Coteries vs Guilds and YOU!

  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    We started a conversation on Discord about how everyone is viewing what Guilds mean. I am posting the log- it’s rather long- please take some time to read it over and comment if you have thoughts.

    Good, bad or indifferent- we want to hear from you.

    MalevolenceToday at 11:04 AM
    so, since there’s a few of you on- got a question
    How do you see the Guilds?

    ScarecrowToday at 11:10 AM
    In context…the gaming system (V5) encourages coteries. that can be a good and bad thing. I know the original coteries moving to Guilds was done for a legit reason, but…it becomes an xp sink.
    There are a lot of provisions to throw xps and resources at guild/turf/coteries, but frankly, we don’t make that many xps. With everything else costing so much more than in V20. So that pushes the question back to the STs - how do you see guilds/coteries?
    If you see them as worthwhile things to invest in, then that should be meaningful. But if not, it’s a waste.

    MalevolenceToday at 11:12 AM
    WEll, I’m more looking for, “Are they a job/group where people with the same skills group” or are they are a coterie with a deeper purpose and therefore are extremely important to your char individually?

    Dhampirlord/MichaelToday at 11:12 AM
    So, on one hand I love the idea since it allows people an easier way to interact that I felt didn’t exist prior (granted, I’ve always been a weekend warrior here sooo…) On the other hand, while I understand Coteries are still a thing we can form, I find it a little hard for me to balance both Coterie, guild, and personal XP spends (once again, weekend warrior so I only get 1-2 XP a week). I enjoy that if I need to have a certain task done, I know I can go to anyone in a certain guild and the task will likely be completed iinstead of having to track down the specific person. My biggest complaint is, as Michael put it, it’s a giant XP dump, 'specially for those of us with little XP TO dump.
    and forgive me if that seems to ping-pong, my brain is all over the place atm

    ScarecrowToday at 11:13 AM
    I think they’re a blend, actually, Stef.
    Definitely along “similar skills group”… Stabby, Smoothy, and Spooky as I call them.
    But that assumes we’re all on good terms, that there isn’t any political aspect.
    If there isn’t reliability (and there probably shouldn’t be), then it moves towards deeper purpose, like-minded individuals, who may diversify their skillsets.

    MalevolenceToday at 11:15 AM
    and I’m looking for real critique here because I personally feel some things we’ve said got overlooked and that we also were probably not real clear or that we assumed things we didn’t properly convey.

    ScarecrowToday at 11:16 AM
    that may be the case. (or simply misunderstood on players’ part). I think rivalry can be expected, although I don’t think it should be the primary. focus.
    I think the shift from coterie to guild, and then adding emphasis on ‘lesser’ coteries has confused some. And, to be honest, I’d be very interested in how the STs think things are going; where they see confusion, what they hoped or thought would happen, vs. what is.

    Dhampirlord/MichaelToday at 11:20 AM
    I agree they seem to blend, and it could be from my misunderstanding (I can be REALLY dense), but I feel part of that blending is the idea of us comitting XP to Guild spends, which I wouldn’t dream of removing since it makes thins interesting, it does feel like it restricted atleast my options of starting a coterie.

    ScarecrowToday at 11:23 AM
    I’m comfortable with working with them, although I don’t know if my comfort level matches what you hoped/thought would happen. I know I also haven’t been shy in approaching you folks for clarification, and maybe some folks aren’t as candid (or rude!) as me.
    I know some folks also complete sentences with the correct pronoun, more than I do.

    MalevolenceToday at 11:24 AM
    I’d prefer people actually talk to us rather than assuming and presuming and quitting.

    ScarecrowToday at 11:24 AM
    I know, which is why I do. I realize my delivery isn’t always what it seems like it my head, but you’ve all been extremely gracious and patient.

    Dhampirlord/MichaelToday at 11:25 AM
    Clarification is always important.

    MalevolenceToday at 11:26 AM
    yuuuup, which is why I’m asking this here.
    Cuz WE know what we’ve said, but it doesn’t seem to have made it to y’all. lol. But we also know there is a lot of read sometimes and the current forum is a bit hard to find stuff which I apologize for but right now, it’s what we got. I may try to switch us to the old format but for coding reasons and such, it ain’t an easy thing.

