The life of a Noble is difficult and dangerous. She must oppose the plots of powerful Dark creatures, along with simple human wickedness that adds to the Darkness's power; she must also form and preserve her ties to ordinary people to keep her sanity and fuel her magic, and protect those people from the things that lurk in shadows. Few Princesses can keep their heads and carry the fight to their enemy when their loved ones are threatened - and the tools of the Darkness are well aware of that. Thus whenever a Noble Blossoms and takes up her Calling, creatures of Darkness will appear, trying to identify, isolate and destroy her. Moreover, supernatural forces and powerful conspiracies fight their own battles beyond the public eye, and a Noble who demonstrates her powers too openly can be pulled into those battles with very little warning.
The general level of supernatural activity in a campaign, and the public awareness of it, is represented by a Tension trait, running from 1 to 10. Usually Tension starts at 1, but the Storyteller can raise it higher for a campaign where the Darkness has already grown strong, or the occult is under special scrutiny. When a PC does something obviously supernatural in the presence of mundane witnesses, or that draws the attention of creatures of the Darkness without defeating them (though not more often than once a scene) the Storyteller rolls Tension as a dice pool, adding bonus dice for acts before many witnesses and shows of great strength.
- Dramatic Failure: Impossible - this dice pool cannot be reduced to a chance die.
- Failure: The incident passes without notice; Tension is unchanged.
- Success: The incident raises concern from Dark creatures, or others with reason to watch for the occult. Tension rises by 1.
- Exceptional Success: The incident raises alarm. Tension rises by 2.
Lowering Tension is considerably harder than raising it - those who are watching for supernatural activity must be convinced to let the Nobles alone. The Darkness, of course, is an implacable enemy; only a victory in battle will do. Permanently cleansing a potent Tainted area or rooting out a cell of a Dark cult is often enough to remove a point of Tension. Destroying a powerful Mnenosyne or Cataphract who has risen to command most of the Dark creatures in a city should be awarded by removing multiple points at once.
Tension from sources other than the Darkness could be removed in a similar way; sometimes, though, the investigators are benign, or at least not opposed to the Hopeful's mission, and the PCs should choose to reduce Tension by offering cooperation and a modicum of trust. Finally, the simple passing of time may let memories fade, so the Storyteller may, at the end of a story, choose to lower Tension by 1; he may also choose to raise it by 1, to show that supernatural NPCs have been stirring things up.
Tension becomes personally relevant to Nobles who slip up and leave behind evidence linking their mundane and transformed identities, or suggesting their participation in the long war against the Darkness. The Indiscreet Condition represents the accumulation of such evidence. When a PC's actions during a scene may rouse suspicion, the player and Storyteller make a contested roll of the PC's Wits + Subterfuge vs. Tension + the PC's levels in Indiscreet. Strongly suggestive clues of a relationship between the identities can add +1 or +2 to the Storyteller's pool; higher bonuses are used for serious breaches, like claiming friendship with one's transformed ID while mundane, or leaving a driver's license where one's mundane ID has never been. On the other hand, the Palace and Veiling Merits both penalize the Storyteller's pool.
- Dramatic Failure: Player - resolve the PC's Indiscreet Condition; Storyteller - remove one level of the PC's Indiscreet Condition.
- Failure: When both rolls fail, the PC's actions pass unnoticed.
- Success: If the player gets more successes, the PC lulls any suspicions; otherwise, add one level to the PC's Indiscreet Condition. (Ties go to the Storyteller, if his roll succeeds.)
- Exceptional Success: Player - if she wins the contest, remove one level of the PC's Indiscreet Condition; Storyteller - if he wins the contest, resolve the PC's Indiscreet Condition. Again, ties go to the Storyteller.
The player can choose to resolve Indiscreet instead of attempting the contested roll. When an Indiscreet Condition resolves, an investigator has learned the Noble's secret - at a minimum, that she is not mundane. The Noble must accept one of the Blackmailed, Broken Circle or Nemesis Conditions, or (with Storyteller approval) a similar persistent Condition when Indiscreet resolves.
The Storyteller should take note when a PC has acquired a high level of Indiscreet, as this means a discovery is likely imminent, and drop hints of approaching trouble based on the clues the PC dropped. Depending on which Condition he expects to impose, perhaps strangers pop up looking for someone in the neighborhood, the Noble's friends start asking her awkward questions, or disturbing figures follow her about. Similarly, growing levels of Tension manifest in people's general behavior, as an attitude of suspicion, mistrust, or actual fear of the strange, and reluctance to go out after dark, or unarmed; and in a rising number of weird, unsettling incidents, disappearances and mysterious deaths.