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Anatomy of Failed Design: Vampire
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
How about greater vampires needing exponentially more blood than lesser vampires? So you can have relatively large number of vampire mooks to fill vampire society without needing to drain that many humies but the seniors in charge do need a steady supply of fresh blood.


Having elder vampires eat more people or chew on younger vampires is not really an answer to the core demographic issues. It's a satisfactory answer to why master vampires spend long periods sleeping the ages away and a good answer to why you'd want to kill elder vampires despite them being so much more powerful than younger ones - but those are wholly separate issues.

The core demographic issue is that if you aren't careful things are going to go all Top 10 or Astro City on you. Every Vampire has demands on the setting in terms of Retainers, Victims, Bodies, and Peers.

  • Retainers So being a Vampire makes you some sort of boss. You got what WoD calls Ghouls or Blade calls Familiars - your basic Igors and Renfields. You gotta have butlers and maids around if you're going to cosplay as an aristocrat - the fact that Dracula was seen setting his own table was a plot point and a source of personal shame in the original novel. People gotta keep the grounds at vampire mansions and shit, but also having human servants around produces things to aspire to and fight over.

  • Victims If you aren't meaningfully preying on people, you are not a vampire. They don't all have to die (and indeed the world building is virtually impossible unless almost all of your victims survive), and it's OK for you to have memory clouding abilities and/or drain blood from Retainers and shit. But the fact remains that you're going to have some collection of people that you victimize.

  • Bodies Vampires kill people. Even "good" vampires need to kill people from time to time for the drama and the looming threat of how bad it could get if you lost control or gave in to the dark side or whatever the fuck.

  • Peers As a vampire, you need people to talk to. Rival vampires to struggle against, but also werewolves and wizards and badass dudes who are in on your secret and you can have conversations with.


Now here's the thing: the number of Retainers, Peers, Victims, and Bodies should probably be as large as possible for the story of any particular vampire. Every one of these is a point of interaction, and a means for character development. A long running character like Angel is going to have dozens of peers, or at least they probably should.

But here's the other thing: the total number of Retainers and Victims and Bodies is multiplied by the number of vampires in the setting, and the number of vampires in setting is recruited entirely from the potential peers. So if you have six adventures that each have a rival vampire in them, and you have 5 retainers, that's six more vampires who also have 5 retainers and so on and so forth.

So the impact on the setting of the vampire conspiracy is going to be considerably larger than just the number of vampires. If the number of bodies being called upon to be being left around becomes unfeasible, the setting of course collapses. But the size of the vampire conspiracy is also going to get unmanageably large fairly easily if the number of vampires and/or the impact of any particular vampire is too large. But it's also easy for vampire society to feel totally bullshit if there aren't enough vampires or the impact of any particular vampire isn't high enough. The needs of conspiracies to be tiny so that they don't shit all over suspension of disbelief is very much at odds with the needs of story characters to have people that they interact with and the needs of aristocrats to have servants and the needs of predators to have prey.

-Frank
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shinimasu
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Population density required for optimal vampire saturation is always a fun thing to calculate out.

Lets say a newbie vampire needs a pint a week to stay in the "clear" zone or one every 2 weeks but it puts them in danger of a hunger frenzy.

A pint is about what a human can safely donate and according to the red cross, humans must wait 56 days between donations in order to recover the lost red blood cells or about 2 months.

That means in order to safely feed without killing anyone the vampire would need four humans a month, and about 10 humans to regularly rotate between. By the time they get to human 10, human 1 should be ready for another donation.

Accidental deaths likely occur when two or more vampires have picked the same victim without knowing it which, how likely this is depends on population density.

A human will generally die at around 3 pints of blood loss unless given a transfusion so you only need 3 vampires in a given area to average about 1 body a month assuming that each month all three of them pick the same person to feed on. If they do it a week apart then plasma levels would likely be normal-ish since it replaces itself faster, but autopsy would reveal severe lack of platelets and actual red blood cells. This would be a fun twist since everyone knows "drained of blood" is vampires but "sudden drop in red blood cells" is shoddy bone marrow.

My city has a population of 400,000. If the maximum number of vampires existed, the city could theoretically sustain 40,000 vampires. However if we assume half of all victims are retainers then 200,000 people would know about vampires which isn't much of a masquerade. Might as well just tell everyone then, someone is going to leak it.