    ScarecrowToday at 11:29 AM
    I suspect the “XP” thing might be catching you by surprise, in a “Well, that’s not what we meant” kind of way. But…I know when I’ve pushed for the group to do an XP drive, there’s resistance, and a very legit question of “Why?”
    .Is there consequence to not investing? Is there usefulnes in investing? If there isn’t - and the argument can be made from the players’ side that it doesn’t seem so, then it’s a bit hard to take the group divisions seriously.
    On the other hand, to demonstrate that almost seems like an invitation to punish for not investing.

    ScarecrowToday at 11:30 AM
    And again, I know xp spends may not be what you want to talk about. But they help define the identity of the guild/turf/coterie, and how people perceive them.
    (I have a lot of thoughts on this, but don’t want to dominate the convo)

    FightyBiteyToday at 11:33 AM
    I kind of see them as a “day job” for the characters; it’s a clear and obvious way to signal to other Kindred that you bring something of value to the city and are worth keeping around. They can say “I’m in X Guild, I help when we need [stuff that Guild does],” even if they haven’t individually shown off or won a lot of attention yet. It also gives players a way to get involved in things and get access to information from more established guild-mates that characters wouldn’t likely share if they weren’t on a “team” together, making plots/intrigue/drama more accessible to new players.

    NikToday at 11:36 AM
    What we want to talk about is what you think is important, so it isn’t like anything is off the table. We asked for honest opinions

    FightyBiteyToday at 11:36 AM
    With the xp spends, it can definitely feel like an xp sink without a clear return-on-investment, especially if nobody gets the ball rolling on organizing everybody to chip in. It might help if it was clearer to what extent individual characters can call on Guild assets/resources for personal use from time to time. Part of the advantage of pooling XPs is letting characters get access to much higher dot-ratings of things like allies/contacts than they’d be able to get on their own. But I’m not sure how comfortable players feel trying to draw on those if they’re avaialble.
    for 3 XP, i could buy a 1 dot ally. if i spend that same 3xp chipping in to my Guild’s spends and everybody else chips in too, I could get access to a 3 or 4 dot ally.
    but would my Guildmates be pissed if i send that ally off to do errands that just benefit me?

    ScarecrowToday at 11:38 AM
    The Guild idea works if it’s universally embraced. If it’s not, if the roles aren’t respected or acknowledged, then it’s not going to work.
    The intense rivalry inherent in the game tends to show itself.

    NikToday at 11:39 AM
    What about if it is thought of as a worker collective. You have a CEO, but if the CEO doesn’t perform like the workers want, they get voted out

    FightyBiteyToday at 11:41 AM
    I think that’s sort of already in play? At least one Guild had a vote on changing leaders, and it seems like the other Guilds are set up to allow that (the standard corrupt vampiric blackmailing, threats, etc. aside)

    ScarecrowToday at 11:43 AM
    Nik, is the CEO the Baron? or the Guild Head?

    NikToday at 11:43 AM
    Guild head in this instance. The Baron is kind of like that, but I don’t want to muddy the waters of this conversation

    ScarecrowToday at 11:45 AM
    k, thanks. Then what Bitey said. My comments were more between Guilds. Are we meant to be rivals or cooperative units (in a limited sense, re: cooperation)

    MalevolenceToday at 11:46 AM
    That’s a good question.
    It should be a cooperative thing. Each Guild has a purpose that should compliment each other. However, I do realize we haven’t always conveyed that well. Thoughts?

    ScarecrowToday at 11:48 AM
    It is not ahem the current state of affairs

    NikToday at 11:48 AM
    Ok so there’s a couple of things I think we need to consider here, and thoughts are certainly welcome. But I’ll write them out

    MalevolenceToday at 11:49 AM
    yup, I know Michael. Again, this is why I decided to just ask.
    we need to be on the same page here

    NikToday at 11:53 AM
    The guilds are like a job. They are a collection of kindred with the right skills aimed specifically at keeping the city and faction (we, as crucible, are a faction in the anarchs) safe from outside threats. Nothing more, nothing less. You bring your skills to the table, you don’t grow them as a homogeneous group. You might do some, like blade fighty skills, but in something like influence as a guild… that shouldn’t be something you work to as a large group. So to recap… guild = job, and you might hate the people you work with in either your guild or others, but you do what is needed for the greater good. Like with that scene that took down the cammies. That’s one part of it. In that thinking then, turf, influence, shared resources for a guild doesn’t make much sense, because that should come at a different level. That is where coteries come together. I won’t go into a ton of detail on this as Brain has a great post to make on it. But coteries, of which you can be in multiple ones, are about you personally and what you want to achieve. That is where turf, shared resources, allies etc come into play. And in answer to Bitey’s question from earlier… that is where you can spend the XP and use them. Now if you use them others might tryand not be able to do so because they are in use… so that adds interesting fun inside a coterie. but in general they are the ones you would be able to tap into. You can also have your own things outside of all of that too
    thoughts welcome, so is hole poking… but wanted to get my brain dump down

