A vampire instinctively spends their time monitoring and measuring their place in society, comparing their station against others. They know their rank relative to others and are keenly aware of any social ascent or decline. Status is the game mechanic used by Mind’s Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade to express this alien behavior and translate it into out-of-game terms.
All status traits associated with a Cainite (or an Alternate Identity) are innately known and understood by all other Anarchs. For each dot of the Leadership skill a vampire possesses, they can learn the details of another vampire’s specific status trait, once per night. The following information is learned via this method:
- Name of the patron who awarded the status trait, or who proposed the idea if it was awarded by popular acclaim
- Location where the status trait was earned
- The story of how and why the status trait was awarded
All player characters are considered Accepted into the Anarch Revolt. Characters can only be accepted into one sect at a time – willingly being Accepted by the Ashirra or Camarilla would automatically cast a character out of the Anarch Revolt. The only exception to this rule is a character who possesses the Alternate Identity background at rating 4 or 5. A character’s Alternate Identity may be Accepted by another sect, and it may receive status and rank of that sect. However, if the Alternate Identity is discovered, the character automatically loses their acceptance, as well as all status, rank, and benefits of that sect.
Once a vampire has been Accepted by a sect, they may hold positions and earn status traits in that sect. A status trait is a measure of a vampire’s reputation. It represents a small amount of power and influence. When a character expends a status trait, they are using their political leverage in vampiric society. Vampires reward, punish, and reap benefits by expending status, and they often hold specific traits of status that are particularly applicable to their long-term goals. Status traits can be either positive or negative.
Positive Status (Abiding, Innate, or Fleeting)
Positive status traits have two mechanics: a passive mechanic and a spent mechanic. When your character possesses a trait of positive status, the character continually gains the effect of that status trait’s passive mechanic. Passive effects of status traits can’t be stacked. Even if you possess a status trait twice, when the passive effect is triggered, your character gains the benefit only a single time.
You can expend a status trait to invoke its spent mechanic. A character can expend more than one status at a time, utilizing their spent effects simultaneously. Unlike passive effects, a character can spend two status with the same trait name at the same time and gain both spent effects. If you spend a status trait, you lose the trait’s passive bonus.
If a spent trait was abiding or innate, it will return at the beginning of the next game session. At that time, your character regains the passive benefit of the trait. Spending an abiding or innate status trait has no effect on the sect position or intrinsic quality that provided the status; your character still retains the position or the quality. If a fleeting trait is spent, it does not return.
The fourth category of status is negative status. Negative status is given as a punishment for poor social behavior, and it has detrimental effects. A negative status trait cannot be spent and remains until removed or until its duration expires.
Earning and Expending Status
A character earns status traits by many different means: through deeds, through popular acclaim, through patronage from more influential vampires, or through holding leadership positions within the sect. Positive status traits fall into three categories: abiding, innate, or fleeting.
A status trait can be expended with a simple action. To do so, the vampire must make some sort of announcement or proclamation regarding the status they are expending and the outcome of the expenditure. It might also be helpful to make sure that a Reckoner or even the Head Reckoner (an NPC played by one of the Storytellers) is present.
Abiding status traits are usually earned by holding a position within the Anarch Revolt. So long as a vampire continues to hold that position, abiding status refreshes at the beginning of each game session.
If a character loses a position during a game, any unspent abiding status they were carrying from that position is immediately removed (they cannot expend it as they are losing the position). Even if the character has more than one sect position, they do not gain the second position’s abiding status during this game. When a character gains a new sect position, they gain that position’s abiding status immediately – but if taking over from a previous holder, any expended status traits are not refreshed until next game.
Innate status is similar to abiding status, but rather than being granted by a position, it is a part of some intrinsic quality possessed by a vampire, usually a merit or a flaw. So long as your character has the intrinsic quality, this status refreshes at the beginning of each game session. Some innate status traits, such as those granted by flaws, are detrimental to the character.
Fleeting status traits reflect a character’s notable deeds, achievements, or important patrons: deeds lauded by the Anarch Revolt. You receive fleeting status in one of three ways:
- Patronage from another vampire, given when a patron expends their own status to grant fleeting status to another. The recipient of patronage status loses their trait if the patron dies or if their patron loses the position that allowed them to offer the patronage. A character can refuse a patron’s offer of a fleeting status trait, though to do so is considered insulting.
- Popular acclaim: any Anarch may publicly nominate another Anarch (who must be in a different Affinity) for fleeting status, based on their deeds. If a majority of those present in the main room of the game agree, and there are Anarchs from at least three different Affinities present, the individual gains the relevant fleeting status trait (it must be one that says it can be awarded by popular acclaim). A character can receive only one fleeting status in this manner per game.
- Fleeting status can also be granted by the Storytellers when a character accomplishes great deeds.
If a character does not accept a fleeting status at the time it is earned (through deed or patronage), it is lost. These traits can be expended once, and they do not refresh after being used. Once a character receives a trait of fleeting status, they may hold the trait without spending it for as long as they wish. The status remains on their character sheet until expended.
