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  • Help with city building

    Greetings,


    I am soon to begin as a Storyteller in a Mage-centric (while open to other splats) game, but I would like some help in organizing the fluff of the city, I want to keep it as true as possible to the spirits of the Orders, Covenants, Tribes, etc as possible, please comment and offer advice:



    1.) Would the Free Council be willing to operate with the other "rebel" factions? I am envisioning a city wide alliance between Carthians, Free Council and Saboteurs, those seem the factions more likely to make common cause and work together.


    2.) Which is the best Pentacle order to have a nominal good guy with a sordid life? Best meaning cover or justify the NPC as an order, not because this is a particularly strong or useful member. Sordid meaning sexually abusing (teenage) Sleepers.
    • Mysterium: The order that cares least for Sleepers. Most likely candidate.
    • Adamantine Arrow: Unlikely that this behavior be tolerated, but could happen.
    • Silver Ladder: Their own rules make a penalty harsher when magic is used to abuse Sleepers
    • Free Council: It seems they will go medieval on you if you mess with Sleepers this way.
    • Guardians of the Veil: They will purge someone like this quicker than the Free Council. If the NPC is from another order, they might engage on blackmail.
    This NPC would be low Status, aloof, Disciple level, to showcase that this guy is tolerated but there is not even a flimsy justification, just the order not caring about as long as it is discreet/not public knowledge.


    3.) If the Ordo Dracul were to enter joint research, which order will be the best candidate: Mysterium or Free Council?


    4.) Will any order encourage or tolerate drug selling/stealing as a mean of financing? I could see Free Council, Arrows or Guardians.


    5.) If you have suggestions about the city, I am currently considering the following cities and themes:
    • Singapore (My way is the right way)
      The Ladder is on top with a strong Guardians influence, Free Council is accepted but has insignificant numbers. Few other supernaturals, and those walk on a tight leash, Arrows are well armed and encouraged to get rid of nuisances. Invictus has a small but powerful presence.
    • Bogota (Money talks but wealth whispers)
      Invictus city with Lancea et Sanctum elements and subtle Seer (Hegemony, Paternoster, Praetorians) backing. Carthians, Iron Masters, Free Council and Silver Ladder compete for influence, Beasts thrive.
    • Brussels (Hate the game not the player)
      Bureaucratic seasonal courts rule. Carthians, Free Council, Invictus, Iron Masters, Ivory Claws, Seers of the Throne (Hegemonic, Panopticon), Silver Ladder, and Storm Lords ally and oppose each other trying to gain the upper hand.
      Denpasar (Are you really free?)
    • Loose alliance of Circle of the Crone, Ivory Claws and Fire-Touched in power, most mages are Apostates, Islamic influenced Fire-Touched, Lancea et Sanctum and Seers (Paternoster) try to establish a foothold.
    Anyone who knows of those cities feel free to chip in.
    Last edited by lbeaumanior; 01-29-2019, 07:45 AM.

  • #2
    Don't focus on whether or not the Order would condone the action, but on the people involved. Not just the perpetrators, but also the victims. History is full of people no one cares about being abused, just keep it out of the front yard.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by 2ptTakrill View Post
      Don't focus on whether or not the Order would condone the action, but on the people involved. Not just the perpetrators, but also the victims. History is full of people no one cares about being abused, just keep it out of the front yard.
      Thanks for the answer, but the Order and its behaviour are important for the sketch of story that I have. I have a potential detonant in this character and the reactions to his behavior.

