Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Regency/Gothic: Apparently Georgette Heyer sucked at this, too.


Even though I've not quite given up hope on it, my Regency/Gothic project has languished for a long time (partially because I'm instead venting my anger at the upper classes with The King is Dead).  Over at Tor.com, Mari Ness' brilliant Georgette Heyer reread has revealed that even the queen of Regency Romances struggled to integrate the Gothic into the Regency.

I might have to read this book just to learn what not to do.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

We gave James Hong a bottle of wine

As thanks for all the hours of entertainment he has given us, we gave James Hong a bottle of Pedernales Block One 2010 today at Wizard World Austin. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The King is Dead: VAMPIRES REVEALED!

A vampire out on a daylight errand.
The gift of undeath is a strange and complicated magic.  There is little in the sacred texts about the powers (or fate) of Salome, but King Hordos is credited with being able to dominate the wills of others, change into a devouring swarm, and become one with his shadow; his spawn, Emperor Etzel, on the other hand was able to become a wolf the size of a horse, regenerate wounds, and command the weather.  The blessings of Sathaniel are surprisingly capricious.

Vampires have learned over the centuries that creating vampires from their own dunpeals and the children of said dunpeals greatly improves the chances of a vampire sharing his sire’s gifts.  King Wilhelm’s three sons who were conceived while he yet breathed – Ruprecht, Rickard, and Wilhelm the Red – have gifts of the blood that differ greatly from each other and their father; his youngest son, Heinrich, was conceived after King Wilhelm received the gift from Emperor Etzel and resembles his father far more than his brothers.  It is for this reason that the vampires of Malleus have organized into stratified bloodlines headed by the royal princes, and why the breeding of dunpeals is so important.

[To avoid abusing fair use guidelines, the following refers extensively to Savage Worlds Deluxe (SWD) and Savage Worlds Horror Companion (SWHC).]

All vampires have the following basic racial abilities:
  • Claws: Str+d6.
  • Fangs: Str+d4.  Target must be grappled or immobile.
  • Feed: The vampire must drink at least a pint of fresh blood once per day. This is treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance.
  • Gift of the Blood: All vampires start with one vampiric power determined by their bloodline.  Additional powers are gained with age and practice.  (See below.)
  • Gift of Sathaniel: A vampire may attempt to bestow Sathaniel’s gift on a mortal or dunpeal by drinking the subject’s blood unto the point of death (Incapacitated) and then feeding the subject at least a pint of the vampire’s own blood (inflicting 1 Wound on the vampire).  The subject then makes a Vigor roll with all applicable Wound Modifiers and receives the gift of undeath is he or she survives.  The vampire may aid the subject by feeding him or her additional blood; for every Wound the vampire inflicts on himself, the subject receives a +1 to the Vigor roll.
  • Invulnerability: Vampires can only be harmed by their Weaknesses. They may be Shaken by other attacks, but never wounded.
  • Strength of the Damned: Vampires start with a d8 Strength and Vigor rather than a d4.
  • Undead: +2 Toughness; +2 to recover from being Shaken; no additional damage from Called Shots; immune to disease and poison; does not suffer wound penalties.
  • Weakness (Ash Wood): Vampires take +4 damage from weapons made of the wood of the ash tree.  The ash has been burned to near-extinction throughout most vampire-controlled lands and is considered contraband in Malleus.  A vampire hit with a called shot to the heart (–4) by an ash wood stake must make a Vigor roll versus the damage total. If successful, it takes damage normally. If it fails, it crumples into a desiccated corpse.  Beheading the staked vampire, stuffing the mouth with garlic, and burning the remains will prevent the vampire from ever rising again.
  • Weakness (Curse of the Blood): Every vampiric bloodline has a unique weakness.  (See below.)
  • Weakness (Garlic): Vampires suffer a –2 penalty to Fighting attacks against anyone who carries garlic (or has eaten so much of it that the odor exudes from their skin).  It should also be noted that they cannot cross a threshold or windowsill warded with garlic.
  • Weakness (Wine):  A vampire who drinks even a sip of wine must make a Vigor roll to avoid retching. A roll of 1 on the Vigor die means the blood-drinker is Shaken, a failure means the vampire spits it up, a success means the unliving is able to swallow the drink without ill effect. This roll must be made for every drink the blood-drinker attempts.
  • Weakness (Sunlight): Vampires catch fire if any part of their skin is exposed to sunlight. After that they suffer 2d10 damage per round. Armor does not protect, but it is important to note that skin must be exposed directly to sunlight; Mallean fashion has adopted concealing masks and cloaks not dissimilar to Venetian Carnival costumes. All physical tasks made in sunlight are made at –2.
  • Weakness (Unwelcome Guest): Vampires cannot enter a home unless invited.
  • Weakness (Wolfsbane): The undead immunity to poison does not apply to wolfsbane, a deadly and eldritch flower that is poisonous to living and undead alike.  (As Lethal Poison, Savage Worlds Deluxe p. 89)
 
The vampire bloodlines of Malleus are:

Blut von Ruprecht 
Prince Ruprecht is a sinister plotter and strangely inhuman compared to his younger brothers.  His bloodline has manifested the ability to control vermin and adopt their forms.
Gift of the Blood
  • Rats in the Walls: Vampires of the Blut von Ruprecht have the ability to summon and control swarms of vermin (cockroaches, fleas, and rats are typical choices). This requires an action and a Smarts roll at –2. If successful, 1d4 swarms of crawling vermin (Savage Worlds Deluxe p. 141) come scurrying out of the walls or earth in 1d6+2 rounds.
Curse of the Blood
  • Weakness (Grain or Seeds: As Weakness (Grain, Seeds, or Nets) (SWHC p. 114).
Advanced Abilities
  • Low Light Vision: The young vampire’s eyes finally adjust to the night.  As the Monstrous Ability (SWD p. 132).
  • Change Form (Swarm): The vampire can explode into a writhing mass of rats or biting insects (see SWHC p. 112).
  • Burrowing: Vampires of the Blut von Ruprecht may burrow at their walking pace as per the Monstrous Ability (SWD p. 130).
  • Shadow: The vampire has lurked so long in darkness that he has become darkness itself (SWHC p. 114).
  • Fear: As the centuries pass, von Ruprecht vampires bald and their faces take on a fearsome, inhuman cast with beady eyes and projecting fangs.  They gain the Fear Monstrous Ability (SWD p. 131) with a -2 modifier but also gain the Ugly Hindrance.
 
Blut von Rickard
Prince Rickard the Wolf-hearted is a savage warrior and huntsman who bears a strong resemblance to the late Emperor Etzel.  His whelps echo his savagery.
Gift of the Blood
  • Change Form: As an action, the vampire can change into a dire wolf (SWD p. 135) with a Smarts roll at –2. Changing back into humanoid form requires a Smarts roll.
Curse of the Blood
  • Weakness (Blood): See SWHC p. 114.
Advanced Abilities
  • Low Light Vision: The young vampire’s eyes finally adjust to the night.  As the Monstrous Ability (SWD p. 132).
  • Children of the Night: Wolves only (SWHC p. 112)
  • True Predator: The von Rickard’s natural weapons grow more deadly; their fangs now deal Str+d4 damage and their claws Str+d8.
  • Fast Regeneration: See SWHC p. 113.
  • Fear: As the centuries pass, von Ruprecht vampires bald even as their faces grow hairier and take on a predatory cast with golden, wolf-like eyes and prominent fangs.  They gain the Fear Monstrous Ability (SWD p. 131) with a -4 modifier but also gain the Bloodthirsty Hindrance as they find themselves unable to feed without killing.
 
Blut von Rot
Prince Wilhelm the Red is the most charming of King Wilhelm’s sons.  They say his bloodline carries the angelic grace of Sathaniel himself.
Gift of the Blood
  • Charm: See SWHC p. 112.  It should be understood that “opposite sex” means “compatible sexual orientation.”
Curse of the Blood
  • Weakness (Herbs): The Blut von Rot is strangely vulnerable to certain plants venerated by the ancient Kimmerians (SWHC p. 114).  It should also be noted that they cannot cross a threshold or windowsill warded with garlic, holly, or juniper.
Advanced Abilities
  • Low Light Vision: The young vampire’s eyes finally adjust to the night.  As the Monstrous Ability (SWD p. 132).
  • Seduction: See SWHC p. 114.  Again, this applies to attackers of a compatible sexual orientation.
  • Flight: With a successful Vigor roll, a von Rot vampire may sprout vast black-feathered or leather wings (see SWHC p. 112).
  • Resurrection:  As Prince Wilhelm’s brothers and rivals have learned, the Blut von Rot is very hard to kill.
  • Fear: As the centuries pass, von Rot vampires bald and something monstrous begins to manifest beneath their beauty; they gains the Fear Monstrous Ability with no modifier to the Fear check (SWD p. 131).
 
Blut von Heinrich
Though considered a pretender by his brothers, Prince Heinrich’s abilities are most like his father’s.  The Blut von Heinrich has an affinity for the air that grows more… diffuse… as they grow in power.
Gift of the Blood
  • Wall Walker: The vampire may defy gravity and walk on ceiling as easily as floors (see SWHC p. 114).
Curse of the Blood
  • Weakness (Bells): Tremendous drums are beaten in the clock towers of Malleus (see SWHC p. 114).
Advanced Abilities
  • Low Light Vision: The young vampire’s eyes finally adjust to the night.  As the Monstrous Ability (SWD p. 132).
  • Change Form: The vampire takes to the air as a Giant Bat (Giant Bat statistics are found on SHWC p. 56; the ability is detailed on SWHC p. 112).
  • Change Form (Swarm): Bats only (SWHC p. 112).
  • Weather Control: Now the vampire can control the wind.  With this power at his command, it is no wonder how King Wilhelm conquered Malleus (SWHC p. 114).
  • Fear: As the centuries pass, von Ruprecht vampires bald and their faces take on bat-like aspects with splayed ears and rows of needle-like teeth.  They gain the Fear Monstrous Ability (SWD p. 131) with a -2 modifier but also gain the Ugly Hindrance.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The King is Dead: Some Dunpeals

A Heinrich Libertine.
The upper ranks of society are the domain of the blood-drinkers.  The following are some examples of highly-placed dunpeals (the living children of vampires and humans).

