Brief Interview With Artist Gavin Hargest

 

Gavin Hargest, or better known as Gav likes to illustrate the dark side and macabre, the strange and the unusual… He can be found lurking the valleys of South Wales situated in the UK which some say he calls home.. Surprisingly his favorite colour is blue.
Adam Could you please give us a brief runddown of who you are?
Gav I’ve been professionally illustrating as a freelance artist for almost 3
years now, not long in the industry filled with godly talent, but I enjoy it, it’s something different and stops me doodling on anything flat I can find . . . .  In my old day jobs that’s all I would do lol.
Adam Have you had any formal training in the fine arts?*
Gav I have a degree in Illustration, a BA(Hons), although back in my Uni days I wanted to become a children’s book illustrator, working solely in bright colours with pencils . . . .  How things change, the moment I left Uni my style of art evolved, or perhaps a better word would be decayed into a dark and gritty representation of modern urban horrors, or just darker styled.  (I like how that long sentence sounds)
Adam What are your biggest artistic influences and inspirations? 
Gav I’m going to have to say I have 2 main influences, firstly the art direction behind the White Wolf books and games, and Tim Burton.  White Wolf has employed over the years an incredible amount of artists toillustrate their dark, game lines, some of the very best the RPG scene has seen.  Of course Tim Burton needs no introduction.
Adam Can you describe your creative process – how you come up with ideas for a new drawing and how you take those ideas and create a finished piece of art. 
Gav The digital medium has become the industry standard for many publications and artists alike, ranging from creating fully digital artwork rendered completely on the computer to just tweaking and correcting real medium art ready for print, I guess my work fits in-between both extremes, while I originally draw the base image in pencils and pen and ink, I later import into the computer to tweak, alter and paint over the original art.  My weapon of choice for such alterations is Adobe Photoshop.
So starting off, depending on a few rough sketches I draw in my main image in pencils, adding ink to darken up areas and add fine line work where needed.  I always like to have my line work present in the finished image, so I tend to make some areas more prominent with selective lines, scribbles even, painting under these markings in Photoshop at a later stage. With the base image in place, I’ll scan it into Photoshop to begin the tweaking, contrast adjustments and the like, to get the image nice and dark and ready for its paint over.  Photoshop is a marvellous program, that makes life much easier to experiment with different concets and ideas from the same image, you  can be bold and try out new things without having to worry about making mistakes, the ‘undo’ button is a life saver and probably one of the most important tools in the program.
I have a lot of markings and textures I use as a base overlay to add a bit of grit to the art, mostly made from random paint splat sessions I have from time to time, its fun but can get a bit messy lol.  I might just scan in some random doodle I’ve done that I may think would look cool on a drawing.  I use Photoshop more as a placement tool, bringing together my original drawing, markings, textures, once happy with the
arrangement I then paint over using various digital paint brushes . . . .  That’s about it really . . . .
 
 
 
 
 
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The Man And The House Short Stroy by Poul Matras

Samson gazed at the moon.

Normally he wasn’t one to place too great weight on the moon. Not as a symbol. Not as a Big old rock hanging in the sky. Not at all. But tonight it made him feel a bit melancholic. A tiny shard of emptyness and lack of meaning pierced his heart as he glared on the perfectly round silver coin that was hanging in the sky.
He gritted his teeth. He couldn’t sit here sobbing. He had work to do and he had to be on his toes and alert, otherwise it would mean a lot of trouble for him and his mates. He looked at the house at the botom of the hill. It was a calm, beautifull and all in all lovely little house. Samsom shook his head. Nothing that lovely could last, he knew that, there was always a snake somewhere in the garden to ruin the fun for everyone else.
The weather was clear and the air was as calm as it was cold. There was nothing to distract him, and still his mind wandered. The moon laughed silently at him and taunted him for being sentimental. The stars joined in a choire of laughing voices mocking this one moment of sentimental thought.

