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On the subject of the Second Inquisition & the masqurade

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  • On the subject of the Second Inquisition & the masqurade

    A prominent question V5 raises is why does the Second Inquision effectively inforce the masqurade, keeping the truth of kindred society away from the normies? My take on this question is this: The SI is primarily made up of the FBI, the CIA & the NSA, institutions that bolsters themselves on being infallible, efficient and more-than-compitent, and yet the kindred have been able to operate under their noses since their inception. The public have already lost respect and faith in these orginisations, some even go so far as to advocate the abolishment of the FBI. If the public were to learn about kindred society, they would likely lampoon the inteligence comunity for being too incompitent to protect them from this exstitential threat. Thats why I think the SI keeps the secrets, to save face. Alternitivly, the SI might be afraid that if the public were to learn about vamps, and therefore about ghouling and the embrace, undesirable ellement might get their hands on vampire blood and become ghouls or in extreme cases become or create kindred themselves, therefore having enough power to overthrow the goverment. Do Y'all think I'm on the money on this, or do you have an alternative theory?
    Last edited by AscentionTheMage; 02-19-2021, 06:53 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by AscentionTheMage View Post
    A prominent question V5 raises is why does the Second Inquision effectively inforce the masqurade, keeping the truth of kindred society away from the normies? My take on this question is this: The SI is primarily made up of the FBI, the CIA & the NSA, institutions that bolsters themselves on being infallible, efficient and more-than-compitent, and yet the kindred have been able to operate under their noses since their inception. The public have already lost respect and faith in these orginisations, some even go so far as to advocate the abolishment of the FBI. If the public were to learn about kindred society, they would likely lampoon the inteligence comunity for being too incompitent to protect them from this exstitential threat. Thats why I think the SI keeps the secrets, to save face. Alternitivly, the SI might be afraid that if the public were to learn about vamps, and therefore about ghouling and the embrace, undesirable ellement might get their hands on vampire blood and become ghouls or in extreme cases become or create kindred themselves, therefore having enough power to overthrow the goverment. Do Y'all think I'm on the money on this, or do you have an alternative theory?
    I agree with some of your interpretation.

    The government doesn't want to effectively destroy human society. As stated by Matthew Dawkins, information is power and revealing that there's a massive world-spanning conspiracy of living corpse monsters secretly living among you is not going to be like True Blood. It will effectively end life as was previously known. Whatever happens next will be wholly unlike the previous civilization.

    Besides, it's not like the governments of the setting didn't ALREADY know about the undead. Project: Twilight and the Guide to the Technocracy were both pretty clear that the government is LITTERED with people aware of it but who are usually answering to one faction or another. It's just Pentex, the Technocracy, and various other factions have their own reasons for encouraging agents to keep things under wraps.


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

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    • #3
      How much salt do you want to take?

      Saving face is a pretty good explanation. Another potential explanation is that, were vampires revealed, how easy would it be for vampires to spin the wheel with their resources and connections and present themselves as an unjustified object of persecution from religious extremists that had to hide? They'll end up a protected species. The other alternative is... mutual destruction. The nasty thing about war with vampires is that they'll convert their enemies and watch husbands kill wives.... yeesh

      Part of the Paradox about the SI is that the larger and more well connected the organization, the easier it is for vampires to come in and kill them all, incriminate them, attack families, or otherwise pull the plug on their operation. The SI needs to remain small and nobody should know what they're doing. Remember that these big agencies are have a HQ and a public adress and you can just google who runs the whole thing. If the top are in on it, they need some plausible deniability. Now, Agents connecting from one organization to another? That's dangerous. The FBI does what it says on the tin and is generally considered a force for good, but the CIA is a terrorist organization that sells drugs and interferes with foreign elections; If vampires existed IRL, you'd find them there. A vampire hunter in MI5 wouldn't be able to find and trust the vampire hunters in MI6, nevermind other european agencies. The only saving grace is that foreign inter-agency co-operation isn't really needed since vampires don't really move around that much. I presume it's a third party linking them all together.


      Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
      There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AscentionTheMage View Post
        Thats why I think the SI keeps the secrets, to save face.
        That matches the tone of the setting; institutions will not save you because they are vain and mediocre.

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        • #5
          I agree with the above and also tend to think the Second Inquisition are pawns of a supernatural faction (vampires, Pentex, many others; take your pick) who already have a vested interest in preserving the Masquerade, which makes it doubly secure.

          I've said it in other threads, but the idea of so much cooperation between intelligence agencies is disbelief-shattering for me. The only way to explain them getting along so well is because of behind the scenes supernatural shenanigans. One of my players who's in the military had this take:

          I also think it’s pretty hilarious the idea that they’re trading information across countries. This is the single biggest point of contention in the real, less _darkness_ world. None of the spy bosses want to share anything. The military doesn’t play nice with the spies. The countries don’t play nice with each other.

          Some perspective here, for instance, US ships can’t even do most of our comms with other NATO ships using 10-20 year old systems because we refuse to share our crypto, even when we have better more advanced systems available as well that we could keep to ourselves. The US military intelligence couldn’t share info on the 9/11 terrorists with the civilian side, and even in the years since it’s gotten almost no better.

          Yet I’m supposed to believe that the top secret guys at the top are sharing secrets and intel on their most terrifying new threats (i.e. undead monsters with mind control powers) with each other? When they might be compromised? Hell, even when there isn’t that threat, it’s almost impossible to share info in the real world, much less in the World of Darkness. This is a game of corrupt power, of corruption at the top, of secrecy and greed and hunger for power. International partnerships and sharing information is… not really in the cards.

          The annihilation of Vienna is particularly laughable to me. You cannot move and organize the number of men and materials needed to wage that kind of massive battle without leaving a hilariously massive paper trail - and trail of bureaucrats and money behind.


          Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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          • #6
            There’s a common theory in the UFOlogy community called ‘Imminent Disclosure’. The idea is that the government(s) know about aliens visiting earth, they have for a while (Roswell is a commonly suggested introduction) and that the reason why they hide the truth is manyfold but a prominent one is that the revelation would cause a cataclysmic panic that would tend society as we know it apart.

            Religiosity wound enter into a new golden age and/or dark age, there would be War of the Worlds hysteria, there would be widespread terror and the chaos that ensued could see economic failure from bank runs or complete losses of faith in the government/militaries power to defend their citizens with populist movements taking the streets and alien collaborators trying to defect.

            The point is - it would be a huge hassle and would destroy the status quo. Those who benefit from that status quo (read: those with power/influence) want to avoid this at all costs.

            The same principle applies to government sanctioned hunting/investigation operations. The revelations of vampires in our midst could trigger similar catastrophes to the ones proposed by UFOlogists. The powerful individuals who hold the reins of groups like Project: Twilight and the FBI Special Affairs Division would like to avoid that - so make whatever deals or power plays you have to in order to maintain society as is without the masquerade keeping the machine going being undone.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by False Epiphany View Post
              I agree with the above and also tend to think the Second Inquisition are pawns of a supernatural faction (vampires, Pentex, many others; take your pick) who already have a vested interest in preserving the Masquerade, which makes it doubly secure.

              I've said it in other threads, but the idea of so much cooperation between intelligence agencies is disbelief-shattering for me. The only way to explain them getting along so well is because of behind the scenes supernatural shenanigans. One of my players who's in the military had this take:
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes#Nine_Eyes

              To be fair, I have no doubt that if the United States knows about vampires then so does Britain and so does Australia. From there, it will leak and get picked up by other groups.

              Some Watsonian and Doylist thoughts too.

              1. Doylist: There is flat out no point to making the Second Inquisition a pawn to any supernatural faction without essentially dismissing the need for the Second Inquisition period. Either the Second Inquisition shows the dangers of regular humans to vampires or you shouldn't use it. That's my Doylist view on the subject. The whole point is to explain why the Masquerade is necessary and that if humans knew about the undead, the undead would last roughly long enough to be a bug splattering against the windshield of humanity's car. Vampires need to be secret because they cannot live without humanity and its institutions while humans most certainly can. It's not necessarily a popular view but it's one that I think should absolutely be true in-universe and it is a course correction from 2nd Edition onward that vampires have increasingly been portrayed as invulnerable versus vulnerable due to their powers trumping the Masquerade.

              Oddly, I cite Garth Ennis' THE BOYS as a good example, especially the comic. One thing that Ennis liked highlighting is that superpowers are IMPRESSIVE but in the fact of the dedicated military technology and practicality of a modern military--they're fucking useless. At one point, a PMC is hired to kill the equivalent of the X-men and they do it within a couple of hours with almost zero casualties.

