This essay was written for the Vampire: The Requiem chronicle in the Mind’s Eye Society. It was designed to be a Feature Game of the Month. Since then, I’ve seen variations of this game played in Vampire: the Requiem and Vampire: The Masquerade all over the world.
”’That is the true beginning of our end. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 5. 1)”’
The most dangerous battles of the Jyhad do not take place in the streets or abandoned warehouses. These battles are not fought with fang or claw or blade.
True power lies in the proper word at the proper time, being seen at the right place at the right time. True power lies in building relationships and alliances over the centuries. Perhaps that is why so many elders and luminaries risk traveling to social events in foreign cities. And perhaps that is why so many risk holding such affairs.
Elysium is what makes this possible. This hallowed ground allows us to meet and discuss affairs of state and affairs of our person Requiems.
The Carthian Movement wishes to announce a game, in honor of Prince Belson opening an Elyisum in a grand estate on Bainbridge Island on the 15th of this month.
There will be contacts and alliances to be made, but also dangers. Those that swim in dangerous waters shall have to watch for the sharks seeking blood. Strict protocol will be observed and those that fail to understand the danger will be the first to bleed. The shining stars of the evening will be those that have learned to dance, to laugh, and to make the scene. Reputations will be made and broken.
A Game of Wit and Manners
In honor of the opening of the Elysium, we will be celebrating by playing a game of scandal and reputations. White poker chips will represent one’s potential in society (their standing). White poker chips will be exchanged for red poker chips or blue poker chips. Red poker chips are given to those who are crass and unsuitable. Blue poker chips are given to those who show an understanding of proper society.
At the conclusion of the evening, the chips will be counted. Each red poker chip will cancel a blue poker chip. At the end of the evening, Prince Belson has agreed to reward the vampire with the highest number of highest understanding.
OOC Game Mechanics
At the beginning of the evening, you will receive one white poker chip for each level of city status your character possesses. Note: Characters from cities other than Tacoma/Kitsao will be at a -1 penality to their city status for the purpose of this game as per the Requiem rules.
In addition, characters with a status of 4 or higher in clan status or covenant status will be granted an additional poker chip.
All kindred present will start with a minimum of one white poker chip. You will exchange these poker chips during the night as you participate in the intrigue and social politicking of the evening.
Note: This is based on a historical game played in the Courts of France with flowers. We are substituting poker chips for flowers due to out of character cost.
”’White Poker chips:”’
This color of poker chip represents how well regarded the vampire is in society, and thus their potential for action.
White Poker chips exist to be exchanged with a judge for either a red Poker chip (to represent an insult) or a blue Poker chip (a compliment), which you will then present to the target of your insult/compliment. This exchange just represents your character insulting or complimenting another, it does NOT represent loss of status on your or their part. All exchanges must be public and involve at least one of the judges.
At the end of the evening, the poker chips will be counted and the Prince will reward the worthy (those with many blue poker chips) and punish those who have garnered the ire of the city (those with many red poker chips). Those who have standing but remain aloof (have many white poker chips left) also will face chastising.
Only one Poker chip may be given per “action” i.e., five people can’t give the same character a red chip at the same time for the same thing.
It’s expected that you will “use up” all your white poker chips over the course of the evening.
Blue Poker chips:
This color of poker chip represents the true ideal of nobility, and represents a compliment. This Elysium is a chance to make a name for your character via witty conversation, devastating insults, and social networking. When you witness another character shining like a true social predator, you exchange a white poker chip for a blue poker chip and present the blue poker chip to the character. The presentation should be accompanied with an IC character compliment such as “Well played, sir!”
Red Poker chips:
This color of poker chip represents scandal and falling out of favor. Not everyone is suited to swimming in these dangerous waters. Whenever you witness a character breeching protocol or status, you exchange a White Poker chip for a Red Poker chip and may present it to the offending character. The presentation should be accompanied with an IC character insult such as “You sir are a cad!”
For each level of Socalize the character possesses, the player will be given an etiquette card. The player may refuse to accept a red poker chip or argue on behalf of an ally by expending an etiquette card. This should be accompanied by appropriate roleplay. The white poker chip is returned to its owner.
Judges are just that, judges for the game. They can be identified by a yellow ribbon. A judge must be present at every exchange to mark down the progress.
Appealing to the Judges: There is a another way that a character may refuse a red poker chip, the character may appeal to any of the judges and ask that the shame be reflected back upon the offender by giving up a white poker chip of your own to the harpy. The judge then decides who receives the red poker chip, returning a white poker chip to the victor. Your permanent status will have a strong effect on how these discussions with the Judges go.
Counting the Poker chips:
At the end of the night, the poker chips will be counted. Blue poker chips count as 1 positive point. Red poker chips count as 1 negative point. The top character with the most blue poker chips will receive a special prize. In the event of a tie the tie will be decided by player’s remaining etiquette cards.
Those with the most red poker chips will face some humiliation at the end as well as negative status from the Prince.
Those with the most white poker chips left over will face the loss of positive status. Ties are broken by currying favor with the Prince.
This FAQ is designed to lay out a couple of possible ways your character can get involved in the social game.
”’I play a ghoul and I don’t get any white poker chips. How can I get involved?”’
For the purposes of this game, ghouls are very much in the same position as the historical lower level courtesans in a European Court. They walk in the halls of power and if they are clever, they can influence events. It was not uncommon for nobles to send their children to foreign courts to learn etiquette and make ties. Daughters and sometimes sons were expected to dance and entertain the allies and potential allies of their parents. Ghouls have this opportunity.
”’How do I know when I should give a red poker chip? Can I just tag the people I don’t like?”’ Granting a red poker chip is dangerous.
If you don’t have a solid reason, real or imagined, the judges might turn on you and reject it. If your target has more status than you, the judges are more likely to side with your enemy.
Worse, you’ve made an enemy.
Reasons for granting a red poker chip might be:
- Crass or rude behavior
- Disrespecting of status or protocols
- Ignorance of vampire society
- Awkward social behavior
- Ill-behaved retainers or ghouls
- Appearing weak in public
- A vampire that loses control and frenzies
- Using disciplines on others. This is completely gauche.
- Physical Violence
Why would I risk giving a red poker chip?
Granting a poker chip is dangerous, but not granting one can be equally dangerous.
The sharks are swimming and if you aren’t with the sharks, you’re dinner. If someone is able to bully you or get away with violating decent manners, then you suffer the consequences.
And the risks can be worth the reward. One of the ways to gain a blue poker chip is crush your enemies in a public manner. Berating your social enemy over his lack of social skills is impressive. Causing your enemy to lose control means that you win.
”’How do I gain a blue poker chip?”’
You gain a blue poker chip by acting within the nature of being a vampire, a social predator.
Reasons for granting a blue poker chip might be:
- Eloquent behavior
- Showing respect of status or protocols
- Knowledge of vampire society
- Showing excellent manners
- Well-behaved retainers or ghouls. One way to get this is to show them off by sending them to entertain your peers.
- Showing mastery of yourself and others in public.
- Causing another to frenzy without powers, but by socially crushing them.
It sounds dangerous. Isn’t the smart thing to try to remain under the radar?
Well, yes and no. If you have three or less status, you might be able to get away with being a wallpoker chip. If you have 4 or more status, then more is expected of you.
This is a chance to make allies and contacts. You can’t win, if you don’t play.