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I am a vampire in a slightly customised oWod and due to my still-strong ties to the mortal world I'm facing a slightly awkward problem. There's this human I like who recently caught the interest of some fellow creatures of the night because of his worldly power. In order to gain influence on my human they are probably going to use any means available to them.

He's wealthy, strong-willed and does not have any (known) close friends or family left. While I'm fairly sure that bribes and threats will bounce off him, at least to a degree, more supernatural influences like Presence, Dominate and blood bonds may become a problem. There are probably even more possibilities to make a human do what you want that I haven't even thought about yet. They will need him to act openly and publicly, though, so he has to retain some sort of facade to be a functioning, normal human being.

I am new to this whole undead and Camarilla game and have not accumulated any noteworthy allies yet. Among the people who are interested in my human are primogen. Blood bonding or mindcontrolling my human first is out of the question as this is exactly the fate from which I want to protect him (I also lack the powers). Additionally, he does not know what I am and what those people are and I'd prefer things to stay that way.

So, my question is two-parted:

1) How can powerful vampires try to control or manipulate a fairly high ranking public personality? What means do they have and which ones are they probably going to prefer, considering their influence should stay hidden?

2) How do I counter or prevent these means without descending into the same depths from which I want to keep my human safe?

P.S.: I am on fairly good terms with a Tremere who might know a thing or two about our kind's blood and its effect on humans. Can she help?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ahriman It doesn't seem off-topic to me. The question is, "what ways exist to manipulate a human with supernatural powers and how can I mitigate them?" \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude May 9 '16 at 12:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @brannagh Why do you lack the powers to blood bond your human? That should be available to all but a thin-blooded kindred. If you are thin-blooded, that's an important fact that your question should include. Otherwise, I think it's a great question. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude May 9 '16 at 12:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ahriman Don't all P&P RPGs suffer from the "question depends entirely on how the [GM/DM/Storyteller] runs [their] world?" This question has objective answers that can apply regardless of the ST. Ignore the subjective part and answer the objective part. Even in that case, this Q is a good candidate for Good subjective, Bad subjective. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude May 9 '16 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Bleh. I had three answers lined up, but I failed to notice one line of the question, which invalidated two-and-a-half of them. I'll edit the last one and repost it, though. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 May 9 '16 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude Sorry, that wasn't formulated too well - I lack the powers to control his mind (apart from the will). A blood bond would be possible, of course, but it would mean essentially the kind of emotional slavery I want to avoid. \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 9 '16 at 18:09
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Keep him protected by building enough power among your kind that they will respect your claim on this person. You need to make some political allies among your fellow Kindred, pronto. Many Camarilla Kindred maintain mortal contacts that they want to keep protected. A chief tool for this is "if you mess with this mortal, you are messing with me; and, by extension, anyone in this city I have some sway with." There is often a gentleman's agreement stay away from a human another vampire claims, because it ensures that vampire stays away from your humans. This, however, still presents you with a problem if you are a relatively weak vampire (in the blood and/or politically) claiming a high-value mortal.

It's going to be an uphill battle to hold on to your mortal. You'll need to invest a significant amount of your energy and political strategies towards this goal.

  • Find ways you can perform boons for Kindred that can help keep the mortal safe. Ideally some, but not all, of these vampires should be ones who might otherwise try to mess with your mortal.
  • Gain gossip and blackmail material where possible.
  • If you only care about the mortal on a personal level, and not for his temporal power, you try to lower his profile. Other vampires will care less about him.
  • If you want him to keep his power, gently use it. You are investing your energy into this man, and if you don't get some return on that it's unlikely that you can maintain enough power to meet your goals.
  • Don't piss anyone off too egregiously! An angry vampire will hurt your mortal to be vindictive to you push things too far.
  • Don't spread yourself too thin. This mortal represents a risk. Do you claim a small neighborhood as hunting ground? Have a Herd elsewhere? Other people or places you want to protect? Each addition thing/person is a liability, and a drain on your ability to keep them safe.
  • Bluff when it makes sense, and don't when it doesn't. Some of Vampire politics involves a shell game.
  • Try not to let on how this person is important to you, if it's personal. If it's too obvious he will be used threatened and used against you by an opportunist. A mortal you claim for "business" such as food or temporal power is normal. A mortal you care for as a lover or kin is a big risk because people know you might do anything for the person.

All of these approaches are things I've done or seen done in actual games.

Good luck, you've got a problem that can make for an excellent plot line!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for mentioning further risks, since I was going to fully concentrate on my human. The relation is personal, and some people already know, so I'm facing a sort of urgent situation. \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 11 '16 at 13:19
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Some ideas :

The easiest thing to do is to misdirect your enemies by giving them the impression that the human is under the influence of an elder vampire of the city - someone they wouldn't dare to displease. You could ask that vampire for the favor of having your human attend to their needs publicly for a short while. This would achieve safety by association.

You could find a true believer (human with true faith) and have your human ask for a blessed cross for example (this might work with gm approval) or have your human meet frequently with this devout person when you cannot protect him, or have your human hire this person.

Lastly , there's always the brute-force approach - kill your enemies before they get to your human.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The first one is great, very masqueradey and probably safer than trying to kill people who are much older and scarier than me. A True Faith solution might prove to be difficult as I don't particularly want my (non-religious) human to become aware of supernatural things. Do you know a way I could make him acquire True Faith, thus maybe becoming immune out of himself? \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 9 '16 at 18:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fastest way to justify getting True Faith for a non-believer is probably having a near-death experience - surviving really low probability situations like a plane crash or a bomb going off and in light of this miracle the human would dedicate his life to being a servant of god - but even then it's unlikely and depends on gm . True faith is rare and you probably wouldn't want your human to get it since it will make interaction between you complicated . At higher levels it burns unholy things like vamps :). \$\endgroup\$ – user27982 May 9 '16 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ First one is exactly the WoD way. Accept that you're going to get screwed over somehow, mitigate it slightly by choosing the person who's going to screw you over, then use prestation to give them the confidence they need that they really can screw you over any time they like. Plus it uses the classic psychological trick when meeting new people: if you want someone to trust you don't do them a favour, ask them for one. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop May 9 '16 at 20:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... oh, and one possible outcome is that they decide to use the benefits of influencing that mortal, but do it through you, so you end up having to run the mortal for them without resorting to mental control. Which sounds like fun. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop May 9 '16 at 20:34
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Well, there's the self-sacrificing way...

Tip off as many vampire hunters as you can that some old, powerful Kindred are targeting a high-profile human. Of course, you won't be able to get near the human either, so any relationship will have to wait - possibly decades, while he ages and you remain unchanging, until the elders give up their designs or all get caught by the hunters. At minimum, the Vatican's Inquisition should exist in basically every Vampire chronicle, although the ST might not have intended to get them involved. If other World of Darkness splats are in play as NPCs, both Werewolves and Hunters are obvious choices, as well as certain Mage traditions who are rather opposed to the undead. If push really came to shove, the Sabbat might be convinced to set a trap for some high-ranking Camarilla, although that could literally have the same result as throwing gasoline on a fire.

Interfering in the primogens' plans is a great way to see a final sunrise. Every group you could possibly contact to help you with protecting the human will gladly exterminate you as well. Don't get caught.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While I don't like the idea of associating myself with people who aren't likely to differentiate between myself and my enemies, I do like having them do the work. Maybe I can tip them off anonymously. That only leaves me with the problem of keeping contact without becoming their target, as well ... \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 9 '16 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, out of curiosity: Which line invalidated your other answers and in which direction would they have gone? \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 9 '16 at 18:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ The part about him not finding out. This answer originally involved telling him everything about vampires to help him protect himself (making it even more dangerous). The other two answers were to ghoul him, using the blood-bond to help protect him (and you, since any elders that fed on him would start to bond to you as well), or to go ahead and Embrace him, giving him eternal life and making him useless to the people who wanted to control him. Ghouling him has the added advantage that it's not technically illegal under the Camarilla, though that might not protect you from angry elders... \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 May 9 '16 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! The hunter solution is the sneakiest and might be the safest, but in the end I don't want to "lose" him by breaking all bonds, either. From a roleplaying perspective, a compromise of (partial) disclosure and still snitching the evildoers to some foes might actually be most, uh, fun. \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 9 '16 at 19:06
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First of all sorry for my bad english but it's not my native language.

