In honor of Halloween, I thought it was time to reveal a bit about vampires in the Tattered Magicks world. Though my playtesters haven’t encountered any yet, they are definitely out and about causing trouble wherever they choose to go.
Like many folks, I had a great time playing White Wolf’s Vampire the Masquerade game back in the 1990s. That, plus the mythology of Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blade, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and yes – the Red Court in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, all has formed an interesting idea of what vampires are in my own setting.
At one level, vampires are undead creatures who have retained control of their own minds and use blood to fuel their immortal bodies into eternity. I mean, that’s cool in and of itself. But I think they can be more than that.
Vamps are a metaphor for the individuals leeching power and wealth from the masses. And it’s much easier to see Count Dracula draining a victim of their actual plasma than consider the vampires we have in society. I could get into a whole discussion of who I think those vampires are, but that’s not quite appropriate for this context. We’ll leave political discussions aside.
In Tattered Magicks, vampires are the mythological leeches we have grown to love. No sparkly vamps in this world however.
Perhaps there is a “Patient Zero” somewhere, but we’ll leave that concept for another day. Suffice it to say that there are things in the world I don’t quite want to reveal yet! But we’ll cover Mature vampires and Fledglings here, plus a little bit about what we’ll call “Lifeblood” magick.
Rules-wise, creating a Vampire is easy. And maybe the first vampire was created with a variation on the theme. Drain a victim to zero Toughness, let them suffer passing in and out of consciousness for a couple of days, then tempt their body to consume something they wouldn’t normally consider: a taste of blood. Somehow, with this transaction, the body decides whether it is magickally able to take on vampiric qualities.
If the victim lives, it becomes a vampire. If the vampire rejects the blood, it perishes (often becoming a ghost because of the gruesome way it was tortured before death).
Voila – instant vampire. Want to know why most vampires are cruel, self-centered monsters dedicated to their own survival? Their creation may have something to do with it.
After this newfound vampire gets its first fill of lifeblood, it discovers it’s been given a few gifts in its transformation.
- Fledgling Vampire [Low-level]: Attribute 6, Traits: Legged, Sprinter (20m), Tough Hide (AR2), Lifeblood (Toughness/Special), Claw (Athletics)
If that same vampire survives a few years of consuming others, it gains additional abilities and gets tougher…
- Adolescent Vampire [Mid-level]: Attribute 8, Traits: Same as Fledgling plus Plated Armor (AR3) and Lifeblood Magick (Toughness)
Lifeblood Magick is a magickal trait not normally available to PCs. Of course, referees can rule otherwise!
- Lifeblood Magick (Toughness) – Using the power inherent in the lifeblood of warm-blooded creatures to create magickal effects
These creatures can supercharge themselves up to 2x their Toughness attribute with points of magickal energy through draining other creatures.
This leads to fun spells like:
- Drain Life – Drains away one point of Toughness from a victim . If unwilling, the victim can do an opposed Toughness check to stop the vampire.
- Supercharge – Enables using a point of power to enhance another attribute such as Athletics, Accuracy, or Presence by +1. This can be done to maximize an attribute to 18 points.
- Superspeed – Harnesses one or more points of power to double the vampire’s current Speed. One point would double 20m to 40m. A second point would double 40m to 80m, etc.
- Sense Lifeblood – Harnesses one or more points of power to extend the vampire’s senses to cover up to a mile per point used (1 point = 1 mile, 2 points = 2 miles, etc). The vampire can sense any living being within their range and reclaim the point of Toughness when they are done.
- Dominate – Harnesses one or more points of power to attempt to dominate a victim through willpower alone. The victim must do an opposed Presence check to stop the attack. Each point increases the level of intensity. One point puts the vampire at a Disadvantage. Two points puts them at No Advantage. And three points puts them at Advantage. If they are successful, they regain their Toughness. If not, all points used are lost.
- Terrify – Harnesses one or more points of power to attempt to terrify a victim. Victim must make a Morale check to resist. Same point cost and structure as Dominate.
Note that for opposed checks where both sides of the battle succeed, it becomes a matter of the “quality” of success.
Obviously there are some problems with actually being a vampire. Draining blood from victims is tough to do without getting caught unless there are some benefits. And some vamps may have entire stables of victims as thralls…
If a victim is willing, they can be given a “Blood Gift.” A point of power transferred to a thrall can grant a victim some interesting effects, similar to the “Combat Stims” in Aliens & Asteroids..
- Blood Gift – Increases one attribute by 1 point for d6 hours, but you lose 1d3 Morale when it wears off.
Some thralls will take the gift multiple times until their Morale drops to zero and they go unconscious. When they awaken, they are in full fight or flight mode and will attack the first thing they see or run to safety. Some vampire masters keep entire rooms in such a state for their own entertainment.
Vampires are not kind creatures, feeding on the life force and misery of others. But there are always exceptions. And I’m not even bringing in what happens when you encounter Mature, Elder, or Ancient vampires! There are some fun abilities that come with being at the top of the food chain.
So there you have it… a “taste” (bad pun) of vampires in the Tattered Magicks system.