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[V5] Codifying the Second Inquisition

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  • [V5] Codifying the Second Inquisition

    Reposted from the Vienna thread.

    My criticism of the Second Inquisition

    I love V5 but I feel like it made a number of errors in its presentation that with a bit more organization could have made things better. I do think OPP has a better grasp of presentation of a game setting and providing information to Storytellers so that gamers can jump into the world. Basically, I don't think the Hunter the Reckoning-esque deluge of in-universe fiction like in the original book, the Camarilla, and Anarch is as good as simply starting the book off with a "The History of Kindred, particularly from 2004 to 2020." Basically, we could have used a bit more text-book in terms of how to present things.

    For me, the Second Inquisition was a bit ill-defined and that limited its use as well as questioned just what it could do and how it could do it. There's a benefit to saying, potentially, "We don't know how many people are involved in it, that's up to the Storytellers" but it is something that would have helped justify a lot of the sudden and mysterious victories that they were able to achieve over longstanding characters/groups/organizations. I'm not saying they should have had the SECOND INQUISITION guidebook as one of the first ones out but a lot of the information in the Camarilla book should have been in the new book.

    Questions like:

    * How many people belong to the organization?
    * How do they keep the Masquerade among its members?
    * How much is their level of resources?
    * How do they protect themselves from Kindred influence?
    * How much do they know?
    * Do they know about other supernaturals?

    And so on.

    I don't have a problem with them taking down Vienna but I feel like some more explanations for their sudden and inexplicable victory would help. The SI are an amazing concept and bring the attention back to mortals but should have also some explanation.

    So this is a thread talking about how you'd define the SI for your setting and what it can, can't, and does do.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

  • #2
    Here's my write-up for my group and I am hoping you guys can criticize or offer your thoughts.

    C.T. Phipps Second Inquisition

    The Second Inquisition is not actually a single organization but a loose alliance of hunter organizations spread throughout the World of Darkness that have banded together before carrying out numerous daring raids on Kindred society. These include the daring destruction of the Giovanni Mausoleum, the destruction of the Council of Seven, the purging of London, and the devastation of Mexico City's Sabbat. CT's Note: I'm also adding the bombing of Alamut in this, having the Syria-based building blasted by the US military to oblivion.

    Prior to the events of 2008, when the Second Inquisition began, hunters were on the back foot in dealing with Kindred society. They lacked resources, intelligence, weaponry, and organization. They were also designated as criminals or terrorists since the government did not look kindly on well-armed private citizens burning down buildings or claiming vampires existed. This, unfortunately (for vampires), made Kindred overconfident. The biggest change for the life of hunters is the existence of Project: Firstlight (previously Project: Twilight) that is less important in the amount of hunting it does than what it does behind the scenes.

    Project: Firstlight is a conspiracy of agents, analysts, bureaucrats, bean-counters, and even the occasional politician as well as billionaire. Note that I said conspiracy as the size and makeup of FL is a secret as any of them could be targeted if their identities were known. They also believe if they presented proof positive of the supernatural's existence to the world, that it might backfire horribly with society either embracing (no pun intended) immortality or a complete breakdown in society. They hide behind the anonymity of bureaucracy, paperwork, and layers of government to keep them safe from Kindred revenge. It has been mostly successful so far but they have suffered dreadful casualties that have caused them to be questioned.

    Firstlight is an American and U.K. based initiative but has slowly been copied or contacted by many other countries in the world. Almost every major government has had some people brush up against the supernatural at some point in their careers or have secret societies (what COD would call Vigils) dedicated to their destruction. The Knights of Saint George, The Society of Leopold, Judges, Strike Force Zero, and others. Firstlight's aid is not always welcomed (and often something said groups are deeply suspicious of) but few have said no to money or weapons. This coordination has actually resulted in the biggest benefits more than the fighting itself. The infrasructure was always there, just ineffectively used.

    The primary thing the Second Inquisition provides for hunters is not its own army of Special Forces soldiers and hunters but coordination, information, recruitment, and resources. Affiliated hunters find themselves given names, locations, and caches of weapons to carrying out their war against the undead. The SI can and does make their legal problems go away (within reason) as well as explains away why a man with a bunch of C4 was actually a CI or undercover agent. Hundreds of buildings burn down more than they used to in what is called "the rise of spree arson." But the reason for this nightly news oddity is nebulous.

