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  • #16
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
    I ran a chronicle set in New York where all the PCs were Setites, and the Ventrue Prince established a sort of central bank for boons. If Vampire A wanted a favor from Vampire B, it had to be brokered through the Prince, or more precisely a Board of Harpies (composed not of gossiping socialites, but economists, lawyers and commodities brokers) in the employ of the Prince. Vampire A would ask the board to ask Vampire B to perform the task. A owed the boon to the Board, and B was owed a boon by the board.
    This is a brilliant idea, sort of the Boon version of evolving a barter economy to centralised Banking. You could have what is owed as well as owing, like having a mortgage and a savings account.

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    • #17
      A note about Harpies and their role as "accountants" in vampire society, since more or less everything else is covered: Of course they're not impartial by mere merit of being Harpies. They're impartial in accounting debt because that aspect of their job is pretty much the one reason vampire society functions in any way whatsoever.

      The importance of prestation, and what happens if prestation isn't honored, has already been well discussed in this thread; if a given Harpy (or Harpies) is found to be cooking the books, so to speak, then which boons are real? Which boons are exaggerated, or downplayed, because they're buddies with the creditor, debtor, or both? Who's going to listen to those Harpies when they speak about reneging on a boon, because who knows if that's actually what happened? Who's going to listen to those Harpies when a boon is made good, and well beyond the expectation of the creditor which could well lead to an increase in Status as the debtor's full faith and credit would be known?

      Forget about the Masquerade and Domain. Prestation is the social contract. Without that social contract, vampire society breaks down, and with it almost certainly goes the Masquerade when vampires turn themselves and their assets against each other. It's a responsibility Harpies know too well, and the full consequences of failing to uphold that responsibility are something with which Harpies are intimately familiar. "Harpy" is a title given by consensus of other Harpies, and they're not going to invite a vampire into their ranks who can't be trusted to uphold that social contract, because it's all their asses on the line if they fuck up.

      Harpies aren't Equifax, Countrywide Mortgage, or Lehman Brothers, even though their roles, on a much-smaller scale, are comparable. There's no "too big to fail" for Harpies, and no extent turd-polishing or changing the subject can cover it up. The closest thing to a bailout a Harpy is going to get if they're caught fucking up, is being given one-night notice to get the fuck out of the city before lex talionis is called; you can guarantee even if they get that, every other Harpy in the city, continent, hell probably even the globe, is going to be on their phones and PC's for the rest of the night spreading the news..

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      • #18
        I think one issue with "the nature of all boons is reported to a central crediting agency" is that vampires aren't going to be super on board with that concept. Boons are frequently granted due to things of an embarrassing nature or specifically leveraged to screw over other vampires or work against their interest, including those in power, such as the Prince and their lapdogs. I don't think any major facet of vampire society would be super cool with an organization directly under the thumb of the Prince having 100% knowledge of the exact background and fulfilment of all boons, as it ensures that nobody can work against the Prince's interests at all without him knowing. The Prince isn't supposed to be untouchable, they only rule so long as they are tolerated by those under them, or they are extremely potent.

        For what it's worth I don't generally have harpies record the exact nature of Boons. Boons come in recognized tiers, and generally Kindred would only record the tier of Boon with a local harpy rather than the full details. It might say that a Gangrel Joe owes Tremere Bob a trivial boon, but not that it was for a branding ritual to give him a totally rad tattoo of some Toreador he's infatuated with. Or more sensitive stuff, like Tremere Bob owing Nosferatu Jill a Major Boon for breaking into his own Chantry and stealing a rival's Thaumaturgical notes. This allows both vampires to build a history of credit for respecting prestation without putting exact details of their delicate activities into public record.

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        • #19
          I've never played it that trivial boons are reported and accounted in the same way as higher levels of boons. More as a way of determining social pecking order, an acknowledgement of status/prestige, or as a sign of mutual respect. Basically, the vampire version of exchanging business cards is the best way I've ever read or heard it described. In fact, in my games I play calling in a trivial boon to be considered a sign of gaucheness, disrespect, or weakness in the vampire doing it.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Zanos View Post
            I think one issue with "the nature of all boons is reported to a central crediting agency" is that vampires aren't going to be super on board with that concept.
            The other issue is that it is virtually impossible until the early 20th century. Far from every domain will have a dedicated telepath specifically for communicating with the vampire bank.