  1. Normally, a vampire who wants to control an high ranking public personality uses mind control powers, such as Dominate (normally 2nd or 3rd to be sure to keep him/her safe from other vampires' domination), or gives some of his/her blood (the public person becomes a Ghoul and dependant from his lord's blood). Note: the two options don't exlude themselves.

  2. To prevent these means without using the same tricks is quite impossible. You can try to cast a ritual to protect the human from mind control (you have to agree with your GM for it beacuse I don't think such a ritual exists or has a low level). For the ritual you can ask also to the friendly Tremere. A simple way, without using too much trikeries, is to use Dominate 2 (Mesmerize, pag 153 Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary). This try couldn't give you guarantee of protection but as long as your power affect the human, the aggressor must succeed an activation roll and beat you roll. Note: this is a simple and banal solution and it could be bypassed easly.

In conclusion, try to keep safe a human from vampires' hands without using mind or blood powers is quite impossible, expecially in Camarilla. You could not even embrace him because in Camarilla you have to ask for permession. If an higher ranked vampire is interested on your human, probably you can't embrace him and, if you can, you and your human gain the vampire's hatred for the eternity.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Using Dominate myself is more or less out of question, as I don't have it, and I don't want it used on my human in general. That last point makes the ritual approach sound interesting. I might ask the Tremere / my GM about this. Do you have any ideas or hints where to start with some research in that matter? There is a level 3 ritual that enchants an object to reflect the powers of Presence, so maybe there are equivalents ... \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 9 '16 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brannagh: Purification (Level 6 Quietus in 20th edition) cancels any existing Dominate/Presence/etc mind-control, but doesn't break blood bonds and doesn't give forwards immunity so it needs to be repeated regularly. Know any elder Assamites? By rights, any ritual that's better than a 6th level discipline should be incredibly difficult to acquire and/or cast, but Thaumaturgy doesn't always work out that way ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop May 9 '16 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ "expecially in Camarilla" on a contrary, Camarilla is among the most humane (and I use the term humane very liberally) environment. I'd wish to see someone trying to save a human in Sabbat... \$\endgroup\$ – Sejanus May 10 '16 at 5:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe it's time for a follow-up question ... "How to ask in Elysium whether someone knows Quietus 6, discretely?". \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 10 '16 at 12:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brannagh knowing someone with Quietus 6 is expensive not indiscreet. Assamites are the best mercenary in all WoD and with the correct payment they would keep closed the mouth. \$\endgroup\$ – Mordenkran May 10 '16 at 17:11
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Vampire bills itself as a storytelling game of personal horror. If this is something you care about, then the gamemaster is empowered to mess with it within the confines of game because that's an interesting way to engage you as a player.

The short answer is that there's really nothing you can do to protect anyone in Vampire—even if your PC is amazingly powerful. Protecting someone is a compelling story!

Honestly, if I were your Storyteller, we would spend ten sessions of you setting up plans and countermeasures and, unless everything went perfectly, I'd have someone you hate Embrace him and have him somehow blame you for it. That's personal horror.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While this is all true I was rather looking for some hands-on hints or experience about what my enemies and myself might do in this situation. There's no need for a fix-it-all solution and I'm fully prepared to struggle and fail through any attempt to "save" this person - because, personally, isn't that the fun part about roleplaying - but as of now I am in a brainstorming phase of what might be going to happen and what I can do about it. \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 10 '16 at 12:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Personal horror or not, spending up to nine sessions on something that's already been determined to be pointless sounds extremely unappealing. \$\endgroup\$ – Errorsatz Apr 20 at 22:19
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Personally i would go with blood bond, mortal will be stronger and you could control him very easily. But you said this is off the table, so...