    The victories the Second Inquisition have achieved are both impressive as well as misleading. Their ten-year-long war against the undead have destroyed more vampires since the original Inquisition but also left hundreds of hunters dead and billions of dollars spent, which is difficult for even the CIA to cover up before Senate inquiries. Kindred disinformation, sleeper agents, combat fatigue, and outright bribery also have their own effects. Some question whether the victories so far are "enough" or even if vampires are worth the effort given they kill less people than cigarettes. Others remain die-hard fanatics determined to purge the world of Caine's childer completely.

    A few of the original Firstlight leadership have taken the belief this war will be a new state of affairs and are making efforts to create hunters outside the chain of command. Secret training camps, businesses that exist solely to provide resources to the Second Inquisition and blackmailing/bribing politicians to continue funding as well as black ops to allow them a free hand. They have even killed witnesses and whistle-blowers to protect their secrets. In short, becoming much more like the enemy they face.

    Resources

    The Second Inquisition has several thousand bodies on the ground, roughly divided in half between the people behind the scenes and actual 'soldiers.' The Second Inquisition seems larger than it is due to the fact that it often makes use of police, SWAT, and other official authorities as supplementary forces. Much like the Agents in The Matrix, it is suicidal to send these against vampires themselves but it serves to cordon them off. Mind you, 90% of all active operations are done during the day by the SI and the greatest ally they have is the sun. Inquisitors get more benefit from burning down a isolated house and surrounding storm sewers with flames than they've ever had with actual battle.

    The SI has access to magical resources in the form of Numina, primarily through its affiliate hunter groups and this is not that much weaker than vampire Disciplines and arguably more effective than anything but the Tremere, but it is primarily technology as well as weaponry that gives them their strongest edge.

    Weaknesses

    The Second Inquisition wouldn't have had nearly the level of success it has had if not for the fact it struck at a particularly turbulent time in Kindred history. The Beckoning, Gehenna War, and rise of the Second Anarch Revolt has caused resistance to the organization to be weak. Indeed, many kindred are perfectly happy with the Second Inquisition's efforts as they have destroyed old enemies and culled the ranks of fellow predators.

    They do not have enough soldiers to go after every Kindred in the world, however, and there are many who are starting to believe their primary goal should be to identify the supernatural rather than destroy it outright. This is due to multiple higher-ups beginning to suspect that there are more than just vampires out there (or already know). They don't want to disseminate this information, though, for fear of destroying morale or triggering a belief they should release their information to the public.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 08-13-2019, 06:43 PM.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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    • #3
      Were I to use them in a chronicle, I’d have the Second Inquisition declare victory and start winding their operation down after their successes in London and Vienna. They’re a calamity that happened and shook up the status quo, and they’re a bogeyman that the Camarilla’s elders invoke in order to justify this week’s latest abuse of power, but they’re not actively hunting now. They’re mostly just something that could flare up again if the Anarchs aren’t careful in their feeding.

      Alternatively, if the Gehenna War is still going on in the Middle East, then the Second Inquisition has its hands full there. They may have even suffered drastic losses or infiltration/subversion.

      In this latter scenario, it’s probably only a matter of time until military contractors with ties to Pentex show up to offer reinforcements and things really start going to hell.
      Last edited by Reasor; 08-13-2019, 07:13 PM.

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      • #4
        First, let me say I agree completely with your constructive criticism of how things are presented in V5. As a storyteller trying to catch up with the story after several years, it's frustrating at times to figure out where things stand in V5.

        That being said, my take on the SI from what I've gathered so far:

        * How many people belong to the organization?
        - Probably quite a few, but most don't realize what they're truly up against (except the Society of Leopold). As I understand it, FIRSTLIGHT is the core of SI. This probably has one or two representatives from each government involved (and the Society of Leopold) as the central command structure and a few other agents to help run field ops. Outside of FIRSTLIGHT, there still seems to be a significant number of agents who are aware of the nature of the enemy (probably less than 500). I get the impression that's where it stops. The commanders and investigators of the SI know, but the actual assault groups do not (though experienced troops may have their suspicions...and that may lead to promotion).

        * How do they keep the Masquerade among its members?
        - Control of information. They already claim they're fighting "terrorists." That seems to be good enough for most of the world. As for the "boots on the ground" who do the dirty work, they probably have an in-depth debriefing after each mission to ascertain what the troops saw and try to explain as much of it as possible with a reasonable story. If there are troops that see too much, they probably try to convert them to investigating agents.

        * How much is their level of resources?
        - Probably significant. At a bare minimum you have access to the money of the Vatican and the military hardware (and data monitoring) of the United States. That alone should be enough to make a blankbody shiver.

