Streets of Blood and Steel
Influence & Primacy Actions
Influence is a new Advantage unique to Kindred like Blood Potency. Unlike Blood Potency, however, Influence rises and falls rapidly through play and does not inevitably drive the character who has it towards a grim end. Unlike Status Merits, Influence is not completely beneficial. Having five dots in Covenant Status is great — it makes you the Bishop and makes your role in vampire society clear. Reaching the peak of Influence makes you a target for those below you because your power is a threat to theirs.
Influence is a multifaceted trait that impacts play in many different ways. For the most part, its mechanisms build on the rules you already know. As a unique property of Primacy, however, Influence interacts with actions that are only taken at this scale of play.
Influence is not a mini-game. Given nothing but dice and non-dramatized actions, Influence is extremely easy to gain. Primacy play assumes that the Danse Macabre provides an endless cast of antagonists to oppose and challenge the characters on their way to the top and to provoke the conflicts and setbacks that drama requires. If all the characters do is roll dice to gain Influence points and win Assets, they can make it to the heights of power in a few weeks. But that’s not dramatic. It’s not horrific. It’s not a story.
The Influence Advantage is a tool for managing great power and intrigue. Rather than presume that the players of cunning undead masterminds must be political geniuses themselves, Influence assumes a level of capability on the part of the characters and spares the players too much detail.
Influence is a common language that makes it easy for casual players to interact in a complex game world. It reveals the stakes of actions, the wages of success, and the costs of failure. It just makes things easier.
Influence is rated from one to ten dots. All characters in a Primacy chronicle automatically have the Influence Advantage. Unless the Storyteller’s plans for the chronicle to call for something different, every character begins with two dots in Influence.
Players may voluntarily reduce their Influence to increase that of another character by one. Thus the players can extend the reach of their characters into the heights of power if they can work together in the face of great temptations
Every level of Influence brings with it more and more power to control and manipulate the mortal world and the assets of the city as described below. But Influence is a delicate resource. It can be gained and lost.
Depending on the number of vampires at work in your city, you have two options when it comes to determining and tracking Influence:
The Default Mode: The Default Mode allows for multiple characters at every level of Influence and sees the trait imposing changes on a character’s domains based at the same time that it changes to reflect the character’s actions.
- If a character’s total dots in Assets rise past the maximum for his level of Influence, he gains a dot of Influence. If the character’s total dots in Assets drop below the maximum for the next-lowest level of Influence, he loses a dot of Influence.
- If a character’s Influence points are exhausted, he may reduce his Influence dots by one to restore a number of Influence points equal to half his old Influence dots. Thus, if Dante willingly gives up one of his six dots in Influence, he regains three Influence points (half of six, the level he just sacrificed) but must cut loose up to five dots worth of Assets.
- In-game actions, such as defeating a rival vampire with greater Influence, can earn an Influence boost at the Storyteller’s discretion.
One dot of Influence can be purchased with 10 experience points.
Alternate Mode: This mode is better suited to smaller cities where not so many vampires are vying for the Prince’s ear. In this mode, no two vampires can have the same number of dots in Influence. If the Carthian Prefect has six dots of Influence, no other character can have six dots of Influence. Other characters may have five or seven dots, but there are no equals in this mode of play. Thus Influence becomes a clear ladder of power. In this mode, the only way to gain or lose Influence is to earn more dots in Assets than the next vampire up the ladder or to lower his dots in Assets.
Like Willpower, Influence is made up of both dots and points. Influence points — also called Juice, in the lingo of politics — are spent and restored during play. Spend Juice to:
- Gain a single automatic success on a single contested or extended political action. You may spend multiple Influence points at once in this way. (This may represent pulling in favors or pressuring Assets to act.)
- Grant a success to another character’s political action as above. But what will you ask for in return?
- Make use of more than one Asset at once.
- Activate an Agent for one chapter.
Attack an asset (Damnation City)
The build up to death represents close calls, failed executions, and minor injuries — a hit man makes it into the Asset’s house but fails to close the deal, for example. Eventually, every target is caught and killed unless the masters pulling the strings intervene.
When Assets attack other combative Assets (i.e., Brawl, Firearms, or Weaponry Assets), the action is contested rather than extended. Whichever Asset gets the most successes reduces the dots of the opposing Asset by one. Protected Assets may reflexively force a contested roll as described here.
Dice Pool: Intelligence or Presence + Brawl/Firearms/Weaponry Asset
Select a single Attribute and a single Asset Skill. A character without an appropriate Asset cannot attack.
Action: Extended, possibly contested (if target has Protection). Each roll represents one night’s attack. The target number of successes equals the target Asset’s dots + the master’s Stamina or Composure plus any modifiers from Protection. When the target number is reached, the target Asset is killed (and removed from play).
Defend an Asset (Damnation City)
This represents the vampire healing or bolstering the Asset after an attack. “Calm down, James,” the master soothes over the phone. “If you keep your head, we can find this bastard and put him down.”
Dice Pool: Intelligence/Presence + Asset’s Rating.
Action: Instant. Each success reduces the current successes accumulated to kill the target Asset by one to a minimum of zero.