    ScarecrowToday at 11:58 AM
    I don’t get how turf, etc. comes into play for coteries. Coteries aren’t widely known, which make turf claims effectively irrelevant.
    MalevolenceToday at 11:59 AM

    MalevolenceToday at 11:59 AM

    SynToday at 12:01 PM
    the problem is the book is written for small groups of tabletop players. they assume a coterie is the players in the tabletop game. your coterie is your pack is your group is the player characters all together. living together, working together. hence the emphasis on group havens.
    and turf.

    NikToday at 12:01 PM
    Some coteries are secret, others aren’t. So if you want turf then you need to be more upfront and tell people you are claiming it. Now we might be able to do something around having benefits whilst being secret, but that should have a lesser impact than being open

    BrainToday at 12:01 PM
    There can be public coteries. One example of this is the group of PC’s in Geek And Sundry’s LA By Night. They are a public coterie that everyone in the city knows exists and work together. They are also all in separate other coteries that are more secret and behind the scenes.

    ScarecrowToday at 12:02 PM
    Point for Syn. Part of the problem with a large group with people in multiple coteries, is if you make a move on a person in a rival coterie, in essence you’re making a move against ALL the coteries that person is in.

    BrainToday at 12:02 PM
    Some with some of the other PC’s, some with NPC’s

    SynToday at 12:02 PM
    la by night isn’t 25-30 PCs though.

    ScarecrowToday at 12:03 PM
    (what is it?)
    BrainToday at 12:03 PM
    Sure, but the point still works

    SynToday at 12:03 PM
    dunno >.> but i don’t think 25+!
    sort of but i think when you scale up by so much, you have balancing issues and different concerns to consider.

    BrainToday at 12:03 PM
    multiple coteries for each player. some are public some are not

    SynToday at 12:04 PM
    we’re much closer to a LARP than a tabletop

    NikToday at 12:04 PM
    That is fine imo, because that’s where politics comes into play. You have to weigh up the needs of your coterie and your guild. But the guild itself is targeted as one thing… to do a job. Beyond that, your own personal needs are served by coteries

    BrainToday at 12:05 PM
    in LARPs there are multiple coteries some are public some are not

    BrainToday at 12:07 PM
    Also, oteries are also not your bff’s that you defend to the death, If someone attacks a member and it’s not advantageous to not do so and let them fall on the sword. Unless that person comes at the coterie as a whole, jumping to a coteriemate’s side should always be weighed. Adversaries can also be in your coterie. They are only there because they share the same goal. In the end, you just take what they earned from them and THIS IS SPARTA their asses
    What happened with Furst with Maddox/Mason

    ScarecrowToday at 12:08 PM
    Plus, there’s a threat of ‘Coterie’ exhaustion. I’m in a number of coteries. I’m also head of a guild. I also have personal interactions (and a fulfilling personal story line), and also simply things I want to do for character development.
    Some nights I simply want to log in and have fun. Or get to know other Kindred.

    BrainToday at 12:10 PM
    Yeah, it’s definitely a balancing act of the most important resource: time
    because unlike vampires, we have limited amount lol

    ScarecrowToday at 12:11 PM
    a couple of people have alluded to potential coteries, but man, it’d be tough to fit in.

    maw777Today at 12:13 PM
    I like the idea of coteries (secret or otherwise) existing parallel to the guilds. But then ahain, I like the idea of group projects and people building shit together

    MalevolenceToday at 12:13 PM
    overextending is a thing too
    you, each of you, need to weigh your options and decide if it’s advantageous to be in a coterie, which is hard I realize and hard if you are organizing a secret one and someone you approach says no

    Dhampirlord/MichaelToday at 12:14 PM
    Well, if they say no you kill their ass…I meaaannn.

    maw777Today at 12:15 PM
    Absolutely. I usually go with the idea that fresh neonates might want to come together as a group (usually from the same clan) and learn more of their nature collectively
    You can’t rely on an elder to teach you more on what ut means to be a toreador, or a malkavian

    yup, and why want your input
    ScarecrowToday at 12:25 PM
    For instance, Adversaries change. But presumably, Allies are more stable and consistent. I’d put “Allies” as higher priority than Adversaries.

