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  • I want to be a Prince!

    So in my current Chronicle, the players have been living in a fictitious suburb of Chicago for about a year now, and the town has seen a growing population of Kindred. The players have convinced the Baron to declare himself a Prince and make the town Camarilla. And I...actually have no idea how that's done. I mean, by the Camarilla's own rules, they consider every vampire to be Camarilla (save for Anarchs, who are allowed to live in Camarilla cities if they declare themselves to be Anarchs...though I think you can stop being an Anarch at any time). So on the one hand, maybe nothing has to be done, you just say you're a Prince, and that's that? But I'm not really sure if there's a process, if you need a Justicar to sign off on it, or what. So if anyone has any insight on this topic, I'd be glad to hear it.

  • #2
    I asked myself this very question some time ago, and I realized I had no idea what the answer was. "You're a Prince if you could get away with it" didn't resonate as a satisfactory answer to me. What happens if one Justicar acknowledges one person in a city as Prince, and another Justicar acknowledges someone else? What happens if there's a Conclave and they can't agree on anyone?

    So I drafted a Camarilla procedure for recognizing new Princes. It's not canon in any way, but it's at least a procedure:

    A vampire in charge of a city who wishes to be admitted to the Camarilla must be sponsored by either a Justicar or an Inner Circle Member. Once sponsored, a Justicar (either the sponsoring Justicar or one acting on the instruction of the Inner Circle sponsor) calls a meeting of the five closest Princes, geographically. If all of the Princes agree, the nomination is sent to the Inner Circle, which votes on a majority basis. In practice, this last step is pro forma; the matter does not get to the Inner Circle if it is not going to be approved. Indeed, the entire process is generally a dog-and-pony show, with the conclusion decided long in advance. The only truly contested matter in recent memory was the admission of Prince Casimir Skala of Katowice; his clanmate, Prince Mateusz of Krakow opposed the measure, and continued to oppose it through three cycles. In the end, the Ventrue Senate took action and convinced Mateusz to stop making a spectacle. The threshold for becoming a Prince is typically very low: becoming a Prince is usually just a matter of being powerful enough to warrant recognition and acknowledgement by one’s neighbors and one's would-be subjects (or be their puppet). If the Prince is powerful enough, he or she should have little difficulty finding a sponsor.

    But being a Camarilla city is a big deal in my games. There are only around 150 official Princes, in around 125 cities. (The disparity is because really large cities sometimes have officially Camarilla-recognized "co-princes" or "under-princes". For instance, L.A. has eight, London has 6, Paris has 4, Amsterdam has 3, Essen-Dortmund has 5, etc.)

    No matter what procedures you use (vel non) the big question is whether, as a suburb of Chicago, the Baron is going to end up as a sort of Feudal Lord of the Prince of the larger metro area or not.

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    • #3
      Nah that's too much effort. It's something like this

      1- Get some folks who'll support you. Probably promise them positions.
      2-Announce your intention to be prince, anyone with a problem should come at you.
      3- kill them or otherwise beat them into submission.
      4- Send word to nearby cities that you're the prince and you claim X domain, thus directing new arrivals to you as a legitimate prince.


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      • #4
        "You're a Prince if you could get away with it" is actually a perfectly satisfactory answer, because it fits with the power dynamics of the game. There is, I think, too much stress on formal hierarchies within games where, effectively, an entire community (kindred, in this instance) could fit within a single room. In reality, there is little other vampires can practically do if a single individual has obtained power by force, and others are unable to prevent this. What is a Justicar going to do? Place their own candidate in the position of prince by force? And, when the Justicar's back is turned, what is going to happen to that prince? What is going to happen to the Justicar if they really insists on on a particular candidate for prince? (Take the words "final" and "death", and rearrange them into a phrase used within the game; Justicars are powerful, but they aren't demigods.)

        Think of vampire power structures as though they function like criminal groups. No-one gets elected, and there are no authorities to tell a gang that they are choosing the wrong person for their leader.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
          Nah that's too much effort. It's something like this
          1- Get some folks who'll support you. Probably promise them positions.
          2-Announce your intention to be prince, anyone with a problem should come at you.
          3- kill them or otherwise beat them into submission.
          4- Send word to nearby cities that you're the prince and you claim X domain, thus directing new arrivals to you as a legitimate prince.
          First of all you have to depose (or wait till someone do that) current Prince and convince the Primogens that you are the best candidate. Otherwise you have to find a town too small to have a prince and big enough to feed you and your allies and build it structures.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by James_Willoughby View Post
            "You're a Prince if you could get away with it" is actually a perfectly satisfactory answer, because it fits with the power dynamics of the game. There is, I think, too much stress on formal hierarchies within games where, effectively, an entire community (kindred, in this instance) could fit within a single room. In reality, there is little other vampires can practically do if a single individual has obtained power by force, and others are unable to prevent this. What is a Justicar going to do? Place their own candidate in the position of prince by force? And, when the Justicar's back is turned, what is going to happen to that prince? What is going to happen to the Justicar if they really insists on on a particular candidate for prince? (Take the words "final" and "death", and rearrange them into a phrase used within the game; Justicars are powerful, but they aren't demigods.)

            Think of vampire power structures as though they function like criminal groups. No-one gets elected, and there are no authorities to tell a gang that they are choosing the wrong person for their leader.
            Those are excellent points, but it's also exactly why the Justicars (and their masters) aren't going to back just any local strongarm to join their exclusive club.

            Even in criminal organizations, there are still formalities that let you identify membership. You jump into the gang, get made a made man, etc. The guys in charge need a way to know who's part of the tribe.

            "If you can get away with it" is a rule that gives you the person in de facto charge of the city, sure. But being the vampire in charge of the city doesn't get you to being a Camarilla Prince, which is a de jure title recognized by all the other Princes and backed up by the (ostensible) authority of the Justicars and the power of their archons. It gets you being "Viggo the Black, Lord of West Larkspur" or somesuch because you'll pound/execute/dominate/influencize anyone local who disagrees. But if you're not in a position where the actual Camarilla is going to at least pretend to back up your rule, then you're not really a Camarilla Prince. You're just the local boss.

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            • #7
              A Prince is simply the vampire who is first among equals or who can dominate the others in that domain. As long as he enforced the Six Traditions, especially the Masquerade, his claims will likely be accepted by others. His title or status might be formalized at some Conclave, and that would settle all doubts. But it's probably more of "does it quack like a duck" kind of rule.

              I think a more important issue is the matter of territory and domain. We have several scenarios.

              Brand new city, quickly growing in size, never considered to be a home to vampires before, but many come and now one declares himself Prince. Probably not an issue.

              Anarchs, Sabbat, or some other enemy control a city and preventing Camarilla control. Someone comes in, and after a while manages to push himself to the top, destroy his enemies, and then declares himself Prince and enforces the Tradition. His claim will likely be recognized.

              City is already Camarilla and has a Prince. Some yahoos in a suburb or a city neighborhood effectively control it, but for all purposes people consider it to be part of the existing Prince's domain. One of them declares himself Prince. Do others recognize it? They probably don't because that city already has a Prince. At that point, it's a contested Praxis over parts of the domain. This can last decades. Essentially this is the dispute between Lodin and Modius. If one Prince clearly manages to beat the other, that Prince wins. If not, at some point, there could be a Conclave summoned to resolve the issue. They could declare there is only one Prince, and then decide any number of things to do with the other claimant - destroy him, punish him in some other way, exile him, maybe acknowledge his domain in some way subservient to the "true" Prince, recognize him as a Primogen, etc. Or they formalize there are two Princely domains and where their jurisdictions end. And one Prince might even be made subservient to the other, like Modius was to Lodin.

              It's basically a political issue that involves the balance of power, loyalties of influential Kindred, political skill, and most important the context of the claim in regards to other claims.

