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  • Loathsome regnant

    I had players pick sires from an npc list.

    2 of those players have for certain loathsome regnants.

    One is a cult leader concept. Each era he picks a new cult to lead.

    One is a southern gentlemen who prefers to pretend everything should be back in the 1700s.

    I know the southern gentlemen will be physically abusive to signs of weakness. He keeps blood soaked rods in a cabinet to correct his children. And each is labeled with each persons name. Like a cruel display of power. Especially when he has them being the switch to him.

    How can the cult leader be a loathsome regnant? I’m guessing he should be more intellectually cruel. Perhaps connive the player into debasing and undermining their humanity. But as to how....?

  • #2
    The cult leader would be emotionally abusive. Anything the thrall does is just not good enough, not like Johnny Example. Any time the thrall steps out of line, bring up any faults and how they lead to destruction, wasail, or worse of all exile. Push the line that only the regnant truly loves and looks out for the thrall.

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    • #3
      You could take things a step further than what SparkeyG said and do what real cults have been known to do and have the cult leader bring the individual in question in front of the whole cult who gangs up on them and calls out all the flaws and weaknesses and how it's going to lead to damnation. Of course they all say they do this out of love to save them. The things they're criticized for could even blame things that were environmentally at fault but blame the individuals personality as the reason for their failings. Try to keep all the critiques to short phrases and reuse them a lot. There was a great episode of the old '60s show The Prisoner called A Change of Mind that had good feel for cult tactics with people shouting "Unmutual" and "Disharmonious" at the main character.

      Other queues from real world cults would be isolation as punishment. The leader controlling the food or blood supply and never giving quite enough food out to make sure everyone is irrational (this could backfire spectacularly with a vampire). Lots of submissive chants to help shut the brain down and keep anyone from disagreeing. Creating an air of both fear and pity for those not a part of the cult and a sense of elitism for those in the group.

      For the Southern gentlemen. My Mom always told me stories of her parents teasing her about getting her a switch. One Christmas she picked up a long present under the tree and her old man told her "It's a switch" and she just started crying. Her grandparents had had to deal with parents that made them go out and pick the switch they'd be beaten with. If they picked a weak or flimsy one, they'd really get it.

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      • #4
        Pnizzle

        Just for clarity, when you say "loathsome regnant" you mean a sire to whom the pc is blood bound and treats them poorly? That's the usual definition, and in V20 it was a flaw with attached freebie points.

        If they are blood bound, then it becomes much, much easier. Don't beat their bodies, break their souls.

        Cult leader... what if the cult leader weren't at all cruel to the pc? In fact, they treat the pc better than anyone else in the city. They compliment them, buy them extravagant gifts, listen attentively when the pc has problems, and help the pc advance their position in the city. Problem is this is true only with the pc. To everyone else, the cult leader is relentlessly evil. Disemboweling the pc's coterie mates. Pushing mortal followers to mass suicide. Standing within six feet of strangers.

        The pc finds themself with a true friend, whom they love and admire (see also "blood bound"), who constantly puts the pc's humanity at risk by sheer proximity. Maybe the sire truly likes the pc, or maybe they are playing a very long game of corruption.

        Southern gentleman... he is debonair and well-mannered. He throws lovely little parties and knows absolutely everyone who must be known. Every other vampire in town has learned to ignore the gentleman's politics; after all, he is so much fun. As the gentleman's thrall, however, the pc is sent on errand after errand that conflicts with their own convictions. Killing uppity servants. Burning down inquisitive reporters' homes. Ensuring regressive legislation passes, and is enforced with zeal. Make sure most conflict with the pc's convictions and chronicle tenets, but that some are evil without being a mechanical problem. After each task, the pc is paid generously, but their soul dies a little more.

        If the pc approaches any other vampires in the city about the problem, they just respond, "do your job, and go along to get along".

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        • #5
          Cult leaders tend to be very charismastic, but engage in typical predatory/abusive behaviour because they want to control the other person and their behaviour. There will be strict guidelines on what they can or cannot do according to the cult leader's teachings. They will be socially isolated from their old friends and families in order to make them dependent on the cult leader. Many cult leaders will follow this up with sexual exploitation - at least with certain cult members. Certainly financial exploitation is almost always done, especially with the inner circle as opposed to people who belong to the cult but don't devote themselves to it.

          Now I wouldn't find this very fun to play as it requires a lot of commitment of the Player to enact his PC following the cult leader's instructions. And socially isolating them directly goes against them interacting with the other PCs. But other players may find it interesting. And it is possible if the PC with the loathsome regnant/cult leader is trusted enough by the cult leader to deal with other people, then that may be an important role in the cult - this is the person the cult leader trusts to inteact with the rest of the world (yet not be tempted to reject the cult leader's authority).

          What I would do is sit down with the player and collaborate together as to the cult leader's guidelines. The actual BELIEFS will actually be unimportant. It's the controlling/authoritarian aspect of it that is important in this regard. The actual beliefs are just a skin or flavor text. You can go online and look up lots of inspiration with Scientology, the Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country, and many others.

          And one of the things I'd insist on is that the PC always write up a report to the cult leader every game session to tell him what he's done and what the PCs are doing. It doesn't need to be long. But it'll reflect his use as a (witting or unwitting) spy on the cult leader's behalf. That mitigates the cult leader letting the PC interact with others. And of course, come up with cool things and doctrines to say about the cult in an attempt to recruit the other PCs, or at least act as a good cover for the cult. (Of course, anything objectionable will be a "cult secret" the PC can't tell other people, but there is a list of safe propaganda the PC is allowed to tell others).

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          • #6
            The thing about being "loathsome" in a game is that it can all too easily just become cliché and pointless. To make the characters truly disturbing there has to be a balancing characteristic that make a given person question the validity of their choices.

            For instance the southern gentleman might use physical pain as a means of behavior modification, but what happens when those trained by him end up with impressive levels of self control and discipline, a single minded focus on what ever they are tasked with achieving?

            For the cult leader it is the same thing, most cults promise something to the new members such as the true secrets to life, a permanent community for support, or just introductions to the wealthy and the powerful. In the real world this is usually a lie to mask programming techniques that scrub aspects of personality from the new member, but in the WoD there is actually possibility of things like ghouling to extend lifespan or heal conditions. Heck depending on which version of Dominate you run a vampire could make quite a living helping people stop smoking or use other substances. All it costs is a little bit of your soul and a favor to be named later.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
              Pnizzle

              Just for clarity, when you say "loathsome regnant" you mean a sire to whom the pc is blood bound and treats them poorly? That's the usual definition, and in V20 it was a flaw with attached freebie points.

              ".
              Yes.

              @Dr.HappyAngry got it right with the southern gentlemen and that’s the part of subculture I was focusing on. People who country from back in the day have a higher chance of knowing or experiencing this.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post

                Yes.

                @Dr.HappyAngry got it right with the southern gentlemen and that’s the part of subculture I was focusing on. People who country from back in the day have a higher chance of knowing or experiencing this.
                While corporal punishment was commonplace pretty much everywhere until fairly recently, I think being forced to pick out the switch you'd be beaten with or given one as a gift would be more psychologically terrifying than just being lashed by itself like in a boarding school. It creates a much more impending sense of dread with a reminder punishment is always nearby. I guess maybe an old schoolmaster that keeps their paddle on display constantly would be kind of similar, but a little less extreme and personal.

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