Mortal society builds on institutions. As humans raise their cities and society flourishes, they form gatherings of expertise that are manipulated by the supernatural hiding in their midst. Many individuals, supernaturals and mortals alike, have the capability to leverage institutions, societies, and other agencies to influence the population to react according to their designs. The Influence System mechanically expresses the series of social connections, business transactions, and personal favors that make up a person’s influence in the mortal world. Utilizing this kind of pull is not the same thing as having direct control. Rather, those with Influence use a great deal of subtle manipulation, changing patterns of behavior and affecting the nuances of the mortal world rather than beating on it with the hammer of their will.
The Influence system is robust, but fairly simple; it is, at the most basic level, a cause-and-effect system; you use Influence to do something, and that thing gets done. Examples of Influence use could include getting a small amount of money or a hard-to-trace firearm, up through blocking off access to entire blocks of property or even make someone's Allies lives a living hell, limiting their access, to even indirectly interfering with another character's activities.
Influence: Elite and Underworld
Influence represents your characters ties to various entities in the city or region, both legal and illegal; your friends in high places, the palms you can grease easily, the wheels that you can set spinning. Influence allows you to get things done that you might not normally be able to do in certain time frames, and in some cases, things you can't even do with supernatural powers. Influence itself is divided into two Assets, rated 1 to 5:
- Influence: Elite
You have influence over the upper crust: those who are wealthy, hold legitimate power, own corporations, or control noteworthy institutions. These individuals live in a world of wealth and affluence.
- Influence: Underworld
You have influence over those who work outside of the law: working class people looking the other way, and those who live on the street, rule gangs and drug cartels, run networks of thieves, or control intricate cultural bureaucracy. These individuals live in a world of rumors, whispers, and lies.
Within each of the overarching Influences, a character must define the nature of their social network: the types of people who owe her favors and where she wields her subtle control. This is done through Influence Specializations; for each rank of each of the Influence Assets, a character gains one specialization, chosen from the following list:
- Institutions of learning are the purview of Academia. This includes lower through higher education, research, and administration of colleges.
- The White Collar world is the purview of Corporate. This includes engineers, architects, computer programmers, corporate CEOs, etc.
- All things monetary are the purview of Finance. This includes banks, investment firms, stocks and stock brokers, etc.
- The Blue Collar world is the purview of Industry. This includes factories, unions and blue-collar workers.
- Judges and legal workers are the purview of Legal. This includes law schools and firms, lawyers, judges, DAs, clerks and public defenders.
- Print, television and other information sources are the purview of Media. This includes newspapers, local TV, local news bloggers, and others.
- Hospitals and related services are the purview of Medical. This includes medical facilities, coroners, doctors, lab workers, and specialists of various sorts.
- Governmental offices, including utilities is the purview of Municipal. It includes the control of red tape within the city, zoning projects, and city services.
- Fringe religion is the purview of Occult, as is the hidden world of the supernatural. It includes cults, alternative religions, occultists, and more.
- The police departments and resources are the purview of Police. This includes police of all ranks, clerical staff, dispatchers, prisons, and special divisions.
- Local politics is the purview of Political. This includes pollsters, lobbyists, activists, party members, and politicians, including the mayor's office.
- Mainstream religions are the purview of Religion. It includes church staff and attendees, the priesthood, and potentially church-sponsored hunters.
- The 'dregs of society' are the purview of Street. It includes the homeless, gang members of all sorts, petty criminals, prostitutes, and others.
- The wealthy and moneyed are the purview of Society. It includes dilettantes, artists of almost any stripe, old money families, models, celebrities, and others.
- Example: Damien Kross has Influence: Elite at 2 and Influence: Underworld at 1. Damien chooses his Elite specializations as Academia representing his legal connections as a major investor in local university programs and Industrial representing the friends he has in local business. He chooses Occult for his Underworld specialization, representing his connection to local fringe religions and cults.
These categories are defined in such a way as to represent the greatest cross-section of areas where people will have their fingers on the pulse, and have interest in having Influence due to the utility of the specialization. The categories also make a simple job for staff to keep track of, particularly for advanced Influence use such as Attack and Block Actions.
It is possible to have the same specialization in both Influence categories. Having a Police specialization in Elite might mean that your character knows the most prestigious detectives, spends time with the head of the Special Operations division, or regularly contributes to the commissioner’s 'election fund.' Having a Police specialization in Underworld would instead mean that your character knows corrupt cops, undercover agents, or the poor guy who pulls the graveyard shift in the evidence room.
Plying your Influence can get great things done in your favor, granting you easy access to private areas, making your travel unhindered by the criminal element, and even keeping the eyes of snooping people out of areas you deem need some additional privacy. This is handled through the use of Influence Actions, which represent your character plying her connections to get something acccomplished. Use of Influence Actions is divided into two categories of actions:
- General Influence, which is the ability to get things done, legally or illegally, affecting the world around you.
- Targeted Influence, which is your ability to use Influence to manipulate society to affect other characters' personal resources.
A character gains Influence Actions per month equal to his or her total ranks in each Influence Asset. Actions are spent on a per-category basis, and do not cross over. For example, a character with Elite: 2 and Underworld: 5, would have a total 2 Actions to spend in Elite and 5 Actions to spend in Underworld.
These actions are used during a full month period, and refresh at the beginning of the next month, at 6am server time on the first day of the month. Influence actions cannot be “banked,” or held over from month to month. A character must be able to spend the full amount of influence actions required for a given result within a single month.
- A character with the Puppetmaster Advantage regains one (1) Influence Action per week.
