Cadence is a zero-XP cost Merit awarded by Storytellers. Cadence is a mystical effect reflecting the consensus of all kindred, regardless of Clan or Covenant. It is somewhat analogous to the 4th Tradition Elysia, and (more distantly) to Paradox as a nonsentient effect shaped by the common perception of what is unacceptable, acceptable, or laudable in kindred society. Kindred are still studying how to manipulate Cadence, but it is known that if the common attitude towards an action can be changed, Cadence will likewise change regarding that action. Cadence measures political and social skill, the ability of the character to move smoothly in time with the rhythm of the Danse Macabre.
Prerequisites for Cadence
Cadence 1: Do not consciously take action that most of Kindred society decries (Bottom 5-10% of a local game, on average)
Cadence 2: City Status 2+ (Middle 60-65% of the local game, usually)
Cadence 3: City Status 3+ and Status 4+ in a Clan or Covenant (Top 30% of a local game, approximately)
Cadence 4: Status 5 in a City, Clan or Covenant, or Status 4+ in a Conspiracy (Top 10% of the Regional game or thereabouts)
Cadence 5: Status 5 in at least two of these three: City, Clan, Covenant, or Status 5 in a Conspiracy (Top 10% of the National game; maximum of 250 characters, nationwide, hard cap)
All prerequisites are cumulative; to hold Cadence 4, for example, the character must meet the prerequisites for all lower levels of Cadence.
Levels of Cadence
Cadence 1: Automatic upon character creation, unless the player wishes their character to start at zero – characters with a Cadence rating of zero should be extremely rare, and requires High approval. Cadence 1 reflects a character’s understanding of the basic precepts of Kindred society. In the Danse Macabre, the Cadence 1 character has learned the box step and tries not to trip over his own feet too often.
Cadence 2: Characters who are skilled enough to get along well within their own groups – Clans, Covenants, Conspiracies, etc., hold Cadence 2. Most of Kindred society is Cadence 2, and can handle the majority of social and political situations competently. They’ve learned who’s who, and publicly advocate for the basics of Kindred society.
Cadence 3: Characters who have begun to excel at the Danse reach Cadence 3. These are the local leaders, who also wield influence and whose opinions are given consideration in Regional matters.
Cadence 4: Characters who are professionals at the Danse reach Cadence 4. They’ve learned to balance competing needs, and to manage more than one role well. They are loved or feared, at a minimum, and have a solid grasp on how to make the Danse turn the way they want it to work.
Cadence 5: The absolute masters of the political and social game, these Kindred have strong allies in almost every group, and are able to use those allies effectively in the pursuit of their own goals. These are the Cadence 5 characters. They are respected, if not always liked, though more often than not they are indeed liked and even loved. Even Machiavelli noted that it is best to be both loved and feared, if one can manage it – and Cadence 5 characters have proven they can manage it. At this level of Cadence, it’s not enough to not make mistakes – one must create positive impressions consistently. Any season (three-month period) in which the Cadence 5 PC does not advance their own interests or influence in a way visible to their peers is justification for removal of Cadence 5.
Benefits of Cadence
Please see The MES Requiem Addendum for Cadence mechanics.
In general, Storytellers recommend characters for higher Cadence ratings if they believe the character worthy. However, if a player believes his/her character is deserving of the next level of Cadence and the character has kept the prerequisites for the next level of Cadence for at least three months, they may go to their Storyteller and petition for it.
A character could, conceivably, go up more than a single dot in Cadence at one time, though this would be unusual, especially past Cadence 3. By its very nature, Cadence tends to be gained slowly and progressively as the kindred becomes more politically and socially savvy in society.
Cadence 1-2: Low
Cadence 3: Mid
Cadence 4: High
Cadence 5: Top
Unlike gaining Cadence, it is possible for a character to quickly lose multiple dots of Cadence if they commit acts of such a heinous nature that a Storyteller feels a significant drop in Cadence is necessary. And, the higher a PC’s Cadence is, the less forgiving Kindred society tends to be for political and social mistakes.
All PC’s have at least Cadence 1 unless they deliberately take actions that would bar them from Kindred society, and even a PC with Cadence 5 could lose all of it should they commit an action that is tantamount to a betrayal of Kindred society. To judge if an action constitutes a willing rejection of the basic principles of Kindred society, a Storyteller evaluates the action based on the following: if it is something that is equally abhorrent to otherwise opposed groups (such as the Lancea Sanctum and the Circle of the Crone, or the Carthians and Invictus), then it is likely outside the bounds of Kindred society. Examples include: deliberate large-scale breaches of the Masquerade; mass Embrace without concern for the results; espousing the Livian Heresy; commission of unsanctioned Diablerie, etc. This list is not all-inclusive, it is meant to provide a few examples to help Storytellers decide whether a particular action would result in a PC dropping to Cadence 0. Presiding ST discretion is necessary to judge what justifies loss of the last dot of Cadence.
Significant Acts are those which, if committed, may result in the loss of 3 points of Cadence, at the presiding ST’s discretion. These are actions which are seen as questionable or distasteful amongst most Kindred Society: sanctioned Diablerie is one example – while it may be legal, it’s not something that most Kindred consider acceptable.
Blunt, but not overly critical, social faux pas can justify removal of 2 points of Cadence, at the presiding ST’s discretion. An example would be blatant refusal to pay a Boon that is publicly known to be owed, or killing another Kindred when other options were available and had not been used.
Any fairly significant social misstep – such as not offering a Boon when it would be appropriate to do so – is enough to justify removal of 1 dot of Cadence, at the presiding ST’s discretion.