You can drop that to 400 vampires, more reasonable. It means 4,000 people are victimized, and 2,000 people know vampires are real. or .5% of the overall population in that area. Much better than 50%. However the chance of producing bodies drops along with it, maybe one every 8 months if people are supremely unlucky. There were 89,000 deaths over the course of the last year, death by vampire wouldn't even hold up to death by car crashes. Even assuming you have a careless vampire or two that kills one person every month or so because they have poor fang control, they'd get lost in the overall death statistic.

You could probably bump required feedings up to once every 2 days, and still be able to sustain roughly 300- 400 vampires on that population.


Last edited by shinimasu on Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:35 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

400 vampires in a city of 400,000 is insanely high. It's also way more than you need.

You have 7 core clans and everyone else should be reduced to random scattered bloodlines, deviants, unique that collectively add up to clan 8. A stable political dynamic would be 5-10 vampires per clan - giving a city between 40-80 vampires as a whole. It is perfectly okay to say that cities below size X don't sustain vampiric society and simply have a caretaker vampire or two who tithes blood back to whatever the regionally dominant big city happens to be. In fact, figure some portion of your overall vampiric population are these rural loner entities.

If you set the population ratio at 1 vampire in 10,000, you can have 40 vampires in a metro area of 400,000. The US alone has over 130 such regions (Anchorage, AK meets that level). Also, at 1 vampire in 10,000 people, in a 7 billion person world you end up with 700,000 vampires (because we're going to drop the Keui-Jin bullshit and just have one kind of vampire globally). Which is rather a lot - that turns vampires into a decently sized ethnic group.

I absolutely would not go higher than 1 in 10,000 as a functional max and even then I'd stipulate that vampires almost never hit that number. The US has over 50 metros with 1 million plus, that should be enough to work with. If you slot 40 vampires into a million people that's 1 in 25,000. That seems better. A metro of 3 million then only gets up to 120 vampires. That helps avoid things getting weird until you get to the super-metros, which would presumably have to be broken up into multiple domains.

If a vampire averages 5 retainers (some are going to have less, some way more), has a rotating pool of approximately 100 victims - if you feed twice per week you only need to feed on each person once a year, and kills an average of 1 person per year you ought to be okay. That murder number has the least give. The global homicide rate is currently 6.2 per 100,000 per year. At 1 in 25,000 vampires dropping even a single body each year increase that to 10.2, which is a 60% increase in the murder rate globally. Even worse, that number is influenced heavily by a bunch of really violent places - like Brazil, which is over 20 - so in the countries most people are likely to play in you're spiking the murder rate immensely (the US is at 3.9, so that's basically a doubling, but Japan is at 0.3 so essentially all your murders are done by vampires now).

Critically, the more vampires you have, the fewer people they can kill. Keep in mind also that, even if you goose the murder rate because 'World of Darkness' vampires can't be doing all the killing. In fact, vampires can't even be doing a majority of the killing or the masquerade becomes a joke. So if you have 4 vampires per 100,000 people and they each drop 1 body a year, that gives you 4 in 100,000 as a vampire homicide rate, but the total homicide rate would probably need to be 20 or higher to mask the vampire kills (and werewolf kills, and whatever other supernatural deaths happen to be on the card). South Africa, with 33 homicides per 100,000 is the highest rate in the world for a major country in a reasonably functional state. You really can't go much above that, which also means that your supernatural community as a whole can only go to around 10 (still close to 30% of the murders and really pushing it) while retaining any credibility.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Vampire conspiracies have difficulties on several levels. An organization like the CIA has 25,000 people in it. An organization like the FBI has 35,000 people in it. Obviously enough for intrigue. But those organizations do intrigue mostly back in the palace. There is some internal agency drama in Washington and there is some internal agency drama in New York, but there isn't really anything going on for either agency in Terre Haute, Indiana. And that's despite the fact that the FBI satellite office in Terre Haute covers Clay, Fountain, Montgomery, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion, and Vigo counties (total population 277,000 people). The Indianapolis main FBI office has four special agents (as well as some non-zero number of professional staff, which I believe to be about 6).

So there's the problem right there. The FBI is an agency that is about as big as an agency could plausibly be and still be secret if it had any real power. But it also doesn't have enough people to have any but the smallest and most bullshit office politics in Indiana. And the FBI is already more than 1 person per 10,000 in the US.