Samson regained focus and looked at the house again. Nothing had changed. The same peacefull, little house stood at the bottom of the hill.
He thought about what would happen tonight. He shuddered. It wasn’t the cold. Even though it was freesing, it was something else that made him shudder. He tried to find alternatives, but it was all one long fight to avoid the enevitable. It was all in vain. And he knew it.

The Gentlemen had tried to acomplish what needed to be done, the way the would like it to be done. Emanuel had offered a significan amount of money for the house and the grounds. It had been politely refused. Ninefinger Jack had tried to gamble the owner into a debth do severe that he would have to sell the house. But the man had resisted all of jacks charms and stopped when he started loosing. The Gentlemen had failed.

The lady had tried. Yssabelle had spared no trick from the great book of female cunning. She had worn enough sensual magnetism in her to seduce a dosin priests in front of god himself. But she had failed. The owner had bowed politely and said that he was spoken for. The Lady had failed.


The Boys had tried. Sam had vandalised the mans car and left messages of hate on his doorstep. He had pulled every scool bully trick to make this guy find an other neighbohood to live in. No result. Jason had pulled his strings with some local gangs. They had pelted the house with eggs and rotten fruit. They had fired weapons and shouted warnings. But the owner would not sell. The Boys had failed.
And now Samson knew what had to happen. He knew the drill, he had seen it all before. When the Gentlemen failed, the Lady tried. When the Lady failed the Boys tried. And when the Boys failed, The man had to get out of his comfy chair an get the job done.

He knew that he could not walk away. He knew that to much rested on his shoulders. He wasn’t a quitter and never had been. And now was the time to show it. Time to show that no matter how shitty the job was, the Man would get it done. Time to show who the Man really was.

A light was lit in the house below. Someone had come home. Samson looked upon the moon a last time. It seemed so calm. And he felt calmer as he whatched it. He knew what he had to do. He shot the peacefull house a bitter look, loaded his gun and started down the hill.

Wood Ingham Interview

So for the next dark whispers interview we have Wood Ingham, freelance writer for White Wolf.
Adam: So to get started would you introduce yourself and give a little personal background?
Wood: Right. British, married, two kids, 32 years old, resident in Wales.
I’ve been a freelance writer for five years now, and I’ve had White Wolf as a client since early 2005.
I gamed a lot as a teenager, but gave it up when I went to university, because of girls and stuff. You know. Anyway, about six years ago, a mate of mine pulled out a Call of Cthulhu set he had, and asked me to run it, and it snowballed from there. So I wrote some Cthulhu stuff, for The Black Seal, and Worlds of Cthulhu.
Adam: So was that your introduction to the world of role-playing?
Wood: Pretty much. I ended up buying back a lot of the stuff I gave away and sold, and ended up getting some more WW stuff – I’d been a fan of Vampire and Wraith in their very earliest iterations (I’d given my copies away back in 1994).
…but it was the work I did for Adam Crossingham that made me think I could write for RPGs.(The Cthulhu stuff I mentioned). Anyway, I’d said this before, but I picked up a WW book (won’t say which), and read it with older eyes, and thought, bloody hell, I could do better than that.
Adam: We are lucky you did.
Wood: Thank you. During a big drive for clients in January 2005, I wrote about five pages on a factory farm for vampires, and sent it to WW, and thought no more of it. Will Hindmarch e-mailed me within a fortnight of me having sent it, and that was it, really.
Adam: And has that material been published?

