing with an EMT or a police officer can be a challenge.
Why? Because their last experience with such things would have been when they were pre-pubescent. A 12-year old doesn't understand how corporations work. A 12-year old doesn't understand a fair few things. A lot of things we take for granted are because we grew up with and around them. Rural Garou will have had quite a different upbringing - an upbringing that includes a firm break with the former human life. Keep that always in mind.
This is essentially the problem that rural Garou have. They don't get university educations as understanding the Litany and "what it means to be a Garou, my tribe, my auspice" are much more crucial to them. What do they need of humans and their Weaverfied mechanations anyhow? What does any Garou need but Gaia's Rage in his heart and the fang and claw that she gave him to exact her vengeance upon the Wyrm and its minions? Who needs an understanding of the boardroom when the spirits who bestow her Gifts upon him will provide the ample guidance he needs to target his blows upon the Wyrm?!
Thus this is an intentional paradigm shift that rural Garou suffer from. It's one of the key themes - to highlight their distance to not just urban environments, but even human organizations and things most of us take for granted.
This is not to say that rural Garou are stupid. They're not.
But they simply don't have a frame of reference to see through how shell-companies obfuscate actual ownership, for instance. No rural Garou is going to be a the equivalent of a Glass Walker Corporate Wolf (partially, because this is their turf in the first place). Don't steal another tribe's (and thus - player's) thunder when it comes to a tribal specialty. For example, few Theurges are likely to dig up and learn as many secrets as an Uktena (nevermind an Uktena Theurge), as this is what their entire tribe is about.
We get a lot of pushback from this stance and we understand why. Most of the splats have examples where character templates are showcased. Many of these examples feature rural Garou involved in human society. Matters are made more muddled and confused when some splats feature wholly contradictory information such as urbanized Shadow Lord deal brokers and urbanized Black Fury female advocates. Still we go by core concepts first. Splat is supplemental and the tribe books were designed for running table top games where all players would be of the same tribe. Therefore, for those types of chronicles, there is a real necessity to broaden the offerings. We are not in that same position here. So rural players are expected to be advanced enough to consider the implications of this rural upbringing carefully, rather than seeking exceptions to the norm in order to justify an urbanized rural character.
What about the urban Garou then?
They retain an understanding of human society and seek to enhance it as much as any rural Garou seeks to understand the animals and plants in the forest. However, they too will still be segregated form humans as they grow up as emotionally unstable creatures who are a snide remark away from mass-murder. They still have to worry about dangers to the Veil.
They will have a better frame of reference to modern day urban living, but in turn their urban life makes them babes in the woods when it comes down to dealing with natural settings. You know - that green stuff outside the city, nature spirits, the natural penumbra, etc.
The key takeaway is that you have to become aware that Garou do not get a healthy and balanced upbringing. A lot of things are denied to them as adolescents purely because they have Rage and that endangers them constantly. The rest of the gaps in their indoctrination are denied to them because they are Garou and who needs all those trappings when you are a soldier for Gaia? Sure, they can learn after a few nasty clashes and a bit at a time, but effectively they've got 5 years of "normal development" to catch up on. That's not something that can be done overnight.
Please, please keep this in mind.
If you are considering a rural tribe - they will be very much rural. If you are considering one of the two urban tribes - that character will be very much urban.
And it's worth noting that there is no "secret Glass Walker camp" that aspiring corporate-business-dealings-specialists from other tribes get sent to. Tribes tend to guard their figurative piece of turf quite jealously. Similarly, whilst there may be a Glass Walker who falls in love with trees, he's not going to have visited a Red Talon boot camp on how not to piss in the wind for non-Talons.
Make certain you consider all of this because we will not accept urbanized rural concepts or vice versa. Factor it in your character's upbringing and ultimately into his history.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Don't stereotype characters. You really do both yourself and your fellow players a disservice by being two-dimensional. The tribe books offer a plethora of insight into the reasons behind the question as to what molded a tribe into its present state.
All of the tribes have genuine depth to them. It is not required that one understand each tribe's motivations. There is simply too much information to digest and appreciate fully especially when you factor the sheer amount of camps that make up all the factions within Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Just make sure you know your chosen tribe. The better you understand your character's tribe, the more options offer themselves up to you to make an interesting character.
Don't ignore flaws. Flaws are among the easiest of ways of spicing a character up. It's easy to get caught up in a character's strengths and lose sight of his frailties (Those 5 points in brawl Yarrr!). If you think about it...what is it that makes most heroes memorable? It's how your character deals with his adversities that makes him the most interesting.