              I think the Second Inquisition should have infiltrators and influencers as well as people using it to fight their enemies but it should always be an independent group because the whole point is that vampires CANNOT control humanity that is aware of them. Otherwise, the story loses pretty much all of its resonance.

              3. Watsonian: In simple terms, the Second Inquisition I think the SI is way too big to be controlled. It's also not like they don't have their own defenses. Against an Antediluvian, no, the SI doesn't have a chance unless you're like me and retcon it being the party responsible for the death of Ravnos instead of the Technology. However, against virtually anything else, they are going to be pretty evenly matched--especially in 5th Edition because Numina now can match up to the 1-5 levels of Disciplines.

              You don't need to have every one have Iron Will to simply have 3 or 4 people checking each other's work and if they find out that Jeffrey has been sending e-mails to an unknown e-mail that he's probably been compromised. Even so, I do think that you can have a "free" Second Inquisition that still has technology provided by Pentex and the Technocracy to be the kind of grunts that can strike at the suipernatural without explictly making them servants of either.

              Both the Hunters Hunted, Inquisition, and Project: Twilight books also note that "human" means Psychic Powers, Faith, "Weird" Technology, and Hedge Magic as ways to fight vampires. You don't need all of them to have it as just having the guy do the ritual that cleanses mind-control after a few days will do it. They don't need to be PERFECT, they just need to be able to fight.

              3. Mix: The Second Inquisition also isn't meant to be the End of Vampire-dom yet. It's a lowering of Defcon, though, and the majority of vampires will NOT team up against the SI when they can throw their fellows under the bus. It also is harder to fight them when the Camarilla has lost so many Elders and is in the state of a civil war. If a vampire gets jumped by a Hunter Team while awake, he has a fairly good chance of murdering them all and escaping. However, a vampire that has their identity blown and is caught in their lair--be they Elder or not--has a very good chance of being killed.

              Its a hard needle to thread that the Inquisition must be terrifying but fightable.


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

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                1. Doylist: There is flat out no point to making the Second Inquisition a pawn to any supernatural faction without essentially dismissing the need for the Second Inquisition period. Either the Second Inquisition shows the dangers of regular humans to vampires or you shouldn't use it. .
                That's eh... missing the entire beautiful point of vampire.
                IE humans are shitty and we'd never rise up against the evil parasites due to either ignorance, greed or cowardice or some combination thereof, and if we were to go against them it'd be out of greed.... Half the joke of the 'Masquerade' is that vampires overkill its preservation for political reasons. Humans are cattle, and hunters were always meant to be little more than a dangerous joke. It's "the world of Darkness" because humans suck, not because of any particular monster (Demiurge excluded).
                And from a Watsonian point of view... there's no conceivable way for the SI to possibly be a purely mundane-mortal driven program. It'd be like herding cats only the cats are paranoid and want to murder eachother and have been given guns that they can somehow use...

                The Doyelist explanation'd really be more... the writers were unhappy with the state of vampire and wanted to shake things up? Boom goes the Pyramid. Boom goes the Camarilla as we know it. Boom the Anarchs are big now; The SI are a driving factor for a third of the new story contrivances in v5. Another suspected Doylist reason is, well, 'equality' seems to be pretty important in nuVampire; Blood potency utterly retards the previously powerful low-gens with horrendous side effects, thin bloods get their own unique magic, and humans apparently have their act together.While before it was very clear that low gens> high gens> thin bloods> ghouls> humans, now it's a matter of trade-offs; everyone is designed to be equal, and the SI kicking off is apart of that.


                Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                  That's eh... missing the entire beautiful point of vampire.
                  The subtitle is "Masquerade" and it's not an argument that there's any reason they hide other than fear. The book opens by saying the First Inquisition scared vampires straight. Whether you think they should or not, that's the premise of the game. Your interpretation is fine for your game but its a bedrock of canon that if the Masquerade is broken, humans will destroy vampirekind and we even have an Alternate Future/History where the Masquerade falls and mankind slaughters the undead described in Gehenna.

                  It's like my desire to make the Anarchs into the protagonists who everyone should rally behind. No, they're assholes too in canon no matter how much I'd like to say otherwise.

                  That's all I'm Super-Saiyin.
                  Last edited by CTPhipps; 02-22-2021, 09:11 AM.


