1. What should the character creation process look like for a new player?
The two weeks before the start of the chronicle are focused on helping newbies create characters and get ready for Game 1, sometime around the beginning of October (specific dates still TBD). One week before Game 1, there will be a special newbie character creation session. In this session, newbies are encouraged to meet with the STs to develop their character. If, however, newbies would like to start before then, then you are encouraged to email us directly. We will teach you the rules and help you develop your character in a timeframe that is reasonable for you. In either case, you are not subject to the deadlines imposed upon returning players.
2. What sort of things are each of the covenants doing right now? Is the Ordo working on any major research? Are the Crone working on any major rituals? (And so on)
While in many smaller cities, one can look at a covenant as a cohesive group, in a city like LA, whose population is roughly one thousand, most covenants are too large to be referred to as one group. Most covenants consist of various coteries that run with their own agendas — some with cross purposes. (ST Translation: Player plots)
Of course, covenants in LA have a varying amount of structure, as listed below.
Carthian Movement: The Carthians, simply put, are the least organized covenant in LA. There is no central leadership; instead, members organize themselves into Factions of sizes ranging from three to fifty members. Factions are generally separated by political ideology, geography, and methodology. The largest Faction, Citizens for Democracy, is led by the magnanimous Tommy Sunshine, a bleached blond, suntanned Californian. Mr. Sunshine (please-call-me-Tommy) is the Prefect of the Carthian Movement and is the closest thing the covenant has to a spokesman. Tommy has no political opinions other than his unending support for democracy. When asked his opinion of a Crone winning praxis, his reply was “it doesn’t matter what the covenant of the Prince is, as long as we had a democratic election for the office, the Carthians were the real winners. No, democracy was the real winner.”
Circle of the Crone: Acolytes in LA are members of small, coterie-sized Cults. Cults are generally organized geographically, but may be based around familial relationships or magical ability. The Cults themselves may each have a minor leader, but the Crone as a whole are led by the Hierophant. The Hierophant is not an authority figure, but rather a spiritual guide and organizer of covenant activities. He leads his own Cult and is seen as a father figure by the rest of the covenant.
Invictus: The Invictus structure in LA is entirely by the book. There certainly isn’t an Inner Council that makes decisions for the entire covenant. No, definitely not; the Invictus would never consolidate power like that, nope. As LA is a large center of kindred population, many guilds have a presence in the city and Invictus members are able to train in their hometown.
Lancea Sanctum: The Monachal (fundamentalist), Westminster (Anglican-inspired), and Tollison (Evangelical-inspired) Creeds are roughly equal in size with 40-50 committed members. The Dammatic (Judaism-inspired) and the Iblic (Islam-inspired) Creeds are much smaller in size, but are still present in the city. Each Creed has at least one bishop and the bishops of all Creeds regularly convene as an Ecumenical Council to discuss matters of the covenant. The usual covenant offices exist in the city.
Ordo Dracul: The Dragons of the Los Angeles Academy are organized into a dozen or so Colleges which are organized rather like university departments. Each College is headed by a Dean who leads the research and other activities of the College’s members. The Colleges are organized by academic interest, as opposed to geography, and colleges rival one another for funding and access to important resources, including Wyrm’s Nests. As the Ordo has origins as a secret society, it is likely that there are parts of this hierarchy which are unknown to the public and there are most certainly titles and ranks within the city that are only known to a few members. If you wish to know more about how the LA Academy is different from other cities, play an Ordo character.
3. Is each covenant known for doing anything in particular in the past? Are the LA branches known for anything in particular, good or bad?
Carthians: Founded the democratic government in LA, created a Model UD for neonates, hold rallies at US Bank Tower
Crone: City-wide potlucks, offer divination services, somehow managed to hang onto the Prince office for 80 years
Invictus: Started first Kindred-focused business district in the city, spearheaded movement to join the UD, LA’s Almoner Guild is world-renowned
Lancea Sanctum: First kindred televangelists, first mass-produced the Testament of Longinus, maintain the largest Orphanarium in the city
Ordo Dracul: City-wide research conferences, inter-College football games, reality TV shows originated as a social experiment in an LA College
4. Was the Circle of the Crone officially allied to the Carthians when they started the government? Are they now? If they weren’t allied officially, were they allied secretly?
The Covenants have never been officially allied, though the Crone (as well as the Ordo) were supportive of the new government’s formation. As to whether they were allied secretly, it wouldn’t be very much of a secret if you knew, would it?
5. Even though it was the Carthians who are responsible for the city government being the way it is, there’s been no Carthian prince. How are the Carthians reacting to this?
Some Carthians love the governmental structure and are happy with anyone who runs democratic elections. Some Carthians like the government, but are sad that there’s not a Carthian in charge. Some Carthians hate democracy and wish to destroy it. In short, there is no unified Carthian opinion about much of anything.
6. On a similar sort of note, what’s the official Invictus position on this government? How about the not-so-official position?
The Invictus have released no official opinion on this government, but several Invictus candidates have been put forth in previous elections. This seems to indicate that, at the very least, some Invictus are willing to play the democracy game to gain power. Remember, the Invictus aren’t necessarily about feudalism, they’re about gaining control over mortals and Kindred. Democracy is one route to power.
7. What’s the internal structure of the clans and covenants like? Is it mostly the same between different clans/covenants, or not?
(see #2 for more information)
Covenants, like political parties, are public institutions. They keep some of their activities public as a way to gain new members. As such, there is a publicly known structure for all of the covenants in Los Angeles.
Clans, however, are more like families. There’s no reason for clans to publicise their internal structure and activities as they can’t convert existing vampires to their clan. We understand that you are all eager to learn how your clan works. After the mini-pitch deadline, we will put clan members in contact with one another and work with you to determine how your clan operates. This, along with your relationship to your covenant, is something we’ve chosen to leave largely up to you, the players.
8. Presuming workers in this government are paid at all, are they paid in mortal money, blood, boons, or something else?
If they are paid, a government worker might be paid in mortal money, blood, boons, or something else. Unless you’ve dug into governmental contracts with workers, you don’t know how specific individuals are paid.
9. Are all positions filled by Kindred or are some filled by ghouls?
Some positions are indeed filled by ghouls, as the government continues to run during the day.
10. About how much of the Kindred population of LA works for the government?
Approximately 10% of the Kindred population works for the government in some fashion.
11. I would like to know a bit more about the “focus” or “feel” of the chronicle. Will the PCs be involved with “high-level” politics, or have influence over “big decisions” that need to be made? Or will the focus be more on reacting to (weathering? surviving?) decisions made by the outsiders?
While there have been many important political figures, events, and organizations introduced in the dev diaries, the politics and such that we have presented are much more for the establishment of setting and world than to imply what the “focus” of the story is. The reason we’ve hit it so heavily is that the setting is non-standard in many ways — for instance, the possibility of dropping the masquerade. While some of the game may involve reactions to the masquerade dropping, this is not intended to be a repeated or major aspect of the game.
Simply put, the focus is you, the player. If there seems to be a void in some of the details, it is because we need that to be filled by your stories and your goals. If PCs desire, they could certainly be involved in “high-level” politics and attempt to influence big decisions, but PCs can also choose to completely ignore politics and simply react to the conditions created by NPCs and other PCs.
12. The discussion of the various rulers and government organizations is coherent and reasonable, liberal (or perhaps socialist), nice and tidy. Are you planning on avoiding the gritty nastiness with which White Wolf usually presents their games?
While it is common to see the grim side of the World of Darkness as portrayed with shadowy puppet masters, LA reveals a different aspect of that darkness. Rather than the tyranny of the few, it is the tyranny of the many — LA’s government is bureaucratic in the extreme, each official having a strangle hold on their tiny little fiefdom of power. It has grown into a confusing monolith of forms and favors which few, if any, can navigate without any kind of snags. It is a kind of grim stagnation dressed up in the clothes of democracy.
Remember, this is LA — what appears to be bright and functional is more often than not a camera trick.
13. If 80% *by geography* of the world’s kindred population is part of the United Domains, which parts have remained independent and, potentially, trouble?
While the troubles of far off lands usually aren’t a concern for most kindred in LA, the few kindred with a passion for global politics know that the heart of Africa, the deeper areas of South/Central America, and some of the central areas of Asia remain outside of the UD. Outside of those regions, there are small patches of defiance — Central Romania, Cuba, and Montreal. In general, these places did not suffer the ravages of the plague as greatly and have small populations of xenophobic older kindred. Surprising to many new kindred, North Korea is in fact a strong, well-respected member of the UD.
14. If someone initiates combat by attacking suddenly but does NOT get surprise, can a faster character preempt them (under some form of standard or modified initiative) or does initiative simply not exist until after that attack?
If a player initiates combat without successfully winning a surprise challenge (whether this be a “surprise 1,2,3” count or attacking from obfuscate, or some other chance draw to determine if a player is surprised) then we should always roll initiative. If your base initiative is 4, it doesn’t make sense for you to get a free round because you ran in guns blazing. So, yes, a faster character will preempt them.
15. Are you guys changing any Disciplines from how they functioned last year? Frenzy/Rotschrek? Torpor? Other vagueries of Vampiric existence?
Yes. We will release these changes along with our revised rules for character creation. Expect an email with this information from us within the next month.
16. So, there are lots of vampires in the city. Will “PC Factions” be padded with other vampires?
(see answer to #2) If you would like NPCs in your coterie or organization, please let us know.
17. Are PCs meant to be major diplomatic players on the scale of Seneschals of different departments?
Short answer: no. Long answer: you can certainly pitch a character with comparable political power to a Seneschal. That said, such a character would have massive responsibilities and an interaction style with the setting which would differ greatly from that of other players. In addition, the story is not about these powerful figures. As a result, we strongly feel that playing such a character would not be satisfying. If, however, you would like to pitch such a character, please email us and we will consider it.
18. As politics is now dominated by Ancillae, who are more plentiful than elders – why isn’t political assassination a thing which happens more often/a thing which players are more aware of?
When major political figures die, the circumstances of their death are not suspicious. (Read: those who successfully assassinate are very good at what they do.) However, that is not to say that would-be assassins are not discovered and dealt with. In LA, assassinations of mid-level or lower politicians (bureaucrats) are generally ineffective. When a bureaucrat is murdered, another rises to take their place and little changes. Of course, carefully executed killings of specific bureaucrats can accomplish specific and focused agendas.