How should players purchase supernatural backgrounds when using a Prelude?


Hunter: The Reckoning has a concept of of a "prelude". A prelude is essentially a one-shot or one-session adventure which tells the story of how a normal, mundane human became called to the Hunt. It’s like a superhero origin story, where the player character gains their first edges.

Two approaches to preludes are described in the Hunter rules (pg.221-223). In one case, players create their characters like in most games. They can assign all their powers and various scores before play begins. In the other, more thematically appropriate option, players create mundane characters and the Storyteller assigns supernatural powers and other benefits during the prelude.

I’d like to use this second version in a Hunter game I’m planning. During this introductory sesssion, I’ll assign powers and abilities to the characters based on their activities. However, I’m confused how to advise players to purchase backgrounds. Some backgrounds and abilities are supernatural (like patron) or more appropriate for experienced hunters (like occult knowledge). Should I allow players to purchase these before hand or restrict them?

Some options I can foresee:

  • I should allow players to purchase them before hand, even though this isn’t thematic. Doing otherwise would restrict their strategic choices in an unpleasent way.
  • Players could withhold some their points from character creation to spend later. This seems both thematic and enhances player agency, but means that initially some characters will be stronger than others.
  • Players could spend all their points on mundane options, and I can assign supernatural options as the Storyteller. This doesn’t sound ideal, since some options (like the Mentor background) are best chosen upfront. If I assign a high Mentor score to someone it would unbalance the group.

How should I handle this situation? Do the Hunter rules or some other White Wolf guidance explain this? Is there an experienced-based way to handle this?