Just because you have a low powered character doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a meaningful existence for that character in a game. The trick is to create a character that finds ways to interact with the game that mitigate your general lack of power, insert yourself into a position with authority and then press your advantage to get more out of the chronicle.
Edit: Obviously roleplaying a low powered character can be a fun experience in itself. This article I suppose works on the premise that there are in-obvious routes to power that even low powered characters can employ.
Edit Edit: …and while I’m busy being apologetic I should mention that this list of things is not at all comprehensive – there are a ton of ways to enjoy low powered characters, I just wrote about a few.
Carve out a niche
Pick something and be very good at it. Target an area where others typically haven’t gone and force even the more potent characters to rely on your character from time to time. The option lies with you as to whether you want to lord that power over others and create social conflict with it, or if you want to become the deal broker, but the important part is to choose an area to excel in, whether it’s a skill, a physical territory, an obscure supernatural ability or an area of influence in your city. Once you’re entrenched you need to take steps to ensure that you maintain your competitive edge. I suggest judiciously protecting the mastery you’ve fought hard to get and offering your skillset for a price that most find unappealing.
Get a posse
When you’re the low man on the totem pole it’s easy to be pushed off to the side and ignored. There are few ways to adapt to being marginalized like this, but my favourite response (because it’s social) is to join up with the other low powered characters and make a power block. It’s easy to ignore one of you, but when you’ve got four other people watching your back you gain a lot of clout quickly. Having multiple people in the same area is intimidating, both in and out of character, and most LARPs wrong on semi-democratic principles (even if the game setting has little to do with democracy). Getting a posse is easy: just round up all of the downtrodden and get them to agree that there are powers in numbers. Choose a central motivator to create group cohesion and set some goals. It’s also not bad to enter the game with a group concept. Walk around together, back each other up, and don’t accept lip from individuals who try to think less of you.
Serve your master
Having a superior with clout that you work with directly is an interesting path to play, since while you are subjugated you earn a lot of benefits for serving the big bossman. When stepping into a new game it’s usually quite easy to spot the influence topography there – look for groups huddled around another character, or characters that give off powerful body language. Your instincts about who is influential in the game will almost certainly be correct. Find the character in the game that is willing to tell you who is important and why and then leverage an opportunity to meet with the character that can be of the best possible benefit to serve under. Start off by owing them a favour, so that the powerful character has a reason to keep you around and spend as much time around them as they will allow. Offer to continue to do things until you become all but their official toady. Once you are there test the limits of your newfound authority and continue to mooch off of their influentialness until you’ve carved a little empire of your own.
Aim to misbehave
If you can’t get a posse, the second best option is to stir things up. Buck authority – be the rabble raiser and push the boundaries of what you’re allowed to get away with. Let others know you fight dirty by making an example of someone. Always bring something to the table that pushes the envelope of acceptability. The hardest part of being a maverick is dealing with the heat that you’ll get from other, more powerful characters, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun. You need to walk right on the line of what will make them lash out and play the powerful characters off of each other. If you like to dance being an instigator can be a genuine challenge, but don’t forget to be humble when you get swatted for going too far.
Become a soldier of fortune. Choose no master but the almighty dollar and let everyone know that for a price they can hire you. No deed is too dirty, no contract refused. Despite your shallow motivations you will remain a neutral party that can be an asset for any individual powerful character, many of whom don’t want to expose themselves to risk or can’t be in too many places at once. Most players will generously play their powerful characters and attempt to employ or otherwise control you. The only trick to freelancing is making sure you don’t get burned by someone who wants you out of the picture, so go in with a little paranoia, but don’t be afraid to mix it up.
Playing a character with less power actually opens a lot of roleplaying opportunities, so take the chance to explore the different ways that a lower powered character interacts with the chronicle. There are ways to procure power through specialization, teaming up or simply playing by a different set of rules than everyone else. Lastly, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of taking a character with few dots and making them one that is respected despite their relative mechanical shortcomings.