Fleshing out the Factions:
As a group, the players should determine the nature of the factions. If the faction was introduced by a player, that player has priority on what the interpretation of that faction is, but everyone should be involved. There are a number of questions to answer:
What is the faction’s main goal? What does it work towards? Ideological purpose, uncovering knowledge, material wealth, power for its own sake, or something else entirely?
Does this faction consider any other factions to be outright enemies or allies?
Any large faction will have its dissenting voices. What sort of internal conflicts are present in the faction? (These sub-factions should have their own iconic character, as well.)
Who’s in charge? This character should be in some way iconic of the faction as a whole.
How does the faction achieve its goals and enforce its will? A small number of elders with high levels of Dominate and Majesty? Vast numbers of militant vampires? Legions of human contacts and ghouls?
A Faction is defined in game terms by its Merits. These are Connections, Headquarters, Intelligence, Numbers, Power, and Resources. A Secondary Faction has 15 points to spend on these, and the Primary Faction has 20. (The Faction has to put at least one point into Numbers, because otherwise there’s no one in the faction at all!)
Connections: A Faction with lots of connections has made many allies, and knows the right people to talk to. Anyone with Status in the faction can make a Status roll, and on a success gains the use of an Ally or Contact (level equal to the number of points in Connections.) The character can’t use that particular Ally or Contact again without buying them with xp as usual.
Headquarters: A Faction with a Headquarters has a central base of operations, or numerous safe houses. The Faction can provide temporary Havens for any of their members, the total rating of the Haven sub-ratings is equal to the rating in Headquarters times two. Depending on the circumstances, procuring such a Haven may require a Status check. Faction leaders usually have their own havens, but make use of their Faction’s hospitality in emergencies. If the character is spending the majority of their time living out of the Headquarters, the maximum effective rating of Headquarters they can take advantage of is their own level of Status.
Intelligence: A Faction with the Intelligence merit has the ability to gain information about its enemies, and keep its own secrets hidden. To determine if a Faction knows something, roll Intelligence, with a bonus or penalty based on how obscure the GM thinks the information is. To find out another Faction’s secrets, make an opposed Intelligence check. (This assumes that the intelligence gathering is not the focus of the PCs adventure- there’s certainly room for the player characters to do their own dirty work!) Additionally, the characters can add their Faction’s Intelligence Merit in dice to any of their own research rolls, but the number of bonus dice is limited to their own dice in Status.
Numbers: Roughly, how many vampires are in the faction? Add up the total Numbers value for all the factions, and assume that the unaligned vampires comprise another 1-10. Based on this, one can determine the Faction’s share of the population. Everyone in the Faction gains a Contacts merit equal to the Faction’s Numbers level (up to a maximum of their Faction Status), representing their links with other members of the Faction. Additionally, large numbers are often useful.
Power: Power represents the Faction’s ability to pursue its agenda. If two Factions conflict on an issue (and it isn’t solved by roleplaying), which ever Faction succeeds at a Power vs. Power check emerges victorious.
Resources: How much wealth can the Faction lend to its members? On a successful Status check, the Faction can temporarily supply an item at the Faction’s resource level. If the character wants the item on a long term basis, they’ll likely have to pay for it out of their own pocket, unless their number of successes on the Status roll equaled the item’s cost.
(Note that Faction Merits can rise and fall through play, but this is up to the Storyteller to adjudicate. And yes, this is meant to give lots of boosts to those with high Status merits.)
Burning Vampires is written with the assumption that the characters will be important figures in the Vampire world from the start, although this is not necessary (especially if their coterie is not a Faction.) Generally, the characters should be built using the rules for advanced characters on page 92 of VtR, making most characters Established Kindred. If they are the principal characters of a Secondary Faction or close to the top of the Primary Faction, they should be Movers and Shakers or Elders. If they are the elite of the Primary Faction, they should be established Elders. A Faction leader will have Status 5 with that faction, although a Faction ruled by a coterie may have varying Status levels amongst its leaders. Characters may have Status in a number of Factions (such as Clan and Covenant.)
Each player must select the following for their character:
Three Ally in other Factions, who may be a rival or enemy of another character in some way. The first level of the Ally merit for these characters is free.
Three Enemies or Rivals, at least one of which is in the character’s own faction.
An NPC who owes the character a debt or favor, and a NPC who the character owes a debt or favor. The power levels of the NPCs, and the size of the debts should be roughly the same.
At least one of the NPCs related to the character in this way should be an Iconic NPC of one of the Factions. The player can feel free to name the rest, or work with the other players to weave them together.