Von Ruprecht Necromancer Abbot (Legendary)
Though his face is now a skull-like mask and he cannot feed without killing his victims, this dunpeal churchman has achieved his ambition of ruling a remote monastery.  Within its confines, he conducts repulsive rites to sate the demands of his “angelic” patron.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d8 Strength d8 Vigor d8
Skills: Faith d10, Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma -4 Corruption 3 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 6
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty, Code of Honor, Vow (Minor) (to the Church), Greedy (Minor), Ugly.
Edges: AB: Miracles, Connections (Church of Sathaniel), Dunpeal, Necromancer, New Power (x3), Noble, Power Points x2.
Power Points: 20
Powers: banish entity, bind entity, consecrate ground (reversed), corpse senses, summon demon, zombie.
Dark Gifts: Trait Increase (Faith +1), Power +2 (to become a significant figure within a powerful organization); see the Seducer Demon in Savage Worlds Horror Companion p. 74.
Special Abilities:
  • Feed: The dunpeal must drink at least a pint of fresh blood (which need not be human) every day. This is treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance.
  • Royal Blood: von Ruprecht -- Rats in the Walls: The dunpeal has the ability to summon and control swarms of vermin (cockroaches, fleas, and rats are typical choices). This requires an action and a Smarts roll at –2. If successful, 1d4 swarms of crawling vermin (Savage Worlds Deluxe p. 141) come scurrying out of the walls or earth in 1d6+2 rounds.
  • Strength of the Damned: Add one die each to Strength and Vigor.
  • Weakness (Ash Wood): Dunpeals take +4 damage from weapons made of the wood of the ash tree,
  • Weakness (Sunlight): All physical tasks made in direct sunlight are made at a -2.

Von Rot Bishop or Cardinal (Legendary)
This dunpeal has risen far in the church hierarchy through personal charm and dominating the wills of the weaker. 
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d10 Spirit d10 Strength d8 Vigor d8
Skills: Faith d4, Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d10, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d8, Taunt d6.
Charisma +4 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 6
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Vow (Minor) (to the Church), Greedy (Minor).
Edges: AB: Miracles, Charismatic, Connections x2 (Church of Sathaniel, a prominent vampire patron), Dunpeal, Filthy Rich, Followers, Noble, Tower of Will.
Power Points: 10
Powers: banish entity, consecrate ground (reversed)
Special Abilities:
  • Feed: The dunpeal must drink at least a pint of fresh blood (which need not be human) every day. This is treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance.
  • Royal Blood: von Rot -- Charm: The dunpeal can use the puppet power on someone who finds him or her sexually attractive using his or her Smarts as the arcane skill. This can be maintained indefinitely, but can only affect one target at a time.
  • Strength of the Damned: Add one die each to Strength and Vigor.
  • Weakness (Ash Wood): Dunpeals take +4 damage from weapons made of the wood of the ash tree, Weakness (Sunlight): All physical tasks made in direct sunlight are made at a -2.

Moroi Assassins
Unpleasant, unctuous men of decidedly average appearance, they report in secret to the bishop and (literally) execute his orders.
Attributes: Agility d8 Smarts d6 Spirit d6 Strength d8 Vigor d8
Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d8, Initimidation d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d4, Riding d4, Shooting d6, Stealth d8, Streetwise d6, Throwing d6.
Charisma -6 Pace 6 Parry 6 Toughness 6
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty, Greedy, Outsider (mere servants)
Edges: Assassin
Equipment: Stiletto (Str+d4, AP 2)
Special Abilities:
  • Enslaved: The will of the moroi is suborned to the master vampire. This functions in most ways as the Vow (Major) Hindrance.
  • Feed: The moroi must drink at least a pint of blood fresh from its master once a month. This is otherwise treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance.
  • Strength of the Damned: Strength +1d and Vigor +1d. Since this effectively offsets the Elderly Hindrance, there are some surprisingly spry old men watching out for the vampires' interests.

Von Rickard Colonel (Legendary)
Dunpeals in the military more often find themselves in the thick of battle than behind the lines.  The children of Prince Rickard the Wolf-hearted in particular crave the clash of steel; this berserker leads a daring cavalry squad that rides moroi steeds.
Attributes:Agility d8 Smarts d6 Spirit d6 Strength d10 Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d10, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4,  Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Riding d6, Shooting d8, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6, Throwing d6.
Charisma +2 Pace 6 Parry 7 Toughness 10 (7)
Hindrances: Arrogant, Stubborn, Vengeful (Minor).
Edges: Beast Bond, Berserk, Brawny, Command, Dunpeal, Followers, Inspire, Leader of Men, Steady Hands, Noble.
Equipment: cavalry saber (Str+d6), cuirass (+3)
Special Abilities:
  • Feed: The dunpeal must drink at least a pint of fresh blood (which need not be human) every day. This is treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance. 
  • Royal Blood: von Rickard -- Change Form: With a Smarts roll at -2, the dunpeal may change into a wolf or bat.
  • Strength of the Damned: Add one die each to Strength and Vigor.
  • Weakness (Ash Wood): Dunpeals take +4 damage from weapons made of the wood of the ash tree.
  • Weakness (Sunlight): All physical tasks made in direct sunlight are made at a -2.
 
