Here two small suggestions for the game follow. They are not mind-blowing nor they change the game by adding more options, but they could improve the experience and the depth of the game.
SUGGESTION - characterization of the Senators/Quaestors
Fall of Memphis introduces packs of new NPCs. When this happens, there is always the risk that the player makes a bundle of all of them and becomes uninterested in getting acquainted with them because they are just a mass of undistinguished white noise.
Luckily the writing of FoM is good, but when I play I have the feeling this good writing doesn’t fully exploit its potential.
I’m saying that because I didn’t have this feeling in the first CoV; for example the meeting with governor Overstreet is masterful in the characterization of the various characters.
To make an example, at the very first reception, you just get a paragraph that more or less reads like that: “all the people are here. You see this guy dressed in this way speaking with this other guy, that lady with that hat chatting with two other people, that other lady standing alone” etc. etc. Of course, much more nicely put, but the short yet massive paragraph with just a series of names and indistinct behavior does not help the player to get stimulated to speak with this man instead of that lady. They are more or less the same!
Here some practical ideas that could improve the atmosphere.
First: you have the chance of knowing better a candidate or a senator in the scene before the reception (the feeding scene). Like it is now you have in the same block the description of the place, a short description of the person and immediately the choice whether you want to speak with him/her or not. Here I would start with just one text with the description of the place and the atmosphere, and that ends with the warning you see someone peculiar. I would put a “next” button and in the next page I would put a deeper description of the individual: his/her looks, how he behaves, something characteristic that stands out.
Here it could be good that the description depends on some skill test (the most classic would be perception to notice more details and get some info on the person before you actually speak with him; but perhaps other skills as Lore could help). Only at this point I would put the choice to speak with him or not.
In this way one or two vampires would be more flashed out (and it wouldn’t hurt that they recognize you the following evening, if you managed to raise your rapport with them).
In the big venues problems are bigger. However I would use the same trick of presenting a first page with just the description of the setting, and dedicate a second page to the characterization of the people, something like “you take your time to look around and watch the groups that gather to chat”…
Also here, giving more details according to some skill checks (virtually all the intellectual and social skills could be used in principle, but why not Stealth to remark the particularly sneaky way of moving/behaving of someone, or Fighting to notice that a senator must have had a military or warrior-like background from his posture? etc.) would be definitely a plus.
Another trick for the big venues could be to make one or two NPCs come late for some reason. First of all it would decrease the number of characters that need to be presented in block; secondly, an entrance always makes an effect!
Yet another trick, make the character be present at a heated discussion between two characters, that will stand out. Or in general, create small even insignificant events between the cycle of chats, that help to spice up the various characters.
I’m sure you can think of many different devices.
For the following meetings, it is always good if some of the NPCs whom the character has good relationship with (alternatives: the character presented himself during the cycle of letters between the first and the second caucus - and has good status perhaps? I guess it depends on the senator; or, the senator has some good reason to come and chat - I loved for example the intermezzo with the Puritan woman, it was a very good way to make her stand up) comes to chat. In addition to discuss about old issues, it could be an occasion to gather info on other NPCs (“see that? he is… and did this and that”).
OK, I made my point
SUGGESTION - getting info on prerequisites
I’m not sure about this, but I still propose it because I think it could help.
In several occasions, I had the feeling the player does not have enough information to decide what to do and make a reasonable choice.
Example: when you volunteer to get the refreshments, it is not clear at all what you actually NEED, to do it, and if you could do it with your resources. Another example, when you ponder to become a candidate, you make your choice basically blindly - and I think this is also part of the frustration of some players. There are several of these cases.
I’m not saying you should get a hint for everything. But why not writing some directions depending on some skill check?
just to make an example, for the decision to candidate, a Charm/Status/Lore/Discretion/Compassion check (or checks, to give progressively more useful informations) could give something like “you ponder the situation. In order to succeed you need to have a good standing in vampire society and contacts amongst the other Senators, capacity to charm the senators and eventually to know some skeletons in the closet to eliminate the other candidates or “convince” a Senator to give his support.” and an Intelligence skill could add “If the previous vote concluded with a stalemate, it seems things are irky, perhaps the situation is more complicated than it appears.”, and so on. Just to give an idea.
I’m very aware this is dangerous because it could lead to “automatic” decisions (“here there’s written you need some charm, I have charm 3 so I’m sure I nail the test, this I choose this option”), so this is delicate. A way to give hints without giving away too much should be employed.
However, real people usually have a way to judge a situation before making a decision (at least with common sense, if they have it), and the mechanism I’m suggesting should simulate this process. It could be an interesting addition.