Wednesday, January 17, 2024

New Salem: Renaissance, Gang Wars, and Identities

As we explore the personalities of the New Salem Syndicate it should be clear that some of them don't like each other very much. For all that the Syndicate itself, and the increased profits the cooperation brings, is a net advantage, the the personality type that lends itself to crime - never mind semi-costumed get-yourself-a-themed-gang crime - isn't one that works naturally together. This makes them both vulnerable and volatile. 

Once the PCs start figuring out the structure of the Syndicate they might identify these weak points. That gives them space to possibly exploit them, urging one faction against other. 

Of course, once they take out one node, the crime that node controls doesn't immediately go away: other nodes in the Syndicate will move in to control them, lieutenants get promoted, the power structure shifts. The real advantage of the Triumvirate is that they exercise enough control to manage that. But if the PCs have already taken out one or more of the Triumvirate members, or if they have identified which nodes already hate one another enough to slip control, this turns into a gang war. 

This is great in that it's the Syndicate weakening itself. 

It sucks because normal people get caught in the crossfire. 

It's up to the players to decide whether that is worth it. The whole point of this experiment is that the players are driving the action, and exactly how vigilante they want to be. 

Unlike either the usual supers game where the PCs may get defeated but seldom retreat, or Nights Black Agents which introduced me to the Conspyramid, there's an advantage to the the PCs attacking a node, feeling out the opposition, and then retreating to their base to add what they know to the Bat-Computer or Corkboard-of-Strings-and-Photos. 

The players need to internalize this: if they get captured only the goofiest lowest level nodes will not unmask them but put them in deathtraps. Falling back and escaping to fight another day is essential. At the start they have NO support. No one is coming to rescue them. They are the rescuers of the city. 

The one big supers trope I am stressing is Secret Identity. Their secret identity MATTERS. A lot. If the Syndicate learns who they really are they are screwed. That being said, any sort of mask will hide their identity. As long as they make a token effort in their costume to hide their ID, it will work until they are captured or someone unmasks them. (FAGAN's 'telepathy' makes her very dangerous in this respect: she's really the only node that can 'unmask' the heroes without literally unmasking them, and even then it's 85% certainty that the PCs might be able to wriggle out of.)

This leads to a very specific style of supers play, so the players need to internalize these points before you begin. 

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