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Renaissance Order of Reason and Giovanni in Italia

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Numinous View Post
    Do you have any opinion regarding modern Syndicate-Giovanni relationship dynamics in Italy, Greece and other regions of Mediterranean Europe? I speculate they are not aware of each others existence at all, regardless their Renaissance partnership(sort of)
    It really depends on how, hm, "crossover-y" you imagine the setting to be. If you asked me what I'd expect from a heavily integrated setting, I'd imagine something similar to you:

    A: The Giovanni's local investments are so old and fundamental that they're not worth tracking, much less disputing. Their portfolio is so ancient and diverse that anything short of a World War isn't liable to shift their numbers much, and they aren't engaged in much direct new investment or takeover in the heart of their empire - they own (well, share) the Med. banks, they don't care much who gets the loans, and they don't need to own the business to get their cut. The local elders and mortal heads of the Venetian branch aren't businessmen, not anymore. They're in the business of being rich. Money appears; they care not from whence, only that it arrives. If it doesn't, that's a problem for their lawyers or their knee-breakers, not their sales department.

    B: The Syndicate's invested in the same places, but hands-off - it's only as part of their financial backbone. The Syndicate does not endeavor to directly own or manage every non-influential economic actor, even/especially very large ones - that's dangerous and wasteful. So, sure, their portfolio overlaps with some vampires. They know that. The vampires know that other clans are in the mix, and probably some other weird stuff, like wizards. And nobody cares. Getting mad about this foundational investment is like being mad that the other players use currency. If they exist, they're going to be invested in these stalwart, long-term enterprises. It's not worth getting upset over unless you're the kind of ideological zealot that wants the other players extinct, at which point it's not really about business anymore.

    C: The Syndicate does care about hypertech industries and hypereconomic fronts. A lot. Those are the businesses that they endeavor to own and manage directly. Fortunately, due to A, the local Giovanni are not liable to try and meddle in these untested waters. If they do, whatever tendril they extended is going to get cut off - not because the Syndicate hates them in particular, but because the Syndicate would do that to anyone that tried it, even other Conventions.

    D: Somewhere during the 19th century, the Giovanni probably think the High Guild disbands. They retain their investment into High-Guild-owned banks and businesses, and they still get their checks on time, but they don't know that their current business partners are part of the same old conspiracy. This is due to a blind spot of the Kindred: Their holdings and their plots are personal. Their feuds and intrigues are between exceptional, single actors. Meanwhile, the High Guild transitions from a conspiracy of Great Men (which the Kindred can understand very, very well) into a nebulous modern Institution, a thing that vampire society is less well-armed to track. The Giovanni see that the brief mortals they conspired with have passed on, and because they think this sort of thing is tied to people, they'd assume that's the end of it. They may know that some other conspiracy of bankers and financiers exist, but they consider it, basically, a different entity. They'll react badly if the Syndicate tried to push them out of the HG investments, but only because that's an attack on their holdings by rival bankers - not because they see it as a partner betraying them.

    E: As long as the Giovanni don't try and put their claws into a hypertech/hypereconomic front (and, as I said above, they probably won't bother), they're operating on too deep a level, and at too far a remove, to draw much Syndicate attention. The syndics might have some specific businesses flagged as being kindred fronts, but they may not know or care which exact clan is the player, as it's honestly more important to care about keeping tabs on that influence, not removing it - you can't collapse every business with Kindred backing, because they're ubiquitous, and if you kill the Kindred, another one'll take their place.

    The vassal families are in much more danger of running afoul of the Syndicate, especially the Ghiberti, as they're much more "active" and some are present in developing economic fronts, where the Syndicate is much more aggressive and involved.

    If you play with the Syndicate owning The Understanding (pg 71, SyndRev), and you're in an integrated setting, you should assume that it's sort of a creepy, insidious, John Wick criminal underworld - every major supernatural player has a finger in organized crime, and there's a certain amount of winking acknowledgment between players, but nobody pries and nobody feuds, as long as the business keeps businessing. So if you mess with the Calabrian mafia, you might have pissed off the Syndicate and the Giovanni (and who-knows-what-else), but the people they employ to manage their criminal enterprises have an understanding that they overlook each other's presence and don't report stuff up the chain. It's professional courtesy, and it helps maintain the mystique and independence of their industry.