-Frank
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A better example would probably be the NSA, which has at best estimates 30-60,000 people working directly for them, not counting the contractors.

This is an organization paranoid over secrecy. Seriously, their newsletter discusses how to go out to lunch in order to not leak national secrets. They have teams that scour the organization looking for leaks, and the vampires theoretically do too.

All the other points Frank puts out are valid though with the NSA. However, effectively, as an organization, it's *much* better at keeping secrets than almost any other agency in the government. We'd know almost dick-all if it wasn't for the Snowden leaks.

And that's the problem with a modern day vampire conspiracy IMHO: All it takes is one asshole to gently collect a shitload of data and then slam it all down on Wikileaks (or The Guardian in Snowden's case). I guess you get around that by saying that the media outlets, including places like Wikileaks, are infiltrated, but that's getting to be illuminatus! trilogy levels of conspiracy theories.

It seems like anyone who actually knows you are a vampire needs to either be killed, be another vampire, or be blood bonded to you. So even retainers are a pain in the ass and might not realize you're actually a vampire.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There's a surprising amount of leeway with the body count, because not all deaths have to be classed as homicides. There are missing people and various forms of death by disease. A Vampire conspiracy could invent a ficticious disease that people died of sometimes that was really people dying of Vampire drainage. Most obviously, there are over five thousand deaths per year from Anemia, which could all or mostly all be people who were over-drained by vampires and it wouldn't change much. A vampire conspiracy that was really good at hiding bodies could be responsible for some of the 2000 people who go missing every year that are never found. And of course, all this assumes people were counted to begin with - if you spend your time killing undocumented people, there are no investigations. Five hundred people die of exposure on the Mexican border every year and no fucks are given.

But the big thing of course is that most vampires shouldn't be killing someone every year. Major serial killers don't usually manage a murder every year. Which of course is hard to reconcile with the main characters, who are of course protagonists and are involved in more killings than Angela Lansbury.

But various things are going to be done to make that less implausible. The protagonists are going to actively go towards trouble areas, they aren't just going to sit on their ass in Cabot Cove while people mysteriously die like flies. And of course a lot of the enemies they dispatch are going to be demons and shit that are off the books or ancient vampires who have been declared dead a hundred years ago. But mostly they are going to go to where the action is, and like the Indiana FBI they are actively going to neighboring counties to investigate mysterious goings-on. So it's more like Scooby Doo and less like Murder, She Wrote.

-Frank
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DSMatticus
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You'd probably want to work backwards for most of this shit.

How large does a supernatural community need to be to give you the political intrigue you want? On average, how many normies in a supernatural's life are going to be in the know or privy to the really sensitive information? How populous does an area need to be to make the sort of enclave we're describing disappear into a sea of people? Alright, take any metropolitan area of that size and slap such an enclave in it. Scale and tweak the sizes a bit to match the population you're working with and vary things up a bit. From there, you have to figure out how you want to deal with areas too small to hide a proper enclave. Clearly, they still have value - just because it's too small an area to hide a hundred vampires doesn't mean it's too small to hide one or two. And equally clearly, those areas still need policing - when Bobby Bloodsucker gets caught draining someone out in the boonies, he's still fucking it up for everyone, and worse the support network that smooths out the conspiracy's fuck-ups doesn't reach that far. You are not allowed to live off the radar without permission. You can move to the city like everyone else or get dusted, and if you end up out there it's either a generous gift from friends in high places, the equivalent of being stationed in Alaska, or... you're a drifter vampire murderhobo who runs around investigating and enforcing order out in the boonies.

I'm going to say you probably want ~150-250 supernaturals minimum for a proper enclave. That pretty much guarantees the sort of internal political conflicts you want. Supernaturals are severely under-represented in areas below a million pop, because, again, it's dangerous to live where the local government isn't dancing on the conspiracy's strings, and the conspiracy will murder you for trying to do so.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Regarding a requirement of 10k population to support a single vampire - while that might work with modern populations, it probably doesn't work with stories of Vampires from the past. Having 1 vampire per 1k people isn't a stretch - but it's also possible that the number of vampires hasn't risen as sharply as the normal human population. You could have 1 vampire per 1k people in 1500 (500 Million people & 500k Vampires) and 1 vampire per 10k people today (8 billion people & 800k Vampires).

Personally, I think aiming for somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 Million vampires in the world is the sweet spot. While that's 1 per 800 people, that's not a lot for most people. That'd be like 2 vampires in my high school, and considering there were probably at least 20 goths, they wouldn't have necessarily stood out.

As far as the masquerade, people talking about vampires being real might be just like people talking about lizard people. It's just not something most people are going to believe without overwhelming evidence. Most 'vampires' would be seen as slightly eccentric members of a fringe social group, not monsters.

It would help if vampires don't show up in video recordings the way they don't show up in mirrors. That's eliminate most of the 'best' evidence.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hiding death tolls always works into feeding strategies. "Guy gets sick and dies" or "homeless person found dead" is a lot less of an issue than "perfectly healthy individual dies, possibly has throat ripped open." So some vampires could work to hide their kills by preying on those who are expected to die, and some could work to not kill their prey at all (which involves feeding more often but taking less, and might involve strategies of preying on a "herd" or just keeping a blood pet chained up in the basement), and some vampires might make do to "stretch out" the human blood supply with filler (animal blood, corpse blood), or just hide their feeding by doing it indirectly (blood bank).

But the feeding strategy ties in directly to the Masquerade, and the Masquerade ties in directly to one of the major themes of being a vampire: undead & loving it. Vampires have died once, it sucked and they don't want to do it again. The first century or so of life should really weed out the ennui-stricken mopers, incompetents, and non-serial killers from the bunch pretty damn quickly: anybody that can't abide feeding can go get a tan. Anybody that can't cover their tracks ends up staked. Old vampires should be fucking scary; they might be out of touch, but they've personally probably killed more people than most modern police forces.

But then...Vampire has always wanted a society. And a society of serial killers driven by survival is probably not going to sit around drinking blood out of wine glasses. Even if it was feasible to rise to the point where you could do that, it would require a lot of mortal infrastructure - ghouls, mob ties, whatever. The Camarilla should be a fucking syndicate along the lines of the Mafia Commissione, because that's the kind of support network you need to hide - and if necessary, produce and manufacture - the bodies. I'm not saying that there's a massive corpse-processing site in every Camarilla city where you dump your one-night-thirsts, but during the 40s some eager ex-Nazi Tremere probably designed the ovens.
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

deaddmwalking wrote:

Personally, I think aiming for somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 Million vampires in the world is the sweet spot. While that's 1 per 800 people, that's not a lot for most people. That'd be like 2 vampires in my high school, and considering there were probably at least 20 goths, they wouldn't have necessarily stood out.


That's a huge number. 1 per 800 is 12.5 per ten thousand. For reference the number of Police Officers per capita is 16.5 per ten thousand. At your ratio there are three vampires for every four police officers. At that point the masquerade is completely unnecessary - vampires simply rule the world outright and control the human cattle.

This is the core vampiric demographic problem. There's a fine line between the Masquerade and Daybreakers.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Police aren't numerous enough to control the people. And sure, there could be vampires that think they OUGHT to take control, but there's no guarantee that is going to work. And besides - if you kill all the people, how does that help you?

Vampires are like cats. They ARE in control, but they let you think you are. Because that makes their life easy and comfortable.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Not every vampire needs to be Dracula. It's a staple of the genre that some vampires are only slightly more dangerous than a regular human goon. Standard vampire enemies in Bloodlines are slightly more resilient and do slightly more damage than a human, but they're still closer to trash mobs than mini-bosses. No-name vampires in Buffy can be dusted by Xander a few seasons in, and while he did get a military power-up in season two that canonically stuck around even after the transformation in general wore off, that still means standard vampires go down to a totally regular soldier (without his gear, even). In Hellsing, anyone who's anyone can kill a few nazi vampire goons (that's not really key source material the way Buffy/Angel and Bloodlines are, but I just watched the abridged version and it's on my mind).

For the most part, vampires are depicted as being only slightly more dangerous than police officers, so if their numbers are in the same neighborhood as police officers, that means they're an even match for just the police force, and never mind once the military gets involved. How much elder vampires shift that balance depends on how common they are and how powerful they are, but it's not really controversial around here to say that elder vampires who are each themselves equal to an army are stupid, so a few hundred guys who are each equal to an army platoon aren't upsetting the balance of power all that much while still personally being absurdly badass compared to any mortal.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If your vampire goons significantly outnumber any particular police force, things have gone wildly off the rails. Remember that the police includes state troopers, highway patrol, county sheriffs, traffic control officers, riot police, regular city police, drug enforcement agents, border patrol, FBI, ICE, and whatever and so on and so forth. There definitely should not be more vampires than county sheriffs, because that's fucking insane.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't know how many county sheriffs there are. Google indicates that there are 67 in Alabama (one for each County) but a whole bunch more deputies. But I think Alabama can afford to have more than 67 vampires.

