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On the subject of the Second Inquisition & the masqurade

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  • #46
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

    1. Lost Mexico City and Montreal to the Second Inquisition before the Camairlla moved in.
    2. The Second Inquisition hit the Mauseoleum beforehand
    3. It left London as a burnt out hellhole with either a dead Prince or a dead Methuselah or both
    4. Inside Job or not, the SI killed hundreds of Elders.

    The thing is that if the SI is being helped by vampires that DOESNT MAKE THEM LESS DEADLY.

    It just means that vampires are bone-headedly stupid in their arrogance.

    I agree with this. While there were certainly opportunistic vampires involved in some of this, like what happened with the Giovanni as they were getting hit by the SI, the Harbingers and their own rebellious Childer at all the same time, that the SI was being brought up alongside the latter two goes to show that it's foolish to discount them.

    There's also the fact that part of why the First Inquisition was so successful was that it happened alongside a time of great internal turmoil in Kindred society, the First Anarch Revolt. Many Kindred of power who could potentially reigned in the Inquisition were distracted by the Revolt or actively using them to kill off rivals which in turn would feed the Inquisition, making it stronger. Now in V5 we're seeing a similar era of internal turmoil in Kindred society. We have the Beckoning removing Elders from the field, the Anarchs completely tearing free of the Camarilla, taking the Brujah and Gangrel with them, and alongside all that a new Inquisition has risen, using modern technology to hunt and eliminate Kindred, something that has been getting warned about for YEARS within the setting. And of course we have arrogant Kindred thinking they're in control of the situation, manipulating the SI to their own ends. Until they find themselves in the crosshairs.


    Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable. Indomitable.

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    • #47
      Agreed.

      Like I said, I don't think the Second Inquisition is actually that large and it's not really that new either. The Second Inquisition as shown in THE FALL OF LONDON and THE CAMARILLA books are basically just the same Hunters (HH not HTR) that existed in 2nd Edition.

      It's the Inquisition, SAD, NSA, Knights of Saint George, Arcanum (who knew those guys would get off their asses), and probably the Lions of Judea. The big difference is this comparatively small group of people are now coordinating in the post-internet and War on Terror Age.

      The big difference is that they now have people who will let them carry explosives and automatic weapons across borders as well as cover up their crimes like vampires can do. The society that protected the undead from "domestic terrorists" and "religious fanatics" no longer does that because they have friends in high places and anonymity.

      They've recruited a lot more people and have a much larger budget but they don't actually have to be a NEW thing to be so much more dangerous. The great destabilizer for Kindred is not that humans have turned on them en masse, it's that there's now a bunch of Hunters who know garlic doesn't work and can prevent the cops from intervening when a number of houses burn down.

      My view of the SI is this:

      Kindred's Perspective: They think of it as the Technocracy or are utterly unconcerned.

      Reality: They're more like three times the size of what they used to be.


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

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      • #48
        A problem I have with a lot of your explanations is that you're completely relying on the assumption that kindred are uniformly a group of utterly asinine morons. If your plan hinges on the mistakes of your enemy, it's not a great plan. Using Pre-V5 rules, it wouldn't take long for a coterie of neonates to completely unravel the local SI. Again, the more people involved, the larger the budget, the easier it is for vampires to find the SI and crawl in and kill everyone and or/take their families.

        The SI kinda work on the grounds of 'Remember that time the rich vampires got some mortals together to cull everyone with anarch sympathies, and passed it off as some grand mortal conspiracy and a reason to be Camarilla?' which, of course, totally undermines the camarilla once people realise such an obvious ploy. (I suppose they'll mark it as the work of a few radical elders). It doesn't work at all from a 'look how arrogant the vampires are' because vampires generally lean towards paranoia rather than undeserved confidence, and it doesn't work from a 'mortals are scary' standpoint because clearly it was vampires (and their wanton stupidity) all along.


