Frightening February Day 24: Vampire.

Leech Man,
The Orb.

We’re well beyond, “I vant to suck your blood. Blah.”

A lot of us are big fans of Vampire: the Masquerade or Vampire: the Requiem. As such, many TTRPG fans know the vampire TTRPG tropes with clans, social drama, freakish powers, and relationships with werewolves that go well beyond those on TV or movies. Today I want to look at life from the Monster hunter’s perspective ala Monster of the Week or similar games where vampires are not the protagonist. I also want to dive into vampires that aren’t the standard Transylvanian bipedal human magical parasites.

Content Warning: Body Horror, Blood, Gore, Parasites, Psychological Horror, Violence

Plot Idea 1: Leech Man. Recently several bodies have turned up next to a nearby lake completely exsanguinated. The evidence collected from the various bodies is that they’re all local residents, many of whom lived near the lake. All showed signs of physical trauma- each having been dragged or pushed to the lake. All had two concentric circles with small triangular marks inside them on the chest, under the arm, or inside the thigh.

The group will hear about this through one of their police or coroner’s office contacts. The police are trying to keep the whole thing quiet because they don’t want widespread public panic. They’re also trying to keep it from becoming a federal investigation. With the death toll rising by the day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to fend off reporters, concerned families, and bystanders as another body is pulled from the water. The bizarre condition of the bodies has the police concerned there could be an element of the paranormal involved.

The Keeper will ultimately decide if the creature is some sort of alien, cryptid, weird science experiment, or some other explanation. The creature in question is a five and a half foot tall humanoid with pale skin, tentacles for arms and a human head. Its mouth is a large sucker, like that of a lamprey containing multiple rows of teeth that point inward, making it easy to stay attached to its prey.

Will the group put a stop to the creature before surveillance footage is leaked to the press? Is the creature acting alone or are there more? Could the creature be working to feed its offspring?

Plot Idea 2: Vamp-abetic? Hector was not an average run-of-the-mill vampire. He has a predilection for feeding on very specific victims. Surveillance footage from local convenience stores show him buying large amounts of sugary, caffeinated beverages for his victims. Sometimes energy drinks or other stimulants, but almost always lots of sugar. It should be important to note most, if not all Hector’s victims are people with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. Almost all of Hector’s victims survive, but remember very little beyond the sugar rush and the human bite marks on their neck.

Despite the massive sugar and caffeine intake, all of the victims report low blood sugars after the incident. A few have been hospitalized with diabetic complications, but all have survived so far. Hector migrates frequently, never staying in the same town for more than a few weeks. He will leave town sooner if he thinks the police or local convenience store managers are growing suspicious.

It has been shown that after Hector feeds, he is capable of moving at almost blinding speeds for a few hours. However, sustaining such speeds often requires him to feed again afterward. Unlike typical vampires, he is only mildly allergic to sunlight and has been seen in the early morning or early evening hours. The age on his driver’s license says 32, but he looks a lot younger. The few victims who remember him all say he’s quite charming and polite.

Is Hector a vampire? Can the group contain him before he leaves town? What if his attacks suddenly become more deadly? What would happen if police were to intervene during one of his attacks? Can he be reasoned-with?

iStock photo

Plot Idea 3: The Orb. How this creature came about is a mystery left for the Keeper to decide. Is it intelligent ball lightning? Perhaps a UFO? Maybe it’s a paranormal apparition such as a Willow-the-Wisp in the modern era. Could it be mad science gone wrong, having escaped a nearby lab?

The group is alerted to a large, glowing ball of lightning that is blazing a path through town. It’s absorbing every ounce of electrical energy, including bioelectricity, from every source in its path. Can it be stopped, detained, or diverted to somewhere harmless? What if it splits or grows to an incredible size?

Is it intelligent? Where did it come from? Is there a way to survive contact with it?

Why I Can’t Do Vampire RPG.

Bad guys do bad stuff like sucking the blood out of peoples’ necks and stealing their money. Good guys drive stakes through the bad guys hearts and leave them out in the sun to dry.

For the record: I don’t hate it.

Vampire the Masquerade Second Edition.

I’ve actually been a fan since it first came out. In general, I like World of Darkness. I’m a bit puzzled as to why Hasbro has taken an interest in it indirectly through Renegade Games, but at least it’s in good hands there.

The original game wasn’t bad. I’ve played a lot of LARP in that world. I’ve also done a few tabletop sessions playing as a Malkavian. My personality for that character was Bugs Bunny meets Hannibal Lecter. It was kinda cool, but I still feel kinda queasy even discussing it. That character took my mind to some hella dark places.

That was many years ago, however. I’ve had a lot of therapy and a spiritual awakening since then, so I’m okay now. My point being, like a couple of the other World of Darkness games, it can get dark and depressing pretty fast. That is just not my thing these days. But hey, if Vampire is your jam, that’s cool.

World of Darkness and Vampire the Requiem produced some really fabulous books.

Vampire: the Requiem

I ran Werewolf: the Apocalypse through much of my college career at ISU and it’s still one of my favorite campaigns of all time. But my players and I made it clear from day one that it was to be a strictly Werewolf game. Werewolf is not White Wolf. As in: thou shalt not drag Mages, Vampires, or Wraiths into it. The campaign worked beautifully. It was really a lot of lighthearted fun with the occasional growling, snarling bloodbath mixed in.

A few years down the road, Vampire: the Requiem came along and a new World of Darkness with it. I’m still a huge fan of those books. The revised WoD still sits on my shelves because I love the system. VtR had some of the most wonderful source material ever written, in my opinion.

I still keep the Chronicler’s Guide and Damnation City handy for worldbuilding in modern campaigns. They had some of the best advice for running any sort of horror game and worldbuilding in those books. I liked all of the WoD books from that era, but oddly VtR had the most standouts.

My issue, aside from the darkness, is politics.

No, I don’t mean Democrats vs Republicans. Masquerade suffered from constant bickering amongst the clans and that’s before the Hunters, the Sabbat, and the Antediluvians started getting involved. It just gets really stinking complicated really fast to the point where I’d rather play Diplomacy or Axis & Allies all night instead.

Requiem has its share of politics and groups, too. I just feel like it focused more on local events and less on inter clan rivalries. There were a good share of groups and organizations in that game as well, but it was more foreboding and less overwhelming in terms of horror.That’s just my perception, though.

I’ve never been a fan of drooling, slobbering monster characters.

I had the same problem with World of Warcraft, oddly enough. I just can’t get into playing the nasty undead, orc, goblin, vampire kinds of characters in any game as a player. As a DM/GM, we take on all of those roles and more every game session, just for a shorter time. If it’s your jam, cool. I just don’t do the whole let’s-be-evil-PCs thing.

At the end of the day, I’d rather play an elf. I like games where there is a lot of black and white. I’m not as big of a fan, from a GM perspective, of massive amounts of gray. Bad guys do bad stuff like sucking the blood out of peoples’ necks and stealing their money. Good guys drive stakes through the bad guys hearts and leave them out in the sun to dry.

Truth be told, I’d rather run a campaign based on John Carpenter’s Vampires, which would truly be a Hunters game. Not to mention the really epic dialogue in that movie… lol! Grizzled and gritty can be fun sometimes, but I actually prefer warmer and fuzzier characters as a player.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate you! Take care. Enjoy the sunlight and fresh air today if you get a chance.

%d bloggers like this: