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  • About the Unaligned

    So... it's something I have had on my mind for quite some time, but Im' not sure it'll come out in a structured way.

    Requiem's political structure is quite different from the Mascarade's setting since it is both far more fractured (with 5 Covenants) and yet perhaps even more integrated at a city's level (each Covenant can attract some Vampires), and having a power structure backing you up is probably one of the best - if not the only way - to not only survive but prosper among the All-Night society.

    But what about the Unaligned ? Unlike Mascarade were powerful Clans double as Cult/sort of sects like the Baali or the Followers of Set and the Assamites, the Clans in Requiem are a lot more loose coalitions than power structure. While some cities probably adopt the Primogen institution with all that it entails for their Clans locally, it doesn't seem to be as wide-spread as in Mascarade, as far as I understand.

    All of this makes me think that being Unaligned in Requiem is far worse than in Mascarade : not only domains may be far more fractured because some Covenants may have to share powers, meaning that what is and isn't accepted may change from a neighborhood to the next in the most volatile cities - and that's even without thinking about the fractious Covenants like the Circle or the Carthians, which can easily devolve into infighting when in power. So Unaligned are at the bottom of the ladder and they have basically only themselves and perhaps their coterie-mates to lean on.

    Which makes me think that Unaligned can be divided into three categories :
    • The old and powerful vampires who have accrued enough power, influence and respect to leave or refuse to join the Covenants and still basically be the ruler of their fiefdom
    • The neonates who still don't know which Covenant they want to join and are basically allowed to roam free for a time because they are neonates and thus not that important in the grand scheme of things
    • Ancillae who are trying to build up their own mini-Covenant/Cult/Sect and prefer to do so without having to look over their shoulders for noisy covenant-mates and superiors making sure that Orthodoxy is respected among them.
    How do you use the Unaligned in your games ? Are they even present or are the tensions of the Covenants just too juicy to not use (and why use an Unaligned to oppose the Invictus when you have the Carthians, right ?)

  • #2
    Honestly, given that, while tensions are more present because multiple organizations are at play in a city, the overall pressure is less than in Masquerade because, barring the specific history and politics of any given city, there's less of an overall pressure to conform to the covenants than there is in the Sects of Masquerade just simply because a diversity of organizational makeup is par for the course in Requiem. Sure, no one wants to find out you're actually Belial's Brood or Tenth Choir (even thought they did nothing wrong), but given how weird a city's makeup can be, being unaligned isn't much to bat an eye at.


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    • #3
      Sure, but I can't help but feel that it makes you the prime target to all the Covenant-fangs, so to speak :
      • Low-level Invictus would see them as easy targets to acquire some interesting stuff or push them out of anything they deem necessary for their avancement
      • Carthians would try really hard to recruit them to bolster their ranks, and destroy them if they turn out to be rather... resistant to the Revolution probably, to remove a player from the board
      • Ordo Dracul less than moral scientists would probably single them out to their experiment first and foremost because nobody will miss them
      • Elders of the Circle may ask for some... tribute of Vitae, and why shouldn't the Acolyte mix up offerings with a good old hunt in the wood, eh ?
      • The Lancea is full of fanatics... and if one decides that Unaligned have to convert or face the Sun.. who would really oppose them ?
      Of course, Unaligned can prosper in Requiem cities, but I think it's a lot more dangerous because they can't built their power base backed by their Covenant and it may actually be limiting because if you outplay your hand, whatever the domain you were dabbling, be it economic power, secrets or just some good old gangs, you may end being asked to actually stop what you're doing or you'll get killed. or perhaps forcefully recruited, if you're deemed valuable enough but the big players don't want you stepping on their feet.

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      • #4
        how much do you think outright enslavement Via a blood bond of unaligned kindred or revenants would be frowned or smiled on?


