Showing posts with label vampire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vampire. Show all posts

Friday, September 16, 2022

Review: Vigilante City #4 Into the Sewers!

Vigilante City - Into The Sewers!
Our last day for Vigilante City! It has been a lot of fun. Our fourth book takes us Into the Sewers so let's get to it.

Vigilante City - Into The Sewers!

PDF and softcover book. 224 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.  For the purposes of this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the soft-cover books I picked up from Bloat Games' own store.

Here we see Bloat Games' TMNT love on full display. And it works well here. I am sure other supers RPGs have tried this before, but I can't think of any that do this so explicitly. 

If Book #2 gave us an overview of Victory City above ground then this book covers the sewers and underground. Sadly the sewers are full of radiation, mutants and eve worse dangers.

We go through the sections and neighborhoods of Victory City and discuss what is going on underneath. General features as well special ones such as Shayana's Bazaar. Great for all your underground (literal and figurative) needs. 

It would not be a SURVIVE THIS!! game without plenty of random tables and this one does not disappoint.  100 things you can encounter in the sewers. There are plenty of new creatures too and they are detailed in this book. Yes. There are alligators and vampires in these sewers. 

There are two new introductory adventures, "Into the Sewers, We Go!" and "We're In a Pickle Here" to get the PCs out of the relative comfort of the above world down to where the action is. 

Given all of the new focus on mutants, there is also an updated Mutant Class with more abilities to replace or augment the one in the Core Book.  Just reading through them I can't see any reason why you could not use both if you wanted. Different strains of mutants. Likewise, there is an updated Anthropomorph class.

We end with some new skill packages which include assassin and sewer rat.  In this game, you can have a sewer rat skill pack applied to an actual sewer rat Anthropomorph. 

Graf von Orlock aka "The Nosferatu"

Living in the sewers under Victory City is a monster feared by humans, supers, and mutants alike. This monster summons rats and other vermin by the hundreds. He is the undead monster known as The Nosfertu.

The warlord known as the Graf von Orlock was not a pleasant man even in life, his death and rebirth is lost to the sands of time and even he does not recall it. Unlike the suave vampires of film and television, the Nosferatu is a monster; both in appearance and deeds. Over the centuries his face has become more and more rat-like.

The Nosferatu


Friday, July 15, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: MONSTERS!

It's a monstrous weekend for Kickstarters! So let's get to it.

Twilight Fables

Twilight Fables

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1693797308/twilight-fables?ref=theotherside

Really looking forward to this one. It is for 5e and it looks AMAZING.  Rod was the mastermind behind Chromatic Dungeons, so you know the quality is good, but he has upped his game to the next level on this one. In addition to a Print on Demand version, there will be the ubiquitous PDF and Print friendly PDF, there will also be an accessible RTF file.  There is also an option a glossy offset print if the stretch goal is made.

Additionally you get a zip file containing tokens and markdown files of every creature, as well as dozens of printable images of the monsters. To be used at your table or virtual table. 

The book has a ton of monsters from myth and legend and more to the point the book is already done. That's correct, there might be some minor edits here and there, but the book is done, art is in place, and you will get your digital rewards (PDF, RTF, tokens) as soon as the funding is done.

That's the way to do it honestly.

It's not live just yet, but that link will get you there. 

A Folklore Bestiary for 5E and OSE

A Folklore Bestiary for 5E and OSE

This one also looks great and I love I can get it for my two current favorite systems. We are getting some folklore monsters but I am expecting them to be different than what I have seen so far. In any case, more monsters are always better. 

The value add here for me of course is getting a 5e and an OSE version of each book. One for me, one for my kids to use. Everyone is happy.


FRIGHT NIGHT CLASSICS

Fright Night Classics

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1866071445/fright-night-classics?ref=theotherside

And adventure module for "Percentile-based horror RPGs" or CryptWorld and Chill.  This one really captures the feel of old horror comics and Tales from the Crypt in particular. 

It looks like an absolute ton of fun and I hope it gets the backing it needs.


Exclusive Vampirella Giant 4” Enamel Pin

Exclusive Vampirella Giant 4” Enamel Pin
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hollyg/exclusive-vampirella-giant-4-enamel-pin?ref=theotherside

Holly G and husband Jim Balent are good friends of The Other Side and I love sharing their Kickstarters.  Today is Holly's turn with her take on her all-time favorite character, Vampirella.  

The vampy pin is fun and would look great on my gamer bag, but I am here for the add-ons and the stretch goals. If you get a chance to check out her comic VampFire then please do.  She was doing vampire slayers long before any chick named Buffy came around.


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Lucy Westenra

Yesterday I featured Mina Murray Harker, the hero of the Dracula novel.  The archetypical victim though belongs to her friend Lucy Westenra.  I have compared Lucy and Mina a few times. Showing where Mina is the "Modern Woman," Lucy is the "Old World Woman."  She does a lot to make herself more attractive to Dracula.  She is looking for a man to define her life, she is a member of the "idle rich," she has bouts of sleep-walking, her innocence, and more.  Where Mina is proactive, Lucy is largely reactive.  

It is hard really not to feel bad for her.

After she is turned by Dracula all of that gets inverted.  The sweet, coquettish girl becomes the dangerous "bloofer lady" that preys on children. 

My favorite portrayal of her comes from Sadie Frost in 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula, but I also rather liked how Jan Francis looked as the vampire Lucy (or rather "Mina" in this version) in 1979's Dracula, though she looks nothing like the "bloofer lady."   Though the most accurate physical portrayal was by Katie McGrath in the short run NBC series Dracula.

Here she is for Night Shift. NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Lucy Westenra
2nd level Survivor (Supernatural, Vampire)
Archetype: Vampire Victim

Strength: 11 (0) 
Dexterity: 12 (0) 
Constitution: 8 (-1) 
Intelligence: 11 (0) S
Wisdom: 10 (0) S
Charisma: 17 (+3) P

HP: 4
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 9
Attack: +1 

Fate Points: 1d6

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +2/+1/+0
Melee bonus: 0 Ranged bonus: 0
Saves: +3 to all Wisdom saving throws, +3 to death saves. +1 to all others.

Powers:  Vampire Powers, Stealth skills, Climbing, Danger Sense (1-2), Sneak Attack x2

Vampire Powers
  • Ability Bonuses (+2 to Strength, +2 Dexterity)
  • Damage Immunity
  • Feed on Life (Con drain)
  • Vampire Regeneration
  • Vampire Vulnerabilities

Stealth Skills

  • Open Locks: 25%
  • Bypass Traps: 20%
  • Sleight of Hand: 30%
  • Move Silently: 30%
  • Hide in Shadows: 10%
  • Perception: 45%

--

Dracula, and Lucy for that matter, drains Constitution, not "Levels," which is as it should be for "Dracula."  There was no way Lucy could survive three attacks of draining 2 levels when she is always described as frail and weak before Dracula even shows up.  Not only that the children Lucy later preys one are certainly 2nd level, they are barely 0 level.