Coerce an Asset
When an Asset is contested by a target with Loyalty, it may itself be coerced by the target’s master. An Asset sent to coerce can be lured away by another master this way.
Dice Pool: Strength/Manipulation + Intimidation/ Persuasion/Subterfuge Asset (Select a single Attribute and a single Asset Skill. A character without an appropriate Asset attempts the action with the Attribute dice alone.)
Action: Extended, possible contest (if target has Loyalty). Each roll represents one night’s coercion. The target number of successes equals the target Asset’s dots + the master’s Resolve or Composure plus any modifiers from Loyalty. When the target number is reached, the targeted Asset moves into the coercing vampire’s service and becomes one of her Assets.
Rally an Asset (Damnation City)
This represents the vampire beating the Asset down or convincing it to stay loyal. “If you take his money, if you read his letters, if you look in eyes, if you humor him just a little,” the master says with his hands around James’ throat, “I will find you and eat the marrow from your bones. Do you hear me, James?”
Dice Pool: Strength/Manipulation + Asset’s Rating.
Action: Instant. Each success reduces the current coercion successes accumulated against the Asset to a minimum of zero.
Investigate an Asset (Damnation City)
This action is like a perception dice pool in street-level play except that it represents the vampire’s ability to glean information through any of her minions out in the world. As such, Assets tied to any Skill are potentially eligible for this dice pool (as mentioned earlier).
A specific Asset Skill must be targeted for investigation. Once the target number of successes is reached, the Asset is revealed to the investigator (though the revealed Asset’s master does not know it). Additional Assets of the same Skill can be revealed by continuing the action and accumulating additional successes equal to the next highest Asset’s rating and so on.
Dice Pool: Wits/Manipulation + Asset (Select a single Attribute and a single Asset Skill.)
Action: Extended. Each roll represents Primacy Turn investigations. The target number of successes required is equal to the Asset’s dots plus the Influence dots of the Kindred master.
The rating of the target Kindred’s best Stealth or Subterfuge Asset penalizes the investigator’s dice pool.
Success reveals the rating and a description of one Asset in the control of the target Kindred. A failed roll at any point during this process does not end the investigation, but it does alert the targeted Kindred that “someone’s been asking questions.” If the target Kindred wants to know who, he must “Investigate an Action” as described previously.
Starting a Rumor (House Rule)
Manipulation/Presence + Asset + Relevant Merit (Target Number = Influence + Other Modifiers)
A player can place the rumor condition on another player by dedicating time and assets to working the kindred or mortal system. The rumor condition will supply a two die modifier to rolls that involve the information, and they will become an information NPCs act on.
I.E. The Ordo Dracul successfully recruited Lenore. She has been a secret member for years, and she has been manipulating the Invictus/Carthians to the Order’s interests.
Lenore suffers – 2 to her social interactions with kindred suspicious of the Order Dracul, and some kindred are actively looking for connections.
Down and Dirty Fighting (VtR 2nd; House Adjustments in Italic)
This system resolves the entire fight in a single roll. Storyteller characters might deal some damage. They might apply a temporary condition or combat tilt to a PC. All combat during Primacy turns utilizes these rules if it involves a PC directly
Action: Contested; resistance is reflexive
Dice Pool: Combat pool (Dexterity + Firearms, Strength + Brawl, or Strength + Weaponry) versus either the opponent’s combat pool (as above) or an attempt to escape (Strength or Dexterity + Athletics). Ignore Defense on this roll.
Dramatic Failure: The character’s opponent gets the upper hand. This usually includes the opposite of the character’s intent — if she wanted to disable the guards so she could escape, she is stunned instead.
Failure: The opponent wins the contest. If the opponent used a combat pool, deal damage equal to the difference in successes plus weapon modifier. Also, the opponent escapes unless he wants to press the combat.
Success: The character wins the contest. She deals damage equal to the difference in successes plus her weapon modifier and achieves her intent — if her intent includes killing her opponents, then she does so.
Exceptional Success: As a success, and the character also gains a point of Willpower from the rush of inflicting violence on an inferior opponent.
Down and Dirty Social Maneuvering (House Adjustment)
This system resolves the entire social interaction in a single roll between a PC and an NPC in a significant event. A character can aim to apply a condition to their opponent, ferret out the truth or build a relationship. A character states their intent, and the Storyteller
Action: Contested; resistance is reflexive
Dice Pool: Social pool (Manipulation + Expression, Presence + Persuasion, or Wits + Subterfuge or other appropriate die pool) versus either the opponent’s combat pool (as above) or an attempt to escape (Resolve or Composure + Skill used by Attacker).
Dramatic Failure: The character’s opponent gets the upper hand. This usually includes the opposite of the character’s intent — if she wanted to embarassed her opponent, she herself will be embarrassed
Failure: The opponent wins the contest. If the opponent used a combat pool, the opponent accomplishes their goal.
Success: The character’s intent is accomplished. Mechanical effect will vary.
Exceptional Success: As a success, and the character also gains a point of Willpower from gaining the upperhand.