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        • #5
          In our current game, unaligned Kindred isn't really a thing. Rather, most Kindred who would prefer to be aligned instead have a loose connection with a Covenant to gain some of the protection from them but no actual privileges or duties.
          Dave the Ventrue is an Invictus member because that's what his Sire expected from him, but his involvement goes no further than knowing how to act when he's dragged to Elysium.
          Lorelei the Daeva used to go to church when alive, and now she simply goes to a different church. Doesn't mean she has any clerical ambitions within the Lancea et Sanctum.
          Lars, Helen and Magnus have a pretty close knit Coterie, but Magnus has roped the other two into accompanying him to Firebrand meetings. Lars and Helen are sympathetic to the cause, especially if anyone asks, but mostly they just hang around for the social aspect.
          None of those examples would have any dots of Status or any Covenant advantages like Blood Sorcery. They're obviously not literally unaligned, but they kinda fulfil the same role by not being involved with higher matters. They're the registered voters and churchgoers, but not the politicians or priests.
          Last edited by Tessie; 09-20-2021, 05:30 PM.


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          • #6
            The unaligned as a concept have a really interesting through-line in Requiem. Early on, it seemed like they were being set up as the Requiem equivalent of the Anarchs, with hints that they were becoming a kind of libertarian movement in the shadows. A lot of early supplements took time to mention unaligned perspectives, where relevant, and sample characters were always "Unaligned" rather than just "none." They had a font and a symbol and a nickname.

            The problem, of course, is that the Carthian Movement exists. It was pretty much always far more interesting to talk about the Firebrands than the quasi-faction that was the unbound. A political movement based on not engaging in the All Night Society just isn't very interesting or viable. It's not for nothing that they're barely mentioned in VTR2E apart from as a bit of slang.

            Which is all a long way of saying unaligned vampires are cool, actually. It's something that happens either when you're very young or very old. Young vampires say screw it to the Big Five and form their own little blood cults to defend territory and pull in victims. Coterie-as-faction is a really fun mode of play, especially in cities where the local vampire population is thin. You might have a few Sanctified around, or a couple of bitter Carthians, but the real politics come down to who you feed with, and who you don't.

            On the other end of the spectrum, true elders view covenants as whatever they happen to feel like wearing that evening. Why have Theban Sorcery or Cruac when I could have both and call myself god? Why fuss over Laws or Oaths when l'etat, c'est moi? Maybe I could try to achieve transcendence, but have you, like, met Dracula?

            Ancillae are interesting because, to my mind, they're the most likely to fall into line. Once you get to the middle years, you've probably settled into the comforts of the Requiem, and having the structure and support of a covenant just makes everything run more smoothly. You're old and cagey enough to have survived many of the peers you started that blood cult with so many years ago, but you're not nearly old enough to run the show. Yet. But covenants are also good starting points to build your future power base.
            Last edited by Yossarian; 09-20-2021, 05:51 PM.



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            • #7
              Originally posted by Ur-Than View Post
              Sure, but I can't help but feel that it makes you the prime target to all the Covenant-fangs, so to speak :
              This take only makes sense if this city is an all-out war among the covenants.

              If it isn't, then it is impossible to say how easy or hard it is to be Unaligned without knowing the specific structure of a given city. Is it an orderly domain where a powerful prince keeps everything in control and the covenants work more or less like political parties? Then Unaligned will be reasonably safe as long as they follow the rules and don't get in the way, and may even have a chance disputing some office in this order.

              Generally speaking Unaligned are the common people of the undead. And politically speaking they're a resource, not an annoyance. They're someone for the Invictus to boss around, for the Lancea and the Circle to preach, for the Ordo to sell services, for the Carthians to impress. They're the community those gangs are going to "protect", there is no need for the gangs to try and enlist literally everyone.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                This take only makes sense if this city is an all-out war among the covenants.
                Surely the advantage of preying on unaligned vampires is that you can do it without escalating violence as you would attacking members of covenants.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Spencer from The Hills View Post
                  Surely the advantage of preying on unaligned vampires is that you can do it without escalating violence as you would attacking members of covenants.
                  There are likely more vampires who don't care if their childer don't join the same support group as them than there are vampires who don't care if you start messing with a vampire they put resources into Embracing.


