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Boons in the World of Darkness

The world of vampires has a currency just like any other, but vampires are not generally that impressed with cold hard cash. They deal in something a bit more complicated, boons.

A boon is like a debt. You do someone a favor, and if they acknowledge that you helped them out, they now owe you a boon. Sounds pretty simple, but nothing in the world of darkness is ever simple when you take everything into account.

Also understand that a boon isn’t owed just when you take it upon yourself to declare it. If someone saves your existence by choice, and others see him do so, if you don’t acknowledge the boon, the court may destroy you. If a vampire becomes known as untrustworthy or an oath breaker, the harpies may allow others to ignore their debt to him later. (And it becomes very hard to trade in boons in any event.)

One thing to remember is that boons must be paid off because the social order demands it. If a Prince doesn’t enforce boons, then the people who owe him boons might not have to pay him off, and he isn’t going to tolerate that.

However, if the boon isn’t formally acknowledged, the social order will not force the boon to be paid off, it’s as simple as that. Of course, some principled vampires will repay their debt just because they choose to honor the system of protestation, but it’s not a good idea to rely on principle in this harsh world.

Ok so I owe a boon. Just what is required of me now?

(Depending on where you look, the way these boons are described is different. This is the way we do it here; at least this way it’s consistent.)

Since boons are so important, boons are carefully described in two ways. Firstly in what would be done for you to owe the boon, and secondly in how you can repay the boon.

Trivial Boon

A small boon like this doesn’t mean that the person who did you the favor inconvenienced himself while helping you, just that he helped you. He might trade information and demand a boon.

A trivial boon is paid off with one action, and never requires anything of that character again. It requires that the player use a discipline on the other’s behalf, or that he votes on his behalf, or perhaps that he supplies a piece of information. If a person chooses not to repay the boon when he could do so, he can usually get away with it, but the harpies or Prince might use this as an excuse to destroy his status in such a case.

Minor Boon

If another person inconveniences himself on your behalf, giving up part of a limited resource, then a minor boon is appropriate.

A minor boon is still generally paid off with one action. While the boon is held, the one who owes should be polite and not insult the other in public, but that doesn’t mean he has to agree with him. Where with a trivial boon one can choose not to repay and only risking status, when someone comes to collect a minor boon, you’d better pay. A minor boon could be paid by allowing someone to use your haven for a long period of time, or by guaranteeing their safety in a domain you already control. A minor boon can be paid off by instructing another in a discipline which is common, like Celerity, Potence, or Fortitude.

Major Boon

A major boon is owed when the person sacrificed greatly of his time or resources, and subjected himself to a certain amount of risk.

A boon can be repaid by teaching the other hidden lore or how to perform a clan discipline. (Thaumaturgy, Protean, and Quietus count as a blood boon, unless the person owing the boon is willing to repay his debt in that manner.) At this level you must support any political action the possessor of the boon desires, even against your own clan, but this negates the debt.

Blood Boon

A blood boon is only appropriate when the collector of the boon risked his assets or friends for you, or put himself at some direct risk at losing his existence.

A blood boon is a truly terrible debt, which might not ever be repaid. While it is owed, you may never vote against the owner’s interests, you may never speak directly against him, and you must teach him when he requests it. (And if he demands your political support he will get it. If giving such support actually endangers your life in a real way, the debt is now paid.) If he demands dark clan secrets, like Thaumaturgy, teaching him such negates the debt. If you risk your existence to save the owner of the boon, the debt is canceled.

Life Boon

A life boon may only be claimed if the claimer of the boon truly laid his very existence on the line. Fighting clearly inferior opponents does not count.

The possessor may demand anything that he likes, anything. This debt is only repaid by saving the life of he who owes the boon. He may demand anything short of that and get it, and you still owe him.

Always Read The Fine Print

One of the interesting things about boons is that if you should kill kindred, and that kindred owed a boon, you now owe that boon in turn. Twisted isn’t it?

Certain enterprising kindred have even taken out such boons, knowing that someone hunting them might elect not to kill them, simply because they don’t want to pick up the boon.

However, this doesn’t matter in the case of a blood hunt, or someone killed by a member of the court expressly doing his or her job. (Like Justicars or Archons.) The boon disappears.

Finally, also remember that this is all enforced by the harpies and the Prince. If both the harpies and the Prince hate you, then you’d best step very carefully when interpreting your boons. On the other hand, if enough people like you, they might not consider something to be worthy of a boon. Popularity is a very good thing.

The other thing to remember is that the worst time to be seen as ignoring your boons is when someone else already has. The more the rules are trod upon, the more likely the Prince is to lash out, possibly invoking the Tradition of Destruction. As his domain is seen to be lawless, his power weakens. (But even the first time might be the last, should the Prince be in a bad mood.)


Delacroix the Malkavian, new in town, doesn’t find shelter from the sun in time. Another kindred sees him, and lets him use his haven. This is a trivial boon, because he didn’t really give anything up to help you. Later he asked for an introduction to the Prince of the city whom the traveling vampire is from, and the debt is paid.

Later Delacroix sees a neonate being menaced by a young Brujah. He drives off the other vampire easily. The neonate now owes a minorboon to Delacroix. It would have been more than that if the Brujah was a threat, or if by opposing them he angered the Brujah Prince of the City. For some time the debt goes unpaid, until the time comes that Delacroix asks for instruction in Fortitude, a fairly common discipline in the area. Teaching is given, and now the debt is negated.

Years later Delacroix finds a member of the local Primogen being attacked by Garou. After a desperate fight, he manages to kill one Garou and drag the Primogen away, who is in torpor. This is a life boon, since he unquestionably saved his life. From now on, in any vote that Delacroix is involved he votes for him, teaches him anything he needs to, and offers him haven. Had the Primogen not been put in torpor, it could be argued that this would have just been a blood boon.

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