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How can you possibly do something original with vampires? I decided to try.

 

In my Turakian game, vampires are all deliberately created undead, brought into being by a particularly vile necromantic ritual.

 

Vampires are created by an evil ritual in which the victim is deprived of food and water, repeatedly cursed, and then slowly bled by a combination of exposure to bloodsucking creatures such as leeches and mosquitoes which are force fed to the otherwise starved victim and of draining the victim's blood into a pottery vessel inscribed with curses, from which the victim must drink. When this ordeal finally ends in death, the victim will rise as an undead monster hating their tormentor but compelled to serve and obey.

Every vampire has at least two forms; one resembling who they were when alive, and one obviously monstrous shape that is humanoid but reflects the form of one of the bloodsuckers used in their ordeal. Some vampiric powers can only manifest when in the latter form.

 

The monstrous form will always include the head changing into a giant version of that of some parasite such as a mosquito, tick, leech, or spider (technically I know a spider isn't a bloodsucking parasite but it's close enough for necromancy ok?)

 

Some examples of powers associated with specific bloodsuckers:

 

Aspect of the Mosquito

Swarm: vampire dissolves into a cloud of mosquitoes

 

Aspect of the Leech

Aquatic Ambush: Limited Invisibility if in water

 

Aspect of the Spider

Webs: An Entangle power

 

 

There are ways a vampire thrall can win free, in particular, if the vampire's creator is destroyed. Free vampires can become powerful vampire lords- and once having undergone the hideous rite of transformation, any vampire knows how to inflict it on others....

 

Lucius Alexander

 

I had more written up for these things but the palindromedary ate most of my work.

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Perhaps If A Vampire Were To Suck The Blood Of, Say, A Magic User, Then The Vampire Could Have Some Sort Of Charges Power From That Person. Maybe Define This As A "Lamprey", Who Attach Themselves To Many Fish, and sometimes develop fins.

 

 

 

Aspect of the Lamprey: Drain Power + Charges Of Same Power

 

 

 

 

 

As Words Die, A Mimic Vampire Sucks The Blood Of Another Vampire!

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For purposes of the thread discussion, I think I'll add the paraphrased background for genetic-mutant vampires that Steve Perrin developed for Lung Hung, the master villain in his classic Champions adventure module, VOICE of Doom.

 

In the human genome there's a latent mutation which on rare occasions manifests fully in individuals who have experienced a "fatal" trauma. Three days after their "death," these people awaken in a changed physical state, which is responsible for much of the classic vampire lore. These creatures are ageless, superhumanly strong and fast, have heightened senses, and heal most wounds almost instantly. However, their bodies are dependent on supplementary intake of potassium, without which they weaken and ultimately die. That's the source of their thirst for the blood of the living; they crave the potassium released into a person's bloodstream at the moment of death. Those genetic vampires who are aware of this dependence can take daily potassium supplements instead, but for the ones who have killed and drunk blood over a long period the habit is difficult to break. Also as per traditional vampire lore, a wooden stake through the heart prevents the mutant's blood from circulating and stops its healing abilities, keeping it inert.

 

A variation on this mutation, apparently an earlier and more primitive one, allows the mutant to transform from a normal-looking human form to a superhuman but monstrous-looking one, resembling the Lon Chaney "wolfman." In this wolfish form the mutant has comparable physical abilities and weaknesses as the vampire, but in addition is more Vulnerable to silver, and Susceptible to wolfsbane. Obviously this mutation was the source of many werewolf legends.

 

Both types of mutation appeared more commonly in cultures which did not prepare their dead for burial, e.g. embalm the bodies, remove their internal organs, or simply bury them quickly so it would be harder for the newly awakened mutant to escape before it died again from lack of blood.

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The coolest variant on vampires I've seen recently was on a TV show called "Monumental Mysteries" in which they talked about a small town story involving disease in New England.  But at the time it was believed that vampires actually died, were buried, and lay in their graves remotely draining blood from victims.  They sustained their life by blood which kept their heart alive, but never got up out of the grave.  I'm using that idea for the least powerful, first stage of vampires in my bestiary :)

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Every vampire has at least two forms; one resembling who they were when alive, and one obviously monstrous shape that is humanoid but reflects the form of one of the bloodsuckers used in their ordeal. Some vampiric powers can only manifest when in the latter form.