First go to your friend Tremere, if I remember there are some rites to protect from some effects of Presence and Domination.

Second step will be recognize threat, find who is threatening to your mortal friend, and gain as much information on him as possible. Finding friend among Nosferatu will be quite useful to achieve this goal.

Third step, confront your enemy. How this will looks like will depends on your character and information which you gathered. All what you need to do, is to use information against him.

Final step, will be to ask Nosferatu to keep an eye on your mortal and give you warning when new threat appear.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ These are very proactive, I like it. Controlling my enemies instead of (or in addition to) protecting my human is something I hadn't thought of. There might be a thing or two to find out about them and blackmailing a primogen sounds like the kind of stupidly risky thing I might do. :] \$\endgroup\$ – brannagh May 10 '16 at 12:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brannagh blackmailing primogen might sounds risky, but really lot of depends on dirt what you find and political situation in town. Exposing his weakness to his enemy might be bigger threat for him, than some new vampire in town and his mortal puppet. \$\endgroup\$ – user902383 May 10 '16 at 12:41
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Ensure you human friend is always on fire. Don't look at them.

This prevents any Vampires from looking at them or, generally, being in their presence. The difficulty to avoid Frenzy in the presence of a lit cigarette is 3. Even if an elder vampire somehow got to roll 20 dice on the courage check involved, it would fail >99.9% of the time in the presence of ~600 cigarette-sized fires, which can be fit as distinct units within a ~225 mm diameter circular housing (e.g. a short length of pvc pipe). Care must be taken to avoid allowing the fires to merge into a continuous flame, as that reduces the probability of failure considerably.

Provided a proper fire-based mechanism is constructed, no Vampire can directly interact with your mortal friend without spending willpower each round they are exposed. Almost all Dominate/Persuade powers require direct eye contact so this protects against almost all attempts at control via those methods, regardless of the opponent's power.

That said, there are exceptions that need to be addressed:

1) Summon:

Summon works on anyone the user has ever met. This means that, if anyone has met your friend, they can summon them to themselves across any distance regardless of fire. In order to prevent against this, you'll need to ensure that an appropriate task force travels with your companion to their destination.

Note that Summon, even at the highest levels, cannot make anyone do things that they think are dangerous--Terminal Decree applies only to Dominate powers. That is, your companion will book a plane flight to their summoner's destination rather than trying to swim across the Atlantic, and will book hotel reservations and security accommodations on the way as per normal for them unless doing so slows them down. Since they know where they are going, having agents already at that location travel to the exact location of the summoner, light said summoner and the surroundings on fire, and subsequently mounting their head on a pike should discourage any future nighttime visits. Note that your friend knows perfectly the exact location of their summoner at all times until the next dawn and a summon, once given, cannot be revoked. Most vampire v. hunter tactics, even at the highest levels, require the vampire to be ambushing the humans rather than the other way around to have a decent shot at success-- knowing exactly where the vampire is at all times makes that pretty difficult, particularly since Vampire combat abilities rarely have the sort of range that human weapons boast. And the DC for 'trapped in a burning building' is 9.

Entrancement:

Works across live video feeds with Star Magnetism. Allows 'small requests' to be made of the target. You can't really stop this, but you will have video of them requesting it and the requests have to be things the target considers not a big deal.

Command Obedience:

Lets all domination powers no longer require sight. Instead, touch is used. Care must be taken that powerful shapeshifted vampires not be able to touch your friend while avoiding the fires. Ultimately, if there are enough primogen-level vampire lords willing to risk probable death in an attempt to control your friend, they will eventually succeed with this discipline. Your job is just to do good enough at perimeter sweeps, etc, that the first dozen or so die. If there are more ancient vampires after your friend than people protecting them, you are kinda screwed anyways.