        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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        • #49
          Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
          A problem I have with a lot of your explanations is that you're completely relying on the assumption that kindred are uniformly a group of utterly asinine morons. If your plan hinges on the mistakes of your enemy, it's not a great plan. Using Pre-V5 rules, it wouldn't take long for a coterie of neonates to completely unravel the local SI. Again, the more people involved, the larger the budget, the easier it is for vampires to find the SI and crawl in and kill everyone and or/take their families.
          The obvious question is, "So how smart do they have to be to have that NOT happen?"

          Or is your foundational position, "Vampires are by nature better than humans at all of this and could never be threatened by an organized group of Hunters even in a time of chaos?"

          Which is a thing I DONT ARGUE WITH as a take for your setting. I'm just saying they seem to be going with something different.

          Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
          The SI kinda work on the grounds of 'Remember that time the rich vampires got some mortals together to cull everyone with anarch sympathies, and passed it off as some grand mortal conspiracy and a reason to be Camarilla?' which, of course, totally undermines the camarilla once people realise such an obvious ploy. (I suppose they'll mark it as the work of a few radical elders). It doesn't work at all from a 'look how arrogant the vampires are' because vampires generally lean towards paranoia rather than undeserved confidence, and it doesn't work from a 'mortals are scary' standpoint because clearly it was vampires (and their wanton stupidity) all along.
          Basically, this hot take is one I wouldn't use because the Camarilla behind the Second Inquisition might as well not involve it at all. There's no point to using the SI if they're not the weapon of mortals.

          That's just my view because the only storytelling importance of Hunters should be that they're the result of breaking the Masquerade and showing why Kindred need to be cautious.
          Last edited by CTPhipps; 02-25-2021, 06:52 AM.


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

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          • #50
            How Night Road handled the SI



            I'm actually inclined to point to NIGHT ROAD as a pretty good example of the Second Inquisition in use and if you want to avoid spoilers that it is a pretty good storyline to pick up. Basically, the Second Inquisition is something that is sweeping through Arizona and the vampires of the city are divided about how to deal with it. Several prominent Kindred have been killed by it but the primary thing that it has done to them is it has "disrupted" Kindred society rather than actually taken it down.

            One of the funniest scenes of Night Road to me is the fact the Prince doesn't care about the dead vampires it has left in its wake but the fact the Second Inquisition has closed down his clubs and stopped one of his most profitable Blood Trades. He has to shut down numerous ongoing projects and financial dealings to hide them and it's just so goddamn IRRITATING. This actually results in several more deaths among Kindred because fighting over money and resources is the big consequence.

            Its biggest victory is when the Inquisition attacks a blood farm/migrant camp and causes the blood trade to be disrupted (possibly with your help). Vampires are suddenly without their regular blood supply and turn on each other as well as expose themselves. A Methuselah ends up having to be destroyed because it overtly breaks the Masquerade and the PCs must handle it with the Prin ce and Baron's help.

            The Second Inquisition, itself, makes numerous clumsy, confused, and overt moves during all this that generally blows up in their face. This includes burning down a trailer park where there's numerous vampires living and getting a bunch of innocent people killed, car chases in the middle of downtown, trying to subvert employees of open undead establishments, and their big attempt to kill the Prince and all of his minions at their equivalent of the Succubus Cluib that they let get open.

            The big climax of the story results in the Second Inquisition in Arizona getting slaughtered down to the last man. Basically, because if you've played the game correctly, then you end up being basically Batman in the final confrontation (or just leave the Prince and Baron to rot because fuck those guys--my favorite ending). A 200 year old ghoul hunter for the Society of Leopold is killed and the organization is left in shambles.

            The Inquisition utterly fell apart the moment that they attempted to directly fight the undead and it reminds me of the attack on the Inquisition chapterhouse in Bloodlines. If you can locate them and their base then they're very squishy. However, the Inquisitions disruption of vampire businesses and activities resulted in them fighting it out and numerous vampires being destroyed plus vampires being made vulnerable because they lost their protections.



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

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            • #51
              -Don't use huge alphabet agencies for your petty city-level grudge; I'd say average intelligence or a little bit of experience as a vampire.

              Vampire society is pretty darwinistic; the idiots die (and mostly tend not to be embraced, but you try tell that to your players). Vampires self-police extensively, and many among them are exceptionaally gifted with mental facilties. There are more geniuses than idiots among vampires, and the idiots that do survive do so by hugging the thigh of someone with brains, they aren't independent actors. The biggest liability among vampires, the thin-bloods (Who're mostly a liability because they get abandoned, not because of any physiological shortcomming) don't really have the connections to other vampires to do damage with big agencies when they do fold.


              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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              • #52
                Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                -Don't use huge alphabet agencies for your petty city-level grudge; I'd say average intelligence or a little bit of experience as a vampire.

                Vampire society is pretty darwinistic; the idiots die (and mostly tend not to be embraced, but you try tell that to your players). Vampires self-police extensively, and many among them are exceptionaally gifted with mental facilties. There are more geniuses than idiots among vampires, and the idiots that do survive do so by hugging the thigh of someone with brains, they aren't independent actors. The biggest liability among vampires, the thin-bloods (Who're mostly a liability because they get abandoned, not because of any physiological shortcomming) don't really have the connections to other vampires to do damage with big agencies when they do fold.
                One of the things I like is the mistreatment of Thin Bloods basically have them respond to the Second Inquisition by telling them everything or trying to join up.


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

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                • #53
                  I'd worry about getting disected.


                  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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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                    I'd worry about getting disected.
                    Eh, there's enough for both.


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

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                      A problem I have with a lot of your explanations is that you're completely relying on the assumption that kindred are uniformly a group of utterly asinine morons.
                      It doesn’t have to be uniform and intellect has never stopped people from making dumbass decisions, particularly when stressed and emotions come into play.

                      Because that’s the real vulnerability on the behavioral side of vampires. The best adjusted can completely lose control when angry, hungry or scared and three of the Cam’s core clans have additional mental health issues as their clan curses; anger management (Brujah), outright derangement (Malkavian), and whatever you call going into a fugue state when exposed to beauty (Toreador).

                      And once you’re aware vampires exist it doesn’t take a genius to hunt them. You don’t have to approach a vampire to watch the crowds entering and exiting a nightclub with a thermal camera, nor to hire a PI to track down a license plate to an address or rummage through the trash for receipts because “your spouse is having an affair.”

                      Now throw in intelligence agency capabilities; access to bank records (why are their no food bills? why are they accessing Swiss accounts that are a hundred years old?), listening devices (including the kind that puts an invisible laser on a window so there’s nothing in the building to find), drones, contact tracing, etc.

                      Identify, Investigate, Plan, Act is not exactly rocket science, particularly when you’re not acting alone (which even without the SI angle is how Project Twilight and the Society of St. Leopold typically handle vampires).

                      Doesn’t mean their invincible on an individual basis, but the SI has more than enough tools to disrupt your average vampire city to the point its existing power structure collapses (and once that happens the power vacuum will draw a bunch of other vamps to make mistakes because their greed gets the better of their common sense).

                      Hell, just think what last summer’s riots would have plausibly done to stress out Kindred society. They may not have been the targets, but when city blocks go up in flames that’s bound to make any vampires in the area nervous... and that fear will lead to mistakes that people who know what to look for can exploit.

                      In the “never let a crisis go to waste” school of thought, the SI was probably cleaning up in 2020. They didn’t start the virus or the resulting lockdowns, but those hunting for vampires could certainly see the opportunity that the societal disruption presented because it would force vampires to adapt their hunting patterns and any time you’re doing something new there’s going to be mistakes made.

