Harsh Light of Day
Not every Kindred who wants to be a part of the Embassy is able to be there in person. Whether they're too monstrous or inhuman for mortal company, or just don't have the time required to attend themselves, some influential Kindred have managed to secure their ghouls positions as Ambassadors. Ghouls are playable in Harsh Light, with the following caveats:
- Few in number: We will only be accepting a small number (three or less) of ghoul concepts, so if you pitch a ghoul make sure to have a vampire concept as a back-up.
- No PC domitors. We don't want one PC to have this much power over another right off the bat, so all domitors of ghoul PCs will be NPCs played by one of the STs. Feel free to outline the type of character you would like to see as your ghoul's vampiric master, and we will take that into consideration when designing them. Keep in mind that domitors will not be on the floor often (if they could be, they wouldn't need you) but will most likely be a fixture of your downtime.
- Power Discrepancy: Ghouls are human, so they take no damage from sunlight, only Lethal damage from fire, and heal damage naturally over time. They have no Beast to contend with, but they also are absent the undead's many advantages. Ghouls take damage as humans from weapons, and have only a precious few points of donated Vitae to fuel their meager amount of Disciplines. Make sure you are okay with playing a character with much less personal power than most other PCs before submitting a ghoul concept.
Ghouls in the Setting:
One of the Kindred's more publicized 'gifts' that they bring to the table is the power of their blood. Vitae can heal nearly any wound and can halt many otherwise deadly diseases in their tracks, but there is a catch: To use the power of Vitae, the human ingesting the blood must become a ghoul, which means not only becoming addicted to the substance itself but also becoming slavishly devoted to one's 'donor'. Not only is the ghouled state troubling from a moral and legal standpoint, but it also halts the aging process, rendering the ghoul effectively immortal- as long as they continue to consume Vitae at least once a month. If this 'side-effect' were to become widely known, then the Kindred would be hounded by immortality seekers, willing to pay any price for a chance at eternity. This is a situation neither the Kindred Nation nor that Canadian Government wants to deal with, and so information about Vitae is very tightly controlled. Still, for all it's risks, Vitae is a miraculous substance capable of amazing feats. Therefore, the question becomes how to reconcile the good it can do with what it does to those who use it?
The answer, apparently, is to be very careful and use a lot of paperwork. Turning someone into a ghoul outside of the two Government-sponsored programs that deal with them (see below) is currently illegal in Canada, but it's not a law that's easy to find. Rather, it's a tacit agreement between the Kindred Nation and the Government of Canada that the former will not enslave the latter's citizens, as long as the latter provides the former a way to acquire servants for those who require them. To this end, the Office of Human and Kindred Relations has set up a pair of programs to benefit both the Kindred Nation and the people of Canada.
The Medicinal Vitae Recipient Program (Medical Ghouls):
Vitae is an incredible substance, able to bring back people from the brink of death and to stop the most virulent of infections in its tracks. Eager to prove themselves beneficial partners to humanity, the Kindred have offered several of their number to work within the medical system, saving the lives of humans with their blood.
Medical Ghouls come in two types: Short-Term and Long-Term. A Short-Term Medical Ghoul is created when Vitae is needed to save someone from immediate physical harm. These people are usually given Vitae in an ER setting, are given just just enough to save them, and rarely, if ever, know that they're even a ghoul at all. Most patients in an ER rarely see the physician or nurse who help them ever again, so the blood bond isn't a factor. Most people aren't going to care that the substance being put into their IV is vampire blood instead of morphine as long as it saves their lives. Any withdrawal symptoms they feel at the end of the month are written off as 'medication side-effects', and everybody's happy. Nice and simple. Of course, even blood transfusions from other humans are not accepted by everyone, and blood from a vampire has even more objectors. Several religious groups and many more individuals have stated unilaterally they will not accept Kindred blood.
It gets a little more complicated with Long-Term Medical Ghouls. To become one, first you need to have been diagnosed with an incurable disease that's going to either kill you or make your life unbearable. Next, it has to be a condition Vitae is effective against: The blood of Kindred is a cure for nearly any physical condition, but cannot help against degenerative mental conditions such as Dementia or Parkinson's. If you fit both of these conditions, you may then register your name in the OHKR-controlled Medicinal Vitae Recipient Program, which is very similar to an organ transplant list. This list is available to all members of the Kindred Nation, and while the vampires are under no obligation to pick someone off of it to ghoul, the leadership of the Nation highly encourages it. If you are selected by a Kindred, you must first sign a massive Non-Disclosure Agreement that will make you wish for the wasting death of your condition should you violate it. That done, the full benefits and consequences of becoming a ghoul are explained to you. If you choose to still proceed (as the vast majority of people have), then you meet your donor and things proceed from there.
