Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
(modified from Libellus Sanguinis 3: Wolves at the Door, pp. 102-103)
Network represents the geographical extent of a Cainite’s web of contacts, allies and retainers. Each dot of Network expands the Cainite’s reach, although it does not increase the number of members in the network. Indeed, the player must still purchase dots in Allies, Contacts, Herd or Retainers. These represent servitors of various sorts who are readily at hand (usually in the Cainite’s home city). When a Cainite arrives in a new locale that is within his Network (determined when purchasing the Background) a similar number of Allies, Contacts, Herd and Retainers will be available. In short, the well-travelled Cainite who possesses a Network has spent an unusual amount of time developing friends, contacts and servants in the various cities in which their business lies.
Hence, the Cainite never loses dots in those Backgrounds when they travel abroad. Any background points that would otherwise be lost when arriving in a different area are instead “moved” to the new area. This doesn’t allow one to “stack” Retainers, for instance, but it does allow one to know a a number of good people abroad who will happily and loyally serve in a pinch when a Cainite’s regular retainer is forced to stay home. It does take time to gather them when he arrives in a given locale, however, and the effective number of available background points at his disposal rises by 1 dot/night.
Of course, a Cainite’s far flung Network will never be as loyal, nor as effective, as those who are constantly active in their service. Generally they will be considered mortals of average skill, even if the Cainite’s regular Ally, Contact or Retainers is not. Moreover, when not in the Cainite’s active service, they are effectively considered to be Contacts only. They may be contacted via courier, and used as information sources, but that is all.
For Example: Hepaphet, a Settite flesh peddler operating out of Cairo, has amassed an impressive network of contacts in several Mediterranean ports. His player purchased the following Backgrounds: Allies 2, Contacts 3, Network 3 (Cairo, Venice, Tyre, Tripoli) and Retainers 2. Were he to travel from Cairo to Tyre, he could quickly establish his clutch of contacts and servitors (it would take a total of three nights to do so fully). Were he to simply communicate with his network in Tyre without actually leaving Tyre, they could only provide information, not act on his behalf (all count as Contacts).
- Level One: The Network covers two distinct cities.
- Level Two: The Network covers three distinct cities.
- Level Three: The Network covers a small geographical area (like the Nile Delta, Cappadocia or the Peloponnese)or four distinct cities.
- Level Four: The Network covers a significant geographical area, but not necessarily a diverse one (like Transylvania, Asia Minor, Thessaly, Italy or England), or five distinct cities.
- Level Five: The Network covers a large, diverse geographical area (like Greater Hungary, the Byzantine empire, the Holy Roman Empire, or the Levant), or six distinct cities.
- Level Six: The Network covers two large, diverse geographical areas (like France and the Holy Roman Empire, the Levant and Egypt) or nine distinct cities.
Addendum: After significant play-testing, two salient points have arisen regarding this Background. The first involves credulousness, while the second involves practical application.
Firstly, a Network must be grown organically. It makes little sense for a character with 3 points of Network and 5 Contacts in each of 4 cities (ie. Kronstadt, Weissenburg, Mediasch and Hermannstadt) to gain a 4th dot and automatically gain 5 dots of Contacts in a 5th city (say, Schassburg). In order to make sense, Networks should be weaker in newer locations, so a GM should take the time to make them suitably shaky. Of course, the easiest way to avoid this headache is to devote extensive blue booking, and perhaps experience, during a long span of downtime to handle the growth of this Background “off-camera”.
Secondly. it should be noted that Networks can branch out in one of two ways. It increases either specifically (ie. several cities) or geographically (ie. a nation). The latter is useful for gleaning the broad strokes of information regarding cultural shifts, trade trends, military movements, and national political tensions while the former is more suited to screwing down on the minutiae of similar dynamics in a number of necessarily smaller localities. A GM should be mindful of this when assigning difficulties to competing Networks. Generally, tasks taking place mircrocosmically should favour the specific Networks whereas those missions of larger scope should necessarily be favoured by a geographical approach…