Want to see more of the #CharacterCreationChallenge? Stop by Tardis Captain's Blog and the #CharacterCreationChallenge on Twitter for more! 

Character Creation Challenge

Monday, December 13, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Children of Darkness

Author and world creator Anne Rice died this past weekend at the age of 80. 

Anne Rice, Queen of Darkness

Rice's writing, whether her books on vampires, witches, mummies, or erotic fairytales, had a huge effect on horror writing, modern media vampires, and not least of all, games. 

I recently watched the 2017 "World of Darkness" documentary where Vampire the Masquerade creator talked about how he tried to avoid everything Anne Rice when he was writing, only to watch all the movies and read the books that influenced her. 

There was certainly something in the air around then.  World of Darkness / Vampire the Masquerade came out in 1991, with development starting in the late 80s (on the way to Gen Con according to the documentary).  Back in 1985-86, I read "The Vampire Lestat."  I actually read it before I read "Interview with A Vampire" so my opinion of Lestat was a bit higher than my friends that read the books in the proper order.  "Lost Boys" came out in 1987.  All of this led to some interesting discussions at the game table on the nature of vampires.  

Once again I am going back to my original "Red Book" and I pulled the stats on an old favorite, the Children of Darkness, updated to my new Basic Bestiary stat block.  Though spoiler alert, you have seen a variation on these with the Children of Twilight.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Vamire, Children of Darkness
Medium Undead (Corporeal)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Neutral]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Run 360' (160') [36"]
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 10d8+20*** (65 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 6 (+13)
Attacks: 2 fists or by weapon
Damage: 1d6+5 x2, or weapon+5
Special: Constitution drain, immune to mind-affecting spells such as sleep, hold, and charm, plus additional powers
Save: Monster 10
Turn As: Type 12 (Lich)
Morale: 11 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XX [C]
XP: 3,000 (OSE) 3,100 (LL)

Str: 22 (+5) Dex: 18 (+3) Con: 16 (+2) Int: 16 (+2) Wis: 13 (+1) Cha: 20 (+4)

Few undead creatures are as powerful as the vampire and none are as successful as hunters as the vampire.  The Children of Darkness are among the most powerful of the vampires.  The transformation to the undead causes the Children of Darkness to become the perfect predator. Their physical form becomes perfect; imperfections disappear, they become stronger, can see and hear better, and naturally, can smell blood.  These vampires only prey on humans and as such only humans become Children of Darkness. 

The Children of Darkness share many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the common vampire. They are strong (they have strength scores of 22), undead, immune to mind-affecting spells such as sleep, hold, and charm. They are also immune to having their minds read.  However, unlike other types of vampires, they can enter dwellings, holy ground and are not harmed by holy items like symbols of holy water.   Additionally, they cannot turn into bats, wolves, or mist. They do not need to rest in coffins, but many do since it is a good guarantee that they will lie undisturbed.  Like all vampires, Children of Darkness are damaged by and can be destroyed by sunlight.   They take 2d6 hp of damage per round exposed to sunlight.   These vampires are turned by Clerics as Liches or Type 12 Undead. 

These vampires can attack with their fists causing 1d6+5 points of damage per hit or attack with a weapon with a +5 to damage.  Additionally, these vampires can have a special power.  These powers can include, Charm, Levitation, Pyrotechnics, Telekinesis, or Telepathy.  Typically these vampires gain their first power soon after becoming a vampire and an additional power for every 100 years of age.   Children of Darkness over 1,000 years old are believed to be able to fly or even immunity to sunlight.

Magical weapons can harm them and if they are reduced to below 0 hp they do not die, must retreat where they will heal at the rate of 1 hp per day.  Damage above this 0 hp threshold is regenerated at the rate of 1 hp per round.  Vampires can "heal" hp on an eight-for-one basis for any hp they drain from constitution points (1 con point = 8 hp). 

The deadliest attack is their Constitution Drain.  Once they latch onto a victim they drain them of blood via a bite.  This bite drains the victim of two (2) points of constitution per round, with most humans drained to zero in five rounds. A human drained to below 0 constitution points will die. A drained human will not return as a vampire unless the Child of Darkness also gives them some of their own blood.  They can only do this if the human is at 0 points of constitution, no more, no less.

Children of Darkness will band together in small groups for protection. Many will share the same sire or will even be "orphans", Children whose sire has abandoned them.  They have a complex set of laws they must abide by which includes not turning children into vampires, (though feeding on them seems to be ok) not creating too many of their own kind (which is difficult to start with), and not killing their own sires.  Some even take this as far as not killing others of their kind. 

The Children of Darkness see themselves as superior to all other types of vampires.  They view other vampires as mutations or aberrations.  Their own rules prohibiting them from killing other vampires do not apply to other vampire types. They often refer to all these other types as "Children of the Devil."

Every hundred years or so a Child of Darkness feels the need for a deeper sleep. They will find a secluded location away from the sun where they will sleep for a decade or more.  Sometimes very old vampires will fall into this death-like state and forget to awaken. 

--

About twice as much text as my late 80s version.  For this stat block, there is now a "Turned As" listing.  This is something I'll introduce in Basic Bestiary II: Undead (currently 220 entries, but only 140 are complete).  "Named" undead will get a chance to make a saving throw but I will detail all of that and my alternate rules for Undead Level Drain in the book.

BBII Cleric Turning

Sunday, October 31, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: Witchcraft Documentaries

Last year I did a few documentaries and I rather enjoyed it.  I am WAY over the requirements for the challenge, so these are fine in my book.  Given all the streaming choices I have, I collected a nice list of these.  Hope to get through them all. 

The Witch of Kings Cross (2020)

I mentioned this one earlier the week.  This is documentary from Sonia Bible about surealist occult artist ] Rosaleen Norton. It is quite good really and an interesting look into an interesting life.  There is horror here, but the normal kind of what humans will do to each other when they are afraid of what they don't know or understand.

The Witch of Kings Cross (2020) Vampira and Me (2012)

Vampira and Me (2012)

A look at a contemporary of Norton, though on the other side of the world. This one covers the career and life of Maila Nurmi, aka Vampira. Writen, directed and produced by Ray Greene, this documentary doesn't shy away from the problems Nurmi faced in her life, but this is obviously a piece made by someone that considers Nurmi a friend.  Completed a few years after her death it features archival footage of Nurmi being interviewed by Greene for another project. I was sad to hear, though not surprised, that no material from her Vampira days still exist.   

Parallels can be drawn between Nurmi and Norton, women that bucked and went against the trend of what was expected of women in the 1950s.  Both embracing something darker in their own psyche I suppose to give us something entirely new.