    I attack people with giant insects both on and off the court.


    • #17
      It seems interesting to me. And it begets some question marks.

      A and B: If they retain and continue their centuries-long investment, is there any difference between Syndicate and Giovanni? And in any case, is there any fundamental difference between Syndicate and financial-minded vampire clans?

      C: Syndicate possess their own hypertech industries unaffiliated with any other Convention? Thus Syndics have their own internal R&D?

      D. So Giovanni is utterly ignorant about Syndicate, however Syndicate is still very well aware of Giovanni...this could come into a great advantage of Syndic machinations.

      E. Why? If Syndic eliminates a troublesome Ghiberti elder and absorbs his business fronts, other elders could not inherit it - they have to go to the drawing board and make a new start while Syndicate earns some fresh fronts.

      And how do you imagine proportional division of world economy Technocracy, Camarilla, Pentex, Giovanni and other major players in a heavily integrated crossover setting you are supposing?
      Last edited by Posthumanity; 04-14-2017, 07:42 PM.


      • #18
        I wouldn't fixate too much on exact numbers, but we can imagine some broad-strokes stuff.

        The Camarilla as a whole hold roughly equivalent wealth to the Union, but no one Clan holds more wealth than the Syndicate. The Ventrue and Giovanni come the closest.
        The Syndicate holds roughly half the resources of the Union, with the other Conventions sharing the remainder.
        The Kindred as a whole hold more a little more wealth than the Union, but not twice as much (the Camarilla are to the Kindred as the Syndicate are to the Union)
        Kindred wealth is also less mobile (it basically sits in a pile accruing interest for years at a time) and more fractious (very few clans pool wealth for major projects.)

        Pentex is comically huge, holding the equivalents of many very major industry leaders (Loomer once observed that Pentex's McDonalds is about 25% more market-permeated than the real-world equivalent, so Pentex is not only the biggest businesses you can name, it's a bigger biggest businesses.). If Pentex exists, everyone's invested in one of its holdings, because they're industry leaders. This is probably inescapable, because otherwise you'd have to posit that every other major financial actor somehow miraculously manages to avoid investing into the world's largest companies while still raking in the big bucks. Pentex is probably as wealthy as two average clans put together, somewhere between the Ventrue and the Giovanni.

        The Union's got a strong financial backbone, but the Syndicate also recognizes that every dollar funneled into Union projects is one not in circulation among the Masses. While it might be feasible for the Union to seize a larger slice of the pie, doing so is at odds with their ideological and practical objectives. The Syndicate and other Conventions therefore usually only directly own very select frontier businesses - the companies that hold the patents for the car of tomorrow, not the guys who built the car you drive today. Unlike the Union, vampire money absolutely does disappear into the shadow economy. It emerges only to be laundered to pay for Kindred expenses or to buy mortal holdings. Given those facts, the Ventrue may even have more cash than the Syndicate, because they're sitting on a big pile of doubloons or whatever, but the Syndicate moves more money through their hands on a yearly basis, and that money does more work daily.

        Now, the Syndicate also takes credit for the entire global economy, so if you asked them how much of the pie was theirs they would say 100% of it. But they also would turn down your request for funding for a jetpack project, because the Union has a lot of projects going on, and many of them are crazy expensive, and it actually has to make many hard decisions about its money.

        The fact that the "petty cash" left over after those hard decisions is still an outrageous Scrooge McDuck fortune is how you justify your Syndicate character buying the building that Iterator Iron Man is about to blow up.

        (The Ventrue just don't ever let their agents use the Scrooge McDuck money pile, and they don't have to pay for anybody's cancer research, so when they *do* make a big purchase, it's enormous, and part of a project that's going to take centuries to pull off.)

        On more specific points:

        A/B: They're entangled in some very old industries - they're all probably invested into the banks and exchanges that made up the High Guild, for instance, because they all pushed and profited from the rise of international markets and modern finance. But I don't think any of them would consider this entanglement an alliance or partnership. There's only so many centuries-old financial institutions that go around, so it's not remarkable that the players all overlap there.

        On a business level, the Syndicate and the financially-minded Clans have very little to fight about. The Syndicate doesn't own that much stuff, and it takes a very high-level view of the economic sphere. It's mostly immaterial to them if the owner of a manufacturing company in some part of West Africa is a vampire, a ghoul, a Traditionalist, a corrupt government official, or a completely upright businessman. They care about the markets and the health thereof, not the ideological purity of the investors.