10 Million is fewer than the number of Romani and Jews in the world and is similar to the number of: Manchu, Czechs, Hui, Ijaw, Kongo, Mongols, Serbs, Uyghur, Zulu and Kikuyu.

I didn't even know half of those ethnic groups, so it's certainly possible that people wouldn't recognize another group of that size, particularly when you realize that on a census they'll be counted as the ethnic group they live among.

And again, it's quite possible that vampires would be spread relatively uniformly across the globe.

If there are 10 million Vampires, and 4.4% of them live in the United States (because 4.4% of the world population lives there) you end up with 440,000. Or 3,375 in Chicago. Those are numbers you could work with and still have meaningful clans and things. And there are 12k police in Chicago, so I don't think comparisons to the police force are particularly unfavorable.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

DDMW wrote:
If there are 10 million Vampires, and 4.4% of them live in the United States (because 4.4% of the world population lives there) you end up with 440,000. Or 3,375 in Chicago. Those are numbers you could work with and still have meaningful clans and things.


Uh... no. That's numbers that are completely insane. Also you are talking about the Chicago city limits. The Chicago Metropolitan area has nearly 10 million people in it, and you are projecting over twelve thousand fucking vampires. Plus their retainers of course, that's what? Five retainers per vampire? We're talking about a Chicagoland vampire conspiracy that is over seventy thousand fucking people. For fuck's sakes, Soldier Field only has 61k seats, a Bears game would literally be over capacity on Vampire Conspiracy night.

The whole concept is ridiculous. You're positing way too many Vampires. By like a ludicrously hilarious margin.

Which of course is the point. The demographic jump between vampire conspiracies that are like two guys pinky swearing not to tell clubhouse secrets and ridiculous monster worlds where the vampires have to rent out additional office buildings to house their sex slaves is pretty thin. There are about 3 people living in Los Angeles for every person in Indiana, and you gotta get your ratios such that they don't make the Los Angeles group too absurdly large or the Indiana group too absurdly small.

-Frank
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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I guess conceding that in any given world either the LA group or the Indiana group will be a proper conspiracy while the other is basically wilderness is off the table for some reason.

Less flippantly, while I can see why the audience in any given area might be irritated to learn that they have been designated to be an official no-conspiracy-zone for your local vampire setting, the existence of a subset of the world map where a starting coterie are literally the only vampires in town doesn't seem like a precisely bad thing to me. A view not helped by AH's Princes of the City campaign on these here boards.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't see why every vampire needs 5 people directly involved in their exclusive horde is necessary, and I think that increasing the number of vampires in urban areas (while decreasing it in rural areas) is necessarily problematic. Even 12k vampires in Chicago proper doesn't have to make it a hellscape.

I'm positing a number that is roughly double the number of homeless people in the US. While that's a lot of people in absolute terms, that doesn't have to be a lot of people with logarithmic connections to others.

Vampire society would have to be somewhat insular. Chandler in Friends isn't going to be a vampire.

Now, of course demographics of this level are required to make Vampire society work. If you accept that there really are that many vampires in the world (and there must be if each clan isn't a single person), you then have to consider how the Masquerade works.

There are lots of ways that could be possible. Some of the advantages of vampire society might involve helping each other out. Rupert Murdoch (clearly a vampire) funnels some of his millions into helping get vampires established. Blood banks are sending bags of blood for 'disposal'. Vampires mostly don't look like anything other than regular people and they really like hanging out at night.

There are going to be people that believe in vampires and try to get the rest of the world to agree with them. But we have evangelists for every cause already. They can't be particularly successful - which isn't necessarily surprising. 2.5% of Americans (apparently) claim that they've been abducted by aliens. If 2.5% of Americans claimed that they were personally fed on by a Vampire, that wouldn't necessarily rise to the level of 'existential threat'. And with the numbers I've suggested, that would allow each vampire to potentially directly reveal themselves to up to 20 people before we get to that level.

