It is the Dark Ages, no doubt. The blood of war after war soaks the ground from the Holy Land to Constantinople to the squabbles of Barons and Warlords in Europe. Blood runs freely in the south of France and the cities of Italy, during the Albigensian "Crusade" against Heretics, Cainite and Human. So much blood. It should be no surprise that the Vampires were not far from the bloodshed, manipulating from the shadows and feeding from the fallen.
Vampires enjoyed a lot of freedom before the Inquisition; many Cainites believe than humankind is far too distracted by their own wars and chaos to really organize against Cainitekind...as long as the Vampires remain prudent and clever.
In the Dark Ages, there are Vampires who live in castles and rule those in the villages below with an iron fist. There are those who have set themselves up as angels, or gods, worshiped by the awed herds that give them sustenance. The might of the Usurper's blood magic is enough to gain them grudging entrance into many Vampire courts.
There is no Camarilla, no Sabbat... the word Kindred has not been invented yet. There are only the cursed predators spinning webs of intrigue through the eternities. Some remember their humanity and try to preserve what they once were though they are cursed. Some revel in their monstrous powers, committing acts so heinous that even other Cainites would have them hunted for it. Each vampire was once a person who was slain and then changed. What happens after that is up to you.
Vampires are immortal and constantly fighting the beast of mindless predatory hunger. The society of Vampires can be just as important as a personal Road in keeping the whole from falling to chaos. Having an established pecking order means that a Cainite knows exactly where she stands in every social situation and how to act accordingly. Raising oneself in the Courts of the Damned is a complicated game which can take centuries.
Ushaw Moor is a Barony within the Domain of Durham County. Prince Maegan of Clan Ventrue rules over the Domain from the city of Durham itself, while the Barony of Ushaw Moor is ruled over by a Player Character. While each Barony and Domain may have its own unique laws, but the one standard law for all is the requirement for visiting Cainites to announce their presence.
Vampires have a bright future? Really!?...
Yep, Vampires have the advantage of knowing that you will outlive everyone else (except the Wraith). Vampire plots and influences are made with “long term” in mind. Do not expect fast results, especially when a Traditionalist or High clan is involved. Manipulations that are Low Clan related will be faster, but possibly sloppier (they are not stupid, just less careful). When the vampires look at the werewolves as “tools” instead of enemies the game takes on a different flavor and vision.
Tools and Resources in the Endless Night
Vampires have spent centuries learning the finer points of manipulating Mortalkind...and each other. Just ask the Vatican! Some do this to guide and help the mortals, and others use mortals as a tool to get what they want and further their own agenda. Either way, Vampires have a variety of tools at their disposal.
The Economy of Boons
In Vampire, favors are currency. These are called Boons. They can be traded for goods and services to the right people for money.
Durham and the Chain of Command
Durham wants a neutral domain it can count on, but cannot risk seeming like the puppet master. As such, the Prince generally lets local politics and court positions be handed locally. If someone messes up so epically that the Prince hears about it and needs to respond, it's no good for ANYONE. Anything in the chain of command higher than the Baron is played by NPCs. The Prince of Durham (or any other Prince for that matter) is unlikely to ever come to Ushaw Moor. Coming to a frightfully unstable backwater town with few resources would make the Prince vulnerable. Considering the struggle brewing between the Princes in Europe, even messages sent to Prince Meagan directly have been intercepted. If you're lucky, it's one of her Knights.
The Knights The Knights roam around the Prince's territory acting as her eyes and hands. These are who are appropriate to send letters to for letter of introduction etc. Should a Cainite feel the need to attempt to contact Durham Court, you make that contact through the Knights. The Knights are trusted appointed servants of the Prince, and expect to be treated as such.
Sir Samuel Beckett: A known Venture and Knight of Megan's court. Formerly Sir Beckett was the only avenue of contact by which the Cainites of Ushaw Moore could contact Megan's Court. A few years ago he was accused of being in league with the Baali. After investigation, this was determined false by the Court of Durham. That's not to say there isn't some bad blood. Sir Beckett has a lot of pull and resources within Durham and is his “base of operations”. The primary focus of his power there is with the government and mortal political bodies.
Sir Kevin Chamberlain: A known Brujah and knight of Megan's court. Sir Chamberlain's region of patrol was changed when Samuel Beckett's loyalties to the prince were brought into question. Despite the fact Sir Beckett has been exonerated for these claims Prince Megan has not changed their patrol routes. Kevin Chamberlain has less time as a Knight than Samuel Beckett. Kevin's only mark against him in Megan's court is his tendency to promote new ideas that do not always sit well with the traditionalists. Still he remains as loyal to Prince Megan as Samuel Beckett. Kevin Chamberlain has had known resources and pull with commerce and trade. He keeps himself apprised of all developing technologies.
This is the least “tangible” influence to take advantage of, but this is the most RP intensive influence to control. This is manipulating relationships with vampires and its society to gain support from its members outside of Ushaw Moor. This can have benefits such as Cainite allies arriving to assist with a threat to the Barony. Or even gaining boons to teach disciplines and gain any number of other favors from them. Getting to know your fellow bloodsuckers can be challenging, the risk is that you may insult or alienate one of them and they could be less likely to help, and at worst help your enemies to move against you.
The Cappadocian and Tremere are the primary contacts in this regard many of them have Rituals or Fetishes to trade or sell. Establishing a positive relationship with these NPC's can effect trade. Remember however that nothing in Vampire is “free” and not all costs involve money. The more “free” it seems the more suspicious you should be; its not paranoia, its survival. Do not forget that player characters of the other supernatural factions are a resource as well, They can be manipulated and influences, and favors garnered from them can be powerful (in some cases more powerful than NPC's).