King of the Hill is a system unique to Riverside Opera by which more emphasis is placed upon Influence and its role in the city. In the real world, every area described by a Laws of the Night Influence has a leader. Someone at the top of the heap who runs the show. But in the Gothic Punk World of Darkness, we all know what would become of that kind of structure—the Kindred would run it all.
Unfortunately, Riverside Opera doesn’t have a system to describe that kind of thing mechanically. So, we set out to design one. Each Influence base has an associated title (that goes on your badge), and each title comes with a power. These powers are Influence nuclear options. That is to say, their use is extremely powerful, often outside of what the system normally allows, and will likely draw swift response from other people in the city.
Before we discuss how to earn these titles, let’s go over what each one of them does first. Note: Only one character may hold a given title, and each character may only hold one title at a time. Unless stated otherwise, these powers may be used on other players.
o Title: Alderman
o Power: Red Tape – For the master of bureaucracy, tying up people or projects in red tape is an art form. Your opponents often find that they have trouble getting anything done and that the resources they committed to accomplish a goal are never freed up, either. Once per month, you may choose a character. All Influence expenditures for that character cost double until the beginning of the next game.
o Current Alderman: Ra’s Alventae Dramses
o Title: Deacon
o Power: Blessing of Purity – By using your pull within the church, you are able to call down blessings of faith upon those who need wisdom and patience. Once per month, you may choose a character. That character gains their choice of an extra Self Control card or an extra Willpower Trait during the next game session.
o Current Deacon: Lizzy Cohen
o Title: Chairman of the Board
o Power: Wealth Beyond Avarice – The Chairman of the Board is not someone who lives by normal people’s standards. Oftentimes, you live so far beyond the means of others that you forget what it’s like to be one of the little people. A gold plated private plane? You just bought your second one. Money is no longer an object. You gain the benefit of 3 additional Resources each month. This bonus can bring your total above Generational limits. When losing this title, you no longer have the ability to claim such wealth and avarice, though anything you purchased with those extra Resources remain yours.
o Current Chairman of the Board: Jaz Dear/Phoebe Taylor
o Title: Chief of Medicine
o Power: Let the Blood Flow – For a Kindred steeped in the medical field, there is only one thing that really matters: Blood. Your finger is so close to the pulse of the medical field (pun intended) that you want for no Vitae. Each month, choose one: You need not participate in the initial feeding challenge at each game (instead, you begin the game at full blood); OR you may take 15 minutes out of game to refill your blood pool to full. If used on the target of Dragnet (see: Police, below), do Feeding Challenges as normal.
o Current Chief of Medicine: None
o Title: Trendsetter
o Power: That’s so in Right Now – To be a Trendsetter is to have all the power that really matters. You decide what is cool and what is gauche and whether or not calling things cool and gauche is socially appropriate. At the beginning of each game session, you may give any character (including yourself) the Status “Fashionable” or give another character the Negative Status “Unfashionable.” These Status Traits last until the beginning of the next game. Any character who engages a Fashionable character in a Status Challenge must bid an additional Status Trait. Any character who is Unfashionable must bid an additional Status Trait in all Status Challenges. These Traits may only be bestowed or removed by the Trendsetter.
o Current Trendsetter: Charlotte Rockefeller
o Title: Tycoon
o Power: Crafty – The Tycoon has access to cutting edge manufacturing techniques and machinery. Because of such connections, once per month, you may reduce the number of Abilities required to Blueprint an item by three (to a minimum of one) and reduce the Difficulty of both the Blueprint and Build Challenges of that item by three.
o Current Tycoon: Redfinger
o Title: The Honorable
o Power: Objection! – Only those with the highest command of law can rise in the ranks to earn the right to be called “the Honorable.” Your mastery of law is such that your prowess has transferred itself to be applicable in the realm of the Kindred. Elders and Neonates alike are at the mercy of your ability to argue your case, and when you throw your weight onto one side or another, you decide the fates of lives and even cities. Once per month, you may dictate the outcome of a single Status Challenge.
o Current The Honorable: Lily Alice Highmore
o Title: Executive Producer
o Power: Spin City – The Executive Producer has their finger on the pulse of the news. You use your skills to spread (dis)information like a weapon. Once you decide that something is or ought to be true, people (and Kindred alike) start to actually believe it. You may write one of the rumor cards that are distributed by the Storyteller each month. Rumors must be given to the Storyteller at least one week before the game. Rumor cards created by this power are guaranteed to be handed out to at least one player.
