Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Invictus Groom & The Auction House

For those who don’t know much about Vampire: the Requiem, the vampires within a particular court are generally split into five major factions (called covenants).  One of these factions, the Invictus, style themselves as nobility with extravagant titles, liege lord / vassal connections, and a focus on having lots of top quality servants.  Some of these servants are fed vampire blood to make ‘ghouls’, which has nothing to do with consuming dead flesh and everything to do with becoming besotted with the kindred that feeds them (love at third drink) and being addicted to vampire blood.

The Invictus have a covenant position called a Groom whose responsibility it is to focus on developing a good stable of humans, the same way a person might develop a stable of horses.  They might breed them over centuries, cherry pick them from the herd of humankind, or even attempt to interbreed ghouls (which is difficult) to create ghoul families who have a little of the tainted vitae as a part of their very beings.  The Invictus in a particular court might have several grooms or none at all.  Even if there is only a single groom they tend to specialise in a particular type of human flesh.

One can imagine that Invictus from other courts might even send human retainers to purchase appropriate humans for their own purposes.  Other covenants, as well, might look to the groom to purchase a human skilled in a particular manner – though this is less common for fear that the human might be Dominated or at least recognisable by the Invictus.

In my London game, James Tyler has to deal with an Invictus groom called Martha Sinclair, who was liege lord to a missing kindred.  Martha is a Ventrue ancillae of 116 and she specialises in artists, entertainers (including BBC presenters), media figures, talent scouts, agents, and the beautiful people. 

Although not a Daeva, she is close ‘friends’ with the leader of the ‘sweet salons’ held by the Daeva, Leila Grant, and has a standing invitation to attend.  She also uses the ‘sweet salons’ club, the Bright Spark, for her auctions due to the nice ambience and Leila’s impressive security.  In exchange, Leila Grant gets some of the better picks of Martha’s humans for sale as well as unwitting ‘extras’ to populate the club on ‘sweet salon’ club nights.  The two need each other and for so long as their relationship is mutually beneficial, they can remain allies.  Thus the two strive to keep the status quo working as they do enjoy each other’s company yet are old enough that they would turn on each other without some pragmatic need to bind them.

Matha’s best picks go to the elders of her covenant first, her clan second, and then the elders and older ancillae of the court third.  The better picks not yet sold (or sometimes tithed rather than sold as elders have certain expectations) are then offered to Leila Grant, then other Invictus and members of the ‘Sweet Salon’.  Finally others may purchase from the rest. 

In order to represent this, there are private offerings made to those within her covenant or clan’s elders before the auctions begin.  The first auction includes exclusive invitations to the ‘Sweet Salons’ members as well as the elders and older ancillae of the court.  The younger kindred know better than to bid against such important personages but are more than happy to bid against each other.  The second auction is for those not already sold and includes an open invitation to all members of the court – even the Carthians.

These two auctions occur twice a year.  Many of Martha’s slaves believe they are simply under contract to her as they still provide her with her revenue through perfectly mundane performances.  As part of their contract, the women must wear a fine gold necklace of interlinking hands and the men must wear large gold cuff links of a hand bound in what looks like a silk rope.  These are her symbols and woe betide any kindred who steals, ghouls, or kills a human being with such a symbol upon them. 

The Deputy Sheriff Leila Grant is Lady Sinclair’s good friend, after all.  While the elders and older ancillae will be annoyed that they might have lost the opportunity to have a good slave, they will not directly interfere.  After all, if Lady Sinclair can’t protect her humans then what good is she?  Still, they generally disapprove of such actions.

And what of the humans that are sold?

Their fates depend on their masters.  Some will become blood bonded.  Others given a ghouls’ supernatural powers.  Others will simply continue their duties, doing what they’re told according to contract and only realising their trap if ever they try to leave or start a family of their own desires.  Some will disappear, drained dry or suffering excruciating experimentations.  Perhaps one or two will even be Embraced.

If you use Martha Sinclair, or a groom like her, she could end up enemy, friend, or simply a part of an auction that they need to win on behalf of their own liege lords or mentors.

It’ll be interesting to see what James Tyler plans to do with her.  I can imagine him braving all of the issues to kill the slaver, hunter that he is.  You can read more articles from James Tyler's campaign, including a few more London NPCs and places, over here.

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