I also read "Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark" by Cassandra Peterson this past month and there are plenty of parallels between Nurmi and Petersen as well as Vampiria and Elvira.  I heard the tale of of how Vampiria was involved, then not, with what would become Elvira Mistress of the Dark from both sides.  Again it is a tale where a woman is not given any agency for her creative efforts and how it turns out. Poorly in the case Nurmi and Vampiria.  Or what happens when she takes control and how it turns out. Well in the case of Petersen and Elviria. 

Ultimately Nurmi's tale is a sad one and one I fear is not all that uncommon.

Magic: Witchcraft and Magic (2004)

This one featured Patrick Macnee of The Avengers. Not the Marvel ones, the BBC ones.  This might have been made in 2004, but it feels like something out of the 80s or 90s.  There is not a lot of substance here.  In fact, pretty much anyone that reads this blog knows everything already knows all the material presented.  I was annoyed by some of it with some out right wrong information and other things, like talking to a white "magic shop" owner as their expert on Voodoo.  I supposed it is fine given how much of it they got wrong.   Can't recommend it all. 

Witchcraft and Magic (2004)

Witchcraft: A History of Dark Arts (2020)

From writer/director Kim Harrington.  The narration is from Deryn Oliver.  

It covers all sorts of witch-related topics, but none in detail.  The video is made up of a bunch of clips that have all the feel of "stock art."  They often never line up with what is being spoken about.  For example, a discussion of the Salem witch trials features an image of what appears to be a Bronze Age Rabbinical tribunal. Many of the images/clips are often reused. 

In general, the research is pretty good, this one might have more information that the readers here may or may not know.  If you have read most of my books then likely not.  Though there is more about Luciferian Witches than I typically talk about.

Deryn Oliver gives a great narration and her voice reminds me of Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. 

Witchcraft: A History of Dark Arts (2020) Ghosts and Witches of Olde England (2001)

Ghosts and Witches of Olde England (2001)

This one largely focuses on stories of witches and ghosts of England. 

We cover ghosts like the ones from Dickens to evil ghosts in Cornwall.  Plenty of ghosts of priests were killed in the conversion of England from Catholicism to the Church of England. 

It was a fun watch, but there was not all that much that was new for me here.  I guess I should not be surprised at this point.

--

Here we are. The end of another October and Halloween.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from The Other Side!


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 62
First Time Views: 48

Thursday, October 28, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: Carmilla (2019)

Carmilla (2019)
"I'll never let the devil into this house Lara."
- Miss Fontaine

Not too long after saying this, she does exactly that.

One would think I had seen every version of Carmilla out there. And in truth I had, until very recently.  This is a new one and one that came highly recommended to me. 

The cast is pretty amazing with a personal favorite of mine Jessica Raine as Miss Fontaine, the Mademoiselle De Lafontaine character from the novella.  Tobias Menzies of Game of Thrones and Outlander fame as The Doctor (Spielsberg).

It also includes new(-sh)commers, Hannah Rae as Lara "Bauer" (not sure why the name is changed), and Devrim Lingnau as Carmilla.

The movie more or less follows the basic story novella but also takes a few liberties.  It is atmospheric and gothic and sadly dreadfully slow. It does play up the tension between Carmilla and Miss Fontaine more.

The story is fine, not a lot of horrors though and some of my favorite lines from the book are gone.

Not really a fan of how it ended.

2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 49
First Time Views: 36

 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: Lady Bathory Night

Lady of Csejte aka The Blood Queen (2015)
I have seen a lot of attempts of telling the Bathory story.  This one focuses more on the history than the vampire retellings. Though it gets some of that wrong as well.

The Blood Queen (2015)

The acting by the young stars,  Isabelle Allen as Aletta and Lucas Bond as her brother Mischa, is quite good really.  I expect to see more of them in the future.

Equally, Svetlana Khodchenkova is hypnotic as Bathory. Watching her on-screen you really want her to be something other than the monster we know her to be. 

Aletta and Mischa get arrested for being thieves but are soon rescued by the Countess' aides, Dorata and Ilona.  Both children are taken to the castle.

The Countess takes an interest in Aletta, and it is not entirely a wholesome one.  

While Aletta is getting more involved with the castle, and the more Mischa is getting beat up, we discover that kids go missing all the time from the castle.

Mischa is caught stealing Bathory's book and is thrown in the dungeons.  The book is Bathory's diary of the children she tortured, mutilated, and killed.  

Mischa manages to escape and get back to the judge to tell him about Bathory, but the judge decides that Mischa is lying and sentences him to death.    Aletta also tries to escape, thinking that Mischa has left her.  She runs into Katja, the gypsy girl we saw in the beginning.  Katja is Aletta's older sister that went missing the year before.  She had been at Castle Csejte but had escaped.   Katja almost gets away with Aletta, but is killed by Dorata.

Bathory has Aletta chained up above her bath to drain her, but Mischa arrives with Bear, the jailer that Mischa had impressed with his ability to get out of any locks.   Bear saves Aletta, but not before Bathory kills Mischa.  The King's men arrive in time to arrest Bathory. 

After this, the story follows what history tells us.   It's not a bad flick at all, but not a great one either. Light on the explicit horror but heavy on the implied.  They changed Bathory's victims to boys and girls instead of just girls.  I suppose they needed to do this to allow Mischa in.   There was just so much more they could have done with it I feel.

The movie was very stylish. It scene was great to look at and Svetlana Khodchenkova was great as Bathory.  It reminded me a lot of the Daughters of Darkness.  Then I recalled I had a brand new Ultra 4k BluRay I had gotten for my birthday!  I figured I should pop it in.

Daughters of Darkness
Daughters of Darkness (1971)

This is still one of my favorite horror films from the 70s. This new Ultra 4k transfer is fantastic looking.  Blue Underground does a great job as always.  This one is a 3-disc set. An Ultra 4k BlueRay, a regular BluRay, and a soundtrack CD.  

I did Daughters of Darkness in 2019. So watching it now I still have my DVD version in mind.  This one is so much clearer, so much sharper.    For example, when Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) is reading the newspaper you can actually see the page she is reading.   The scene where Stefan beats Valerie is also much, unnecessarily so, clearer.  The car crash at the end is so much brighter and clearer you can see all the skid marks on the road from the other takes. 

Plus it is great watching this right after The Blood Queen is kind of fun.  Both movies featured a haunting portrayal of Ezerabet Bathory as a blonde from two fantastic actresses. Both movies also feature her servant Ilona.  

I have not checked out all the special features yet, but they look interesting. There are two features I did check out are the interviews with Danielle Ouimet "Valerie" and Andrea Rau "Ilona."  Danielle Ouimet's was fantastic and a lot of fun.   Andrea Rau's was also great and also great to hear sounding excited in this.   They look like they were filmed in 2006. Both actresses have nothing but wonderful things to say about Delphine Seyrig.