              I don't know enough about your chronicle to comment as it could be very different than the canonical Chicago. But if it was canon Chicago and Lodin or Kevin Jackson is Prince, the most likely response is that your fictitious Chicago suburb is legally considered part of their domain. And he will start a campaign to make the new Prince bend the knee. Lodin/Jackson might accept his domain and allow him a certain leeway of enforcement of the Traditions and privileges, but only if he acknowledges Lodin/Jackson as his overlord who has ultimate say. Your PCs probably don't want that, so instead the Prince of Chicago will begin to employ other measures. All the high status vampires of Chicago won't acknowledge your title, and your supporters are silenced in various way. The occasional vampire shows up in said suburb to beat up your allies. If such physical intimidation fails, it starts into an ongoing war like the old Lodin-Modius feud. If it gets bad, Prince Lodin/Jackson begins to call in favors from local Camarilla Princes and other political allies to build political pressure and perhaps summon a Conclave to declare the suburban Prince an outlaw - an Anarch in all but name.

              The real issue - who will contest the claim? If no one does, you're good. If there is a Camarilla Prince who does so, which of you is more powerful and can force the other to accept a deal on his terms? If not, at what point does the dispute rise to the issue that Justicars and Archons want to settle it?

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              • #8
                I think the argument "You're Prince if you can get away with it" only needs a tiny modification: You're Prince if you can get away with it and give the Camarilla what it wants in the process.

                In principle, as an organization/society, the only things that the Camarilla are concerned with officially are the enforcement of the Traditions, especially the Masquerade. They want someone with enough power to make sure that they can keep the other local vampires following the Camarilla's rules. If you can provide that, then the Justicars probably don't give a damn about how you got the job otherwise.

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                • #9
                  The camarilla just wants the followng
                  -That you maintain the masquerade
                  -that you don't aid the sects enemies (the red list, the argument about the sabbat is a nebulous one; packs are bad, but individual sabbat, particularly ones of high rank, are fine)
                  -that you roll over when an archon comes into town.

                  The cam isn't a rules-bound, strict, high maintenance organization. They only really care about the above. The Tremere and Ventrue might dictate what their members do on an extensive scale, but they embrace the kinds of people that are built for that. The Camarilla knows that the costs of micromanagement and imposing an international -rule of law- outweighs the benefits. Vampires are very localized, they function as city states, a vampire 'nation' would shit itself. The people who built the Cam knew they wouldn't want to be controled, and if they made the camarilla controlling and lost that control....


                  Black Fox
                  Other fun scenarios

                  -Two cities expand into one another, forming one city. They could still act like they possess seperate domains and draw borders, but perhaps one prince declares themselves -The- prince of the joint urban area.
                  -Like above; historically, a prince might claim an entire nation or more. A prince might claim a city she doesn't reside in, or a town under someone's rule is growing into a city and is taken by a seditionist...
                  - Due to war or accident, large sections of the city's vampires torpor or meet final death, someone "needs" to step up in what's almost a clean state.
                  -A powerful prince goes to torpor (or death) with no clear successor and no group has the power to wisely declare a prince immediately.
                  -An old vampire calls himself prince but doesn't concern themselves with the idea of the camarilla. It's likely the Camarilla doesn't do anything unless this prince starts to overtly flout the rules the Cam really cares about. The archon issue is really one of who's got the bigger stick and who's willing to swing it.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                    The camarilla just wants the followng
                    -That you maintain the masquerade
                    -that you don't aid the sects enemies (the red list, the argument about the sabbat is a nebulous one; packs are bad, but individual sabbat, particularly ones of high rank, are fine)
                    -that you roll over when an archon comes into town.

                    The cam isn't a rules-bound, strict, high maintenance organization. They only really care about the above.
                    Um, are you reading the same books about the Camarilla that I have?

                    The Camarilla as an organization can invoke a right to depose/execute a Prince if they feel they are incompetent or just in the way. The Prince has the right to restrict feeding areas, the right to restrict siring new vampires, and demand all new kindred present themselves on entering the city. Failure to comply with these rules can be punished with several punishments up to a blood hunt. Let us also not forget all those rules for interpersonal vampire interaction that the Camarilla endorses from before there was a Camarilla, its not like the Sabbat encourages the right of sanctuary and such.

