Thursday, April 16, 2015

A to Z of Vampires: Nosferatu

So it has been asked a few times on this challenge "Are there any ugly vampires?" Germany responds with a resounding "Ja!"
I give you the Nosferatu!

The "Nosferat" originally came from Central and Eastern Europe and described a beautiful vampire that was more akin to the Moroi.  That all changed in 1922 when F. W. Murnau released his unauthorized version of Dracula on film called "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens" or "Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror".

Vampires had entered the cinema and the world was never quite the same.

The Nosferatu, Count Orlock played Max Schreck, was nothing like the vampires of today.  He was ugly, had long rat-like teeth, was bald with pointed ears; in short he looked like the walking dead. He spread plague and death. Women did not fawn and swoon over him, they were horrified and repulsed.

So effective was this film that you can still see elements of it in modern day vampire films.  Everything from the look of Radu in "Subspecies" to how shadows move in "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and countless others.  The movie was remade in 1979 with Klaus Kinski in the title role and 2000s "Shadow of the Vampire" starring John Malkovich as Murnau and Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck.

In games the Nosferatu has taken on an unlife of it's own.  It is one of the more iconic clans of the Vampire: The Masquerade game and it was one of the first vampire sub-species in Ravenloft.

Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 9d8+9** (50 hp)
No. of Attacks: claw/claw/bite
Damage: 1d6+4/1d6+4/1d4+1 + CON drain
Special:  Constitution Drain, Cause Fear, Summon Plague, Summon Rats
Movement: 30’
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: F10
Morale: 11
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
XP: 7,200

The Nosferatu is a subtype of the vampire. It is turned like a vampire and has all the same strengths and weaknesses.
Though the Nosferatu has a few additional abilities.
The Nosferatu looks pale, and withered. He also has almost rat or bat like look to him. His fingers and ears are elongated.  A Nosferatu can never pass of anything other than the walking corpse he is.
Nosferatu can not turn into wolves or bats like other vampires, but instead can become a swarm of rats.  Each rat of the swarm is part of a collective mind, so killing one will not destroy the creature. In fact even if all are destroyed save one the creature will reform.
Additionally Nosferatu can summon 10d100 (10-1000) normal rats to his aid or 2d20 (2-40) plague stricken rats (save vs. disease).
Like some vampires the Nosferatu can be held in place by a line of salt.  A ring of salt around the Nosferatu will trap it.
Nosferatu are more sensitive to sunlight and will die with even the briefest exposure (1 round). They are effected by a Light spell as if it were Continual Light.  Their vision in darkness is 180' and they see as well in complete darkness as humans can in twilight.
Nosferatu gorge themselves preferring not to waste time with luring prey. Once they attach themselves to a victim they will drain them on blood (Constitution points) till they are dead.  A Nosferatu concentrating on feed (ie not in combat) can drain 3 points of Con per turn.  In combat situations they can only drain 1d4+1 HP of blood per round, but they do not find this satisfying.
Nosferatu are all very strong (Strength = 18) despite their thin, corpse like visages.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A to Z of Vampires: Moroi

The Moroi (male) and the Moroaica (female) are "living" vampires from the legends of Rumania.  Living, because despite some overt vampire like traits they are living, breathing people and can be harmed or even killed like everyone else.

Legends abound on the how a Moroi is born and what makes them different from a Dhampir.   With a Dhampir the mother must be human and the father a vampire.  For the Moroi both parents are living.  According to some accounts a Moroi is created when a baby is born with a caul or a vestigial tail.  In other legends a Moroi is the result of an incestous relationship.   Of course a Moroi can also be the product of two Moroi.

On their death Moroi will become a vampire, a Strigoi.  This is actually pretty close to the separation between the Living and Dead vampires in the Hollows Series by Kim Harrison and even the Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead.

In the Pathfinder RPG, the Moroi are a type of Dhampir race.  That race has a lot going on, I tend to like something a little simpler.