o Current Executive Producer: Charlie Foster Offdensen
o Title: Master
o Power: Secrets of the Arcane – The Master operates in the shadowy underbelly, the part of the World of Darkness that goes bump in the night. Your knowledge and reach in the occult are unmatched. You may purchase one level of any Discipline per month without a teacher, so long as you meet the requirements to purchase it. You may even buy banned Disciplines with this power, with ST approval.
o Current Master of the Occult: Hedwig Morningstar
o Title: Commissioner
o Power: Dragnet – The Commissioner has the entire police force at his fingertips. With a word, you can make someone’s life hell. Choose a character. That character suffers from near constant police surveillance during the month. That character automatically fails his or her initial Feeding Challenge at the beginning of the game and begins the game with only 4 Blood Traits. At events where Feeding Challenges are not performed (i.e., at a convention game), the target of this power still only enters the game with 4 Blood Traits. Additionally, if there are Hunting Challenges before the game, a character affected by this power may only hunt once, not twice as usual. If used on someone affected by Let the Blood Flow (see: Health), do Feeding Challenges as normal.
o Current Commissioner: Vinnie Diamonte
o Title: Councilman
o Power: Arbitrary and Capricious Lawmaking – When a Councilman decides that something ought to be a certain way, laws get passed. More often than not, however, those laws have nothing to do with public safety—they’re all about personal gain. Once per month, you may pass one local law, no matter how ridiculous. You may also repeal any law created by this power once per month.
o Current Councilman: Alexander Gentry
o Title: Triple O.G.
o Power: Put a Cap in Their Asses – The street is unforgiving, just like the Triple O.G. You sow chaos with your foot soldiers, and people quake in fear that they might be your next target. Once per month, you may choose an Influence base and a player character. You may remove up to three points of Influence that player possesses in that Influence base (not permanently, just for the month). This power cannot lower a character’s Influence in that base below 0. This power does not have any effect on Influence granted by a character’s Clan Advantage or Influence that has been loaned to a character. If a character has already bid (see below) or spent said Influence, this power will occupy any remaining Influence in that base.
o Current Triple O.G.: Stephen Grey
o Title: Union Boss
o Power: Extreme Reach – The Union Boss is the ultimate arbiter of how people and things move around. You don’t have any patience for delays (unless, of course, you caused them), and your reach is beyond the pale of most other people and Kindred in the city. You may use Influence, Contacts, or Allies outside of the city of Memphis once per month; OR you may shut down any part of Memphis entirely—until the beginning of next game, no player characters may enter or leave that part of town without your express consent. (Note: Influence, Contacts, and Allies only pertain to the mortal world, not the inner workings of the Camarilla. Also, when shutting down a portion of the city, you may choose any size area you like, from the entire city to a single house.) A character who has been barred from moving around an area may leave by suffering 3 levels of Aggravated damage. This damage cannot be mitigated or prevented by Fortitude. Additionally, whenever a character breaks through the blockade, the Union Boss is immediately aware who broke it and where they did so.
o Current Union Boss: Morgan Stroud
o Title: Kingpin
o Power: This is My City – The Kingpin knows what is going on at all times, and he has an organized group of murderers and informants at his back. At will, you may look at any other Influence board without cost, though only the Kingpin may use this part of the power. Additionally, once per month, you may call a hit on another player character or human NPC. Player characters enter the game with one Aggravated wound. Human NPCs are dead. If used on human NPCs, this ability removes one dot of Retainers, Herd, or Allies from another player character for the month.
o Current Kingpin: Xaviour Valest
o Title: Dean
o Power: Boundless Research – Owning access to the halls of knowledge is the best part about being the Dean. You can rally students or scientists or academicians to your cause and solve the world’s greatest problems. You gain an additional Crafting Challenge per month, but that Challenge may only be used to create Blueprints. Also, you may ask the Storyteller one Lore-related question per month without engaging in the usual Static Mental Challenge.
o Current Dean: Max Von Stauffenberg
The use of one of these powers does not constitute an Influence move. As such, they cannot be blocked by the use of other powers or Influence (such as Red Tape, the power of the Alderman). When using these powers, it becomes publically known which power was used, the name of the person who used it, and who was the target.
The use of powers is instantaneous.
These powers are so strong that, in order to balance them a bit, it must be public knowledge who is responsible for a given use of a power. We want them to be fun to use, but we also don’t want them to be used arbitrarily.
To that end, in addition to getting a title and having the associated power, anyone who owns one of these positions will also have the title printed on their name badge for everyone to see.
How to Earn a Title
Titles will be decided by Influence auction. At each game session, players will bid Influence of a particular base to attempt to become the leader of that base. Bids start at 5 Influence. When a bid is placed, it will be made public knowledge through the Riverside Opera Twitter feed, and all current bids for each base will be updated on the Influence board as well. At the end of the game, bids will become final, and titles will be awarded. Players with a title will retain that title until the end of the next game session. Bids can only be made during game sessions.