      Also, please help with the other questions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by lbeaumanior View Post
        1.) Would the Free Council be willing to operate with the other "rebel" factions? I am envisioning a city wide alliance between Carthians, Free Council and Iron Masters, those seem the factions more likely to make common cause and work together (specially Carthians and Free Council, not so sure of Iron Masters)
        This is tricky. Just because two factions are rebels doesn't mean they will get along. Just look at the situation in Syria. More than that, Free Council and Carthians have entirely different goals and rebel against different things. Also, Free Council are pro-Sleeper and Carthians still use normal people as livestock. If you want to make this work, you can do one of two things:
        • The two factions help each other out against their respective status quos. This is an unstable alliance of convenience and it cannot last indefinitely. The question is whether it ends with a bang or with a whimper.
        • The two factions work towards harmonious coexistence of Kindred and Kine. Attaining such goal requires extensive changes in the city. Established Vampire government is likely to push against that. Anti-monster Silver Ladder would likely also oppose the project. It's up to you how far they go in securing their interests.
        Iron Masters are not really a rebel faction - they just try to stay involved in human going-ons. Since they hunt people (whether they kill them or not) they might get along better with Carthians than with the Free Council, although the latter can happen if they choose the "right" targets (servants of the Lie). All three factions working together would be unusual, but possible with a uniting goal.


        Originally posted by lbeaumanior View Post
        2.) Which is the best Pentacle order to have a nominal good guy with a sordid life? By best meaning cover or justify the NPC as an order, not because this is a particularly strong or useful member. By sordid meaning sexually abusing (teenage) Sleepers.
        Mysterium is your best bet. I can imagine this happening in Adamantine Arrow - rough training and destruction of ego gone wrong. Silver Ladder and Free Council are very much against that, and having a member engaging in such depravity is a massive scandal waiting to happen. The abuser in question would have to keep low profile, and would be destroyed politically should this come out. Guardians would purge that perp so badly.

        Originally posted by lbeaumanior View Post
        3.) If the Ordo Dracul as a covenant, were to enter a joint research with an order, which order will be the best candidate: the Mysterium or the Free Council?
        Mysterium is more amoral, so Ordo Dracul could go further in cruel experiments. Free Council would be a humanizing influence.

        Originally posted by lbeaumanior View Post
        4.) Will any order encourage or at least tolerate drug selling/stealing as a means to finance itself? I could see Free Council, Arrows or Guardians on this.
        I could see any Order doing that. It could be cold business, making that Order too much like Seers for comfort. They could be involved in crime organizations, and help their business along. On the other hand the Order could traffic less harmful, or at least mind-expanding drugs, believing they do good for the people. It depends on the type of the drug.
        Last edited by Teatime; 01-16-2019, 04:05 PM.


        ~

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Teatime View Post
          This is tricky. Just because two factions are rebels doesn't mean they will get along. Just look at the situation in Syria. More than that, Free Council and Carthians have entirely different goals and rebel against different things. Also, Free Council are pro-Sleeper and Carthians still use normal people as livestock. If you want to make this work, you can do one of two things:
          • The two factions help each other out against their respective status quos. This is an unstable alliance of convenience and it cannot last indefinitely. The question is whether it ends with a bang or with a whimper.
          • The two factions work towards harmonious coexistence of Kindred and Kine. Attaining such goal requires extensive changes in the city. Established Vampire government is likely to push against that. Anti-monster Silver Ladder would likely also oppose the project. It's up to you how far they go in securing their interests.
          Iron Masters are not really a rebel faction - they just try to stay involved in human going-ons. Since they hunt people (whether they kill them or not) they might get along better with Carthians than with the Free Council, although the latter can happen if they choose the "right" targets (servants of the Lie). All three factions working together would be unusual, but possible with a uniting goal.
          I will keep this into mind, Brussels is one of the possible settings, please check the original post, I have updated it.

          Originally posted by Teatime View Post
          Mysterium is your best bet. I can imagine this happening in Adamantine Arrow - rough training and destruction of ego gone wrong. Silver Ladder and Free Council are very much against that, and having a member engaging in such depravity is a massive scandal waiting to happen. The abuser in question would have to keep low profile, and would be destroyed politically should this come out. Guardians would purge that perp so badly.
          The perp most likely will be Mysterium, but you bring a valid point about Adamantine Arrow

          Originally posted by Teatime View Post
          Mysterium is more amoral, so Ordo Dracul could go further in cruel experiments. Free Council would be a humanizing influence.
          Ok, got it, but the question was more towards, who would be more willing to do joint research, Mysterium or Free Council?