But there's really no reason to assume that vampires would do that. Obviously vampires need to feed, but if they have a way of 'clouding memories' then there's no reason that everyone they feed on remembers. They met a stranger in a bar, made out, woke up with a hangover. Even if they have a hickey, I'm not sure they'd jump to the conclusion that they were fed on by a vampire.

I've seen Bubba Hotep. A vampire could feed on residents in a nursing home quite successfully for a long time.

There have to be more Vampires than at first seems plausible - but once you have that number you can have vampire associations actually mean something. It means you might have to figure out how to explain away some potential concerns, but the fact that vampires could fill up a stadium isn't one of them. I've lived in LA and I live in a College Town right now. There are 184,000 people in town, and the stadium holds 102,000. Strangely, even when it is filled to capacity, the town feels like it's got just as many people out and about as always. Some of the people are coming from far away and some of the people just don't care. In LA that was absolutely true - finding someone who went to a Dodgers game or Lakers game was harder than finding 100 people who didn't.

Edit - And Greater Chicago is 11,000 square miles. That's about the size of Jamaica. That's a pretty good sized area for different groups to exist in without too much geographical overlap.


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Schleiermacher
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Some of you guys might remember that I asked a lot of questions in this direction last year.

I used White Wolf's semi-canonical number of 1 vampire per 100 000 people, meaning that there are about 75 000 vampires worldwide, all told. (This ratio holds true in the present day but not necessarily throughout history.) It's resulted in a vampire demographics that works pretty well for my purposes, but might not satisfy everybody - because of course, the vampires aren't distributed anything like proportionately throughout the human population on a city by city level.

Some places have a critical mass of vampires and attract the ones from the surrounding areas on that basis, and some are basically empty wilderness. Notably this doesn't correspond to human population centers exactly - for setting reasons, most of Europe has an outsized vampire population and most of North America has about 1/4 of the numbers you'd expect.

This works out because I've cut down hard on the clan bloat in VTM. I basically have five clans that actually cover distinct vampiric archetypes (as opposed to seven different flavors of Lestat and Carmilla) and one "clanless/other" category that collectively makes up numbers similar to those of a clan.

That makes for about 15 000 vampires of each type - and it means that all the weird bloodlines really are just that - bloodlines, as in maybe two dozen vampires at most (and probably more like five) who are all descended from the same guy. Basically the way Requiem did it, the way that makes sense.

I also threw out the Generation system and used a system of age categories loosely based on VtRs Blood Potency (because again, that's the way that makes sense to do it even if the VtR rules themselves are shit).

I ended up with the following age pyramid:

0-100 (neonates): ~ 65000, i.e 86,5%
101-300 (ancillae): ~ 8400, i.e 11,2%
300-1000 (elders): ~1110, i.e 1,3%
1000+ (methuselahs): ~ 770, i.e 1%

This way, all the slices of the Venn diagram actually have vampires in them -there actually is such a thing as Sabbat Nosferatu Methuselah, although few enough that you can invite all of them for dinner without bringing out the extra chairs. It works for me because I prefer a setting where vampires are all meaningful, named NPCs rather than "Bruja mook #2" -they have ghouls for that. (The numbers of retainers, victims and bodies are what I'm currently working on mathing out, which is why I'm paying close attention to this discussion.)

If you think this is too few vampires, you can multiply the number by as much as ten, for 750 000, but I wouldn't go higher than that.


Last edited by Schleiermacher on Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:29 pm; edited 4 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

DDMW wrote:
I don't see why every vampire needs 5 people directly involved in their exclusive horde is necessary


Because if you don't have butlers and nightclub owners and police detectives and shit working for your conspiracy, you are not a conspiracy. There was in fact an experiment in having vampires not have minions and organizational impact and shit, and that was called Vampire: the Requiem and it sucked donkey dick. If vamprie society doesn't have a lot of human retainers in it, there's no reason to interact with the vampire society. Or at least no reason to try to advance your position within it.

The thing that makes vampires interesting is that they have interactions with people and they have a power imbalance in those interactions. The thing that makes the vampire conspiracy interesting is that it is a conspiracy - you can't just call the cops on them or go to the media because they have agents and shit. If they don't have agents, and are just some monsters in a dungeon, it would take a fuck tonne more than 10 million of them to fight off the giant armed response that the world would put on the very instant someone went to the ATF with evidence that there were vampires that needed slaying.

