Government In WoD

Added information on governmental awareness of the underworld in Modern WoD may be found under Project Twilight.

Anything the kine's government manages to accomplish in the World of Darkness borders on the miraculous, given the influences exerted by conspirators, secret societies and assorted cabals too numerous to list — and these schemers are in addition to the manifold of vampire factions that fancy themselves masters of the puppet-masters. To some extent, the effort of all these manipulators cancel each other out or run afoul of things as mundane as bureaucratic incompetence or unswerving greed.

Miracles sometimes do occur in the midst of such chaos, though — or, as with the National Security Agency's "recent discovery" of the Kindred menace, through a literal mechanism of chaos. By tortuous paths, the NSA, an information-monitoring arm of the U.S. intelligence community, obtained devices that can distinguish vampires and ghouls from mortals. With astonishing alacrity and utter secrecy, the organization deployed these "chaoscopic scanners" in locations including Dulles International Airport, the Pentagon, the Old Executive Office Building, the Capitol and the White House, all behind the facades of new metal detectors. Significantly, no one outside the NSA is privy to the true nature of these added checkpoints, including the operators of the various metal detectors, which are real and working. Not even the President himself is aware that he and his staff are monitored daily by NSA operatives looking for so-called "black-bodies," a reference to Cainites' appearance when viewed through a chaoscope. Of the NSA's own personnel, only three people in decision-making positions know the truth: General Rex Shivers, Colonel Alec Riley and Colonel George Johnstone. Add to them the actual monitoring staff, and the total comes to two dozen.

The NSA's discretion in this matter stems, in part, from established procedure. Spymasters, canny in their paranoia, trust no one, especially not their fellow agencies. Shivers' people aren't even sharing with their civilian counterparts at the NSA any ifnormation about governmental encroachment by these mysterious black-body entities. Plus, there's the natural question of just how influential these inhuman infiltrators may be: Do they already control the FBI, the CIA, Congress, the president? Most important, however, is the larger uncertainty implicit in that question: The NSA knows its discoveries aren't quite human, but the organization's members don't understand exactly what the black-bodies are.

Hobbling these covert watchers is the very rationality that spurred them to use the chaoscope, and that has plagued them since the first time NSA brass saw one of these machines demonstrated at the headquarters of the Paranormal Research Wing, a Vermont-based think tank. After General Shivers got a glimpse of wraiths cavorting in the Underworld, he suggested that PRW scientists had actually discovered some parallel dimension rather than an afterlife existence. He then ordered the PRW's security clearances hiked and, on a hunch, a streamlined version of the chaoscope to be installed at the White House. Four months and a billion dollars in tax payer money later, the old Cold Warrior was watching for things like the ones he'd seen at PRW. What he saw ultimately were ghouls and a vampire attending a state dinner, but viewed chaoscopically these creatures were easy to mistake for the disembodied dead Shivers had already glimpsed. The conclusion he reached was entirely reasonable — that his transdimensional entities were possessing Washington officials to manipulate the government. He also happened to be wrong, but, interestingly, not so far off the mark.

To some exten,t, the NSA's military triumvirate is "reinventing the wheel" with its expensive new toys. Also, a great deal of money could have been saved if anyone had bothered to train infrared cameras on a few of those chilly Cainites. Even without such tools, General Arthur Clifford, Shivers' predecessor, had a far more accurate understanding of what the Kindred are. Unfortunately, that knowledge was mutual, and unknown Cainite elements were able to discredit Clifford and have him ousted. Thus, Shivers, Riley and Johnstone rose to the top at NSA because they were skeptics regarding the supernatural — in contrast to the deluded, utterly credulous figure Clifford was made to seem at his downfall. Nevertheless, Clifford's replacements now know a lot of the same things he knew — and then some — but they're interpreting the data quite differently. They're aware, for example, of their organization's traitors, operatives Bruce Higgins and Felicity Price. More importantly, the NSA has also identified the vampires who control these two pawns. The agency is already cataloging what it dubs "known extradimensionals" and their "normal" contacts. As the extent of Kindred influence in world commerce, media and governance becomes clear to General Shivers and his staff, the "war of reconnaissance" the NSA is waging will seem ever more of a luxury. When that time comes, the NSA operatives who've been training in armored moon suits with aural inhibitors and mirrored faceplates will learn firsthand what they've been prepared to fight. And when that time comes, the Children of Caine will learn the folly of dismissing technology, just as masters of that technology will discover that the world is full of stranger things than science and rationality can ever explain.

Of course, the other federal intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement agencies (and even out-of-the-loop civilian personnel within the NSA) are carrying on largely as they did before the advent of the chaoscope, given the covert nature of the device. At the FBI and the CIA, only scattered handfuls of agents (some of them moles placed years ago by the NSA's General Clifford) have the vaguest clue about supernatural activity. The Bureau's secret Special Affairs Department (also known as SAD), for example, lingers on only because of the undying support of Senator Jesse Grubbholb. After all, Arthur Clifford's fall hasn't made it any easier to get any above-board federal money for pursuing supernaturals.

More's the pity, because the hunting in and around the bureaucracy alone would be incredible. At the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, several strategically placed individuals, most of them under vampiric mind control, keep the lid on incidents that involve "suspicious" (i.e. Cainite) blood or corpses. The lack of blood-bound servitors here was a conscious effort by various Kindred masters to avoid entanglements with nosy epidemiologists, as vitae remains chemically distinct from human blood even in ghouls. However, that dodge also insulates these conspirators from chaoscopic detection. The devices are useless in identifying victims of Dominate. Still, it wouldn't take much for a key piece of evidence to slip past these guardians and allow the agency's legitimate disease detectives to glimpse the full picture. At the state, county and municipal levels of law-enforcement, things look much like they do at the top: vast numbers of common cops, sheriffs and state troopers trying to do their jobs, most of them utterly oblivious of the various factions that struggle nightly to co-opt, deflect or otherwise influence the police. Ghoul cops exist, but they'e pretty much beneath the NSA's radar, so to speak. And, as at the top, the myriad efforts to preserve the Masquerade, uncover it, detain this one or arrest that one often end in a wash, and the cops carry out their business as intended.

Sample NPCs

Sample Government Agent
Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 3, Charisma 2, Manipulation 3, Appearance 2, Perception 3, Intelligence 3, Wits 3.
Abilities: Alertness 3, Athletics 2, Brawl 3, Computer 1, Dodge 3, Drive 3, Firearms 3, Investigation 4, Melee 2, Occult 1, Politics 2, Stealth 2
Humanity: 6 to 8
Willpower: 7
Equipment: Heavy pistol, black suit, badge and ID card, electronic surveillance devices.

VtM; 3rd Edition, p.271