Home > Gaming, Writing > Rebuilding Vampire: What’s Missing?

Rebuilding Vampire: What’s Missing?

Thanks to summer classes and a Jewish holiday I’ve had to take a small break from the game, though it’s come in handy, as I needed time to ponder all the feedback I received on my post about the dice mechanics for the game. It also allowed me time to think about what I had set down already and what I still needed to address. Let’s make a list, shall we?

  1. The Hunger – Perhaps the singlemost obvious vampire trope I have not dealt with yet is the hunger for blood. I am very torn on this issue as I do not want the game to be about having a life meter like in videogames, yet if there is no mechanical weight behind the need for blood then I have failed in my design.
  2. Immortality – Or rather long-lived-ness. One of the biggest boons of vampirism is the ability to be nigh-immortal, yet at least in my experience, most vampire characters tend to be fairly young, if not downright newborns-to-darkness. Yeah, there’s a story to be told from that angle, but I want the angst that comes from centuries walking the night. I’ve an idea on how to incorporate this already.
  3. The Name – And by this I mean finding a name for the game. Seriously, I need to call this game something and I have not had any ideas! Not true, a name keeps floating around in my head, but I don’t know if it is right. I may crowdsource this, who knows.
  4. Weaknesses – This item was brought up to me in the comments by JJ Lanza. What about the traditional vampire weaknesses, like sunlight, crucifixes, garlic, etc? Quite simply, I’m not touching that with a 10-foot pole. There’s a reason: for this game, I am not locking down the particular expression of the vampire beyond “a creature that feeds on blood, has some powers derived from it, is immortal and has a Beast that wants to consume it.” I want this game to be able to handle different expressions of the vampire, from the classic Nosferatu, to Dracula and its derivates (including the Anne Rice vampires and those of Vampire: The Masquerade/Requiem) as well as the new breed of sunlight-immune vamps like in Twilight or True Blood. I know how I’ll handle this, but I’ll write more about it later.

A tentative items #5 would be figuring out a role a bit more active for Humanity to parallel the way that there are minimum Beast dice that need to be used for some actions, as well as finding out what is the down side to Humanity (even if remaining Human is the goal of the game, being Human is not all days of wine and roses.

Likewise, an item #6 would be the revised dice mechanics. The feedback I received was fantastic and invaluable, and though I won’t be using all of it, it did make me think hard about what I wanted the dice to say about the game, about the conflict, about the choices to be made. I’m sure revisions will still come afterward, but it will be nice to have a basic system down to start playtesting.

But these are more an elaboration of existing concepts rather than something that still needs to be tackled, which is why I did not list them outright, though include them here.

My goal is to have a playable draft by Gen Con (Aug 5-8) and maybe even playtest it while in Indy, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

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  1. JJ
    May 26, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    I don’t remember if you covered this or not, but what about the typical weaknesses that vampires exhibit: sunlight, holy objects, garlic, mirrors, etc?

  2. May 26, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    @JJ
    Because I’m not locking down any one approach to vampirism, I am not touching the subject of weaknesses. At least not directly and not yet. Obviously sunlight isn’t an issue for Twilight-style vampires (or a lot of the recent vamps in media), while it is for the VtM-style vamp, so that’s gonna get handled in the campaign document, or whatever term I call it.

    It does mean I have one more item to add to my list, though, as I need to talk about why I’m not touching that subject. Thanks, JJ.

  3. Tim Jensen
    May 26, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    What about presenting Hunger as the inverse of Willpower?

    If you want to run a play test at Gen Con, I’ll gladly play.

  4. May 27, 2010 at 5:08 AM

    @Tim Jensen
    I’m gonna be thinking-out-loud Hunger sometime next week. That is one of the possibilities I had in mind, yes.

    As for Gen Con playtesting, I’ll let you know. Thanks.

  5. May 28, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    Are you looking to create something for vampires like All Flesh Must be Eaten did for zombies? If that did not cross your mind, I think it could be interesting approach

  6. May 31, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    @Dave Bozarth
    I’ve never played AFMBE, so tell me a bit more about what you mean, please.

  7. June 1, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    Sure thing. In AFMBE, they break the anatomy of a zombie down into Weak Spot, Getting Around, Strength, Senses, Sustenance, Intelligence, Spreading the Love, and finally Special Features. There are a number of positive traits and negative traits that can be used to create the “species” of zombie in the game. The number of points is determined by a couple of factors such as the number of PCs in the game, but the level of play (gritty vs. heroic) matters as well.

    Essentially, the categories are a more mechanical ways to break down the effects the character is capable of rather than through the creation of something like disciplines… in some ways it’s much more like gifts or Powers and Taints (Fomori). This system was designed to emulate anything that was undead which covers zombies but also inludes the vrykolokes, SHUTEN-DOJI, and GYONSHI as well as the more standard vampire. Since the features have some fairly straight forward names, it’s hard not to just start seeing what the thing is capable of just from reading a stat block.

    Example – The Gothick Vampire
    ?Weak Spot: Head*, Heart, Sunlight [1]
    * Like Weak Spot: Brain, only covering decapitation.
    Getting Around: The Quick Dead [3]
    Strength: Strong Like Bull [5]; Teeth [4]
    Senses: Like a Hawk [2]
    Sustenance: Daily [0]; Blood [–2]
    Intelligence: Language [1]; Long-Term Memory [5], Problem Solving [15]
    Special: Living Form [5], Night Vision [3]
    Spreading the Love: Ritual (drinking vampire’s blood at the point of death) [–3]

    Which is about half the points of a standard character; so there is about 20-30 more points to spend on bonus aspects –

    Bonus Aspects: Choose from Claws [8], Climbing [2], Compulsion [4], Fog [2], Increased Essence Pool [1/5], Infravision [6], Iron Grip [1], Leaping [3], Life Sense [6], Monstrous Strength [10], No Pain [1], Prohibition (religious objects, garlic, running water) [6], Rage [–2], Regeneration [2/5], Repulsion (religious objects, garlic, mirrors) [-3], Restricted Activity (night) [–2], Senses (Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen) [10], Shapechanging (mist, bat, wolf) [24], Slaves [varies], Spreading the Love (Only the Dead, One Bite and You’re Hooked) [0], Stealthy [2], The Lunge [3], Tranquillize [3], Unkillable [10], and Weak Spot (stakes, blessed objects)[ –5].

  8. June 2, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    @Dave Bozarth
    Thanks for that, Dave.
    No, I won’t be quite that route. I’m interested in the game being able to handle any type of vampire, from garlic-hating to sparkly, but my goal is more in the type of story being told than in the statistical modeling of the undead creature.

  9. June 4, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Just an FYI: Dracula in Bram Stoker’s book was not damaged by daylight – it just locked what form he was in. Vampires fearing the daylight shows up later in the history of the mythos. Ironically, that is one of the things Twilight actually gets right (but not the sparkling part – THAT’S just WRONG).

  10. June 6, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    @PatrickW
    Thanks for the schooling. 🙂

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