          Originally posted by Teatime View Post
          I could see any Order doing that. It could be cold business, making that Order too much like Seers for comfort. They could be involved in crime organizations, and help their business along. On the other hand the Order could traffic less harmful, or at least mind-expanding drugs, believing they do good for the people. It depends on the type of the drug.
          Got it.

          Thanks for all the answers!
          Last edited by lbeaumanior; 01-16-2019, 04:17 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by lbeaumanior View Post
            Ok, got it, but the question was more towards, who would be more willing to do joint research, Mysterium or Free Council?
            Both Mysterium and Free Council are all for research. They're also locked in competition, so Ordo Dracul could play them against each other to get favourable bargains. If Vampires carry their experiments with no harm to Sleepers, Free Council and Mysterium as as likely to cooperate. If people get hurt, Mysterium is more likely. From another angle, strictly hierarchical Ordo Dracul will get along with Mysterium better.


            ~

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Teatime View Post
              Both Mysterium and Free Council are all for research. They're also locked in competition, so Ordo Dracul could play them against each other to get favourable bargains. If Vampires carry their experiments with no harm to Sleepers, Free Council and Mysterium as as likely to cooperate. If people get hurt, Mysterium is more likely. From another angle, strictly hierarchical Ordo Dracul will get along with Mysterium better.
              Fantastic, that is what I needed, any opinion on the four possible settings? I have tried to put themes and more detailed descriptions of what I envision on the cities.

              Comment


              • #8
                A theme and a list of factions are not enough for me to understand what you're planning. Especially since you probably know more about these cities than I do. If you want broader feedback you need to explain what role each faction plays in carrying the theme and what is the main line of conflict in concrete terms.


                ~

                Comment


                • #9
                  Any politics probably needs a combing through using the "rules to rule by" from the dictators handbook. A nice quick reference can be found by CPG Grey on youtube called "rules for rulers" and I use them to get the skeleton for ANY politics in my works. Meat comes next, but, it conveniently shows how and why rebels would fight each other despite being for the same cause! I highly recommend!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Teatime View Post
                    A theme and a list of factions are not enough for me to understand what you're planning. Especially since you probably know more about these cities than I do. If you want broader feedback you need to explain what role each faction plays in carrying the theme and what is the main line of conflict in concrete terms.
                    Ok, as I see it:
                    • Singapore (My way is the right way)
                      The Ladder is on top with a strong Guardians influence, Free Council is accepted but has insignificant numbers. Few other supernaturals, who all walk on a tight leash, well armed Arrows are encouraged to get rid of nuisances. The Invictus has a small but powerful presence.

                      Here the problems are focused on tight control and constancy, the city has it good and people know it. They are not ready for what is on the way: fanatical Fire-Touched coming from Malaysia and Indonesia, economic war from the Invictus, and massive God-Machine intervention. How do mages face those menaces without losing their preeminent position in the city?

                      The Ladder sees this city as trial run for Hieraconis, Guardians are pleased with the security, the Arrow has very little to do except train, and Mystagogues can focus on their studies as long as they share results, the Free Council would love to fight this complacency but simply does not have a voice to remind the Diamond that this city was not build because of mages, but despite them.

                      Can the mages fight something outside their area of expertise? How long? And will the city become a beacon to the world, or just an exotic reference?
                    • Bogota (Money talks but wealth whispers)
                      Invictus city with subtle Seer (Hegemony, Mammon, Paternoster, Praetorians) backing. Carthians, Iron Masters, Free Council, Lancea et Sanctum and Silver Ladder compete for influence, Beasts thrive.

                      Colombia has peace after 60 years, but is one the most unequal places in South America, institutional corruption abounds, local poverty is still high and thousands of Venezuelans are arriving daily to the country escaping from their plight. People fear losing jobs to the cheap immigrant labour, being mugged in the streets, women fear their husbands leaving them for prettier younger poorer Venezuelans. The Invictus knows how to keep itself on top during crises but little they know that they are just a patsy for the Seers who see this as a chance to encourage xenophobia, violence and oppression; all this fear is such a buffet for the Begotten that the strongest individual supernatural in the city by far is an Inguma Collector called El Viejo.

