Power at the Top
Only so many undead can be influential in a single city, so there is a limit to the number of active characters who can hold high levels of City Status. At any one time, only a single Kindred in a domain may hold City Status 5. This is usually (but not always) the Prince. Likewise, a maximum of three (3) Kindred may hold City Status 4 at any one time. These are usually the Prisci, covenant heads or Primogen. Five other valued Kindred may hold Status 3. If the maximum allowable characters already have a certain level of Status, the City Status of one of the incumbents must first be reduced somehow before another can take his place. There are no resitrictions on the number of kindred who may hold status of 1 or 2.
These limits do not apply to Kindred whose City Status temporarily rise thanks to bonuses resultant from a clan or covenant’s eminence. Thus, a Kindred with City Status 2, whose clan is eminent and who receives two bonus dots, is not counted among the five Kindred holding City Status 4, nor does he displace someone at that level. Instead, for the duration of the clan’s eminence, the character simply has as much social standing as those who have earned City Status 4 without their clan being so prominent — this doesn’t grant them any official title, but can make it difficult for others to move against them.
Note that holding an official position in a domain does not automatically grant dots of City Status or any guarantee of esteem. However, the rough equivalencies between City Status and the positions provided can serve as guidelines. Characters in official positions and with significantly lower City Status than suggested are unlikely to rest easy in their roles. A Primogen with only two dots of City Status has to tread carefully, lest he anger the Prince and find himself stripped of all rank.
The actual naming of positions other than those described here occurs purely through roleplaying. The Prince and Harpies (and to a more limited degree, the Prisci and Master of Elysium) are the most immediate adjudicators of City Status. Actual City Status dots and in-character favors and rights create a vicious circle of sorts. City Status can translate into access to the Prince and to favors, but to gain City Status, a Kindred must do favors for the Prince or Harpies. Such is the give and take of the Danse Macabre.
The Prince and the two main Harpies of a domain are unique in that they have points as well as dots of City Status. Like those of Willpower, these points can be spent for a variety of effects. They replenish on the night of the court gathering every month. If for some reason an individual stops holding a position that grants Status points, the character immediately loses access to their effects. If another character ascends to the vacant position, the new officer may use only the points that remain unspent for the month. An election or appointment doesn’t refresh the pool until the beginning of the next Gathering. To see how many Status points a Prince or Harpy has, see the sections on the individual positions, below. Note that in cities that use different names for equivalent Kindred officials, those officials follow the same basic rules.
Points of City Status can be spent to award another character a permanent dot of City Status, or to remove one. No Prince or Harpy can grant more than one dot to a single character within the same calendar month, but the official can remove more than one dot at one time (at a cost of one point per dot in either case). [Clarification: No Character may gain more than 1 status adjustment per Game and it's following Downtime period.] No Prince or Harpy can affect her own City Status with these points. They can affect each other’s traits, however. Granting each other more than one dot over the course of 12 months is a sin against the city, see “Status Sins and Deeds,”
A character’s last dot of City Status cannot be removed due to the expenditure of a Prince or Harpy’s Status points. Only the Prince and the Master of Elysium have the ability to strip that last dot and they do so without any expenditure of Status points (see below).
• The Prince: The Prince’s Status points are equal to his personal City Status (after taking into account any bonuses provided by the position of his clan, covenant and age, see below). In addition to spending Status points to grant or remove dots of City Status (as described above), the Prince has special power over the first dot of City Status that another vampire has. Granting that initial dot represents the Prince’s sanction of a Kindred to hunt in the city. The Prince can grant that first dot to any character who otherwise has no City Status, and at no cost to the newly Acknowledged vampire (in experience) or to himself (in Status points). The Prince can similarly strip a character who has (OR HAS BEEN REDUCED TO) City Status 1 of her last dot. He does so by casting the character out of the city (un-acknowledging them) or by clearly implying he no longer cares for her fate (this is distinct from an actual blood hunt; see below). In the very rare cases when he feels an entire group has betrayed the city (or his rule), a Prince may declare an entire clan or covenant unwelcome in his domain. All members of the group who have City Status 1 immediately lose that dot at no cost to the Prince’s Status points, but those with higher City Status must be stripped of it dot by dot as usual. Eminent and rival clans and the ascendant and contender covenants are immune to such sweeping declarations (see below).
