Backgrounds measure your character in ways that aren't as innate as Attributes or Abilities. They deal with your character and her connections to the rest of the world: who she knows, what assets she can bring to bear, what reputation she enjoys. As with Attributes and Abilities, Background scores quantify and set boundaries to conditions that characters perceive more fluidly. Your character doesn't think, "I have precisely three friends I can count on for this kind of information," for instance. Only a vampire's generation is as clear-cut a matter of whole numbers for characters as it is for players.
Some Backgrounds lend themselves to joint ownership. Specifically, the members of a coterie may choose to pool their individual stores of Allies, Contacts, Domain, Herd, Influence, Resources and Retainers. Generation, Mentor and Status are necessarily individual matters.
- The Anchor: You and the other players choose one Background as tne anchor that holds the shared assets together. In most cases, this Background is Domain, with the physical place the characters claim for hunting, which also acts as a meeting ground for the mortals they deal with, a repository for their wealth and so on. Any of the poolable Backgrounds can serve in this role, however: Mentor might be the key to wealth and connections, the willing if ignorant population on whom the characters feed a source of servants and so on. No Background pool can have more dots assigned to it than the Anchor Background does. If it's damaged by events during play or between sessions, other assets drift away from the character's control, and it takes effort to win them back. Any character contributing to the pool may pull his stake out at any time. The dislocations guarantee some damage: The character gets back one dot less than he put in. Making the transition more peaceable requires spending half the time it would take to develop a new dot in the relevant background (for each Background involved).
- Using Pooled Backgrounds: Pooled Backgrounds are shared resources, essentially the coterie's communal property. Anyone who contribues to the pool (no matter how much he contribues) has equal access to it. Even if the character donates to only one of the pool's associated Backgrounds, he still has equal access to the entire pool. Not everyone can use the pool simultaneously, though. A Herd pool of seven dots can grant only a total of seven automatic blood points a night to the entire coterie. Just how those points are split up depends on the circumstances and agreements between the characters.
- Upper Limits: By pooling points, a coterie can get Backgrounds that surpass the normal five-dot limit. This arrangement is normal, and it reflects the advantages of cooperation. A group can secure a larger domain or maintain a larger network of allies and contacts than a single vampire can. There is no absolute upper limit on the level to which a pooled Background can rise, but things can get downright ludicrous if you aren't careful. It's usually for the best for the Storyteller to impose a 10-dot limit on the Anchor Background (and thus all the others). This limit represents domain over a important trading port or the center of pilgrimmage or a herd that consists of much of that same center's population.