Wood
: Yes – it’s in Shadows of the UK.
Adam: Do you have any writing qualifications?
Wood: Not in the sense of professional qualifications. I worked as a technical writer for computer software firm for a couple of years, and started out by sending columns for free to magazines and web magazines. I tended to go for stuff on news and religion, since that’s where I feel I’m best at this writing business.
Adam: What are your biggest artistic influences and inspirations?
Wood: Ooh. Music, a lot. Robyn Hitchcock, mainly. I like stuff that has its own mythology, its own stories, Belle and Sebastian. Arcade Fire, Husker Du and Tanya Donelly. For film: Julio Medem “Tierra” and “Lovers of the Arctic Circle”. Books: Donna Tartt, Umberto Eco, Flann O’Brien, Salman Rushdie, Jorge Luis Borges and Mervyn Peake
I’m fond of 70s Marvel comics – Tomb of Dracula, Tales of the Zombie, Monster of Frankenstein, Son of Satan, Man-Thing, all of which I discovered relatively recently. Also, a lot of European stuff, particularly Bilal’s recent stuff. And 2000AD, of course! The really old Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog stories. It’s interesting, though – it didn’t make a lot of difference to a lot of people.
Adam: Shame about the terrible movie conversion
Wood: Oh, it was awful, wasn’t it?
Adam: I can remember trying to sneak into the movies to watch it, and was so disappointed.
Wood: Dredd’s such a part of our culture – if you’re male and between about 30 and 40 now, you read 2000AD back in the day when it was good – that Stallone’s idea of him just wasn’t Dredd.
Adam: What advise can you give to someone who is starting, or thinking of getting into the writing business?
Wood: I think the important thing is that you’ve got to be aware that it’s not art. It’s a job, and you have to treat it as such. If you’re starting up, you should really refine your skills by writing stuff for people for free, because you’re only going to get paid if you’re really quite good, and for most people, being good needs a lot of practice.
Oh, and take advice. If what you wrote is crap, and someone who knows what they’re talking about tells you that, accept it and go back to the drawing board. Speaking as a magazine editor (it’s one of my other clients) there’s few things more frustrating than a writer who won’t take honest advice on how to improve his work.
Adam: What books have you worked on so far?
Wood: Right. Deep breath…
For Vampire: Bloodlines: the Legendary, Damnation City, Requiem for Rome, Fall of the Camarilla, and one book currently in writing that I can’t talk about.
For Promethean: All five of them.
For Mage: Legacies: the Sublime, Legacies: the Ancient, Secrets of the Ruined Temple, Reign of the Exarchs, Tome of the Mysteries, Magical Traditions
For the General World of Darkness: Asylum, Shadows of the Uk, Reliquary.
For Changeling: the core book.
And the core and three supplements for the game we can only call Number Six.
Adam: There has been a roaring debate on the forum about that one, but it does seem very interesting?
Wood: My lips are sealed.
Adam: Could you at least confirm it has something to do with hunters?
Wood: Francis Urquhart “You might well think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.”
Adam: Shame
Wood: I love the speculation.
Adam: Some of the new book you mention, could you tell us about those? Reliquary perhaps?
Wood: Reliquary is out there now, and it’s a book about how to storytell mystical artifacts – and also how to create them. You can create your own, place them, and tell stories about them. The book gives you concrete tools to do it, too.
Justin Achilli, Matt McFarland and the others produced some fine work.
Jess Hartley (interview coming soon), who developed it, is rightly proud of what she led.
 
 
 

Adam: What can you tell us about Requiem for Rome? 

Wood: Well, in Requiem for Rome, you discover that some of things you thought about vampire history were completely wrong, and something’s are only slightly wrong. You meet familiar clans and bloodlines, and unfamiliar ones.
The Camarilla has four wings, and each has its own advantages.
And in the place of the Ventrue are the Gens Julii.
In the book, you get a full overview of Rome and what it’s like for a vampire, people you might meet, and things that might happen. It’s full of guidelines for telling stories from the founding of Rome to its fall…
…and in Fall of the Camarilla, you get a fully-realised chronicle taking you across the fourth century CE and its outcome.
 
 
Want to drive in a midnight chariot race?
Want to hold a banquet of the dead and leave to vomit the Vitae so you can feed some more?
Oh – did I mention the social combat rules?
Adam: No please do!
Wood: Well, the Roman society of the dead revolves around discussion, around debate, and the stakes often get ridiculously high. You can lose all status, or even your (un)life if you lose a debate. The mechanics kind of reflect this. Ray Fawkes did a fine job of getting them together. David Chart had a hand, too.
Adam: could these rules be used for modern day chronicles?
Wood: Yes. I’ve play tested them with three groups now, and they’ve all loved them.
Wood: Right. One more question.
 
