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Help Fleshing Out the Invictus in my city

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  • Help Fleshing Out the Invictus in my city

    Hey all,

    I am running a VtR game set in San Francisco (not using the setting provided in the VtR Core book's Chapter VI), and I am at the point where I want to start fleshing out the intricacies of the city's Invictus. The characters are finishing up a storyline where they will likely end up deposing the current Prince (an Elder Invictus who has been exposed for Diablere) with a younger Invictus who has been an Allie/mentor to the PC coterie.

    So the city is a rather traditional feudal city ruled by the Invictus (fairly classic VtM/VtR structure), and I want to start exploring the Invictus culture, now that the PCs are going to be thrust more heavily into city politics. I want to play up the elitism and socio-economic disparities that are both plaguing real life San Francisco, and that the Invictus can so heavily represent, and I'd like to probe the minds of those more experienced and smarter than myself for ideas as to how to represent this, especially as there are not a lot of concrete examples for how the Covenant "operates" (rightfully so, as VtR is meant to be more of a toolbox than VtM was).

    My thoughts of now include:
    -The Invictus is heavily invested in the Tech boom, essentially owning both a large number of start up companies as well as running the boards of major tech companies in the Bay Area. Of course this is through puppet CEO's and puppet conglomerates that allow The Invicuts to continue working as "The Conspiracy".
    -The Invictus also maintain power through property. San Francisco is now essentially the most expensive city in America, and a major housing shortage is one of the primary problems. Due to a number of political factors, the city has been very slow to create new and affordable housing, and this is strangling the middle and lower classes in the city. The Invictus (and specifically the new Prince) are heavily involved in this control, and have been manipulating this situation to maintain their own strangle on power; tie this in with their control of Kindred Territory, and they pretty much have control of the biggest need for both Kindred and Kine in the city.

    But what really hasn't gelled for me is seeing the city's Invictus as a cohesive unit. As they are written in the book, the covenant is ultimately this tightly knit conspiracy that runs Kindred and Kine society from the shadows. Now that this war between Princes is over, I want to start exploring and depicting the Covenant as a cohesive, ruthless and monolithic society, and this is where I could use everyone's help.

    How does the Covenant meet and work together? Do the elites of the covenant gather in the top board room in the Transamerica Pyramid once a month in a mockery of modern business meetings? Do they hold elaborate ballroom Elysiums where whispered deals are made on a Kindred to Kindred basis, and each bargain individually makes up the entire organization's actions... or perhaps all these bargains are being puppeted by the eldest vampires??? I don't know, nothing seems to stick for me, but I don't have many ideas as to how they may meet/organize/plan their control.

    I feel like the above is my primary question, though I would appreciate any input the collective minds have that could add to my conceptualization of the city's Invictus. Sorry for the rather broad question and the wall of text.

  • #2
    Firstly remember that at heart the Invictus cooperate for for the same reason two competing drug dealers do (no one goes to the police even when trying to kill each other) or frat boys who want to get girls drunk/drugged (covering for each other despite hunting the same pray and spreading a narrative that make it harder to expose them). I'm not saying there are no good Invictus but their system must allow for the scum.


    • #3
      Originally posted by bennosuke View Post
      Do they hold elaborate ballroom Elysiums where whispered deals are made on a Kindred to Kindred basis, and each bargain individually makes up the entire organization's actions...
      I think that's a decent idea. I tend to think of the Invictus in terms of patronage networks; so at each level of the organisation, kindred have to look to vampires further up the pyramid to settle disputes, who in turn look further up for settlement, until ultimately, you get a prince at the very top of the organisation who then acts as arbitrator between the top few magnates. Such an organisation doesn't really have overall goals or aims as such; the individuals in the patronage network have their goals and pursue them through using the network.


      • #4
        You could have them meet at some Hollywood premiere movie opening if you want something resembling a "regular" basis. Or one of the annual self congratulatory awards ceremonies. The after parties would be where domain business is discussed. The former would be open to the general kindred population but the latter by invitation only. You do the same thing with Silicon Valley but at the covenant level. Tech conventions for the low level Invictus, private seminars at these conventions for the up and coming Invictus, with the ones with hands on the levers of power (not necessarily elders, but dynastic houses) being the ones to issue private board room invitations to discuss business. On one side of the meeting hall you have a pair of Invictus with controlling interests in Facebook, Twitter etc. Across the table you have their coterie members with controlling interests in the Democrat and Republican parties and they're meeting to discuss pending legislation to prohibit selling people's private information to companies like Amazon, which their ex coterie member currently has their claws in and is threatening to expose to a Carthian controlled CNN reporter unless they stop a state legislature bill that ends tax credits to international businesses.
        Rather than fuck each other over, the political party controllers suggest the Facebook controller should fake a data breach by Chinese hackers to distract from them selling user information to Amazon guy. The political party controller will have their minions kill the tax credit bill in committee. And both Facebook controller and Amazon guy will contribute a shit ton of money to the next few reelection campaigns of political party controller's pets.
        Last edited by tsusasi; 01-17-2020, 12:52 AM.