Moroi Cavalrymen
Vicious, devil-may-care younger sons of the Von Rickard line within nothing to lose and everything to gain by covering themselves in blood and glory.
Attributes:Agility d6 Smarts d4 Spirit d6 Strength d10 Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d4.
Charisma +2 Pace 6 Parry 6 Toughness 9 (6)
Hindrances: Arrogant, Stubborn, Vengeful (Minor).
Edges: Noble, Steady Hands.
Equipment: cavalry saber (Str+d6), cuirass (+3)
Special Abilities:
  • Enslaved: The will of the moroi is suborned to the master vampire. This functions in most ways as the Vow (Major) Hindrance.
  • Feed: The moroi must drink at least a pint of blood fresh from its master once a month. This is otherwise treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance.
  • Strength of the Damned: Strength +1d and Vigor +1d.
Moroi Steeds
War horses fed dunpeal or vampire blood to increase their ferocity and inure them to undead riders.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d4(A) Spirit d6 Strength d12+3 Vigor d12
Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d6.
Pace 8 Parry 6 Toughness 11
Special Abilities:
  • Enslaved: The will of the moroi is suborned to the master vampire. This functions in most ways as the Vow (Major) Hindrance.
  • Feed: The moroi must drink at least a pint of blood fresh from its master once a month. This is otherwise treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance.
  • Fleet-Footed: War horses roll a d8 when running instead of a d6.
  • Kick: Str+d4.
  • Size: +3; Warhorses are large creatures bred for their power and stature.
  • Strength of the Damned: Strength +1d and Vigor +1d.

Von Rot Minister (Legendary)
The get of the charming and prolific Prince Wilhelm the Red dominate Mallean politics, allowing only enough of the other bloodlines into the Diet to disguise their overwhelming majority. 
Attributes:Agility d6 Smarts d10 Spirit d10 Strength d8 Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d10, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Notice d8, Persuasion d10, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d6, Taunt d10.
Charisma +4 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 6
Hindrances: Cautious, Code of Honor, Greedy (Minor).
Edges: Alertness, Charismatic, Dunpeal, Filthy Rich, Level Headed, Noble, Quick, Strong Willed, Tower of Will.
Special Abilities:
  • Feed: The dunpeal must drink at least a pint of fresh blood (which need not be human) every day. This is treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance.
  • Royal Blood: von Rot -- Charm: The dunpeal can use the puppet power on someone who finds him or her sexually attractive using his or her Smarts as the arcane skill. This can be maintained indefinitely, but can only affect one target at a time.
  • Strength of the Damned: Add one die each to Strength and Vigor.
  • Weakness (Ash Wood): Dunpeals take +4 damage from weapons made of the wood of the ash tree,
  • Weakness (Sunlight): All physical tasks made in direct sunlight are made at a -2.

Von Heinrich Libertine (Legendary)
Some dissolute dunpeals live only for the pleasures of the flesh; pursuing these pleasures, however, bestows them with a wealth of secrets and skills.
Attributes: Agility d10 Smarts d10 Spirit d6 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Gambling d8, Intimidation d6, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d10, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d10, Streetwise d10, Taunt d6, Throwing d4.
Charisma +4 Pace 6 Parry 7 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Poverty, Vengeful (Minor), Yellow.
Edges: Attractive, Block, Dodge, Dunpeal, Extraction, Noble, Quick
Equipment: bejeweled rapier or smallsword (Str+d4, +1 Parry), concealing cloak, fine clothes, mask.
Special Abilities:
  • Feed: The dunpeal must drink at least a pint of fresh blood (which need not be human) every day. This is treated like the Habit (Major) Hindrance.
  • Royal Blood: von Heinrich -- Wall Walker: The dunpeal can move at its full Pace (and even run) along any surface.
  • Strength of the Damned: Add one die each to Strength and Vigor.
  • Weakness (Ash Wood): Dunpeals take +4 damage from weapons made of the wood of the ash tree,
  • Weakness (Sunlight): All physical tasks made in direct sunlight are made at a -2.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The King is Dead: Churchmen of Malleus

Somebody remind me to buy myself the Le Scorpion series for Xmas.

The Church of Sathaniel of Malleus combines the worst qualities of the Anglican and Catholic Churches of the 18th Century.  The Church is seen by most nobles as merely a socially-acceptable career for younger sons, while the common folk view priests with a superstitious reverence.  Positions within the Church hierarchy are bought and sold as readily as indulgences; rich fathers buy their sons spiritual power over susceptible rustics and social-climbing deacons woo patronage from vampire lords.  Ambitious vicars make Faustian pacts with Sathaniel’s “angels” while decadent bishops turn nunneries into private harems.  The horror is that this considered a true spiritual model of the world under Sathaniel.


Initiate (Novice)
The typical seminary student is practically indistinguishable from a typical Student.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d6 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d4, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma +2 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Vow (Minor) (to the Church), Greedy (Minor).
Edges: Connections (Church of Sathaniel), Noble.


Pastor (Seasoned)
The pastor has graduated from his studies and assumed his duties; the next few years will determine the course of his life.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d6 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Faith d4, Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma +2 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Vow (Minor) (to the Church), Greedy (Minor).
Edges: AB: Miracles, Connections (Church of Sathaniel), Noble.
Power Points: 10
Powers: banish entity, consecrate ground (reversed).


Pact-Maker (Veteran)
This man of the cloth (most likely a deacon or vicar) has decided his best path to worldly success is with supernatural aid and so he has turned to summoning tempting “angels.”
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d6 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Faith d8, Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma +2 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Vow (Minor) (to the Church), Greedy (Minor).
Edges: AB: Miracles, Connections (Church of Sathaniel), New Power (x2), Noble, Power Points.
Power Points: 15
Powers: banish entity, bind entity, consecrate ground (reversed), summon demon.
The pact-maker may also have several Dark Gifts (as per the Seducer Demon in Savage Worlds Horror Companion p. 74)

Preacher (Veteran)
This man of the cloth (most likely a deacon or vicar) has instead decided that patronage and clients are his key to success.  He preaches hellfire sermons to the masses and flattering masses for the nobility.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Faith d4, Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d4, Persuasion d8, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma +4 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Vow (Minor) (to the Church), Greedy (Minor).
Edges: AB: Miracles, Connections x2 (Church of Sathaniel, a prominent vampire patron), Charismatic, Noble.
Power Points: 10
Powers: banish entity, consecrate ground (reversed)