Adam: Is there anything that you can give us that is not already available on the forums?
Wood: Hmmm. You get to meet the founders of not one but two bloodlines still active in the modern day.
 AND…
You’ll discover the nature of the Nemeses, the thing that vampires fear.
Adam: Wow. I think you’ve given us plenty us to drool over. It has been much appreciated. Thank you.

A Dream of the Past 10 A short story by Poul Matras

The third article from the Dark Whipers, series A short Vampire story by Paul Matra
If it had not been for the familiar faces in his dreams, he probably would have felt alone, the cell was dark and dank. A smell of rot and carrion lay heavy in the air, but of course that was to be expected from a torture chamber under a graveyard.
Anthony had recognised the place the first time he set foot there, he had seen it more than once in his dreams and he had even been able to distinguish which cell he would be held in, and almost precisely when his sleep would be disturbed by his holders.
This place had been explicitly vivid in his dreams, he had not just seen it, he had stood there in the cell and felt the damp air and the horrible smell of the graves above. He had touched some of the bloody knives and manacles and felt the cold merciless steel of which they were crafted. He knew that when his visions were this vivid they were important, the things they potrayed were crucial for the fate that was intended for him.
He had always known that someone planned his fate, he had been led through his entire life by a dark hand with an unscrupulous sense of humour and a plan incomprehendible for the mortal mind. And now it had led him to this cell, where he knew his life would take a turn for the darker… Darker than ever before.

This night he did not dream of the present or the future as he usually did, he dreamt of the past, his own past. That had never happened before, and in the dream he was surprised, for he was used to seeing places his waking eye would later recognize and living people whom he had never met before, yet he knew they were real.
But tonight he saw his mother screaming as she gave birth to a child. A darkhaired browneyed child, with none of her husbands features. He saw how the child as three years old witnessed his father screaming that his mother was a whore and a liar. He saw how he struck her when she objected and he saw the father leave.
“So my father died in the war?” He thought and sighed in his sleep.
The vision jumped forward in time and showed his school, the classroom filled with children busy in their chatter not sparing him a second glance. The teacher never recalled his name and he never felt welcome in class, so his vision shifted to his place of happiness in this sad and solitary time: the library. He followed his own evolution from a six year old to a ten years old, he saw the bruises gained whenever he showed his head outside the library, he saw how other kids found it funny to tackle him if he did not make his way through the school yard fast enough, and he saw how he never felt welcome anywhere but in the library, even at home his mothers stressed disposition made him long for his books.
And then he saw the fire. The fire that scorched the library, destroyed his books, and filled his lungs with a thick black smoke making him sick for weeks thereafter, he still had a nasty cough as a result.
The visions grew dark with smoke, and when the thick black layer lifted, he saw the twelve years old Anthony practicing gymnastics in the break, in stead of playing with the other children, he saw his skill grow and he saw the joy of the accomplishment in the child’s eyes. And then he saw the same child limping home not able to walk probably due to the damage to his leg. He remembered vaguely the fat boy who had jumped on it while he was lying on the cement of the schoolyard, pushed over by one of the bullies.
He saw a woman barely recognizable, in two years his mother had grown ten years older, with the strain of her work and the stress of her dark thought of how little chance her child had in this dark world. He saw how her heart broke when the same child limped into the room crying his brave tears.
The doctor who looked at the leg, was busy and hurried over the details, the young Anthony tried to remember everything he said, but it was to fast and the pain was great, so in the end he had to return two months after, having strained his leg. This time the message was clear; “you better avoid gymnastics in the future.” The child did not cry, he had known it would get worse; he had grown used to losing everything he loved.
Nothing was left to make the child in the vision happy, nothing but the worn out, sad and worried woman who was his mother. Anthony tried to close his eyes to block out what would happen next, but he knew already that this was not possible, he was forced to see the one person he had loved die. He watched in silent agony as the car hit her, and he did not get angry when the driver sped away. He contemplated the futility of his mothers last struggle to reach home before she passed out, and he pitied the boy who desperately struggled to remain calm enough to call an ambulance. He watched as the younger boy watched his mother die, both of them unable to change the cruel will of fate.
Once again time shifted forward and launched the sad and lonely boy into a new home in an orphanage. The room he slept in was cold and void of pleasure, his mind was forced to work only with what it could devise itself, for even though he shared the room with three other boys the younger Anthony was alone, in this cell he had been gifted by the pity of the world.
The boy grew, through years of solitude in the middle of a crowd. He learned the lessons of his schoolbooks and he slowly became more and more like the Anthony who was silently watching him. The boy had always dreamed, but in these years I grew in intensity and regularity, and soon the boy seemed to recognize every face, which drifted by him in his pitiful existence.
The vision finally reached the night, where Anthony had drifted on the streets not wanting to return to his prison, and by the hand of fate had been led past a graveyard he recognised. He knew who dwelled there, and he knew they would be attacked. The older antonym shook his head when his former self braved the graveyard gate and trod onto the once holy soil. A dark figure approached the now grown boy and spoke the sentence that had rung in so many of his visions: “coming here tonight will prove to be the most interesting mistake you have ever made.”
And so the boy was led by guards into the darkness under the graveyard and down till the cell. It was a cell which would inspire fear in any mortal, it was a cell that had undoubtedly taken many a life, but at least it was a cell of his own.
And now as his dream had caught up with him, Anthony saw a figure he knew and cherished, a figure that had been in the dreams he both feared and loved, the person who would kill him.
Anthony saw him scaling the steps downwards, passing through the hallways and entering the prison and Anthony’s cell.
He was not sure if he was awake or still dreaming when the man caressed his chin, nor when he whispered strange words in his ears. But he anticipated the final act, he longed for this moment of decision where fate would finally give him the last crippling blow and rob him of the world he had come to loath.
Only when the long, pointed fangs sank into his neck did he realise the trick fate had played upon him: the man who would bring him the gift of death was also to bring him its curse.
Anthony died with the unbearable knowledge that he would go from being the one whom fate tormented to being yet another of fates instruments of torture.

