Players with shiny innocent characters running around a dark, gritty world may be tempted to judge that world and its inhabitants as being morally inferior degenerates. A corrective to that problem is to dangle 6 starting Awesome Points in front of a player, if their character has a dark secret to conceal as well. Pick one for the player, or randomize, or make up your own. Duplicates can connect characters.
Long Pagan Tradition. Your family is part of a long pagan tradition. Your grandfather was caught by the Hammers, and while he was burning and screaming tied to the stake, a swarm of rats flowed from the alleys and sewers and chewed the executioner to death. Your family changed their name and moved to another area, barely avoiding the subsequent investigation; the family fortune was severely depleted by bribing a ship captain to say they died at sea of plague.
A Breathless Gift. You sense the dead. You can feel the restless energy squirming beneath the city, sometimes finding its way into corpses and ripping them from their rest. When you were a child, a dark man from the Breathless Order spoke with your parents, and as you eavesdropped, arranged to purchase you as an apprentice. You ran away. You see ghosts, you sense the motives of the unquiet, and you fear that necromancers will again try to recruit you to become one of them.
Heir Obfuscated. You are the bastard child of Baron Lachmarsse. There are rumors among the powerful that you exist; assassins have gotten close in the past. Your nursemaid, and later your foster parents fell to assassin blades, probably after they were tortured. You are not sure how much the shadowy forces that hunt for you know. You do not know if the assassins were sent by the baron, or by the baron’s rivals. Were your identity to become known, you’d stand to inherit considerable power, but you’d likely die before you could use it.
Dream Gate. In your haunted dreams, you see a beautiful figure rising from clear water, beckoning to you. You explore the fey-haunted forests, tread the deep moss, of a realm too beautiful for this one. You experience a primal forest unlike the haunted depths of the dark woods around the City. There is an entity that wants to come into the world through you, to remake the woods into what they should be, free of the influence of civilization. You know the Hammers would be interested in this dream…