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                  • #10
                    Right. Just because you don't have the backing of a Covenant doesn't mean you don't have any social connections. Most unaligned are going to still have a Sire, and that sire isn't going to just be fine with all the time, effort, and Vitae they put into their Childe being thrown away.

                    Not to mention if an Invictus Prince lets someone mess with an unaligned vampire because they're unaligned, whose to say they wouldn't let someone mess with a Carthian vampire just because they aren't Invictus? Sure, the Carthians should have the backs of their own, but it's still the job of the person in charge to maintain a semblance of order and rule of law.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Spencer from The Hills View Post
                      Surely the advantage of preying on unaligned vampires is that you can do it without escalating violence as you would attacking members of covenants.
                      As Satchel and Maina said.

                      This is only true under the assumption that vampires only care about their covenant mates, but that is hardly truth unless the domain is in at serious unrest, and even then it is unlikely. The Traditions and local laws aren't less of a thing for Unaligned, they're just not politically aligned. But they're still local kindred, and someone killing other kindred out of the blue isn't likely to be left alone just because their victims are Unaligned now. After all, if they're doing that, who's to say you won't be the next? These Unaligned also have a sire, possibly allies, maybe even friends. They're Unaligned, not kine.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Prince of the Night View Post
                        how much do you think outright enslavement Via a blood bond of unaligned kindred or revenants would be frowned or smiled on?

                        Revenants are a bit tricky because they aren't supposed to happen. I'm pretty sure it'd be considered less dire per revenant... but blood-bonding them isn't exactly a good signal for the rest of the Kindred, so you'd better be discreet about it.

                        Unaligned are probably seen as any other vampire when you blood-bond them, because blood-bond are such a deep element of Kindred culture that a Covenant or not doesn't change the stigma.

                        Originally posted by Tessie View Post
                        In our current game, unaligned Kindred isn't really a thing. Rather, most Kindred who would prefer to be aligned instead have a loose connection with a Covenant to gain some of the protection from them but no actual privileges or duties.
                        Dave the Ventrue is an Invictus member because that's what his Sire expected from him, but his involvement goes no further than knowing how to act when he's dragged to Elysium.
                        Lorelei the Daeva used to go to church when alive, and now she simply goes to a different church. Doesn't mean she has any clerical ambitions within the Lancea et Sanctum.
                        Lars, Helen and Magnus have a pretty close knit Coterie, but Magnus has roped the other two into accompanying him to Firebrand meetings. Lars and Helen are sympathetic to the cause, especially if anyone asks, but mostly they just hang around for the social aspect.
                        None of those examples would have any dots of Status or any Covenant advantages like Blood Sorcery. They're obviously not literally unaligned, but they kinda fulfil the same role by not being involved with higher matters. They're the registered voters and churchgoers, but not the politicians or priests.
                        Yes, it is also my take on them nowadays. Basically, being a low-level member of the Lancea, the Invictus or even the Carthians is probably safer than being Unaligned officially and you don't lose much. Perhaps you have to accept being bossed around, making donations and what not... but in the end, you'd have to deal with upstarts Covenant-fangs at some point. Being able to tell "You mess with me, you mess with my Sire, my Coterie and my Covenant" is a lot more intimidating because nobody wants to be the one starting a war - or at least rise tension between the Covenant.

                        Originally posted by Yossarian View Post
                        The unaligned as a concept have a really interesting through-line in Requiem. Early on, it seemed like they were being set up as the Requiem equivalent of the Anarchs, with hints that they were becoming a kind of libertarian movement in the shadows. A lot of early supplements took time to mention unaligned perspectives, where relevant, and sample characters were always "Unaligned" rather than just "none." They had a font and a symbol and a nickname.

                        The problem, of course, is that the Carthian Movement exists. It was pretty much always far more interesting to talk about the Firebrands than the quasi-faction that was the unbound. A political movement based on not engaging in the All Night Society just isn't very interesting or viable. It's not for nothing that they're barely mentioned in VTR2E apart from as a bit of slang.