 

The monstrous form will always include the head changing into a giant version of that of some parasite such as a mosquito, tick, leech, or spider (technically I know a spider isn't a bloodsucking parasite but it's close enough for necromancy ok?)

 

 

Butterflies are another species that are Hematophagous; Just thought I'd toss that out there because this is a bit of a cool concept and you need more blood sucking animals on your list.

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I may have only females take on Aspect of the Mosquito and only males take on Aspect of the Blood Moth, now I know that 1. There are bloodsucking lepidoptera, and 2. unlike with mosquitoes, it is male moths that suck. Same set of powers, different names and appearances.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary suggests Aspect of the Loan Shark

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Every vampire has at least two forms; one resembling who they were when alive, and one obviously monstrous shape that is humanoid but reflects the form of one of the bloodsuckers used in their ordeal. Some vampiric powers can only manifest when in the latter form.

 

The monstrous form will always include the head changing into a giant version of that of some parasite such as a mosquito, tick, leech, or spider (technically I know a spider isn't a bloodsucking parasite but it's close enough for necromancy ok?)

 

 

Perhaps a flea or a vampiric bat will do the trick

 

Ghost-Angel, Lucius' idea is already horrifying enough. He doesn't need more Nightmare Fuel!

 Not Yet good sir, not yet.

 

 

As Words Die, The Palindromedary is turned into a vampire.

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The one thing I liked in "Twilight" was the "sparkly vampires."

 

I think a lot of the hate towards the idea is really about hating the story the idea appears in.

 

I have to admire the originality of the twist on what is now the traditional vampire fear of sunlight - they fear it not because it harms them, but because it exposes them.

 

My own vampires won't be harmed by sunlight (that's a 20th century idea anyway) but will be more powerful at night.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

Turning a vampire into a palindromedary

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In my games vampirism is a curse: you can maintain your own life indefinitely, at the cost of taking it from others. The catch is that as you take blood, and life force, you also take aspects of whatever you are feeding on. In theory, a vampire can survive by taking blood from animals, but if they do so, they become more bestial themselves.

 

cheers, Mark

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And yet in the later Twilight movies the vamps were often out in broad daylight with nary a sparkle to be seen.

 

Even drivel should be consistent.

Wasn't aware of that. So they abandoned the one idea I liked.

 

In my games vampirism is a curse: you can maintain your own life indefinitely, at the cost of taking it from others. The catch is that as you take blood, and life force, you also take aspects of whatever you are feeding on. In theory, a vampire can survive by taking blood from animals, but if they do so, they become more bestial themselves.

 

cheers, Mark

So if a vampire consistently preys upon innocent victims, does it become more innocent or more easily victimizable?

 

Lucius Alexander

 

If a vampire preys upon a palindromedary does it forget whether it was coming or going?

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In folklore, which powers and vulnerabilities a vampire had depended on where the legend came from.  There are almost as many vampire myths and legends as there are small towns in Europe.

 

You have to be careful with delving into folklore too much, however.  You aren't writing a novel, you're running a game.  Most of your players aren't going to be familiar with anything but Hollywood rules.  Even Bram Stoker's novel was really just an amalgamation of different myths and stories.  Your players aren't going to know to have a virgin ride a solid black horse across the graves in a cemetery, and when the horse refuses to cross one, that's where the vampire is.  Of course in other European towns, it's a solid white horse the virgin is supposed to ride.  And sometimes you're not supposed to ride it, and instead lead it across the graves.

 

With a novel, you can really delve into the specifics of the legend, pull out some actual myth that nobody has ever heard of, and that can make your vampire truly frightening.  The characters can spend weeks researching ancient myths until they finally discover the right one.  The entire time, the vampire gets closer to finding them, as well.  Tension builds and you can make a good story out of it.  But I don't think players want to spend that kind of time trying to guess what bit of folklore/crappy novel/part of his butt/random movie the GM pulled this "special" vampire from.  Personally, I'd stick with the Hollywood rules, maybe put a different spin on them, and then give the vampire an extra power that I either saw in an rpg or read in a book somewhere.  That should be enough for most players, and it's familiar.  I like the idea of different vampire "bloodlines", so what powers you get depends on who bit you.  Probably also depends on the personality of the vampire, basically how he wants to spend his XP, for lack of a better term.  