    BrainToday at 12:26 PM
    The reason why adversaries are more important is because a) that’s just the nature of the Beast. It always has you looking behind your back. b) they destroy what you build. It’s the old saying "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer"
    which is why adversaries often end up in your coterie. You can watch them better that way!
    And better see an opening to strike

    maw777Today at 12:27 PM
    I think a good way to balance many coteries at once would be to limit the amount of benefits they have as opposed in the book. And a coterie can choose for example one or two backgrounds they can pool together, if they choose to do so
    Library, resources, etc.
    As opposed to two people pooling one background, two others another one etc

    NikToday at 12:31 PM
    Some of this is a bit fluid and can even shift in the background, because people are people and needs change.For some people allies might play a greater role because it is in their interests, then they will put them ahead of the coterie. But it all tracks back to personal interest and needs

    BrainToday at 12:31 PM
    Right. It is a general rule of thumb
    not something set in stone

    MalevolenceToday at 12:32 PM
    yes, please don’t take it as hard-set rules
    there is waaaaay too much of that

    maw777Today at 12:34 PM
    Yes <<

    BrainToday at 12:34 PM
    i meant to put that it was a bit fluid and it was a general rule of thumb thing, but i derped XD
    I posted a reply adding that

    NikToday at 12:40 PM
    Also one thing to consider is the level of input you give each coterie. I suggest not being in tons, but there isn’t a single amount you have to hit. Some might not need additional investment of resources beyond your own personal ones to be used for them. Others wont need much time. It depends on how it is set up and the purpose. But… we did ask for input and opinions, so definitely feed back what you like or dont

    NikToday at 12:49 PM
    But this is a great chance to help us make it better or provide insight you think we should consider. So don’t be shy about voicing an idea/opinion, even negative ones. No ego here, just now with the numbers growing it is important to nail whatever we do so we don’t have to come back to it

    maw777Today at 12:52 PM
    My only concern is whether or not over time characters will just dump each other in clans and we end up with camarilla lite

    NikToday at 12:53 PM
    how do you mean?

    maw777Today at 1:02 PM
    Like…imo at least, it seems natural for kindred of the same clan to come together and work as a team cuz would you rather trust the nosferatu by your side or your fellow brujah?
    And over time you might end up with a bunch of clan specific coteries

    NikToday at 1:05 PM
    That comes down to purpose and skillsets. I might want a Nos because they can sneak better, or a Brujah because they fight better, or a Ventrue because they are assholes better
    I get the point, but that interplay is dependent on purpose and also personalities. Some, like Tremere, might do it due to their situation. But that would be for a specific purpose. Then you have needs outside of that and those Tremere won’t be best placed to help you. If that makes sense

    maw777Today at 1:07 PM

  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    PS: Before anyone says or even thinks it- we didn’t start the convo on Discord to cut anyone out, obviously- since I am now posting the log and want input.

  • I have played with the idea of a secret coterie for some time an may or may not been part of one from the begening of the game.

  • Small suggestion that might help make Guild/coterie XP spends feel more rewarding: Have turf rating reduce feeding difficulty for members?

  • Fiddling with idea also just trying to figure out my influences

  • To me the guilds just feel like a massive coterie

  • I’m pretty new still, and this is the first VTM game I’ve ever participated in, so take my opinion with a grain of salt as it is very colored by that.

    I’ve been seeing the guilds as sort of “baby’s first coterie,” but at the same time softer expectations and bonds than a proper coterie. It’s a place to meet like-minded characters, form some relationships, and have at least one group of people that, for now, you can be reasonably certain aren’t going to try to murder you (assuming you aren’t an asshat). It’s kind of taking the place of an organized clan structure, in my head, since as anarchs we aren’t as organized in that respect. While Kindred may crave social bonds and allies, at our core we only trust ourselves and have to be on the look out. That’s a rough mind-set to start a game this big in. I couldn’t speak to the xp issue as I’ve yet to try to do anything with that, so I have no frame of reference.

  • My two cents…

    • I don’t think Guilds are broken. I think tying them to turf and the general system of turf is broken/an XP sink.