The relationship between a Medical Ghoul and their donor (the vampiric term, domitor, is only used in the Red District) varies wildly. Most MGs see their donor only once a month, taking in only enough Vitae to keep themselves ghouled so their condition doesn't advance. This arrangement mitigates the artificial devotion created by the blood bond and allows the MG to live a fairly normal life. Most Kindred who are donors just for the PR prefer this arrangement as well, and are uninterested in the responsibility of a full-time ghoul. (Kindred looking for a more traditional master-servant relationship usually sign up for the Indentured Ghoul program, see below). While this minimalist arrangement has become the norm for Medical Ghouls, there are exceptions. Sometimes an MG and their donor hit it off, and with the help of the blood bond, become fast friends. Some MGs feel gratitude towards their Kindred donors, and seek to repay them however they can. Often, these exceptional cases will choose to take up residence in their donor's Red District, to better maintain the relationship. This might cause certain social ramifications, but they are legally free to do so. It should be noted, however, that both OHKR and the Kindred Nation keep a close eye on Medical Ghouls, and they are obligated to attend weekly check-ups and interviews to ensure they are not being mistreated. The Medical Ghoul program is one of the cornerstones of the relationship between both societies, and neither wants to see it blemished because some indiscreet vampire decides they have a free slave now. Eventually, the lack of aging will become obvious to the public as large, but the program is still too new for it to have been a problem. Yet.
The Kindred Correctional Outreach Program (Indentured Ghouls):
This organization exists as a sort of mirror image to the Medicinal Vitae Recipient Program. Both are about Kindred selecting humans to ghoul, but where the MVRP goes out of its way to mitigate the blood bond, the Kindred Correctional Outreach Program depends on it. How else are they to expect career criminals to play house-servant to vampires?
The KCOR was created, ostensibly, as a way to help streamline Canada's prison system and give the taxpayer a break by foisting the cost of caring for a bunch of inmates onto the Kindred. Publicly, the program exists as a way for Kindred who have had difficulty feeding since the Reveal apply for a live-in source of blood from the only population that the public would tolerate being used like this: convicts. In truth, the program was set up to ensure that the Kindred Nation has access to a supply of potential servants.
Registering for the KCOR is simple: upon conviction, you can choose to sign up by filling out some paperwork when you get to prison. Just like the MVRP, you're put on a list that can be browsed by any active member of the Kindred Nation. If you're selected by a vampire, you may choose to sign a horrific Non-Disclosure Agreement that has sanctions which make prison look like a nature walk. Should you proceed, you are then told what you've really signed up for: indentured servitude to a monster that will use you in pretty much whatever way they see fit (including dinner) for years. You are given one more chance to back out, and if you don't take it, you're signed over to your new master and moved into their Red District for the duration of your service.
Just like Medical Ghouls, ghouls created through the KCOR are checked up on and are, in theory, subject to certain minimum standards of treatment. In practice however, neither the Canadian Government nor the Kindred Nation keeps a close an eye on them and their treatment, therefore, can vary quite a bit. Some Indentured Ghouls find themselves longing for prison as they are subjected to the harsh demands an odd whims of their domitor. Others rejoice in their decision; for while they are not technically 'free' they still live much more comfortably than inside a cell. Indentured Ghouls are not paid, but their masters are responsible for housing them, feeding them and their wellbeing. Indentured Ghouls are not permitted outside the Red District without a proper escort, and any trouble they get into falls back onto their master.
Since its inception, the program has been wildly popular, with the majority of new convicts registering for it immediately. The promise of being able to serve part, or all, of their sentence in the relative freedom of a Red District in exchange for a units of blood is quite seductive, despite whatever rumors surround the program. Thus, Kindred looking to acquire a new ghoul are quite spoiled for choice, and can afford to be very specific in their selections. Some even use their potential ghouls crimes as a gauge for how to best use them: someone convicted of insider trading, for example, might be good at adapting an elder vampire's fortune of fine art and gold ingots into stocks and investments. It is worth noting that this program is not open to Canada's most violent offenders. No one wants to give mass-murderers or serial rapists super-powers, no matter how much control they might be under.
With ghouls being illegal in Canada except under very specific circumstances, a rare case of person suddenly found themselves in a tough spot: Consider the ghoul who has been one so long that to stop being a ghoul would kill them due to their advanced age. When the Kindred Nation brought this issue to the attention of the Canadian Government, they ultimately agreed to register these (thankfully rare) cases into the MVRP in order to not be responsible for their deaths. It's even accurate, in a way: These people do have a condition that will kill them if they don't receive Vitae every month. It's just, in their case, that condition is 'being a ghoul'.
There is a saying that has become quite popular in Canada over the past few years: "What happens in the Red District, stays in the Red District." With the Red Districts being under the control of the Kindred Nation, there's really not much stopping a vampire from creating a ghoul 'illegally', as long as both parties are on board with it. As long as the illicit ghoul stays mostly in the Red District and doesn't call attention to themselves, it's pretty easy to pass as a regular human. That said, if the ghoul in question is found out, both they and their master are in all kinds of trouble. It's a risk, but one many people, Kindred and human, are willing to take. What absolutely doesn't happen anymore (at least in Canada), however, is someone being ghouled against their will. Humans can call the cops on Kindred now, something even a fully-bound ghoul can manage eventually, and even the most vigilant domitor cannot watch a rebellious ghoul 24/7. Any vampire caught engaging in this behavior is not going to have long to contemplate their errors. The Kindred Nation likes to make examples out of such fools, in order to reassure the humans how harshly they deal with vampires who dare risk the friendship between their two peoples.
Ghouling an animal is legal as long as the animal in question is legally owned by the Kindred doing the ghouling. Kindred are held responsible for the actions of animal ghouls. Furthermore, the Prince has made it clear that obvious mistreatment of animal ghouls will not be accepted. Nothing riles up the public faster than a viral video of a man kicking a dog.