            I always run boons on an honor system. While there's obvious abuse potential, a vampire who games the system too much will get a reputation and be cut off from vampire economy entirely. Good luck getting anything done when you can't even pay a fledgeling to fetch your mail.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
              A note about Harpies and their role as "accountants" in vampire society, since more or less everything else is covered: Of course they're not impartial by mere merit of being Harpies. They're impartial in accounting debt because that aspect of their job is pretty much the one reason vampire society functions in any way whatsoever.
              I have a huge issue with "Harpies are accountants" and that issue is the improbability of the very existence of Harpies. How large are your vampire princedoms? Ten vampires? Twenty vampires?

              Let's say we have a game in Lisbon, capital of Portugal and its largest city with 552k people in it. Going by 1:100000 rule Lisbon has 5.5 vampires in it. One of them is the Prince and 0.5 vampire is probably a very confused caitiff. The idea that one of the four remaining vampires is a dedicated courtier, trendsetter and rumormonger is absolutely bizarre. The idea that 5 vampires need a dedicated accountant to keep track of their obligations to one another is even more bizarre. Hell, at such low numbers half or all vampires are probably from the same bloodline (not Bloodline) and rent a flat together, with Elder getting a dedicated basement and the rest fighting over bunks.

              But even if you go up to sane numbers like 20 or 30 vampires - that's still a tiny social circle. That's the size of a classroom or an office party. Vampires simply never reach the numbers where you need vampires dedicated to maintaining a social hierarchy. VtM writers like to prance around talking about Senechals and Sheriffs and Chancelors, but in the every conceivable domain the underlings Prince is described to have would represent half or more of all goddamn vampires in the domain. In VtM Bloodlines the opening cutscene had something like fifteen vampires, and a full third of those were Anarchs who reject the Camarilla's authority, don't show up to Elysiums and generally don't interact with Camarilla's hierarchy. And that's in a big metropolis like L.A.
              Last edited by Kammerer; 10-31-2017, 06:58 AM.

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              • #22
                The use of a central bank in my New York chronicle was necessitated by the weird geo-political circumstances and economic history of the domains of the Mid-Atlantic seaboard.

                The chronicle was set in New York, yes, but really the Camarilla only held Manhattan, and below 97th street or so at that, plus Roosevelt Island. Plus, the Tremere fortress-like neighborhood of Morningside Heights and Columbia University. The Camarilla held JFK airport, but not one inch past Rockaway Blvd. They were able to operate carefully in Park Slope and Downtown Brooklyn, but no sane vampire would haven, or even linger, there. Local highways, bridges and tunnels were reasonably safe, through influence among the police, city hall, and the Port Authority.

                The Camarilla couldn't take Staten Island, but could ensure that the Sabbat couldn't either, tacitly ceding it to the Giovanni, along with almost the entirety of the Jersey Shore, from Asbury Park to Wildwood. (Cape May was the autarkis domain of a mutually blood-bound elder vampire couple: a Toreador and a True Brujah.) A Premascine elder of the clan, and his pallid fledglings, held the Country Club neighborhood of the Bronx. Besides public "offices" in Morningside Park, Tompkins Square Park, and Astoria, the Setites held precarious patches of real estate scattered around the boroughs and Jersey, mostly just a single block of row-homes here or a strip-mall there. Assamites had a similar scattershot presence in Jersey City and Hudson County.

                Other than that, the whole region was solidly, stringently, and militantly Sabbat domain. They held the entirety of New Jersey, and upstate New York as far as Montreal. East of the Garden State was tightly in the grasp of the Sabbat, as far west as Cleveland, with every town of any size having a small pack in place... though admittedly it was heavy on Loyalists and Neo-feudalists, both factions more anti-Camarilla than pro-Sabbat. (And more preoccupied with surviving in close proximity to Lupines, than the greater Jyhad.)

                The only exceptions were a vampiric no-man's land in Easton, PA, (where a very elder Assamite sorcerer would only take a break from her research long enough to destroy any vampire or ghoul unlucky enough to take any of the first few exits after crossing the Delaware River), and highly besieged Tremere Chantries in Princeton, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Villanova, PA; and the Univerity of Pittsburgh.

                One bright light for the Camarilla was that New England (and it's loyal kindred) began right at the state line in Greenwich, CT. Other than that, the nearest Camarilla domains began at the Washington beltway, and with an insular brood of Gangrel Anarchs in Wheeling, WV.

                Otherwise, New York was a garrison city, more reminiscent of the Siege of Stalingrad than a City That Never Sleeps.

                It hadn't always been so.

                Before WW2, the Sabbat and Camarilla had fought block by block battles, in nearly every town and neighborhood of the region for a century or more. With the arrival of interstate highways and communications technology in the 1950s... and an infusion of fledglings on both sides who had fought in an actual World War... the domains coalesced into the large blocks of tonight. This made their rivalry less a series of local stand-offs, and more of a coordinated war, with both sides adapting region-wide strategies. (One of the causes of the Sabbat Civil War in the fifties was the willing sacrifice of smaller, less strategically vital domains to shore up centers of power. This strengthened the entire Sword of Caine, while devastating many individual packs, especially those with little political power in the sect.)

                The Anarch Free State in California, and a Camarilla crack-down disguised as red scares, created a mass exodus of New York Anarchs in the fifties and early sixties. Say what you will about their manners, the Anarchs had been the spear-point in the fight to keep New York. The war effort started to turn in the Sabbat favor, with the Bronx and the Jersey palisades lost.

                As mortal populations (and powerful Kindred) shifted from embattled, snowy, grey industrial cities to more peaceful and balmy clines in the late 1960's, New York's prestation economy limped along as best it could. The Harpies worked hard to keep everyone involved in the system, often quietly priming the pumps behind the scenes with secret infusions of traded and paid-off debts among themselves.

                With fewer powerful vampires, and more battles to fund, the prestation economy limped along into in the early 1970s. Harpies were at their wit's end. How could the rest of the Camarilla not understand how vital New York was in the over-all Jyhad? Even the Prince seemed annoyed at discussions of pre-station. "Real power lay in tommy guns and bands of goons, not a bunch of silk-brocaded biddies trading gossip!" he would often claim in Elysium.

                The Harpies' frustration only grew. What they did mattered, and no one seemed to care.

                Vast portions of the Camarilla's prestation economy became devoted to the war effort, but New York may have been the only city on the planet where the life-expectancy of Camarilla fledglings was much shorter than that of Sabbat or Independent vampires. This meant that everyone was hesitant to enter into personal debts. Why would you spend months putting together a complex business deal, and perform your end of the bargain, if there was a fifty-fifty chance your partners would be dangled with chains from the bottom of the Williamsburg Bridge and left to greet the sun by the Sabbat before the deal was complete? Who would pay off their debt?

                Eff you, that's who.

                In 1972, when a popular Toreador harpy named "Hello Darling" was assassinated by parties unknown in an attempt to erase a particularly complicated debt, the Harpies announced as a group they were vacating New York for pleasanter cities. All (remaining) six of them left that night. A seventh generation Ventrue named Michaela was among them.

                The prince embraced three fledglings (a gossip columnist, an accountant turned Broadway producer, and a professor of contract law), briefly explained the job, thoroughly blood bound them, and set them to it. This laissez-faire policy was, predictably, disastrous.

                With the Blackout of 1977, and the resulting calling in of a vast percentage of personal debts, the prestation system teetered on the brink. The new Harpies panicked and placed a temporary halt to all debt transactions, whether accruing or discharging until they could get a handle on where they stood. The "bank holiday" was only for three nights, but without Prestation, the unofficial Seventh Tradition, which forms the backbone of the Camarilla, domains began to crumble and, without radical economic action, the whole city was likely to fall with weeks.

                The primogen stepped in, and, in open Elysium, charged the Prince with severe mismanagement, and offered him the possibility of vacating his post peacefully. He refused and demanded to discuss the matter privately with them, in camera. He was never seen again, and the Primogen refuse to discuss his fate.

                Realizing the gravity of the situation, the Primogen contacted Michaela, who had been studying economics at the University of Chicago, to see where the system had gone wrong. After a short interview, they announced she was to serve as the new Prince.

