The Neonate's Guide to Knoxville - Allies
The Kine. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em, am I right? Of course I’m right. I’m right, and that’s why you’re listening to me. If you just want to be a lone hunter with no cares or worries, picking off the sick and the weak for blood and not giving a damn about anything else, you can skip this. If you’re smart, you’ll pay attention. We’re going to talk about your allies.
Table of Contents
The City of Allies
You may have noticed, but there’s a lot more kine in Knoxville then there are Kindred. There’s a reason for that. Every night when we awaken it costs us precious Vitae. This Vitae must be replenished. Just to survive for a month takes between four or five mortals drained to death, or twice that many drained to slight anemia. And yes, if you don’t kill your food you can reuse them later on, but still, for even one of us to survive it takes plenty of mortals. And that is just survival. If you spend your Vitae on other things, such as appearing human so you can hunt kine in public, then you need to replenish even more. Plus, you have to be sure there are plenty of mortals in a city who are not being fed on, to make the occasional mortal who remembers the Kiss look like a lunatic. The Masquerade has to be maintained, after all. The point is that the kine are always going to outnumber us. So what do we do? Run from them? No.
We use them.
There are exceptions, but most kine are weak-minded, simpering little sacks of blood who will gladly sell out their grandmother for a few bucks. Let’s face it, most kine are as selfish as they come, and they will do anything if they think they can get away with it. How many kine actually follow the speed limit when there are no cops around? Let’s be serious here.
We are in a position to offer them so much. Power. Wealth. A superpowered hitman who can take out their enemies. And they, in return, can offer us much. Allies make the city move. Do you think the Prince controls the flow of the city through sheer force of will? Do you think he drops in on a City Council meeting and tells them the way it’s going to be? No. The city council probably does not even know that the Prince exists. But you can bet he’s got friends in Knoxville’s business district. And more in city hall. And probably a few in the media. And a few more in the police department. And those friends will go to city council meetings. Those friends will file papers. Those friends will sign contracts. Those friends will rig votes.
See how that works? The kine of the city are your tools, the hands you use to grasp for power. But how to get them? Listen up, neonate, you’re going to learn something.
Seduction, Bribery, and Blackmail
Everyone has their price. No, forget about the movies and the myth of the uncorruptable man, everyone has their price. The key to gaining allies is finding that price, and paying it.
So maybe there’s a meeting of Knoxville’s elite at some high class function. So you put on the Blush of Life and stroll in wearing your best outfit, radiating power and charm. You hobnob, you flirt, you chat, and by the end of it all those upper class darlings are eating out of your hand. So much so that, as long as you keep feeding them those whiffs of power and prestige that they crave, they’ll be glad to make sure you hear about all the latest art shows, parties, and gossip among the jet set.
So maybe there’s some local bureaucrats who have dreams of sitting next to the mayor someday, or maybe even running for state legislature. And maybe you manage to find out some dirt on their political enemies. You arrange for it to fall into their hands, and suddenly their political star is rising… and they know they owe it all to you. That’s worth a few favors. Make sure you keep records of all your transactions, just in case they start pretending they don’t know you.
And then there’s those cops on the beat. Good, upstanding guys. Pillars of the community. Of course, that’s only because no one knows about Lieutenant Joe’s drinking problem. Or Detective Chuck’s mistress. Or that little girl and the incident that Officer Ted crossed state lines to get away from. The kine don’t know, but you know. And you make sure they know you know. And if they want that secret to stay with you, well, they’ll have to do the occasional favor.
The most effective method is to use all three. Seduction, bribery, and blackmail. Have dirt on them that they cannot afford to get out. That makes sure they will not turn on you. Find out what they want, and start giving it to them in small doses. That makes sure they do not want to turn on you. And do it all with such panache and style that they are swept up in the seductive power of it all. Sex is fine, but the real seduction is that feeling of being part of the in crowd. Being part of the movers and shakers that they’ve always suspected control the world from the shadows. That kind of power intoxicates, and will make sure they love you for what you do to them.
Using Your Pawns
So you have your allies. How do you use them? Generally speaking, you shouldn’t try using your allies more than once a month at the most. Any more than that and even the most devoted will start balking. After all, they want a powerful and mysterious ally, not a slavedriver. With that economy in mind, there are a few things allies are very good for.