Each time I watch this I am just fascinated by Delphine Seyrig.  She seems like she is much classier than this movie should be allowed to have. I think about a modern remake of this and I can't think of anyone who could play her the same way.  Though I do admit that Svetlana Khodchenkova came very, very close.

Eternal (2004)
Eternal (2004)

I figure lets keep going.  I had seen most of the other adaptations of the Bathory story from her time period, I had often wondered though what filmmakers had in mind for her post-1971.  I guess the answer is "Canada."  Or at least that is the way that filmmaker Wilhelm Liebenberg sees it in 2004's Eternal. Here we get Caroline Néron as Elizabeth Kane aka Erszabet Bathory.  We don't have an Ilona character, well and Irinia, but there is an actress whose real name is Ilona. 

We open with a woman,"Wildcat" played by Sarah Manninen, who goes to see Elizabeth for some pre-arranged sexual hook-up.  Elizabeth promptly kills her and asks her assistant to prepare her bath.

Soon we learn that the woman was the wife of cop, Raymond Pope (played by Conrad Pla). Raymond is not what you call a faithful husband.  He is having sex with another woman (who we learn is Nancy, the wife of his friend) when he gets the call about his wife's car.  Pope goes to see Erszabet/Elizabeth.  BTW Conrad Pla is not a great actor.  His son Joey Pla, who plays his son Nathan, is a better actor.  Now to be fair the role he is playing is not supposed to be subtle.   Caroline Néron on the other hand is much better. 

Ray continues to investigate Bathory while she kills Nancy.   Ray investigates and drinks and spends time in strip clubs while his friend and son's babysitter Lisa is killed by Irina. 

Ray follows Bathory to Venice (despite being wanted for murder and having a kid to watch)  where he ends up at Bathory's house. Here he hunts her down during her orgy but is shot and stabbed.  He is saved by the Interpol Detective he talked to in Montreal, Inspector Thurzo. Somehow Thurzo, who also seems to be a priest of some sort, has everything cleared up for him. Of course like an idiot Raymond drinks the wine Elizabeth gives him. It is hinted he will go rescue her when she is transferred to a clinic in Switzerland. 

The movie is not great, not by any stretch of the imagination. 

2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 44
First Time Views: 31

Friday, October 22, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Demoniacs (1974) and Red Scream Vampyres (2009)

The Demoniacs (1974)
Every year I try to work in at least one Jean Rollin film. They are usually not great but usually fairly fun. Tonight's choice is one that has also been on my list for a bit and thanks to fine folks at Redemption, I now have my own copy.

The Demoniacs (1974)

We begin the movie with an introduction to a group of "Wreckers" I guess these were people that would shine lights out into the sea at night to "wreck" ships on the rocks and steal their cargo.  The Captain, Le Bosco, Paul, and the "beautiful but perverted" Tina.

After a recent wrecking, two young women survive and come to shore where they are brutalized by the Wreckers.  

The crew heads to the village brothel to drink, and the Captain gets all weird and paranoid.  They decide to go back to the wreck and kill the women.  They set fire to ship but never find the bodies.

The girls, believed to be dead, make a deal with the Devil, who is locked in an old castle for some reason, to have the power they need to get revenge.   Of course to give them the power he has to have sex with them.

Though I am not exactly what power he gives them.  They find the Wreckers, but it seems they are brutalized some more and all six die in the end.

Well.  I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been Jeunes filles impudiques, aka Schoolgirl Hitchhikers, which was just dreadful.

Red Scream Vampyres (2009)

Caught this one streaming after I was done with the Demoniacs BluRay.  Needed something a little newer. Well. I am really disappointed and should have gone to bed instead. 

Earlier I was complaining about the "Daughters of the Craft" movies. Well, I'd take the worst Craft remake here over this bottom basement "Vampyres" remake. I have seen terrible remakes of Vampyers before, this one is unwatchable.

Red Scream Vampyres (2009)



2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 38
First Time Views: 25

Friday, October 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: D&D 5th Edition, Van Richten's and Tasha's

 It's the 1st of October and that means a new Character! 

The Game: D&D 5th Edition
Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft & Tasha's Cauldron of Everything

D&D 5 books and BloodRayne

While I did 5e way back in January, I wanted to revisit character creation with the new details from Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft and Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.   This is also the closest I can get right now to what might be the standards for D&D 5 Revised

For this build, I went with the Soulknife Rogue from Tasha's and the Dhampir from Van Richten's. Yes. I had something in mind already.

The Character: BloodRayne

BloodRayne
One of the best ways for me to test out a character in a new system is to take a character I already know well.   If I am going to test out the Dhampir rules in D&D then I am going to need a dhampir I know well, and that means Rayne.

I have done stats for Rayne, the titular character of the BloodRayne video game series (and movie series from Uwe Boll), for both Unisystem and Superbabes.  She does have a D&D 5e connection with Laura "Jester" Bailey voicing the character in the video games long before she rose to geek fame in Critical Role.

Rebuilding Rayne with the new features in both Tasha's and Van Richten's was actually rather easy.  I had a concept in mind and the rules allowed me to re-create her with no issues.  Mind you this is a "D&D Rayne" not the BloodRayne from the video games.  Despite the grief D&D 5 gets for being "superheroic" I could not emulate all her moves or powers.  I suppose I could have gone with a little bit of warlock and in particular a Hexblade (and I still might). But I wanted something that would fit in well enough with a D&D party. 

I wanted to take advantage of all the new features, so I used D&D Beyond.  You can see her character sheets here and PDF version here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, Part 5. Plays Well With Others

I touched briefly on this with my posts on Building a Darklord, Castle Amber, and Horror Adventures, but one of the key strengths of  Ravenloft has always been its mutability.  It can go anywhere, it be what you need it to be and while some might bemoan its pastiche of horror literature stereotypes, that same familiarity allows it to work in a lot of ways with other books and games.

While I am perfectly happy, indeed happier now, that Ravenloft is more amorphous and less of a "world" there are plenty of sources out there if you want to expand it beyond what lives in between the book covers now to a larger world.

Here are some resources I am planning on using to make my Ravenloft campaign (whenever I can get that going!) a little more personalized.

Ravenloft and Cthulhu

While this seems to be a "no-brainer" just slapping Cthulhu into a game almost never works.  Sure there are some great monsters here, but the real value-add here are the sections on running a cosmic horror game.  This is a great overall resource, and a fantastic one when running an adventure in Bluetspur.

Ravenloft and Fantasy Horror

I mentioned already the utility that Pathfinder's Horror Adventures provides in setting up some details for a Dark Fantasy Horror game.  The 3.x d20 system in Pathfinder is similar enough to the 5e one in Ravenloft to provide plenty of ideas with a minimum of conversion needed.   If you must have them, the Fear, Sanity, and Corruption rules can be ported over to 5e Ravenloft.  Even some of the Feats can be used (but used sparingly).  Spells and Magic items can be ported over almost as is really. 

In fact, I have found it so useful in the last few days that I have moved it from my "Pathfinder" shelf to my "Horror" shelf.

BlackRose

Going back to some of the earliest posts on this blog are my ideas for a BlackRose game.  Now with the new 5e Blue Rose out, it is practically begging me to use it for this.  For me, the ideas behind BlackRose have changed a bit.  I think a Domain that is similar to Aldea, but maybe more of one of sadness.  Not Aldea, but using a lot of the ideas and rules.  Something more akin to my Kingdom of Rain.  Which has one foot planted squarely in Blue Rose and another in a melancholic sort of Folk Horror that would find a home in Ravenloft.  I ran an adventure under the title "Kingdom of Rain" a while back. It was a little Aldea, a little bit Innsmouth, and a little bit Alton, Illinois.  There are some solid Fey elements to it as well; I introduced my River Hags here.  A version of Kingdom of Rain is set to be published under the name "Witching Weather," so watch this space for more on that.

Ravenloft and the Runewild


Speaking of fey lands, the Runewild from Sneak Attack Press also provides a bit of a wilder fey world with tinges of Horror and Dark Fantasy.  If you ever wanted to expand on the Domain of Tepset then this is a fantastic source.  Again, as with the Horror Adventures and Blue Rose, there is material here that can be dropped into Ravenloft "as is" with very little modification.  The Runewild also help build up that "dream-like feeling" I like to use in Ravenloft before hitting characters with the Nightmares.

My Kingdom of Rain lives in the intersection of the triquetra-shaped Venn diagram of Ravenloft, Blue Rose, and Runewild.  I can also use this for expanding my new Domain with The Snow Queen as the Darklord.  Though do I REALLY want my Kingdom of Rain converted to a Dark Domain?  I'll have to suss that one out as I go through my books here.

Ravenloft and Ravenloft


Sounds odd, but most of the grief the new book is getting online is "it's not like the old Ravenloft." Ok, fine. If you must, make it like it.   Most of the Ravenloft books are fluff anyway.  Grab what you want from any of the old books and reuse it.  Want Viktor back instead of Viktra? Ok, do that.  I might create a Domain where they are both there and there is an intense rivalry between them.  I am thinking Father and Daughter.  Their creations of course are caught in this battle.  Rival evil scientists. Using their creations to get at the other.  Both wanting to capture their opponents' creations to learn their secrets. Viktor is intensely jealous of his daughter fearing her creation Else is superior, all the wile claiming she knows nothing that he did not teach her.  Viktra hates her father for never sharing his work and finds Adam to be an abomination.  

The more I type this, the more I like it.  Go all Hammer Horror for Viktor and Giallo horror for Viktra.  Set them on different sides of Lamordia where their minions search the countryside for parts for their experiments and to hopefully capture one of the more successful ones of their rival Darklords. 

It's one part Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), one part Lady Frankenstein (1971), and one part War of the Gargantuas (1966).  All set in Fantasy Gothic Horror Switzerland. Sprinkle in a little bit of Reanimator and I am good to go. 

Horror is my favorite seasoning for most games.  Ravenloft lets me do this with everything.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, Part 2b. Do You Wanna Build a Darklord?

Darlessa, the Vampire Queen
Wait.  Shouldn't this be Part 4?  Yes, but everything I am talking about here deals perfectly with the material I reviewed in Part 2 and very little of Part 3.  

One of the shifts in design goals of the new Ravenloft book is a move to focus more on the Darklords you can create for your own game. 

While several updated and new Darklords and Domains are detailed, the fun comes creating your own, and in particular, one that has meaning for your players and characters.   Chapter 2 covers this well and comes before Chapter 3 on the existing Darklords and Domains to get the readers and potential DMs to think about what the domains mean to them.

So let's take the advice of the book and create a new Darklord and Domain.  Now my first horror game likely happened as soon as I got my Moldvay Basic set if not before.  I dig horror. A lot. So I have at least 40+ years' worth of horror gaming to draw on.  And while such D&D campaigns I have run in the past, The Shadow War, Ogre Battle, or even The Dragon and the Phoenix had horror elements to them, but none really rose up to the levels of Ravenloft worth horror, though the Shadow War back in 1991 came close and even featured some Ravenloft game sessions.  My own Ravenloft campaign was essentially a tour of the then Domains ala "The Fantastic Journey" only horror and not sci-fi.  I imprinted on a lot of weird shit as a kid. While a lot of fun, it does not give much in the way of "new" material.  Sure there is a lot of old material I could bring back, but that's not what I want to do here now. 

So let's start with Chapter 2 and build a Domain. And do that, we need a Darklord.

Who is My Darklord?

It's going to be a vampire. Why? I like Vampires. I played a cleric as my first class ever so I could be like Van Helsing. My goal what to fight vampires and undead.  Let me put a pin in that idea for a moment. 

I thought about maybe using my cavalier that I ran through Ravenloft as a player or one of my favorite NPCs I used as a reoccurring character that would torment the players because while she was a vampire she was not overtly evil. But my cavalier died in the Shadow War and the NPC, well she ended up the focus of a ritual to bring a vampire back to life.  She is human now, and given the history of that character, I kinda want to keep it that way. 

There is only one NPC that could really be my Darklord.  That is Darlessa the Vampire Queen.

Spend any time here and you will know about my history obsession with the various Vampire Queens.  I love them.  Blame Hammer Horror, blame 60's and 70's Giallo, but they are so great.  Darlessa comes to me via Small Niche Games and the Valnwall products where she is credited with killing St. Johan, my very first Cleric character. So the origin here is still Basic, B/X style at that, D&D.   Truthfully there is a multitude of reasons why this works for me, so I am not going to bore you with the justification and the details and just state "it works."  

So let's start with Darklord Creation.  Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft says:

A Darklord’s memories, desires, mistakes, and evil deeds shape the domain’s twisted lands, inhabitants, and features. You need not create these in a vacuum, though. When creating your own Darklord, consider the relationship that will define their evil in your adventures: their conflict with your players’ characters.

- Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, p. 39

Well...I don't have any players, not just yet.  You all are my players now. The adventures you have had are reading this blog. 

One this is clear off the bat.  The Darklord is evil.  Darlessa might be a lot of things, but a misunderstood villain is not one of them.  This notion of evil and evil deeds is repeated many times in this section. So much for Ravenloft not having good vs. evil. 

