The additional Influence rules here expand upon the systems presented in the various Minds Eye Theatre source books. They are intended to add a level of intrigue to larger games, facilitating a shadow war of characters struggling behind the scenes to maintain their tenuous grip on the mundane world.
Keeping It Fun
For the Storyteller, it is important to maintain the flavor of Influences when using them in a game. Being descriptive when reporting the results of Influence endeavors to the players is critical. Otherwise the interactions of Influences in a city will degrade into a sub-game of number-crunching, in which no story is being told at all. Much of the burden of this task falls upon the shoulders of the players themselves. When a player wishes to perform an endeavor, the Storyteller should have her give him a write-up of the activity, complete with a description of exactly how her Influences are going about executing the desired task. Examples of descriptive use of Influence are given with each new endeavor type.
Possessing and Using Influences
You cannot manage more Influence than the sum of your permanent Physical, Social and Mental Traits plus your level of Retainers (or Kinfolk). This limit counts against all of your total Influence - your combined levels cannot exceed this total. After all, there are only so many things you can do in a day.
When you exercise Influence, you expend temporary Influence Traits. The tables for various Influence areas detail what you can do with a specific number of Traits. Performing an endeavor requires a number of Traits equal to the level of the action. Therefore, with high levels of Influence, you can perform many small actions or a few significant ones. To perform the new Influence endeavors presented here (such as Attack, Growth, and Watch), you must spend Traits just as you would for endeavors on the traditional charts.
Certain levels of Influence gift you with items, money or aides. Unlike the Resources Background, money and equipment garnered with Influence does not come automatically each month. If you want a steady income from Influence, you must direct your Influence in that direction continually, and this income does not come with any associated trappings of wealth. (You'd have to buy a house and car separately, for instance.) Aides garnered with Influence generally help for only one specific task, and they usually have the equivalent of only one level of Ability in their area of skill. For more competent and readily available help, take the Allies Background.
Most cities have only a set amount of Influence in various areas. For instance, Atlanta has a great deal of Influence (Transportation), while Hollywood would have a lot of Influence (Media) and Influence (High Society). A Rust-Belt city in which manufacturing and heavy industry has all but disappeared would have very little to no Influence (Industry).
Storytellers should map out the total amount of each type of Influence to be had in the city setting. Once all of the Influence of a given type is used up, the only way to get more is to use existing Influence to grow that area of society (making new projects or sponsoring investment) or to destroy someone elses Influence and free up those resources. Also, each city may have different reflections of the Influences listed here. A city with a thriving independent film community is going to have a different picture of Influence (Media) or Influence (High Society) than a city in which the arts are being literally starved out due to budget cuts.
Types of Influences
Influence (Bureaucracy): You can manage various government agencies and bureaus. By dealing with social programs and public servants, you can spin red tape, bypass rules and regulations or twist bureaucratic regimentation to your advantage. Influence (Bureaucracy) is useful in operating or shutting down businesses, faking or acquiring permits and identification papers and manipulating public utilities and facilities. Government clerks at the city and county level, utility workers, road crews, surveyors and other civil servants are potential contacts or allies.
Influence (Church): Although the modern church has arguably less control over temporal society than it did in the Middle Ages, church policies still exert considerable influence over the direction of politics and communities. Knowing the appropriate people gives a character insight into many mainstream religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Shinto or Buddhism. (Fringe or alternative groups, such as Scientology, are the purview of the Influence (Occult).) When you exercise Influence (Church), you can change religious policy, affect the assignment of clergy and access a variety of lore and resources. Contacts and allies affected by Influence (Church) would include ministers, priests, bishops, Church-sponsored witch-hunters, holy orders and various attendees and assistants.
Influence (Finance): Manipulating markets, stock reports and investments is a hobby of many, especially those who use their knowledge to keep their wealth hidden. Although your actual available money is a function of your Resources, you can use Influence (Finance) to start or smother businesses, crush or support banking institutions and alter credit records. Clearly, such power over money is not to be trifled with. Fortunes are made and destroyed with this sort of power.
Influence (Health): Some creatures rely on connections in the medical community to acquire blood. Necromancers and practitioners of arcane arts may also require body parts or medical data to further their studies. These sorts of research and development fall under the purview of Influence (Health). Coroners, doctors, lab workers, therapists, pharmacists and specialists are just a few of the folks found in this field.
