V5 Chronicle Tips
Ten Tips to Running the Second Inquisition in V5
3. Ten Tips to Running the Sabbat in V5
4. Ten Chronicles for Sabbat PCs in V5
5. Ten Tips to Running the Camarilla in V5
"Why all the secrecy? Why not just go public, let people protect themselves?"
"Listen. Every week there's a panic about some puny little bug. Now how do you think it would be if this got out? Hm? You'll have paranoia, you'll have vigilantes, you'll have people running back to religion in droves. The next thing you know, you'll have the Archbishop up for Prime Minister. I don't fancy living in Iran, do you?"
-Mike and Vaughn, Ultraviolet
The Second Inquisition is a development for the Fifth Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. It is an alliance of hunter groups that has arisen in the past decade and inflicted hundreds, if not thousands, of casualties on the vampire race. They have also pulled off seemingly impossible victories like the destruction of the Tremere Council of Seven, destroying all the Kindred of London, and playing an instrumental role in the collapse of the Giovanni leadership.
The organization has also caused massive upheavals in the Kindred world. The Camarilla has started using Cold War spy techniques and almost Game of Thrones communication techniques ("Send the ravens!") to avoid being tracked by the seemingly omnipresent foe that can hack phones as well as monitor every call. Their government ties and access to War on Terror authority as well as military-grade weaponry means that many undead believe that they could destroy the vampire race. But how dangerous are they and what way should they be used? Here's some suggestions from me on this.
1. The Masquerade still exists and isn't going away
One misconception is that the Second Inquisition has blown the Masquerade completely and the world's governments are now hunting vampires globally. This is not the case at all. The Second Inquisition is a group of individuals, secret societies, and cabals within public organizations loosely allied together to kill as many vampires as possible. They are all collectively of the mind that the Masquerade is better for everyone, though, because of the societal upheaval that revealing vampires exist could cause. Their motivations may vary but the majority of them believe firmly that this is a terrible idea and will actively cover up the existence of the undead like the monsters they hunt. The Second Inquisition DOES have more than enough evidence to expose vampires if they wanted to, though, and that makes outright destroying them harder than it might seem.
2. The Second Inquisition is not new
There is no actual Second Inquisition any more than there is a Project: Twilight. The Second Inquisition is a nickname for the sudden upswing in successful vampire hunts conducted by mostly pre-existing organizations that have been menacing Kindred for centuries. The Society of Leopold isn't the Second Inquisition, it is the first Inquisition. It has just reunited itself with the Vatican under the WOD version of Pope Francis and received funding from sponsors in the European Union as well as United States. It's joined by the Knights of Saint George, FBI Special Affairs Division (SAD), Arcanum, Bob Schnoblin's Goblins, and a dozen other groups. Once they started sharing information and working together, the number of vampires they began to kill skyrocketed. Even so, they're about as united as the Nine Traditions, which is to say not at all.
The cleansing of London turns out to have been orchestrated by the 4th generation methuselah Mithras as a way to purge his political enemies. Both the destruction of the Vienna chantry and Mausoleum are all but stated to have been done with the help of "inside men" with the latter being arranged by the Hecata. The entire reason the SI exists is because the Camarilla attempted to use the US government's security apparatus against the Sabbat and Anarchs before blaming the latter in a classic projection defense. Many vampires, when confronted with the SI, will attempt to use it against their enemies rather than form a united front. As Pam from True Blood answered a hunter psychologist's, question, "How much loyalty do you feel toward your race?" "None." This doesn't mean the Second Inquisition isn't dangerous by itself, it just means that the Kindred's many defeats are due to being their own worst enemy.
4. The Second Inquisition is knowledgeable
Previously, Kindred had the advantage that most hunters had about as much knowledge about vampires as any student of pop culture. The Imbued in Hunter: The Reckoning were encouraged to be written as ignorant as possible in order to maintain dramatic tension. The Second Inquisition are not remotely ignorant. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, one should consider its members to own a copy of Vampire: The Masquerade's main book. Clans, ghouls, sects, bloodlines, Disciplines, and so on. The thing is, for the most part, the Second Inquisition doesn't care about these things. They are interested only in how to destroy the undead and answering existential questions that the Kindred themselves have no answer for (like, "how do the dead move?"). They don't necessarily understand what they know but they've captured many vampires who have squealed like pigs all their secrets. They may get details wrong ("UV light must work" or "All vampires worship Set") and some members much more ignorant than others but they know far more than most hunters have historically. This helps SI leaders do unconventional things like framing vampires for killing one another, plotting to set them against one another, and other non-traditional hunter plots.