        Where the Ghiberti and other vassals would get into trouble is if their financial machinations in developing markets impede the enrollment of that market into the global economy. That's where they'd be working at cross-purposes to the local Syndicate efforts - if things under their management go from "corrupt business" to "dysfunctional business."

        (Holding-wise, The Syndicate's going to have a larger presence in more volatile, modern businesses. Vampires plan their investments very long term, while the Syndicate wants to bolster and advance promising markets and industries. The Syndicate is also made up of people with vision, and this can have positive and negative repercussions.)

        C: Not exactly. The Syndicate owns things like Plexic and AEZIR, which are boutiques and patent-holders, the point at which the Enlightened technologies of the other Conventions are integrated into the Sleeping marketplace. Plexic's analytic software is Iteration X's baby, but the effort to find which elements can be profitably placed in Sleeper hands is a Syndicate effort - I wouldn't call it meaningfully "their "R&D, because the fundamental work is done by ItX and the implementation into Sleeper hands is done, effectively, by Sleepers working for a business the Syndicate owns. The Syndicate manages some second-tier hypertech R&D, I guess.

        D: Possibly, but remember that very few Union members have security clearance to know True Facts about what their Convention was doing 60 years ago, much less 600. In a practical sense, the Syndicate has some people that know the Giovanni family has been in the financial game at least as long as they have, and that many of the Giovanni are deviants (in every sense of the word.) They may not know that the Giovanni know about the High Guild, and they probably aren't aware that the Giovanni also control over a dozen other financial family clans - those acquisitions occurred centuries after the High Guild was formed (and may have occurred *because* the Guild made it easier for the Giovanni to get in contact with other successful merchants across the globe.)

        E: Well, let's pump the brakes here. Why don't the cops arrest all of the drug dealers and post a patrol car on every street corner to make sure they don't come back?

        Vampire society is locative, and vampires are very sensitive to who owns what. If a valuable holding is up in the air, they're going to make a play. So in addition to the cost of buying the business out (non-trivial, as it's not the Syndicate paying the bill, it's coming out of the operational budget of the guy in charge of the amalgam in one city in West Africa, and that guy doesn't have unlimited resources.) they have to fend off legal and illegal attempts to take control. Sure, the Union could put pressure on local government to make the business untouchable to legal takeovers, but now the Syndicate is getting into centralized planning and protectionism, and that's Pinko Craftmason talk. ("For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole front company, and lose his own soul?")

        "We'll just absorb the Ghiberti's business and lock the Kindred out" is like "we'll just install a new government in Afghanistan." It means signing on to vigilant and unprofitable stewardship of an asset of dubious value for an indeterminate amount of time. It's an issue of cost and return on investment.

        I attack people with giant insects both on and off the court.


        • #19
          Here is my thoughts regarding the topic;

          A: If the Syndicate does not own that much pie, how they could hold more wealth than the Ventrue?

          B: On the flip side, how vampires could amass that much wealth? Unlike Syndicate(and any other financial mages), they could not bring literal financial/hypereconomical magick into the table. They have to rely on ghouls and a few useful disciplines(i.e. Dominate and Presence). Even werewolves can rely on economic-related spirits and gifts.

          C: So in your vision, Pentex is poorer than the Ventrue, let alone the Syndicate. It is also corresponded with my own projection.

          D: Camarilla are to the kindred as the Syndicate are to the Union? I have always considered Camarilla holds most of the vampire's wealth, much more than 50%. You also said kindred as whole hold 'a little more' wealth than the Union, far from twice. Anyway, I have always conjectured the Union as whole holds roughly equivalent wealth as kindred as whole, if not more so...however, that is my vision, and opinions can differ.

          E: How do you imagine percentage of Ventrue holding in Camarilla? Also, in your vision, Syndicate is roughly twice wealthy than the Ventrue, Ventrue is twice wealthy than Giovanni, and Giovanni is twice wealthy than "average" Clans, and so on?

          F: So if the Syndicate owns, for instance, Apple, Goggle, Amazon and Microsoft, vampires own...well, very very old century-long business?

          G: What do you mean Syndicate manages second-tier hypertech R&D? Do you mean Enlightened Management of bleeding-edge sleeper science research and tech start-ups?

          H: In any case, why Syndicate needs cash? I have always wondered - they could extract literally unlimited wealth via Primal Utility and hypereconomic procedures or meddling with bank accounts. I think other mages could do similar things if they wish to do so.
          Last edited by Posthumanity; 04-18-2017, 08:46 PM.


          • #20
            I think you've roughly grasped how I'd imagine it, yeah. On specific points:

            A: We should draw a line between ownership and investment. The Union has a huge bankroll of funds from various sources, and the Syndicate re-invests that money in (legitimate and illegitimate) businesses across the globe with Awakened precision and insight, reaping huge profits and skimming whatever spare dollars out of the global economy the system can spare. They have to be careful, though, that this influence doesn't perturb the waters - that sort of hamfisted manipulation distorts the markets in unnatural fashions and leads to bubbles, recessions, and Market Correction. It's also crass, by Syndicate ethical standards - the Syndicate sincerely believes that the market's natural forces, with some benign neglect, are more efficient and lead to better outcomes for humanity that having an Enlightened hand steer the wheel (leave that to those clods in the NWO.)

            So the Union is moving and making a lot of money, but it's basically acting as a super-powered investment fund - it's not trying to control the leadership or dictate the day-to-day operations of the companies it's invested in, it's just funneling money to promising markets (with a high degree of accuracy, thanks to Enlightened guidance) and reaping some ("much-deserved", says the Syndicate) financial rewards for its continued stewardship of the global economy by earning a few hundred million dollars here and there.

            B: Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. Richard Oppenheimer said so!

            But really I think the answers you're seeing in your thread are pretty apt. Vampires use the same tactics that corrupt businessmen and organized crime use, they just have been doing so for a very long time (long enough that they can and have manufactured some of the rules of the game to their own benefit), and they can supplement those tactics with supernatural powers. Consider the Giovanni: They and their subsidiary families made huge fortunes while being merely highly unethical mortal businessmen, and becoming vampires just gave them more options.

            Kindred get their hooks into one or many businesses, take their cut off the top, and use quasi-legal and illegal influence to protect and grow their assets. Years later, the legitimized businesses launder dirty money and bring in clean, above-board profits. They also (unlike the hands-off Union) do wish to be able to exert direct control over routine operations (in part because owning things is how Kindred keep score.)

            C: Less funds by absolute measures, but a larger chunk of those funds are potentially "in play." They can leverage much of them for Pentex projects, as they see fit. The Syndicate have responsibilities that they have to fund. The Kindred need to squirrel away funds to wage the Jyhad and cover expenses for possibly forever. Pentex is not responsible, and it's focused on short-term gains. (If Pentex folded tomorrow, the entire board would coast away on solid gold parachutes and found Pentex Two.) A Pentex executive with a profitable Big Idea has to deal with less hierarchy, institutional inertia, and ideological oversight than a Ventrue or Syndicate player.

            This might mean, in a micro-scale environment, that Pentex may devote more money to achieving an outcome than the other players can spare to prevent them. To go back to our Ghiberti example, a Pentex subsidiary may be able to spend more money buying the favor of the regional government than the local Syndicate amalgam or Ghiberti coterie can afford - the fact that their parent organizations are wealthier isn't relevant, because it's never a contest between whole organizations at once but a skirmish in a specific location, which each organization prioritizes according to their own agenda and current obligations.

            E: Those ratios aren't bad (I would make the gaps a little smaller, if only to cut down on how big a slice of the pie is in supernatural hands. I also suspect we should imagine that there's more money in the WoD, for cinematic reasons.)

            The Ventrue aren't in quite the same position in regards to the Cam as the Syndicate is to the Union: the Syndicate can volunteer to manage the money of their fellows and have a chance of that offer being accepted, so you can imagine that the syndics are personally handling a larger portion of the finances. Not many Kindred would trust a cousin, much less the members of another Clan, with that responsibility.

            F: Well, not "owns", but that's not a bad analogy. The Synidcate invests in a promising Silicon Valley startup (and invested into Apple in the early 90s.) The Ventrue invest in a fifty-year-old microcontroller manufacturer (and still own a chunk of the Valley Falls Company from the 1890s.) The vampires are more conservative. They prefer solid goods and finance to intellectual and digital assets, and industries that have a long enough pedigree that they can prove they aren't a short-term fad. This means their money grows more slowly, but they have all the time they need.