                    I would also point out that there has to be some level of review for the Camarilla to recognize a Prince because otherwise a Sabbat member would just claim a newly built company town and demand recognition as a camarilla prince. Having a potential traitor at the Prince level of Camarilla authority would be a very bad thing.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                      The cam isn't a rules-bound, strict, high maintenance organization. They only really care about the above. The Tremere and Ventrue might dictate what their members do on an extensive scale, but they embrace the kinds of people that are built for that. The Camarilla knows that the costs of micromanagement and imposing an international -rule of law- outweighs the benefits. Vampires are very localized, they function as city states, a vampire 'nation' would shit itself. The people who built the Cam knew they wouldn't want to be controled, and if they made the camarilla controlling and lost that control....
                      That's pretty much it. There are a grand total of seven Justicars (or eight, or six, or whatever, depending on the edition you are using) for the entire world. Realistically, the sect is not going to dictating who serves as prince of Wichita or Scranton; indeed, it is likely that, unless a vampire actually lives in Kansas, they are unlikely to know who is serving as the Prince of Wichita. Nor should they care, unless that prince is actively endangering the masquerade. For most of the time, the Camarilla can let the vampire populations of any given city look after themselves.


                      Learn more about the hidden history of the British Isles in England Will Burn.
                      Find out about the struggle to control medieval Syria in The Gates of Damascus.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Thoth View Post
                        I would also point out that there has to be some level of review for the Camarilla to recognize a Prince because otherwise a Sabbat member would just claim a newly built company town and demand recognition as a camarilla prince. Having a potential traitor at the Prince level of Camarilla authority would be a very bad thing.
                        You don't need Camarilla recognition for that, you need peer recognition, which is more or less the point of Black Fox's post up thread. You're the Camarilla Prince of Wichita as long as the population of Wichita and the surrounding cities recognise you as Camarilla Prince of Wichita. A Sabbat vampire could turn up in Wichita, kill the entire vampire population, and claim that they were prince of the city. And then what? No-one is going to consider that they are prince, and it is likely that the vampires of the surrounding cities will then turn up in Wichita, wishing to depose the prince on the basis that they can claim the princedom themselves (though, given that it's Wichita, you may be forgiven for asking whether it's worth it).

                        And, as for having Camarilla authority through being prince, again, one's authority is derived from peer recognition. A Sabbat vampire who made themselves Prince of Wichita would have no effective authority within the Camarilla. It's not like there are specific legal rights here; you make your own authority, and if you don't have legitimacy (on the grounds that you are a Sabbat vampire or whatever), your authority is effectively zero.


                        Learn more about the hidden history of the British Isles in England Will Burn.
                        Find out about the struggle to control medieval Syria in The Gates of Damascus.

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                        • #13
                          James_Willoughby Except for the fact that a Sabbat member wouldn't call themselves a prince, the Sabbat have their religious titles, an Anarch would call themselves a Baron. The term prince comes from pre-camarilla times and was maintained by the Camarilla in the current nights. The other groups wouldn't use the title or their clan/bloodline wouldn't really bother with trying to hold that kind of power. If you want to be the big bad vampire leader in the area, yeah that is held by your own strength. But if you want the title of Prince with all the rules and benefits that go with it, then you are essentially a camarilla member.

                          Also we have examples where the upper management of the Camarilla has decided whether someone gets to continue being Prince of a city. It doesn't matter if you are the strongest 8th generation in the city, the elder management who are 7th - 5th generation have far more power than all the vampires in your city put together. So with that power discrepancy in mind exactly how does a given self made Prince not get told to close their eyes and stand still while the elders lop off his head?

                          If being a "Prince" is a matter of public relations with the other local vampires, the Camarilla wouldn't have a say in it, but they do. If being "Prince" is just a matter of personal power, the Camarilla upper management is always stronger.

                          If you are the first vampire in the area or you killed everyone else off, all you really have is free reign to sire a significant number of childer and fortify your power base. Then after that is the case you more or less petition which ever faction you belong to for further recognition. In the case of the Independents, they just claim the city and continue with business as usual, kind of like the Giovanni and Boston, sure they might use the term Prince to say who is the leader, but you can be sure that if Augustus or anyone else of a greater power level in the family doesn't like the "Prince", they are not long for this world or possibly the next.

                          In short you need enough personal power to keep the locals in line AND the validation of the higher ups to make you a Prince/Baron/etc. and if you lose either one, you lose your throne. You might start with one, but eventually you require the other as well.