                      Théarchs and Libertines have different visions for the city (and the country, this is the capital after all) and can not see beyond their petty squabbles. The other orders have little to none presence in the city so this is a view point battle, but whoever wins this battle might just lose the real war. Can the mages fight the subtle dark hand of the Seers? What view is the right one? What happen if they win?
                    • Brussels (Hate the game not the player)
                      Bureaucratic seasonal courts rule. Carthians, Free Council, Invictus, Iron Masters, Ivory Claws, Seers of the Throne (Hegemonic, Panopticon), Silver Ladder, and Storm Lords ally and oppose each other trying to gain the upper hand.

                      Bureaucracy and politics are the bread and butter of this city: The Carthians and Free Council are fractious and disunited, the Ladder and Storm Lords see power as a tool, Iron Masters see the way the wind is blowing and move accordingly, Ivory Claws know they deserve to be on top. While all the forces fight for power, the Freehold has found its niche and realised that the big boy games, are just that, games. The Courts keep their power, and host others, just as Brussels hosts the European Parliament.

                      On the other hand, Seers just need to keep everybody busy until their victory arrives. Belgium and its complex government systems gives them an edge on the long term battle for Europe. Poverty, racism, intolerance, rape, education and healthcare costs all are increasing under their influence, here the Throne is symbolically strengthened and symbols matter in this war.

                      Can any of the factions achieve anything? The idea here is to see if the mages can overcome the political inertia to make inroads, and save the city and Europe from the Seers, since it is headed to be a victory for the Throne.
                    • Denpasar (Are you really free?)
                      Loose alliance of Circle of the Crone, Ivory Claws and Fire-Touched in power, most mages are Apostates, Islamic influenced Fire-Touched, Lancea et Sanctum and Seers (Paternoster) try to establish a foothold.

                      Bali is a paradise of contrasts: mainly Hindu in the largest Islamic country, full of high end resorts and luxury with large number of inhabitants living in poverty, worshiping nature while not having a garbage collection system, open to foreigners but hurting them with corruption. This dynamic tension is the perfect breeding ground for the Circle of the Crone, the Ivory Claws and the Fire-Touched, all the three factions allied under an apocryphal deity called Dewi Bisu, that Acolytes believe to be a daughter of the Crone and the Pure see as one of the Dihim, this goddess encourages harmony between the faithful and the world, ritual secrecy and maternal superiority over humans. This set of beliefs inspires Circle members to maintain a surprisingly high Humanity and a balanced Harmony on Pure.

                      Mages that awaken on Bali quickly realise that paradise has owners and that willworkers are on their own. While tourists come and go, the castes subtly and overtly influence the Sleepers, the Islamic factions want to proselytise in this heathen land, the Pentacle never seems to gain traction, and minor but ambitious spirits harass the Awakened.

                      The risk in Bali is stagnation: the easiest thing is to do nothing and relax; but is by facing new mysteries that mages grow mystically.

                    That is as much as I have now, the NPC that I asked about will be a Mysterium member that will be a catalyst for drama. As part of a joint Mysterium-Ordo Dracul investigation, this guy was chosen because he is a nobody with unsavory proclivities, if something sleazy happens no one will cry, and it is probably better if he disappears, just to avoid a potential embarrassment.

                    Another part of the plot is the alliance of the like-minded, between the Free Council and politically similar factions. What will the Council do to fight The Man? One of the PC is definitely a Libertine with a poverty background so the drug money has relevance.

                    I need to pick a city and I hoped that someone can see if my cities are accurate enough or if I am missing a relevant factor or detail.
                    Last edited by lbeaumanior; 01-29-2019, 07:48 AM.

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                    • #11
                      After comparing your themes to your content, I have some thoughts that you might find relevant.