Miracle-Worker (Heroic)
This man of the cloth (most likely a vicar or bishop) has become a powerful wielder of magic.  He might spend his time in dark and terrible excesses, or he might (possibly and extremely rarely) have realized the emptiness of his pursuits and turned for spiritual enlightenment to the Pariah or the ancient gods (likely joining the Balefire Club or Bloodstained Blade).
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d6 Spirit d10 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Faith d10, Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d8, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma +2 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Vow (Minor) (to the Church), Greedy (Minor) OR Heroic, Vow (Minor) (to secret society), Wanted (Minor).
Edges: AB: Miracles, Connections (Church of Sathaniel or a secret society), New Power (x4), Noble, Power Points.
Power Points: 15
Powers: banish entity, bind entity, consecrate ground (reversed), summon demon, and zombie OR banish entity, bind entity, consecrate ground, greater healing, and summon spirit.
The pact-maker may also have several Dark Gifts (as per the Seducer Demon in Savage Worlds Horror Companion p. 74)

Presbyter (Heroic)
This man of the cloth (most likely a bishop or archbishop) has found great success playing the games of politics in the Church of Sathaniel -- or perhaps his pursuit of power has opened his eyes to the plight of the poor and he now rights sacrilegious tracts supporting the cause of the Illuminated, the Bloodstained Blade, or possibly even the Balefire Club.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d10 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Faith d4, Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d4, Persuasion d10, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6.
Charisma +4 Pace 6 Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Vow (Minor) (to the Church OR his secret society), Greedy (Minor).
Edges: AB: Miracles, Connections x2 (Church of Sathaniel, a prominent vampire patron OR his secret society), Charismatic, Filthy Rich, Noble, Strong Willed.
Power Points: 10
Powers: banish entity, consecrate ground OR consecrate ground (reversed)



Friday, November 15, 2013

The King is Dead: Gentlemen of Malleus

All gentlemen of Malleus are trained in the dueling arts.
Aristocratic Mallean society allows for far more flexibility in men’s career paths than women.  The following examples trace the careers of a military man, a politician, and a wastrel.  More information on the religious life is forthcoming.

Bully (Novice)
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d4 Spirit d6 Strength d8 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d4, Throwing d4.
Charisma +2  Pace 6  Parry 6 Toughness 6
Hindrances: Arrogant, Stubborn, Vengeful (Minor).
Edges: Brawny, Noble.

Student (Novice)
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d6 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d4, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma +2  Pace 6  Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Cautious, Code of Honor, Greedy (Minor).
Edges: Alertness, Noble.

Toady (Novice)
Attributes: Agility d8 Smarts d6 Spirit d4 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d4, Gambling d6, Intimidation d4, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6, Throwing d4.
Charisma +2  Pace 6  Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Poverty, Vengeful (Minor), Yellow.
Edges: Noble

Junior Officer (Seasoned)
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d4 Spirit d6 Strength d8 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d4, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Riding d6,* Shooting d6, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d4, Throwing d4.
Charisma +2  Pace 6  Parry 6 Toughness 6
Hindrances: Arrogant, Stubborn, Vengeful (Minor).
Edges: Brawny, Command, Noble.
* or Boating, depending on whether he is Army or Navy.

Junior Politician (Seasoned)
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma +2  Pace 6  Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Cautious, Code of Honor, Greedy (Minor).
Edges: Alertness, Noble, Strong Willed.

Junior Sycophant (Seasoned)
Attributes: Agility d8 Smarts d6 Spirit d6 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d6, Gambling d6, Intimidation d4, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6, Throwing d4.
Charisma +4  Pace 6  Parry 5 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Poverty, Vengeful (Minor), Yellow.
Edges: Attractive, Noble

Senior Officer (Veteran)
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d6 Spirit d6 Strength d8 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Riding d6,* Shooting d6, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d4, Throwing d4.
Charisma +2  Pace 6  Parry 6 Toughness 6
Hindrances: Arrogant, Stubborn, Vengeful (Minor).
Edges: Brawny, Command, Inspire, Leader of Men, Noble.
* or Boating, depending on whether he is Army or Navy

Senior Politician (Veteran)
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d10 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d8.
Charisma +4  Pace 6  Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Cautious, Code of Honor, Greedy (Minor).
Edges: Alertness, Charismatic, Noble, Strong Willed.

Senior Sycophant (Veteran)
Attributes: Agility d8 Smarts d8 Spirit d6 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d6, Gambling d6, Intimidation d6, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d8, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d8, Streetwise d8, Taunt d6, Throwing d4.
Charisma +4  Pace 6  Parry 5 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Poverty, Vengeful (Minor), Yellow.
Edges: Attractive, Noble, Quick

Admiral/General (Heroic)
This savvy commander has risen to hold one of the top ranks in the Mallean military.  Now he must choose between serving his bloodthirsty overlords or leading his troops against their own country.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d6 Strength d8 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) d10, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Lockpicking d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d6,* Shooting d6, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d4, Throwing d4.
Charisma +2  Pace 6  Parry 6 Toughness 6
Hindrances: Arrogant, Stubborn, and Vengeful (Minor) OR Heroic, Loyal, and Stubborn.
Edges: Brawny, Command, Inspire, Leader of Men, Noble, Tactician.
* or Boating, depending on whether he is Army or Navy
 
Statesman (Heroic)
This canny politician has risen high in the Mallean Diet or the colonial government.  He has parlayed his success into material gain as well as political power.  Now he either tries to persuade his vampire ancestors that he deserves to join their ranks or plots their downfall so all men can be free of such tyranny.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d10 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d8, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Notice d10, Persuasion d10, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d8.
Charisma +4  Pace 6  Parry 4 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Cautious, Code of Honor, and Greedy (Minor) OR Enemy (Minor), Heroic, and Wanted (Minor).
Edges: Alertness, Charismatic, Filthy Rich, Level Headed, Noble, Persuasive, Strong Willed.

