The Cities of Eternal Fog
While certain Merits detailed in the World of Darkness Rulebook focus on recognition in mortal society, certain Status concerns itself with the social orders of the night and represents recognition among other vampires. Status is divided into three areas — City, Clan and Covenant. Players must choose one of these three areas for each Merit point spent. (Enterprising Storytellers may come up with additional types of Status, and clever players might have unique applications as well. Status is designed as a sort of “umbrella” Merit, under which new types can be created.)
City Status represents a vested responsibility and according acknowledgement in the affairs of a domain. Regardless of clan and covenant, certain individuals rise to the top of the social or feudal strata, exemplary because of their efforts in the name of the domain as a whole. Princes, Regents, Primogen, Harpies and other “officers” of a given domain fit this description.
Additionally, City Status represents those Kindred who aren’t part of the prevailing social structure, but who nonetheless have significant esteem, sway or reputation among the Kindred. Examples include bosses of powerful gangs, Kindred who have considerable influence in specialized areas (prominent businessmen, city government, health care and hospitals, religious communities), or even just those who are powerful in their own right but largely apolitical, as with a potent elder who abstains from city responsibilities but whose territory is respected by all other local Kindred.
In some cases, City Status is very much a chicken-and-egg situation — does Prince Maxwell have City Status 5 because he’s Prince, or did his accumulated City Status result in his claiming praxis? In other cases, City Status obviously reflects accomplishment, as with a political activist who has many mortal supporters — but those supporters obviously didn’t join his cause because they knew he was a vampire. Harpies, in particular, make much of these distinctions, but some speculate that that’s because their own Status falls under the definition of City Status.
- • Hound or “rising star”
- •• Sheriff or “accomplished individual”
- ••• Harpy, Seneschal, Master of Elysium or “much deserved reputation”
- •••• Regent, Primogen, Herald or “cornerstone of Kindred society”
- ••••• Prince or “true paragon”
Clan Status is concerned with lineage and the Blood. At the outset of a chronicle, a Kindred’s standing often reflects the prestige her sire has gained and passed along, such as with regard to the Ventrue. Many assume that childer who were Embraced by powerful and influential members of the clan have already shown some special quality or excellence, otherwise they would not have been chosen by so great a sire. This kind of recognition is short lived, however. A neonate might enjoy prestige by association under the purview of her sire, but such a favored childe is expected to make a name for herself.
Vampires who truly embody the ideals of their clan and who establish themselves in positions of power and influence (often as Prisci) gain the respect of others in their clan, being perceived as models for success. While the Daeva tell tales of particularly vicious Harpies of distant cities, the Gangrel speak of brooding hulks who confidently brave the Lupine-infested wilds alone. Those who diverge from the expected behavior of the clan in remarkable ways gain renown (or notoriety), as well, perhaps founding bloodlines that become known to vampire society as a whole.
Clan Status is not so rigidly defined as City Status. While individual clan titles might arise, the notion of esteem is more general in this context.
Covenant Status represents rank, achievement and responsibility, less concerned with clan ideals and more with covenant actions, philosophies and accomplishments. The various covenants are not bound by any supernatural means or governed by clan lineage. They find a commonality of goals and ideologies, instead. It is not enough to be powerful or exemplary of clan ideals; a covenant is concerned with what its members have done to benefit its cause and combat its rivals.
Those Kindred who enjoy the greatest covenant-based esteem are often the core members of their factions in a given city, those around whom others rally. These Kindred instigate or mediate conflict with other covenants, generally looking to further certain idealistic goals and establish themselves or other members in positions of influence in the local hierarchy.
A Mekhet in command of a massive spy network might have status within his clan, but the lowliest of his spies might risk her unlife to gather a specific piece of information that helps oust the Invictus Prince, subsequently enjoying far more status with, say, the Ordo Dracul than her master.