- Investigation. Oh sure, we’ve all got contacts who feed us information, but true allies can do even more than that. Allies can actually go out and look for information. They can run investigations. They can probe into people’s lives. And they can give us the sweet results.
- Research. It’s nice to have a few eggheads under your sway. Let’s face it, we live in a world of both magical power and advanced technology, and I don’t know about you but they did not teach quantum physics in school when I was alive. Just make sure that whatever you send your allies to research does not threaten the Masquerade.
- Muscle. All allies can provide muscle. Just sometimes the muscle’s not physical. Sometimes it is. If you’re in tight with a street gang, they can lean on a local business until it folds, or make sure some undesirables “disappear”. But even the rarified dandies of the upper class have muscle. Social muscle. Political muscle. It might be crude, but sometimes the best way to remove an obstacle is with force.
- Acquisition. Sometimes you need something. Something your allies have access to. Maybe you want your buddies in the underworld to get you some armor piercing bullets. Maybe you want your friends in business to fetch you some confidential employee records. Allies can get you things.
- Overwatch. Let’s face it, you are not the only power player in the city. Each and every one of your fellow Kindred, except the newest of the new, have allies as well, and that’s not even counting the other supernatural creatures in the night, or even just plain mortals. A lot of times knowing what is being done for other people is the difference between life and death. So you can tell your allies to keep an eye out within their sphere of influence. Have allies with the Police? They’ll tell you if someone called in some favors to cover up a crime. Have allies with the media? They’ll tell you if someone used their influence to kill a story. Overwatch. That lets you know what everyone else is doing.
- Sabotage. This is where things get fun. So you have allies with City Hall. And so does your rival. And you know he’s looking to get a particular ordinance passed that will rezone some land he wants to develop. And you’re a vengeful, undead creature of the night, so you tell your allies to block that ordinance. Why fight your foes directly, when you can have the kine do it for you? Sabotage.
Of course, there are lots of other things allies can do as well. Just about anything you can think of. Use your imagination.
How To Make Mortals Effective
Mortals fail. A lot. They fail all the time. Let’s face it, your allies are not supermen. They are average men. And a Kindred is worth ten average men. So it’s not just enough to tell your allies to do something. You have to rig things so that what they do is successful. Here’s a few tips on that.
- Stick to their sphere. Allies aren’t like you. They don’t have their fingers in every pot throughout the city. So understand that your allies aren’t going to be able to do anything outside their sphere of influence. Allies in City Hall aren’t going to be that effective at arranging a sting operation. Allies in the Media aren’t going to be that effective at cooking bank books. Your allies have limited abilities.
- Stick to their level of influence. We all have allies (unless you’re brand new at this), but we don’t all have the same amount of allies. Some of us may only have a few allies, maybe a few beat cops. Someone else may have their hooks in the entire department. Those few beat cops might be able to erase a parking ticket, but they’re not going to be able to call off a citywide manhunt. If you tell them to they will try, and they will fail, and they will have been useless. Instead, have them do something that is more their speed. Maybe steering the investigation away from your Haven, for instance. And keep building that influence, until one day you’ll be able to call off a manhunt… or organize one.
- Help them out. Remember how I said a Kindred was worth ten mortals? Sometimes the best thing you can do is actually work with your allies. I don’t mean side by side, obviously that would be a Masquerade breach waiting to happen. But if you’ve sent them on an investigation, think about taking some time to investigate the same thing, and coordinate your information. Allies are much more effective if they have one of the immortal undead directly coordinating them.
- Don’t break the Masquerade. This should be a no-brainer, but Kindred tend to forget that their allies don’t think we are Vampires. All they think is that we are powerful, and perhaps creepy and eccentric, mortals. Keep it that way. Allies are not blood-bound to you. They are not trustworthy. Do not tell them our secrets, or they will blab, sure as the sun rises.
- Repay your favors. Like I said, allies are not under the Vinculum. They do things for you only because they think they will get something out of it. Make sure they do. Even if you have blackmail material on them, treat them well. Mortals have an annoying tendency to grow a spine if you keep taking and taking and never give anything in return. And I don’t just mean money, no. Give them something tangible. Spend your time to do things for them. You can ask them what they want, but it’s even better if you surprise them. Mortals love that crap.
Hope that helps. Remember, you can’t trust the kine. You can only use them.