                        Which is all a long way of saying unaligned vampires are cool, actually. It's something that happens either when you're very young or very old. Young vampires say screw it to the Big Five and form their own little blood cults to defend territory and pull in victims. Coterie-as-faction is a really fun mode of play, especially in cities where the local vampire population is thin. You might have a few Sanctified around, or a couple of bitter Carthians, but the real politics come down to who you feed with, and who you don't.

                        On the other end of the spectrum, true elders view covenants as whatever they happen to feel like wearing that evening. Why have Theban Sorcery or Cruac when I could have both and call myself god? Why fuss over Laws or Oaths when l'etat, c'est moi? Maybe I could try to achieve transcendence, but have you, like, met Dracula?

                        Ancillae are interesting because, to my mind, they're the most likely to fall into line. Once you get to the middle years, you've probably settled into the comforts of the Requiem, and having the structure and support of a covenant just makes everything run more smoothly. You're old and cagey enough to have survived many of the peers you started that blood cult with so many years ago, but you're not nearly old enough to run the show. Yet. But covenants are also good starting points to build your future power base.
                        Basically it's also how I feel about the Unaligned, but better said. That's why I consider true Unaligned to be either bottom of the barrel young vamps who are still figuring things out (which is probably allowed by their Sires, save the most influential in their own Covenants) or elders who can look at the youngest three Covenants and tell them that next time they'll rose from torpor they'll probably have been destroyed anyway, so kindly, get out of my lawn, and no Invictus and L&S have nothing to sell them worth their time, thank you.

                        Ancillae Unaligned are probably the rarest but also the most committed to it because it isn't just that they can afford to blow off the Covenants so much that they just stubbornly refuse to join and have a way to back it up enough to be somewhat respected : perhaps they were the sole vampire in a village for decades and now that the big city as reached them they leverage their hard lonely work there to make their suburb a safe haven for themselves, still insulating them from the rest of town. Or perhaps they are such a competent secret stealer and reseller that no Covenant dare to take action because they all know you have contingencies to reveal their secrets even after Final Death or something.

                        Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                        This take only makes sense if this city is an all-out war among the covenants.

                        If it isn't, then it is impossible to say how easy or hard it is to be Unaligned without knowing the specific structure of a given city. Is it an orderly domain where a powerful prince keeps everything in control and the covenants work more or less like political parties? Then Unaligned will be reasonably safe as long as they follow the rules and don't get in the way, and may even have a chance disputing some office in this order.

                        Generally speaking Unaligned are the common people of the undead. And politically speaking they're a resource, not an annoyance. They're someone for the Invictus to boss around, for the Lancea and the Circle to preach, for the Ordo to sell services, for the Carthians to impress. They're the community those gangs are going to "protect", there is no need for the gangs to try and enlist literally everyone.
                        That the Unaligned will be somewhat safe in a peaceful (relatively speaking) city is a given, but I think their opportunities will be stiffled because other vampires of their age have the backing of their Sire and Covenant, which is a huge plus.

                        Also, I'm not sure that in 2ed the Unaligned are really the common vamp of any city. Rather, I'd say that quasi-Unaligned are far more common. The kind of Vampire who is nominally a part of whichever Covenant is the ruler/most powerful where they live and they'll pip at least lip service to its practices. They may not attend all the Midnight Masses, but they'll never miss them all either, so to speak.
                        Last edited by Ur-Than; 09-21-2021, 01:16 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ur-Than View Post
                          That the Unaligned will be somewhat safe in a peaceful (relatively speaking) city is a given, but I think their opportunities will be stiffled because other vampires of their age have the backing of their Sire and Covenant, which is a huge plus.

