Friday, 26 June 2015

Why Do We Own This? (Night's Black Agents)

As the Dracula Dossier nears completion, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the Conspiracy, and the assets it possesses. From the jets to the private islands, the abandoned castles and the private paramilitary force: why does the Conspiracy want these things?

Of course, the first answer is going to be, 'because it's cool,' which is perfectly acceptable. But the Director is probably going to need to know a little more than that, because the players are going to be asking questions at some point, and the Director needs to have a plausible answer. That answer could be one or more of the following:

1) Tax reasons. Yes, it's boring, but death and taxes are the two constants, and while vampires may have overcome one of those obstacles, they still have problems with the other. Whether it's a shell company that exists only to funnel money through the Caymans, or a team of forensic accountants working out of New York, there are going to be assets that exist solely to hide the Conspiracy's vast cash reserves. This doesn't have to be dull; people have bought property, art, wine cellars and other exotic assets because they hold value, or can be expected to increase in value. Possible abilities: Accounting, Art History, Bureaucracy, Criminology.

2) Citizenship. Many countries insist that, in order to do business there, you have to have local ties. China is one such country, determined to ensure that its economy is controlled by Chinese companies, and not obstreperous foreigners. Also, there may be times when it's handy to have diplomatic immunity, and for those special occasions when only the protection of the Vienna Convention will do, it's handy to have a foothold in some forgettable dictatorship. Even the Joker was once ambassador to Libya, so vampire diplomats is hardly a stretch. Possible abilities: High Society, Law

3) Plausible ownership. If your Conspiracy needs to get something done under the radar, and that something requires considerable effort, it's useful to have a front company that can get the job done. Say you need to transport delicate equipment, or coffins, from Italy to France, or to ship items from China to the US. In that case you might find it handy to already own a shipping company, an air transit service, or a meat packing plant. The ships, planes and trucks those companies own can then go wherever the Conspiracy wants, carrying whatever it wants. Given the nature of the Conspiracy, one plausible ownership asset that is likely to occur again and again is the funeral director, crematorium, cemetery, or other corpse disposal medium. After all, how else is a self-respecting vampire supposed to get hold of a bespoke, luxury coffin? Possible abilities: Traffic Analysis, Forgery (when those manifests just won't add up), Bureaucracy.

4)  Legacy item. The Conspiracy's been around for a while, and has done many things in its blood-drenched career. Who knows what it found useful to own, during the War - which war? - or before it. Forgotten caches of weapons, looted art, and terrorist groups are as likely here as drafty old castles and sinister, abandoned monasteries. Say the Conspiracy backed the Red Army Faction back in the day, when it was expedient to have a fingerhold in the far-left groups attacking the established elite. Some of those greying baby boomer bombers and assassins might still be floating about today, waiting to be reactivated. Perhaps they have some very dangerous intel locked away in their heads, or worse yet, a safety deposit box. Possible abilities: Criminology, Art History, History, Research.

5) Long Term Goal. The Conspiracy is working towards something, and in order to achieve that goal it may have its hooks in all kinds of assets. Say it intends to build a technologically advanced item, like an interstellar space ship. That means it will need technical experts, as well as copious amounts of raw materials. Those raw materials are often found in places where governments are less than stable, or there is no settled government at all. Thus a Conspiracy might find it expedient to have puppets highly placed in, say, France, so its controlled diplomats can exert political pressure through the UN and the EU, on those unstable governments. It's probably more expedient to do it that way than to control the unstable government direct, since, as the West has discovered more than once, the dictator you back today may be out on his ass tomorrow. The same Conspiracy may also find it useful to own construction companies, engineering firms, and ecological think tanks. The construction companies and engineering firms, naturally, are to extract the raw materials, but it's bound to happen that some bleeding heart save-the-fluffy-creatures protest movement will spring up when the jungle gets carved up; when that happens, it's handy to have your own ecologically minded public opinion moulder in place, to deflect criticism. Possible abilities:Bureaucracy, any of the sciences depending on the nature of the goal, Law.

6) Expediency. Sometimes you just have to break a few eggs to make that omelet, and when that unfortunate circumstance arises, it's useful to own assets that can make omelets easily. This doesn't just apply to leg breakers and gunmen, though naturally there will be plenty of those. It also applies to sneak thieves, hackers, people smugglers, narcotics dealers, forgers, and pretty much any other criminal type you can think of. It also applies to former and active terrorist groups, paramilitary organizations, and PMCs. Sandline isn't the only mercenary group which took the Wild Geese as its inspiration, after all.  Finally, it also applies to lawyers. After the dust settles, the Conspiracy will need a Kobayashi or two, to smooth over the cracks. Possible abilities: Criminology, Cop Talk, Tradecraft, Military Science.

That's it for now! Enjoy.

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