            G: Yeah. The Syndicate steers a company like Plexic, which turns Enlightened tech into merely cutting-edge tech for the masses. A syndic signs the checks at Plexic, but the knowhow that made the original analytical methods was Iteration X, and the techs that figure out how to package and sell that product are Sleepers, so the value the Syndicate adds is the business savvy and management direction that pays the bills and gets the product to market.

            H: They're uniquely situated to know that real wealth is sincerely (and metaphysically) different than any amount of magically-generated surplus. Cash itself is only useful inasmuch as it can create the opportunities that let a Primal Venture blossom, so magically-created faerie gold can't be the basis of your economy, and most other means of producing cash "magically" are just stealing it from some other part of the Tellurian - there's no such thing as a free lunch (Look how big a Primal Venture you'd have to tap to just refund a field agent their Resources 3 expenses, for example.) Genuine investment and opportunity makes Primal value, which is the only value that can build something lasting.

            I attack people with giant insects both on and off the court.


            • #21
              There's also the fact that for much of their existence. The Order of Reason has considered vampires trivial. Sure they're there. And yes, they're wrong and bad. But it's like comparing someone who jaywalks to someone who drives a flaming bus through a crowded shopping mall and then tries to murder the survivors with a pickaxe. There are simply far more.... offensive offenders.

              Vampires generally keep their heads down and actively police themselves. Meaning that as far as the Order of Reason is concerned, they will secrecy themselves out of existence at some point.


              • #22
                Originally posted by Five Eyes View Post
                I think you've roughly grasped how I'd imagine it, yeah. On specific points:
                Thank you so much for enlightening me. Your elucidation is very well thought out.


                • #23
                  So, the Syndicate still considers vampires are actively benefiting/replenishing/distributing global economy and useful to maintain and reinforce global financial system?

                  And how wealthy is modern Order of Hermes do you think? As wealthy as Tremere or Toreador or Glass Walkers?


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Posthumanity View Post
                    And how wealthy is modern Order of Hermes do you think?
                    Well turning lead into gold is kinda a hobby of theirs and they have a house that deals with numbers and money......


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Posthumanity
                      And how wealthy is modern Order of Hermes do you think? As wealthy as Tremere or Toreador or Glass Walkers?
                      There's going to be a book about wealth and mages, and the OoH it's going to be there as the major player of the Traditions. So, we will know a lot more of this.

                      That being said, I think that the Order it's much more "vampirical" than the Technocracy in regards to the approach they have to money. Powerful individuals within the Order want to have a lot of money for their scheemes, but don't care so much with group agendas (like most vampires)...A centuries old Archmage on a Horizon Realm doesn't need money to live, and can hoard money, manipulate bussiness and benefit from banks much like a centuries old Elder. Hermetics are more prone to cheat the system and not care for the consequences (much like vampires). Then again, the Syndicate DOES consider Mages a major threat, and thus probably have interfered in the schemes to get filthy rich of more than one Fortunae.

                      I don't think they, as a whole, manage a significant part of the pie when compared with Ventrue, Giovanny or Toreador (Toreador are very much social predators, and that involves getting money. All that art isn't cheap after all) . Only a part of the Order concerns itself with money (mostly House Fortunae and manipulative Masters), plus many Hermetic mages preffer to pursue esoterical agendas that have nothing to do with money and it's likely that the Order has to spend part of their fortune in the Ascension War.

                      To compare them with the Tremere it's more complicated because many Tremere are also interested in pursuing esoterical agendas that have little to do with money, I don't think they're as rich as the other Camarilla clans (well, with the possible exeption of the Gangrel and the Malkavian). The Tremere hasn't the same reputation of"filthy-rich" that the Ventrue or the Giovanny have. I guess the OoH COULD have a wealth comparable to the Tremere, but the Tremere could be richer merely because they don't have the Syndicate breathing on their backs.

                      The Glass Walkers may be comparable too to the OoH, because while many of them are savvy wolves of wall street and/or control sucessful business, surelly they have to spend a lot of resources fighting Pentex and supporting any ocasional need the Nation may have (they're probably the major economical bastion of the Garou Nation, after all).
                      Last edited by Aleph; 04-19-2017, 12:24 PM.