What are Darlessa's evil deeds? She kills people. Well, lots of vampires do that. She used her evil and power and privilege to command others.  She tolerated no rivals. She kidnapped the granddaughter of Johan Werper and threatened to kill her. She caused Johan's death instead and this was her last act that damned her.  Let's consult this questionnaire from VRGtR, answers in parentheses:

  • Where was the Darklord before the Mists took them?  (In the swamp outside her castle)
  • Who was the Darklord’s family? (none, she had killed them all centuries ago)
  • How was the Darklord’s family oppressed, oppressive, or both? (domineering over her, killing them might have done the world some good)
  • What was the Darklord’s childhood like?  (oppressive. She was bullied and bullied in return)
  • Whom did the Darklord care about? (Only herself mostly, BUT I am willing to work on this)
  • Who cared about the Darklord? (Maybe a sister?  I will think about this.)
  • Who hurt the Darklord? (everyone, but usually only once)
  • Whose respect or love did the Darklord crave? (only those who had more power than her)
  • What did the Darklord value? (power)

So Darlessa is a vampire, not because she craves lives and blood, but because she craves power. Her desire to control everyone and everything around her was her undoing as a vampire and led her to become a Darklord.  But lots of vampires never become Darklords.  She has to be something else.

In "Corrupt Beyond Redemption" on page 40 we are given some ideas of what makes a Darklord more than your average villain.  The Darklord needs to commit Evil Acts, or "The Dark Powers consider an act to be evil if it is intentional, unnecessary, and successful, and most importantly if it causes significant harm."  Those Harmed have to be significant.  In this case, it was my first character trying to protect my first AD&D 2nd Ed character.  Maybe not significant to you but for me it has gravitas.  And finally, the act has to be Irredeemable.  Darlessa was about to drain the life out of a seven-year-old girl just to get to her parents and grandfather. She managed to cause the death of the grandfather and scar the granddaughter so much she was terrified of the dark.  (Role-Playing tip. Try playing an AD&D character who you have decided is afraid of the dark. All dark, all the time.)

Background

Darlessa always fancied herself as a Queen, which of course is impossible because she is from Glantri. She might have been an upstart Princess if fate had been kinder to her, but instead, the only magic she learned was witchcraft, a "lesser" form of magic to the Glantri ruling class.  Rejected by those she considered her peers and laughed at by those she considered underlings it was no surprise that she turned to evil.  She married a minor noble and soon had him murdered.  She moved up in social status by marrying one of the lesser Princes.  She could not kill him as easily so she had him locked away due to madness, which she of course caused.  She was always vying for more and more power, a better position in the social hierarchy. While she felt she was in control of her situation and had everyone else figured out in truth all the nobility saw through her ruse and were just toying with her.  When discovered this and was laughed out of court she sought out her demon to turn her into a vampire. But even then she chaffed under this yoke and sought to kill her new master. 

She managed to escape and had planned her glorious revenge on all who had mocked her, only to discover that everyone from the court was dead.  Not of some nefarious or evil plan, but of the natural progress of time.  She had taken decades to break free and now it was too late. All that remained were the offspring of those who had rejected her.  She reinvented herself as a noble and re-entered court, this time none knew her.  She would have been successful too had it not been for the cleric Johan.  Clerics had been banned in her day in Glantri, but Johan was distantly related to a noble and had proved a wise council on ecclesiastic and occult matters.  He quickly spotted Darlessa for what she was and thus began 40 years of open conflict between the two.  

Until the night she got what she had desired.  She was going to kill Johan and his granddaughter. Johan had taken his granddaughter to see the court. Her chance had come, everyone who had stood against her were all in one place. She had killed every servant in the castle to get to the girl and had taken her back to her own keep.  Johan followed. The ancient enemies fought and both died by the flaming holy oil.  Only the young granddaughter survived.  Johan was canonized and became St. Johan.  

Darlessa awoke to find herself in a finely appointed castle much like that of the court.  She was surrounded by servants and nobles, and all addressed her as Queen.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels
The Domain

The Domain of Darlessa is a small island, or at least that is what it seems to be. There is the island and it is surrounded by water, but they are on a lake and the island is in that lake.  Beyond are only mists.  Darlessa is the Queen, but she has no subjects. She has servants, the very ones she had killed to get to Johan, but they are mindless, repeating the same tasks every day, day in day out.  Members of her court have the exact same conversations over and over again.  Games of chess or cards always result in the same outcomes no matter how many times they are played. Everyone in the castle adores her and they tell her this, often. Every day. The exact same way.  She has tried to feed on her servants, but they provide her with no life and they are returned the very next day.  She has gone on berserk killing sprees, killing every member of her court, and they return the next day acting as they always have.

The night she was rejected by society plays over and over again as it did in her mind when she was subservient to her demon lord. Now it plays out for real and she holds the place of power and honor. Her every desire has been given to her. And she is tortured by it all. 

This Domain has treated Darlessa everything she ever wanted and she is sickened by it all.  The fawning courtiers, the sycophants, the hangers-on. They all disgust her and there is no release.  The sun remains behind dense clouds and is never bright enough to kill her.  She thirsts constantly, but no one inside her domain can satisfy her.  Even her small cadre of warlocks (of the Undead) who do her bidding are revolting to her.  Though they do leave the island to gather new souls for their Queen.  In truth, she longs for a great Paladin or Cleric to come to destroy her to end her endless torment. Sadly, for her, those were outlawed. 

For the Darklord Connections (p. 44) we have the following:  1: An adventurer reminds the Darklord of their bond, desire or loved one.  OR in this case as the clerics Johan or his granddaughter Celene.  Darlessa is convinced that only Celene would be able to free her. 

Genres of Horror

This Domain is pure Dark Fantasy with bits of Gothic Horror and Psychological Horror. It should feel like a D&D world (Mystara in particular) in the movie Groundhog's Day.  The same day repeats over and over in an endless cycle. It is Dark Fantasy with the trappings of Gothic Horror.  The castle is haunted, but not by ghosts, but by memories.  Psychological horror comes from the "Repeat" and not knowing who is on repeat or not.  Also, how does one get out of it all?

Arevenir
Domain of the Vampire Queen

Darklord: Queen Darlessa
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Gothic Horror
Hallmarks: Undead ruler, same day repeats over and over.
Mist Talismans: Invitation to the Royal Court, a book of beginner spells from the School of Magic, a single candle.

Arevenir is a depressing domain consisting of a small island, a castle on the island and the surrounding village.  The locals are glum and speak no language the characters will understand right away.  The populace will claim the woods nearby are haunted with evil fae creatures and wolves with eyes that glow with balefire. 

The castle offers a respite from the cold, uninviting village. Inside the events of the same night play over and over again. The PCs will find they are trapped inside with no hope of escape except from the evil Queen herself and her warlock acolytes.

To escape they have to find the proper talisman. 