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                          • #14
                            First of all, thanks for all the great replies. I suppose I should explain in a little more detail what is going on. Rose Lawn (completely fictitious) is a large town literally almost outside of the Chicago Praxis boundary. The first vampire showed up in the area around 1809, a very old Gangrel who had a mad on for the Lupines, and decided to claim this as his base of operations while he focused on chasing the werewolves out. Then in 1872 the town was incorporated, and it's first mayor was the patriarch of a powerful local family who was also something of an occultist (in actuality, his family practiced hedge magic and some form of mortal necromancy). The Giovanni inducted his family into their Clan in 1900, and set about making it a stronghold for their operations in the area.

                            The Gangrel looked at this and scoffed, and 20 years later, helped destroy the family head as an object lesson (he was a very bad man) before heading back into the woods. At some point, the Giovanni scaled back their operations, to the point that a single vampire was left as caretaker of their holdings. A few other vampires trickled in, but the town never became Camarilla. All this changed after Lodin culled the Anarchs when an independent Ventrue (masquerading as a Caitiff as he was the Childe of Rebekah, the Monitor of Chicago) decided to leave Chicago for good, as he had many friends among the Anarchs. He ventured (no pun intended) into Rose Lawn, and quickly clashed with the local Baron (another very bad man with a penchant for the occult). He killed the other vampire and, realizing he now had an obligation of sorts to the locals, declared himself as Baron, with the support of the Gangrel Elder.

                            And that's how things remained until last year; Rose Lawn was a sort of haven for vampires who didn't really fit into the Chicago scene for one reason or another, but wanted to be close to the big city. At some point during the interim, Lodin and the Sabbat independently tried to take Rose Lawn from the Baron, but had been repelled as the Baron was more powerful than they'd expected, and he'd formed a coterie of competent Kindred (including one very old Gangrel who didn't take kindly to intruders). The player character coterie moved in, and alternated between exploring the mysteries of the town and slowly getting more involved with Chicago.

                            Due to their meddling, the rift between Prince Jackson and the Wolf Pack has begun to mend, and one of them realized their blunder; Prince Jackson now has access to a roving band of Archons that he might decide to send to 'deal with' this large "lawless" community to the south of his City. Oops.

                            So the players managed to convince the Baron to see the advantages of going Camarilla, and have begun working on the other residents. It looks like their plan will probably succeed, but I'm not really sure how this works out. If the Baron suddenly says "Oh hey, I'm a 6th Generation Ventrue, no, sorry, you don't really need to know my lineage. Oh and I'm Prince now.", what happens next?

                            I mean, I know Lodin was willing to destroy the U.S. steel industry just to spite Modius. After his initial attempt to take Rose Lawn, he probably decided it wasn't worth the effort until he got his other enemies in line...and then Under a Blood Red Moon happened. But now Jackson has a Brujah Baron of Joliet and Naperville, and Maxwell is running around telling everyone he's the new Prince of Gary...and Capone is out there somewhere, having been run out of Chicago by Jackson's regime, but plotting...something. So does he go, "oh great, fine, whatever, Prince of Rose Lawn, I have enough problems.", or does he say "Oh HELL NO!" in his best Samuel L. Jackson impersonation?

                            And if he does, what really stops him? That's why I'm curious how one gains legitimacy as a Prince in the sect as a whole. Or if, like everything else in Vampire, it boils down to "what you have is yours as long as you can keep someone else from taking it from you".

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                            • #15
                              Different tables and iterations of the game make the Camarilla a more formal organization than others. In 1e Chicago by Night, Maxwell winds up prince because he's the strongest vampire in the region who was there first. Lodin winds up prince because he deposes Maxwell and declares himself prince. The justicars and Inner Circle never have anything to do with it.

                              In Revised-era San Francisco by Night, the Inner Circle is much more involved in things. They recognize the first prince's praxis in 1850, approve Van Nuys' coup in 1996, and tell him he's being replaced by a new prince via letter in 2001.

                              SFbN was also published as a crossover book between Masquerade and KotE. I think the justicars are more likely to handle that sort of business than the Inner Circle, and we can probably attribute the latter's unusual degree of involvement to KotE writers being less familiar with Masquerade's setting. However, SFbN is consistent with the game's trend towards increasing institutionalization. By the point that book was out, we also had formal grades for boons, vs. 1e's more nebulous owed favors. We had a bunch of different titles and positions, when all 1e had was the prince and the primogen. Ballard and Capone were simply Lodin's informal lieutenants and "sheriff" was just a nickname for his chief bullyboy. "Harpies" was likewise a nickname for Kindred who spent a lot of time at Elysium, and the primogen were a secret body because no one expected every city to have a primogen.