• Too many or too Few Princes: There can usually be only a single Prince in a city, but there are instances when two or more rival Princes claim domain over a city and they refuse to recognize one another’s claims. In this care, calculate the total City Status dots of all active characters who support each contender. The contender with the highest total gets Status points and their related abilities. Other contenders cannot grant Status and their supporters are liable to face loss of personal Status by the winner’s decree — one reason why Kindred contenders for the throne usually keep their ambitions closely guarded. In cities with no single point of authority, the highest City Status of any of the individual Kindred involved in the ruling council (or similar body) equals the points that are at the disposal of the council to spend. Allocating them usually requires a prior arrangement among council members and the Storyteller. Say, a majority vote is needed, or anyone may access the points whenever they want to, without consultation.
• The Prince’s Harpy: The Prince can appoint a Harpy at his discretion, empowering a Kindred to grant his esteem (or to remove it). The Prince’s Harpy retains her own personal City Status dots, and gains Status points equal to the Prince’s own City Status (even if that means she has more points than dots). The eminence or ascendancy of the Prince’s clan or covenant affects his Harpy’s Status points, while her own affiliations affect only her City Status dots. Although the Harpy’s pool of points starts at the same number as the Prince’s, it is distinct — the Harpy and Prince do not share points. The Prince’s Harpy can spend them to bequeath or remove City Status dots from others, and can also act as an arbiter of prestation. She cannot serve as Prince, Priscus or a Primogen.
• The Prisci: The eldest (or most respected) members of each clan stand as the domain’s Prisci. No Kindred without appropriate Clan Status can serve as a Priscus, and if there is a dispute over who a clan’s Priscus is, the contender with the highest amount of Clan Status is generally the victor, but if the rival Clan members have equal Clan status then whom ever has the highest Clan and City Status is the victor for the purposes of all Prisci votes. If this too is equal, then it is who has majority support with in the Clan. If only a single member of a given clan has been visible or active in a domain over the previous three months, the other Prisci do not have to accept a Priscus from that clan. The Prisci have no impetus to agree or cooperate, other than that they can empower a Harpy of their own. For a domain to have a second Harpy, there must be at least two Prisci who do not also hold the title of Primogen. Without that number, the city is simply too weak to support a second Harpy. A character must gain (and retain) the support of a majority of the Prisci who are not also Primogen or Prince to be named their Harpy, otherwise they are no longer Harpy. If a majority of such Prisci cannot agree, they cannot name hold a Harpy or name a new one. No Priscus can serve as a Harpy.
• The Prisci’s Harpy: Once selected by the Prisci, their Harpy retains her own Status dots and gains Status points equal to the highest City Status among the Prisci supporting her (even if that means having more points than dots). She can spend them to grant and remove City Status dots to and from others in the domain, and can also act as an arbiter of prestation. The Prisci’s Harpy cannot serve as Prince, Priscus or a Primogen.
• The Master of Elysium: The Master of Elysium has no City Status points of his own, but can remove dots from Kindred who perpetrate violence within Elysium or who otherwise violate the institution. He does so at his sole discretion and may remove up to one dot per week from any single Kindred (and may do so to as many Kindred as he sees fit as long as they have violated Elysium in some manner). The Master of Elysium can remove a Kindred’s last dot of City of Status in this manner.
The Case of Blood Hunts
The Prince can call a blood hunt on any Kindred in his domain. Doing so temporarily removes all of the subject’s City Status dots until the matter is settled — usually with the target’s destruction. The Prince (or his successor) can reinstate a hunted character’s City Status (thus ending the hunt) at his discretion and at no cost in Status points. The succession of a new Prince (whether through peaceful means or not) immediately ends all ongoing blood hunts, unless the new Prince explicitly announces any of them to be still active. This does mean that one way out of a blood hunt is to eliminate the Prince, although a formerly hunted Kindred publicly revealed to have ended the hunt by such means immediately loses all of his City Status dots. Note that the hunt on such an offending character is not restored, but the current Prince can call a new one. A Primogen or Priscus can effectively call a blood hunt on a character who doesn’t have any dots in City Status (who thus doesn’t enjoy the Prince’s official protection). If the Prince disapproves, however, he may take steps to protect the target and punish the Primogen or Priscus (perhaps by granting and stripping Status dots as appropriate).
