Yes, we are using Secondary Skills - with Storyteller Approval. The cost for them is half what normal skills cost. They include all of the Lore skills as well.
As normal in the Table Top rules, there is no experience point cost to increase Background Traits (Resources, Retainers, Allies, Influences, etc). All increases must be achieved via Roleplay and then awarded by the Storyteller. Influence can be increased in this manner, as well as via the system below.
When you purchase the Influence Background you must specify which of the fifteen areas it is applied. You will not be able to spend experience to increase your influence levels once your character enters play. You will be able to increase it through roleplaying and side scenes. Also, instead of using the Table Top rules for Influence, we will be using the Mind's Eye Theatre rules for Influences found in The Camarilla Guide (Influences can go to 10) and Dark Epics.
With the history and current situation of the city, all influence levels must be approved by the Storyteller.
Retainers can have their own influence and allies. Each Retainer must have a sheet on file with the Storytellers and be approved before entering play. They will not earn experience points themselves. If the Retainer is a ghoul, the blood upkeep will be kept track of by the Storytellers.
The downside is that Retainers can be interfered with or even killed. Each of them has a position in society and is known in their field in relation to the level of their influence/skills. They will be limited in the amount of influence they can have by their position and/or job. For example, a Cab Driver will have only a limited amount of Transportation Influence whereas a Manager in the Ministry of Transportation would have a lot more. Those limits will not change unless their job changes.
With the history and current situation of the city, all Retainer's influence levels must be approved by the Storyteller.
If a Retainer with influence gets Traced they will be told about the Retainer's identity and that they are recieving instructions from an outside source.
Warning: There are other people out there with influences and retainers, including humans. If people start doing strange things for no reason they will get noticed. If they are overly corrupt, they will also get noticed. For example, everybody knew Judge Faden was corrupt in the movie Batman. If they go too far, eventually somebody will do something about it. My advice: Don't create Batman. Of course, as a Storyteller it will be fun…