I am not sure what a good method for briefing a party in WoD is. When the players are just before the character creation stage, is it standard to tell the party what city they will be starting in, if they know anything about the supernatural etc? Or is it more normal to give the players a lot of flexibility here. I know there could be several answers to this type of question, so if there is any actual official nWoD rules or info on this. That would also be very helpful.
It depends mostly on one thing: Shall the game be a complete surprise or not.
I made one surprise game and it worked only because the players said beforehand they are ok with being surprised.
Else the players should be told the following things before character creation:
- What city the game is run in
- What is currently up in the city, thus is there something special happening and how does it differ from the real city
- What supernatural species the players could play inside the city and what could be problematic (if there is a hunt by all species on the mages players should be warned at this stage that mages could have troubles)
Aside from that no further info to the players is needed at that stage. Then when they create the backstory of their characters further infos could be given as then it can be seen WHAT the chars could know. From experience it is sadly so that most players can't separate competely between player and character knowledge thus if you want them to not be influenced by that give them only infos that their characters know.
As examples here: A character that lives in a suburb where a gang is active may know that the people of that gang are quite tight knitted and have big dogs at their side during raids. A supernatural char may even know more that the big dogs are unusual as they can't be dominated or even that they are werewolves depending ont he abilities of that char,... .
Another thing is: Many other supernats would know that vampires gather time and again at this special club. But for example a vampire who lived in the city would know that its elysium and the prince is calling for a meeting of all vampires once per half year, ....
Thus to sum it out a good method I found from experience is that you should give out infos all know before cahracter creation and also infos that affect what is playable or what could pose problems for the player or the campaign. And then during the character creation you talk with the players and together find out what they know about the REAL situation in the city and what they know about their own and other supernatural splats.
That helps a lot in avoiding that the players unconsciously use player knowledge instead of only character knowledge and also leaves some mysteries for them to be solved.