Allies represent the powerful and influential friends a character has within the mortal world. These Allies are more often than not helpful in the character’s Actions. Characters with Allies can make things happen with just a few phone calls and deals to get assistance in a wide range of activities. Supernatural Allies are possible, though the player must purchase the Supernatural Ally merit to purchase such Allies.
Allies are an essential part of a character’s background and developing story and as such your Storyteller will require you to define in detail what role your Allies play and how you associate with and keep your Allies happy in their regular relations to you.
The Allies Background may be purchased more than once, so long as each Ally is uniquely defined and rated by purchasing them with the appropriate experience points. Players are encouraged to write a short story surrounding their character’s associations with her Allies which demonstrates the “Who, what, when, where, why and how” of their involvement in the character’s overall story. Your Storyteller may even reward the character with XP for exceptionally well-thought-out integrations of the character’s Allies into her story.
In general, Allies do not appear during game play, though certain circumstances may require them to step into the limelight. More frequently, Allies are used by the character in the background, their services engaged by the character during the time between game sessions. Details about how they are involved and why are often worked out between the player and the Storyteller.
Most importantly, Allies work on the principle of quid pro quo. In simpler terms an Ally might say, “We do something for you, and you in turn will do something for us at a later time, no questions asked, no right of refusal.” This is represented by the expenditure of temporary Traits of your Allies Background when the character calls upon their Allies services. These temporary Traits are expended until such a time that the Allies request a comparable favor (or favors, if of smaller consequence to the PC) of equivalent Trait value to be performed by the character for the Allies.
The terms by which temporary Allies Traits are recovered is at the discretion of the Storyteller. Characters who abuse their Allies by either not working to repay a favor or simply use them then cease to contact them regularly, may betray their trust, resulting in a permanent loss of Traits. It is therefore encouraged that character’s work to maintain their relationships with their allies on a regular basis to avoid such negative circumstances.
Allies can perform any number of mundane tasks at the character’s direction, including activities that have already begun. They may handle some matter from start to finish, or alternatively, they can pick up where a character left off and continue their work. This sort of use of Allies costs one Trait, which represents one Trait of expertise to perform the task in question and that Trait is expended until the task is finished and then repaid in kind.
If you need a particularly competent Ally to perform a service, you can expend multiple Traits to gain access to a mortal Ally with multiple levels of a single Ability or Influence Category. Each Allies Trait that is spent in this manner represents one level of expertise in a specific Ability of Influence Category. The character’s Allies will use this expertise on the character’s behalf commensurate with their own skill, and they will help the character for a number of game sessions equaling no more than her permanent Allies rating.
Finally, Allies can be asked to perform significant services for a character at the expense of one or more permanent Traits of a character’s Allies rating. The cost of such a valuable service is left to the discretion of the Storyteller.
Like any friendship, Allies can become tired of continuously needy associates. Be wary of calling upon your Allies too often or for several significant tasks in a short period, for in the spirit of quid pro quo those Allies will ask for something from the character as equally costly in return and they will expect to be repaid. The World of Darkness is not forgiving and the betrayal of Allies may turn into a permanent Enemy for a character should they be abused too often, resulting in the loss of the Background and the placement of the Enemy flaw upon the character.