Sunday 19 January 2014

Child-Brain Vampire

So I just finished reading through Bram Stoker's Dracula. I was surprised what a fun, easy read it was, considering the 1897 publication date. There's a lot there to talk about: the book is part Horror, part Mystery, and part Adventure Novel. For now, let's focus on Dracula himself and gameability...

The Child-Brain

Anyway, at a few points, Professor Van Helsing, in his broken English, goes on about how Dracula is actually a relatively immature and therefore weak Vampire. For example:

“He has all along, since his coming, been trying his power, slowly but surely; that big child-brain of his is working. Well for us, it is, as yet, a child-brain; for had he dared, at the first, to attempt certain things he would long ago have been beyond our power...

An Amalgamated Mythos

I'd assumed that vampires are like zombies: different books mention different powers and weaknesses and so you essentially have different types with different "rules". Not so. At one point the professor exposes a whopping 22 different powers and weaknesses that apply to the Count which he gathered from various legends and folklore. On one hand, they are quite varied and lack a common aesthetic. On the other hand, it makes the Vampire that much more mysterious, that we can't make sense of his bizarre and inexplicably varied abilities. There's a delicious illogic to the whole thing.

No DnD Vampires, Thank You Very Much!

So, bottom line, Dracula has many weaknesses in addition to his many powers. And I rather prefer Bram Stoker's vampire to DnD's. Rather than being a 7-9HD monstrosity, Dracula can be killed by a single well-placed knife blow(during the day time, anyway). Much of the novel is about the party trying to catch the Vampire when he is weak, while he, in turn, wriggles around their defences and evades them except when he is strong. Ultimately, the result is an intelligent cat & mouse game, rather than a full-on combat.

So let's stat him up. And ultimately, the DM needs to play this guy smartly for him to provide the challenge that he should, for the PCs:

HD: 1 per century
Save: as Thief of same level
MV: 12 or as bat/wolf when transformed
AC: 10 or as bat/wolf when transformed
Attacks: per weapon. Has Hill Giant Strength at night
  • Sustenance
    • The vampire live on, and cannot die by mere passing of the time;
    • he can flourish when that he can fatten on the blood of the living. 
    • Even more, we have seen amongst us that he can even grow younger; that his vital faculties grow strenuous, and seem as though they refresh themselves when his special pabulum is plenty. 
  • Physical Powers:
    • He throws no shadow; 
    • he make in the mirror no reflect, as again Jonathan observe. 
    • He has the strength of many of his hand—witness again Jonathan when he shut the door against the wolfs, and when he help him from the diligence too. 
    • He can see in the dark—no small power this, in a world which is one half shut from the light. 
    • He can hypnotize his victims either with fear or seduction
  • Command
    • Command wolves
    • Command rats
  • Transmutation:
    • He can transform himself to wolf(sorry, no werewolves vs. vampires in this universe)
    • he can be as bat
    • He can come in mist which he create—that noble ship’s captain proved him of this; but, from what we know, the distance he can make this mist is limited, and it can only be round himself. 
    • He come on moonlight rays as elemental dust—as again Jonathan saw those sisters in the castle of Dracula. 
    • He become so small—we ourselves saw Miss Lucy, ere she was at peace, slip through a hairbreadth space at the tomb door. He can, when once he find his way, come out from anything or into anything, no matter how close it be bound or even fused up with fire—solder you call it. 
  • Infectious
    • Victim killed by having blood drained becomes vampire too
    • Victim made to drink Vampire's blood is existentially linked to Vampire. Can read victim's thoughts(and vice versa) and command them. If victim dies, they will become a vampire.
  • Weaknesses:
    • He may not enter anywhere at the first, unless there be some one of the household who bid him to come; though afterwards he can come as he please. 
    • His power ceases, as does that of all evil things, at the coming of the day. Only at certain times can he have limited freedom. 
    • If he be not at the place whither he is bound, he can only change himself at noon or at exact sunrise or sunset. These things are we told, and in this record of ours we have proof by inference. Thus, whereas he can do as he will within his limit, when he have his earth-home, his coffin-home, his hell-home, the place unhallowed, as we saw when he went to the grave of the suicide at Whitby; still at other time he can only change when the time come(his powers are only from sunset to sunrise, noon, or in his unhallowed place)
    • It is said, too, that he can only pass running water at the slack or the flood of the tide. 
    • Then there are things which so afflict him that he has no power, as the garlic that we know of; 
    • and as for things sacred, as this symbol, my crucifix, that was amongst us even now when we resolve, to them he is nothing, but in their presence he take his place far off and silent with respect. There are others, too, which I shall tell you of, lest in our seeking we may need them.
    • The branch of wild rose on his coffin keep him that he move not from it; 
    • a sacred bullet fired into the coffin kill him so that he be true dead; 
    • and as for the stake through him, we know already of its peace; 
    • or the cut-off head that giveth rest. We have seen it with our eyes.
  • Any other characteristics the Players are able to bring a source for in the form of authentic folklore(not pop-culture)

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