                Her first official act was to declare personal domain over all Sabbat-held territories in the region, including cities like Philadelphia, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, thereby instantly changing her domain from one of the most over-populated in the world, to one of the most under-populated. She then established the Central Bank system, funded with embrace rights enough to populate the USA's most populous region. In essence, Michaela made her granting of embrace rights the global reserve currency of the Camarilla. Most elders around the world rolled their eyes at the insolent, upstart "Baby Prince of Yankeeland", but even they have come to admit the system seems to be working.

                By 1980, the city's prestation economy stabilized, and actually began fast growth by the mid-eighties. Camarilla vampires from around the world traveled to New York to take advantage of the loose embrace policies. They arrive, consolidate their debts, embrace a childe, serve in the war for a few years, then return to their home cities with a clean slate and a new fledgling. That's the theory, anyway. The reality on the ground is that it is easy to become dependent on the easy credit, and the war is not a quiet chess match like back home. Those who manage to both survive and make the system work for them, though, can advance quickly.

                This culture of ambitious transplants has lead to a city with both vast numbers and vast variety. If you are not against the Camarilla, and are willing to take part in the system, Michaela welcomes newcomers, regardless of bloodline or status. Those who don't play by the rules are ruthlessly destroyed without hesitation. It's a hard city to live in, but the rewards can be great.

                I will point out, the system actually allowed for more privacy in transactions, rather than less. All the average vampire knows about his fellows is where they stand in debt-relation to the Bank, not how they accrued the debt or how they discharge it. Frankly, that's none of their business. In the ancien regime, debts were largely public, at least who owed whom, if not for what.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Kammerer View Post
                  I have a huge issue with "Harpies are accountants" and that issue is the improbability of the very existence of Harpies. How large are your vampire princedoms? Ten vampires? Twenty vampires?
                  Actually, the city closest to where I live (Louisville, KY) is where I've run most of my chronicles, and I tend to peg its vampire population at somewhere between 12-18 because its greater metro population is about 1.2 million. But, Louisville has some things going for it (major transportation hub) that, in most of my chronicles make it "must-hold" territory for the Camarilla.

                  It's with the smaller cities the Camarilla tends to suffer, based on my reading of lore and the trends/preferences I've noted among players. If an entire city's vampire population is equal to or less than one or two Sabbat packs, the city's probably not going to stay in Camarilla hands very long. The solution is obvious: bring in strongarm Princes who keep things on a tight leash and can respond quickly and effectively to rumored/actual Sabbat incursion, who probably have or or two Archon buddies they can call in if things start looking hairy, and make mutual-defense pacts with nearby Cam cities to send help if needed. But, that only goes so far, and the Sabbat can easily respond in kind by bringing in a Templar, Shakar, or Emissary or two, or putting a Bishop in the field directly.

                  In smaller cities, not every position has to be filled. Not every clan is going to be represented in sufficient numbers to warrant a Primogen. The city's population may be small enough the Sheriff can do their duties absent deputies or a Scourge. The city may not even be large enough to have a proper Harpy, although someone will invariably step up to the role of rumor-monger...vampires love their routine and sense of familiarity, so invariably that person ends up being the city's fiduciary by merit of being the rumor-monger and knowing who owes whom what, first. Somebody has to do it, after all, and nobody in the city's traditional power structure can be trusted to do it, especially as built upon checks and balances as the Camarilla nominally is.

                  Hell, in one Louisville game I planned but never ran, the city was a tetrarchy with the titles of "Prince" and "Primogen" more a formality than anything else. The Prince was a Ventrue, and the Primogen "Council" was a Torrie, Tremere, and Malkie. The city had a fully-staffed and exceptionally well-defended chantry with an entrenched and well-connected Regent, which meant the Tremere were just over a third of the city's total population and they weren't going anywhere; the Prince left the Ventrue Primogen seat empty as an act of outward magnanimity; the Torrie was the Harpy who had an "advisory" seat; and, the other four clans lacked the numbers for proper representation, so they rallied around the Malkie "Primogen" out of mutual self-interest. The Tremere were the real power brokers in the city, but preferred their footprint as light as possible; policy was decided behind closed doors by consensus, going through the Prince as decree for the sake of maintaining appearances.