Moroi by Diana Martinez
Moroi Race
The Moroi are a race with the blood of ancient vampires in their veins.  Some speculate that the Moroi came first and vampires followed after their deaths.  Still others claim that the vampires were always first and they perverted the Moroi to their current state.
Once the Moroi had a great empire with the undead Strigoi at the top of their ranks and thousands of human slaves.  This empire has long been overthrown and destroyed but Moroi remain.  Many of the living Moroi know of this history and act as if they still were the royalty they once were.

Physical Description:  Pale, tall and thin, Moroi look like humans carved from marble or ivory.  Their features are sharp but fine.  Thier limbs and fingers are long and look delicate, but are deft and fast.  They are all physically attractive, cultured and refined despite what their true upbringing might have been.  Despite their loss of power and position Moroi families are still quite wealthy.
Males tend to be 5'11" to 6'9" though only weighing 110lbs to 160lbs.  Females are 5'7" to 6'2" weighing 100lbs to 140lbs.  So quite thin indeed.
Skin tones are universally pale. Hair color tends to be black for both males and females.  Some Moroi families have been known to have an occasional red head or platinum blonde.  These births are a great omen.  Eye color also tends to be pale though some are born with black irises and others red.

Moroi reach maturity at 16 years of age and live approximately 120 years.  Most are able to pass as human or sometimes half-elf.

Moroi are cross-fertile with humans and half-elves with Moroi traits being dominant over 3 generations.  Moroi however find such matings beneath their status and they generally prefer their own kind.  Intermarriage of cousins in Moroi society is common and acceptable.

Standard Racial Traits (3rd Era Games)

Ability Score Racial Traits: Moroi are quick, graceful and always charming, but somehow appear to be thin and underfed. They gain +2 Charisma, +2 Dexterity, and –2 Constitution.
Size: Moroi are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Type: Moroi are humanoids with the Moroi subtype.
Base Speed: Moroi have a base speed of 30 feet.
Languages: Moroi begin play speaking Common and Moroi. Moroi is an ancient language understood by all vampires.  They may learn other languages based on their Intelligence and Linguistics skill
Senses: Moroi have Darkvison to 60'
Undead Resistance: Moroi gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against disease and mind-affecting effects.  This resistance also works against the Moroi in terms of magical healing.  Any spell or spell like affect that heals will take a penalty of -1 hp.  Ex. If a Cure Light Wounds spell would normally heal 3hp of damage, it would only heal 2hp on a Moroi.  This includes the Laying on Hands ability and potions.  It is possible for a result of 0hp to occur.

Favored Classes: The Moroi favors classes that allow it to use their innate magical abilities such as  Bard, Sorcerer and Warlock.  Moroi Sorcerers are typically of an Undead or Vampire bloodine. Moroi Warlocks typically are Death Pact warlocks.

Alignment: Morio tend towards Chaos and Evil as a race, but individuals can be of any alignment. Lawful Good Moroi, while not unheard of, are rare.

Basic and Advanced Era Games
Moroi have a minimum Charisma score of 14 and a minimum Dexterity of 12.  Their maximum Constitution is 16.

A moroi character of can opt to be a fighter (maximum of 9th level), a thief, an assassin (maximum of 10th level) or a witch (maximum 13th level). An moroi character can also be multi-classed, i.e. a fighter/witch, a fighter/thief, a witch/thief, or a fighter/witch/thief.  Thief can be substituted for assassin where appropriate.

Moroi characters have a 90% resistance to sleep and charm spells (if these spells are cost upon them a percentile dice roll of 91% or better is required to allow the magic any chance of having an effect, and even then the saving throw against spells is allowed versus the charm spell).

Moroi have the ability to see into the infra-red spectrum, so they are able to see up to 60' in darkness, noting varying degrees of heat radiation.

As has been shown previously, moroi characters add a bonus of +1 to their initial dexterity score. Likewise, as moroi are not as sturdy as humans, they deduct 1 from their initial constitution score.

Moroi as a Class (Basic Era)
Moroi generally follow the example of the Elf class. instead of magic-user spells the moroi use witch spells.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A to Z of Vampires: Lilith

Lilith by Isra2007
Let's head to ancient Mesopotamia and talk about Lilith.

Er...wait. Haven't I done this before?

