Saturday, April 21, 2018

GvM: The Vampire

When I first heard of Vampire the Masquerade, it was in a post that Zak Sabbath made on the topic.  But I could never re-find the post.  So the idea of what he mentioned swirled around in my head, along with the ideas that I had heard about the story, which weren't much.  As such, I ended up inventing my own version of what Vampire actually was.  And this half-fiction in my head was so compelling, I decided that I would create a d20 version, because I could, and because I feared that the real version would not live up to the half-formed fantasy I was cobbling together out of half-remembered conversations and monster movies.

But the more and more I thought about it, fully thinking about how Vampires could co-exist in our world, I came to a conclusion.  What if the players didn't want to be Vampires?  What if they wanted to be Humans?  And that revelation lead me to The Company and Those who Know.

And this is the nature of the modern occult setting I am working on.  Like the Company itself, it is a vast umbrella over various groups that have little to do with each other, and little in common.  Playing as an Agent of the Company is much different than playing as Those who Know, which is much different than playing as a Vampire.

Speaking of which...

Playing as a Vampire

Starting HP: 1/3 Con
FS: see chart.
Starting Equipment: bandages, leather jacket, black balaclava, pistol, k-bar knife, 1d3+1 Blood Points 

Level 1- Bite, Regeneration
Level 2- Superhuman Strength
Level 3- Incredible Speed
Level 4- Otherworldly Beauty
Level 5- Space Ripper Stingy Eyes
Level 6- True Undeath
Level 7- Mist Form
Level 8- Freezing Touch
Level 9- Desiccation

Bite: Allows you to bite people.  You make this Attack at -4 unless target is willing or restrained.  Does 1d12 damage on a hit and allows you to drain blood/gain Blood Points. 

Regeneration: You can spend Blood Points to cure wounds and reconstruct your body.  1 Blood Point restores 1d6 HP.

Superhuman Strength: Vampires can spend a blood point as a free action to increase their strength.  This lets them make attacks with a +1 bonus to attack and a +2 bonus damage on a hit.  These bonuses also stack, so if you spend 1 Blood Point you get these bonuses, or if you spend 2 Blood Points, you get +2 to attack and +4 to damage.  You may spend no more than 4 Blood Points on one attack.  Additionally, each time these Blood Points are spent, the enhancement to strength only lasts for that turn and the rest of the round, expiring at the start of the Vampire's next turn. 

Incredible Speed: Vampires can spend a Blood Point as a free action to increase their speed.  This gives you +X to initiative on a d20, where X is the number of Blood Points you spent.  If combat has already started, you may instead move up X spaces in the initiative order.  You also get a +X bonus to any save against firearm damage.

Otherworldly Beauty: If you spend a Blood Point, this increases your physical beauty to its maximum.  You entrance people.  +4 to all interaction checks.  You also gain +3 to Reaction Rolls, unless someone is on the lookout for monsters or suspicious persons.  This lasts until you take any damage, go to sleep, or 12 hours.

Space Ripper Stingy Eyes: You can spend any number of Blood Points to fire Vampiric Essence out of your eyes.  For every Blood Point you spend, roll 1d6.  Then make an Attack.  On a hit, the enemy takes [sum] damage.  You may sweep the jet of Vampiric Acid in a line to target other enemies near your initial target, but if you do so, enemies get a save to take half damage, even on a hit. 

True Undeath: You no longer need to breathe or eat.  You also have perfect control of your body.  You don't get tired, but you do need to spend Blood Points to move around.  1 Blood Point = 8 Hours of Activity.  You also don't feel any pain anymore, or any sensation unless you want to.  

Mist Form: You can transform into a cloud of smoke that can move under its own power.  1 Blood Point for 1 minute of transformation.  This can be ended at any time as a free action.  You are immune to all non-magic damage in this form, except for sunlight and fire.  You also take double damage from sunlight and fire in this form. 

Freezing Touch: By spending a Blood Point, You can vaporize all the water in a body part, thus drawing all the heat out of anything you touch.  This can freeze liquids, spread thin sheets of ice over things, and freeze the body of anyone you touch. Freezing someone like this does 1d6 non-lethal damage, and renders whatever was frozen unusable until they can thaw the ice around it.  Also note that this usually doesn't freeze it all the way through, just covers it in ice and renders it temporarily unusable.   

Desiccation: By touching someone's exposed skin, you can drink someone's blood right through their skin.  This allows you to do 1d8 damage on a successful hit, and then does 1 HD of damage a round.  This also gives you Blood Points as normal.

Or if you're playing with a group that has more than 1 Vampire- you can also use the following table.  Give them their normal first level abilities, but then, every time they level up, have them roll on this table, rerolling duplicate results.