Interview with Peter Mohrbacher

In the second Dark Whispers Instatement, an interview with the artist Pete Mohrbache. who’s work you will have seen in Changeling: Source, Changeling: Fall, Changeling: Spring, Changeling:  Summer, Scion: God, Scion: Demigod, Exalted: Scroll of Kings and Vampire: Rome. You can see his work here http://one-vox.deviantart.com/
Adam: So to get started would you introduce yourself and give a little personal background?
Pete: My name’s Pete Mohrbacher but I also go by Bugmeyer or One-Vox on the internet. I’m 24 and I have been working as a freelance artist for about 2 years now. I like long walks on the beaches and fine foods.
Adam: How long have you been an artist?  
Pete: I started drawing back in 2000 while I was still in High School. Most people tell me that’s pretty late considering most people say they’ve been doing it since birth. Not sure if that makes me fashionably late or just tardy.

Adam: Have you had any formal training in the fine arts? 
Pete: Not in fine arts per se. I earned a bachelors degree in Game Art and Design with asperations of being a game developer. But I taught myself to paint during my time in college. Turns out the painting has gotten me farther then the degree. The whole experience of being in a creative environment made a huge difference on my development, but the education itself seemed to have a very minor effect on me.

Adam: What are your biggest artistic influences and inspirations?  
Pete: I’m always being influenced by different things and for different reasons. When I started drawing, it was because I was into anime and my work was big googly eyes and pointy noses. Over time I’ve cobbled together different bits of things I’ve seen from other artists over the years. The stuff that has stuck with me the longest is fantasy work with a horrific slant like Kuang Hong or Zdzislaw Beksinski. Its important to me to channel as much of my own energy as possible, because I think its really hard to get noticed if you look a lot like the people around you. 