                              I think that most tables trend towards a more institutionalized Camarilla than we saw in 1e, because that material is out there and has been for a while, but even later iterations of the setting still make plain that most politics is local and doesn't involve the Camarilla's upper-level leadership. Archons & Templars goes out of its way to emphasize how the archons' numbers are limited and that they can't be everywhere at once, or (more importantly) be there in time to make an impact. They and the justicars are the court of last resort rather than the Camarilla FBI; the Ivory Tower is much more a loosely allied confederation of independent city-states than it is a top-heavy organization like the Technocracy. Most of the time, when someone declares they're prince and the locals accept it, that's good enough for the Camarilla. Cities are expected to run their own shows. Intervention by archons and justicars is atypical enough that many princes are scared they could lose their thrones if they ask the Camarilla's leadership for help, because it's a sign of failure to manage local affairs by themselves. (One of the archon narrators of Archons & Templars notes, ironically, that if some princes just asked for help when things got too hot to handle, they'd have probably lost a lot fewer cities to the Sabbat.)

                              Some tables prefer a more top-heavy Camarilla than this, but I think other aspects of the setting need to change if they do. E.g., the Camarilla claiming fewer cities, elders being in more frequent contact with one another, travel being easier, more standardized communications channels between princes and archons/justicars, or more archons to better enforce a more controlling Camarilla's expanded authority. In the setting as presented, it makes total sense that the Camarilla's control over individual cities is minimal when there are (way) more cities than archons.

                              Originally posted by Lynceus View Post
                              So the players managed to convince the Baron to see the advantages of going Camarilla, and have begun working on the other residents. It looks like their plan will probably succeed, but I'm not really sure how this works out. If the Baron suddenly says "Oh hey, I'm a 6th Generation Ventrue, no, sorry, you don't really need to know my lineage. Oh and I'm Prince now.", what happens next?
                              I don't see that the prince needs to declare that fact to anyone. There is no "you must share your lineage" requirement to rule a city. It looks more respectable if you do, and will probably make other elders feel better about your praxis ("blood and breeding will always tell"), but that isn't really an issue in a hick town like Rose Lawn. Misfits who don't fit into Chicago probably don't care.

                              He could also just lie about it. Claim to be a higher-generation descendant of Rebekah's (or any other ancient Ventrue's) than he really is.

                              I mean, I know Lodin was willing to destroy the U.S. steel industry just to spite Modius. After his initial attempt to take Rose Lawn, he probably decided it wasn't worth the effort until he got his other enemies in line...and then Under a Blood Red Moon happened. But now Jackson has a Brujah Baron of Joliet and Naperville, and Maxwell is running around telling everyone he's the new Prince of Gary...and Capone is out there somewhere, having been run out of Chicago by Jackson's regime, but plotting...something. So does he go, "oh great, fine, whatever, Prince of Rose Lawn, I have enough problems.", or does he say "Oh HELL NO!" in his best Samuel L. Jackson impersonation?

                              And if he does, what really stops him? That's why I'm curious how one gains legitimacy as a Prince in the sect as a whole. Or if, like everything else in Vampire, it boils down to "what you have is yours as long as you can keep someone else from taking it from you".
                              I tend to think it's the latter. You gain legitimacy in the larger sect by gaining legitimacy among your local subjects; if they accept you as prince, that's enough for the Camarilla.

                              How Jackson reacts largely depends on him. Some princes might not care what goes on beyond their city's borders. Others might take umbrage at having another prince so close by and choose to do something about it. Some might want to do something about it but feel they have enough problems on their plate. There's no standard answer.

                              ​If Jackson wants to do anything about it, the only thing likely to stop him is Rose Lawn's vampires. Or any others nearby enough to take advantage of the power struggle. The Brujah baron, Capone, or Maxwell might propose alliances with Rose Lawn's prince to better secure their own independence.


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

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