    • Guilds become an XP sink because of turf - and we’ve waffled a bit on what the scope and impact of guild turf should be. First it was you cover the whole area, monitor for breaches, gain turf so you can bring down hunting diffs etc. Then we pivoted the otherway. The city is too big, especially now opening up the Camarilla areas, for there to really be an effective turf game. Also, if the guilds are really just jobs, why should they have turf and why should they work together for it?

    • I disagree that there shouldn’t be inter-guild conflict. It kinda runs contrary to the central conceit of vampire and specifically the stuff that was just posted about relationship hierarchies. Absolutely, the guilds are built to compliment one another and they should be able to eventually work towards a goal - but if it’s all kumbya whenever there’s a “problem” then, in my opinion, we’re ignoring the other inter-personal conflict stuff, and really just playing to chase the next “Big Bad” as a happy family. That’s not why I play vampire.

    • I do think there should be general education on Guild vs Coterie (as this is actually NEW to the game) and I’ll admit, until some recent posts, I was even fuzzy on it.


  • Hilt

    Guilds are where the political power is (seats on the council).

    Guilds have turf. Most of the city, in fact.

    Guilds have shared skills.

    Guilds each boast 1/3 of the city’s population.

    Guilds have rivals in them (one of the top relationships on the list).

    We killed the old coteries to give birth to the Guilds.

    This makes them sound extremely important to our characters to me.


  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    You’re correct on all points but the turf, they only have very small slices and not anywhere close to the entire city.

  • They don’t have much control over more than a small slice, but they do restrict feeding rights to members only for big chunks of the city that weren’t under Camarilla control. They may not be able to enforce that claim well, but it exists at least in name.

  • I think that’s one thing we talked about but didn’t necessarily circulate widely enough during the various iterations of coterie.

  • Would it be possible to take the xp already spend on the guild and turn it into a guild hall like haven type that guild memeber could have there meetings and not have anymore xp go to the guild. Let the coterie form with out players worring if they have enough xp for both. Keep the guilds are there intended to be for the benefit of the city. Then let the small member coteries form

  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    We will be working up rules and such once we give people a bit to weigh in. But this is along the lines of what we may do.

  • Cool, because this has given me some ideas of what i could do now IC

  • Hilt

    If I understand correctly (huge if, so, grain of salt), …

    Part of what is behind this discussion is an awareness that the Guilds themselves discourage the PVP aspects of a good vampire game. The fact of it being the Fighters, the Breach-Cleaners, and the Smarty-pantses (oversimplification for efficiency) kind of encourages PVE thinking.

    My perception is that this is inherent in the job descriptions. It’s a reasonable, intelligently designed social structure, and it is one that encourages cooperation and discourages us from tearing each other down. I mean, it’s not like a Hacker wants to make the fighters unable to protect her. It’s not like she wants to make the Fancies unable to clean up breaches. Right?

    So at the moment, if we want to amp up the vicious competition, we’re gonna have to either agree to play put a story arc where the Guilds collapse and we’re “reduced” to competing territorial gangs again, AND make claiming and undermining turf easier / cheaper… or… at least in very significant ways reduce the power and claim of the guilds. Like strip them of turf and strip them of granting seats on the Council (making the council just the top XX vote-getters period, with guild-heads not auto-getting stuff).

  • From what im understanding the guilds are the reserve or national guard. They only act when needed for the good of the city. Other than that every one is on there own and thats when coteries, personal allies come into play.

  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    Very good analogy.

  • Hilt

    Last time I’ll mention this part (I think I’m hearing that I’m the only one who sees it this way, in which case fistbump and stuff).

    If we’re going with the Guilds being only rarely important, definitely-not-teams, and if we want smaller rivalling coteries to be more central, it seems wise to me to completely remove all territorial claims from the Guilds. Like make all the Guilds entirely non-geographic. Then let the coteries stake claims to turfs (like, for a hypothetical example, if some one owned a collective of artists, they might want to form a coterie that claimed the geographic region that collective was in, and then that space wouldn’t belong / be protected by their guild as a whole, but by them and their bros specifically). This has a particular sense-making appeal, insofar as it avoids associating the Guilds’ function with an area of the city: Do the Blade only protect us against physical threats in Blade regions? Like do the Hilt avoid messing with Occult stuff in Midtown? Are the Spine staying out of Mortal Influences in the Upper Rich Side, or whatever it’s called, being like “we only clean up Masquerade Breaches in this area?” No. They all do their thing over the whole city. Of course they do.

  • Lead Storytellers Administrators

    We are taking everything everyone says into account and welcome all suggestions, so this is noted! 🙂