5. The Second Inquisition is subtle and patient
Contrary to the assumption that many Kindred have, the majority of SI agents will not immediately react to the discovery of a vampire's haven by sending in SWAT teams to gun them down or dropping a hellfire missile down on an identified Elysium. First of all, the SI must preserve its own secrecy and is not interested in a few stragglers. The SI may actually monitor vampires for months or even years before striking as they are attempting to get a full sense of the massive world they have found out about. Some SI agents may want to slaughter all of them whenever and wherever they find them but these are the minority. They are also the ones most likely to get a SI cell or base slaughtered in the aftermath.'
The Second Inquisition has more resources than the original Inquisition and technology the vast majority of elders do not understand. However, it is not actually a single group but a large number of pre-existing groups with friends in the world's varying governments. Even then, they cannot lend aid to one another easily. Let's face it, it's hard to explain why a FBI agent might be sending a bunch of rocket launchers to a orthodox Catholic group in Italy even if they could acquire them in the first place. Also, they've used a lot of their discretionary income to update existing hunter groups but even its leaders' deep pockets can't spend indefinitely to fight a menace that its governments don't even believe exist.
7. The Second Inquisition is mortal, not supernatural
The Second Inquisition can have support from other supernatural groups in your Chronicle. Certainly, the Technocratic Union would probably have agents peppered through it. So would other groups. The SAD had a Kinfolk, NWO Agent, and Pentex operative in its regional directors. Indeed, the Camarilla almost certainly has agents in the Second Inquisition despite the latter's many precautions against infiltration by such. However, the SI should fundamentally be a grass roots mortal response to Kindred arrogance. Despite this, there's no reason why "unusual" devices and anti-vampire weapons can't be justified by individuals who wouldn't mind pruning the population of the undead (even among the undead). The SI also has access to Numina via hedge mages, faithful mortals, psychics, and other low-level human abilities. Enough that Dominate 3 isn't enough to solve all the undead's problems.
8. The Second Inquisition isn't listening to your phone calls (probably)
The Second Inquisition isn't using PRISM to monitor the entire internet for any mention of Camarilla, Anarchs, Brujah, or Beckett. Even if they could, they wouldn't be able to sort through all of the data or justify it to other government branches. The Kindred don't understand their enemy or its capabilities, so that's partially why the SI continues to bedevil them. They can hack the computers and phones of those Kindred they identify but it's usually a much more personal as well as slow-going process. The paranoia about one vampire potentially exposing many others is not entirely unjustified, though. How screwed are you if they have a bug in Elysium? The Succubus Club? Or more? Perhaps very or perhaps not at all as everyone uses an alias. It's all up to the Storyteller. It's also possible that the guy monitoring those places will stick his findings in a pile of papers that will never be read or be an agent of another power.
9. The Second Inquisition fights smarter, not harder
It is possible for the Second Inquisition to send a Navy SEAL team to your haven to gun you down or call a drone strike down on your location. These are the dumbest actions they can take. The Second Inquisition knows that not only are they hiding their activities from vampires but they are hiding from the parts of the government that may not react well to their activities. That doesn't mean that such panicked ill-conceived attacks don't happen, but they will be the outlier unless the undead have backed the group into a corner or gotten the drop on them. At the very least, expect attacks to happen during the day and escape routes to have been blocked. They may also work to make it appear as if it was another vampire's minions or regular law enforcement. They are the underdogs in this fight and can't afford to lose as many members as taking down a typical coterie in hand-to-hand takes.
10. The Second Inquisition can and will be beaten
Even ignoring the game is called Vampire: The Masquerade and not Hunter: The Sterilization, the Second Inquisition is not actually an existential threat to all of vampiredom. It might be a threat to one of the sects or many cities but it doesn't have the oomph to win overall. The moment they chose not to destroy the Masquerade was the moment they lost the war. Humanity can defeat the Cainite race, not any small group of it no matter how well equipped they are. SI agents are subtle, patient, rich, and knowledgeable but so are many vampires. The Camarilla has enough resources to attack the agencies behind the SI, let alone its operatives in it. The Anarchs are capable of repopulating as well as falling back into regular humanity. Even the Sabbat, diminished as it is, is an army larger than the SI as well as a supernatural one. The trick is that any individual vampire can be killed by them and most vampires are more terrified of that being them than any overall threat to their race.