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In a previous question, I brought up the concept of sanctuary towns, towns populated entirely by people who know about the population of immortal (as in they can't get old or sick; they can still be killed) supernatural creatures living in secret amongst humanity. Everyone in the town is either an immortal or a human who knows that immortals exist, and they make sure to keep non-immortals from visiting by means that this site so awesomely helped me work out. This allows the immortals in this town to openly be themselves without having to worry about things like having to pass for human and the like.

Now, immortals generally live as members of various clans, which each have territory as well as vague borders with the territory of other clans. Said clans... do not always get along, and frequently get into skirmishes or try to drive rival clan members out or kill them to expand their territory. But when I've tried to visualize how these turf wars play out, one part of it is giving me serious trouble. When it comes to most places where immortals live, where there are no sanctuary towns and it's just a question of killing or ousting the minority of the town or city's population that belongs to rival clans, that I think I've got the hang of the details of. The problem comes with these sanctuary towns.

Killing all of the rival vampires or werewolves in a normal city or even a normal state would probably fall sufficiently within normal expected death and crime rates that they could proceed with business as usual as long as the murders weren't traced back to them. But you can't do that with a sanctuary town. If you try to take over a sanctuary town like it's some kind of military siege, killing or even just driving out all of the rival clan's inhabitants... I just don't see how you could possibly keep people from finding out that the inhabitants of that town have completely changed overnight. These towns may be secretive and generally isolated, but I seriously doubt that'd be enough that the entire population could be replaced overnight and nobody would ever notice. These towns have enough trouble dealing with the inevitable interactions they have to have with the state government without having to deal with the issue of most of the population changing completely since the last time they checked. So it seems obvious that these clans are going to need some slightly different tactics if they're going to keep safety in numbers from making their rival clans' strongholds completely unassailable.

If an immortal clan really wanted to expand their territory and completely take over one of their rivals' sanctuary towns, how would they do this without getting the unaware humans of the outside world extremely suspicious about the massive death toll or exodus that would be sure to follow if they actually succeeded?

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  • $\begingroup$ How much population do you expect a sanctuary town to have? $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Feb 13 at 9:37
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    $\begingroup$ I think we had established that everyone in a sanctuary town is part of the "immortal conspiracy". Thus, they are unlikely to report to the authorities, even if most of the town population is wiped out. The dead will be buried without outside observers, and refugees, if any, will try very hard not to get anybody's notice. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Feb 13 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ Also see this question inspired by yours. $\endgroup$ Feb 15 at 1:58
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Frame Shift: The residents of the town are why you are capturing it.

Gentle conquest and fair parole: What resource is available in a sanctuary town that you need to eliminate the residents to take it from them, then fill the town with your own people? For most of your immortals, the resources they are seeking are people. Either human cattle to do your bidding, or immortal allies/servants. In either case, the less disruption to your town, the better. If not to capture the people, then in the case of immortals, to force them to move elsewhere.

Immortals didn't get that way by fighting to the death and never rolling with the punches. If they did, they would have died long ago. So your immortals will have some kind of ingrained etiquette about war and conquest amongst them. One of the reasons I've heard that the Japanese were so brutal to their POW's was that they DIDN'T have a long military tradition, and their vision of war was highly ideological. All-or-nothing works if you are short-lived and fighting only one war. Europeans had a whole culture developed around cyclical warfare, where prisoners were treated semi-decently (especially high-ranking ones, and there was little motive to punish low rank) because today's enemies would be tomorrow's allies.

So your immortals would work out a system where conquerors would assure that defeated rivals got to retain at least some of their power, wealth, and prestige. The defeated would similarly be expected to at least nominally follow parole and stay out of the remaining conflict. Knowing the world wasn't coming to an end just because you were conquered would mean that folks would be willing to follow the rules of the masquerade in their battles, and surrender to foes that would treat them/most of them pretty decently. Given immortals, honor, duty, and personal reputation would be things warriors and generals/conquerors would spend years if not centuries developing. The tsarina of Paris has a reputation for keeping her word that goes back centuries. Vlad Dracula ("the Impaler") can't win a war because everyone fights to the death and keeps bringing up that incident with the Turks...

You might even have a body of adjudicators who's job it was to monitor such agreements/settlements, and black-list those who violated it - a sort of UN/supreme court of the supernatural. I would model it on an Aristoi system, where Adjudicators were selected to be as neutral and unrewarded as practical. It would only work if they were considered above influence.

  • In the US, at least, there is an extensive private prison system, with enormous prisons build out in the middle of no-where. Such a facility could be under the administration of the Aristoi and used to house and control prisoners from these conflicts. The goal of such places is to be noticed as little as possible, and people don't like thinking about prisons. they could even be located near sanctuary towns on purpose, so the workers are trustworthy. After a battle, you house the prisoners until a deal can be struck about the subsequent peace agreement.
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    $\begingroup$ This is a good answer. Without its inhabitants a town is just some buildings and land. The people are the real prize. If you intend to sack the town and bring trophies home that is one thing and the populace is just an impediment. However if you intend to take control of the town the populace is part of what you want. You need to convert them. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Feb 13 at 19:01
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Few ideas:

  • Brute force: Cut the phone lines leading into town so no one can 911, and litterally kill everyone in one night and take their place. Dig a mass grave, bury them all, assume their identities (many of which were already fake as they're immortal) and reconnect the phone lines. So long as the waitress at the diner is still friendly and has a convincing story (oh the last girl? she finally got into college!) No one will notice unless they look deeply.
  • Local elections. In the USA most civic roles are the result of elections, and the optional voting system can result in poor turnout to the minutiae of politics. Move your allies into the outskirts of town keep a low profile, and on election day have 100% turnout. Then your new sheriff can roundup and arrest the others.
  • Financial attacks - ie throw money at the problem. Undercut all their manufacturing and service businesses until they're unemployed and poor, then come in and offer to buy their property for much more than it's worth.
  • Use the government. Use that big beurocracy to solve your problem. Out every criminal in there to the FBI. All the immortals are using fake ids so tip them off to ICE as illegal immigrants. And the immortals that arent using fake ids: Tip medicial researchers off that there are immortals they can vivisect and learn eternal life. (If theres any shady organisation in the USA who can make people disappear- its be big pharma). Then buy up their properties at the police auctions.
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  • $\begingroup$ "Use the government" In the setting for Vampire: the Masquerade immortal vampire already exist secretly alongside humans. In the middle ages some vampires tried to tip off the church for some rivals. That lead to a wider recognition of vampire existence and the Inquisition which destroyed a large amount of vampires. That's why they came up with the Masquerade - maintaining their secrecy so they are safe. Recently (in-setting) some vampires tried to use your plan they tipped off intelligence agencies for rivals. The results are known as the Second Inquisition. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Feb 13 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ The government will notice the first one. All the people whose income tax deductions are no longer being paid? $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Feb 13 at 15:15
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Adding to what @DWKraus said, you need to ask why your characters want to take over a rival town. Wars in human history have typically been fought over land or resources of some kind. Even in cases where the conflict is driven by petty nobles whose honor has been slighted or long-standing feuds, there is often some initial conflict that triggers the feud in the first place, such as a dispute over land rights or an accident between hunting parties gone wrong. The rank-and-file, at the least, will have to be given a good enough reason to risk their lives and the lives of their families (if they disrupt the masquerade) if they go to war. There are ways to make people willing to die over a feud or abstract cause, they aren't likely to be willing to die for the sake of someone else's honor.

If it's land, their goal is to drive the people off the land in order for them to control the resources therein (resources in this case also possible meaning muggles). This means you have to get rid of the people but leave the infrastructure in-tact or it's a net loss. But, this causes problems in that you have to exert control over your conquered land, which will be difficult when most of your clan's population lives in a single town that due to the nature of your setting is likely to be far away from your center of power. Controlling another town rather than just making them bend the knee will be really, really hard. You also have to ask yourself what do the characters get out of conquering someone else's land that they can't get on their own. If the supernaturals live in small, isolated communities, that implies they have a lot of land and resources between them that they can divide up.

If it's people, your immortals will either want to enslave them or convince them to join their side. These still involve different tactics: enslavement involves brutally suppressing the locals until they bow to your will (if not outright brainwashing them if your vampires can do that), convincing them to join you involves toppling the people at the top and you need to restrict collateral damage enough to avoid resentment.

If it's personal satisfaction/honor or political power they don't need the town in tact afterwards and can resort to tactics like burning down the town in a fire or drowning it by rupturing a dam. All they care about is wiping it off of a map.

Alternatively, your characters don't try to hide their actions from the muggles. Making an entire community disappear overnight makes a statement, it shows to other supernaturals how powerful you think you are given you've made an entire town disappear and are effectively telling the muggles and supernaturals just try to do something about it. It's a statement that you think you're stronger than everyone else. It also provides an implicit threat, that you're willing to do anything to win and if other supernaturals stand in your way you're willing to fight so dirty it bursts the masquerade wide open, because you don't care about the consequences. A comparable example might be how people like Genghis Khan, the Norse, and (surprise surprise) Vlad III the Impaler used word of their atrocities as a planned gesture to intimidate people into capitulating and make an example out of those who stood against them, even if they weren't bloodthirsty maniacs. Additionally, because the other supernaturals live in distant towns, killing all the inhabitants of a town in, say, Pennsylvania might not necessarily lead authorities back to one in New York.

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Managed engagement. In the first problem my solution was that you have "charmed" everyone who regularly enters the town, or blunders into it, and they give false, discouraging accounts of what happens inside, and report back on anyone else planning on entering. So if a war breaks out, under no circumstances does their programming include letting anyone know.

Provided you can pull your forces within this human perimeter, and don't make excessively loud bangs or bright flashes in the sky, and supposing you have some solution for 1990s-era spy satellites which were a drawback for all the plans in the previous question ... then you should be able to hold the war unmolested. If a larger siege perimeter is needed, it would be set up the same way as any new refuge - by managed engagement. You would need to charm everyone interacting with the perimeter region, and ideally you would charm all the humans previously charmed by the besieged town, so they could give a convincing impression nothing is happening, while denying supplies to those inside.

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Fights are decided by single combat between champions for each side. Winner demands allegiance. Why would someone who would otherwise be immortal endanger their long life by refusing to accept the tradition? Same job, new management.

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