The Act of Hubris
Conestoga is the unique discipline of the Shepherd bloodline. It allows Shepherds to safeguard and manipulate groups of humans.
A Shepherd’s flock is always a group of socially related people, such as a team of office workers, the clientele of a particular bar, the denizens of a small neighborhood, or the members of a book club. To qualify as a flock, a group must be tied together by some habit, location, activity, or other allegiance, but it must also be large and loose enough that most members of the flock are not closely acquainted with at least one other member. A married couple or small circle of friends couldn’t serve as a flock, though the waitstaff of a small restaurant or an extended family might. Individuals still count as a member of a flock even if they aren’t currently engaged in whatever defines the flock; to leave a flock, a person must consciously quit or be expelled, or else avoid the flock for at least a week. By the same token, new members can join an existing flock without any effort on a Shepherd’s part by simply becoming a part of whatever social group the flock comprises.
Conestoga works through normal or supernaturally-touched humans, and can’t affect full-fledged supernatural creatures. Ghouls or hedge magicians might be affected, but vampires and mages can’t be.
Shepherds can be, but don’t need to be, recognized members of their own flocks.
• The Flock’s Measure
Cost: – (1 or more Willpower points to extend the power’s duration)
With this power, a Shepherd attunes themselves to a potential flock, obtaining an awareness of the disposition of a group they find themselves in. This requires no roll, but requires that the Shepherd spend time observing or mingling with the behavior of a flock of humans in whatever setting or activity defines the flock. It takes about a minute to attune to a roomful of people, but ten or fifteen minutes to apprehend an entire house party or floor of an office building, and potentially hours of walking or driving to take the measure of an entire neighborhood.
Once achieved, the Shepherd’s awareness lasts until sunrise, but can only be accessed while the Shepherd is with their flock. The expenditure of a Willpower point while among the flock allows this awareness to last through the end of the next night, and function even when the Shepherd isn’t personally present. After The Flock’s Measure has been made to last a full week in this way, each Willpower point guarantees the Shepherd another week of awareness rather than another day.
While The Flock’s Measure is active, the Shepherd gains the 9-again and rote action qualities on any rolls made for mundane attempts to discern the flock’s mood, predict the flock’s actions, or detect dangers to the flock that at least one member is even subconsciously aware of. This benefit generally applies to Empathy or perception rolls, but might enhance Academics, Politics, Streetwise, or any other Skill appropriate to the setting.
As well, the Shepherd gains a preternatural sense of others’ attempts to prey on the flock, either by members of the flock or by outsiders. They can always detect when any of these are true:
- Someone preys on the flock in a superficial or transitory way, such as by pickpocketing or scamming members
- Someone endangers members of the flock directly, such as by drinking their blood, physically assaulting them, or slaying them outright
- Someone preys on the flock by supernatural means
- A supernatural creature intrinsically inclined to prey on humans, such as a vampire or werewolf, is anywhere in the flock’s vicinity
A Shepherd is aware of when these factors overlap, and which; a vampire simply mingling with a flock would read differently from a vampire mingling with a flock and stealing members’ wallets, or mingling with a flock while on the hunt for blood. However, The Flock’s Measure merely confirms that some threat fitting the above descriptors exists in the scene; it’s up to the Shepherd to track them down and identify them. If these occur outside of the Shepherd’s immediate vicinity – for instance, on another floor of a building or another block of the neighborhood – the Shepherd can intuit where they must go to put themselves in the same scene as the nearest interloper matching each of those categories.
If an interloper’s supernatural powers would hide their presence or nature – for instance, if an Obfuscated vampire infiltrates the flock – The Flock’s Measure can trigger a Clash of Wills once per scene per power, using the Shepherd’s Manipulation + Animal Ken + Conestoga to contest whatever roll is made for the other predator. This doesn’t allow the Shepherd to pierce the contested power in general, so a vampire using the Cloak of Night would remain invisible, but the Shepherd would become aware of a supernatural threat’s presence, as above, and so free to take other steps to oppose it.
•• The Shepherd’s Eye
This ability is active so long as the Shepherd has a designated flock. While active, members of the flock add dice equal to their Shepherd’s Conestoga rating to any rolls to contest predation, either mortal or supernatural, from anyone who is not also a member of the flock. Against their Shepherd or his permitted designees, however, the flock suffers a penalty equal to their Shepherd’s Conestoga rating. “Predation” is defined as any action against a flock member that would trigger The Flock’s Measure.