Adam: Can you describe your creative process – how you come up with ideas for
a new drawing and how you take those ideas and create a finished piece
of art.
Pete: I like to start with key words or symbols. Well…the process truly starts off by drinking a ton of coffee, but then I get to word association. It helps me to get the tone of the piece right. One I start drawing I try to get the core ideas down in the sketch before I start working. But after I’ve gotten something loose, I paint over the whole mess in Photoshop using my 40 40 40 brush. That is a round size flow brush 40px large, 40% opacity and 40% flow. When I need to get something smoother I turn the opac down and when I need to work faster I turn the opac up. I like to use texture overlays to add depth, but I tend to paint into them a bit so they look more natural.
Adam: You do a lot of art within pre-existing worlds. What sorts of challenges does that pose for you? How do you work in your own unique touches and ideas, and are you given freedom to expand on those said worlds? 
Pete: I think a large part of that balance is in the hands of the art director. They’ve got the challenging job of hiring someone who is right for the job for the right pay at the right time. Once you get roped into a project you just have to trust their judgement in picking you. The only way to produce real quality work is to follow your own inspirations, so trying to bend to some ethereal concept of how its “supposed” to look is just going to produce garbage. You still have to follow the style guide, so when a character has big ears you draw big ears and when they are supposed to be jumping in the air you draw them jumping in the air. But when it comes to everything else, you just have ignore all the other artists and ignore what you think you know about the project and just make something that you are truly into. An AD doesn’t want to hire someone to recreate the same stuff they already have, they are hiring someone who will contribute something fresh and interesting to a project. Or at least, that is my experience. 
Adam: So was that your introduction to the world of role-playing?
Pete: The first game I ever saw was the old version of Changeling way back in the day before I was an artist. But I played D&D and then Mage with a core gaming group for years. Unfortuantely, I started getting jobs working on RPGs after I had already fallen away from playing them. Though White Wolf’s new releases are threatening to draw me back into the fold.
Adam: What advise can you give to someone who is starting, or thinking of getting into the art world?
Pete: Be totally obesssed with art or just keep it as a hobby. This is one of the hardest industries to make a living at. Trying to be a famous artist is about as easy as being a famous actor. If you can’t do anything else, go for it, but don’t get into it expecting it to be easy. 
Adam: How did you come to work at White Wolf? 
Pete: They E-mailed me. Apparently one of the art directors saw my Epilogue gallery and wanted to try me out. People ask me this question all the time, and I’m fairly sure that the only way to get hired by them is by reference or google search. But I have no idea really. Those guys seem to go out of their way to avoid looking at people portfolios. I don’t blame them, you can only look through so many hundred awful portfolios before you want to claw your own eyes out. When you are a name like White Wolf, everyone and their little sister wants to show you their doodles. 
Adam: What books have you worked on so far? 
Pete: I’ve worked on 4 of the 5 Changeling books, I missed the Winter book because I was out of the country at the time. I’ve also done a couple of Scion books, an Exalted book and the roman Vampire book. I’ve got plans to do more Changling and Vampire projects. 
Adam: What is your favorite book you’ve worked on so far? Which has been the most rewarding? 
Pete: I had a really good time with the Changeling: Autumn Nightmares. I love that project to pieces, I love the wealth of information Aileen provides with the art notes and that is my favorite court. But I have to say that I crack open that beutiful hardcover Changeling source book every once in a while just because I like the way the whole thing looks. I’m a big fan of the source material that whole project was based off of, so I’m really proud to be a part of any iconic dark faerie literature.  
Adam: What can you tell us about your current pieces? 
Pete: I’ve been slowly updating my iconic Angelarium series. After a few years, they all started to look a bit dusty, so I have been progressively updating them to better represent my current ability. However I have been too busy with contract work to do much of it recently, so I am looking forward to easing up my schedule a bit to get back to them. 
Adam: Can you tell us anything about the summer Changeling book 
Pete: Honestly, I don’t know much about any of the books I work on. Despite having a large amount of source text for them, I tend to focus in on the parts that I am a part of. Though, I have gotten the sense that people are coming out of the woodwork to contribute to this book. Seems like the word has gotten around about how much fun it is to work on or people just like the series and want to be a part of it. The whole flavor seems to be getting very popular thanks to authors like Neil Gaiman. 
Adam: Is there anything that you can give us that is not already available on the forums? 
Pete: There are forums? I’m kinda removed from the whole culture… 
Adam: It has been much appreciated. Thank you.
Pete: No prob.

Background Development 101 by Ryan Davidon

 
This was the first article that was written by Ryan for the Dark Whispers Magazine. Thanks again for all the hard work that was put in.
Background Development 101
Some players have difficulty finding significant ways to relate the dots they’ve placed on a character sheet to the character concept they have created.  In this article, I will attempt to pin down a method of approaching a character sheet from the top down, using the information on your sheet to fuel ideas about the person behind the numbers.  As a case study, I will evaluate the character sheet of a non-supernatural character.  I’m going to call him “Ben.”
Concept
At the top of your character sheet, along with the core pieces of information such as the character name, your name, the chronicle, and so on, you are provided with space to give a short description of your character in the form of a concept.  This piece of information forms the core of your character.  It works as a sort of archetype, the mold from which your character will be cast.
Ben’s player has thought about the sort of character he would like to play, and thus far he keeps coming back to “scruffy drifter.”  So, not knowing more about his character, he pencils this into the Concept area at the top of his sheet.  He also writes this a spare piece of paper he is using to develop his background.
The concept you write down is not set in stone.  Remember that you can always revise that concept, or even violate it with your skill selection to a certain degree.  Differ too much and the concept doesn’t really fit any more, so you need to be careful, but a two word description of your character doesn’t paint enough of a picture to say what is and what isn’t valid to put down on the sheet.
Virtue and Vice
Using the concept as a springboard, decide how your character tends to pursue his or her virtue and vice.  A short paragraph each tends to be the most rewarding amount of information.  You don’t want to overburden yourself with background at this stage.
Ben’s player looks at his chosen virtue: Charity.  He writes “Ben has been roaming the highways and byways of the US for a few years now, and he’s come to believe that it’s best to share a little with the needy, because you never know when you’re going to find yourself out in the cold in need of a little help yourself.”
Ben’s player then moves on to his vice: Sloth.  He writes “Life on the road is hard, and sometimes it can be easier to give up than get what you want.  Ben has problems keeping himself motivated to move on with his goals.  He also finds it easier to pick a new goal than to complete a difficult one.”
Sometimes the presentation of a virtue or vice in a character’s personality is not standard.  Consider a character in whom Wrath manifests as a desire to spread nasty gossip about people who slight her, or a character that has Prudence, but takes it to the extreme of a crippling fear of taking risks (this concept may work better for an NPC than a PC, unless your game allows much more room for social interaction than combat and danger).
Attributes
In allocating your attribute dots, you’ve probably decided to model them in a way that directly supports the concept of your character; your martial artist has primary physical attributes and a three in Strength and Stamina; your computer scientist has a four intelligence and a one composure; your flippant debutante has four dots in Presence, three in Manipulation, but only one in Composure.
At this point, you can take a moment to explain just how the character’s background molded their attributes.  The debutante’s high Presence might be the result of being the captain of her speech and debate team as well as a member of the model UN.  Her manipulation could come from snaring daddy into getting her way.  Simply choose those defining attributes that are remarkable—either good or bad—and use them to help define who your character grew up to be.
Ben’s player gave him the scores you see to the <SIDE>.  He explains “Ben never finished high school, and he isn’t too bright.  But he’s been wandering for a long while, and he learned to be tough.  He never gives in to the elements, and he’s really good at keeping his cool.  Being a drifter, he’s also spent a lot of time learning to convince people to part with things that he needs more than they do.”  As you can see, this tidily explains all of Ben’s attributes that aren’t just 2 dots.
Skills
Skills are the largest portion of a character’s background.  They really tell you what he or she is good at, and all you need to do is decide why the character has the dot arrangement he or she does.  Many one dot skills can stand without explanation, especially when they have a clear tie-in to the character’s concept.  But for most skills of two dots or more, it’s a good idea to explain why the character has that skill, how he or she acquired it, and how he or she uses it most often.