                      All the nightclubs in the city get shut down and where do all the vamps who used them as hunting grounds go now to hunt? They’re almost certainly going to be hitting some other vamp’s territory and that means strife and for hunters with government sanction and resources, opportunities.

                      If I were starting a new vampire campaign, I’d have the city in chaos from an undead perspective. Between the virus and the summer riots, the SI rooted out a ton of desperate vampires, the Prince’s authority is hanging by a thread and Anarchs/Sabbat are taking over whole sections of the city due to the vacuum. That doesn’t even require the SI to still be active in the city or even all that successful... particularly if the city was overcrowded with undead to begin with the basic pressures of a tightening food supply might have actually done most of the work for them.

                      While I’m sticking with V20 for mechanics, I do find some of the backstory events of V5 interesting enough to start incorporating... though I’m doing so in real time.

                      A major plot element had been the arrival of an ambassador from the Assamites arriving in Court, offering assistance as a sign of goodwill as negotiations are ongoing for their joining the Camarilla.

                      Now the news just hit the Court about the strike on Vienna with the added wrinkle that the Tremere PC just lost the first-degree bond to his sire and control of everyone he’d blood bound himself (because I’m adapting in the changed clan weaknesses in a V20 format where it makes sense) and no one but the PC knows where the Tremere primogen has disappeared to (he left for desperate meetings with surviving members and heads of the other Chantries to figure out what happened and what to do next).

                      The PCs have also made an alliance with the local Giovanni so, once the Tremere fallout has almost settled, I’ll probably blindside them with The Family Reunion next.

                      The V5 material isn’t as bad as I’d first thought (its mechanics are still hot garbage in my opinion, but that’s it’s own issue)... it’s main problem is that instead of having it happen in the sort of sequence we’d have experienced it if there had been regular releases from 2004 to today, it got dumped on us all at once as historical events.

                      Playing them out real time with PCs makes them a lot more sensible and that includes the rise of the Second Inquisition.

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                      • #56
                        A simpler rebuttal is no, most vampires aren't insane morons, but only a fraction of them are ubermensch geniuses like Grand Admiral Thrawn or Lex Luthor. There ARE insane morons too with the Sabbat's shovelheads and those lost to the Beast.

                        Most fall somewhere in-between.

                        Plus the Beckoning is a good time for the Second Inquisition because a lot of the Vandal Savages and Ra's Al Ghul are elsewhere.


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

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                        • #57
                          Yeah and if the Kindred only had to deal with the SI alone, it wouldn't be an issue. But just like with the original Inquisition, they're not dealing with just the hunters. They're in a time of turmoil where the SI is but one of number of growing fires. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if some, especially among the older Kindred in the Camarilla and Sabbat, only see the SI as an irritant, that it's impossible for mere humans to be a serious threat against them. An attitude that works in the favor of the SI as it means less Kindred resources are being brought to bare against them in the short term, allowing them to gain more experience and knowledge fighting Kindred.

                          Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if some elders continue to deny that idea even after Vienna and London, rationalizing it as truly the work of their fellow elder Kindred with the SI merely being either pawns of said vampires or vultures swooping in to pick at the carcass afterwards.


                          Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable. Indomitable.

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                            Plus the Beckoning is a good time for the Second Inquisition because a lot of the Vandal Savages and Ra's Al Ghul are elsewhere.
                            That said, since I'm using the lore, but sticking with V20 for mechanics, once the Beckoning hits it'll only affect 7th Gens and lower instead of 9th and lower for my campaign.

                            I don't want two-thirds of my PCs and 30 of my 40 NPCs in the city compelled to run off into some undefined indeterminate conflict because of some meta-event tied to the mechanics of an edition change (there's all of three 7th Gen NPCs, but there are a bunch of 8th and 9th Gens)... that'd be a lot of work to throw away just to try and align with V5 canon.

