In our group and the Catharsis Chronicle you will come across the term prelude again and again. Behind it lies a great tool for more depth of play.

Curious? Very good!


Prelude: The prelude to the game

Prelude comes from Latin and mean “before the game”: “prae” (“before”) and “ludus” (“game, play”).

Preludes are scenes from a character’s existence that took place temporally before the actual play. These are the key emotional moments that shaped the character:

  • the encounter with one’s creator.
  • the breaking by an Elder
  • a fight to the death
  • a dirty deal
  • the murder of one’s own child


In preludes we also link characters who meet again later in the game. These shared events in the past create beautiful stories between different characters.

Ideally, preludes are played before a character enters the game for the first time. Due to organisational reasons, this is not always possible. For example, if a character has already been in the game for a few years and is linked to a new character. Sometimes the other player lives far away and it takes a moment to organise a meeting. But a good solution can always be found.



What is the point of a prelude?

Preludes have an enormous advantage: they are played. Formative scenes from the past are not just written on a piece of paper. There is a gigantic difference between just writing that one begged an Elder for one’s existence and really having experienced this. If you have experienced this in a prelude, you can use this to make the later play much more intense and multi-faceted.

Another advantage of a prelude is that it helps to get the right feeling for a new character before you go into the “big” game with it.



A prelude is a memory

One problem is that a character from your character background often looks different from the actors we have available. If there is no tall, lean man with long blond hair among the storytellers, we have to find another solution how to play out an appropriate scene nevertheless.

However, this is actually not as big a problem as it seems at first glance. For the scenes from the preludes are only the character’s memories and not an exact film recording of the events. Even with Cainites, memories become distorted over time: faces become blurred, people forget details, or the vampires gloss over things they don’t like to remember. Cainites are masters of self-deception 😉

Severely traumatic memories are forgotten or repressed. This is one explanation why a character doesn’t remember some scenes we haven’t had a chance to play yet. For example, just being broken by an Elder is so traumatic that many characters bury this experience deep in their memory and repress it. Other memories are simply forgotten until a certain trigger brings them back to mind.


The outcome of a prelude is usually already known in advance. For example, that one’s own character survives, since they are supposed to go into the game later. However, things happen in every prelude that have not been planned or talked about in detail. The point is not to act out a scene according to a script, but to experience the character freely in the scene. So far, we have only had good experiences with this.



Conclusion: Preludes mean more and better playing

Preludes help to give your character more depth and to get to know them better. Instead of just writing down a background, you will really experience the most important moments. For both new and long-played characters, preludes often give a decisive kick to the game. They create an incredible amount of motivation to throw yourself into the game.

We will work with you to determine which preludes are right for you and your character. So be sure to tell us which scenes and moments would particularly appeal to you and touch you emotionally.

What is a prelude?

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