                          Also, I'm not sure that in 2ed the Unaligned are really the common vamp of any city. Rather, I'd say that quasi-Unaligned are far more common. The kind of Vampire who is nominally a part of whichever Covenant is the ruler/most powerful where they live and they'll pip at least lip service to its practices. They may not attend all the Midnight Masses, but they'll never miss them all either, so to speak.
                          Their opportunities will depend a lot on each city, although obviously they'll be at some disadvantage. My point is more that the level of disadvantage depends a lot on other factors, on who are the actors, factions and structures in the city. Your covenant gives you some clot anywhere, but its weight isn't equal everywhere, in some cities they're relatively minor aspects of local politics, sharing views more than goals.

                          Even convoluted cities may have an easier time for Unaligned. In some cities the covenants may be at full war and treat the Unaligned as easy targets for recruitment or destruction. But on others they may be more satisfied with the Unaligned not keeping in the way or swelling the ranks of the opposition. That depends a lot on how much the conflict is about power or ideology, for example.

                          Another example could be a city where the covenants have a lot of infighting, as if individual power structures as strong or stronger as the power structure for the city as a whole. If the local Ordo have access to a specially interesting library or lab or Dragon Nest, and access is a greater boon, a member may be more willing to help the endeavors of an Unaligned than those of a Ordo rival, while the same may happen at a city where the local Invictus selects a single member to go to a big reunion of the covenant where they may make powerful friends from a wider area.

                          Finally, we seem to have a distinct understanding of what is an Unaligned. To me, bottom participants of covenant-sanctioned activities aren't the same as members, even if the covenant have an expectation on those people. A member is someone that is A) expected to be exclusively loyal, B) seemingly aligned with the party line, and C) privy to some institutional benefits. A member of the Lancea is a member of the clergy, and not just anyone attending mass. A member of the Invictus or of the Carthian Movement is committed to political discussion and policy making, not just a follower. A member of the Circle of the Crone goes for initiation on priesthood and lead rituals, not just giving support and attending rituals. A member of the Ordo is a researcher and explorer.

                          Unaligned may approach any and every covenant in lay terms. They attend the more open events, ask stuff, and unless the city have particular reason for a covenant to not tolerate such behavior, do the same for one or two other covenants they're curious about or want some favor from. But those people aren't really dedicated and the covenants may even extend some favor for good standing without asking for membership, because coercing membership isn't really a desirable thing to either. Of course, this may change if the covenants' struggle in the city is demanding in a way that makes swelling members a desirable tactic. But if membership's dedication to the prime goals is more important,then not so much.

                          One thing I think may make this hard for US citizens to grasp is the political aspect, because in the us the Primaries make party membership an extremely common thing, but with a very particular and, let's say, "light" connotation. So in the US you're always kind of expected to identify by party for one reason or another. But mostly on other countries being a party member means to be a "card-carrying" member, where you sign up and regularly pay fees to help the party, is an official member of the party's roost even if not running on elections, and the law and party statutes define clear obligations and rights as a member. Being a party member in most of the world is a huge deal, and primaries are strictly internal affairs of the parties. So that's how I see covenants working.
                          Last edited by monteparnas; 09-21-2021, 02:21 AM. Reason: So that's how I see covenants working.


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                            Their opportunities will depend a lot on each city, although obviously they'll be at some disadvantage. My point is more that the level of disadvantage depends a lot on other factors, on who are the actors, factions and structures in the city. Your covenant gives you some clot anywhere, but its weight isn't equal everywhere, in some cities they're relatively minor aspects of local politics, sharing views more than goals.

                            Even convoluted cities may have an easier time for Unaligned. In some cities the covenants may be at full war and treat the Unaligned as easy targets for recruitment or destruction. But on others they may be more satisfied with the Unaligned not keeping in the way or swelling the ranks of the opposition. That depends a lot on how much the conflict is about power or ideology, for example.

                            Another example could be a city where the covenants have a lot of infighting, as if individual power structures as strong or stronger as the power structure for the city as a whole. If the local Ordo have access to a specially interesting library or lab or Dragon Nest, and access is a greater boon, a member may be more willing to help the endeavors of an Unaligned than those of a Ordo rival, while the same may happen at a city where the local Invictus selects a single member to go to a big reunion of the covenant where they may make powerful friends from a wider area.