                      Singapore: It's useful to determine what sort of strategy Ladder and Guardians have for the city. What causes do they promote? Who do they punish? How are power and responsibility assigned? It should be a legitimately workable system, but with a blind spot that supernatural competitors are exploiting. Opposing their influence demands an overhaul of the system, but change is always unpredictable and it might make things worse. You might have hinted at all this in your write-up, but what stood out to me was that Mages were doomed by complacency. An overt attack (violent or political) against their holdings would rattle them pretty quickly, unless the enemy acts subtly and uses complacency (and flaws in the system) against them. Both the God-Machine and Invictus are good at that.

                      Bogota: Something I learned that stuck with me was that poverty doesn't necessarily cause crime. Relative poverty does. If everyone is poor, they accept it as the way of life and try to make the best of it. However, if someone builds a lavish villa in sight, all the struggling people begin seeing luxury they're not privy to. This breeds ambition and resentment (this is a good place to put Beasts in). Wealth whispers. You can pit your players against overt corruption and bribes, and gradually reveal that Bogota's problems are soul deep. You can reveal that through Astral journeys (another place to put Beasts in).

                      Brussels: I see it as the flipside of Singapore. Something about the system of governance, traditions or social pressure puts good people against each other. Such a situation breeds pessimism and validates Seer resignation to tyrrany of the Exarchs. If the system can't be fixed, they may at least benefit - they think. If it's the game that needs to be hated, not the player, avoid powerful people (in any faction) using power too selfishly. Make them as trapped in red tape as everyone else is. Did you watch The Twelve Tasks of Asterix and the Place That Sends You Mad? Nobody there was malicious but, you know...

                      Denpasar: I've got nothing


                      ~

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                      • #12
                        Thanks, I will keep that in mind. Most likely it will be Singapore the place, but to cover all my bases I have posted the question about the city on the main forum.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't have any comments on city accuracy, but i wanted to tell you you did a great job on the city's themes. They seem really engrossing and complex. As long as you do your research, and i see you have already started a thread to crowdsource that, you should do great with the right players.

                          Two things i wanted to bring up though.

                          Your rapist Diamond Mage could go great, but you don't technically need it to be something that realistic to show how badly he abuses Sleepers. So check with your table beforehand about what makes them the bad kind of uncomfortable, maybe even think up a less realistic but no less horrific open secret for him just in case.

                          Second, what are your cities' Mysteries? Are they all going to be related to studying the other splats in the city or will there be weirder stuff? Will they all be tied into the larger political and Astral conflict or is there room for sidequests?


                          A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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                          • #14
                            Was wondering what the central Mysteries would be that draw Mages to these cities in the first place and influence the local politics and culture as a result of their existence.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
                              Was wondering what the central Mysteries would be that draw Mages to these cities in the first place and influence the local politics and culture as a result of their existence.
                              Since those are my sketches, everything is still hazy, so far:

                              Singapore: God Machine infrastructure is the main attraction, british mages scoured Malaysia and Singapore had nothing of relevance during the empire heyday, after the 70's a lot of infrastructure just popped. Everyone involved is pretty sure there was nothing until suddenly there was, mages quickly took power to kick everyone else out (Angels kicked Demons out, Mages kicked Angels)

                              Bogota: sheer population density (about 11 millon people) and harsh situations make it statistically more likely that mages awaken there, no need for a compelling mystery. There are prometheans and geists around that are relevant for some academically minded mages.

                              Brussels: Sleeper politcs can not be left to their own devices, this is not about the mysteries of the city but a fight for influence, more about not letting others win here than being interested on the city per se. Sunken costs and relative value.

                              Denpasar: Hindu and Animist beliefs are very much true with spirits and fae being the source of most events around Bali. But Bali is not big enough to merit the orders attention with Jakarta being FULL of mysteries. Also, several tourists awaken and return home after their vacations are up, so most mages in this game are going to be apostate starting characters.
                              Last edited by lbeaumanior; 01-17-2019, 02:49 PM.

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