DDMW wrote:
There have to be more Vampires than at first seems plausible


No. There really honestly don't. You need enough to play House of Cards and Game of Thrones shit with Vampires as the leaders, and you need enough that you can have Blade style action sequences. But you do not need or want more than that. Straining credibility is something you want to actively avoid doing. Buffy only kills about 120 Vampires a year in the series, which is plenty and more than plenty for all your action sequence needs. If 120 dead Vampires a year is enough to keep the vampire population in check, you don't need twelve thousand vampires in Chicagoland. You barely need twelve thousand Vampires in North America.

The action sequence requirements of the genre simply don't put a huge burden on the overall vampire population, although it is nice to have an in-world explanation for why the violence is happening here and now, but Hellmouths and Gehenna are perfectly usable options for that. The politics aspect makes much bigger demands on the size of the vampire conspiracy, but remember that the cast of Game of Thrones is only 43 people. Whatever the smallest vampire kingdom you want people to consider worth fighting over needs to have about three dozen peer level supernaturals in it. And they don't all have to be Vampires. If your unit of Vampire Kingdom is Arkansas (3 million people), you could have one supernatural for every seventy five thousand humans and still have enough to get some clan machinations going. If your vampire kingdom of Little Rock has a border with the domain of Memphis, then you need at least one supernatural for every twenty five thousand humans. Of course, the Vampire: the Masquerade number of 1 per 100,000 is way too low. But it's not way too low by a huge amount.

The one in ten thousand number is plenty to have politcial adventures in the Baton-Rouge area and still have a bunch of creatures in the wilderness for you to play Scooby Doo / Supernatural with. You do not need to have more than an order of magnitude more than that, and in fact doing so would be completely insane.

Omegonthesane wrote:
the existence of a subset of the world map where a starting coterie are literally the only vampires in town doesn't seem like a precisely bad thing to me.


That's reasonable, there should absolutely be some supernatural homesteading going on. But you still need to have other supernatural creatures in haunted houses and invasions and shit for you to interact with or there's no real plot.

-Frank
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm certainly okay with a population of 1/10,000 (as opposed to 1/100,000), but I honestly think the larger population can still work.

Most of your vampires are interacting with society recognized as individuals. Not every one of them is going to live in a mansion and have butlers. I'm pretty sure all the ones Buffy kills aren't doing that stuff. Some of your vampires are going to have 5 or more servants - some might even have 100+. But most of the servants aren't going to know the 'true nature' of their master any more than I know whether the CEO of my company is having an affair with his secretary. There may be people who do know, but they likely have a vested interest in keeping that information secret. Assuming that Rupert Murdoch were, in reality, a vampire, it wouldn't change anything that you or I know about him. He could do everything we know him to do and he could still function in society.

There are also going to be groups of vampires that share a social connection. How many people know that Angel is a vampire? How many of those people also know Buffy? If the community they're active in is itself rather insular, you have limited direct knowledge of vampires, but you have people to carry out your conspiracy.

But like with most conspiracies, the vast majority of people who are involved won't know the truth. They're in it for other reasons. Some of the best Russian spies for the CIA were Russians who thought they were reporting to the KGB on the activities of suspected traitors. Lots of people will help vampires for money or power without knowing who they serve.

As far as 'evidence vampires are real', that's sticky. The power of the conspiracy has to break verisimilitude if evidence is easy to obtain (every cop and every federal agency is in on it, apparently). So you absolutely have to spend some time explaining away 'evidence'. If vampires are reduced to ash when they die, you're going to have very little physical evidence of vampires. If they don't show up on film, there isn't going to be many ways to prove that a vampire was on the scene to anyone who wasn't there to observe it directly. Among those who do see things with their own eyes, how many are going to believe that it was an 'honest to god vampire' and not some sort of trick?

If proving vampires exist is difficult, vampires still have a reason to keep vampires from being too blatant about their existence. If enough normal people know about them, it's possible that a war against their existence would take place - so it's better to make sure that doesn't happen. Even then, if vampires are integrated into society, it isn't easy to simply kill them all. If we were 100% certain that Vampires existed, and I was 100% certain that Rupert Murdoch were one of them, how do you think I'm going to get him taken out without proof I can show all of you? Especially since he's been filmed (and I've just said that vampires don't show up normally)? Yeah, even if you know that there really are vampires it's going to be a pain in the ass to actually try to identify all of them - harder than finding 'real' Communist sympathizers by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

deaddmwalking wrote:

If there are 10 million Vampires, and 4.4% of them live in the United States (because 4.4% of the world population lives there) you end up with 440,000. Or 3,375 in Chicago. Those are numbers you could work with and still have meaningful clans and things. And there are 12k police in Chicago, so I don't think comparisons to the police force are particularly unfavorable.