                            Finally, we seem to have a distinct understanding of what is an Unaligned. To me, bottom participants of covenant-sanctioned activities aren't the same as members, even if the covenant have an expectation on those people. A member is someone that is A) expected to be exclusively loyal, B) seemingly aligned with the party line, and C) privy to some institutional benefits. A member of the Lancea is a member of the clergy, and not just anyone attending mass. A member of the Invictus or of the Carthian Movement is committed to political discussion and policy making, not just a follower. A member of the Circle of the Crone goes for initiation on priesthood and lead rituals, not just giving support and attending rituals. A member of the Ordo is a researcher and explorer.

                            Unaligned may approach any and every covenant in lay terms. They attend the more open events, ask stuff, and unless the city have particular reason for a covenant to not tolerate such behavior, do the same for one or two other covenants they're curious about or want some favor from. But those people aren't really dedicated and the covenants may even extend some favor for good standing without asking for membership, because coercing membership isn't really a desirable thing to either. Of course, this may change if the covenants' struggle in the city is demanding in a way that makes swelling members a desirable tactic. But if membership's dedication to the prime goals is more important,then not so much.

                            One thing I think may make this hard for US citizens to grasp is the political aspect, because in the us the Primaries make party membership an extremely common thing, but with a very particular and, let's say, "light" connotation. So in the US you're always kind of expected to identify by party for one reason or another. But mostly on other countries being a party member means to be a "card-carrying" member, where you sign up and regularly pay fees to help the party, is an official member of the party's roost even if not running on elections, and the law and party statutes define clear obligations and rights as a member. Being a party member in most of the world is a huge deal, and primaries are strictly internal affairs of the parties. So that's how I see covenants working.
                            Well I'm French myself xD

                            But yeah I guess we don't really see Unaligned the same way, which is fine and extrememy instructive.

                            To me, they are more militant abstentionists, who proclaim that all the parties are rotten and corrupt... But refuses to really do anything about it, either by forming their own faction or even trying to revitalize the others.

                            For me low level attendants are already more or less into one or more Covenants, at least nominally and said Covenants have an incentive to be good with them, as much as possible. If only because it makes them good prop to convince one slightly more engaged (1 dot Covenant member) to actually do something to impress the masses basically.

                            However I agree with you that formally joining a Covenant as an active member is something else entirely. If I remember right doing so is an Humanity 7 Breaking Point right ?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ur-Than View Post
                              If I remember right doing so is an Humanity 7 Breaking Point right ?
                              Humanity 5 actually! I thought the same, but just took a look in the book and it was worse than I remembered.

                              And agreed, this difference in definition isn't clear cut in the books, but is a very interesting topic in itself.

                              I think that in practical terms it isn't usually hard to distinguish people that are neutral out of a lack of interest from people that are effectively committed to be neutral. A neonate that doesn't go to anything won't raise eyebrows for a time. Some covenants also won't care a lot ever, actually only Lancea and Circle are somewhat likely to feel aggravated but lack of attendance from the "laymen". Carthians and Invictus will inly do so if they're in bad need of supporters for their cause in the area, and I do doubt that the Ordo would give a fuck most of the time.

                              Those people won't loose power just for their lack of interest, they'll also be loosing opportunities. After all, the open gatherings for local Kindred are usually one of the main undead events of most nights. So you're not going to make yourself a lot of friends if you spend your time ditching every party in town to watch Netflix every time. But by itself it'll hardly garner you any actual hostility by default, at most you should consider the religious gatherings of your city and know if they are that popular.

                              But people that actively deride the entire idea of covenants, or at least of the covenants in town, those are sure to be in tougher waters. Not yet a immediate danger as you suggested in post #3, though, but they'll surely face political hostility at the bare minimum, and may face other repercussions. On escalation it could evolve to such a point where their disappearance won't be a surprise for society at large, and only when reaching that tipping point things would be that level of dire, but I don't think this would be quick on most domains unless this is a really obnoxious person.


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