Boons and you

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Boons and you

Post  soldierforhire on Fri May 10, 2013 8:36 pm

Boons are the currency of the Kindred. If no one owes you a Boon, then you are broke. Boons are how the society works. How do the older Kindred keep everyone under control? Boons.
Boons are the single most important way the Camarilla is run. They are the only way a younger Kindred can rise in power. There is no such thing as a favor among the Kindred, there are only Boons.
Boons allow you do things. You can ask an Elder something but they can refuse. If they owe you a Boon, you can force them to do it. The Camarilla is designed so that everyone needs to do deals. Boons are the currency of the Kindred.
Unless you tell someone about your Boon it doesn’t exist. Boons have to be registered, and the natural people to keep track of Boons are the Harpies. Harpies keep records of everyone’s Boons (in some domains independent Kindred such as Followers of Set or Giovanni provide this service.)
In certain cases, clever Kindred do not register their Boons with their own Harpy, but rather with Harpies outside their Domain. This way, no one knows who has a record of who owes whom. Another way to register Boons is to have it publicly announced. If it is publicly announced to and by the Harpy, the Boon is registered. Only in the case of secret deals does writing it down become important. A few enterprising Kindred merely write down the Boon and get the Boon giver to sign it along with a witness. The importance of making sure a record of the Boon exists cannot be underestimated. If there is no record of the Boon there is nothing to make other Kindred uphold it.
This leads into the nastiest part of all this: not repaying a book when requested. Failing to respond to a Boon is a really bad thing. If someone is discovered to have defaulted then they get it in the neck. They are undermining the currency of the Camarilla and all it takes is for many to do this and Boons become worthless.
Those who do face a harsh IC penalty. They considered to have zero Status, are often ostracized and exiled from their home Domain. Their assets and goods are free to be seized by any Kindred: their Ghouls, their Influences, and money is open to be taken. Some Princes may even choose to call a Bloodhunt on the offender.
Primogen who refuse their debts are automatically assumed to be representing their entire Clans locally. Princes will suffer an automatic motion of Bad Standing that does not require a Symposium to ratify. If a Prince defaults and is publicly announced to have defaulted (through a Tribunal or Symposia), the Bad Standing is automatically assumed to have passed. On the other hand, if the Prince has been lied about and it is proven that they where lied about, then the one who brought the allegation (another Prince) suffers the same fate. Clan Heads are judged the same way, with the added effect of the entire Clan receiving the same punishment.
There is a weakness here: Someone could say someone else has defaulted when they haven’t. That is called false witness. Bring false witness against someone and your life is forfeit with no recourse. Society recognizes you brought false witness and they know you have to die. In order to prevent false witness from ever happening, parties make sure that either the Boons are announced or that both are there when it is recorded.
95% of Boons should be between levels one to three (Trivial, Minor and Major Boons). Rank Four (Blood) Boons should be rare and involve the spilling of blood and risking of life to fulfill.
If the Clan Head of the Ventrue ends up owing a Life Boon to someone, it puts the Ventrue into a very difficult position. That person can make the Clan Head do anything he wants, even betray his Clan, and the Ventrue have to accept it. If the Clan Head ignores the Boon, the prudent response would be to get a new Clan Head.
The best thing about holding a Court position is that it automatically allows you to collect Boons. If a Primogen has a Clan Member who wishes to petition a Prince, he may charge them a Boon. All those stuff and nonsense about Clan Loyalty can only go so far. Consider the argument that members of a Clan should not charge each other Boons a bit like saying no American should pay another American any wages because they are working in the same country. Boons are currency, and a Kindred must make a living.
Princes have the best position of all. Acknowledging a Kindred is the only duty they do for free, after that everything comes with a price. Someone wants to Sire? That’s a Boon. Someone wants to establish a new haven in another part of town? Boon. Someone wants to be Sheriff but not be thralled? Boon. A non-Camarilla Kindred wants to live in your Domain? Yes, you guessed it, a Boon. This way Princes collect many Boons. They either use them to prevent Praxis seizures or they allow someone else take over and quietly run things from the shadows. A Prince who doesn't charge Boons is considered weak. A Prince without Boons, is a rich man without money. They look the part but have no power to back it up.
An important clarification: When a Prince asks a city resident to do something involving the security of the Domain, he avoids owing the resident a Boon. A Domain is a Prince’s concern, so it can be said that asking for a Boon can be seen as undermining the Princes right to rule. One can only charge a Boon to the Prince if you are doing a personal favor.
So, How Do I Properly Handle Boons?
The hardest thing about Boons for many players is getting a sense of perspective on them. What each Boon means to the person giving the Boon can differ. Below are suggested guidelines to understand what it means when you give a Boon.