Jeebus.

In our Los Angeles games, where there's like 10 million people in the greater LA basin, we had like... 100 Camarilla vamps, maybe 100-150 Sabbat, *maybe* 100 independents of various factions (Gangrel, Giovanni, all the infernal evil bad guys that you can do Blade style action scenes with, Caitiff, etc...). That's a little high at 1-33 thousand but we kind of smear LA into Orange County and the Inland Empire and Riverside. That bumps the numbers up to 18.5 million or so and that means about 1 in 66,000. Basically, if you can get from one part of the area to another in aprox. 4 hours of rush hour traffic, it's "part of LA". During the summer that's an issue due to how short the nights are, but it's pretty trivial to get a hotel room and go sleep in the bathtub.

If the Cam has like... 10 people with real power and actually in charge, that means you have tons of B and C tier NPCs to play with. More than any game is reasonably going to ever include.

1 to 800 ratio is 22,000 licks in the area. That's fucking insane.
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virgil
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Long story short, you can sustain about a gross of vampires that don't keep Renfields, for about a century before they're exposed. The allostasis of the Masquerade requires supernatural elements of frightening efficiency to maintain even the lower-bound populations being suggested here. Therefore, the "minimum for a season of Game of Thrones" is the more important consideration. As you're already suspending disbelief, it's a matter of taste for when the line is crossed and you have too many vampires.
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

virgil wrote:
Long story short, you can sustain about a gross of vampires that don't keep Renfields, for about a century before they're exposed. The allostasis of the Masquerade requires supernatural elements of frightening efficiency to maintain even the lower-bound populations being suggested here. Therefore, the "minimum for a season of Game of Thrones" is the more important consideration. As you're already suspending disbelief, it's a matter of taste for when the line is crossed and you have too many vampires.


Except that there's enough supernatural woo woo to keep things going in theory.

A starting vampire of the right clan can literally mind-wipe people. Blood bonding, while problematic for creating super-obsessed psycho ex girlfriends, gives you a level of blatant control that is useful. A lot presence and dominate don't even require blood expenditure.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Turning to ash when they die and not showing up on camera is the kind of shit that's overtly supernatural and really obvious and easy to demonstrate. The best way for Vampires to stay secret is if they pass for normal when they aren't using their powers. If their dead bodies just turn into regular human dead bodies, that provides the least evidence of supernatural hoodoo. If their bodies do anything funky at all, that would be a thing you could show people.

Anyway, maintaining a long running conspiracy when you have supernatural mind control and your principles don't actually die of old age and have no reason to make deathbed confessions is a lot easier than if you don't have those things. As they say "Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead" but if all three of them are undead keeping the secret for 50 years or a hundred years is a lot easier.

There just isn't the constant churn of new members and retirings. Your vampire masterminds don't retire at all, although presumably they do periodically go into long ass sleeps while other members of the family do shit.

Anyway, the key is that you have a domain like "Memphis." The Greater Memphis area has 1.3 million people in it, and at White Wolf's 1:100,000 ratio that is 13 vampires. That is bullshit. There's no clan politics because each clan has a single representative. At 1:800, that is 1,600 vampires, which is too many to do Game of Thrones shit with and just generally absurd. At 1:10,000 that is 130 Supernaturals. That's enough for there to be major and minor members of several different houses and to have conflicts between groups but not so many that your characters are an insignificant group. That's the sweet spot right there.

-Frank
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virgil
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
A starting vampire of the right clan can literally mind-wipe people.
Note that qualifier of "right clan." There are entire clans who don't intrinsically have mind-wipe powers. Whether your blood bond is loyal or not, they absolutely cannot be of negative risk to the Masquerate, and most conceptualizations of said Masquerade include some non-zero rate of people in on the conspiracy that aren't actually blood-bonds. Frankly (hah!), not having the principles die actually puts greater strain on the conspiracy. The chart (Fig. 1) shows that the conspiracy is less likely to be exposed as the constituents die out, not more.

Presumably with the Memphis's "sweet spot" being 1:10k, having about ~800 in New York City or the DFW-Metroplex is also fine?
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