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

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                  • #10
                    Gonna agree with Phipps here; humans have never been a joke in VtM, even before V5. Yeah, they’re extremely disadvantaged against a Methuselah, but just how many Methuselahs do you have running around in your campaign?

                    For that matter, how many 6th-7th Gens are there really in your campaign city? Most are 8th Gen or higher.

                    How many have enough Fortitude to soak an incendiary round? Enough Celerity to dodge half a dozen guys with ARs with magazines of incendiary rounds? Enough humanity to even wake up when they hit in a raid just after dawn? How many ghouls does a vamp have that are well-trained and have enough disciplines to be anything but a speed bump to a six-man spec ops squad hitting in that post dawn raid?

                    Because pre-V5, those elders who, per the lore, tend to hover around humanity 4 so their daylight dice pools are capped at 4 dice and they have just four rounds before collapsing back into sleep even if they DO wake up... and pouring gasoline all around them isn’t going to be enough to trigger a new check until it’s lit.

                    A lot of the “vampires are like gods/mortals are chumps” argument is based around a human versus a vampire at night, not during the daylight hours when the hunters would actually come for them. Sure, 10 dice to dominate or awe vs. willpower 6-7 (pretty typical for special forces types) will overwhelm a target. Doing the same with 4 dice because it’s daylight and the odds of success drop dramatically (not to mention you need to affect half-a-dozen guys at once before they all open fire with their 6 dice Dex+Firearms pool and incendiary rounds vs. your Dex+Athletics capped at 4 dice dodge check).

                    Or they just wait out the elder’s four rounds of actions before they collapse back into daysleep and gently carry them outdoors for the sun to do its thing.

                    Vampires ARE very powerful creatures, but they also have great vulnerabilities that can be exploited by those even marginally familiar with fictional vampire lore (chiefly, only attack during the day).

                    Even an Antediluvian (with Fortitude as one of their clan’s disciplines) can’t stand more than a few rounds of direct sunlight.

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                    • #11
                      The Boys is a pretty terrible comic and Ennis is pretty famous for hating superheroes. Except for Superman, depending on how drunk he is. In the comic the Boys all were hopped up in Compound V to even stand a ghost of chance against supers. The plot armour the boys bore in the comics and the show is rather astounding. In an infantry situation, superpowers would trump human "grit"and "teamwork". People have known this since the novel Gladiator. That MC fought in WW1 iirc.

                      Just my two cents.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by hachiman View Post
                        The Boys is a pretty terrible comic and Ennis is pretty famous for hating superheroes. Except for Superman, depending on how drunk he is. In the comic the Boys all were hopped up in Compound V to even stand a ghost of chance against supers. The plot armour the boys bore in the comics and the show is rather astounding. In an infantry situation, superpowers would trump human "grit"and "teamwork". People have known this since the novel Gladiator. That MC fought in WW1 iirc.

                        Just my two cents.
                        I think none of that applies to vampires who, in fact if shot with enough bullets, will go down. Also, are completely immobile in the day. Not to mention have animal like panic attacks about fire or getting angry enough.

                        Basically, vampires are like Batman in Arkham Asylum not Superman.

                        Batman is awesome and can defeat an entire army IF HE'S CLEVER AND STEALTHY.

                        Running up and attacking the goons with guns will get them killed. Once exposed, he's probably dead.


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

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                        • #13
                          From astonishingly rare to still very uncommon:
                          -nutjob goverment agents
                          -religious nutters*
                          -blood junkies*
                          -absolute amateurs who're probably running around with garlic, holy water, perhaps a UFO detector.

                          *maybe switch these around.

                          Overall, never the most inspiring set of protagonists for our vampire villains.


                          Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                          There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                            From astonishingly rare to still very uncommon:
                            Your contempt is noted. For the record, I'll use V5 lore, but V20 mechanics should they be necessary, just to keep there from being any 'they nerfed vampires to make the SI a threat' arguments.

                            -nutjob goverment agents
                            Maybe in the 90's; then 9/11 happened and the NSA and U.S. Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (i.e. the forensic accountants) started scouring the globe for anomalous financial activity and then sent in US Special Forces to hit what they thought were terror cells. By 2003-ish they'd figured out the activity was actually the Masquerade and that monsters were running it.