--

I am sure I can develop more if needed. But this is a good start.  With this setup the PCs do not need to fight Darlessa at all. So while I have stats for her I don't need stats for her.  Even if they did like everything else in the castle she would just return the next day. 

What I want here is a land influenced by the French and Italian horror of the mid 1970s.  Similar to the most recent October Horror Movie marathon I just did where I focused on Pre-Exorcist European Horror.

It would be fun little diversion. 

Now if I were making a new Domain for players well I get more player input.  Every successful horror game I have ever run has had one thing in common; Player's buy-in.  They have to want to play it in order to make it work out fine.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Swords & Wizardry Boxed Set

Swords & Wizardry Boxed set
Is it really June 1st??  Spent my Memorial Day weekend the same way I always do; grilling a bunch of food and spending all my time helping my wife in her garden.  So far we have 61 tomato plants in, 3 tomatillos, 74 peppers ranging from sweet to "Satan's Kiss,"  untold numbers of onions, potatoes, celery, squash and I have no idea what else.  Sadly we ended up losing all of our okra plants due to a late-season frost.

But today is a new month and that means a new character.  Although today's character is not new, per se, it is new since this is the first time I have presented this character before she became a Vampire.

The Game: Swords & Wizardry Boxed Set

I got my Swords & Wizardry Boxed set in the mail over the weekend from the Kickstarter.  It is a great-looking set and I want to spend some more time with it.  Getting a set of dice inside was a nice touch.  The books are top-notch really. Though I fear that my old-school itch is now being scratched by Old-School Essentials. Still, my oldest saw my set and admired it so maybe he will do some running with it.

There is a lot to like about it.

Old School Boxed sets

The Character: Darlessa

Long-time readers know of my love for the various "Vampire Queen" adventures out there and my own history with them.   Darlessa is one of the Vampire Queens I most often use.  She has a nice personal history with me and my characters and she is 100% OGC so others can use her too.

I am going to be using her in another project very soon, so I thought it might be nice to talk about her today before she became a Vampire.  Since I have this new rule system here that mimics the oldest RPG in our hobby, I thought it might be nice to go back and see her as a human witch. Right before her humiliating betrayal and her seeking out her demonic patron to turn her into a vampire.

Darlessa as a human witch
Darlessa

Chaotic Female Human Witch, 13th level

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 18

Saving Throw: 5
Hit Points: 43
AC: 1

Occult Powers

Familiar (Raven)
Evil’s Touch
Devil’s Tongue

Spells by Level

1st (4): Burning Hands, Cause Fear, Minor Curse, Read Languages
2nd (4): Agony, Bewitch II, Enthrall, Rite of Remote Seeing
3rd (3): Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Danse Macabre, Toad Mind
4th (3): Arcane Eye, Bewitch IV, Phantom Lacerations
5th (2): Death Curse, Greater Command
6th (2): Death Blade
7th (1): Wave of Mutilation

Magic Items

Bracers of defense, ring of protection, ring spell storing.

Background

Darlessa always fancied herself as a Queen, which of course is impossible because she is from Glantri. She might have been an upstart Princess if fate had been kinder to her, but instead, the only magic she learned was witchcraft, a "lesser" form of magic to the Glantri ruling class.  Rejected by those she considered her peers and laughed at by those she considered underlings it was no surprise that she turned to evil.  She married a minor noble and soon had him murdered.  She moved up in social status by marrying one of the lesser Princes.  She could not kill him as easily so she had him locked away due to madness, which she of course caused.  She was always vying for more and more power, a better position in the social hierarchy. While she felt she was in control of her situation and had everyone else figured out in truth all the nobility saw through her ruse and were just toying with her.  When discovered this and was laughed out of court she sought out her demon to turn her into a vampire.

Darlessa, S&W character sheet

That is the sad tale of Darlessa. One of jealousy, anger, and hubris.  What happens to her next?  Tune in tomorrow and see!

Monday, April 26, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: V is for Vampire

Image by Rondell Melling from Pixabay
As of this writing, I have 292 monsters written and complete for the Basic Bestiary I.  I have about 10-12 more that are mostly done.  Of the total 355 entries I have, a full 43 of them are Vampires

Yeah. That's a lot.

I have said it before but long before I was known as "the Witch guy" I was known as "the Vampire guy." 

I have talked about my origins of the Basic Bestiary before. My love of Greek, Norse, and Celtic myth, old "monster movies" with my dad, and the day I picked up the AD&D Monster Manual for the first time.  BB is my love letter to the MM.  But it is not my first monster book, it is just the first one I am going to publish.  I have sitting on my hard drives monster books that go all the way back to my earliest days.  Some of these monsters have been revived in my various witch books.  Many have been posted here. Among the files I have here and there there is one that is really old. 

File "necro.txt" contains all the undead monsters I hand-typed from the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II plus all the undead I could get from Dragon magazine and all the ones I made up.  There are over 150 creatures in that file.  Many of them are vampires.

Now the issue I have now is not whether to stat up all these creatures (I already have in some places) but how many to include as full monster entries and which ones are just AKAs.

So instead of posting a monster today (I did Vampires in the 2015 A to Z) I thought I might instead post the list of possible ones and see how I might combine, rearrange or otherwise categorize.

When I talked about the Undine on Saturday I mentioned large categories. Vampires will be a category in BB1.

Vampires

Vampires are among the most fearsome and feared of the undead.  Unlike most undead creatures the vampire can often pass for a living creature. Moreso they charming, both in terms of personality and in magical ability, they are physically strong (19+) and difficult to kill. Vampires exist for a long time so many are also quite intelligent (16+) and have mundane and supernatural protections in place.

As undead, the vampire has all the following features of a corporeal undead creature.  They do not need to check for morale and are immune to fear effects from spells or other creatures.  They are susceptible to the Turning effects of clerics or other holy warriors.  They are immune to the effects of  Charm, Sleep and Hold spells or other mind-affecting magic.

Vampires take 1d6+1 hit points of damage from Holy Water and it is treated as though it were acid. As corporeal undead slashing and piercing damage of weapons are largely ineffective since their damage is done to vital organs or blood loss. Vampires take no damage from mundane weapons.  Silvered piercing or slashing weapons only do 1 hp per hit. Magic weapons calculate damage per normal.  Vampires only take half damage from electrical or cold attacks. They are immune to paralysis, poison or any gas-based weapon. 

Most vampires drain blood to survive. This is done at the rate of 2 Constitution points per attack unless otherwise stated.  Vampires also regenerate 3 hp per round.

Many vampires have alternate shapes they can assume. Most common are animals of the night and gaseous forms. Others may become moonlight or stranger things. All vampires need to rest at some point.  Many are vulnerable to the light of the sun and all have at least some sunlight weakness.  VAmpires also have common items that will repel them, such as garlic, a mirror, or rice, and nearly all will be forced back by holy symbols. 