A character can possess a maximum of 5 fleeting status traits at any time. If a character with 5 fleeting status earns or is granted another fleeting status, the player must choose which status they will keep, up to a total of 5. They cannot immediately expend a status as that status is being replaced; the status removed is lost without expenditure.
Negative status traits reflect stains on a character’s reputation, as an obvious reminder of disfavour. Negative status is always well-known to other Anarchs. A character with negative status must wear a ribbon (provided by us) for each negative status trait they possess. Any player can ask to learn the specific negative traits a character possesses: they must receive a truthful (OC) answer.
A character can give another individual negative status by expending a specific abiding or fleeting status, as per a named trait’s specific spent mechanic. This status cannot be refused.
Each negative status places a censure, or a restriction, on the character who possesses the trait. These prohibitions are not magical or supernaturally enforced; they are social restrictions that the character is expected to obey for the period they holds this negative status. If a sect officer discovers that a character is in violation of a censure, the censured character suffers the penalties assigned by the trait’s mechanical systems.
Unless removed, negative status lasts for a period of time specific to each status. The character who levied the negative status trait in the first place can remove it for free; other characters can also remove negative status by expending certain specific status traits.
A vampire’s status cap is the maximum number of status traits that vampire can carry into game. A vampire can carry the following into game:
- All status from one abiding status source
- All innate status
- Up to 5 fleeting status
- All negative status currently affecting the character, with no maximum number
Status bans represent peer deterrents and general denunciation. Those who adhere to the Revolt’s ideals are honored as epitomes of the sect’s ideals. Those who behave in opposition to those standards are hampered and limited in their ability to socially advance.
A status ban reduces the maximum number of fleeting status traits a character can possess. If a vampire is guilty of one of the “offences” listed under the sect’s bans, then their maximum fleeting status traits are reduced. If such a reduction occurs during a session, any positive status traits the character holds above the number proscribed by that ban are immediately lost before they can be expended.
- Lesser Ban: A lesser ban is a petty prejudice, one that has limited or minor effects, causing individuals suffering under this ban to be at a mild disadvantage in their society. A character under a sect’s minor status ban has her maximum possible number of fleeting status reduced to 3. Abiding status is unaffected.
- Greater Ban: A greater ban significantly censures an individual’s political ambitions. A character under a sect’s major ban has her maximum possible number of fleeting status traits reduced to 1. Abiding status is unaffected.
A vampire’s Beast always seeks to exert dominance over others. It will encourage and entice a vampire to demonstrate her superiority through confrontation of any kind, whether physical or political. The symbel, or political contest, began in ancient times as a method of establishing social dominance and venting this aggression without risking violence and the Final Death.
For a symbel to be legitimate, the outcome of the game must be genuinely in doubt. If onlookers believe a player is deliberately making an easy game or providing too much advantage to one side, the game will fail, and both sides will lose their risked status with no benefit. Symbel games must be public, although not all participants need to know that such a game is being played. In order for a symbel’s status changes to take effect, a group of peers/people must see you play the game and win.
In a symbel duel, two vampires each choose one trait of status, offer to risk it, and agree upon terms for the game. This status may not be expended while it is risked, but it does provide its passive bonus during this time. The loser of the game loses her risked status as though it had been expended.
Only one individual can be declared the winner of a symbel duel. This is the individual who accomplishes the goal of the duel first, or most successfully, depending on the terms of the symbel. That vampire gains the fleeting status Victorious, and the vampire who started the symbel duel loses their risked status. If no one is successful in the duel, the vampire who started the symbel duel keeps their status, and Victorious is not awarded.
If the results of this type of symbel are subjective, the characters creating the game can either agree on a victor or choose a third party to judge the results of the game. A character who has no status to expend cannot play in this type of symbel game, as they cannot fulfill the requirement of risk.
The Symbel Ordeal
The second version of this game is known as a symbel ordeal. In this version of the political competition, a single individual risks a status and publically announces a goal. All those who qualify for the competition are welcome to contend, so long as they are willing to obey the rules of the contest. The benefactor of the competition cannot win their own symbel ordeal, though they may compete to increase the difficulty.
The individual who accomplishes the goal of the ordeal (first, or most successfully, depending on the terms of the symbel) gains the fleeting status Victorious. If there are no successful individuals, or if the benefactor wins, the benefactor of the game keeps their status and Victorious is not awarded – a benefactor who wins their own symbel ordeal will be putting themselves at risk of accusations of running a symbel where the outcome was not genuinely in doubt, though, in which case they would lose their status and Victorious would not be awarded to anyone.
If the results of a symbel ordeal are subjective, the benefactor is the final arbiter, determining the victor of the game. A character who has no status to expend is welcome to compete in a symbel ordeal, as it requires no risk of status on the part of the participant. A symbel ordeal must have enough competitors to make it worthwhile, at least enough to challenge the participants to do their best.