Rakehell (Heroic)
This gentleman of leisure is so debauched that he has begun to study the art of sorcery.  He may be a devout Sathanielist bent on a path of vengeance against those who snubbed him in his youth, or he might be a member of the Baelfire Club convinced he can resurrect the old pagan gods through orgiastic rites.  
Attributes: Agility d8 Smarts d8 Spirit d6 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d6, Gambling d6, Intimidation d6, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d8, Lockpicking d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d8, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Spellcasting d8, Stealth d8, Streetwise d8, Taunt d6, Throwing d4.
Charisma +4  Pace 6  Parry 5 Toughness 5
Hindrances: Greedy (Minor), Habit (Minor – dropping veiled allusions to his dark deeds) Vengeful (Major) OR Curious, Delusional (Minor), and Wanted (Minor).
Edges: Arcane Background: Magic, Attractive, Noble, Quick
Power Points: 10
Powers: banish entity, bind entity, summon demon or summon spirit

Monday, November 11, 2013

The King is Dead: Mallean Ladies of Good Breeding


A Mistress and an Ingenue have a conversation
This post has been amended to bring it in line with the revised skill rules noted in The King is Dead: Gentlemen of Malleus.

A selection of ladies of the aristocracy and gentry of Malleus, suitable for use as adversaries and damsels in distress:

Ingenue (Novice)
This young lady may still be cloistered or may have just been introduced to society; she would be somewhere between 15 and 18 years old. She is inexperienced in the world at large but well-educated in the arts and practical knowledge a Mallean lady should possess.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d6 Spirit d6 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Gambling d6, Healing d4, Intimidation d4, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d6,* Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Repair d4, Riding d4, Stealth d4, Taunt d4.
Charisma: +2 (+4)** Pace:6 Parry:2 Toughness:5
Hindrances: Code of Honor (tries to live by the standards of decorum of Mallean society), Outsider** (it’s a man’s world), Pacifist (Minor) (has not been taught even the basics of self-defense)
Edges: Attractive, Noble
*Knowledge (Occult) fulfills the same function in Malleus that Knowledge (Religion) would in the real world.
*The Outsider Hindrance reduces effective Charisma.
 
Debutante (Seasoned)
Between 18 and 23 years of age, this young lady is now out in society or may even be a young bride. She has strengthened a bit -- sharpening her mind and her social skills –but she is still vulnerable.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d6 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Gambling d6, Healing d4, Intimidation d4, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d8, Repair d4, Riding d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6.
Charisma: +2 (+4) Pace:6 Parry:2 Toughness:5
Hindrances: Code of Honor (tries to live by the standards of decorum of Mallean society), Outsider (it’s a man’s world), Pacifist (Minor) (has not been taught even the basics of self-defense)
Edges: Attractive, Noble
 
Socialite (Veteran)
Mallean society is competitive and brutal, as the living nobles strive to win the prize of immortality from their vampire elders. This Mallean noblewoman may be as young as twenty or as old as late middle age. She has trained herself for the war of words in the salons and boudoirs, becoming both more outwardly charming and more inwardly steely.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Gambling d6, Healing d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d8, Repair d4, Riding d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d8.
Charisma: +2 (+4) Pace: 6 Parry: 2 Toughness:5
Hindrances: Code of Honor (tries to live by the standards of decorum of Mallean society), Outsider (it’s a man’s world), Pacifist (Minor) (has not been taught even the basics of self-defense)
Edges: Attractive, Charismatic, Noble, Strong Willed

Adventuress (Heroic)
This lady has responded to the battle of the sexes by making herself a seductress and spy. She may use her talents to forward her husband’s political career or for her own gain; she may even be a member of the Illuminated or Sorority of Belquis.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d8 Strength d6 Vigor d8
Skills: Gambling d6, Healing d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d8, Repair d4, Riding d4, Stealth d6, Streetwise d6, Taunt d8.
Charisma: +2 (+4) Pace:6 Parry:4 Toughness:6
Hindrances: Curious or Greedy (Major) (motivated by either searching for freedom or grasping for power), Outsider (it’s a man’s world), Vengeful (Minor) or Wanted (Minor) (dangerous to cross or her crimes have caught the attention of authorities)
Edges: Attractive, Charismatic, Noble, Persuasive, Strong Willed

Mistress (Heroic)
This lady wields power either domestically or through her husband. She has found her place in the world and will defend it by wielding her pawns.
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d10 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Gambling d6, Healing d4, Intimidation d10, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Repair d4, Riding d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d6, Taunt d8.
Charisma: +2 (+4) Pace:6 Parry:2 Toughness:5
Hindrances: Vengeful (Major) (cross her at your peril), Outsider (it’s a man’s world), Pacifist (Minor) (has not been taught even the basics of self-defense)
Edges: Attractive, Charismatic, Command, Noble, Strong Willed