Each Influence category has its own list of general actions, delineated by the rank of Influence required to perform specific activities. To achieve the result for a specific level from a general Influence action, you must have the appropriate rank of the appropriate Influence Asset (IE: You can only use Level 2 General Influence if your appropriate Influence Asset is ranked 2+), and expend 1 Influence action. For example, if you have 5 ranks in Elite, you get 5 Influence actions to spend. If you wish to achieve the results of Level 3: Bureaucratic Errors, you must expend 1 of those Influence actions. Because the two Influence categories are distinct, a certain task may require different ranks of Influence based on which Influence category you use. This variation reflects each Influence’s sphere of authority.
If an activity you expend Influence on is appropriate for your Influence specializations, your Influence is considered 1 level higher when performing a general action. For example, it is easier for you to get tickets to the policeman’s ball if you have the Police Influence specialization.
To use General Influence, submit the action to staff via the +inf commands. Staff will log and handle the Influence Action. A list of General Influence effects is below; however, these are not the only things that can be done with Influence. These are specific effects that can be done with Influence Actions; other actions such as general information gathering, or things that would be contingent with a specific Influence specialization (such as using Medical to make bodies disappear or getting blood, using Academia to gain access to rare book collections, or using Occult to gain access to rare ritual components). If you have questions about what level something might be, please ask staff; otherwise, use the Influence Actions below as guidelines to determine what level something would be appropriately.
- Level 1: A Friend in Need
Borrow resources per rank of Elite Influence you control. For each rank of the Influence background, you gain 5 Wealth Points (WP).
- Level 2: Gossip and Inside Trading
Gain information about recent (3 months) use of Elite influence that touches your specializations. You discover the name of any mortal institutions or individuals that were involved and how the influence was spent but not who was responsible for the expenditure.
- Level 3: Bureaucratic Errors
Manipulate the system and acquire expensive (mostly legal) favors. Alter paperwork, trump up charges, gain a legal weapon, cause major police effort to investigate locale or individual, acquire false identification.
- Level 4: Smooth Over
Smooth over inconvenient or embarrassing problems, making them disappear, supernatural disturbances and evidence simply disappear.
- Level 5: No Party Crashers
Secure an area the size of a manor house, for 24 hours you control the amount of police within a half mile radius, no fly overs and no one may enter the area without the aid of supernatural powers such as Obfuscate. The area is a virtual supernatural safe zone. Influence attempts to target the area suffer a level 5 Block.
- Level 6: Everything Has A Price
Acquire a major favor that isn't necessarily legal, arranging things like jail breaks, acquiring large amounts of illegal drugs or high-grade illegal firearms, plant false news with evidence and witnesses, or cause someone trouble on a personal scale through false investigations.
- Level 7: Private Collection
Gain temporary access to rare or unique items with no questions asked. If you lose, steal or damage the item, your Influence is reduced by 2 ranks for the next 2 months. This action cannot be used to gain items owned by PCs, but it can be used to gain items from important NPCs with staff approval.
- Level 8: Pop Star Meltdown
Arrange a city-wide incident. You can distract news agencies, focus philanthropic attention, and cause significant disruption. You might do things like get a popular sports team or local venue sold, have city planners construct something, cause a public works strike, or arrange for a health department quarantine, or some other action that draws concentrated mortal attention.
- Level 9: The Power Behind the Throne
Arrange a situation with significant, long-term effect. You could cause the city's police to be off-duty all at once, shut down all major highways, prohibit fire or emergency services from responding to a call; frame someone for a crime with contingent evidence and witnesses; or other such major manipulation.
- Level 1: Free Travel
Travel freely without being harassed by gangs or the criminal element, law enforcement will generally look the other way.
- Level 2: Word on the Street
Gain information about recent (3 months) use of Underworld influence that touches your specializations. You discover the name of any mortal institutions or individuals that were invovled and how the influence was spent but not who was responsible for the expenditure.
- Level 3: Illegal Favors
Acquire a major favor that isn’t necessarily legal. arrange jail breaks, acquire a large amount of illegal drugs, plant a false article (with evidence and witnesses), gain an illegal weapon or cause someone trouble on a personal scale.
- Level 4: Airing Dirty Laundry
Arrange a city wide incident distracting news agencies, provoke civil rights marches, convince major mafia or gang head to start a war with rivals, assassinate stock NPCs (4 or less).
- Level 5: Lockdown
Secure an area the size of a manor house, for 24 hours you control the amount of police within a half mile radius, no fly overs and no one may enter the area without the aid of supernatural powers. The area is a virtual supernatural safe zone. Influence attempts to target the area suffer a 5 Block.
- Level 6: Pulling Strings
Manipulate the system, aquiring expensive (and mostly legal) favors, make sure money flows the right directions, sway a city council vote, target major police efforts to investigate a location/individual, gain a legal (registered) weapon, arrange a major gathering such as a rave or urban event, use the system to your advantage.
- Level 7: Look the Other Way
Smooth over an inconvenient or embarassing problem. Witnesses get paid off, news stories get squashed completely, alibis materialize and supernatural evidence simply vanishes.
- Level 8: Want. Take. Have.
Gain access to rare or unique items. You may lose, steal or damage the object with no detriment to your Influence, though such misappropriations may gain unwanted legal attention. This action cannot gain objects controlled by PCs, but can gain objects from significant NPCs with staff approval.
- Level 9: An Offer You Can't Refuse
Arrange a situation with long-term effects, such as legalized prostitution and gambling (or repealing such a lay), discredit religious leaders with scandal, cause widespread riots, frame someone for a crime, move jobs out of the area, fix a major collegiate-level athletic event, and other similarly-scaled manipulation.
Targeted Influence is, as briefly noted above, using Influence Actions affect another character directly. This CAN NOT be used to kill or directly injure a character (typically), but it can be used to limit or enhance their resources as you tie up their capabilities with your own. Targeted Influence is made up of four actions: Attack, Block, Defend, and Boost.