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                            • #59
                              The main problem with the inquisition isn't that they should be easy to deal with, but that it's practically impossible for all these agencies and a few terrorist organizations to work together hunting vamps. Ya need to be secretive about that kinda thing. You know what's not secretive? Making connections. Bah. It's times like these that I lament that most of the folk who'd agree with me have given up or gotten banned. for some reason I imagine you all sound like battered housewives when you try to justify the SI.9

                              I like hunters. I'm not opposed to hunters or groups of more professional hunters, nor do I insist that good hunting groups must be supernaturally augmented (Though it is fun to bring out the HIT marks now and then) but there's something fundamentally wrong with big goverment waging a covert war against vampires. It just doesn't reflect on the absurdities of reality, and good satirical literature should reflect on the absurdities of reality; Big gov doesn't crack down on parasites, it enables them. Also, SAD works great as rogue underdogs, but bringing lots of different agencies into it and playing a police procedural doesn't have any of that appeal.

                              Pro hunter excuses:

                              -A bereaved, or at-risk millionaire hires former spies and/or mercenaries to take on the vamps that threaten him. (You know, a lot of former spies turn to the private sector to engage in corporate espionage. It's not so far fetched to hire a KGB expert. This is part of the reason why it's silly to go to the FBI for experts when there's plenty of former FBI laying around) Perhaps they're in-too deep with a settite/Baali cult and need to murder their way out.
                              -A former ghoul gets together his spy/millitary buddies together to help him get his fix.
                              -ditto, but it's an occultist who wants ingredients; Skin, muscle, heart, fangs, ash, saliva, blood; all valuable commodities on the magic market. A medical practitioner wanting to make a great discovery may work too.
                              -The leaders of a criminal gang are seeing lots of unusual embezzlement going on, and suspect supernatural involvment; send in the hunters.
                              -A desperate Vampire, or perhaps a too-loyal ghoul acting on their own, gets a private sector mercs/spies to lay waste to their enemies. The 'vampire' status doesn't even need to be revealed, just say the dude's weird and has some peculiarities.
                              -Former agents join together to hunt vampires, due to inability to act within their agency, they can only do so now. Are they avenging a traumatic injustice or doing it out of morbid curiosity? Who knows.

                              Anyone got any other -non supernatural- related ideas (Hedge mages aren't supernaturals)? I'm mulling over if this should get it's own thread.
                              Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 02-25-2021, 06:11 PM.


                              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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                              • #60
                                The thing is, we don't really know the full ins and outs of the SI. Much of what we know is vague stuff largely presented from the Kindred point of view which isn't an unbiased account of them. Nor does it help that the 'Second Inquisition' term is actually a rather nebulous term that can encompass multiple groups even if they don't work together. At it's core, the SI is actually two groups, the Entity, the secret service of the Vatican which has incorporated the resurgent Society of Leopold into and FIRSTLIGHT which is the joint NSA/CIA program that targets Kindreds and also coordinates activities with other aware personal in other government agencies around the Western world. But while these to groups do share information with each and have at times done joint operations, much of their work is done on their own.

                                Further there are other groups that fall under the SI umbrella but largely keep to themselves like the FBI's Special Affairs Division. They may from time to time trade info with FIRSTLIGHT but they ultimately doing their own thing. Same with groups from other countries. FIRSTLIGHT is an American outfit and their field agents all seem come from American agencies. Other countries have their own groups that while they do share information with FIRSTLIGHT are again, doing their own thing.

                                However such distinctions are largely unknown to the Kindred. All they see are special agents and hunters in military-grade tactical gear. The Inquisition of Old reborn in the Modern Age. After all, the Second Inquisition isn't what these hunters call themselves for they have dozens of different names for themselves. No, the Second Inquisition is what Kindred call all these 'new' hunters. For them there is no different between a team of Vatican hunters and a team of SOCOM hunters. They're all Second Inquisition in the eyes of the average Kindred.


                                Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable. Indomitable.

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