Sorceress (Heroic)
This lady has chosen to turn to forbidden magic to make her mark on society. She may court the favor of the Old Gods or Faerie (and be a member of the Baelfire Club or the Sorority of Belquis), or she might have learned her arts from one of Sathaniel’s angels (who seem to be awfully eager to bend His laws and lead people into temptation).
Attributes: Agility d6 Smarts d8 Spirit d10 Strength d6 Vigor d6
Skills: Gambling d6, Healing d4, Intimidation d6, Investigation d4, Knowledge (Occult) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d8, Repair d4, Riding d4, Spellcasting d8, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d8.
Charisma: +2 (+4) Pace:6 Parry:2 Toughness:5
Hindrances: Curious or Greedy (Major) (motivated by either searching for knowledge or grasping for power), Outsider (it’s a man’s world), Vengeful (Minor) or Wanted (Minor) (dangerous to cross or her crimes have caught the attention of authorities)
Edges: AB: Magic, Attractive, Charismatic, Noble, Strong Willed
Powers: banish entity, bind entity, summon demonor summon spirit

 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nightcrawler is in his Heaven: Amazing X-Men #1


As promised, I bought the first issue of Amazing X-Men, the first part of “The Quest for Nightcrawler,” yesterday.  It’s the first comic I’ve bought since the beginning of the summer and the first Marvel book I’ve bought since well before they killed Kurt Wagner off back in 2010.  I did not, however, go down to my local comic book shop and pick up the issue.  Instead, I bought the digital version through Comixology.

I admit to mixed feelings about this choice.  My local comic shop, Dragon’s Lair San Antonio, is also my local gaming shop and I haven’t put any money in their tills for months now.  It’s a great place – clean, well-stocked, and pretty gender-neutral – but it’s hard to argue that I need to buy any dead-tree RPG books when the PDFs are cheaper and I’m the only one who reads them (I’ve got a laser printer, so it’s really cheap and easy to print out the pages I need).  In the case of comics, I’m just plain sick and tired of the long boxes stuffed in my closet and the pile of single issues on the coffee table… but I still feel guilty.

Reading the comic on my iPhone 3GS was… OK.  I lost track of what page I was on and how long the comic was, so I was surprised by reaching the end.  The flow from panel to panel is smooth, and you can always magnify the page to check little details in the art.  I feel gypped by paying the same price for a digital copy as for the paper copy (especially since I found out too late that the paper copy comes with a digital copy) but it makes me want to check out some reasonably-priced digital books (like Batman ’66). 

There was, unfortunately, no way this issue could quite live up to my dreams -- after all, it wasn’t illustrated by Alan Davis – but it was a joy to see the swashbuckling, bantering Nightcrawler back in action again.  The issue begins with the late Kurt Wagner moping about in Heaven, feeling like he still has a mission on Earth, when demonic pirates led by Kurt’s father Azazel show up and try raiding the place.  A showpiece swordfight ensues as we are reminded why Nightcrawler is the superhero I want to be.  The comic then cuts to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning where Firestar (from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends) has shown up for her first day of work.  She gets dragged along as a gaggle of X-Men investigate the mysterious behavior of the Bamfs – tiny, super-deformed Nightcrawler lookalikes that have infested the school like gremlins – and then the whole teamed gets teleported into the afterlife.  The End.

Dammit, Jason Aaron, do you really need to stretch out the tear-filled reunion for five issues?  Couldn’t we just have a double-sized first issue that ends with the reunion and then they take out Azazel in issue 2?  I have never hated decompressed storytelling so much.

I haven’t made up my mind about getting back into comics yet.  I really, really don’t want piles of floppy singles crowding up my house, but I’m kinda dissatisfied with having only an ephemeral digital copy.  I might just be one of those people who waits for the trade paperback. 

Still, I’m happy the real Nightcrawler is back.

    

Friday, November 1, 2013

The King is Dead: What Lurks in the Shadows?



What lurks in the shadows?

I’ve been putting off deciding what other supernatural beings exist in the world of The King is Dead for months, but I need to make up my mind.  I think best when I’m writing, so I’m going to write out my internal debate.  Your feedback is welcome.

I’m sure some readers will look at the beginning of the previous paragraph and think “What do you mean ‘decide what other supernatural beings exist?’  It’s a Gothic horror setting – of course there’s Frankensteins and werewolves and zombies and everything!”  To be honest, that’s a valid response.  Why shouldn’t there be all the usual panoply of monsters?

My storytelling instincts warn me that The King is Dead isn’t just a horror setting.  It isn’t Rippers 1776 or even Colonial Gothic; it’s a setting about political revolution.  The vampires who rule Malleus don’t live in isolation from the populace; they’re not mysterious folk legends who slip down into the villages once in a blue moon and make off with occasional unwary maidens.  They rule in the open as a blatant satire of the aristocracy of pre-revolutionary France (and their modern parallels).  Killing these vampires isn’t monster-hunting; it’s political assassination.

One of my main goals with The King is Dead is to create a setting where the player characters are obligated to become criminals.  Most RPGs assume that PCs are going to be kind of shady – D&D’s adventurers rob tombs for fun and profit while they thumb their noses at the feudal hierarchy, Call of Cthulhu investigators will be forced to occasionally turn to arson and murder, superheroes of any stripe only disobey the letter of the law to uphold the spirit, and White Wolf PCs (whether they’re monsters or Exalts) obey the rules of their own societies even as they exist apart from the mainstream world – but (aside, obviously, from crime setting like Leverage and Streets of Bedlam) PCs are rarely outright criminals working to undermine lawful authority through murder, seduction, and theft.

