Crossposted to rpg.net here.
Inspired by Burning Empires (which sort of rhymes with Burning Vampires), and my desire to run a top-down Vamp game, I started work tonight on this:
Note: Many of these choices direct the GM to flesh out a character or detail. If the group has time, or someone has a cool idea, this can be done communally. It’s also the GM’s duty to think up links between the various factions, but in any brainstorming process, the players will come up with cool ideas, and the GM would be wise to listen.
Nature of the City:
Pick a real-world city, or make up a new one. Where is the city located? How big is the population of the city? Make a note of this number.
Rural Area: Fewer than twenty thousand humans.
Urban Area: Twenty thousand or more humans.
City: One hundred thousand or more humans.
Big City: Five hundred thousand or more humans.
Metropolis: One million or more humans.
How attractive is the area to vampires? This will effect how many vampires may be present.
Hostile: Roughly one vampire (other than the PCs) per 100,000 humans.
Flawed: Roughly one vampire per 20,000 humans.
Average: Roughly one vampire per 10,000 humans.
Attractive: Roughly one vampire per 5000 humans.
Nexus of the Damned: Roughly one vampire per 1,000 humans.
For each level of population, there will be one Faction. Every additional million people adds another Faction. A hostile area has two fewer Factions; if this would reduce it to one or zero every vampire knows everyone else and Factions are insignificant. A flawed area has one fewer Faction. An attractive area has two additional Factions, and a Nexus of the Damned has doubles the number of Factions.
As a group, the players should determine the nature of the most powerful Faction. If there are enough Factions available, each player should pick one that they get to define. Any remainders should be determined communally.
For each faction, a single ‘leader’ for the faction should be defined, even if it designed by committee. The GM should flesh out any other high-level members of the Faction, and a member of each faction who has a dissenting view from their faction’s ‘party-line’.
Behlial’s Brood or VII has a significant foothold in the city. In extreme and unlikely situations, they may be an accepted part of the city’s culture.
As a Primary Faction, the city is dominated by the antagonistic faction, and the traditional Kindred are likely fighting a losing war for their lives. This is very rare. Brood controlled areas tend to quickly become disaster zones, and in areas controlled by VII, it quickly infiltrates other Kindred organizations and exterminates them.
As a Secondary Faction, the group’s membership is significant, and is a frequent thorn in the side of the leadership. The group may wish to have the GM define the covenant’s leaders secretly.
A given Clan of vampires has relative unity and political power. This generally arises from great numbers, powerful elders, or both. (Ventrue and Daeva tend towards powerful elders, and Gangrel and Nosferatu tend towards numbers.) Notable Clan members likely hold power in other Factions as well. Depending on the circumstances, the Clan may have a number of offices and titles unto its own.
As a Primary Faction, there is a Clan elder or elders who rule the city, and the Clan is their primary base of support.
As a Secondary Faction, Clan identity serves as a common bond, and Clan members often share some sort of common interest or agenda. Again, there is a Clan elder or elders who have leadership roles in the Clan.
If this Faction option is not taken for a given Clan, the Clan is either weak in numbers, or its members care more about other concerns, and cooperation is not a priority. In extreme cases (especially if three or four other Clans are chosen as Factions), the Clan may be illegal.
A small group of vampires is a known force to be reckoned with. They may have their own internal squabbles, but when they unite, they are a force to be reckoned with. Because they are a collection of varied individuals, they each tend to have influence with different factions.
As a Primary Faction, the coterie is likely the Council of Primogen or some other ruling body. The members may have actual coteries of their own, but their combined connections allow them to manipulate the entire city.
As a Secondary Faction, the coterie is a major force. This is a good way to represent the player characters in a typical game.
One of the political or religious ideologies of the Damned holds great sway. Powerful covenant members may hold power in other factions. The Covenant will have numerous titles and offices.
As a Primary Faction, the covenant structure and the city structure are effectively one and the same. Unaligned Vampires and members of non-hostile covenants may hold low or ‘secular’ positions in the covenant. There is likely a single leader, although the Ordo Dracul and the Carthians in particular often have a committee.
As a Secondary Faction, the covenant is still a powerful force, and well organized.
If this Faction is not taken for a given Covenant, the Covenant is either weak in numbers, or its members are loosely organized and have more important agendas. In some cases, the Faction may not be active at all in a given city.
This Faction can be taken twice for the same Covenant. This represents a major ideological break. Depending on the state of cooperation, there may be some positions that overlap between the two parts of the Covenant, but each part will have its own leaders. This Faction is not limited to the traditional five covenants.
A strong and well-connected Vampire, perhaps a Prince, wields great personal power. The Prince’s loyalty is not based on Covenant or Clan identity, but on personal favors and past deeds. The ruler is well connected, and is a powerful elder.
As a Primary faction, the ruler is certainly the Prince of the city (or has some other title.) The Prince metes out rewards and favors, and has allies within most of the other factions, for his power-base is made of individuals.
As a Secondary faction, the elder may be a Prince or wield some other title, and is a major player in city affairs.
A notable group, drawing its important membership from vampires, is active within the city. This could be a corporation, an exclusive club, a secret society, a cult, or a crime syndicate.
This cannot be taken as a Primary faction. For an organization to become so powerful, it has to have either a strong leader (in which case it should be taken as an Individual), or a strong uniting ideology (in which case it is a new Covenant.)
As a Secondary Faction, the Organization represents an alternate venue for Kindred interactions. Its members are probably individually powerful or widespread for the group to be so notable.
A highly unusual situation: a non-vampire or group of non-vampires plays a role in Kindred politics! Perhaps werewolves, mages, psychics, or something stranger have decided to take a role in the Danse Macabre.
As a Primary faction, the Outsiders have enforced their will on the Kindred, probably with strange magic. The Outsiders are likely powerful and resented, but have the cooperation of vampiric collaborators. Are they doing this to keep the vampires in check, or for a more sinister purpose?
As a Secondary faction, an Outsider or group of Outsiders has become aware of vampires, and has extensive relationships with them. Their initial intentions are probably not political in nature, but there is likely to be a hidden agenda.
Overlap between the Outsider faction and vampire-factions is highly unlikely.
Other things I’m likely going to expand into: what’s the city like, and how does that affect feeding, siring, building up merits, keeping up the masquerade? (and insert your suggestion here).
Any ideas for other Factions? Does the number of Factions seem about right?
What other options should there be, and how should it affect the game?