To make a bid, players may either email the Storyteller directly at Storyteller@riversidelarp.com or use the Influence board as usual, indicating which character is doing the official bidding, how much Influence that character is bidding, and who else has loaned Influence to that bid and how much they loaned (if any). After making a bid, all players who contributed to that bid should locate the Storyteller to confirm that they agree to loan Influence to the bid.
When you bid Influence, that Influence is committed until either you are outbid (at which time the Influence is refunded to you and anyone else who assisted you) or you win the bid (at which time the Influence is spent).
When a bid is announced, the amount of the bid and the person who made it will be announced on the Riverside Opera Discord server in then #king-of-the-hill channel. Bids are not secret, and the Storyteller will not notify you personally if you have been outbid.
If two people make an equal bid for the same title, only the first person to make a bid will be counted.
Anyone who contributes to a bid may, at any time, revoke their Influence for that bid by informing the Storyteller. When Influence is revoked from a bid, the entire bid becomes null and void. The previous high bidder will then regain their position as the top bid, provided all characters involved in that bid still have the Influence to commit. If a character who donated Influence to a bid dies or otherwise becomes unable to take Influence actions after a bid has been entered (such as being in Torpor), that bid is also null and void.
Bidding Influence in this way does not constitute an Influence move. As such, it cannot be cloaked or blocked.
The winning bids and the current title holders for each Influence will be announced on the Riverside Opera Facebook page and in the monthly XP report.
In the event that no one places a bid for a given title, it remains in control of the current title holder (or, if there is no one in that title, it remains vacant).
Keep in mind that you will almost certainly have to trade Influence and/or Boons in order to attain these positions—and it is likely that coteries may even form to ensure that a certain title remains in safe hands.
So there it is. Suffice it to say that players will have to make alliances and deals and give away boons to exalt one of their allies to a title. We expect it to encourage players to get more involved in the Influence system. This system will go live for our December game, on December 10, 2016.
Q – Can I bid Influence from another base to increase my bid over five for a given title?
A – No. All Influence included in a given bid must be from the same base.
Q – Since all bids start at 5 and I can’t use other Influences to help, doesn’t that mean I will have to borrow Influence from someone else to beat the first bid?
A – Yep! That’s part of the intent of the system. We want folks to partner up and go after stuff.
Q – If there are several people involved in a bid, who gets the title? And who gets to use the power?
A – The person who placed the original bid is the person who gets the title. The person who has the title decides how the power is used.
Q – How do we know when someone uses a power?
A – Sometimes, they are relatively obvious (like with the Trendsetter). Other times, they are undetectable (like the first half of the Kingpin’s power). You’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled.
Q – You said earlier in this whole thing that there would be a period of time between making an Influence move and it going live. How long does that take?
A – It depends on the level of the Influence move and the Influence base used. Some Influences, like Street, take very little time to mobilize. Others, like Politics or Occult, take some time. Each Influence move will get an associated post on the relevant Facebook group with a time and date it will take effect, so keep an eye on those groups. Subscribe, even, that way whenever a post gets made, you’ll get an alert.
Q – Do you have you to place a bid on a title you already own in order to keep it?
A – No. Once you have a title, you have it until someone else wins a bid for that title at a subsequent game. So, if no one else places a bid for a title you own (say, because you have eliminated everyone else who could have bid against you, either through force or coercion), you get to keep it. If someone places a bid, you would still need to outbid them to retain your title.
Q – What do bids start at for titles that are already owned?
A – They start at 5 just like bids for unoccupied titles do.
Q – Can I make a bid during downtime?
A – No. All bids must be made at game.
Q – Can I hold more than one title simultaneously?
A – No. No character can hold more than one title at a time, though they might benefit from the usage of multiple powers at a time. For example, someone might be Fashionable *and* be the beneficiary of Blessing of Purity.
Q – When exactly does bidding open and when does it close?
A – Bidding opens immediately following the player meeting and closes at the beginning of final court. Bids made before the player meeting or after the beginning of final court will not be considered. Winners of bids will be announced the day after the game.
Q – How do I make a bid?
A – You can submit a bid through the Influence board or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Bids will not be accepted in any other way.
Q – Where will we be able to see who is the current high bidder?
A – Lots of places. Each new high bid will be posted in the Riverside Opera Discord server, in the #king-of-the-hill channel. Additionally, you can ask any Narrator who the current high bidders are.
Q – Where can we find out who currently holds a title?
A – The website or the Discord server.
Thanks for playing, and we hope you enjoy playing King of the Hill!