Influence (High Society): The glitterati at the top of society move in circles of wealth and elegance. Many people find such positions alluring, and they indulge in the passions of the famous and wealthy. Access to famous actors, celebrities and the idle rich grants a certain sway over fashion trends. Combined with Fame, a modicum of Influence (High Society) turns a character into a debonair darling of the most exclusive social circles. Among these circles, one finds dilettantes, artists of any stripe, old money families, models, rock stars, sports figures and jet-setters.
Influence (Industry): The grinding wheels of labor fuel the economies and markets of the world. Machines, factories and cyan-collar workers line up in endless drudgery, churning out the staples of everyday living. Influence (Industry) sways the formation of unions, the movements of work projects, locations for factories and the product of manufacturing concerns. Union workers, foremen, engineers, construction workers, manual laborers and all manner of cyan-collar workers exist among these ranks.
Influence (Legal): Since many of the operations that supernatural characters tend to undertake are at least marginally illegal, a good amount of sway over judges and lawyers is indispensable. Those who dabble in Influence (Legal) often pull strings in the courts to make sure their questionable practices go unpunished. Of course, a little Influence (Legal) is also excellent for harassing an enemys assets. Such Influence ranges from law schools and firms, to lawyers, judges, district attorneys, clerks and public defenders.
Influence (Media): Directing media attention away from ones activities is a key component of survival for some supernatural creatures. Putting specific emphasis on certain events can put an enemy in an uncomfortable spotlight or discredit a rival. With Influence (Media), you can crush or alter news stories, control the operations of news stations and reporters and sway public opinion, with DJs, editors of all varieties, reporters, cameramen, photographers and broadcasters at your disposal. At the Storytellers discretion, Influence (Media) may also allow access to the more technical areas of television, radio or movies.
Influence (Occult): The hidden world of the supernatural teems with secrets, conspiracies and unusual factions. Obviously, most supernatural creatures are aware that strange things exist out there by dint of their very existence, but acquiring hard knowledge of such things is a function of Abilities. By using Influence (Occult), you can dig up information to improve your knowledge, get inside the occult community and find rare components for magical rituals. Cult leaders, alternative religious groups, charlatans, occultists and New Agers can be found here.
Influence (Police): "To protect and serve" is the motto of the police, but these days, many people have cause to wonder who is being protected and served. That said, Influence (Police) can be very handy in protecting ones holdings or raiding the assets of another. Police of all ranks, detectives, clerical staff, dispatchers, prison guards, special divisions (such as SWAT or homicide) and local highway patrol officers make up these ranks.
Influence (Political): Altering party platforms, controlling local elections, changing appointed offices and calling in favors all fall under the purview of Influence (Political). Welltimed blackmail, bribery, spin-doctoring and sundry other tricks are the stock in trade on both sides of this fence. Some of the likely contacts and allies include pollsters, lobbyists, activists, party members, spin-doctors and politicians from rural zoning committees to the mayors of major cities or representatives in Congress.
Influence (Street): Ignored and often spat upon by their "betters," those in the dark alleys and slums have created their own culture to deal with life and any outsiders who might intrude. When calling on Influence (Street), you use your connections on the underside of the city to find the homeless, gang members of all sorts, street buskers, petty criminals, prostitutes, residents of the slums or barrios and fringe elements of so-called "deviant" cultures.
Influence (Transportation): Most supernatural creatures make their homes in defensible parts of cities. Traveling across the wilderness is difficult without this Influence, with the problems of marauding werewolves and other supernatural threats. Getting access to special supplies and services can also take a measure of Influence (Transportation). All these things can be controlled with a bit of sway over truckers, harbors, railroads, airports, taxis, border guards, pilots and untold hundreds, as well as more mundane aspects like shipping and travel arrangements.
Influence (Underworld): The world of crime offers lucrative possibilities to strong-willed or subtle leaders. Anyone talented or simply vicious enough to do so can traffic in guns, money, drugs and vice. Influence (Underworld) lets you reap the benefits of all manner of illegal dealings, and its ranks are filled with drug-dealers, bookies, hit-men, fences and criminal gangs.
Influence (University): Institutions of learning and research are the purview of the Influence (University). Access to the halls of learning can grant any number of resources, from ancient languages to research assistance to many impressionable young minds. School boards, students from kindergarten through college, graduate students, professors, teachers, deans, Greek orders and a variety of staff fill the ivy-covered buildings.
Influence Actions and Endeavors
In addition to the actions listed in the charts on each individual Influence, VampCat does use the MET Dark Epics Influence Actions.