Actually I have, I talked about Lilith last year on the A to Z of Witches and the year before that on the A to Z of Demons.   She is just one of those subjects I never grow tired of talking about.
Obviously since I made her the cover of my Eldritch Witchery book.

Back in my WitchCraft RPG game I actually wanted to do three different Liliths that were also all connected.

Following the Maiden, Mother Crone archetype she would have been a Witch, Vampire and Demon.  In my Buffy/Ghosts of Albion games she was a more central figure. A faction all her own in the constant wars between the forces of good and evil.

While that was a fun idea and it worked well for the WitchCraft RPG, for something like D&D I prefer one Goddess. A complicated Goddess to be sure.

So here she is. In Petty Gods format. Though she is by no means a Petty God. She is actually something more than a demon, witch or goddess.  She is Lilith.

Goddess of Witches, Mother of Vampires and Demons
Also known as: Ardat Lili, Lili, Lillitu
Symbol: Image of the Goddess
Alignment: Chaotic Evil*
Movement: 40' (Fly 160)
Armor Class: 4 (15)
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 140 hp (25 HD)
Attacks: Special, see below
Damage: Special, see below
Save: Witch 25
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XV
XP: 16,660

Lilith is the mother of monsters.  She is the mother of demon, having spawned so many, but she is also the mother of vampires and many say witches.

Lilith was the first human woman. She rebelled against the gods that created her and now controls armies of demons.  The gods won't work against her or strike her down because she knows all their True Names.

Lilith has no true friends because most fear her.  She is known to ally herself with the Goddess Ereshkigal since both have similar portfolios and areas of concern.  Some even claim that Lilith spent some time as Ereshkigal's handmaiden.  Others claim she served Astártē or Ishtar.

Appearance and Emissaries
Lilith always appears as a young very attractive woman.  Most often with long flaming red hair.  It is claimed her true form is that of a ancient hag with long, but sparse wild black hair, talons, fangs and the feet of a predatory bird.  Either or neither could be her true form.


Naamah - Known as the Daughter of Lilith Naamah is either a demon, a human or something else.  She is honored in her right as either the Patroness of Whores or the Patroness of Those Who Hunt the Night (slayers of the undead).  Her title as The Daughter of Lilith, as opposed to just a daughter of Lilith, is significant.  She may be her first true daughter or she may be her first human daughter.

Abyzou - Another daughter of Lilith. She is a powerful Lilitu Demon. She takes pleasure in possessing others and destroying them from the inside out.

Nox - The Petty Goddess of the Dusk is also believed to be a daughter of Lilith.  Possiblly the offspring of Lilith and a Sun god.

Camazotz - a Son of Lilith and the bloodthirsty god of Vampires.  Some claim that his father may have been Orcus.

Lilith never openly attacks.   She considers combat beneath Her and will not partake in it.  Her arena is intrigue, guile and deception.  Why fight when a cup laced with poison or a dagger in the night are much quicker.  If forced into combat she can summon pretty much any demon she likes save for the Baalor. If it comes down to it, Lilith can cast spells as 25th level Witch of the Demonic Tradition.

*Lilith's alignment is listed as Chaotic Evil.  The Chaos part should be obvious, she has rebelled against the entire universe.  While many of her actions are evil, she still kills babies, she is also a lot more complicated than that.  Lilith has a high personal morality. She honors and keeps her friends and associates.  You can trust that she will always do what is best for herself., but she also cares for her own "children" so she will protect them.

Other posts about Lilith here:
Every Angel is Terrifying: The Secret and True Origins of the Slayer
Pseudo Slayers
Going Up to Hell: Cosmology
Sympathy for the Succubus
- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Let's Talk About Sex(y)
E is for Eodemon
The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 7
Season of the Witch: Episode 2

Monday, April 13, 2015

A to Z of Vampires: Kyuuketsuki

Going back to Japan today and visiting the Kyuuketsuki (吸血鬼).
The most amazing thing about this vampire is how un-amazing it is.  Not that it doesn't have powers or anything like that.  But that the Kyuuketsuki is almost exactly like the common European Vampire.

They are often depicted with white or red hair and red glowing eyes.  They have fangs like other vampires, but can also have a mouth full of sharp teeth.  Sometimes instead of turning into bats they grow large bat like wings.