        • #5

          The way I started populating my city was by thinking about what the niches are. If your niche doesn't provide you with access to blood, (and assuming you are operating at a city level) then you need to offer something valuable enough for others to give you access to blood.

          I also like the suggestion that every one is basically dealing with each other on an individual basis, which can be bound by oaths.

          I worked in organizing a few years ago, and found that without an existing bureaucracy, everything is a clusterfuck. The most important quality for us was having useful contacts. (ex: We need a staging location in that neighborhood. Maybe the pizza place. Does anyone know the manager? No? Well nevermind.)

          So placement and contacts matter in your city. You need the 911 operator to call the cleaners and not the cops? Ghoul or embrace him. Get someone in the hospitals, get someone in charge of the sex workers, get someone into the cops, get someone in the media.

          You've got a smallish decentralized population, with no marketing. Networking is all going to be based on friend groups. Or based on family. So you're likely to end up with an a few families that are very big and powerful with well placed people.

          I would add that if you are a member of the Invictus, then you work for them. You are employed by the Conspiracy. So I would expect the embrace to work like hiring. Your conspiracy has a need, you run some interviews, find the best person for the job, and hire them. That's a lot of time and effort being put into embracing a single person. So maybe the conspiracy itself is pretty barebones. Invictus Status 2 and up are just the bureaucracy necessary to deal with emergencies smoothly. They have each other's phone numbers, they hang out together, they are related. They are paid to work together, and people who don't work well in team settings get fired.

          Anything else - services that aren't absolutely necessary - can be taken care of by people with Invictus Status 1 or lower. They can barter or sell non-emergency services. Just so long as those low status schmucks snap-to when there's Estate business to be done.


          • #6
            One thing to remember about the Invictus is that they're the covenant most invested (pun intended) in the Masquerade. That's a very good reason for them to work together, even if they're a pit of vipers most other nights. They style themselves a Conspiracy of Silence, so it might be interesting to flesh out how they keep things quiet. These days, the Masquerade is more about pretending you, specifically, aren't a vampire, but the Invictus in your city might keep a finger on the pulse of any occult rumors flying around. Sure, a lot of people believe in vampires, but they should be afraid to admit it--you never know who might be listening, especially in the corridors of power. Sometimes smoking cigarettes together in parking lots past midnight is just as much the Invictus' style as a gala. Or maybe they hold parties where all the elders get together and trade little cards with the names of the ones who know too much. They make a little game of it -- who can plug the leaks the fastest? Remember that vampires meet up in numbers for a reason, whether it's to feed, or to size each other up, or just to gossip. The First Estate never has a get together they can't benefit from.

            Which isn't to suggest they should be all Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Vampire. The Invictus protect the Masquerade because it keeps them rich and full of blood, so a good question to ask is how they make money off their secrets. If they have their fingers in the tech boom, that provides a lot of toys to keep tabs on Kindred and kine alike, and a very nice way of keeping their portfolios diverse. Or, more generally, how do they use their vast economic power to keep down little people who go around asking too many questions?
            Last edited by Yossarian; 07-17-2019, 03:17 PM.

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            • #7
              First of all, thank you everyone for your responses, and apologies in the delay in my reply.

              @Livebate: I completely agree. This inter-competitive relationship has been explored significantly in the last part of the game, with two highly powerful Invictus vying for Princedom with the PCs forced to take sides. My understanding is that to outsiders though, the Invictus generally provides a united front, and that one of the reasons they are viewed as "The Conspiracy of Silence" is because they can still collaborate to accomplish a Illuminati like front. I am hoping to find ways to explore and portray this duality.

              @Tsusasi: I think I like your description of the heirarchy a lot, and it is in line what has been percolating in my mind. I think the one thing I would change is the Hollywood aspect, with Los Angeles being a separate city 5 hours drive away. I want to maintain a sense of multiple scales with conspiracy at both the smaller and global levels, while focusing on what is happening in the city. I think as I am typing this I am starting to envision a sort of Gentleman's club (in the traditional British sense... not the American strip club) where the elites of the Invictus (the Vampire who owns the CEO of Facebook, and the Vampire who puppets the city's mayor, and The Prince) sit down and make broader overarching decisions for the Covenant (though there is still competition among the weaker for approval of the stronger and manipulation of the weaker by the stronger)... and these decisions trickle down to the more regular meetings held for the entire Invictus. Perhaps the former looks more like a board meeting or a traditional private club (Evening attire only, dark varnished wood and velvet cushions), while the latter perhaps has more pomp and circumstance... or alternatively is more like a boardroom meeting. Thank you for the feedback.

              @Yossarian: I appreciate a lot of your input as well. I like the twisted nature of making a game of things. Makes me remember Dan Simmon's Carrion Comfort. I like your question/point about control. Again, I think their two points of control and monitization would be the tech industry and control of property, where there is a major shortage of space and land is a premium.