Fealty:

Just make sure they don't make oaths. Problem solved.

Dynastic Power:

If your friend isn't the descendant of a vampire, you're good. If they are, those specific ancient super vampires they are a mortal descendant of can use Dynastic Power on them. This only works for a maximum of 6 generations without inbreeding, so you have a fairly limited list of people to check out.

Far Mastery:

This requires the vampire using it know your friend's location. Unless your friend recently foolishly used Summon (they didn't. They are a mortal), it should be pretty simple to conceal their location from vampires. Vampires notably lack any powers that let one quickly track down targets over country-scale ranges. The level 6 Auspex power Horoscopic Forecast lets an extremely powerful vampire, with a lot of work, divine a target's future location with no assurances as to when in the future target will be there, save that it will be within the next year. That's an example of what vampires would have to resort to to get your ally's location via stay-at-home magic power use, which is why in practice they will do it by having minions try and figure it out by searching the internet and physically searching probable locations and places that might have clues.

If a powerful vampire does get your friend's location, however, far mastery will doom them.

Carry the Master's Voice:

Don't let your friend talk to vampiric thralls. You can ID thralls with Auspex. Problem solved.

And that's about it. Of course, there is also Plot Device, the generic level 10 power for every discipline in Ghenna. You can't stop that from working, unless you also use Plot Device. Or possibly even if you do. Or maybe you can stop it, easily. Or with effort. Basically, the power just does whatever the ST wants with whatever limitations the ST thinks would be fun, so it's not really relevant to actual plans.

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sigh Your plight is all but impossible. Not truly impossible but nearly so.

You said among those who wish to "get" your human are Primogen. These are only some of the most powerful Kindred in the city, generally speaking, not just in personal powers but in influence. Anything you try to do to them to stop them would be problematic at best. If you attack them outright, they will likely destroy you, either personally themselves or their bodyguards—or after the fact of you fail and have to flee.

If you hire someone, pray they never find out it was you…though they may be able to read the writing on the wall and figure it out, even if they don't know for certain. And again…you're gonna get whacked and they'll almost certainly get away with it.

If you try to put some away over them via blackmail or some other mortal influence, they will likely counter it personally with their own anyway, or they likely know someone who has the proper sway to do it and will cut a deal with them. Unless that person already owes them a boon, in which they just cash it in.

There is one thing I can think of that would almost certainly work, though even this would be problematic. One Kindred who is almost guaranteed to have more stroke than a Primogen is the prince. If you can convince the prince to decree a hands-off policy on your mortal, it would probably keep the Primogen off of him. That being said, getting the Prince to agree to that would be difficult, to say nothing about getting in to see the prince in person to begin with. Most princes are too busy to meet with every neonate who has a personal problem, and he is not likely to side with you and gain the animosity of the Primogen unless he has a VERY good reason. I don't suppose the Prince owes you a Major boon or something, does he? I thought not.

On the flip side, maybe another Primogen could help. Most of the issues with getting the Prince to help are still issues here, but perhaps to a slightly lesser degree. Still, if another Primogen owes you a boon, or if perhaps you can provide a service or something he wants—big if—he might be willing and able to help you with your problem as well. As Primogen, he would likely be more comparable to your Primogen adversary than you are and therefore better able to compete with them. But again, there is the problem of what do you have to offer a Prince or Primogen that he would want?

Another option that is equally problematic. Go to the Primogen that wants your mortal and negotiate straight up. Maybe you can cut a deal with HIM.

"Hello Mr. Toreador. I realise you would like very much to get my mortal buddy 'Joe' into your service. I know I can't really stop you from doing that but it just so happens I own an old Rembrandt painting that's been in my family for years. Would you like to have a look? I might be willing to trade it to you in exchange for you leaving my buddy be."

Again. Long shot that you have something this Primogen wants, but it's possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd heavily recommend editing this to break up the text a little and reduce the number of ellipses. (I don't speak WoD enough to dare do it for you) \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 20 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 20 at 17:43

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