All vampires have a unique means to kill them these are detailed in each entry. Often this is what sets one type of vampire from the other.

Unless otherwise noted, all Vampires turn as Vampires.

Vampire (Base)
Vampire Lord
Vampire, Alp
Vampire, Anananngel
Vampire, Asanbosam
Vampire, Astral
Vampire, Aswang
Vampire, Berbalang
Vampire, Blautsauger
Vampire, Brukulaco
Vampire, Bruxsa
Vampire, Burcolakas
Vampire, Ch’ing-Shih
Vampire, Children of Twilight
Vampire, Dearg-Due
Vampire, Ekimmu
Vampire, Eretica and here
Vampire, Estrie
Vampire, Farkaskoldus
Vampire, Gierach
Vampire, Hsi-Hsue-Kue
Vampire, Jigarkhwar
Vampire, Kathakano (Catacano)
Vampire, Krvopijac
Vampire, Kyuuketsuki
Vampire, Lobishumen
Vampire, Moroi (Living Vampire)
Vampire, Mulo
Vampire, Neuntöter
Vampire, Nosferatu
Vampire, Ovegua
Vampire, Pĕnanggalan
Vampire, Rolang, Demonic
Vampire, Rolang, Personal

Vampire, Soucouyant
Vampire, Spawn
Vampire, Strigoi
Vampire, Tenatz
Vampire, Upierczi
Vampire, Vrykolakas (Burcolakas)
Vampire, Wurdalak (Vourdalak, Vlkodlak)
Vampire, Xiāng-shī
Vampire, Yara-ma-yha-who
Vampire, Zburător (Zemu, Zmeu)

--

And there you go! Clicking on the links above is like doing archeology into my ever-changing and adapting stat-block.

I did include some AKAs in the list above and those will likely just be a paragraph in the main entry of what makes them different.  AS I work the remaining monster up I am likely to discover more.

This list though makes me wonder if I need yet another Basic Bestiary just for the undead. I know I have enough.  But will it make my first book too light?

Here is where I am at right now.  Aberration (0), Beast (24), Celestial (9), Construct (12), Dragon (5), Elemental (7), Fey (73), Fiend (0), Giant (4), Humanoid (45), Monstrosity (8), Ooze (0), Plant (3), Undead (71), Vermin (0), Total (261).

Removing the 71 undead would make the book stand at 190 monsters right now.  I still have to add all those vampires, so 120+ undead creatures total?  Would make for smaller books, and thus cheaper ones. Fiends are already going into their own book, Basic Bestiary II.

What do you all think?

April 2021 A to Z


Friday, January 15, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Another favorite game that came out of the Old-school push was Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  A game that took us back to the pulp-fantasy roots of the RPG hobby. 

The Game: Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

I am very, very fond of this game. There is just so much potential here that I become overwhelmed with ideas.  Do I want to do the dawn-time of humanity when the Old Ones have left the Earth?  Do I want to do an older, colder Earth of the far future under a dying sun?  Or just smoosh it into my current games? I want to do it all, to be honest!!

I have mentioned in the past that I see AS&SH as a good combination of B/X and AD&D rules.  Essentially it is what we were playing back in the early 80s.  Where I grew up it was not uncommon to come to a game where people would have an AD&D Monster Manual, a Holmes Basic book, and a Cook/Marsh Expert Book.  The rules we played by were also an equally eclectic mix.

AS&SH is like that. It favors the AD&D side more, but there are enough B/X influences that I smile to myself when I see them.

For me, it is another example of striking the perfect balance between B/X D&D and AD&D1.  This one leans more towards the AD&D side of the spectrum, but the power level, the grit, the overall vibe is far more B/X.  THEN you add in material from Lovecraft, Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith? Well, that is the perfect icing on the cake really.

Of course, it is nearly perfect out of the box, but it can also lend itself to so much more than what is given us to use between the covers.  I have run Zothique games and Pellucidar style ones as well where all of Hyperborea was either one continent in the far future or underground, inside hollow earth (respectively).

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

The Character: Xaltana

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea has its own witch class and it really is quite excellent.

Ok, admittedly this one is a bit of a cheat since she is not only not my character, she is a pastiche of other characters.  Xaltana appears in the adventure HS4 The Lost Caverns of Acheron which I talk about here.  She is an evil witch/vampire lord found in the central part of the adventure.  She combines various characters including Drelzna and Iggwilv as well as any number of evil witch and evil vampire type characters found in Conan.  In the adventure, her stats are for 3.x edition. AS&SH is a much better fit for her really.

While I have a number of other Witch-y Vampire Queens, this one is a bit different in that she is designed to be a one and done sort of bud guy.

Xaltana, the Witch-Queen of Acheron
Xaltana, the Witch-Queen of Acheron
Female Witch, 12th level, Chaotic Evil

Race: Human(Common, but could be Hyperborean) Vampire 
Secondary Skill: Scribe

Abilities
Strength: 16
Dexterity: 20
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 20

Casting Ability: 12
Fighting Ability: 5

Hit Points:  36
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 5 

Powers
1st level: Brew Potions, Familiar
3rd level: Brew Philtre
5th level: Dance of Beguilement, Effigy
7th level: Animate Broom
9th level: Witch's Apprentice

Vampire Powers

Spells
First: (5) Burning Hands, Charm Person, Locate the Dead, Shocking Grasp, Sleep
Second: (5) Cause Blindness, Ghoul Touch, Hold Person, Infernal Tongues, Ray of Enfeeblement
Third: (4) Black Cloud, Explosive Runes, Phantasm, Witch Fire
Fourth: (4) Black Tentacles, Charm Monster, Mirror Mirror, Sorcerer Eye
Fifth: (3) Control Winds, Magic Jar, Sleep Everlasting
Sixth: (2) Disintegrate, See

Magic Items
Bracers AC1


Xaltana, the Witch-Queen of Acheron
Xaltana, the Witch-Queen of Acheron
Female Witch, Malefic Tradition 13th level, Chaotic

Abilities
Strength: 16
Dexterity: 20
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 20

Hit Points: 29
AC: 1 (Bracers)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Bat
7th level:  
13th level: 

Spells 
Cantrips: Alarm Ward, Black Flame, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open
First: Cause Fear, Everlasting Candle, Ghostly Slashing, Increase Sex Appeal, Minor Curse
Second: Bewitch II, Burning Gaze, Enthrall, Evil Eye
Third: Feral Spirit, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Tongues
Fourth: Dance Macabre, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations
Fifth: Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting
Sixth: Death Blade, Mass Agony
Seventh:  Wave of Mutilation

Magic Items
Bracers AC 1

Both versions are good. I might rethink my plan to make her a one-shot villain!

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.