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I'm making a list of influential vampire NPCs that will exist in any but the smallest of cities. I do this because I wish to start a sandbox campaign in Vampire, and as such, the players will need to know the movers and shakers in the campaign city.

I plan on making these NPCs with the players before the first session, as it would likely strengthen the players' bond with the general setting.

The list should consist of the more influential NPCs, characters whom the players have met on at least a few occasions, such as when the prince summons vampires to the elysium. So far my list consists of these NPCs:

  • The Prince
  • All existing, local covenant leaders (Prince will often be one of these, I figure)
  • The Sheriff and possibly some hounds
  • The Harpy (if any)
  • Some of the vampires in control of larger territories

Not all of them have to be extensively detailed, of course, simple descriptions will suffice. The plan is to let the players make their characters after this initial "NPC setup"-phase.

Are there any more important NPCs that would be present in any larger city? If so, who?

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One comment: don't detail all the vampires in control of larger territories. Leave yourselves room to grow or add. (Or build a still-contested territory into the design.) Sandbox campaigns gain from detailing-as-you-need-to, so write up the vampires in control of the larger territories that are near to, or influential upon, the players. –  Tynam Nov 15 '12 at 9:01
    
@Tynam Of course, you are correct. My initial post as been slightly edited now :) Thank you for your insight. –  Undreren Nov 15 '12 at 9:20
    
Are you going to use other nWoD core books as well (Werewolf, Mage, etc)? –  OpaCitiZen Nov 15 '12 at 9:38
    
I am not sure, but likely not. Unless they could be included with minimum effort. I fear this sort of expansion would be too overwhelming. –  Undreren Nov 15 '12 at 9:42
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Rather than adding a new answer for the sake of one word "coteries" Something to take into consideration - groups of vampires banded together. –  Rob Nov 16 '12 at 13:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It certainly sounds like you've covered the main points. Here are a few extra considerations to bear in mind:

  • The Council of Primogen. This probably overlaps heavily with "local covenant leaders", but not entirely. Influential clan members are worth considering, and covenants with little local power may not have a representative... or may only have a 'backdoor' say, not an official play.

  • Influential covenant figures. The local covenant leaders may well not be the most important or influential character in each covenant, particularly in the Carthians or Circle.

(This may overlap heavily with 'vampires in control of larger territories', but not completely. An influential Circle or Lancea character may not actually care about the size of their territory as much as other things.)

  • The Seneschal. Don't overlook the political importance of the Prince's PA; he decides who gets access. (In a large domain there's probably also a Herald, but that wouldn't be the case in most cities.)

  • Master of Elysium. Someone's responsible for giving everybody a playroom. (It might be another responsibility of the Sheriff or the Seneschal, but make sure you know who it is.) In a really large city there might be several; discuss with your players where they might be.

  • Unaligned characters. Not being in a covenant means they probably don't have much political power, but that doesn't preclude them mattering in other ways. Annoying renegade that everyone wants the Prince to deal with, or secretive occult researcher?

  • Mortals. Don't overlook the importance of major non-vampire NPCs. For a sandbox campaign, you particularly need to know how solid vampire control of mortal institutions is, and which vampires have it. As you detail powerful vampires, give a few moments thought to which mortals they influence.

    Pay particular attention to:

  • Emergency services, especially police

  • Major business leaders (especially if your town is focussed on one or two industries)
  • Occult researchers
  • Journalists

  • Mortals, again. Not everyone of importance is connected to a vampire. Are there any mortal characters who are clued-in to the WoD? Vampire hunters? Conspiracy theorists?

  • Antagonists. Is there anyone around who simply doesn't play by the rules at all? VII agents, insane younger vampires who need to be put down, unaligned loners with their own agenda.

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This is a pretty solid expansion :) Mind you, I will only collaborate on NPCs that the players were likely to know of. Some antagonists likely fall into this spectrum though :) –  Undreren Nov 15 '12 at 9:35
    
@Undreren: Dresden Files has been a big influence on me lately, with it's player-aided design of characters the PCs don't know about. Of course, some surprises belong to the GM. –  Tynam Nov 15 '12 at 10:06
    
I have read the chapter on city creation in the Dresden RPG. I'm to steal a lot of ideas from it :) The tone and theme of my upcoming campaign should be chosen in collaboration between me and the players, as in any solid sandbox campaign :) –  Undreren Nov 15 '12 at 10:10
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I'd also add one or two influential national and "next door" npcs as well, the city next door mayhave vested interests in taking over control or trying to change the regime... –  Rob Nov 15 '12 at 12:10
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Also - consider those people that the powerful hold dear and listen to. The Prince's pet ghoul, the Sheriff's mortal relatives, the Harpy's favourite nightclub singer etc etc –  Gaxx Nov 15 '12 at 14:27

Forget clans and organisations and bloodlines for now. Think of the vampires in a city as a large (dysfunctional?) family. There's the old generation, the ones that control everything. Below them, a large number of elders are vying for positions of either power or influence be it via direct or indirect means. They can use external or internal (re)sources to get there, thus forming cliques those loyalties may or may not be shifting with the winds of power. Below them are the children, those of the new generation slowly learning the game. They are protégés, the spoiled brat, the truely gifted, and of course the black sheep of the family. Add to this the servants, the family friends, and rivals. You now have a superbly rich setting.

Have you seen The Godfather?... You should.

Now, do some randomness in picking clans/bloodlines/whatever. You maybe surprise at how it can take the story in utterly different places than you thought.

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+1 The Elders are the puppet masters who hold the strings with their ancient grudges, goals and desires as everyone else dances on the stage with all it's ceremony –  Rob Nov 15 '12 at 11:29
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@Rob: until some new blood think they know better and smashes things up: See The Wire portrait of the rise and fall of Avon Barksdale's drug empire. –  Sardathrion Nov 15 '12 at 11:41
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Maybe; but said new bloods don't have the power to punch you through six walls, possess people or drive anyone permanently insane; Elders can, and people messing with their carefully constructed empires should find themselves in a heap of trouble unless they have other powerful allies... –  Rob Nov 15 '12 at 11:48
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Unless that new blood has some allies of its own... Oh look, plot... ^_~ –  Sardathrion Nov 15 '12 at 11:50
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And also - consider the new blood that is a favourite of one or more of the elders for some reason (descendant, favoured artist etc etc) –  Gaxx Nov 15 '12 at 14:38

Some NPCs that will have plenty of influence but not overt political power:

  • Seneschal (as mentioned in @Tynam's answer)
  • Local Vampire Teamster(s) There likely is someone with some influence controlling any airport, train station, bus station, ship port, etc. Likely this person(s) will have a team under them who does all the heavy lifting, but the "boss" is likely to make sure that friends' coffins are moved first into warehouses, while enemies will either get put on the bottom of a stack, or "forgotten" to sit in the sun all day.
  • Harpy/gossip Sure they are annoying and bothersome, but "did you know that Harry is planning a move on Sally? I ain't one to gossip so you didn't hear that from me." If you piss off the harpy, their wealth of information will go away or not be as forthcoming as you like. If they really like you, they may even let you bribe them to NOT gossip about your plans.
  • Captains of industry They control the mortal workforce, if they get mad you can likely have pressure put on not just you but ALL cainites.
  • Media Does that regrettable loss of control go on the front page of the newspaper (and get you in trouble with the Prince), or does it get buried in the "crime blotter" section while Paris Hilton's latest foolishness gets the front page?
  • Law Enforcement Likely all mortals, but also able to make any vampire's life miserable if they suspect something... you can't kill them because then they take your case as a top priority to get the "cop killer" off of the streets.
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