                  Of course, the major conceit of that chronicle was Louisville, Indianapolis, Cinci, St. Louis, and Cleveland are actually pretty big biotech, pharmaceutical, health care, and agriscience cities. Not to mention, logistics. The Tremere moved in and dropped a steel curtain of chantries along the Ohio River valley (more or less), including Meerlinda's (relocated) chantry and at least two Pontifexes' chantries (Cinci and St. Louis, IIRC), bisecting the US and putting a couple major coffin nails in the Sabbat's war effort(s), while using the local resources to start really pushing the envelope on biothaumaturgical and alchemical research.
                  Last edited by Theodrim; 10-31-2017, 10:53 PM.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                    It's with the smaller cities the Camarilla tends to suffer, based on my reading of lore and the trends/preferences I've noted among players. If an entire city's vampire population is equal to or less than one or two Sabbat packs, the city's probably not going to stay in Camarilla hands very long. The solution is obvious: bring in strongarm Princes who keep things on a tight leash and can respond quickly and effectively to rumored/actual Sabbat incursion, who probably have or or two Archon buddies they can call in if things start looking hairy, and make mutual-defense pacts with nearby Cam cities to send help if needed. But, that only goes so far, and the Sabbat can easily respond in kind by bringing in a Templar, Shakar, or Emissary or two, or putting a Bishop in the field directly.
                    The way I run small cities is to go with the great idea in the Predator and Prey series Book 1, where they had a Domain of Michigan. Since the Sabbat controlled Detroit, the individual domains weren't robust enough to hold them back. Hence, the vampires only meet for Elysium and the Prince in Iron Rapids, and have all their havens and hunting areas parceled out throughout the state, ready to be called upon in full numbers if things go south.

                    This way, instead of small mini-domains with <10 vampires, you can always run full-sized Cam chronicles where every position is filled, and there's enough vamps around to have intrigues galore. Just merge sparse domains into big princedoms, which only makes sense from a setting perspective.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Zanos View Post
                      I think one issue with "the nature of all boons is reported to a central crediting agency" is that vampires aren't going to be super on board with that concept. Boons are frequently granted due to things of an embarrassing nature or specifically leveraged to screw over other vampires or work against their interest, including those in power, such as the Prince and their lapdogs. I don't think any major facet of vampire society would be super cool with an organization directly under the thumb of the Prince having 100% knowledge of the exact background and fulfilment of all boons, as it ensures that nobody can work against the Prince's interests at all without him knowing. The Prince isn't supposed to be untouchable, they only rule so long as they are tolerated by those under them, or they are extremely potent.
                      The Anarchs can have a 'sharing economy' boon-tracking app with a cute name like "Doggle".

                      Ironically, the Camarilla is theoretically the freest political arrangement among vampires since the Sixth Tradition is essentially the ultimate definition of "Castle Law".

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Sultanabdal View Post

                        The way I run small cities is to go with the great idea in the Predator and Prey series Book 1, where they had a Domain of Michigan. Since the Sabbat controlled Detroit, the individual domains weren't robust enough to hold them back. Hence, the vampires only meet for Elysium and the Prince in Iron Rapids, and have all their havens and hunting areas parceled out throughout the state, ready to be called upon in full numbers if things go south.
                        For the grander political scale it works, but on a city-level I believe it should depend more on the location and what features are nearby. Sprawl and geographic landmarks like rivers bisecting cities can be wonderful things.

                        For instance, one thing that makes for an interesting chronicle in Louisville, KY, is the greater metro area crosses over into the Indiana side. On the Indiana side, it's all sprawl; the only substantial urban area is on the Kentucky side. In another chronicle my group actually did play, the Sabbat managed to seize the Louisville urban area, but the Prince and Primogen managed to escape to the Indiana side of the Ohio River, and the Indiana side stayed comparatively safe Camarilla territory as the Sabbat lacked the numbers to run counter-insurgency in both the urban area and scour the Indiana side for the Cams. From the Indiana side, the Camarilla held a roving court-in-exile, managed to coordinate a guerrilla war against the Sabbat, and eventually retake the city.

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