Japanese Vampire by Evannrpg

Game wise they really do not differ all that much from other vampires.

Getting into the Anime or Manga versions they can have all sorts of strange powers. Such as using their hair to fly, or having a demon possessed body part, to even using blood as a tentacle to grab on to things.  

I think to give them variety I would grant them telekinetic powers.   

(that's all I have in me today.  Been sick all weekend long).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review: CC1 Creature Compendium

I love monster books.  The Monster Manual for 1st Ed AD&D was my gateway drug to D&D addiction.  I can still just sit there and read and reread monsters.  So when a new monster book comes along and promises the same level of thrill and excitement as that first time. Well I pay attention.
New Big Dragon Games Unlimited is saying just that.

CC1 Creature Compendium
"Remember those flashes of inspiration that electrified your brain when you first picked up that hardback volume of monsters all those years ago?" Richard LeBlanc begins this new monster book right where I need to, reminding me of the absolute JOY I had holding the 1st Ed. Monster Manual in my hands for the first time.

This book doesn't quite fill me with that joy (that is a TOUGH act to follow) but it does come close and for the price it is a damn fine book.

So what does this book have?  Well it is 94 pages total and over 200 new monster for your Old-School game.  Which system?  All of them, or nearly enough.    Each monster is "dual" stated for 0e/1e and BX.   Simply read the stats that work the best for you and take what you need from the other.  Sometimes there is no difference. For example an AC of 3 in AD&D is roughly an AC 3 in BX and the monsters will either list 3 or some other close number.   Movement rates are easy to convert of course and alignments are different systems, but all in all it is still nice to have.

There are a lot of fun monsters here too.  A mix that reminds me of the old Fiend Folio to be honest.  Even the art, which is good, reminds me of the FF a lot.   Every monster is illustrated, or if they are not I didn't see it.  So a lot of art.

Of particular use are the two appendices.
Appendix A gives us Treasure Types by Edition. 0e, 1e, HB and BX.  Subtle differences in each, but best to line up what you are doing.
Appendix B gives us the monster XP totals for various editions as well. 0e, S&W, BX/BEDMI, LL, 1e and OSRIC.  Great to have.

If they wanted to capture the feel of reading the old MM then they were successful.  If you love old school games and monsters then this really is a must buy.

I am curious to know what people think of the dual stating.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Zatannurday: Convergence

The newest comic event is happening now at DC. Again more multi-verse maddness this time though called "Convergence".
My take is that Brainiac has a bunch of leftovers from DC's old cosmology and Superman has to save them or something.  No idea really.  But it sounds cool.

The first Convergence comics were out on Wednesday and one is an all female Justice League featuring Zatanna!

Check it out here:

This could be a lot of fun.

A to Z of Vampires: Jigarkhwar

Lets head back to India and deal with another different sort of vampire.  This time it is a vampiric witch known as the Jigarkhwar.  This undead creature had been an evil witch in her previous life.  No she is a monster.

Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 5d8+8** (30 hp)
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage: Special
Special:  Charm, Witch spells.
Movement: 30’
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Witch 6
Morale: 10
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)*
XP: 2,200

The Jigarkhwar appears as an attractive woman whether that was her true form or not.  She attacks her victims by charming them and then extracting their liver out of their bodies in a complex ritual.  The ritual, once begun cannot be interrupted and takes 5 mins.  She extracts the liver and disguises it as a pomegranate seed. She then takes the seed back to her lair where she throws it on her magical heath fire.  There it grows back to normal size and then she eats it.  Once the liver is eaten the victim dies.  If the Jigarkhwar can be captured and the seed fed to the victim his liver will rego inside him.

She can also cast witch spells as if she were a 4th level witch. However she can't use Ritual spells.

To destroy a Jigarkhwar is a complicated process. First both sides of her head must be branded. This removes her powers.  Her eyes then must be plucked out and filled with salt. She is then hung up-sidedown in an underground cavern for 40 days.  On the morning after the 40th day she will turn to dust.

The Jigarkhwar does not make more of her kind, but instead women accused of witchcraft will return as a Jigarkhwar if she was very evil.
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