                            To quote the books;

                            "Suddenly the old Project Twilight veterans found themselves called in for urgent noontime briefings in sunny Washington courtyards. Their superiors forgave or wiped clean their irregular records, and promoted them to head up nameless units with quiet authority to task and unleash sudden dawn raids."

                            "The American military and black budgets provide these hunters with oceans of untraceable funding, stored in illicit accounts or in tedious-sounding line items."


                            We were already drone striking American citizens without warrant or trial in the name of the war on Terror during the Obama years. Do you really think they couldn't do the same to a vampire who's obvious enough to get noticed or just use an Army sniper to head shot them from a mile away with a .50 cal incendiary round? You can't dominate some Air Force pilot looking at you through a thermal camera from the other side of the country and soaking a pair of incendiary TOW missiles (16 dice of aggravated damage each) even with Fortitude is well beyond most vampires.

                            And that's just the Americans...

                            "In addition to the three other ECHELON countries partnered with FIRSTLIGHT and the Newburgh Group, five more nations have provided enough intelligence or muscle to count as “second-party partners” and get seats at the table during operational planning sessions."

                            The Newburgh Group (British equivalent to Project Twilight) gets its own entry. France, Israel, Sweden and Japan and their efforts/involvement are also covered. There's also this...

                            "That said, it is only a matter of time before such commands emerge on the ground there as well. We specifically expect them in Germany (where the Berlin rising may have already triggered just such a thing), South Korea, Czechia (ESOG Team 4 has deployed into Prague for a “cleansing operation”), Colombia, Jordan, Italy, Uganda, Spain (which has excellent SIGINT capacity for its size), and the Philippines (where President Duterte’s death squads already include random hunter teams)."

                            Yeah, those nutjob government agents are super-rare.

                            -religious nutters*
                            You mean the organization brought back under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI and which now enjoys full access to the Vatican's funding and intelligence assets (yes, they have them), not to mention nearly a millennia worth of history dating back to when vampires actually did dare rule openly? The organization that has been cross-training its inquisitors with US Special Forces and has access to all the military toys AND True Faith?

                            -blood junkies*
                            Not much to say here... they're ghouls so they're a bit superhuman, and if they can last without getting blood bound they clearly know what they're doing.

                            -absolute amateurs who're probably running around with garlic, holy water, perhaps a UFO detector.
                            And who also know sunlight and stakes to the heart are things, have known about the "blankbody" effect since it first got used as a plot point on Buffy back in the 90's, and if they ever start working with a priest with true faith, a blessed crucifix and holy water (which can get True Faith 1 by being blessed) WILL actually hurt vampires.

                            If they last any length of time they may also end up recruited by one the more professional outfits too.

                            Overall, never the most inspiring set of protagonists for our vampire villains.
                            To the contrary, this Roman Catholic finds the Society of St. Leopold VERY appealing, particularly the connection they added to Pope Benedict XVI (whom many of the faithful regard more highly than the current Francis).

                            To the point though, if you presume the people in these groups aren't complete morons who immediately rush in on the first vampire they see, but instead surveil and gather intel before striking, mere mortals can be brutally and devastatingly effective against vampires who go and get themselves noticed with Masquerade breaches.

                            Consider all the news stories the past five years or so of FBI raids rescuing trafficked women and children all over the country; a hundred rescued here. Thirty-seven just the other day. Multiple simultaneous arrests of perps. In the World of Darkness with the Second Inquisition that sort of cover story would work wonders for explaining why squads of heavily armed FBI Special Affairs Division agents bust down dozens of doors right after dawn to the media because rescuing kids from sex slavery excuses all manner of perceived excess in the execution of warrants (and why you don't get to see any of the rescued kids who are now in protective custody and whose names you'll never learn because their privacy must be protected).

                            No, the need for the Masquerade is VERY real.
                            Last edited by Chris24601; 02-22-2021, 06:01 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                              From astonishingly rare to still very uncommon:
                              -nutjob goverment agents
                              -religious nutters*
                              -blood junkies*
                              -absolute amateurs who're probably running around with garlic, holy water, perhaps a UFO detector.

                              *maybe switch these around.

                              Overall, never the most inspiring set of protagonists for our vampire villains.
                              I mean, they're against a bunch of self-interested sociopathic parasites.

                              Also, many of whom are the above themselves. After all, vampires are all blood junkies themselves.

                              Besides, being a lunatic religious fanatic who believes in conspiracies is just describing someone who is RIGHT about the world.


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

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