        * How do they protect themselves from Kindred influence?
        - They're very aware of how dangerous it would be if a kindred got inside the organization. They're also aware that it's a very strong possibility. I suspect one's actions are monitored very closely and given regular medical and psychological exams. Dealing with an accusation is probably a damning proposition and could be dealt with quickly and harshly. It seems like it would be easy to prove you're NOT undead, but SI is probably a bit paranoid about what it DOESN'T know about kindred and thus could go to unnecessary extremes.

        * How much do they know?
        - This seems to be a drawback for the SI. They're aware that there are different types of kindred, but don't seem to understand the nature of the division into clans. They're aware of several different powers (Disciplines), but not necessarily which clans tend to have which ones. They have a fair amount of knowledge, but are still trying to figure out a lot of it.

        * Do they know about other supernaturals?
        - This is an excellent question. Right now, I'd lean toward no. At most, they've come across references to Garou and Mages, but have no hard evidence yet. What references they have found they probably hope aren't true.


        I'm curious to learn more about them. Hopefully that will come soon.

        A few questions of my own:
        * What experiments have they conducted on captured kindred? How sadistic are they?
        * Are there disagreements within the organization about how to approach/solve the issue? Perhaps a more scholarly faction and a gung-ho faction?
        * Are they being manipulated by any outside forces? (The Technocracy comes to mind, though probably not...yet).
        * What plans do the kindred have to counter them?
        Last edited by Kodiak3d; 08-13-2019, 07:10 PM.

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        • #5
          Good response!

          Here's my thoughts.

          Originally posted by Kodiak3d View Post
          A few questions of my own:
          * What experiments have they conducted on captured kindred? How sadistic are they?
          My inclination is that there's a lot of testing going on but it's somewhat compartmentalized. There's places where Kindred are kept as prisoners in "reasonably humane" conditions and interrogated like any other prisoner and then there's horrific nightmare places of vivisection, torture, and stuff like the Mandarin's base in Bloodlines.

          * Are there disagreements within the organization about how to approach/solve the issue? Perhaps a more scholarly faction and a gung-ho faction?
          One thing I was really intrigued by in the Camarilla book was that the Russian Federation SI isn't trusted anymore because they were possibly making deals with the Blankbodies instead of wiping them all out.

          * Are they being manipulated by any outside forces? (The Technocracy comes to mind, though probably not...yet).
          My view of how to best handle the interaction with other supernaturals is the Technocracy probably knows the Second Inquisition exists and is quietly rendering aid but not attempting to control it. I figure that they maybe have used Mind 2 and Mind 3 New World Order Rotes[/b] to make sure they don't spill the beans on the supernatural as well as giving Bleeding EdgeTM equipment to them. They don't need to control it, just make sure it doesn't spill out of control if that makes sense. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the SI black sites and teams are Technocracy missions operating under the disguise of Firstlight, though.

          I'm inclined to think the Traditions are also helping the war against the vampires as well. The Akashic Brotherhood, Celestial Choir, Euthanatos, and Order of Hermes all have bad blood with the undead as well. I can easily see them helping on the Society of Leopold, Judges, and other "hedge mage and faith" group of things. The irony that the Technocracy is helping on the other would not go unnoticed--for long.

          I'm inclined to think Pentex is probably aware of the Second Inquisition and might actually be having an internal debate. They could lobby their billions of dollars in resources to pressure the government to shut it down (without them ever knowing what they're shutting down) but there's others who might think it'd be better to fund it because, really, aren't vampires just rivals for their control? The Sabbat is certainly chasing good money after bad. These may offer individual SI members a lot of money and resources but only if they go after the vampires THEY want and possibly introduce them to the idea of werewolves existing.

          A couple of Kinfolk may have already infiltrated the SI but they're probably being ignored or considered alarmist by the Garou.

          I also had Marcus Vitel and some other ancient vampires manipulating the SI to destroy their enemies in other vampires. It's very much a "screw you, I've got mine" situation.

          * What plans do the kindred have to counter them?
          Subversion, money, misinformation, and targeted elimination--the usual.


          Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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          • #6
            I really like how the SI is being used in the game as a check against technology. It kinda gives things a bit of a noir feeling by turning down the tech level in a game a little.

            When I first started looking into the game up again I thought about how different it would be in the current day vs back in the 90's with the rise of technology. I was wondering how to handle that and then I discovered the SI. Problem solved.

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