In revisiting Vampire for the 20th Anniversary Edition, I knew I wanted to go back and give the Anarchs a fair shake. The Anarchs took a beating in the revised era, largely as a result of metaplot advancements, but also because their identity at the time was missing a key compelling element. The Anarchs needed the Camarilla to remain relevant. They needed an established organization to rebel against, because without rebellion, what were they?
The other entities in the game with similar outlooks at least had cultural identities to help shape them. The Brujah are the key example here: They’re the clan of “rebels,” but they also have an historical identity tying them to Carthage and Egypt during Classical times, they have an ongoing feud with the Ventrue, and if all else fails, you can just let them be the Lost Boys.
The Anarchs don’t have that. Without the Man, they don’t exist. At least, they didn’t.
Anarchs get all the hot chicks.
That’s a shame. The Anarchs were a really great piece of first- and second-edition Vampire that lost relevance over the life of the game. I certainly have to shoulder some of the blame for that. So that’s why I feel like I owe them an empowering update.
The more I’ve been working on V20, the more the Kindred have showed their age. The Camarilla still cares about its pomp and circumstance, becoming very much Nero as, in the End Times, Rome burns. The Sabbat still wages its holy war, consuming as many of its childer in consecrated fire as it sends against the hated Antediluvians. But the Anarchs? The Anarchs had their ass kicked so bad during the Revised era that they’re still smoldering and black-eyed.
So with the ongoing development work I’m doing for the classic World of Darkness, the more writing I’ve been doing, the more the Anarchs have carved out their own niche in my mind, and I’m wanting to bring that to the supplementary material. Here’s the thing: The Anarchs are younger than the other sects, by individual and on the whole. Their rebellious politics and comparatively low numbers and power (when compared with the elders and officers of the other sects) put them on a guerilla path. To remain viable, the Anarchs need to maximize whatever advantages they can find.
To that end, it’s made increasing sense to me to have the Anarchs become the most technologically adept of the Cainite factions. With the technological and communication advancements since the end of the Revised era, it’s been the perfect opportunity for the Anarchs to grasp emergent technology as a weapon and wield it against the larger, slower, more hidebound sects. It makes sense, Anarchs using Facebook and Google+ groups to trade information, using Twitter to organize (#fucktheprince), and trading or even selling boons on a dedicated auction site. They dump scans of Elders’ incriminating documents into shared Dropboxes. They pass around cultural tokens like music and pictures on sharing services like Tumblr and they call out Kindred hot spots using code phrases on services like Yelp and Foursquare. (Smiling Jack just checked in at the Prince’s Manor.) Hell, some of the really savvy ones might have created their own apps for use on mobile devices. (A geotagged RackFinder? “The music here is good and the kine are way drunk Thursday through Saturday, so the blood is plentiful but boozy. Sunday is industry night. Bartender Ashleigh is a blood doll, so order your drink ‘dirty red’ to let her know what you are.”)
So long as there's 3G available along the way, this guy might join the Anarch Movement in your city once he has to flee his own.
There’s space for this to become silly (Smiling Jack is the mayor of the Prince’s Manor…), but when used with reason, moderation, an Anarch’s on-the-ropes mentality, and with an basic understanding that it’s all a part of a secret war among bloodthirsty predators, it’s actually a really cool way to fight the system. There’s no reason the Anarchs can’t stage innumerable Arab Springs of their own or mobilize like #occupywallst. And think what a group of Anarchs organized and skilled like Anonymous might do — assuming they’re not vampires among us already.
It’s all got me thinking: Is the idea, even, of “domain” outdated for the Anarchs? Is the new Anarch model a sort of enlightened, information-rich Autarkis state? Is each Anarch his own sovereign domain?
This last might be getting a little out there, but it’s certainly food for thought. It’d be worth exploring in a one-shot or chronicle, and can definitely alter the course of the nightly . Whatever the case, it makes the Anarchs fundamentally viable again, and no longer the whipping boy for the Camarilla (and the Sabbat, and the Kuei-jin…). It also gives a compelling reason and method for them to be fighting back from the whipping they suffered throughout the previous run of Vampire titles.