Vampire Random Advancement Table
1- Wall Crawler: Like Spiderman.
2- Hypnosis:  By spending a Blood Point and looking into someone's eyes, you can hypnotize them and bend them to your will.  They get a save to resist. 
3- Darkvision: You can see in the dark, as long as their is some light.  You cannot see in absolute darkness.
4- Kinship with vermin: You can control and attract Vermin.
5-Reviving Blood.  Pouring your blood on a wound or onto the corpse of a person who has died recently (within a number of minutes equal to your level) they are restored back to full health.  In the case of they were dead, they are instead reanimated as a semi-mortal, ageless being.  The first time a revived person suffers a wound that would kill them, they instead begin transforming into a proper Vampire.   
6- Shape-changing: You can transform into the shape of anything that you've eaten the heart of.  Your actual stats do not change.
7- Create Illusions: You can weave illusions out of smoke and shadow.
8- Defy Gravity: You can make gravity stop affecting you.
9- Emerge from Unhallowed places: You can teleport between places of ill repute. 
10- Superhuman Strength: You gain the ability to spend Blood Points to massively increase your attack and damage rolls.  As above.
11- Incredible Speed: As above.
12- Otherworldly Beauty: As above.
13- Space Ripper Stingy Eyes: As above.
14- Dominion.  Whenever a spell or ability would cause you to take an action you did not choose, you may spend a Blood Point to get another chance to save against that ability.
15- Mist Form: Turn into mist.  As above.
16- Freezing Touch:  As above.
17- Desiccation: As above. 
18- Boiling Blood.  You can spew out some of the blood you've collected at a boiling temperature.  To living creatures, this is agony. 
19- Bone blades.  You can make blades of bone come out of your 1d6 [1= Arms; 2= Legs; 3= Feet; 4= Hands; 5= Chest; 6= Head). You can drink blood through these blades.  The blades are also sharp enough to cut through anything you could cut with an axe.
20- Boneless.  You can manipulate the elasticity of your body, allowing you to make your bones as soft as cartilage for a short period of time.

Living as a Vampire

Now, in my setting, Vampirism is a chronic, hereditary illness.  At first, it just ruins your life.  But as the disease progresses, you eventually stop aging and get some of those nifty powers you've heard so much about.  This means that young Vampires are basically just goths with pointy teeth, and older Vampires are killing machines.  To keep track of how Human a Vampire is, I wrote up a few tables on the subject.

Now, onto the subject of Blood Points.  Blood Points are the most important currency for a Vampire.  They enable healing, all their abilities, and a Vampire's continued existence.  As such, getting them is the most important thing a Vampire cares about.  And you get them by drinking blood, of course.

As such, a Vampire can hold a number of Blood Points equal to their level*2.

But how much blood, or how Many Blood Points, does any one creature contain?  Well, to figure that out, roll 1d8, then add the number of HD if they are greater than 1.  So a 1 HD human can contain up to 8 Blood Points, and a 12 HD Dragon can contain up to 20.  And any blood will do, with certain exceptions.  For example, it must be from a humanoid creature with a compatible soul to yours.  So cows and animals are out, but Xenos, Humans, the Folk, and anything higher than you is fine.  And for some creatures such as Dragons or Sphinxes, drinking their blood will probably do more harm than good, if you can even acquire some of it.

When you drink someone's blood, they take non-lethal damage equal to the amount of Blood Points you've extracted.  However, if you take all of someone's Blood Points, they will still die.

Blood Points can be taken from a corpse, as long as that corpse has been dead for less than a number of minutes less than or equal to their HD.

Also, note that if you take all of someone's Blood Points, you're not sucking them dry, you're actually plundering all their life energy.  They may still have blood left, but their body will no longer have the strength to actually keep them alive, and they will die.  A coroner will be mystified by a death like this- it will look like massive organ failure, as if the body just stopped working on every level, for no conceivable reason.

And unlike what you read about in books or movies, a Vampire drinking your blood is not a pleasant experience.  Vampire saliva acts as a mild anesthetic and anti-coagulant, so if a Vampire has the time, they can make it mildly more pleasant.  But if they're in a hurry or currently fighting you, they'll just rip you open with their enormous strength and slurp down your blood.  So it can range from anywhere to getting a blood test done to being disemboweled.  Either way, you'd have to be pretty sick in the head to like even the milder end of the experience.  And of course, if anyone enjoys the rougher end of the blood drinking continuum, they've never come back to have it done again.  Overall, it's a thoroughly unpleasant experience.  Additionally, a Vampire drinking your blood will not turn you into a Vampire, though it can transmit blood-borne diseases.