 

So, as an example, a vampire is forced to return to his coffin at sunrise.  But what if he doesn't die if he's exposed to the sun, he just returns to the coffin.  The sunlight hits him and he fades from view like he was made of mist.  Imagine the players high-fiving each other, thinking they beat the monster when they force him out into the daylight.  Turns out it doesn't even hurt him -- he just reappears in his lair.  They find this out the next night.  So we've taken a Hollywood rule and re-interpreted it.  And now let's give him some degree of control over shadows, like the Lasombra in Vampire The Masquerade.  He can make the lights go out.  He stays hidden in the darkness and tries to surround his victims with shadows that creep out of the corners of the room, or from under nearby furniture.  The shadows just stretch along the ground and the walls, and then suddenly there's a wall of darkness around you.  And finally, let's add a dash of Quentin Tarantino, just for fun and character.  Instead of having this guy sleep in a coffin, maybe he drives around in an old '70s muscle car with the trunk welded shut.  And inside the trunk is his grave earth.  And that's where he rests during the day.

 

I think there we've got a fairly compelling character who isn't really that different from the conventional vampire.  Players will recognize exactly what he is without wondering where the GM came up with some of his weird ideas.

 

Edit:  '70s muscle car probably not appropriate for a Turakian Age game, though.  Unless it's a really odd one.

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Wasn't aware of that. So they abandoned the one idea I liked.

 

 

So if a vampire consistently preys upon innocent victims, does it become more innocent or more easily victimizable?

 

More trusting? More innocent, perhaps? Smaller and less threatening in appearance?*

 

In one game, the PCs confronted a vampire who had agents kidnap aesthetes - artists, philosophers, etc in order to dine on what he considered 'higher qualities'. He was himself a refined aesthete with near-terminal boredom ... the players were never quite sure about what exactly was cause and effect, and how much of his behaviour and appearance was real or feigned. 

 

But players have also had to deal with a vampire who - discovered and forced to flee into the wilderness - became a bestial, bloodthirsty monster after subsisting on animals. It's not just a mental attitude thing - vampirism is a curse (in my game) that alters physically. So their bestial vampire was hunched, furred, muscular, clawed and fanged ... and ran with a pack of vampiric wolves. Wolves that had gotten scary smart (well, for wolves) from dining on human flesh and blood .... bwahahaha!

 

I haven't had it happen yet, but imagine a vampire that fed primarily on monsters .... or for that matter, other vampires.

 

Like most things in my game, I did it this way for story reasons, but with an underlying game-mechanics rationale. The story reason is that it removed Vampires from the cookie-cutter-template model - you know, vampires have these and these powers and these and these vulnerabilities. Different cultures have different legends of vampire-like monsters, and this approach mirrors that. The game mechanics part is that I found it made vampires scarier for the players, if they knew they weren't necessarily going to be dealing with anemic-looking lounge lizards with a fetish for opera wear ... but didn't know exactly what they were going to be dealing with. It gave me the freedom to whip up endless variations on the vampire theme, when it takes my fancy.

 

So in one culture from my game, vampires are revered (and feared) as ancient ancestors, who lead their clans in endless bloody wars, in another a Vampire Queen rules (openly) her city, offering protection to the city in exchange for an annual toll of healthy young people, while in others they are the secret urban predators we know and love from modern vampire fiction, or troll-like bestial haunters of the wilderness, who hunt and eat humans by preference.

 

cheers, Mark

 

*I haven't had a vampire baby yet, but perhaps I should ;)

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The one thing I liked in "Twilight" was the "sparkly vampires."

 

 

These are cool vampires, so I like them too. Perhaps, the use of them would be in smaller scale, such as a certain type of vampires.

In my games vampirism is a curse: you can maintain your own life indefinitely, at the cost of taking it from others. The catch is that as you take blood, and life force, you also take aspects of whatever you are feeding on. In theory, a vampire can survive by taking blood from animals, but if they do so, they become more bestial themselves.