After giving this section a lot of thought, Ben’s player writes “Working sporadically, Ben tends to get odd jobs fixing things like cars and other machinery.  However, he never works too hard; just hard enough to get by.
“In his travels, Ben has had to fight off various vagrants and drug addicts.  He’s learned to fist fight and to fight with improvised weapons such as pipes and loose bricks.  As often as possible, he just avoids the parts of town where he might ruffle feathers, so he listens to the word on the street and thinks hard about how not to be there.  He also knows when someone is about to get the drop on him.
“Inevitably, Ben has been in trouble with the law, and he can’t help but cause problems sometimes, even when he’s just trying to help someone.  He blends in with the crowd easily, and knows how to keep his head down and stay out of sight.  When necessary, he has broken into abandoned houses and once in a while he has stolen a car or two, but he still thinks of himself as a pretty good guy who just lives a hard life.
Notice that this fails to cover Ben’s skill in Animal Ken and specialty in dogs.  This will be covered in a moment.
Merits
The final relevant segment of the character sheet to our purposes are the Merits.  Merits are naturally a catch-all, so they deserve special explanation.  Merits can often be thought of as the result of a character’s past experience.  A high school track runner might gain Fleet of Foot and use it again later in life.  A local musician might gain Barfly from playing a lot of shows in town and meeting all the staff.
This definition doesn’t always fit, and occasionally, a Merit just defies description—such as Unseen Sense.  That’s okay.  Not everything needs to have a greater explanation.
Ben’s player comes to the Merits section, and he knows exactly how to start it.  “Ben’s best friend is his dog Howler.  Ben found Howler a few years back as a puppy and couldn’t bear to see the little guy suffer.  So he kept him, and the dog has been his constant companion ever since.  Keeping himself and his dog fed is a challenge, but Ben manages.
“Ben’s diet has often been poor.  He’s had to grit his teeth and suck down garbage from restaurant dumpsters to survive.  But the upshot is that Ben can choke down almost anything with no ill effects.  He’s got a cast iron stomach.”
Note that Ben’s player has chosen not to explain his Fleet of Foot Merit, and Danger Sense has already been mentioned briefly amongst his skills.  This cross-pollination of descriptions  makes more sense than trying to keep everything totally distinct.  After all, a person’s life is rarely that easy to pigeon-hole.
Equipment
Chances are if you’ve put a piece of equipment on your character sheet, it is of some significance to your character.  Where did he get that gun or that sword?  Why does she have a toolbox in her truck?
Describing equipment your character keeps can also help you fill in detail about who he or she is and what is important in his or her life.  Anything that gives an equipment bonus is probably worthy of some mention here.  And don’t be afraid of being verbose.  At times, even if your Storyteller and the other players can’t remember everything you’ve said about your character, you can refer to your background information to help you stay in character and decide how to react to things.
Flavor
In addition to giving general background, it can be fun to sprinkle anecdotes from your character’s point of view into your explanation of the background.  A one paragraph story about how your character came to own a specific item, or her own words when complaining about how hard it was to write her research thesis.  Anything goes in creating character background.  A graphically-minded player might even create a set of vignette images showing the character’s life in stages, with a sketch of each significant event.
All in all, it is just important to remember that the dots you assign to your character are a skeleton, and the flesh you give him comes from the background you create.  You can even start to discover that your character has interests that differ from your own, just by pondering what led to certain skills or merits.

Quick Update\Coming Soon

Well I have played a few more games this week, the first weekend of the month always being the busiest of the month. So I will hopefully have some write ups about my Pathfinder Campaign, and Vampire Larp game soon. I will also be interviewing Author and RPG writer Jessica Hartley shortly and will soon releasing the first of the Fumbl comic strip.