The Passage of Time
City Status is highly contingent on remaining socially active in a domain. A Kindred who has been present at every ball and court or whose name comes up a great deal is likely to have significant standing. Conversely, one who vanishes from sight for months on end or who slips into torpor sees her position erode very quickly.
• Activity: For every 12 consecutive calendar months that a Kindred has been active in a particular domain, acknowledged by its Prince, and has called it her home domain, she gains a dot of City Status. This automatic gain can never raise City Status above 3 and does not apply if the Prince refuses to grant acknowledgment. A Kindred may consider only one place her home domain.
• Inactivity: A Kindred who is not visibly active in her home domain for six months has her City Status halved (round down). Remaining inactive for another six months results in another halving, and so on. Long-gone Kindred become irrelevant and are forgotten in the fog of time.
The Storyteller overseeing the domain determines activity. If a player attends a game in character, that character is clearly active. Posting on in-character mailing lists or other remote activities may also qualify at the Storyteller’s discretion. Players can maintain several characters so long as activity requirements for each are upheld.
Adjudicating Status Changes
City Status is very fluid and changes largely at the discretion of the players portraying the Prince and Harpies. Storytellers always have the right to step in if they feel an official’s player is being abusive, however. Favoritism and pettiness among characters is altogether appropriate, but is unwelcome among players. To help players and Storytellers adjudicate when an increase or decrease in City Status is justified, the following table presents a series of sins and praiseworthy deeds ranked by dots in the Merit.
In general, Princes and Harpies are justified in stripping City Status from characters who commit sins at their rank of City Status or below. Meanwhile, a character who regularly does a praiseworthy deed of a rank higher than his current City Status can qualify for an increase.
Avoiding sins and praiseworthy deeds can also justify changes in Status. Those who stalwartly avoid Status sins (especially those above their current rating) may be worthy of an increase, while those who fail to accomplish the deeds associated with their current dots or below may well be in for a loss of Status. As always, individual judgment should come into play. When referring to these tables, Storytellers and players can take into account the bonus City Status dots awarded by age, eminence or ascendancy. Members of a city’s leading clan or covenant gain extra standing, but they must also hold themselves to high standards.
Example: Santini the Nosferatu has City Status 4 and is thus a very important member of the domain. He finds out that the Daeva have organized a party, inviting all the local Ventrue and Mekhet — but no Nosferatu or Gangrel. Annoyed at this display of snobbery, Santini crashes the party, appearing with a number of uninvited guests, and proceeds to let them trash the place — tipping over tables, prodding guests into frenzy, and so on. The Prince’s Harpy, outraged that someone who is held in such high esteem would dare act so boorishly, strips him of a point of City Status right then and there (since “Actively disrupting a gathering of the area Kindred” applies). The Harpy doesn't think in terms of “Santini committed a level-4 sin,” but rather states that “Santini didn’t display the grace expected from one held in such high esteem in the domain.”
Sins Against the City
Status Deeds ••••• Speaking ill of the city or its leadership in public •••• Failing to attend regular gatherings of the local undead; actively disrupting a gathering of the local Kindred ••• Hindering a local industry or resource; killing a local mortal in a suspicious manner without good cause; a Prince and Harpy exchanging City Status awards with one another more than once a year. •• Accidental public violations of the Traditions; deliberate private violations of the Traditions; murdering prominent local mortals without dire need; actively disobeying city elders • Deliberate public violations of the Traditions; wanton slaying of mortals or destruction of property; betraying resident Kindred to outsiders (Lupines, foreign vampires)
Praiseworthy Deeds for the City
Status Deeds ••••• Significantly expanding the city’s overall power, resources or reputation; assuming a position of leadership in the city •••• Expanding the city’s overall power, resources or reputation in a minor way; removing a significant obstacle or threat to local Kindred ••• Devising and implementing plans that further the goals of city elders; carrying out specific plans beyond the norm on behalf of city elders •• Actively promoting loyalty to the city’s elders; obeying the edicts of all city elders • Defending the city against outside threats; regularly attending local Kindred functions (without being disruptive)