It should be noted that it is not possible to "combine" two boons and "upgrade" them to the next level. Two of one level do not necessarily equal the next. That being said, if you do hold multiple boons from an individual, they may be willing to exchange them for fewer of another type, but the process is entirely voluntary.
It is also important to understand that you cannot "surprise" another into owing you a boon. If you attack someone then relent right before destroying them, then the attacked does not owe you a boon. Boons are consensual and the result of something another Vampire wants. A Vampire might scream out for someone to help them in a fight, and if someone does, they can negotiate the boon afterward (with the miserly Vampire lacking support the next time), but the attacker cannot claim the reward.
As you can see, once you get above minor boons you start being in a position where everything you hold dear can be destroyed.
Many would respond by reading the below and shaking their head and saying “I am not ever going to owe anyone a Boon”. Many Princes and Primogen fear such characters, and not owing a Boon can be seen as disadvantageous. If you owe no one a Boon, you are a wild card. A title such as Sheriff or Harpy or Primogen should never be given to you because there is nothing to moderate your bestial side.
With the exception of Life Boons, boons should never equate to a form of indentured servitude. A boon can never be "held over someone's head." They are repaid by a single request, even if that instanced task takes some time (like in the case of teaching a rare lore or discipline). In the case of a Life Boon, the kindred's very existence is owed to the recipient. It is difficult to place value on one's existence.
Boons as Currency
More than any other commodity, Boons become the coin of the Camarilla Vampire (and those who wish to interact with them). A Vampire with no boons is a crazed beggar. A Vampire who owes many is considered a risk, and a Vampire who possesses many is considered rich, protected.
It is possible, even to trade boons, passing them along like dollar bills. Unlike dollars, though, Boons remain a social construct. To exchange a Boon with another Vampire, you must involve a Harpy, who will usually charge for the service (of course!), who must report the exchange at least to the other harpies (via the harpies list). This is to ensure that "double dealing" does not occur, which is when a Vampire transfers a boon to another, then tries to still cash it in. It is not required that the one to whom the Boon is held from is notified of this transfer, but it usually speeds things up when they are cashed in.
Trivial Boon
"I will do a one-time favor for the person to whom I owe this Boon. I will aid him by protecting him when I have no reason to, even if it places me into conflict with others. I agree to use a discipline for him if he requires it. I will support his political maneuver this night even if it means I have to fly in the face of my Clan or my Prince. It is a single favor that I owe. Once he has called it in, my debt is fulfilled. I will not place myself in a position to break my word nor will I betray my Clan or Prince or any Oaths of loyalty I have taken."
One-time favors, such as protecting someone for the evening, aiding someone with a Discipline, or supporting another vampire’s political move. These boons represent the most basic and common denomination of debt.
Examples of Trivial Boons:
You agree to act as a door-guard for the local Toreador Salon.
You pay off your debt by using your Dominate to alter a mortal’s memory as per your creditor’s wishes.
You agree to use your influence as Primogen to support a policy that doesn’t particularly undermine your Clan or your standing.
Minor Boon
"I will endeavor to fulfill the debt I owe: I have inconvenienced the person to whom I owe this Boon by asking him to do the favor for me in the first place. I understand that I may be inconvenienced by the favors he asks for in return. If needs be, I will secure his safe passage into a hostile city. I will reveal to him secrets I know that could endanger members of my Clan or my Domain. I will aid in destroying his enemies, whomever they may be. I shall offer physical protection for several nights. I accept this debt because I asked roughly the same of the one I owe.
Some sort of inconvenience, such as allowing safe passage through a hostile city, revealing crucial information, or disposing of a threat.
Examples of Minor Boons:
You agree to shelter an outsider, extending the protection of your hospitality to them for a period of several nights.
The Ventrue Whip allows you the use her Herd over the course of a week or two.
You trade a rare tome containing rare Malkavian lore in return for the boon.
You arrange the murder a troublesome mortal in exchange for having your debt erased.
You agree to teach the lower levels of a reasonably common discipline to an ally.
Major Boon
"I will accept that I have earned a great debt to the one to whom I owe this Boon. He has given much time, effort and compromised perhaps many things he believes in to give me this favor; thus I do return it. I understand that if required I would even teach him the immortal powers that the Embrace conferred upon me. I shall aid him in whatever political goal he so desires, even if this means openly standing against my Prince or Clan. I would, if he so wished, locate for him or give him property I own or that of others, even if gaining this property is taken at the expense of anothe
A great expenditure of time or resources on the bestower’s part. The effects of the favor usually last for many game sessions. Such debts require giving up something of considerable value, or performing a service that entails some degree of risk.