 

cheers, Mark

Honestly, the idea of this is brilliant, but easily can be exploited. Many vampires could "feed" upon different people to constantly increase their power.

 

 

 

Let's Say We Have A Vampire With The Following Stats.

 

 

20 Str

15 Dex

25 Con 

40 Ego

20 Int 

25 Pre 

4 Ocv

4 Dcv

 

They could feed on a powerful fighter and increase their STR, CON,  OCV, and Probably DCV. 

They could feed on a strong willed wizard and increase their EGO, INT, and PRE. 

They could feed on a rogue and increase their DEX, EGO, and INT. 

 

They could continue to feed until they became so strong that feed only keeps them alive. 

 

 

 

As Words Die, The World Is Confused On How A Palindromedary Excretes

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My understanding of the "sparkles" was that they only manifested in direct sunlight- so if you were in the shade or an overcast day, no problems.

 

Hence why they chose the Pacific Northwest as their home since, according to this narrative, the area is frequently overcast. So all those battle scenes that took place during the day were obligingly under cloud cover.

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In my games vampirism is a curse: you can maintain your own life indefinitely, at the cost of taking it from others. The catch is that as you take blood, and life force, you also take aspects of whatever you are feeding on. In theory, a vampire can survive by taking blood from animals, but if they do so, they become more bestial themselves.

 

cheers, Mark

 

There's an urban fantasy series (Women of the Otherworld--all the protagonists are women) in which there are vampires. They can drink blood without killing...but once a year they MUST kill someone. It's the price of their extended lives; it's paid for with other peoples' lives. So even the "good" vampires are killers.

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The Pacific Northwest is the Earth's only Temperate Rain-forest. 

 

I was very lucky on the cruse I took around the Alaska inside passage, we only had 4 days of rain on a two-week trip.

 

Never said it made sense, just that it was how it was depicted in that narrative. After all, how could the Cullen's be in high school if they had to avoid sunlight? So the author used a contrivance.

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The author used a lot of contrivances...

I think writers of vampire fiction get a discount deal on bulk purchase of contrivances

 

Ghost-Angel, Lucius' idea is already horrifying enough. He doesn't need more Nightmare Fuel!

More fuel is appreciated although I am also working to make my nightmares more fuel efficient.

 

Most of your players aren't going to be familiar with anything but Hollywood rules.

Are you familiar with my players?

 

While I'm challenging assumptions, why do you seem to think I'd create a unique version of vampires and then let my players continue to think they're the same generic vampires they've seen before? I don't think players should necessarily know everything about every monster they encounter but I definitely don't think they should be misled by assumptions their in-world characters wouldn't be making.

 

I don't think players want to spend that kind of time trying to guess what bit of folklore/crappy novel/part of his butt/random movie the GM pulled this "special" vampire from. Personally, I'd stick with the Hollywood rules,

Well, sticking with Hollywood rules is one way of thinking; there are others. I often like Markdoc's way of thinking; I've been known to ask him to do my thinking for me when I thought he might be better at it than I would be.

 

Like most things in my game, I did it this way for story reasons, but with an underlying game-mechanics rationale. The story reason is that it removed Vampires from the cookie-cutter-template model - you know, vampires have these and these powers and these and these vulnerabilities.

Getting away from cookie cutter vampires is a thought I approve of.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

I don't even use cookie cutter taglines; each palindromedary tagline is handcrafted even if it follows a familiar design.

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Perhaps a flea or a vampiric bat will do the trick

 

I won't be using vampire bats - wrong climate - but

 

Aspect of the Bat: Sonar

Aspect of the Flea: Superleap

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The World Is Confused On How A Palindromedary Excretes

And the palindromedary says, no shit!
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My problem with vampires in general is the ecology of them. As a population element they should run away and within a generation the entire population is vampire. There's no negative feedback in any version I've ever heard of. And if vampires die without ordinary humans to feed on, then in a couple of generations everyone is dead, after the last humans are consumed and then the vamps starve.

 

Humans have always hunted their favored prey to extinction, and then moved on to less favored things, until they learned agriculture.

 

The classic vampire story has vamps as hunters, and looking at the population dynamics, extinction is absolutely unpreventable. Ordinary humans go the way of the giant ground sloth and the moa and the California sardine fishery.

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