Telling a Story about Vampires

1: Being a Vampire sucks
2: This world was not designed for you
3: Everyone either hates you or doesn't care about you  

Firstly, being a Vampire is not at all what it's cracked up to be.  At first, you will have no Vampire powers.  The only way to develop them is to wait and train hard.  So for a lot longer, you will still need to eat food, drink water, sleep and stuff.  You'll also still get sick and other things.  And you'll never see the Sun again, unless it's the last thing you see.  You'll have to transfer over to the night shift, avoid windows like the plague, and order anything you can't get at a 24 hour convenience store online.  You'll also probably have to get a new job or quit your current one- as it's likely not going to be good for you.

So for a while, being a Vampire is basically like being a Goth with better fashion sense and pointy teeth.  You'll probably still carry a gun to protect yourself.  But for a while, sunlight will only hurt you, not burn you to ashes in seconds, and you'll only need a few drops of blood a day, though you'll probably crave it constantly.

<DM note>The sun is both a spiritual and a physical object.  That's why sunlight can cheer you up as well as warming your skin.  But it is this spiritual light that burns a Vampire or an Undead, not UV light or anything else.  Thus, a Vampire would, in theory, be totally safe in the shadow of a building during the day, as long as no sunlight reflected off something shiny and hit them.  Even something as thin as a piece of paper, if it wasn't partially translucent would protect them.</DM note>  

Secondly, when you're a Young Vampire, you're likely not to attract any attention at all, unless you do something massively retarded.  But it's about this time you're likely to encounter the Vampire Clans.  The Clans are organized groups of Vampires.  They pool their resources and engage in business together, whether legal or illegal.  They also keep a territory of Humans under their control.  If a Clan Vampire catches you feeding on one of their Humans or a merely a Human in their territory, they will be very unhappy with you.  A lot of young Vampires either end up being press-ganged into joining a Clan or are just gunned down in suspicious but un-investigated shootings.  But as long as you don't trespass on their territory or interfere with their business, most Clans will either try and recruit you or leave you alone.

And while all Clans are different, there are certain traits they all share.  They all have hierarchies, secret knowledge, and compete against other Xeno Tribes for competition and resources.  Additionally, all "official" Clans have a liasion with the Company, and work with them, and technically fall under their administration, though as long as the Masquerade is respected and the Peace maintained, the Company couldn't care less what the Clan does.  So while the Company might occasionally assassinate a Clan leader or bust up a Vampire led crime ring, that is mostly to prove that they can.

But among some young, radical Vampires, this system is intolerable.  They reject the Clan structure and try and make it on their own, or they form unofficial Clans to fight the other Clans.  These unofficial Clans can be anything from a  rag-tag groups of dissidents squatting in abandoned rail yard or indistinguishable to a normal Vampire clan, beyond the official stamp of approval from the Company.

<sidenote>Many of these same young Vampires also believe in conspiracy theories, such as the Vampire craze was funded by the Company to make them seem less like real monsters, for some sinister and batshit insane reason.  And even among those who do not directly attribute malice to this, they are all too aware of the Vampire's status in pop culture as hunky eye-candy.  Some either attempt to push back against this by being really vicious and cutthroat, or lean into it by wearing sexy outfits and trying to seduce anything that walks by.  Most just ignore their inherited status, and change the subject if its brought up.</sidenote>  

But these are not the only types of Vampire.  Besides the Vampires in the Clans and the younger Vampires, the Bloodlets, there is one other type.  The Old Blood is what they are unofficially called.  These are Old Vampires who predate the Clans, most which were founded after the official adoption of the Masquerade and the Peace, which had been unofficial policy for almost three centuries at that point, but was officially made policy in 1950.  Some are only slightly older than the Greenland Accords that established the Peace and the Masquerade, but some are absolutely ancient, beings who have cast long, dark shadows across the centuries.  These Ancient Vampires usually regard the Clans with suspicion and contempt.  They are either too powerful to acknowledge bowing to anyone, or they remember when men like the current Agents of the Company hunted their kind, and are unwilling to trust them, even though they now wear suits instead of the sign of the Cross.

If you ask them, they may regard this new system with open, irrational contempt, or they may have reasoned arguments.  They may point out how the Clans are often weak; corrupt; inept; strangled with byzantine and nonsensical regulations; or just flat out immoral.  Though most of the Old Blood won't care about the morality of the Clans, except for the fact that most hold freedom, particularly their freedom, in very high regard, and Clans do not allow their members to be free.

The Old Blood either lies in hibernation within coffins or secured crypts, awaiting someone to awaken them to this new world, or they rule from the shadows, hiding from the Clans and the Company alike.

Thirdly, let me tell you a joke.  Who hates Vampires more, Vampires or non-Vampires?  The answer of course is Vampires, because they hate Vampires too.

Like so many Xeno tribes (and Humans) the only thing that can truly unite them is the hatred of the Other, and sometimes not even that is enough.

And most Vampires wouldn't have it any other way. 


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