Examples of Major Boons:
You make the majority of your Influence available on behalf of your creditor for a month.
You locate and deliver a valuable historical artifact.
You agree to teach Aegis, or Astral Projection, or some other advanced power of a reasonably common discipline to an ally. Alternatively might agree to teach the lower levels of a rare or hard-to-find power of the Blood.
You agree to align yourself politically with another supporting their Praxis or bid for power, even if doing so undermines your Clan and allies.
Blood Boon
"I do accept that the person to whom I owe this Boon to is one to whom I owe many things, perhaps more than can ever be repaid. My current existence is dependent upon him. Thus, I owe him things that can never be repaid. I will place myself in danger for him. If my Blood is shed, then I care not. If this means I betray my Clan and Prince and bring him low, I care not. He has done the same for me, so I accept that I shall do it for him."
When the bestower places herself in a potentially life-threatening situation in order to help the receiver.
Examples of Blood Boons:
You agree to hold off the Sheriff while your creditor attempts to seize Praxis.
Your creditor assassinates your most bitter vampiric rival on your behalf, thus earning the Boon from you.
You divulge deep secrets of the Blood to another, knowing that should either of you be discovered, it may cost you your existence. This may include forbidden lore, or may refer to vampiric Disciplines that are exceedingly rare, or fiercely protected (Obtenebration, Thaumaturgy, etc).
You agree to wipe out a nest of Hunters, knowing they may be ready for you.
Life Boon
"I owe someone a life boon, my life, will, and body is his. The debt I owe can never be repaid unless I save his life. I am his to command for his will and purpose. I will do whatever is asked of me, and if this means that I am to die then so be it. I live only because of him and thus my life is his to command."
The bestower actively risking her immortal life for the receiver so the receiver may live.
Examples of Life Boons:
You run the target of a Blood Hunt to ground, and as Trophy claim the debt over them.
You agree to defend the object of the Prince’s wrath to the bitter end, knowing that failure will mean death for you both.
You are staked and helpless, in the clutches of a diablerist. Your rescuer has no trouble convincing the Harpy that you didn’t have it all under control.
You agree to bodyguard your creditor, knowing that the Lupines have his scent, and it’s only a matter of time.
You witness an act of diablerie, and agree to help cover it up, knowing that this makes you party to the terrible, terrible crime.
There is something not being said in the above passages. Something is being missed that is without doubt one of the most important factors of Camarilla society and one of the reasons why violence becomes so rare in areas where the protocols are strictly adhered to: compensation.
A Boon is an investment. You never know what you may need a Boon for so you take a Boon out with as many people as possible. But Boons don’t really work if the person who owes you a Boon is killed; once they are gone the Boon you where owed is lost, right?
That Boon was an investment that you had simply not cashed in yet. Now someone has destroyed your investment, and they have to compensate you, usually to the same degree of the Boon they just cost you. If you kill someone who owed someone else a Boon, they have the right to ask you to now compensate them by owning them a Boon (usually the same amount but at times more). If you fail to compensate them, you will be treated as someone refuses to repay their boons.
Remember that the entire economy of the Kindred depends upon everyone placing Boons high above all else. Failure to give them due reverence leads always to the hardest penalties.
Be careful whom you strike against for you may find you have slain your worst foe, only now to owe someone else a Major Boon because you did so.
The real secret to all this is that clever, ingenious or sneaky Kindred may actually seek out powerful, hated or influential Kindred and offer to be in their debt in order to use their name as protection. That annoying Anarch in the corner may be ripe for a good kicking but if he suddenly announces that he owes a Minor Boon to Justicar Lucinde, a Major Boon to Warlord Karsh, or a Life Boon to Etrius, you must realize that if you destroy him you will owe that person a Boon. Indeed, powerful Kindred may well find many seeking to offer their service by way of a Boon to them, in order to access this very protection. Thus some give Boons but rarely, some accept all petitions, and thus collect power and influence around them like a vortex. Because they are Elders, people perceive that they have power so they give them Boons. Their power grows, so that more give them Boons etc.
This system has many names but is mostly called patronage. It is a representation of medieval patronage and feudalism. Thus the power of the Camarilla is maintained.
The only people who are immune to paying compensation are Princes, Archons, and Justicars. If someone breaks a Prince's laws, and the Prince kills them, then the investment is lost; the same applies to Archons and Justicars. It is important to note that this protection only applies while the individual in question is executing the duties of their office or protecting their own Domain (most often by invoking the second Tradition).
If your Domain comes into Bad Standing among other Domains your Boons are invalidated until it is lifted. Make sure that your Domain remains in good standing so that your debts are valid. Of course you could always swear loyalty to another Prince and leave your old Domain (for a boon, of course).


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