Effect: Allies are people who are willing to help your character from time to time. They may be associates, friends of convenience or people who owe your character a favor. Each acquisition of this Merit is dedicated to one type of ally, whether in an organization, society or circle. Examples include the police, City Hall, criminals, unions, banks, university faculty and hospital staff. In order to have alliances in more than one venue, you need to purchase this Merit multiple times, each trait with its own dots. Thus, your character might have Allies (Police) ¥¥, Allies (Criminals) ¥¥¥ and Allies (City Hall) ¥, each acquired separately at character creation or during play.
Each dot that your character has indicates how deep his influence runs in that group. One dot might mean he can ask for minor favors, such as being spared a parking ticket if alliance is among police, or being allowed to see an article before it goes to press if alliance is among reporters. Three dots garner considerable favors, such as a building permit Ògoing missingÓ at City Hall, or a strike resolution being wrapped up early among union leaders. Five dots allow for dangerous and even overtly criminal favors, such as a stock being sabotaged on Wall Street or the answers to an exam being shared by a university professor.
The kinds of requests made of people in an organization typically have to relate to their sphere of influence. Asking a criminal to slow down the bureaucratic process at City Hall makes no sense, but asking him to pass along word of a drug buy does. Favors might be minor and within the bounds of a personÕs job or role, such as processing some paperwork more quickly than usual, or could be significant or dangerous and outside whatÕs allowed or even legal, such as allowing a civilian access to the police evidence locker.
The Storyteller has final say over what is an acceptable request and what is not. If thereÕs any doubt, the Storyteller could call for a Manipulation + Persuasion roll, with a bonus equal to your characterÕs Allies dots. Penalties might also apply based on the importance or danger of the request. Asking someone to do something already in the bounds of their role imposes no modifier, while asking them to do something that could get them suspended imposes a -3 penalty, and asking for something that could get them jailed or killed is -5. Frequent favors asked of the same group also imposes a penalty as group members grow tired of being called upon.
Similarly, a roll of Manipulation + Persuasion + Allies dots could determine how many police answer your characterÕs call for help, or how many longshoremen turn up when your character needs a show of force (one per success rolled).
Allies doesnÕt have to be defined in terms of specific individuals over whom your character has sway. He could simply know a variety of people among city reporters and he can call upon them in general from time to time. You should, however, explain why your character has influence in a particular body. Maybe he worked there himself at one time and still has friends in the organization. Or he has done a group a favor and its members still owe him.
Drawback: Allies are not automatons, waiting for your character to ask for help. They have their own lives and needs. An alliance is a two-way relationship. Calling for favors makes your character indebted to his friends, and they are sure to call such favors in when they need help. The Storyteller can use such debts as inspiration for future stories.