A character must have at least a single dot of Covenant Status in order to gain the benefits of any special abilities of that covenant. In other words, a character must have at least one dot of Covenant Status (Lancea Sanctum) in order to learn Theban Sorcery. Or a character must have at least one dot of Covenant Status (Invictus) to take advantage of the experience- point break on the Herd, Mentor, Resources and Retainer Merits. If a character leaves a covenant after learning some of its secrets, he does not lose any of those traits for which he paid experience points, but he may not learn additional dots of those traits (or additional dots at that particular price break, as with the Invictus and the Carthians). See p. 91-92 for the complete list of which covenants grant which benefits. Like Clan Status, Covenant Status is not so specifically tied to certain titles. It is more a notion of an individual’s accomplishments.
A Lancea Sanctum Priest, for example, has a greater title than, say, a noted ethicist of the covenant, but that ethicist might have written numerous treatises on the state of undeath and the soul, according her more esteem among her peers than the Priest who rides solely on the weight of her title.
- • The character is known to a select subset of the clan/ covenant — a spy network, perhaps.
- •• The majority of the clan/covenant in the city recognizes the character’s face and can recall her exploits.
- ••• The character’s deeds are known to all in the local covenant, even in other nearby cities; many members of other covenants recognize her face.
- •••• Word of the character’s exploits has traveled far, and her name is known in cities around the country.
- ••••• The character’s name and face are synonymous with her clan/covenant; her exploits are taught to new members of the clan/covenant.
Status can serve as a mixed blessing, however. Those who enjoy the most might be able to use it to their advantage, but they are also visible targets for their enemies. High levels of Status make it almost impossible to pass unnoticed, even while they open doors that would otherwise remain closed.
Status works like a “social tool” in that it adds to dice pools for social interactions between members of the sub-group in question. That is, Covenant Status adds to dice pools for interactions with members of the same covenant, Clan Status enhances interactions with members of the same Clan, and City Status affects those who are recognized residents of the given domain. City Status, however, may be ignored by those who are among the unbound.
Example: Loki wants access to the Mekhet Priscus, but the Priscus is already occupied with an envoy from Clan Daeva. He instead finds himself dealing with one of her aides, another Mekhet. Loki, a Mekhet himself, tries to convince the aide that he has important business to discuss with the Priscus. His player adds Clan Status to a Manipulation + Persuasion dice pool. Loki has Manipulation 2, Persuasion 3 and Clan Status (Mekhet) 2, creating a pool of seven dice for the task.
Status does not add to dice pools predicated on supernatural powers. For example, a Prince’s City Status is not added to a dice pool for use of his Dread Gaze power.
Dealing with Status can be a mire of responsibility, though clever characters can turn it to their advantage. They may actually have a variety of Status — it is not unheard of for a character to have City Status, Clan Status and Covenant Status. A character may have Clan Status only as a member of his own clan. For instance, a Nosferatu never gains Clan Status (Gangrel) no matter how much aid he provides the Savages. His aid of the Gangrel may certainly earn him esteem, but such concern is better handled on a case-by-case basis by the Storyteller, not in the form of Clan Status.
Covenant Status is unique in that a character may, on occasion, have more than one form of it. This occurs almost exclusively at low levels, where a character is often beneath the notice of most other members of his covenants. A character may never have more than three dots total in Covenant Status among multiple covenants. A double-agent, for example, might take two dots worth of Covenant Status (Carthians) and a single dot of Covenant Status (Lancea Sanctum), representing the character’s true allegiance to the Carthians as well as the fact that he’s in on the ground floor of the Lancea Sanctum so that he can feed information back to his Carthian fellows. A character may even have a single dot of Covenant Status in three different covenants — perhaps he’s somewhat accomplished in each, but has yet to determine where his true loyalties lie. Naturally, a character with Status in only one Covenant is not beholden to the three-dot limit.
A character with dots in Covenant Status through multiple factions does indeed gain access to those covenants’ special benefits. Covenants expect certain contributions of their members, however, and if other Kindred find out that the vampire in question plays multiple sides against the middle, he might see that Status vanish in a single night in which he’s called upon to account for his treacheries.
Such is also the reason that cumulative Covenant Status is limited to three dots. By the time a character gains a certain degree of Status in a single covenant, he sticks out like a sore thumb if he turns up among another covenant’s members. (An exception to this might occur if a character is truly some sort of deep-cover agent or other mole, but that circumstance is best handled at the Storyteller’s discretion).