This essay was written for the Vampire: The Requiem chronicle in the Mind’s Eye Society.
To an immortal predator, wealth is not found in gold or money or possessions. These things can be achieved simply by existing. That which comes from the mortals is transitory and might disappear at a moment’s notice. Vampires have lived through the rise and fall of mortal empires and comforts.
Boons represent the wealth of a vampire. A boon is not merely a debt owed or owned. It is the formalization of a relationship between two predators. Vampires innately crave the company of other vampires. A vampire is the only creature that can understand the pain and loss one feels as the Requiem slowly winds down. Each night is a mere echo of what we felt as living creatures. Boons represent a vital connection that allows us to maintain and energize our Requiems.
The Measure of a Boon
A ”’trivial boon”’ is a minor favor that is owed between two vampires. This is something simple such as making an introduction, covering a faux pas, or warning a vampire about a potential danger. This type of boon should be freely offered and accepted, much like a business card. A trivial boon is an excellent way to start a relationship. Is there an elder you want to meet? Offer them a trivial boon. Are you afraid that you offended the Prince? Offer them a trivial boon.
A ”’minor boon”’ represents a favor that requires a significant amount of time or effort, but low risk. You might be asked to watch over someone’s property. You might be asked to save a retainer, help someone gain feeding rights for a short amount of time, or help another vampire gain control over some minor bits of influence.
A ”’major boon”’ is a risky favor that might involve risking your life or political and social capital. This might involve you fighting an enemy, protecting an enemy with your life, or supplanting your own political and social desires.
A ”’life boon”’ is a rare boon that should only be given in rare circumstances when a vampire saves the life of another vampire when not required to do so due to social circumstances. Owing a life boon can be a tragic situation. To many vampires, owing a life boon is the equivalent of being an unreleased childer. To owe a life boon is to surrender all of your own will until you have saved the life of the one that owns your life boon. Until then, you are the equivalent of vampire furniture with no will of your own.
Why Should I Owe Boons?
A vampire that owes nobody has nothing to contain or chain their actions. A vampire that refuses to play by the system is worse than a rogue. They are bound to no laws or rules. There’s nothing to keep them from killing you.
Every case of vampire on vampire death I’ve ever heard about could have been resolved by the use of boons. Yes, you read that correctly. Vampires killing vampires is a direct result of the mismanagement of boons.
Once a vampire offers a boon on a topic and that boon is accepted, the topic is never discussed again. If you insulted a vampire, offer a boon. If that insult is brought up again, the harpies will eviscerate that vampire for ignoring a boon.
Sometimes, vampires find it hard to offer boons. They feel like they are losing by owing boons. The only loss is death. The wily predator knows when to use the system for their own protection.
Once a boon is owed, a relationship is created. The vampires you owe now have an invested interest in keeping you around. After all, no one wants their debtors to suddenly go missing.
If you die, those that you owe can petition the harpy of the dead vampire to attempt to collect the boons you owe from those that have murdered you. This can act as a deterrent. If the harpy agrees that you might have a case, he will gather a meeting of local harpies within the region for a consensus and make a decision. If the other harpies feel strongly against the decision of the harpy, they can discuss possible retribution such as declaring the city of the harpy Boon Breakers.
However, this is NOT a get out of jail free card for your behavior. Vampires that attempt to abuse this system in order to escape willingly entered blood feuds find that the harpies are not amused by such tactics. It is expected that your debtors will ensure that you following the traditions and rules of vampire society and if you obviously flaunt these rules than the harpies will reject any such petition. In addition, there are a number of reasons this sort of thing might be denied such as the case of a bloodhunt, being named a boon breaker, being accused of a crime by a Prince, or participating in a blood feud.
Why Should I Try to Collect Boons?
A boon is a formalized relationship with another vampire. These relationships help you foster control over your existence and gain allies.
In addition, boons are a way to have control over your enemies rather than killing them and speeding up your own death. Forcing your enemies to submit to your will is the ultimate experience for a vampire. Why would you allow your enemies to escape so easily?
Refusing a boon from a vampire is akin to saying you believe that vampire is dishonorable. If nothing you, you should use boons on your friends to counter boons that others might have over them.
A vampire with a host of boons can call upon the skills, powers, and influences across domains and Covenants.
Boon Breakers and the Harpies
A Boon Breaker is a vampire that has refused to pay on a boon owed. It is the worse punishment a harpy can levy against a vampire that refuses to follow the system in their city. All boons owed to and from a Boon Breaker are declared null and void. This vampire exists as a rogue on the edges of vampire society.
Often, those that are owed by the Boon Breaker will hunt down and kill the Boon Breaker. Most Princes will banish Boon Breakers from their domain, least that vampire inflect the reputation of the entire city.
On rare occasions, a group of harpies will decide that an entire domain within their region has ignored prostration and act and declare an entire domain to be Boon Breakers. All Boons coming into and out of that domain are declared null and void. How many harpies are required? How long does it last? That’s the tricky thing about a Boon War. There are no clear-cut rules for this sort of thing. It all depends on the power and reputation of the harpies involved.
Domains that suffer from this sort of stigma are often considered very disreputable and many consider anyone that lives there unaligned. Sometimes entire domains go to war over boons.
Bloodhunts and Boons
A Bloodhunt cancels all boons owed and owed by a vampire. The very act of a Bloodhunt negates the existence of a vampire. A creature under a Bloodhunt is no longer considered a vampire and thus does not deserve prestation.
Crimes and Boons
A vampire that is found guilty of a crime and executed by a Prince is removed from the social system. Anyone petitioning the harpy to recover boons owed by the dead vampire in this situation is formally challenging the Prince’s Right of Destruction and thus may be severely punished.
Note: This section ONLY applies to vampires executed by a Prince for crimes against his domain. Obviously, vampires found guilty of lesser crimes keep their social existence as a vampire and boons, both owed and owned.
Vampires Faking Their Death
Vampires occasionally fail miserably in politics and some try to start over by faking their death. A wise vampire settles all outstanding affairs before attempting such a gambit.
Harpies take a very harsh stance on miscreants that attempt to escape debts to others in such a fashion. A vampire that has been caught in such a desperate move will quickly discover that all boons owed to him have been declared null and void. It is much like a mortal declaring bankruptcy. You get a chance to start over, but you have to start at the bottom.