Heroes with few or no flaws tend to not be compelling. As a variety of Arnie movies would highlight, whilst this can make for a decent action flick, the character himself is often very boring and usually quite 2-dimensional.
Flaws are what make us all human so to speak. Otherwise we'd all be robots - ambling on and on, mechanically - doing everything in the most efficient way possible. Flaws aren't exclusively weaknesses. A love of family is hardly a weakness. It's a trait that can be used against us, but it is hardly a purely negative thing.Consider your character's flaws carefully. Everyone has some ticks. It doesn't have to be a debilitating 7 point flaw. It could just be something as harmless as a nervous twitch when the discussion turns towards violent actions. In fact flaws can be a great place to start when conceptualizing a character. It's a not a bad way to go to take a flaw and build around it.
Whether your character is at odds with his tribe, his auspice, or himself; whether he's a Fenrir who has a personal interest in botany, or whether he's a Glass Walker that has a fetish for 'four-legged cousins', there are many ways to spice the character up.
Even Garou need to relax and they can develop the strangest habits. Brigitte Black Fury may be a keen follower of her fantasy football scores. Peter Philodox may enjoy simple manual labour because it provides visible results to one's efforts and doesn't require mental navigation on a knife's edge. Rory the ninja Ragabash may love playing chess even though he completely sucks at it.
Whatever the case, it's a good idea to consider little idiosyncrasies to flesh out your concept. We all have our own peculiarities, forgetting this makes a character considerably more bland. Simple hobbies, unusual likes or dislikes can wholly change a character.
Another Rant on Rural vs Urban Concepts
As was already heavily hinted at above, we're very keen on highlighting the difference and conflicts between rural and urban tribes. We are equally keen on preserving tribal niches.
The only characters who will be permitted to have urban expertise are our urban tribes: the Bone Gnawers and Glass Walkers. The rest are regarded as being rural. Having a (rural) Silver Fang who has 4 dots in Streetwise or Finance will raise some questions (at the least) and most likely will result in the applicant being given a stiff pointer to this article.
There will be no "Blass Falkers" permitted (part Fury, part Corporate Wolf). No Stargazer is going to have amazing insights into corporate life. Shadow Lords aren't going to integrate with the dispossessed on the fringes of society and harvest a network of overlooked down and out informants.
Remember also that cities are so lovingly referred to as "the scabs". They are not places that rural Garou like. They view them with contempt and have such disdain for Garou who call the scabs home, they label them as urrah. To the vast majority, to be in the city is akin to a punishment in its own right. It's not just a matter of it smells bad and all that stuff, but as stated above even a 1 point Gnosis homid will feel the encroaching, suffocating effect that the concrete jungle has on them.
On the other side of the fence, we have the Bone Gnawers and the Glass Walkers, who make the best out of the concrete jungle and even thrive each in their own way. Glass Walkers for the most part have a keen appreciation and reverence for the Weaver and are quite taken with the wonders of humanity. While Bone Gnawers don't share this view as a rule, they are survivors and they will make use of anything they can get their hands on to do just that. Their willingness to go where other Garou refuse to tread, has led to a rather stout spiritual constitution. Hell, their totems teach them how to make a feast out of cardboard, they are well adapted to tolerating the scab.
Because the urban and rural tribes experience their connection to the Mother so differently, conflict between them is effectively assured. Garou are creatures of conflict. A significant part of Garou life is in how to deal with these conflicts. Is the answer to just give in to Rage and go claws out Or are there other ways? You decide.
But whatever you decide, do always keep in mind that a rural Garou will never be at home in the city. By the same token, an urban-raised Garou will have a hard time when they travel outside of the city and into the big scary, green world. Both sides are not merely at each others throats (as both sides think they know best more often than not), but also they are dependent upon each other.
Nothing about Garou is 2-dimensional. This includes the bad guys. Before you set off getting your Garou character concept together, make sure you understand (and can appreciate) the depth that this venue has to offer a roleplayer.
This way you can avoid pitfalls that can drag the venue down. Nothing kills a mood or theme quicker than a couple of misguided players engaging in anime anthro puppy wuv shenanigans that go on in other games. Players must research and contemplate character.
Honestly, people who are not willing to do so and put in the effort into their characters will cause grief for everyone who does - and that's not fair to the folks who do put a lot of thought into their characters.