Wait… What?

Yes, murder, seduction, and theft.  If history is written by the winners, then right now the vampires are the legitimate rulers of the western world – vindicated by the Church of Sthaniel and their inarguable mastery of Malleus.  If the player characters don’t win the revolution, then their monster-slaying is mere murder.  Until you manage to rouse the populace to outright revolt, any time you kill a vampire you’re going to want to do it in a way where you don’t get caught (and bursting into his house bristling with weapons is an almost sure-fire way of getting caught).

You need to be a Casanova, seducing the virginal fiancees of key vampires in order to prevent the conception of new dunpeals.  You need to be a Cagliostro, poisoning the nobility’s precious blood with dubious alchemy.  You need to be the Madame de Pompadour, bleeding the treasury dry because you’ve got a prince of the blood wrapped around your finger (admittedly not an actual criminal enterprise).  You need to be Hawkeye (1992 edition), living a life of honor removed from the laws of the land.  You need to be freakin’ Captain Jack Sparrow!

You really can’t be Captain Kronos or Abraham von Helsing.  The vampires aren’t an aberration you can just put down like rabid dogs.  You need to plot, you need to plan.  You need to leave no clues behind or set up a patsy.  If you want to storm the castle, then you’re going to need a rampaging mob behind you, you’re going to need the whole land on fire.

This focus on proactive plotting by the PCs skews the emphasis of the game away from reactive monster-fighting, so my gut instinct is that muddying the works with other supernatural beings is tricky at best, wrong-headed at worst.  I’ve implied that werewolves exist (or maybe just existed) but there’s a long-standing confusion of werewolf and vampire lore that could be used to argue that they’re the same thing.  I adore the fae, but how the heck would I fit them into this world?  I’ve also implied the existence of a God or gods who – though weak – act in opposition to the vampires, granting miracles to adepts and the faithful.  The vampires themselves believe in angels of the Unseen Creator, of whom their progenitor Sathaniel is the chief, so the presence of angels and demons (who may in fact be demons and angels instead) could be justified.

On the other hand, fighting only vampires and dunpeals (who are, after all, practically the same thing) all the time could get boring.  Now, vamps and dunnies are as different as normal people are from each other – one might be an effete fop who relies on bodyguards and social status to protect him, another might be a mighty warrior in his own right, and another might be a sorceror who commands “angels” – but they’re all going to be vulnerable to ash wood and sunlight.  Are the incremental differences enough to keep players interested?

[Note to self: I really need to stat up a dozen different vampire archetypes; the “young” and “ancient” varieties won’t provide enough… variety.]

I plan to borrow from the Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter the conceit that there are different breeds of vampire with different strengths and weaknesses.  I don’t think I’ll go so far as to have some steal youth and some drink blood (or steal breath or whatever), but there are definietely going to be some variations in the abilities of the vampire bloodlines in Malleus.  In fact, an explanation for the vampires’ obsession with pure bloodlines popped into my head during my last game session with Robin: whenever a vampire sires someone who isn’t a dunpeal of their own get or the descendant of that vampire’s dunpeals, there are unpredictable mutations.  If a vamp turns a descendant in whom vampiric blood already flows (so NOT one of the three Blood Princes born before 1066), then that new vampire will have abilities and weaknesses identical to his sire.  If a vamp turns a mortal who has no vampire blood, then that new vampire’s abilities may be radically different from his sire’s. 

I’m veering really close into “vampirism as weird-ass sci-fi,” aren’t I?

Hmm… I’m veering pretty far off-topic.  I like where this is going, though.  I think that a lot of vampiric powers require training and dedication (effectively requiring Edges or working as an Arcane Background), so many vampires have only the bare minimum abilities.  Some, though, are absolute Hellsing-style monsters.

Is that enough variation, then?  Weak, nearly-human young vampires up through protean elders?  Does the setting need werewolves or fairies or monstrous beasts when it has not just Bela Lugosis but also Harmonys, Spikes, Drusillas, Christopher Lees, Ds, Bloods, Mina Ţepeşes, and Alucards?

Damn it.  I really, really wish the answer was “no,” but I just realized the reason it has to be “yes.”

There has to be hope.

There has to be a reason (besides self-preservation) that humans believe there’s more to the world than being food for vampires.  Unless you want to set your game in Lovecraft’s hostile universe, then any game with supernatural evil has to have supernatural good, too.  Even Supernatural – about as bleak a paranormal series as it gets – had that loving, supportive witch/familiar relationship in “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits.”  I sometimes let my atheism blind me.

There isn’t a lot of other supernatural activity in the world.  The Old Gods are crippled or dead, the faeries have retreated to their mounds (but might still be summoned by the crazy Clan O’Nail), and wizards can summon and bargain with angels, demons, and elementals.  Strange beasts still lurk in the hearts of the old woods, and perhaps even the most ancient trees forcibly resist the vampires’ domination.  Vampire necromancers surround themselves with skeletal and zombie servants.  The Cruthin speak directly to their nature spirits, and the Pariah answers his worshippers’ prayers as best he can.  A man might live on the verge of the Nachtwald his whole life and see nothing supernatural besides his vampire lord, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know there’s more to this world.

The werewolves are lurking in the shadows, and will offer their help to the Glorious Revolt… for a price.
 

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